Cleaning up after amateurs – Let’s do it right…
I recently became involved with this residential landscape re-design and build project when the homeowner called me and expressed displeasure with the way his property was landscaped, with several safety issue, and with its overall “lack of appeal”….
What makes a great Landscape great! Is it the contractor? Is it the Home Owner? Or is it both?
There are many factors that influence the completion of any great landscape big or small. First the design process begins by determining the needs and desires of the owners and the existing conditions of the site. When I see projects like this I wonder to myself “what were they thinking?”
My next thought tends to be “someone lacking an understanding of landscape design”. These landscapers are as I describe them, mow and blow companies, which means they would be better off just sticking to basic lawn care and pushing a lawnmower thereon.
I describe Landscape Design as an art that always changes as the plants mature, environmental conditions change, and the way people change the use of that particular space. That being said, the elements of the visual design are an important factor, however the functionality is to highly considered also.
Upon my first visit to this location it looked like someone applied some sort of treatment at the wrong dosage. Was it fertilizer that had not been watered in properly? Was it a weed killer that had been applied during a hot spell. Neither was the case.
The customer was not properly informed of the proper procedures to maintain her newly installed landscaping and lawn areas. That is why landscape applicators should actively engage in intense training year after year to be continually updated of the current environmental requirements and/or consequences relating to.
In this instance that was not the case. The installer did not properly instruct the homeowner of the care and needs of the install. The contractor installed sod in order to achieve what?
A few points I want to discuss.
- The ground beneath the sod must be prepared properly in order for it to grow. If the ground has not been made soft enough the sod will have more difficulty in establishing its root system.
- Watering is essential. As soon as you have laid your sod, you are going to want to water it. That First Watering should be about 45- 60 minutes depending on how hot it is outside. Then you will be watering your Sod Lawn two times per day for 15-20 minutes for 2 weeks. This is where people are not informed.
- After the initial two week watering phase, stop watering and let the ground dry out completely. Do not drown the sod. The original contractor had a good idea at first because in small spaces sod is the best option. I also agree that sod should be installed on gently sloped areas.
- However, this is not gently sloped. It is a hill. Who is going to cut this? Not Me! It’s an accident waiting to happen. And then along comes winter and the water flows down this steep grade and onto the sidewalk where it freezes and bam – down you go.
As seen in our design we choose a different solution for this severely sloped area. Using visually pleasing plant material to establish erosion control is most definitely a better solution. This location facing south gave us plenty of sun to have a large selection of flowering plant material. Always be careful not to place plants that do not like that afternoon sun.
Some of our plant selection included are as follows.
Ajuga, a ground cover also known as bugleweed, ground pine, carpet bugle, or just bugle, is a genus of 40 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants. In the world of groundcovers, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about.
With a wide variety of foliage colors; usually in the rich deep burgundy realm, and sometimes cream and pink edges, ajuga become a desirable ground cover. Once spring eases into summer, ajuga is covered in little spikes of bright blue, purple, pink or white blossoms. Tell me what other ground cover has all these characteristics.
What do ground covers do? They can be used to stabilize slopes. They can be used to keep weeds at bay, and they can provide foliage where little else grows.
Fall is the best time also to split perennials. We dug up our Lily bulbs and split them over and over again. The Lily flowers are valued for their large, very showy, often fragrant flowers. The six plain or strikingly marked tepals ( a segment of the outer whorl in a flower that has no differentiation between petals and sepals) are often trumpet-shaped, sitting atop tall, erect stems. The varieties that are available are endless. They are so showy that the beauty would knock you off your chair. There are many other plants that we incorporated to retain this hill.
Ok let’s move on. Look at the driveway. The size constraints dictate that the only thing that would fit comfortably is a small and compact vehicle; which once parked leaves little room for walking or unloading groceries and such. Also, once winter sets in; again the water flow down this steep grade can only lead to ice and snow accumulation where you need to drive and walk and unload those groceries and items and. Bam, down you go again.
In order to achieve a more pleasing entrance we installed a retaining wall to open the space. Not only did it become functional but look what it did to the entrance that awaits you as you come home from a hard day of working. A pleasant appearance and no more safety issues that could lead to injuries and mishaps.
We reinstalled the sod only to the top of the level area so that mowing would be safer. The final requirement for the sod to grow was to elevate the shade trees on the side of the house because sod will not grow properly in a shaded area as this. We accomplished this with the proper pruning and removal of some of the upper limbs of the tree.
Upon completion of this project in Englewood New Jersey our client was requesting more work to be done.
Yes; another satisfied customer.