Steve Heichel, Landscape Designer
What changes have you seen in the Landscape Design industry during the past 10 years? Technology tends to be slower coming to the landscape industry as a whole. It has been good to see LED lighting in a warmer color range to replicate halogen and incandescent lighting, all for 1/3 of the energy draw and lamps lasting 10-15 years. Many plant cultivars have also been designed to fit the smaller spaces that we now incorporate into our landscapes without overgrowing in 5 years. Technologies have also improved the quality and blooming potential of many trees and shrubs.
How would you describe your style of design in the landscape? I have always had a passion for the formal landscape designs of the old, Italian and French estates, with the parterre gardens lined with boxwood hedges and filled with seasonal color. Landscape is about creating an environment that as you enter the gardens you are surrounded with a feeling of wonder, relaxation, and enjoyment of the spaces.
What drew you to follow this path of education and career? I grew up along Lake Erie in Ohio in the nursery capital of the States and have worked in nurseries and landscape from the time I was 13 years old. Always had a love of the outdoors and gardens and it was a natural fit to follow that path. The Ohio State University has one of the best Landscape Architecture programs in the nation (not to mention their football team) and provided a strong education.
What is your favorite natural environment/ naturescape outside of your work? We just had an opportunity to spend two weeks in Italy, and love the history and beauty of the architecture and gardens dating back to Roman times and the time of Christ. We believe that we have something “old” in America if it is 100 years or more. Many of these structures are closer to 2000 years old and keep us in perspective. Much of this beauty is set in the stunning rolling hills of Tuscany, or tucked in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, or sheer cliffs of Cinque Terrre.
What is a common mistake you see homeowners make when landscaping their homes? Often buying trees and shrubs without realizing the ultimate size that they will achieve in 5-10 years. They plant too close to the house and are overgrown in a short number of years. Soil preparation is also an important element to have success with your plantings, as most of our soils are clay based and not conducive to planting.