Question: Should I hire a professional landscape architect to work on my landscape? Many people wonder how to find a landscape architect. But an even more fundamental question must be answered first: do you need to hire a professional, or can you get the job done yourself…?
Answer: Some projects demand such highly specialized skills that you have little choice but to hire professionals; for instance, installing stone patios, retaining walls, or french drains. Nonetheless, you can still make an informed decision before hiring someone by doing your homework. In the case of having a new stone patio installed, a good place to start is exploring the pros and cons of the different types of stone and their durability and look for your particular home color.
The decision of do-it-yourself versus hiring landscape architects and other professionals largely depends on your budget and personal tastes. Even many people who can afford to hire a landscape architect prefer to do the work themselves, because they find it relaxing, challenging and satisfying.
Question: I’ve decided to work on my own landscape plan. How do I begin planning?
Answer: On paper take precise measurements of the areas of your yard, and draw a sketch of your property. Highlight in red areas with underground cables (with the help of your local utility companies). Note which areas are sunny, which shady. Pay special attention to problem areas: areas with poor drainage, erosion problems, etc. As you set this information down on paper, a clearer picture of what needs to be done emerges.
Based on your sketch (particularly the location of sunny or shady areas), research which plants will grow best in the various areas of your property.
The next step — again, to be carried out on paper — will be to include plants and hardscape features (patios, walkways, etc.) in your sketch.
Question: Is there a rule of thumb in designing your own landscape for grouping plants?
When you design your own landscape, how do you know which types plants go together? Designing your own landscape calls for both an artisitic flair and a practical bent….
Answer: You may like a lot of different plants, but when designing your own landscape, you may not be sure how to group them. There are, of course, aesthetic considerations. One of the most basic of which is that, in planting bedding plants, you’ll produce a greater effect if you mass like plants together (rather than installing one here, one there…). Even in planting foundation shrubs, the "rule" is to plant like shrubs in groups of 3 or 5.
The artistic angle may be the fun part of designing your own landscape, but you can’t allow your artistic eye to be sole arbiter when it comes to site selection for your plants: there are also practical reasons for grouping plant A with plant B, rather than having it grow next to plant C.
Rule of thumb for the practical side of designing your own landscape: group plants with similar requirements together. This includes sun and watering requirements. Grouping them together will reduce maintenance for you (saving you from dragging the garden hose around unnecessarily, etc.).
Question: What Factors Influence Site Selection for Plants?
Answer: Location, location, location. You’ve heard this mantra applied to real estate and to many other topics. Getting it right when it comes to location is also important in growing plants, where we often refer to the concept as, "site selection." Proper site selection means planting plants in that part of your yard where they are most likely to thrive. You’ll save yourself some maintenance headaches later if you make wise site-selection choices for your plants to begin with….
Have you ever been busily typing away, only to discover that what you’ve just typed is gibberish? In disbelief, you look down at your hands resting on the keyboard and, sure enough, one of them isn’t lined up with the proper keys. Due to a temporary lapse in concentration, your location is all wrong. Consequently, even though you know how to type and your fingers were making all the right moves, the result is not at all what you wanted. Well, so it is with growing plants, too….
Site selection is critical when growing plants. Most people are aware of one criterion for site selection: namely, a plant’s tolerance for sun or shade. But site selection can become more complex than simply growing full-sun plants in the sun and shade-loving plants in shady nooks.
For instance, site selection for trees and shrubs should take into account the conditions they’ll have to face when winter arrives. It’s counter-intuitive, perhaps, but a southerly exposure for some trees and shrubs can be detrimental in winter. The sun on a bright winter’s day warms up their plant tissues, fooling them into action at the cellular level. Then, when the sun goes in again, the quick drop in temperature can cause injury, manifested in splitting along the trunk.
Question: I don’t have time for landscape maintenance, so should I plant perennials?
Answer: Since perennials come up every year, beginners sometimes wonder if they don’t require care. Could perennials be the easy answer for the on-the-go crowd that still wants to grow plants?
Not really. Perennials do require care. If you choose to grow perennials, choose perennials for the right reasons — and labor savings is not one of them! It is not even true that perennials are guaranteed to come up every year. If they are not maintained properly, you can very easily lose some perennials. Don’t think perennials are the beginner’s "easy way out"!
There are so many questions that a homeowner may have, please feel free to ask your questions by filling out our free estimate form and an experienced professional will answer your questions as quickly as possible.