Tips for Using Plants to Reduce Noise in the Landscape

Unwanted noise can lead to a variety of health problems, including anxiety and hearing loss. Using plants, berms, and solid barriers together with water wise plants is an effective way to reduce unwanted sound.

Plants and other soft surfaces absorb and scatter soundwaves. Plants are also aesthetically pleasing. Using plants alone, however, is the least effective method for noise reduction in places with limited space.

Although expensive, if space is not a constraint, creating a natural or forested area might …

Preparing a Planting Plan

A planting plan is a construction document that shows the location, quantity, and other characteristics of vegetation to be planted in the landscape. It should be easy to read and understand.

Preparing the Planting Plan

Once the inventory, analysis , size and shape of use areas, paths and all other features have been determined,  the planting plan can be created. Specific plant species selection is the last element to be determined. Plans can be hand drawn or with simple residential …

Landscape Design: Dream Big, but Start out Small

Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew?  Creating or redesigning a landscape can feel overwhelming, particularly if the yard is large.

One way to avoid feeling overwhelmed when planning a landscape design is to dream big but start small. Think about what is needed right now; perhaps a fresh new entryway or a pleasant entertaining area.






Starting with a small area close to the house is a great way to start small. …

Hardscaping Areas to Minimize Water Use

A hardscape is any area where materials such as concrete, asphalt, gravel, wood, or bark mulch are used. These hardscape areas can be aesthetically pleasing and provide a base surface or outdoor ‘floor’ that defines distinct areas in the landscape.

Using the right materials in the right place in conjunction with appropriate plants can minimize water use.

Materials such as asphalt and concrete, however, do not allow water to penetrate into the soil and can contribute to runoff. Pollution in …

Using Fences to Accent a Water-Wise Landscape

Fences have both functional and aesthetic qualities and can easily be used to accent a water-wise landscape

A fence provides immediate results and can be used in the following ways.

  • Screen unsightly views
  • Provide privacy
  • Delineate the edge of a space or property
  • Provide support for vines
  • Provide a backdrop for water features, statuary, plants, and other objects in the landscape

Some Considerations When Using Fences

  • Plant  water wise shrubs and large herbaceous perennials to obscure existing unattractive fences
  • Incorporate

Making an Entryway Water-Wise

Designing the Entryway

Entryways into buildings make a statement about a building’s use.  It can convey a sense of care or of neglect.  Think of the space between the sidewalk or driveway and the building as a sequence of spaces.  Access can be direct and quick or slow and deliberate.

In general, the main entrance should be easy to locate. Paving, plants, lighting, and other objects can be used to enhance or as a guide leading toward the entryway. Designs …

Designing Small Spaces in the Landscape

Designing small spaces, whether in a residential or urban area, is not as hard as it may seem. A lot can fit into a small space if designed correctly.

Small, intimate spaces can be an ideal way to connect with nature or for a quiet getaway.  A few important strategies can be used to get started on designing small spaces in the landscape.

First, decide how many outdoor spaces or ‘rooms’ need to be created. What size will they …

Grouping Plants into Hydrozones

Grouping plants into hydrozones is an approach to irrigation and planting design where plants with similar water needs are grouped together.

Ideally, each zone of the irrigation system will supply plants with the same water needs with the appropriate amount of water.

Turf areas and planting beds have different water needs and should be zoned separately. Trees and shrubs generally need deep watering less frequently while turfgrass needs more frequent watering.

Unfortunately, many irrigation systems are set to water all …

Firewise Planning and Landscape Design

Wildfire burning into urban setting.

‘Firewise’ planning, landscape design, and maintenance is important in areas where fires frequently occur. Homes built on the wildland / urban interface are particularly susceptible to the destructive effects of wild fire.

Proper design firewise planning and design includes creating several landscape zones to create a defensible space around buildings and other structures.

Four basic zones are recommended for creating and planning a firewise landscape design:

Zone 1

  • Provide at least a 30’ buffer where tall plants are not