If you’re a new homeowner, you may or may not know your way around a lawnmower or sprinkler system. You also may not want to. But if you do, and you’re willing to admit you’re “green” about how to tackle lawn and gardening chores, don’t begin spraying, cutting and trimming without following a few basic guidelines. Here’s our common-sense tips to avoid big landscaping mistakes at your new home.

Read the directions!

Never eradicated dandelions? Crabgrass? It’s tempting to blast away all repugnant greenery with that gallon sprayer of weed killer, but you could kill your new sod while you’re at it. Read the Landscaping Mistakes to Avoiddirections for proper usage and best results, not to mention safety.

The same caution applies to fertilizer and insecticide. There are proper times of year to eliminate pests and feed that lush new sod. Do as manufacturers suggest and you’ll be a happy homeowner. Ignore manufacturer suggestions and you might burn your lawn, poison plants and possibly pets, plus incur major costs to replace your ruined landscaping.

Poor lawn care

If you intend to care for it yourself, basic lawn maintenance — mowing, fertilizing and watering — must become part of your regular outdoor chores. As with misuse of common gardening chemicals above, over-aggressive or lapsed lawn maintenance can cause costly damage. You don’t want to drown your grass, scald it with fertilizer or buzz-cut it and cause it to wither.

Ask new neighbors who work in their yards and whose yards are attractive, for tips. Visit the garden center at your local hardware or home-improvement store and do the same. Or, hop online for guidance from trusted industry sites.

Here’s what you want to know: the correct height to set your mower so you don’t cut your grass too short and stress it, how often and how much to water it, and how and when to fertilize it.

Errant pruning techniques

Ask an experienced gardener what “crape murder” is, and you’ll know what we mean. It’s a common-yet-unattractive pruning technique that disfigures graceful, flowering crape myrtle trees. And, it’s only one pruning mistake. Drastic pruning can kill whatever it is you’re trying to shape. When it comes time to deadhead roses or trim boxwoods, figure out how to do it properly before wielding those electric-, gas- or human-powered choppers!

Errant planting techniques

Here’s another ode to read-the-directions. Planting shrubs, ornamental trees or flowering annuals and perennials requires more preparation than digging holes, First, check the tags on their pots for how far apart to seat them. Don’t jam stuff together! Those one-gallon hibiscus bushes you want to border your new patio eventually will smother your family-room windows if you don’t space them properly and give them room to grow.

Your lawn isn’t your pet’s toilet

Can we be frank? Repeated “watering” from pets will stain, yellow and potentially kill plants and grass. Not to mention the messes you don’t want to step in barefoot. As much as we love our furry best friends, they need toilet training too. At the least, a designated area to do their business. Consider cordoning off — or fencing in — a spot out of the way, then firmly schooling your pet on his or her special place.

Ready for a new home to landscape? ICI Homes can help. Start here.