About our Company

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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The LawnScapes Design Process

Takes place on the job site and is the meeting where we will discuss your needs, preferences, and ideas for your landscaping.  We appreciate you having any measurements, house plans, lot survey, pictures, or any other helpful materials copied and available for the designer to take.  It is a good idea if you go through our design questionnaire before this meeting.  At this meeting we will also provide you with a design contract and upon receiving payment we will add you to the design schedule.  

Site Analysis
This is the phase where we study and visit the site to gain a full understanding of the existing conditions.  We make one more site visit to take measurements, elevations, make note of the sunny and shady spots, elevations, and any other pertinent information required to create a landscape design. 
Schematic Design

In this phase we reconcile the client’s needs and desires with the functional aspects of the site.  During this phase the designer uses a technique call ‘Bubble Diagramming’ to layout the spaces, the pathways between them, and their uses.  Sometimes another meeting is required to discuss these ideas with the client.

Quick Bubble Diagram
Quick Circulation Diagram

Final Plans
This is where the design will be drafted using CAD software.  All elements of the design will be included, and details will be drawn to locate all elements, and to show paving patterns, etc.  When this work is completed a meeting will be scheduled to present the plan, selection of materials, and information on the installation.

Example of a Final Plan

Design Implementation
In this phase we provide the final estimate and proposal for the proposed landscape installation.  Once the proposal is accepted and the initial payment is provided you will be placed on our installation schedule.

LawnScapes Design Services

Masterplan- complete design for your entire property

Landscape Rejuvenation Plan- Plans detailing the removal and replacement of any unhealthy trees, shrubs, and can include transplanting existing plant material. 

Hardscape Plan- Plan detailing walkways, retaining walls, seat walls, and patios.  A hardscape plan Includes proposed materials, dimensions, and paving patterns for the installation.

Landscape Planting Plan- layout plans can detail your entire property or a very small portion of your yard.  These plans include spot plantings, foundation plantings, buffer plantings, shade, native, butterfly, and bird gardens.

Specialty Design Detail- this would include a design for a custom fireplace, bulb plantings, outdoor kitchens, water features, vegetable gardens, perennial plantings (Country Gardens), etc.

Lighting Plan- Layout plan and engineering for outdoor lighting. This includes sizing the transformer, choosing the correct fixtures, and the selecting the correct wire gauge.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Choosing Hardscape Materials

Material choice is, perhaps, the most fun step in a landscape design.  Material can (and will!) determine the direction a project takes.  It can determine the paving pattern, whether the design in curvy or posses straight lines, and the formality of the space.  Do you want a modern feeling space?  Do you want to have a monolithic wall or have it broken up with smaller stone?  Would you like natural stone or an interlocking concrete paving system?  These are all choices you need to make when thinking about a hardscape.  

PA Irregular Flagstone with a reclaimed brick border.
Quarter Ton Brown Boulders are great features in planting beds or dry creek beds.
Materials also determine the character of the space.  Whether you are going for an extremely modern space or want your patio to look like it is a hundred years old, material choice is very important.  Colors, architectural elements, and paving materials all need to work together to create a cohesive space.  At LawnScapes, we like to take our clients to a supplier’s yard to show them the wide range of natural materials and the options to be had.  Nothing is more fun that a shopping trip!  I tend to advise clients to take the time to choose the boulders, colors, and materials in person so that they know exactly what the materials look like. 

The rustic character of this space is accentuated by the stacked stone wall, broken flagstone cap and the stepping stones.
This entry courtyard is meant to be very formal.  The Rectilinear design, double sailor course of brick, and the range pattern flagstone really adds to the gravitas of the space.

Visit Delaware Hardscape Supply’s Website, CST Pavers, and EP Henry to pick out some of your favorite materials.  As always, please do not hesitate to visit our website at www.lawn-scapes.net to give us feedback! 

-Matt Bradley

Friday, May 18, 2012

Race Street Pier

View of the upper level of the pier and the Ben Franklin Bridge.

               A couple of months ago the Race Street Pier in Philadelphia opened to the public.  Since this was a brand new work of landscape architecture right in my backyard I figured I should take a trip into the city to see it.  I hopped a SEPTA Train at the Malvern Station with my trusty road bike, camera, and my head full of great expectations. 

               The Race Street Pier was formerly known as ‘Pier 11’ and was a rundown unused urban space.  Located right next to the Ben Franklin Bridge and offering dramatic views of the Delaware River, this Pier was ripe for redevelopment.  This is one of the first of many public parks built by the Delaware Waterfront Corporation.  Three designs were presented and ‘The Slice’ won.  I must say as a designer this design is spectacularly dynamic.  Check out all of the designs HERE
The lighting at the end of the pier is quite unique.  Place randomly into the pavers, it really creates a show when viewed from the bridge above or even on ground level.

One of the most striking details is the use of ‘Cor-Ten’ steel for the raised planters.  Cor-Ten steel is meant to rust, protecting it from the any further degradation from climatic forces.  Once it takes on the dramatic brownish, red color the protective barrier has formed.  This material really harkens back to the Piers more humble, industrial beginnings.    
The winning design is dominated by a large, sloping ramp that rises along the north side of the pier.  Constructed of ‘Trex’ wood it should last a very long time.  
Dramatic view of the Ben Franklin Bridge
View from the end of the Pier toward the city.  Notice Comcast Center peaking it's head out of the mist.
Native plantings with Cor-Ten steel planters

If you have any question don't hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Composting Tips and Tricks

This week I am going to talk about composting.  We will cover the benefits, the how, and the why.  Composting is a great way to recycle, create your own rich soil, and to amend your existing soil with.  Given air and water in sufficient quantities, a compost pile will create useable soil from waste materials in a very reasonable amount of time.
            There are several potential materials that can be composted:
1.     Leaves
2.     Grass Clippings
3.     Raw Kitchen Materials
4.     Coffee Grounds
5.     Vacuum Cleaner Fluff
6.     Sawdust
7.     Newspapers (must be soaked down, very well)
Woody materials, such as limbs and trimmings should be avoided, because it will slow down the decomposition of your compost pile.  Other materials that should not be included into your compost pile are: cooked food scraps (they will attract wild animals), diseased plants, roots of perennial weeds, and seed of perennial weeds.  Most of these materials will spread disease, or allow weeds to grow.
The compost pile should be constructed in a hidden part of your yard, or garden.  You can build an open, stacked compost pile, or construct a bin out of lumber and chicken wire.  Do not try to compost in a close bin or a trash can, because they do not allow proper air circulation bacteria need to digest materials.  To build an open compost pile you should start with a 1’ thick layer of grass clippings, leaves, or hay laid in a 5’x5’ square.  Pack this layer down and wet it well with a hose.  Once wet, sprinkle on ammonium sulfate (if your soil is basic) or sodium nitrate (if you soil is acidic).  Cover this preliminary layer with at least two inches of soil.  Continue this process gradually by adding material as it becomes available.  After each 12” layer of suitable material is completed, wet and cover with soil exactly like the first layer until the pile is about 5’ tall.  The top layer should be covered with 3”-4” of soil and be slightly concave to catch rain water.  Make sure to keep your compost pile slightly wet at all times to speed up decomposition.
      When the compost is ready it will be black or dark brown, crumbly, and sweet smelling.  This process can take about 3 months in the summer and slightly longer in the winter but, depends upon how much material you can contribute.  Now get out there and make some soil!  If you any questions don't hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

LawnScapes Spring Clean Up!!!!

Well spring is here and it is time to get your landscaping in order!  Right now is the perfect time to call us and schedule a LawnScapes Spring Clean Up.  Our Spring Clean Up includes spreading 14-14-14 fertilizer on all beds to feed all of your plants all year long.  Any mulch that is built up more than 2” thick will be removed and raked down.  Extra mulch built up around plants can promote disease and general unhealthiness.  Our crew members will weed the beds, spread pellitized pre-emergent (to prevent Spring weed growth), and then spread and dress new 2” of new mulch of your choice.  Perhaps one of the most important things is cutting back your perennials and properly trimming your shrubs and trees.  In short let us do all the dirty work for you so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the weather!  Check out mulch options HERE.  IF you have any questions don't hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

Cherry Blossoms! In mid-March....
               Well, it is looking like we are going to get an extra month of spring here in South Eastern Pennsylvania!  Last year it snowed on April 1st!  Here at LawnScapes we have been in contact with our suppliers and everyone is ready to go.  99% of the perennials are ready to be picked up, shrubs and trees are ready to be planted, and our guys are itching’ to get back to work.  Mike and I think that it would be best to wait until at least the second week in April for any planting, just to head off any freak frosts we might have but, mulching and spring clean ups are a go.  Let’s enjoy this weather and use it to get a jump start on our summer projects!  Go ahead and schedule your spring clean up and mulching job so your yard is ready for that Easter Egg Hunt.  Since the ground never really froze this winter, the weeds are getting a head start and we need to head them off at the pass.  Please call us for your lawn weed and feed so we can get your lawn looking great for the months ahead.  If you have any questions don't hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

-Matt Bradley, BLA, PCH 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Light vs. Dark in the Landscape

               Lighting is a very important element to consider when designing a garden or landscape.  There are two basic considerations when applying lighting: Safety, and enhancing aesthetic appeal of plants and architectural elements.  In more public landscape designs lighting a path or space with more (and brighter) lights is a necessary for safety, but too much lighting in the home landscape will detract from its appeal.  In the private garden use lights to play with the effects of light and dark, adding mystery to the landscape.  When using lights in the landscape do not try to recreate the effect of daytime; play light against dark, use to highlight trees and other elements.  Good lighting creates a magical experience.  Most importantly low voltage landscape lighting is a low cost way to add that 'little touch' to finish of your new walkway, planting design, or patio.  Once more thing I think is important is to over-size your lighting transformer.  We alway recommend doubling the wattage so that you can add to your lighting scheme at a later date.   

 Ways I like to Use Landscape Lighting:
·        Light gathering spaces with soft light to create a nice ambiance.

·        Think about the type of mood you want to create when designing the lighting for an area.

o   Lighting can be designed to be dimmed.

o   Lighting can be designed to be redirected.

·        Lighting fixtures come in all shapes and sizes.

o   Fixtures should be installed and matched carefully to the overall design.

·        On stairs, the lights can be built into the risers, into the railings, or into a wall next to the stairs.

o   Stairs must be lit because of safety concerns.

·        12”-18” tall fixtures, casting light onto the ground plane is the most important to safety.

o   Important not to shine lights into the pedestrian’s eyes.

o   Most of this type of lighting is placed along the division between the planting bed and the pathway, creating a sense of mystery. 

·        Ambient light is subtle and more appealing.

o   Avoid focused light unless you are highlighting specific elements.

o   Think about uplighting your house, trees, and sculptures.

·        Try using non-permanent lights such as tiki torches to create a nice, soft glow, for parties, and gatherings.

o   White lights in trees provide a nice effect all year long.

o   Think about using votive candles to provide instant ambience.

·        Try using white blooming annuals or perennials because they reflect the most amount of light.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

-Matt Bradley

Friday, February 24, 2012

What is a Sensory Garden?

               Sensory gardens can be designed to serve many functions from teaching, socializing, healing, and therapy.  The best designs can blend all the senses together but the different senses can be focused on in individual areas.  The sensory garden focuses on one of the five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste.  Designs can be both stimulate and help relax at the same time.  These gardens appeal to people with an impairment of one or more senses. 
Design Considerations:
·        Hardscape:
o   Raise planters to provide access to plants.
o   Think about materials you are using for walls, walkways, and seating
§  Smooth materials such as thermal cut stone, metal, and sanded wood.
§  Rough materials such as tree bark, rough stone, and tumble brick.
o   Signage in a sensory garden is a key feature.
§  Signs of plant characteristics and uses will encourage interaction.
§  If designing for the visually impaired consider Braille signage.
·        Plant Selections
o   As with any planting design choose plants that work well in your zone and the microclimate that the garden is in.
o   Avoiding plants that require a lot of pesticides or chemical upkeep as well as plants that are poisonous or can cause severe allergic reactions.
o   Many plants can provide multiple sensory experiences
§  Tomatoes provide touch with their hair leaves, smell from their foliage, and taste from their fruit.
o   Think about themes in your planting design
§  Design a grouping that are all plants used for medicinal purposes
§  Design a grouping that provides spices in another area of the world
·        Sight
o   Sight is by far the most important sense to the human species and because of this it is the most important in the garden as well.  Play with this sense by providing different colors, textures, movements, form, light, and shadow. 
o   Even people with severe visual impairment can perceive “blobs” of color, light, and shadow.
·        Sound
o   Sound is an important element in the design of a sensory garden.  Sound is a very important if you are visually impaired.  A sensory garden should play on this sense.
o   Plants rustle in the wind, wind chimes ring, birds chirp, include water, and gravel crunches under foot.
·        Smell
o   Smell is a very emotional and associative sense.  We remember smells throughout our lives.
o   Smell is another sense that is good for the visually impaired. 
o   Many edible plants have strong scents.
o   Place fragrant plants next to walkways and seating areas for the biggest effect.
·        Touch
o   Touch is an important sense but needs to be carefully regulated in the sensory garden. 
o   Plants with thorns should be avoided or placed where they cannot be touched.
o   Plants that are going to be handled should be chosen with their robustness in mind.
o   Think about soft flowers, rough tree bark, slick leaves, and sticky sap.
o   A lawn appeals to many senses including touch.  Provide an area for a visitor to lay down and enjoy the touch and the smell of a lawn. 
·        Taste
o   Taste is another sense that a designer need to carefully regulate.  Be careful to not provide plants for tasting that could be poisonous or cause a severe allergic reaction.
o   When planting a garden for tasting be sure to provide enough to ensure everyone has a chance to taste.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

-Matt Bradley

Friday, February 17, 2012

Longwood Gardens

        In early June my parents and grandma made a trip from Athens, Georgia all the way to West Chester, Pennsylvania to visit my wife and me.  My Grandma was left to my wife and me to entertain while my mother and stepfather went to the Carlyle Car Show.  Knowing my Grandma to be a garden enthusiast that had buckets of plants she was ‘rooting’ and planting beds full of random varieties, we decided to take her to Longwood Gardens.  Now my wife and I had visited Longwood once before when we made the initial trip up here and needless to say I was quite smitten with the gardens.  I was extremely excited to visit again because now I would recognize more species of plants, more of the native stone, and I could draw on this trip for inspiration for upcoming projects.  So on an uneventful Wednesday morning we picked up my Grandma from the hotel and preceded to Longwood.  Granny was so excited that she talked our ear off the entire 30 minute ride from West Chester.  She had apparently done her research, she knew that Longwood was a Du Pont mansion and had over 1,000 acres of gardens. 
        We arrived, paid the entrance fee, and got Granny set up with an electric scooter.  We then immediately started exploring.  The first thing that caught my eye was the light green color and fine texture of the deciduous Dawn Redwoods against the stone work of this building.        

    The light green of the needles is really set off by the brown tones of the stone work and window casements.  When the Dawn Redwood starts to show its fall colors (a really bright orangey-red) these colors will still work!  Once I stopped and took pictures of this our General (Granny) continued our forced march deeper into the gardens.  The perennial and annual plantings along the entry allee really caught my eye and once again I begged to stop.

I really appreciate the eye for detail in these plantings.  When they were laid out the installers really took the time to insure the spacing was correct and it shows.

I love these Pink Spider Plant blooms combined with the foliage of the Coleus.
The allee' terminates with this simple but beautifully finished fountain.

This drainage grate is another detail around the fountain that really caught my eye.
        Once I had exhausted my significant other by pointing out all of the details and plantings I liked along the entry allee, we started to explore all the ‘outdoor rooms’ off of the allee.  We started by exploring this space because of its interesting form and mixed paving materials.
The mix of classic red brick and full color flagstone really influenced my design work this past summer.
We walked down the first flight of stairs and I noticed the classic stone work and cast iron handrail.
The next level down Sarah and I found this square fountain surrounded by intricate annual plantings, really showing off the thought and labor that this type of design work and installation requires

Turning around in this space we found even more to look at.  I love this planter fountain and the lush plantings in simple clay pots around it.

Our exploration of this space completed we continued on.  Cresting the top of the final set of stairs we realized we had lost Granny!  We quickly set off to find her though we were sure she was old enough to take care of herself, besides; we had a lot to look at and take in!  The next space that really caught my eye was this sunny sitting area that took advantage of the inherent structure of Boxwood, Celosia, and Ornamental Grasses.  I especially loved the simple, straight, concrete stairs creating a nice level change.
Paving for a patio or walkway can be as simple as compacting some stone dust.

The concrete stairs and stone retaining wall are set off with boxwoods and a potter plant.
        When we finally found Granny she had found her way to what Longwood refers to as the “Large Lake.”  She was sitting and looking at the interesting structure that allows a view to the other end.  I found the carving and the cast iron work to be very interesting.  Looking at the ground, I realized how important this type of interplay between light and shadow is in a garden.  This inspired me to think about these elements more when designing!

Looking up through the cast iron dome.

The shadow of the dome on the ground.
View of the large lake.

After marveling at how big the carp in the lake were we all turned our attention to the Italian Water Garden.  While you are not allowed into the space, the elevated vantage point affords good views.  The fountains pulse giving a sense of expectation and energy to the space that is palatable. 
This space is rooted in the classic Italian Renaissance Garden Style.  The formality of the forms, the allee of trees, and the proportionality really draws the eye!  This would be a great space for sunbathing!  Another interesting feature of this space is the waterfall steps.

This looks like a great place to cool your heels!
        The next place we stopped was the ‘Lookout Loft’  and I must say that this was the most exciting and inspiring structure at Longwood Gardens (in my opinion)!  The attention to detail in this structure is just mind blowing.  From the hand brazed copper, to the copper balusters, and the twigs/branches composing the roof.  The coolest thing about this structure is the innovative ways devised to experience the garden.  The one I thought was the coolest was the ‘listening device.’  This device amplified the sounds coming from the immediate area and piped them directly into your ear.   
Branches composing the roof lend an airy feel to the structure.

Part of the listening device.

This is an example of making art functional.  What a great detail!

Bell of the listening device.

Copper balustrades with very intricate detailing.

        As you can tell I was quite enamored with this structure.  I cannot wait to revisit it to take more pictures of this amazing piece of art!  The next stop was the Longwood Garden Conservatory.  This one amazing glass structure could be a day’s worth of exploring on its own!  With an amazing array of tropical plants, fountains, and indoor landscaping was mind numbing. 
View of the conservatory

Main Entrance

        Directly across from the Conservatory is the Main Fountain Garden.  This space is pretty self explanatory and amazing!  Hang out in the provided chairs and on the benches and just take it all in.
The Main Fountain Garden

The perfect sitting area

Fenced garden area.

The bluestone and the brick work very well together.  The Adirondack Chairs are begging to be used!
I really like this planting detail.  Mixture of boxwood and red leaved barberries.
        The next stop was the Chimes Tower; and what an amazing structure it is!  This tower overlooks a nice pond that originates at the Eye of Water.  This is definitely one of my favorite things to photograph at Longwood.

Chimes Tower from below.
Chimes Tower with the Conservatory peeking from behing.

        By this time Sarah and I were exhausted from chasing Granny around on her electrified scooter.  We all made an agreement that we would make our exit from this amazing green and lush wonderland.  The drive home was filled with talk of the labor and work that must go into maintaining the plantings at that level.  It has now been almost six months since my family has visited and every time I speak to Granny she tells me how much she enjoyed the trip to Longwood.  Well Granny, I enjoyed it as much as you did! 

Housed in the conservatory is the amazing organ and dance hall.  The ceiling in this room is absolutely amazing.
Look at the rose colored glass! Amazing!

Intricate parquet floor of the dance hall.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

-Matt Bradley