beautiful landscaping in front of custom built homeThere’s a huge temptation when you are planting a new landscape to buy one (or two, or three) of everything in the garden center. Particularly at this time of year, everything looks so lush and green that’s only natural to want to fill in your landscape all at once. However, whether you are planting a new landscape or planting around a future renovation, there are some things to keep in mind to maximize your current investment and minimize your future work.

  • Consult a professional. Most good garden centers – like Pike’s Nursery – offer the option of working with a consultant and there are many talented and affordably priced independent landscape designers. They can provide you with a plan designed specifically for your home that you can phase in over time. When we built our own pool, we started with a concept then consulted a landscape designer. She gave us several great ideas that completely changed our plans and were well worth the few hundred dollars we paid her. Just like a general contractor does for your home, these professionals have the vision and expertise to consider all the little details that make a difference.
  • Don’t over plant. Read each plant’s tag and pay careful attention to its average size and height – particularly if it will be against the foundation of your home. If you buy something that will grow too big, you’ll find yourself constantly trimming it back.
  • Keep current. If you’re designing your own landscape, pay careful attention to what is and is not growing well in your area. Several years ago, there was a Red Tip blight in Charlotte that impacted many homeowners. Again, a professional can help you avoid species that are being overplanted or are prone to disease.
  • Consider maintenance. If your idea of relaxation is pulling weeds, you’ll have a far greater tolerance for yard work than someone who just wants to set the automatic sprinkler and forget it. Whether you are looking at particular plants or even different irrigation options (hand-watering vs. an automatic drip systems), honestly weigh how hands-on you truly want to be.
  • Plan placement. While true of all plants, this particularly applies to expensive, feature plants. Make sure you plant them where they will thrive. Japanese maples, for example, are striking focal points, yet if you plant one where it will bake in the noonday sun, it will be a short-lived investment.
  • Don’t forget the fauna. If your home backs to the woods, you can bet that you’ll have some furry visitors. Many a Charlotte homeowner has slaved to plant beautiful flower beds filled with colorful pansies only to wake up the next morning to find chewed up stems or missing plants courtesy of their local deer. Likewise, if you live in a brand-new neighborhood, plan on Japanese beetles devouring your roses and certain tasty shrubs every May and June for the first couple of years.
  • To Tree or Not to Tree? Many homeowners choose lots because of their trees – but we urge people not to. Inevitably, the nice trees always seem to be located where the house needs to be built. Even if you can save a tree, heavy equipment tends to damage roots and within 5 years, you’ll normally have to remove it. If your lot has sweet gum or pine trees, take them down on the front end – it will cost you more to cut them down later. Bear in mind that low-quality trees that were in the woods will look like an afterthought once your landscape is complete. Certain trees like oaks will survive construction if cared for, but their root systems may be weakened or not strong enough to sustain new growth. If you start by removing the trees and replanting after construction is complete, you’ll have a much healthier and more sustainable landscape.

When clearing a lot for a new home or addition, be sure to clear trees 20-30 feet away from the perimeter of the planned structure.