How are you using your outdoors? It’s time to think outside of the box and get creative regarding how to use your available space. There are opportunities for unique gardens that connect with you with nature and outdoor entertainment areas to provide you with an opportunity to enjoy your family. Now more than ever, it is important for all of us to increase our overall sense of well-being and happiness by connecting to the outdoor environment at home. Open the box, then the doors and let the thinking begin!
Many homeowners are excited about maximizing the outdoor space they have available, but they don’t know the best way to get started. To help you get started, our landscape designers provide answers below to common homeowner’s landscape questions.
Need more help? Click here to schedule an appointment with a landscape designer. They can meet with you virtually and when on-site can communicate with you using hand-held devices at the proper social distance; practicing proper hygiene.
What are the things a homeowner needs to think about before they get started landscaping or planning a garden?
The first thing a homeowner needs to do is determine a time frame and budget. Keep in mind that landscaping is easily broken into multiple phases that can be completed at different times. Secondly, reflect on your desired outdoor lifestyle. How are going to use the space? Do you need more patio area with a built-in kitchen to entertain large parties or are you a family with kid(s) and a dog(s) that needs a large lawn to run around and play sports? Water features offer tranquility, beauty and movement to the garden. Finally, decide what kind of feeling or mood you want to create in your garden. Plants offer color, movement, fragrance, shade, screening, habitat and food for wildlife. Take time to review gardening books, magazines and on-line platforms for examples of gardens that move you!
What should you do if you have a steep sloping area to landscape?
There are many options when it comes to landscaping slopes. One option is to use ground covers. Ground covers will prevent erosion, are cost effective and are available in a variety of colors, forms and textures. Ivy is not the only choice for a ground cover and may not be the best choice for your slope. A naturalized planting with drought tolerant native plants and natural boulder outcroppings may be a suitable solution. Use large slabs of stones to create steps. If you would like to make the most of your hillside, terrace the area. Terracing is great because it creates usable flat space and also reduces water run off. By breaking the grade you can create enough space for a lawn, patio and or putting green. Add landscape night lighting to increase interest and expand the amount of time the area can be used. Building options for terracing include, dry stacked fieldstone walls, brick walls and masonry walls with stone veneers.
What are some things to consider when choosing which plants to put together in an area?
Selecting the correct plant(s) for your area is critical for the plant(s) optimum performance. Sunlight and moisture requirements of plants vary. How many hours of direct sunlight does the planting area receive? Full Sun Plants require at least half a day of sunlight; shade plants require filtered sunlight or complete shade. Be aware of how much moisture your plant selections can tolerate. Most plants require a well drained soil rich in organic matter, however there are selections that will tolerate moist soils. Also, keep in mind how large the plants you select are going to be at maturity. Most importantly, have with fun with your plant selections, contrast different colors and textures to create movement.
Are there plants that are lower maintenance?
Yes! Many interesting and beautiful low maintenance plants are available. Select drought tolerant plant material for less watering. Dwarf plant material will have a slower growth rate and will require less space and pruning. Also, select disease resistant cultivars, such as the ‘Knock out Rose’ which has been bred to resist black spot and powdery mildew.
What does an expert at a garden center need to assess your needs? Pictures? Measurements?
Nothing can replace an on-site landscape consultation. At minimum, you will need to provide a copy of your plat which is commonly found in your settlement papers. This is necessary so the professional will know where the northern exposure and property lines are located. Measure window placements, locate utilities, and determine slope(s) of the yard. Pictures are always helpful.
What if you have a problem with deer or rabbits? Are there plants that are animal resistant?
There are many different options to keep deer out of your yard. Besides a physical barrier such as a fence, the best way to keep deer out of the landscape is to select deer resistant plant material. These are plant selections that have adapted characteristics that make them less appetizing to eat, increasing plant survival. Virginia Tech’s website includes a listing of trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals that will grow in our area and are resistant to deer.
What should be done to the area before any experts come in? Anything?
Besides a general clean up, make sure to have an up-to-date PLAT that locates all structural features and property lines. It is critical to inform the professional of all utilities located on the property. Take some time to reflect on the type of outdoor living experience you would enjoy.
Why is mulch important?
Mulch is important because it reduces evaporation of water from the soil surface, suppresses weed growth and stabilizes soil temperature. The best time to mulch is in the spring. Maintain a 2-3” mulch base. Excessive heavy mulching may cause root and plant growth problems.