One common landscaping mistake homeowners make is in plant selection. Whether it’s a complete landscape makeover or a specific area of your home’s property where you want to do some planting, chances are you didn’t accurately account for sun, shade, temperature, or soil and plant condition needs when you bought that beautiful bougainvillea. When this happens you end up with less than successful plantings and the process of garden creating becomes more headache than heartfelt.
At Gardenworks we’ve developed years of gardening expertise that we want to share, so we work with our customers to choose the right plants for their landscaping projects based on sound horticultural principles. We also consult with clients on the basics of landscape design and site condition improvements. In addition to selecting the right plants, we want the garden we create for you to remain structurally sound no matter what type of tree, bush, or flower you plant. We believe in do’s not do-overs! With that in mind, we present seven tips we often advise our customers to do:
Tip 1. Trees grow – think ahead, plan for maturity
At Gardenworks we advise our clients that when they are selecting trees for their property they need to think ahead. Although some trees will grow very quickly, most will take up to ten years or more to be fully or nearly full grown. That baby tree you love may soon be 30 feet tall or more and depending on where you plant it, it may start to block out sunlight for your other plantings, or you’ll discover too late that you planted it too close to the house. Certain trees will also require more maintenance as they grow taller, which impacts your wallet in expensive pruning costs. And, of course, you have to consider that the blooms of spring or the fall color you love will inevitably drop… so will you still be enamored with that tree when it’s time to clean up your yard?
We always recommend that our clients plant at least ten feet from their home or other structures. And we discuss with clients what the purpose for the tree will be, whether for shade, privacy, or decoration, as the purpose for planting a tree often impacts the final selection our clients make.
Tip 2. Hardscaping, including fence structures, paths, and fire pits, are all part of landscaping
Another mistake we help our clients avoid is ignoring or simply not taking into account the fencing or other hardscaping structures (pathways, patios, arbors, walls, fire pits, and so on) on their property. New hardscaping plans should fit with the overall landscaping design. We advise our clients to choose hardscaping that both fits the landscaping design and is matched to the surrounding property and architecture in style and scale.
Existing or even new hardscaping requires maintenance and it’s important to include this in your landscaping plans. Even the sturdiest stone wall will eventually crumble so don’t assume the wood fence around your property will always look good and stand well over time if neglected.
Tip 3. Know where your rainwater goes
Many Northern Californians take the issue of water supply seriously and so do we. In our landscape designs and installations we consider water conservation, efficiency, and management at the forefront. We recommend that our clients consider state-of-the-art irrigation systems, water budgeting, and appropriate plant selection as the primary path to water-wise landscaping. There are also ways to collect and filter rain water that runs off their roofs. We can discuss with you various systems you can use on your property to protect this precious and often expensive resource in environmentally responsible ways.
Tip 4. Match your landscape design to your home’s architecture, style, and site conditions
At Gardenworks we believe the landscape design and installation we undertake with our clients should fit with the basic design principles of their home. Your landscaping design should match the house you live in as well as the surrounding area. When we devise a landscape plan or a new garden design we implement it in keeping with the look of your home and appropriately matched to its architecture and your personal style.
Tip 5. Build strong foundations and infrastructures for footpaths, courtyards, patios, water delivery, and lighting
Building the foundation for a path or patio is often the difference between having to repair or replace these structures sooner than they should need to be, and having long-lasting durable footpaths you can enjoy for many years to come. Mixtures of sand and other material help build strong foundations. We recommend a compactable base up to six thick inches below the surface depth for walkways and possibly deeper for driveways. We also always place chase pipes under pathways and driveways to allow for future access under these surfaces.
Tip 6: Don’t let your landscape plan be an afterthought
We think landscape design should never be an afterthought — after all, that is our business. But often homeowners go through remodels and then find their newly designed house doesn’t match the old landscape. If you’re considering a remodel, contact us for your landscape redesign and we’ll create a plan that fits with the vision you have for your home and property.
Tip 7. Choose appropriate plants for your yard’s soil, climate, exposure, and other site conditions
We all have certain plants we love but that doesn’t means our soil will love them. A soils test and analysis is the best method to determine what improvements (if any) will be needed in the soil to insure a healthy environment for plants to thrive. We also advise our clients to pick a day and monitor the area of their yard where they want new plantings. We ask them to take note at three different times: first thing in morning, again at noon, and then at mid-afternoon – to get a feel for sun and shade in different areas of their garden — and we remind them to picture the area with a plant’s mature size in mind! All of this information helps us help them choose the right plants for that spot. Further, we always recommend combining blooming perennial plants with evergreens so the area has color no matter what time of year.