Here a Brick, There a Brick: Recycling Bricks

Green Hardscape Design and Install is GardenWise    

Each brick used in the above GardenWise, Inc. designed and installed garden space in Washington, D.C., was  recycled  from  the previous garden space.  Landscape Architects are paying closer attention to “green”  projects more  and  more.  Using  recycled  materials  is  one way  GardenWise  helps  our  clients  take a great “green” step when installing  a  stone or brick  design.  We  use  recycled materials whenever the chance to do so  presents  itself,  and  the  possibilities are endless:  recycled  concrete  for  paving  systems,  glass in stepping stones, recycled bricks, and crushed stone and granite to     be used in patio surfaces.       

An added bonus?  You save money! When I incorporate  larger pieces of old concrete or bricks into a  design,  the purchase and delivery costs of new materials is eliminated.

GardenWise on Making a Garden “Green”

GardenWise on Productive and Green Gardens

Many clients come to me with questions about how to take  significant “green” steps to make their gardens more eco-friendly.  The question I hear the most?  “Where to start?”  Here are five easy steps every person can take in their home garden that will help the environment and save you money in the long run on watering and energy costs.    

Reduce your lawn by half — yes, by half!  Replace your reduced lawn area with groundcovers that will provide beautiful colors and textures to your space, and add beautiful hardscape or some pourous paving which allow for surrounding plantings to soak up any excess water 

Replace plants with drought-tolerant alternatives that require much less water. 

Also replace exotic plants with native plants that can easily survive and thrive in the year round weather conditions in your area.  This will also cut down on the cost of replacing plants that don’t survive well in your weather. 

Add a deciduous tree (one that loses its leaves in Fall)  which will grow tall, and shade your home and roof during summer months, keeping your inside temps lower.  These trees will also allow for sunlight to enter your home during  winter months to help keept it warm and reduce your overall energy use.  

Make your garden productive by adding vegetables and 2-3 fruit trees.  Vegetables can be grown in former lawn areas, and trees are fantastic garden additions as they absorb CO2 and other dangerous gasses while  replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen.  You can save money at the grocery store, enjoy fresh produce, or help others by donating your home grown vegetables and fruit to those in need


Water Features and Fountains Will Rock Your GardenWise

Water Fountains Make an Impact

It’s the second day of spring, and I’m thinking about water features!  There’s nothing more inspiring than a well designed water feature blended into the natural environment to transform  your   garden  into  a  destination.  Let’s  revisit an informative  LOWE’s story by Jake Fowler  from  last  year on water feature – water fountain trends that continue with full force into 2011.    


Two For One — Shrubs as Garden Accents

Shrubs as Accents are GardenWise

Something I often think about is how to get as much as possible out of a garden space. I keep my eye out for multi-purpose planting choices, and like to include multi-purpose items.  A fantastic way to add a colorful and textural interest to a garden space is to use an eye-catching shrub as a garden accent, which will give your garden a additional focal point.

I was re-reading a 2100 issue of ASLA’s Landscape Architecture and came across a story about the very same idea — using shrubs as accents. I know, great idea, right? Below is the first page of the story (click once to enlarge) shows how a Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ can be used as an accent to bring warmth to a garden space. The story, written by Marty Wingate, shows a wonderful picture of the ‘Color Guard’ which is used as an accent that provides a new seasonal focal point to a garden space.  

Leaf Removal Prevents Home and Garden Damage

Here a Leaf, There a Leaf 

Don’t be a procrastinator!  As we journey further into Fall, it’s important to get the leaves off the ground quickly and to mow your lawn until the first frost.  This will keep the grass strong and healthy.  If leaves aren’t removed and remain on your lawn as they fell, they’ll  deprive your lawn of important sunlight and rain that will help it stay healthy through the winter months. Also, if leaves are left on the ground, it will lead to mold and pest problems (mice, rats, etc.) because the water will get trapped in the lawn.

And be sure to remove leaves from your deck — leaves that accumulate on decks can lead to algae, mildew and mold, which will cause the wood to rot.  

And keep in mind, leaves do not just fall on your lawn and deck  — they fall in your gutters! Clean your gutters every month. Clean gutters will save you from experiencing  serious problems with water around your house whether it be landscaping erosion, water in your basement or damage to wood around your roof. But be careful on that ladder, and work in pairs to be sure you don’t have any ladder accidents.   

April is Landscape Architecture Month


April is Landscape Architecture Month, which encompasses Earth Day on April 22nd  and  Frederick  Law  Olmstead’s  birthday  on April 26th.  Olmstead is considered to be the father of American landscape architecture, as is Andrew Jackson Downing who designed the landscape architecture surrounding the Smithsonian here in Washsington, D.C.

I’m  a  Landscape  Architect,  and I designed/installed my very first outside architecure feature, a retaining wall, when I was a boy scout. The wall stands to this day!  I entered Virginia Tech to study architecture, and later  moved  my concentration to landscape architecture so I could  follow my passion for creating  outdoor structures and spaces that inspire.  I’m a proud member  of  Alpha Rho Chi (META chapter!), the only national co-ed professional  social   fraternity for architecture.   

Landscape  architecture  is  a  comprehensive  discipline of land analysis, planning, design, preservation, and rehabilitation.  It’s  also a  multi-disciplinary  field, incorporating aspects of: architecture, botanyfine artsindustrial design, geology and the earth sciences, environmental psychology, geography and ecology.

The scope of the profession includes:  urban design; site planning; town or urban planning; environmental restoration; parks and recreation planning; visual resource management; green infrastructure planning and provision; and private estate and residential landscape master planning  and  design;  all at varying scales of design, planning and management.

Our national organization is  the  ASLA  (American Society of Landscape Architects) and they promote the landscape architecture profession and advance the practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship.

The picture included in this post is designed by my good friend, Landscape Architect  Randy Theume, of Randy Theume Design.  The space is part of a vintage home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco and a fantastic example of what’s possible in a residential design.  

Mark White is GardenWise!

Congratulations to Our Own J. Mark White!

The Hill Rag has named  Mark a  top  landscape architect on Capitol Hill  for “setting the standard for  good  landscape  architecture and design     on Capitol Hill” in their   “Homes  &  Gardens” special isssue.  You can read the story here.

Mark’s been thinking of  landscape architecture for  as  long  as  he  can remember!   He built retaining walls for Boy Scout projects;  created master garden plans while in middle school; and in high school he landscaped his Mom and Dad’s home in the Court House area of Northern Virginia.  Mark  earned his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) from Virginia Tech, and started GardenWise in 1994.   

In this blog post are pictures of both Capitol Hill gardens featured in The Hill Rag; one is a quiet and relaxing rooftop getaway, while the second is a street level garden space; both have water features and numerous intimate seating areas.  For those who enjoy before and after pictures, here’s a before and after of the street level gardens space — a nice transformation.