I was asked recently to define T. Lake’s core values. And the best I can say is that our values are derived first and foremost from the land.
Both of my grandfathers and theirs before them and theirs before them were farmers and timbermen. They loved the land. They made a living from the land. They appreciated and valued it. It took care of them, and they took care of it. That’s the attitude I grew up with.
I consider myself part of the lineage of the first job God gave a human being, and that's to tend the garden. Humankind’s first job was to get our hands in the dirt. We’re here to be good stewards.
Across these twenty-six years of practicing my craft, I have spent countless hours rescuing clients from disappointing—and sometimes downright atrocious—projects created for them by someone else. While it is gratifying to play hero and leave the client with a smile, it is also painful, considering the money such a client has already spent on work that ultimately had to be re-done. While some of these botched jobs have involved poor workmanship, all have been cases of poor design, or the lack of design at all.
It’s easy to think of design as simply the act of placing pretty things on the page or in the ground. But it goes far deeper than that. Good design is the act of creating spaces that function for their intended purpose and elevate the mood, well-being, and/or productivity of those who interact within them. A well-designed site or landscape is carefully planned to result in the optimal well-being and safety of the user or occupant. It’s not something that happens by accident.
In design, the whole is always more important than the parts. Every feature can positively or negatively affect every other, as well as the overall impact of the site. This is why trained and competent landscape architects never simply “place” trees, shrubs, stones, statuary or any other physical elements on a site unless they truly serve a functional purpose or are essential to the creation of the space.
In landscape design, nothing is arbitrary. In fact, there are immutable elements and principles of design that are universal to the creation of spaces and must be used with knowledge and sensitivity for optimal results. Here is a quick introduction:
Water is essential to life, and vital to the progress of civilizations. It is delightful to sip on a hot summer day or to watch falling gracefully into a fountain basin. However, water becomes an insidious foe when it decides to start pouring into your basement or collecting in sodden pools on your lawn.
Drainage, therefore, is a constant concern in the landscape. There are various devices designed to direct water over and through the landscape. Sometimes the terms can get confusing, so today I’d like to clarify the difference between three of the most common water diversion mechanisms: trench drains vs. French drains vs. swales.
Starting a new relationship—whether personal or in business—always involves a certain amount of risk. In our private lives, we’re on our own. But in the commercial landscape business, it’s standard to create a built-in risk containment device: the contract.
A good commercial landscape maintenance contract not only protects both parties, it can also be an invaluable communication tool to ensure that both you and your landscape contractor are—and remain—on the same page, and that you actually receive the service you want and expect.
However, a contract is only as good as what you put in it. Here are a few things we highly suggest including in your bid request the next time you hire a commercial landscape maintenance company.
What’s wrong with bahiagrass? Depends who you ask.
Bahiagrass is a coarse grass that was introduced into the U.S. in the 1930’s as a forage grass for cattle. It’s drought tolerant and does well in poor and even hard-packed soils, so some people use it as turf grass. It’s also used for roadside erosion control in some areas. So it has its uses.
But boy, is it ugly.
The stuff is coarse and weedy-looking, it has an open canopy and does not fill in well as turf, and it grows about two feet in a week so it’s a devil to keep mowed if you do choose—for whatever reason—to grow a bahiagrass lawn. Plus, it has a strange and unappealing Y-shaped seed head that stands out like a sore thumb in a lawn.
Every good landscape services provider will have a slightly different approach and personality. Today we’d like to highlight a couple of our competitors and discuss how we are—not necessarily better—but different.
Both Yellowstone and Brightview are well-established commercial landscape companies for whom we have a lot of respect. Let’s start with Yellowstone.
When you need groceries, you head to the store. One grocery store may have marginally better prices over the next, or a nicer produce department, but ultimately it doesn’t matter that much whether you frequent Kroger or the Piggly Wiggly. You’ll still fill your fridge.
Lawn and landscape care, though; that’s a different matter. Your choice of landscape provider can make a huge difference in your experience, and impact the quality, appearance, comfort and even safety of your home and property.
Unlike plumbers and electricians, landscape services providers are not required to complete any kind of certification or training. That means that any Tom, Dick, or Jane with a truck and a lawn mower can hang out their shingle as a landscaper. However, there is a significant difference between such a person—let’s call them a “landscaper”— and a true landscape professional.
How can you tell them apart? A few strategic questions go a long way.
Spring is undoubtedly the most exciting time of year in the landscape. The full creative energies of Mother Nature are bursting forth, with new blooms and new growth everywhere. And all that lush plant material calls for a lot of water! Which, of course, means you’ll want your irrigation system tuned up and ready to handle the job.
Just as with any other mechanical system, it’s very important to inspect your irrigation system regularly. An irrigation inspection, or irrigation audit, will help you discover and avoid problems such as leaks or broken components that could cause damage to your landscape and/or raise your water bill.
You can inspect your irrigation system yourself, if you feel comfortable doing so and have the time. Otherwise, contact us for a professional irrigation system inspection.
Remember life without GPS? We got along, but sometimes it’s hard to remember how. I can’t tell you how many hours and how many gallons of fuel I’ve saved simply by using this one type of smart technology.
I’m sure it’s paid for itself many times over.
Your plants have no need for travel directions, but there’s another type of smart technology that offers similar savings for your landscape: smart irrigation.
Chances are if your landscape has been in for 15 or more years it is overdue for renovation. Even if your landscape was well planned and maintained for the long haul, a decade and a half’s worth of growth is almost guaranteed to leave it looking a bit unkempt. Crowded roots, straggly growth, overgrown trees and shrubs, bare spots, ho-hum or dated appearance: these are all signs it’s time for an overhaul.
If you’re reading this and nodding your head in recognition, here are some landscape renovation ideas to consider this spring.