Planning Your Landscape

It may seem a bit counter intuitive, but winter is a great time to begin the landscape design process.  We will work with you and your home owners association (HOA) to develop a set of plans to meet your needs. We facilitate plan submittal to your HOA and assist in providing competitive estimates for the completion of your installation project.

We work with your building designer/architect and general contractor to create a landscape that flows with the architectural style and character of home with emphasis on appropriate plant selections and efficient irrigation for our high desert climate.  We can work together to accomplish your immediate and long term goals.

If you need a landscape overhaul, we are happy to help with that too.  We specialize in irrigation retrofits and low voltage lighting renovations. We will accentuate the existing successful components and compliment them with fitting additions. Each site has its own unique blend or attributes and constraints.  North of South is adept in dealing with those constraints and emphasizing the opportunities of your property.

Please contact us for a complimentary one hour on-site visit at 541-668-3437 or through our website at

Annual Flowers

Bright pops of color and dramatic flower pots at building entries are a sure sign that our growing season has arrived.  Old folk lore for Central Oregon is that you should wait until the snow has melted off of Black Butte.  We often use Memorial Day for scheduling “color spots”.

Selecting a Container

Terra Cotta is the classic material that lends itself nicely to most gardens.  Poured concrete and stone are other classic materials that age gracefully. Glazed terra cotta pots are a great way to emphasize a color scheme.  These are materials result in heavy containers and they are prone to cracking from freeze thaw cycles.  A best practice is to store them out of the elements for the winter. Depending on weight, this can be a significant challenge.

In today’s market there is a wide variety of plastic composite and fiberglass plant containers that come in many shapes and colors to look like concrete, terra cotta or ceramic.  These new materials offer desirable styles at a fraction of the cost and weight.

The porosity of the materials will also affect water usage.  And ALL containers need drainage.


This may seem glaringly obvious as some locations are typical: flanking the front door, corner of the deck/patio, hanging basket along the porch.  Perhaps one of the most crucial things to consider in location of flower pots is its proximity to water. In the high desert, irrigation is essential.  An automated drip zone tied into your existing irrigation system is ideal.  This allows you to get away for long weekends full of fun and adventure and return home to pretty flowers.

A chosen and planted container can also serve as a focal point in a visual corridor or feature in a planting bed.  The scale of the container is determining factor for this situation; bigger is better.

Triller, Filler & Spiller in a wooden half barrel container

Triller, Filler & Spiller in a wooden half barrel container


A soil mix formulated specifically for flower pots is best.  If you want the best, get one with mycorrhizae to help stimulate root growth.

If you have a couple of containers that getting drip irrigation to is next to impossible, we suggest mixing in water absorbent polymers.  These act like tiny sponges and will extend the duration between watering.

Ammend the soil

Ammend the soil


Thriller, Filler and Spiller is the most common recipe. A tall item in the center creates drama i.e. thriller.  Mounding forms of color generates the filler.  Trailing vegetation over the edges of the container provides the spiller.

Fragrance is worth considering as you are making your plant selections.  Certain plants can detour undesirable bugs and critters.  Mint, thyme, and marigold are a few examples.

Have fun at the nursery or garden center and play with different colors and leaf textures.  Group the plants together to create mock ups of the finished planting.


To keep annual plants looking their best, we recommend alternating between deadheading (removing spent flowers) and feeding with a general flower food every week.   These are good habits that provide the opportunity to keep any eye on which plants are flourishing and which may need some adjustments to their care.

Annual Color Mass Planting

Annual Color Mass Planting

We are wishing you a season of abundant flowers!

The Benefits of Trees

Trees are an important component of the residential landscape.  They can aesthetically frame and/or screen views while providing scale to the landscape and creating a more comfortable outdoor living experience.  Here are a just few more reasons for incorporating trees into your landscape:

1.      Trees create shade.  Deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) provide shade in the summer, reducing air-conditioning needs which reduces energy demands, and can reduce the urban heat island effect.  A shade tree on a sunny day provides welcomed reprieve as well as the most coveted spot in the parking lot. 

2.      Trees provide privacy.  Trees can create screening barriers for unpleasant views, walls, or neighbors as well as frame pleasing views.  A strategically placed tree can mean the difference between being comfy and relaxed versus having to order new window coverings.  Trees can also dampen street sounds, provide wind breaks and capture dust. 

3.      Trees prevent erosion.  Trees reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting and slowing rainfall allowing it to be absorbed by the soil and roots. This keeps soil in place on steep slopes, hillsides and waterway slopes which reduces water pollution as well. 

4.      Trees sequester carbon.  During the process of photosynthesis, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, store the carbon and release the oxygen back into the air.  This helps combat climate change and provides oxygen.

5.      Trees provide habitat.  Many trees including oaks, maples, and ash provide excellent homes for birds and squirrels as well as food and pollen for many more critters.  Even dead and dying trees also create habitat opportunities for many birds and insects.  Trees also provide habitat for people with wood for home construction and wood to burn for warmth. 

6.      Trees increase property values.  Well-planted and maintained trees can increase the value of a property, surrounding street, and neighborhood from 10 – 15%.  Trees can also generate a theme and provide unity throughout a neighborhood and can also serve as a landmark. 

7.      Trees provide seasonal interest.  Deciduous trees provide seasonal interest with colorful flowers in the spring, lush foliage for shade during the summer, beautiful colors of autumn from the fallen leaves, and stimulating branching patterns look even more inspiring with a coat of fresh snow and ice. 

8.      Trees provide food.  Trees not only provide food for animals and insects, but trees also provide food for people.  Fruits, nuts, chewing gum, maple syrup, and chocolate all come from trees as well as other household products such as sponges, corks, and dyes.

9.      Trees reduce stress.  Trees and landscapes have been known to reduce stress by lowering blood pressure, this improves moods and reduces anxiety.  Exposure to trees and nature has shown to reduce fatigue, increasing mental stimulation as well as reducing patient recovery times.

10.   Trees create special places.  Trees are often the ceiling to our outdoor rooms but many times they can be the whole room themselves.  Building a tree house, installing a tire swing or zip line, or climbing as high as you can provides an unique experience that only a tree can provide.  


Flower Pots

Spring is here and we all get excited to spend more time outside.  A great accent to your outdoor spaces is to add some flower pots or annual color spots to key locations. Here are a few suggestions to guide you.  Of course this is a service we provide too :)

  1. Containers.  Lots of great new materials out there along with the beauty of classic terra cotta and ceramic glaze.  Make sure you've got drainage through the bottom.  Inspect your pots for any winter damage and replace if necessary. Determine and set in desired location.
  2. Soil. How old is the "dirt"?  If it looks dry and gray, it's time to replace it.  We like to use organic potting soil with moisture control and mycorrhizae (a beneficial fungi).  Many potting soils have a fertilizer in them already.  If not, be sure to add some as annual flowers are big feeders.
  3. Plants.  Three words you need to know: thriller, filler, spiller.  Something tall in the center for drama (thriller). Fun colors and textures to make the tall item in the center feel anchored (filler). Trailing plants along the edge of the container to soften (spiller).  Play with plant combinations while shopping at your local nursery. Depending on the size of your container, the thriller item is typically purchased as a larger size, like a one gallon. Four inch or quart containers are nice for the filler.  Four inch or plugs work well along the edges for the spiller.
  4. Water. Container plants can dry out quickly.  If possible, drip irrigation is a consistent and reliable way to keep the flowers happy.  Otherwise, plan to water daily through the heat of the summer.