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Landscaping: When To Bring In The Pros


by Allison E. Beatty
RepairHome Columnist

When planning your landscaping projects, think realistically about what you can do yourself. While there are many home-improvement projects homeowners can tackle, some are best left to the pros.

The Landscaping Plan

Depending on how intense your landscaping project is, you may want to have a site plan. Measure the yard, map out existing trees, decks and driveways; and decide where to put flowerbeds and other landscaping.

In a small yard, you often can draw a plan yourself. It requires some detail work for measuring and a good sense of sun and shade patterns.

When it comes to larger projects, however, it is well worth the cost to have a professional landscaper create the plan. The landscaper knows where to plant shrubs to create seasonal interest and how to create balance with the various flowerbeds. A landscaper also has training in overall site planning.

A landscaper also knows what plants can thrive in various locations and how plant placement is dictated by their growth. In addition, landscapers typically receive discounts on nursery stock from their suppliers.

Landscaping With Large Plantings

People often decide to redo their landscaping to solve specific problems. Perhaps you want to block your view of a neighbor's deck or plant year-round greenery to enhance your view.

The projects often include planting large trees and knowledge of how they fare in various sun and drainage conditions is a must. Landscaping contractors are better able to handle those projects because they have experience working with many site-planning issues. Landscapers also have the equipment to pick up and deliver large trees and the workers to plant them.

Landscaping Stones

If you plan to landscape with big stones, this is a good landscaping project for a contractor. If you are building a patio out of limestone, for example, or adding flagstone around a tree, hiring a contractor is your best bet. Stones are heavy and can cause injury when lifted improperly.

Adding a French Drain

If you are changing your landscaping to prevent water from going into your basement, you may want to consider a French drain. This is a long-gravel trench that carries water through your yard and away from the house. This project involves heavy digging, plus knowledge of draining and yard grading. Because of the intensity of the project and the equipment needs, a French drain often is best left to a contractor.

Homeowners can revitalize their landscaping and rejuvenate their yards in many different ways. Think through those home-improvement projects carefully, however, to see what you can do and what's best left to contractor.

About the Author
Allison E. Beatty is an avid old-house enthusiast who has been renovating houses and writing about them for15 years. She contributes regularly to national newspaper, magazines, and Web sites.