The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 09, 2021 1:00 am

Landscaping can be fun, but work 'never done'

Keiara Carr | For The Journal Gazette

The weather has warmed, the birds are chirping and in the spirit of spring, you have convinced yourself (and perhaps a less willing partner) that it's time for yard work.

But before you go piling up the usual mulch in your front yard, Mo Palmer, DIY landscaping consultant and owner of Urban Digs, would like you to calmly put the shovel down and heed some helpful advice.

“Landscaping is never done – that's potentially the beauty of it unless you don't want to spend a lot of time in your yard,” she says. “Once you get the landscape installed, that is really the beginning of your journey.”

Ask the pros

Before you make any major changes to your landscape, Palmer advises you to at least speak with a professional consultant. Through Urban Digs, a consultation is an one-hour session with advice and ideas to help revamp your property. But for homeowners who may need even more help, Palmer says she also provides services to help with landscape design, plant selection and even mark on the property where to place your bed lines and plants.

“I think homeowners should think about their outdoor spaces the same way they do about their home,” she says. “You do not start building a house without a plan first and that's how you should look at landscaping, too. The most important first step is getting a design.”

If you're budget-conscious and want to make a major change, Palmer says to start with buying trees.

“Trees have the longest-lasting impact – they are the plant that will live the longest,” she says. “They will outlive most of us, maybe even our children, but they take the longest to get to maturity.”

Invest in longevity

Palmer says many trends in landscaping are typically just old techniques coming back into style.

“Edible gardens are becoming trendy, and that's an ancient practice,” she says.

Rather than worry about trends, Palmer suggests investing in the areas you will enjoy for years to come.

“I'm not somebody that hops on any bandwagon too quickly, and I suggest to anyone considering something trendy to look into carefully,” she says.

“Sometimes you see a bumper sticker says something like 'Choose Native Plants – They're Easy,' but if you look into it, that's not necessarily true. Make sure you look into any trend and see if it has stood the test of time.”

Birds and the bees

If you are interested in creating a welcoming ecosystem for living things, consider buying fruit-bearing plants and trees that will attract birds and pollinators.

“So often with nursery plants, people do not want shrubs that have berries or trees that bear fruits because they are messy, but those are things that attract birds and pollinators,” Palmer says. “I would buy a book on plants geared toward the Midwest or Indiana, by a reputable author.

“Those are so wonderful because they don't just provide a list of native plants, they explain why. If you want to attract birds, you have to first know what they eat and so you need to know certain plants that will attract the caterpillars or insects that birds will eat.”

And if you're hoping to sharpen your birdwatching skills in your landscaped yard, a birdbath can't hurt.

“I think birds should be using plants for their food, so I steer away from bird feeders,” Palmer says.

For more information on Palmer's business, go to


Buy the basics: Garden hose, spade, pruning shears, hard metal rake to rake out dirt, soft plastic rake for cleaning debris, pitchfork

What you need: Design to get started and possibly professional help on plant selection and ideas

About the series

At this point in the pandemic, if it can be done virtually, you've done it, you've seen it and you've probably told someone to turn off "mute" at least 20 times.

It is time to turn inward. This six-part series is about finding new outlets offline, whether it's indoors or outdoors. We have turned to the experts to provide beginner tips on a range of topics that will give us something to brag about at Zoomsgiving this year.

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