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The Art of Aging with Your Landscape

One of the biggest challenges we face in our lifetime is mastering the skill of being present during the process of growing old. Our aging body is the physical representation of the experiences that make us each unique and different. We become aware of what makes us feel most at peace, such as the fragrance of honeysuckle or the sounds of a creek, and tend to want to surround ourselves with those experiences. For those who find comfort in the natural world around them, the thought of losing that connection with nature becomes one of the hardships of growing old. Thankfully, through mindful designs and a focus on aging at home, the accessibility to the natural Landscape design and professionalismworld is easier than ever.

For our area, Asheville is constantly being suggested as one of the best places to retire, including the most recent Forbe’s 2018. We find that the majority of people retiring here tend to be drawn to the beautiful mountains that have been providing natural therapy for hundreds of years. Located in the heart of national and state parks, the Western North Carolina region provides the services and needs of a larger city, but allows for easy access to the natural environment that more urban cities can’t provide.

We already know that gardening and being out in nature is good for the soul and body. The difficult part comes when the body has a harder time dealing with the various elements and activities associated with an outdoor experience. Often, the changes to our physical body as we grow old become the most predominant change. The key, however, is understanding each individual’s limitations and adapting the home’s outdoor environment to support those needs. For us in the landscaping industry, we want to focus on designing and building a landscape that provides a meaningful outdoor experience that is accessible for every individual, regardless of age or disability.

The most important aspect of designing a landscape that supports the journey of growing older, is one that allows a person to feel confident. If you aren’t able to feel comfortable in your outdoor environment, you won’t be able to appreciate the things that make you happy. The fear of injury or being in an environment that lacks personal preferences won’t make any experience enjoyable.

To help the transition of growing older, we suggest taking these design aspects into consideration.

Multi sensory landscape opportunities:

Our senses are often the first to lose there sharpness as we grow old. Whether it’s the day you realize you need glasses to see the birds in your backyard, or noticing that the spring blooms just don’t smell as powerful as they once were – it happens. That being said, your yard can be modified in a manner that focuses on the senses in which you have always loved.

Through positioning and careful planning, you can bring the natural world around closer to fit your needs. Environments that safely house birds and other critters will make sure you can embrace the natural sounds around you. This also can work with blocking out the unnatural sounds from neighboring noises with natural fencing. Focus on your favorite scents in container gardens by strategically placing them around the property.

For more information on creating a multi-sensory garden, check out our blog on developing and harnessing the natural world around you.

Pathways and areas that are accessible and visible:

One of the main challenges of aging is mobility. We learn to embrace experiencing the world around us at a slower pace, often with the help of mobility aids. Pathways should be large enough to be handicap accessible and without large gradients, while also taking into account surface area for traction. Slippery surfaces and an excess of steps may discourage users because of safety and accessibility.

Well lit areas that don’t bring any surprises are incredibly important, especially in the areas that right outside of the home and most used. Whether aesthetically pleasing or a floodlight – make sure everyone can see where they are going.

Places to sit:

Whether places to rest for a moment or relax for hours in the refreshing mountain air, comfortable and accessible places to sit are extremely important for elderly individuals to gain respite and enjoy the natural area. These areas can often have their own unique natural elements such as container gardens or sculptures that really enhance the setting. A water feature, at any size or shape, can enhance any place to relax for hours. We know, as our office bench is right next to our water feature and is constantly being used!

Shade and weather sensitivity:

While places to rest are important, the condition of that area is even more important. As we age, we often become more sensitive to the temperature of our environment. Sitting out in the direct sunlight can be overwhelming for anyone, especially the elderly. It’s important to think about having access to either shade or warmth in your outdoor area. By providing pergolas or shade structures to block out the direct sunlight, or fire pits that produce heat with ease, we can easily control the temperature.

Container Gardens to Support Growing Old Container or wall container gardens:

Shelly McKinney, our sales and operational manager suggests using higher container gardens such as VegTrugs from Kingsman gardening supplies. By creating a higher level container garden, you are able to continue the joys of getting your hands dirty – without the bending and stooping that can be tiresome or even painful for some. With properly positioned container gardens, playing in the dirt is only a few reachable feet away. Plus, everyone can benefit from home grown veggies at every age.

Safety First:

Along with looking at the pathways and accessibility to different parts of your garden, individuals looking stay in their home as they age will need to assess the safety concerns of their yard. Just like inside the home, the outdoors needs to be an area of comfort and ease. A once small ledge can create severe harm to someone elderly, especially to someone who already has an injury or disability. The same goes for uneven grounds, sharp objects or lack of strong support aides around the area, such as railings or support beams. From material to design – each aspect of a landscape really needs to be processed with the user in mind.

Growing together

Designing with maintenance in mind.

A simplistic design of a landscape has multiple benefits. In this case, a less complex landscape can benefit an older homeowner as it means less maintenance to keep it looking its best. The ability to maintain one’s landscape, whether financial or physically, should directly correlate to the design. Understanding one’s limitations, or soon to be limitations, should be one of the beginning steps in designing a landscape for someone who is looking to age in place. Depending on the region, various low maintenance plants can be strategically placed to allow for a very low maintenance schedule, without taking away from the aesthetics that one may want. Need help maintaining it? Our team of gardeners are personable and dedicated to their clients – learn more about our estate management by clicking here.

Are you or your loved one’s looking to begin the process of aging in place? Let our team develop an outdoor environment that will keep you enjoying your own outdoor living area regardless of age or ability. Bring the joys of all your experiences to your backyard, and continue to make memories with each coming year.

-Team Snow Creek

How the American yard came to be.

Photo by our very own Crew Leader Stephen

Since the birth the of the United States of America, social trends have been heavily influenced by cultures around the world. For one thing, take a look at the landscapes around you. With affordable landscape options, people in today’s America, for the most part, are able to get creative with the plant material and design of their outdoor area.

It wasn’t always this easy, however, for households to have a planned landscape that fit their lifestyle ‘wants’ versus their ‘needs’ for survival. From being a reliable and necessary food source, to solely aesthetics and enjoyment, the American yard continues to develop and morph into the ultimate holistic use of one’s natural world.

While we don’t know exactly the first garden ever created by humans, we do know West Asia is where people began to really think intentionally about the space around them. To close off the outside world and create a version of the natural environment through modifying a piece of land. This mindful practice of garden design, the origins of landscape architecture, eventually spread westward.

As early civilizations continued to develop around the world, historians can find records of outdoor areas that were designed purely for aesthetics. These early gardens and common areas were where scholars developed a sense of appreciation for design, native plants species, engineering, and water supply, as well as the importance of providing these spaces to the public.

Throughout history, however, the natural space surrounding one’s home has been a direct reflection of the lifestyle, financial status and stability of the economy. For most people throughout history, and still to this day in many parts of the world, the area around a home has been used in manner that fed and protected the individuals in the household.

In the early stages of the newly developed United States of America, people were settling in all areas of the country. Because of this, gardening close to the home wasn’t for aesthetics, but instead of practicality. For those relying on a sustenance packed property to survive, flowers and grassy areas became less of a priority.

Eventually, as areas became more populated and people specialized in agricultural practices, the general public became less dependent on their own land for nutritional value and able to look at the outside of their home with an aesthetic value. As people continued to immigrate from around the world, personalized landscaping began to emerge as more common trends in households. The economic growth and structure of many areas allowed for home gardening to introduce native plants beyond fruit and vegetables. Even more so, it allowed for individualization of home yards within the general public.

People began to look at all areas of the home, both front and back, as viable options to extend their living area. Lawns, which were previously a social symbol due to the labor costs, became increasingly available to all social statuses with the accessibility of grass seed and the introduction of the first lawnmower in 1930 by Edwin Budding. Landscaping design and develop became a viable trade for people to research and make a living off of. With that, brought more products for the typical homeowner to use, such as tools, pesticides and design options.

Downtown Asheville Rooftop Garden

Gardening Supervisor Amanda on top of one of our client’s downtown Asheville rooftop garden.

With World War II, once again came another big push for home gardening with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s solution to fighting food shortages. When the war ended, however, so did the interest in his ‘victory gardens’. In the 1950s, the first ‘cookie-cutter’ homes were being developed as new suburbs for
affordable living on Long Island. These original American suburbs, built by Abraham Levitt and his
family, were one of the first homes to include a lawn already in place when homeowners bought the property. Many included strict rules on the presentation of the property around the homes, which culturally projected the concept that the landscape of a home was just as important as the inside.

One major influence in our modern day view of landscapes, can be contributed to the environmental movements of the 1960’s, along with the creation of Earth Day in 1970. Since then, we as a society have been able to really take a look at our home landscapes in a more holistic approach. For many, mixing edible plants with ornamental again became popular in the home, along with the appreciation for public parks and community gardens for those living in more urban areas. Even in 2009, the White House introduced it’s first garden since WWII – showing American’s the yard can be aesthetically pleasing and functional.Steps are a great way to help reach areas of your landscape.

Today, the majority of homes are able to individualize their landscape to their specific interests because of the amount of easily available services and materials. The diversity in landscape styles and practices from around the world can be seen while driving through neighborhoods throughout the country.

With economic stability, as well as accessibility to landscaping materials and services, the landscapes of America have a future that is really dependent on the interest level of the homeowner. We are able to take the time and look at the environmental impact of a person’s yard along with identifying the various
colors, styles and dive into the relationship the person wants to have with the yard. Creating a countryside environment in an urban area, fit with the sounds and scents, is just as achievable as creating minimalist yard in the country. Your dream outdoor space can become a reality.

With each client we get, as a local landscaping company, we are able to ask them, “what will make you happy?” To be able to ask that question, really is something that we should all be thankful for. Just the fact that so may people can create an outdoor living space to connect with nature, is an opportunity that many take for granted. The next time you are you out in your yard or public park, give thanks to having this opportunity. For those moments are how we know we’re lucky to be able to do what we love.

To take advantage of this opportunity and build your dream landscape, give us a call at 828.687.1677!

Container gardens: 101

Amanda, our gardening supervisor, spends much of the winter months planning and getting ready for the colors and growth of the warmer months. We were able to catch up with her on the top of one of our client’s rooftop garden in downtown Asheville to grab some of her advice to homeowners on how to create a simple but powerful container garden.

Downtown Asheville Rooftop Garden

Gardening Supervisor Amanda on top of one of our client’s downtown asheville rooftop garden.

Her advice is ‘Thriller, filler and spiller’, as well as don’t limit yourself to conventional containers – get creative!

Thriller:

This becomes your focus point that grows upward, creating height that can be flowering, foliage plants or ornamental grasses. These can be placed in the back or in the middle, depending on how your container is going to be viewed.

Filler:

By creating a strong center of the container, you’ll be able to bring the different parts of the container together by surrounding the thriller and a space above the spiller. Typically more rounded or mound plants, they make the container feel full and lush, as well as can add vibrant colors.

Spiller:

The last component of a successful container garden design is your spiller, which flows out of the planter and creates depth and flow. Depending on the viewing side of the container, you will want to be mindful of where these will want to be placed, as well as how they will grow throughout the season.

Creative container garden here at the Snow Creek Landscaping office. Made out of old wood from a job site.

Remember to use potting soil, which is specifically designed to let your creation grow to it’s healthiest and fullest. The best potting mix is one that holds moisture, and is light and fluffy, which gives your plant’s roots the perfect balance of air, moisture, nutrition as well as stability.

Check out our recent landscape DIY video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y36UmUrTgQg&t=7s where Amanda gives our Asheville viewers some container garden advice. For folks interested in our landscaping services, give us a shout and let’s get either your containers or full landscape looking amazing!

 

 

Meet our Landscape Supervisor – Sam Lewis

Landscape SupervisorWant to work hard and get to the top? Be like WNC native, Sam Lewis.

Sam came to Snow Creek with one thing on his mind – to work up the ladder. To put his experience and education of landscape design to use. Those of us who work with him, know that it worked!

We were able to sit down with Sam to ask him a few important questions on life and his general experience at Snow Creek Landscaping. His time, both in the field and in the office, has allowed him to see the greater picture of what is needed to help run a successful landscaping business. As a company, we are always glad to see our folks move up through the ranks and utilize their talents.

To get to know Sam just a little bit more, we sat down and asked him a few standard interview questions. To really let the community know who they are working with.

Snow Creek: “So Sam, here is the most important question – how do you spend your time off?”

Sam: “Playing golf, traveling, fishing, and attending sports events.”

SC: “Where are you originally from?”

Sam: “Born and raised in Candler, NC.”

SC: “Ahh, an Asheville native – rare these days! So what do you like about being in the landscaping industry?”

Sam: “Being able to see a project evolve into a clean and well maintained landscape. That something comes from an idea and is made into a place that people can enjoy and be one with nature.”

SC: “Serious question – If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three things you would bring with you?”

Sam: “Multi tool, water purifier, and 1000’ 550 para cord.”

SC: “And how did you end up on the island?”

Sam: “The fishing boat sank, so I floated to the island on raft”

SC: “Very straight forward! Alright, So how long have you been at Snow Creek Landscaping?

Sam: “ I started working in the summer of 2011 and became full time in May of 2014.”

SC: What is some advice you would give to someone – either in landscaping or just in life?

Sam:” Always be willing to work hard, get your hands dirty, and always look to see what you can be learning”

SC: Lastly, what is your favorite place in Western North Carolina?

Sam: “Anywhere out in the country, or just in the woods away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.

SC: “Agreed!”

And there you have it, folks. Sam Lewis of Snow Creek Landscaping. Want to meet more of him? Conveniently he can be found working with our crews on the production side of our company.

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.