SCIENCE

Comfort Inn & Suites – Before
Landscaping Science
Comfort Inn & Suites – Six months after Kathryn amended the soil and planted gardens

Science

Planning a thriving landscape involves much more than picking out your favorite colors or plants at the garden center. There’s a lot of science successful cultivation of plant life, which is why it’s important to partner with an experienced landscaper who has the garden’s long-term health and survival in mind.

Plants need four elements to live. They need light, water, food (organic matter) and aeration. Since two of those things (food and aeration) come from the soil, as soon as a plant’s roots go into the ground organic matter (food) should be immediately available to the plants. This is particularly important if the house is newly constructed, since the trauma of heavy machinery running back and forth over the property often strips the native topsoil of its balance of nutrients and aeration.
Unfortunately, the tendency is for homeowners to skip the step of installing and cultivating healthy soil, either because they’re too impatient to see plants in the ground, or because their landscaping budget doesn’t allow for it. But without this investment in restoring the health and balance of the soil through compost and organic fertilizers, the plants will be forever dependent on chemical fertilizers – which is expensive and, ultimately, harmful to the environment. Both of these outcomes run counter to our mission. So it’s our belief that, if soil amendment is not in the time budget or the financial budget, the project is at great risk of not producing the expected results i.e. a healthy thriving landscape.

Environmental awareness is also a major component of our approach to planting. A garden will be much more successful if planning is rooted in an understanding of native species and local climate. A Vermonter who must have a palm tree in her yard might plant that tree today, but it won’t be thriving there in a year. If she’s after a tropical look, that look can be only moderately achieved because of our New England zone restrictions. But we can create the tropical feel by using container plantings or other materials besides plants such as a water feature or a well planned rockscape.

Beyond that obvious example, we also pay attention to microclimates within a landscape. Plants installed near a house or a retaining wall, for instance, will get a different kind of sun exposure or reflective heat from the building, especially if it is a stone building, than the same plants installed in an open area. This can sometimes afford better protection in the winter and bump the zone rating from a 3 to a 4 which opens up more choices in plant material. It is also important to consider the animal and insect environments. Whether your goal is to keep the deer from destroying your garden, or to attract birds and butterflies, our careful choice of plantings and the long term management of those choices can help you achieve it.

We have a great deal of empathy for plants; after all, they are living things, and they deserve our respect. This empathy shows in our work and in the long-term health and success of all of Kathryn’s Gardens.
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