Ever Want to Make a Grand Entrance?

Gardeners and non-gardeners alike enjoy having the entry way to their business or organization extend to every visitor a warm and friendly welcome.

Design of the landscaping leading to the front entryway influences how inviting your business or organization appears to visitors.

Have your shrubs overgrown their original boundaries to block windows and often the walkway itself? Has your grand entrance often become an obstacle course - forcing visitors to dodge around tree branches and bushes? Making the approach to the front door an outdoor extension of the lobby or foyer doesn't have to be time consuming or expensive. The following hints are offered to help you make your front walk say "welcome."

• Frame the walkway. Think of this area as an extension of your front lobby. Small trees with branches that create the feeling of a roof or arbor help achieve this. A low fence or hedge lining the walk on the street side and leading to the door creates a kind of low wall and is another way to create this entry-hall effect.

• If folks are forced to walk single file to your door you might want to create a sense of spaciousness by widening your walkway. It should be at least 44" to 48" wide to accommodate two people walking side-by-side. If you're not up to replacement, consider edging both sides of the walk with brick. Precast patio stones set in small gravel can also be used attractively to increase the width.

• Use color and variety. By combining complementary shrubs, ground covers, bulbs and flowers, you can create an entry that changes with and reflects the seasons.

• Trellises, hanging baskets and large clay or ceramic pots are easy to maintain and can add visual highlights and color to your design.

• Consider creating a focal point of interest with a "feature." This can be something as simple as a bench or as elaborate as a patio or fountain.

• The entry walk should be well lit. Consider the low-level low-voltage systems in your design.

• Plan for the eventual mature size of plants you're considering. As they grow with your organization, they can provide years of beauty.

Before beginning, take note of businesses or organizations with entries you like. Plan your design carefully and it will give you and your visitors pleasure for years to come.

Spring-Blooming Shrubs Breathe New Life into Winter Landscapes

After a dull, dreary winter, flowering shrubs bursting into bloom can put a spring in anyone's step. There's nothing quite like the sights and smells of spring blossoms after months of cold, gray weather. Even after their color and fragrance fade away, spring-blooming shrubs can contribute to your landscape by providing shade or serving as backdrops for other plantings.

If you're interested in adding spring-blooming shrubs to your property, here are some favorites you may want to consider:

Forsythia – Provides yellow blooms in early spring and can reach 10' in height. Prefers full sun to partial shade.

Lilac – Purple, pink, red or white blooms in mid-spring. Prefers full sun and can reach 15' in height.

Mountain Laurel – Blooms in late spring with red, pink or white flowers. Grows up to 15' in height and prefers partial shade.

Rhododendron – Pink, red or white blooms in mid-spring. Grows well in full sun to partial shade and can reach 15' in height.

Beyond these, there are dozens of other choices for getting past winter and moving into spring beautifully!

Creating an Outdoor Meeting Space

Studies show that exposure to nature can actually increase productivity while reducing stress. For this reason alone, you may want to consider creating an outdoor meeting spot on your property.

An outdoor meeting space can serve as a welcome respite for busy employees, allowing them to take a break from the stresses of an active office setting. Whether it's used for a short, mid-morning break, a relaxing lunch hour or a staff brainstorming session, an outdoor meeting space is something you and your employees are bound to appreciate and benefit from.

Planning your space

Planning for your outdoor space should focus on four basic elements: location, screening, shade and seating.

The space should be easy to access, yet located away from building entrances and exits to ensure minimal disruptions.

Screening will help to create a quiet, isolated area where employees can enjoy privacy as they relax and recharge or meet to discuss business. Screens can be fashioned from fence materials or plantings, and a combination of both usually works very well.

Shade is also an important factor to consider. If shade trees are already present on your property, we may recommend designing your outdoor spot around them. Or, you might be interested in planting new shade trees. If so, we can recommend the best trees for your property's sun exposure.

Finally, seating considerations may include small groupings of benches or chairs and tables. Ideally, seats and tables will be easily rearranged to accommodate various group sizes and meeting needs.

Once we've decided on the basics of your outdoor space, we can suggest and add other elements such as lighting, turfgrass or decorative plantings.