March 2015

Welcome to our March edition. Spring is here and can be witnessed in the budding out of the trees and shrubs. It’s a great time of year and I always take a few moments to enjoy the unfolding of nature’s mysteries.
Even though this time of year for us is like the weeks leading to Christmas with full schedules, I appreciate very much clients waiting to see us. The wait is a combination of it being spring with everyone simultaneously thinking “landscape,” and the other part is attributed to the type of work I want us to be known for. The work of landscaping for me is no different than fine art. Our tools and medium are different, but our intents are the same – to create something beautiful that will bring years of enjoyment. As a fine artist uses paints and canvas, we use plants as our paint with the earth being the canvas. It would be so easy to do generic landscapes, fast, simple and …. boring. However, that would be such an injustice to our clients, especially since I know that landscapes are capable of being so much more.  An important point to note is that a landscape done correctly and maintained correctly should be a one-time expense that has no limit on duration and enjoyment. It’s an investment that far outlives its cost.

The subtitle of this series is in essence what we do. In the coming months I am going to select a variety of maturing jobs. I will combine a current photo with the before and after at the time of install.  The goal is not only to show you the possibilities hidden in every yard  but by showing the landscape as it is maturing  I want to inspire you to see the importance of proper maintenance . Maintenance has been and is the weak link. We value installation and design but maintenance goes undervalued. Normally price is the deciding factor with maintenance not the knowledge or care of the plants. However each landscape that not only has proper design and plant selection but correct maintenance only becomes more fulfilling and beautiful as it matures.

 

For this month I selected a landscape we did in 2013.  I chose this one because of its slope. Slopes of varying degrees are common in our communities and can be very challenging. However, with thought and some creativity even a steep slope like this one can be transformed into something quite beautiful and functional. The reasoning behind transforming slopes and minimizing the lawn or completely removing it is that lawns on hillsides can be challenging to water. The lower portion is always wet and the upper part is always dry unless the irrigation has good coverage or can be changed so that the upper and lower sections water separately. Also, minimizing run off requires special programming. Therefore to be able to convert them over and create a landscape that takes advantage of the slope is very rewarding.

If you have been a regular reader of our editorial you may recall that this landscape was featured in House2Home in September and October of 2013.  For the most part maintenance has been done or directed by the owner.  In looking at the before and after pictures and then the current picture one can appreciate the maturing landscape though I would still consider it a young landscape. The current photo was taken just a few weeks ago prior to the plants having a chance to bloom or even leaf out, yet  the yard definitely holds its own which is a personal goal of mine.

In the coming article I will discuss some of the challenges of doing this yard, however quite unique to this yard is the dry stream bed that I designed to cross under the sidewalk, not in one, but in two distinct places. If you look intently at the just completed picture you can see what I mean. Another key element to the landscape is the steps. There were definitely challenges and decisions that needed to be made that we will touch on next month.

 

Gardeners – the winter has been so mild that it is probably safe to start tomatoes. Normally tomatoes should not start until April when the threat of cold nights is past. Make sure to apply ample organic fertilizer, as if you were heavily salting your food. I like to apply it a week or two before I plant. Water it well once cultivated into the ground. Remember to plant scented plants, e.g. tomatoes, garlic and/or onions next to plants that get aphid such as bell peppers, green beans and squash. The trick does not work 100 percent but it helps.

Until next time – Good Gardening.