Diggin’ In: Do read this list of tips for the home landscaper

February 29, 2016

Here’s a column most gardening writers hope to publish in their careers — a do’s and don’ts list for gardening hobbyists and professionals.

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But, remember, your neighbors have to look at what you do.

—Why do you — homeowners and landscape companies — groom a yard, making it look so lovely, and then blow all the grass clippings into the street?

Think about it — the street is like the appealing appetizer before the main course — your lovely yard and home. Plus, debris in the street washes into storm drains where it helps pollute waterways. So, when you mow and trim your yard, or have it done, clean up the street, too. Then, stand back and look at how better the overall picture looks.

—Why do you get energetic in spring and put in a huge shrub and flower garden, mulch it and make it all pretty — and then never weed it the rest of the year? Or, abandon a new garden without finishing it.

Come spring, it’s fun to watch inspired homeowners tilling up soil to plant new trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, and then add fresh mulch. Weeks go by and the bed begs for attention. Weeds pop up, first around the edges, then around the middle and soon weeds are covering the entire bed. What a waste of time, money and opportunity to beautify life. If you have no intention of maintaining a bed, why create it in the first place and ultimately end up with an eyesore. Instead, be honest about your willingness to work in a yard, and just try to have neatly mowed grass, which your neighbors will appreciate.

—Why do you let your grass grow so tall before cutting it and then leav clumps on the lawn?

It’s smart to mow and let your clippings fall back into the lawn but only if you have a mulching mower and cut your grass frequently so the clippings decompose. As those clippings decompose, they return valuable nutrients and moisture back into the soil. However, when you cut your grass when it’s four inches or taller and let the clippings clump and stay, you create a visual eyesore, decaying grass smell and wasted clippings.

—Why do you put in expensive new plants and never water them in the hot, dry summer?

Many professional landscape designers complain about this problem, and actually leave "please water your plants" notes on front doors where they recently installed new plant material. All plants, even rugged native species, need ample water the first year in order to establish healthy root systems. The second year, most plants can tolerate some minor dry spells. Shallow-rooted plants like dogwoods and azaleas always need supplemental water during droughts. But, remember, too much water is just as bad as too little water, so know your plant’s moisture needs to ensure its good health.

—Why do you let your dog poop along the street and in people’s yards?

Pet waste along streets and yards is nasty looking and unhealthy for people and the environment. When you walk your dog, please take along a plastic grocery or newspaper bag and pick up poop — no matter whether your dog is large or small, poop matters. Besides messing up shoes, pet poop harbors pathogens that can impact air and water quality. Pet waste washes into storm drains and then into local waterways where it turns the water into a cloudy, green, foul-smelling mess with no oxygen for aquatic life; the end result is beach closings and fishing restrictions.


When Facebook friends were asked to weigh in on do’s and don’ts for homeowners’ yards and homes in general, here’s what they said:

—Please do not put out lawn decorations and then not keep them clean and maintained. — Bea

—Clean up your leaves in the fall. — Debbie

—Holiday décor, Halloween is not in December, and Christmas is not in February … .etc. — Jean

—How about keeping your yard mowed and trimmed regularly. — Donna

—I love the red mulch … reminds me of redwood trees. — Cecelia

—Hate, hate, hate red mulch and junky cars in the driveway. — Lynn

—How about that fake rubber mulch looking thing people put around trees, hate that too. — Beth

—Know your porch’s proportions, and keep things in scale and uncluttered … And, for goodness sake, take your huge stroller indoors, don’t leave it on your lawn or porch. — Matt

—I hate those free form wild flower gardens that extend to the curb. Keep that nonconforming, asymmetrical, ugly thing you call tranquil in the backyard because us right brainers call it an eyesore — Robyn

—Store a huge RV in the front driveway. You could have a blue ribbon landscape, but all anyone sees is a gigantic eyesore. – Glenda



Associated Press