Do The Right Thing

It’s 8:30 at night on Labor Day as I write this post.  I just got off the phone with a prospective client who needed some masonry work done to get the CO for their new deck.

After asking questions about the job it became clear what they needed more than a landscape designer was a mason.  I assured them that when the time came for grading around the deck or designing the gardens I would be glad to assist.

I recommended they call a local company for the masonry work or visit Southbury Stone and Supply for materials and to get references for masons.

Some contractors would subcontract the job or make something up on the fly.  I’ve reached the point in life where I know what I do well, and profitably, and what I don’t.  I enjoy masonry work but my detailed mind can’t get the work done quickly enough and frankly its heavy work.

I don’t know if I did the right thing or not but I listened to my gut.  If I’ve learned one thing in life it’s to always listen to your gut.

I hope I get a call to design and install some landscaping work around the new deck.  It sounds gorgeous.


*Note:  The featured image is a patio I installed in the late 90’s.  I cut granite slabs to make the rounded corners and used flamed bluestone for the patio.  The granite slabs I used for the steps had a ‘cushion edge’ to give them a weathered look.

My clients hired masons to build steps to their new french door.  When the mason stepped on the patio he looked at me and said, “Do you think you’re working with wood?”  That’s one of my favorite projects.

Common Witch Hazel – Late Fall Bloom

Common Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is an underappreciated small tree.  It blends into the background most of the year until late Fall when in bloom.  How many other trees are in bloom in early December?

Common Witch Hazel Flower Closeup - Hamamelis virginiana
A closeup of Common Witch Hazel blooms. I took this picture on a cold and wet December morning with sleet on the ground from the previous night’s storm.

Where to Plant Common Witch Hazel

Don’t use Common Witch Hazel in your foundation planting.  It’s informal habit won’t work with modern homes.  If you live in a rustic log cabin nestled in the woods I say, “Go for it!”

Plant this large shrub on the edge of the woods where it can blend in most of the year and give late Fall interest.

Common Witch Hazel Tree - Hamamelis virginiana
I planted my Common Witch Hazel at the back of my shrub border. You don’t notice it until late November to early December.

For more information visit the Missouri Botanical Garden website.

How to Create a Curved Stepping Stone Path

This week I finished installing a stepping stone path.

This stepping stone path is unique for a couple of reasons.

First, it provides a much-needed way to move through the garden.  There’s no way to cross the garden without it.

Second, the stepping stone path gently curves to add interest.  The path curves left to make room for a future PG Hydrangea on the right.

I’m looking forward to filming the garden when completed.

How to create a Curved Stepping Stone Path

Landscape Before work Begins
When I started there was no way to get through the bed.  The plants were randomly planted with no sense of purpose.
Laying out the Stepping Stone Path
The white line is where the stepping stone path will be.
Stepping Stone Path Completed
It took me a day to select, deliver and roughly place the stepping stones.  It took a day and a half to install them. The work usually goes faster.  I chose some odd-shaped and large stones. I’m very pleased with the results.
Laying out Stepping Stone Path
Placing the stones is a two-step process.  First I roughly place the stones.  Next I put an X in the middle with a grease crayon and space them 26.5″ on center. The first and last stone go 13.25″ from the edge of the bed. The beginning and end never work out perfectly. I spread the difference between the last few.
Completed Stepping Stone Path
Set stepping stones 2-3″ high so they aren’t covered by mulch.  Nothing is more annoying than covering your freshly placed stepping stones.
View of the Lake and Stepping Stone Path
I’ve been working on a lake the last couple weeks and enjoying some incredible views.  The mulch in this bed is pure Hemlock Bark.  My favorite.

A while back I filmed how I install stepping stones.  While I’ve gotten better at producing videos the way I lay stepping stones hasn’t changed a bit.

Foundation Planting Landscape Design

This morning I completed a foundation planting landscape design.

What are my clients goals for the landscape?

The number one goal is color.  Women want colorful and inviting homes.  Men want what their wives want as long as it stays within budget.

The second goal is low maintenance requirements.  No one wants a landscape that needs constant attention.

Some prospective clients focus on low price.  In some cases lower than I recommend.

All I can say is, “You get what you pay for.”

Restaurants that ask what type of wine you’d like with your meal cost more than the restaurants that ask, “Do you want fries with that?”

See the video playlist Go To Plants for Your Landscape for more information.

Foundation Planting Landscape Design

I’m looking forward to presenting this foundation planting landscape design Saturday.