The value added to your home from good landscape design cannot be underestimated. Over the course of 25 years, I have enjoyed hearing clients describe how much our work has not only physically improved their home environment, but changed their lives. A livable, workable, beautiful landscape brings pleasure that affect all five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. Comfortable outdoor rooms join friends and families through play, cooking, dining, swimming and entertaining, encouraging people to spend more time enjoying Nature, and each other. It’s a win-win.

But, there’s more. A beautiful landscape is a solid investment that pays you back when the time comes to sell. Realtors over the years have often included Mierop Design in their listing descriptions, calling it out as a winning asset. These days, fewer buyers care to take on fixer-uppers, and this holds particularly true outside the four walls of the house.” It’s a boon when previous homeowners have done the heavy lifting”, as one new homeowner aptly remarked.

Recently several properties featuring our landscape work were placed on the market and sold immediately for well over asking price. Granted there is a strong Covid factor at play now as well, however, one happy client took the time to write saying, “Your landscape work sold our home immediately. We got multiple offers, at considerable premiums to the asking price. All the feedback from the prospective buyers touched on their love of the ‘thoughtful, well executed and beautiful garden design’. You have been a godsend.”

As designers and builders, it brings great satisfaction to both create beautiful havens for clients and to see the investment pay off with dividends in real time. And for those not selling and stuck at home through Covid, recent feedback has been equally grateful: “We feel so fortunate we chose to move ahead last year with our pool and property renovations. Sheltering at home has only been made tolerable only because of our beautiful outdoor spaces.”

As pandemic concerns keep us all closer to home, everyone is re-evaluating what matters. There is little doubt that home improvement work will be a strong trend moving forward in very uncertain times. Providing safe refuge, in addition to long term appreciation (pun intended), there was never a ‘wrong’ time to invest in your property but now may be the most ‘right’ time ever.


Late last year we decided to participate in a well-known and beloved designer showhouse event, Mansion in May. Held every few years, Mansion in May is a signature fundraising vehicle for Morristown Medical Center. I was cautious as charitable projects are an enormous effort, only to have the work dismantled a few weeks later. The hope, other than supporting a great cause, is to exhibit your skills to many new eyes. We opened construction in February, but along with the rest of the country were shut down a few weeks (and many thousands of dollars) later. Fortunately, Mansion in May was able to be re-marketed as ‘Splendor in September’ and doors will finally open to the public on September 4th.

For the show, we developed an extensive outdoor room called Luxe Farm to Table, a modern take on using the landscape to grow, cook, serve and enjoy more meals at home. Given the pandemic, plus prior observation that homeowners are looking to grow more of their own food (see my previous blog post on Kitchen Gardens), we know we’ve landed right on target. Go to to find out about tickets and dates of operation. In conjunction with the event, Mierop Design, placed a full page ad in the September/October issue of Architectural Digest.


During the early weeks and months of Covid lockdown, it felt out of place to talk about awards or accomplishments. Perhaps enough time has passed now to revisit a positive notice from Houzz, awarding us both the Best of Design and Best of Service

award for 2020.  Houzz is a vibrant on-line resource for home design inspiration, products and contractor resourcing. ‘Best of Design’ and ‘Best of Service’ awards are granted to a small percentage of members annually. Mierop Design on Houzz.


Mierop Design has been a participating advertiser within The Scout Guide community for six consecutive years. The Scout Guide is a national publication with local chapters in cities across the country, each one featuring the products and services of a select array of entrepreneurial local businesses. Our Northern New Jersey editor, Heather Cundey, kindly passed my name along to the national team as they were looking to do an inspiration piece on landscape design. This led to a conversation, which blossomed into a wonderful national feature. Many thanks again to the entire The Scout Guide team.


The news is really tough these days….it seems that everyone is desperate for 2020 to come to an end, a final period to a painfully long and disturbing run-on sentence. And sentence is a deliberate word choice- it does feel like a prison of sorts. Let’s all make space for hope that 2021 sees positive progressive movement forward for climate change, racial justice, public health and, dare I hope? – national politics.

The Suburban Lot is a (somewhat) monthly blog that highlights topics and issues unique to the suburban landscape.  For assistance with any of the above information please contact Mierop Design, a complete resource for landscape design, installation, outdoor furnishings and property maintenance services.


I had been planning this blog post for months prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. I was waiting for just the right late winter/early spring moment when my readers, sick of cold and long winter days, were bristling to get outside into warmth and sunlight. Who knew what was in store for us this year, in that in-between moment? Who knew that, this year, we would long to be outside for an entirely new set of reasons?

The last few seasons my business has seen a marked uptick in requests for kitchen gardens to be included in suburban home landscapes. It’s not like clients never wanted them before, it’s just that the volume of requests has risen noticeably. We have installed (or renovated) more kitchen gardens in the last few years than in all the other years of business combined. It has become such a dominant wish list item that we chose to theme our Mansion in May show house project as a ‘Farm to Table’. Our space was designed with an enclosed kitchen garden followed by a chicken coop, a modular cooking island and then an elegant dining space that segues into a deep seating area complete with fire table.  Cancelled due to the pandemic, the Mansion in May has fortunately been rescheduled for September/early October and we hope you are able to visit us in New Vernon!

With damaging climate changes obvious (to most), legitimate environmental and health concerns have become political and policy hot topics.  As a result, new thoughts affecting the landscape have gained ground (no pun intended!): eating organic, sustainable landscaping, growing one’s own unmodified food crops, being more self-sufficient. This is more than a passing fad or momentary trend.  It’s here to stay as the time has come for collective recognition of the devastating impact human beings have had on the global eco-system. Our way of life and populations are simply unsustainable.

Add the reality of a global pandemic (not a coincidental phenomenon) to this already steaming brew and everything about kitchen gardens jumps into full color and bold lettering. Nurseries and growers, deemed ‘essential’ because they are at one end of the food industry selling crop starter plants and seeds have substantially stepped up promotions for ‘grow it on your own’ gardeners. On my Instagram account, sponsored ads have popped up from ‘off the grid’ homesteaders promoting ‘how to’ manuals and step by step programs for living independently off of the land.

If nothing else, the pandemic has reminded each of us how infinitely interconnected we all are and how dependent we are on domestic and global supply chains to bring us not only food, but pretty much everything we need to live our modern lives. It’s unrealistic to think you will feed your family from a suburban kitchen garden, but it is a gesture towards an emotional and spiritual need to reconnect to Nature and a collective recognition that things must change. You might feel like Marie Antoinette in her fantasy dairy farm at Versailles, but at least you’ll get your hands dirty and maybe teach your children that food doesn’t come in packages from a supermarket.

I hope this moment in time, as horrific as it is on so many levels, will refocus people on the things that truly matter. Certainly our health, food and water supplies are at the top of that list. I expect to be getting many more request for larger and more elaborate kitchen gardens – bring it on!



  • Featured photo courtesy of Chanticleer Garden Wayne, PA

The Suburban Lot is a (somewhat) monthly blog that highlights topics and issues unique to the suburban landscape.  For assistance with any of the above information please contact Mierop Design, a complete resource for landscape design, installation, outdoor furnishings and property maintenance services.



It may be milder than predicted right now, but winter is far from over. Remember, snow is not the enemy, nor are cold temperatures. Problems can occur over the winter when temperatures drastically fluctuate from cold, to warm and back again. This confuses plants as they don’t know whether to remain dormant or start to push new growth. Freezing and thawing precipitation can also expand and contract in hardscape joints, creating shifting and heaving of stone and concrete, or worse, cracking, peeling and other damage to walking surfaces. Other hazards are icy, wet and heavy snows that sit on woody shrubs and trees for extended periods of time. Wind also can be very de-hydrating and far more damaging than minus zero numbers. My best advice for the remainder of the cold winter months is the following:

Monitor plantings after snowfalls to make sure heavy snow is not sitting on branches, weighing them down. Try as much as possible during heavy precipitation to get outside and gently brush wet snow off of tree and shrub limbs. This keeps them from permanently bending or worse, cracking off. Once frozen however, this work cannot be accomplished – you must wait for temperatures to warm up and melt the ice. Keep a wide broom handy to push snow off of your evergreens in particular to help keep their branching intact and try to shovel walking surfaces before too much snow accumulates.

Now a warning! Salt for de-icing can be very damaging to plants, not to mention the walking surfaces for which they are intended. The only place that it is safe to apply salt is asphalt. Natural stone like bluestone, but even concrete, can be damaged by use of salt for melting snow and ice. It’s also tough on pet paws. We recommend instead using alternative, gentler agents. Newest to the market is CMA (Calcium Magnesium Acetate). It’s chemically similar to vinegar, biodegradable and will not harm the environment. Although expensive, it will spare your landscape, hardscape and pets. You can also shop for Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Chloride or Potassium Chloride – all typically available in hardware stores. Research before buying, however, because some of these may be harmful to pets with kidney disease. Cat litter can be used to create a gritty ‘tooth’ on a walking surface, but it is not deicing agent. Clearly, the sooner one can remove snow before it freezes, the better. Given that this is not always possible, do your best to minimize quantities used and avoid casting de-icing agents onto adjacent soil and plants.


My father joked continually about wanting to live until the year 2020 at which time his eyesight would magically be restored to perfect. Sadly, he didn’t quite make it to July of this year when he would have turned 100. His corny sense of humor (which I diplomatically endured for many years), did however invite my mind to wander, perhaps less much about a perfect eye exam, and more about having a clarified vision of the bigger picture.

As seasons, parents and friends pass on, one tends to ponder all life, excavating painful losses to mine for larger meanings.  My father’s death, coinciding with a new decade, pushed me to look towards 2020 as an opportunity to refresh stale perspectives,  to sharpen how I see everything and re-vision my path forward in a most chaotic, and confusing time.

Landscape design, like fashion, has trends that influence it. Things come and go just as with every other form of creativity. Today, first time homeowners are streamlining exterior choices as they are inside their homes. Edited, modern landscapes with cleaner lines and sparer plant selections are trending. Organically shaped pools are being bypassed in favor of simple rectangles. Curvy bed lines look less ‘new’ than straight, narrow hedge rows.

To that end, it was time for an update to my website.  A year of sporadic work as time allowed has finally resulted in an updated, clean and graphic presentataion along with some new photography of recent projects.  Please fee feel to navigate around the site to explore the changes.


Sending you my best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year and New Decade!


The Suburban Lot is a monthly blog that highlights topics and issues unique to the suburban landscape.  For assistance with any of the above information please contact Mierop Design, a complete resource for landscape design, installation, outdoor furnishings and property maintenance services.