Top Five Landscaping Dilemmas and How To Deal With Them

Creating a comfortable outdoor living space takes time and careful planning. Landscaping dilemmas can put a kink in your plans and often inflate the budget to unimagined heights. Learn how to handle these challenges and take one step closer to your backyard paradise.

An Unwanted Tree

Trees provide several benefits in your yard, including shade, fresh air, wildlife habitat and natural beauty. But certain conditions can transform that tree into an obstruction. Disease or age morph an attractive, healthy specimen into an eyesore that attracts pests and negatively affects the balance of your landscaping. Storm damage may leave your tree worse for wear, and a lack of maintenance allows for overgrown branches and out of control spread. Invasive trees may also need to be removed for the health of your neighbourhood.

An unwanted tree can be expensive to remove or transplant, but leaving it there can create a major problem. Broken tree branches can damage your roof, disease can infect your gardens and overgrown trees present a risk to your family and pets. You may also need to change your landscaping plans to accommodate for an existing tree.

Moving or removing an unwanted tree is the wise plan in many cases. Homeowners can tackle tree removal in a few different ways. Professional tree removal contractors cut the tree down and feed the chunks through a wood chipper. This mulch can be used in your garden or recycled. Smaller trees and saplings can be dug out and removed, although that may require hard work and heavy equipment.

Transplanting is also an option, if the tree is healthy, non-invasive and you have room for it elsewhere in the yard. See which option suits your budget and landscaping plans.

Extreme Grades

Steep grades can present unusable space and reduce the opportunities in your outdoor area. Some properties grade away from the house, while others have steep slopes off to one side. Still other homes are actually built into a hill and provide challenges on every side.

Correcting a grade involves several steps. You may need to hire an excavator to physically move or remove soil from your yard. Retaining walls offer another option, and can be designed to create different levels within your yard. Large steps built into the grade allows for safe traffic flow and fences or railings can be used on higher walls to prevent falls.

Standing Water

You need to ensure your property is well drained, if only to protect the interior of your home from flooding damage. Standing water is an indication of poor drainage, and needs to be corrected before any of your landscaping begins. Gardens, trees and grass cannot thrive with soggy roots, and standing water prevents you from fully enjoying this space.

Grading corrections often involve excavating or removing the current soil, and replacing it with an improved mix. Heavy clay soil can be amended with organics, compost and a decent top soil. Depressions will be filled in and improper or questionable slopes can be redirected. French drains and dry wells help to dissipate water in your yard, directing it away from the house and toward the local sewer or storm water management system. Swales should be created between properties, providing an efficient path for water to travel away from either home.

Infertile Soil

Infertile soil is not a problem for patio or deck areas, and will not affect your shed, pathway or driveway. But when your trees, gardens and grass refuse to grow it's time to add some nutrients and enhance the soil to create a thriving, vibrant yard.

You can purchase soil testing kits at your local hardware store, providing you with the pH levels and other helpful information about the soil. Other tests can be done with your own two hands, such as the moisture retention test:

1) Just after a rainfall, dig down a few inches in your garden or yard and grab a handful of soil.

2) Squeeze it.

3) If that soil holds together for a few seconds before slowly breaking apart you have adequate drainage.

4) If it will not hold together at all you need to add peat moss or other heavy organics to improve water retention.

5) If the soil sticks together and will not easily come apart on its own, you need to add sand or light soils to improve drainage.

Adding organics is hard work and takes nearly an entire season. Consider installing raised gardens to get your flower beds in gear, or tear out your turf in sections, replacing the soil underneath with high quality top soil before laying new sod or reseeding. Keep your budget and timeline in mind when you talk to a local landscaping firm about the best way to improve infertile soil.

Lack of Privacy

Suburban homes often run into this problem, with compact yards and very few mature trees to provide privacy from second storey windows. Add privacy with backyard landscaping features that suit your tastes, as well as the size and scope of the space.

Consider where you would like to create a private space—on the deck, in the yard, around the garden? Then think about which views you want to block—from above, from the house, or from the neighbors? Several types of outdoor features can help to enhance privacy, such as:

  • Privacy screens on your deck or patio - built in the same style as a fence, and placed as a wall around your private area.
  • Pergolas - built into your deck or patio or designed as a standalone piece, pergolas can provide privacy from above, especially when used as a support for climbing vines.
  • Trees and shrubs - natural barriers that also provide shade and a beautiful view, the right type of tree or shrub can create various levels of privacy from dappled to complete.

Each of these landscaping dilemmas need to be handled with care and attention. By removing unwanted trees, correcting grading issues and water problems, enhancing your soil and creating privacy you can transform any outdoor space into an oasis of relaxation and fun. Talk to your landscaper about the best plan of attack and correct these landscaping dilemmas this season.

Posted by: diana
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