DIY Disaster – Yard Maintenance Mistakes

Lawn and yard care seems pretty simple. You know to rake, fertilize, water, mow, prune your trees and shrubs, and weed your garden. Yet your yard looks a little beastly and your lawn seems to be hanging onto life by a thread. With all the best intentions, homeowners put on their DIY hat and sometimes are left with a DIY disaster. Here are some common yard maintenance mistakes homeowners make.

Pruning treesto death


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Thousands of trees fall victim to unknowledgeable yard owners every year. The tree is growing wild, so the logical thing to do is to get out the pruners and start hacking off branches until it looks good again, right? Wrong! Incorrect pruning of trees is a common yard maintenance mistake and it actually kills them! It doesn’t do it right away though. Your tree’s will to survive is strong and often the damage done by improper pruning could prolong the trees inevitable demise for years.  If you’ve really gone pruner-happy, a tree could only last a few months after the amputation occurred.

Disfigurement, wounds that will never heal, throwing out the welcome mat for infection, pathogens and decomposition organisms that will surely finish off your tree are all things you can expect if you incorrectly prune your poor trees.  If it doesn’t die it could continue to look horribly disfigured, which leads you to a bigger problem then it’s fully alive branches becoming a little unruly.

Learn more about “Five Common Pruning Mistakes“.

Burning the lawn with fertilizer

fertilizer burn

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“But I was only trying to help it!” pleads the homeowner who has just given their lawn a severe chemical burn.   It turns out there is such things as too much fertilizer. Who knew?

Too much synthetic fertilizer will change the levels of nitrogen and salt levels in your lawn and can damage or kill it. You’ll know you have a fertilizer burn if you have strips of brown or yellow patches of dead grass on your lawn after application.

Weed killer gone awry

Dandelions, clovers, crab grass and other weeds were growing in your lawn and they needed to go! Weed killer is a toxic chemical and a common culprit for yard maintenance mistakes. If not used properly it can kill more than just weeds. If some gets sprayed on your bushes and shrubs, or in your flower beds you will send them to their death too.

Make sure you read the label. Or you could end up like this guy, who killed his entire 40,000 square foot lawn by accidentally using a dual weed AND grass killer on his once-beautiful lawn. In his defense, the bottle was not properly marked.  Read “Man destroys his 40,000 square foot lawn“.

Photo from CNN

Even worse, you could kill 72 acres of perfectly good grass by accidentally using weed killer instead of fertilizer. This mistake cost the University of Findlay between $432,000 and $2.1 million depending on whether they choose to lay new sod or reseed the 75% of campus that was destroyed by the mistake.   Read “Opps mistake kills most grass at University of Findlay campus“.

Raking before winter? Nah!

Photo from

Photo from

Crisp autumn days are made beautiful by the vibrant colours of changing leaves. We all know that as soon as the wind picks up that beauty will be blown away, leaving most of those leaves on your lawn in dry and crispy masses. To rake or not to rake?

To not rake means you can spend more time cozy on the couch watching a football game. A leaf is a leaf, let it return to nature, let it blow about the yard as it pleases. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, after a long winter the snow will melt to reveal a putrid blanket of rotting leaves. They’ve spend the winter suffocating your lawn and creating the best growing conditions for mildew and snow mold. Beyond that, you’ve also deprived your lawn of sunlight and your lawn may or may not revitalize this season without extra care.

Yard Care with the Pros

Don’t have a knack for yard care?  Avoid yard maintenance mistakes that lead to disaster by contacting a professional.  That’s why has created a comprehensive directory of trusted companies who specialize in lawn care and maintenance as well as professional landscapers and landscaping materials and supply stores.  Every business in our directory has been accredited and given our stamp of approval, ensuring they provide honest, professional services and quality products.

RenovationFind Members receive discounts from home improvement companies in the Edmonton Area.  Save 10% off at the Classic Landscape Centre with your membership card!  Learn more.

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