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DIY Landscaping Vs Pro Part 1

Alex Newhart


I run into this a lot. When should you DIY landscaping? I encourage customers to do stuff on their own to either save money or just for the joy of planting their own gardens. Anyone can be a landscaper the same way anyone can be an accountant or rocket scientist. I watched that movie Rocket Man with Jake Gyllenhaal and he did it. I’m an artist with a shovel I treat my customers with respect and I get the same from them. Here’s a list of the services we provide and whether I recommend a customer does them or not. Yup, you guessed you can do any of this it’s all about how much time/knowledge you have.

Example I had one homeowner literally think you can install 400 lbs trees by dragging them with a tarp.  I use a tracked machine on existing lawns btw. The lawn is usually recovers within 30 days of installing.



You want to build a patio great! I’ll even put a crush pad down for you and leave you the skreeding materials. Once customer was nice, so I even left them my tools for a day. I will not do this in every case, but you can probably DIY Landscaping when it comes to laying pavers. Now mind you it may be to a way less standard then what I would deliver but so do other contractors. This all depends on how much work you want to do and how good you want it to look


I had a customer build a 1ft by 30ft wall and it took him all summer.

Retaining Walls

DO NOT EVER in no circumstances build your own retaining wall. You can probably physically do it, but will it be right? It is so incredible easy to screw up a retaining wall and VERY HARD to get everything right. I do this for a living, and I made mistakes too. I went back and fixed them and learned. Let my knowledge and warranty work for you. ALWAYS have a contractor build the retaining wall.


I went to a customer’s house in the fall and he was having issues with water build up under the soil. It turns out whoever built the concrete retaining wall didn’t install any weeping tile only washed rock. We believe that it was probably the same person who built the foundation. In this case they built it to a fine standard for a foundation but not to a free-standing retaining. I give the guy props to trying but he didn’t know what he didn’t know. The sub contractor in this case won’t get a call back because it’s past the builder warranty. Now I must go back and dig to the bottom of a 10ft retaining and install a $100 piece of drainpipe to protect a $10,000 wall.

Turf You can buy turf the same turf I can. I can tell you though it took me about 10 turf jobs until I really stopped struggling with the result. As well as looking good the grading and the base also need to be done properly so keep that in mind.

Water Features

Yup you can do this do. In fact, Aquascape has a huge range of self-contained water features that you can do. I buy most of my stuff from Greenland’s and they people there are incredibly helpful to guide you through the process. Anything you must bury comes down to how much work do you want to do and there’s some extra steps involved with burying the basin. Any water features involving natural stone that’s a matter of patience. I don’t recommend you do it because 1 time and 2 there’s an incredible art to getting stones to look good. I seriously doubt you’ll build the Sistine Chapel of water features on your own.

Paver Steps

I know this is a before and after picture. If you look closely you can see they couldn’t figure out the heights properly at the top so they just stacked up some sidewalk blocks. What that shows is the math wasn’t done properly on the height and some steps were added to the top as an afterthought. Something that can easily happen if you don’t build steps on a regular bases.

These are some of the services we provide and some of DIY landscaping challenges you can expect. Part 2 will be coming with the rest of our services included.

Thanks for spending some time with us, we are Newhart Landscape and Construction Ltd , located in Sherwood Park, AB. My name is Alex Newhart, and stay tuned for more blogs and videos coming your way.