Welcome to BrightShade Gardens
BrightShade Gardens is a full service, landscape design and management firm. We design and install hardscapes, plantings, drainage and irrigation. We also provide highly skilled maintenance for our clients. Whether it is a patio, a walkway lined with Camellias, or a garden filled with astonishing color, we believe that every client deserves a place outside that is a pleasure to visit. We feel it is our duty to give our clients thoughtful design and careful installation, while being respectful of budgets. We hope you will enjoy reading about us, our projects, and some of our favorite plants. This is our passion and our life. We would love to show you why.

Our Recent Blog Posts

Not All Sod…

is created the same.  It is that time of year where I am asked to estimate sod quite frequently.  I honestly feel like I should apologize every time I attach one of these documents to an e-mail.  The cost is painful.  Here are a few reasons why.  1. Most sod looks good for a while, but the long-term health of your sod is largely dependent on what you have under it.  There is a good chance that your last batch of grass died because your soil was in poor condition.  Does it make sense to skim the old and lay down new sod on the junky soil?  No.  Make sure your contractor adds a mixture of topsoil and compost before installation. 2. Good sod has been growing for a long time.  We use Summit Hall Tall Fescue and Blue Grass.  Summit Hall is more expensive than Chantilly because they do not grow on mesh, and they grow their sod for a full 18 months before cutting it.  Time translates into cost, but it also translates into better sod. If you are comparing two estimates, ask your contractor to note where they will be buying the sod.  Sadly, there are contractors who will charge you for $500 a palette sod from Merrifield but will go pick it up from a cheaper farm.  Be a smart consumer.  Let them know you would like to see the date of the receipt.

16th March 2012

Friends Don’t Let Friends…

plant Bamboo.  People sue the Fast Food Industry for making us fat.  Why hasn’t someone sued the Bamboo Industry for making us poor at the hand of removal.  Seriously folks, do not plant this unless you install a 3-4′ barrier.  There are better alternatives.  For example, the Arborvitae Green Giant is a marvelous tree.  Once established it will grow 3′ a year.  Unlike Leyland Cypress it sends down deep roots, and it will not fall over if you blow on it.  The Green Giant is a narrow tree with a mature width of only 8′.  In other words, it won’t steal your yard from you as it matures.

16th March 2012

Tall (and Skinny) Order

Tomorrow is the first day of a five month sprint. I am excited. Tomorrow is José’s first official day with BrightShade, and he cannot sleep. He called to tell me. We spent a very rainy morning standing in the middle of a yard watching water run into new drains. We followed this nail-biting experience with a trip to Merrifield to buy new spades. In the midst of this rainy-day adventure we did find something beautiful. Just off the truck were four 18′ Armstrong Maples.

The Armstrong Maple is a type of Sugar Maple that is perfect for areas where space is a concern. It has a narrow, upright growth habit and grows only 15′ wide. Lucky for us, this tree is part of a March install, and we were overjoyed to find it. Above you will find José quite happy to be a Merrifield customer for the first time.

29th February 2012

Winter Garden

Sometimes I think it would be best if designers planned gardens in the winter—opposed to spring.  If it looks amazing in January, imagine what it will look like in May. My own garden is colorful and full of texture.  Berries, variegated leaves, peeling bark, a weeping evergreen-they all make me want to be outside wearing my puffy coat, observing what nature can do when it is renewing itself.

26th February 2012