I’m a gardening pro – the common mistake making your yard look cheap and why layout is essential for an 'expensive' home | The Sun

A GARDENING expert has warned about the common mistakes that he thinks can make your outdoor space look cheap.

Green-fingered homeowners have started to prepare for winter but should also be thinking ahead about how they want their flowers to bloom next year.

Peter Ivanov has helped many people plant gardens that look beautiful year-round as a pro available to book via Fantastic Gardeners.

He told The U.S. Sun that there are a variety of elements that must be considered when trying to create a visually appealing garden, including a careful plant selection and the ability to maintain.

Even expensive investments in your outdoor space can look cheap or poorly designed if they're not executed well, he warned.

Too much concrete can make gardens look uninviting and an uncoordinated color scheme can be very chaotic.

So, how does your garden compare?


Peter explained that a well-kept garden is important because it’s one of the first things visitors see and it can “significantly increase the value” of your home.

He said: “More and more people are spending time in their gardens than before and it’s important to design the space in such a way that it brings the property owner joy.

“However, an expensive-looking garden doesn't necessarily mean spending a lot of money.

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“Careful planning, attention to detail, and consistent maintenance can go a long way in creating an outdoor space that adds value and appeal to your property.

“A well-thought-out garden design is very important and it should incorporate elements such as symmetrical layouts, well-defined pathways, and focal points.

“To achieve this, consider using natural stone, pavers, or quality decking for your pathways and patios as these hardscape elements can add elegance and luxury to an outdoor space.

“In 2023, the most popular thing is for a landscape to focus on the environment, attracting natural wildlife to gardens and, overall, on sustainability practices.

“This can include immersive gardens, also known as nature-scaping, where the core idea focuses on using natural materials with mostly natural colors and raw textures, low-carbon landscaping.

“The focus is on growing local plant varieties, herbs, vegetables, and fruits in one’s own garden to reduce their carbon footprint.

"[It's also about] landscape design for continuity, where landscape and hardscape are combined in fractured edges with no defined break and the outdoor space is an extension of one’s home.

“A haphazard layout without a clear design can make a garden look disorganized and unappealing so avoid planting randomly or overcrowding your plants.

“Gardens without focal points or interesting features can seem bland and it’s highly recommended to consider incorporating eye-catching elements, such as statues, birdbaths, or pergolas.

“Choosing cheap, common plants without considering their compatibility or aesthetic appeal can make your garden lack character.

“Also, avoid invasive or overgrown plants that may take over the outdoor space.”


Peter said having a garden with generic elements or clutter can also look very cheap.

“A garden that lacks a personal touch and reflects no sense of the homeowner's style and preferences will naturally seem generic," he explained.

"So if you want to make your garden as appealing as possible, add unique elements that reflect your personality.

“Also, prioritize quality over quantity and aim for a cohesive and well-maintained outdoor space.

“A garden with a clashing or uncoordinated color palette can appear chaotic so stick to a harmonious one that complements your home and surroundings.


According to Peter, the most luxurious gardens feature well-groomed lawns, mature trees, and carefully curated flower beds, incorporating a variety of textures and colors to create visual interest.

He said: “Planning your garden so that it looks appealing all year round is a way to make it look more expensive.

“When doing that, choose plants that provide seasonal interest with blooming flowers, vibrant foliage, or attractive berries.

“Arrange your plants in groups or clusters to create a sense of abundance and sophistication, pay attention to color schemes, and use complementary or contrasting colors to create visual interest.

“Consider also gardening to attract local wildlife by adding sources of nectar, seeds, shelter, and water to attract and help local species thrive.

“Besides being sustainable, this also provides a unique experience if you spend more time in your garden.

“Vertical gardens, in particular, have become extremely popular nowadays with the increasing interest in biophilia, especially in urban areas where space is limited.

“These unique types of structures can be both freestanding or attached to a wall like living green walls or moss walls.

“They are a great alternative to potted plants, because potted plants may provide flexibility, but they take up space and require a lot more maintenance.

“In contrast, vertical gardens take up a minimum amount of floor space and are typically easier to maintain than a traditional garden.

"Overloading the garden with too many ornaments, decorations, or mismatched furniture can create a chaotic and unattractive look.

“When it comes to garden decor, less is often more.

"Almost any plant can look expensive in your garden if you take the right care.

"But my personal favorites are: 

  • Roses
  • Hydrangeas
  • Peonies
  • Boxwood
  • Japanese maples
  • Camellias
  • Hostas

"However, the following can damage the look of your garden: 

  • Weeds
  • Overgrown bushes
  • Clover
  • Pine saplings
  • Wild grasses and flowers
  • Dandelions
  • Daylilies
  • Moss 
  • Any invasive plants like English Ivy, Japanese Knotweed, Kudzu, Garlic Mustard, etc." 


It isn’t uncommon for people to replace their greenery with concrete for easy maintenance.

However, Peter said this can have a negative impact on the overall appearance of the space.

“Excessive use of plain concrete or low-quality paving materials can give a garden a dull and uninviting appearance," he warned.

"It’s recommended to opt for more attractive and natural materials, such as stone or wood.

“Consider also compost wood decking, which has become an alternative to timber decking.

"Iit requires less maintenance and it’s a recycled wood, which means it’ll stand the test of time and last longer.”


He said: “An unkempt or patchy lawn can make your entire garden seem neglected so it’s very important to regularly mow, fertilize, and weed control to keep it well-groomed.

“Similarly, neglecting regular maintenance tasks, such as pruning and cleaning, can quickly make your garden look shabby.

“Cleanliness and precision are crucial so consider hiring a professional landscape designer or gardener to make sure that your garden is designed and maintained to a high standard.”


Gardens can feel less inviting without carefully placed lighting to make it an appealing space to sit in as the sun sets.

“Well-designed, warm, and inviting outdoor lighting can significantly transform a garden at night," Peter explained.

It can highlight features like statues, pathways, and specimen trees, he added, "and create a more pleasant and inviting space for outdoor gatherings."

“Inadequate or poorly placed outdoor lighting can make a garden look uninviting at night so make sure that the key areas in your outdoor space are well-lit to enhance its appeal in the evening.”


Peter said investing in good quality outdoor furniture and furnishings is important for an overall beautiful design.

“Opting for high-quality materials for your garden features," he said.

His suggestions include garden furniture, decorative containers, and outdoor lighting fixtures that "will complement the overall design and lend a sense of sophistication to your outdoor space."

“For example, metal has become an increasingly popular choice to add to outdoor features, whether it’s a side structure, artistic panels, water fountains, or plant boxers," he went on.

“This is actually an attempt to go back to the patio structures and connect the outdoors with the indoors, where people can spend a more pleasant time in their gardens with family and friends.

“If you have children, think about incorporating a treehouse for them.

“Make your garden look more expensive by investing in high-quality outdoor furniture and accessories, such as cushions, throw pillows, and outdoor rugs.

"They can make your garden feel like an outdoor living space.

“However, consider not just the smile details but also adding bigger outdoor living features if your goal is to make your garden feel more luxurious, such as patios, decks, and outdoor kitchens.”


Peter said water features have become popular but it’s important to consider maintenance and style to ensure they don’t cheapen the look of the garden.

“A tasteful water feature such as a fountain, a pond, a small waterfall, or a bird bath typically adds a lot of extravagance to a garden," he noted.

“These features have become very popular recently because of their potential to support biodiversity in a garden.

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"[They can] attract beneficial insects, pollinators, and local wildlife by providing them with a water source, which also helps plants thrive better.

“However, when you opt for that, make sure the feature you choose is well-maintained and fits your garden's overall style.”

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