When it’s time to consider a new landscaping project, you need to know the basics of how to work with a landscape professional. What is the consultation process? How long will it take? And how much is all of this going to cost?
Our resident landscape expert Keegan Lare, shares his advice on what to expect when you work with our professional team here at Ted Lare.
The First Step: The Phone Consultation
After you call in to start a project, we organize a phone conversation with one of our designers. This typically happens within 24-48 hours of the initial call, depending on what part of the season we’re in.
During this call, we answer any questions you may have, and we try to get a feel for the projects you’re looking for. If it seems like a solid fit for both sides, then we schedule an on-site consultation at your home or your business if it’s a commercial job.
Next Steps: The On-Site Consultation
We usually meet for up to an hour to check out your residence and discuss our initial thoughts on your project.
We charge $100 for consultations in the Des Moines Metro area, but this $100 gets credited back to you if we do the work. Depending on the complexity of the job, we may charge up to $200-500 to account for some of our design time. This will all be discussed on-site and agreed upon before we move forward. You will also receive that amount back in credit if you decide to carry out the project.
Most importantly, the on-site consultation is a time for you to ask questions, so don’t be shy!
Common Questions during the Consultation
Here are some of the questions you can expect us to discuss with you when we visit your property for the first time.
What are your goals?
In general, we like to ask homeowners what their top 3 goals are for their outdoor spaces. These goals help us focus on what is most important to you and allows us to develop a plan that meets your aspirations.
How do you live?
We’ll also ask for general information about your lifestyle. For example, how big are the gatherings you expect to have on your new patio? What does a typical weekend look like for you? Do you love the sun, or prefer to hang out in the shade?
What are your tastes?
Any images that show your taste in materials (patios, walls, etc.) always help us get an idea of what you like. Providing any previous plans for the property also helps us save time creating a base plan from scratch.
What is your budget?
Discussing a budget range is very helpful so that we know any limitations on the project. We’ll generally give options with different price points, as clients find it beneficial to have a few choices.
Information Gathered for Design
When at your site, we capture all the data we need to create an initial design. This includes several photos of the yard and home, critical measurements of the space, and information on accessibility, powerlines, and obstacles.
This process can be quick or rather extensive, depending on the existing conditions of the location. New homes without a lot of previous installations are easy to measure and capture. Older homes with many existing hardscapes and plantings can take longer to document.
We try to respond with design ideas and a preliminary budget within two weeks of the first meeting, but this time frame depends on the complexity of the project. If there are many construction elements to design and price out, it may take longer.
After we provide you with an initial design, the decision is in your hands on how to move forward and set a schedule. Often there are different phases of work to choose from, such as tree removal, garden preparation, installation of hardscapes, etc. We are happy to do it all at one time or phase it in over a few years. Usually, it makes sense to do as much construction as possible in one trip to limit the cleanup expenses involved in multiple trips over several years.
Once the project scope of work is agreed upon, we work to schedule the project in the near future. If it is a simple planting, it may only be a few weeks before we can complete the work. If the project involves a lot of construction, it might be a few months before we can start a project. Once we start a job, we see it through to completion. Our install crews are some of the best around and you will love working with them.
The landscape consultation process is often that simple. For a small fee and in short order, you can have professional designers guide you towards your ideal renovation. If you have any further questions on the landscaping process, or would like to start a project, please don’t hesitate to contact Ted Lare Design & Build. We would love to hear from you!
Setting up a feeding station and water source for birds in our gardens goes a long way toward helping them flourish. However, there’s even more you can do that requires even less long-term effort. Planting a variety of plants that produce seeds and berries for Iowa birds is a great way to support the local ecosystem. There’s a wide variety of plants that produce berries and seeds that birds love to eat. These types of plants support avian populations all throughout the year.
So what are the best bird-friendly garden plants in Iowa? Generally speaking, the best plants to support bird populations are native plants. Different birds like different types of plants, so its important to grow a mix of native trees, shrubs, and grasses. Birds also prefer sheltered food sources, so plants for birds should be planted where they’ll be a bit protected from the wind by other plants or structures in your yard.
Landscaping for Backyard Birds
Wide-open patches of trimmed grass have no value for birds, so consider giving up some of your lawn to grow more shrubs and garden beds. The best thing about landscaping for birds is that the best plants for them are plants that are native to Iowa. Native plants are, by definition, adapted to our climate and require very little maintenance, and next to no watering once established. Growing a dense shelterbelt, or a few large evergreens, that protect your yard from prevailing winds gives birds a place to rest and take shelter in storms and bad weather. Planting should include a wide variety of heights and shelter for different types of birds.
Here are some of the best bird-friendly plants for our backyards in Iowa.
Pagoda Dogwood produces a navy-blue berry. This tree is popular with woodpeckers, nuthatches, orioles, mockingbirds, sparrows, warblers, vireos, and thrushes.
American Basswood tree, or Linden, is popular with a wide variety of birds. It’s popular with insects, which are a primary food source for many birds. It also produces a small nut-like fruit that birds like. Woodpeckers and Baltimore orioles like to nest in these trees.
Black Raspberry is popular not only as a food source for birds but also as a source of nesting material for native bees.
Blue Grama is a perennial grass that grows in bunches. It is popular with birds that eat seeds, like nuthatches, finches, sparrows, chickadees, and cardinals.
Goldenrod is popular with a variety of insects and is also a favorite of insectivorous birds like warblers, woodpeckers, swallows, and wrens.
Chokecherry is another shrub that grows food for not just birds, but other small critters as well.
Buttonbush is a pretty shrub that produces a small button-like berry. The blossoms and berries attract a variety of birds and pollinators.
Common sunflowers are an excellent easy-to-grow source of food for birds. In the fall, you can leave sunflowers standing as they are for the birds, or you can cut them down and prop up the seed heads near the shrubs and trees where birds like to hang out.
Little Bluestem is a beautiful ornamental grass that produces white seed-heads that birds love.
Prairie Dropseed grass is another attractive ornamental grass that grows seed heads that attract birds.
Juniper berries are also popular with many different types of birds. The pale-blue berries contrast beautifully with the brilliant green foliage.
Planting your yard with trees, shrubs, and plants that are popular with birds is an excellent way to increase the biodiversity in your backyard. A garden full of native plants and shrubs supports the wildlife in our region and offers essential support for declining bird populations across the continent. Ready to make your yard and garden into a bird haven? Stop by our garden center today to discover more trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers that your backyard birds will love!
Sometimes it seems like winter in our gardens is very monotone: grey leafless trees and white snow, with a few evergreens here and there. But there are actually quite a variety of hardy trees and shrubs that can add pops of color, shape, and texture to give our gardens a beautiful aesthetic, all year long.
We’ve got plenty of ideas on how to make your garden just as beautiful in winter as it is in summer. Here are just a few of the best trees, shrubs, and grasses for winter interest in Iowa.
Trees are an excellent addition to your garden for many reasons, not just because they’re beautiful. Trees increase property values, reduce noise, clean our air, and help lower our utility costs by shading our homes. These trees offer all of these benefits while giving your landscape four-season color.
Colorado Blue Spruce features bright blue needles on gracefully drooping branches that look beautiful under the snow. It can be trained for upright growth or a spreading groundcover form. The steely blue color is striking in winter.
White Pine features long silky-smooth needles. It looks a little fuzzy from a distance, which makes it look very cozy under snow in the winter. It is a beautiful shade tree in a brilliant warm green.
Trembling Aspen is a North American deciduous native. It features striking white bark, the beauty of which is revealed when it has lost its leaves. It’s brilliant white contrasts beautifully with rich blue winter skies or evergreen backdrops.
As River Birch matures, it develops richly colored peeling bark in shades of white, brown, and golden-yellow. The unique bark adds visual texture and color interest in winter.
Red Jewel Crabapple is a small ornamental crabapple. It’s spring blooms are beautiful, but it provides beautiful color all the way through the year with brilliant red fruit that hangs on all through the winter. The fruit is a spectacular pop of color, and the Cedar Waxwings arriving next spring will appreciate them as well.
Shrubs add texture, height variation, and depth to your yard, drawing the viewer’s eye through the landscape. They also provide shelter and safety for our important native Iowa birds and critters.
Japanese Garden Juniper is a spreading groundcover juniper. It features bluish-green foliage that turns a purplish-blue in winter.
Montgomery Blue Spruce is a mounded shrub that resembles a short, plump Christmas tree at maturity. Its silvery-blue foliage looks beautiful under snow in the winter.
Green Velvet Boxwood is a mounding broadleaf evergreen that can be pruned into any shape you like, from a clean and uniform hedge to a unique topiary shape. Its leaves maintain a brilliant green through winter, and a totally unique texture compared to other needle-type evergreens.
PJM Rhododendron is another broadleaf evergreen. The leaves turn a dark purple-red in the fall. The dark leaves really stand out against a backdrop of white snow.
Ivory Halo Dogwood forms a rounded mound and has four-season interest. It has showy variegated foliage during the growing season, creamy white flowers and berries in the spring, and eye-catching bright red branches in the winter.
Little Lime Hydrangea is a deciduous shrub, but the blossoms will dry on the stems and last all winter. The conical flower heads and branches fade to rich golden brown and add unique shapes to the garden.
Technically Forsythia is a spring-blooming shrub. But it’s so early in the year, sometimes the very first thing to bloom, that it can still feel like winter when its bright yellow flowers burst into bloom.
Shrubs add texture, height variation, and depth to your yard, drawing the viewer’s eye through the landscape. They also provide shelter and safety for our important native Iowa birds and critters.
Grasses add a completely different look and feel to our yards in winter. Their tall wispy fronds add structure and drama against a snowy backdrop. Their golden yellow color contrasts beautifully with evergreens and snow.
Karl Foerster Reed Grass grows in clumps and up to five feet tall and features a fine delicate texture. A row of delicate golden-tan clumps adds texture and definition in winter.
Purple Fountain Grass grows up to four feet tall and features thick bottle-brush seed heads, and rich reddish-purple color all winter long. The gracefully arching seed heads and foliage are beautiful against snow.
Northwind Switch Grass grows up to five feet tall and turns a brilliant coppery-bronze in winter. It’s rigid upright form, and brick red seed heads are strikingly beautiful.
If you’re finding your yard a little lackluster to look at this winter, come visit our garden center in the spring. Pick out some gorgeous new trees, shrubs, and grasses to fill your yard with vibrant color next year.
Please note: we are currently closed for the season. We will be open on the weekends of January 24-26, and February 7-9 and then we will officially reopen for the season on March 23, 2020. Stay informed – sign up for our newsletter. We can’t wait to see you next year!
If you want to get started with birdwatching, or “birding,” in your backyard, you’ll need a few basic things; food, water, and shelter. It really is that simple. However, knowing how to use those tools to attract birds is a little more involved.
There are over 150 types of birds that are common to Des Moines. Many of them overwinter in Iowa, and they would be happy to stop by your backyard bird buffet. It’s a joyful moment for beginner “birders” when you start to recognize the visitors that frequent your property. On top of the warm feeling of getting to know your winged neighbors, you can also feel good about your role in their survival. All it takes is filling up feeders and refreshing their water now and then.
Common Iowa backyard birds we’ll see in winter include chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, cardinals, mourning doves, blue jays, finches, titmice, and woodpeckers. Dark-eyed juncos, sparrows, and purple finches come south to Iowa for the winter. Occasionally, redpolls, grosbeaks, and pine siskins will make an appearance as well. So, how can you get all these cute feathery creatures to visit your yard? Here’s all you need to know to start attracting some feathered friends.
Food for Your Backyard Birds
Naturally, one of the main things that will attract birds to your yard is bird food—but don’t just grab the first bag of birdseed or the first feeder you come across! Different birds like different types of food. Some of the most popular things are nyjer seed, sunflower seeds, insects, peanuts, suet, berries, and fruits.
Birds don’t like stale food, so if they’re not eating what you’ve put out, trying replacing it with fresh food.
Setting up a Feeding Station
When you’re setting up a bird feeding station in your yard, you’ll want to make sure you choose a good location. There are three guidelines for perfect placement:
Protected: somewhere that’s protected from the wind, and that will get some sun, the south side of your house is best.
Safe Exits: birds need a safe escape, and somewhere to hide, so within 10-15 feet of a tree or shrubs is ideal.
Visible: If you’re going to enjoy these birds, make sure you can easily see your feeding station from your windows.
Lots of birds don’t like to share their outdoor bird feeders, and some prefer different types of feeders, so you may want to have a few different styles. A tall round feeder with big enough holes for peanuts will be popular with woodpeckers. Something with edges to sit on and a roof over the top will be popular with sparrows. A skinny feeder with a perch by each feeding hole will be popular with chickadees. Some birds also prefer to eat from the ground, so you could provide a tray underneath your feeders that will catch dropped seed for ground feeders. You can also spread seed on an old stump for some of your birds. Suet can be hung in cages from trees.
Most backyard birds are generally ok with being reasonably close to buildings, so you can keep the feeders within 10-15 feet of the house for best visibility. There are bird feeder stands available that allow you to hang up to 4 feeders from the same post, offering lots of choices for your bird friends.
Like us, birds need to drink water, even in winter. Also, it’s a myth that birds will have a bath, soak their feathers, and then freeze to death on horrible icy days. Birds are smarter than that; they know how to keep themselves safe and warm.
Birdbaths are easy enough to maintain in summer, but keeping open water through the winter is a little more tricky. A heated dog dish is one of the most affordable options for keeping water available. Or, you can get a heater disk to add to an existing birdbath.
The water shouldn’t be more than 1-2 inches deep, so you’ll want to find a reasonably large rock to place in the middle of the dish. Many birds will be happy standing on the rock, but some prefer twigs or branches. If you have spruce boughs available, you can place some of those around the outside edge of the water dish, so little birds have somewhere to sit.
It’s important to make sure the water is clean. Because birds tend to relieve themselves wherever they are, you’ll want to clean out the water dish and refill it with fresh water about once a week.
Somewhere to Shelter
The best backyard bird garden will have lots of places for birds to take shelter. A variety of shrubs and trees, evergreens and deciduous, will make your yard inviting for birds all year round. Shrubs and trees with berries—like dogwood, chokeberry, winterberry, hawthorn, and holly—are popular with a wide variety of birds.
If you’ve got birdhouses up in your yard, you can clean them out for winter, but don’t put them away. Some birds will still use them to take cover through extra frigid nights.
Dealing with Squirrels
If you’ve got trees and shrubs and bird feeders, there’s a good chance you have squirrels. They can be a pest, but they’re also not the worst creature on the planet. There are plenty of excellent squirrel-proof feeders on the market that can make it more difficult for them to steal bird food. But, since squirrels are very intelligent, they’re likely to figure out a way eventually.
Generally, the best and most humane solution to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders is to let them have their own feeding station somewhere else in your yard. A cheap feeder stocked with nyjer or sunflower seeds will keep them busy and mostly away from your bird feeding station.
The Window Problem
It’s always sad when a bird hits the window. However, there are easy solutions to keep them from mistaking your glass for open skies. Reflective stickers or tape are great options, but you’ll find more products to prevent bird-to-window collisions at our garden center.
Once you get started with backyard birding you’ll enjoy observing these delightful creatures all winter. When your feeders are all set up, make sure to keep your camera or phone handy—you never know who might visit your bird buffet!
It’s that time of year when we’re starting to think about putting our gardens to bed for winter. That dreaded four-letter word, snow, isn’t too far around the corner, and the more cleanup we do now, the less we’ll have when that spring sunshine shows up again. Everyone has their theories about what the weather will do in Iowa this winter. Whatever it does, we don’t want to risk the chance of unfinished garden cleanup getting caught under a massive layer of snow from a freak storm. Here’s a checklist of the things we’re working through to tuck our gardens in for wintertime.
The best time to start checking off these tasks is once we’ve had our first frost in Des Moines. This will finish off any late-blooming annuals, and set perennials into their winter dormancy cycle.
We tend to think about cleaning up, not planting at this time of year. However, we can do some fall garden planting in Iowa. Tulips, snowdrops, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and garlic should be planted now. The cold period in the winter is crucial for getting them started in the spring. We’ve got a variety of bulbs for fall planting at our garden center, so come take a look! Make sure you follow the planting instructions on the package or ask our staff for tips.
Empty Garden Beds
Clear out spent plants now, so there’s less cleanup to deal with in the spring. Collect and store things like tomato cages, trellises, and stakes. Cut down all the foliage from vegetables. You can lay them out and mow over them with a mulching lawnmower, or scoop them directly into yard waste bags. If you mow over them, make sure to set the deck height a little higher than you would for mowing the lawn. The lawnmower will break them up, and then you add them into your composter or directly into the soil. If any of your plants showed signs of disease or pest invasion before the frost, dispose of them in yard waste bags. Do not put diseased plants in your compost—safe is always better than sorry.
Tuck in Some Compost
If you’ve got a good stock of compost going, spread it over your garden and work it in with a tiller or by hand. If you’re turning the soil by hand, turn over big chunks with a spade or fork. You don’t need to break them down. Leaving them in large chunks allows air to circulate into the soil, and they’ll break down on their own over the winter.
Trim Back Perennials
Clean up perennials, but don’t mow them down. It’s a good idea to trim back a bit on your perennials, but don’t cut back too much. Cutting back too much and too soon could potentially encourage new growth before winter, which will not end well for the plant.
Rake the Leaves
Rake up your leaves, but don’t throw them out. Fallen leaves are among the best things you can add to improve your soil. You can do the same thing you did with the veggies; you can mow over leaves to break them down, then add them to your compost or work them into your soil.
Wrap up tender shrubs. If you’ve planted new shrubs this year, or you have a few that are more susceptible to winter burn like arborvitae, wrap them up well with burlap.
Add a Layer of Mulch
Mulch perennials, shrubs, and new trees to insulate and protect the roots. A 2-4 inch layer of mulch helps to protect your trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs through the winter. Make sure the mulch doesn’t touch the trunk of trees or shrubs but makes a good thick layer over the root area.
Clean Up Raised Beds
Raised gardens shouldn’t need too much protection, but you’ll want to double-check a few things. If they’re elevated off the ground, you’ll want to make sure they’re not a warm cozy shelter for mice to nest. Clean out underneath them, and barricade around them so pests can’t get in. Sometimes desperate rodents will burrow in from underneath. If you’re wondering what to put under raised garden beds, consider laying down a few layers of poultry wire.
If you’ve been wanting to add edging to your landscaping, now is a great time to do it. Whatever you choose—bricks, slate, steel, curbing—you don’t have to worry about disturbing annuals or bulbs. If you’d like to know how to put bricks around a flower bed, have a chat with our landscaping staff. We can help you get it done correctly before the snow flies.
Take Care of Your Tools
When it’s finally time to head back out to the garden in the spring, it’s a major setback to find your tools wrecked from rust or dull from last year’s use. When you’re finished with your yard cleanup, spend some time on your tools. Wash, sanitize, and dry them thoroughly, sharpen blades where needed, and apply a light coating of oil to tools that could rust. You’ll have a much easier start to spring with well-maintained tools.
Getting your garden prepped for winter now will mean your soil warms more quickly in the spring, and you can get back to gardening sooner. If you have questions, or need any tools or supplies, swing by our garden center for a visit. We can help you get the garden all tucked in and cozy for winter, so you can cozy up inside and start your planning for next year.
It’s no accident that many of us wistfully imagine a shady sanctuary, relaxing under the leafy boughs of a tree. The image of a perfect afternoon spent under the cool shadow of a tree has been romanticized by poets and painters for centuries. We can’t deny that there’s something nostalgic about letting our minds drift off underneath a beautiful shady tree – and what better location than from the convenient security of your own backyard?
When you think of creating your own backyard oasis, you aren’t limited to giant trees with decades of growth. There are some fantastic options that provide the shade and elegance that you want, some of which can fit into the corners of even the smallest suburban lots. Here are some of our favorites that you might have seen in your neighbors’ yards:
Best Large Shade Trees for Iowa (over 30 ft tall and wide)
Ted’s Pick: Swamp White Oak
Tall, mature trees are destined to become landmarks in the neighborhood. Thanks to its faster rate of growth (compared to other oaks), Swamp White Oak reaches its mature height sooner, bathing everything around it in cool shade.
Swamp White Oak is also well-suited to the landscape because of its high tolerance for urban soils. It’s tough, and yet also ruggedly handsome. The thick, straight trunk has attractive peeling, flat-ridged bark. Its leaves spend the spring and summer with dark green surfaces and white, fuzzy undersides. In the fall, the color matures into lovely shades of yellow and golden brown.
It’s hard to beat a maple when it comes to fall color. What sets Hot Wings apart is the presence of red tones before the fall begins. During the summer, the branches bear clusters of bright red samaras that look almost like fruit or flowers against the brilliant green foliage. In the fall, the leaves take on a gorgeous display of red, orange, and yellow tones.
A fast-growing specimen, Hot Wings Tartarian Maple grows “out” as much as it grows tall, which gives it an attractive rounded habit at maturity. On top of offering plenty of shade and color, this maple is also very cold-hardy and has no trouble surviving a Des Moines winter.
Best Compact Shade Trees for Patio Areas or Corners of Home (under 30 ft)
Ted’s Pick: Serviceberry
There’s so much to love about serviceberry trees. Not only are they wonderful choices for adding three-season interest, they produce delicious edible berries similar in color and flavor to blueberries. The Autumn Brilliance cultivar is especially beautiful, with its intense orange-red fall foliage.
In the early spring, the serviceberry blooms profusely with crisp white flowers. As spring fades into summer and the flowers are replaced with berries, you’ll notice your yard becoming a lot more popular with the local birds!
Serviceberries are medium growers, which allows them to look well-established after a few years while remaining compact.
These trees are great options for people looking to create shade in their backyard landscape. They provide a relaxing respite for you and your plants, soaking up the sun in any area where you’d rather not. Provided a little bit of space, some good soil, and simple regular upkeep, even a modest tree can be a practical addition to your backyard that gives back year after year.
The best gardens are more than just beautiful. Some of our favorite outdoor designs incorporate function and beauty. Outdoor spaces that have been transformed into someplace unique to the homeowner and their tastes, while offering an oasis for them to enjoy their time at home. While the visual appeal is an important element, what you leave up to the other senses is what completes the experience.
From fragrant flowers to delightful textured plants, your personal outdoor space can be full of everything you want to experience. And what better place to relax and enjoy time with family, friends, and loved ones than a calming garden getaway that provides a platform for entertaining? The easiest way to add sound and tranquility to your yard is with a water feature. Not only are they incredibly personalized and customizable, they are simpler to install than most people think – especially with the assistance of our team of landscape and design experts to guide the way.
Why We Love Water Features
The benefits of adding trickling water to your garden are clear as soon as you step into a garden that has a water feature. The sound immediately provides a relaxing and calming atmosphere for you and your guests . They also pack a ton of other benefits by boosting ambient humidity for your garden to enjoy, and providing shelter and water for your favorite wildlife and beneficial insects.
In terms of design, there are many reasons why people fall in love with the idea of having a water feature in their backyard. While they are certainly more than achievable for nearly anyone’s garden today, we can’t help but associate fountains and ponds with luxury. In ancient Babylon, Kings used water (along with feats of engineering and lots of manpower) to create lush tropical oases in the middle of the desert. More recently, in France, the royal family created impressive fountains and gardens for their opulent palace in Versailles.
These days there are so many customizable options that anyone can have all the luxury of the royal water features of the past in their own backyard. You’ll appreciate the benefits of having a place to go home and relax, even if you don’t rule a kingdom.
Our gardens are our own sanctuary, so it makes sense that we optimize the space for sharing with loved ones and for relaxing. With the sound of water dripping and flowing, your whole yard is filled with ambient noise that promotes relaxation. The constantly moving water will also help to boost your garden’s health by increasing humidity, which your tropical plants will enjoy, and by attracting the right type of natural visitors to your backyard space.
Water features themselves offer a host of benefits to the overall experience in your yard, but they are visually stunning as well. There are so many options for types and styles of water installations, your options are endless for designing a beautiful water feature that perfectly compliments your existing outdoor aesthetic.
Water Feature Options
There are a few basic types of water features to choose from. Depending on your ambition, you can opt for a pre-made feature, or something completely one-of-a-kind.
The simpler method of starting a water feature is with a fountain. These are easy to source and come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and prices. Fountains add a certain elegance to your garden – we can’t help but associate them with formal French gardens. This elegant solution comes with relatively simple upkeep and maintenance. They’re easy to install, are affordable, and often offer a simple enclosed system of circulating water that is easy to manage. While you can always scale your project to be bigger and more elaborate, the simplest of fountains are easy to add to an existing landscape design without much extra work.
Ponds are popular options for people that are willing to put in a bit more work and regular maintenance for a stunning centerpiece that really ties the whole landscape together. Instead of a feature in your design, ponds tend to be a commanding central point that focuses the entire look of your yard. These features add a naturalistic beauty to your yard that’s perfect for relaxing conversation spaces.
Waterfalls and water walls can either be incorporated into a pond or built to be free-standing. Waterfalls and water walls can be sculpted with concrete, granite or natural stone to create a dramatically beautiful focal point. Our experts are a great starting point for an ambitious project like installing a waterfall. With help from the Ted Lare design team, you can create a water feature that works well with your home and lifestyle, with the confidence that it will be done right.
However you decide to incorporate your water feature, you’ll be rewarded with an outdoor experience that rewards all your senses. Installing a new feature is an investment in your property as well as an investment in your time spent outside – for you and everyone you welcome into your home each year.
Home is where the heart is, and in our incredibly busy lives, it can be important for the heart and soul to take a little bit of time to relax and enjoy our surroundings. We put lots of effort into creating a home that is cozy, inviting, and comfortable to live in, but we can benefit just as much from a stunning outdoor space where function and design work together. Whether you’re looking to sit back and relax in your backyard or enjoy a meal al fresco with friends, there are a lot of different ways to create a zen space for your enjoyment just outside your door.
Finding Relaxation in your Yard Creating a relaxing and peaceful location in your own yard isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of question. Different things meet the unique vision that each homeowner has for their outdoor spaces, so the perfect landscape might look different for everyone. Our landscape experts are a great resource, whether you have something specific in mind or if you need some help finding what you want. Not only can we help to tailor your backyard to your relaxation needs, but we can help every step of the way to realize your dream.
Outdoor lifestyle relaxation comes in all shapes and sizes, from tiny projects that require minimal changes to your yard to a full landscape redesign. Here are some of the most popular projects in the Iowa area:
Starting Small – Little Additions Sometimes all you need to relax is a tiny change to what you have! For those that love their home landscaping now and are looking for a simple change to give them the right place to cut loose, installing a luxurious hammock or even a fire pit can be all you need. Starting simple is a great way to introduce yourself and your family to more outdoor living – by adding a small change one piece at a time, you add each modification incrementally so your backyard slowly becomes a personal oasis. Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.
A Sensory Backyard Experience Many of us would complain that we simply spend too much of our time plugged in and on-the-go. Between all of our screen time, driving around, working and being connected all the time, it can be overwhelming. Having a little spot of heaven to relax often means letting go of tension and changing it up so that we can breathe a little easier. Nowhere is better than our gardens to take a break from our busy lives.
Filled with luscious colors and textures, our gardens are stunning to look at. Fortunately, the experience doesn’t end there. Our backyards treat us to a variety of delicious fragrances and gentle sounds as we settle in with a good book. The relaxing qualities of our gardens don’t have to be accidental – you can optimize the relaxing qualities of your garden by choosing plants, landscaping, and decor that offer more for your nose, ears, touch, and eyes. Choose plants in your favorite colors, textures, and scents. Add some treats for your ears with windchimes and water features for a space you’ll love to escape to.
Water Features Taking the relaxing auditory experience of your yard to the next level, water features are one of the most popular additions to outdoor landscaping to promote relaxation. Whether you want to add a little fountain close to a seating area or are looking to invest in a backyard pond or waterfall, the sound of water flowing has an instantly relaxing effect – and the variety of water features available means that there is a style to match any yard.
Water features range from low to high maintenance, but they reward you with a positive effect on your mental state. Water features benefit the rest of your garden, too! Your water feature benefits your plants by increasing ambient humidity, allowing your plants to share in the relaxation.
Landscaping with Relaxation in Mind By designing your landscape with relaxation in mind, you’ll quickly find yourself spending more and more time outdoors, lounging and soaking up the good vibes. It’s important to find a careful balance between including the plants and features that you love, and creating a space that is low-maintenance enough that you actually have time to enjoy it! Our landscaping experts are seasoned pros at finding this balance for you and suggesting the best materials and style for your home. We love creating spaces that people actually want to spend time in, and we take the stress out of making those dream designs happen.
A relaxing space to forget the stresses of your day is a treat that everyone deserves. Whether you create an entire outdoor living room, or simply put down a pool lounger on
With a camera in everyone’s pocket, social media within our fingertip’s reach, and a world of people a click away, it can feel a lot more difficult to live a private life. We’re so plugged into our lives around us and surrounded by technology and media that the only place we can actually relax is in our homes. While a little peace and quiet is wonderful to enjoy in our fast-paced lives, nobody wants to live their life indoors. Having a private escape on your property can be the perfect way to enjoy what your yard has to offer, without worrying about prying eyes. Below are some ideas on how to create your own private sanctuary in your backyard.
Hedges and Privacy Screens: Planting hedges and privacy screens are a beautiful and all-natural way to add a little bit of functional privacy to your home. Their dense growth creates a lush curtain of green that shields your yard while allowing you to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll get all the function of a fence or barrier, but with a much more aesthetically pleasing shade of green.
Hedges don’t just screen your home from the outside giving privacy, but they can also act as a stylish, multi-purpose feature by providing a sound barrier from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, allowing you to create an atmosphere of peace and quiet right outside your door. Not to mention, they also work great as a buffer from winds and snow, which can not only be a benefit for those of us who like to spend more time outside, but it can also help to lower heating costs when the weather cools.
Growing Your Own Hedges: While there are many different styles and types of hedges that you can grow, planning the best fit for you is important. The first step toward starting your own hedge at home actually begins with planning, so that you can choose the look and function that works for your backyard oasis. Working with one of our expert designers, we’ll find the most tailored look for your style, home, and interests. Here’s what to consider when planning:
What space do you have? Start off by planning where you want your hedge to go. You might want to have a hedge capture your whole yard, but some yard layouts might call for a partial hedge instead. Measure the total length and consider how wide you’d like your hedge to be to have the numbers you need to get started.
What do these measurements mean? How many plants you use and how close you plant them depends on both the plant’s growth habits and the density of a hedge that you want. For some plants you could need up to 3 layers, planted only 1’-2’ apart to create a dense look. Other plants may only need to be planted in one layer and require spacing 6 ft apart. Often a combination of plants is best, for a unique look and more color and texture through the year. Our designers are familiar with all of the most popular varieties and which species is the best choice for the look that you want.
Which plant to choose? The first decision is between deciduous and evergreen shrubs. While there are tons of exciting types of deciduous plants to choose from that offer a stunning array of seasonal colors, they do lose their leaves – and therefore some of their density – in the winter. Evergreens offer an identical look no matter the season, and won’t sacrifice density at any time of year.
Hedge How-To: For a professional and polished final look, our landscaping experts are a fantastic resource to make sure that your project looks as good as you imagined. If you’re a bit handier, though, it can be easy to plant your own hedge. For homeowners looking for a stress-free experience, hiring the pros is a great solution, and for those that like to be hands-on throughout their projects, we’re happy to help you make your hedge happen. Here’s how to plant them yourself:
1. For a manicured look, mark your hedge line. Use a stake at each end of the line and tie a string between them to mark a straight line. To keep each plant placed precisely, measure and mark your string with the distances that you want to place plants at.
2.Dig your holes as deep as the plant’s root balls.Take the plants out of the containers or casing you purchased them in the holes for planting. If they look root-bound, gently work the roots to loosen them. Fill in the holes and water your new hedge plants to help them to settle in and start growing.
3. Adding mulch around your plants will help them to thrive. Mulch is temperature regulating and helps to keep moisture levels more consistent for a healthier plant, but also helps to make your hedge look more polished.
4. You can “train” your hedge into the right shape with some careful pruning once they are growing well. Simply trim down the tops and sides a few times annually to keep your plants healthy and in line.
Favorite Hedge Plants: There really is a wealth of different options to choose from when picking your hedge plant. Shrubs exist in nearly every shape and size, so there’s a plant for nearly every style. These are some of our favorite hedge plants that you’re bound to see thriving in Iowa neighborhoods:
Boxwoods These evergreens are known for being dense-growing and very low maintenance. You can find them in many sizes ranging from 3’ to 9’ tall, and you can trim them into different shapes to suit your style. These shrubs boast bright green foliage that darkens slightly in the winter months. While they are known to attract useful bees to your yard, they also keep out other wildlife like deer, keeping your whole garden protected from other kinds of prying eyes.
Arborvitae Known for their elegant looks, these hedges are a perfect option for hedges that highlight each individual plant with more generous spacing. These tall and narrow cone-shaped trees come in a wide assortment of varieties, some of which can grow up to 30’ tall. The local favorites are the Emerald Green Arborvitae and the Holmstrup Arborvitae – both favored for their beautiful foliage that is both hardy and disease resistant. The name “Arborvitae” actually translates from Latin to mean “tree of life,” and these plants prove it with a long life of up to 50 years, even in our sometimes harsh conditions. Pictured Above Right: North Pole Arborvitae Via Plant Finder
Korean Lilac & Common Lilac Lilacs are a great choice for adding a floral touch to your hedging needs, covered in clusters of small flowers, usually in shades of white or purple, or variegations of both. Not only beautiful, they’re also wonderfully fragrant and add a delightful, relaxing note to the atmosphere of the backyard. Plus, those same gorgeous and fragrant blooms are favorites of hummingbirds and butterflies alike! Pictured Above Left: Korean Lilac Via Plant Finder
Dwarf Burning Bush For truly captivating color, look no further than a dwarf burning bush for your hedge. The gorgeous, green summer foliage transforms to radiant red for the fall, truly setting the season in your landscape. They also look particularly fantastic when paired with evergreens for a cool contrast with the appeal of year-round coverage. Pictured Above Right: Dwarf Burning Bush Via Monrovia
Privacy Planting Screens: Although a hedge is a nice place to start when adding privacy to your backyard, a more beautiful and complex solution is a privacy planting screen that has several varieties of plants. The combination of plants will create a more diverse mix that provides more color, height variations, and seasonal interest.
Most planting screens would incorporate multiple trees, shrubs, and perhaps ornamental grasses and perennial flowers. Below are some images of planting arrangements we have done in the past. One of our friendly designers can help design and install a more complex project for you, such as this.
Berming: Another way to create privacy is to change the elevation of the land. Given enough space on your property, you can add black dirt and re-shape the land to increase the height of your yard, allowing for more privacy. Typically we would then plant a privacy screen on top of the rolling berms to create an immediate planting screen. If you have an expansive area, these berms also have a lot of visual interest by themselves, giving you the feel of a rolling manicured golf course.
Getting a moment to ourselves shouldn’t be that difficult, so it’s wonderful to have a little spot of quiet solitude right in our own yards. Whether you want to plant your own or need help from our landscape and design experts to create some much-needed privacy, come in today to ask how you can turn your backyard into a private getaway.
Ted Lare Design Build specializes in Des Moines Landscaping Design and Installation.
We cover a wide range of Central Iowa. We have installed landscapes for many years in all areas of the Des Moines metro, including West Des Moines, Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, Urbandale, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, Indianola, and Norwalk.