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GardenSMART Episode

Show #49/4610. Finishing Touches And Tweaks

Summary of Show

Review What Has Happened So Far

Eric REVIEWS what has happened so far. There's a lot of work that has been accomplished and things are really shaping up nicely. We've met with Joseph, the landscape designer, and reviewed his plans and they look great. Our landscape contractor discussed soil preparation and proper planting techniques for our plant material, how they tackled grading of the project and dialed in the soil amendments.
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Turn Down Tile

Let's visit again with Todd Hart to take a closer look at TURN-DOWN TILES and how they turn an ordinary area into something amazing. Todd the evolution of materials in landscape design and gardening is incredible. Every year seems like there is some new innovation that expands the possibilities of what we can do and importantly what our gardens are going to look like. The turn down tile is an amazing solution to a very common problem.
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How Hartstone Tiles Are Made

What makes Hartstone special is they MAKE THEIR PRODUCT in a constant fifty-six to fifty-eight degree temperature. We're in the Louisville underground and it stays that constant temperature year long. That gives concrete the capacity to cure under perfect conditions and that is what provides a lot of strength along with their mix design. A lot of people can do cast concrete, very few are blessed to have this kind of environment to pour in.
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History Of Containers

Eric welcomes Daniel and notes that CONTAINERS factor heavily into this landscape design. They are in many ways the anchor of what Joseph is doing and they are creating wonderful accent pieces throughout the landscape. These are beautiful pieces, stunningly well made. Eric would like to talk a little bit about the history of containers.
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Containers - How They're Made

Eric notices that there is a beautiful, timeless look that Longshadow planters have and the CONSTRUCTION PROCESS is so different. There's a qualitative difference between a lot of the planters that are available in big box stores and what Daniel is doing. This is a time honored craft, the containers are a piece of art. 
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Placement Of Containers

As is true of every other element in your design the containers were very thoughtfully planned out and Eric would like for Joseph to talk about what he had in mind, what he was thinking about and where Joseph is going to PUT THESE BEAUTIFUL CONTAINERS. Joseph talks about his thoughts about containers. Garden ornaments and containers are such an important part of the landscape design and really provide some dramatic finishing touches on any garden. 
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Last Minute Tweaks

There are always LAST MINUTE TWEAKS that a good designer does once the plants arrive on site. This is the part of the process where the design comes to life and moves from paper to reality. The design or plan is a very creative thing and looks hyper organized and rigid when all on paper but the fact is when you get onsite the reality of the site oftentimes dictates changes that have to happen on the fly. 
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The Next Steps - Tackle A Big Project In Stages

Eric would like for Joseph to talk a little about his vision for THE NEXT STEPS and even the steps after that. Well with a project like this it's somewhat typical that it could last for several months or even several years. With projects Joseph is typically involved with as well as when a lot of people see a larger landscape project or garden getting installed they can become overwhelmed by the prospect of everything that needs to happen. If you are tackling it all at once it can be overwhelming, it is a huge task to pull all of this property together in one fell swoop.
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Show #49/4610. Finishing Touches And Tweaks

Transcript of Show

This episode is the third of our Louisville, Kentucky landscape installation series. In this Episode we'll be dressing up the porch with some handmade tiles as well as moving in some beautiful containers to add some finishing touches to the project. And a lot more, you won't want to miss it.

Eric REVIEWS what has happened so far. There's a lot of work that has been accomplished and things are really shaping up nicely. We've met with Joseph, the landscape designer, and reviewed his plans and they look great. Our landscape contractor discussed soil preparation and proper planting techniques for our plant material, how they tackled grading of the project and dialed in the soil amendments. Our hardscape pro's showed us how they installed the steps, driveway, and front porch with elegant pavers and tiles. Finally, our plant material experts walked us through the selections that have been made for this site and why these plants are going to be perfect for Joseph's design. Along the way we've learned a lot about the proper way to plant, install hardscapes, and how a great design comes together. In this episode we see all of these elements coming together plus add some important finishing touches. The homeowner is going to love what's been done.

Let's visit again with Todd Hart to take a closer look at TURN-DOWN TILES and how they turn an ordinary area into something amazing. Todd the evolution of materials in landscape design and gardening is incredible. Every year seems like there is some new innovation that expands the possibilities of what we can do and importantly what our gardens are going to look like. The turn down tile is an amazing solution to a very common problem. Todd agrees, it is and we've used it in this application to go over the top of an exposed aggregate porch that was part of the original construction, which in this part of the country is kind of the norm. It's what people in this area generally use, that or concrete. The turn down tile lets us use stone over the top of the concrete. Typically when one comes in and puts a different type of stone on top of  concrete you then have the problem of the edge. What are you going to do with the edge? If you veneer it you'll then have problems with the mortar joints. You've got to pin it. So what Todd has done is come up with a product where it turns down and this turn down piece can be any size that the installer wants. In this case Brinley Masonry decided this needed to be ten and three eighths inches to cover what was there. That is an extremely large turn down. This product can also be used on upper wooden decks when people want their upper wooden decks covered.  Additionally it can be used over the top of an old swimming pool deck, it can be made a multitude of different ways. The question was always what are we going to do with the edge so we came up with this system. The distance of it, how wide it can be, the depth of it, the thickness, all that can be a variable, Todd can make it specifically to what the application requires. Another component in selecting the right paver is thinking about color. Designers may ask about making something the color of my sweater, as an example. Color is a big part of what Todd does, they put more effort into color than most other things. Designers are really specific about what color they want for their product. They make nine colors they call stock colors but will make any color one wants. Todd literally had a designer send a fed-ex envelope with some grass from the Charleston marsh land and they matched that color. Color is challenging, they do mock up color samples all the time but that is just part of what is necessary to satisfy designers and their vision, that's what they're after. And that is what they did with this project.

One of the most fascinating parts of Hartsone tiles is the process behind how they are produced. GardenSMART goes behind the scenes to take a look at Todd's production facility located in the Louisville mega cavern.

What makes Hartstone special is they MAKE THEIR PRODUCT in a constant fifty-six to fifty-eight degree temperature. We're in the Louisville underground and it stays that constant temperature year long. That gives concrete the capacity to cure under perfect conditions and that is what provides a lot of strength along with their mix design. A lot of people can do cast concrete, very few are blessed to have this kind of environment to pour in. It is a proprietary mix. The finished product has a strength of sixty-five hundred to seven thousand psi so it makes the product really, really strong. Again, they can make different sizes  and shapes. If an architect needs something made for a project they will make it specific to what the architect wants. Todd lets the designer dictate wants and Todd will make it. They usually have a lead time of about six to eight weeks depending on the size of the project. Todd is extremely proud of the fact that they do color custom pieces. Most companies shy away from custom, they make custom the biggest part of what they do.

Eric next addresses the wonderful containers Joseph has selected for this project. For over 20 years Charlotte and Daniel Ward have been hand making exquisite dry cast limestone containers and garden ornaments in rural southern Illinois. Daniel is with us today to discuss his passion for quality containers and the role they play in garden design.

Eric welcomes Daniel and notes that CONTAINERS factor heavily into this landscape design. They are in many ways the anchor of what Joseph is doing and they are creating wonderful accent pieces throughout the landscape. These are beautiful pieces, stunningly well made. Eric would like to talk a little bit about the history of containers. We sometimes think of containers as this new, hot garden trend but they have been around for hundreds of years, in fact in ancient times people were using containers. Daniel, tell us a little about the history of containers in gardens. Daniel tells us that initially containers were often used as focal points more than planting areas. In this project they are an integral aspect of the hardscape and the landscape and they help make that transition. We are seeing more and more people today growing shrubs, perennials, annuals, and vegetables in containers but they hold a tradition that goes all the way back two thousand years to Roman times.

Eric notices that there is a beautiful, timeless look that Longshadow planters have and the CONSTRUCTION PROCESS is so different. There's a qualitative difference between a lot of the planters that are available in big box stores and what Daniel is doing. This is a time honored craft, the containers are a piece of art. Daniel appreciates the compliment, thank you. The planters they make are dry cast limestone and the planters you see in the big box stores are planters made out of poured concrete, or perhaps fiberglass. That way they can be mass produced and light enough where they can be shipped from overseas economically. Daniel on the other hand makes planters that are hand packed into the molds. An important step in their process is creating the mold. They occasionally produce custom molds but since they currently have about two hundred different designs often times even if people are looking for a custom mold when they start looking at the broad range that Daniel does manufacture they can find exactly what they need, something appropriate for their specific architecture. So after the mold has been selected you are basically having to, by hand, pack the mortar mixture, if you will, into that mold. It's not a mechanical process, it's done by hand right? They have four people currently making planters, two people making the mix, weighing out the ingredients, and they weigh it out to the ounce, so it's insanely labor intensive. But the finished product is worth it. Eric agrees and wishes everyone could see these containers up close. Do you have to fire these or do they naturally dry? It's a portland cement base so it doesn't require firing as terracotta would. They do need to cure properly and just like this driveway that we are standing on, an ideal cure time for this driveway or the planters is 28 days. So that first twenty-eight days ideally you would like to keep something moist in one hundred percent humidity. There is also a steam cure process that assists in that process. Eric is blown away. These are beautiful, they are going to add so much to the landscape. He's learned a ton about how these wonderful containers are made. Thank you so much Daniel. It was my pleasure, thank you.

Eric goes back to Joseph. As is true of every other element in your design the containers were very thoughtfully planned out and Eric would like for Joseph to talk about what he had in mind, what he was thinking about and where Joseph is going to PUT THESE BEAUTIFUL CONTAINERS. Joseph talks about his thoughts about containers. Garden ornaments and containers are such an important part of the landscape design and really provide some dramatic finishing touches on any garden. Think about the interior of a home, people think nothing of bringing in ornaments and tchotchkes and artwork to enhance their space, that is exactly what we are looking at doing with these planters. It is really creating another layer of refinement for the garden. These wonderful planters from Longshadow have a timeless, classic appeal that is going to withstand the variances that people see in design themes. There are so many different applications for them. On the porch we are looking at using the allen boxes pulled across the front. Once they're planted they are going to create a little bit of an enclosed, more intimate seating area. And that is great for the family to sit up there. As well there is an an office right over their shoulder, so it's a great place to go out and have a little bit of quiet thinking.

We are working with another type of planter off the porch, an area just in front of it. These containers are a bit taller. We've talked about this area, it's kind of the great room, our elliptical room. It is enclosed with the parrotia. These planters create the entry hall and guide us as we progress into that area. Right now we just have the two planters but moving forward we will have two more mirroring those on the other end. That is going to create a rhythm and the repetition pulls your eye and guides one physically through this little entry space into the greater, grander space. The containers are also a great contrast with this sea of green. This nice, white pop of masonry is a wonderful companion to the rest of the hardscape.

Another thing Eric really likes about Joseph's container selections is just the size of the containers. Sometimes people make the mistake of going with something that is too small, possibly even inappropriate for a space. These containers have really nice weight and gravity to them. Joseph agrees, that is exactly right. An understanding of scale and how that effects the space can also even effect one emotionally. A planter that is undersized is almost ignored and in a way feels like you would rather not have it there, rather than to have it there. But when something is the right scale, then it has a prominence, especially in juxtaposition. This beautiful, natural limestone finish that we have against all of this green really lets these planters pop. Plus the beauty is, these are only going to get better with time, as they start to age and get some patina to them these are going to blend in and become part of the permanent landscape. These containers are frost proof, can stay outside, and have the weight to not blow away or blow over, they have the substance to really stand up. They are an investment in your garden. We've talked about this before, you get what you pay for.

Eric notices some other containers. These are more architectural. They are smaller, urn shaped and are going to be used more as landscape elements. And will be placed along the walkways that will  lead into the front of the house. These smaller, urn type planters are based on an original design by Gertrude Jekyll (Gertrude Jekyll | The Official Website of the Jekyll Estate <>). It is a well composed and very thoughtful design, these containers add a lot to the design.

There are always LAST MINUTE TWEAKS that a good designer does once the plants arrive on site. This is the part of the process where the design comes to life and moves from paper to reality. The design or plan is a very creative thing and looks hyper organized and rigid when all on paper but the fact is when you get onsite the reality of the site oftentimes dictates changes that have to happen on the fly. No question. Joseph says that is something that he from a professional standpoint, addresses even in their design contract with customers. And it was definitely something that came into play here. We burmed up all of this soil to create the plateau and to balance the house out. Those soil expenses really started to add up. Originally he had the boxwood hedge laid out to be on the back side of these trees all the way around. But we didn't have quite enough soil there, which meant the original design was going to start to constrict on the trees, they were going to get too close and close the whole space in. Instead of abandoning the opening that he wanted to create, he came up with a pretty quick solution, on the spot, to set some hedge material to the front and set some to the back - offset them, kind of hyphenate them and then in the spring the ground cover will kind of flow in between them and tie them all together. So, it was a little bit of a hiccup but standing back and working through the process we came up with a great solution. The landscape plan is intended to provide a concept, a very firm concept but the magic is in site adjustments and tweaks and making sure that you are blocking certain views and not blocking other views that you want to emphasize on the site. Eric feels those adjustments are an important part of perfecting the vision. When done correctly you end up with something that ends up ultimately being implemented beautifully for the site. When you get on site with all the plants laid out you often come to the conclusion - well actually now that I see this in real life I see if we make these little adjustments it is going to make the landscape just that much better. Tweaks can make the biggest difference.

Eric comments that there has been a tremendous amount of work that's been done in the past, a tremendous amount of work that has been done in just a few short days. It is amazing seeing all of this come together.

The containers are going in place, the plants are getting planted, we're really starting to see some of these fine tune details and elements starting to highlight Joseph's design. It's a great, fun time. It really is amazing how quickly things can pull together, what a difference five days can make in getting some things knocked out and really make a difference to the approach of the house.

It is fun to see all of these things start to establish themselves and to also start to lay some of the ground work for the future. The turn down tiles are awesome. That pallet of stone will be continually used throughout the rest of the project for walkways, for pool surrounds and lots of different elements. They are a great illustration of what a unifying factor a material utilized throughout a project can be. We've seen a lot a lot of things coming together. The plant material is in, a lot of the trees are in, we've got a good bit of the grading completed, there will be more of that as other areas of the property are addressed. It's important to finish one space at a time versus trying to tackle little bits and pieces around the property or even trying to do the whole job at one time. Particularly so when someone has been waiting on a house during the long design and construction phase. Everybody is ready to see something finished particularly since Leslie and Chris are getting ready to move into the house. Giving them something outside that is really finished and ready for them is an extremely important next step.

Joseph talked earlier about the site lines, about how he wants to help instruct ones' eye towards the vistas. Screening material is utilized both for creating a sense of entry and enclosure and space but also screening for the sense of getting rid of some of those views that we don't want. To that end in the next stages there will some additional screening material going in. To the left, back behind the house and over Joseph's right shoulder they will bring some wonderful trees in and recreate a native woodland feel along the property line. The trees will add to the feel of the space, yet still provide some great screening and block some of those views. The woodlands screening will provide a stopping point for your eye. We've talked about how Joseph wants to pull one's eye down to the pond in the front of the property but as well  wants to highlight the wonderful horse farm behind the property. Those are views he doesn't want to block, instead wants to enhance and make sure those are readily visible. Eric is impressed with Joseph's use of screening materials. The fact that this is a wide open space, when one at first approached it there was almost nothing here. It looks very different now. Sometimes it can be hard to create a sense of intimacy. At one point one would feel very exposed but by adding the screening materials it closes off these outdoor rooms that Joseph is building and that provides a sense that you are in your own little, private garden even though it's a vast, vast space. And that is important in a space like this with five acres. One could easily let these spaces kind of run but it's important to have these intimate spaces so if you are entertaining and you have a bunch of people over somebody being able to step away from the main group and have a private place for a conversation just feels a little bit more special and brings a lot to a project.

This is a project that has been going on for some months. Eric would like for Joseph to talk a little about his vision for THE NEXT STEPS and even the steps after that. Well with a project like this it's somewhat typical that it could last for several months or even several years. With projects Joseph is typically involved with as well as when a lot of people see a larger landscape project or garden getting installed they can become overwhelmed by the prospect of everything that needs to happen. If you are tackling it all at once it can be overwhelming, it is a huge task to pull all of this property together in one fell swoop. So it's a very normal progression of events to break things up into phases. Some phasing is done for financial reasons and some phasing is done due to the practicality of planting. In the parrotia-ellipse section we are looking in the future for a lot of ground cover going in this area. Joseph likes to plant bare root cover so he can plant it a little closer together, it fills in better and has a much more natural look. It would not be a great idea to plant that right now since we're going into fall headed towards winter. Those roots wouldn't have a chance to establish themselves. Even aside from size of plant material, there are certain plants that dig better other times of the year. So he doesn't want to be digging oaks right now and bringing them onsite. It is much better for us to wait for the spring for that. Eric agrees, and adds, it will be so exciting to see all of that come together. Joseph it has been a thrill watching you work, being here and seeing your vision realized. Joseph appreciates the compliment and thanks Eric for the kind words. It's been a lot of fun.

We're about halfway through our landscape installation and there is still a lot of work to do. But things are coming along nicely and the home owners are thrilled. We'll be back in the spring, be sure to tune in then.



GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

As summer heats up, the garden party is just beginning for gorgeous, tropical mandevillas. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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