Garden care is a service that on the surface appears very simple, but in reality is not. This is a sophisticated science of cultivation, many elements of which are designed prior to the garden itself ever being planted. While many people visualize the care and cultivation of thriving, healthy plants when they think of tending a garden, the reality is that several of the most important aspects of garden care must be handled prior to the planting of any vegetation.
One of these elements is the creation of an effective drainage system in and around the garden. Drains are not as easy to install as you might assume. Water can collect in the strangest of places in a yard, and it often tends to flow toward cultivated areas because of the softer soils they contain, and because they may lie at a slightly lower level than the surrounding yard. Engineering a system of siphoning excess rainwater away from plants and flowers is not nearly as much of a challenge as concealing the work we do. We want to avoid visible pipes, grating, and any type of visible hole in the ground that would detract from the beauty of the foliage. Our planning and development team puts a great deal of care and effort into not only creating speedy methods of draining water, but also hiding the mechanisms we build to accomplish this within decorative elements that conceal function behind ornamentation.
An equally important foundational element of garden care is the engineering of an irrigation system. Houston can go for several months during the hottest parts of the summer without any rain. Most exotic and tropical species we plant will not survive these months without an irrigation system. We strongly recommend to all of our clients that they avoid living out the postcards scenes of watering gardens with hoses. While this represents a nostalgic element of Americana, it is fantasy, not good gardening sense. Spraying water on top of leaves makes them vulnerable to fungal growth which threatens plant health and diminishes aesthetic. Also, this helps keep plants cooler, because the prismatic effect that water droplets have will actually intensify the heat of the sun when it shines down on plants that have been sprayed by hoses or sprinklers. Instead, it is much better to irrigate plants near the ground, under the leaves, so the water will soak directly to the roots and avoid touching the green parts of the plant that can become diseased when they are too wet.
Soil is another element of garden care that requires more foresight and planning than homeowners normally consider. Most of our clients who contact us for the first time already have some sort of garden that has not been doing very well. We normally discover, after inspecting the plants, that the contents of the soil has played a major role in its deterioration. Many of these gardens are do-it-yourself jobs made by tilling the soil and adding store-bought fertilizers from plant shops. The problem with many of these fertilizers is they are mixed for popular species of flowering plants and may contain chemicals or lack nutrients that are better suited to the more tropical and exotic plants we tend to use in garden design planning. It is much better to hire a team with botanical training that can first select the desired plant species, then prepare special soil and nutrient mixtures specifically mixed for the unique grouping of plants in that particular garden
Care must also be taken to maintain the garden’s physical appearance, so the basics of clipping, weeding, and trimming that you see in even the simplest of flower beds must also be done in the more complex forms as well. Once again, this is something we recommend people hire a professional landscaping firm to do. Not all plants can be trimmed or cut in the same way, so it is unlikely that any yard services company can guess how to safely prune each and every unique species they would find in any of our gardens. Also, many of our designs involve planting a diversity of species to create a conglomeration of color and greenery, or to form recognizable patterns and discernable styles such as the parterre garden, the knot garden, the English garden, the Italian garden, and the Japanese garden. Care of these styles should always be done by trained professionals who understand these forms and how to best maintain their appearance as well as their vitality.
We recommend to all of our clients that garden design be handled as part of a landscaping maintenance agreement with Exterior Worlds. This will ensure that the team that planted the garden and knows it better than anyone else works that garden and keeps it vibrant and healthy. Regularly scheduled maintenance will also prove more cost effective than pay as you go service calls because it is included in the bundled cost of our maintenance agreement. For more information on the many types of maintenance agreements we negotiate with our clients, visit our article on the topic on this website.