Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining a Charming English Garden - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining a Charming English Garden

Photo: Dan Degrush

Located in Cherry Hills, Colorado, upon two acres of English garden-style landscape, is a European cottage-style home. The home has a pool, a main entertaining space, and a few smaller patio areas that contain flower beds, rocky paths, and a wide-ranging lawn area.

In order to correctly maintain this residence, Lifescape Colorado was hired to take on the project.

“Lifescape designed and installed the project originally and was then selected to maintain the property,” says Rachelle Folsom, director of business development and marketing at Lifescape. “Our history and comprehensive understanding of the property created strong trust with the client.”

Due to Lifescape’s successful maintenance of the home, the project received a Gold Award in the 2021 Awards of Excellence.

Photo: Dan Degrush

“Our company strongly values national recognition from our peers and experts in our industry,” Folsom says. “National awards speak to our ability to keep up with trends and best practices. We prefer not to declare ourselves the best at what we do. It is much more powerful to site recognition from organizations like NALP.”

The landscape design is incredibly enduring, and the maintenance process is very successful. However, the project did not come without its own set of challenges.

The multiple layers of dense flowerbeds need a precise balance of order and chaos. Lifescape’s crew does not over-manicure the flowers, giving them the perfect mix of lush and healthy. This has to be done to all of the flowers; and there is a never-ending number of annual plants.

The irrigation system was old and faulty, so a phased plan was required in order to update and replace it; this required the most time out of all other aspects of the project. Mature plants grew into the mainlines, causing leaks in some places, and requiring a mature shrub to be dug up and replanted to repair the leak.

Since the home is located in Colorado, the company also has to deal with extreme weather conditions. The client has a strong desire to maintain an English Garden style landscape, but maintaining this look throughout all four seasons, and keeping it lush and healthy, is incredibly challenging. According to Folsom, this was the biggest challenge Lifescape has faced.

Photo: Dan Degrush

To deal with these weather challenges, Lifescape has a strict maintenance schedule, including 28 weekly visits from April through October, along with one spring clean-up and two in the fall. The crew includes three people led by a garden manager, and about two and a half hours per week is spent working on the landscape.

Lifescape also prioritizes patience. Since Colorado has such a dry climate, creating a thriving landscape with lots of plant life can be difficult, so it took the crew a lot of time to learn which plants will fill in first, which will fade first, and so on.

New irrigation zones have also been added to accommodate the number of annuals present. Irrigation audits had also been performed, allowing the crew to understand the ways water is wasted as well as how to solve problems like leaks, incorrect pressure, and more. The watering times are managed according to the weather-based smart controllers, applying water when it is needed. The controller also waters in zones, allowing the water to absorb into the landscape before returning to finish watering; this method allows for less water to be wasted.

Lifescape prunes selectively, encouraging the growth of strong and healthy plants that can resist pests and weather damage. Fertilization is performed specifically to accommodate the needs of the plants and turf, using a special fertilization that is slow-releasing and organic. Lifescape uses an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to pesticides, which looks for new pest issues and uses environmentally friendly pesticides when the landscape’s threshold is met.

Photo: Dan Degrush

The pine trees located on the property are tended to weekly to prevent beetle issues, and they are pruned with a unique technique to retain a more mature look.

The Lifescape team developed a proprietary mix of organics that maintains a healthy garden for the short and long term. With the right balance of minerals as well as compost beds and top dress turf, the crew is able to keep the soil uniform in texture throughout the root area.

The mulch is fluffed in the spring and fall, and it’s always made sure that the mulch is about three to four inches to retain moisture, reduce runoff and mediate soil temperatures.

Communication was strongly required throughout the project and wouldn’t have been as successful without it.

“Our team relies on strong communication between our landscape design, property care and irrigation teams in order for the property care team to effectively maintain the level of color and mature growth the client desires,” Folsom says.

Now, the landscape is properly maturing and thriving according to the goals that Lifescape has set for the property.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects when entries open in February 2023.