Finding the Right Landscape Designer

In most instances, it is easy to discern whether a professional landscape designer has been involved in developing a plan for a new or reworked landscape. The balance, placement, color, seasonal variations, and hardscape designs are clear signs that a professional has been at work. As an artist approaches a new canvas, a landscape designer imagines a setting that is beautiful, functional, and practical without excessive expense and required maintenance.

Selecting a landscape professional for home or business requires weighing several variables. The first step is to consider what you are willing to spend and which elements of the job the landscape designer should complete.

Finding a Professional Landscape Designer

The world abounds with landscape architects, designers, experts, and specialists. Some are better at implementing and maintaining, while others are proven geniuses at imagining and designing. Some landscape companies staff professionals for each discipline.

Home or business owners should choose a few candidates to interview to determine who:

  • Communicates well
  • Shares your vision
  • Presents a substantial portfolio of design experience
  • Provides a solid list of references

Checking references is important. How past projects were handled, the ease of communication and outcome will determine if a candidate is solid or should be eliminated from the list.

Questions to Ask a Landscape Designer Candidate

Does the designer provide a free, upfront consultation?

A one or two-hour consultation is an opportunity to become familiar with each other as the designer talks philosophy and provides off-the-cuff suggestions about how to approach the project. This meeting is an opportunity to share vision and budget requirements while determining if you are compatible with each other.

What will be the process?

Once a design is presented, perhaps modified, and accepted, and the cost is agreed upon, how will the project proceed? If the contract is for design only, then you must start again to find the professionals to implement the plan.

Executing the Plan

You may be requesting a design only if you had another professional capable and prepared to implement the plan.

Alternatively, in a design-build scenario, the designer may oversee the full implementation of the project, using associated professionals to complete the job. In situations that require extensive construction and sophisticated grading, using the design company to carry out the plan can be economically advantageous and uninterrupted.

ProLine from Heritage Oak Farm

Contact Heritage Oak Farm about ProLine™  professional landscaping equipment at (888)-288-5308.

 

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The Joy of Spring Flowers

There may be no greater joy for many homeowners than witnessing the first bloom of spring flowers. Color replaces the drab grays of winter as the first flowering signals a new season of outdoor activity and pleasure.

Depending on the climate zone, many varieties of annual and perennial spring bloomers are available. Selection may rely on color preference, timing, and size.

Popular Spring Flowers

Pansy: The variety of petal colors make this the most common spring offering for many gardeners. The delicate blooms are magnificent in your early spring planting pots and window boxes.

Yellow Trillium: These true spring plants begin to offer up yellow blooms in April, then fade away by June. Ideal for shady spots, the plants work best in Zones 5-8.

New Guinea Impatiens Hybrid: In many climate zones, the Impatiens varieties can be an annual or a perennial. Best with morning sun or full sun, these flowers are great in beds with foliage plants and also in pots or hanging baskets.

Bloodroot: These perennial flowers begin to appear as early as March in Zones 3-9. With white blooms, these will continue until late June. These herbaceous plantings usually reach about 6 inches in height while spreading at least a foot in width.

Snowdrop Anemone: Best in Zones 4-8, Snowdrop Anemone grows well in sunny or only lightly shaded. The plant offers up sweet white clusters of blooms in the early spring and, according to Better Homes and Gardens, may even rebloom in the autumn.

Twinspur: Perennial in some zones and annual in others, these blooms are best in full sun, although should have some afternoon shade in really hot climates. Sunset suggests that Twinspur looks great as a complement to roses and thrives in the same conditions.

Zinnia: Simple flowers to grow from seed, Zinnia Elegans are annuals in all zones. These plants favor full sun. Flowers should be snipped off when fading so that new replacements can grow in their place.

Lilac: The fragrance of lilac is synonymous with springtime. Certain varieties of lilac range from dwarf shrubs to small trees. Best in Zones 4-8, lilacs can grow to a height of twenty feet.

Contact Heritage Oak Farm

Heritage Oak Farm offers its ProLine™ full menu of efficient, high-performance nursery and landscape equipment designed for professional landscapers. Check out the Heritage Oak Farm website, or call (888)-288-5308 to learn more.

 

Get a Jump on the Spring Gardening Season

Even though the ground is still frozen and, in some areas, snow-covered, gardening projects can still begin. It may not be placing those delicate flowers and vegetables out yet, but important details can be accomplished before the calendar gives the “go ahead” to start the annual planting process.

Planning

Rather than wait until the last minute to rush through the nursery with a half-baked list of ideas, late winter is always a great time to plan. Look for new ideas, perhaps at one of the important garden shows in the area, or consult with a professional landscape designer or nursery to plan that spectacular garden design.

Besides sketching the vegetable and flower plantings, late winter is an excellent time to re-imagine the yard with new trees and shrubs.

Clean Up and Service the Equipment

While your equipment may have received a cursory cleaning last fall, late winter is a great time to service machinery and prepare for the coming season. Tillers and lawn mowers should get fresh oil and fuel, and a start-up test can be beneficial to identify any operating problems.

Remove the Dead Leaves and Accumulated Debris

Some of last year’s leaves and small fallen branches undoubtedly remain, either from your trees or from the neighbors’. Cleaning these up now will leave your planting areas and lawn looking great as you wait for the real gardening season to begin. Matted leaves can restrict the early growth of perennials and provide a comfortable home for insects.

Eliminate the Weeds

Weeds will begin to pop up as soon as the ground is soft. Attack the problem shortly after the soil can be worked, often before the last frost. Till the soil to discourage weeds from taking root. Pull and discard any that may have established themselves late last year. Cover the area with mulch for now until planting begins. Mulching should continue to keep weeds from developing.

Perennial Pruning and Care

Cut back ornamental grasses to allow new growth to develop. Also, for many trees and shrubs, late winter is the right time to consider pruning. However, if you are not sure, consult an expert who has experience in the varieties and climate with which you are working.

Some varieties of perennials like hostas, asters, and Siberian iris can even be divided at this time to create new plants, free of charge.

 

Jump into Spring with Your Favorite Flower Bulbs

As we see the last vestiges of winter chill dissipate and signs that spring is near, the time to think about what’s next for your flower bulbs is here. Some varieties may have been planted in the fall that should begin to pop up as the weather warms. Others may be planted in the early spring for summer flowering.

In either case, the joys of gardening begin anew.

Spring Bulb Planting

Bulbs planted in the fall that begin to come forth early include tulips, crocuses, daffodils, and others. However, whether we neglected to do that planting last year or want to supplement the glory of previous plantings, spring bulbs can bring added pleasure.

Whether in a container garden or positioned among the rest of your plantings, spring bulbs bring an extra measure of color and beauty to your landscape while summer approaches. Bulbs available for spring planting in most zones can provide virtually the entire spectrum of color and texture.

Landscape professionals or nursery experts can advise which options work best in your area and soil types.

Spring flower bulbs can yield blooms as early as late spring and early summer.

Here are some examples to consider:

Spring Blooms:

  • Dutch Windflowers
  • French Anemone
  • Grecian Windflowers

Early Summer Blooms

  • Dahlias
  • Begonias
  • Canna Lilies
  • Foxtail Lilies
  • Christmas Bells
  • English Iris
  • Mountain Bells
  • Asiatic Lilies
  • Dutch Iris

Thinking Ahead

Bulbs of the prior year can be lifted in the fall, dried and stored for spring planting. These should not be stored in plastic because living organisms must be allowed to breathe.

Planting Spring and Early Summer Flowering Bulbs

  • The first consideration is to purchase quality bulbs that are not withered, moldy or dried out. Usually, the more substantial bulbs will produce more flowers, although the smaller ones will increase production over the coming years.
  • Find a well-drained location that gets lots of sunlight in the early months of spring and early summer. Remember that trees have not developed their summer foliage yet, so more areas are suitable than you may think.
  • Always plant with the pointed side up since this end will become the stem.
  • Plant bulbs to a depth of approximately three times their length.
  • Amend the soil with bone meal or a water-soluble fertilizer and water.

If you have questions regarding spring bulb planting, always consult your local professional to ensure best results.

 

Opportunities to Grow in Nursery Jobs

Working mostly outside, helping plants and trees grow and flourish is how many people love to spend their precious spare time. Many who are in nursery jobs as a career cannot imagine doing something else with their lives.

Working for a nursery is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, watch nature take its course (with a little help), and learn more about the science and business of plants and trees.

What Do Nursery Workers Do?

Depending on the size of the nursery and the breadth of offerings, nursery workers perform a vast number of essential jobs. Whether in a greenhouse or outside, nursery workers assess and adjust the conditions for best growth and good health for a broad variety of plants, shrubs, or trees. Functions include, but are not limited to, planting, watering, feeding, cutting, pruning, transplanting, and even transporting and replanting.

Tree Farm Workers

Tree farms specialize in shrubs and tree growing for commercial sale. Starting with the planting and care of seedlings in greenhouses, nursery jobs move outside where workers plant, tie, wrap, feed and spray the saplings. Eventually, the young trees are lifted and prepared for transport to their new homes. Highly specialized equipment is required to ease the physical work and protect the trees and shrubs from damage.

Large Nursery Operations

With larger concerns, certain nursery jobs are more specialized. For instance, where controlled irrigation is used to precisely water plants and trees, some workers are dedicated to monitoring, measuring, replacing, and repairing irrigation systems to ensure proper hydration throughout the farm.

Marketing and Record Keeping

Some nursery workers are adept at explaining the operations and pointing out the positive attributes of each plant. They detail the proper care, feeding, and natural characteristics of each plant, shrub, and tree to prospective customers. Also, some nursery jobs involve keeping detailed records of inventory, marketing projections, sales results, budgeting and more.

Nursery Management

Like any business, nurseries require solid management. From overseeing numerous employees, establishing the core objectives, monitoring the budgets, and setting the course for coming years, nursery managers must be experienced in virtually all areas of nursery operations.

Opportunities in Nursery Operations

Nursery operations are becoming more comprehensive. Opportunities are abundant for individuals to become more engaged in the art and science of growing plants. Education and experience in horticulture, botany, soil science, plant breeding, irrigation, and landscaping are real assets.

 

Backyard Landscape Design

Whether for new construction or a complete do-over, backyards and lawns offer a unique opportunity to create a virtual personal paradise for homeowners. Perhaps less encumbered by neighborhood norms, a backyard to a landscape architect is akin to an empty canvas to an artist.

Backyard landscape design may adapt to the homeowner’s vision of a peaceful and relaxing retreat, an activity center, or a comfortable area for entertaining. Positioning planting areas, trees, shrubs, walls and walkways, and other elements establish the mood of the space and define its purpose.

Effective landscape design should reflect seasonal color and light schemes as they change. And, as the landscape design matures, new plants and features may be included to provide an even more exciting and ever-changing landscape.

Role of the Landscape Designer

Homeowners often learn that after several seasons of adding, replacing, and spending, doing their own backyard landscape design never seems to achieve the beautiful lushness and coordinated color that professional landscape designers can create. Professionals have years of experience, education, and knowledge of plant life and the ways a variety of plantings can come together to create a magical combination.

A professional landscape designer anticipates the long-term. Understanding how plants and shrubs mature and grow together harmoniously is essential to ensuring the investment is long-lasting with only routine maintenance and upgrading.

Creating the Landscape Design

The designer begins by determining what effect the property owner would like to achieve. Landscape designs intended for privacy and quietude may be substantially different than developing for a lively and colorful entertainment area.

Next, the landscape designer will survey the area to identify permanent fixtures, changes in elevation, prevailing wind direction, path of the sun, and access to water and electricity.

Knowing what the customer expects and the positive attributes and limitations of the space, the landscape designer will begin to draw a plan, either by hand or by using state-of-the-art software tools to replicate the vision.

The plan may include paved seating areas, perfect for entertaining, surrounded by lush shade trees or covered by a pergola for protection from the sun. Or, perhaps a gazebo amid flowering and evergreen shrubs for personal privacy is preferred.

Using ProLine™ Equipment from Heritage Oak Farm

Designed by and for landscape specialists, ProLine tree and shrub handling equipment eliminates damage to plants and trees while reducing time and effort.

Contact Heritage Oak Farm for more information at 1-888-288-5308.

 

Just Because Winter Arrived, Don’t Forget the Lawn

Although most of the leaves have been raked and the air has turned cool, lawn work should not end. Lawn care maintenance in winter is important to ensure lawns come back healthy when spring arrives.

Is Overseeding an Option?

Professional lawn care companies are busy all year making sure their client’s lawns stay great looking. Once cold weather sets in, lawns will take on a yellow-tan color as the grass goes dormant. Depending on the severity of your winter, lawns can be overseeded with a perennial or annual ryegrass if staying green is the owner’s objective. However, if snow will be covering the lawn during most of the winter, owners may choose not to go this route.

Rake Up the Rest of the Leaves

During the early winter months, it is important to rake any remaining leaves and debris before the turf freezes. Leaving this material in place restricts the reemergence of the grasses in the spring, causing a late start to the desired appearance. Rake gently to avoid uprooting the sleeping grass. And avoid treading on grass areas while the turf is frozen since this tends to kill the grass crowns or result in snow mold which will delay normal growth in the spring.

Weeds Like to Start Early

Weeds do develop in the winter. The first prevention for weed development is to apply a pre emergence herbicide in the fall. While this can be very effective, some weeds may still develop. Spot treating these as soon as they are detected should keep the lawn in great shape for the spring growth.

Continuing to mow the lawn after the fall season can be useful to keep the lawn looking great.

Voles Love Grass

As many homeowners know, snow cover creates the ideal environment for these rodents to do their damage. They burrow beneath the snow cover eating the grass roots as they go. Once the snow melts, lawns may be criss-crossed with tunnels. The ruts can be gently raked and seeded in the spring and signs of the damage will soon disappear.

Contact Heritage Oak Farm

For information regarding winter lawn, shrub and tree care and lawn care maintenance in winter, contact the experts at Heritage Oak Farm. Their ProLine™ of professional landscaping equipment helps lawncare and nursery professionals perform their tasks efficiently and profitably.

Call Heritage Oak Farm at 1-888-288-5308.