How Do I Improve My New Home Landscape? (Part 3)

By Kimberly Toscano


Don’t let new construction landscapes get you down. These tips will help you plan a thriving landscape. (Part 3 of a 3-part series)


While a brand new home delivers up-to-date countertops and the latest in bathroom fixtures, it is often lacking when it comes to the landscape. Expansive lawns and miniscule shrubs do little to complement a new home’s shining exterior. It can be tempting to start planting as soon as possible. Before digging into planting, take some time to get to know the landscape and develop a plan for success. Once a plan is developed, then you can get started adding luster to your landscape, too.

Let’s Grow!

Select plants that will thrive in existing conditions without major amendments.

The following tips balance short-term impact with long-term goals, whether you are building upon an existing planting or starting from scratch. When you are ready to start planting remember to look back at your notes about sun, water, and soils (see part 1of this series for more details). Select plants that will thrive in existing conditions without major amendments. 

New homes rarely boast mature trees. Even when young, a shade tree adds structure to the landscape, often resembling an understory tree in structure.

Trees Take Time. New homes rarely boast mature trees. Even when young, a shade tree adds structure to the landscape, often resembling an understory tree in structure. Over time they contribute to property values and the beauty of the garden. Identify sites where you intend to plant trees and get them in the ground as soon as the weather allows. Provide a wide ring of mulch around the base until you are ready to incorporate the trees into planting beds.

A typical contractor planting includes a row of low shrubs with a single upright element. Build upon this structure by investing in a few larger shrubs or understory trees to add height and mass to existing beds.

Think Structure. A typical contractor planting includes a row of low shrubs with a single upright element. Build upon this structure by investing in a few larger shrubs or understory trees to add height and mass to existing beds. Try adding a row of upright evergreen shrubs as a backdrop to smaller plantings or plant a specimen like Encore® Azalea Autumn Embers™. Balance these with less expensive perennials, annuals, and shrubs. 

Dwarf flowering shrubs like Encore® Azalea Autumn Ivory™ are perfect for filling empty spaces while adding yearlong color to the garden.

Filling In. New landscapes often include large swaths of mulch punctuated by tiny shrubs. If the shrubs offer long-term structure, then there is no reason to remove them. But you likely want to add a bit of pizazz in the meantime. Dwarf flowering shrubs like Encore® Azalea Autumn Princess™ are perfect for filling empty spaces while adding yearlong color to the garden. Perennial grasses are another go-to for quick height and texture. Annuals provide low-cost, short-term cover until perennials and shrubs gain size.

Part 1 of this series discusses initial steps, such as understanding the property and conditions to aid in plant selection. Part 2 addresses pre-planting landscape design considerations and irrigation.