If someone asked you to describe your ideal backyard, what would you call it? Your oasis? A playground for your children? An agility course for your dogs? Maybe it’s not any of those things yet, but with good landscape design, it very well could be. We pose this question, because all good landscape design is a combination of form and function. If it looks pretty, but doesn’t fit your lifestyle, then it is only a matter of time before disappointment sets in.
Further, you should also take climate conditions into consideration. You don’t want a beautiful yard that won’t be able to survive in Michigan’s unpredictable and often-harsh weather conditions. That said, we have compiled some basic landscaping dos and dont’s to keep in mind when it comes to your upcoming landscape design project.
1. When in doubt, work with a landscape design professional. A local landscape professional knows the local climate conditions inside and out, which can set you up for years of enjoyment right from the start. Further, a good landscape design professional knows how to manage a design process from start to finish, ensuring you don’t get bogged down halfway through and wind up with a half-finished project that becomes a bigger burden than if you had just not started it in the first place. In short, a good landscape design professional takes much of the time and hassle out of the equation. This is especially helpful if your career and family place a significant demand on your available time. As they say, time is money. By spending some money on a landscape designer, you can free up more time for the rest of your life and also ensure you’ll enjoy the finished product.
2. Think long term. How green is your thumb? Some species of plants can be very high maintenance. Sure, they may look wonderful, but they will need care; some more so than others. That said, consider plants that won’t be hazardous or require a tremendous amount of maintenance time. This is especially true if you have other commitments. Some plants don’t care about your commitments; they are going to do their thing, regardless. Also consider what the size of a mature plant will be before you buy it. Some plants that look nice in June may look like something from Little Shop of Horrors by late August. Do your homework.
3. “Big picture” appeal matters. The appeal of your home’s exterior is as equally as important as its interior appeal. Friends, acquaintances, and even potential buyers don’t just focus on your front yard. If you backyard looks like it could be wild animal sanctuary, well… people will notice. If you are in the market to sell, it could even costs you some offers.
4. Low maintenance is a good thing. How much time do you currently have to care for plants? Is there something on the horizon in your life that that might change that? The term “stay-at-home mom” places way more emphasis on “mom” than it does “stay-at-home.” If you are a stay-at-home mom, be realistic now about how much time you have to devote to your landscaping. It will save you added stress later. What is your experience with plant care? Are you a green thumb or will you be learning on the fly? If it’s the latter, expect some trial and error to go with that process. These are just a few of the very real questions you need to consider when it comes to making choices about plants. Don’t set yourself up for heartbreak by dishing out your hard-earned money on plants and flowers just to watch them wilt and die because your over-estimated the time and/or expertise you have to care for them.
5. Keep an eye out for weeds. This is something we can’t stress enough: weeds growing in your yard will undermine all of your landscaping efforts, particularly if a garden is involved. Weeds, such as dandelions—yes, dandelions—are invasive. They rob nutrients from your lawn, plants, flowers, and vegetables. They are also unsightly. Sure, your kids might like picking the dandelions and blowing the seeds all over the yard. Who didn’t? That simple act means a lot more work for you, though. The best solution is to prevent them from being there in the first place—the weeds, that is, not your children. To help you in the fight against weeds, you might want to consider applying some pre-emergent herbicide on the garden beds from the start.
1. Introduce invasive species. Sure, they might be pretty. With invasive species, one of two things is going to happen, though. If the species is not well-suited to your climate, it will die… often quickly. Then you’ve just wasted money, because you will either have dead flowers there or you’ll have to replace them with something else. The other thing that could happen is that the invasive species could actually thrive in the climate… to the point where is quickly takes over everything else. Talk to a professional about plant choices to ensure you have the best plants and flowers for your environment. You’ll be happier. The plants will be happier. That landscape professionals will be happy. Really, everybody wins.
2. Allow “lawn creep.” Kids and dogs love big green lawns. If you are a gardening enthusiast, though, you should consider adding more shrubs and gardening beds while decreasing lawn area. If you do have kids and/or dogs and keeping the lawn is a priority, be sure to keep it well-manicured. If your schedule doesn’t leave you time to mow regularly, find someone to mow it for you. It’s that important.
3. Plant trees right next to your house. Never—let’s repeat that, never—plant trees too close to your house. You open yourself up to several possible problems, including plumbing problems and/or roof repair. Before putting a tree in the ground, first take into consideration how far its branches will reach when it is fully mature. Short trees should never be planted closer than 20 feet from your house. Taller trees? You are looking at up to 50 feet.
4. Ignore overgrowth. Whether its flowers, shrubs, or trees, if they are overgrown, they are going to depreciate the aesthetic appeal of your landscape design. If you find the maintenance is getting to be too much, take them out. It doesn’t matter if you planted them with good intentions or if they were already there. Take them out. You want a beautiful yard and overgrowth is one very effective way to undermine those efforts.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. Still, it is enough to get you started. If there is one rule that stands above all others, though, it’s to make your yard your sanctuary. If that means it’s place to run with your dogs, entertain guests, or enjoy fires in the evenings, that is up to you. Your yard. Your sanctuary.
At E.P.M., our landscape design professionals can help you make that happen. Give us a call today at (517) 990-0110 to get started.
If you have decided to dip your toes in the waters of landscape design, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Let’s be honest, there are many choices to be made, even for smaller projects. For the sake of design harmony, consider using the basic principles of interior design as a jumping on point for your landscape design ideas. To build on that, we are offering seven tips to get you thinking. These are good points of entry whether your are planning to tackle the project on your own or consult with landscape design professionals.
Landscape Design Tip 1
Grab a pen and a notebook and start by compiling a list of the all the possible needs and wants you are considering. This is a little like brainstorming. Don’t self edit at this point; just get those ideas on the page. For instance:
Landscape Design Tip 2
Consider the positioning of your house with regards to the sun and normal wind patterns. If your house faces north-south instead of east-west, the sun will shine your yard or patio differently. Lots of afternoon sun into the evening might be ideal for a garden, but not so much for a patio. When the wind blows through your neighborhood, it winds around houses (including yours) and local trees, telephone poles, garages, etc., to create predictable patterns. These types of patterns can have a direct effect on some aspects for your landscape design, such as fire pits. These considerations are really just the tip of the iceberg, but they are some of the most important ones to keep in mind. In Michigan, we have an all-seasons climate, which means that factors like the sun and wind can change at different points of the day and year. While too much sun on the west side of the house might seem like it would just be hot in summer, it could also mean that, come winter, some extra afternoon sun is helpful. So, weigh your options.
Landscape Design Tip 3
Think on it for a bit. Landscape design can be fun. It can also be a time commitment. Too often, people rush through a landscape project so they can be done and enjoy it. Then, after living with it for a little while, they realize that some aspects that looked good in the short term really don’t pan out all that well a few years later. Especially, if you are just moving into a new house, live in it for awhile. Get to know how you interact with your yard. Everybody is different and a good landscape design will not only look good, but also be functional and provide livable enjoyment.
Landscape Design Tip 4
It’s okay to start small. Turn on the television any weekend and you are bound to stumble across home and garden design shows. On those shows, they put together an elaborate design, have a seemingly unlimited budget, and overhaul everything in just one weekend! What you don’t see behind the camera is a crew of a few dozen people working around the clock to get it all done. It’s just not the reality of how landscaping works for most people. It’s okay to start slow and let a plan develop. Getting your hands dirty is fun. Putting in a flower bed or getting some stones around the base of your trees is manageable in a weekend. Enjoy the process, then enjoy the results. Once you have an element or two in place, live with it for a little while and see how you like it. Flowers and plant take a little time to grow and fill in. What you put in place now may look very different in 4-6 weeks. If you are doing landscape design on your own, take your time. If you take the approach of just trying have it all finished, you set yourself up for taking shortcuts or doing sloppy work for the sake of expediency. Then you wind up with a design that doesn’t fulfill its potential.
Landscape Design Tip 5
Have a focal point in mind. Good garden designs will have a focal point (sometimes more than one) in mind from the start. This is a good practice for landscape design, as well, as it can help guide the design. Focal points could be a particular tree, some shrubbery, or even a really eye-catching plant. Ideally, what you want to do, with regards to a focal point, is have it draw the eye and guide people through the landscape design.
Landscape Design Tip 6
Two words: scale and pace. There are a handful of tricky elements to keep in mind when you are getting started with landscape design. Scale and pacing are key, however, as they give a sense of coordination and continuity. Every element you add to your design will vary by shape, color, and size. For instance, large flowers, such as sunflowers, would look awkward in the middle of many flowers that are much closer to the ground. You could, instead, place them in the back or against a garage wall or retaining wall, even. That said, you will also want to repeat several elements throughout your design, whether it be common colors, common shapes or something else. This helps tie the whole design together. Keep in mind, though, too much consistency can be a little boring. Some items should be there to add some “pop.”
Landscape Design Tip 7
Stay open minded. The only constant is change. There may be some things you find eternally appealing. By all means, include them. As you grow, so will your tastes. Remain open-minded to the idea that your landscape design should be a reflection of yourself. As such, it may need refreshing from time to time. And that’s okay.
Finally, if you are going to tackle landscape design by yourself, we can’t over-emphasize the role of patience. If, on the other hand, this all seems like a bit much to balance, that is also understandable. At E.P.M, we offer a full range of professional landscape design and installation services. Our experienced team of professionals can help you at any and every stage of the landscaping process. To learn more, simply contact us today at (517) 990-0110.
When you are looking out across your beautiful lawnscape, the last thing you want to see is weeds. Just one weed, in addition to being unsightly, is usually a red flag that many more weeds are on the way… and soon! At E.P.M., we offer services to help you eliminate, and even prevent, the most common weeds, including those really stubborn ones. It all starts with an assessment of your lawn/grounds.
To start, there are hundreds of different types of weeds, and they all have unique environments in which they like to grow, which can include certain temperatures, soil conditions, available nutrients, moisture, and so forth. Knowing which weeds are growing (or have the potential to grow) is the first step in formulating a weed control plan.
Of the hundreds of different types of weeds that could be invading your lawn, there are some that are much more common than others. These are the ones to look for first in an initial assessment. You may have seen some of these already.
Weed Control Services
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is with a pound of cure.” That certainly holds true for weed control. The best course is to treat your lawn or grounds before weeds grow and take root. After they have sprouted, it becomes more difficult to remove them. A coordinated weed control plan is the best approach to safeguard your lawn against a whole menu of weeds all season long. Depending upon your specific needs, this may require regularly-scheduled applications, which are particularly helpful in the preventing the spread of pesky broadleaf weeds.
If you are interested in exploring all of your residential weed control and commercial weed control options, call us today at (517) 990-0110.