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Landscaping Dos and Don'ts
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When considering landscaping for your home it makes economical sense to think of it as an investment, something that will increase the value of your home. Homeowners generally get their landscaping money back, anywhere from 100 to 200 percent of it, when they sell their home. Homes with professional landscaping can sell for as much as 20 percent more than comparable homes that don't have landscaping.
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  • Do get a professional landscape architect to design plans for your property.
  • Do have an irrigation system installed. Keep your investment alive!
  • Do accent your design with nightscape lighting for security, safety and aesthetics.
  • Do consider adding a covered patio. This will provide shelter from the rain and shade from the sun.
  • Do use plants that are native to your region.
  • Do fertilize your grass in the fall.
  • Don't over plant. Leave room for lawn, walkways, a deck and/or a patio along with other hardscape.
  • Don't spread your money over too many areas or projects. Spend your time and money in doing one project well at a time.
  • Don't invest too much money in an expensive pool if your Realtor advises against it, or if you can only make use it during one season.
  • Don't spend the majority of your budget on luxury items, like a pricey outdoor kitchen, that will limit what you can do elsewhere or that you will not use very often.
  • Don't attempt projects that are too much for you or that are beyond your ability. Hire a landscape contractor to grade your site and do the heavy work.
Prepare a Realistic Budget

A landscape budget is typically calculated as a percentage of your home's value. This percentage could range from 5 to 20 percent or more, depending on your funding and how much you'd like to accomplish. Homes with pools and outdoor kitchens obviously require a higher percentage. Considering that landscaping is such a good home improvement investment you may consider spending 10 to 20 percent, but break it down into separate phases or steps.

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To undertake your landscaping in phases you must first have an overall landscape plan drawn up by a professional. It should take into consideration your property as a whole, as well as your short and long term goals. Not having a comprehensive plan could cost you more in the long run. Many homeowners have had to alter their landscaping or hardscape, such as placement of a patio or a deck, after only two or three years because it was limiting other projects and because it was not part of a bigger picture.
Why You Need a Professional
There are many factors that will determine the types of plants, trees and shrubs that can be planted on your property.
  • Climate is a big one. Your local climate and growing season will dictate the type of plant life that can be included in your landscape design.
  • Temperature is another factor. Certain plants thrive in cool temperatures, while others do better in hot regions. Many varieties can not tolerate extremes in temperature.
  • Closely related to these factors is exposure to sun, shade and wind. These variables change through seasons and through the day.
  • Rainfall is a consideration not just for a particular region, but also within a property. Run off from gutters and slopes of hills concentrate water in certain areas. Other pockets on your property may not receive a lot of water.
  • The way in which the ground is sloped and the direction it is facing will greatly affect the ground's temperature and moisture levels, thus influencing what will flourish in a given location.
  • Additionally, plant roots compete with roots from trees and shrubs for the soil's nutrients. The later could overpower smaller plants.
A professional landscape architect takes all of these factors into consideration to design a landscape that is specifically suited to your property. They also know where and how deep to plant each type of tree, shrub and plant to 1) allow for successful root establishment, 2) so that its matches the scale of the landscape, and 3) so that it looks natural.
Hardscape features like stone walkways and paths, fences, walls, patios, decks, trellises, gazebos, lanais and steps provide structure to landscaping. They are the "bones of the garden". Other hardscaping you may want to include in your design are fountains, birdbaths, benches and statues. Fire pits, fireplaces, build-in barbecues, outdoor kitchens, TVs, pools, hot tubs, spas and waterfalls are a some of the other more upscale hardscape that will add to your enjoyment and value of your property.
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