As a succulent garden design consultant, I typically see about a dozen common landscape mistakes made by beginners. Correcting them makes a big difference aesthetically
Do any of these apply to your garden? If not, applause! Please share your own tips and suggestions in the Comments---I'd love to hear them!
1. Dead stuff
This doesn't belong in your personal Eden. Removing dead limbs and deadheading spent flowers are instant improvements.
2. White that yells "Look at me!"
No "color" stands out in a garden more than white. Something plastic and utilitarian is often the offender. If there's no way to remove it, spray-paint it. Ever noticed? Over time, dead limbs and foliage turn white.
3. Cute crap
I feel mean mentioning this, but faded flags, platitudinous signs, chipped plaster squirrels, and garlanded bunnies are ghastly. The only excuse is if a sweet child gave them to you. Or they're made by Meissen.
4. Unsheltered dining areas
If a table is out in the open, chances are you won't use it. IMHO, the best "roof" is a tree canopy. Next best: sun sails.
5. Contempt for jade
Hey, there's a reason Crassula ovata is so common. It's a great low-maintenance, low-water shrub. See my live video: Debra Defends Jade Plant (4:04). It's a fave. Comments include, "You do stand-up comedy?!"
6. Not enough repetition
We gardeners want one of everything, but the most soothing aspect of any landscape is repetition. Without it the eye moves jerkily throughout the area.
7. Lack of contrast
Good design needs contrast for interest and drama. Colors, sure, but also texture---hard and soft, smooth vs. nubby. For example, contrast agaves or aloes with feathery ornamental grasses.
Due to familiarity blindness, you may no longer notice a neighbor's junk (or for that matter your own). However, guests do---at least subliminally. I know you've been meaning to plant a hedge or install a screen.
9. Too many too-small pots
It's all about scale. Areas like your home's entry need big pots, not a cacophony of wee ones. Consider large planters as an investment that enhances your architecture. What to do with all those small pots? See my video: How to Group and Display Potted Succulents (9:46).
10. Pancake-flat plantings
Great, your lawn's gone! You needn't make the new garden level. Bring in soil and create mounds and swales. And boulders! See my video: Why you Really Need Rocks (5:32).
11. No nursery/potting area
Most of us need a holding place for new plants, cuttings, tools, containers, fertilizer, bags of soil, etc. An underutilized side yard with a hose is ideal. Add a potting bench, shelves and shade.
Not only do they look awful, but being pure evil, weeds WILL reseed. Pull 'em early, and spread an environmentally friendly pre-emergent herbicide before the first winter rain.
How did you do?
Is there something I should add to the list? Please leave your suggestions in the Comments below.
Find more helpful ideas on this site's Succulent Landscapes page.
Above: What do you think---did I take my own advice? See my own half-acre garden in spring.
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