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Harnett County,
North Carolina

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How can I make my landscape look good?


Question How can I make my landscape look good?

Answer Appearance is everything! Not really, but it is the number one landscape function homeowners require. Number two is low maintenance. Unfortunately, both functions are subjective.

Throughout history homes have been used as a symbol of status. The property surrounding a house was an extension of that symbolism. The Greeks and Romans carved shapes and curves into the plants surrounding their dwellings. This was symbolic of the power those cultures possessed. European royalty continued this attitude into the medieval period. Toward the end of the medieval period the average homeowner believed they also had a status worthy of exhibition. As North America was colonized, the average person began to view their home as a reflection of their personality as well as status. Nowadays houses and landscapes are still used to make a quick judgment call about their owners.

Since we are critical of everybody else’s house, we know they are doing the same to us. Therefore, we want our home to “look good.”

Looking good can translate into value. However, value only comes into play when a house is being sold. The vast majority of people are not landscaping for a potential sale.

Whether plants are used as an expression of status or to make a personality statement, they evoke emotion. Examples of descriptive (judgmental) words associated with appearance include attractive, beautiful, junky, messy, interesting, whimsical, strange, creative, offensive, warm, formal, quaint, massive, unkempt, overgrown, etc…

People are so obsessed with appearance that they legislate this visual sense. City and county rules that govern home landscapes are often called “Appearance and Landscape Ordinances.” Subdivisions create even stricter regulations. They use these covenant agreements to legally strong arm residents into conforming.

Landscaping is now a mixture of personality, expression, value and legal document. It’s serious business.

If you are concerned about making your landscape look good, then ask your neighbor’s opinion. Depending on where you live, you may have already received your neighbor’s opinion in the form of a registered letter.

Changing the appearance of your landscape can range from simple to complicated. Most simple tactics are maintenance related, like adding new mulch, mowing the grass, pruning shrubs, weeding the flower beds, etc… More complicated tactics are design related. Examples include removal of plants, adding new plants, rerouting a walkway/driveway, adding lights, etc…

If you are concerned about using your landscape for other functions, then you may be ready to begin designing your landscape. For landscape design info, visit If you do not have internet access, then call me at 910-893-7533 or email me at

What lies behind appearance is usually another appearance – Mason Cooley.

Gary L. Pierce

Horticulture Extension Agent

Harnett County

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