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