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Readers Respond: What Are Your Worst Mistakes Made in Landscaping?

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Common landscape-design miscues run the gamut from the practical to the aesthetic. Here you can list the worst mistakes made in landscaping based on your own experience. An example would be the worst plants to grow. Let us know what landscaping mistakes you have made -- whether small or big errors -- so that others may learn from them.

Think of this feature as a Letters to the Editor column: a spot to relate your thoughts; in this case, thoughts re: landscaping mistakes you've made. It may be tempting to ask questions or respond to another reader's thoughts, but my Landscaping forum is designed for that.

Tell Us Your Mistakes

Shedding Some Light on a Common Mistake

Don't plant Chinese lantern. It takes over everything and you will battle it forever. It has hundreds of seeds.
—Guest cindy

2 Blunders

The worst blunder was putting in a patch of horseradish which I love. I didn't realize that a good patch requires around 20 years to grow so NOW I have all these roots that I keep digging out and they sprout everywhere. The other blunder was planting lemon balm: it too comes up everywhere!
—Guest Joyceann

My Worst Mistake: Planting Invasives

Invasive plants -- I seem to buy them continuously. There should be better information on the perennial tags, i.e., "Hey stupid, this plant will take over your entire garden, so don't buy unless you own acres of land!"
—Guest Liz Rizun

The Trumpet Vine Takeover

Taking pity on a wilted trumpet vine in a garden center pile, I bought it, knowing that hummingbirds would love the colors and flower shape. We planted it at a corner of our back deck and watched with horror as it grew and grew and grew. Placed where two lower decks met, it soon reached the top deck and began spreading its branches across the deck, leaving a dark slimy area under the leaves. It twisted around the posts and railings, covering and discoloring everything. When we pruned it, the Trumpet Vine-From You-Know-Where grew back in a few weeks (especially if we were on vacation!). The final blow was when it went UNDER the lower deck and began growing through the deck boards - no amount of hot water, dog urine or vinegar solution (we adhered strictly to our herbicide-free policy on our land) could stop the take-over. We crawled under the deck to dig out roots and had the distinction of being the only people we knew who weed-whacked their deck. We moved early last spring.
—Guest Eileen

Porcelainberry Vine Beautiful, Invasive

I fell in love with a variegated Porcelainberry vine (Ampelopsis) about 15 years ago. It has gorgeous leaves and beautiful berries. I never checked the plant characteristics to see if it was considered invasive. It was well behaved for about five years and then went crazy. It has spread invasively and is impossible to completely remove because of its strong woody stems. It's near Clematis, Ligularia, Azalea, Astilbe, coral bells, etc., so I have to be very careful if I try using chemicals to kill it.
—Guest Ellie

Tree Removal Regret

We had two large locust trees in the middle of our backyard. They provided great shade but took up the whole space (kids couldn't play ball, lots of surface roots, etc). We removed them about a month ago and I've regretted it ever since. Granted, my boys and I can now play catch without restriction and we do have more room in the yard. But our grass turned yellow, portions of the lawn were torn up by the stump grinder, I could go on... I patched the areas with sod and the yellowed areas are beginning to come back but the yard looks like a landscaping version of Frankenstein's monster. To top it off we miss the shade much more than I thought we would. We planted two chanticleer pear trees closer to the back fence so they're more out of the way and will eventually provide some shade and privacy from our rear neighbor. But I've spent a lot of sleepless nights since trying to figure out why we made such a boneheaded decision. My wife, oddly enough, is perfectly happy.
—Guest Mike

Grape Hyacinth Invasion

These little flowers reseed like crazy. They are all over my garden and non-grassy areas. Hate them! Beware.
—Guest Kathi

Landscaping Nightmare With Sycamore Tree

At work there was a beautiful sycamore tree with star shaped leaves, and in the fall it turns gorgeous colors of red, yellow, etc., so I bought one. Now that it is 10+ years old it drops brown sticky balls all over the yard under it. They kill your feet if you step on them, they dull the blade on the mower. Just a total nightmare for such a pretty tree. Before you "Friend" a tree, study up on it and learn the good, the bad and the ugly!
—Guest Markitalynn

Planting Trumpet Vine a Big Mistake

I have a trumpet vine that has never flowered but is taking over everything. We have tried to dig it up, but the root base is a couple inches in diameter. Would love to get rid of it but it seems never ending.
—Guest susan

Landscaping Mistake: Failure to Plan

A landscaping mistake I make is buying too many plants without thinking where I'm gonna put them.
—Guest brydas

Rock Gardening Mistake

I wanted a low maintenance back yard so I ordered some beach pebbles. I thought they were the size of pea gravel as the description said 1". After my gardener put them down, I came home to find pebbles 2-4" in diameter! Now we can hardly walk in the yard without twisting an ankle and my cat hates me. If you ever put in a rock garden, make sure to check it out "in person" and not depend on the shop's on-line catalog. This was an expensive $2500 mistake!
—abateau1

Unwittingly Planting a "Cat Magnet"

Had I only known that those grassy plants that I loved so much would A) get so big that they needed to be constantly cut back so the little plants next to them would get some sunlight and B) they would be a "cat magnet" -- and we all know what dogs and cats do when they eat grass! Usually at night, when we were sleeping, we would be wakened by "that" noise or worse, when we get out of bed to find kitty had left us a present right where we put our feet!
—Guest momofem0122

Mistake Filling Fertilizer Spreader

We were getting prepared to fertilize our lawn. Unfortunately, we had the spreader on the grass instead of the sidewalk when we poured the fertilizer in. The crack at the bottom of the spreader was open, and we spilled a lot of fertilizer on the lawn. We now have a small section of burn.
—Guest Dina

Warning About Trumpet Vines

I had some beautiful trumpet vine growing up the front of our pre-civil war house and I really loved it! When we reconnected our wood burning stove because of the rising cost of fuel oil, our furnace man told me that the trumpet vine was a real fire hazard during the winter. He had a customer whose house caught on fire because a spark from the chimney landed on the dried vine near the roof. (It also provided a convenient route for a large black snake to try to get in the big hall window on the second floor!) It broke my heart to cut it down, but it wasn't worth the risk. Thanks for everything you have taught me in "About Landscaping".
—Guest Chrys

Planting Durantas in a Flower Bed

I planted Duranta (golden dewdrop) in the front yard a year ago. I thought they were going to look attractive after growing. To my disappointment, I hated the way they came out. I think you should not plant hedges in a flower bed.
—maureen.mubanga

Tell Us Your Mistakes

What Are Your Worst Mistakes Made in Landscaping?

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