Living Smart: Is it time to update your landscaping?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Homeowners often update or refresh the interior of their homes by changing paint color or furniture, but the design of your lawn probably doesn’t receive your attention that frequently.

Why not? Adding new plants, reshaping existing ones or changing the color of your planters can be just as simple as buying a new throw pillow.

Your landscaping is always evolving, whether it’s seasonal or just maturation. That perfect look you once had may be slightly off balance thanks to the tree that grew too tall or the bush that didn’t survive the last windstorm. Plus, your attitude about your landscape can change, too.

Is your lawn overdue for a change?

Angie’s List member Linda C. and her husband felt the front yard of their ranch home in Newark, Del., was completely unremarkable.

"I found I could spend an afternoon doing yard work, and the yard still looked pretty much the same … just ‘blah,’" Linda says.

The couple embarked on a landscaping project with the goal of creating a private outdoor summer "room," complete with a curved stone landscaping wall, a tree canopy as the "roof" and a bird garden. Those big changes continue to lead to small ones.

"The success of the wall project has encouraged and inspired me to continue working on improving our bird garden and patio," Linda says.

So when’s a good time to assess the look of your lawn? Try to take a hard look at your landscape plan at least every five to 10 years.

James Woodhead, president of Woody’s Custom Landscaping in Battle Ground, Wash., says most landscapes need changing over the years. A landscape that was installed 10 years ago, for instance, may not suit your landscaping needs today.

Woodhead points out that perhaps your children have outgrown that backyard play area, or maybe you desire a more inviting space that allows you to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family.

Because the components of your landscape are living (and hopefully growing) things, it’s important to keep an eye on the overall balance.

Patrick Anderson, administrator of plant health care at Heartwood Tree Service in Charlotte, N.C., likes to contrast the components of your lawn to your living room furniture.

As your couch becomes older it probably won’t be getting larger and encroaching upon other parts of your home, but your trees and shrubs definitely can, he says.

Anderson adds that mature plant size, placement and the intent of design are paramount when choosing trees and shrubs.

What if I have to redo my landscaping from scratch?

Anderson says completely changing your landscape design is a good thing and something you shouldn’t be afraid to do. Why, he asks, should a homeowner nurse along an old decrepit azalea, when it can be replaced by one of the newer varieties?

Other times, however, you may not have a choice when it comes to changing your landscaping.

Angie’s List member Jerrod N., of Indianapolis, recently endured the unfortunate event of having a sewer line collapse, which meant a large part of his front yard had to be dug up in order to install a new line.

While it was great to have the plumbing fixed, the front yard was left in disarray.

"A large part of our yard was disturbed, and we had to wait for the ground to settle through the winter before we could begin this next phase of restoring our yard," he says.

Jerrod and his family settled on having pea gravel installed in the patio area because the ground had still not completely settled. It may be not have been his initial intent, but a homeowner should expect a yard to throw a few punches.

So it’s smart to be ready to roll — and change — with them.