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DIY Gardening: 10 Things to make your Garden look Professional.

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Let’s face it, it is usually pretty obvious who had their garden designed professionally and who did not. I have compiled a list of tips and tricks us professionals use and created “10 Things to make your Garden look professional.”

Understanding that plants grow!

We have all been at the garden center looking at this beautiful little potted perennial and thought to our selves… that would look lovely in the front garden next to the window. Flash forward 5 years and here I am  trying to peer through the massive bush in front of my window  to see if my ride is here. We often forget that the potted size of the plant is typically a fraction (about 40%) of the size of the mature and established plant. Taking the time to research the estimated size of the mature plant will help you understand where to place the plant.

Don’t buy just one….

Having just one of every plant imaginable in your garden is a big tell tale sign of a DIY gardener. Designers like to think in terms of 3, 5, 7 and 10 +. The more symmetry and grouped plantings in the garden the better. Our eyes are trained to divide whether you mean to or not. If you saw a group of 4 plants you instinctively divided it into 2 groups of 2. However, when you have a group of 3, 5, or 7 your brain spends more time gazing at it as it tries to divide it.  It is a great way to create interest.

Use the colour wheel

Take yourself back to elementary school and imagine the colour wheel. Learning about complimenting and clashing colours can significantly help you look like a pro!It is important to use groupings of certain complimentary colours to stimulate the brain into harmony.

Read and follow the label

Every plant should come with a tag. On it describes its estimated full grown size and its lighting requirements. Understanding what that means will help you get the most out of your new friend. Finding that balance can be a bit tricky but the experts who created the variety you are using have put as much information as possible on the tag.

Landscape fabric= trash

Landscape fabric is being used to stifle weeds but we truly believe it is not the best solution. It is not an environmentally friendly option and actually is a very short term solution. You are better off to install a high quality heat treated top soil and then a heavy layer of Shredded Pine mulch after planting. This helps retain moisture but suffocates any weeds trying to break the surface. Give your new plants the best start can make a world of a difference.

Planting depth is important

One of the first things someone learns in the gardening industry is how to plant. The depth of the installed plant is essential for its survival. Often plants are installed far to deep and they drown. It is better to plant a bit higher. When installing plants I suggest keeping between half to two full inches of the potted soil above your topsoil line. This way when you install a few inches of mulch on top, your plant isn’t at such a high risk for drowning.

Texture matters

Art enthusiast’s understands that colour isn’t the only thing that matters. Texture is a huge part of what draws your eye. Having a unique texture on a leaf or flower can give some weight to that side of the landscape. Understanding how to work with the balance of colours and textures will make you look like a real pro.

Water, don’t forget!

Now that you have perfected your design and completed your install don’t clean your hands just yet. Grab the hose and begin a thorough soaking of all the installed plants. Giving the roots a much needed drink will give them the energy they need to work on becoming establish in their new home.

Proper maintenance

Want to really look like a pro? Keep your garden manicured. This doesn’t mean all kinds of shapes and boxes and perfect rows. I only mean keep the garden weeded and the “leggy” branches on shrubs pruned. Do your research on the plants you have installed and learn the best pruning techniques.

Check out our gallery for some inspiration. Enjoy the time outside with friends and family while you put your gardening thumb to the test. If it is time for fall clean up read my post on how to prepare for Winter so Spring is a breeze.

Post written by : Leah Brakke
Leah is our resident blogger with over 8 years experience in the landscaping industry. She loves to share her knowledge and passion on Whispering Pines’ blog. If you have any questions or topic idea’s you can email her at

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