Today, I’m excited to present you with the 12 must have landscape materials for every landscape project. All of these items make up a great material list, but what I love about them is they also form a really great checklist of all the different aspects that make up a great landscape. I think that’s what we enjoyed the most about creating this incredible guide. Hope you enjoy.
If you’ve ever done any landscaping before you are going to be at least a little familiar with mulch. Mulch was once just a way to add organic matter to soil, but later— with the creation of curb appeal— mulch has become a decorative landscaping material that is similar to that of frosting on a tasty cake. Yes, mulch has made its way into the decorative category, but it’s also used to hold the moisture on the soil long enough for plants to enjoy it.
It’s simple, if you don’t put mulch down the dirt is exposed to the sunlight, and the water evaporates much faster. That same sunlight also helps your plants to grow, and your weeds, which is another thing mulch does for you. By keeping that sunlight from hitting your soil, it prevents weeds from taking root and growing.
Edging material often gets a bad rap because it can create other problems such as weed or drainage issues. Some people prefer to have a solid concrete edging, which sounds amazing when it comes to weeds. But when it comes to water, a solid concrete edging can turn your landscape bed into a weekend swimming pool for your pets. This makes finding the right type of edging a little bit of an issue.
Our crews always— no matter what edging type we intend on installing— dig a three to four inch trench around all the beds, as well as take gutter, downspout, or roof water out of the beds. This makes it a little easier to choose edging. Choosing the right edging is a large topic, the main thing here is to remember it is one of the most important landscape materials you can have for every landscape project, even if all you do is dig a trench.
Using landscape materials such as fabric between your mulch and soil is a bit of a touchy subject amongst landscapers and home owners. I’ve listed it here as a “must have” simply because of what it can do for new landscape projects. When you are creating new beds on your own, the use of landscape fabric can buy you a lot of time and labor when it comes to bed prep. A lot of home owners will simply chop down all the
weeds and lay fabric over them. This is— obviously— not the best idea in the world, but it’s a great tool if you are just trying to get it done, and your not a huge fan of quality.
That being said, landscape fabric is also an amazing tool and a must have under gravel or decorative rock walk ways. It can also go under all sorts of landscape edging, or stepping stones. Which makes this material an incredible must have landscape material.
Not to be confused with the conditioner you use for your hair, soil conditioner rarely smells like roses or any sort of wild berry. That’s because it usually contains lots of organic matter. You see, organic matter is what plants eat for dinner, and well pretty much every other meal. Organic matter is pretty much decomposing plant material. You can think of it as decomposing leaves, grass, branches, and pretty much any other thing that can decompose.
But that’s not all you will find in good soil conditioner. The best conditioners have sand, organic matter, and even clay content. This is because soil conditioner is meant to condition the soil for better plant growth, not to make it look shiny. Remember to use soil as one of your secret landscape materials, it’ll have your neighbors green with envy of your healthy plants.
Decorative rock is pretty much any type of gravel that is not your average every day
driveway rock. Even though you can use traditional driveway rock as decor in your landscape. I’m serious! If you imagine purchasing a dark black mulch for your beautifully designed beds, and then right where your outdoor water faucet is, you add a sweeping, swooping, swerving path made of— straight up— driveway rock.
The accent between the two is an incredible look, and it’s low cost. Decorative rock can do the same thing too many other areas. It can also be used to go over unsightly grated drain boxes. In fact, that same pathway could have grate boxes under it to assist with drain issues.
When your working with landscape materials, the first thing you want to address is the drainage. Simply because, you don’t want the water ruining your brand new creation. In the addressing of drainage issues, you are going to find yourself needing drainage rock. This rock can be found at home improvement stores in bags and simply called “drainage rock.” Nothing too complex. This rock is used in French drain systems, under popup emitters, and even under grate boxes. It’s a simple low cost rock that lets water flow through it. No need for an elaborate explanation, but you may want to lookup its effect and usage on French drain systems.
Let’s say you have water dumping out of your gutter, and you want to take it out to the street. This would mean you needed some sort of transportation system. Well, you’ve come to the right place, because that’s what transit pipe is meant to do. While you can use just about any type of pipe to transport water, the pipe we are talking about here is that black corrugated four inch
This pipe can be found at all home improvement stores, and is flexible so you don’t have to dig straight lines, or by elbows if you don’t want to. It’s just a way to get water from one point to another. They also sell this pipe with holes in it, but that’s for a different purpose.
I’m not sure who invented the popup emitter but it’s a life saver for landscapers and home owners everywhere. This little device— when hooked up to a transit pipe— can release water on just about anywhere. When you first see it, you will probably think “Is this really going to work?” The beauty of the popup emitter is that you can use it to take your roof water from your downspouts to just outside your landscape edging in your grass. This saves you from having to find a place to dump the water. Sense the popup emitter is such a work saver when it comes to landscape drainage, it’s a must have for just about every landscape project.
To explain, a gutter is the trough that goes along your roof line, and catches the water and delivers it to those— sometimes ugly— spouts that come down your wall to the ground. The issue we have here is that the transit pipe you buy is round, and gutter downspouts are usually square. This can make it a pretty unsightly but necessary connection from downspout to transit pipe. The solution to this is found in the gutter adapter. To make it clear about what materials you would use to get water out of your landscape. It might be a gutter adapter, ten foot of transit pipe, a popup head, and a bag of drainage rock. This little combo can make nice work of getting those pipes out to the grass.
This is not a way of blocking the water from getting into your landscape, and it’s certainly not like one of those diet pills that prevents you from gaining weight. A water block is about twofoot long by about ten inches wide, and it goes under your downspout right where the water dumps out. What it does is stops the water from digging a hole in the ground, or in your mulch. I then disperses the water into a more even and much slower spread out into your grass or landscape beds. Although not an ideal system, for areas where the roof is smaller, it can be a
simple alternative to the traditional piping the water out to the grass. Landscapers call this little device a “water block,” and it can be found at just about any home improvement store or business that sells landscape materials.
You might be trying to envision a tree wearing some sort of decorative blanket, but that would be ridiculous. A tree wrap is meant to protect you new yard trees from poor weed eating skills. Of course, not your poor weed eating skills, but those other people who accidentally slap all the bark of the base of their new trees while trying to trim back the grass. The tree wrap is a heavy plastic that goes around the base of the tree, and simply protects the bark from those easy accidents that other people do. If you plant new trees in your yard as a part of your landscape, tree wrap is a must have material, and it can be found at any home improvement store.
Last, but not least you can ask you local home improvement store to cut you some eighteen inch pieces of PVC pipe. This is not so you can make a Halloween costume for yourself, this is actually a great addition to your landscape. These pieces of pipe are used when you plant trees.
You see, when a new tree is planted, it can be difficult to get water down to the roots where you want the tree to grow. Watering the top of the ground is no guarantee that you got water down to the base roots. Because of this, when you plant the tree, you can place these pieces of pipe against the base of the tree in the ground, and leave part of it sticking out of the ground. Then, you can take a large bucket of water and simply fill the pipe with water. The water will sit in the pipe and slowly disperse itself at the base of the tree where it needs to be.
Every landscape is a little bit different and there a lots of times where you
are going to be searching for landscape materials for your strange situation. The trick is not to be alarmed. Landscaping can be a fun way creative outlet. Especially if you have a small back yard place where you want to test your design skills. The materials we’ve listed here today are all crucial parts of almost every landscape.
Hopefully, you will be able to use these when you are planning around the obstacles in your landscape beds. It might also give you some great talking points for when you meet with your landscaper or designer.
Even though some of your beds not have all of these materials, each component serves a particular need. The trick is to walk through all the different aspects of your landscape and decide what you need. A good place to start is drainage, and then think about how you will prevent weeds, with edging, or landscape fabric. Then consider the utility needs of the area; such as: water faucets, or places to put your trash cans. After that it’s considering plant placement, soil conditioner, and of
course maintaining everything. This should give you a great plan.