Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In the News - Spring 2011

Spring is here – well sort of. With the weather we have been having lately it is kind of hard to figure out what the heck is going on. The forsythia and daffodils have bloomed already and my tulips are on their way (hopefully the warm weather will come as well). Wow was that a long winter –I am so glad spring is here.

Last week was the Boise Flower and Garden Show, it was so nice to see so many past clients and meet some new people. I hope everyone had fun. Sterling Landscape did an awesome job with the main exhibit and I think the show was a huge success again. It was a great way to start the spring rush, and to see all the new plants and displays. I would like to thank Sterling Landscape on their help with our booth this year!

In our spring issue we are going to talk about one of the more popular trends over the last couple of years, outdoor kitchens. We will also talk about adding landscape boulders as a hardscape item in your yard. It is spring, so it is the perfect time to discuss one of my favorite spring plants the Pink Dawn Viburnum. In our project spot light we will review the Talavera residence, which details a large outdoor patio and entertainment area. In our Nursery Spotlight we will highlight one the valleys unique Nurseries – Greenhurst Nursery in Nampa. I hope you sit back and enjoy the spring issue of “Sense of Place”.

Designing Trends - Outdoor Kitchens

One of the bigger trends over the last couple of years has been outdoor kitchens. Adding an outdoor kitchen can give structure to your back yard and provide an ideal outdoor entertaining area for family and guests. Outdoor kitchens can be as simple as just a built in grill or quite complex with sink, fridge and a whole assortment of accessories. The main key to having a successful outdoor kitchen is to design the kitchen to balance you wants, needs, budget and space.

There are Three distinctly different types of outdoor kitchens, the first being prefab/modular variety that you can pick up from Costco, Cal Spa or similar type stores and basically place it on a patio or a deck (that already has gas/water lines plumed) and you are done. The main selling point to the modular kitchen is ease/time to set up and cost. The main cons are limited options, fit & finish and the sizes available that might not meet your needs.

The second type is a site specific designed/custom built outdoor Kitchen that maximize the space and fits your specific needs. The main selling points to the custom Outdoor kitchens are that they will match your wish list for size and options, but they are typically more expensive than the modular kitchen.

The Third type is more like a hybrid of the first two concepts – it takes the custom built approach of the second concept but it does not incorporate the expensive built in grills, wine coolers, ice makers and other big ticket items .This concept uses your existing (or a new) free standing grill, and typically uses open spaces to hold large coolers (instead of fridges) and simple shelving vs. the weather poof expensive built in units. This concept can give you the custom built-in look without the price. All three concepts have their pros and cons, so please review your wants, needs, budget and space before jumping in.

The location of the outdoor Kitchen is critical to the flow of the outdoor space. The kitchen needs to be close to the main back door for hauling supplies/food, but it needs to be situated so it doesn’t interfere with the circulation flows of the outdoor space. Weather also needs to be considered for the space. Do you want a solid roof to keep the Kitchen dry (venting could be required for the smoke) or do you need shade from the intense heat of the sun? Will a strong wind gust require some shelter for the kitchen so smoke doesn’t overtake the residence? These are just a few of the questions that will need to be answered before placing the kitchen.

The size of an outdoor kitchen can vary greatly. Typically, the smallest outdoor kitchen will have room for just a grill and 36” counter space for prep work. The size of the kitchen from here will depend upon the options you want to have (sink, fridge, wine chillers, keg taps, wood burning pizza oven……you get the idea). Ideally you want to design the kitchen into 4 zones (hot [grill], cold [refrigeration], wet [sink] and dry [prep]) so you can cluster similar functions together. Smaller Kitchens will not have the cold and wet zones, but they will still have the hot and dry zones. Each piece of equipment in the outdoor kitchen will require space (landing) between them. The size of the space will depend upon the equipment, but it typically varies 12”-36” of landing space between the elements. The size of the kitchen will also depend upon who many people you want to sit at the bar area (typically 24”-36” for each seat). The standard shape for an outdoor kitchen is a linear island, but I recommend using the “L” or “U” shaped kitchen as this shape increases conversion opportunities between people and it also separates the cooking areas from the bar area.

If you like to grill outdoors, adding an outdoor kitchen is a must. It will add structure to you outdoor entertainment area. It would provide additional sitting/dining areas and would fit into the yard better than that free standing portable grill.

Hardscape – Oh that’s Hardscape - Landscape Boulders

Landscape boulders can add year round interest to your yard without maintenance issues. Boulders will never need to be trimmed, they don’t die and you will never have to fertilize them to keep them looking their best.

There are several kinds of landscape boulders that are avaible. Check out you local rock yard for the varieties avaible in your area. Here in the Boise area, the most common boulders are, Table Rock Sandstone because of Table Rock, but there are several varieties of boulders avaible, it all depends upon what you like.

When installing boulders in a naturalistic manner, it is important to bury 1/4-1/3 of the landscape boulder, to make sure it does not like they just fell out of passing truck and rolled into your yard. Some boulders have a natural depression and these can be used to collect water and act as a bird bath or top soil could be added and it could turn into a small planting pocket. Boulders can be installed in a naturalistic manner or they can be used in a more dramatic manner, by installing them vertically like columns rising from the ground.

Landscape boulders will add winter interest and a nice textural contrast to plants but they can also be used to tie in with other natural stone elements in your yard, like steps and walls.

Focus on Plants - Pink Dawn Viburnum

One of my more favorite spring blooming shrubs is the Pink Dawn Viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Pink Dawn'). It is not too common, but I think it should be used more. The Pink Dawn Viburnum blooms typically at the same time as forsythias. While the forsythia has a “wow look at me!” display of yellow flowers, the Pink Dawn Viburnum make a less visual statement with fewer but larger pink flowers – But the fragrance of the Flowers is stunning! It is truly a must for the spring garden.  The pink flowers open on bare branches in early spring, leading to dark green foliage that will give the shrub a crisp look in the summer and will have reddish hues in the fall time. The shrub will get around 10’ tall and 6’ wide and can also be trained into a small tree. If you would like to add fragrance to your garden in early spring, why not try the Pink Dawn Viburnum?

Project Spotlight - Talavera Residence

The main goal for this Southeast Boise project was to develop a large outdoor entertainment area that could accommodate large gatherings and also provide privacy for the back yard. This new construction project provided a blank slate, except for the front entry walk that was already installed. After walking the site with the clients and reviewing some pictures, long term goals were discussed and it was determined that the client would like to see 4 different options for their back yard.

Concept #1 – Key Points

• Add Evergreen, flowering and shade trees to the front of the house to add a forest type feeling and to give the house a more enclosed/secluded feeling.

• Large landing off the back door with an area for grilling

• Multi-level patio with small sunken area

• Landscape wall , path and heavy plantings to screen the back yard to the neighbor to the south

Concept #2 – Key Points

• Add Street trees to fit in with the neighborhood, but keep views to residence open/don’t screen res

• Add screen plants to hide the utilities up front

• Add foundation plants around the residence to soften the appearance of the house

• Large curved raised landing off the back door with multi-level patio with a sunken room

• 24” tall seat wall with screen plantings along the back fence for privacy

Concept #3 – Key Points

• Xeriscape design with minimal grass areas (grass only in the back yard).

• Intermediated shade trees by the front door to frame the entry with evergreen trees to the north and South to frame the residence.

• Four level/multiple room back yard patio with natural stone steps and basalt outcroppings

• Heavy screen planters to screen the neighbors to the South and East

Concept #4 – Key Points

• Offset trees by the front door to add shade and frame the entry, but not in a formal way

• Minimal planting for low maintenance

• Large patio area with multiple seatwalls and sunken fire pit patio

After presenting the 4 concepts to our client, they gravitated to concept #2, but they also like elements from the other concepts. The final base design consisted of the front yard bed layout of concept #2 , with the forest type grove of trees from concept # 1. The back yard consisted of the main landing from concept #1, with the sunken patio from Concept #2 and the heavy screening of the southern neighbor from Concept #1.

We revised the plan to reflect these changes and then we started our construction documents.

• Materials Plan – to illustrate, note and detail all hardscape items like, paver patio, steps, walls, landscape lighting and boulder location.

• Planting Plan – to illustrate all plant material proposed for the project

Now that all the drawing were done, it was time solicit bids form landscape contractors. The home owner received bids from six contractors: Sterling Landscape, Lawn Co., Dick Korn Landscape, Forever Green, Gig Creek Landscape and McKenzie landscape. The how owner liked all the bids and it was close but they choose to go with Dick Korn because of the previous work that they did for them.

The first line of business was to rough grade the site and install sleeves for the irrigation and landscape lighting. Footings were then poured for the walls and CMU and added to give the wall height. Cultured stone to match the residence was used to tie the project together. The steps were then installed and the pavers finished the main hardscape elements of the project.

Landscape boulders were brought in and the irrigation lines were then stubbed out. The site was then fine graded and plant material was added. Weed fabric, rock mulch, edging and sod finished off the project. This project stated construction in October and was finished in December; I can’t wait for the plant material to mature and to watch their landscape develop over time.

Here is a sneak peek at some before pictures of the project we will highlight in our summer issue …..

Nursery Spotlight - Greenhurst Nursery

One of the more unique Nurseries in the Treasure Valley is Greenhurst Nursery in Nampa. We have been referring clients to each other since 2001, but they have been around since 1973 when LeRoy Blickenstaff and his son Mike set up shop. In 1981, Leroy retired and Mike and Marilyn Blickenstaff have been running the show ever since. Greenhurst has done an awesome job for my clients with their exceptional plant knowledge and customer service.
One of the main things that set Greenhurst Nursery apart from other nurseries is that they carry truly unique and hard to find plants. Almost every time I tour the nursery, I find something new and cool. Their selection of Japanese Maples and Viburnums has to be the most diverse in the Valley. Of course they have the Standard Bloodgood Japanese Maple and the Burkwood Viburunm, but they also carry the hard to find Coral Bark Japanese Maple and the Compact Koreanspice Viburnum. Just one walk around the nursery grounds will send your mind spinning with all the possibilities. The large selection of ornamental trees, shrubs, roses, perennials, herbs, native plants, bedding plant, fruit trees….(you get the idea) is hard to take in on just one visit.

If you think the plant selection is overwhelming at Greenhurst Nursery, wait until you walk thru the multiple rooms of their gift shop. They have a large selection of books, apparel, home accessories, jewelry, indoor plants, music….(once again you get the idea) that it will take more than just one trip to take everything in. But if you only go once to Greenhurst Nursery to visit the gift shop – it must be at Christmas time. Mike at the gang and Greenhurst do a phenomenal job of transforming the Gift Shop into a winter wonderland. The attention to detail and care is evident in every corner and it is hard not to get in the Christmas mood when strolling around the shop at Christmas time. But hey, now its spring and it’s a great time to check out the latest in gardening goodies to start out the season.

Greenhurst also has a great variety of Statuary, garden art, pottery, Gazing globes and sundials and other related products. If you like to landscape, you will love Greenhurst Nursery. I always enjoy finding something new during my nursery tours, why not take you own tour to Nampa and visit Greenhurst Nursery.