Archive for the ‘Landscape Design’ Category
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
A homeowner’s guide to making the right investments when
planning for a backyard pool
You’ve given thought to the pre-installation variables of your pool project; now let’s talk about hiring a pool company. Research is undoubtedly an essential part in starting the process; therefore the decision to pull the trigger is often time consuming. After all, the company and the team that installs your pool will play a large role in the success and longevity of your dream project. To simplify the process, Design Works can offer you a reference to a pool contractor that will fit the specific needs of your project. We understand that each project has unique components, budget and goals. We have created professional relationships with some of the most reputable pool companies in the area, so it is our objective to help you find the perfect fit up front and start the construction project off right.
Here are some other things to think about: Hiring a pool contractor is one element, but had you given thought to how your specific site works with your desired pool program? Hardscape, fencing, drainage, grading, retention, planting, lighting, irrigation, etc. are all potential factors in the project. We find that some of these issues are typical elements that may come as a surprise and/or need some special attention. So, here’s the honest pitch – Please take a look at our portfolio or give us a call. We have worked with some fantastic clients to brainstorm project goals, create a fitting design, consider site constraints and opportunities, and to select a reputable pool contractor. We truly believe that is more than handy to have EVERY possible consideration accurately represented in a pool design, which can also be efficiently translated into a construction plan. No surprises = peace of mind.
For the same excellent clients we have created designs for, we’ve been pleased to offer professional installation services as well. We believe that this has greatly benefits our clients by eliminating the need to engage multiple contractors with different specialties. We are fortunate to be able to have the professional skills to do it all. It is important to mention this because we have seen projects where miscommunication between multiple contractors weighs heavily on a project and a poor product results. For example, services provided from multiple contractors can lead to items being installed with different styles and methods, producing different results. Grades may not make sense with certain elements. Drainage may not be pitched or day lighted properly causing ground water and saturation. Items may become disconnected. Fencing may not line up with the patio appropriately. Plant material may be situated in an area not suitable for proper growth, or suffer from lack of sunlight or shade. Lighting wires may be sliced by irrigation equipment due miscommunication. Any of these common mistakes can and will cause a homeowner significant aggravation and incur extra unnecessary cost.
We believe that having a system in place will simply help avoid costly errors down the road and save our clients time and money. More importantly, you CAN have your project done in one season and can enjoy swimming in your pool. Respectful relationships with our clients and professional colleagues, unique design, regard to detail and function and the creation of long-lasting, quality construction are part of a comprehensive program we are thrilled to offer. Please contact us to see how you can have your project designed, contracted, and constructed in 2013!!
Part 3 – coming soon…
Thursday, April 8th, 2010
What’s the buzz about “Going Green?” More than likely, you’ve seen the TV commercials about eco-friendly products, heard a speech from the President about climate change, etc. It’s everywhere! Whether you’re a skeptic or not some of the green trends can be fascinating at the very least.
Being a firm that specializes in Landscape Architecture and Construction, we proudly join the Landscape Architecture profession in designing for the future by developing healthy and innovative landscape garden spaces that enhance the environment and can save our clients some “green” simultaneously.
The following are a number of ways that we, as landscape professionals and home owners, can contribute to the green movement:
The United States Green Building Council’s (www.usgbc.org) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system provides a way to verify that projects are achieving energy savings, water efficiency, stewardship of resources, etc. Although a LEED project is somewhat complex and typically found at the larger scale, LEED strategies can be implemented in private home landscapes to contribute to the practice of sustainable design.
In the Water Efficiency Component of the LEED-New Construction Rating system, the following credits are ones that even the average home owner can replicate.
Water Efficient Landscaping- Reduce by 50% or eliminate water use completely
Intent: Reduce potable water consumption in landscape irrigation
Strategy and Technique: Understand soil and climate to determine appropriate plant material for your site and implement native or adapted plants to reduce or eliminate irrigation requirements.
Innovative Wastewater Technologies
Intent: Reduce generation of wastewater and potable water demand while increasing the local aquifer recharge
Strategy and Technique: Use of water-conserving fixtures and collected rainwater for irrigation
How Design Works, LLC can help
Design Works, LLC demonstrates exemplary knowledge in native planting design, water wise irrigation and retains one LEED Accredited Professional.
Xeriscaping is a term used to describe quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment by reducing the amount of fertilizers and pesticides needed to maintain a healthy landscape. The general keys to xeriscaping are the following:
Planning and Design
The key to planning and design is to understand your site.
By understanding topography, one is able to determine high and low points and natural ditches and swales which effects drainage. By utilizing natural water runoff and manipulating slopes, rainwater can be collected and naturally assist in irrigating plant material. Additionally, plants can be zoned according to similar water needs. Plant material that requires irrigation can be placed in proximity to buildings while no or low-use water plants can be planted at further distances and in shady areas to eliminate water usage all together.
Evaluate average temperature extremes, precipitation, wind direction, and intensities, sun orientation, and frost pockets. These macro and microclimate conditions will ultimately affect the survivability of plants.
A xeriscape garden should be organized, dynamic, have multi-seasoned interest, economical, conserve water and be long lasting. A few things to consider in the design include:
- minimize/create practical turf areas
- create functional circulation patterns
- optimize drainage patterns
- harvest natural rain water
- plant plants with appropriate form and function.
Soils Analysis and Improvement
A good soil is defined as one that supports healthy plant life and also conserves moisture. Since Xeriscape design heavily promotes water conservation, the implementation of “good soil” can help us reach that goal. To improve upon existing soil, we can change two parts, its physical structure and/or its chemistry. By changing the physical structure of the soil, through loosening or compacting, certain nutrients, water, and air can be better distributed and retained. By making chemical changes, like altering the PH level and reducing salinity, soil can give plants the proper nutrients to thrive and the stability to compete with weeds.
Practical Turf Areas
Turf/Lawn areas are generally the highest users of water in the landscape therefore decisions regarding irrigation, soil preparation and types of turf grass are significant. Some options for practical turf areas include; 1) eliminating the lawn completely and replace with ground cover, 2) install turf and only rely on natural rainwater (understand that grass may turn brown and revive itself when replenished with water, 3) use an automatic sprinkler system to reduce water usage, 4) select the appropriate grass (a New England “cool season” grass is recommended and 5) adequately prepare grades for correct drainage (surface and subsurface) and add the appropriate soil amendments.
Appropriate Plant Selection
The main objective in plant selection is to carefully match the moisture requirements of plants to the best microclimate available in the present landscape. In most cases, if plants are carefully chosen and placed correctly in the landscape, they will rarely need water again after establishment. Natives are always the best choice, seeing as they are most adapted to thrive on the amount of rainfall given to them by nature. Natives are also less susceptible to diseases and pests.
Landscape irrigation in the Xeriscape garden should only be used to supplement rainfall when necessary to promote plant health generally during establishment or during prolonged drought thereafter. If water is needed, one can manually water with hose only when necessary, use drip irrigation and harvest water. The overall goal is to meet the water need of the plants without waste. Zoning plants appropriately according to water need can assist with this effort.
Adding mulch enhances the plants water intake by minimizing evaporation. It also reduces the amount of weeds in a garden, which eliminates competition for water between the plants and the weeds. Use of organic mulch versus plastic or stone mulch with help eliminate the attraction of heat and dry soils.
It is important to note that in the first growing season, the xeriscape landscape should be properly cared for with the proper pruning, watering, and fertilizing methods to promote healthy growth. Beyond the first growing season, watering and fertilizing will be reduced to minimal use and/ or only when necessary.
Principles in this blog related to Xeriscaping have been sourced from Xeriscape Gardening (Ellefson, Stephens, Welsh).
Category Gardens, Landscape Design | Tags: Tags: aquifer recharge, climate change, eco friendly products, energy savings, environmental design, garden spaces, home landscapes, irrigation requirements, landscape architecture profession, landscape garden, landscape irrigation, landscape professionals, plant material, sustainable design, wastewater technologies, water consumption, water efficiency,
Friday, February 26th, 2010
Getting excited for spring
As the end of February nears, spring lies just ahead. We “Green Thumbers” soon emerge from a seemingly eternal hibernation to get outside and get our hands dirty. As the weather warms, we remember how landscape gardening offers a real sense of rejuvenation and excitement. To help you catch that spirit, here are a few inspirational thoughts and landscaping ideas.
Ask Yourself Critical Questions
These questions represent common goals we all have for our NH homes, but sometimes forget to re-examine periodically.
- As you man your shovels and rakes for spring cleanup, do you notice anything that you would like to change in your garden landscape?
- Do your trees and shrubs look overgrown and in need of pruning, or tired and in need in of replacements? Ask yourself, do certain Holly’s, Rhododendrons, or Cedars survive in southern NH plant hardiness zone?
- Do you need privacy and/or screening from your neighbors? Do you need an outdoor space, such as a garden patio, for yourself to retreat to and enjoy?
Develop a Landscape Garden Design Plan
Anticipation of projects like those referenced above can be exciting, but all too often, our aspirations can drown in a sea of too many great ideas and not enough knowledge about our specific site. Any motivated gardener must realize that successful landscape designs involve a logical process derived from true knowledge of ourselves, our homes and our homes’ environments.
We suggest you sit down with a notebook and outline your favorite landscape ideas. Include common landscape design themes, such as visual enhancement of your garden, the relation of interior and exterior space, circulation concerns, privacy issues, active and passive use of space and other creative preferences. Consider your physical site environment and its constraints. These can include soil types, topography, sun and wind exposure and often deer and pest problems.
Once you understand the form and function of your new future landscape or your upcoming landscape improvements, you can start the creative process of including plants, structures, a garden retaining wall, etc. You may want to use more historic railroad ties to hold up a slope, choose an evergreen plant screening that deer won’t nibble, or the use of landscape structures and sculpture to create a unique identity for your home.
Creative Landscaping Ideas for the Garden
Create a cutting garden. A cutting garden is a space in your garden devoted specifically for flowers and vegetables that can be cut to display in your home. Some of these species include roses, tulips, sunflowers, daffodils, dahlias, marigolds, iris, and lady’s mantle.
Get around limited garden space. For those of us who have limited garden space or have just started a home garden, a quick trip to any home improvement store can get you started this season. Buy your favorite perennials and herbs in inexpensive packets of seeds. Also, try a mini plastic greenhouse to get your perennial garden going. Enjoy a Sunday afternoon planting them, set them in a warm sunny spot in the house and watch them grow.
Start a pot/container garden — inside or out. Some of the easiest plants to grow inside are cacti. They don’t need too much attention and they are low maintenance. Pot gardens can include anything from herb pots and hanging baskets to urns and wire baskets. Practically any container can be used as long as it has efficient drainage. Some of the best plants for potting include: herbs, annuals, perennials, bulbs, and exotic foliage plants. Great annuals in southern NH include: Petunias, Pansies, Dusty Millers, Geraniums, Verbenas, Marigolds, Zinnias, Impatiens, and Begonias. Great perennials for Nashua, NH includes: Yarrows, Sedums, Veronicas, Rudbeckias, Shasta Daisies, and Columbines.
Making final decisions
Before you begin your projects this year, be selfish for once. Come up with landscape design goals for what you want and need in your space. But remember to be practical about landscape budget constraints and time, both of which will define your bottom-line for a landscape undertaking. If your dreams are slightly out of your price range, approach your project in a three-, five-, or even ten-year overall phasing plan. Tackle what is necessary and dream big thereafter!