When landscaping, a professional landscape architect must look at a wide variety of elements within the site to determine the best outcome. He or she must also consider the climate to choose the correct plantings, the desires of the client for design and use, and the budget requirements.

With so many decisions to be made, it is best to have a professional on your side.

Here are the Top 10 mistakes in outdoor landscaping.

1. Miscalculations of the slope and land

One of the most important elements of a successful outdoor landscaping design is the correct usage of the land. A landscape architect must work with the natural flow of the land and incorporate it into a design that works and is aesthetically pleasing.

Working with slopes can be particularly challenging when it comes to plantings and drainage issues.

2. Neighboring Problems

When working on a property, the adjacent properties must be taken into account. Are there issues within those properties that need to be screened from view? Are there drainage issues either to or from that adjacent property that need to be taken into account?

Your landscape architect is trained to look for such problems and will mention them if noted. You may also bring up your own concerns during the consultation process.

3. Failure to Meet Locality Requirements

Every landscaping job must obtain the correct local permits for construction. There are also local building codes, restrictive covenants with home owner associations (HOAs), and zoning approval that need to be met.

4. Not Checking With Utilities

Virginia maintains the VA811 system that helps contractors avoid damaging the underground utility lines located on their property. Whenever excavation or installations occur, Virginia law requires that a utility worker/contractor mark the horizontal location of underground utility lines.

5. Not Understanding All the Costs

One of the major top 10 mistakes in outdoor landscaping is the misunderstanding of all the costs involved. Costs involved with your landscaping project can well include consultations, design, contractor fees, equipment rentals, permits, labor, purchases, and more. An often-overlooked cost is maintenance after the job is complete. Surprise fees can blow your landscaping budget to pieces. A professional landscape architect will itemize and explain the various costs associated with your project ahead of time.

6. Not Considering Usage

Knowing just how you will you use your outdoor space makes the design process easier for the landscape architect. Do you need a large functional space for entertaining? Do you want your family and guests to be able to circulate easily? Voice your ideal usage requirements so they can be taken into account during the design stage.

7. Incorrect Plantings

Just because you like a certain plant doesn’t mean it will do well in your outdoor landscaping. One of the top 10 mistakes is installation of the wrong plants for the soil type, sun and wind conditions, drainage, and land features. In addition to the wrong plants, you can also have too many plants. This will create an incongruent space that is not pleasing to the eye or to how you will use the space.

8. Picking the Wrong Hardscaping Surfaces

When installing a patio, retaining wall, or other hardscape element, you must consider the surface. Is it the right color? Does it need to be rough or smooth? In pathways, for example, you don’t want to install a hardscape surface that will become slippery. A landscape architect will look at the entire design of your landscaping plan to ensure that all the elements, both soft and hard, come together and provide the correct aesthetics and usage.

9. Choosing the Wrong Contractor

Not all contractors are qualified for all jobs. Choosing one on your own could lead to disaster. Trust your landscape architect to recommend those with whom they have worked on many jobs. They will know which contractor is up to the task at hand.

10. Selecting the Wrong Designer

To help avoid the top 10 mistakes in outdoor landscaping, we always recommend interviewing several landscape architects before selecting one. Opt for one who understands your vision, one with whom you’ll feel comfortable working, and one with the right experience, background and reputation for your job.


Avoid the Top 10 Mistakes in Outdoor Landscaping. Choose J Duggan and Associates, P.C.

At J Duggan and Associates, P.C., we are glad to provide a free initial consultation to discuss your residential, commercial, institutional or government landscape architecture project. We’ll help you avoid the top 10 mistakes in outdoor landscaping.

To learn more about J Duggan & Associates, view our Gallery of previous projects located throughout Northern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.