Consultation and Design
The first step for a new client is scheduling an on-site consultation with Nicole. During the consultation, we will:
- walk the property together to get a feel for the land’s natural patterns
- discuss any problems you are having on site, such as erosion, flooding, poor soils, failing crops, insect pests, weeds, etc.
- identify existing natural resources present on your property
- discuss your goals, visions, and ideas and talk about how your goals overlap with the site’s form and resources
- develop a plan for carrying out specific projects, utilizing on-site resources, building soil, choosing appropriate plant and animal species, and prioritizing projects over time.
As an add-on to your site visit, you can choose to receive a detailed follow-up. The Consultation Summary includes:
- in-depth instructions for carrying out each recommended project
- site opportunities for water harvesting
- site opportunities for nutrient cycling
- recommended plant species and varieties suited to your site
- recommended nurseries, landscape suppliers, books, and other resources.
- a high-resolution PDF of a detailed site plan drawing
Consultations vary by cost depending on your location, so please contact us for a quote. If you have something else in mind, such as a planting design or ongoing consulting services, please get in touch so we can see if your project would be a good fit.
Talks and Workshops
Interested in hosting an engaging speaker or organizing a workshop for your club, organization, or class? Nicole offers talks on permaculture, edible landscaping, rainwater harvesting, homesteading, animal husbandry, and more. Please contact us to discuss your desired topic and rates.
Herb spirals are one of the most popular designs. It’s no surprise as they offer the perfect marriage of beauty and function! Vertically spiraling stone creates amazingly productive beds for herbs, veggies, or flowers with the added benefit of less bending over for you. Each part of the spiraling structure has a unique microclimate ranging from shady and moist to hot and dry, so a diversity of plants will thrive within one small footprint. Spirals create the perfect focal point for a beautiful landscape.
Raised beds are a classic way to grow healthy plants, combining good drainage with loose and fertile soil. We take it up a notch by creating raised beds in the form of contour swales wherever possible. A swale is a basin followed by berm positioned on contour to a slope. As rainwater travels down the surface of the slope, it sinks into the basin, evenly hydrating the raised bed and sub-soil beyond. Not only do swales help to control troublesome rainwater run-off, they also pump out productive plants like you wouldn’t believe!
Rain gardens are a key tool for controlling stormwater run-off. Many homeowners have trouble with erosion, muddy areas, and sheet-flow on paved areas during storms. Rain gardens are deeply sunken pooling areas partially filled with very well-draining soil. Properly placed, they sink this excess water into the ground. Rain gardens make great planting beds for ornamental, native, and pollinator plants, and they can even be used to grow certain fruit trees and shrubs which are adapted to inundated soils during rainstorms and dry soils between storms.
For more information on rainwater harvesting, check out this hand out: Harvesting Rainwater in the Landscape
Fruits and Nuts
We love to incorporate perennial food-producers into our designs wherever possible. With a little up-front work, trees and shrubs can provide delicious and nutritious harvests for many years to come. In addition to providing an edible bounty, many of these plants are also highly ornamental, with beautiful forms, flowers, leaves, and fruits too. From the familiar pears, blueberries, and strawberries to the unfamiliar (but super hardy and disease-free!) paw paw, goumi, and gooseberry, we’ll find the right fit for your site.
Food forests incorporate fruit and nut producers together with companion plants that provide living mulch, insectary services, pollination, nitrogen-fixation, and ground cover. We can transform a boring lawn into a diverse system that mimics a natural forest in its supportive relationships between different species. Even a small food forest can pack in multiple harvests. Imagine harvesting Asian persimmons, currants, gooseberries, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, fresh edible and medicinal herbs, cut flowers, and even edible mushrooms all from a 10 by 10 foot patch!
What’s better than walking out your back door to be greeted by the flurry of butterfly wings, sparkle of flitting hummingbirds, and buzzing of bumblebees? We love to design landscapes not just for people, but also for the benefit of insects, birds, and other wildlife, though the truth is that these critters are actually very beneficial to us by increasing productivity and balance in our gardens. We can help you create a butterfly meadow, pollinator garden, or native plant naturescape, or we can incorporate these species amongst other landscape designs.
The use of stones in the landscape brings with it a myriad of benefits. Stones have a high thermal mass, meaning that they balance temperature swings and extend the growing season for plants. They also create great habitat for beneficial insects that help to balance pest populations in the garden. Stones are highly functional for use in sturdy walkways, terraces, and raised beds, and of course, they add an irreplaceable aesthetic value to the landscape.
Hugelkultur is an ancient German method for building healthy soil using wood. It is especially well-suited to sites with excess brush that is often otherwise a nuisance to deal with. A hugelkultur pile is created by piling soil on top of logs, brush, leaves, or any other woody material. Covering with soil encourages faster break-down of the woody material than would otherwise occur in open air. Fungi and other soil critters turn that pile into super fertile and moisture-holding soil that is great for growing plants. We often like to situate hugelkultur beds on contour with a slope, thereby harvesting rainwater as well as creating a great growing space.
Edible Mushroom Cultivation
Mushrooms are an under-utilized source of nutritious and delicious food from the landscape. Ever been frustrated by the lack of sunlight on your shady site? Sounds like you have the perfect environment for growing mushrooms! We can assess your site for opportunities to grow shiitake and oyster mushrooms on logs, or wine cap mushrooms in wood chip beds. It’s easier than you think!