Bendrick is the expert on DIY’ing your way to a more valuable home and yard

Sara Bendrick Landscape Design
Irina Alexandrova

Sara Bendrick is one of our 2020 Emerging Designers. Discover the entire inaugural class here and why they’re making the West a more beautiful place.

Name: Sara Bendrick of Sarita Landscape Design

Type of work: Landscape contractor and and designer

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Established: 2012

Based out of: San Diego 

Sara Bendrick wasn’t looking to get into residential design. After putting herself through college and graduating from Cal Poly in landscape architecture, she was interested in designing public spaces—but a bad economy drew her first to a job doing apartment landscape maintenance while finishing her degree and then to a residential design-build company as a post-graduate. 

She ended up learning a lot from those jobs, leading her to strike out on her own and to become host of a DIY Network landscape show. “Designing for a residence is completely different,” says Bendrick. “I gained a new skill set in creating spaces for individuals, instead of for the larger public.”

Sara Bendrick Landscape Boulders

Irina Alexandrova

Now, she’s also an expert on adding value to your yard and is the author of Big Impact Landscaping: 28 DIY Projects You Can Do on a Budget to Beautify and Add Value to Your Home. “We want to do things once and then leave it and expect it to be the same,” Bendrick says. “But it’s important to go in and to realize what kind of maintenance something might take.” Here are her three tips for adding value to your yard.

Upgrade the front yard. “A lot of people build out their backyards, which makes sense because that’s where we hang out, but the front yard makes the impression,” says Bendrick. Her advice? Do something low-maintenance enough that it’s easy to upkeep, while still packing some personality—paint the front door, add some garden pots with flowers that you change out each season. “Keep it small, but show that you care,” she says.

Try a low-key DIY. Bendrick’s personal favorite? A dry creek bed. “All it takes is a little hard work, but it’s a permanent fixture with little upkeep,” she says. Depending on how creative you want to get, it can become a big eye-catcher. But the big appeal is that the project doesn’t require any special tools, knowledge, or construction in your yard.

Don’t kill your outdoor space. While artificial turf and synthetic greenery has become more popular for the low upkeep, Bendrick warns against using it in your entire yard. “I would use artificial turf in a way that’s part of a yard and not the whole yard,” she says. “It can contribute to the heat island effect, and we need landscapes to cool down our properties.”