Animal Crossing: Common Mistakes Beginners Make When Designing Their Island And How To Avoid Them

Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers players more creative freedom than perhaps any of the previous entries in the series. While the wide array of customization options allow for some truly fantastic creations, they can also be a little overwhelming; not just for those who are new to the franchise, but also for some returning players too. As a result, a lot of people make a lot of early mistakes when it comes to the design and layout of their island.

Thankfully, nothing that players do is irreparable, although avoiding these mistakes in the first place is a lot easier than fixing them after the fact. With this in mind, it makes sense for those who are just jetting out to begin their new island life to first read up on the dos and don’ts of island design.


When first starting out, many people make the mistake of building everything on a single part of their island. This isn’t helped of course by the game not providing players with the vaulting pole or ladder until a few days into the adventure. It’s important to plan ahead though.

In total, a completed island will have 17 different buildings, 16 of which you will need to position themselves. By spreading these around the island, not only can you ensure that each one will have sufficient outdoor space to decorate, but also prevent sections of your island from feeling too cluttered or empty.

It’s also important for people to think carefully about the position of their home in relation to some of the island’s key buildings. The corner of the map may provide privacy, but it’s far from ideal if it’s miles away from Nook’s Cranny and the Resident Services building. These are locations that you will be visiting on a regular basis and so being reasonably close to them will save a lot of time in the long run.

The Environment

Aside from smashing rocks and cutting down trees, players have very little control over their island’s environment at the beginning of their adventure. This all changes however once they gain access to the Island Designer app on their NookPhone. Sadly, this innovation can sometimes come too late for some people.

The app allows users to completely rearrange the topography of their island, either by adding or removing bodies of water or creating or removing areas of raised land. As such, that pesky river that prevented you from building a home on the other part of your island needs no longer be a problem.

Players should therefore stick to their first instincts when it comes to building placement rather than trying to accommodate features that can be easily changed a little further down the road. Of course, buildings can always be moved later on, but this costs both time and bells. With this in mind, it’s a lot simpler to plan for these changes before placing buildings when possible.

Paths, Bridges, And Staircases

Paths are a great way to connect everything on the island together, but, given the size of the island, building them can take quite some time. It’s therefore important not to rush in and instead plan things out thoroughly before construction begins. There are several different paths to choose from in the Island Designer app and countless more custom designs online. If none of these feel quite right, there’s nothing stopping you from designing your own instead.

Whichever someone opts for, it’s best to ensure that the design at least somewhat matches the available bridges and staircases as, unlike paths, these are limited to a set number of designs. Once a path has been chosen, you should then pick out the bridge and staircase designs that best match it.

When it comes to actually building bridges and staircases, players should think carefully about whether they are actually needed. In many cases, it can be much simpler to instead change the island’s topography rather than wasting time and money on an unnecessary structure. Both bridges and staircases can be pretty pricy and neither can be moved once built (although they can be demolished).

Flowers And Fences

Flowers and fences are a great way to set out boundaries, but the former can also serve as one of the island’s principal decorations. The wide array of colors makes them perfect for complimenting just about anything and they’re also incredibly cheap. Unfortunately, a lot of players overlook their decorative potential and simply allow them to grow wild wherever they happen to spawn.

Players should instead use them as they might find them in their real lives; in gardens, remote areas, and lining roads and pathways. Just remember that there are plenty of different types, and it’s also possible to cross-pollinate them to create new types and colors by planting them in a checkerboard pattern.

While fences aren’t quite as visually appealing as flowers, they are just as useful for those striving to create a realistic island. There are plenty of different types too and players should be sure to regularly check the Nook Miles section of the ATM at Nook’s Cranny for new ones. They’re fairly easy to move and reposition, so there’s not too much pressure on placement. Choosing one that’s in keeping with the general aesthetics of an island (particularly paths and roads) is somewhat important though.

Trees And Weeds

Trees can be both easy on the eye and incredibly profitable when of the non-native fruit variety. That said, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” Having huge orchards of fruit trees might sound good on paper, but they can take a long time to harvest, decrease the island’s rating and also be a bit of an eyesore. There’s nothing wrong with having them on the island, but you should try and integrate them into your designs rather than just planting them all over the map.

Tree stumps are another thing to consider. They might not be the most aesthetically pleasing things to have on an island, but they’re something of a necessity for those hoping to tick all of the game’s boxes. There are numerous insects that will only spawn on top of them as well as certain seasonal items like mushrooms that only grow nearby. They can actually double up as seats though, so, with a little bit of planning, they can be incorporated into outdoor seating areas.

While stumps can be blended in with a little forethought, the same cannot be said about weeds. These pesky things will sprout up all over the island and, if left unchecked, will quickly expand outwards to become large patches. Not only will this lower an island’s rating, but weeds are also not too pleasing to the eye. As with real weeds. players should be sure to pluck them out as soon as they start growing.

Decorating Outdoor Spaces

Considering how large the islands are in New Horizons, the maximum number of buildings seems unnecessarily low. This annoyance is somewhat compounded by the huge amount of themed decorative items that have been crammed into the game. While having a home gym or an arcade in your basement may seem nice, having a communal area would for some, be far better.

Thankfully, there’s nothing stopping players from building outdoors. Granted, the lack of walls and a ceiling is still a bit of a letdown, but with enough creativity, it is possible to piece together just about anything. There are items enough for offices, gyms, restaurants, and a whole host of other “buildings.” The sky really is the limit.

The key really is to make sure that things don’t get too cluttered and this is perhaps best accomplished through taking note of all of the above. Keeping everything spaced apart and clearly marking out boundaries will help you to avoid dissonance while also allowing you to replace or change smaller sections of an island without having to make wholesale changes elsewhere.

NEXT: Everything You Need To Know About Toy Day In Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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