KITCHEN GARDENS: THE HOTTEST ‘MUST HAVE’

Posted by LisaMierop on  May 22, 2020

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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.

WINTER TIPS…. AND WELCOMING A NEW DECADE!

Posted by LisaMierop on  January 10, 2020

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WINTER REMINDERS

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.

NEW DECADE. NEW WEBSITE

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.

 

MY LONDON EYE

Posted by LisaMierop on  November 12, 2019

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As temperatures drop to freezing here, I am already nostalgic about a recent September trip to London and a few of its local gardens. The British climate, more temperate in every season than ours, cooperated with full autumn displays which did not disappoint. Traveling in high garden season (May/June) is not possible due to work schedules here, but London never disappoints, especially if you’re into gardening.

 


The Brits have an overall cultural obsession with horticulture, which, of course, I share. Love of plants cuts across all social lines: economic, age and race. Flowers are everywhere: prolific displays at every corner pub are standard fare, and this visit also found them on bicycles, shop carts, soaps and buildings. If seeing flowers is what makes you happy, then London is an excellent place to go. And that’s not including the countryside which touches on a whole other level of brilliance.


Visits to Wisley, Chelsea Physic Garden and Kew Garden were blessed by cooperative weather and showy displays of seasonal plantings. Asters, daisies, grasses, salvias and tropicals were peaking, plus it’s always a treat to see plants that we long to grow here but cannot: passion flower and Italian cypress!

 


A favorite stop, The Chelsea Gardener, is a retail shop off of Kings Road that stocks an extensive mix of plants, furnishings and garden ornaments. You can wander around displays both inside and outside to admire gorgeous tables of beautifully merchandised potted plants and accessories. I would love to see something similar in New York area but I dream…..

 


Our favorite day was a trip was to Hackney, a working class section of London where we attended the Sunday flower market. In a claustrophobic, narrow street of buyers and sellers, we delighted in seeing packed displays of flowers, accompanied by lively Cockney vendors barking special offers on their wares. Unforgettable.

 


On a less positive note, depending on your point of view, the amount of new construction happening in London is discouraging. New tall buildings are rising everywhere on the horizon. It was not uncommon to see 4, 5 or 6 cranes working on different structures in one small area. Old London is fast disappearing, so, as with Venice, you’d best arrange to see it sooner rather than later. (These words, sadly written prior to the recent flooding.)

 


PS When in England I love noting the business names that combine two words like ‘Bull & Bear’ or something very typically Colonial sounding. The same trend seems to be arriving here with many recent restaurant names, but it’s almost a game in the UK between which is the cleverest! Some notables from this trip: Stoned & Plastered (sculpture), Black & Blue (stationery and pens), Love & Scandal (lingerie), Clarinet & Flute, Pearl & Feather…and my all-time absolute favorite: Slug & Lettuce – for a restaurant. Now that’s a sense of humor! And the British have plenty of that to go around.

 

 

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.

 

NOTES FROM THE FIELD… PLUS SOME NICE PRESS!

Posted by LisaMierop on  October 30, 2019

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Spring came to 2019 bringing with it one of the best ornamental tree shows I have seen in a long time. Magnolia, cherry, crabapple, dogwood and redbud performances were show stoppers that did not disappoint in any category: abundance, duration and color saturation of flowers.  The season has also brought a seemingly non-stop flow of rain, great for lawns and plants, but very hard for those of us trying to earn a living working out of doors. Saturated soil, mud and slippery slopes – it seems we can’t catch a break from wet weather.

 

2018 saw a record 65” of rainfall in New Jersey, the highest since weather records began being kept in the late 20th century, and around 20” above normal for our area.  2019 is lining up for second, or maybe, another first place. Ouch. This is not a good thing! I have seen many normally hardy shrubs and perennials just ‘drown’ between last summer and the recent winter thaw.  Plants that prefer sharp drainage in particular, like rhododendron, or perennials yarrow, catmint and lavender – simply dead from too much water. This is a first in my experience, and I am hoping it’s not our new ‘normal’. I fear this may be wishful thinking however as we head for our 10th consecutive Friday of rain. I have started researching plants that like to be really wet all the time!

 

On a cheerier note, Mierop Design has been fortunate to be highlighted in several recent articles, both on-line and in print. Houzz published a short interview with me about how I find new business, and Montclair Magazine’s May issue did a wonderful feature story on a large project from a few years back: The Anchorage on Park and Wildwood Streets in Upper Montclair. The homeowners of this landmark wanted a complete facelift for their property, and with it there were many challenges: big house/small property, little privacy with close proximity to busy car and pedestrian traffic and heavily overgrown shrubs. I worked with my partner, Frank Contey of Terra Graphics, to transform this beloved property into a showcase that matches its perfect Georgian architectural style. The property was fully enclosed with fencing for privacy and safety, large screening evergreens were installed in key locations, shrub borders were fully replanted and the driveway was relocated to open up available real estate. A large set of steps and a patio with an outdoor kitchen were created for elegant outdoor living. A remotely operated driveway gate and gas lanterns all around were the finishing touches. Thank you Rachel Grochowski of RHG A&D and Montclair Magazine for including our work on this great project.

Recently we did a fun outdoor furnishings installation partnering with Janus et Cie., one of my favorite luxury brands.  Our design liaison at Janus, Paul Sarrubbo, published these photos of our work just as we opened the patio for spring 2019. It will only get better as plants come into full leaf and flowers start to pop with color. You can follow Paul on Instagram @paulsarrrubbo_jec.

 

Finally, Frank and I were invited by Van Vleck House & Gardens to be Key Note speakers for their 20th annual Roses To Rock Gardens tour of private local gardens. We will be addressing the group on Saturday, June 8th at the Van Vleck property. As it is a big anniversary for the tour, the topic will be a short history of the house and gardens themselves…and all the recent renovations that have enhanced the grand estate, one of the best loved treasures in Montclair. We hope to see you there!  

Let’s cross fingers for less rain this year and Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

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.

BOXWOOD BLIGHT – AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Posted by LisaMierop on  January 1, 2019

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Advance apologies for starting the New Year on a down note, however the topic of boxwood blight has been on my mind since fall. I am still somewhat in denial, hoping the problem will go away if I don’t talk or write about it. Sadly though, my magical thinking isn’t working. Like other uncomfortable reality checks, especially those connected to the roller-coaster of climate disturbance, boxwood blight is here for the foreseeable future.

WHAT IS BLIGHT?

Boxwood blight is a fungal disease spread by spores carried via air and wind. High temperatures, humidity, overhead watering and rain create ideal vectors for the spread of blight. This year’s unprecedented rainfall and high humidity created the perfect combination for rapid spread of the disease.

Once a plant is infected, the disease spreads very quickly, easily defoliating entire hedges within days. The damage can be sudden and dramatic, and once diagnosed, there is no treatment or cure. Affected plants have to be carefully removed along with all associated leaf debris. The debris cannot be composted and must be kept separate from other plant material. Tools used to remove affected plants must be disinfected in order not to further spread the disease. Even shoes, clothing, birds and other small animals can carry blight from one garden to the next!  Making matters worse, soil hosts the fungal spores for up to 6 years, making replanting of new boxwood in the same location ill-advised. Even with removal of soil, introducing boxwoods again to the same plant bed is highly risky, although some cultivars are considered more resistant than others.

Blight was first identified in England in the mid 90’s but didn’t reach the US until 2011 when cases were reported in Connecticut and North Carolina. It moved on to Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania and a handful of other states, with the earliest cases confirmed in New Jersey in 2013.

Although aware of box blight traveling ever closer, I still hoped our gardens would be spared. This summer, however, over a dozen cases were confirmed in the Montclair/Glen Ridge area and reality set in.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Boxwood blight appears first as light brown spots on the leaves. Spots enlarge, often with concentric circles, until entire leaves are affected and then drop completely off the plant. The fungus also infects the wood resulting in dark brown to black “diamond-shaped” lesions and stem dieback.  The disease spreads very rapidly with plants fully defoliating in a short period of time. It’s important to have professional diagnosis and confirmation. Boxwoods are affected by other diseases which may cause similar looking damage.



WHAT TO DO?

Beyond the damage and loss to properties of old and new boxwoods, two main questions arise: how to manage or prevent the spread of blight and what to substitute if boxwoods have to go away?

Prevention seems to be the best and only method for management right now with fungicide treatments sprayed throughout the growing season. Just as boosting the immune system staves off illness, the same is true for the plants. Spray treatments have to be applied to the full plant (all leaves and stems) and rainy weather will increase the frequency of treatments required. I recommend having your current landscape inspected by a trained specialist and following his or her recommended protocol for plant protection. Further, monitor overhead irrigation keeping it to a minimum especially during periods of high humidity or after heavy rainfalls. Consider planting boxwoods farther apart to promote air circulation and to slow disease spread.

PLANT SUBSTITUTES

It’s not an overstatement to say that boxwoods are the backbone of the landscape industry and that there is no real substitute. As a broad-leafed evergreen they create architectural structure, are winter hardy, deer resistant and even tolerate a good amount of shade. They are indisputably beautiful for hedging and take well to shaping and pruning. If boxwoods are now ‘high risk’ investments, what can be substituted?

Selections to consider are:

 

No other shrub possesses as full a range of benefits as the boxwood, so here’s hoping that the industry quickly will be able to both treat diseased plants and develop truly disease resistant cultivars. I still plan to use them, but more sparingly and with client consent that risk is involved. I can’t go cold turkey on one of my favorites, and remain eternally optimistic that the industry will eventually find us a way out of this dilemma.

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.

SO REALLY, WHAT’S THE RUSH?

Posted by LisaMierop on  August 24, 2018

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In 2018 I have traveled to two dramatically hot, dry and ancient places. India came first in late winter, followed by Arizona this month. Both trips involved extended driving through vast expanses of mountainous desert land peppered by stops at archaeological and man-made monuments.

These visits to vastness: the Grand Canyon stretching hundreds of miles and Buddhist monasteries that took generations of laborers to carve into mountains before the birth of Christ, offer sharp glimpses into what infinity looks like. One can’t fail to be humbled by the monumentality and timelessness of it all, while simultaneously reminded of the fleeting nature of individual human life.

I am a designer. What does all this have to do with me or the business of imagining and implementing landscapes for a paying clientele? The answer is: everything. Trips like this can’t fail to push ‘pause’, opening up renewed annoyance with the inane electronic life we live: cell phones, laptops, Amazon-everything and the ever-present rush to do more ‘better, faster, smarter’.

Baseball, the beloved American multi-billion-dollar sport, is in serious jeopardy of losing popularity because its audience is ageing and the game doesn’t move fast enough for younger fans. Time Magazine reports that “there is a major dissonance between the focus and attention it (baseball) demands and the habits of younger generations who expect action to be a click away.” Yikes, try telling that to Buddha!!

I immediately translate this dilemma to my business as I more often encounter expectations about timelines and outcomes that are so accelerated from ten, or even five years ago. ‘Point and click’ may work for shoes and airfare, but it will never, and should never be asked to work for landscape design and implementation. 

People used to plant trees for their grandchildren. Now they plant them for a party scheduled a few weeks away. I have clients request the biggest possible plants because they “don’t want to be old” before enjoying them, or they ask why building a hand tooled stone wall has to take ‘so long’. The requests and questions leave me completely baffled.  It’s takes time – that’s mostly the point.   

Landscape is not an off-the-shelf purchase. It’s very much about the time spent waiting, watching and experiencing the unfolding, liquid process of life. You wouldn’t expect your children to arrive as fully formed adults, and it’s the same with landscape. The place where you buy plants is called a ‘nursery’ for good reason. Watching change and growth, failures and successes is the joy of having outdoor rooms.  There is no need to ‘hack’ (I loathe this word) any part of it, looking for quickie short cuts. Hacking doesn’t apply to Mother Nature. She’s in no rush.

India and Arizona rewired my thinking, leaving an expanded sense of space and time, a sharp contrast to my work pace. I’m going to modify that and take a longer view. I’m going to get back to the garden!

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.

MIEROP DESIGN IN THE NEWS

Posted by LisaMierop on  June 19, 2018

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This blog has been very quiet for a long while. Winter left much weather damage in its wake, and spring brought rains that seemed never to stop! The season finally feels off to a very late start – with replacements to damaged trees and shrubs almost behind us.
The early months of the year were a boon for press for Mierop Design. Many thanks to interior design firm, House of Funk, for their series on local women who own their own businesses. I am very grateful for their blog about me, which is re-posted here…and to Monrovia Growers (a most favorite resource for great plant materials) and Houzz (an on-line community for design professionals) for their mentions and awards.

Lisa Mierop of Mierop Design: Women Who Own It

March 20,2018 by House of Funk
Lisa Mierop
Lisa Mierop. Photo by Steve Hockstein

For landscape designer Lisa Mierop, a garden has to work in all seasons.

Mierop’s takes into account the form and function of both the home and landscape, as well as the homeowners’ aesthetic and needs. The result: Gorgeous landscapes that bring daily joy to its inhabitants and increase a home’s resale value tenfold. Mierop has taught classes for The New York Botanical GardenThe Montclair Garden Club, and Van Vleck House & Gardens, and has been featured in several notable publications including The New York TimesMontclair Magazine, and Design NJ. Thanks to hard work and dedication, her business, Mierop Design, has evolved and grown organically over time, making Mierop a household name around town. Read on to see how her journey unfolded.

How did Mierop Design come to fruition?
Many years ago, upon finding myself at home with a newborn and unable to get out and work in my garden, I entered an amateur design competition in Garden Design Magazine. I submitted images of my home garden, a garden that I had worked on for many years. To my complete surprise, I was awarded the Grand Prize Golden Trowel Award, and had four pages of color press published in the fall of 1995. The press was picked up by additional publications at the time, the phone started to ring, and my business was spontaneously born.

What is the most rewarding thing about being your own boss? The most challenging?
Being able to pick and choose the projects I want to engage with is very satisfying. I can tell if I am the right fit for a specific client or house, and I work to match my skills with what is called for by the homeowner or a certain property that speaks to me.

The most challenging aspects of a project are always around scheduling. Weather delays often cause deadlines to be pushed out for reasons beyond our control. Unavailable or delayed materials can undo the best plans. Coordinating multiple subcontractors is always tricky too, so keeping a project moving economically is a dance in which the steps keep changing as you’re moving.

How has running your own business changed your outlook on life?
I never set out to own my own business and I was quite nervous about creating one around my interest in gardening. I feared turning my passion into “work.” This business literally found me, but once in, I committed to doing it my way. This meant finding a path that was a bit unconventional, but one that proved successful because I brought my personal artistic style and hands-on gardening education to the table, as opposed to a more traditional construction /contractor background. Many landscapers are contractors, not artists/designers, which is what differentiates my path from the rest. I have a strong sense of scale, texture, and space, and I really know what grows locally in Montclair soil because I spent so many years working in my own garden and learning from that. In the past, I did manual labor for my company—even as the artist behind the vision, it’s important to get your hands dirty and be a part of every aspect of the project.

My outlook has changed because I learned that if you are good at what you do, and are willing to work hard at it, you can always find work and create income. I also believe that trust and integrity, almost more than talent, are key to successfully operating long-term with clients.

Lisa Mierop
Mierop Designs Landscaping. Photo by Steve Hockstein

Best part of the job:
My favorite days are planting days. This is the day, perhaps months after a project is initiated, that the plant truck shows up, the crew is ready, and that I, with plan in hand, start to set things up on the ground and see what has been in my head for all this time. I enjoy art directing those days and tweaking the original design so that everything feels just right in the end. Anyone can draw a pretty planting plan on paper, but it’s really getting into the dirt and seeing color and texture relationships in the field that allow a clear vision of what is and isn’t working.

Most surprising part of the job:
Right now what surprises me most is how seriously people are investing in outdoor living. I am of course very happy about this trend, but never expected to see it grow to this extent. Many customers are building extensive outdoor kitchens and adding pools. They are adding value to their properties and extending the year-round use of their outdoor spaces.

Why is a beautiful landscape an enduring home investment?
A beautiful landscape completes every home and adds to its resale value, both short-term and long-term. Mature gardens add distinct character to a property and today’s home buyers are happy to spend more to own a landscape that is both beautiful and functional for entertaining and relaxing for the whole family. An unkempt, neglected, or overgrown landscape is a clear negative to home buyers. I often seen landscaped homes sell quickly, with comments about how the finished outside rooms were the “hook” that made the sale.

Your favorite flowers to plant:
I am fairly traditional when it comes to flowers: Nantucket roses and hydrangeas. There are many perennials that I love too, especially catmint for its long flowering season.

Lisa Mierop
Lisa Mierop Landscape Design. Photo by Lisa Mierop

How you unwind and relax after a long day:
A good nap is my favorite way to decompress after a long day. Other than that, I am a pretty good binge TV fan. Lately, I am enjoying The Crown and Victoria; no surprise here that British sensibility, with its great garden culture, attracts my attention. I try to avoid politics if I want to stay calm.

Advice you’d give to other female entrepreneurs looking to start their own companies:
It’s important to invest in yourself as you grow. Don’t be afraid to spend on classes, reading materials, tools, equipment, or trips that educate or connect you to others in your field. I would also suggest moving slowly and not trying to grow or expand a business too quickly. There are so many variables, and things can change on a dime. It’s okay to move slowly. Everything doesn’t have to be “point and click.” Be courageous and trust the universe. And it sounds corny, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They can be a great way to learn and grow. Things will fall into place if you work hard, surround yourself with reliable people, and manage your expectations.

Motto you live by:
I don’t have a motto that I live by! I have to remind myself every day not get overwhelmed, and that things have a way of working themselves out. It’s hard advice to really listen to when it’s high gardening season and everyone wants their work completed right away! But I do.

 

Monrovia Growers highlights a Mierop Design project on May 18th. 916 likes! Thank you Monrovia for the call out! I love your plants so much!

 

 

Mierop Design was awarded Best of Houzz 2018, making this the third consecutive year for this prestigious recognition. Mierop Design photos have been saved and shared over 10,000 times! Whoa! Even I am impressed by the volume of traffic that Houzz consistently commands for those seeking on-line design inspiration and resources for their homes and gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 and property maintenance services.

WINTER WEATHER WATCH

Posted by LisaMierop on  March 21, 2018

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Winter 2018 opened with an unseasonably arctic January, and has continued to surprise with erratic weather bursts, alternating between windy, balmy, or the more recent damaging and wet snow. While Montclair was hard hit with damage to mid-size deciduous and evergreen trees, losses in nearby Maplewood and Short Hills were far more extensive.  With so many trees and shrubs toppled, broken or bent beyond recognition. I expect to see many woody plants removed and replaced, with the remainders pruned to see how they fill out in time. In some case, branches that are bent may be tied together to train wood back into place.

The lesson here is to understand the damage that can be caused by heavy, wet snow combined with rain.  As precipitation accumulates during a long storm, maybe shifting between snow and freezing rain, wet accumulation on branches of woody plants freezes and becomes heavier. The best way to avert loss is to go out (repeatedly) during a storm to gently push snow off of branches before they bend or break. This is best down with a broom or the back side of a wide snow shovel.

Climate change is undeniably wreaking havoc on our landscape investment although I remind myself that as upsetting as our local damage, we are by no means dealing with the destruction of a Houston or Puerto Rico – which is good to keep in perspective. Especially as we await this next, and hopefully final, winter snow storm!!! Fingers crossed that it passes with less of a reminder in our landscapes that it was ever here.

On a happier note, I was delighted to be awarded by Houzz with a Best of Houzz Service Award for the third consecutive year, as well as receiving recognition for 10,000 saves of my photographs to viewers’ Idea Books. Houzz is a beautifully edited on-line photo resource for homeowners seeking inspiration for their home improvement projects, both inside and out. If you are not familiar with Houzz, you will be delighted with the wonderful photography and articles presented, along with tips for finding professionals and plenty of shopping opportunities as well.

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 and property maintenance services.

MIEROP DESIGN IN THE NEWS

Posted by LisaMierop on  September 10, 2017

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It’s been a busy year for Mierop Design! Months of spring rain dampened neither construction nor editorial attention, starting off with a 2017 Houzz Service recognition award for the second year in a row! Houzz, an innovative on-line resource (houzz.com) for both interior and exterior home improvement, is widely respected for its inspirational content, shopping and contractor referral services. Only 5% of Houzz profiles receive award recognition, so it is a distinction to have been selected again by the editors at Houzz.

 The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) awarded its Silver Design Award to Mierop Design this summer for its competition entry, ‘A Grand Gesture’. Click here to read about the award winning entry. Featuring a resort style showplace garden, this magnificent project sets a massive koi pond, pool, pergola and stone terrace among extensive and showy plantings of vibrant color and textural contrasts.

APLD is an international association dedicated to the pursuit and development of the practice of professional landscape design. Certified members may participate in the competition which yearly draws hundreds of entries from around the world. Mierop Design is honored to have been awarded this recognition for one of its most memorable and favorite projects!

Thanks to The Scout Guide of Northern New Jersey, Mierop Design has twice in the last year been the subject of wonderful local coverage. First a personal interview with Lisa Mierop, and more recently, a feature entitled Turning Inside Out which highlights Mierop Design’s sister business, Pavillion Outdoor Furnishings.  Furnishing the outdoor spaces designed and built by Mierop Design is the finishing touch to any landscape project, and has becomes an integral part of services offered.

The Scout Guide is a nationally franchised publication, both in print and on-line, that is dedicated to searching out the best of local resources in 60+ cities throughout the country. The Northern New Jersey edition is a locally focused selection of independently owned businesses, artists and entrepreneurs who are devoted to beautifying and enhancing life and its surroundings.

The third edition of The Scout Guide of Northern New Jersey launched this June and is available at our shop, or online (northernnewjersey@thescoutguide.com). We are proud to have participated in three volumes of The Scout Guide of NNJ, and look forward to Volume IV in 2018!

 

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 and property maintenance services.

DON’T DO THAT!

Posted by LisaMierop on  February 27, 2017

Comments Off on DON’T DO THAT!
Category: Recent

When I was a teenager, my favorite fashion articles featured ‘on the street’ photos of women dressed either very well or very badly – with big bold headlines telling you ‘do’ this and ‘don’t’ do that’! I’ve always thought it would be great to see something equivalent for landscape design, pointing out common errors made by homeowners and landscapers alike. I’m a big believer in learning from mistakes, and seeing them in photographs is like taking a speed course in better design.

OH DEER

The proliferation of the deer population has changed the palette of what can be safely planted in any given area. Combining deer resistance with a need for a screening hedge or for plantings in a shaded spot can vastly limit choices. Deer will eat anything if starving, but it pays to avoid their favorite foods like arborvitae and yew. Don’t use these at all in deer populated areas, even though they have been the most classic standbys since forever. Substitute deer resistant varieties. A good list for our area is from Rutgers University.  They rank plants in four groups from most to least resistant, and you can use the list based on your deer traffic.

SCREEN ME

The most common request from clients is for a screening hedge to block views to neighboring properties and roads. Sadly though, many property lines where the hedge needs to be placed, are shaded by existing established trees. The reality is that tall evergreen plants don’t grow under big trees. A newly planted hedgerow may last a year or more but will fail over time between lack of light and root competition from larger surrounding trees. If the goal is evergreen screening, larger trees may need to be removed to make light available for new plantings. A looser combination of shrubs planted in and around existing trees may be another solution. A tree or other object that distracts the eye can be a device to minimize an unwanted view. And sometimes a fence is your best option.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Plants, like people, come with all sorts of particular needs and preferences. There is wiggle room here and there, but respecting a plant’s particular cultural needs brings success. If you have a shady garden and love roses, don’t imagine they’re going to grow just because you love them so. This never pays off so it’s best to select plants that thrive in the conditions you have available: wet shade or sun, dry shade or sun being the most important factors.

Plants also generally come small (that’s why they call it a nursery), but they grow! Read the tags before you buy and understand what the ‘mature’ size is before placing it in your garden. It’s hard, and sometime impossible, to move large shrubs and trees once they’ve settled in.  It’s much easier to measure twice, and plant once.

 

CROWD CONTROL

Gardens are fluid and take time to develop. Plants grow and change shape, albeit slowly. For the most part plants arrive as young specimens that need several seasons to mature to potential. In our ‘point and click’ culture, waiting doesn’t sell well. But the notion that more plantings will solve the problem makes for costly mistakes. Plants need ample space and air to allow for future growth. Planting closer together may take away unwanted gaps short term, but only creates headaches later when things are overcrowded and overgrown.

MULCH MADNESS

Once a landscape is installed mulch is required to finish off the beds, retain moisture, maintain temperatures and aid erosion. Mulch comes in many varieties with accordingly varied price tags. Sometimes I’ll get a request for black mulch because it looks rich or organic. But beware- black mulch is dyed to look that way, and therefore to be avoided. Similarly red mulch, my biggest ever landscape ‘no-no’, should never be used. It looks like bacon bits sprinkled into the landscape. Just plain ugly.

A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT

Big buffet spreads are great for lunch, but a ‘little bit of everything’ doesn’t translate well into the landscape. As with any other great art, it comes down to editing. Don’t buy ‘one of each’ or dot plants into the landscape to try to fill gaps. Plant with purpose, intention and meaning. Groups of 3, 5 or 7 are recommended with larger swaths and masses making the biggest impact. As we are information overwhelmed everywhere else in our lives, use the landscape to reduce visual noise levels. Keep the message clear and avoid dotting in a little of everything. It always fails to please.

VOLCANO MULCH

Have you ever noticed trees that look like there is a small volcanic eruption at the base? This trend seems to be popular mostly in commercial applications, but I do see it around in residential settings. Trees can easily be set too low, or settle after planting and fail for this reason – suffocating the roots. ‘Plant them high so they never die’ is a good warning, but don’t go too far with that idea!  And once planted at the proper depth, don’t drown them in mulch. It’s looks bad and it’s suffocating for tree root systems. And it’s double worse if you use dyed red mulch! Ouch on so many levels!

 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 and property maintenance services.

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