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Creating a Water-Conserving Landscape: An Interview with John Sullivan of JSLA

By John Sullivan

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

JSLA, LLC is a landscape architecture design/build firm based in central New Hampshire. JSLA is recognized for their creative stonework and water features; crafting unique spaces for the human experience.

John Sullivan, principal, has been creating beautiful landscapes for over 30 years. He began his career landscaping and training in the art of stone masonry. As his interest and talent grew, he achieved a degree and license in Landscape Architecture. John trained in engineering, landscape architect, and design/build firms in New England for several years prior to starting JSLA, LLC in 1997.

What is your company's mission?

Our mission is to assist our clients in visualizing the outdoor environment that suits their needs/lifestyle and transforming that vision into reality. We provide quality of life through creative landscape design and construction.

What are some of the services your company provides?

We are a full service landscape design and construction company, specializing in stonework and all aspects of landscape construction. We offer consultations, site assessment, master planning, planting design, lighting design, detail development, and over 30 years of constructing New England landscapes. Check out our website at

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

John Sullivan can be contacted directly at 603-848-4532 or You can also browse the website to see if the completed projects are a fit with the style of work for your landscape vision, and schedule a consultation through the contact page.

In your opinion, what is a water friendly garden/lawn?

Using native plant species and the use of water capture for irrigation or a rain garden for stormwater runoff are common sustainable practices.

What are some common lawn/gardening practices that waste water?

One of the most common problems is the initial installation. The UNH extension service recommends 4-6" of loam for lawn areas to allow plants to sustain drought conditions. Most lawns are not installed to this standard. Fact: Lawns are the most high maintenance groundcover, use alternative groundcovers wherever possible.

What is the first thing you suggest when attempting to make a landscape more receptive to dryer conditions?

Pay attention to plant selection, soil mechanics and the conditions required by the specie of plant being installed.

What is your plant ideology when it comes to creating a water friendly garden?

Use natives that will adapt to their environment. Watering during the establishment period of a plant is crucial for it''s overall health. For instance a 2" caliper tree should be on a watering program for the first 2 years, 3" = 3 yrs, you get the idea.

Do you have any interesting statistics concerning water waste when it comes to gardens?

  • If you have a lawn, chances are it's your biggest water gobbler. Typically, at least 50% of water consumed by households is used outdoors. Inside your house, bathroom facilities claim nearly 75% of water used.
  • Some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water use goes to waste due to evaporation or runoff caused by over-watering.
  • Water lawns during the early morning hours, or evening when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation.
  • If you water your grass and trees more heavily, but less often, this saves water and builds stronger roots.
  • Water your lawn only when it needs it. If you step on the grass and it springs back up when you move, it doesn't need water. If it stays flat, it does need water.
  • A garden hose or sprinkler can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in one day.
  • Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom to clean leaves and other debris from these areas. Using a hose to clean a driveway wastes hundreds of gallons of water.

Any other tips you can offer to someone who is looking to create a beautiful lawn or garden but also adhere to water conservation?

Use native plants because these have acclimated to their environment and are proven performers. Install water barrels to catch runoff for irrigation.

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About The Author

John Sullivan, principal, has been creating beautiful landscapes for over 25 years....

Phone: 603-848-4532

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