Longboat Key’s Newest Landmark Home Landscaped, and Irrigated By Grants Gardens

Grants Gardens was part of an all-star team of contractors and designers tapped to build one of Longboat Key's most striking homes - Ohana.

The homeowners had a deep appreciation of Polynesian and African architecture and locations and wanted the home to reflect the culture, materials and design themes of those rich cultures. Together with the home builder, Michael K Walker & Associates, they decided to open the home design up by means of a contest. Guy Peterson OFA, was selected with the winning design, that featured a series of connected pavilions utilized design cues that drew from both the Polynesian and African cultures but also incorporated the highly functional and clean lines of modern architecture. Additionally the home utilizes many of the latest green-technologies to have a minimal impact on the local environment.

Grants Gardens was selected to install the landscaping and irrigation system on this amazing home, working with renown landscape architect Raymond Jungles, FASLA to bring the vision of this remarkable home to life. Because the site is directly on the Gulf Of Mexico many considerations had been made to ensure the home would maintain a minimal impact on the environment yet be dramatic enough to create the enchanting atmosphere of Polynesia.

Grants Gardens worked closely with Raymond Jungles, and installed many hardy species that would be able to thrive in the arid sandy micro-climate of the shore along Longboat Key. Plant species to be installed along the shore included many native Florida plants such as Sea Oats, Flowering Dune Sunflower, Purple-Blossomed Railroad Vine and Spartinia. Away from the dunes, many large trees were selected both native and non-natives including Gumbo Limbo, Buttonwood, Moreton Bay Fig, Bizmark Palms as well as mainstays such as Cabbage Palms and Coconut Palms.

At Grants Gardens installing large trees in difficult locations is something we have years of experience with and the Ohana house was no exception. With a busy job site a hub of activity and multiple construction projects going on at the same time hoisting 20 foot tall+ trees over structures to be installed in tight quarters can add challenges. Grants Gardens installed dozens of large trees on the property as well as the irrigation and water management to support them.

Longboat Key like the rest of Sarasota, often faces periods of drought and tough water restrictions. While the selected plant species are very drought tolerant even these hardy plants need to have regular irrigation to be at their best. Grant Beatt, who has a personal passion for ensuring the sustainability and quality of water not just in landscapes but in the larger environment, brought years of experience in highly efficient irrigation design and storm-water runoff management to the project.

“Because this property is located directly on the Gulf , we were particularly sensitive to having a nominal impact on the surrounding environment.” said Beatt, “Grants Gardens designed both an irrigation system that would meet the needs of the various micro-climates on the property, and a drainage network that prevents storm-water runoff from flowing into the Gulf Of Mexico. The system includes the most advanced irrigation equipment available and can provide even large trees, and more delicate plants, with plenty of water while staying under the usage limits of water the area's frequent water restrictions.” Beatt added, “ while less predictable of a problem excessive rain is also an issue when building along Florida's pristine beaches. The buildup of months airborne pollutants on the roof and other hard services on a property can be quickly swept into the Gulf if runoff is not accounted for. When the thousands of waterfront homes and roads in the Sarasota area are taken into account the extent of the problem on marine water quality in our local community is more obvious. As such we made sure that runoff and the pollutants it carries, are channeled away from natural bodies of water.”

For Grants Gardens it has been a genuine pleasure to be apart of the exceptional team of designers, architects and contractors that took the homeowners concept from vision to reality. Collaborating with many of the area's best to bring such an amazing home to life has been rewarding. As time goes by and the newly installed landscape fills out and comes into it's own, the resulting work of a dedicated team will be noted by laymen and professionals alike as one of the Florida Gulf Coasts defining architectural achievements.

Big Impact From Small Landscape Design Projects

A small space can have big opportunities for landscape design and add value, function and enjoyment to your property.

Pathways along properties are a great example of a small space that has lots of potential. While a path along a home or property line may not have a large horizontal surface it also has a large vertical surface to make use of. Florida's climate allows us to use a variety of vines that will cling to vertical surfaces and can provide a stunning backdrop. If the area is under full sun at least 6 hrs per day bougainvillea can be grown and cropped to create a path lined with colorful magenta blooms. Varieties of Jasmine can be planted to provide both a visual feast and a treat for the sense with amazing fragrant blooms and dark thick foliage. Many small to medium sized palm trees are perfect for lining paths or for use in other small spaces. Our professional designers can create an the illusion more space by curving the path or having it wind around other focal points like, bird baths, park benches, large planters or decorative vases.

Potted gardens are another great way to add color and life for even the smallest space like a condo patio. They also give the homeowner a nice garden to have when home owners association restrictions limit the available options. Many of our clients on Longboat Key already know how much a small potted garden can do for an otherwise spartan space like lining a driveway or porch of a compact villa home. Potted gardens can take full advantage of the conditions on our property by planting suitable plants for your full-sun, full-shade or hot and dry spaces with the amazing variety of plants that can thrive in our warm climate. Everything from cacti and succulents to shade loving lush tropical broad leaf plants can be used with potted gardens.

Large trees, depressions in the ground and even the corners of buildings all provide great places for big impact with a small project. An island can be created by adding a planting around any large trees. The tree provides the anchor and shadier conditions to plant a larger variety of plants and shrubs. A large boulder placed in a planted island with tropical plants like bromeliads can create drought tolerant accent that looks beautiful and is easy to maintain. A low-spot or depression in your lot is a great place to ad a small rain garden. Rain gardens do not take up much room but look beautiful and help conserve and cleans runoff after storms. The angular corners of buildings are also an opportunity for a landscape project to make a big impact. By adding a gracefully curved bed wrapping around the corner you visually soften the appearance and create the illusion of a larger space. Taller shrubs can be used to hide other Florida-friendly improvements like rain barrels, cisterns or other irrigation equipment.

While Grants Gardens is well known for creating large magnificent and ecologically friendly landscapes in Sarasota, Bradenton and the barrier islands. We also create beautiful landscapes, patio gardens and other small wonders that will improve your property but not over grow your bank account.

Rain Gardens Stop Runoff, Remove Pollutants And Return Water To The Aquifer

As the Sarasota area continues to grow one of the challenges developers, architects and city planners will encounter when building a structure or creating a paved road is the effect of a large non-permeable surface has on runoff.

Once a large waterproof surface has been created it can generates massive amounts of runoff during a rain storm.

This is a particular concern for the Sarasota area with so many large estate homes, sidewalks and roadways lining the bays and canals. In the case of large scale engineering projects, the standard solution is to create large open drainage ponds were the runoff water is channeled into and stored during storms. For residential areas and areas with high land values these large ponds are not an option.

Rain gardens also called Bioretention areas are an elegant solution. A rain garden, when properly designed will catch an be able to retain all of the storm water runoff generated in a typical rain event for the are it is designed. The rain garden will have the effect of stopping or in unusually large downpours, greatly slowing the speed of runoff, trapping or reducing the pollutants that find their way into Sarasota Bay, as well as allowing the water time to percolate down to the aquifer.

Rain Gardens have another major benefit – they clean the water of pollutants.

Depending on the load of pollutants a rain garden or bioretention area can be extremely effective in providing a natural filter that will remove and consume the pollutants in the run off water. Areas of normal amounts of pollution, like a suburb or waterfront neighborhood a rain garden is a simple landscape project. Areas that are pollution hotspots, highly urban or near a gas station for example may need to have a more advanced design that extends the amount of time run off is processed by the natural bacterias but as with residential areas the water will be cleaned of pollutants by natural biological processes.

What Exactly Is A Rain Garden?

A rain garden is a shallow depression in the ground that is planted with native plants that can handle living in a soggy environment as well as when it's dry. The depression is sculpted so storm water runs into it and gets trapped. The soil bottom of the rain garden has been prepared and depending on the conditions, may contain different layers of materials that allow the water to drain into the surrounding soil. Once the water has been trapped in the rain garden natural biological processes with begin to remove the nutrient from the water and break down pollutants into nutrients plants can utilize.

Once a rain garden has been established it will also create a beautiful habitat for native wild life. Landscape designers can make rain gardens very simple to more extravagant, incorporating rocks and a variety of plants to make a beautiful design that enhances both the aesthetic appeal of the space and works to clean and capture water, returning it to the local aquifer.

If you are interested in improving your landscape with a Florida-friendly rain garden contact Grants Gardens and we can design and install the next beautiful edition to your property.

Also, For additional information about Rain Gardens visit RainGardens.us

Hardscape Design; From Simple Landscape Decorations To Infrastructure

Other than the term “Landscape Design” no other term in the landscape construction industry is more general than “Hardscape”. Hardscaping can serve many purposes and can be anything from simple pottery in a planted are to large water features, pool decks, stone terraces, pavilions or outdoor fireplaces. Adding hardscape elements to the natural landscape can completely change the nature of a space by adding an artistic focal point, improved access, a new function or enhanced privacy.

Grants Gardens frequently uses a variety of hardscape features to enhance our clients properties. At a recently completed project on Sarasota bay we utilized several hardscape elements to greatly enhance the homeowners property. When working with large projects in sensitive areas like bay front property, storm water management should always be a consideration because, any hardscape element such as a deck or patio will generate a lot of runoff in the rainy season.

In this particular project Grants Gardens designed and built, several large hardscape elements including a manufactured, natural appearing concrete surfaced deck with sweeping stone stairs. The same material was used to create a large shaded porch beneath the deck and opposite another large hardscape element, a custom designed pool deck. We carried the joint-lines from the stone blocks out to line up perfectly with the stone pool deck. All of that impervious surfaces provides great space for enjoying the Florida climate, but does create the need for additional storm water runoff management. Grants Gardens installed buried drain swales to capture and biologically clean storm water runoff before it can run into Sarasota Bay.

Another example of large hardscape design is the new circular driveway, also designed and installed y Grants Gardens. We redesigned the old L-shaped one that dominated the front of the property with a more efficient circular drive, that surrounded an island of large Cuban Royal Palm Trees. This created several improvements for the homeowner including much improved curb appeal from the softer look, a beautiful new green space with large shady palms. The shape of the drive also eliminated the need to back out of the drive way. This arrangement was also more ecologically friendly as the increased green space not only captures run off but also reduces temperature in the micro climate by providing shade.

On a dramatic Casey Key location we created a truly unique hardscape feature, a large pavilion adjacent to a swimming pool with an outdoor fireplace. A treat to all the senses hardscape in the form of a natural looking waterfall and pond adds both a visual focal point and the soothing sound of a stream.

Hardscape elements are not just concrete and steel but can also have a natural organic design. On the same project Grants Gardens created a natural shell path lined with limestone boulders and colorful an drought-tolerant bougainvillea. Following the natural path we used large limestone boulders to create a natural terraced garden that was planted with drought-tolerant bromeliads and cold-hardy palms.

This tropical looking and drought-tolerant terrace serves to provide a focal point, as well as protect the landscape by holding the sloped yard against erosion or the occasional flood from the bay.

Hardscape can be small and simple as well. We created quite focal points in otherwise vanilla areas of the design by stone birdbaths and pottery. Hardscape can also extend to the mulch choice.

For featured areas Grants Gardens mulched around drought-tolerant bromeliads, with smooth river stones for a beautiful, low-maintenance area.

Hardscaping is one of the most useful tools to the landscape designer. When planned properly the creative and functional uses of hardscaping is nearly limitless, a little more planning and those structured elements can be environmentally responsible as well.

Know Your Palm Trees: Specimen Palms Great For Waterfront Locations Like Longboat Key

The wonderful micro-climate on the Sarasota area islands, like Longboat Key, Siesta Key and Lido key create a warmer area making it possible to grow tropical plants from hardiness zones further south. This allows for islands landscapers to select from a large variety of palm trees including some very exotic species to create a tropical paradise in your yard.

Below are some interesting palm trees and plants that can create that tropical look and remain hardy even in winter if planted on the islands or bayfront locations.

Florida Thatch Palm Tree

A native of the Florida Keys, this beautiful little palm tree is an endangered species. The Florida thatch palm is almost like a cross between, a cabbage palm, cocoanut palm and pigmy date palm.

It's leaves are shaped in thatched fans, however the fronds are broader and more flexible than a sabal palms and are a bright medium green color with a glossy texture similar to the fronds of a cocoanut palm. A smaller palm tree, the Florida thatch palm will grow to a similar size as the more popular pigmy date palm.

Planting these trees not only adds beautiful and rare tropical specimen plants to your landscape but also helps by adding to the numbers of this endangered Florida native. It can be hard to find a sample to look at but if your willing to go on a drive, there are rows of these beautiful little palm trees thriving on the mainland side of the south bridge to Manasota Key along the westbound lanes. Take notice on your next trip to Englewood Beach.

Bottle Palm Tree

One glance an it's obvious why this very exotic specimen palm gets it's common name. Originating from the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean, this unique looking palm tree adds a tropical atmosphere to any yard.

There are some things to consider when deciding on whether or not to go with a Bottle Palm. They are very slow growers and take many years to mature to their full height of 20 feet. So select a palm tree that is already fairly large. Also bottle palms are NOT cold hardy and will not tolerate any frost. I would only recommend them for areas near the waterfront as Sarasota bay and the Gulf will protect against freezing temps. Soil should not be an issue as the Bottle Palm Tree prefers sandy well-drained soil and requires full sun. Easy conditions for Longboat key or Siesta key yards.

Flame Thrower Palm Tree

The Flame Thrower Palm, also called the blushing Palm, Watermelon Palm, Red Feather Palm, and Red Leaf Palm is an amazing and beautiful addition to your tropical landscape.

From the island of New Caledonia, this palm tree gets it's name from the newly emerging fronds that can have a striking red or maroon color for two weeks or so after emerging. This very tropical looking, medium sized palm tree is also amazing because it is actually cold-hardy down to 25 degrees. This palm tree will grow to a height of nearly 25 feet and prefers full sun to light shade. This tree does however prefer moist yet well-drained conditions so it is not advisable to plant in a very hot and dry area. The trunk is also a focal point with a swollen green crownshaft over the ringed trunk ads to the beauty of this hardy and easy to care for tree.

Travelers Palm Tree

One of the most memorable and striking tropical plants in the world is the Travelers Tree. Often mistaken for a palm tree this very unique plant is not a palm at all, but a relative of the Bird of Paradise. Like so many other exotix-looking tropical plants the Travelers Tree originates from Madagascar.

A fully grown Travelers Tree in an incredibly impressive sight, with huge paddle-like leaves that can reach lengths of nearly fifteen feet long that are arranged along a single plan creating the appearance of a large fan. Travelers Trees require planty of space as they can grow to large sizes topping out at 50 feet. The complete size of the fan like leaves and spread across 20 feet or more when full grown. The Travelers Palm can live in our sandy Florida soil just fine and despite it's exotic and lush appearance can be somewhat drought tolerant as the plan stores water in the leaf stems. This tree will tolerate some cold but will not tolerate frost so as with the bottle palm best plant a travelers tree near coastal waterfront areas or in areas sheltered from the winds.

Specimen Palm Trees if planted in the correct locations can be easy for your landscape maintenance company to keep healthy and growing will adding a centerpiece and dramatic look to your yard.

Changing Seasons Brings Irrigation Challenges For Florida Landscapes

While everyone loves the cooler temps and sunny-all-day weather we enjoy during the fall and winter months in Sarasota, the dramatic weather changes from summer require adjustment for optimum landscape maintenance.

During the Florida summer, landscapes are usually blessed with plenty of water and optimum growing conditions for the tropical plants Southwest Floridians love. But with fall, it's as if a switch is thrown and just like that the rains nearly stop. For many it would seem the solution is simple – just increase your landscape irrigation or water your turf more, however while that is part of the solution it's not the whole story. Coupled with the dryer conditions is cooler temps, and an almost guaranteed cold snap or two. The somewhat unpredictable temperatures of our area during the winter months can make applying the correct amount of water to your landscape more challenging.

With cooler temperatures the need for watering is greatly reduced even with the dryer conditions – so be very careful not to over do it or your lawn could suffer a host of problems from over-watering. Over-watering during the cool season can cause root-rot, mildew problems, attract insect pests and is also less than ideal considering more often than not, by winter Florida is in a drought and under water restrictions.

To keep your plants healthy and your water use down be sure to have your irrigation system checked for problems. Check that the amount of run-time, and time of day that the system turns on is correct. Any good system with an electronic controller should be accounting for the change in seasons and daylight savings time, but even so, it should be checked to make sure it is running correctly.

Proper preparation for the Florida dry season actually begins in the summer. Your lawn maintenance company should have a sustainable and ecologically- friendly fertilizer program up and running well in advance. This will ensure your plants have good strong and deep roots that are better able to find the moisture they need. Over-watering combined with a poor fertilizer program can cause the plant to have shallow roots and thus be more susceptible to problems during the dry season.

Mulching is also something that should be done through the summer ahead of the dry season. Keeping your plants mulched when all of that summer storm rain is coming down will help add organic matter the soil. When the mulch and soil are wet the mulch will breakdown much faster and transfer the organic nutrients into the soil. This process certainly takes time so by having a properly mulched landscape during the rainy season you are improving the soil for the dry season. The added organic matter will help the sandy Florida soils retain water longer as well as offer more nutrition for growing plants.

Other adjustments that should be made by your lawn maintenance company is the grass should not be cut as short during the dry months. Having the slightly longer turf will help the grass conserve water and not dry out as fast.

If you are looking to keep your landscape and irrigation system in top shape over this year's dry season contact Grants Garden's. In Addition to being a full-service landscape maintenance, design and irrigation company we also offer a seasonal irrigation tuneup to make sure your home irrigation system will be in top shape all year round.

Add a splash of color to your landscape for the holidays - but plan ahead!

Looking to add some additional color to your landscape for your holiday guests?

Grants Gardens can make your home more festive by adding some colorful plantings including beautiful flowers with your landscape maintenance service. We love to add color to landscapes, however please remember it's the season (as in snowbird season) and you should plan ahead by requesting your next colorful additions at least two weeks.

Why? Grants Gardens always uses the highest quality plants for our landscaping service and that means we do not store the plants for long periods of time, rather we get the plants for your landscape fresh from the nurseries just prior to planting in your yard. This ensures only healthy full plants are used but also means we may need additional time to procure your plants during the busy season.

Another bit of news to consider for Impatiens lovers - the Impatiens crop has been wiped out by a fungus called Downy Mildew so it will take time for growers to get resupplied with resistant strains, however fear not. Grants Gardens can still add bursting color to your landscape this holiday season, we have excellent varieties of Begonias and Geraniums.

Both Begonias and Geraniums come in several stunning colors. Sarasota area residents will find this a perfect choice for decorating this holiday season. Colorful and hardy these beautiful flowers really bring life and color to your garden.