The Top Landscaping Issues to Avoid When Designing Your Outdoor Space

Tips from an award-winning design-build firm to ensure the best outcomes for your landscaping projects

In his 25 years in the outdoor living industry, Tom Auer has worked on projects ranging from large commercial development plans to building recreation centers and master planned communities. After a pivot to the customized residential design/build field, Auer has seen all of the issues and missteps that homeowners are prone to make when designing their outdoor spaces.

Auer shared some of the issues to avoid with ESTATENVY that can help anyone looking for an outdoor upgrade make the process more seamless:


It is key for homeowners to have an idea of the budget they want to spend on their outdoor living space and that the budget is realistic for the work that will be done. Auer said that while most people are committed to spending a certain budget by the time a design consultant comes to their home for an initial visit, there are others that feel they can get their dream yard without a proper investment.

“Some people feel they can design and detail their project without researching the ins and outs of proper design techniques,” Auer said. “They end up hiring someone on the cheap and regretting it. 10 to 15 percent of our business comes from fixing recent installations that were poorly planned.”

Don’t create problems

Beyond establishing a budget for an outdoor project, knowing the physical budget of your yard is another important component for avoiding issues. Established elements like planting beds and hardscapes are already inherent in drainage patterns, so adjusting them can cause problems if changed.

Auer recommends that people do research about how their yard is currently laid out in order maintain drainage set-ups and to be direct if there are parts of the yard that they want to keep as part of the renovation project, like a favorite tree or flower bed.

“Usually clients have a good feel for what they want and we need to educate them about what will work best,” Auer said. “Often times people are afraid to ask questions and truly understand what maintenance issues might be involved or what the look of something will be in the future.”

Take your time

The third area—and maybe the most difficult—is remembering to have patience as you plan your outdoor space in order to avoid issues that result from rushing the process.

“People are unaware of what it takes to complete a customized project,” Auer said. “If people are using a design-build firm to do their worn, the whole process takes time. Almost always, people want things done yesterday.”

Auer suggests that these three elements—budget, not creating problems for yourself and taking your time—will lead to a much more enjoyable and less stressful experience. With the help of an experienced and strategic design and construction partner, you’ll be enjoying outdoor living at your home for years to come.