Softscaping

softscaping

Drainage

Water to every homeowner is the enemy!!!! While it may be something that we need as humans to survive it becomes a downright nuisance and home wrecker when it gets in your house uninvited.

Upon site inspection we start at the top insuring we have good clean gutters, proper water flow, and solid downspouts that emit a minimum of 6’ from house. Next is a good positive drainage of soils from your foundation and don’t forget to waterproof and seal where the grade is raised.

At Great Lakes we bring you a wide range of solutions no matter what the site conditions are; flat, sloped or even concave. We are well versed in providing you with unique solutions to all your water problem needs.

Call us for an expert consultation and we will guide your water in the right path.

Green Roofs

In our commitment to being “green” Great Lakes has become a certified green roof & living wall installer for ELT Easy Green Living Wall Systems. As heat islands and increasing water runoff tax the local sewers, Green Roof technology has increasing become more popular. With the limited amount of space in Europe this technology has already become established.

Green Roof technology is a great way to reduce the power needs of a building and also aids in water absorption that would otherwise be dumped into local rivers and lakes carrying contaminants creating more pollution and harming the surrounding environment. Green roofs tend to absorb 75% of any rainfall decreasing the load on waterways. By planting roofs with plant material that absorbs water, not only is water runoff reduced but there is a reduction to the heat island effect within the city. Most roofs usually are dark in color which absorbs the sun’s rays increasing the temperature of the surrounding space; this is why temperatures are cooler outside of the city, more green space. This process also reduces the power output of a building by keeping the building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Plants add insulation to a building as they give off water vapor through transpiration, this helps to dissipate heat.

Living Walls

Living walls are very similar to green roofs but instead of being level or nearly level they are literally walls. This allows you to garden in spaces that typically would have no room to do so otherwise. The inner city has very little space to work with so planting vertically is ideal. This also applies to people that have small courtyards. Living walls can be used for insulation purposes and to help reduce the heat in a small location by creating a micro climate within that space.

This is accomplished by using hanging trays that have inserts that allow a media to be placed inside and planted, just think of small pots that are set on their sides. Irrigation tubes are run through the tops of the trays; this allows water to pass through the permeable layers. Any additional water that passes through can be collected and reused for water conservation. Plant choices are limited by the size of the root stock of the plant that you choose to install considering that each space is only inches wide. Think of the possibilities, a restaurant in the inner city can use this not only to create a great atmosphere for their clientele but also to help grow produce and any essential herbs that would normally have to be purchased. It can also be used to create an annually change piece of living art. The use of this product uses are only limited by your imagination.

Plant Installation

Typically people believe that trees should be planted with miniature volcanoes of mulch, planting the root ball above the soil line while making sure to stake the trees. This is not considered to be a sound horticultural practice.

When planting any plant one needs to evaluate the site conditions; soil type, moisture level of the soil and exposure. Knowing the site conditions will help you determine what plant best suites the conditions and what type of amendments may be required. After location is determined and is the proper space for the plant you can start to dig the hole. Industry standards state the root ball should be placed in a hole twice the size of the root ball. When back filling the soil, it should be done in lifts compacting at each level this allows for proper stability. Properly compacting the soil back into the hole when the tree is placed should alleviate the need for staking unless unusually high wind conditions are present. Keeping the plant at or just above original soil level is a good horticultural practice, this allows for any settling to occur, but if the hole is dug appropriately vary little settling should happen.

plant

Mulch volcanoes, as we call them in the industry, do not increase water retention but can eventually cause rot as the much starts to decay around the trunk. Additional mulch applications, year after year increase the height of the mounds increasing the trees susceptibility to this issue. Mulch should be pulled away from the trunk and be spread out over the root ball equally, this allow for an equal decay rate of the organic material and allows for proper gas exchange between the soil and the air above.

Proper maintenance should be performed at this point to prevent future problems. Corrective prunings, removal of any wire tags and twine that can cause girdling in the future are just some of the small steps that should be taken in order to secure the tree a healthy start in its new home. Remember transplanting any plant will cause stress and any further stresses may harmful to the plant’s future.

Rain Garden

Rain Gardens are an aesthetically pleasing and functional solution for dealing with water issues. As water runoff in the city becomes an increasingly larger issue, rain gardens have become more popular especially with the trend to go green. Rain gardens allow for natural processing of water runoff to occur on site through percolation methods, and planting materials that will absorb more water and can also survive periods of drought as well. Native plant materials are the best choice to use because of their ability to adjust to our climate and adaptability to the weather patterns.

When building a rain garden a specific location is chosen, downspouts direct water to that location or a swale is created to direct the water to that location. In that location the soil is removed to a certain depth and is filled with permeable materials such as sand and gravel along with original back fill to allow for the water to easily leach into the soils. The surrounding soils are amended and planted with water loving plant materials that will absorb the moisture. The idea is to hold the water until it is completed absorbed by the soils and surrounding plant material.

Rain gardens can be attractive by trying to add natural plantings and river stone with boulders, not only does this aide in the percolation but it adds a natural element that gives the feel of water without the actual existence of water it also allows a place for additional water to sit until the soil absorbs it.

Renovations

Renovations are our specialty, we will design using any elements that the either our experts deem structurally sound or our client finds desirable and would like to remain within or perhaps relocated somewhere else on the property. Relocating materials can be a more affordable way to get the look that you desire.

Reusing existing stone from an existing walkway and adding to it is a great way to reduce ones cost and still keeps with the element of the classic home.

Transplanting larger existing shrubs or small ornamental trees that have sentimental value will also give your newly designed landscape a more established feel while retaining an element that you may be attached to.

Overgrown shrubs that block out your home can not only be visually distracting and darken the inside of your home but also can date your landscape. By removing existing materials such as junipers and burning bush that have outgrown their location you can add new life to a tired landscape. Often times we will salvage larger materials such as established trees, ornamentals and hedges that with proper pruning and the addition of new materials to provide your landscape the feel of a mature established one.

Synthetic Turf

Synthetic turf can be a great compliment to any yard. The applications are almost endless; ranging from putting greens, high traffic areas, dog runs, to areas with maintenance issues and especially under children’s play structures. The turf has a UV rating that allows for it to maintain its color without fading and padding that can be installed underneath that has a rating for a fall up to nine feet which is great for under play structures. The turf has an Infill product that range from basic sand to acrylic that are applied as topdressing which helps hold the turf up in place and gives the lawn a more natural look. Acrylic infill is recommended for those individuals with dogs due to the fact that the acrylic material will not hold on to any of the odor.

Maintenance is no longer an issue when you have this product, there will be no more mowing, watering or even fertilizing, just sit back and enjoy your maintenance free environmentally friendly lawn.