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Landscape design done right: Navigating your property’s topography

Updated: Apr 8

Landscaping isn't just about making your property visually appealing; it's about creating a harmonious outdoor space that works seamlessly with the natural topography. Homeowners keen on transforming their landscapes into masterpieces, need to pay special attention to the lay of the land. Here's why understanding the topography of your property is crucial for landscape design.

1. Mitigate pooling around your structures

Understanding the topography means understanding how water flows around your home and other structures (like a garage, shed, or barn). With this understanding, you can avoid problems like rain runoff damaging your structures. By designing your landscape and hardscape plans to ensure water flows away from these structures, you mitigate potential damage in the future.

2. Make it easier and sustainable by working with nature

In West Michigan, where clay soil can be prevalent in certain areas, landscaping takes on a unique challenge. Rather than trying to change the composition of the soil, a well-planned approach involves working with your property, using the right plants for the soil type to build a lasting landscape. Mimicking the natural flow of water and adjusting to the soil composition creates a more beautiful and sustainable landscape.

3. Invest the time upfront to save you in the long run

Investing in a thorough understanding of your property's topography from the start can save you money in the long run. Many homeowners find themselves returning to fix issues arising from poor planning. Our commitment is to do it right the first time, ensuring your landscape won't fall apart, die, or face flooding issues. 

In addition, there are numerous benefits of a properly planned and well-irrigated landscape. It can reduce flooding and icy surfaces during winter on your driveway or sidewalks. Also, by addressing standing water issues, homeowners can prevent soil erosion and potential damage to structures.

At Roots Wild, our approach to landscape design is different. We focus on providing solutions that work with the existing space and resources. This involves understanding the land's natural features, re-disperse water in natural ways, and embracing the beauty of the landscape without trying to circumvent nature.

Having a comprehensive understanding of your property's topography is crucial for creating a functional and visually appealing outdoor space. By investing wisely upfront, you can ensure that your landscape will last for years.

Permeable Driveway

The permeable driveway

This hardscaped permeable driveway is an excellent example of water management within your landscape. With the previous cement driveway, water runoff would cause potential leakage into neighboring basements bordering the driveway. This driveway allows water to be absorbed into the ground. By doing so, it reduces water runoff and standing water, which minimizes icy conditions during winter and eliminates the need to use salt. Using salt can be harmful to our watersheds, making this driveway a positive alternative.


Bioswale landscaping with native plants

One of our customers had a problem with severe flooding during heavy rains. Due to the lack of proper drainage, water would accumulate on their front lawn. To address this issue, we installed a bioswale in their front yard. The bioswale is designed to capture the water runoff from the street. It is covered with brown pine bark and planted with specific plants that can absorb the water quickly and filter any potential pollutants. This solution doesn't require plastic drain tiles and uses the land and plants to solve the problem. As a result, they no longer experience flooding and the water entering the water table is cleaner.

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