Andrea Mueller

A living landscape

We are surrounded by many landscapes, but are they living? A house and garage expansion made way for this major site renovation, which includes a large edible garden with multiple raised beds, fire pit, paver walkways, rain gardens, permeable driveway and a huge selection of native plants! The swampy site dictated the selection of moisture loving plant material — obedient plant, rattlesnake master, swamp milkweed, iris, serviceberry, sweetspire and more! These plants provide bloom and texture all year long, but more importantly provide a variety of ecological functions — a truly living landscape. Native insects evolve with native plants...

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House plans make the landscape

You might wonder what selecting a house plan or having house plans drawn has to do with landscape — and it’s everything! Dreaming about your new home or structure and selecting the perfect plan are such fun parts of the process, but often we get so excited over perfect plans we forget to consider their feasibility for the site. Site and building synchronization issues are all too common with new builds — we’ve all seen them and some unfortunate homeowners have experienced the nuisance that comes with this lack of consideration. There can be many issues with simply selecting...

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12 common plants to avoid and their native alternatives

As winter settles in, it’s a great time to consider landscape upgrades and changes for the upcoming spring. While we are dreaming of plants and browsing catalogs, the internet or even asking well-meaning friends who share plants, it’s important to remember that our plant choices matter and can have consequences. Not only are all of these plants listed as an invasive species in Kentucky, many of them also have other issues and are dated. Sadly, most or all of these plants are still in the trade, being sold at garden centers and installed by landscapers. We can help stop...

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‘Leave the leaves,’ but make sure you’re helping to balance the ecosystem

Leave the leaves is a popular buzz phrase these days, meant to help wildlife and ecosystem services. Many critters, including turtles, toads, birds, mammals, pollinators, moths, butterflies, and invertebrates rely on leaf litter for food, shelter and nesting material. However, “leave the leaves” can be a little over generalized and misinterpreted. It doesn’t mean to literally leave leaves where they lay. That could be problematic if you have lawn. Here are a few tips if you want to help balance the ecosystem by leaving the leaves: • Don’t mow the leaves — there are critters in the leaves, which...

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Changing ideas of beauty

Who doesn’t love a field of flowers? Especially native forbs and grasses, where butterflies, moths, pollinators, birds and other beneficial insects eat and shelter. I find the infinite blooms and diverse spaces so much more intriguing than acres of mown grass (not to mention the time, energy and resources that go into mowing). With suburbanization, sprawl and development, we are left with monoculture yards, sometimes on significant acreage, and very little diversity. Forests, woodlands, wetlands and prairies covered Kentucky prior to settlement. 200 years later, less than 1% of the woodlands, prairies and pre-settlement forests that covered Kentucky occur...

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