Landscape Fun Fact of the Day:
Landscaping Services are an $82 billion dollar per year industry in the U.S. alone. More than 500,000 businesses employ over 1 million people. For a list of standard services within the industry, just take a look at the services offered by Rolling Acres Landscaping.
In the landscape industry (as well as in just about every subject matter) knowledge is power. And no knowledge is put more to the test, than the knowledge of landscape plantings. There’s no denying that plants are the quintessential reason clients of the landscape industry pick up their phones and call their local professional. And there are some psychoanalytic theories to support this. Based on several experimental studies, the presence of plants in different settings (i.e. home, work, school, and even hospitals) have been shown to lower blood pressure, increase attentiveness, improve well-being, improve perceptions of the space, lower levels of anxiety, and create a sense of nostalgia.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, the average landscape designer has a plant palate of around 250 different genera (the plural form of the word genus) of trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. These genera can then be further divided into actual species; of which there might be 1,000 or so that are pretty widely used by industry experts. A good example of this is Boxwood. One genus, but about 20 industry popular species that will all range in size, growth habit, leaf, and color. With all of the various options out there, that’s why knowledge is critical. A good landscape designer is expected to know so many factors about each and every species of plant. Common questions that require answers when figuring out what plant to use in a space include:
- How big will it get?
- What will it look like during each season?
- Will it flower, and if so, what colors are the flowers?
- When does it bloom and for how long?
- Is it evergreen or deciduous (also perennial or annual)?
- Is it low maintenance?
- Can it handle full sun, full shade, or a combination of both?
- Are there any pests or diseases that might affect it?
- What type of soil will it thrive in? Well drained or constantly wet?
Additionally, important follow up questions include, can I find this plant locally and will it be within my clients’ budget when I do? Certainly, this is a lot of information for any one person to know, but this is our job and we understand the importance of knowing the answers. Additionally, now more than ever, there are a lot of resources available to help us with finding some of these answers. Some have gained this information the old school way, by going to school for Landscape Architecture, having years of experience, working in nurseries or garden centers, or by having another landscape professional take them under their wing and teach them. Some of the knowledge comes from mistakes made in the past or experimenting with different items. Younger landscape designers have found the answers they need using the internet and the myriad of information that can be sourced from it. Older landscape designers might still have their copy of Michael Dirr’s The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, whose 1,187-page, fifth edition encyclopedia currently sits on my desk. Dirr’s encyclopedia had revolutionized the way landscape designers across the county got the answers to these questions after it first came out.
And I don’t want to make being a landscape designer out to be this difficult nut to crack, after all it’s not rocket science. But, a certain knowledge does command respect in our field of expertise. After all, it will be the landscape designer, as well as the plants chosen which will have a lasting effect on the spaces around you.