Spring and summer motivate most home owners to do some planting and outdoor design to create a peaceful and inviting place. It’s not always about keeping up with the Jones’. Who doesn’t want to take pride in their own curb appeal? Unfortunately, inexperience or a lack of research can lead home owners down an expensive path that blunders more than it blossoms. Here’s a list of five common mistakes that you can avoid in your outdoor design.

1. Planting to Get a Mature Garden Faster

Patience and planning are key to good garden design. As our world becomes more focused on instant gratification, it can be tempting for some to want an instantly perfect garden. But planting all mature trees, shrubs, and perennials can lead to problems down the road. Not only are larger plants much more expensive, depending on species, they will continue to grow. So what looks perfect today could become overcrowded and reminiscent of a jungle in a few short years. One plant make compete with another for space, leading to less attractive shapes and unhealthy foliage. Give your garden time to grow each year and give plants plenty of room to do so. Also, it’s fun to add on each year, so leave room to do more later.

2. Not Varying Height of Plants

One of the artistic tricks of designing beautiful landscaping is varying the heights of plants. It simply adds an element of visual interest when tall, medium, and small heights exist together. Newbie gardeners focus on the horizontal areas they want to fill with plants and might forget to consider the vertical space above. The variety will help tie everything together. Remember to research typical maximum heights and widths for each species so you know how to space them apart.

3. Planting Shade Plants in Full Sun and Full Sun Plants in Shade

Read the tag on plants before buying to know which thrive in shade, part sun, and full sun. Full sun is the equivalent of about six hours of direct sunlight. Part sun is about three hours. Spend some time observing what side of the house gets what kind of light before purchasing plants. Hostas will turn brown and crispy in the sun—keep them in shade. Poppies and chrysanthemums love lots of rays.

4. Ignoring Deck and Patio Protection

If your deck is made of wood, it probably requires treatment every three to four years. This involves power washing and staining or painting to protect wood from cracking and rotting. Decks are very expensive to replace, so invest in the proper maintenance. The care of patios and pavers depends on the material they are made of. Many require scrubbing and repair to prevent worsening of cracks. A bit of attention each year will help keep these structures functional and attractive.

5. Using Indoor Furniture Outdoors

The trend to extend our living room to the outdoors hasn’t gone away. But that doesn’t mean you should pull your old couch and end tables onto the deck. While we’re all in favor of reuse and recycle, this is one area where you might be tempted to take it too far. Any furniture you use outside must be explicitly made to hold up to the outdoor elements. These tend to be made of materials such as aluminum, synthetic rattan, plastic, treated wood, and stone. Cushions should be made for outdoors so that they repel water. Don’t make your backyard look like a yard sale. Stick to outdoor furniture.

Real Estate Term of the Week

Synthetic Rattan Synthetic rattan furniture is made from a man-made fiber that is sturdier and more durable than natural rattan, while still offering the same look and feel. The fibers are woven in the same way as real rattan but are often coated with UV additives and polyethylene resin (PE) that can prevent fading and wear.

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