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

Responses: 67


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.

Landscaping Along the Driveway a Mistake

It's especially a mistake if you live in wide open spaces (like the country) in areas that have heavy winter snows. When you posted the article on 10 landscaping errors, the one thing you didn't mention and should've with driveway landscaping is planting evergreens (shrubs, trees) or using even decorative fencing, large rocks, or anything over a foot tall and relatively solid that creates what ends up being a snow rifter. In other words, something that stops winter winds from allowing snow to blow across your driveway uninhibited, instead blocking a height of snow behind it causing any more snows to blow & build into some not-small drifts for you to have to remove from your driveway. Driveway landscaping can be an esthetically pleasing thing to look at, but not so pleasing to have to deal with the consequences of extra work snowblowing or shoveling out your driveway if you don't plan carefully for *everything*.

Horror Show with Halts Plus

I had a small jewel of a front lawn ... bought Halts Plus to fight crabgrass in the back yard. Had some left over and used it in the front, thinking that it had a fertilizer component. When my front lawn started looking sick, I went to Lowes and read the Halts bag details. Ouch!... over the years, as trees progressively created more shade, I had been overseeding with shade tolerant grass seed. I never paid much attention to just what varieties of seed I was using. Unfortunately, Halts Plus killed 70% of my beautiful lawn and now new seed will not germinate. I wrote an email to Scotts, asking for guidance as to how to overcome my error; that was 3-weeks ago and no one has responded. So.... I water it daily in the hope of flushing out the chemicals ... I also do small test plots of re-seeding with the hope of something germinating. The front yard is an embarrassment which will have to wait until Fall (hopefully) ... but the primarily perennial rye backyard came through in good shape.
—Guest Chagrin Old Guy

Mistake: Choosing the Wrong Landscaper

We made the mistake of choosing Cedar Springs to do our landscape work for us. They are the worst landscaping company by far in Ancaster. Greg is unprofessional and does not give an ear to clients' wishes. Thanks, however, to Alyshia and Spencer. I have waited six weeks for two huge tropical plants. Greg did not even know about them. Mr. Know It All lost our account and two others.
—Guest Nancy Haykin

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!

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.

Mint and Horsetail

Planting mint and horsetail in the ground was a big mistake. They took over my garden, and were difficult to eradicate. Never again.
—Guest Margee Frey

Landscaping Mistake: Invasive Plants

Ajuga, evening primrose, gooseneck, artemisia (now in a pot), violets, monarda, lily of the valley, lemon balm -- many acquired at neighbourhood plant sales. I spend more time getting rid of these than I spend on keeping my normal perennials happy.

Planting in Waterlogged Soil

I planted banana cream daisies around my water fountain. Three died from being waterlogged by water spilling over the fountain. What can I plant now? My carefully planned layout has been been ruined. I need a plant that survives in waterlogged soil.
—Guest dee kay6

Not the Effect I Was Going For

Two years ago I planted tulip bulbs in my shallow flower bed. I bought a bag of 12 bulbs thinking I could put four around each of the three trees in this bed. I should have bought much much more. When spring arrived what surfaced was a sparse row of "soldiers," and misaligned at that. I would have gotten more impact from choosing one spot in the flower bed and bunching them all together. I learned my lesson from this landscaping mistake: I planted 30 tulip bulbs and 75 daffodils last fall. This year's show should be much more interesting!
—Guest nursevespa

My Landscaping Mistakes: Where to Begin?

Hmmm. The first year I got the bug to garden (I was 25 and clueless), I went to the garden center in July and asked which seeds I could buy to have plants that summer. Planting tiny little edging plants not meant to attain any size as anchors in my "landscape." Hmmm, Surface watering. The worst thing is the thing I still do sometimes -- buy plants on impulse and then not plant them, but leave them in their plastic pots and eventually they die. Oh, I could go on.
—Guest Maureen

Terrible Black Walnut Tree

I bought a house next door to a gigantic black walnut. Poor me! It is awful. Almost nothing will grow under it... mud, mud, mud. And the walnuts are deadly when they drop in the fall. Clean up is devastating. Next time I buy a house (and I am dying to move because of this awful tree) I will do my homework about the trees surrounding the property.
—Guest Sarah

Dog Urine Spells Trouble for Shrubs

I have four large dogs, three of them male, and I can't tell you how many young shrubs have died from being peed on repeatedly. (And occasionally ripped out of the ground...)
—Guest Suzi

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