The Experts Weigh In

Becca LaBarre

Becca LaBarre

Who doesn’t want a panel of experts in their field to bounce off ideas?  I’m very glad I have some go-to people to ask advice, construction applications, or find out the latest and greatest must haves.  Here are some of my collegues greatest advice to homeowners from perspectives all over the board.  From designers, to brick salesman, maintenance gurus, and growers their diverse backgrounds mean that collectively they’ve seen just about everything.

Kathy Richardson
Landscape Designer

One thing I always try to tell people when helping them with their landscape design is to think about the big picture. They might just want a couple of plants, but know that they need a patio in a couple of years. So instead of just popping some plants in willy nilly, try to plan for your future landscape. Most people can not landscape their entire yard all at once. Not only is that a big maintenance undertaking all at once, but the cost of installing your dream landscape is usually not budget friendly. Dream big, and install a phase at a time. Plan your garden by laying out a master plan – or hiring a great designer to include all of the items you want in your garden into a master plan. There’s no reason why everyone can’t eventually have the landscape of their dreams. Install a patio one year, some foundation plants the next, stepping stone path and some accent plants the next and so on. It does take a bit of planning and patience, but you can’t beat the end result. That way, your garden and all its parts look like they were supposed to be there and you’ve got a functional and beautiful well thought out landscape.

Mickey Bittenbender

Maintenance Operations Manager
To prevent your lawn from turning brown during the hot summer months apply one inch of water per week with a lawn sprinkler, anything more is just a waste of water and money. If you choose to let your lawn go dormant during the summer months keep in mind this does not eliminate the need to water. During extended dry periods (3-4 weeks with no moisture) it will still be necessary to apply at least a ½” of water to help prevent costly lawn repairs due to turf grass die off.


Jim Clesen
Ron Clesen’s Ornamental Plants, Inc.


[My advice] basically, is for the homeowner to realize that they need to have an active part in the planning stages. Educate themselves. And, after all the decisions have been made then sit back and let the professionals do their job.  Working with designers before I know there are two types. Ones that plan for the product that they feel comfortable, for many reasons including they are just who they are, or what is overstocked in the nursery.  The other is one that will listen to what your needs are AND form fit the plantings, along with some of their previous experiences, to what your needs and wants are.  Asks important questions like “who will be maintaining these gardens or how much time and effort can you give?”
Jim Slattery AIA,CES
Illinois Brick Company

Material Sales 

The one tip I would give a homeowner is this, “Make sure your landscape design has color through-out the year”. I call it “Keeping your Landscape Alive” I drive around and looking at many landscape designs and see lots of color during spring, summer and fall months. But after the leaves and pedals have fallen off most designs look lifeless. The proper selection of trees, shrubs and ground cover is imperative to maintaining inviting color through-out the year to any landscape design. Ask a Landscape Professional on which plantings will work best for your property.