Thursday, 24 April 2014

What to Ask an Expert about Landscaping?

As one of the leading landscape companies in the Bay Area, we at Landscape Pros have often seen how people are at a loss when it comes to asking experts the right questions to get their dream landscape design done. Once we had a client who wanted us to do too many things - an open air sit-in, a pool, a trellis and a BBQ installation, in their small space, which was simply not feasible. On the other end of the spectrum was a couple who wanted to give their spacious backyard a makeover to include a pool area, a lawn, a fire pit and a patio, but didn’t know what they should ask us to get the work started. In both these cases, we had to handhold our clients, and organize several consultation sessions, before we finally arrived at a feasible plan. This experience set us thinking – What is it that our clients should ask the experts that would set the ball rolling?

So, here’s our take on some questions, which you should ask your Bay Area landscaping expert:
  • What’s the best utilization of my space? This question is especially important for owners of small spaces. If you own a small space, you should ask your landscape expert about the best way to utilize it and incorporate some of your dream elements (if not all) into the limited yards. Even owners of sprawling greens would do well to consult their landscape designers to ensure that every inch of space is utilized wisely. 
  • What landscape design should I choose? Mark Twain once spent a summer in San Francisco and said that it was the coldest winter he had ever spent. This refers to the greatest challenge of landscaping in SF Bay Area – modifying the climate through good design to create comfortable outdoor places. Therefore, starting from the right design for your landscape to choosing native plants and shrubs, you should ask your landscaping expert about everything. Deciding on the right placement of your landscape features, choosing the most fitting plant palette, the most ideal materials and d├ęcor items to use are other factors that these professionals can help you with. After all, creating a spectacular outdoor space is best done with the advice of experts.
  • Can you share some ideas about green landscaping? As people across the world are trying to go green to save water and conserve energy, it pays to opt for green landscaping. You should ask your landscape expert about tips and steps that can help you get started with green landscaping. Since a complete makeover may not be possible for all, the emphasis should be on asking about small steps that can help create an environment-friendly landscape. Be it installing turf grasses that need less water, using natural fertilizers and recycled items for landscaping, or opting for drip irrigation and microspray/rotor technologies, small steps advised by landscape experts can go a long way in helping you create a green landscape.
  • What would it cost me? Most people get carried away by the entire process and end up spending a lot more than what they might have planned initially. Therefore, it’s best to get a quote from your landscape company or ask the experts about a rough estimate for the entire job. You may also ask about the additional amount, if any, which may be incurred to include certain aspects that you wish to, in your landscape. We at Landscape Pros believe that our clients should have a budget before they get the work started and keep a close eye on the progress. This will ensure that the expenditure doesn’t overshoot their budget.
To make the most out of your landscape, make sure that you ask these and other relevant questions to your landscape expert.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Tips to Get Started with Edible Landscaping

Does the alarming effects of global warming scare you? Do you want to play your part in conserving the environment and negate the effects of global warming? If your answer is ‘Yes’ for these questions, you should consider edible landscaping.

Edible Landscaping – Way to Go Green

You can plant fruit trees, vegetables and berry bushes to create a balanced and aesthetic landscape that lets you enjoy a bountiful harvest. The design layouts for an edible landscape use common landscape design principles, while keeping the aesthetic standards of the particular residential neighborhood in mind. Edible landscapes conserve soil, energy, and water, thus helping you go green.

Getting Started

According to landscaping experts, several factors need to be considered to create edible landscapes successfully.
  • Examine the Landscape: The first step is to take stock of your landscape and decide which existing features would be done away with or preserved. For example, you can remove a decaying hedge while preserving a beautiful flagstone path or a shade tree. To determine the suitable location of edibles to grow, you should also note the areas receiving a shade or full/half day of sun.
  • Make a Blueprint: To assess different choices for your edible landscape design, you can draw a scaled map of your property. Usually, it’s advisable to plant annual vegetables closer to the house in areas that receive the maximum sunlight. Fruit trees should be planted where sunlight is available in plenty and should not get blocked by tall buildings or big trees. Areas receiving half day of sun can be used for herbs and berries, while shades can be earmarked for seating areas, ornamental plants and water features.
  • Choosing the Edibles: Peas, carrots, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, lettuce and carrots are ideal vegetables to plant for the cold season while tomatoes, cucumber, squash-pumpkins, beans, melons, sweet corn and peppers are fit for the warm season. For herbs and perennials, you can take your pick from oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary, chives, sage and artichokes – just to name a few. For vines and berries, you can choose from blueberries (Misty, Berkeley, Bluecrop etc), kiwi (Vincent Female, Tomuri Male), berries (raspberry, blackberry etc) and grapes (Delight Seedless, Black Monukka Seedless, Suffolk Red Seedless etc). You should choose the edibles based on how the specific climate of the region/different areas of the property affect their growing requirements. In case you plan to attend to your garden only on the weekends, it’s better to stay away from the annual vegetables that require daily attention.
  • Have an Aesthetic Plan: Edible landscapes need not be boring or sport a monotonous color palette. You can mix and match different elements to make it visually appealing. For example, you can use ornamental edibles in the foreground (such as the colored varieties of lettuce), while opting for tomatoes with a coarse look in the background. Planting annual flowers and annual vegetables with similar growth habits and a varied color palette, or using a row of perennial flowers as a border in the foreground of a row of fruit trees are other ideas worth considering.
Landscape experts suggest that for any edible landscape, the ideal way is to start small. If you opt for a small and simple edible landscape, you can easily maintain it. Once you are comfortable in maintaining and preserving this small patch of edible landscape, you can plan to extend it to other areas of your garden.