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Bad Landscape Practices that Need to be Nuked from Space

If I’m being honest and open with you I should admit that I have opinions. Strong ones. And the longer I do this landscape designer thing the more I notice things that are really just awful. Here are some heinous crimes against nature and good taste that I’ve seen. If you do any of these we can probably still be friends, but… we’re not hanging out at your place. Or where I can even SEE your place. Check out these bad landscape practices.

Tree rings


A mulched circle around a tree? Sure, it makes it easier to mow and there’s no danger of beating the heck out of the trunk with a mower or string trimmer. But why on earth would you build a ring around the tree? Was it trying to escape? And if you do this around an existing tree where the root flare isn’t at the height of the top of the blocks (unlikely), you’ve added enough soil to smother the tree and rot the trunk.

Also, IF you feel the need to do this, at least make it so the tree is dead center in the ring, and the block should be laid level, not with grade. Honestly if I was their neighbor and had to look at that every day I would tell them “pick a weekend, I’ll supply the pizza and beer and I’m going to show you how we fix this.”

Pretending deer don’t exist


I’d wager that more gardeners in the DC metro area suffer from deer damage than don’t. Especially if you live a little farther out (pretty sure this pic is from Prince William County), when planting you should maybe see if a plant is deer resistant.

Butchering Crape Myrtles

Crape Murder

Don’t do this. It’s wrong, search “pruning crape myrtles” and you’ll learn why and what you SHOULD do.

Hiring people who have no business being in the business and/or throwing good money after bad

I met with some folks several years ago who had just moved into a new custom home. The builder cheaped out on handling the drainage appropriately (as happens all too often) and so all the front downspouts dumped onto splashblocks right at the foundation, and the final grade didn’t allow the water to flow away from the house. Now the appropriate way to fix the drainage would have been to dig a trench along the edge of the front walk all the way across the front of the house, from the garage to the opposite corner, collect all the downspouts in a pvc pipe, and daylight it in the hillside on the side of the house opposite the garage. It would have been a fair bit of labor and either digging under the front walk or cutting and repouring a section.

Instead, the homeowners found a guy who said “shoot, you don’t need to do all that!” and did… this:

bad landscape practices

ok collecting the downspout to rigid pvc is good but – wait, are you not burying it? Did you spray paint it to blend with the…



SHUT UP! You’re not serious. And you even used metal straps and masonry anchors to tie it to the wall of the garage?


Ok sure, may as well collect the corner downspout too but where the heck are you getting rid of all this water now?


Oh. You’re going to dump all the water out onto the driveway, right in front of the garage doors and right where the front walk meets the driveway? Well that’s cool, it doesn’t get below freezing here in Virginia, ever.

And no, this was not a temporary fix. I went back later to look. Anyone who would accept money for doing this is no “professional”.

How do you keep these atrocities from happening? Naturally I’m going to recommend hiring a landscape designer, but even if you don’t do that I highly recommend joining my email list. The signup is to the right side of this page and I’ll make it worth your while. I promise!

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