Now Reading
Size Does Matter
SIGN UP
Dark Light

Size Does Matter

15yearsago

15yearsago

‘Surely you’ve heard this line before and never believed it,’ declared Stephanie Rose to open her June 1999 Natural Companions column, ‘but I’m here to tell you that size does matter.

‘Have you ever, for example, built a pond or fountain with concrete either surrounding it or fanning out from it beneath the soil – and then had your clients say they wanted a very mature tree or shrub planted right up against the edge? There you are with six inches of soil (maximum!) to work with,’ she continued, ‘and there’s just no way to get a 24-inch box into the space. Now what?’

***

‘Say, for instance, that your clients want a tropical look with palms, ferns and other large-leaf plants. Assume also that they don’t want to wait years for the palms in particular to mature to a reasonable size – and are willing to pay for a large container.’

***

‘If your plan provides for this space, there’s no problem. If not, your clients may ask you to tear out part of the watershape to accommodate the plant – which could be disastrous. The clients will be unhappy because the design won’t look the way they envisioned it, and you’ll be upset because you have to jeopardize the integrity of your structure or plumbing to allow for something that should have been considered from the start!’

***

‘That’s why I make it a policy to ask, before we break ground, what types of plants my clients want in their yards and, in a general sense, where they want them. Now is the time to determine how close to the watershape the plants will be and where the planting beds will go.’

***

‘Drawings and plans are always the best way to avoid mistakes – and having them in hand before you begin your watershaping project is the best tool you can have as you do your own designing and planning. You won’t have to make “field adjustments,” for example, or stop in midstream to re-coordinate with the other trades involved in the project.’

***

‘Incidentally, if your clients aren’t comfortable working with a plan and would rather plant “visually” later in the project, my suggestion is to avoid problems by assuming they’ll want the largest, most mature plants possible right up against the edge of your watershape. If that’s not what they decide, you’ve given yourself plenty of flexibility.’

***

‘It’s also important beforehand to determine whether or not the selected plants have invasive root systems. It would be a shame, after all, if the roots of the ficus you planted up against your clients’ pond ended up cracking the shell in two! Bottom line: If you know what types of plants you’ll be installing and where, you can allow for enough planting space, please your clients and avoid headaches later on.’

***

‘As you think about planting space, it’s also important to remember that the plants will have to cohabitate with all of your plumbing. How deep are your lines and how does their space align with plantings? You don’t need me to tell you what the codes say about burying your lines; I will suggest that you need to think things through if they are to be buried beneath planting beds.’

***

‘Another problem we’ve encountered is when plumbing and electrical lines are set right up against a house or other structure. . . . This is often an issue right around equipment pads. Most clients simply don’t know that the enclosure may have a 3-by-3 footing and that you won’t be able to plant anything bigger than a 1-gallon plant against it.’

***

‘The key here,’ Stephanie concluded, ‘is to get creative and show your clients that you can work with them to resolve the problem. Indeed, creativity can be your best ally in keeping your clients happy and setting yourself up for future referrals. . . . [S]ize does matter. And knowing that simple fact can make everything fit better.’

Have you run up against this sort of plant-size issue in your watershaping? Was planning enough? If changes were required, how did you accommodate your clients’ desires while serving the needs of the watershape? Please share your stories and insights in the comment section below!

Stephanie Rose wrote her Natural Companions column for WaterShapes for eight years and also served as editor of LandShapes magazine. She may be reached at [email protected]

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2021 WaterShapes. All Rights Reserved. Designed Powered By GrossiWeb

Scroll To Top