Category Archives: Uncategorized

15 Jun

What is a plant guild and why do I want one?

Backyard Garden Entrance Landscape by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes St Louis Missouri

Backyard Garden Entrance Landscape by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes St Louis Missouri

A plant guild is a group of plants and animals that work together to support each other and create a balanced ecosystem. In permaculture, plant guilds are used to maximize the efficiency and productivity of a given space by planting a diverse range of species that have mutually-beneficial relationships.

For example, a plant guild might include a fruit tree at the center, surrounded by nitrogen-fixing plants such as beans or clover, companion plants that can help to deter pests, and plants that can provide food or habitat for beneficial insects. The guild might also include animals such as chickens or bees that can help to pollinate the plants and control pests.

Plant guilds can be created in a variety of settings, including backyard gardens, orchards, and even urban environments. They can be used to grow food, create habitat for wildlife, and improve the overall sustainability of a given area.

Overall, plant guilds are a useful tool for creating diverse and productive landscapes that are in harmony with the natural environment. By planting a variety of species that support each other and have mutually-beneficial relationships, it is possible to create a balanced and self-sustaining ecosystem.

08 Mar

What is the role of a General Contractor in Landscaping Projects

general contractor

A general contractor plays a key role in the landscape installation process. They are responsible for coordinating and overseeing all aspects of the construction project, including hiring and managing subcontractors, ordering materials, and ensuring that the work is completed on time and within budget.

When it comes to landscape installation, the general contractor’s role may include:

  • Reviewing the landscape design and plan: The general contractor will review the landscape design and plan to ensure that it is feasible and meets all necessary requirements.
  • Hiring and managing subcontractors: The general contractor is responsible for hiring and managing any subcontractors needed for the project, such as landscapers, masons, or irrigation specialists.
  • Ordering materials: The general contractor is responsible for ordering all necessary materials for the project, including plants, mulch, soil, and any specialized equipment or supplies.
  • Coordinating the work schedule: The general contractor will coordinate the work schedule for the project, ensuring that all tasks are completed in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Managing the budget: The general contractor is responsible for managing the project budget, including tracking expenses and ensuring that the project stays within budget.
  • Ensuring quality control: The general contractor is responsible for ensuring that all work is completed to the highest standards and that any issues or problems are promptly addressed.

Overall, the general contractor plays a crucial role in the landscape installation process, coordinating and overseeing all aspects of the construction project to ensure that it is completed on time, within budget, and to the highest quality standards.

27 Jan

What is Permaculture

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes with Mexican Sunflower in Acorn Landscapes Test Garden St. Louis Missouri

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes with Mexican Sunflower in Acorn Landscapes Test Garden St. Louis Missouri

Permaculture is a system of sustainable agriculture and land use that seeks to mimic the patterns and relationships found in natural ecosystems. It is based on the principles of maximizing efficiency, minimizing waste, and working with rather than against nature.

Permaculture focuses on creating self-sustaining systems that require minimal input from humans and that have a low impact on the environment. This can be achieved through a variety of practices, including:

  • Planting a diverse range of crops and animals that can support each other and create a balanced ecosystem
  • Using natural fertilizers and pest control methods
  • Implementing water catchment and conservation techniques
  • Building with natural, locally-sourced materials
  • Incorporating elements such as edible forests and guilds (communities of plants and animals that support each other)

Permaculture can be applied to a wide range of settings, including small backyard gardens, large-scale farms, and even urban environments. It can be used to grow food, create habitat for wildlife, and improve the overall sustainability of a given area.

Overall, permaculture is a holistic approach to land use that seeks to create self-sustaining systems that are in harmony with the natural environment. It is a valuable tool for creating sustainable and environmentally-friendly agricultural and land-use practices.

17 Jan

Top 5 reasons to hire a Landscape Architect

modern urban backyard design by acorn landscapes st louis

There are many good reasons to hire a landscape architect, especially if you are planning a significant landscape project. Some of the top reasons to hire a landscape architect include:

  1. Expertise: Landscape architects have the training and expertise to design and plan landscapes that are functional, aesthetically pleasing, and well-suited to the local climate and environment. They can also help you navigate local zoning and building codes, ensuring that your project is compliant with all regulations.
  2. Time-saving: Hiring a landscape architect can save you a significant amount of time and effort. They will handle all aspects of the design and planning process, allowing you to focus on other tasks.
  3. Cost-effective: While it may seem like an added expense upfront, hiring a landscape architect can actually save you money in the long run. They can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your project stays within budget.
  4. Professional quality: Landscape architects have access to professional-grade tools and resources that can help to ensure the highest quality results. They can also help you choose the best materials and plants for your project, ensuring that they are long-lasting and well-suited to your location.
  5. Creativity: Landscape architects have a unique creative vision that can help to bring your landscaping ideas to life. They can help you transform your outdoor space into a beautiful and functional oasis that meets all of your needs and preferences.

backyard paving with kitchen garden and edible landscape by landscape architect Acorn Landscapes in St loui missour

Overall, hiring a landscape architect can provide a wide range of benefits, from expertise and time-saving to cost-effectiveness and creative vision. If you are planning a significant landscape project, it may be worth considering hiring a professional to help you achieve your goals.

09 Jan

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Painted Lady Butterfly on New England Aster in butterfly garden designed by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis MO

Painted Lady Butterfly on New England Aster in butterfly garden designed by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis MO

Butterflies are a beautiful and beneficial addition to any garden, and there are several strategies you can use to encourage them to visit. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Plant native flowering plants: Butterflies are attracted to a wide range of flowering plants, but they are especially drawn to native species. Planting native flowering plants such as milkweeds, coneflowers, and black-eyed Susans can help to attract butterflies to your garden.

    Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele on zinnia in Manchester Mo - Acorn Landscape Architecture Butterfly Garden

    Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele on zinnia in Manchester Mo – Acorn Landscape Architecture Butterfly Garden

  2. Provide food for caterpillars: In addition to nectar from flowers, butterflies also need food for their caterpillars. Planting host plants, such as milkweeds for monarch butterflies or parsley for black swallowtails, can help to provide a food source for caterpillars and encourage butterflies to lay their eggs in your garden.

    Backyard landscape design by landscape architect Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri that includes hillside meadow garden and shade garden for wildlife habitat

    Backyard landscape design by landscape architect Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri that includes hillside meadow garden and shade garden for wildlife habitat

  3. Provide water: Butterflies need water to drink, and they are attracted to shallow, muddy puddles. Creating a butterfly puddling area by providing a shallow dish or tray filled with mud and water can help to attract butterflies to your garden.

    Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes with Mexican Sunflower in Acorn Landscapes Test Garden St. Louis Missouri

    Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes with Mexican Sunflower in Acorn Landscapes Test Garden St. Louis Missouri

  4. Create a butterfly habitat: Providing shelter and a place for butterflies to rest is important. Planting native shrubs and trees or installing a butterfly house can provide the necessary shelter and habitat for butterflies.

    A diverse mix of flowering plants used in place of traditional turf grass.  Includes white clover, native bird'sfoot violet, common violet and wild strawberry.

    A diverse mix of flowering plants used in place of traditional turf grass. Includes white clover, native bird’sfoot violet, common violet and wild strawberry.

  5. Use chemical-free pesticides: Many pesticides can be harmful to butterflies, so it is important to use chemical-free alternatives if possible. Using natural pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects or using organic pest repellents, can help to protect butterflies and other pollinators.

    Buckeye Butterfly on Milkweed Flowers in Butterfly Garden Designed by Landscape Architect Mary Deweese from Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis MO

    Buckeye Butterfly on Milkweed Flowers in Butterfly Garden Designed by Landscape Architect Mary Deweese from Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis MO

Overall, by providing food, water, shelter, and habitat, you can create a butterfly-friendly garden and encourage these beautiful insects to visit.

06 Jan

Ideas for Lawn alternatives that aren’t turf grass

Flowering Lawn Alternative - mixture of native birdsfoot violet, clover, common violet, wild strawberry, and at least 4 other low growing flowering plants.

Flowering Lawn Alternative – mixture of native birdsfoot violet, clover, common violet, wild strawberry, and at least 4 other low growing flowering plants.

Turf grass is a popular choice for lawns, but it can be high maintenance and require a lot of water and resources to maintain. If you are looking for alternatives to turf grass for your lawn, here are a few options to consider:

  1. Native grasses: Native grasses are well-suited to your local climate and soil conditions and require minimal water and maintenance. They can provide a natural and attractive ground cover that is low maintenance and environmentally friendly.
  2. Groundcover plants: Groundcover plants, such as thyme, sedum, and creeping phlox, can provide a low-growing alternative to turf grass. They require minimal water and maintenance and can add color and texture to your landscape.
  3. Artificial grass: Artificial grass has come a long way in recent years and can provide a realistic and low-maintenance alternative to natural grass. It requires no watering or mowing, and it is durable enough to withstand heavy foot traffic.
  4. Clover: Clover is a low-growing ground cover that requires minimal water and maintenance. It is also nitrogen-fixing, meaning it can help to improve the soil quality in your lawn.
  5. Moss: Moss is a low-maintenance alternative to grass that requires minimal water and no mowing. It can provide a soft and verdant ground cover, especially in shaded areas where grass may struggle to grow.
Mixed lawn planting that supports butterflies such as this Buckeye Butterfly.

Mixed lawn planting that supports butterflies such as this Buckeye Butterfly.

Overall, there are many alternatives to turf grass that can provide a low-maintenance and attractive ground cover for your lawn. Whether you choose native grasses, groundcover plants, artificial grass, clover, or moss, there is an option that can work for your landscape and meet your specific needs and preferences.

Mazus Reptans between Stepping Stones can also be used as a lawn alternative.

Mazus Reptans between Stepping Stones can also be used as a lawn alternative.

 

04 Jan

Backyard Landscape Design Ideas

backyard paving with kitchen garden and edible landscape by landscape architect Acorn Landscapes in St loui missour

Creating a backyard landscape design that is both functional and visually pleasing can be a challenging task. However, with a little bit of planning and creativity, it is possible to transform even the most mundane backyard into a beautiful and enjoyable outdoor space.

The first step in designing a backyard landscape is to assess the space and consider how it will be used. Do you want a space for entertaining, a place for children to play, or a tranquil retreat? Once you have a clear idea of how you want to use the space, you can begin to plan out your design.

Next, consider the layout of your backyard. Think about the location of your house, the direction the yard faces, and the existing features such as trees, shrubs, and other plants. You should also take into account the sun and shade patterns in your yard, as this will help you determine the best location for certain plants and features.

Another important aspect to consider is the overall style and theme of your backyard landscape. Do you prefer a formal look, with straight lines and symmetrical designs? Or do you prefer a more natural, relaxed style? Choose elements that reflect your personal style and will be in keeping with the style of your home.

Backyard landscape design by landscape architect Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri that includes hillside meadow garden and shade garden for wildlife habitat

Backyard landscape design by landscape architect Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri that includes hillside meadow garden and shade garden for wildlife habitat

Once you have a basic plan in place, it’s time to start adding plants and other features to your backyard landscape. Consider using a combination of annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs to create a diverse and interesting landscape. It’s also a good idea to incorporate water features such as fountains, ponds, or waterfalls, as these can add a calming and soothing element to your backyard.

In addition to plants and water features, there are many other elements you can include in your backyard landscape design. Outdoor furniture, such as tables, chairs, and benches, can provide a comfortable and inviting place to sit and relax. Outdoor lighting can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in the evening, while a fire pit or fireplace can be a great gathering place on cooler nights.

Finally, don’t forget about the practical aspects of backyard landscaping. Make sure to incorporate pathways and walkways to help you move around the yard, and consider adding a storage shed or other functional elements to keep your yard organized and tidy.

With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can design a backyard landscape that is both functional and beautiful. Whether you want a space for entertaining, a place for children to play, or a tranquil retreat, there are endless possibilities for creating the perfect backyard oasis.

 

Backyard Garden Entrance Landscape by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes St Louis Missouri

Backyard Garden Entrance Landscape by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes St Louis Missouri

08 Mar

Top 5 COLUMNAR TREES to plant for privacy.

Hi, I’m landscape architect Mary Deweese, principal of Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri.  I design gardens and landscapes and I’m frequently asked what trees are good in narrow spaces, to provide privacy without taking up a lot of lateral space.  This is a list of some of my most trusted columnar (tall and skinny) trees.  These all work well as a single specimen but they can all also be planted close together for a tall privacy screen hedge.

Click on the name of the plant to open a new window with detailed information and photos from the Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University or other trusted source.

1. Kindred Spirit Oak - Quercus x warei ‘Nadler’ - a great narrow oak that only grows about 6′ wide but gets over 30′ tall.

2. Armstrong Red Maple Acer x Freemanii ‘Armstrong’ - this is one you see planted in many parkways and parking lots. You see them there because they are reliable in harsh conditions but have a great narrow form that not only provides privacy when planted close together in a row like a hedge, but stays narrow and upright as to not interfere with driveways and cars.

3. Shawnee Brave Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum ‘Mickelson’ – I love the texture and shape of this cypress.  It looks like an evergreen but it sheds it’s needles in winter, hence the ‘bald’ part of it’s name.  Really does well if you have a wetter area.

4. Green Giant Arborvitae – Thuja ‘Green Giant’ – this is a wonderful screening evergreen that stays relatively slim.  It needs consistent moisture and mostly full sun for best performance.

5. Sky Tower Ginkgo – Ginkgo biloba ’JN9′ SKY TOWER - I love Ginkgo’s because of their unique leaf shape and bright yellow color.  This is a great columnar variety.  Ginkgo’s tend to be awkward or uneven looking when young (like an awkward teenage phase), but as they mature they become more regular and even shaped.

 

23 Feb

Top 10 Deer Resistant Plants for St. Louis Missouri

Hi, I’m landscape architect Mary Deweese, principal of Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri.  I design gardens and landscapes for people who live in places where deer eat EVERYTHING!  This is a list of some of my most trusted deer resistant plants.

Click on the name of the plant to open a new window with detailed information and photos from the Missouri Botanical Garden.  If you need some new Deer Resistant Plant inspiration for your yard, read on.

10.  Contorted Filbert - really cool form and winter interest.

IMG_20190808_141558

9. Allium – (picture above) – great perennial that likes sun and soil on the dry side.

8.  Forsythia – Native shrub that is almost indestructible.  Yellow spring blooms. It can be a little wild looking, so not the best for a star placement, better off to the side or back of your yard.

7.  Korean Boxwood – Evergreen that gives any landscape some structure and winter interest.

Caesars Brother Siberian Iris by Landscape Architect Acorn Landscapes in St Louis Missouri

6.  Siberian Iris – (Pictured Above ) Loves sunny wet areas, but can also take part shade…if you have a wet spot you want reliable deer resistant flowers, these are great.  They slowly spread and make great cut flowers.  Actually, all Iris are very deer resistant.  You can choose bearded Iris or even from several native iris species.

5.  Pennsylvania Sedge – Great Native shade groundcover.

4.  Lady Fern – Lovely texture for shade, foliage may decline if not watered during the later part of summer.

3.  Ornamental Grass – Most grasses are very deer resistant.  This is a common one seen in St. Louis.  This is great in sunny areas and they help in areas where soil erosion is an issue.

2.  Groundcover St. Johns Wort – Nice foliage texture spreading groundcover.  Comes in green or a bright chartreuse color.  Bonus yellow flowers sporadically in summer. (Shown in picture below, the groundcover in the foundation planting bed)

IMG_20200522_193951

1.  Blue Spruce – Lovely in full sun areas, the small ‘globe blue spruce’ variety is great for front foundation plantings. (‘Globe’ variety shown in picture above making nice foliage color contrast with the groundcover St. John’s Wort)

 

 

28 Jan

Remembering Luther Ely Smith Park – Arch Grounds – St. Louis Missouri

Design by Mary Francois Deweese - Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. Initial planting day volunteers from The East Central District Garden Clubs of Missouri, May 2003

Design by Mary Francois Deweese – Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. Initial planting day volunteers from The East Central District Garden Clubs of Missouri, May 2003

Last week I found out that Luther Ely Smith Park was removed in preparation for the new Arch-grounds redevelopment project in downtown St. Louis. I’ve known for some time that this garden was to be destroyed to make way for the new pedestrian connection to the Arch, but knowing that it is actually now just a part of history has motivated me to publish this account of when it was designed and installed. This project was awarded an ALSA design award, and will always be a project that I am very proud of. I hope you visited it during its time, I know there are many pictures that include the garden, including wedding shoots and family vacation photos. What follows is the original submission I used for the ASLA award, along with several photos from 2003 and 2004.

Ely Luther Smith Square National Parks Garden
Located in front of the Old Courthouse on 4th Street, adjacent to the Gateway Arch.
Installed Spring 2003

Garden Design by Mary Francois Deweese - Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. View from the Observation Deck of the Arch August 2003

Garden Design by Mary Francois Deweese – Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. View from the Observation Deck of the Arch August 2003

Overall Project Summary – This project is located on National Park Service
Grounds as part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, and consisted of a planting and border design for 5 existing planting beds. The intention of this project was to create a relatively low maintenance garden with low continuing costs (perennials vs. annuals), while creating a highly dramatic and colorful urban garden to act as a centerpiece greenspace complimenting the importance of the Gateway Arch and historic St. Louis Riverfront.

Luther Ely Smith Garden Design by Mary Francois Deweese - Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. View from the Observation Deck of the Arch Spring 2004

Luther Ely Smith Garden Design by Mary Francois Deweese – Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. View from the Observation Deck of the Arch Spring 2004

Special Factors and Significance – This is a highly visible and prominent garden area adjacent to the Gateway Arch, which is seen by almost 4 million visitors to our city each year, and is very significant to the visual appeal and perception of the City by visitors and residents alike. In the past, the St. Louis City Government partially funded the popular yearly planting of Tulips and Cannas in the garden, but, do to budget constraints, they were no longer able to participate in funding or maintenance of the garden. The responsibility then fell solely to the National Park Service. With budgets tight, the National Park Service was interested in finding a solution that was both cost-effective, and beautiful. The park service had an initial budget to buy plant materials, which they received in part from a special grant titled “The 2003 National Parks Volunteerism Enhancement Program” sponsored by Allegra and the National Parks Foundation. The answer to the rest of the garden’s expenses was to involve the community in a volunteer effort to minimize cost. The park was designed, planted, and is maintained by volunteers from Acorn Landscapes, The East Central District of the Garden Clubs of Missouri and the National Park Service. Another special factor was the desire to use mainly perennials in order to reduce the ongoing yearly cost of the garden. The challenge was to make a perennial garden as colorful and eye-catching as the more costly annuals had been in the past.

Luther Ely Smith Garden - Mary Francois Deweese Landscape Architect, St. Louis, Missouri. View of the garden towards the Old Courthouse, September 2003

Luther Ely Smith Garden – Mary Francois Deweese Landscape Architect, St. Louis, Missouri. View of the garden towards the Old Courthouse, September 2003

 

Role of the Landscape Architect – As a member of one of the volunteer organizations, Mary Francois Deweese was asked to volunteer as both the Landscape Architect and co-leader of the volunteer effort. Over 40 individual volunteers have participated in the project to date. The LA not only designed the project, but also participated in the coordination of the volunteers and supervised the initial planting and installation of the beds, in addition to taking part in numerous maintenance efforts as well.

Historic view of the garden designed by Mary Francois Deweese - Acorn Landscape Architecture - View towards the St. Louis Arch, September 2003

Historic view of the garden designed by Mary Francois Deweese – Acorn Landscape Architecture – View towards the St. Louis Arch, September 2003

Project Concept – The LA’s concept for the design was to apply a bold modern approach to historical French gardens, which would respect the heritage of the site (originally a sunken French garden constructed in the 1920′s), while incorporating the modern geometry of the Arch and a contemporary plant selection with a creative flair. With this approach, the garden itself becomes a piece of contemporary living art. The geometry of the Gateway Arch is reflected in the beds as asymmetrical intersecting arched bed edges, creating patterns on the ground that can be seen from the surrounding buildings and from the observation deck of the Arch as well. From the street level, the gardens assert a vivid color scheme, largely reliant on foliage, for three-season vegetative appeal.

View from atop the Adam's Mark Hotel, May 2003 - Design of Luther Ely Smith National Park Garden by Mary Deweese - Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. Winner of an Award of Merit ASLA St. Louis Chapter.

View from atop the Adam’s Mark Hotel, May 2003 – Design of Luther Ely Smith National Park Garden by Mary Deweese – Landscape Architect, Acorn Landscapes. Winner of an Award of Merit ASLA St. Louis Chapter.

The garden is themed in vibrant monochromatic beds of yellow, red and blue/purple. During the winter, the bed edges themselves hold visual interest. In addition, linear beds along 4th street were planted with ever blooming roses to add both aroma and bright color. The plant materials were chosen to completely fill each border layout to out-compete weeds and lower the maintenance chores. The borders were designed to be poured-in-place concrete, which will keep the plant materials from spreading into adjacent areas. At this time, the borders are concrete stepping stones, and the proposed second phase was to install the permanent concrete will commence when funds permit.

So, back to today…I’ll miss seeing this garden and feeling the connection to this park that I had when the garden was there.  I have fond memories of going down there on Saturday mornings with my garden club friends and weeding and caring for that garden.  We not only grew plants in that garden, we grew friendships.  Sometimes, when we make room for progress, we lose a little of what we once had.  Farewell Luther Ely Smith Garden!

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