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Think big! I attended a garden club where one of the speakers suggested we all let Dandelions flower in our gardens in early spring because bees have few options for nectar at that time of year. It made me worry. Their only hope of survival on the planet was access to the flowering weeds in my yard? I go to a lot of trouble to remove weeds in my lawn, including hand-pulling. Then I began to reflect on the tenacity and invasive nature of Dandelions, and realized early spring bees will fare the same, with or without Dandelions in my lawn. Before you let all the weeds in your lawn grow and go to seed to provide nectar for bees, think about how you can more effectively increase the number of pollinators in your yard. The scope of the decline of bee populations goes far beyond the boundaries of a quarter-acre suburban lot. To understand the plight of honey bees, it helps to expand preservation efforts to large-scale, commercial concerns.
A Sound Idea, In Theory
A green wall is often a feature in contemporary landscape proposals. In urban areas and along roadsides, the idea of a vertical panel of living plant material offers an ecologically sensitive solution to increase the natural world in tight spaces with limited real estate. A green wall is skinny, but tall, hiding blight and introducing fresh air and softness into the concrete hardscape. As a green feature, it delights stakeholders and evokes optimism. In theory, a green wall makes perfect sense.
A green wall starts as a structural planter with a permanent trellis system. The trellis system is usually made of fixed, modular units—small, boxed openings stacked to provide planting holes for vertical plant placement along the face of the wall. The entire plant system is dependent on water, so green walls often have expensive irrigation delivery built within the structure. Plants are inserted individually into openings, or entire trays of pre-grown plant material are removed and replaced as needed, usually on a monthly basis. A green wall system is expensive and requires constant maintenance, but a green wall is often sold as a carefree, innovative idea.
A roof is an unused space just waiting for a creative landscape design, and planting it can have a mitigating effect on the environment of the building, but keep in mind the huge weight and damage wet soil can bring to the structure. No matter how sturdy the roof, plant material options will be limited, because of the limited root space on a roof. Large trees, even if they are located above structural columns in the building, need more room for root growth than a rooftop garden can provide. Use plant material suited to roof gardens—Sedums, Junipers, Herbs, Daylilies, vines, and ornamental grasses.
If you don’t know the weight and load your garden design will put on a roof, you could be creating a very dangerous, elevated Eden. Hire a structural engineer and check building codes. Don’t play with the idea of growing plants on a roof without careful load and drainage calculations. Use special structural soil manufactured to be light-weight. Provide an over-designed underground drainage system to accommodate future plant growth.
A roof garden must be able to withstand extreme weather and earthquake activity. If it fails under stress, all the floor below it can be damaged. A leaking roof can destroy an entire building. Rooftops that carry gardens must be able to carry wet soil and drain properly. Retrofitting an older building is difficult to do successfully, so the best rooftop garden for an older building is a garden of large planters. New buildings can be designed to accommodate a roof garden, and offer better opportunities to create a safe, successful structure.
Trendy Landscape Design
Trends in the landscape industry focus on single issues—pollinators, roof gardens, vertical green space, climate resiliency, or the exhausted term, sustainability. Addressing these issues can harmonize well with a steady focus on landscape beauty, if done right. Placing too much attention on the latest trendy issue can take focus away from creating a beautiful, successful landscape design.
Lasting landscape design is about beautiful outdoor spaces. A sophisticated landscape plan incorporates components that fit responsibly with the natural environment. A sensitive design works efficiently with the drainage and water basins in which it exists. A self-sufficient design anticipates maintenance needs and minimize them. A beautiful design mixes plants with contrasting colors and textures, providing diversity. A successful design is installed well and is skillfully maintained to make it stay healthy and last. A beautiful outdoor space provides a legacy of enrichment to the people who use it without forgetting stewardship.
Tiny flowers peak out from woodlands and lawn grasses to shout that spring is here!
Make New Living Things, Clean Up Debris, Contemplate Nature
Working in the garden and feeling the sun and wind outdoors on your skin can help bring logic, fairness, and meaning to life. It can help heal a broken heart and direct your focus on goodness. Growing things and improving the land nourishes the soul.
If I Just Stand Still, No One Will Notice...
How to Make a Showplace Landscape
I hope you say, “Thanks for not wasting my time!” after reading each article on the Landscape Consultants HQ site. They are free of educational lecturing and theory and strong on pragmatic, real-life, landscape design experience. If you love the concise commentary, , you can read more in our Advanced Guide eBook series. They offer professional landscape design experience for professional designers, engineers, landscape architects, and their clients.
Learning what it takes to design a showplace garden can be time-consuming. Novice landscape architects and inexperienced contractors make lots of mistakes before figuring out the do’s and don’ts of professional landscape design. Typically, designers must draw plans, install the plants, and wait several growing seasons to evaluate the results. Our experience reviewing hundreds of landscape proposals submitted for agency permitting gives you the assurance of getting sound advice for creating an exceptional landscape and a standout, competitive design proposal. Avoiding the trial-and-error approach to landscape design saves you time.
Reading Landscape Consultants HQ will take your professional landscape design projects from concept to exciting, aesthetic results. Short articles guide you toward designs with maximum visual impact and minimum long-term maintenance. Chances are you will easily save good money and time with every article, but more importantly, you will grow from a bread-and-butter designer to a talked-about, professional, landscape design star.
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Every time you create a roadside landscape design, you need to do a quick check of a few things before starting. It’s surprising how nicely this pulls together your concept and moves you toward a great design! By checking these items initially, you can map out the basic configuration of use zones, which develops the structural framework from which your design can be based. Sometimes, after doing this, a shape calls out to you. Block out zones for setbacks, vertical clearance, overly steep slopes, clear sight lines, sign visibility, guard rails, and utility easements to keep your landscape design free of safety conflicts. Consider the following items your first priority.
• Setbacks and the Clear Zone
Keep any tree you propose on public rights of way well beyond the required safety clear zone to avoid creating a fixed object that might be hit by an errant driver that runs off the road. This gives the driver an opportunity to recover and get back on the road without injury or damage to the vehicle.
• Tree Canopy Clearance
Leave an adequate vertical space open along the road travel way to avoid overhanging branches from slapping against panel trucks driving near the edge of the road.
• Slope Steepness
Plant material can barely establish on slopes steeper than 3:1, and mowing on steeper slopes is not possible to do safely. The clear zone doesn’t exist for slopes steeper than this.
• Sight Lines
Drivers need to be able to see oncoming traffic when they attempt to turn into or cross over public roadways. It is the designer’s responsibility to keep sight lines open.
Quality Landscaping Tips to Grow Your Design Success - The Advanced Guide Series
For students or for continuing education, you can find resources here. The information includes concise solutions to landscape design issues. Based on thousands of landscape plan reviews, Biagi Landscape Consultants can provide your firm with the quality control you need to avoid resubmittals and redesigns, and can steer you in the right direction for a successful project installation.
Stream relocations that require vegetative mitigation may be new to you, even though you are a storm water or ecology expert. If you are looking for simple, effective, and cost-efficient methods to provide multitrophic plantings for disturbed buffers, then we can help.
For local government entities new to landscape grant applications, this is the place for quick reviews to boost your evaluation score when competing with others for grant funds. Our firm has years of experience with creating grant programs and evaluating submittals.
Want to go a step beyond the typical home landscape, or feel a bit concerned about the plans you have commissioned? We can take a look and provide guidance to help you create a landscape that works for your situation and your current landscape maintenance abilities.