While a bad haircut will grow out with no harm done, a bad pruning job can permanently damage a plant. Many people equate landscape care solely with cleaning up. While a neater, tidy appearance is certainly part of the goal, the overall health and vigor of the garden depends on proper pruning practices. Our approach to caring for your garden incorporates skill, knowledge and enough creativity to turn ugly ducklings into swans. It is an approach that takes a little more time in the beginning, but given proper long-term care plants respond in a positive manner. They are fuller and will maintain their shape longer. They have more vigor and bloom more profusely. They will be able to better resist pest and disease problems.
I look at garden care as a dynamic process. Not every plant can be treated the same. We approach the garden differently depending on the plants and season. We maximize our efforts to give plants every benefit of season. Hard pruning is done as early in spring as possible to give them the full benefit of the growing season. Shaping is often done in the fall to allow the plant to acclimate to it’s shape before active growth occurs.
Our approach also includes using proper pruning techniques. We like to maintain open canopies in trees and large shrubs while creating an attractive lattice-work of trunks and brances. This allows for superb air circulation preventing not only disease, but also reducing the possibility for storm damage or toppling. It also gives birds and other insect eaters better access to naturally control pests. We also shape smaller shrubs to allow for maximum air circulation as well as exposure to light. Too often I see “wedge” shaped hedges and shrubs. This is a result of the gardener being trained by the plant rather than the plant being trained by the gardener. A proper approach is to start with the bottom and work our way to the top until they they are even with one another. This allows for good air circulation and sun for the entire shrub. The top will always grow faster, so we usually trim it in a curved fashion so it stays well behind the sides. (in other words, we knock the corners off) This will create a full, thick appearance from the ground to the tippy top. Holes will fill in, leggy bottoms will flush out and not only will you have a much more beautiful plant, you will have one that is well-trained and requires less work to stay that way.
We approach lawn care with the same commitment to health and beauty for turf, after all a lawn is simply a forest of grass plants. Being a mono-culture presents us with different challenges. Disease and insects can quickly move through a lawn and once established may be difficult to treat. Vigilance is vital as are proper cultural techniques. I watch for the slightest sign of trouble and report it either to my customer or directly to the pest control company. We keep our blades sharp, mow to a proper height and vary the mowing pattern. Our edges are straight and crisp. Keeping our cuts clean rather than battering the blades of grass helps keep the entry points for disease to a minimum as well as providing for a very handsome lawn.
When creating new gardens our approach incorporates all the same principles as above while keeping an eye towards innovative, stylistic design. We all have the same plant palette to choose from, it’s how you use the plants that sets one garden apart from all the others. I try to balance the fundamental issues of maintenance, water usage, scale and style of the buildings with the desire for beauty. Many times we see very striking gardens that evolve into maintenance nightmares and so become an over-crowded, overgrown mess. We maintain most of the gardens we create and so gain insight from every garden installed. I have always had a good working knowledge of plants, their requirements and most importantly their growth habits. It is important to choose plants that will grow to become assets to the garden and not liabilities. For any garden to stand the test of time it must not only look beautiful when first installed, but must grow into maturity while maintaining that beauty. It can not fight nature, but utilize all she provides to mature into a thing of beauty, with a minimum of effort from the gardener.
We approach every aspect of the gardener’s art from a creative, horticultural perspective. I don’t sell jobs, I cultivate relationships as well as gardens. Gardens are never done and with proper care can last generations. It has been my pleasure over the years to develop relationships with my clientele that have allowed me to watch over their gardens as play space for babies and children transforms into parking areas for teenagers and finally into dream gardens for empty-nesters. The soul of the garden is the people who use and enjoy it and at A Gardener’s Art, we never forget that.