Trending: Contest Winners & More!


Winning Designs

Congratulations to the All-American Selections Landscape Design Contest winners!

The contest, in its second year, requires each contest participant to create and execute a design, generate publicity surrounding the contest and then submit the photos, proof of publicity and an overall description of their design. This year, the contest generated a 20 percent increase in entries.

There were three categories based on annual garden visitors: Category I with fewer than 10,000 visitors, Category II with 10,001 to 100,000 visitors and Category III with more than 100,000 visitors.

And, now, here are the winners:

Category I (less than 10,000 visitors)

1st place: LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, Baton Rouge, La.

2nd place: University of Wisconsin Spooner Ag Research Station Teaching and Display Garden, Spooner, Wis.

3rd place: Meredith Public Library Garden, Meredith, N.H.

Category II (10,000 – 100,000 visitors)

1st place: Agriculture Canada Ornamental Gardens, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

2nd place: The Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.

3rd place: Jardin Daniel A. Seguin, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada

Category III (more than 100,000 visitors)

1st place: Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, Wis.

2nd place: Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colo.

3rd place: Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, Ky.

Hardscape Honors

Twenty winners and 18 honorable mentions earned Hardscape North America (HNA) Hardscape Project Awards for their designs from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI), the Brick Industry Association and National Concrete Masonry Association.

In its sixth year, the awards program received a record 115 entries. Entries were judged on project intent, design, quality of construction and craftsmanship, compatibility with related construction materials and systems, construction innovation, detailing and overall design excellence.

New this year, HNA launched the first HNA Humanitarian Project Award to recognize those contractors that demonstrate overwhelming generosity and support of their community through hardscape projects. This years’ award was presented to Heart of Texas Landscape and Irrigation of Belton, Texas, who donated 100 percent of the labor and materials for a special three-day backyard makeover as a Mother’s Day surprise for Fort Hood’s Military Spouse of the year, Marily Considine. This project was featured on NBC’s “The Today Show.”

For a full list of the 2013 award winners go to:

Garden … And Live Longer

People who are 60 years or older can live longer, new research says. They just have to get their hands dirty!

A British Medical Journal report found those who were 60 or over and gardened could extend their lives by 30 percent. The activity proved to be as good at preventing strokes and heart conditions as conventional exercise.

The results included “smaller waists, lower levels of potentially harmful blood fats, and lower glucose, insulin and clotting factor levels in men,” the release reports.

The team studied 4,000 people in Sweden who were about 60 years old and tracked their heart health over a period of 12 years. Those who exercised regularly and also participated in daily physical activities like gardening had the lowest health risks in the group. Those who participated in the highest levels of activity were 27 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 30 percent less likely to die from any cause.

“Prolonged sitting drives down metabolic rate to the bare minimum, while standing up and physical activity increase it,” the release says.

Unfortunately, traditional retirement notions don’t support continued physical activity at this stage of life, says Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “It is almost expected that as we age, we move less,” she says. “Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyles now range across all ages with the same unhealthy results: increased risk for diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and certain cancers.”

The human body is designed to be moving a good portion of the day, Heller adds, so regular physical activities, such as cleaning, gardening, lawn care and climbing stairs, help keep the body mobile and strong.

2014’s New Varieties

More than 100 new ornamental flowers and edibles from National Garden Bureau members are once again available on the National Garden Bureau website ( as a one-stop place for landscape professionals and their clients to find inspiring varieties for 2014.

“Each year, our industry introduces an exciting selection of new and improved varieties of both flowers and edibles,” says Janis Kieft, National Garden Bureau president. “This is certainly one of the most visited pages on the NGB website, so it’s a program we will continue for many years to come.”


Equipment Theft Drops But Recovery Still a Challenge

First, the good news. There’s been a 7 percent drop in heavy equipment thefts since last year, and a 19 percent drop since 2008.

But (don’t you hate when there’s a “but?”), only 20 percent of this stolen equipment is ever recovered.

This according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual report, produced with the National Equipment Register using National Crime Information Center law-enforcement-submitted data.

The report says a whopping 10,925 pieces of heavy equipment were stolen last year. The most popular item was mowers, followed by skid-steers and tractors. When it comes to brands, thieves loved John Deere most, followed by Kubota, Bobcat, Caterpillar and Toro, respectively, following close behind.

Prevent theft of your equipment by parking equipment in clusters to make it harder to take, using sleeve locks that fix backhoe outriggers in extended positions and hydraulic locks that make it impossible to drive articulating equipment in more than a tight circle, and using hidden fuel cutoff systems and removable fuses, the NICB advises.

Leaf Out the Noise?

Fall always means time for cleaning up fall leaves. And that means leaf blowers … and leaf blower bans.

Last week, Sonoma, Calif., came closer to becoming the first city in its county, and one of the few in the nation, to ban gas-powered leaf blowers.

The ordinance was specifically worded to ban blowers with internal combustion engines, which encompasses equipment that runs on fuels other than gas, and also bans diesel generators that can be used to power electric leaf blowers.

The hours during which Sonoma residents could use an electric leaf blower would remain unchanged. Those hours in residential areas are between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and in city parks on the same days between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Under the new ordinance, however, residents who blow dust and debris onto a neighbor’s property could be slapped with a citation. The ordinance is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2014

As of 2011, about 20 California cities had bans on leaf blowers in place, including Belvedere, Beverly Hills, Carmel, Del Mar, Malibu, Santa Monica, Mill Valley, Berkeley and Palo Alto. Other cities restrict hours of operation or allow only electric or battery-powered blowers.

Landscape Architecture for Teens

Mané Mehrabyan is a choreographer, but her movements don’t come from her legs or arms.

She’s been applying her landscape architecture talents to help shape the environment around her. The idea is inspired by a Cornell University program she attended while at Ithaca High School in Ithaca, N.Y.

Founded in 2011 by three graduate students – Travis North, Jesse Nicholson and Roana Tirado – DesignTeach is a youth outreach program that introduces teenagers to the concepts and skills of landscape architecture through hands-on workshops and one-on-one mentorships.

The program has provided roughly 630 hours of instruction to local middle and high school students, and the American Society of Landscape Architects recently honored it with a 2013 Student Award for community service.

Students enrolled in the program get highly coveted guest space in the department’s fourth-floor studio, where they participate in skill-building lessons, such as sketching, photo collage, drafting, plant selection and modeling, as well as lectures and critiques. They also get their own real-world project that covers on-site analysis, concept development and design, concluding with a presentation to a panel of landscape architecture students and professors.

“The nature of design is very different from what most high school students experience,” North says. “We say: ‘Here’s a site, you tell me what you want to do with it, how you are going to do it, and what you want to accomplish.’ For a lot of students, that’s something different and empowering, to have the responsibility shifted to them.”

Mehrabyan says the experience fully cemented her ambition to pursue a career in the field, an idea she was only toying with when she was first exposed to landscape architecture. For Mehrabyan, landscape architecture is a way to meld many of her interests: people, nature and creativity.

“There’s always a dialogue between nature and humans, and as landscape architects we are the intermediaries – we choreograph movements so that we can bring the two together,” Mehrabyan says. “Once I understood that, it really opened my eyes. Everywhere I go, I’m walking through a creative process. How pedestrians move through space is like another form of dance. I love observing how our environment influences our behavior.”

Top 10 LA Books

Everyone has their Top 10 lists. For Paul McAtomney, a landscape architecture student at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, books are important to him for absorbing knowledge.

“Books mentally stimulate the creative part of your brain by allowing you to form an image of the words inside your head, while also giving you a unique pause button for understanding and insight,” McAtomney says.

Here are his picks for the top 10 landscape architecture books he reported on the Landscape Architects Network.

10. “Lexicon of Garden and Landscape Architecture” by Meto J. Vroom – An alphabetically arranged list of more than 250 garden and landscape architecture terms, concepts and objects, complete with definitions, critical commentary and reading recommendations. The perk: It comes in a portable package.

9. “Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards” by Leonard J. Hopper – The easy-to-navigate compilation of detailed construction diagrams and industrywide standards for lots of site elements.

8. “Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History” by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers – An historical account of man-made landscapes across the globe, detailed with illustrations and pictures. Great for people with visual arts interests.

7. “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs – A manual of urban planning, explaining how certain places work versus how they should function according to modern city planning.

6. “Digital Drawing for Landscape Architecture: Contemporary Techniques and Tools for Digital Representation in Site Design” by Bradley Cantrell and West Michaels – A digitized, contemporary book that demonstrates techniques, such as using Photoshop to creating plan graphics to scaling and working with aerials.

5. “The Planting Design Handbook” by Nick Robinson – Planting design techniques for planting and environmental designers. The book contains sketch illustrations, detailing horticultural, ecological and aesthetic plant characteristics.

4. “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” by William H. Whyte – Studies of New York’s plazas, parks and urban spaces. A 1980s classic that looks into what makes a great city.

3. “Principles of Ecological Landscape Design” by Travis Beck – This book addresses the demand and management of ecologically sustainable landscapes, covering topics like plant selection, competition, coexistence and plant-animal interactions.

2. “Landscape Graphics” by Grant Reid – Great for people new to landscape architecture, covering the essentials of drawing, including drafting basics, freehand drawing and conceptual diagramming.

1. “Design With Nature” by Ian L. McHarg – Considered the most influential book on landscape planning ever written, this 1969 book pioneered the concept of ecological planning and how to design in harmony with the natural environment. Inspires readers to look at their environment in new ways.”