It probably comes as no surprise that April is National Garden Month in the U.S. April is not only known for its showers, but it’s also the time that most homeowners gaze at their yards with a critical eye, trying to decide what new plants to purchase and whether or not a new infusion of mulch is necessary. If you are considering a new Columbus porch, patio or other outdoor living area, this annual event is also a good reminder that no “hardscaping” project is truly complete without including some thought for the “softscape” or landscaping around it.
We build outside because we enjoy being outside and the bushes, trees, lawns, and flowers are a huge part of what makes spending time in the yard so relaxing. Some of our clients are diehard gardeners, a few of them professionals even, and they work closely with us during the design phase to help us determine where planting beds should be and to what depth they should be dug. Others don’t know what they want, but know that they would love to have something lush and green and that they would prefer that it be low maintenance. We are happy to accommodate both of those groups and all of the homeowners in between.
Our softscaping services include analysis of your soil and a professional assessment of what kinds of plants will do well in the different areas of your yard. We’ll consider how the plants will grow and complement one another over time so that you don’t have a festival of color in June, but nothing left in August. We’ll also design for the long haul; we want your yard to look even better 5 years from now.
Because we design and create new hardscapes and softscapes in tandem, we have the flexibility to deal with the unique challenges in your yard. We can address drainage issues that might arise through the changes to water movement associated with your project. Perhaps we will need to build fences or choose plants that will deter wild (or domestic) animals from visiting certain parts of your property. Archadeck will evaluate the sun, shade, and orientation of the different parts of your home and yard to create spaces that are both comfortable and beautiful. Visit this archived blog to learn more about key considerations for your Columbus softscape. Or check out some beautiful tips from the National Gardening Association.
If you’re thinking about adding an outdoor living space to your Columbus backyard, give us a call to see how we can make creating your dream backyard an enjoyable experience, start to finish. The consultation is completely free. Call (740) 879 – 3730, email us at email@example.com or visit our website at columbus.archadeck.com. We look forward to connecting with you.
In this 2nd installment in our 3-part series on softscapes, Archadeck of Columbus discusses site conditioning for your softscape design plan.
In this 2nd installment in our 3-part series on softscapes, Archadeck of Columbus discusses site conditions for your softscape design plan.
There is an art and a science to installing a successful softscape design. This is driven by a host of factors which include a vast knowledge of the way plant material reacts within a border or bed, the growth characteristics of the plant, and the type of conditions best suited for an individual plant. Many less than professional contractors will just “throw” a plant in the ground not looking beyond the moment of installation. These practices forgo any site considerations to give the plant(s) their best start in order to thrive.
Archadeck of Columbus does not approach softscape design this way. We create a master plan with each of our clients that provides a detailed image and specifications of your softscaping plan. Our design team always takes into consideration what colors the homeowner prefers, or if you dislike a particular color when planning your softscape.
Factoring site conditions into your softscape design plan
1) Sun/shade orientation – When examining your individual site conditions, we first consider the orientation of your house and where the plantings will be located. For example, if the orientation of your site in on the North side of your home, it will receive a large amount of shade. For this site configuration we would choose shade loving plants to fill your border or bed, such as Euonymus, hydrangea and hostas, just to name a few.
The same rules apply (but in reverse) when planning for a softscape that will receive a great deal of sun. For a sunny border we would choose sun-loving plants that are more drought tolerant than those required for shade plants. The soil within a sunny border or bed will dry out quicker because of sun exposure and evaporation, whereas a shady border will retain moisture and vital nutrients in the soil longer. This is also important to keep in mind when considering maintenance requirements of your softscape.
Here are some other sun/shade conditions.
Light Shade—A few hours of direct sun
Medium Shade—little direct sunlight – Reflected sunlight comprises bulk of available light
Deep Shade—No direct sunlight – In very deep shade, it is often beneficial to include hardscaping, structures, water features, containers, and or sculpture for enhancement.
2) Soil conditions – Much of Ohio lies on a limestone bed. This makes most of our soil here in the Columbus region very alkaline. The area that encompasses central Ohio works well with plant selections that are suitable for alkaline environments. A few specimens that perform well in alkaline soils include Lilac bushes and lilies, but the list goes on and on.
3) Outside interference – Any time we examine site conditions, we always factor in the amount of wildlife that may visit your property. The urban deer population has become a really big issue her in our area, and can decimate an entire border in one visit! We take all these factors into consideration when planning your softscape by adding deer deterring specimens to your design. We also consider the welcomed 4-legged friends that visit your site. We make sure your pet has a direct path that leads from the door to the area they use most often. We will do the same for the 2-legged friends that will be frequenting your proposed area around your softscape, perhaps we will even add stepping-stones through your border or bed for easier access to their favorite backyard retreat!
4) The highs and lows – Grade is an important consideration when preparing your site for a softscape installation. Archadeck of Columbus can use the grade of your site to gain the most benefit. We can create beds on a flatter surface and use hardscapes, such as retaining walls, to solve grade issues at your site. We also readily use spreading, ground covers on sloped areas for erosion control.
5) Site preparation and plant layout – When preparing your site for installation, we ask that you consider your privacy needs. Would you prefer a screening that delivers partial privacy or full privacy? We can provide either through the plant material itself, or through structural amendments or adding hardscapes — the choice is yours~
What we use as resources for planning and design:
We instill the expertise and knowledge of a great nursery in Norton OH, called Dayton Nursery and Garden Center. They have a plethora of helpful information on their website. Their easy to use directory allows you to look up information many different ways and even add commentary. This valuable resource is even targeted to the central Ohio region specifically.
Another great resource we utilize is a computer program called “Horticopia“. It has everything you need to know about every plant imaginable, including pictures and specifications!
Archadeck of Columbus realizes that knowledgeable and thoughtful plant selection, soil criteria and site conditioning are key factors in creating a functional and attractive softscape. We can help you plan and design the outdoor oasis you have always imagined, including the lush landscape that comes along with it! (740) 879 – 3730 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit our extensive hardscape photo gallery on our website, including our patios and covered patio photo galleries, for more backyard ideas!
Archadeck of Columbus realizes that knowledgeable and thoughtful plant selection, and soil criteria are key factors to creating a functional and attractive softscape to enhance your outdoor living space.
In outdoor living design, homeowners are often seeking a look that includes a total package.This total package includes not only a functional and aesthetically appealing outdoor structure, or combination of structures, it also includes Softscaping. Softscapes are the element of a landscape that comprise live horticultural elements. These can include flowers, plants, shrubs and trees. This area of expertise is not limited to only landscapers. We at Archadeck offer softscaping in addition to our list of services created to fulfill your dream of an outdoor oasis.
Keep in mind there is more to softscaping than just throwing a bunch of plants into the ground and making them look good the first month or so – much more. It takes knowledge of how the plant reacts in certain soil conditions and knowledge of each plant’s behavior, size and characteristics. This will help create a softscape that will look great now and also 5 years down the road. Many times, landscapers tend to overload a planting area or bed in order to make it look full and completed in the moment. This leads to a bed that is disproportionate and overgrown in a short period of time. Plants that should have been placed in the back because of eventual height are often used in the front, and plants that are low-growing are often used in the back, just to make it look great right now. This scenario causes the homeowner to spend more money 5 years down the road to make it the way it should have been in the first place. Archadeck of Columbus takes your site conditions, budget and individual plant characteristics into consideration before designing your softscape. We are able to address all of the questions crucial to the success of your softscape area, which include:
Space – How much space will each plant need to properly grow?
Blooming Periods of plants – Which plants bloom during what intervals? Early spring, summer, or fall?
Width and height specifications – How tall will this bush get? How wide will this flower get? This is very important
Deciduous or Evergreen – Do you want shrubs that stay green and retain their foliage all year? Will a plant that loses it’s leaves during the winter bother you?
Site Conditions – Certain plants will perform differently in each of these conditions. We can assist you in determining which plant materials are best for your individual location.
Soil type – Is you soil loamy? Sandy? Red clay? There is a wide array of various plants that perform best in your type of soil.
Draining and moisture content of the soil – Does your soil drain well, or does it retain moisture? This is important when choosing planting material.
Sun and shade orientation – How much morning sun vs. afternoon sun, if any, does your site location receive?
Maintenance requirements of plants– Just like outdoor structures, there are high-maintenance and low-maintenance plants. How much time are you willing to spend maintaining and caring for your new plants?
Animals that will frequent area of softscape – Is your site in close proximity to an area that deer frequent? Or close to the spot where the family dog likes to “visit” each day?
Other key considerations include your budget and time. Decide ahead of time what your budget is and how much time you want to spend outside caring for your plants. To many homeowners this is a labor of love. To others, a lower-maintenance area is more their style. Also, do you want a finished project with landscaping or how much work do you want to invest into the area to have a finished project? Since late March – early May is optimal time for planting, this is the period that is best to install landscaping (foundation) plants. Later we can come back and sculpt out the planting beds and then return in the fall. We make it a point to discuss which plants can be woven together in the landscape to provide hints of color during every season. This ensures a space that is ever-evolving and a constant focal point of beauty season to season. Our softscape designs include the use of year-round color. In preparing the space for planting, we work diligently on the soil area adding quality topsoil and finishing it off with mulch to prevent grass and weed growth.
Adding softscapes brings so many benefits to your outdoor living space. They provide shade to cool your outdoor living room, and buffer out noise. Plantings can also act as the “paint” on the walls of your outdoor room by providing many colors and textures through your plant selections. Certain perennials can also add a fragrant addition to your space, or offer color and contrast that is not limited to seasonal changes. The possibilities are endless.
Archadeck of Columbus realizes that knowledgeable and thoughtful plant selection, and soil criteria are key factors to creating a functional and attractive softscape. We can help you plan and design the outdoor oasis you have always imagined, including the lush landscape that comes along with it! (740) 879 – 3730 email@example.com