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Biggest DIY Landscape Design Risks

As landscape and hardscape design and installation professionals, we can’t tell you how many times we’ve stepped in to fix DIY projects gone wrong. And when we say landscape design, we mean the comprehensive and cohesive design plan that takes into account your landscaping as well as hardscape elements such as patio, walkways, outdoor lighting, and more. 

We’re talking about a lot more than changing out some plants and mulching your garden beds. We’re talking about when homeowners decide to save a few bucks and put in a new patio themselves. Or, draw up their own landscape design without having the expertise to know what an app isn’t telling you.

Let’s take a look at the most common risks:

A Weekend Project Turns into a Weeks-Long Project

Many DIY landscape design projects start out with homeowners thinking it will be a weekend project, albeit a long weekend. But in many cases, homeowners run into an unexpected snag, and the project takes several weekends to complete.

If you hire professionals, the project will be completed much more quickly, even allowing for weather delays. And you get to spend your time doing something more enjoyable than digging, hauling, and sweating.

You Go Over Budget

This is a big one. Many DIY homeowners think that by doing their own landscape design, complete with landscaping and hardscape projects, they can stay within a certain budget. But most people fail to take into account all of the tools and equipment they have to buy or rent. 

DIY’ers can also easily go over budget when buying plant material, as it is easy to misjudge how many plantings are needed to fill a space. And you may miscalculate how many pavers, how much gravel, etc. you need to complete a job. 

Going with a professional outdoor living company can help you avoid this risk. Their contract will specify exactly how much of a certain supply your project will need. And they won’t have to go out and buy new tools or equipment on your dime. 

Plants, Shrubs, and Trees Die Because You Made the Wrong Choice

Trained landscape design professionals know that not all plant life is created equal. But not every DIY homeowner does the full homework necessary to ensure that all plantings thrive. Some things you have to take into consideration include:

  • The size of the plant when fully grown (Plant where it has room to grow.)
  • The sun/shade needs of the plant material
  • The water needs
  • The maintenance needs as far as trimming, pruning, etc.
  • The balance of color, shape, size, and texture

Without a professional and cohesive plan, your plants may die sooner than they should, or you may have an unsightly mess on your hands. This can happen easily with invasive plants.

Related Reading: Why You Should Use Native Plants in Your Landscape

Masonry Projects Start to Shift or Crack

Another big risk for the DIY’er when it comes to landscape design is thinking you have the skill to correctly install a patio, walkways, or even an outdoor fireplace. Sure, there are plenty of How-To videos on YouTube. But watching a few videos does not add up to the years of experience a professional landscape and hardscape company brings to your project.

If you don’t have any experience with masonry, you may skip steps in both ground preparation and the actual installation. This can mean a retaining wall shifts and crumbles, an outdoor fireplace doesn’t vent properly, patio pavers shift, or all kinds of weeds grow up in between the pavers. 

Choosing to go with professionals helps ensure your masonry projects are done right and done well.

You Violate Local Codes, Regulations, or HOA Rules

Any big landscape design project is likely going to need a permit for something and will need inspections. But you’d be surprised at how many DIY homeowners skirt the permitting and inspection process, thinking no one will ever know. If a code enforcement officer does become aware that you put in a deck without the proper permits, you may be forced to tear it down.

And if you put up a fence in a municipal easement or right-of-way, you could be forced to remove it. And of course, an HOA can require you to remove any number of landscape design elements if they don’t fit in with the bylaws.

By working with experienced professionals, you can eliminate this risk.

Related Reading: Navigating HOA Rules and the Permitting Process

You Risk Injury 

A big risk for the DIY implementation of your landscape design is injury. Most homeowners don’t have the strength and expertise needed to safely and correctly install things like paver patios, retaining walls, and outdoor wiring and lighting. You run the risk of eye injury when cutting materials, back injuries when moving heavy supplies, and electrocution if you try to attempt electrical work yourself.

If you still believe DIY landscape design is a good idea, at least now you know the risks.

Dream It. Build It. Live It.

Perhaps the biggest risk with DIY landscape design is that by cutting corners, you end up with a backyard that doesn’t live up to your expectations, and you’re unhappy with it. You deserve luxury outdoor living at its finest. That means you deserve to work with some of the best outdoor living design and build experts in the Capital Region. The team here at LiveWell Outdoors has decades of experience. We work to provide you with an outdoor oasis that will exceed your expectations.

Fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation. You can also call 301.720.1000. We work with homeowners in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia. Take a look at our Portfolio to see some examples of our work. 

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