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Q. What are the benefits of Mulch?

Our choice over the last year has been new “Grade ‘A’ Eucalyptus Mulch from Aaction Mulch”! It provides the same functions of other mulches with these added benefits; aeoromatic eucalyptus aroma, resists many pests and insects, won’t float away, and comes in a variety of colors.

Q. Can Gary draw a design for my home?

Yes! The Designer's Landscape is a fully licensed landscape design and installation contracting company located in Jacksonville, FL. Our design fees range from $350 - $750  for 1/2 plan layouts and $1000 - $1500 for a full front and backyard design listing specific plant types and amounts. Call The Designers Landscape at 904 396-0611 to discuss options.

Q. What is "Aztec Grass?"  Can I find some for my landscape?

Aztec grass, botanical name: Ophiopogon jaburan, is a border grass similar to liriope, but is of the same family as mondo grass. It can take sun or shade, is very low maintenance and doesn't require lots of watering. As far as tolerance it will go through zone 8 as a perennial, but into zones 7 and 6 it will only work as an annual due to the cold. It may experience tip burn in cooler weather, but it is easily snipped off. For a "replacement" plant, look for variegated Liriope (Liriope muscari ‘Varigatum') golden variegated Hakone (Hakonechloa mocra ‘Aureda') or any of the sedge grass varieties.

Q. What is the fertilizer Gary uses?

The fertilizer Gary uses is Osmocote Sierrablend, a Scott's blend, a time release formula with a 18-7-10 ratio. The time-release formulation will not burn roots while allowing a steady release over 6-9 months of fertilizer.

Q. Where can I get the paint marker gun Gary uses?

The marker gun is also sold by Lesco. Prices: $14.30 for the gun (part# 001719) and $34.95 for 1 case (12) of Tournament Turf Marking Paint (part# 018181). Get together with a neighbor and split a case! Phone: 800-321-5325. Also Home Depot and Lowes now carry this product.

Q. Does Gary have a book?

Not yet. We do have a How-To -Video series available for you to "become your own designer". This 4 ˝ hour series presents a slowed -down, in-depth, design -install format that is guaranteed to make you a "Landscape Designer". At $49.95 plus $4.95 shipping/handling (Florida residents add $3.25 sales tax) it's a small investment for the net worth you'll receive and should be done before you spend hundreds of dollars on plants and trees. Call us at 904 396-0611 for more details or to order.

Q. Why doesn't Gary do more projects in other parts of the country?

Simple - budget restrictions. We hope to travel in the near future to provide our viewers with a more well rounded look of American landscapes. At the moment, we have no budget or sponsorship to travel. When we do, it's at the homeowner's cost. We encourage our viewers to take note of the design concepts brought out in the program rather than specific plant types or varieties. Our climate zone in North Florida (zone 8/9) influences the plants and trees grown locally and you can expect to find some, but not all of these if your zone differs.

Q. What is the name of the tree Gary uses a lot, mostly near mailboxes?

East Palatka Holly- Ilex attenuata.  It can grow up to 25', but slowly.  It is good through zone 5.   Gary Alan also uses Savannah Holly that can be pruned to any desirable height needed.

Q. Why doesn't Gary use edging?

We endorse regular trimming and edging over wood that can rot or plastic that will dry out. Gary has used edging in the past, at the homeowner's request. We recommend a more permanent edging such as concrete curbing, stone, or brick.  However this is simply a matter of owner- designer preference.

Q. Why doesn't Gary use weed block?

Again, this is at the homeowner's request. We endorse proper mulching and minimal chemical control to keep them at bay. Here in Florida our soil is sandy, so weeds don't take hold as well as in northern climates. If you have a persistent weed problem, it is best to use it.

Q. Can I order the shows on video tape?

Yes. Just call us 904 396-0611 with the episode number or airdate and network (PBS). Each show is $24.95 plus $4.95 s/h (Florida residence add $3.25 sales tax).

Q. Any books, websites, computer programs or videos Gary recommends?

CD Roms: Better Homes & Gardens Sunset Western Gardens

Books: Readers Digest Guide to Gardening

Web sites:,,

Q. What is Xeriscape?

Xeriscape is a new term which is used to define an old, yet simple concept: use plants where they will thrive with existing conditions.

All plants fall into certain categories. Therefore, find out which categories they are in before you buy them. Do they require sun vs. shade? Do they need regular watering, or will an occasional rainfall's supply be enough?

You will find that common sense goes a long way in the landscape. For instance, if you have an area in your yard that receives little sun and minimal water, then choose a plant for the area which is suitable for the conditions.

Natural or native varieties are excellent xeriscape plants! Unlike many foreign varieties, they are accustomed to local conditions and thrive in them, due to suitable climate and soil. And here's a bonus - native plants are usually more resistant to native pests!

By following these guidelines, you may find that you decrease the necessary amount of running time for your irrigation system. However, you can go one step further! By using the different stations on your irrigation controller, you can supply individual areas of your yard with different amounts of water. No need to over water one variety in order to provide enough water for another! This not only produces healthier plants, but it reduces waste water (a limited natural resource) and cuts the costs of water bills.

In addition, don't forget to use mulch to hinder the evaporation of water from the soil.

Q. What are the benefits of mulch?

Widely used as a cosmetic material, mulch delivers a finished touch to landscapes across America.

However, seldom realized are the true rewards that correctly installed mulch can provide. In fact, mulch plays an important role in the landscape. Not only does it look attractive, but is beneficial to plant health, as well.

By definition, mulch is any material spread on the ground around plants to provide for:

  • soil moisture retention
  • weed suppression
  • improved soil temperature
  • a wind and water moderator and
  • nutrient availability.

With dozens of materials to choose from, you may be wondering which is the right mulch for your landscape. If you have existing pine trees on your property, you may decide to make use of free pine straw. However, if pine straw is not available or appealing to you, then consider these key words upon selecting your mulch

  • cost, availability
  • ease of application
  • appearance
  • water retention
  • water penetration
  • lasting power
  • staying power
  • and odor.

The three kinds of mulch designers use most are pine bark, pine straw and shredded cypress bark. Each performs well in most of the guideline areas, listed above. Of course, they do have their strengths and weaknesses.

Q. When is the best time to fertilize?

Most people would say that spring is the best time to fertilize.

However, fertilize in early fall for best results. The addition of electrolytes to the plant system will help the plant resist cold damage and tip burn.

Moreover, they will have a faster recovery than those without fall fertilization. By resisting damage and quickly recovering, they will be well prepared for the severe heat of the upcoming year.

Repeat application in summer for best performance. As a rule, plants should be fertilized a minimum of 3 to 4 times a year or once a season for best performance.

Q. When is the best time to plant?

Spring and early fall are the best times to plant.

At this time of year, it is easiest for plants to recover from the stresses that accompany planting.

In addition, they will be easier to establish because they will not require as much water as those planted during warm seasons. Fall planting also allows for new root growth before hard freezes occur. Thus, these plants have an increased chance of successful over wintering. They will be well prepared for the intense temperatures of summer.

Even though fall is a great time to plant, planting may be done throughout the year. In fact, even in the hottest months plants will thrive with proper care. However, they will have to be carefully watched and watered often.

If nurseries can keep their plants healthy while in containers all summer, surely you can keep them alive and well in your landscape.

Q. When is the best time to prune?

Different varieties require different pruning times.

However, here are a few guidelines which can lead you in the right direction:

Do not prune plants while they are in bloom. After all flowers drop, prune as often as necessary until new buds form. Do not prune during periods of freezing temperatures. New growth is more susceptible to tip burn and cold damage.

Finally, plants with no flowers can be planted anytime.

Q. What is meant by 'low maintenance' landscape?

Low maintenance landscape is one which requires the most minimal care possible.

There are two basic areas to consider when attempting this approach to landscape design.

First of all, design a landscape which is informal or natural. Formal designs contain numerous hedges and topiaries which require excessive trimming. However, informal and natural designs make use of plants' natural growth habits. Therefore, a smaller amount of time will need to be spent trimming, with exception to seasonal pruning to promote shoot growth and bud formation.

Secondly, choose plant material that does not require much pruning, fertilizing, pest/disease control or watering. Consider using native varieties which have proven to be dependable. By taking notice of older plant specimens within your own community, you should be able to gain a basic feel of what plants are hardy in your area, and require minimal care. Also consider using dwarf or low plant types. For example, plants with more compact growth have less need for pruning. In addition, it is easier to prune them because they are low to the ground and their branches are accessible.

The following list is an assortment of 'low maintenance', gardener-friendly plants that are often seen on The Designer's Landscape:

  • Aztec Grass
  • 'Evergreen Giant' Liriope
  • Iris
  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Dwarf Lantana
  • Nandina
  • Parsons Juniper
  • Blue Pacific Juniper
  • East Palatka Holly Tree
  • Live Oak Tree

If these plants are unavailable in your area, ask a local nursery to help you find comparable varieties.

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