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The Five Senses of Landscape Design

Really taking in your natural surroundingOur perception of the world is built around the use of one or more of the five senses – touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. We use this multi-sensory system to help us make instant decisions on whether something is good or bad for us. If a loud mysterious noise comes barreling towards us, our instinct is usually to be concerned, where as a bakery’s fresh aroma will make most of us feel comforted and unexpectedly hungry.

How we respond to our senses makes up much of how we go about our daily life. For example, we probably wouldn’t fill our home with unwanted scents, ugly or uncomfortable furniture, and we certainly wouldn’t purchase food items that we find repulsive. As a local landscaping company, we are often challenged by clients to create an outdoor living environment that transcends the walls of their house and makes them feel comfortable. In doing so, we believe that designing the outside of your home should be approached just as holistically as how you would do so on the inside.

For the most part, when creating a customized landscape, we have the ability to incorporate specific characteristics of the natural world that make us feel good. With so much room for creativity, we should all be able to compose a yard that stimulates a positive response to each of the five senses. By adding these different elements, we open up an opportunity to mindfully absorb all aspects of a landscape. For people who have full or partial loss of one or more of the five senses, enhancing other areas can also help access new ways of experiencing the natural world.

To build the ultimate multisensory experience in your backyard, let’s look at ideas in each on of the five senses.

Sight:Getting close to your landscape

For most people, aesthetics is usually the number one factor when designing a landscape. The outside of the home, like the cover a book, becomes a visual representation of the owners. That being said, most people want to be presented by a well maintained and welcoming landscape – one that seemingly describes the owners in some way or another.

Ideas:
– What colors, styles and shapes attract you the most?
– Understand what plants will look like during each season for a more comprehensive look all year long.
– Are you planning on maintaining your yard or do you need someone else to help?
– For instance, a messy yard may become a subtle frustration or haunt you on the days that should be spent relaxing outside.
– What additional sculptures or features can you add that will bring you joy?

Blueberries in your backyardTaste:

While most people aren’t grazing on ornamental shrubs, it can be an option to design an edible landscape that produces the same colors, shapes and aesthetics as those that don’t provide some form of nutrient (to you). Right now, it is said that roughly 60 million Americans grow edible plants of some kind during the year.

The use of fruit plants, veggies and herbs can be both functional, pleasing to the eye, and doesn’t necessarily have to be contained in a garden specific part of your yard. For example, growing blueberry bushes throughout the more ornamental ones can provide that touch of color with a seasonal treat each time you go outside.

Ideas:
– What are your favorite fruit or vegetables that you feel confident in growing, maintaining and harvesting?
– Will you want edible plants that will return every year with little maintenance, or will you be planting seasonal ones that need more attention? Or both?
– How can you utilize edible container gardens throughout your yard for more enhanced greenery? – If you love hanging baskets – did you know strawberries can be grown in a hanging basket?

Smell:

Imagine walking towards your home and being greeted by a variety of smells, from blossoming flowers and herbs tucked in all corners of your yard. Adding certain kinds of thyme in between pathway stone can bring a welcoming new dimension as you release its fragrance each step of the way. For many, the scents of spring and summer flowers are enough to make any day seem more refreshing.

Smelling the dogwoodsDid you know that researchers from Rockefeller University were able to conduct a test which showed that the nose can smell at least one trillion distinct scents? Smell really is a powerful way of understanding our environment.

Ideas:
– If you notice odors that you don’t enjoy in your yard, how can adding or subtracting items dampen it’s smell? For example, if you don’t like the smell of mulches, try working with more ground cover or no mow grass instead.
– Research the scent of plants before installing, and be sure to strategically places them around your yard for the most effect. Container gardens with herbs, such as rosemary, can give wonderful aromas throughout your yard – plus handy for cooking or specialty drinks!

Sound:

Are you the kind of person who feels energized by the singing of distant birds, or one who is soothed by the sound of trickling water? All of us have our ‘go-to’ preference. Unfortunately, many homeowners struggle with unwanted sounds that take away from being able to enjoy their yard.

For those those looking to dampen neighborhood sounds from cars or other activities, they can benefit from installing a natural wall of trees or large shrubs. Not only can trees absorb carbon dioxide, prevent erosion, and create shade, they can also significantly reduce unwanted sounds. Plus, they can really bring together any landscape design. Remember, even a quiet environment is an important personal preference.

Ideas:
– Adding the right amount of native shrubs and trees, such as hollies, can help encourage bird species to nest or feast in your yard, creating many opportunities hear and see them.
– If there is no natural steam nearby, an installed water feature can provide you with the constant sound of trickling water.
– Additional features such as wind sculptures can help bring natural tunes to your backyard.

Touch:DSCN7426

One of the many reasons we create individualized landscapes is to help fill the need of having an outdoor living space for easy and private access. Within the confines of our home, we can walk barefoot on the grass, soak up vitamin D from the sun, and have a space to get our hands dirty. At the end of the day, the landscape of your home should entice you to spend quality time outside.

Ideas:
– How are you going to want to spend time in your yard? Whether you need a place to sit, relax or even lay in the grass – is that currently possible?
– Do you want a personal garden to get your hands dirty? If so, will that be a container or designated spot directly in the ground?
– A customized fire pit can get you outside, even on those cool evenings.

Understanding and implementing a multisensory landscape allows you to be more in tune with your outdoor living environment. Creating a space that makes you feel good, while tailoring to your needs, should be the top priority when either constructing or renovating the landscape on your land. We suggest writing down each one of the five senses and brainstorming what comes naturally to you. At the end of the day, a more individualized landscape, tailored to your needs and likes, creates a higher chance of spending more time outside. We think that makes the investment worth while, and for some, it just makes scents.

Backyard fire pit: Intentionally bringing it all together.

backyard fires

The most common characteristic among our clients is the need for a memorable outdoor landscape. One that produces years of stories with their friends, family and neighbors, while constantly reassuring them that their investment was worth it. For those looking to spend a larger portion of time outside, we often suggest designating an area with a backyard fire pit to help create those memories.

Whether a permanent installation or portable fire pit, backyard fire areas can enhance your landscape tremendously. It also creates positive social, personal and financial aspects into your life as a homeowner. Throughout history, humans have gathered to feast, tell stories, and connect with others around the safety and warmth of a camp fire. On a personal level, there is something meditative about the crackle and glow of the open flame. Many of us will always remember those special nights, captivated by the blaze.

Backyard stone fire pitHaving a self contained fire becomes such simple, yet meaningful experience right in your backyard. Remember, there is also no age limit on making s’mores!

As a homeowner, it can be difficult to invest in landscape renovations. If you’re trying to make this decision, consider the following reasons why adding a fire pit to your design can help enhance your overall life.

It’s a place to gather.

Your family, friends, and even the entire neighborhood will appreciate having a backyard fire pit as a place to come together. Imagine the kids catching fireflies in the distance, while the adults enjoy their time around the light of the fire. If you have younger children, this creates a great opportunity to teach them about fire safety, while also providing the ultimate setting for a classic family camp out.

This cross generational activity is what will make your home stand out as the preferred place to gather among your close ones. Did you know that there are many studies that suggest our complex social behaviors and connections developed around a camp fire? Social interaction and being outside are both extremely beneficial to our body and mind. Provide a place for that to happen and you’re destined to feel good about your decision.

Get personal with yourself and your family.

From quiet evenings with your family, to extra special moments by yourself – an evening fire can be an extremely therapeutic activity. Imagine being tucked under the summer stars with your favorite book and beverage, or telling your family tales of your own experiences.

We’ve all felt some form of satisfaction while watching a perfectly placed stack of logs burn. Whether you like to sit back and hear the tiny noises that accompany the flames, or find pleasure in the building and maintaining that inherently comes with having a fire – it all brings a kind of calmness and inner peace. It can truly be a satisfying experience that many people treat as a mindful way to relax. In fact, studies have shown that being around a campfire can dramatically reduce your blood pressure.

backyard stone fire pit small in a alandscape designEmbrace and enhance your backyard.

If the landscape is truly an extension of your home, then you should feel comfortable being out there during each season. Creating a fire pit area gives a perfect opportunity to have an outdoor area to relax at all year long, which can be just as welcoming as your living room. In this day and age, most of us are constantly connected to technology. Instead of your evening routine spent inside, try replacing it with a relaxing session next to the fire on your own property. Truly learn to appreciate the time spent outside and embrace the natural world around you.

Depending on your preferred style, the design and layout of your landscape can create a seamless transition from the inside of your house, to the open outdoors. Some may prefer to have their fire pit be the focal point of their landscape, while others may choose to create an additional seating area for guests to enjoy privately. Don’t just step outside – step into another part of your home.

a fire pit on an outdoor patio of stone.Increase your property value.

It’s impossible to predict the future. Creating a functional and enhanced area of your landscape, such as an outdoor fire pit, brings your property value up if you ever decide to sell. It’s always an added bonus when you can enjoy an addition to your home, while at the same time knowing there is a return on your investment.

There are going to be many ‘to do’s when you own a home. Make the next one bring fire to your life.

Is 2017 the year you decide to make your backyard a true addition to your home? With any added landscape, whether a fire pit, waterfall, or general landscape upgrade, homeowners get the opportunity to feel good about their entire property. If you want to create memories, increase property value, and feel good about coming home – reach out us. We’re your top local landscaper in the Asheville area, and we’re ready to make your outdoor dreams come to life.

-Team Snow Creek

Updating our look: Spring 2017

New Branding to our vehicle for the spring/summerSince 1989, we have been serving the community of Western North Carolina with a full landscape service that reflects and supports the rich history of this region. It’s the impact that our work has on each client that keeps us coming back. Every day. Each season.

We know that a lot of people pass our work and just appreciate it for it’s beauty. For us, however, it’s the stories of how they came to be that makes them even more unique. We see the couple that bought their first home together or the business that wants to have less of a negative environmental impact. With the passing of each season, we are incredibly fortunate to see our work and relationships grow.

We’re the folks that like to get our hands dirty. To have our environment look healthy and welcoming. To come to work and enrich the lives of our clients… naturally.

Spring is a time of growth. Since it’s also one of our busiest times of year, we wanted to make 2017 even more special. This spring and summer, we’re blossoming a new adventure of our own. It’s the same Snow Creek Landscaping, but with a whole new to look tell our story. We want to take this time to introduce a new brand for our clients, family, friends and the community of this area.

Stay tuned for more updates, giveaways, and the newest adventures in the story of Snow Creek Landscaping.

Cheers,

Team Snow Creek.

Earth Day 2017 – Asheville, North Carolina

EarthDayAsheville2017Everyone here at Snow Creek Landscaping has gravitated into this field because of one thing; the environment. Many of us just feel more at peace working outside. With others, it’s the deeper relationship between man and nature that makes us really look at how our community responds to the environment both physically and aesthetically.

Earth Day came to be a movement in the 1970’s, and continues to be on the forefront of pushing the environmental focus in today’s society. During the time of its origin, the United States – and many parts of the world – had very little concern with what happened as a result of industrial byproduct or an overall concern of the natural world.

Inspired by the current events happening around him, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator, pushed to create a “national teach-in” about the environment. Together, with 20 million people, April 22nd in 1970 became a day where people realized the vast common interest in protecting, preserving and holding the environment to a higher American standard.
Rain Garden
Earth Day means something different to each person. Some families have more of an environmental focus in their core family values and activities, where others may have less. That’s okay! The point of the Earth Day is to allow everyone in our community to learn and experience the appreciation for the natural world around us.

Like everything in life, we want to learn and grow to be the best for ourselves, community and future generations to come.

Don’t have plans for this Earth Day?

Check out some of the activities happening around Asheville with links to their event pages!

Salvage station – Earth Day Kid’s Festival – Presented by RiverLink and Prestige Subaru – 9 AM – 2 PM with FREE admission. Inviting “Families and people of all ages to come out and enjoy environmental education, arts and crafts, performances and more! ” Event website – http://riverlink.org/earth-day-kids-festival/

Earth Day Celebration – Sweeten Creek Brewing – 11 AM – 9 PM. “Enjoy a day of earth-friendly fun, delicious beer, and good food out on our Creekside Lawn. Live music from the Circus Mutts from 2:30 – 4:30pm., plus fun Earth Day activities for the entire family!”

Family Yoga & Mandala Making – Special Earth Day Celebration 1 PM – 4:30 PM at Violet Owl Wellness. 10$ per person. “This is a family-friendly event where yoga meets creativity! We’ll be incorporating an all levels, fun yoga class and an surprise Earth Day mandala!”

BearFest – WNC Nature Center – Year of the Bear WNC Nature Center from 10 AM – 4 PM. “Celebrate Earth Day and “the Year of our Bear” at the WNC Nature Center with a family festival to honor one of WNC’s most beloved species, the American black bear.”

Earth Week with City of AshevilleAll Weekend.  Greenway ribbon cutting, sustainability tour, and more! – “With multiple events at different locations over three days, Asheville Earth Week organizers hopes this celebration reinforces a mantra that our community embraces: ‘We are all connected.'” Check out their website – http://coablog.ashevillenc.gov/2017/03/asheville-celebrates-earth-day-2/ for more information on what’s going on and where!

Earth Day Film & Panel Discussion – Seed the Untold Story – Organic Growers School at Lenoir-Ryhne University Asheville – 5:30 PM – 9 PM. Cost: by donation at the door. “Join us for this wonderful film, discussion and seed exchange. In partnership with Asheville Greenworks, Bountiful Cities, Green Opportunities, and Sow True Seed, Seed: The Untold Story tells a beautiful tale of seed diversity and its sad demise.”

PlantingPlants

Want activities to do at home?

Here are are some a list of activities that are family focused, educational, and fun (Well, we think so!). Remember, not everything has to be a super planned out activity to be memorable. Enjoy the moment and the reasoning of celebrating Earth Day.

Start your garden or plant a native plant.

It’s okay, not everyone has their garden planned out before the days getting sunnier and warmer. Don’t worry! Whether big plans or small, the act of growing a garden or plant can have both short and long term benefits to everyone – regardless of age.

If you don’t have the space or time for a garden – try a container plant. Check our list of list of native plants and see what could be planted in a container around your house. Take some time this Saturday to just get your hands dirty!

Reduce your footprint.

Walk or bike to a destination. Even taking public transportation can help reduce your carbon footprint. Try and think about how much electricity you are using, or better yet, try and go a day without using it!

Recycled Art Projects.

Feeling crafty? Whether some DIY home improvement jobs or arts and crafts time with the kids, take some time to think about what using recycled objects does for the environment. If you weren’t using them for a project – where would they end up? How long does it take for each item to break down? If you don’t have anything laying around, hit up the multiple thrift stores that the Asheville area has to offer. Bonus points for walking there! :)

Get Outside.

It seems simple, right? Getting in touch with nature doesn’t need to be some extraordinary adventure through the wilderness (though, that sounds fun!). Western North Carolina is very lucky to have such wonderful outdoor activities within miles of downtown Asheville. Pack a lunch and head up the Blue Ridge Parkway for some fresh air or take the family floating down the French Broad. Note* You may find out Sales guy Jimmy relaxing out there on the river!

Whatever you plan on doing this Earth Day (and every day for that matter!), take the time to think about your own relationship with nature.

-Team Snow Creek.

Native Plants: The elegance of Western North Carolina

Utilizing more native species and natural look in home landscape designAs taken from our article in Fine Homes & Design magazine for Western North Carolina Spring edition.

For over 27 years, we have been working with our clients on developing landscapes that embrace their personal needs, as well as what is best for the property and surrounding environment. The area of
Western North Carolina offers it’s own geographical uniqueness, one of elegance and beauty. It’s those ecological characteristics of this area which led to the growth of our company, and is the backbone of who we are today.

For us, natural landscaping can also be looked at as a spectrum. Think of one end of the spectrum as a land that will grow and develop into what resembles an untouched landscape. Overtime, it will cycle through stages that can only be replicated by letting nature take its course. Utillizing native species and design to help contol drainage issues.

The opposite side of that would be one that completely manipulates the land to show no signs of native species or geographical characteristics specific to that region.

When choosing to incorporate native plant communities into their landscape, one must have an understanding of how those species work together with the geographical features of the land. The slopes of a mountain side would have different plant characteristics than that of a flatter valley location. All are equally important to the ecosystem, as well as you as a homeowner.

Natural landscaping is way to incorporate native plants and geological features in a way that mimics the ecological characteristics of pre-settlers. It’s utilizing the plants that have thrived in this region and applying that to a functional landscape design that is environmentally conscious, low maintenance, and aesthetically pleasing.

Environmentally Conscious

Utilizing native plants on your property has multiple benefits. From an environmental perspective, they fit perfectly into the ecosystem of that area. They have been evolving with those particular insects, animals, and other geographical features for thousands of years.

Utilizng flowers that can thrive in Western North Carolina. Native plants allow for the success of pollinators, birds and other animals in the area who have adapted to thrive off those regional plants. Birds, for example, utilize certain shrubs and trees of native plants to stay safe from predators, while at the same time use certain plants as a nutritional supplier with either the plant berries or the insects that prefer the native plant as well. Hummingbirds are provided a significantly more amount of nectar from native plants of the region in comparison to non-native or hybrids to the area.

The roots of many plants from this region are deep and can absorb extra rain water. As a property owner, this is vital to help run off from working against your home foundation or surrounding properties. For the rivers and streams, those plants help provide a filter which can then supply clean water for our community.

Finding the optimal balance between functional areas, such as turf and places of high use, and spaces for untouched native plant growth can reduce your carbon footprint. Letting nature take it’s course means less work and resources.

Low MaintenanceLow Maintenance and beautiful

Think of it this way, if a native plant is thriving and filling up the space provided, then there is less room for weeds and other plants to grow. Understanding the land and what plants can be successful there will allow for easy maintenance down the road.

For example, in shady areas that need plants that grow in low light, certain native shade plants will thrive and need less attention. Species such as the Northern Maidenhair Ferns are beautiful plants that can grow up to 2 feet with long lacy fronds, which creates less space for additional growth and therefore needs less maintenance over time.

Using a more natural landscape with native plants will require less time, money and energy in maintaining the flow of the land.

Aesthetically Pleasing

In creating an individualized landscape, it is important that it is aesthetically appealing to the people who living there. We are an advocate of utilizing your natural surrounding, so functionality and aesthetics are incredibly important. If you don’t want to spend time in your landscape, or enjoy it, than it can’t benefit you to the fullest.

Many people often think that native plants aren’t going to provide them the aesthetics they are looking for or they will be full of weeds. Nothing could be further than the truth! In fact, by using plants that thrive in this area, you can plan out a landscape that provides color and beauty all year long.

When you are taking on the journey of utilizing a more natural landscape, you are finding the perfect harmony between functionality and the natural world around you.