You Can Do It: Landscaping Tips
May 23, 2016 02:01PM
By Melanie Heisinger
What are some essential tips for homeowners who want to keep their lawns in tip-top shape?
Two simple things to focus on that will improve your lawn are water and a fertilization program. Water means having a proper watering schedule with a system that is equipped with proper efficient coverage. A fertilization program should not be once or twice a year but focused on a regular treatment schedule. We equate it to working out, you simply cannot workout once or twice a year to get in shape it takes a continued program to achieve results. Fertilization works the same way, it does not need to be complex but does need to be a regular process.
What should beginning landscapers know?
Focus on designing a landscape that incorporates plants that bloom at different times of the year and design a mix of perennials and annuals. Annuals produce a lot of color but their lifespan is short lived and you need to plan on replacement every year. Annuals allow you to change the color, variety and look of the landscape each year so make sure to incorporate some in each landscape. The other tip is to know the type of sun exposure each plant can tolerate. Texas summers are brutal in July and August so make sure you account for this season with dry/sun-loving plants, not just spring flowers.
What kinds of plants are good in the North Texas weather?
There is a wide range of plants that thrive in our soils and weather. We tend to group most of our designs into 4 themes; Tropical (elephant ear, palm trees, cannas, hibiscus, bougainvillea), Structured (boxwood shrubs, Indian Hawthorne, Nandinas, Day Lily), Texas Heat (Vitex, Red Yucca, Agave) and Organic (Texas Sage, Salvia, Rose bush, Lantana). Our designs usually incorporate a few plants that cross over themes, such as pairing day lilies around a rose bush or saliva, sage and a vitex tree. The key for our climate is understanding we have summer and then we have brutally hot summer; so make sure your landscape is prepared to handle the brutal months as well.
How can you make sure you have proper drainage in your yard?
We see so many drainage issues that are dependent on what is happening in a neighbor’s yard or recent construction. Plants and grass help slow drainage down a slope but if you get too much build up or flooding a drainage solution such as a surface drain with catch basins is needed to move water away from standing areas.
How can you properly balance sunlight and shade plants?
Morning sun through 12 o’clock is never as hot as the afternoon sun. When planning a landscape think about the movement of the sun and how to plan plants that take advantage. Larger bushes and sun-loving plants can be designed to provide shade for other plants. We tend to layer plants and use multiple heights to make sure everything is visible and receives its proper recommendation of sun and shade.
Discuss how great landscaping is a balance between design form and function.
Finding the balance of form and function is very important when planning your project. Ensuring that mature plants don’t grow into walk areas or overshadow smaller plants, incorporating drainage so plants don’t sit in water or water drains away too fast, and designing for multiple seasons and color palettes is where the real value comes into play. All landscapes look great the day after installation as change has occurred and your vision was fulfilled. Focusing on the long term takes a special skill and is where the value of a professional comes into play. Make sure this balance is evaluated and discussed at the beginning planning stages of a project, not at the end.
How can people decide on a landscaping budget, design and amount of maintenance required?
Do plan a budget and communicate the budget if you hire a professional. You can always communicate a range but not communicating your budget to a professional makes it difficult to know what level of change you are trying to achieve. A quality, reputable professional is not looking to change profit based on the budget, but simply trying to understand if this is a few plants or a complete yard makeover with big ticket items like water features and stone paths. Get your design inspiration from things you see around or on the Internet. Pinterest or other design-sharing sites are excellent to capture and communicate your vision. Do understand that changes may need to occur based on sun, climate, budget, etc., but be inspired by the things you have found. Maintenance is always a concern. Maintenance-free or low-maintenance is the most common request we hear from customers. The honest answer is we can design a landscape that greatly reduces the amount of maintenance needed, but every landscape will need regular care. Regular care does not mean every week but does mean more than once a year. Spending a couple hours every 4-6 weeks protects your investment and promotes the health of the plants. You can hire a professional for this or do the work yourself, but do plan that some maintenance is needed to keep it in tip-top shape.