Bloom offers both traditional 2D landscape design but we prefer to give clients 3D designs, thanks to the new technology that allows us to easily use existing pictures to create beautiful renderings. We are your landscape design gurus, as we have completed over 1000 designs in Hampton Roads. Many people have hired us to do designs before they put their contact out for bid. We offer our design services to both customers and non-customers for a fee.

Landscape Design - Do it right the first time

Our company has practical approach to landscape design.

We have completed over 3500 landscaping installation projects since 2011 and here is our practical approach to landscape design, and mistakes to avoid when hiring a architect or landscape designer.

1. Maintenance. Maintenance. Maintenance.

When doing your landscape design, take into consideration who will maintain the plants being installed. So often we are impressed with designs that feature lots of different plants with different blooms, textures, growing patters. But who will maintain all this? We encourage homeowners to really stop and consider that plants are live.. they change, grow, they need care, they need pruning, cutting back.. trimming, at very specific times of the year… most people today do not have the time and patience to maintain a difficult landscape, so unless you understand the challenge and the work required, we recommend to keep your landscaping simple and easy to maintain. Reducing your plants to less than a dozen species will help reduce headaches down the road. (our apologies in advance to the landscape architects and master gardeners reading these who are cringing)

2. Soil Condition

If your soil is poor (meaning you can see clay sticking out) or “grass wont grow” chances are the soil is not very good. You can amend the soil by removing the clay and adding better soil, or you can select plants that like clay. Soil condition is very important to determine to ensure that plants installed will grow

3. Sun /Shade

Ensure that plants recommended will do well in the conditions given. Some plants that have a yellow coloration such as abelia, gold mop cypress, will loose their desired yellow color when placed in shade, and will struggle overall. Emerald Gem Arborvitae planted in the shade will not grow very well and may die unexpectedly.

4. Planting close to trees

Existing trees suck up all the water from underneath them and their roots will block new plants from getting established. Getting plants to grow under trees is a special art in itself. You have to bring in soil on top of existing roots (but not too much and not everywhere or you risk killing the surrounding trees) this new soil can be used as a planting medium for the new plants. Consider breaking up some of the existing tree roots (but not to much or the tree can fall over during a storm) this process is an art, and in general we do not recommend planting under larger trees (exceptions would be liriope or ivy)

5. How big will these plants eventually get?

Many people fail to plan out more than 5 years. Many plants just keep growing and growing and don’t stop no matter how much you prune them. Eventually you may loose control of a shrub as it gets too large, starts blocking your driveway, walkway, and window. We have removed so many shrubs installed by other companies who failed to advise the homeowner that the shrubs they selected will eventually outgrow their space. Correct planning and selecting of smaller shrubs can resolve this.

6. Watering Needs

95% of shrubs don’t need irrigation after the first year. Afterall, most of the homes in our area do not have irrigation, but still have green landscaping. Irrigation is only needed to maintain a fescue lawn during the summer, for new shrubs installed in the summer, and for certain flowers. You don’t need an irrigation system to have great landscaping. If you do have a system, ensure its optimized and efficiently planned. We often see unnecessary irrigation lines in beds that cause shrubs to grow too fast, get tangled up with the root system, and later cause preventable leaks. We recommend irrigation only or your lawn areas if you are the SE Virginia area.

7. Deer and Rabbits?

Please note that our native wildlife may want to share your garden with you, and may want to try some of the things you are installing…. If you live in a wooded area chances are there is Deere. Consult with our company about what shrubs are deer resistant so that your new plant material doesn’t turn into an all you can eat buffet right after installation. We once had a homeowner in Williamsburg who used another landscaping company (we won’t say their name but they should just stick to cutting grass), the homeowner spent $15,000 in new plant material, and all of it was gone in the 1st week. Literally all plants were eaten by deer. It turns out that the homeowner had a wish list of plants and the landscaper instead of advising the homeowner that this won’t work, went ahead and ordered the plants as the homeowner suggested. Just doing a simple google search would have revealed that the selected plants were favorite deer food. Please check out our blog article about deer resistant plants for the Virginia Area.

8. High Risk Plants .

there are certain shrubs that only live two to five years, and they get sold by many nurseries in our area who appear to be more concerned about lining their pockets and getting rid of old inventory. Avoid these at all costs. One example is the Indian Hawthorne. These don’t live more than three years, and when they die, they have to be replaced en masse. We have seem homeowners out $5000 dollars because someone sold them Indian Hawthorne, the poor homeowners assumed the shrubs would be good for 10 or 15 years only to find out after 24 months that all the shrubs have died. These Junk shrubs are varieties that once were popular, however due to diseases and other pathogens have a low survival rate. We don’t understand why nurseries still sell them. Other high risk plants are ones that are difficulty to grow and have a low survival rate, contact us for a complete list, we are happy to recommend plants that will live and grow even if you don’t water them, and never fertilizer them, Afterall, most of us want plants that are hard to kill and easy to maintain.

9. Concrete- be careful when deciding to pour concrete, it is very difficult to remove later. We recommend using pavers instead, they can be removed and re-installed as needed if you later decide to change the shape of your patio.

10. Breakers- consider breaking up your large patio and add room for greenery. This will create a more attractive outdoor space.

11. Use Different shapes. A square patio combined with a circle kit, creates an interesting shape and desirable architectural details for your backyard.

12. Firepits and outdoor firepits too close to home. We have recently visited a homeowner who called us to extend a patio further out away from her home and to move the firepit. The previous contractor installed a firepit (a wood burning one) just eight feet from their home. This is not just a fire hazard but a nuisance. When the family lit up the fireplace, the entire house filled with smoke from the firepit, their pets were in a complete panic and sprinted out of the house, and the smell of smoke lasted for days. Be sure your firepit and outdoor kitchen are placed away from your home so that the smoke does not blow into the windows and doors.

13. Drainage Planning- very important to plan good drainage for your new patio. Even if it’s a walkway or small patio, a new hard surface could block runoff water, it could trap water between the walkway and the house, or the excavation of the area could create a new water issue. Be sure to speak to our experts first before putting in a patio to ensure that he drainage will be correct and there wont be any standing water. Some yards are very complicated especially if your home is near a wetland. The installation of a new patio may require French drains, and potentially a sump pump to carry the water away from the patio if the land frequently floods.

14. Concrete vs Pavers – For those who are considering concrete our recommendation is not to use it, its not worth the small savings that come with using it. Concrete cracks and then it cannot be repaired. Use pavers instead for a more upscale look and for easy repair and maintenance. We have different pavers that come in different price ranges, for those on a budget, we do have some very economic pavers that will be sure to work instead of concrete.

15. Hiring an architect? When is a certified 3rd party landscape architect required? We have an in house design team to create 3D designs for our clients. Our experience is unparallel due to having completed so many projects. Landscape Architects are usually recommended for projects where there is permitting needed, and where the customer has a very specific vision that they wish to see in 3D before proceeding with the work. Usually, we see landscape architects used where there is new construction and where the projects exceeds $50,000 in cost. Our design team uses professional cad software to create designs of your outdoor space. Our plans and design fees will usually be 50% of what a 3rd party independent certified architect would charge, and they equally qualify for permitting approval. Call us today if you need landscape design services or you just wish to get ideas for your outdoor living space.

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