The idea of landscaping can be daunting, especially when living in Baja where the heat is unbearable; however, the benefits of landscaping when done right, are well worth the work (it can actually increase your property value drastically up 28%).
Living in an arid region means that lush lawns are simply not possible, but, there are many materials and plant life which will work perfectly fine with the harsh heat. Desert landscaping is actually becoming quite popular, it manages to survive with what little natural precipitation is available and is quite appealing and easy to maintain.
When it comes to starting your landscaping project, the best way to begin is as with any other project: divide it up in parts. This way, it will be easier to tackle your task. Here are a number of Dos and Don’ts of landscaping to guide you in making the best decisions.
DO plan before starting to work:
Even if you’re not a gardening expert, mapping out the space you have and drawing a rough sketch is all it takes to know exactly what you’re looking for when shopping. A great way to find inspiration is Pinterest where you can look up pictures of front yards or backyards to gain perspective and ideas of what you want.
DO think long term:
Don’t buy plants immediately based on their current size, many desert plants will double or triple in size once planted outside. So, before choosing plants, talk to a professional about how big they will get. Always consider the mature size of a plant (10 years) before planting it.
When planting trees, keep in mind that when planted too close to your home they can expand into your foundation putting you at risk for lower property value. Small trees should always be planted at least 10 feet away from your house and big trees at least 30 feet away to avoid these problematic situations from arising.
DO choose low water use plants:
Water scarcity in Mexico is a huge issue, so always stick to plants that require little water to thrive. There are hundreds of plants that need very little water and still look great such as, succulents, shrubs, vines, perennials, etc.
DON’T overdo it:
Although it’s important to be creative when designing your garden, it´s easy to get carried away buying way too many plants. Don’t get overly excited and buy everything you see at the nursery. Consistency is important when landscaping. When buying a plant, think about how it will look with the others. Strive to have flow throughout your garden. Don’t mix different styles of landscaping because we don’t want it to look messy. Moreover, don’t get carried away with focal points either, like having a fountain, a statuary, a birdbath and other features at the same time. If there are many focal points, there is no focal point. Pick only one or two features and balance them out.
DO use mulch:
When gardening in the desert, mulch will be your best friend. It cools the areas it covers, reduces evaporation, and protects against erosions and weed growth. Plus, you can find mulch in different colors that can match the look of your garden or yard.
DON’T plant anything without finishing the hardscaping first:
Spaces can seem much bigger than they actually are, especially when adding hardscape features like pathways, decks, sheds and other immovable features (known as hardscaping). Install all hardscaping features before starting to plant so you can allocate the actual space you have left properly.
DON’T forget maintenance:
The more plants you have, the more work you have to do. If you don’t have the time or energy, invest in a low maintenance garden, using low water plants, rock pathways, perennial flowerbeds and obviously, zero grass. This way you can enjoy your little oasis, without struggling to maintain it.
DO be careful with pathways:
Pathways and pavers are great elements to add to your garden, they create separation in the space you’re creating and frankly, they just look great. But keep in mind that it must be wide enough for someone to actually walk through, no smaller than 36 inches wide. Furthermore, don’t plant hedges or plants too close to the walkway, this makes it uncomfortable to swing arms, carry packages, or other regular activities when walking a pathway. Plant at least two feet away of the pathway. And don’t just add a plain concrete walkway, add interesting textual or colorful elements to the pathway.
As you can see, landscaping is more than just having a perfectly manicured lawn. Follow these tips and boost your gardening skills and property value in no time.