Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Designing Trends - - The NO Lawn Yard

With spring around the corner and the temperatures rising, it is time to think about landscaping again. You look outside at your backyard which resembles a sea of grass. You are tired of mowing and dumping lots and lots of water and chemicals on it. The kids have grown up and they don’t need a place to run around. You are ready for a change, but you don’t know what to do. You heard of the term xeriscape, and it intrigues you, but you don’t know where to start.

Xeriscaping is a term used to define a low water use landscape. Before you rip out your lawn and put down a bunch of rock mulch and plant sage brush, you need to find out what your overall goals are for the yard. Do you want to expand your outdoor living area? Are there views that need to be screened or kept open? Do you want to harvest the rainwater to water the garden? Do you need Shade? What style do you want? ----- Xeriscape means low water not arid. The xeriscape terminology can be applied to almost any garden style; you just need to know what you want.

The two designs shown here may look totally opposite, but they have one thing in common; they are driven by the xeriscape philosophy. Just because a garden has no lawn it doesn’t mean it has to be boring – the main key is structure and design.

The first garden breaks up the yard in several different rooms. A multi-level deck which is attached to the residence plays host to the outdoor kitchen/bar and the outdoor dining room. Two shade structures welcome shade to the hot afternoon sun and provide an overhead plane to give the room a sense of place. A curved paver path leads to the sunken outdoor living room with an outdoor fireplace. Just south of the outdoor living sits the secluded sunken hot tub area. West of the outdoor Living sits the ‘Stone Forest’ -- A basalt outcrop sculpture garden with bird bath boulders and boulder slab benches to provide a quiet and clam place to sit and read or just contemplate life. This garden has a modern flare with masses of lush drought tolerant ground covers and an abundance of trees to provide dappled shade to create an inviting environment.


The second garden has a more open feeling then the first. A multi-level paver patio play host to the outdoor kitchen and dining areas as well as the sunken hot tub. A hammock sits in one corner under a grove of trees and in the other corner sits the fire pit area. A basalt column outcrop water feature with a bird bath boulder adds a relaxing sound to the garden and a place for wildlife to drink. The water feature could be hooked up with the drip irrigation system to harvest rainwater and save more water. Two colors of rock mulch define the circulation patterns and small berms with boulders and sparse, drought tolerant plantings add to the Southwest flare of this Garden.

Two yards with two radically different looks, accomplishing the same goal - Low water use and NO LAWN, in different ways. Contact us today to discuss your xeriscape yard.

Hardscape? Oh that's Hardscape! - Decks

A new deck doesn’t have to be that square or rectangle shape that reminds you of the 70’s. Not to say that straight lines don’t have their place, but lets’ try and think outside the box. Your deck can be made with hardwoods (exotics or natives) or composite designing. There are multiple colors and grain patterns that make unlimited design options that are avaible to create the outdoor deck of your dreams.

When adding a new deck you don’t just start framing and go to town – you are not just building a space to put a couple of chairs and a table on – you are creating an outdoor room. You need to design your circulation patterns and main spaces. What are the main elements you want on the deck? A Hot tub, outdoor kitchen, handrail, built-in planters or screen fences just to name a few.

For looks, nothing beats a real wood deck, but there will be ongoing maintenance that will be required. Today’s composite decking has come a long way. New colors and grains have made the decking look more like a ‘Wood’ deck than ever before and without the maintenance of a wood deck. Both materials have their pros and cons; please feel free to contact us to discuss this.

Focus on Plants - Spring Glory Forsythia

Nothing rings in spring like the forsythia. The bright yellow color on a rainy day seems to shout out at you that spring is here and there is no turning back!!

When you bring home your new baby forsythia from the nursery, please be careful where you plant it. It may look cute and small at first, but this prolific grower will take up a space of 10x10 if you are not careful! This is an awesome low maintenance plant if planted in the right place. The early spring bright yellow flower color cannot be beat; this is followed by nice green leaves that cover the plant in late spring thru fall. In winter the shrub seems to blend in with the landscape and bare branches give no hint to the spectacular flower show that will start again in the spring. Prune just after flowing to control growth.

Designers Toolbox - Boise Flower and Garden Show 2010

Spring is here and the 2010 Boise Flower and Garden Show has come and gone. It was a great to see so many past clients and to talk to some new people about their landscaping projects. I would like to thank Sterling Landscape for all the help with the set up and tear down of our booth.

If you need to set up a free design estimate please feel free to contact me!

I would also like to thank our sponsors of our 2010 Spring Newsletter



Yard Tips - Spring Maintenance

Spring is here and it is time to get the yard ready for a new year. This is when I cut back my ornamental grasses and shrubs (except for the spring blooming shrubs, prune them right after flowering). Most of the grasses, you can cut back to 3”-6” above grade. Most of your shrubs you just want to shape them. Please refer to your plant care package for individual plant requirements. If you do not have a plant care package, please feel free to contact us to go over the useful document. Spring is also a good time to double check that you have all the dead leaves and debris pick up from the yard and the base of your shrubs. For my clients who use bark mulch in their planter beds, this is a good time to freshen up the mulch. You do not have to add the full 3” depth like the first application; usually a 1” dusting is sufficient. Now go out there and conquer your yard!