Tag Archives: Landscape Design

10 Top Landscaping Trends for Central PA in 2014

RVL Fireplace 3DThe New Year has arrived. Every year, there’s a lot of talk of what’s popular and how those trends fit into the landscape and hardscape design world. Nationally, new colors, to stay-at-home dads, to sustainable living, to edible gardening are all having an impact on how landscape and hardscape designers are creating outdoor living spaces for their clients.

Here are the 10 top landscaping and hardscaping trends for 2014 that you need to know if you live in central Pennsylvania:

  1. Let a certified landscape designer come up with the plans for your dream – Whoever you hire to design your new deck, outdoor kitchen, or any other landscape/hardscape project, should be willing to listen to your dreams, desires, and goals that you have for your outdoor space. After listening to you and asking pertinent questions, a qualified landscape designer should be able to take that information, as well as the raw data of budgets, measurements and yard size to transform it into a plan that meets both your needs and desires.
  2. LED lighting for outdoor living – LED lighting has evolved over the past few years. No longer do you need to sacrifice peace and tranquility with the harsh, blue LED lights of a few years ago. Now, they’re available in warmer yellow colors and softer glows. Additionally, LED lighting saves you money: they use less energy to light your outdoor space and they’re coming down in price.
  3. Low maintenance outdoor living – One of the over-arching themes for 2014 is low-maintenance, outdoor living. Some low-maintenance, landscaping options include adding more drought-tolerant, deer-resistant perennials, shrubs, and trees to your property, as well as adding automatic irrigation and easy to care for deck flooring like composite decking, pavers, and concrete pads. Pergolas and arbors add interest and can connect your outdoor rooms to the rest of your landscape. Consider building bubbling brooks or pondless waterfalls, which require less maintenance than traditional ponds.
  4. Colors, colors, and more colors – Earth tones are still the color of choice for patios and outdoor kitchens. Yet, this season has two interesting color trends forecasted: the monochromatic marriage of black and white, as well as blocks of bright, bold colors. Put away those pastels and think about how your can transform your deck or patio into a black and white geometric pattern. If black and white isn’t your thing, make a statement with bold colors, like deep blues, cayenne reds, and orchid purples.
  5. Millennial Man’s influence on landscape design – Believe it or not, the newest generation of home buyers is coming to age and is having a profound effect on landscaping trends. For the millennials, women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners and men are staying home to raise the kids. Thus, dads are having their say on landscape design and décor. They like to have more DIY-friendly landscapes, man caves, outdoor kitchens, and edible plants.
  6. Sustainability – Sustainability is still a trending buzzword for 2014. Fortunately, there are many sustainable landscape ideas that your designer can incorporate in your property from green walls, to edible potted plants, to adding LED light bulbs to your fixtures.
  7. Adding dimension to your style – Traditional gardening is out. Now, it’s geometric meets carefree by adding flowers of different dimensions and shapes. Tall flowers mixed in with low-lying plant media add dimension and interest to your property’s landscape.
  8. Trees are still in – It’s still trendy to include trees in your landscape. They offer multiple benefits to homeowners, including cutting down on energy costs by keeping your home cooler in the summer and by providing wind-resistance in the winter. They also add beauty, simplicity, and sustainability to the mix.
  9. The organic touch – A love for good stewardship is inherent with our heritage and by using organic materials in your landscape, you continue that tradition of caring for the earth. You can recycle your plant media for compost, as well as use recycled materials, for example, in your landscape design and outdoor living projects.
  10. It’s all about you – The bottom-line to all of this trendiness is you. And a good designer will construct a plan that reflects you: Your tastes, likes, and dislikes. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you want in your landscape and hardscape projects because you will be living with the finished product for years to come.

Remember, while it’s nice to know the trends, it’s more important that you have the final say-so to your landscape or hardscape design. Some trends change each year, but less maintenance and better design are definitely in for the long haul.
Do you need a certified landscape and hardscape designer? Then, look no farther than River Valley Landscapes. For more information about their design services, call them at 1-800-455-8666 or fill out their contact form at https://www.rivervalleylandscapes.com/contact.html.

Are you afraid to establish a budget with your designer?

After a client has determined their needs and desires, the next step is to discuss a budget or price range for their project. Some clients have the luxury to work through the design process without establishing a budget, because they want what they want, they have the means to achieve it, and they don’t want a budget to disrupt the design process. But for most of us, establishing a budget is a prudent course of action. Occasionally when I am designing a project, my clients are simply afraid to share their budget with me. They may be afraid that if the project doesn’t cost as much as the budget allows that I will design a plan that implements the entire budget. The reality is I will design a project that creates the best value towards the client’s lifestyle and home. This may mean investing the entire budget or possibly not. The job of a good designer, who has studied and practiced their craft, is to recommend the best solutions with the available resources to achieve the desired goals and objectives.

While it is totally understandable that a client may have no idea what a project will cost because they have not done anything like this before, it still makes sense for the client to establish the maximum cost they can afford for the project. I have presented numerous designs with proposals for installation of projects, where budget was not revealed, and have heard, “I didn’t think it would cost that much. We only wanted to spend this much.” Unfortunately, as a result of not revealing the budget, more time and money is spent on revisions. Revealing the budget would have opened up a discussion of budget analysis. If your price range is inadequate for achieving your goals, then your designer can work with you to either modify your program, or suggest materials and design strategies that might be used to achieve your goals. In this scenario, many of my clients will install their projects in phases in order to achieve their objectives. This course of action still requires budgeting and planning but it is based on what you will spend for the first phase and over time.

Look at it this way, when you purchased your home or your new car you gave the agents the amount you were able to spend. This obviously allowed them to show you what you could purchase within that range. Without this information they most likely would have wasted your time and their own showing you houses and cars that were either above or below your means. Similarly, with a price range in place for your landscape project, a good designer will be able to evaluate your needs and bring them together in a concise plan.

If you build trust with your designer, and allow them to display their talent, you are on your way to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. The relationship, while supporting the designer, will also provide you with a purposeful plan. If the plan is competently installed, it will at its best, achieve the full potential of your objectives and add meaning and value to your home and lifestyle.

What plant is “Not as easy as it looks”?

Mature Weeping Japanese Maple

What plant is “Not as easy as it looks”?

I’m talking about some plants look absolutely beautiful, but hard to use in design.  Acer palmatum, commonly known as the Weeping Japanese Maple is one of those types of plants.  I guess this is only true if you are designing for your landscape to look better over time. 

Weeping Japanese Maples look totally different in their first 5-10 years than they do 20 years out.   This plant looks so small and cute when it is young.  Because it has such a beautiful texture and color, it is often planted next to houses, walkways and patios.  People fail to image what this plant will look like as it matures.  There is nothing more disappointing to me than to cut down a plant just as it is starting to mature.

You may be saying Thanks Brad, so how do I design with a Weeping Japanese Maple?  I love them.  Assuming you have the right culture for this plant, I would image this plant 10’-15’ wide and tall.  I know they can get taller and wider, but this should be adequate.  I would not place any permanent plantings that would infringe in that space for at least 15 years.  That will leave you with a very large space between the Weeping Japanese Maple and the surrounding plant materials.  I often fill these spaces with temporary plants (3-5 years), easy to transplant or less expensive plants.  Some of my favorite choices would include: 

Grasses like Pennisetum sp. – Dwarf Fountain Grass; Perennialslike Amsonia hubrichtii – Blue Star or Calamintha nepeta ‘White Cloud’; Shrubslike Butterfly Bush or Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’.  I also like to fill the space with groundcovers like Cerastium tomentosum – Snow-in-Summer, Vinca minor – Myrtle.

Maybe this is easier than I thought…