Yardwork is a sweaty labor of love, from planting flower beds to designing your patio. And come summer, it can be all too tempting to hop onto the latest trends you see lining the aisles at your local Home Depot.
But beware—trends come and go, and many just don’t stand the test of time for good reason: They’re uncomfortable, impractical, and, all in all, just don’t make much sense.
Curious what popular landscaping and curb appeal ideas you might regret trying? Check out some of these all-too-common options below.
1. Outdoor rugs
Soggy, strewed with leaves, and gross underfoot. This is the result of rolling out a piece of carpet with no protection from the elements. You’ll also be constantly sweeping this fabric and washing it to keep mud and stains at bay.
“Outdoor rugs are beautiful but very high-maintenance in a true outside space,” says Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork Organizing.
Yet there is one place outdoor rugs are OK since they’ll be shielded from inclement weather: “Save these for covered porches,” DeMorrow says.
2. Dyed mulch
“Dyed mulch needs to go—it’s terrible to work with,” laments Chris Lambton, a professional gardener and co-host of HGTV’s “Going Yard.”
Not only are colors like orange too vivid for most gardens, but the dye used on this product gets on everything.
“It stains my hands, the truck, and anything it touches,” says Lambton. “And the colors just don’t look natural.”
3. Upcycled planters that look like junk
Upcycling has been taken way too far in the garden, says Lambton: “People are going over the top with old sinks, pots, and pans—it’s turned into a garage sale in the yard.”
We’ll allow one kitschy item per household. But when every can has been used to grow herbs and flowers, you need to get out the recycling bin and give this look a break.
4. Wood-burning fire pits
Do you love smoke blowing in your face no matter where you sit? Real wood is really awful in an outdoor fire pit. (Save the logs for indoor use.)
“I love the smell of real wood burning, but you can buy smokeless fire pits now that cut down on the fumes,” says Lambton.
Or you can have one built with vents at the bottom for better air circulation and a less smoky fire. Your lungs will thank you.
5. Large grass lawns
A big expanse of grass is a time and money suck, not to mention all the water you’ll need to spray on to keep it looking lush and verdant.
“Huge grass lawns are so boring,” says Isara Ongwiseth, lead designer at FormLA Landscaping.
“Shrink the lawn, add curves, much more mulch, and plantings, and you’ll cut down on maintenance, cost, plus help the environment,” advises Lambton, who also notes that large lawns are not natural.
Not convinced? “Nothing will make you ditch your lawn faster than having to drag yourself out to mow while your neighbors kick back with their coffee surrounded by blooms,” adds Ongwiseth.
6. Tiny, year-round Christmas lights
Twinkle lights might look nice, but they just don’t shed enough light to work if you’re out there at night. If you want to actually see your guests, spring for bigger filament bulbs instead—and you can finally save your Christmas lights for the tree.
We get that the kids needed some entertainment, but a backyard trampoline is a broken ankle just waiting to happen. Even worse, the neighbor’s kid could break his ankle on your property, which is a whole other kind of headache.
8. Outdoor storage bench
What could be more sensible than a bench with storage underneath? Problem is, leaks can happen with many of these containers, hinges can degrade and break, leaving you to MacGyver a workaround by lining the inside with plastic bags.
Storage benches, as with rugs, are best when shielded from the elements with a roof or other structure.
9. So many planters, there’s nowhere to sit
If you can’t find a place to sit, you’ve gone too far with your container garden. While the garden pros here love the feeling of abundance and beauty that a ton of pots can offer, less can be more, especially in small spaces.
10. Tons of annuals that need to be replanted each summer
If you have nice, large flower beds, make them work for you! Plant perennials once, and enjoy them for years.
“Why would anyone replant annuals, wasting time and energy, when smartly arranged natives are an option?” asks Ongwiseth.
Here’s more on the difference between annuals vs. perennials.