Gardening often starts in small ways, beginning with a few pots of annuals. As interest grows, so does the effort. Landscape planning is the natural progression, culminating in a complete re-do of an existing yard, or, in the case of a new space, starting from scratch.
The list of things to consider may seem daunting. For example, is the space sloped? Are the fences leaning? Is a pathway desirable? What’s the lot size. Also, what are the environmental givens such as light exposure, existing trees, and plants? Pets? Colour schemes. Budget. Personal style. DIY or hire a professional? But beyond question, the most important considerations are scale and balance. There can be nothing more jarring than enormous spruce growing in the middle of a smaller yard.
“Always be mindful of the mature size of all plant material. Imagine how the yard will look 20 years down the road, advises Jordan Reti, founder, and owner of Lions Bridge Landscaping (lionsbridge.com). The native Calgarian has been transforming Calgary and area yards for 16 years.
Before taking the landscaping leap, homeowners should be aware of three things: budget, timeline, and quality. “My team and I pride ourselves on being able to achieve two of the three consistently, but it is challenging to achieve all three,” Reti notes. If someone wants a job done quickly and inexpensively, they should not expect the Rolls Royce of materials. Conversely, if the homeowner has substantial funds, quality is guaranteed. “The biggest mistake you can make is to rush a project. Not everything needs to be done all at once. It’s living artwork that is constantly changing and just gets better over time. “
The project featured here was completed in 2019. The re-do required coring the entire yard, removing 2.5 cm of material throughout. The transformation of the oversized southwest yard took two months. “One of the most rewarding things about this job was that the clients and I shared a common passion,” says Reti.
The clients are avid gardeners and were involved every step of the way. The scope of the project was vast and included new fencing, flagstones, a state-of-the-art irrigation system, dozens of perennials and shrubs, multiple trees, and the piece de resistance, a fabulous water feature. That was added as the scope of the project grew. Putting the water feature in the corner of the yard was the perfect place as an elevated installation on a flat landscape would look out of place in the middle of the yard.
Reti and his team of five used a variety of tree sizes, ensuring the yard didn’t look ‘time-stamped.” “You get really good value out of potted trees, which are good to mix with caliper trees that are much more expensive,” says Reti.
Speaking of value, Reti advises to budget between five and 10 percent of a home’s value toward landscaping. A $600,000 home could easily warrant a $30,000 to $60,000 landscape budget. Always have a master plan in mind starting with site lines, especially in the city. Start with the structural elements — trees, poles, concrete, hardscape, and the like and then dress it up with smaller details like lighting.
Reti closes with these final thoughts. “A lot of people often assume that landscaping is always about curb appeal and they forget to take into account homeowner enjoyment. Landscaping is like a greeting when someone comes to your home. Do you want to greet them with a handshake or an embrace?”
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