Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ - Landscaping

FAQ - Landscaping

Does swimming pool water harm grass and shrubs around the pool?

No. Chlorine in a pool is one parts-per-million (1ppm). This is very similar to the city water that comes out faucet, and people have been watering their gardens with this for years.


How can I prevent weeds from growing in the beds?

The most natural way to prevent weeds from growing is to put a 2" - 3" layer of mulch on the beds. An additional solution is to put a layer of newspaper under the mulch. This will have to be redone annually.


How do I arrange the stones in a rock garden to make them look natural?

Taking your cue from nature, the idea is to make it appear that the stone in your rock garden is merely the exposed fraction of a massive underground formation. To achieve the look of natural stones, each stone should appear firmly grounded. Each stone also should appear as if connected to its immediate neighbors, separated only by the crevices in which you'll be growing the plants of the rock garden.

As in the natural world, stay away from constrained stone patterns and even distribution, striving instead for a feel of randomness in your rock garden. Have a massive grouping of stones here, a smaller grouping there, and mulched areas in between. Arrangement is crucial in achieving the look of natural stones.


How do I deal with a muddy mess under a tree caused by dogs?

Lay down a 3-inch layer of bark mulch under the tree. Decorate the area with container gardens. As the dogs displace the bark mulch, you will have to replace it. Nonetheless, in the long run, I think you will find this less work than trying to grow plants in the ground in this area. When you select plants to grow in pots for this project, make sure that they are not plants poisonous to dogs.


How do I know when to plant spring vegetables and annuals?

For transplants, it's safe to plant when the last frost date is past. For seeds that are expected to sprout in 2 weeks, plant seeds 2 weeks prior to the last frost date. To find out when the projected last frost date is in your area, check with your local meteorologist.


How much does a landscaped backyard cost?

As with pools, the cost of a landscaped backyard can vary greatly. Your choice of pavers, feature walls, decking timbers, irrigation systems, water tanks and plants can have a huge impact on the overall cost of a project.


I have a small and difficult yard to work with. Can I still have a pool?

Pool professionals can construct quality pools in yards of all shapes and sizes. Professional pool design and engineering teams can work with the most challenging properties. You’ll be surprised by our innovative solutions that can turn your dreams into a beautiful backyard resort. Before you give up on your impossibly small yard or hillside location, call a pool professional for advice.


Is it wise to use a fabric or plastic weed barrier under my mulch?

It is not recommend using of fabric or plastic weed barrier under your mulch. These products will only prevent weeds temporarily. Plastic materials smother the soil and do not allow for the necessary exchange of air. If you’re looking for cheap solution, putting newspaper under the mulch annually should greatly reduce weed growth.


Should I hire a professional landscape architect to work on my landscape?

Besides tree limbing, there are many other specialty tasks for which you may want to hire professionals. For instance, you may wish to hire an arborist to have a prize tree pruned properly. "Limbing" and "pruning" are entirely different operations. You may even want to have a landscape architect or landscape designer to re-do your entire landscape.


What can I do to keep grass from growing through my vinyl liner?

Before a pool can be installed the ground must be treated for whatever kind of growth you had to clear out. Most importantly, always keep a 2' barrier around the outside of the pool free of any vegetation.


What is a Landscape Architect?

A landscape architect is someone who holds professional qualifications in general landscape architecture with training in horticulture, landscape design and planning. Using their knowledge of building, civil engineering, planning and the environment, landscape architects can plan an entire site including the location of buildings, public access, roadways, structures and planting. In general, a landscape architect would be used for commercial projects rather than residential or domestic landscaping.


What is a Landscape Designer?

A landscape designer has experience and training in horticulture, design and landscape planning. Their knowledge of horticulture means that they can make recommendations as to what is best suited to your garden. They are also skilled at incorporating hard landscaping and features such as arbours, pergolas, water, stonework and ponds into a scheme. A landscape designer can produce an accurate, printed design including a list of materials for installation by a landscape contractor.


What is the best height to mow the lawn? Should the grass clippings be collected and disposed of?

Lawn should be mowed at a height of 2.5" - 3". This allows the grass to shade itself lessening the need for water. It is best to mulch rather than bag your grass clippings. This returns nitrogen to your lawn and allows for less fertilizer.


What is the best kind of landscaping for my above ground pool?

It is best not to use grass. Grass will grow under swimming pools and up through the liner or up the wall between liner and pool, or up the inside of the uprights creating great habitat for bugs and wasps. Choose some type of rock landscape and it is best to use plastic under it because the water splashing out of the pool makes any vegetation grow very quickly. Plants should only be container type plants. They are easy to move when changing liners and they don't grow roots under the pool.


What is the best mulch for suppressing weeds, holding water and increasing the speed of draining?

A variety of bark mulches can be used. Generally, mulch that best fits the color scheme and structure of the individual landscape should be selected.


What is the best way to eliminate cheat grass?

The best defense against cheat grass is to manually pull the weeds.


What is the best way to provide shade for my pool area?

Large trees should never be used to landscape a pool area. Instead, install an arbor or pergola on the western edge of the pool. A climbing evergreen vine on the structure will fill it in and give additional shade.


What is the best way to suppress and/or remove weeds from a paver patio?

If you find weeds growing on your paver patio, there are a few things you can do: You can use a weed killer, but make sure you test in a small area to be sure that it won't create a stain. You may also remove by hand, or by using a brick paver weeding tool. It may be advantageous to lift the paver to remove all root material, then set back in place.


What kind of maintenance do I need for my irrigation?

Irrigation should be checked periodically to make sure that all components are functioning correctly. Before the winter starts the irrigation system should be drained to prevent frost damage.


What kind of work will a landscape architect perform?

Many people wonder how to find a landscape architect. But an even more fundamental question must be answered first: do you need to hire a professional, or can you get the job done yourself? Besides tree limbing, there are many other specialty tasks for which you may want to hire professionals.

For instance, you may wish to hire an arborist to have a prize tree pruned properly. "Limbing" and "pruning" are entirely different operations. You may even want to have a landscape architect or landscape designer to re-do your entire landscape. Some projects demand such highly specialized skills that you have little choice but to hire professionals; for instance, installing driveways.

Nonetheless, you can still make an informed decision before hiring someone by doing your homework. The decision of do-it-yourself versus hiring landscape architects and other professionals largely depends on your budget and personal tastes. Even many people who can afford to hire a landscape architect prefer to do the work themselves, because they find it relaxing, challenging and satisfying.


What plants are the best to plant in rock gardens?

There's a reason they're called rock gardens: the plants clearly share emphasis with the rocks. That takes the pressure off the rock garden plants: they don't need to have the showiness that we expect from standalone plants, because their function is to complement the rocks that surround them. The rock garden plants used to complement the rocks should be selected largely with your climate and other practical considerations in mind - this will help keep them low-maintenance.


What type of rock is it best to select for building rock gardens?

Porous, softer rock is better for rock gardens than harder rock. Harder rocks take longer to acquire the weathered look that you are striving for in the rock garden, because they are less receptive to the growth of mosses and lichens.

Promoting the weathering of your rocks will give the rock garden a natural look. Weathered stone looks as if it had always been there. Also, stick to rocks that look the same in texture, color and form. If you use rocks of similar appearance throughout your rock garden, it will have a more natural look.


What types of lawn grass are there to choose from?

Your choice depends in part on where you live. In the southern U.S. "warm-season" grasses are generally grown. These types of lawn grasses grow actively from mid-April to mid-October. As their name implies, they like the warm weather. Bermuda grass is an example of a warm-season type of grass.

In the central and northern U.S. you are more likely to see people growing "cool-season" grasses. These types of grasses often grow the most in the moderately cool temperatures of late spring and early fall -- the heat of summer slows them down. Kentucky bluegrass is an example of a cool-season type of grass.

Don't forget that, in addition to lawn grasses, there are also "ornamental" grasses. Ornamental grasses can also be classified according to whether they are warm-season or cool-season grasses.


When is the best time to cut back my ornamental grasses, and how far do they need to be cut back?

Ornamental grasses add color and motion in your landscape during the fall and winter months, therefore they should be cut back in the spring as soon as new growth is noticed. Grasses should be cut back just above the new growth.


When is the best time to water my lawn, and how much should it get?

The best time to water is between dusk and dawn depending on night time temperatures. Watering at this time allows the lawn to absorb the most water without evaporation. Do not water during the hot part of the day.


Why should I have an automatic irrigation system?

Automatic irrigation systems are convenient, especially for those who travel. If installed and programmed properly, automatic irrigation systems can even save you money and help in water conservation. Dead lawn grass and plants need to be replaced, and that can be expensive. But the savings from automatic irrigation systems can go beyond that.

Watering with a hose or an oscillator wastes water. Neither method targets plant roots with any significant degree of precision. Automatic irrigation systems can be programmed to discharge more precise amounts of water in a targeted area, which promotes water conservation.


Why should I hire a landscaper? Couldn't I do the work myself?

An enthusiastic amateur with reasonable DIY skills could easily tackle many landscape tasks. However, a trained professional will know which materials to use, what plants are ideal for your environment and how to get the best out of your outdoor space. An experienced landscaper will also be able to accurately estimate projects, anticipate problems and be less prone to costly mistakes or delays.


Will tree roots destroy my pool?

It is a good idea to avoid any trees or plants that have wide-reaching, potentially destructive roots. These may damage swimming pools, creating the need for expensive repairs. If you feel that you absolutely must have plants or trees that are potentially dangerous or may create maintenance issues, plant them at least eight feet from the edge of your pool to avoid such problems.