The Perils and Pitfalls of DIY Landscaping

By Gary Winter

All of those home renovation shows encourage us to get our hands dirty. And there’s something deeply satisfying about getting the job done yourself, knowing that your ingenuity or hard yakka created the transformation.

You possibly even saved a few bucks. Or thought you did. Until that day comes when you realise that you didn’t know what you needed to know…

When DIY costs you more

As a qualified landscape designer with twenty years of builds under my belt, I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve seen first-hand what can go wrong when folks take for granted the level of complexity or expertise required for a project.

A couple of years ago I had a Melbourne client who found this out the hard way. The expensive way. I drew up concept plans and the client – who has considerable skill in his own field – opted to hire the contractors and oversee the landscaping himself. 

Contractor A built a non-compliant timber fence along the property boundary.

Contractor B dug out the pool wrongly, poured the concrete shell incorrectly and created soil retention issues, which caused big cracks in the footpath. 

So what do you think happened when the local council got wind of all this? Council slapped a big fat building order on the property, with a legal notice to remedy, bringing forth a bunch of new stakeholders to deal with, including building surveyors and engineers.

That’s when the client called for my expertise.

Plan to succeed

In this case the client had my design plans and had every reason to trust his own project management capabilities.

But the way designs are interpreted and implemented by people on the ground requires both a plan of attack and industry-specific know-how to oversee. All of the enthusiasm in the world might not be enough to get the job done right.

A landscape designer knows how to connect the dots between design intent and design delivery. These professionals are your best guide to what needs to happen on site.

They’re also the best wranglers of multiple contractors; one central go to person who speaks the language and has the skills and expertise to steer the ship.

Hire a professional landscaper

That contractor bloke you met down at the pub might sound like he knows what he’s talking about. But that’s possibly because you don’t know what questions to ask.

Landscaping Victoria is the peak body that’s done all the hard yards in this regard. Its rigorous registration process protects consumers by listing only reputable practitioners for you to source.

I value being part of an industry that can be trusted for its professionalism and quality standards. That’s one reason why I used to be a board member of this organisation.   

If you want to protect your investment, minimise risk and get the best out of your outdoor space, you should choose suitably qualified professionals to carry out the landscaping work.

Always check their credentials. Make sure they’ve got insurances in place. Put the contract terms and conditions in writing.

Start off right

It pays to be proactive and get the right people and processes in place from the get go.  

A professional landscaping coordinator can oversee the project from start to finish; saving you time, stress and money while bringing you plenty of reassurance, quality and compliance.

You can still be involved. You can still hire your preferred contractors. I’ll just oversee the project and bring all of the threads together for you. So get in touch if you want Gary Winter Landscape Design to help you avoid the perils and pitfalls.