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Attention Homeowners: These 14 Little Mistakes Make Your Yard Look Messy

Avoid these errors that make your outdoor spaces look unkempt.

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You don’t have a master plan

Before beginning landscaping, it is crucial to make a plan so that your garden does not turn out looking haphazard and jumbled. Divide your yard into three segments: public spaces such as your front yard and driveway, private spaces such as your patio and swimming pool, and utility spaces for things like sheds and garbage cans. Decide what should go where and do not stray from the plan as you landscape. These are secrets landscapers won’t tell you for free.

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You don’t realize the importance of unity

You want the natural and unnatural elements of your property to exist cohesively. Combine plants and structural elements by planting shrubs near the house’s foundation to mask the base, or maybe letting a climbing plant grow beautifully up a porch post. Pick flower colors that accentuate that of your home. Additionally, mind the architecture of your home when planting your garden. An ultramodern home, for example, might look better with traditional, formal beds than an unruly, naturalistic garden.

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You leave trees to stand alone

Trees that stand in isolation can look random and pointless. Tie trees together by planting a curved bed between them, either with shade-tolerant shrubs or spring-flowering bulbs. For a low-maintenance option, select spreading groundcover plants. Here are tips about trees arborists won’t tell you.

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You let your garden get ahead of you

Though large, sprawling gardens are certainly enviable, committing to a garden you tire of caring for can lead it to fall into disorder and look messy. Make sure that you are realistic with your garden size and don’t allow it to become a looming project you are reluctant to take on.

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iStock/mpiotti

You don’t stake beds

When preparing to plant a flowerbed, stake the borders so that your end result matches what you had originally planned. Use stakes and a string, or fashion a curved bed with a garden hose.

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iStock/Happy Trails Photography by CJMcKendry

You don’t think about water

In gardens that feature bodies of water, keep in mind that your trees can have an impact on aquatic systems. Choose trees that won’t shed profusely in autumn so that they do not litter the surface of your pond, and ensure the trees are planted far enough so they do not cast too much shade or their roots do not weaken pond walls.

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iStock/Anna Jurkovska

You don’t landscape pond edges

For formal ponds, brick edging can provide a clean-looking appearance, while natural ponds will be more visually appealing when edged in stone. Neglecting to provide edging can make the pond look bizarre and unfinished.

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iStock/BrianAJackson

You mow too low

Cutting your grass too short is called “scalping”, and can lead your lawn to look messy by weakening grass and creating space for weeds to sprout and grow. The ideal height for your lawn depends on your type of grass, but to err on the side of caution means cutting it higher.

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You overfeed your lawn

Providing your lawn with too much fertilizer causes the roots to grow excessively and grass will need to be mowed more. This creates more work for you and your yard may take on an unkempt appearance between cuttings. Additionally, it is important to try and buy fertilizer formulated for your type of grass. Here’s how to fix the most common lawn problems.

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iStock/PsychoShadowMaker

You mow wet grass

Mowing wet grass can cause clippings to form clumps that will smother the lawn, as well as clog up your mower blade. Wet grass is also very slippery, which makes mowing before your lawn has had a chance to dry a dangerous activity. Always wear durable shoes when mowing to further ensure your safety.

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iStock/OlgaPonomarenko

You don’t think about future shrub size

Before purchasing shrubs for landscaping, check the tag to figure out how tall and wide they will grow to be when mature. Failing to do so may cause you to underestimate the size of the fully-grown shrub, making it difficult for you to control the shrub or keep it in bounds as it grows.

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iStock/OlgaPonomarenko

You don’t prune properly

Proper pruning includes timing clippings accurately to best enhance shrub blooms. Early bloomers, such as forsythias and rhododendrons, should be pruned immediately after they flower, while late bloomers like hybrid tea roses should be pruned in early spring to encourage more growth.

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You don’t keep a garden calendar

Keeping a calendar specifically dedicated to tracking dates for planting, fertilizing, and other garden and yard activities keeps you from becoming overwhelmed and helps to keep your yard in check. Electing not to have one may bring an onslaught of chaos you’ll struggle to recover from.

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iStock/arinahabich

You don’t label

Labeling plants in your garden will help you to keep track of where you planted what, and prevent it from falling into disarray. Use metal labels with wire loops tied loosely onto branches, or thin, natural-looking bamboo sticks to keep track of what’s where.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest