When it comes to home improvement, DIY homeowners want the outside to look as great as the inside. But many fall short in achieving a well-designed landscape due to common mistakes.

Subtle errors or a huge miscalculation can have a negative impact on the overall look of your yard. So whether you’re sprucing up to sell your home or making it more family-friendly to live in, here are some common amateur pitfalls to avoid.

1. Don’t maintain a green lawn because everybody else does

Most homeowners assume their yard must contain a grassy area or it won’t measure up to the neighborhood. But you aren’t obligated to live up to anyone else’s standards in terms of landscape design.

This is your yard, and yours to design however you like. Not everyone is a fan of “green carpet,” due to the ongoing maintenance of mowing, fertilizing, and overall care. This is especially true for smaller yards.

Other alternatives to a green grassy yard include a lovely perennial bed or rock garden.

2. Casual planting says no master plan

Many homeowners who try to landscape without a plan end up with something that looks confused, haphazard, and disorganized. Instead of making a good, solid landscape design, people plant shrubs and flowers wherever there’s room.

It’s best to draw up a plan, even if it’s just a rough sketch. At least it will provide a sense of the direction you want the yard to take. This is actually the most important step in creating a well-landscaped, attractive yard.

3. Lack of color is not attractive

In terms of planting, spring and summer demand the most attention. In contrast, many DIYers don’t bother to plant for the fall season and miss out on some very gorgeous colors.

This is unfortunate, since the fall has enormous potential for great landscaping. The best colors of the year happen during autumn, so its potential splendor should not be overlooked.

4. Don’t neglect functionality in the design

Home landscape designs should include thoughtful color palettes and other aesthetic considerations. But what about functionality?

Functionality should take priority over any other aspect of the yard, ideally. Design each area of your yard according to function first, and aesthetics second. That way, you’ll have something you and your family can enjoy and interact with, not just look at.

A good landscape design will include both functional and aesthetic elements. What’s the point of having a yard if you can’t use it?

5. Listen to your yard and work with what you already have

Does your yard have a great deal of shade, or is it extremely rocky? It makes the best sense to work with the existing terrain in your yard. For example, instead of building a retaining wall to address erosion issues in a yard that slopes, try working with the grade and planting and/or building something that accents it instead.

This is called going with the flow. Some of the most beautiful yards are the ones that posed the greatest initial challenges.

Work with these ideas in order to get the most out of your yard. Creating a practical yet appealing outdoor space offers as much joy as the interior of a lovely decorated home.

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