Fine gardening is a specialized approach to landscape maintenance that develops customized care programs and horticulturally-correct solutions. Based on their knowledge of plants and landscapes, a fine gardener will care for your garden in a way that follows the landscape design intent, ensures natural growth patterns, and focuses on healthy plants.
Fine gardening experts have a deep understanding of plants and design, which means they can make recommendations and implement solutions that bring out the best in your landscape.
Four Qualities of a Fine Gardener
There’s a thought process that goes into the fine gardening approach to landscape maintenance and the many techniques that complement it. It’s this approach accompanied by a specialized skill set that makes fine gardeners so valuable.
Fine gardening starts with your landscape design. It takes an appreciative view of the individual plants in your yard as they fit into the overall composition. A fine gardener understands the landscape and garden design and will care for your landscape and gardens in such a way as to fulfill the “design intent”.
A fine gardener will be aware of the focal points and framed views that have been designed into your landscape—including any specimen plants that have rare and varied characteristics. They’ll consult with you to develop a maintenance plan to highlight what should be highlighted.
2. Pruning Expertise
Pruning is an art and the foundation of fine garden care. The types of tools used—hand pruners versus gas shears—and the horticultural expertise to employ these tools at the right time in the season can make all the difference in your gardens. For example, if you prune a broadleaf evergreen too late in the autumn, you can cut off new growth and expose the tree to frost damage.
Knowledge of the bloom cycle is also crucial. A fine gardener understands how plants bloom—on old or new growth. This knowledge means they’ll avoid pruning your azaleas in the fall when that would remove all buds for the next season.
And even when it comes to specialty plants, such as Japanese maples, a fine gardener will know what to do. They are experts in internal pruning (deciding which trunks to keep and which to cut). They focus on enhancing aesthetic interest by anticipating natural growth patterns considering the size, shape, and structure a plant is predisposed to assume.
The last thing you want for your landscape is pruning that treats everything the same by shearing everything. That detracts from the aesthetic value, and the reason you spent money on your landscape in the first place. A fine gardening approach adheres to a more long-term strategy, ensuring that your garden matures and develops how you want it to.
3. Insect and Disease Control
A landscape company that practices fine gardening will identify insects and diseases correctly and treat conservatively. They practice integrated pest management (IPM), which means they won’t just coat your plants with chemicals in a shotgun-approach. Instead, they will first determine if there is a problem, what the problem is, and then the type of intervention that’s needed.
For example, a fine gardener will recognize a weakened plant that might be susceptible to disease or infestation. However, instead of immediately treating it for pests, they’ll look at the overall picture, including its placement in your landscape. The right nutrients, moisture level, and sun exposure can drastically change the health of a plant and therefore protect it from issues without chemicals.
And if you are dealing with insects, they understand their life cycle, so they can treat and spray at the correct time of year to be most effective.
4. Specialized Gardening Techniques
The fine gardening approach to landscape maintenance aims to bring out aesthetically pleasing details that might otherwise go unnoticed. That’s why they employ specialized techniques that you won’t find in a basic landscape maintenance program. For example:
Espalier: An espalier is a fruit tree or ornamental shrub with branches trained to grow against a flat wall or supported on a lattice. It requires a high skill level when it comes to pruning and maintaining to ensure the plant spreads laterally to create a living sculpture. Depending on the plant, it can take a lot of fine-tuning to keep them flat. You need a gardener with both horticultural knowledge and artistic talent to take care of it.
Highlighting structure: A Cryptomeria is a type of conifer that can look beautiful on the outside, but be full of dead material internally. A fine gardening company would go to the next level and take the time to clean out the inside—revealing the trunk and limb structure—for an overall more attractive plant.
Dead-Heading: Rhododendrons require dead-heading to get rid of the ugly, spiky spent blooms, which makes the bush look more tidy and full.
Perennial Care: A fine gardening approach also means splitting and relocating root clumps of flowering plants that have grown too thick and are crowding themselves out.
If you want to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach to landscaping and receive the highest level of garden care, a fine gardener is needed. Whether you have a large or small yard, rare or typical plants, a fine gardener comes with a depth of horticultural knowledge and deep understanding of landscape design that means your garden always looks its best. If you appreciate the finer things in life, you’ll appreciate the aesthetic details of fine gardening.
If you’ve been thinking about investing in a landscape design project, our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.