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Landscaping for Beginners and Homeowners: 10 Tips + 10 Tools You’ll Need (Updated 2021)

Landscaping for Beginners and Homeowners: 10 Tips + 10 Tools You’ll Need (Updated 2021)

Fresh air, sunlight, relaxing sounds of nature—nothing beats spending time outdoors. But what if your yard doesn’t look like a relaxing space straight from magazines and Pinterest?

Here’s a solution: start landscaping for beginners.

Whether you’re a beginner landscape architect or a first-time homeowner, this article can help you get started on beautifying an outdoor space. We’ve compiled a list of landscape tools and tips you can use for this labor of love.

Before you bust out your drawing board and pruning shears, start with an inspiration and take a look at how landscaping benefits you.

Why Should You Landscape?

If you’re a homeowner, you might want to avoid going the extra mile and hire a landscaping professional instead. It can save you time and even prevent costly mistakes. 

But while landscaping for beginners can get daunting at first, it can be super rewarding. Some of its benefits include:

Environmental

Did you know that a well-maintained lawn and yard can help protect the environment?

Landscaping can prevent soil erosion and make your space cooler during summer and warmer come winter. Proper drainage and grading can prevent flooding, while growing native plants can create sustainable homes for local wildlife.

Health

Landscaping means physical work and a reason to go outside. These are key ingredients for better overall health. 

Spending time outdoors can be a great stress-reliever and mood-booster. Plus, having a well-maintained yard can encourage you to go out more, engage in an active lifestyle, and get your daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D. 

What’s more, surrounding your home with healthy greenery leads to improved air quality. Trees, shrubs, and other plants can filter pollutants and keep the air nice and clean.

 

Apart from these, there are other benefits to professional or DIY landscaping for beginners, like increasing the value of homes, enhancing the livability of your community, and creating an outdoor space for entertaining. You just have to figure out your personal reasons why you want to get started on landscaping. 

Once you’ve identified these reasons, you can use them as a source of inspiration, especially when the going gets tough!

Checklist: 10 Landscape Tools

You have to admit—when you take up a new hobby or career path, you can’t help but go overboard when buying tools. So we’ve listed some of the essential landscape tools you’ll often use in any garden project.

1. Protective Equipment

Getting stung by thorns and wood splinters is an inevitable part of landscaping. Unless you want to get blisters and scratches, you have to wear a complete set of protective equipment.

PPE

Start with a pair of safety gloves that are comfortably fitting and durable enough to withstand tear and wear. You should also wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your arms and legs from harsh sunlight and thorns.

When working around rocks and heavy lawn equipment, you might want to consider putting on boots. And when you’re chipping wood and mulching leaves, you have to wear goggles to protect your eyes and earplugs to prevent ear damage from loud equipment.

2. Pruning Shears

To keep your shrubs and other plants from getting out of control, you need to invest in sharp pruning shears. You can choose between two types of pruners: anvil and bypass.

Anvil pruning shears work like how a knife cuts vegetables on cutting boards. They come with blades, which meet a flat surface (a.k.a. the anvil). For cutting dead branches, anvil pruners are your best option. 

But for cutting live plants, you have to use bypass pruners rather than anvil pruning shears. The latter can damage the plants, while the former can provide cleaner cuts and cause less damage to plants.

For larger branches, you might want to switch your hand pruners for electric or gas-powered shears.

3. Lawnmower

Lawn care won’t be complete without a lawnmower. While you can opt for a grass trimmer, you can keep your lawn nicely trimmed in no time when you’re equipped with a high-quality lawnmower.

Lawnmowers with 30-inch wide blades are great for professional landscaping, while those with smaller blades are enough for residential use. Keep in mind though that lawnmowers with smaller blades require more frequent maintenance. 

4. Rake and Hoe

Moving soil, compost, debris, or mulch calls for a handy rake. For tougher jobs, steel rakes are perfect and are a stronger alternative to plastic rakes. They can, however, damage delicate lawns—so a rake with plastic tines is a better option for this. Plastic rakes are enough for collecting lightweight debris, such as leaves and twigs.

When preparing flower beds and removing weeds, you need to have a hoe in hand. Find one with a long, comfortable handle and a sharp blade for better efficiency. You can use weeding hoes with square heads to cut down weeds and flat hoes for turning the soil in your garden.

5. Leaf Blower

Best Leaf Blowers

Collecting leaves with only a rake may take all day, especially when you’re working with a large yard. So do yourself a favor and get one of the best leaf blowers out there.

You can find a variety of handheld leaf blowers that are available in gas-powered, electric, or cordless models. You might also want to choose a leaf blower with a vacuum functionality so that you’ll have an easier time collecting leaves.

6. Wood Chipper

Best Wood Chippers

Once you’ve pruned shrubs and other plants, twigs and branches will inevitably clutter up your yard. Sure, you can clear the yard with the use of a rake, but how can you easily dispose of all the debris? The answer: a wood chipper.

If you want to make the landscaping job easier, you have to choose from the best wood chippers on the market, which typically offer mulching features as well. That way, you can significantly trim down leaves, branches, and other collected debris into manageable pieces and easily fit them in your collection bags.

7. Shovel, Trowel, and Spade

Shovels aren’t just for burying (or digging up) dead bodies—they’re must-haves for breathing life into your yard. Digging holes for new plant beds? Putting soil and fertilizer over your plants’ roots? Use a shovel.

For smaller digging jobs and moving small mounds of dirt, spades are your friend. And for digging up weeds or rocky soil, get yourself a trowel with a stainless steel head.

8. Hose

Whether you have sprinklers installed in your yard or not, you still need to have a garden hose. How would you provide every plant with water without using a long hose? Sprinklers are surely not enough!

Before buying a garden hose, you should figure out how long it should be to reach your plants from the outdoor tap. You should also consider getting one with an adjustable nozzle so that you can have full control over the water pressure and spray coverage.

9. Wheelbarrow

Now that you have a complete set of landscape tools and garden supplies, it’s time to move them around your yard. And what better way to do that than with a wheelbarrow? 

You can choose between the traditional single-wheel and two-wheel models, but remember this: two-wheel models are easier to balance and maneuver over rugged terrain.

10. Storage Shed

Best Outdoor Storage Sheds

Once you’ve checked off each item on the list, you shouldn’t forget to buy an outdoor storage shed. Storage sheds are made to keep your tools and supplies in pristine condition—even when they’re stored outdoors.

Some factors you should consider when choosing an outdoor storage shed are its storage capacity, waterproof and weather-resistant construction, shelving, and locking doors. You can even find storage sheds that are designed to be short enough to be hidden behind standard fences. 

How to Landscape: 10 Landscaping Tips for Beginners

Got every landscape tool you need? Great! You can now start designing your landscape. Here are some landscaping tips for beginners that you should keep in mind:

1. Study Your Yard

This tip isn’t at the top of the list for no good reason. Studying your yard can help you determine how you want your landscape to look and how you can work around your existing landscape.

Best Measuring Wheels

Yes, this means measuring your yard, but you don’t need to be extremely precise. Use a measuring wheel to get rough estimations just so you can understand how large of a space you’re working with. The best measuring wheels usually come at an affordable price, so you don’t have to break the bank to buy a high-quality one.

Another important thing you need to do is to locate any buried pipelines. That way, you won’t accidentally hit underground pipes when digging holes. For this job, you can use an insulated probe and a marking flag to identify their locations. Or you can also contact the national Call Before You Dig hotline and hire a professional.

You should also take note of any trees, boulders, or large shrubs as well your existing hardscape or artificial structures in your yard, like fences, wells, and driveways. 

2. Plan Everything

After collecting everything there is to know about your yard, it’s time to take out your graphing paper or drawing tablet and draft a scale model of your outdoor space. Again, you don’t have to worry about exact measurements. Just sketch a roughly proportionate drawing as a reference for when you’re planning.

Best Drawing Tablets

Put each and every important detail in your plan. Some bits of information you need to include are the locations of buried pipelines, trees, and hardscape and the sun and wind directions.

3. Budget and Start Small

As with most kinds of planning, you have to factor in your budget. Landscaping the DIY way might save you costs from hiring a professional landscaper, but you still need to shell out a bit of cash for tools, seedlings, fertilizer, and other supplies.

While you might need to spend hundreds of dollars at first, don’t forget that you can start small. In other words, just prioritize the things at the top of your to-do list, work with your available time and resources, and enjoy the process.

4. Pick Your Style

Does your home sport a modern architectural style? Or does it look like a cottage straight from a fairytale? Like decorating your interiors, your yard should complement your taste and your home. Once you’ve chosen your landscape style, figuring out what to put in your yard will be a breeze.

There are various modern landscaping ideas you can find online, but here are a few styles you can use:

Woodland - resembles how plants naturally grow in woods, looks less manicured, requires less maintenance, and is perfect for landscaping for beginners.

Formal - incorporates symmetry, straight lines, and geometric shapes. Think of carefully shaped topiary plants and elegant statues and fountains—that’s how a formal landscape looks.

Informal - combines formal and woodland or natural landscape styles. It typically features lush, natural-shaped shrubs and trees, curved plant beds, and asymmetrical patterns.

Oriental - makes use of water, rocky, and green elements and seems like a Japanese zen garden.

Organic - is common in homesteads and self-sustaining homes. It’s often used for planting homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

5. Find Out What You Want and Need 

After figuring out your budget and landscape style, you can start listing down the things you want and need in your yard.

Hard-to-kill plants, useful herbs and vegetables, or high-maintenance perennials? Want a welcoming yard with a hardscape path? Need a place for kids to play, a ground level deck, or a getaway spot? 

When finding out your needs and preferences, don’t put form over function. Remember that after landscaping your yard, you still need to maintain it.

You also have to factor in your existing location. Choose native plants or any kind of plants that can grow in your climate. Then, figure out their sun and water requirements and plot them accordingly.

6. Prepare Your Yard for Landscaping

Once you complete your set of tools and have your plan all down pat, you’re now ready to start landscaping for beginners. The first thing you need to do is to prepare your yard. For this step, some tasks you may have to do are:

Best Leaf Blowers

  • Remove debris, dead plants, household waste, and weeds. Collect dried leaves using a leaf blower/vacuum.
  • Grab your pruning shears and cut dead or dying branches and leaves. Trim down your pile of branches and leaves with a wood chipper/mulcher.
  • Prevent your future plants from getting sick by eradicating pests, fungal diseases, airborne diseases, and all other contagious plant diseases.
  • Have any existing softscape and hardscape features that aren’t included in your plan? Remove them. If there are any hardscape features that are hard to remove (e.g. retaining walls and fountains), you have to call a professional.

7. Begin With Your Hardscape

You might be tempted to start planting before putting in your hardscape features. After all, you still have to wait for most of your plants to grow and bloom. But trust us, you’ll have an easier time landscaping for beginners once you have all of your hardscape elements placed around your yard.

Before you build a driveway, a walkway, retaining walls, water features, or a patio, you should identify your focal point/s. Whether it’s a huge tree or a well-loved sculpture, it needs to be bold and eye-catching. Then, design your hardscape and softscape features around that focal point to create a “life imitates art” kind of vibe.

8. Balance Enclosure With Openness

While most of us want an open, welcoming outdoor space, it’s best to maintain a sense of refuge. Designing your landscape around a combination of enclosure and openness will definitely be an easier way of landscaping for beginners. And you will, without a doubt, love this landscape design—no matter what landscape style you choose.

That said, you might want to create a vertical surface that’s around a third of your horizontal space’s length, similar to walls around parks. For instance, if you have a yard that’s roughly 15 feet long, your hedge or retaining wall should be at least 5 feet.

9. Go Big or Go Home

Not sure whether you should have a tall gazebo or a short one? A wide walk path or a narrow one? Don’t be afraid to be bold and go for the bigger option. As long as it fits in your plan, you’ll have fewer regrets down the line when you go big. 

10. Start Planting 

Now for the fun part: bring your garden to life! You should start with bigger plants then end with smaller plants. Here are some other points to consider when you’re placing your softscape elements around your yard:

  • Plant trees and shrubs from the house and work outward. 
  • Next, lay out the plant beds around the borders of your yard. For seedlings, you can easily identify which of them is which by putting up marking flags.
  • Then, create paths or borders around the plant beds to set the boundaries between these beds and your lawn.
  • Finally, plant your perennials and leafed plants according to their heights, sizes, colors, and shapes to create layers.

Final Thoughts

Measuring & Marking Tools

Landscaping for beginners can be intimidating at first, but if you ever reached this part of the article, then you’re probably all set and ready to kick off this rewarding hobby or profession. 

Just keep in mind that patience is key. Create a well-crafted landscaping plan, take baby steps, and don’t be overwhelmed. If you think that certain elements don’t fit your landscape, remove them and make small improvements as time goes by. 

Landscaping for beginners is incredibly fun, and you’ll surely enjoy the process. Even if improvements take several years to complete, you can find the process to be a rewarding one—especially when you’ve successfully turned your yard into a dream paradise at home.

When you’re in the market for some landscaping tools, be sure to check out what Engineer Warehouse has to offer. You can find landscape tools for measuring and marking, construction tools for building hardscape features, surveying tools for large-scale landscaping, and more.

 


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