Many of the home gardens have  typical “hardscapes,” combinations of walls, pavers, pergolas and water features. One thing most of them have in common is being over-planted. Some of the home gardens look lie “plant collections,” with one each of many different species and some other have mass-plantings. There could always be a better way to fill landscape beds with color without appearing cluttered.Otherwise most of the designs will have twice or three times the number of plants needed and will become much too crowded in a short time.

Not many landscape designers really know about plants. You can easily spot out many examples of plant combinations that won’t thrive because the plants need different growing conditions. A good example is combining hostas, which need shade protection, with ornamental grasses that prefer full sun all day. This might work on a color wheel, but with time, the wonderful color harmonies will disappear because some of the plants won’t survive.

Overcrowding and poor plant choices will make maintenance a real headache during the long haul. Woody plants that grow too large will need to be sheared  constantly to fit the space and keep them looking good.

Taxus yews, shrubs should be avoided because they need constant shearing. Fothergilla and viburnum will get jammed into small spaces when they naturally grow quite large.

Purple wintercreeper, a groundcover vine that climbs trees and walls, covers walks and smothers the rest of the landscape. Wintercreeper destroys siding and gutters and is known for attracting “scale,” an insect that covers it with powdery mold unless it’s sprayed every year.

Expensive hardscape designs with outdoor living and dining rooms are aplenty in many of the landscapes but with little thought to protecting homeowners from sun, wind and rain. Most of the pergolas do not actually provide much shade. Walks and patios should not have more steps, whereas ramps would have been more user-friendly.

It is tough to create landscapes that stood the test of time, getting better year after year. Low-maintenance landscapes take careful planning and require skilled installation. Color wheels are important tools for harmonizing plantings, but a good designer also should have practical experience with real-life maintenance and a good background in how plants actually grow.

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