Hello everyone, I'm new , and I need some landscaping help.

Magnolia, TX

Actually a lot of help. My name is Tammy and I live in Magnolia TX.. Basically I've never done anything that has to do with gardening or lanscaping before. We have a pretty big yard ( 1 acre ) the front yard just look absolutely awful. We've called 2 different landscaper to gives us a quote on how much it would cost to do our front yard and so far the first one is telling $5600. :(. I knew it would be expensive but not that expensive :(. so now im thinking doing some things myself, my husband is completely against that idea. so my question is where do I start? what do I do ?. It's a pretty big project, I'm going to need a lot of help to do it, but with the right info I know I can do it. Any advice would be great.

Thank you


Dewitt, MI(Zone 5b)

Can you give us a photo of the blank canvas that you are starting with? Also, an idea of what the finished product should look like - consist of? Do you want a foot path(s)? Shrubs, perennials, annuals, trees, rocks . . . ?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I second what Stelco said--a picture and some more info would be really helpful. One thing you might consider--landscaping companies charge a lot to do the work, but having them do a basic design for you probably isn't as expensive, so you might consider paying them to do the design, then you and hubby do the work yourselves. Or have them do the job in chunks, a little bit this year, then a little more next year, it might end up costing slightly more overall if you do it that way, but then you don't have to come up with that big chunk of money all at once. Even if you DIY it you can do things in stages--I would plan out where you want any hardscaping (patios, walkways, etc) first, then figure out where the garden beds will be. Once you have your plan, do what you can afford and put grass or some other type of groundcover like gravel, river rocks, etc in the areas that you can't afford to get to yet, the remove it and replace with garden beds, patios, etc as you have time and $$.

And $5600 to do what I'm guessing is a pretty good sized front yard sounds very cheap to me--I paid quite a lot more than that to landscape my slightly less than 1/5 of an acre lot. I realize it's still a lot of $$ and don't blame you for not wanting to spend that much, but to redo a whole front yard it actually sounds like a pretty reasonable price.

Magnolia, TX

Thank you for answering I will actually post some pics later. The $5600 is just for the front yard not the back. but it sounds like he'll be putting a lot for the money, the following is what he said we'll be getting.

PLants for beds along side walk

17 3 gal Red tips
24 1 gal Boxwood/Mex Heather/Azalea
8 1 Gal Liriope
1 Flat Caladium mix
1 Sago Palm

Plants For Bed in the Main Yard

8 5 gal Azalea's
4 1 gal Aztec grass
13 flat Seasonal color
2 Italian cypress


6 pallets of moss rock
3 yard of bull rock


7 Crape Myrtle
3 Magnolia


3 yards Soil Mix
68 Yards Mulch

We also have a drainage problem in our walk way, he'll fix that .
and also we do have basic plants that was put in by the builder, he agree to remove those and replant them in other part of the yard, and also installing a fountain ( we have to buy ourselves ) all included in the price. I know we're getting a good deal , it's just hard to pay all that money at once. I

Windsor, ON(Zone 6a)

It sounds like he already did a design for you. Why don't you ask him how much it would cost if he did the main beds for now and if you planted the bigger trees later? Ask him how much it would cost you you have them do the structural part, the boulders and the beds and you could plant the smaller stuff yourself ie the bedding plants are easy to plant.
If he used smaller sized plants (azaleas can be planted as a 2gal size for less money) and held off on some stuff for now like seasonal colour which is not part of the structural plantings, this could save you $$$
Good luck.

Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Mrsfed04, I just saw this thread in search of something else and started reading. From what it sounds like $5600 is not a lot for this job. I would do a lot myself if I were you. Apart from the fact that it will safe some money, more importantly you will learn AND love and appreciate YOUR yard a lot better. It will truly be your yard iso a yard that somebody else designed and made. It keeps you fit and strong at the same time!
Have you discussed paying in installments with him - he might not be opposed to that.
Do you have some pics already? I'm really curious.
What else do you want: you have kids -need play areas etc,?

Marietta, GA

I am a newbie also and I am trying to work with a much smaller area. I live in a corner townhouse. The place is about 30 years old so the landscaping is just blah. We tore out everything in the front I will update with some pics. I am wondering if I am better off ordering plants from online at a place like springhillnurseries or going to a local nursery? Local nurseries seem soo pricy, bu I don't want to order and have another dead yard. Any suggestions. Also I need something that will catch on in the next couple years, as I am going to be moving when I finish school in less then 3 years.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

My personal experience has been that in general prices are lower at local nurseries than they are online, especially if you're looking for larger plants that will make the garden look filled in faster. I use the mail order places to get the things that I can't find locally. If the same plants look cheaper through mail order, it could be because they're smaller plants so make sure you understand the size of the plant you're getting before you think you're getting a better deal. Sometimes it might be a better deal, but sometimes it won't be.

Raleigh, NC

Hi, kakezgarden - as you can see by my screen name, I'm in much the same boat as you and Mrsfed04. I've got the old house (1954), but with the huge, empty yard that no one has cared about -- ever, really.

So I went just a wee bit crazy this spring, and bought a LOT of plants. It was so much fun!!! Of course now I'm dealing with trying to design the yard after the fact! Don't ever do this, by the way.

But wanted to say that I did experiment with some online ordering vs. local nurseries. And I'm going to go with local nurseries from now on, unless I just can't find something. The online plants take a while to arrive, were so dissappointingly small, and one shipment arrived crushed (they did give me a refund). They simply couldn't compare with what I could get locally. And if you shop around from nursery to nursery, you can often find a lower price. Our local farmer's market was also a great resourse for plants!

Best of luck with your efforts!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I know this is going to sound really boring, but to get the gauge of the size of the bed versus the sise of the plants you are getting for your money, I try get along to my local nursery/garden centre and group the plant list together on the ground within the nursery, this at least gives an idea of a) what the plants actually look like grouped together and b) the shape, form and colour/texture of the plants, dont just line them up in a row, move them around till you feel happy and then you will see what you are getting for your money, the size of the plants will also give you a sence of ballance as these plants will grow much larger over the years, I know when we took over our present place, it was truly daunting in scale, work and cash, so I would advise anyony to make/get a plan and if you cant self do it, then get the hard landscapeing done by a pro, these guys know all the pitfalls, the short cuts and have the tools, knowhow and experience to get it right, especially if soil is to be moved/relocated and added, then drainage, then soil conditions, so if you need to cut costs at the start, and lets face it, very few of us have the cash to have everything done for us, then get the landscape done for you. The next stage is easy, that is going along with a plant list, buying some plants as you can afford them and planting them, thats the easy bit, the cheepest bit compared to tool hire, mistakes and costly backbreaking work trying to figure out where and how it should be done, remember, machinery and tools required to do the job, is costing you money when you are at work or you cant get outdoors to use them, Once the hard lanscape is done, you just do a bed/border at a time as you get the money, you dont have a lot of expensive plants lying around needing loads of water or dying on you as you have bought too many and no time to plant them, and as someone else has just said before, you learn and grow in confidence as you go along, just remember to research what your plants/trees/shrubs need right from the start, then you will get more enjoyment and a feeling of achievement, I garden 10 acres, believe me, it is nowhere near finished. prob never will be in my lifetime, spend a fortune on plants/trees etc, and sometimes can hardly see them,due to the scale of the place, but boy, have I learned a lot, made some mistakes, grew the wrong plants for the conditions I had, but that was at the start, now 20 years later, I know my soil, situation and limits so it is all a real learning curve, as I have said before, Rome was never built in a day, if a garden is built in a day or two, then you have huge responsibility looking after it, in stages, you learn faster, surer and love your plants more because you have time to get to know them, sorry if this is way of track, but mistakes cost money and who has that to burn. good luck all you new gardeners, just go with your gut feelings and a tight pocket, it is so easy to get carried away and regret it all too late, patience gives you a better garden at the end of the day. WeeNel.

Seattle, WA

Hey, Mrs. Maybe your husband is afraid you'll end up preferring your garden to him!!! That happens a lot, and some of us actually garden at night by the light of the moon....If you really are a newbie, and esp. if you grew up in a different region, perhaps what you need to do is take a knowledgeable friend with you to a local arboretum (at the university, perhaps?) or public garden. Here you will see plants actually IN USE, and see how they look at various times of the year. Some plants we love because they are cheap and easy, some just get under our skin and we get addicted to that whole process. Be sure you are getting a landscape that you love, not just one that fills in space. Put your favorite things where you have to see them every day, adjacent to the front or side door where you enter. Be sure you know what the landscaper has recommended, which might be fine, but not to your taste. Plants themselves are relatively inexpensive compared to all the prep time and materials used to beef up the soil. Hence, if you end up losing or just disliking a plant down the road, figure out why, toss, and replace. This is how we learn. Before you go out huntin', be sure to note sunny and shady areas. You have some flexibility, but often we delude ourselves on the point of how much sun really gets in during the day. If you have years and years, shade can actually be created! Have fun, and don't get to hurried. Barb

Plano, TX

watch out--you might end up like me and be totally obsessed with your yard!! my son got engaged and i wanted a nice yard since we would have out of towners etc--i started out thinking i would let a landscaper do it but expenses came up and i ended up deciding i would do this "chore" myself --i worked every day and night of the summer when it didn't rain--since you are from texas you know what i mean!! who knows i might have spent as much as it would have cost the landscaper since i was at the stores all the time--but i loved it and my yard turned out great!! i did have a lady in the neighborhood help and encourage me --i spent lots of time getting books from the library and asking questions on dave's garden--my yard is very big and it seemed overwhelming but having that wedding date kept me going--i agree with all who said to take a section at a time--

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Velvet hit it right on the nose - be sure you like the choices the landscaper made if you decide to go with the plan -even if you do it yourself. Go to the nurseries and the public gardens and be sure about your investment. Like maybe you don't want 17 red tips. They grow quickly and fill in the space quickly, maybe that is why landscaper made that choice, but red tips are short lived and have aggressive roots. Unless something has changed (disease resistant improvements) photinia have problems with leaf spot and not too long ago the thinking was if you have red tip you will have leaf spot sooner or later and you'll spend your time spraying. Ask the landscaper about this. Look up the photos of these shrubs and be sure the choices match your preferences (light and airy, dense and stiff etc.)
The liriope are nice when you get the gallon size but maybe on your own you can buy a gallon..split... and in a season or two have the eight 'gallon' size from one. I just pulled up tufts of my liriope and replanted and now (less than a year) have all full plants. Good Luck with your explorations - I think you will find that if you don't worry overmuch about it all you will enjoy the process and as Tulip said - you will own your garden and will love it because you helped to create it.

Plano, TX

maybe red tips do better in texas--my yard is filled with them and they are 20+years old and beautiful--we did have some that grew under the shade of a pecan tree and they did get leaf spot but not the ones in the sun--even this year with 6 weeks of rain--we treated them as big bushes for a long time and now we trim them as nice trees--

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Hubby and I built our house ourselves and I have been landscaping the 5 1/2 acres myself. The nice thing about doing it yourself is that you can look at trees and plants you like at local nurseries and then go home and look them up online to see how well they will grow in your area, how big they will get, etc. After I found numerous trees and shrubs I liked (keep a notepad with you to write the info down on each plant you like) and that would grow well in my area, I drew everything out on paper. Depict your house and lot and then place trees according to size and growing space needed, sun/shade requirements, etc. I also made sure I had a nice even mix on my hardwoods and evergreens so I don't have everything bunched up in one area. After I got all my trees, flowerbeds, and shrubs placed on paper, I began buying things as I could afford and have really enjoyed planting it all myself. It's very satisfying to come up my driveway now and look at all those beautiful plants--lot's of hard work getting it all done but so worth it.

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

I am sure there has been a decision made by Tammy and her husband by now. But if not, I know the price quoted is a good deal. My daughter had a landscaper completely redo the front and back of my small yard at my Condo and it was a little over $3,000. This included adding one of the more expensive limestone edgings and in the back, a path of the same type of limestone stepping stones with pebbles in between.

You live in the same zone as I do and If you do not have an irrigation system, you really should consider having one installed before everything is planted. The landscaper laid out the flowerbeds and did the edging, then the irrigation person came and installed the drip system in the flowerbeds and the nozzle-type (can't think of the actual name) in the front for the small grass area. After the irrigation system was installed, the landscaper came back and added the plants.

I agree with everyone who suggested that you use the landscaper's layout ideas if you are happy with them and gradually add or change what you would like for your yard to look like. Both of my daughters and their husbands used a landscape architect to draw a plan for them and have done most of the work themselves for their yards. I think having a plan for the layout is the key to inspire one to think of more ideas for themselves. You might decide you want less trees and shrubs, etc., and concentrate on other plants.

I wish you good luck with whatever you decide.

I am including two pictures of the pathway in my small backyard.

Thumbnail by Deloresw
Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

It would not let me add two pictures at once so here is the other picture.

Thumbnail by Deloresw
Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

I discovered a wonderful bush last year that I really love. It is a thryallis and it blooms almost all year long. You can read about it on this website. In the picture, it is the bush with the yellow flowers next to the Youpan Holly tree.

Thumbnail by Deloresw
Chapel Hill, TN

magnolia trees accumulate alot of fallen leaves, that scatter all around your lot, as well as your neighbors lots... we had three nice magnolia's in our front yard before... and vowed never to have another one planted in our yard. the easiest way to get rid of the leaves, is to "mow" your yard, where they have fallen. other than that, they make for good ground mulch, and look pretty all year long! good luck! ;)

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

Do yourself a sketch of your yard including your house etc on paper and fill in with his suggestions. It will help you visulize what is going where and how big it's going to be when it's mature. It's a lot easier to erase on paper than move a plant you don't particularly like!
I happen to love my magnolias, I have 2 magnolia magnifloras at the back of the property. I use the leaves for floral arrangements. When they're in bloom the smell is heavenly!

Cary, NC(Zone 7b)

Hit the library - landscaping book section. That's a helpful start to get ideas, how-to's etc. If you are going to stay a while in the house, say maybe 3-5+ years, do it yourself. It's cheaper plus most young plants don't really start looking full and producing flowers till about the 3 year or so, for that full size effect. It's really up to you. Landscape magazines are also helpful.


Argyle, TX(Zone 7b)

Mrsfed, did you decide yet and if so, what did you decide? If the husband was against you doing it your self and you can afford the landscaper, I would probably consider that. If so, be sure everything is in writing along with any guarantees. Check references and go look at some of his work. If it is for increasing the value of selling your house in three years, you might try to talk to a local realtor to see if that would be a wise investment in your area (I am not a realtor, my wife is and I just used her company name when I signed up for Daves). You might consider whether it would be worth putting in a sprinkler system or if you would have the time to water everything properly as I think over watering is worse than under watering. Are you on well wateror city? You might need to research watering needs of each plant and compare that to the type of soil you have do not just follow the advice of some kid just drawing a paycheck. I have clay and based on watering suggestions from local nurseries I have drowned several trees over the last four years. For an example, depending on the weather you might water in sandy soil twice a week or clay once every two weeks on new plants. Take care, Mike

Belmont, NC(Zone 7b)

I agree with ecrane whole heartedly!!!! We just went thru this. We had a very good Landscape Architect draw up a plan for us. We asked him to be specific and include measurements and drawings so we would be able to build it ourselves. We assessed what we could do ourselves and what we need help with. We then took our time and had several bids for each phase of the work. We asked for references and to see samples of each contractors work. We went to the garden shows, and checked out books from the library. This economy saved us. We found A++ contractors who did the work just to keep their supervisors employed. We bought from wholesale-only-nurseries, they had to open to the public to keep afloat, I learned to root cuttings and have a full nursery on the side of my house! We are very very happy with the progress of our yard and the work that has been done. On top of that we are in budget!!!!! The only problem, I had a hard time leaving my garden!!!!! lol !!!!! Good Luck and enjoy, it is addictive!!!

p.s. our yard is a very very odd one. Not one wall is parallel to the house or each other, no wall is perpendicular to another and there is a rectangular wall jutting into the the center of the backyard! The Architect was brilliant, many of our neighbors said they wanted to buy our house, they just couldn't figure out what to do with the yard! If only they had known to use a good Landscape Architect!!!!!! Sometimes, we're just lucky!!!

Seattle, WA

Pictures, please, Mighty Scott!

(Zone 5b)

yes Scott I have read about your yard before and I'm interested in seeing it too :)
Tammy, how's it going? Any progress?

Florence, KY(Zone 6a)

I discovered the one thing growing in my backyard besides the overgrown bushes...poison ivy! :(

Belmont, NC(Zone 7b)

My Hubbie thinks I'm trying to do him in! I think he's loving it!!!! Today we hope to get the sasanqua's in. We want to create a diamond shaped espalier with them. We know it will probably take five years to finish, but that's ok.

Pictures are hard. Our yard is long and narrow. But I'll try.- Oh, Only one photo allowed, how 'bout the plan?

The Hungry Hungry Caterpillars are devastating my vegetable seedlings. Saturday Stowe Botanical Garden is holding a class on Fall Veggies. Maybe they can tell me what to do with those Hungry Buggers!

Thumbnail by mightyscott
Belmont, NC(Zone 7b)

Here's a pic. We have a lot of work ahead of us, yea!

Hubbie will build a arbor on the short pillars in the background. That he's excited about!

Thumbnail by mightyscott
Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Since this thread from 2007 was revived I just wanted to post that the user did start another thread about the progression of their yard: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/691779/

Buffalo, NY

I'm new and hope I'm in the right area. We're looking to landscape our new home in beautiful, Buffalo, NY (14228) where the sun shines all year round! No snow jokes please.

Our house is set-back 150ft. I placed a 6 ft high by 50 ft, irregular berm in front near the road and a 3 ft berm along the winding drive. We'd like the front berm and the area surrounding it to be maintenance free. (no grass) What kind of low growing, ground cover and flowering plants would you recommend?

I have pictures but not sure how to send them.



Pasadena, CA

Hi Tammy and Tim - When I get confused about landscape design, one of my favorite things to do is relax a little with some landscaping books that have nice photos. I let myself dream for a day or two, then go outside and look again. Very often ideas will start to pop into my head from the books. That makes designing a lot easier and more fun. Here is an article that explores different types of landscaping books: http://hubpages.com/hub/Landscaping-Books-to-Help-With-Design.

dallas, TX(Zone 8a)

I just wonder why no one has mentioned an on-line course in garden design. I'm in the same situation after 3 yrs of nothing really getting done I think on-line course is right for me. Now I only need to find the right on. Hint hint any suggestions would be really great. Also any comments regarding online learning good or bad would love to hear that also! Thank you so much for your time and help. dona

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

donar..go online to amazon and check out the used gardening books. I just got a shipment (actually several). You can find many for $.01 (yes 1 penny) to $10 for books that retail new up to $45. Look for basic landscaping and a few for eye candy. Lol, need some of those too. I think I paid less than $30 for 5 books., all of them looked brand new, some were library and some came from the goodwill. As to your ?, sorry don't know of any online schools for garden design. Also look into several of the garden magazine websites, they have wonderful articles to wet your appetite. Fine Gardening (.com). Horticulture (.com) magazine, these two are some of the best. Any other ?, just ask will help if I can. Hey, another idea, as I see your in a large town, check out your local botanic garden, they usually have a lending library. There might be some great dvds to get, talk about eye candy, lol. Might wanna see if there are any local garden tours, usually cost $5-15 and are great for ideas. Someone you could talk to locally is your local extention office, listed in the govn pages, they offer free tip sheets and advise. Find some of the local nurseries in town and see if they offer classes, many times they are free or minimal costs.

pix: I too am doing more landscaping, this is a pix of my backyard, which is just field grasses at 3ft.
pix: My plant stand I start my perenns from seed, got the info on how to from garden books and magazines, just dove in, lol and did pretty good after I got the hang of it.
pix: early spring in my garden (45ft X100ft), all flowers which are outlined in lilacs, west side
pix: early spring, east side
pix: early-mid June, 90-95% of my flowers were grown from seed, to supply my English cottage style garden, enjoy!!!

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy

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