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Improve the Results of DIY Landscaping with Design Consultation

Casandra Maier- April, 2021


It is a satisfying experience to sit back and enjoy the fruits of a DIY project gone well.  Learning a new skill or utilizing skills we've picked up along the way, is an empowering way to save money.  DIY landscaping offers many opportunities to be hands-on in the process of:

  • Planting

  • Hardscaping

  • Construction


 However, it is important to ensure that our DIY home and garden projects don't turn into DIY disasters.  Shoddy landscape designs and installations end up:

  • Costing More

  • Harming Resale Value

  • Reducing Curb Appeal

  • Causing Damage

  • Posing Health and Safety Issues


Fortunately there is a way to reduce these risks and retain our involvement, while ensuring that the landscape only benefits from our resourcefulness.  Before getting to work, consider hiring a landscape designer.  Many designers offer hourly consultation to DIYers in need of:

  • Planting Suggestions and Solutions

  • Construction Information

  • Planning and Guidance

  • Material Procurement  

Asking a professional to review the project increases success.  Clients benefit from having a design and solutions advocate who provides vital information about landscaping and construction:

  • Processes

  • Aesthetics

  • Logistics

  • Health and Safety

The results of DIY landscaping are significantly improved with professional design consultation. 



Skills and Safety

Health and safety are the number one priority of any designer when creating a landscape plan.  The plants and design elements that exist in our environment have an impact on:

  • Health

  • Safety

  • Well-being

As DIY enthusiasts plan their home and garden projects, a landscape designer is a beneficial person to have on their team to provide oversight.  Designers offer important tips and precautions about the size and scope of the work clients plan to take on.  Consultation provides insights to help determine if a DIY landscape​ project is:

  • Safe for the client to do themselves

  • Overly complicated in scope

  • Too large in scale 

  • Aligning with the client's skills


Some landscape projects and project phases are best reserved for contractors, as they are beyond the client's skill set.  Unless the DIYer is an industry professional themselves, the following types of work pose health and safety concerns.     

  • Electric 

  • Anything with Heights

  • Intense Digging and Earth Work

Landscape design consultation helps clients navigate the health and safety issues related to planting and construction.  Landscape designers assist DIYers in protecting their investment of time, money, and materials.  They ensure that construction processes, plant choices, and design elements are in line with and do not cause harm to:

  • Children and Pets

  • Environment

  • Community

  • Building Codes

  • Tree Credits

  • Setbacks

  • Right of Ways

  • Lines of Sight

  • Utility Lines

  • Underground Wiring

  • Water Lines and Sprinkler Systems



Science and Maintenance

When creating a DIY landscape, the plants and materials we choose are dependent on a number of scientific and environmental processes for longevity.  These interacting organic and inorganic elements create complexities that benefit from professional input.   Landscape consultation services enhance DIY research, as designers have advanced education and experience with:


  • Ecology

  • Climate Zones

  • Microclimates

  • Soil Science 

  • Moisture

  • Sun Orientation

  • Plant Varieties/ Cultivars

  • Native Plants

  • Stormwater     

A landscape's success is not guaranteed upon installation.  As a living work of art, it must be cared for and properly maintained to retain its aesthetic value.  Successful landscape designs improve with time and are easy to maintain.  DIY landscapers benefit from design consultation to ensure that their proposed project: 

  • Creates realistic maintenance requirements

  • Includes plants that thrive in the climate/microclimate

  • Properly manages stormwater and runoff

  • Positively impacts ecology and our environment

  • Conserves energy

  • Is built to last

  • Does not create costly problems down the road

Designers are experienced in analyzing, surveying and providing practical solutions that work with the scientific processes and maintenance needs of the landscape.  Hourly consultation offers DIY clients an assessment of their project's:


  • Plant List

  • Growing Conditions

  • Maintenance Requirements

  • Sustainability

  • Longevity

  • Troubleshooting


Design Principles & Aesthetics

A well-designed landscape benefits the property owner and community.  The goal with DIY landscaping is to save money while increasing property value.  Landscape design consultation is a valuable resource for DIYers, as it: 

  • Offers a non-biased assessment of the project's pros and cons

  • Can save property owners from doing something that negatively impacts resale

  • Advises clients on how to prevent shoddy results that are easily recognizable as DIY 

  • Ensures that the landscape follows the principles of design

To create an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space that enhances well-being, landscape designers adhere to the principles of design.  DIY landscapers benefit from having a designer review their project to ensure that the landscape follows the tenets of:


  • Simplicity

  • Variety

  • Balance

  • Emphasis/ Focal Points

  • Smooth Transitions

  • Scale/ Proportion 

  • Unity/ Interconnectedness

These design principles affect how a landscape flows and feels overall.  When a DIY outdoor space ignores and abandons these principles, the project runs the risk of:

  • Subduing the Property

  • Concealing Important Features

  • Contradicting the Architecture On-site

  • Harming Aesthetic Value

  • Reducing Property Value

  • Requiring Replacement or Repair   

Design consultation prevents landscape DIYers from making costly errors.  Landscape designers help clients plan and develop solutions for their DIY home and garden projects.  These solutions follow the principles of design and increase aesthetic value by: 

  • Improving Appearance 

  • Adding Warmth

  • Adding Livability

  • Expressing Personality

  • Creating a Pleasurable Space

  • Creating a Useful Space

  • Creating a Visual Relationship with the Architecture On-site

  • Matching a Desired Style or Theme

  • Developing Connectivity between Design Elements



Other Opportunities

Landscape designers study the relationship between people and outdoor spaces.  They assess their client's needs and use expert spatial awareness to create practical and functional design solutions.  Consider booking an hourly consultation with a designer before embarking on a DIY landscape project to learn more about :


  • The Property's Opportunities

  • The Property's Constraints

  • Activities/ Uses of the Landscape

  • Functional Design Elements

Consultation increases the success and satisfaction of a DIY landscape project.  Landscape designers are advocates for their clients.  It is helpful to have professional support to make sure the project:

  • Is thoroughly estimated to determine cost

  • Remains within the client's budget

  • Stays on-track in the event of time constraints, such as the sale of the property

In addition to hourly consult, many landscape designers offer a range of other services to assist DIY clients in developing successful outdoor landscape projects.  Along with project overview and oversight, landscape designers offer other opportunities to supplement DIY projects, including:

  • Colorful Drawings and Renderings

  • Project Phase Planning

  • Estimates and Budgeting

  • Access to Vendors Outside Residential Retail

  • Securing Quality Plants and Materials 

  • Securing Functional and Artistic Design Elements





When skill sets and projects align, DIY is an efficient way to save and get involved in the planning and development of an outdoor space.  Design consultation increases project success.  Enjoy the fruits of DIY work, create an aesthetically pleasing space, and protect the investment by securing hourly consultation services with a landscape designer.  


Dodge, N. (March, 2021). Interviews with ND Design Services Inc. 

Kim, L. (2021). "Curb Appeal: DIY vs. Hiring a Pro." HGTV. Outdoor More.

County of Santa Clara. (2021). "The Seven Principles of Design." Sustainable Landscape Management.

Welch, W. (2021). "Planning the Home Landscape- Earth Kinds Edition." Texas A&M. Agrilife Extension.  

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