The Fine Points of Proper Installation
The second pillar of our Landscape Construct is Installation. As with the other two, many contractors have taken short cuts over time and created an atmosphere of reduced quality by not paying adequate attention to "the small stuff"; details that may require more time and effort but will yield a superior result that holds up better under stress and over time.
A commitment I pride myself on is maintaining close contact with vendors, whether they supply plants or supplies. By hand picking plants from the growers (instead of accepting material ordered over the phone or online) I guarantee I get what I want and sometimes discover other, more interesting options. Personal contact with vendors also provides inside information on availability and alternatives. My vendors look out for me and order accordingly. I have contributed my small voice in directing our trade to a broader range of choices and interesting plants.
By working from "the ground up", starting by improving the soil and grading as needed (not to mention remove all stones and debris) we maximize the growth potential and longevity of our plantings, thereby minimizing the need for replacements. My commitment to using compost has borne great results over four decades and provides plants with micronutrients, slow-release fertilizer and LIVE microbes (who do all the soil 'work'). This approach avoids petroleum-based fertilizer (that poisons the Bay) saves money and protects the environment by keeping vegetable material out of the waste stream. By properly spacing plants that have been selected to fill (and not overwhelm) their allotted space, we can reduce the need for regular pruning and division. This correct spacing also reduces congestion that can harbor pests and disease.
Mulch is the icing on the landscape cake and comes in many sizes, textures and even colors. Most any material can and
has been used as mulch and some have thankfully been abandoned (think ground up tires for playgrounds!). Long and short of it, as long as the material stays in place, does not smother the plants and allows air and water penetration it should be acceptable.