Mike’s Garden is a landscape consultation service designed to provide homeowners with the information they need to make better choices about their gardens – essentially “helping gardeners help themselves”. So whether you need a tree assessment, design advice, pruning lessons, a pest diagnosis or a referral to a reputable contractor – I will be able to provide you with the help you need. Residential rates are $75 an hour for on-site consultations and $50 an hour for any additional (off-site) design drawing or report writing – please inquire about commercial rates. Services are available in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, with a $15 travel surcharge applying in neighboring Mission and the Tri-Cities region. You can arrange an appointment by contacting Mike at 604-250-7493 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the services I provide (including professional), see below;
Not every customer requires a full design service, as evidenced by the landscape shown on the left which was planted several years ago. The homeowners had already completed the hard landscaping of stairs and terraced beds retained with boulders – they also had a good idea of the shrubs they wanted in the front of their home. This is where I came in to help them with plant lay-out and provide some advice on aesthetics. I simply placed the trees and shrubs where they needed to go and the couple planted them themselves. Two years later I’m back to help them with another project which involved beds surrounding a stunning custom pool, complete with multiple waterfalls and underwater cave. They requested a design consult to give them some idea of appropriate plant choices near the pool, as well as options for tall conifers (we eventually decided on a Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Green Arrow’) with a narrow profile. Once we settled on an overall West Coast look and the plant list – they purchased the plants and laid them out and I dropped by later to fine-tune the final placement. Ensuring that my design service suits your specific needs and budget is important, which is why I have enjoyed many repeat customers over the years.
This Granville Street residence in Vancouver had just been completed when I came into the picture, and given the high cost of the initial property purchase and the construction proper, the owner was looking for ways to economize on the landscape design without compromising on the overall aesthetic of his new home. One of my solutions was to superimpose the garden design and hard landscape features onto an existing site or construction plan – thus saving him the expense of measuring and producing a scaled design from scratch. His other request was for a low maintenance garden with year-round appeal, and smaller-sized flowering trees with prolonged seasonal colour. We began by choosing caliper (6cm) Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’ or Pink Korean Dogwood, with its showy spring blooms, persistent red fruits and burgundy autumn tones. A number of evergreen shrubs and perennials such as Nandina ‘Firepower’ (Heavenly Bamboo), Prunus ‘Otto Lukyen’, Viburnum davidii, Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange), English Lavender, Carex ‘Evergold’, as well as some dwarf Pieris japonica were used liberally throughout the front garden. Long-blooming deciduous shrubs and herbaceous perennials were also incorporated to provide seasonal colour and included Carpet roses, Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’, Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica) and Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’. Boulders strategically placed throughout the garden nicely complimented the river rock topdressing, finished the look.
This project began like many others – with the purchase of a new house surrounded by a less than stellar landscape. The homeowners had already planted-up the tiny front yard guided by some advice from me, but needed a proper landscape design for the backyard – which was essentially void except for a little lawn, an existing Emerald cedar hedge and a row of shade trees. Although quite large, the expectations for this space were also very high and included room for a storage shed, hot tub, compost bin, additional raised vegetable planters, a deck for entertaining, a dedicated rose bed with arbor, a rain barrel and easy access throughout. I also had to work around a small sunken patio for a secondary suite that faced the backyard. The homeowners wanted the landscape on the side of the house to be very low maintenance, so we decided to flank the stepping stone pathway (from the gate to the lawn) with minimal gardens and mulch the foreground in pea gravel over a landscape fabric base. The balance of the garden proper is found beside the shed foundation and around the deck (fitted with a metal gazebo), including an Acer palmatum ‘Emperor One’ near the fenceline to screen out the neighbor’s house. The upper patio near the secondary suite was expanded for hot tub access and rebuilt with foundation beds below the window, to green things up a little. A raised planter of capped segmented concrete blocks was also built here to accommodate the tennant’s favourite plant, hardy Calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica). On the opposite side of the property we installed a small formal rose garden with an arbor (for a climbing rose / Clematis pairing) and a wooden bench for occasional seating. This garden was installed by Fuller Landscaping Inc of Maple Ridge, including the hardscape.
My one hour landscape consultation service works well for unfinished corners around the garden, particularly if you want to get the most out of those small spaces. This townhouse project involved the renovation of a tiny island bed with an existing Korean Dogwood (Cornus kousa) and some leggy Mugho Pines which were in desperate need of underplanting. We resolved this by anchoring the balance of the bed with an ever-blooming Amber Carpet Rose and a compact Pieris japonica ‘Katsura’ – with Blue Star Creeper, golden Sedum ‘Angelina’ and Geranium ‘Rozanne’ filling out those bare edges. A nearby, newly-constructed raised planter provided a 2′ wide bed that the homeowner wanted to turn into a perennial border to front an existing hedge. We started out with traditional choices such as English Lavender, Coreopsis verticillata and Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’) – accenting with ornamental grasses including Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ and Hakonechloa m. ‘Aureola’ on the three corners of the bed. We edged with semi-trailing plants such as Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (to match the adjacent bed), Campanula ‘Dickson’s Gold’ and Sedum ‘Angelina’ – while brighter-flowered perennials such as Gaillardia ‘Fanfare Blaze’ and Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ were used to punctuate. We also had some room for temporary summer flowers (at least until the perennials grow in), which was used to accommodate some Salvia ‘Blue Angel’.
The majority of my design consultation work is for landscape professionals doing residential or commercial projects. Most of these are looking for a second opinion or perhaps a different perspective on the landscape ventures they are involved in or hope to procure. Using their input, I design schematics and create plant lists for their landscape proposals – but occasionally presentation boards are required as a means of helping the client(s) visualize the overall project. These typically involve top view schematics juxtaposed against an artistic rendition of that portion of the landscape and can include different facets of the proposed garden. Beyond the initial on-site consultation fee, the rate for producing these boards is $50. an hour plus the cost of materials.
When you live at the end of a cul-de-sac your front yard becomes a focal point and is scrutinized by every passing car – which is all the more reason to have a garden you are proud of out there. This project began with a couple who inherited a very neglected landscape with their new home. It consisted of a small wedge-shaped garden (with overgrown Alberta spruce and burning bush) flanked on both sides by a driveway and access lane (much of it cracked asphalt), as well as a Chamaecyparis hedge well past its prime. After consulting with the customer, we decided to salvage a smaller Japanese holly hedge (Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’) near the house, while gutting the rest of the garden – in essence, this landscape design was a complete remake. The clients only request was for a Japanese or Asian-themed garden with high visibility, as they did not want the front door obscured for safety reasons. The hard landscaping consisted of three new beds punctuated by basalt columns on the street side – with the purpose being to accent the garden edge while also keeping vehicles out. A pathway of random stepping stones connects the driveway with the access lane, with a small granite pagoda serving as a feature in the central garden. The drives proper were redone with gravel and a border of grey interlocking pavers. Ornamental grasses also played an important role here, with Miscanthus sinensis ‘Super Stripe’ providing a backdrop to the basalt columns and Carex ‘Evergold’, Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ and Liriope muscari serving as accents. The Chamecyparis hedge was replaced with Emerald cedars fronted with a Pagoda Bush (Enkianthus campanulatus) and Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata), while dwarf Heavenly Bamboo was threaded throughout the garden. Burgundy accents include a ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple, purple Smokebush and Corylus avellana ‘Red Majestic’ – which were contrasted by clusters of Ilex crenata ‘Golden Gem’. A weeping Blue Spruce dominates the central garden but will mature with a narrow profile. Both the demolition and installation was handled by the homeowners, who did a superb job.