Flipping through Pinterest or Instagram for landscaping ideas is a great way to get inspired. It’s also lots of fun, but be careful: sometimes the internet can make things look a lot easier than they really are. Although all those articles would have you believe otherwise, comprehensive landscaping is not a DIY job.
When it comes to landscape design in central NJ, the operative word is design.
Understanding Landscape Design in Central NJ
Landscape design is about more than just planting some flowers in the springtime and thinking your work is done. A real landscape architect will consider your entire property and work to create a cohesive look that incorporates your home, patio space, hardscaping structures like retaining walls and ponds, walkways, and plantings like trees, shrubs and perennials. It’s one thing to have an idea for a single portion of your property, but a great designer sees the big picture and knows how to make everything come together.
It’s also important to have expertise on your side. You would never try to build a house on your own if you didn’t know how to properly lay a concrete foundation or build a wall from the studs up, and landscaping is no different. When you want your structures and plants to last, you need to start by selecting the right materials for the unique conditions of central New Jersey. That photo of an outdoor kitchen in Arizona may look lovely, but if you don’t consider rain and snow, you’ll ultimately be very disappointed and mistakes can be costly.
Special Considerations: Landscape Design in Central NJ
To make sure you end up with a design that looks right on the Eastern Seaboard (as opposed to California or the Desert Southwest), it’s a good idea to work with local experts in landscape design. What’s more, you’ll need someone who is familiar with the soil and growing conditions of your backyard to make sure your design stands the test of time.
In particular, a New Jersey landscaping professional can help you understand:
- Soil Conditions: Depending on where you’re located within the state, your house could be sitting on some tricky ground. Lots of North Central New Jersey land is atop a shelf of stone and many areas have rocky soil. This can create a challenge when clearing the land for a patio, digging a swimming pool or planting a tree. Likewise, other parts of Central NJ have heavy, clay soil that will need extra attention to drainage to avoid standing water after heavy rains. A good landscape designer will be intimately familiar with local conditions to alleviate any problems before they become an issue.
- Harsh Winter Weather: You don’t have to live here long to know that New Jersey gets some wild weather. The higher your elevation, the more important it is to pay attention to the freeze/thaw cycles in winter. This can wreak havoc on hardscape materials if you don’t choose something that will stand up to frost heaves and icy conditions without cracking like pavers and natural stone. Check with a professional for your best options.
- Plant Seasonality: Weather can also be challenging for trees, shrubs and plants if you don’t choose varieties that will thrive in Central NJ. A great landscape designer knows all about which selections to make for both sunny and shady spots. They can also steer you toward species that can take the summer humidity or winter cold and great options for problems like salt air and more. They can also advise you on choosing plants that deer won’t eat. The best plants are ones that will flourish without too much extra work on your part — plants that need life support will only make you hate them as time goes on.
Working With a Professional Landscape Architect
There are a lot of details to consider when it comes to your landscaping. When you work with a professional contractor, you’ll have someone with you every step of the way to build your perfect landscape.
For starters, a great landscape architect will come to you. A site visit is crucial, and the first thing he or she will do is survey your property and note trouble areas like difficult slopes, rocky soil and unattractive views of the neighbors’ garage. Once your property is diagrammed and diagnosed, your landscape designer will listen to your ideas and consider your wish list of must-have elements in your design. With all that information in mind, the landscape designer comes up with a layout for your approval.
With the basic design in hand, you’ll be consulted about every design decision involved in making it a reality. This means final approval of building materials and plants based on recommendations that the designer knows from experience are solid investments.
You’ll know you’ve chosen the right designer when you find someone who is willing to listen to your ideas while at the same time making prudent suggestions about how to get the look you want in a way that makes sense for the New Jersey land and climate. You should feel heard during the design process, and you should also be impressed with the designer’s past work and creativity in coming up with ideas for your property.
Professional landscape design matters. In an area with cold winters that can kill plants and even destroy certain types of hardscaping materials, you need to rely on expert advice to get the most beautiful results for your investment.