The very fact that we are discussing anything related to OUTDOOR PLANTING is a welcoming sign that winter is nearly past us and we are ready to welcome Spring with open arms! We are regularly discussing with condo clients the best ways to spruce up their front entranceways – while of course working within their budget. When a tight budget is the constraint, we often recommend simple: a few fibreglass planters (or cast iron, depending on the conditions) filled with gravel as a base material (to allow water flow) and then a seasonal display of potted florals – we can usually put this entire package together for under $1,000.
There are numerous benefits to investing in planters and having them flank the front entranceway (or most common throughway). The primary benefit is that the planters themselves are permanent fixtures – so their cost is a one-time-only. Once the permanent planter is in place, we charge a nominal seasonal cost for the insert that we install into the planters themselves – and because these are seasonal, they are changing four times a year which means that they are always adding refreshment to the unique charm and character of your property.
One of the largest challenges to overcome when planting anything is the balance of dominant sunlight and wind. Not considering these elements is probably the biggest mistake that we see and as a result, plants die very quickly. As Landscape Designers with extensive knowledge, expertise, and experience, we take these factors into consideration first and foremost when making any recommendations for planting. Some buildings will get sunlight only at certain times of the day and others will have consistent wind – these are considerations that we must take seriously if we want to ensure that we are recommending the most suitable materials. We try our best to balance these important considerations with what the client is looking for. At the end of the day, it is better to have a beautiful and natural display of flowers in a slightly imperfect position than half-dead looking plants in a visually ideal spot! This is the message that we try hard to underscore in every recommendation that we make.
One of the largest changes that we have seen happen to planters is the design of the planters themselves. Once upon a time, planters tended to be only for the Spring\Summer season and as a result, they would be filled with vines and the like that would grow downwards and outwards to cover the actual planters themselves – thus it did not matter what the planters themselves looked like. Now that we do planter inserts for every season (including fall and winter), the design of the planters is something that we take into serious consideration. Some of the planters on the market today are very artistic and can be quite bold just on their own – this can pose some serious design challenges when it comes to balancing the planter itself and the planting materials. We are always cautious to ensure that the planter design fits the space itself and that the materials we are going to be installing complement the planter – one should not try to overpower the other.
In terms of complementing, our Landscape Designers work on designing the materials in planter inserts in “levels” for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the levels that we design with ensure that every plant in the mix has its presence and adds either colour, texture, or order to the presentation. While we certainly plant vines, we are sure to trim them as part of our regular weekly service so that they do not overpower the artistic impression that the planter itself can have. Planting in levels also allows us to install a “showpiece plant” in the middle of the pot (or at the centre-back) to ensure symmetry and that each of the component plants work together in unison. Levels also ensure that “shade annuals” have the appropriate exposure to sunlight and that “full-sun annuals” have just that. A general rule of thumb on this note is that sun plants typically provide brighter flowers and flower more often and that shade plants make great fillers and usually provide the best cover.
One very important component that we have not yet touched on is water. It does not matter what type of vegetation you are planting, flowers need water! Depending on the type of property and again on budget, the best idea is to alter the existing irrigation system by installing drip lines – this is something that we often recommend doing and certainly specialize in. Drip lines will provide the appropriate amount of water to the planters and will ensure that there is a consistent and regular-interval flow. Without an adequate irrigation system, someone will be required to water the plants regularly – that is seven days a week, every week (sometimes twice daily during the dry months). One weekend without water during hot and dry weather can kill your planting materials. The price range for making these irrigation system amendments can be anywhere from $500-$1200, depending on the property and existing components. It may seem as though this is a large cost, however, depending on the type of impact you want from your front entrance flower display, irrigation systems really are the best way to protect your investment. There is no better way to ensure your flowers and vegetation is getting the correct amount of water at the correct intervals than an irrigation system. Our regular maintenance contracts include a regular inspection of the irrigation system to ensure that it is doing what it is supposed to be doing and when.