If you believe that art imitates life, then a quick scan of the TV Guide will have you believing we can all sing, cook, renovate, dance, lose weight, catch alligators, find antique bargains and of course, landscape our gardens to manicured perfection. So how hard is landscaping anyway? And what, precisely, is it?

Make no mistake, landscaping is a very lucrative industry and there are literally dozens of providers in any local area and hundreds, even thousands in each state. Some focus on the big end of town and do corporate work for big firms, making the surroundings of their factories and office complexes blend in harmoniously with the bushland (or urban) setting of their new premises. Others work out of a ute and a mobile phone with just an ad in the local rag and perhaps a Facebook page put up for them by the wife.

Like any trade, landscaping has the good, the bad and the ones that do an ugly job, take your money and move on. The most expensive quote doesn’t guarantee a quality job just as a rough bloke in a rough truck doesn’t automatically ensure you will be ripped off. Word of mouth recommendation is always a plus for home or small business owners as much as it is for the multi-national conglomerate with the new industrial park to sort out. It is just the number of plants and tonnage of mulch that differs.

If we do believe we can do anything and everything ourselves as the reality TV shows would have it, why not try DIY? There is so much freely available information on the Internet to give you a solid education and an abundance of ideas. If you have the money and the energy you can turn your back or front yard into anything you set your heart on. Today we are spoiled for choice when it comes to materials and methods. You can buy just about anything you desire from the local chain hardware or landscape supplier and the Internet has all the ‘how-to’ information you need. Simple, yes? Hmmmm…

Landscaping is “the arranging of the terrain and botanical inclusions on your property in such a way that they are aesthetically pleasing and/or  functional”. At least that is one definition I was offered by a landscape lecturer at my local TAFE. He had worked on the tools for twenty years and now passes on his hard earned knowledge to students doing his Certificate III in Horticulture courses. From his perspective, it is not something just anyone can do. It requires training and supervised work placements; but then he is paid for training the people who will exchange their ideas and efforts for your money.

He does have a very valid point, though. Landscaping is more than just deciding where to put the red bark chips. Which plants to use and where to plant them, what to plant next to them and how they will grow, shade, sun, water and so many other factors must be considered when designing a garden.

Yes, you can do it yourself and you can get an awful lot of satisfaction doing it that way. On the other hand, if you are landscaping as part of your investment in the property, seriously consider hiring a recommended landscaping professional. After all, the results are always going to be commensurate with the investment in materials and method and sometimes paying up front for a professional is far more cost effective than messing about on the cheap, no matter what the latest reality TV show has to say.