Landscaping is a difficult job for many people, especially in Pennsylvania. The problem is that the climate and seasons make it difficult to create something that lasts a long time if it isn’t done by a professional. We see landscaping that could have been great go wrong all the time because people just didn’t quite know what they were doing.

However, it doesn’t have to be as hard as so many people are making it out to be. We are sharing some of our favorite secrets to make your landscaping easier, better looking, and longer lasting. Next time you have a weekend project or you want to DIY something, remember these tips:

5. Invest in a Tarp for Jobs Big and Small

A tarp covering wood during a storm.

Credit: Rebecca Siegel

  • Easy tool to store
  • Can be used for many different jobs
  • Allows one person to do the work of many

Using a tarp to move lightweight but bulky debris is one of the best tips we have for landscaping. It is an easy way to move leaves, weeds, and plants that you have pulled up. You can also use it to move soil when you are digging a hole. It is a great way to keep your grass, your walkways, and yourself cleaner when you are doing some yard work.

In the winter months, you can cover plants with them or use it to line the back of your truck. The possibilities are endless when you have a tarp. You might even be able to use it in some of the tips below.

4. Quality Garden Tools Make for Quality Gardening Jobs

An old-fashion rake.

Credit: fishermansdaughter

  • Can (quite literally) save your back
  • Better for precise work
  • Will last for a long time

The best thing you can do when you want to DIY your backyard is to buy high-quality tools. These are the tools that come from name brands that you know, may come with warranties, and requires some knowledge about how to operate them. There are ways to buy cheaper tools and still get the work done, but it will almost always be more difficult and the work won’t be as great as it can be. Cheaper tools are likely to break and not get the job done correctly, which can halt your progress.

If you are serious about working in your yard or you are younger and just starting out, you definitely want to look into purchasing tools that are high quality.

3. Consider Mowing the Lawn When Planning Gardens and Walkways

A walkway in a garden.

Credit: Abdulla Al Muhairi

  • Planning ahead makes your life easier
  • Less of a chance that you will break something
  • Creates a better “look” for your yard

When you look at your backyard, you may have tons of ideas about what you want and all of these crazy things that would look great. Remember that you have to actually live in this yard, take care of this yard, and mow this yard. If you have too many “crazy” things and inlets, you might be setting yourself up for a lot of work. Walkways, stepping stones, ponds, and islands are great, but only if you know how to plan out your yard for flow.

Group everything together and try to plan your yard before just digging into it. The best way to do this is to take an overhead photo of your property and draw your ideas on there – and then ask a professional. Remember that what you do now is something you will have to live with for the rest of your life or go through the renovation process again.

2. Leaves Are Helpful Throughout Your Yard

Leaves on the ground ready for composting.

Credit: McKay Savage

  • Better for the environment
  • Saves money on fertilizer
  • Reduces amount of work you have to do outside

When you rake your leaves in the autumn, you might be eager to bag up the leaves and throw them away or put them on the side of the road for the township to clean up. However, don’t be so quick to throw them away.

Instead, you can use the leaves as fertilizer for your crass, food for earthworms, and padding throughout your yard to help keep water on the ground. If you want, you can keep them in your yard for a longer time, allow your children to run around and play in them, just to break up the leaves even more.

Instead of raking, using a bagging mower or a leaf shredding blow to get as close to a mulch consistency as you can. If you don’t have those machines, you can put them in a compost pile and the wait for some time. This particular blend of nutrients and greenery will really help with vegetable gardening.

1. Starter Fertilizer is a Big Help

Edible plant in fertilizer.

Credit: Jennifer C.

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Allows plants and trees to draw more nutrients
  • Typically, gentler on the hands.

If you are doing some of your own plantings, you want to think about the soil quality in your yard. Chances are, you have soil that is dry and the pH is probably a bit off. If you are planting trees, in particular, you want to buy a high-quality starter fertilizer. This will allow your plants and trees to settle in better and suck up the nutrients.

Look for a fertilizer that has low nitrogen levels, is a bit phosphorus, and has beneficial fungi that will help to incorporate the fertilizer into your existing soil. It will also help your plants and trees to root so that they can gain sustenance. Of course, you’ll also need a great planting technique so that the soil works.

When it comes to landscaping, it can sometimes get really messy and difficult. If you have a smaller job to do, the tips above will help you to do it yourself. However, there is a reason that the DIY trend has so many “fail” articles written about it – there are some things that are better left to professionals. Only try things that you know you can do safely. Remember that cutting corners and cutting costs only work when you are completely safe and healthy.

For those jobs where you don’t think you know enough to get the work done – or if you just want to play it safe – contact JRS Landscaping at (814) 246-3403.

Header photo courtesy of Kate Russell on Flickr!