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How to Landscape Your Backyard Yourself

How to Landscape Your Backyard Yourself

Learning how to landscape your backyard yourself is going to save you money and add instant value to your home. Learning how to landscape your backyard yourself may sound a little daunting at first, but it is a lot easier than you think it is.

Just think about all the money you can save by taking the DIY approach to your landscaping. Learn how to landscape your backyard yourself and keep more money in your pocket where it belongs.

Let’s Roll Up Those Sleeves

When anyone talks about mortgages, you hear the word equity get thrown around a lot. The more equity a property has in it, the easier it is the mortgages you will have to choose from. Think of sweet equity as the best way to get a beautifully landscaped yard.

The number one reason homeowners’ site for not learning how to landscape your backyard yourself is the work that is required. Yes, you will have to put up some sweat equity, but you can get about a 12% return on that effort.

Real estate experts agree that landscaping adds about 12% value to your home. That can be a lot of money. Do the math. Let’s say your home is worth $200, 000, 12% of $200,000 is $24,000. That is a tremendous increase in value.

The catch is, you got to do the work. Successful landscape DIY relies heavily on your level of commitment to the amount of work you are willing to put in. Let’s roll up those sleeves get our tool list together, and get started.

Is It Really Worth Learning How to Landscape Your Backyard Yourself?

The short answer is, yes, it is worth learning how to landscape your backyard yourself, especially if you are working with a tight budget. When you hire someone to manage all your landscaping, you can pay up to three times more than what you would pay for the materials to do it yourself.

Don’t let all the talk about hard work scare you off. Just about everyone is capable of learning landscaping techniques and taking care of their own backyard. It can turn into a wonderful hobby that you add on to year after year. Landscaping is never a one-and-done deal. Once you are hooked on seeing the fruits of your labor, you will be out there more than you think, tweaking things and adding new things.

The Tools You Will Need

There are some basic tools you will want to have on hand when learning how to landscape your backyard yourself. Having the right tools are going to make all your projects in the backyard easier. Here are the basics:

  • Rake, shovel, hoe
  • Gloves, eye protection
  • Pruning shears, hedge trimmers, ax or chain saw

High-quality tools will help you to get right out there and get right to work. Of course, no one is suggesting that you do your own tree removal using a chain saw. You want to leave that up to the tree removal experts.

Most of the tools are self-explanatory. You will use your rake to rake up leaves and debris, you will use your shovel to dig, pruning shears to trim small branches and keep bushes in good condition, hedge trimmers keep hedges tidy, and an ax or a chain saw can be used for simple tree services like removing branches.

You do not have to go out and buy pro-grade equipment like chainsaws that commercial tree companies have, but you do want to be sure that you are buying quality equipment that won’t fail halfway through a project.

Start With a Clean Slate

It is easier to learn how to landscape your backyard yourself if you start with a clean slate. That means removing all the debris from the backyard and trimming trees and bushes into manageable sizes. Clearing away the debris like old plants, dead or dying shrubbery, and, of course, any trash debris and structures will make it easy to get your landscaping planned out.

Look around your yard and decide what needs to go and what should stay. For example, if you are looking out your interior windows into the backyard and overgrown shrubs are blocking the view, put that on the “to go” list. Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking that overgrown shrubbery in front of a window creates privacy. What it does is create the perfect hiding place for someone to peek through your window. Don’t let your landscaping provide cover for thieves. Besides, you want to be able to look out the window and marvel at all your DIY backyard handy work.

It can help to partition the areas that need the most work and finish one section at a time during the clean slate process. For example, starting at the furthest part of the yard and working your way back toward the house will give you small goal accomplishments and keep you motivated.

You may be surprised by the type of debris you find buried under all the overgrown plants. Home builders often leave building materials behind. If you find that the debris in your backyard is worse than you thought, consider renting a refuse container from a local company. It will save you time in the long run.

This is also a good time to see if you can get a few more hands-on boards. Ask friends and family members if they can help with the debris removal and cleanup. Offer to cook a meal in gratitude. Having more help will make progress happen quicker. The sooner you can get all the debris out, the sooner you can start improving.

Some Key Factors You Should Know

Learning how to landscape your backyard yourself is not just about the grunt work. You should also educate yourself about the soil in your backyard, what native plants thrive in your area, and get familiar with your home’s systems if there are any in the backyard. Septic tanks, wells, and other utilities are often located in the backyard.

Typically, water well drilling is done in the back of the house (although sometimes it is done in the front). You do not want to run into any of the utilities located in your backyard, or all your savings will have to go to plumbing repair.

Here are some things you need to know about your backyard before you start moving forward with your backyard landscaping DIY:

  • Check for any pipes that are coming into your home. Be especially aware of your HVAC system. AC repair can fix anything, but it is best if it is not a problem you have caused with a wayward shovel.
  • Learn more about trees and other plants. Little tidbits of knowledge like a weeping willow tree will seek out water and invade your drains with its roots can really help your planning.
  • Consider how much shade you want. Before you start removing trees, consider what your yard will be like without that tree as far as shade is concerned.

Becoming familiar with your backyard and learning where everything is located can help make it easier to learn how to landscape your backyard yourself. The more you know, the easier the process will be.

Your Vision

With a little hard work, you can make your backyard landscaping a reality, but you have to have a vision. Do some thinking about what you want your backyard to be. Do you want it to be a great gathering place for friends and family? Do you want it to be a natural haven for backyard wildlife? Do you want to dedicate a spot for growing vegetables and herbs? The beauty of DIY landscaping is that you are in complete control of what your backyard becomes.

Once you have your vision in place, you can move forward with pulling together a budget. Divide each section of your yard up on a piece of paper, then using your vision as a guide, start figuring out how much it will be to complete each section. Making your plan this way can make it easier on the budget. Maybe you do not have all the money at once to get it all done, and you can work on the plan section by section. It may take a little longer, but it will be far more affordable.

Here are some common landscaping materials you will likely need:

  • Substrate. If your backyard landscaping is down to the bare bones and the soil is looking a little worn, you may need to buy topsoil before planting your grass seed. Likewise, if your backyard landscape plans include a patio, you will need gravel and sand as a substrate.
  • Mulch and pavers. You will need mulch for your gardens and pavers to create a walkway (if you so decide).
  • Trees, plants, and shrubs. Finally, once you have the substrate in place, you will need to add some trees, plants, and shrubs.

Planning your budget for all the materials you need will ensure that your projects can keep moving. Landscaping your own backyard is a process. It can take you a little while for your vision to reach fruition, but it is well worth it.

Should You Test Your Soil?

You may read some tips and tricks about how to landscape your backyard yourself that are very useful. You may also read some tips that are not. A lot of homeowners wonder whether they should have their soil tested. That can be a yes and a no.

Are you the type of person that just feels more prepared if they are doing things completely by the book? Then, it would be best if you had your soil tested. Most county extension offices will offer the services for free or for a small nominal fee. The soil test can tell you the components of your soil and the Ph level of your soil. You can use this information to direct your fertilizer choices and plantings. Is it 100% necessary? No.

Professional landscapers rarely go through the trouble of testing soil. They typically will use a good “over the counter” general fertilizer. Of course, the next question is, do you always have to use fertilizer? That, again, is a yes and no. If your soil has not been amended in a while, then yes, if you had plenty of decaying leaves and other natural decay, then maybe not.

If your soil is moist and loose and is loamier than sandy, you are in good shape. Compost is a great fertilizer. Start saving organic kitchen waste and create a compost pile. This can be used to fertilize your soil.

Be sure that you pay close attention to the fertilizer instructions. Over-fertilizing can be worse than not fertilizing. You may also want to keep kids and pets out of the area for a few days.

Choosing Plants

It is always best to go with native plantings. Native plants make landscaping easier. You have to water them less, and they thrive better. Speaking of watering, be sure that you add a garden hose to your list of tools. You will need one.

Choose a variety of ornamentals for both sunny and shady areas. Choose easy to grow plants until you get better at landscaping your own yard. In the early stages of landscaping, you do not want to invest too much money into plants, just if you find that your thumb is not that green.


Keeping your new landscaping looking great will require maintenance. Setting aside one day every couple of weeks to spend in the backyard doing your maintenance will ensure that nothing gets out of control.

Invest in a decent lawnmower, and ensure you keep the blades sharp. Do not cut your new grass too low nor when it is too hot in the middle of the day. When you water your grass or your plants, it is best to do it in the early morning hours before the temperature starts to climb. You can invest in a timer and hook it to your sprinkler to turn it on at specific times.

You can do this. You can have the backyard you have always wanted; you just have to put some work in.

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