Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.

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Take A Trip Without Leaving Home


It's becoming pretty clear that travel and vacations are not going to be easy to plan for and probably just not the same as it used to be. Mimi and I know it’s a good thing to take a break. We love to go anywhere with mountains in the summertime. Those mountains and beaches will still be there when the pandemic gets handled one day. Taking trips are how great memories are made. I couldn’t tell you what I did last week or last month at work, but I can tell you exactly what I did on every day of a good ole seven day hike through the mountains with my family.


I also think lasting memories can be made by creating big projects in your yard no matter the budget. It’s a great time to make your yard become a good option for a staycation. The initial money spent will last for years to come and will make your decision to go or not to go an easy one. There are so many options to make your yard become your oasis not once a year but every day for every season. Some projects you might be able to do yourself — a shady water garden to congregate near in the evenings with your favorite person or a vine covered arbor featuring a hammock where you can listen to music and close your eyes and imagine you are on a beach anywhere you want to be.


These areas have to be planned out in advance so when you get the opportunity to work on it it can become a reality without a lot of effort. No airports, no hotels, no overpriced restaurants, no crowds, no rules. That’s what I call a backyard oasis. Some projects are going to take getting some professional help. If an outdoor kitchen or a swimming pool is in the budget, you probably know where you want that to be, but you’ll need a landscape architect to design it because it’s more involved than a pool with some concrete around it. The flow of things is very important and landscape designers with experience can make a big difference. You may want to transform your yard into a beautiful park-like setting with the fire pit area nestled in a great spot for a place to kick back. That can be as simple as a limestone area with a couple of Adirondack chairs and a nice fire pit. With an architect’s help you may wind up with a planted, lighted pathway leading to a round wooden deck where you can kick off your flip flops and relax.


The great thing about getting a landscape plan for your yard is that you can get the work done in phases depending on budget. You can prioritize the parts of the design plan that matter the most to you and have these parts of the yard done first. You may want the paths down first with chop block edges with pea gravel or limestone. Once the paths are created you will have a great base to do your thing with a cut flower garden or a perennial garden to watch the ever-changing flowers do their thing. My mind gets blown when I see the walkway and path ideas on Pinterest and Howz, very inspiring.


The next phase could be big swaths of plants that follow the curves of your paths through the yard with some trees to create shade that will give you some great lighting opportunities. A landscape architect will provide you with the master plan that deals with the drainage, irrigation, retainer walls, lighting, and fountains and plants in the right place. There are some landscape designers who do a great job of designing but don’t have their own installation crews. They will tell you who they like to use for installation.


Our landscape architects at our company design and install. I like this because it allows you to come to the nursery to see the plants in the plan in case you were unfamiliar with some of the names. A landscape architect who designs and installs will have experience with the practicality of the plants included in the plan. The hardiness of a plant in a particularly wet area, a shady area or an area that receives blistering heat and lots of wind, maybe near a lake, can only be known by an architect with lots of experience. The designer who installs wants the plants to do great. They don’t want you to have to call them three months after the job to tell them the plants are having problems.


A landscape architect with lots of experience in our region is less apt to design a plan using plants they are not really sure about. Fortunately Mississippi has quite a few really great landscape companies to choose from. If you have patience and time, it is wise to get to know two or three of them before deciding on the one who will be responsible for changing your world into one that you love and enjoy. You need to have a good feeling about the landscape architect. You need to feel like they are listening to you about your lifestyle and the goals of the project and hear you loud and clear about your budget. You be assured you are working with a reputable company and one you will have a great relationship with well after the project is complete. You want to be able to use the same architect over and over again to keep the flow correct as the next phase comes.


To start your search for the right person, visiting their website will give you a feel for their style. Some architects have a free flowing style with lots of boulders and rock walls while some have a more formal style that might suit your style. I would ask to see three of their projects they are proud to call their own and go take a look at some of their well established projects. We have two of our areas finest architects with five crews that have a lot of experience installing landscape designs. We’ve been changing landscapes since 1960, there are five or six landscape companies in our area who have been doing it that long and there are numerous very good younger companies in our area.


Many of the younger companies architects grew up installing landscape projects while working for some of the companies that have been around a while. That can be a very good thing because you know they have done all the types of work that comes along with installing a design. They will have a very good idea of what a successful landscape will need because they have real experience doing all levels of the craft, real experience is hard to beat. I would suggest before you make an appointment with the architect you have chosen is to do some homework so you will have some idea of what style you would like to head into.


Driving around looking at yards that appeal to you and taking notes, flipping through garden magazines and checking out Pinterest or a site called HOWZ are great ways to discover some ideas you might like. This will save a lot of time and money by giving them some idea of what your goal is. It’s so much fun to see the progress these guys can make with their good equipment and experienced crew. Watching the plants establishing and grow to full size as the plan dictates, you will have added a forever changing form of entertainment to your own spot in this world. Having your own spot will give you a sense of peace all day while you are doing your “have to” stuff. You can know when your day ends you will have this to come home to. We have to really live a little, why not every day instead of once or twice a year. Hopefully you may wind up in your own Shangri-La and take your trips without ever leaving home.

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