Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, absolutely. A great design promotes easy maintenance. If you’ve read anything else on this page, you might be getting the theme that landscaping is more than one simple thing, it’s the combination of many things. Landscape maintenance is no different.
Low maintenance landscaping requires a thoughtful design that places the right plant in the right location and allows it to grow uninhibited to maturity. We choose the appropriate plant that stays in scale for the space intended instead of requiring that plants be pruned annually to stay below the window or to be kept from growing over the sidewalk. We allow them to grow to be masses that cover the ground and choke out weeds.
We use lawn when appropriate and planting[t1] when not. You may have had the experience of finding that the Photinia you thought would create great screening actually wanted to be 30’ tall and 20’ wide and wasn’t going to be confined to that 5’ wide space. No matter how hard you fight it, plants just don’t quit trying to be what they are predisposed to be. Another important aspect of a low maintenance landscape is irrigation. Modern irrigation systems allow us to use the right amount of water for each day’s changing weather conditions. This means we don’t just set our timer in the spring and turn it off in the fall. Proper water application maintains a healthy environment that minimizes the need for pesticides, herbicides, and excess fertilization. It also cuts down on your water bill by not watering when it’s been raining for a week I cannot express enough the importance of proper landscape maintenance. All things being equal, you can have a great design, superior installation, and lousy maintenance, and you can guess the results. Conversely, you can have a subpar design, a so-so installation, and superior maintenance, and your landscape can look OK.
The best results come from well-planned, low-maintenance landscape design, and then performing the maintenance that is required at the appropriate times. Low maintenance does not mean “no maintenance,” but it can significantly increase the amount of time that you can enjoy your landscape design over the time spent taking care of it.
I start by asking clients like you two things when it comes to plant selection. What plant do you like most, and as importantly, what plants do you not like? I have found that I get a stronger emotional response to the second half of that question.
My philosophy on choosing plant materials is to bring together your desires for effect, the conditions the site dictates, and my own experience on what would be most appropriate. I look for a planting pallet – the variety of plants we’ll use in your landscape design, much like paints for an artist - that includes plants with seasonal interest, a variety of colors and textures, and plants that thrive in your environment.
I choose plants from the pallet based on the plant located within the landscape, their intended function, and whether or not they are part of a mass planting or an individual specimen plant. It is important to note the fact that plant availability and selection is in a constant state of change. New varieties come on the market, and old ones become more difficult to find. So I often explore new possibilities. I encourage you to do the same.
There are a number of ways a well-designed landscape plan saves you money. The most important is that the design process, when executed properly, takes the time to incorporate all of your needs and wants so that the end result reflects your personal desires and the creative expertise of the Landscape Architect. It seems simple enough, but this is very often is overlooked for importance. When everything is said and done, if this part is missed, you may very well be spending time and money later to change what you already implemented. Few things are more frustrating than to pay for work only to have to pay again to change it to meet your expectations when a piece of the rock retaining wall doesn’t work with a part of the water feature.
When the landscape plan is done in advance, and you’re looking for contractors to implement the project, you ensure that everyone is bidding on the same design. This gives you confidence that no matter which qualified contractor you choose, you’ll be getting a finished product you can appreciate.
It also puts those contractors on notice that they are bidding against other contractors and so they need to have competitive pricing in mind. I have yet to see an instance where the difference between high and low bidder doesn’t cover the cost of my design services.
So much of what you hear today is about “Green” design and building. Well, landscaping is the original Green industry. Long before it became popular to look at the building with an environmental concern at the fore-front, landscape design has had a green influence almost since its beginning.
Xeriscaping is a form of landscaping that focuses on planting plant material that is most often native to the area being considered. The point of this is that it promotes a landscape that, once established, needs little if any irrigation. It’s naturally adapted to the climate of your location.
The apparent advantage of this planning being a landscape that sustains itself is adapted to the varying climatic conditions and fairs well against native pests and diseases. It does require some short term irrigation for from two to four seasons to ensure healthy established planting. Soil preparation is of great importance to aid in these plants having the best chance at survival.
Let me first start out by saying I admire anyone who is willing to install their own landscape. I spent 14 years doing landscape construction, and there are no two ways about it. It is HARD WORK! With that said, it is enormously rewarding. Nothing quite compares with being able to stand back at the end of the day, put your hands on your hips, and admire the fruits of your labor. Ensuring that you “begin with the end in mind” – and knowing what your plants will do as they mature – prevents future frustrations with your landscaping. Count on my expertise with all of that you may be considering to ensure that everything has the proper space to thrive in your landscaping.
A landscape plan will guide you to success by keeping all the pieces in relation to one another as you work through the process of improving your yard. You may decide after starting to farm. A landscape design will allow you to define the parts you want help with and put you in the position to get accurate bidding on the help you desire. With my practical experience, I am also available for on-site consultation and direction when you need a guiding influence.
Landscape lighting brings a whole new opportunity to enjoy your landscape. Most of us have had the occasion to sit outside to enjoy a warm summer evening. We might be able to light, a fire, or use some candles to supplement the light provided by a wall fixture or some other secondary light source, outside of some small lighting footprint that leaves you quite literally in the dark.[t2]
I can’t afford the whole project at once. I want to do it in phases. What’s the best way to make this happen?
The best way to implement a phased project is to have a good landscape plan. This is your roadmap to a successful project[t3]. You may decide that it will take you three seasons to afford the landscape of your dreams. With a plan in hand, you will be able to make choices to achieve that goal.
You might start out doing the front or backyard depending on your priorities, adding the water feature as money allows. You might also consider doing all of the soil preparation, irrigation and light wire placement one season, and the planting and pavers the next. There are several options based on your particular circumstances that I will be happy to advise you on.