Know Your Space

“Space. The final frontier.”
Or is it?
Well at least in the garden, space is the important frontier.
It can be the final say regarding what you plant and how you plant. The smaller the garden, the more important the amount of space you have. And the more important it is to utilize it properly. One of the first steps in using space properly is to know how much space you there is to work with.

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Nothing is harder to do than to figure your space without taking measurements-inevitably you’re wrong. When you take those measurements, it’s important to be as accurate as possible, because in a small space an inch can mean a lot. A foot can make a difference with what type of plants you plant, and a yard to make the difference in the type of material you use for hard-scaping.
When taking your measurements, it is imperative to find out where the building sits on the property. While it is important to measure the windows and doors, don’t forget to look for the other little things you might not consider. The downspouts, hose bib, gas meter, utility area; all of these must be considered in your drawing. If you don’t incorporate them in the drawing, you will be in for a big surprise when you go to plant a six-foot plant in front of a 3-foot window. It’s a little hard to explain to the customer why their view is blocked because you didn’t measure properly. I’ve learned through my own mistakes and experience that it never hurts to take an extra measurement or two, because inevitably when you get back to the office and sit at the drawing table, there is a missing measurement somewhere. With other measurements, you can triangulate and coordinate where you will be planting and approximate that missing measurement.

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But only knowing the measurements of the  length and width of an area isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Look up over your head. Are there power lines in the way of where you will plant that oak tree? Is there an awning you need to consider, or are you going to be blocking sunlight for the new planting? These are other considerations you need to think about when you’re measuring your space. If you’re adding hard-scape to your landscape, you also need to consider the physical movements of both people and items such as wheelchairs, a golf cart, a stroller or a gardening cart. Take into consideration not only the straight path these items will take, but the curves and arches they need to take to turn safely without damaging your landscape or your property.

There are some great tools on the market for measuring other than the good old-fashioned measuring tape. There’s even a battery powered one that automatically retracts for you. Some are measuring tapes that can electronically figure out your space by doing the math for you. And there’s even some new tapes that can visually measure and figure out your space without the use of a physical tape.

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Need a simpler tool? Try the walking measuring stick. The handle is attached to a counter and wheel, and it calculates the feet as you walk. When you’re measuring long distances, there’s nothing better, because let’s face it, a measuring tape will not go much farther than 100 feet. A walking measuring tape can be as sophisticated as you would like to spend the money on. They can electronically figure out your square feet of the area. For a larger project. you might need to hire a surveyor and get the site plotted out in more detail.
Don’t forget those underground utility lines. Many municipalities provide services where they will come out and mark the utilities for you. A good rule of thumb, is to always mark before you dig-there’s nothing worse than sticking that shovel in the ground and cutting off somebody’s cable, telephone or worse yet, breaking a waterline.

So remember to take all things into consideration when planning out your garden space. Get it right the first time and then you can enjoy the planting experience, rather than being frustrated. Once you’re all finished, grab that cold glass of iced tea and head out to the hammock to sit and relax and enjoy that beautiful space you just created.

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Container Gardening? Ask Questions!

Container Gardening can be so much more than just putting pretty flowers in a container.

Using the same design aspect that you would use with in-ground landscaping, you can create vistas for your enjoyment while you are outside. With the placement of pots in the right place you can create framing for visual blockage of unwanted views, traffic pattern and flow, accent existing landscaping, and add interest to patio furniture arrangements.

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Be sure to take into consideration the style of the area that you’re going to be placing these pots in. Is the color of the container going to be crucial? Will it be something to give it a little extra punch to the design area? You need to determine if you looking for containers that are highly decorative or more standard such as Clay.

Container gardening doesn’t stop with just placing your pots in the right location. Once you place the container it’s crucial that you pick the correct plants to go in them. The most important factor to take into consideration when choosing your plants is the environment they are going to be planted in. Is it windy location? Does it receive full sun or partial sun? Are the plans going to be planted in an area that will be hard to maintain? If so you might want to use more durable plants.

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Another thing to consider the fact that you might have animals or children. This would mean you would want to watch for poisonous plants or thorny plants. .

The plant materials that you use will play the biggest part of your container design. Add in the use of herbs and flowers for a please accent or even to repel unwanted past such as mosquitoes The third thing that you would want to take into consideration is your decorating style. Are you a traditional stylist or a little bit more bohemian? What is the overall effect that you’re going for? Are you trying to be conservative and a little bit old-fashioned, or are you trying for tropical effect with palms and exotic flowers?

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It is important that you should have a good understanding to the answers of all these questions before you even set foot into the nursery looking for plants. If you’re lost asked for help and if you don’t feel you’re getting the right help from the people in the store that you’re at, ask for professional to come out to your site and work up a plan that will best meet your needs. You have to live with the results of what you plant and you want to be happy. So be sure to ask lots of questions and be willing to make changes if your ideas and plans don’t mix together.

But regardless if you are designing your own container gardens, or getting the help from a professional gardener, the most important thing to remember is…

Enjoy your planting experience!

What Does Your Garden Say About You?

Yesterday was a day of consults and contrast and by the end of the day I found myself reflecting on all I had seen…

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I find it amazing how much the landscaping plantings reflects our own personalities. From the well-manicured lawn to the Shabby Chic Garden, each one says something about the person who lives in the house that the landscape surrounds.

It was interesting to see that the lawyer that I met with yesterday had a well-manicured lawn shrubs that work in that were perfectly trimmed to frame the view to the river. And yet on the other side of the spectrum the naturalist we met with later was a throwback from another era. Her garden had no rhyme or reason to it, but everything had its place and looked well together.

Often landscaping not only reflects our personality, it reflects our needs for more practical applications. We may have a need for privacy and we plant plants will give us that, screening out the properties around us. Shade is an important element in any landscape, so planting tall trees with over lapping canopies become a necessity. Then there magnificent views that need to be shown off and enjoyed to the fullest. The landscaping around this area is actually used frame in the view and show it off to it’s full of potential.

And don’t forget the nature lovers who invite the birds and squirrels and any other little critters who want to make their home into their garden. They plant specifically to attract these type of animals; butterfly gardens are all the rage right now and when you plant a butterfly garden you’ll other birds as well.

So what kind of landscape do you have? Does really reflect your personality? Is your garden manicured and immaculate? Or are you more of a free-flowing nature loving gardener? Maybe you a little bit of both.

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Take a look outside your window to actually see what’s out there, and find out how true your landscape is to your personality.