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
Please visit our extensive hardscape photo gallery on our website, including our patios and covered patio photo galleries, for more backyard ideas!