The story below is a preview from our September/October 2016 issue. For the full story Subscribe today, view our FREE interactive digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
There’s a lot more to landscaping than simple yardwork, including factors like weather, seasons and acreage. Learn a few tips on budgets, when to plant and more!
While the term “landscaping” is more of a catch-all for lawn, garden and property maintenance, it also includes design, new plantings and installation, including patios, retaining walls and sidewalks. While outdoor trends tend to come in waves, outdoor entertaining is a growing trend even for the cooler seasons. Fire pits are hot right now (literally and figuratively), while adding living space is important to those looking to increase their time outdoors.
Jason Childress, landscape designer for Varsity Landscaping, says many clients are adding outdoor kitchens, areas for hot tubs and other ways to utilize backyard space for family and social use.
“People tend to be going away from the standard deck on the backyard,” Childress says. “They want more flexibility with levels, tiers, outdoor lighting and audio, and all the other options available now.”
Childress has a horticulture degree from Virginia Tech and stresses the importance of using professional landscapers for your home. The right company will have knowledgeable, educated staff who keep up with continuing education practices like new innovations, new designs and plants. Along with experience and know-how, they’ll also have the right licensure and contractor’s license so you have no liability as a homeowner and everything will be done the right way.
“It’s great if you want to DIY, but many times the project turns out to be bigger than originally expected. We can help finish it in a timely and correct manner,” says Childress.
On the fence about a new landscaping project for your home? Many businesses will begin with a consultation, walking through ideas and suggesting ballpark figures to give homeowners a better idea of what needs to be done. A good landscaper will be honest about not only the budget, but the layout and design. Some plants might not work for a particular area of the yard, or a patio may not be able to sit out back due to your yard dropping off into a large hill (or in our region’s case, mountains).
Thinking about the resale value of your home? Start the landscaping now. “It’s hard to create dynamic curb appeal a week before you list your home unless you’re going to spend a fortune on mature plants,” Childress explains. “If you know you’ll list your house in two years, and it’s a mess, start the work now. Then you can touch it up when you’re ready to list. You can always trim and clean up, but a complete landscape redesign takes time to grow into the space. It doesn’t happen in a weekend like on HGTV!”
“It’s easy to make stuff look good the day you leave if you over-plant but it’ll be a nightmare in two years after it’s grown in. There are a lot of variables: how plants perform, their size, sun and shade requirements and more.”
The most important thing to consider for your landscaping is a long-term investment. “Even if you want to break something down and do a little bit each year, you need an all-encompassing plan and road map to know where to start and the order of operations. Know what order makes the most sense, and what value will you get of it.”
When is the best time to plant?
Late October or early November is actually the best time. Turns out the cold weather thing is a myth! The fall is prime time to plant whether it’s trees, shrubs, perennials or many other varieties. Once the root system is in the ground, it’s warm and protected. Childress says they can even plant in January with great results. If you’re looking to add on to your garden or re-landscape your front foundation bed, now’s the time.
“Everybody gets a planting bug in the spring with flowers coming out, but they’re going into summer and that’s a tough stretch for plants,” says Childress. “You have to baby them, water and hold their hand through the summer. If you go away on vacation, you better have someone watering them to keep the summer heat from killing it while you’re gone! Plants grow roots 12 months a year–when the next summer comes around, that plant is ready to fend for itself much better.”
What about general landscaping in the fall?
Fall is the time to shut down irrigation; landscapers do a lot of leaf clean up, trimming and cutting back on trees, shrubs and perennials. Thinning out is good for this time of year. Childress also advises to get those rakes and backpack blowers out–we know full well what our yards look like once the leaves start to fall.
Landscaping is more than just about aesthetics: if those leaves sit all winter long on your yard, the weight will choke out the turf and cause it to die. Leaves can be composted, though it’s about a one year process before they’ll be ready to go in the garden bed. Your turf needs sunlight or it can bleach out. Manage the weeds with lawn treatments throughout the summer; once under control, late fall is an ideal time for lawn aeration and heavy seeding for grass to grow where weeds once stood.
What are this season’s big trends?
Fire pits are definitely great for the fall and add a layer of design to your yard. Accessories such as low-voltage landscape lighting and LED fixtures are big too. The lights help for not just security, but also aesthetics. You can uplight your beautiful trees as well as avoid trip hazards by lighting up the pathway to your front and back doors. Landscape lighting isn’t necessarily cheap, but you want nice, heavy fixtures that will last through the seasons and years.