I have sometimes commented in this blog about how many of the best projects I have ever encountered were the results of someone doing it all by themselves. Some homeowner projects are, frankly, breathtakingly beautiful. I felt honored to be there and I am being serious. There is just something about the amount of love and careful attention one who is invested in his own place can deliver which even the best professionals will never approach. I stand in awe of these people, to this moment. No just equal with, but in awe. They are the World’s best.
At the same time, I have seen some amazingly bad work, too. It is hard to keep the laughter in check, now and then, but good manners insist. Sometimes, when I am called in by an exasperated owner or by someone who has bought a place beset with the efforts of the person who preceded them, I arrive with a pretty good sized grin. They know I know they know I know why they called, or something like that. 😉 And, being completely honest, the amount of work required to repair or re-do a yard’s landscaping or a paver project can be more – not less – expensive than to start from just plain dirt.
It pays to do it right. It pays in ways which are very value-adding and rewarding. But landscaping – and even gardening, especially at the start up – are very physically and mentally challenging. I am not trying to mystify anyone about what we do because it really isn’t that hard, in many ways, at least mentally. But there is a physical component which is extremely demanding.
The Physical Part
I have had people work for me who developed tendinitis the very first day which took a month or more to get over. The repetitive nature of the work and all the heavy lifting demands an awful lot. In short, be smart. Most larger DIY projects would be aided greatly by the helping labor of some high school or college kids or by someone who needs the work. These people are not hard to find. Be smart. Use help, in the first place.
In the second place, plan. Plan ahead and know why. It never hurt to consult with someone professional, by the way. I have overseen many DIY projects for a small consulting fee, beers or even for nothing. I don’t drive a hard bargain. But that’s just me.
One of my favorite DIY resources to recommend to people is a place called DIY Guides. I’ve been following it a while now. Mike runs an interesting and diverse site which covers just about everything there is to do with DIY projects, but I especially liked his takes on landscaping. The thing is, there are professional ways to approach things which are do-able and ultimately very necessary. We don’t do these things for our health. He tends to include them thus he has my respect.
Reading in this blog in my posts on installations should provide an excellent background on many aspects and especially the “why’s”. I like to give this out because issues like preparation, when ignored, can lead to so many unforseen problems. In many cases, I strove to supply not only the why’s but also the how-to’s by illustrating what we do on our own projects. We do take things to a sort of extreme, but then we get paid for that. Our prep is generally always a bit more than good.
Please browse the category listings dealing with Installations if you have questions about our approach. I have been asked many times about DIY projects and I honestly still believe knowledge is as important as the physical part.
Do-it-yourselfers are a love of mine, in the end. I like seeing the pride of someone who does it right and finishes with a proud and deserving sense of accomplishment. What we do is not the most important thing in the world but it sure can make life more interesting and enjoyable in the aesthetic sense. It can also make a guy feel right proud. That is very cool.
Great post! As I was reading this it kept reminding me of a show on HGTV, the name escapes me at the moment, but a crew will come out and work with the homeowners on landscaping their yards and some of these yards can be completely horrendous from previous attempts at landscaping.
Yeah, there are some good laughs available out there. I mean, do you want your gardener putting fillings in your mouth? Or your cousin, in spite of his rib-cooking excellence?