I was standing in the checkout line at Loews yesterday with about 50 other lawn and garden warriors ready to tackle our springtime outdoor chores. I had bags of mulch and a variety of annuals and perennials. Others had full flat bed carts filled with everything from grass seed to shrubs. All of us have one common denominator though….improving the yards of our homes. It made me wonder……..can there be too much TLC and landscaping? Can one “over do” their lawns and gardens? Well, I think so. Sometimes less IS more!

Take mulch for example……mulching provides a ground cover in your beds to control weeds and to keep things nice and neat. Over mulching can actually be harmful to your plants and trees. The result: rot, invasive insects, and suffocated roots.

Choose the right plants, trees and shrubs. One of the biggest mistakes an amateur landscaper can make is choosing an invasive plant, which can quickly grow out of control. The biggest offender? Bamboo—it’s almost impossible to control. Without your own giant panda to do the trimming, you’ll find your yard overrun with tall, tough stalks that take years to fully remove. Other offenders? The plants often found in “drought-tolerant” sections of garden centers. Decorative grasses such as  Mexican feather grass, fountain grasses, and pampas grasses, which can be fire hazards due to their dry leaves and flowering stalks. Not too much of a problem here but nonetheless something to think about.

Have a plan! Do not just start randomly planting here and there. Have a design and write it down. Understand your space requirements, measure and choose your plantings accordingly. I like to follow common sense rules and plant the taller stuff toward the back and smaller plants in front. Don’t overcrowd and while large foliage might look impressive, it has a hard time taking root. Small foliage grows nicely and has a better chance of survival.

And, if your springtime plans include adding a workshop or addition to your home, make sure that you properly protect any existing trees that could be effected. You might not see the dire effects of damaged roots for quite a while until a storm causes the rotting trunk to come crashing onto your roof. Here in the low country, we have laws that protect our beautiful and graceful live oak trees. You cannot cannot bulldoze or alter these trees. Make sure you are following the tree ordinances protecting the live oaks.

So, a few rules of “green thumb” and you are set to go with your springtime yard work!