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Expert Advice on Designing Your Ideal Garden: An Interview with Sally Turner, Owner of Four Season Design, LLC

By Sally Turner

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

My company, Four Season Design, LLC, offers services including landscape master plans, specialty garden designs, and consultations. Additionally, I use a state of the art photo-realistic software that layers the proposed landscape design over a photo of the existing landscape. Clients find this unique service helps them visualize the proposed design. I draw upon a background that includes a BS in Landscape Architecture, and over thirty years experience providing creative landscape designs in southern New Hampshire. The goal of every design project is to listen carefully to the needs, desires, and budget of each client in order to create an artful landscape composition that is unique and provides color and interest throughout the year.

Can you briefly describe the main steps of designing or updating your garden?

Step One - Site Analysis

The first step in designing or updating a garden is to analyze the existing site conditions. Understanding the existing landscape is important for the creation of a new design. Elements to consider include drainage patterns, steep slopes, direction of prevailing winds, existing plant material, soil conditions, important views to screen or enhance and site orientation (how the sun travels across the site at different times of the year).

Step Two- Goals

The second step is to decide on landscape goals for the property. How will the owner use the property? Are there children or pets? Will there be large gatherings or small intimate groups, or both? Are birds and butterflies in the garden a goal? Every client has a unique set of goals to be considered. Once the client has a list of goals, both the goals and the existing site conditions are considered to develop a conceptual plan for the entire site. For a large site, a conceptual plan lays out general areas and how they will relate each other.

Step Three - Master Plan

The final step is the design of a master plan that fits the client's goals, budget and style. A master plan is the map which guides the client through the creation of their perfect landscape. The advantage of having a master plan is that it can be installed by the home owner, a landscape contractor, or a combination of both in stages to meet budgetary needs. Master plans are drawn to scale and include all the details and specifications necessary to install the entire landscape.

What are some of the biggest challenges that homeowners in New Hampshire face when it comes to garden design?

Obviously, each site has its unique challenges, be it microclimates, soil properties, drainage issues, etc. But, if I had to sum up the most common challenge in New Hampshire, it would be DEER. Hungry deer will eat anything, but a good design incorporates deer resistant plants and other prevention methods. Deer are a beautiful part of our state but can do a terrific amount of damage to the landscape.

How do people choose plants with the right look and growing profile for their garden?

Knowing the right plant for the right place requires a thorough knowledge of plant material and planting design. A landscape professional can advise you as to which plant or groups of plants would best solve any particular situation. If you are doing it on your own, look for examples and do some research. Local garden centers and public gardens are wonderful resources. Check your corner of New Hampshire to find one in your vicinity.

What options are available for people who don't have a lot of privacy in their yard because it's too close to the neighbors, not fenced in, etc.?

Depending on local building codes it's possible to build a short section of fence or create an architectural feature with post/ lattice/pergola combinations to create a backdrop for climbing plants or hanging baskets. Large planters filled with tall grasses and perennial/annual combinations can be effective. Screens can also be comprised entirely of plants. Interesting groupings of shrubs, trees, or tall grasses can create an attractive visual barrier.

What advice do you have for homeowners who have a smaller garden and want to make the most of the space?

Small garden spaces work best with simple designs. Choose a focal point that reflects your style and fits the scale of the area. The scale and proportions of all elements should complement each other and look their best throughout the entire season. Choose plants carefully and consider foliage and flower color, leaf size, height, and flowering times. Adding edible plants and herbs to a small garden can provide both functionality and beauty. Vertical gardening using a trellis or lattice frame is a creative way to add interest, color and fragrance to a small garden.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

I can be contacted by phone at my office 603-315-9851 or emailing

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About The Author

My name is Sally Turner and I am the owner of Four Season Design, LLC located in...

Phone: 603-315-9851

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