Home Landscaping: Frequently Asked Questions

Home Landscaping: Frequently Asked Questions

Here we’ll try to answer some common types of questions that we commonly hear from our visitors. We welcome any and all inquiries from our site users but you might find an instant answer to your question listed here.

Question: The interlocking pavers have sunk at our 15 year old home. What do you recommend?

Answer: Usually, low spots in walkways indicate improper drainage; water puddles, creating a visual blight as well as safety problems. Properly installed pre-cast stone pavers should not sink, even after 15 years, unless other forces are at work. Materials have improved over the years, so have installation procedures and paver shapes, textures, colours and laying patterns have also changed.

If you want to keep costs low, the existing pavers can be lifted, the base supplemented, re-graded to correct slope and compacted and then the old pavers re-laid in a similar fashion. The end result will be a properly graded flat, safe surface, but will look basically the same as before.

Homeowners should consider the opportunity to give their home a facelift by updating the pavers to one of many modern styles. Your home can have a fresh, new appearance for the cost of new materials, or you may want to change the entire layout. Whatever the job, it will be done properly, the workmanship guaranteed for 24 months, and the results will last a lifetime.

Question: Our backyard is very plain, fenced on all three sides. How can we make it more appealing?

Answer: Transforming your backyard into liveable space you enjoy using is very doable. Some ideas: Start with planting a native deciduous tree that will mature to provide welcoming shade on hot days. Soften the fences using a combination of shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses to suit sun exposures, planted in a low maintenance garden with curving edges. Perhaps create a vegetable garden.

Build a living area, a patio or deck, for furniture and family barbecues. Add a pergola or roof to protect from weather. A screened gazebo looks stunning, prevents mosquito bites and would extend your outdoor season. Consider adding a water feature and night lighting. Ask for quotes to design a plan that incorporates your ideas into a backyard solution you will love.

Question: I want a no-fuss garden that requires little maintenance, yet looks great year round. Is this possible?

Answer: Of course! Most homeowners don’t have time to worry about garden upkeep and they don’t have to if their landscape plan is designed and installed by a professional. Landscape designers select the right plants for the right locations to achieve the right effects.

If it is year round interest you want, the right combination of perennials, grasses and shrubs will provide it, along with other architectural elements. A professional landscaper or garden expert knows how to create beautiful, sustainable gardens, minimize weed growth and reduce water consumption. They can even plant certain things to attract wildlife that you want (butterflies, honey bees, etc.) and keep away animals you don’t want (like groundhogs or prairie dogs).

Question: We installed river stone to create a no-maintenance area and now it’s full of grass and weeds. Why?

Answer: We love natural stone and know that when properly installed and maintained, river stone can create an attractive, long lasting and easily maintained area. Rule #1: River rock should never come in contact with soil or lawn.

Install a mowing strip, a physical barrier to prevent roots from creeping in, and be careful to prevent grass clippings or pruned hedge trimmings to land on the river stone – it will rot and become growing medium for weed seeds. In the fall, blow fallen leaves off the river stone. Installed correctly, using proper base materials and with some care, river stone will remain trouble-free and looking good for many years.

Question: I like the look of large boulders. Are they expensive?

Answer: You’d be surprised how much drama a few large boulders or oversized flagstones can provide for a relatively small investment. Almost all professional landscapers receive trade pricing for all their purchases.

To reduce costs further, they buy truck loads of stone directly from the quarry and store a variety of natural stone products on site. There is an economy of scale… the price per ton installed reduces as the number of rocks increases. Check to make sure the company you work with has the machinery, tools and expertise to position large rocks with precision.

Question: Why should I consider paying for professional landscaping design and installation?

Answer: Look at professional landscaping as an investment in your home, like a bathroom or kitchen renovation. The front entry of your home is what greets you and every person that passes, every day. A professionally planned front yard using landscaping design elements and principles will enhance your home’s curb appeal, making living there more enjoyable, increasing pride in your home and promoting a positive image to your friends and neighbors.

Landscaping is the one home improvement that actually appreciates over time. Even if you are not currently selling your home, it is a well known fact that well-done landscaping boosts the overall real estate value of your property. This translates into higher sales value when the time does come to sell.

Question: What is a typical budget for landscaping?

Answer: A budgeting rule of thumb for professional landscape installation is 10% – 20% of the total value of your home. Landscape companies would love it if every client could afford to spend this amount. Spending just 4% or 5% of your home’s worth to improve its curb appeal and functionality will add considerably to the value of your property as well as your enjoyment of your home. Professional landscaping is a good investment.

Question: I want lots of color in my garden. Should I plant perennials with different blooming times?

Answer: Color, along with form, line, texture and scale, is one of the basic elements of landscape design, while proportion, transition and unity are some of the principles that rely on those elements. Your choice of colors to be used in the garden should not be considered in isolation. Rather, always keep in mind how color interplays with other basic elements, with the principles of landscape design, and with the overall objectives of your plan.

Flowers may be sufficient to achieve the color schemes you desire, but when it comes to form and texture, you’ll find the need for other allies, such as ornamental grasses, as well as trees and shrubs with interesting branching patterns and foliage…maybe even a piece of art. A good landscape designer has years of formal training and decades of experience and can create a garden plan that will suit your needs and budget.

Question: Do companies offer a landscape design service for the DIY home owner?

Answer: Yes, many landscapers provide scaled conceptual landscape design plans so you can install yourself. The price of the design depends on the complexity of the project you have in mind. Most rental companies will rent equipment and machinery needed for hardscaping installation and DIY instruction is available via the internet.

It is important to consider the labor, materials and rental costs required, the safety risk and the time you are willing to put into the job. Whatever company you want to consider for this service, make sure they have all the tools, equipment, machinery, expertise and manpower for proper installation.

Question: I only need planting assistance, do landscapers provide that service?

Answer: Yes. Most can provide a planting plan design for you based on your existing architecture and hardscaping. They’ll make a scale drawing and provide recommendations for trees, shrubs, evergreens and perennials, including botanical name, common name, quantity, and size of plants. You can buy and install the plants yourself.

The benefit of having of professional landscape company make plant purchases is that as professionals, they buy at trade prices, which means additional savings. Also, when a certain plant is out of stock, they are able to pick a better substitute for you.

Look for those that use a weed-free soil mix, mulch and supplementary fertilizer when required. A 12-24 month guarantee is the norm for clients who hire the company to supply and install plant material.

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