15 Common Hardscaping Mistakes You’re Probably Making

If you’re a homeowner or a gardener, you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what plants to plant and how to maintain them. 

But if you want your landscaping project to be successful, there’s one thing you need to get right: improving the drainage of your property. 

The soil on your land needs proper drainage so it doesn’t become water-logged and start getting soggy over time and if this happens, the overall health of your garden will suffer in the long run. 

In this article we’ll take a look at 15 common mistakes made by homeowners when they harm their properties that can cause runoff problems or make watering more difficult than necessary.

Common Hardscape Mistakes
Plan your hardscaping project carefully
Consider the purpose of your hardscape
Choose appropriate materials for your climate
Don’t forget about landscaping and planting
Avoid creating a hardscape that’s too “busy”
Prioritize proper drainage to avoid water damage
Avoid “DIY” hardscaping projects if you lack experience
Be mindful of accessibility
Consider the long-term maintenance of your hardscape
Don’t skimp on quality materials or professional installation
Keep your budget in mind throughout the project
Be willing to make revisions and adjustments as needed
Consider the overall design and aesthetics of your outdoor space
Don’t underestimate the importance of lighting
Hire a professional if you’re unsure about any aspect of the project

Ignoring Runoff Problems

Runoff is one of the most common and potentially expensive hardscaping mistakes. Water may pool in an area, causing erosion and damage to your landscaping. It can also lead to basement flooding, which can cost thousands of dollars in repairs.

To avoid this problem, make sure you take into account drainage as well as slope when designing your yard. If you have heavy rainfall or snowfall in the winter, consider adding a drainage system or grading your yard so it slopes away from your foundation (instead of toward it).

 If there’s already been some erosion caused by runoff in your yard, now would be a good time to fix the issue before it gets any worse.

Hardscaping requires careful planning and execution to achieve the desired result. Our article on The Dos and Don’ts of Hardscaping provides valuable tips on the best practices for hardscaping, whether you’re starting a new project or revamping an existing one.

Not Considering Maintenance Requirements

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when designing a new landscaping design is not considering maintenance requirements. 

While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s actually easy to overlook and even underestimate how much time and energy you’ll be spending on your landscape.

A great way to avoid this mistake is to determine what plants are right for your property before you begin designing. 

Most plants require regular watering, fertilizing and pruning, so if you’re not willing or able to maintain them on a regular basis then they probably aren’t right for your home. 

If you go with more high maintenance plants then choose ones that won’t require as much work (like boxwoods).

Forgetting About Sun and Shade

One of the most overlooked aspects of hardscaping is thinking about the amount of sun and shade your home gets. 

And that’s not just when you’re working on your garden, it also matters for things like where to put a patio for best sun exposure.

You may have a sunny backyard, but if you want to keep it cool and shady, there are ways to do that as well. Take into consideration what kind of plants and trees you want in order to create an environment that works for your lifestyle.

Transform your outdoor living space into your own personal oasis with our guide on How to Create the Perfect Hardscaped Outdoor Space. Whether you’re looking to add a fire pit or a water feature, our article provides expert advice on creating the perfect hardscaped outdoor space tailored to your preferences.

Getting Materials Incompatible With Your Region’s Climate

Another mistake that you can make is getting materials that are not compatible with your region’s climate. For example, if you live in an area where snow is common and heavy, then using a thick layer of mulch might not be the best choice.

You’d be better off choosing a material like gravel that will stay in place when the snow comes down this way, when spring finally rolls around and all that cold weather melts away, it won’t take forever to get rid of all your hardscaping materials because they’re stuck under inches upon inches of ice!

If you want to avoid this problem altogether, there are some things you can do to make sure everything goes smoothly: 

First off (and most importantly), talk through what kind of climate changes may occur between now and when it’s time for removal day; this could include anything from flooding or drought due to higher temperatures than usual during summer months (which would cause grassy areas surrounding sidewalks or patios) or even freezing temperatures during winter months (which would cause places like driveways). 

Once these potential issues have been identified by both parties involved–that means both owner/builder on one end as well as contractor/installer on another–then decisions about which type(s)

If you’re considering hardscaping, you’ll want to read The Ultimate Guide to Hardscaping: What You Need to Know first. Our comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know about hardscaping, including its benefits, factors to consider, and popular materials.

Making the Mistake of Using the Wrong Mulch

Mulch is a great way to add beauty and color to your garden. It can help keep the soil moist, hide ugly parts of your landscaping and serve as a weed barrier.

But choosing the right type of mulch is essential if you want it to do what you need it to do. Here are a few things to consider when determining which kind of mulch works best for your specific needs:

  • Does the color match or compliment other materials in my yard?
  • How much does this cost me per bag?
  • Is this easy for me to spread around by hand or will I need heavy equipment like an ATV or tractor?
Using colored mulch that contains potentially harmful chemicalsBrand: Home Depot, Product: Vigoro Brown Mulch Twin Pack, Price: $9.98
Using a heavy mulch that doesn’t allow for proper nutrient cycling in the soilBrand: Lowe’s, Product: Sta-Green Pine Bark Nuggets, Price: $10.98
Using sharp, jagged mulch that can injure people or petsBrand: The Home Depot, Product: Vigoro Red Lava Rock, Price: $5.98 for a 0.5 cubic foot bag
Using an organic mulch that attracts pests or harbors fungal diseasesBrand: Lowe’s, Product: Miracle-Gro Orchard Bark 8-Quart Organic Potting Soil Mix, Price: $5.98
Using a water-permeable mulch in a location that is prone to erosionBrand: Home Depot, Product: Scotts Nature Scapes Triple Shred Mulch, Price: $4.47 per bag

Adding Lighting Just for Decorative Purposes

Adding lighting just for decorative purposes is a mistake. Lighting should be functional, safe, energy efficient and easy to use. 

Don’t forget about safety you don’t want anyone falling over an expensive lamp because it wasn’t well-lit or placed in the right spot. 

You also want to ensure that your lights are suited for the area they will be used in; you wouldn’t put a candle on a table outside unless you planned on eating in the dark!

Setting Up a Gazebo That Stands Out from Everything Else (for the Worse)

Having a gazebo that stands out from everything else in your backyard can be a good thing, but only if it’s done right. 

To make sure yours doesn’t stick out for the wrong reasons, here are some style tips to keep in mind:

The same color as your house. Unless you’re going for an entirely different look, we recommend using the same materials and colors as those on your home and surrounding structures. This helps ground everything together so that each component works with one another instead of feeling disjointed or out-of-place.

The same height as your house. It may seem counterintuitive at first glance because many people position their gazebos at eye level when sitting on their patio furniture or standing near them—but having one that’s exactly tall enough is ideal because it helps bring balance into play across all elements of landscape design (and also makes sure they don’t block views!).

The same size as your house (or close). For example, if you have a beautiful brick wall around part of the perimeter of your yard but don’t want something so big blocking access through this area (such as when stopping cars),

consider making sure there’s enough space between fences/walls/etcetera where someone could walk through easily without needing climb over anything unnecessarily high even though this might mean cutting down trees nearby due to lack of space underneath them; just be careful not causing damage while doing this task!

Get inspired with our list of 17 Creative Hardscaping Ideas for Your Backyard that can transform your outdoor living space. With a variety of ideas, from a natural stone garden wall to a custom outdoor kitchen, our article provides suggestions that cater to different design styles and preferences.

Choosing Low-Quality Materials for Edging and Walls

Low-quality materials can look cheap. When you’re building a stone wall, the last thing you want is for it to look like something out of a cartoon. 

If the rocks are too small and have chipped edges or if they’re not all uniform in size, it will be obvious that they are not high-quality rocks. If your edging isn’t straight or well-aligned, it will stand out as well.

Planting Trees in the Wrong Places

Trees are one of the most common and striking features in any landscaping design. They provide shade, wind breaks, privacy, and add to the curb appeal of your home. 

However, it’s important that you don’t just choose a tree that looks good you need to make sure it is planted in the right place.

Here are some things to consider when choosing where to plant a tree:

Avoid shaded areas – If you plant a tree in an area with lots of shade from other trees or buildings (especially if there are tall buildings nearby), it will have very little sunlight exposure and won’t be able to grow as tall as it should. 

Ideally, you should pick an area that gets at least four hours of direct sunlight each day so your tree can grow big enough for maximum aesthetic impact on your property.#How You Can Plant Your Trees in The Right Places

Planting a willow tree near a septic tank or leach fieldBrand: The Tree Center, Product: Weeping Willow Tree, Price: $69.99
Planting a tree with invasive roots near a foundation or underground pipesBrand: FastGrowingTrees, Product: Silver Maple Tree, Price: $179.95
Planting a tree that requires full sun in a location with partial shadeBrand: Arbor Day Foundation, Product: Redbud Tree, Price: $29.99
Planting a tree that will eventually grow too large for its surroundingsBrand: Nature Hills Nursery, Product: Noble Fir Tree, Price: $159.99
Planting a tree that requires significant maintenance or care in a location that isn’t easily accessibleBrand: Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co., Product: Dwarf Lemon Tree, Price: $39.99

Forgetting About Privacy

Privacy is important, especially in the summer. You might be surprised at how easy it is to achieve! 

The first thing to consider when designing your landscaping is whether or not you need privacy. Privacy can be a function of the landscape itself and/or a function of the house itself, but it’s also an expression of who you are as people. Let’s take each option one at a time:

Landscape-Based Privacy

Landscapers love using plants as natural barriers against prying eyes; they work well around pools, patios and other common areas where people tend to congregate outside during warmer months (and year-round if you live in drier climates). 

This approach creates visual barriers by setting up hedges or shrubbery on either side of walkways and patios not only does this add some much-needed greenery to your property, but it also helps block out unwanted views from neighbors who might otherwise want to gawk at your backyard every day after work or school. 

If this isn’t enough for you, consider installing fences around outdoor living spaces like decks or patio furniture sets so that no one else can see inside unless they’re invited and even then those pesky kids next door will have no problem breaking any locks they come across while trying sneak into “your” space!

Ignoring Paving Materials and Their Placement/Slope

If you’ve ever used paving materials, then you know how important they are to your hardscaping design. 

But before you get too excited about what kind of material to use and where it will go, there are two things that need to be considered first: placement and slope!

The wrong combination of placement and slope can result in cracked or damaged pavers, which means more work for you down the road. It’s also important that these elements are compatible with the climate of your region if not, they’ll likely end up cracking prematurely as well.

Installing Unsafe Stairs or Walkways

When it comes to building stairs and walkways, you have to make sure that they are built according to code. 

The National Building Code of Canada is the governing document for the construction industry in Canada. It contains a chapter on stairways, which states that no person shall install or use a stairway except in accordance with this part and its applicable relevant standards.

Staircases should also be constructed properly depending on what type of material they are made from:

Stone steps can only be 10 inches deep if they are not steep enough for a handrail; otherwise, they should be 12 inches deep with 2 x 4s used as supports set into the ground below them (these will sink over time once filled with gravel). 

Treads should be at least 11 inches wide at their narrowest point, so that people don’t trip over them when walking up or down them.

Concrete steps must be reinforced by rebar sunk into holes drilled into each step before pouring cement; however, concrete can crack after several years because it expands when it cures under high temperatures (which means your home’s furnace may cause cracks in your staircase). 

Steel posts should also be installed along one side of each step so that steel supports keep everything together while being filled with gravel (this helps prevent people from tripping on loose gravel).

Contractor installs stairs without handrailsBrand: The Home Depot, Product: TreadLite Light Duty Folding Stairs, Price: $139.77
Homeowner builds a deck with stairs that don’t meet local building codesBrand: Lowe’s, Product: Severe Weather 3-Step Pressure Treated Pine Deck Stair Stringer, Price: $13.92
Landscaper installs pavers without proper drainage, leading to pooling water and tripping hazardsBrand: Belgard, Product: Lafitt Grana Slab, Price: $5.85 per square foot
Designer installs a walkway with spacing between pavers that isn’t safe for high heel shoesBrand: The Home Depot, Product: Pavestone Roma, Price: $3.02 per piece
Contractor installs slippery stone steps without slip-resistant treadingBrand: Stonecraft Industries, Product: Sierra Steps, Price: $14.95 per step

Paying Too Much Attention to Form, Not Functionality

The most common mistake people make when hardscaping their lawn is paying too much attention to form, not functionality.

While you want your outdoor space to be attractive, don’t sacrifice practicality for aesthetics. For example, if you choose a path with a sharp slope or an uneven surface it will be difficult to walk on and could cause injury to the elderly or those with mobility issues. 

If you’re planning on hosting events in your yard then consider how many people will be present at any given time and add features that can accommodate them (like seating areas). When adding features like stairs or planters consider safety first make sure they have railings or are wide enough so no one falls off them!

Homeowner purchases a decorative water feature that doesn’t function as expectedBrand: BirdBrain, Product: Ceramic Solar Cascade, Price: $129.99
Contractor installs outdoor stairs that aren’t easy to navigateBrand: Home Depot, Product: Pressure-Treated Pine Stair Treads, Price: $16.67 per tread
Homeowner installs a fire pit in a location where the smoke blows into the houseBrand: Solo Stove, Product: Bonfire Fire Pit, Price: $239.99
Designer creates a patio layout that makes it difficult to move furnitureBrand: IKEA, Product: Arholma Outdoor Sectional Sofa, Price: $708.00
Landscaper plants shrubs in a location that blocks natural light from entering the homeBrand: Lowe’s, Product: Encore Azalea, Price: $28.98 per plant

Overdoing It With Design Elements, Accents and Accessories

  • Don’t overdo it with design elements, accents and accessories.
  • Don’t overdo it with lighting.

Design elements such as statues and garden ornaments can be a good way to add interest to your landscaping (as well as some much-needed privacy from nosy neighbors), but too many can be distracting and make your home look like a theme park rather than a home. 

The same goes for lighting the right amount of lighting will highlight key areas of the yard while leaving other parts in shadow, while too much light may make the yard look like an illuminated billboard that beckons anyone passing by to stop in for dinner.


If you’re thinking about hardscaping your backyard, then we hope this list of common mistakes has given you some insight into how to avoid them. 

We know it can be overwhelming to plan a project like this, but once you get started and get into the groove of things, it’s not so bad. 

And if all else fails? Ask someone who knows what they’re doing! We love talking with people about their landscaping ideas and helping them make them happen so if you have questions or want advice on anything from choosing materials to laying out your space, let us know!

Further Reading

Here are some additional articles to check out if you’re interested in learning more about common landscaping mistakes to avoid:


What are some common landscaping mistakes to avoid?

Some common landscaping mistakes include not planning for maintenance, over-planting, not considering climate, and ignoring important design elements.

How can I avoid over-planting in my landscaping?

To avoid over-planting, make sure you consider the size and growth patterns of each plant before adding it to your landscape. Don’t be afraid to leave room for growth and future additions.

What are some key design elements to consider in landscaping?

Key design elements to consider in landscaping include balance, unity, proportion, focal points, and texture.

Why is soil quality important in landscaping?

Soil quality is important because it affects the health of your plants and their ability to thrive. Poor soil can lead to problems like drainage issues, disease, and stunted growth.

How frequently should I plan for landscape maintenance?

The frequency of landscape maintenance varies depending on the type of plants and features in your landscape. Generally, it’s a good idea to plan for maintenance on a weekly or biweekly basis, at minimum, to keep your landscape looking its best.