Building on the Aspects of Your Yard

05 May 2017

Tips and advice from our local garden experts

Geez, this seems kind of a harsh title for what is supposed to be a pleasant article about landscaping by which to sip one’s tea. Well, in my world of landscape design and implementation, some harsh decisions must be made; and usually these are done at the inception of a project. You see, I get the call because either something is just not “right” with a homeowner’s landscape or, in the case of new construction, the question of “Where do we begin?” baffles the best of Charleston’s new residents. Thus, strong points of view must be verbalized to get things going in the right direction…and the start is, obviously, a great place to begin.

The word is edit.  Choosing from within the existing conditions things that are good, bad or ugly, is really the way to go. I don’t think I’ve visited a site yet that didn’t have some redeeming quality.  It could be a “good view” or “a good live oak” or even “good architecture” of the home itself.  The trick is to determine and then act on the capitalization of that which is good. But sometimes, actually most of the time, the good stuff is obscured by the nastiness of the bad and the ugly. The latter two must be edited away: Prune, remove or reuse the bad stuff and then hide or create other vistas to camouflage the ugly.  A neighbor’s “closer-than-you-want-it-to-be” house, an air-conditioning condenser, or an open view to a roadway are examples of problems that should and can be overcome.  

Additionally, problems arise when there is nothing “good” upon which homeowners or their guests should focus. Bring forth that potential with strength and meaning. Remember, it’s a lopsided match here—two (bad & ugly) against one (good). So don’t be shy for the sake of ultimate victory.

Let’s then review the game plan of ultimate landscape success:

  1. Assess
    What do you like or value in your landscape. What is lacking? What do you see or like in your favorite landscapes?
  2. Edit
    Take away those things that impede or hinder the aspects of your ultimate goal.  Make the tough decisions and act upon them.
  3. See
    Look at your new, clean starting point and carefully envision a focal point or two. Embolden yourself with a bit of research online or from your favorite magazines.
  4. Plan
    Strategize and prioritize elements to be constructed or planted. Resourcing may just take as much time as the actual implementation of your project.
  5. Do
    Enjoy the process, use quality materials, and build purposefully with each element adding to a successful whole. Charleston has some great resources beyond what is found in the “Big Box” stores. Whether it’s oyster shell, Old English brick, an antique statue or fountain, bluestone, or a locally grown tree-form Wax Leafed Ligustrum, there are great things out there. 

So please use this game plan to invigorate your landscape. Puff up your chest, make those decisions, and do what is right by your home and its environment.  Be strong and you will indeed be a winner.

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