THE GREAT COVER UP
Disguise Those Awkward Yard Elements With Creative Landscaping
By Barbara Canetti
A perfectly landscaped yard could be marred by the sight of ugly air conditioning units or pool equipment. It doesn’t have to be that way, says Gail Hartz, president of Gail Hartz + Associates. There are simple fixes to keep yards and landscapes pipe-free.
“We can construct a screen using plants and vines to cover almost any unsightly areas,” Hartzsays.
Hiding the air conditioner requires planting a certain distance away from the unit to ensure proper air flow and ventilation, but weaving an evergreen vine such as star jasmine or evergreen wisteria through a trellis will conceal the equipment year-round.
“You want the evergreens so you can enjoy [the view] all year – especially in the fall and winter, which is sometimes the best time to be outside,” says Hartz.She says pipes and equipment can also be hidden behind trees and shrubs.
“A row of yews are popular screens,” she says of evergreens that are highly tolerant of heat and cold.
In addition, Hartz landscape architect Merileigh Stenz recommends solid hedges of ligustrum or a two-tiered combination of plants with shorter plants such as boxwoods in the front.
“Hollies are also heat and freeze resistant. We can create a screen with several varieties of hollies and shear them to make a plant fence,” says Stenz.
Another trick Hartz uses for unsightly yard problems is replacing shaded lawn areas where grass won’t grow. She has been using artificial grass in those hard-to-maintain or tight spaces where lawnmowers cannot go.
“Sometimes on a side yard it is difficult to get the mower in, so these products are highly recommended there,” she says. “We had a client with a side yard problem. We used the artificial grass and it went from a bowling alley to a lovely garden area.”
Stenz notes the artificial grass comes in several shades and a variety of lengths and feels like thatch. “It really doesn’t look artificial,” she says.
There is also a special pet turf for enclosed yards where dogs are. “This product is soft on the dog’s feet and easy to maintain,” she says. It has special backing for waterflow and easy clean up after pets.
She advises having a professional lay the grass carpet, which must be installed over a layer of crushed granite, tamped down and covered with a sand cushion. Seams have to be glued together, like indoor carpeting, she says.
An artificial turf yard is expensive up front, “but no more mowing, fertilizing, treating with pesticides and watering,” Hartz says. The only drawback, she says, is some turfs heat up in the summer and, in rare cases, bacteria have developed that affect nearby trees.
“But installed the right way, there should be no problems,” she adds.
Gail Hartz + Associates
713-661-4278 • 3104 Edloe, Suite 301 www.hartzland.com