At Details Landscape Art, a Petaluma landscape contractor, we have seen it all. It never ceases to amaze us how much poor landscape construction is out there. Landscaping and gardening is not rocket science or brain surgery. It is mostly common sense, obvious physics, and a dose of good taste.

We see many of the following examples of poor landscape construction:

  1. Setting posts too deep. Whether fence posts or arbor posts, if the post is set below grade, water is sure to collect and rot the post. We even ‘crown’ the top of the concrete so water is sure to drain away from the wood.
  2. Burying drip tubing. If the half inch drip tubing is buried below grade, dirt is sure to find its way into the connections and eventually clog the line, resulting in plant mortality. Just a small thing like ensuring the tubing is above ground can save the considerable cost of plant replacement.
  3. Insufficient patio slope. The slope of a patio must be at least one inch per eight feet to allow for water to run off, and the slope must be away from the house. Otherwise there will be standing water or water collecting under the residence.
  4. Planting grass right up to a fence. Lawn sprinkler will pelt the fence causing the fence to turn to gray quickly where being hit by water, and the fence is sure to deteriorate rapidly. Besides, what a poor look to have grass right up to the fence!
  5. Failure to grade properly. One of the basics of good landscaping is to make sure the garden is graded so that water flows away from the residence, and toward a storm drain or the street or to a man made French drain.
  6. Mixing sprinklers with drips. Lawn and plants have different water requirements and must be programmed separately. If they share the same valve or ‘line’, they will be watered the same frequency and duration.
  7. Lack of gopher wire. Where gophers are present, the lack of protection will result in unsightly mound in lawns, and plant mortality
  8. Planting trees in lawns without separate irrigation. Lawn watering typically applies water to a depth of four to six inches, which is adequate for the grass (which is a shallow rooted plant). The tree, however, requires deep watering. If you rely on lawn sprinklers to water a lawn, the tree roots will chase the shallow watering and emerge in the surface of the lawn. Trees need their own deep watering (such as drip irrigation), which is why we rarely plant trees in lawns.
  9. Failure to use rebar in patios and walkways. Concrete is likely to crack, especially in areas where there is ground movement such as expansion and contraction. If there is a hairline crack, horizontal rebar will help prevent that crack from growing and shifting.
  10. Planting too deep. Especially in heavy clay soils, plants must be ‘crowned’ or planted high so that excess water can run off. If a plant collects water around its base and sits in a pool, it will be deprived of oxygen and surely die of root rot.

There are a thousand landscapers out there to choose from. When it comes to landscape construction, there are only a handful that care enough to do it once, do it right !