Garden Police Bust Homeowner for Landscaping Mistakes

Garden Designers Roundtable: Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

by / 13 Comments / 841 View / January 23, 2012

I'm blogging along with my colleagues at Garden Designers Roundtable about mistakes to avoid while working on your landscape project.


Where do I begin?


Whether you're tackling a DIY garden makeover project or hiring a landscape professional, I've found that the most common landscape mistakes fall into the following categories:


  • Budget Oversights

  • Preparation/Demo Mistakes

  • Design Mistakes

  • Planting and Landscape Installation Mistakes

  • Landscape Maintenance Mistakes


Each of these categories deserve a blog post of their own, so I've decided to create a series of posts so we don't overlook any important information.


Let's get started with the most important aspect of any project- the budget!

Plant budget? Check!

Landscaping materials budget? Check!

Garden decor and furniture budget? Check!


Budgeting Mistakes

You're ecstatic about the deal you found on Craig's List for a specimen Sago palm but did you allocate funds for some of these less "sexy" expenses?


Trash bin for landscape project

Trash and debris hauling.


One of the most often overlooked expenses in a landscape project is not accounting for demolition and yard debris haul away!

From a small 6-yard bin to a 40-yard trailer, most refuse companies charge per week and impose a penalty charge for bins that are filled over a maximum weight.

Earmark some of your budget for trash bins depending on your volume of trash and the kind of trash you have.


You are not allowed to mix bricks and concrete pieces with compostable yard materials.

It's going to cost extra!


Better yet, instead of disposing concrete pieces from an old driveway or patio, repurpose them as "flagstones" for an informal walkway or to build raised garden beds and save money!



Portable Toilet at construction site

Portable toilet at construction site.


If you contract a landscaping crew for more than a couple of days, you will need to provide an on site toilet or tolerate strangers walking through your house when nature calls!


Plants for the landscape

Delivery charges for plant and landscape materials.


If you don’t own a truck or mind driving back and forth with a full car, you will need to pay for multiple deliveries or rent a truck!



Bobcat in landscape project

Equipment rental.


Don't expect to remove a large tree with rose pruners!

Assess each project for tool and equipment needs.

You may need to rent a bobcat, a power saw, stump grinder or all of the above!


Hire a Landscape Consultant


Shirley holding flagstone


DIY'ers, if you are committed to overseeing your landscape project from start to finish, consider hiring a landscape consultant, like me!

Landscape consultants will assist you in executing your design plan within your budget constraints.

In Los Angeles, landscaping consultants may charge anywhere from $100 to over $200 per hour and is worth the investment.


I urge you to create a budget that includes the above expenses and make sure to check it twice!

Once you account for all these "trashy" expenses, you'll be able to move on to the more fun parts of your landscape project.


On the subject of mistakes, watch this funny video with my friend, landscape architect, Billy Goodnick.

"Crimes Against Horticulture." Are you guilty of these crimes against junipers and cactus?



Please read blog posts from my peers listed below:

Simply follow the links below to each of the blogs.

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : Easy Bay, CA

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA

Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA

Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA

Kristen McLain: RF Landscape Services

13 Comment

  1. You are absolutely right Shirley. Renovating or landscaping can be really difficult or messy at times. That is why I am going to hire a consultant for this purpose because I don’t want to end up like the guy in the picture.

  2. Thanks for this article! I’m about to renovate a portion of my backyard for gardening and landscaping. I was getting sick of that portion looking so barren. I also found this site and found great gardening tips there! Well, good luck for me and more power to you!

  3. You’ve got that right re: trash and debris removal! And it just plain sucks to have to explain to a client that is costs money, when of course it does! Of course! My home compost pile is not big enough for your lawn that I took up, and more than that, your lawn could have pests I don’t want.

  4. Hi Scott,
    Yes, the demo disposal can really eat into a budget and run into thousands of dollars depending on site! This is some serious money. Thanks for visiting.

  5. Hi David! I really enjoyed acquainting myself with your work today. Covering your “como se llama” is very important that is why I included the port a potty! See you around the web.

  6. Thanks Susan. I’m sure you will agree that in landscaping, sites look like a battleground before they are transformed into paradise!

  7. You should know Susan! I enjoyed your blog post as well. Thanks for your compliment on my orange shirt. When I find a good photo, I post it! God knows most of my photos are yikes!

  8. At least a couple of “Ben Franklins,” right? That’s what I tell my clients. Thanks for visiting Robert.

  9. OMG…so true…I always forget about removal…mostly all the sod I dig up…such a mess!

  10. This will have to be passed along. “The devil is in the details”…or as we say in Abq, “cover your como se llama”. Consider it all. I often don’t start a design if I get a budget, without first crunching the numbers…a great starting point!

  11. Love, love, love that you included a port-a-potty. Too often that’s overlooked. I’m with you on everything else, too, by the way!

  12. Great advice! Even ONE professional consultation will help a homeowner plan realistically and avoid costly mistakes.

    But more importantly, you can really rock an orange workshirt! 🙂

  13. Hi Shirley,

    Your really dealing so well with all these basic things that people could screw up on that I’d like to read you on all the rest. You’re worth $250 in my humble estimation.

    Thanks and Best.


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