Some Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the more frequently asked questions we get and have gotten through the years. Don’t see your question here? Don’t worry, drop us a note and ask. We will answer it on a “In the Yard” episode, and even send you a link to the video once it is completed!

Can Gary draw a design for my home?

Yes! The Designers Landscape is a fully licensed landscape design and installation contracting company located in Jacksonville, Florida. Our design fees range from $350 to $750 for 1/2 plan layouts and $1000 to $1500 for a full front and backyard design, listing specific plant types and amounts. To get more information Click Here

Why doesn't Gary do more projects in other parts of the country?

Simple answer is budget restrictions. We will gladly travel to any part of the US however it is an added expense for the homeowner. What we do encourage our viewers to do is to take note of the concepts presented in our shows. While plant varieties may vary depending upon where you are (we are in NE Florida, zone 8/9) the general concept of design will remain the same in any climate.

I keep hearing the term "Aztec Grass", what is it and is it readily available?

Aztec Grass, botanical name: Ophiopogon Jaburan, is a border grass similar to liriope, but is of the same family as mondo grass. It can take sun or shade, is very low maintenance and doesn’t require lots of watering. As far as tolerance, it will go through zone 8 as a perennial, but into zones 7 and 6 it will only work as an annual due to the cold. It may experience tip burn in cooler weather, but it is easily snipped off. For a alternate plant, look for variegated Liriope, golden variegated Hakone or any of the sedge grass varieties.

What type of fertilizer does Gary use?

The fertilizer that Gary uses is a time release formula with a 18-7-10 ratio. The time release formulation will not burn roots while allowing a steady release over a 6 to 9 month period.

Where can I get the paint marker gun Gary uses?

The marker gun Gary uses is sold by Lesco. The gun is part #001719 and the turf marking paint is sold under part 018181. The paint is sold by the case of 12. Many Home Depot and Lowes stores carry the product or you can call Lesco at 1-800-321-5325.

Why doesn't Gary use edging?

We endorse regular trimming and edging over wood that can rot or plastic that will dry out. Gary has used edging in the past, at the homeowner’s request. When we do use edging, we recommend a more permanent edging such as concrete curbing, stone or brick. However this is simply a matter of owner/designer preference.

Why doesn't Gary use weed block?

Again, this is at the homeowners request. We endorse proper mulching and minimal chemical control to keep them at bay. Here in Florida our soil is sandy, so weeds don’t take hold as well as in northern climates. If you have a persistent weed problem, it is best to use a weed block to control it.

What is meant by the term "Xeriscape"?

Xeriscape is a new term which is used to define an old, yet simple concept: use plants where they will thrive with existing conditions.

All plants fall into certain categories. Therefore, find out which categories they are in before you buy them. Do they require sun vs. shade? Do they need regular watering, or will an occasional rainfall’s supply be enough?

You will find that common sense goes a long way in the landscape. For instance, if you have an area in your yard that receives little sun and minimal water, then choose a plant for the area which is suitable for the conditions.

Natural or native varieties are excellent xeriscape plants! Unlike many foreign varieties, they are accustomed to local conditions and thrive in them, due to suitable climate and soil. And here’s a bonus – native plants are usually more resistant to native pests!

By following these guidelines, you may find that you decrease the necessary amount of running time for your irrigation system. However, you can go one step further! By using the different stations on your irrigation controller, you can supply individual areas of your yard with different amounts of water. No need to over water one variety in order to provide enough water for another! This not only produces healthier plants, but it reduces waste water (a limited natural resource) and cuts the costs of water bills.

In addition, don’t forget to use mulch to hinder the evaporation of water from the soil.

When is the best time to fertilize?

Most people would say that spring is the best time to fertilize.

However, fertilize in early fall for best results. The addition of electrolytes to the plant system will help the plant resist cold damage and tip burn.

Moreover, they will have a faster recovery than those without fall fertilization. By resisting damage and quickly recovering, they will be well prepared for the severe heat of the upcoming year.

Repeat application in summer for best performance. As a rule, plants should be fertilized a minimum of 3 to 4 times a year or once a season for best performance.

When is the best time to plant?

Spring and early fall are the best times to plant.

At this time of year, it is easiest for plants to recover from the stresses that accompany planting.

In addition, they will be easier to establish because they will not require as much water as those planted during warm seasons. Fall planting also allows for new root growth before hard freezes occur. Thus, these plants have an increased chance of successful over wintering. They will be well prepared for the intense temperatures of summer.

Even though fall is a great time to plant, planting may be done throughout the year. In fact, even in the hottest months plants will thrive with proper care. However, they will have to be carefully watched and watered often.

If nurseries can keep their plants healthy while in containers all summer, surely you can keep them alive and well in your landscape.

When is the best time to prune?

Different varieties require different pruning times.

However, here are a few guidelines which can lead you in the right direction:

Do not prune plants while they are in bloom. After all flowers drop, prune as often as necessary until new buds form. Do not prune during periods of freezing temperatures. New growth is more susceptible to tip burn and cold damage.

Finally, plants with no flowers can be planted anytime.

What is meant by low maintenance landscaping?

Low maintenance landscape is one which requires the most minimal care possible.

There are two basic areas to consider when attempting this approach to landscape design.

First of all, design a landscape which is informal or natural. Formal designs contain numerous hedges and topiaries which require excessive trimming. However, informal and natural designs make use of plants’ natural growth habits. Therefore, a smaller amount of time will need to be spent trimming, with exception to seasonal pruning to promote shoot growth and bud formation.

Secondly, choose plant material that does not require much pruning, fertilizing, pest/disease control or watering. Consider using native varieties which have proven to be dependable. By taking notice of older plant specimens within your own community, you should be able to gain a basic feel of what plants are hardy in your area, and require minimal care. Also consider using dwarf or low plant types. For example, plants with more compact growth have less need for pruning. In addition, it is easier to prune them because they are low to the ground and their branches are accessible.

The following list is an assortment of ‘low maintenance’, gardener-friendly plants that are often seen on The Designer’s Landscape:

  • Aztec Grass
  • ‘Evergreen Giant’ Liriope
  • Iris
  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Dwarf Lantana
  • Nandina
  • Parsons Juniper
  • Blue Pacific Juniper
  • East Palatka Holly Tree
  • Live Oak Tree

If these plants are unavailable in your area, ask a local nursery to help you find comparable varieties.

I see Gary using a tree a lot, especially around mail boxes. What is it?

East Palatka Holly- Ilex attenuata.  It can grow up to 25′, but slowly.  It is good through zone 5.   Gary Alan also uses Savannah Holly that can be pruned to any desirable height needed.

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