This is a show about the concept of designing the landscape. What it’s not is a makeover show. It was never intended as that. The idea for this episode was more about understanding the process of how a landscape plan comes together, from concept to initial installation (but not completion).
And also from two perspectives: that of a professional landscape designer, and the other from a DIY type homeowner.
While we love to teach you how to do things, we believe it’s just as important (maybe more) to teach you the “why do” behind the how-to. By understanding why you do something, it will empower you to apply that knowledge as you build you skills in landscaping, gardening, horticulture and more.
We filmed this episode at our Garden Farm set for Growing a Greener World (located just north of Atlanta, GA). It’s part of a 5-acre hobby farm with horses, goats, chickens, ducks, dogs and cats, turtles and more. It’s also the home of our host, Joe Lamp’l. You may be familiar with our raised bed garden. It was the first project we took on at the farm. We use it a lot in our shows. We even filmed an episode to show you how we built it.
When this property was purchased, it was an overgrown mess of invasive trees, shrubs and vines. But over the last three years, in addition to building the food garden, we’ve been getting other parts of the property ready to start the landscape installation process.
During the process of clearing the land of invasive and undesirable vegetation, the future landscape slowly evolved.
Along the way, a balance of beds and lawn area began to take shape, and the stage was getting set for the first installations.
Our foodscaping correspondent and design expert Brie Arthur was a natural to co-host this episode. She was a great help getting the ideas onto paper and sharing her perspective as a professional designer.
Joe and Brie collaborated on a plan that would include a diverse list of native trees, shrubs and perennials, designed to attract insects, pollinators and birds, while serving as habitat and visual interest throughout the year.
Yet, like with many things, some of the best laid plans don’t always work out as originally intended. Such was the case with our design. Just days before our initial round of 259 plants and trees were scheduled to arrive, disaster struck. Most of our order was coming from one place, on one truck–a truck that broke down en route. A truck loaded with plant material that loses its refrigeration in transit is never a good thing. In our case, everything on the truck was lost.
With our landscape installation crew booked and our television crew committed to begin filming in less than a week, changing the dates was not an option. Finding appropriate plant replacements at the last minute was our only choice.
In spite of some serious scrambling, on the day of installation and filming, we only had about 40% of the intended quantity or varieties specified in the plan.
But when life gives you lemons, you make lemon-aide. Joe and Brie went to work placing plants into position that were listed in the plan. By the end of day three (the final day of filming), most of the plants were now in the ground (although the smaller sizes and reduced quantities made it look and feel like we had barely scratched the surface).
It was an important reminder–that landscapes are always a work in process. Smaller plants will establish quicker and grow up to fill in soon enough. And we’ll continue to add the plants specified in the plans as they become available.
Another important message from this is not to settle. While we did have options to fill the space with reasonable alternatives, we had a plan and we wanted to stick to it.
While substitutions are common, the key is to make sure that whatever plants you pick are appropriate for your area. And don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Do what you can, with the budget you have, hire a professional as needed, work with a plan, and know what you don’t get done now will still be there tomorrow.
Since completion of filming, we’ve continued to add trees and shrubs as we found them–quite a few in fact. But we still have a lot more to add to our landscape.
Our largest supplier of plants and trees was Monrovia
Our landscape installation crew: Autumn Hill Nursery
Our provider of soil and planting mix: Green Brothers Earthworks
Ralph Winslow says
I just saw an episode of your show on @create on my local PBS station, where you showed construction of a garden chair with an invitation to get plans at this website. You’ve produced a marvelous amount of lovely content, but I’m having a devil of a time finding those plans. Help! TIA
Joe Lamp'l says
Thanks Ralph. Here’s the link to the show that has the segment where that Wave Hill chair was built and in the notes, scroll down, and you can find the links to the chair plans or order the kit. https://www.growingagreenerworld.com/episode-810-private-garden-public-gardener/
Jerry Sharp says
Joe, your program is simply inspiring. The way your planter beds are laid out in the garden, the barn in the background (red is a great color for a barn) and the information about raising chickens and ducks, really is inspiring. My father grew up in the 30’s in Birmingham, AL. He spent his summers as a boy on his grandparents farm in rural Cullman county, AL. I only wish I had developed my love and excitement of growing plants earlier so I could have shared it with my father in his later years. I see now it is something we could have done together but that interest came after dad passed away. Maybe other viewers might benefit from sharing this idea with their elderly parents, children and grandchildren also.
Joe Lamp'l says
Thank you Jerry! I hope so too. I really appreciate your note!
Steve Brudney says
When I look at the photo of the food garden, I feel inspired. At the same time, I know that an open space like that, here in the northwestern corner of California on the coast, would say, “Welcome one and all!” to the many Banana Slugs we have around here. Any thoughts? All I can think of is gardening in a well sealed greenhouse.
Sarah Keith says
Hi Joe: I just watched your show on landscaping. I am new to gardening and have made some expensive mistakes – my home is built on clay and rock and I find it impossible to dig in it. I noticed that you also seemed to have clay and was planting directly in it. Is that something I can do or should I amend? I have let my small acre go in the past few years as I was dealing with a death but now I need to get to work. I will look forward to a response from you when you can. By the way I live in Fuquay Varina, NC
Joe Lamp'l says
Hi Sarah. Small world! Brie Arthur, (from that show) lives in your town. However you may know that already!
Although you don’t “need” to amend the soil, your plants will thank you for it. However, it is no longer recommended that you amend only the planting hole. Otherwise, the roots become too comfy in just that immediate environment and don’t venture out into the native soil. Better to amend the entire future root zone if you’re going to do anything. Having said that, it can be impractical to do so.
In my case, I don’t amend the soil at all. But, I do topdress the surface of all my beds with a 3 inch layer of mulch. Over time, that breaks down and eventually improves all the soil. It’s a slow process but easier to do and your plants should just learn to adapt to their native environment anyway.
The best thing you can do to prepare them properly for going into the ground is to make sure the roots are not root-bound. Break them up, cut them, or do whatever you need to allow them to expand in the ground and not continue to bind up in that tight, circular pattern that is often formed when they stay in the container too long.
I love the psychological pitfalls you and Brie shared…..tendencies to plant everything that passes your line of sight versus fear of making a mistake which leads to no planting at all! We all can relate!
And as I am a yoga instructor – your admission , Joe, about realizing that one can never get it”perfect”and never be “finished” in the garden…is perfect. No wonder I am drawn to both yoga and gardening !
Joe Lamp'l says
Thanks Carol. And I really love how you summed this all up. Nicely done!
Melanie Richard says
Hi Joe and friends,
We have a problem in Gainesville, Florida with all the oak trees it’s very hard to grow veggie garden. I can’t keep rosemary alive in my yard, though I love the way it smells and wanted it close to the front yard.
How do battle the no sun problem in our landscaping? We get about four hours a day of full sun at times, when it’s not raining. Who said Florida is sunny all the time!
Love getting your emails.
Keep ’em coming neighbor!
Your old friend Melanie from Miami
Joe Lamp'l says
Hey Melanie! Gosh I love those majestic central Florida oaks! However, they do rob you of the sun you need to successfully grow edibles. If you’re getting less than 6 hours a day, you face many more challenges. Having said that, you have a few options. If you want to grow edibles, you’ll need to focus on the leafy crops, vs. fruiting types like tomatoes, melons, squash, cukes, etc. Not as exciting I know, but sun is a non-negotiable for growing certain sun-loving plants. Rosemary is one of them. I’ve never tried growing it with less than full sun so I can’t offer experience on how to beat the system. if you like it close enough to smell but you don’t get enough sun there, you may be fighting a losing battle.
Another option is to find a place in your yard that gets more sun, even if it’s farther away. Then take frequent cuttings and bring them into the house where you can enjoy them all the time. Dried or in a glass of water, you’ll surely enjoy the fresh cut branches more frequently in the house.
Wish I had better news Melanie. But the reality is that you don’t have enough sun for some of the plants you want to grow to strive. If it’s any consolation, you are not alone! Thanks for writing.
I just received your E-mail with notice of this episode. Joe thank you for this outstanding and very informative episode as I will be on my way to Ontario, Canada to start a small homestead from raw forest acreage. The itinerary you shared has given me great ideas on how to go about my journey. I always learn something from all of your various shows that will assist in my passionate journey,
Thanks again and all the best.
Ruthie Shipp says
I love all your shows I learn so much from your interesting way you introduce us to all the new or rather better way of doing stuff .
I am always wathching to see if I can catch one of your show
Thanks for all you Do
Joe Lamp'l says
Hi Ruthie and thank you! Comments like yours inspire us more than you know. We love what we do but so appreciate the feedback. Television is so one-dimensional. It is so refreshing to have a way to hear what our viewers are thinking. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here!