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GardenSMART Episode

Show #48/4609. Landscape Installation - Plant Material

Summary of Show

Meet The Builder
Martha Wolford with WOLFORD BUILDERS has been building homes with her husband, Ron, for over four decades. Eric asks Martha to talk us through the home building process with this home. It has been a very long process actually. This home took about a year and a half, or so, to design before they started building. And, it has taken about a year and a half to build, so this has been a three-year process.
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Building Structure And Balance Into The Garden
We have started to get some of the boxwood hedges in and brought in some wonderful parrotia. Joseph is really trying to create some EVERGREEN STRUCTURE on the right side of the house to provide some balance with the other side of the house. One of the issues that you have to deal with as a landscape designer is the structure, the house, something that the landscape designer can't do anything about. As a landscape designer and working with those architectural elements, if it is heavy on one side, you must make sure you provide appropriate balance. And you can do that with plants. It makes a huge impact.
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Utilizing Plants To Create A Room
On top of the hill is this wonderful elliptical lawn that we put in place with the parrotia going around the outside. As the parrotia get a little more girth and diameter to them they are going to feel almost like columns, kind of ENCLOSING THIS ROOM. The low boxwoods will create the walls. Both will emphasize the vistas and views.
For More Information Click Here

Riverfarm Nursery
Eric would like to know a little bit about THE FARM. The farm is four hundred acres with three hundred acres in nursery stock, about fifty thousand trees. Eric asks Joseph - For you as a landscape designer, there are a lot of different farms that you could choose from. What is it about Riverfarm that you like? In a lot of the design work with the gardens that Joseph is creating he is looking for consistency in plant material.
For More Information Click Here

The Process Of Growing A Tree
Eric would like Pat to walk us through THE WHOLE PROCESS starting with the little, small liner and growing it up to, say, a four or five foot tree. Sure. It all starts with having a good liner source. Bringing in the young trees that are already set up and ready to go is the main thing for us. They'll come in as liners, that is what they're called. And they are only called liners because we line them out in the field. From day one they begin the work of pruning, maintaining a good central leader, balance branching, etc. and that work does not end until the day that the plant leaves the farm.
For More Information Click Here

Field Grown Trees Vs. Container Grown Trees
Eric would like to talk a little about the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONTAINER GROWN TREES AND FIELD GROWN TREES. As consumers we don't really see that, that's the part that's buried. Growing in a container is potentially a huge problem especially with trees. As the roots grow out and hit the sidewall of the container they circle, so soil integration is going to be very difficult. Here when they harvest the trees, and they have some really cool mechanical harvesters that throw their spades in the ground and dig them up, are you are getting an additional root pruning before it goes out in the field.
For More Information Click Here

Parrotia
Eric thinks that PARROTIA is one of the most under utilized trees in the landscape today yet it is one of his favorites. He loves the fact that Joseph selected this tree, it's a great cultivar. Joseph agrees, it is a wonderful, underutilized tree. Parrotia is so under used for it's amazing fall color. It doesn't just take one color, it has a range of colors that blend through the foliage and in maturity it has wonderful exfoliating bark that unwinds and kind of comes off in chunks, leaving incredible texture.
For More Information Click Here

Evergreens
Okay, so our plants have arrived. When we start looking at what plants we have and how they fit into the plan that is an exciting part of the project for Eric. And these plants look great. And James adds, it is a great time to be planting, it's fall, the cool air temperature but warm soil temperature lets the plants get established and root out during the fall and into the winter, then wake up ready to go in the spring time. There are a lot of EVERGREENS which are a wonderful.
For More Information Click Here

A Pro Tip For Evergreen Hedge Plant Material
Here is A PRO TIP - if you are doing a boxwood hedge, plant a handful of those boxwoods from your batch out in the landscape somewhere else, outside of the hedge that way if you do lose a plant or two you can have a replacement plant that is the same age, the same quality, the same cultivar and one can just slide it in instead of having to chase a replacement down in a nursery.
For More Information Click Here

Prepare The Ground
Darren is with Dwyer DesignScapes and joins Eric to talk us through what he has done to PREPARE THE GROUND and what he's done to keep our plants happy and healthy. We are at the point in the project where we are finishing up the soil preparation and are about to install the plants. It has taken a lot of work to get to this point. When one encounters a new site like this it's not uncommon to have clay, rocks, roots, things like that. So Eric would like to talk with Darren about soil preparation and what is needed to have success with our plants. Darren shares with Eric what has happen so far.
For More Information Click Here

Moving Water away From the House And Plants
And, speaking of water, with every house there's often times issues with the DOWN SPOUTS AND GUTTERS. They will collect a surprising amount of water and often times that water is dumped right at the base of the plantings where it could compromise the foundation and create very serious problems for the plants.
For More Information Click Here

Digging A Hole Correctly
In some ways planting is as simple as DIGGING A HOLE and putting a plant in it but there is a little more that one should keep in mind. The depth of the plant especially in clay soil like we have here is something that needs to be considered. You don't want to plant them to deep or too high and you want to make sure to dig the correct size. That can vary based on the size of the plant material you are putting in but there is always a correct size for the type of plant.
For More Information Click Here

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Show #48/4609. Landscape Installation - Plant Material

Transcript of Show

This is the second episode of our Kentucky landscape installation and there is a lot going on. In this episode we're going to sit down and meet with our landscape designer to review the plan and we are also going to visit a tree farm and pick out just the right trees for our project. And much more.

Our first landscape design and installation show addressed building the foundation of a great landscape through proper grading and soil preparation, hardscape and developing a good plan of action. In this episode we go deeper into how landscape accentuates the architecture of the home and how to select the right plants for the job. This home is still under construction so we are able to meet directly with the builder to find out exactly what we are looking at with regards to architecture, the land and grading.

Martha Wolford with WOLFORD BUILDERS has been building homes with her husband, Ron, for over four decades. Eric asks Martha to talk us through the home building process with this home. It has been a very long process actually. This home took about a year and a half, or so, to design before they started building. And, it has taken about a year and a half to build, so this has been a three-year process. They sat down with Chris and Leslie, determined many of their desires for the home as well as their wish lists. They looked at photos and put all of those elements together. All of their designs for this house were hand drawn, something quite unusual today, but shows their attention to detail. Eric would like to know about some of the features in the home that are particularly unique or ones that Martha is particularly proud of. Well one of our visions was to make the house look like an old farmhouse, something that had been here for a long time. Initially they wanted to bring in furniture pieces and build them into the home. But it turned out that it was really more aesthetically pleasing to just build things from scratch so they have a lot of built ins in this home that may seem very old world. One of Martha's favorite rooms is Chris' study, in which he requested a sea of wood. She thinks they accomplished that very well. She also really, really likes the mudroom entry. It has a herring bone brick floor, which also is reminiscent of rustic, old world style. Eric thinks the features are really, really nice, it's a very cohesive design. It feels like a place that is already lived in so he feels like they did a wonderful job of marrying everything they wanted. Martha has put together just an exceptional build out. Martha thanks Eric they are really, really happy with this project.

Next Eric checks in with Joseph, the landscape designer, to see how things are going with our plant material. For Eric it's not until the plants start to go in that one really begins getting a sense of how the plan is going to translate itself into real life. We can now really start seeing the structure of this garden come together and Eric would like for Joseph to talk about the way he is building structure and balance into his design with the plants. For Joseph this is really a fun part of the project. The clients have been waiting for things to take their space, to see what the plans and photographs that everyone has been looking at are going to bring to fruition.

We have started to get some of the boxwood hedges in and brought in some wonderful parrotia. Joseph is really trying to create some EVERGREEN STRUCTURE on the right side of the house to provide some balance with the other side of the house. One of the issues that you have to deal with as a landscape designer is the structure, the house, something that the landscape designer can't do anything about. As a landscape designer and working with those architectural elements, if it is heavy on one side, you must make sure you provide appropriate balance. And you can do that with plants. It makes a huge impact. It really does. This is an interesting site in that from where we are standing it drops off behind them, and that is where you enter the property. Really, putting the house up here on top of the hill was the only option that they had. This was the only space flat enough to site the house. But it really is standing up here on top of a hill with the walk out basement quite obvious when approaching the house. The walk out serves some wonderful functions and has some great sides to it, but is not something one should see when first arriving. In this instance where it is already setting up high it really felt like the house was dropping off over here and that was really throwing the balance off kilter. So they went through a lot of effort here to bring in twelve, thirteen tri-axles of soil to pull this out and create this big berm over here on the right side so you don't feel like you are dropping off towards the back the house, instead you really feel like you are sitting on a level plateau now. And really, it honestly shows off the house much better, in Joseph's opinion. Grading and controlling the elevations or keeping them in line is so important. For Eric a lot of modern landscaping today is not much more than tilling around the foundation of the home and putting some plants in. It's questionable whether that is correct or not, but the much more advanced elevation work that Joseph has done here is a little bit of extreme work from what one might normally do or what most residential projects would entail. But it has made a huge difference here. And, Joseph adds, it also provides space for the family to experience, not just the aesthetic approach that we are trying to create, but as well create some balance. And they have taken that balance and figured out how to create an opportunity.

On top of the hill is this wonderful elliptical lawn that we put in place with the parrotia going around the outside. As the parrotia get a little more girth and diameter to them they are going to feel almost like columns, kind of ENCLOSING THIS ROOM. The low boxwoods will create the walls. Both will emphasize the vistas and views. Site lines are such an important part of any garden. Sometimes you want to block views and hide views, sometimes you want to enhance and pull somebody's eye towards a borrowed view. So here Joseph has kept the boxwoods very low, enabling one to see between the aerial hedge of parrotia which frames a broad view of the farm pond down below.

Eric is interested in the plants that Joseph used here and what led to the decisions behind those plants. As they say in design work, in gardens especially, this is really the bones of the garden. The plants going in now are shrubs, trees and some grasses. We are not installing a lot of color yet. After all it's late Fall. We are really just trying to create the experiences through almost an architectural line. What is Joseph attempting to achieve? You see a lot of evergreens brought in, we've brought in some steeds holly we've brought in some green gem boxwoods. These are cultivars that aren't super fast growing and at the same time can take a clipping and can maintain a hedge very, very well. This is a technique that can be used in all the different garden zones. Sometimes it may be a steed holly that is the horticulturally correct plant to use, but go a little bit further south it is going to be too warm for that. But there is always a plant option to create these evergreen spaces. Eric thinks Joseph has done a great job with that. The evergreens give it a year round foundation, the color can come in later. Joseph has provided the opportunity to add to this, to enjoy the different seasons with different perennials and annuals. He has done an outstanding job of laying the foundation. Joseph is glad Eric catches the vision and appreciates the compliment. Thank you so much.

Eric and Joseph next visit with Pat Carey, the general manager of Riverfarm Nursery. Eric thanks Pat for joining us. Tree farming is an interesting trade and not many people do it. How did he get involved in it? It began at a young age. He had a love for plants and shrubs and it grew and grew from there. When he started working here he thought he would be here a week or a month but here it is twenty-five years later and he enjoys every day of it.

Eric would like to know a little bit about THE FARM. The farm is four hundred acres with three hundred acres in nursery stock, about fifty thousand trees. Eric asks Joseph - For you as a landscape designer, there are a lot of different farms that you could choose from. What is it about Riverfarm that you like? In a lot of the design work with the gardens that Joseph is creating he is looking for consistency in plant material. So whether looking for hornbeams that are limbed up to a certain height or looking for a sycamore that he can take up a little higher to create a patio space and get some shade, here he always gets the consistency of plant material and that is what he's looking for. The beautifully dug ball, a perfectly straight trunk, a well formed head are all things he's always looking for. It is always the quality of the plant material that is important. Eric is excited, this is a beautiful day he really wants to spend some time talking about how Pat grows the trees, so let's see the farm.

Pat there is a lot of work that goes into getting a tree to look like this and this is a part of horticulture that most consumers don't get to see. We enjoy trees out in the landscape but we don't see all the years that go into making them look like these trees. Eric would like Pat to walk us through THE WHOLE PROCESS starting with the little, small liner and growing it up to, say, a four or five foot tree. Sure. It all starts with having a good liner source. Bringing in the young trees that are already set up and ready to go is the main thing for us. They'll come in as liners, that is what they're called. And they are only called liners because we line them out in the field. From day one they begin the work of pruning, maintaining a good central leader, balance branching, etc. and that work does not end until the day that the plant leaves the farm. It is a tremendous amount of effort. Joseph when you come over here to select trees what exactly are you looking for? What are the features that you want to see? Attention to detail is really what Joseph's looking for. Making sure that the fields are nice and clean and not overrun with weeds. Pat does such a great job of making sure that everything has a really strong central leader. There are applications where Joseph wants trees to be branched in a design a little lower, yet sometimes he wants something higher branched. That central leader gives him the opportunity to adjust that onsite a little bit and make those field adjustments once they are in the garden. What Pat is looking for year to year is getting the structure of the tree correct. When talking about the central leader we are talking about that trunk going from the ground all the way to the tip of the tree. Through annual pruning they address which limbs they are going to keep. Do you want more outer grown limbs or inner growing limbs? That's how you establish and control the shape of the tree. A good, strong central leader, balanced branching are essential, with that addressed you can go from there.

Eric would like to talk a little about the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONTAINER GROWN TREES AND FIELD GROWN TREES. As consumers we don't really see that, that's the part that's buried. Growing in a container is potentially a huge problem especially with trees. As the roots grow out and hit the sidewall of the container they circle, so soil integration is going to be very difficult. Here when they harvest the trees, and they have some really cool mechanical harvesters that throw their spades in the ground and dig them up, are you are getting an additional root pruning before it goes out in the field. Exactly. These trees are root pruned when they come in, at the time of planting, and essentially pruned again when they go out the door so it's a whole process that takes years and years to develop. But it results in a very good tree. Eric asks Joseph if he sees a difference in the field between container-grown trees and field-grown trees? Absolutely. When you have a container grown tree and those roots hit and start to run around the pot you know that is obviously a big issue for planting the tree and the long-term health of the tree versus grown out here in the field. Those roots have a chance to break out and learn and actually teach themselves how to pull water up out of the ground. Thus you have a tree going into the landscape that doesn't require the water that a container-grown tree does. Where you have trees that are getting water everyday, getting nutrients everyday they get used to that pampering, almost that spa treatment, but out here you have a stronger, tougher tree that is coming out and therefore it is much easier to take care of when you get it into the landscape. Eric comments - as is true of most things in life you get what you pay for - and in-ground trees are an investment in your garden, an investment in your home and definitely worth the extra money. No question.

Eric thinks that PARROTIA is one of the most under utilized trees in the landscape today yet it is one of his favorites. He loves the fact that Joseph selected this tree. It is a great cultivar, Joseph agrees, it is a wonderful, underutilized tree. And, parrotia is under appreciated for it's amazing fall color. It doesn't just take one color, it has a range of colors that blend through the foliage. And in maturity it has wonderful exfoliating bark that unwinds and kind of comes off in chunks, leaving incredible texture. This species of tree is typically pretty large. But they have developed this selection, called ruby vase, to bring the height down a little and also to bring the tree in, to make it a little bit tighter. With so many residential landscapes having tightened space constrictions this tree makes a lot of sense. This is a great opportunity to highlight this under-used tree in this project.

Visiting the nursery provides a great opportunity to look at some new selections that are usable in the landscape project. Joseph looks for the "right" tree for this landscaping project. He likes one, it is nice and high branched so it's not going to be too low for our use. He thinks this is going to be a perfect selection for the project and puts a tag on the tree. Let's take it home. Awesome.

It's always best to use a trusted grower for your plant material. James Szdeck from Monrovia joins Eric to talk us through the selections made for this plan and to tell us what makes those selections so special. Eric thanks James for joining us. Thanks for having me. Okay, so our plants have arrived. When we start looking at what plants we have and how they fit into the plan, for Eric that is an exciting part of the project. These plants look great. And James adds, it is a great time to be planting, it's fall, the cool air temperature but warm soil temperature lets the plants get established and root out during the fall and into the winter, then wake up ready to go in the spring time. There are a lot of EVERGREENS which are a wonderful. They provide year round interest, which remedies the situation where in the winter, when many things have died down, one typically doesn't have a whole lot to look at. So very smart selections here.

They start with talking about the Japanese boxwood. It is winter gem Japanese boxwood. A wonderful boxwood, very easy to grow, very hardy. If left unpruned it will get four to six feet tall but if you prune it you can keep it down to eighteen inches. This is a wonderful selection, very consistent, really nice, uniform plants, almost cookie cutter.

Here is A PRO TIP - if you are doing a boxwood hedge, plant a handful of those boxwoods from your batch out in the landscape somewhere else, outside of the hedge that way if you do lose a plant or two you can have a replacement plant that is the same age, the same quality, the same cultivar and one can just slide it in instead of having to chase a replacement down in a nursery. Wow, that is a great idea.

Eric would like to talk about Green Giant. It has become one of the staples in landscape design. It's a pretty bullet proof plant. It is a great plant, very popular right now. It will grow very quickly to twenty-five to thirty feet tall, eight to ten feet wide. It has wonderful pest and disease resistance, which makes it a wonderful substitute for leyland cypress.

We also have Leatherleaf Mahonia. James thinks this is a plant that oftentimes gets overlooked in the landscape. It has excellent texture, wonderful blooms and then nice little purple fruits in the winter. Eric agrees, it is a great plant, wonderful for contemporary design, a really nice evergreen shrub, it will set a yellow, fragrant flower in the winter and get a dark blue grape like fruit in the spring time. A really nice plant that's under used. Texture is very important in design and Joseph's design has all of kinds of medium green tones, with medium textures and some coarser texture with the Mahonia.

They next talk about the ilex. These are beautiful specimens. They have two different sizes. Repetition of the same plant but going with different sizes is a great old-fashioned way of landscaping, it is coming back in popularity. It looks great growing, eight to ten feet tall, four to six feet wide. One could even use it as topiary, accent, or even a hedge plant. Eric thinks these plants are wonderful.

Last but not least are the wonderful, flowing ornamental grasses. These are some of James' favorites. This particular plant is called Wind Dancer Lovegrass. It is a native plant to the southeastern states. It gets eighteen to twenty inches tall, will set a white plume above the foliage that will sway and dance in the wind. You cut it back all the way in the winter time and you can divide it in early spring. Eric is impressed, the material looks great, he's super excited about these plants. James is too and thanks Eric for the opportunity to talk about these plants.

Finding the right landscape contractor to install our plant material is a super important step in this whole process. And Darren Hardy is a great man for the job. Darren is with Dwyer DesignScapes and joins Eric to talk us through what he has done to PREPARE THE GROUND and what he's done to keep our plants happy and healthy. We are at the point in the project where we are finishing up the soil preparation and are about to install the plants. It has taken a lot of work to get to this point. When one encounters a new site like this it's not uncommon to have clay, rocks, roots, things like that. So Eric would like to talk with Darren about soil preparation and what is needed to have success with our plants. Darren shares with Eric what has happen so far. This site was very compacted when they first arrived. They actually had to bring in top soil, some nice pulverized dirt that they could work with. Right now they are using a lot of manpower and different equipment to get this area shaped up and prepped for planting. Even after bringing in a lot of additional top soil they needed to amend that soil. They use pine finds, compost and cow manure for the new plantings. And that's very important because they want to make sure there is enough moisture holding capacity in the soil that we are working with. To complicate the issue clay can oftentimes hold water. So they must find that nice medium between getting the soil to hold enough water but not too much water.

And, speaking of water, with every house there's often times issues with the DOWN SPOUTS AND GUTTERS. They will collect a surprising amount of water and often times that water is dumped right at the base of the plantings where it could compromise the foundation and create very serious problems for the plants. So Darren and Dwyer went ahead and connected piping directly to the down spouts thereby extending the down spouts and water flow further away. By extending the drainage it will not only make sure they have enough positive drainage for the plants but will benefit greatly the foundation of the home. It's a very, very important step and a relatively inexpensive fix compared to the potential damage that could be caused. It could save thousands and thousands of dollars in the long run.

In some ways planting is as simple as DIGGING A HOLE and putting a plant in it but there is a little more that one should keep in mind. The depth of the plant especially in clay soil like we have here is something that needs to be considered. You don't want to plant them to deep or too high and you want to make sure to dig the correct size. That can vary based on the size of the plant material you are putting in but there is always a correct size for the type of plant. Generally we want to dig the hole bigger than the plant. If we just plant it into a hole that is the same size as a one gallon or three gallon pot size the roots can hit the side of the hole, then they may then either circle or be discouraged from moving out into the soil. That's not good. We definitely need the roots be able to establish themselves in the surrounding soil. We want them to have the maximum amount of potential space to absorb nutrients and water. There is more to learn on this front, we'll check back with Darren throughout the process. Eric thinks Darren and his crew are doing a great job. Keep it up.

Our landscape installation project is moving along nicely. We've had a great day selecting our plant material and getting it installed. We'll be back next week to continue this project. Be sure to join us.

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