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Landscaping and Maintenance Tricks of the Trade

The Professional Landcare Network, a trade association for landscaping practitioners, published research earlier this year that showed the average spending on yard maintenance is expected to hold steady for 2013, while the biggest average spending increases will likely be on entertainment-type “hardscapes” like decks, outdoor kitchens and water features. Other popular hardscapes to add or upgrade include patios, walkways, fire pits and outdoor rooms. In general, construction has seen more of an upswing than plant installations. It appears the trend toward upgrading outdoor structural settings — and therefore value to a house — in a still recovering real estate market stands true of consumers across the board, experts in the landscape industry said.

On top of the decade-long trend of people staying home more and spending money on upgrades for their own property has been added the struggling economy the country has endured since 2008. While indications for Houston show we will continue to enjoy our robust local economy, it always good to know what is going on nationally, especially since Houston has such transient population.

Start with Good Bones
When thinking about your own property—what you want to do with your landscaping, whether maintenance, upgrades or new construction—always start with “good bones”, or a solid foundation from which all good things flow.

The process for an excellent home landscape design begins with planning. This phase is where you get to dream. While your mind meanders, ask yourself how you and your family live in the outdoor space. Does your current landscape design fit your needs, whether that means a pool for the kids, a vegetable garden or seating space for lots of guests? Would you like an outdoor kitchen for entertaining or the visual and auditory pleasures of an outdoor water fountain? What qualities do you want to see in your landscape—do you prefer lots of color, variations on one color theme or the more subtle effect of different shades of green? Maybe you own an outdoor sculpture that you want to spotlight or have a garden style in mind, such as a butterfly garden or an English garden design. Professionals, such as landscape designers and landscape architects, can help you make the best decisions and then made your ideas flourish.

Dollars and Sense
Cost factors that might be included in your budget:

  • Patios or decks with surface choices such as stained concrete, stone, brick
  • Walkways, fences, gates and arbors
  • Summer kitchens
  • Luxury swimming pools and other water features
  • Landscape lighting
  • Irrigation systems and landscape drainage systems
  • Perennials and seasonal color
  • Tree preservation (if undertaking any construction—it may involve building barricades around trees you want to keep so that roots don’t get compacted or severed during construction; another aspects of tree preservation could involve setting up temporary drainage and preparation of the soil)
  • Mulching, which could be pine mulch or gravel

Landscaping and Maintenance: Ongoing
From aeration to watering, regular landscape maintenance protects your investment, preserves the integrity of the original design and enhances your enjoyment of a lush and lovely landscape. It includes regularly-scheduled lawn mowing and trimming, shrub and tree pruning, fertilization, putting down rye grass, and management of pests and diseases. Full service usually entails 52 or 42 visits a year; however, monthly or quarterly servicing is often available.