Excited about sprucing up your lawn and garden this spring? Me too! It’s tempting to run out and buy anything I find in the most popular lawn and garden stores and plop it into my yard. I asked Landscape Architect Rob Dull of Snow Creek Landscaping what the most common mistake is in residential landscaping. He answered that it’s plant species and placement. In other words, I need to understand what I’m growing and whether it works in my gardening space.
Dull helped educate students recently at the Organic Growers School in North Carolina with a talk he called “Function Before Form.” The talk was fascinating, particularly coming from a guy who could arguably make a living simply making clients’ yards look pretty for a season or two. Dull is committed to studying native plants for his area and helping clients understand what works in the long-term. He wants to meet clients’ needs today without compromising the future — sustainable landscaping. He believes that using native plants protects the legacy of the area, while using some so-called naturalized or even exotic plants can be okay as long as they’re not invasive.
Snow Creek is renowned for its eco-friendly approach to landscaping. Dull gave examples of successfully using sugar maple, black gum, American holly and American beech trees in site planning for screening and windbreaks. He noted that the days of planning for a tree to last ten years in your yard are over. Instead, sustainable landscapers are concerned about proper site and spacing for mature trees years down the road.
Dull’s firm tackles serious erosion control issues, sometimes is asked to correct developers’ short-sighted mistakes, and helps homeowners find alternatives to acres of turf grass. He’s proudest of some projects that look more like a natural mountain meadow than a well-designed architecture scheme. He welcomes a healthy landscape where native plants sometimes pop up alongside those his crew has planted. “There’s no such thing as a no-maintenance landscape,” explained Dull, “It doesn’t exist. There are low-maintenance landscapes.” Even those “mountain meadows” require a follow-up visit from time to time.
Dull admits that landscaping to support an ecosystem can be more costly up front. However, when properly done, it should lower your long-term maintenance. For instance, would you rather mow your entire front yard every Saturday or enjoy some native plants that give you beauty and maybe even food?
You can learn more about Snow Creek Landscaping at this link.