Top 5 Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

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Congratulations. You've decided to avoid the Top 5 Landscaping Mistakes I made when re-landscaping my own yard. On this BONUS content page, I've ranked the worst decisions I made when landscaping my yard from number 5 all the way to number 1. Some of these mistakes were penny-wise but pound-foolish. One of them was dangerous. I hope that by sharing them all with you, you won't have to deal with them if you do decide to do a landscaping project at your home.

Call 811 before you dig.

One thing I did do correctly and you should, too, is Call 811 before you dig in your own yard. They'll come out nationwide and locate all your public utility lines for FREE. Avoid dangerous gas lines and electricity lines. Cutting them can kill you. Also, don’t cut your own cable, satellite or internet by accident. You’ll feel foolish. Instead, Call 811 before you start digging. You can also do it online at

Once you've read through my Top 5 Landscaping Mistakes, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think, especially if you've got your own landscaping mistake or two you'd like to share. The point is to help each other by sharing.

Also, if you're not already subscribed to our FREE Newsletter here at, please go ahead and sign up here.  

Finally, if you're interested in doing specific parts of any landscaping project, please check out our Resource Links page. There you'll find more specific info and links to products and services that can be of great help. 

Grow Zoysia from seed? It can be done, but should you do it?


Do Not Grow Zoysia from Seed

Zoysia is a great warm weather grass, and Zenith Zoysia is a fantastic variety. It looks and feels like fescue, but unlike fescue, Zenith Zoysia is drought-resistant, does great in summer, and has almost no disease or fungus problems. It's not nearly as invasive as Bermuda, but like Bermuda, it is a summer grass; it goes dormant and turns brown in the winter. So, you only have to cut it about 6 months out of the year. 

Now, it turns out you can grow Zoysia from seed. I did it, and you can see the results in the photo above. But I sure wouldn't do it again! Why not?

  • Zoysia seed is much more expensive than other grass seed, like fescue.
  • Zoysia seed takes 30 days to germinate.  (Fescue takes about 7 days.)
  • You have to keep it wet for the whole 30 days, all day, every day. That's a LOT of money to water in a lawn. It can also be a huge hassle. (Luckily, when I redid the landscaping, I put in a sprinkler system / irrigation system. So, I was able to have the system water each zone for a couple of minutes every hour, for a month.)
  • Zoysia sod is not cheap, but once you add all the costs of seeding and watering the seed for 30 days, I think it's just about the same overall cost as buying Zoysia sod and putting it in yourself.

On top of all that, when you grow Zoysia from seed, it generally takes THREE YEARS for the lawn to grow in completely. In the meantime, you're pulling and spraying for weeds, and your yard doesn't exactly look like a million bucks. So, what's the solution?

Solution: Sod your Zoysia lawn!


If I had it to do over again, I definitely would have sodded my Zenith Zoysia lawn. It would have cost more up front, but overall it would have been about the same as growing Zoysia from seed. Plus I would have had a beautiful lawn immediately!

Mantis rototiller


Do Not Use a Rototiller for Your Entire Yard!

You should definitely amend your soil. As I mentioned in my main post, I brought in TWO DUMP TRUCK LOADS of compost to add to the entire front and back yards. But I foolishly thought I could till it all in with a standard rototiller. That was a MISTAKE!

Quick Note about Rototillers


I did not use the small, Mantis tiller shown in the photo above. Mantis tillers are great for small planting beds and small gardens. You can even aerate your lawn with a Mantis.  But they are not meant for large jobs. In this case, I borrowed a full-sized, front-tine tiller from a friend, for about 3 months of tilling! Even if I had used a full-sized, walk-behind tiller, it still would have taken way too long. Keep reading to see what I should have done instead....

So, you've got to move a huge amount of compost and get it mixed in to amend your soil. If a big rototiller isn't the answer, what is? 

Solution: Rent a Bobcat!


If I had it to do over again, I would have rented a Bobcat from an equipment rental company!

Why rent a Bobcat? For all of these reasons (especially the last one):

  • A Bobcat with skids (not tires) is very maneuverable.
  • I could have used it to move all that compost, instead of using just a shovel and a garden cart.
  • I could have pointed the tines of the scoop down vertically and tilled in all that compost!
  • It would have cost only a couple hundred dollars to rent a Bobcat for a day or two.
  • Plus, it's really fun to drive a Bobcat!

Trenchers are Dangerous!


Do Not Trench Your Yard Yourself!

After I had tilled all that compost into the soil, I needed to dig trenches for the irrigation system and drainage pipe.  I figured it would be easy to do all the trenching myself. I'd just rent a trencher and knock it out. I thought,

"Well, a trencher is just like a big rototiller. No problem." 


  • A trencher is a GIANT piece of equipment that weighs a couple hundred pounds! It is NOT just a slightly bigger rototiller.
  • It has no steering wheel, and it is way too heavy to steer easily. So, there is no easy way to change directions or even keep it going in a straight line!
  • On a hill or at the top of a slope, it's easy to tip over! It's also really hard to recover once it does tip over — especially from the bottom of a hill. (This scenario is so common that equipment rental places actually sell insurance for just this event!)
  • You will never know you've hit an electrical, gas, or water line until it's too late!

Solution: Hire out Trenching!


Hire it out! You can often find landscapers who will do just this one job. My Granddad put in several sprinkler systems himself, and swore by this solution. He would show the trencher contractor where to go, and they would do the trenching. That way, it's both safe and fast. You just lay out the lines using landscaping paint, and let the landscaping contractor do the work. 


Do Not Connect to Public Water System Yourself!

Tapping on to your water supply, handling the permitting and encroachments, and getting your RPZ Backflow Prevention Device passed inspection. These are things that can be extremely frustrating. There's a lot at stake because your city's water supply depends on all these things being done exactly right. Plus, the local laws often change. For example, you may have to have an entirely new, separate meter installed just for your irrigation system. Cutting and gluing PVC pipe and attaching and testing sprinkler heads can be a lot of fund. But doing all of the work to connect your system to the public water supply is NO FUN. This is something I wish I had not handled personally. It ate my time and made me take more than one day off work just to get everything approved. 

Solution: Hire a Plumber to connect to the public water system


If I had it to do over again, I definitely would have hired out this specific part of the sprinkler system project. Once the connection and RPZ/backflow prevention device were set up by a plumber, I could have rocked on with the rest of the job and actually enjoyed the project. So, please consider spending a few hundred dollars to have this part of your sprinkler system project handled by a licensed plumber.

Home improvement: keep the sewer clean out, but put it underground in a utility box


Do Not Wait To Underground Sewer Cleanouts!

Sometimes, a builder will put in a sewer cleanout pipe in your yard. These are really helpful, in case you ever have a sewer backup in your part of the sewer line from your house to the street. You can see my old sewer cleanout / sewer pipe in the photo above... still above ground after I landscaped around it. 

My mistake? I should have put it underground in a box or vault as soon as I could, but definitely while I already had the yard all torn up.

Solution: Underground Sewer Cleanout ASAP!


If I had it to do over again, I definitely would have put the sewer cleanout underground while I still had the yard torn up to do my landscaping project. As it happened, I waited until later. You can see and read about how I put my sewer cleanout underground. You can even get a free PDF download of a tools and materials list for the project. To read that post and get the FREE PDF Download, just click here.

Your Turn...

Do you have any landscaping mistakes or solutions you'd like to share? I'm sure they could be a big help to a lot of people out there who are considering their own landscaping project right now. So, please comment down below.

Also, in case you're looking for more resources, I would suggest two things. First, if you haven't yet subscribed to our free newsletter, you should definitely take advantage of it now. To subscribe, just click here or on the button below.

Second, you should definitely check out our Resource Links page. It's growing list of links to stuff that can help you improve your life at home. These are links that we are personally curating in order to bring you resources that are actually helpful.   

Thanks again!

Home Improvement that Improves Your Life!

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