Why should I work with a landscape designer?
A professional landscape designer spends their life thinking about the subject; they come to your garden filled with knowledge, creative ideas and imagination to develop a custom design that is uniquely suited to your home, lifestyle and personal preferences.
Landscape design is challenging from an artistic, environmental, architectural, engineering and horticultural viewpoint. Unlike other art forms, a garden is not a static creation, but a dynamic, evolving ecosystem that requires continued inputs and energy over time. Its creation requires careful thought on different levels: botanically (which plants to choose), spatially (where to put what), seasonally (how will it look year-round?) and temporally (what will it look like in ten years?). A landscape designer factors all these things in and then adds an element of style that provides the spirit of the garden.
By spending time with a landscape designer to work through the design details during the planning phase, you will save money and time, as it is less costly to consider the alternatives and change your mind on paper than it is during installation or after completion. Landscape design consists of a process that culminates in the creation of a set of documents that become your blueprint and information source for the project. These documents will assist you in obtaining comparable bids from landscape contractors to fully develop your site either in a single project or in phases over time.
A landscape designer will work with you to create this master plan, selecting the most appropriate materials & plants for your site and budget, developing solutions for specific problems on your property (i.e. privacy, noise, etc.), and finding the best people in the landscape industry to help bring the vision for your garden to reality.
Additional benefits of working with a landscape designer include assistance with quality control/site observation during installation, the opportunity to purchase plants at considerable savings from retail prices, and formation of a relationship with someone who can provide ongoing consultation as the garden changes and matures.
- The initial consultation consists of an onsite meeting to hear your ideas/vision for the property.
- Discuss possibilities for the site based upon your wishes and budget. Upon mutual determination that we have a good basis for partnership, I will prepare a design services proposal indicating the scope of work and the estimated fees for the project.
- Client questionnaire review. Assimilation of all input from your completed client questionnaire, review of favorite photos/gardens, budget discussion and determination of a color palette for the garden.
- Site analysis & base map preparation. Includes measuring site, taking photographs, analyzing soil, conducting building code research, observing sun/shade/wind patterns, noting drainage issues/noise problems/privacy issues, and identifying plant material to be retained/removed/relocated.
- Concept sketches & client review. Once I complete the base plan, I will develop one or more ideas for you to review. We may also look at examples from books or photographs to help select a design concept & direction.
- Preliminary plan development & client review. Determine final location & design for all desired site elements, including patios/decking, walkways, fences, arbors, play areas, outdoor kitchens/eating areas, pool/spa/water features, lawn and planting beds, trees and general plant materials. Determine building material specifications for the hardscape elements and develop landscape lighting plan, if desired.
- Planting plan development & client review. Develop plan showing specific location of all plant material, including botanical & common names, quantity and size of each plant selected. Includes picture report of all plants.
- Master plan preparation. Prepare final conceptual plan which may include any or all of the following: demolition plan, hardscape plan with building materials legend, construction notes/details, lighting plan, planting plan & proposed irrigation zoning plan.
Why should I hire a licensed & insured landscape contractor?
Hiring a licensed, bonded and insured landscape contractor helps to protect you and your property. Hiring an unlicensed contractor can bring your project far more risks than savings. You can be held liable for on-the-job injuries, taxes or insurance. You can be held responsible for complying with city and county codes or correcting problems with workmanship and warranties. You can even be held liable for an unlicensed contractor’s illegal acts. You can check the license status for any contractor you consider hiring by going to https://fortress.wa.gov/lni/bbip/. Be sure to check their references as well before you hire them.
It is always a good idea to ask for a written certificate of insurance from any contractor you choose to hire to verify that they have workers’ compensation, general liability & business auto insurance coverage currently in force; this is usually available upon request at no additional charge. Workers’ compensation insurance protects you from liability in case a worker employed by the landscape contractor is injured on your property. General liability insurance protects against calamities such as floods or landslides caused by construction. Business automobile insurance provides additional protection when a contractor’s vehicle is involved in an accident on your property.
When is the best time of year to do a landscape installation?
Fall and spring are generally the best times to plant. Plants that have been dug from nurseries in the fall are generally dormant and less likely to stress from transplanting. The dormant season allows the plant’s root structure to grow and become established before energy is expended in the spring and summer to produce top growth. Regularly scheduled watering in the winter months is still necessary to help plants survive.
Some definition of “fall” is needed, as it relates to the landscape industry. The planting season associated with “fall” has more to do with the dropping of leaves and moisture content of the ground than a specific date on the calendar. Rainy periods in the fall make the digging and transport of plants from the fields difficult. Conversely, dry periods in the fall can be tricky because it becomes more difficult to keep soil undisturbed around root balls. We try to work with the elements to find the best way to install a landscape.
When planting in the summer months, additional care and attention will be required to insure plant viability. Plants that are to be installed in the summer should be dug from the nurseries early, “healed in” to protect roots from drying out, and carefully monitored from the time of installation throughout the warmer months.
Are there guidelines regarding the watering of newly installed landscape plants?
Yes. Watering is vital for establishing newly planted trees and shrubs. However, over-watering is a common mistake that forces oxygen out of the soil around the roots and can lead to death of a shrubs and trees. A good indication of too much water is yellowing of the foliage that develops first on the inside leaves and progresses to outer leaves. Of course every plant is different, so it is important to find out the correct guidelines for your specific plant.
What kind of service is provided after the installation?
We offer the first years maintenance included with installation. After the first year, maintenance service contracts are offered.
- Checking bulbs
- Cleaning lenses
- Making minor adjustments to fixtures if foliage has grown around
- Trimming and minor pruning around fixtures
- Adjusting timing clocks
- Checking wire runs for malfunction due to animals or accidental abrasion from lawn care equipment
I would like to reduce my energy consumption. Can you help?
We sure can. Low voltage lighting uses about 1/3 of the energy as line voltage. Low voltage 35- 50 watt lamps can replicate 75 watt line voltage lamps. With the new LED lamps we have available, power consumption is reduced even more.
Do I need to plan ahead for a Landscape Lighting System?
Most of our projects are installed to existing landscaping. If you are having any landscaping or hardscaping done first, have 1″ Schedule 40 conduits run under any patio, walkway, or driveway hardscaping if possible. If your home is new construction, ask that a dedicated GFCI outlet be placed outside in a convenient location to areas of your property.
What damage will occur to my landscaping?
Unlike Line voltage type lighting which requires deep trenches and disrupts lawns and landscaping, we use mostly hand tools to run wire and place fixtures in 6” slit trenches. In some cases a small trenching blade is used. Usually, the only evidence we were there are the wonderful lighting effects.
How does a DeWitt Landscaping Lighting System compare to a big Home Store lighting kit?
There is no comparison. A professionally designed and installed lighting system uses components and techniques that are far superior to these home store kits. We use only copper and brass fixtures with 15yr. and lifetime warranties. Home store fixtures will usually not work or look very good after a year. When you feel one of our fixtures in your hands at the consultation you will see and feel the difference.
How much does one of your Landscape Lighting systems cost?
Depending on your property features, smaller systems start around $2,000 and take 1-2 days to complete. Medium size projects are about $4,000-$6,000 taking 3-5 days. Larger size projects are $6000 and up.
How is my new system controlled?
Most of our systems use a hassle free design, utilizing a photocell and timer combination. This turns your system on automatically at dark and turns off at a desired time. We also offer remote control and motion controlled home automation systems if you desire. These home automation controls can tie into any existing lighting scene in the home.
What is the transformer?
The transformer is the unit that converts the line voltage power from the home into low voltage power for our fixtures. All of our wiring goes into the transformer cabinet usually mounted on the side of the home near available power outlets. Timers and photo cell controls are connected in this cabinet.
My home in the city has a small garden that has very nice landscaped details; can it be illuminated?
Intimate garden settings are a specialty of ours. Too often small garden settings are too bright. A few carefully positioned fixtures highlighting select landscape or architectural fixtures can create a beautiful effect while maintaining the charm of a small garden setting.
My home is currently under construction; when is the proper time to get you involved with landscape lighting?
It is a good time to begin discussing distribution of electrical power during the planning and construction of your home. As landscape designs are developed, we can develop our lighting design.
My home is on a narrow lot and I don’t want the lighting spilling onto my neighbor’s property. Do you have a solution?
Our fixtures are fully adjustable and include glare control shields. These features allow our installation crews to be very precise in directing fixtures to light specific areas of the garden.
Will you be available to maintain my lighting system after you install it?
We have highly trained maintenance crews available to keep your lighting system in excellent condition. We also maintain an extensive inventory of fixture components in our warehouses and our work vehicles.
I am interested in replacing my current landscape lighting system because the lamps are always burning out. Will your lighting system be different?
The lamps we use in our lighting systems are long life and energy efficient. Many of the lamps we use have an average life of five years or more.
I have seen landscape lighting systems where the fixtures are quite visible during the day, and I feel they detract from the beauty of the landscape. Do you take this into account with your lighting designs?
Our fixtures are painted to blend with plant foliage and are concealed in the landscape and in trees. Our goal is to provide our clients a beautiful evening setting that is quite natural and replicates the feeling of a moonlit evening.
Irrigation Installation and Repair
Will installation destroy my lawn?
We strive to do irrigation installations unnoticed. Generally, all lawns grow back within 14 days.
How long does installation take?
Most residential jobs can be completed in only a few days.
What kind of irrigation systems do you install?
We install Rain Bird professional products and focus our efforts on maximizing efficiency and ease of use. We recommend installing timers that offer multiple programs and start times to fully customize the irrigation schedule to fit your property’s unique requirements. We use low precipitation sprinklers for lawns, and drip irrigation for practically everything else (including drip micro-sprayers for veggie-gardens).
Is there a backlog for installations?
It depends on the time of year. The spring is the busiest time and it is always better to sign up early (even in the winter). We install system years around. Ask us about off season pricing
How long does the typical system last?
As long as periodic maintenance is performed, systems should last a minimum of 30 years. Ask about our lifetime warranty on the systems we install.
I hear there are many types of sprinklers. What are they?
Rotary: These are single stream sprinklers that “rotate”. They shoot a stream of water approximately 25-40’. Rotaries are used for large grass areas and can be used for shrubs that are located strategically.
Spray: These put forth a spray of water and do not turn. The distance of throw can be anywhere from 4-15’. Mist sprinklers are used to water foundation shrubs and those areas where neatness and deep-root soaking is a priority.
Drip irrigation: Another word for drip irrigation is point source. We can meet almost any need of each plant. Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of irrigating. While sprinkler systems are around 75-85% efficient, drip systems typically are 90% or higher. What that means is much less wasted water.
What are the components of an automatic sprinklers system?
A typical system is comprised of a controller (which functions as the brains of the system), valves (which open and close to release and stop the flow of water to underground pipes) and sprinklers (which distribute water to specific areas). The sprinkler system can be customized further with rain shut off devices, soil moisture sensors and drip irrigation zones.
Do you warranty your repairs?
We have a 90 day labor repair on most repairs. Most parts we install have manufactures warranties. Because each situation is different, we will look at each repair and explain this guarantee.
What maintenance is recommended and how much does it cost?
The system should be blown out, with compressed air, every fall. It should be turned on and properly cleaned and adjusted each spring. Generally the cost is less than $200.00 per year.
Turn-On: Each zone is turned on. Every sprinkler is checked for coverage, direction of spray, and any necessary repairs are made.
Turn-Off: A high powered compressor is attached to the system and compressed air is fed through every line to be sure there is little, if any water left in the system over the winter. Ask about our no break guarantee.
Why do I need a lawn maintenance program?
Landscape maintenance includes mowing of lawn, edging areas bordered by sidewalks, curbs and driveways; removing clippings and organic material caused by mowing and edging from sidewalk, curbs, driveways and other surfaced areas; pruning bushes, shrubs and ornamental trees; trimming perennials, grasses and ground covers; leaf removal and planting bed maintenance. Most homeowners are too busy to provide the constant care usually necessary to maintain an attractive turf. An effective maintenance program involves fertilization, watering, mowing, and cultivation. A lawns appearance, after it has been established depends on a sound maintenance program.
What does landscape maintenance cost?
DeWitt Landscaping determines the cost for maintenance service based on the size of your lawn, planting beds and the amount of pruning required. Give us a call to receive an estimate of cost for maintenance for your property. We will survey your site, evaluate the property’s needs, and develop a proposal that is customized to your specific circumstances.
Do you provide weekly service through the winter months?
Yes, there are many winter time projects to do. We prune shrubs and trees as well as cutting back perennials. Lawn care, winter fertilizer, and moss control are a few of the other things that we address. Winter is also a good time for detail raking out bark or mulch, removing leaves and keeping your yard clean.
Do I need to aerate? When?
If you have never aerated, your turf likely needs it. Aeration punches 2″-3″ deep holes through thatch, turf, and compacted clay soil. Core aerators then deposit these plugs on top of the turf, where they eventually decompose. This allows for air, nutrients, and water to reach the roots of your lawn. We recommend doing this on a yearly basis. Best times to aerate are spring and fall.
The benefits include:
- Reduces soil compaction
- Improves grass rooting
- Promotes thatch breakdown
- Improves drought tolerance
- Enhanced fertilizer uptake
- Lime and fertilizer penetrate the soil much faster
I was told my lawn is getting a thick thatch layer that will soon become a problem, so what can I do?
The first few years with a new lawn are usually problem-free, at least when it comes to thatch build-up. But if you have been following an aggressive fertilization program with 4 or more applications of nitrogen per year, you will soon start to build a thick thatch layer. Once thatch exceeds 1/2-inch thick on lawns, all sorts of problems will become more prevalent.
Your best “preventative medicine” is core aeration: Once per year is standard, but we would recommend twice a year (spring + fall) on lawns with 1/2-inch or more of thatch. Leave the soil cores on the lawn surface to breakdown on their own. If your soil pH permits, apply a light application of lime following aeration. Over-seed bare spots with a similar seed mix — the seed landing in aeration holes will grow if the season and conditions are right.
What are the benefits of Over-seeding?
For large bare and damaged areas we recommend over-seeding, this will fill in thin areas in your. After aeration is a great time to over-seed your lawn.
The benefits include:
- Helps to thicken lawn and fill in thin weak areas
- Incorporates seed varieties that grow well in both sun and shade
- Introduces healthy young grass that can better resist heat and drought stress
I have brown (or yellow or dead) spots in my turf. Why?
If the spots are 12 inches or smaller in diameter, they may be pet urine. (If you see it happen, pour a gallon of water over urine to dilute it.) If you applied a herbicide to kill weeds, this could be the culprit (read labels before use: some have max temps for app, while some may not be listed as ‘safe’ for your type of grass). Some critters (like grubs/larvae, nematodes, and insects) eat parts of your grass, and fungi may attack if conditions are favorable. There is no short answer, but many websites offer pathogen ID assistance. Healthy turf can withstand many pests, but good cultural practices insure best results in any situation.
What is the benefit to mowing my grass weekly, opposed to every other week?
When the grass is actively growing, you should mow often enough so you never cut more than one third of the grass blade each time. For cool season grasses, the peak time for top growth is in the spring and you will need to cut it weekly at a minimum. Waiting two weeks to mow could result in stressing the lawn, and promoting diseases.
What do I do with the grass clippings?
If you are mowing regularly and not removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade height, clippings can be left on the lawn and will provide a nutrient source to the grass plant as the organic material decays. When leaving clippings on the lawn, it is important to check the thickness of thatch. A thatch layer greater than 1 inch may prevent the clippings from reaching the soil. In this case, you will need to bag the clippings or de-thatch your lawn.
What steps need to be taken to prepare my lawn for winter?
- Several final steps will help your lawn in late fall (October into November in Washington).
- Ensure your grass is cut short enough (but not scalped) to prevent it from “laying over” under any snow cover.
- A 2 to 2-1/2 inch cutting height should be sufficient. It’s actually best to gradually lower your cutting height over the final three cuts of the year, instead of trying to do it all in one final cut.
Check for any last minute leaf accumulations that may smother your grass.
- If your lawn soil test calls for lime, late fall is considered the best time of year to make a lime application. Retest your lawn soil every three to five years for deficiencies.
- Late fall is the time to apply fall/winter fertilizers — these are usually high in potassium, which helps winter hardiness and disease prevention. Even though top growth of your lawn has ceased, the roots remain active to “pick up” the nutrients. If you’re applying both lime and fertilizer, it’s best to separate the applications by two weeks.
Why prune in winter?
Shrubs and trees go dormant in the winter. They send and store their ‘food’ into the roots rather than to the branches to promote growth making it less of a loss to the shrub or tree. It is extremely important to know your plants, so that you do not cut off precious flower or fruit buds.
Snow Removal & Ice Control
Is applying a heavy application of granular ice melting product the most effective ice melt strategy?
Excessive ice melt product applications can result in tracking and potential landscape damage. The most effective ice melt strategy is to pre treat the area at the recommended rate on the bag. This will prevent the ice from bonding on the surface.
Will the ice melter you use harm my family, property or landscape?
We use the most powerful, non-corrosive and environmentally-friendly ice melter on the market to protect people, pets and property.
- Effective to -5°F (-21°C)
- Less damaging to concrete and metal
- Contains vegetation enhancers and protectors
- Safe, nontoxic to humans, animals and vegetation
Why do you feel it is necessary to start your route so early in the am or in the middle of the night?
For the safety of our operators and equipment and those out on the roads with us, we believe snow removal operations in the middle of the night are the safest and most productive.
What is DeWitt Landscaping policy on end of the year property repairs?
DeWitt Landscaping will reasonably repair damage to your property caused by our sole gross negligence. DeWitt Landscaping is not responsible for chain marks, scratches or gouges resulting from normal snow removal operations, nor will be responsible for driveway damage resulting from poor construction, driveways that sink due to a saturated base or poor compaction. DeWitt Landscaping is not responsible for damage to property left in, constructed or placed adjacent to the driveway that is not clearly visible to the operator and properly marked by the homeowner.