R. Davis of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension
10. Improper pruning practices that destroy the beauty of both shrubs and trees: Shrubs are not supposed to look like basketballs and trees don’t need to be topped.
9. Limited plant diversity, 40 species of shrubs and trees make up 90 percent more of the plants in our landscape. We have much more available to us. Our landscapes have become dull.
8. No consideration for the mature height or width of planting material: Therefore, landscape material covers windows, walks, doors and drives. Replace with smaller plants.
7. Not recognizing when to start over: Landscape plant material does not last forever. Pruning them to the ground to start them over works in the short term, but after 20 years or more, the best approach may be to pull them up and start over.
6. Limited use of hardscape materials: Landscaping is not just the usage of plants. Fences, decks, patios, pools and walks are called hardscape. Hardscape material can solve a lot of landscape problems in areas we cannot grow plants.
5. Too many landscapes are overplanted and too large, therefore requiring a lot of labor and expense to maintain: When a lawn mower costs as much as a new car, you may want to rethink your landscape.
4. Landscapes that are poorly designed or have no plan at all: There is a whole lot more to landscaping than just buying what is in bloom and trying to find a spot for it. Poor designs lead to maintenance problems, damage to homes and interesting neighbor relations. Get professional assistance or attend workshops.
3. Improper mulching of plant material: Mulch does not need to be more than 3 to 4 inches in depth. Too much mulch repels water, invites unwanted insects and can encourage decay on the trunks of trees. Replace mulch annually.
2. Overplanting: It is a common occurrence to put too many plants in a given space. Learn how far apart to plant them by dividing their mature width in half and add a foot for extra measure.
1. Failure to match plant material up with the soil you have: Poorly drained soils lead to drowning and root diseases. Healthy plants will succumb within a few years from soil-related problems. If you have poorly drained soils, then select plants that can grow successfully in them. My top 10 landscape mistakes are based on 34 years as a horticultarist with the Cooperative Extension Service.
Rett Davis is director of the Alamance County Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. You can reach him at 336/570-6740.