bring its thawing and freez-
ing, and heaving will follow.
How deep depends upon
what’s under there.
And then there’s spacing. Those upright junipers
next to the doors—too big
by year four. The lineups of
arborvitae three feet apart!
How about planting with
some information about the
mature size of these plants,
and a five- and ten-year
John Mallia (J & L Premier
Landscape): Poor drainage
and not addressing it can
cause big problems. You
have to establish a stable
base and solid soil compaction. I see problems especially around newbuilds
in disturbed soils. It takes
years for a property to settle, and air pockets lead to
settling and sinking. The
pitch also has to be right,
to lead moisture away from
the house. I’ve seen awful
Eric Page (Woodstream Nursery):
Agreed; big failures come from poor
foundation work. You have to make
informed choices about concrete or a
crusher-run base. After careless jobs,
it’s just a matter of when the settling
will occur. How bad was the winter?
I’ve seen a patio job done in summer,
followed by a bad winter, and by spring
WHAT’S THE HARDSCAPE?
Landscaping comprises two elements: hardscape and softscape. The “soft” part is the gardening aspect of the landscape—the living plants component.
Hardscape includes all inanimate things: walls, paths, pools, boulders, gazebos, trellises, fences, firepits, outdoor kitchens, and fountains. The
hardscape is often the most expensive component.
Plant WNY CNLP Day and
Horticulture 101 (Feb. 1 for
members) and Education Day and
Trade Show (February 2 for public)
Plantasia 2018 (WNY Garden and
Master Gardener Education
Landscape Show): Wed. March
21 Preview night. Show dates
March 22–25, Fairgrounds Event
Center, Hamburg ( plantasiany.com)
Day (public program): March 17,
featuring Doug Tallamy (Bringing
Nature Home) and Sally Cunningham
(What Would Doug Do in your
WNY yard?) ( planywny.com)
it’s a mess. I feel for those people.
And then there’s the chronic problem of burying woody plants far below
the root flare, where the trunk emerges
from the roots. People wonder why the
tree they had planted three years ago
hasn’t grown! Also common: lazy jobs
where workers stuck root balls on top
of compacted soil with a small mound
of soil and mulch around them, calling
it a berm. Those roots will never get
O’Donnell: Poor drainage and lack of
compaction cause many failures. You
need density tests. A compactor might
cost $12,000, but it makes all the difference when you’re supporting that
new patio. You can’t take shortcuts.
Tom Mitchell on landscaping
Tom Mitchell has taught plant science and good landscaping practices to
many hundreds of future landscapers—
for thirty-three years at McKinley High
School and for seven years at Niagara
County Community College. He has
also owned Mitchell Landscaping Inc.
for thirty-nine years. He quickly produced a list of landscaping wrongs that
upset or embarrass him on behalf of the
1. Landscapers should never apply
pesticides without a license. I teach
Pesticide Applicator Safe-
ty Training. The require-
ments are for the health of
landscapers, as well as for
the homeowners, kids, and
animals. I see them hiding
Preen or Round-Up in the
back of the truck and using
it illegally. It’s just foolish.
2. Landscapers not wearing safety glasses or ear protections don’t realize the
damage they’re doing to
3. Lawn care is often
done all wrong, like mowing
hot lawns in midsummer
when the lawn isn’t growing—just because there’s a
contract. Or fertilizers or
herbicides are applied when
they’re not called for. This
does major damage to turf
4. There is too much bad
edging, including plunking
down vinyl edging with no
stakes. It’s going to heave
5. I see too much weed whacker (line
trimmer) or lawn mower damage. This
wounds the trees—leading to disease—
or damages the house siding or fences.
6. There is too much rudeness in
general, including mowing along a
street and discharging the grass into
traffic, or using loud equipment early
in the morning or late at night.
Find the right people
These interviewees are just a handful of the respected landscape designers and installers who can help with
new or renovation landscape projects.
Plant WNY provides a listing of member
companies, showing services and which
ones employ CNLPs. Find the booklets
at nurseries, garden centers, and Plantasia, or visit plantwny.com. You can also
meet and talk with many landscape professionals at Plantasia. But start early.
As Eric Page says, “Please think about
your landscape in February! Don’t wait
until late spring to have a good interview. We do want to get to you, but the
season gets very intense!”
Sally Cunningham is a CNLP, garden writer and
Tim O’Donnell says there are no shortcuts.
speaker, and leads tours for AAA/Horizon club
tours to show gardens and art in in Europe