Over the past several years, we have helped scores of projects save thousands to tens of thousands on their annual landscape maintenance, with one simple principle: Getting green with less green. The biggest savings typically come from the replacement of high maintenance and high water turf with less demanding, environment friendly alternatives. Turf has become the staple in our neighborhoods and commercial centers. Unfortunately, this green groundcover can lead to a serious sinkhole in finances, and is the antithesis of “green” landscape design. The application of green principles in the landscape includes reductions in potable and non-potable water usage as well as reductions in maintenance and chemical applications. We believe this subject will intensify in the coming years and should be discussed at every project kick-off meeting. We have yet to encounter someone who is not interested in a...
Many people don’t realize that a poorly or improperly installed landscape can quickly become a heavy financial burden. Many also don’t realize that a very minor cost for detailed post construction and one year warranty inspections provides a return on investment many times over (see below for a simple cost/benefit analysis). Landscape Construction Administration is imperative to achieving best management practices in the industry and ensuring proper installation. Unfortunately, inspections are often neglected due to budget, timing, or the assumption that it is not vital to proper completion of the landscaping for a project. This might be because many do not realize the potential pitfalls of neglect, or the extremely low cost of what is essentially insurance for the life of the exterior space. These inspections can identify both major and minor issues in the constructed landscape. They also ens...
Eriogonum umbellatum 'Kannah Creek' in a non-irrigated landscape
Common name: Sulphur Flower, Buckwheat, Sulphur Buckwheat
Botanical name: Eriogonum umbellatum
Mature height: 4” mat; up to 12+” with flowers
Mature width: 18-24”
Plant type: Woody evergreen perennial
Availability: Available from most nurseries, Plant Select 2007 winner
Bloom season: Late spring - summer
Bloom color: Red buds, yellow/chartreuse flowers, and seed heads that mature to various shades of bronze and coppery reds.
Hardiness zones: 3-8
Soil type: Prefers sandy and/or rocky soil, will grow in clay with proper amendments. Prefers neutral soils, but tolerates mildly alkaline or mildly acidic soils. Tolerates a fair range of soil PH ranges (5-7.5). Will grow in clay if infrequently irrigated until established and soil amended with structural amendments for drainage—best if it is neglected after establishment.
Mature width: 48” – 72” (irrigation results in plant widths at the upper range)
Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Availability: Available from nurseries, limited availability, typically not available until late spring / early or even mid-summer, as it is a warm season perennial
Bloom season: Mid June – first frost
Bloom color: Magenta, with up to hundreds of blooms per mature plant
Hardiness zones: 5a to 10b
Soil type: Prefers sandy and/or rocky soil, will grow in clay with proper amendments. Prefers neutral soils, but tolerates mildly alkaline or mildly acidic soils. Tolerates a fair range of soil PH ranges. Will grow in clay if infrequently irrigated until established—best if it is neglected after establishment.
Water usage: Very low (no supplemental irrigation needed after...
The term footprint makes a good metaphor for the human imprint on the natural world. Since there are few places on the planet that remain untouched by man, our collective footprint on the earth is pretty massive. The actions of each individual also have a footprint, or influence on the natural world. People are not really outside of nature, and our footprints, or imprints, on the natural world are not always negative. Typically, the more our actions are in harmony with natural processes, the more conducive they are to environmental health and well-being. Living sustainably implies treading lightly on the land and minimizing adverse effects of our activities on nature.
The development footprint is the total land area that is affected by development activities, and includes buildings, structures, hardscape, utilities, roads and parking areas, as well as any areas that are driven over, trampled or clear...
Native range: Midwestern US, from Mexico into parts of Canada
Wildlife value: Moderate to high. Provides some value for pollinators and butterflies, as well as providing nitrogen in the soil for microorganisms and surrounding plants. Host plant for several species of native butterflies and moths.
Landscape value: As a member of the legume family, it adds nitrogen to the soil. A great native alternative to the commonly used Russian Sage and Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), as it hold similar characteristics in light and water requirements, growth, and color. High adaptability leads to reduced mortality rates in the landscape.
People often wonder what the difference is between landscape architects and other landscape professionals. The primary distinction is that landscape architecture is a licensed profession, with similar requirements to licensed architects and engineers. Licensure is now required in all 50 States, either to use of the title “Landscape Architect”, to practice landscape architecture, or both. Though landscape designers and contractors may have professional certifications, local business licenses, experience and education, essentially anyone may call themselves a landscape designer or a landscape contractor. To be licensed, a landscape architect must demonstrate a minimum level of professional competency to the state. Licensure requirements typically include a formal degree in landscape architecture or a related profession, 3 years of experience working directly under a licensed landscape architect or a re...
Xeriscaping has become a common term utilized to refer to low (or in some cases) no water landscapes. This combination of the Greek word “xeros”, meaning dry, and the common English word landscaping was sprouted right here in Colorado by Denver Water, landscape contractors, and other industry professionals. While some have tried to evolve the word further (read: zeroscape) the intent of xeriscaping is fairly basic and has its roots in responsible and practical landscape implementation. Xeriscape is founded on seven principles which, when properly designed and implemented, can result in significant reductions in cost, maintenance, and resources while often exceeding the seasonal aesthetics of non-xeric landscapes. Xeriscape has become extremely popular and has rocketed past the status of buzzword. It has proven success and is supported by local and regional efforts, native plant enthusiasts, cou...