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DIY Landscaping Projects

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DIY landscaping projects range from creating water features to building patios. Homeowners seeking a helping hand can follow my instructions in the resources below, which feature popular DIY landscaping projects. Because safety should always be of paramount concern, especially when working with power equipment, I also offer a "Home Safety Tips" article in the "Outdoor Living" section below.
  1. Outdoor Living: Privacy, Safety and Living the Good Life
  2. Water Features, Rock Gardens and Flower Beds
  3. Patios and Walkways
  4. Decks, Fences and Arbors
  5. Raised Beds and Stone Walls
  1. Pest Control
  2. Drainage and Erosion Problems, Solutions
  3. Where Should Beginners Start?
  4. When You Need a Pro

Outdoor Living: Privacy, Safety and Living the Good Life

Picture of a traditional privacy hedge.

Why do we divide our indoor living spaces into separate rooms? The need for privacy is part of the reason. But also consider that a component suited to installation in a kitchen, for instance, might be out of place in a bedroom. The same is true for outdoor living spaces. A swimming pool area, for example, should be tailored to the activity it will see; your needs in that space are quite different than, say, your needs in a garden area. Learn how to create outdoor rooms, as well as how to stay safe while undertaking such DIY landscaping projects. Discover ways to achieve curb appeal and privacy in your outdoor living, plus how to decorate for the holidays.

Water Features, Rock Gardens and Flower Beds

Photo of a decorative garden fountain.

Water features are not only visually appealing, but also emit soothing sounds. Using pre-formed liners, durable pumps and flexible tubing, they're also easier to install than you think. Once you've experimented with ponds, you may even decide to advance to the next level: simple waterfalls. Either way, install water-loving plants around your water features to further their visual appeal. Rock gardens, by contrast, are usually planted with vegetation that thrives in drier conditions. If neither water gardens nor rock gardens suit you, see "How to Plant Flower Beds" below, for instructions on planting a generic bed.

Patios and Walkways

Picture of garden stepping stones interplanted with thyme.

DIY landscaping projects can greatly enhance your enjoyment of your yard. Features such as patios and walkways can add not only beauty, but also functionality to your landscape. Follow the step-by-step instructions in the resources below to learn about building simple patios and walkways.

Decks, Fences and Arbors

Picture of Halloween yard decorations.

Like patios and walkways, these "hardscape" elements bring structure to your landscaping. Traditionally made of wood, decks, fences and arbors are now sometimes composed of other materials. Composite wood is an option to consider for decking and deck railings, while vinyl fences and arbors have become very common. The instructions and tips discussed in the resources below will introduce beginners to some of the issues involved in installing decks, fences and arbors in the landscape.

Raised Beds and Stone Walls

Picture of petunias in raised bed.

Building large retaining walls is not considered a DIY project. If you need a tall wall, chances are you have an erosion problem "waiting to happen" and need to call on a professional. By contrast, simple terracing jobs are excellent DIY landscaping projects for beginners. After building small stone retaining walls, you can plant behind them, as you would for a raised bed. Believe it or not, you can even build a stone wall with snow on the ground, as one of the tutorials below illustrates. I also discuss building conventional raised beds (out of wood) below, as well as building a sort of "raised bed" that could come in especially handy for urban landscaping, where no garden space, per se, exists.

Pest Control

Picture of lavender.

Chances are your attitude toward pests will be similar to your attitude toward weeds. For some, the latter are deemed merely "wild plants" and tolerated in the yard; likewise, "pests" are enjoyed as "wildlife" and the damage they cause accepted as part of nature. But for those who shun such a laissez-faire approach to landscaping, the resources below on pest control will provide some handy tips. Deer (and the ticks they bring) are a major pest in some regions. But you can stay organic and humane, while still keeping the deer at bay, by using fencing or restricting yourself to deer-resistant plants, such as lavender.

Drainage and Erosion Problems, Solutions

Erosion on slopes can be controlled by laying black plastic and planting creeping junipers.

Drainage problems can be a real drain on your time and energy. Solving drainage problems sounds easy, in theory: find out where the excess water is coming from and why gravity isn't enough, in this case, to send it on its merry way. Then take the necessary steps to channel it away. In practice, it's not that easy and, if none of the tips below work for you, you'll need to call a pro. When dealing with erosion problems, the source, at least, may be a bit easier to figure out, although the solution, in extreme cases, won't necessarily be any easier. In minor cases, start with black plastic mulch and juniper groundcovers.

Where Should Beginners Start?

Picture of bleeding heart. The flower is truly heart-shaped,

The following are some introductory resources you may wish to use if you are "starting from scratch" as a beginner. The first gets "down and dirty" right away, while the second explains landscape design concepts. The third will aid beginners in such matters as which plants perform well in shade (such as bleeding heart, shown in the photo). The fourth is a series of FAQ resources. And the fifth allows you to enroll -- for free -- in any of my email courses.

When You Need a Pro

Picture of aerial lift equipment.

Some tasks are too dangerous to be considered DIY landscaping projects. In other cases, you may lack the time, energy or skills required to do the job. There's a lot to be said for knowing when to call the pros -- assuming, of course, you have the money to pay for their work! Just remember that, sometimes, in order to avoid costly property damage (e.g., from falling trees, or from drainage or erosion problems) later, it makes good financial sense to call in a pro before a problem gets worse. But calling in a pro doesn't mean turning over responsibility: always do some research first, to be as informed as possible.

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