The Art of Landscape

enter image description here You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Our landscape guru, Mark Umbarger of Creative Nature Landscaping, answers questions on how to stand out and keep your gardens & flowers looking beautiful as we head into spring in the mountains.

What are the Top 5 things you can do to enhance your home with landscaping before list or enjoy while you own? 1. Make sure the irrigation heads, nozzles etc. are working properly, each zone is timed appropriately for sun and shade, and not over-spraying on to walks and structures. 2. With older homes prune or remove overgrown shrubs and plant material that is past it’s prime to create more openness and space in gardens. 3. Plant bulbs for early season color and incorporate annuals and perennials so that something is always blooming. 4. Dethatch and Aerate lawns to alleviate soil compaction from snow and enable air and water to reach the rootzone of the grass. 5. Have trees annually checked for pests and pruned to remove hazardous limbs and promote beneficial growth.

What are you seeing as far as trends for landscaping? In concert with new home construction we are seeing more modern elements being incorporated into landscape architecture as well. This would include larger massing of the same plant material to create broad monochromatic groups of color. More linear plantings are being drawn for clean lines and incorporating decorative gravels and ornamental grasses for different colors and textures. We are also seeing a lot more outdoor entertaining spaces with stone or concrete patios, fire pits, water features and pools to create a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor living.

How many of your accounts are going organic for planting? We have not gotten a large push from clients to go organic on new plantings for perennial flowers or shrubs for example, because the products just aren’t out there in large enough quantities. We do see organics for vegetable gardens. We also encourage clients to use organic fertilizers and compost from local sources.

Does water cost for landscaping effect their decision making? In my experience the cost of water in our valley has not been a deterrent for extensive landscaping. There is a mix of water conscious people and those that want their landscaping to look like South Florida. Xeriscaping has not really caught on well here yet. We are seeing more water conscious plant choices and even drought tolerant sod species being recommended in the design process. The City of Aspen recently passed an ordinance to regulate water use for irrigation to ensure best practices where possible.

Whats the best thing to do to catch people’s eye when you pull up to a house? I would recommend adding color with perennials and annuals along walks and paths to draw your eye to the front entrance. Nice pots or planters on the front porch are a nice touch.

How does the snow fall effect landscaping? The past couple of years we have seen very dry fall and winter seasons. This is problematic because irrigation systems are typically turned off in October. Some plant material and especially recently planted trees need water long after the irrigation is turned off so it is a good idea to hand water through extended dry periods even when it is below freezing until the irrigation is turned back on in May.


Mark Umbarger, President of Creative Nature Landscaping

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