How to Avoid a Tacky Yard


Here are a few tips to keep your neighbors happy and avoid a tacky yard.

• You may love the look of stone, maybe its sandstone, brownstone, limestone or even bluestone, but that does not make it OK to turn our back yard in to a stone arboretum. Keep your pavement simple. Limit the number of different paving materials used. It’s OK to add an accent, decorative inlay or border but if you use too many materials, it’s distracting and in the end it looks like you could not make up your mind.

• Having a slope to a walkway is fine, its good to keep water from pooling but there is a limit. If it feels like you might slip, what you need it simple, it’s a step. Even wheel chair ramps have maximum slopes.

• You may love to look of a paver, brick or stone but you need to consider the existing materials and how it’s going to be used. You may love the look and sound of pea gravel but by a pool it is a nightmare. Use a paving that complements the use as well as the surroundings.

• You may have a small back yard and it may be difficult to fit everything you want in the yard, but do it right. If you want a spa or hot tub it does not need to be part of the dining and cooking area. It may be convenient to flip a burger from the hot tub but it might be seen as tacky. If you are limited in space look for ways to break up the spaces and create rooms.

• Garden art and features are a great addition to a yard. What makes them special are their uniqueness. A gazing ball can look special if it is treated like it is special. Even a garden gnome can add a whimsical feel to a cottage garden, but avoid covering your yard with them.

• Rain barrels are great for conserving water but they are not very attractive to look at. Be considerate if you are going to place one in your yard. Try to screen it from the street and your neighbors.

• Green indoor/outdoor carpet is not a replacement for grass. If you want artificial turf, that’s different. There are great products that you will never have to mow, but carpet is not the same.

• Try not to be a plant collector with one of everything. It makes the garden and yard look like static on the TV. It’s too much. Simplify and mass plants so the color or texture can be seen.

• If your walk looks like an airport runway, you might want to reconsider the lights you are using. Often we see solar lights along a walk but they don’t even give off enough light to illuminate the walk. Purchase warm light LED lights that are 2700 Kelvin and reduce the number of lights.


Written by:
Josh Tooker
Senior Landscape Architect
The Pattie Group, Inc.
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