Posted On October 31, 2019 By In Home & Garden, Regulars With 576 Views

West Coast Gardener – How to Fix Bad Landscaping

by Katie Kroeker, Owner/Designer, Pacific Ridge Landscapes –

Whether you bought a new house and inherited a landscape that doesn’t work for you, or heaven forbid, you paid for professional landscaping and don’t like the finished result, bad landscapes happen to good people. The first step to correct the situation is to identify the problem.

Poor plant choices. These include trees that have outgrown the space around them, struggling shrubs and perennials, or a mishmash of colour. Solution: Remove them. There is nothing wrong with taking healthy trees and shrubs to the compost. They will break down and their nutrients will enrich new compost or bark mulch. The exception is large, old growth conifers and other protected trees that contribute to our native wildlife habitats.

Wasted opportunity. This is most noticeable with new custom homes. Often there is nothing left in the budget after a new build, and the landscaping looks like an afterthought. The scale and proportion are wrong, the plants can be found at any gas station, and the landscaping isn’t doing the house justice. Solution: Expand the beds, replace the generic plants with thoughtful choices (in multiples), upgrade the outdoor lighting, and invest in larger trees or shrubs for visual balance.

It’s Ugly. Often with ugly landscaping there isn’t much to be done. The combination of several bad decisions that do not lend themselves to partial fixes often requires starting over. It can be tempting to find band-aid solutions but that just creates a collection of band-aids. These temporary fixes require throwing good money after bad and new plants won’t fix a bad path. Solution: It’s gotta go!

You paid a landscaper and you don’t like it. This is heartbreaking because it means that the process went wrong in several ways. It may indicate a lack of experience or skill on the landscaper’s part. Landscaping is far more than just the physical ability to dig holes and plant a garden, but people still think that a pickup truck and a wheelbarrow qualify them as landscapers. Brawn is often cheaper than brains, and the promise of stretching your budget can be appealing. The trouble is it comes at the cost of ongoing communication, artistry and client satisfaction. Solution: Solve this before it happens. Do your homework. Interview multiple designers/contractors. Check references and tour their previous work. A reputable company should not only have references, but repeat clients. Finally, trust your gut when you meet with them. If the work is already underway, speak up as soon as you see something that makes you wonder – a good landscaper will have solid reasons for their choices and will be happy to discuss them with you.

Here are a few ways that you can ensure your landscaping is fabulous for years to come.

  1. Start with a landscape plan or overall design that will focus your efforts to ensure a cohesive look and address any problem areas from the beginning.
  2. Take care of the landscaping you have as this will prevent overgrown plants and shrubs that will need to be removed in favour of new, healthy ones.
  3. Buy plants in multiples. Always. This will give you greater visual impact and ensure your landscape is cohesive and calming.

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Your West Coast Culture. A magazine about the people and places that make the Saanich Peninsula the little piece of paradise we call home.

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