Welcome to October’s article. I appreciated all the positive comments regarding last month’s article, both on the content and the landscape install. We do many different types of landscapes during the year and the most important aspect of any of them is that they reflect the client’s interest and desires. My main role then, aside from moving the crews forward through the phases of each job is to assist the client in making the right decisions, which starts with the first meeting. There are many phases a landscape goes through prior to completion and client input is valued in all of them. When it comes to the plants, most of the time the selections are left up to me. However, since I like my clients to be especially part of this phase, we often met at Green Acres. This gives me a chance to teach them about the plants that we are planning on using. Also, it gives them opportunity to request plants they may like.   

Prior to the years of drought, I often wrote about different landscape themes, however since the drought most people request Mediterranean, or “low maintenance.” And though low maintenance is not a theme, which I explain to them,  I understand what they are wanting. Other decisions involve types of boulders, the percentage of flowering plants verses plants with various shades of green, as well as areas of privacy that are wanted. These are all variables we deal with regularly.

 I want my clients to have as much input as they are comfortable with, and then there are clients that are happy to have me make the decisions, which I’m fine with once I know them.   The only time I discourage client input (politely so) is when I know it’s wrong. What’s the point of hiring a professional if he’s going to let you make bad decisions? People normally have gone down that path already and got tired of planting plants that die or grew too big, or not big enough or just overall not pleased with their efforts. So, part of my role is to prevent that from happening. 

 As I am writing this article I chuckle a bit because it never ceases to amaze me how many different types of personalities I meet. In the same day, I can meet someone who loves flowers, working in the garden etc., and then with my next appointment I can meet someone who just wants junipers and really nothing else; and such was this job.   A completely different type of job with a very limited plant palette and hence the reuse of the title of “Being Creative” because it really took some thought.  

 The client, Kent, definitely had his mind made up. I learned early on what his priorities were and if I was to describe him I would liken him to a ruler, straight and measured. Not a lot of humor, but at the same time not without humor. We had several good laughs through the course of the project and we learned to appreciate each other’s perspective. He continued to put forth his request as just “clean lines” as I continued to work to steer him away from a completely sterile landscape. I had several victories, which he conceded to and was grateful for. The adding of color to the landscape made it more inviting and the boulders added an upscale look complementing the veneered wall, which was his idea.  

 The hardscape, which includes the pool decking (already in place), the retaining wall, the curb that divides the landscape from the synthetic turf, as well as the synthetic turf, were Kent’s ideas. My contribution during this phase came when I suggested that the pool equipment enclosure also be rebuilt using block and faced with the same veneer as the wall. It was a wooden fence enclosure that was rapidly approaching its end. 

When he first presented his ideas I really had to think about them, and whether after all the work we were going to do, would it actually come together. The yard, when completed would have a lot of hardscape, and since the wall was veneer and not cultured stone or stackable blocks, which are more affordable, plus the addition of the synthetic turf, which is also pricey, I wanted to be sure that at completion Kent was going to get what he was envisioning.  Also, I was concerned over the simple plant palette, and hence I asked him to allow me to add color and different plants behind the pool and against the house.  I also noted how the Italian Cypress gave balance to the hardscape. The height of the Cypress had a way of diminishing the focus on the hardscape, and the pool was definitely a plus, softening the whole yard. 

Synthetic turf, always sold in 15-foot widths (and however long), took some time to figure out how to get it to fit into the odd shapes Kent wanted with minimal seams. Thank goodness for templates and measuring tape.  Though this job did not lack its challenges, I think the tear-out was probably the most challenging, very labor intensive, both on man and equipment. If you look at the before picture you can get a good idea of how tall these redwoods were. They lined both sides of the fence, from end to end.  We started by having an arborist friend of mine remove them, leaving four feet of trunk, which we used as leverage to get the stumps out. Once the stumps were out we had miles and miles (bit of an exaggeration) of heavy to fibrous roots to remove, which until you remove a redwood you have no idea of how many roots this tree produces. To one extent it’s great because you seldom see them blown down, but a real battle when you have to remove them.  After about six weeks of working, we finally completed the backyard. The front would be next pending H.O.A approval, which we received a couple weeks later.  Between the back and front yard, we were there for about nine and a half weeks. I just about adopted Kent as my older brother.

Gardeners, by now you should have your fall crop of vegetables planted. With the old saying of “eat your spinach” hopefully spinach found space in your garden along with kale, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, etc. If you have smaller kids, this aspect of life should not go undone. I love seeing my grandkids eating from the garden. 

Until next time – Good Gardening.