Garden Design Practices

Here are Small Spot Gardens’ standard garden design practices for healthy gardens – they aren’t hard and fast rules but it’s what we aim for:

  • Plant selection – When we come up with our plant lists for your yard we suggest plants that will thrive in your situation without a lot of maintenance, inputs or pest issues.  We’ll also work in some plants native to the area that our local fauna need for food and habitat.
  • Plant diversity – Gardens are healthiest when there’s a good variety of plants at all sorts of different heights.  Diversity contributes to the overall health of the garden because it creates an environment that supports organisms and microorganisms essential for plant growth and wellness.  It also makes a little insect damage or disease less noticeable – it may not be traditional for gardeners to be so relaxed about gnawed leaves or weird spots but it’s part of the cycle of life and it happens out there in nature all the time.  We get that you don’t want a completely devastated backyard so we figure out ways to let these things happen without ruining the overall attractiveness of the garden.  We’re happy to explain more – you may even become intrigued by the crazy amount of life out there!
  • Soil health – What happens underground is amazing.  There are all sorts of miniscule organisms helping your plants live, getting rid of waste for us, taking carbon dioxide out of the air and improving soil health.  It’s really important to help these tiny guys thrive so we do what we can to give them a good life.  The best way to do that is to keep the soil intact as much as possible, keep it protected with mulch, compost and ground cover plants, maintain a healthy moisture level and provide organic matter for them to eat.  One of the most effective ways to do all of this is to re-incorporate garden trimmings back into the soil by leaving leaves, dead flowers and clippings near the base of the plants.  We’ll discuss options for creating healthy soil that will work best for your personal style.
  • Bugs – A healthy garden has a wide variety of insects, spiders and other small animals that keep each other in check.  We avoid spraying chemicals because killing off plant-eating insects frequently kills off other beneficial insects and animals.  Instead we design gardens where insect damage is less noticeable and recommend using physical means to control the amount of damage (like spraying aphids off plants with a strong jet of water, or using traps to control gopher damage)
  • Water use – We try to keep water use to a minimum and recommend installing drip irrigation because it’s a really efficient way to keep the moisture level of your garden consistent.  We discourage overhead sprinkler systems and generally don’t install traditional lawns (we will install low-water lawn alternatives)
  • Runoff – A lot of polluted water from our roofs and paved areas spill into the bay and ocean during the rainy season and hurt marine life.  We design gardens that can accept runoff from paved areas and love to install rain gardens that can filter rainwater from your downspout.  We’re a huge fan of removing sidewalk for gardens and street trees.
  • Building materials – We really like to reuse what we can by either working with your existing hardscape or by incorporating recycled materials.  We also like to use FSC certified redwood and local stone for building.
  • Waste – We compost all greenwaste during the installation process, recycle what we can and try to provide inconspicuous areas so pruned and trimmed plant material can be hidden and composted on-site as the garden matures.
  • Chemicals – We don’t spray toxic chemicals or use inorganic fertilizers.  If a plant is really suffering it’s the wrong plant for the location and we recommend removing it before resorting to pesticides.
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