What is Softscape? Softscape refers to the live horticultural element of a landscape. Softscape can include; flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, creating flower beds, adding soil and mulches. Wheel barrows and manual tools like rakes, shovels, picks and gas power tools are commonly used.
Annuals: From Argyranthemum to zinnias and everything in between, as well other awesome annuals to create a constant array of colour all summer long. Annuals in window boxes, planters, containers, and added to gardens gives a splash of vibrant colour.
Ground Covers: Ground cover plants are useful in the garden for covering bare patches of soil beneath trees or shrubs or for covering steep banks where access is difficult. Their roots also help to stabilize soil on steep slopes. Ground cover plants brighten up otherwise dull areas and will suppress weeds, making them ideal for a low-maintenance garden.
Perennials: We purchase our plants from a wholesale grower specializing in herbaceous perennial production for the horticulture industry. Perennial plantings have an amazing variety of color, texture and sizes available. They do require some pruning and maintenance, but their longevity makes this well worth the effort.
Wildflowers: There is a difference between planting a wild flower area and planting a wild flower garden. Wildflower areas are those areas in the perimeter of the outlying property areas that you would sow seeds directly in the soil and let the flowers grow and prosper where they may.
A wildflower garden on the other hand, would be a designated area designed with native plants easy to maintain that are well adapted to our climate. The plants in the wildflower garden would be much the same as the wild flower area but installed in creative pleasing design that will attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Herbs: An edible herb garden, or culinary herb garden, is made up of herbs that are used mostly for adding flavor to your cooking and salads. Herb gardens can be as complex as having a designated garden area with raised beds, or as simple as a large potted container with your favourite herbs right next to your outdoor Bar-B-Que for easy and quick access. Keep in mind, some herbs enjoy the shade, and others love the sun.
For Italian foods you might choose Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley
For a French cuisine you might choose Tarragon, Chervil, Thyme, Margoram, Fennel
For Asian dishes you might choose Cilantro, Lemongrass
For Mexican cooking you might choose Sweet Basil, Spearmint, Laurel, Lemon Verbena
Other popular herbs for culinary herbs are chives, sage, dill
Vegetables: Vegetables garden designs can be as versatile as you! They can be designated areas containing only vegetables in plots of soil, they can be raised garden beds designed for vegetables only, or they can be planted in amongst your perennial and annual flowers. The key to success is companion planting.
Companion planting is a phrase that has taken on many meanings for today’s gardening styles. Companion planting will enhance the growth and quality of nearby plants; to provide maximum ground cover; and improve the soil.
Remember, carrots love tomatoes and roses love garlic.
Corn, beans, and squash are called the “three sisters.” Native Americans always inter-planted this trio because they thrive together, much like three inseparable sisters.
Here in Muskoka, because we have a shorter growing time, we like to plant larger more mature plant material allowing for a greater harvest of produce. Timing is everything when it comes to garden harvest. Once vegetables are picked they immediately begin to lose flavor, tenderness, and nutritional value. Harvest your crops as close to the time you plan to serve them, within an hour or less of serving time is best.
Shrubs: Shrubs have many uses within the landscape such as foundation plantings, privacy hedges, and specimen plants. Foliage differs from plant to plant. They can be used to add seasonal interest, add colours that will create a pleasing visual effect, and contrast to other plants within the landscape.
Roses, potentilla, and dogwoods, are just a few of the popular shrubs and can suit any Muskoka landscape theme.
Trees: There are many types of trees; shade trees, evergreens, ornamental, and fruit trees, just to name a few. Trees improve air quality, provide shade and shelter, help reduce noise levels, and contribute to habitat creation. The roots of trees assist in the stabilization of soil and the leaves and branches in the tree canopy prevent soil moisture loss and soil erosion.
In Muskoka the winters are cold and the summers are warm. This general pattern, along with the dependable rainfall, makes Muskoka a great place to grow a variety of woody plants. The cold winters allow a good period of dormancy for plants that need cold in order to produce flowers. The summers are warm and long enough to give plants plenty of time to grow.
Soils: We use different types of soil depending on the use of the growing medium. Our 50/50 mix is a combination of peat and mushroom compost, used for topdressing and gardens. Multi Mix is primarily for under sod, but is also used for seeding and new or raised gardens and contains peat, compost and topsoil. Our soil mixes are all 3/8” screened products that are pasteurized.
Mulch: We use a Red Pine Mulch for our garden areas. Freshly ground red pine bark with a uniform texture, pine aroma and reddish brown in colour. It has an acidic pH level which helps condition soil. We use this mulch to help conserve soil moisture and to prevent weed growth.
On forested pathways, in vegetable garden paths, we use Natural Cedar Mulch. Because this mulch is slow to breakdown it impedes weed growth and moisture loss. This mulch is not effective in returning nutrients to the soil which is why it is great for pathways.
Mulch has many benefits and we recommend you mulch your gardens every two years at minimum. Adding a thick layer of mulch right before winter will act as an insulator and help them survive the cold weather.
As the mulch breaks down and decomposes, it provides nutrients to the soil. The rate of breakdown is directly proportional to the size of mulch.
Spring mulching will not only give your garden an added fresh look but will help during the hot summer days, when the soil quickly dries up, plants start to wilt. Adding a layer of mulch around the pants will help slow down the evaporation of the soil’s water. This allows the plants to endure the same amount of time between watering, without as much stress to the plant.
To aid in the control of weeds, adding a layer of mulch to your gardens will block both access to the ground for wind-blown seeds and sunlight for seeds that are on/in the ground, significantly reducing the number of weeds that we need to contend with. If the mulch is thick enough, the weeds will become more “leggy”, which makes them easier to pull out saving us time which leaves time to focus on plant care and other garden duties.
Aggregates: We use many types of aggregates in creating our projects. We purchase from a local supplier which specializes in the production of aggregates offering high quality products from crusher run granite to Whitby sand, and everything in between.
Aggregates products can be used for a variety of applications; 3/4″ gravel for drainage around foundations or under decks. 3/4″ crushed gravel can form a solid base under driveways. Limestone screening packs on top of base level under patio stones. Peastone works well as a drainage product. River Rock can be used for decorative reasons, drainage control, to protect the foundation, and control the effects of the “drip-line” around dwellings, makes a great addition most water features.
Rest assured, Water’s Edge Landscaping designers will use the right aggregate for your project.
The purpose of softscape is to create an outdoor space that is unique to you! The softscape will create an aura, ambience, and reflect the sensibilities of you!
To find out more about the softscape services we offer here at Water’s Edge Landscaping please contact us.