Design decisions: planting and maintaining a facility garden

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Design decisions: planting and maintaining a facility garden
Design decisions: planting and maintaining a facility garden
With memories of February's frigid chills still fresh in our minds, it might be hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. But seasons change, and soon warmer temperatures will lead to budding flowers and animals emerging from their winter hibernation.

A similar scenario will occur at Island Nursing and Rehab Center in Holtsville, NY, where residents will be able to leave the indoors and enjoy the spring weather in the recently completed “Garden of Hope.”

Planting the seeds

A lot goes in to planning a big facility garden, and it took 18 months for this project to fully bloom. It started with the residents and their families, says David Fridkin, administrator and CEO of Island Nursing and Rehab.

“Family and friends held a few fund-raising efforts,” he explains. “That's basically how we got it off the ground.”
To help grow the garden, Fridkin enlisted the help of The Brickman Group, a family-owned landscaping firm with a nationwide presence.

“We actually probably finished the job within a week with one crew,” says Suffolk, NY, Branch Manager Ray Nobile. The finished garden was unveiled last September.

Daffodils and donations

The Brickman Group used its longstanding ties with plant, mulch and compost suppliers to garner donations for Island Nursing. The landscapers themselves donated roughly half the cost of the labor required for the project.
“We used our relationships for a good cause,” says Nobile. Some people go through vendors just trying to find the lowest price, he says, but maintaining good relationships can help in the long run.

What started off as a $50,000 project for Island Nursing turned into a $17,000 project with the help of generous local businesses.

Preparing the garden

The space now occupied by the Garden of Hope was initially just grass, says Nobile. Converting it into a functional garden took a little bit of effort: “We had to get the sod cutters and we took up the grass. Then we drew out our design on the soil.”

Next came the dyed concrete, which was the most costly element of the new garden. Landscape crews then laid out the plants, planted them and added mulch.

Nobile and his team planted non-invasive perennials, such as day lilies and hostas. These types of plants don't spread themselves out and don't have too many seeds, which makes maintaining the garden much easier.

Butterfly bushes attract the eponymous colorful critters to the garden, and a pondless waterfall provides a tranquil background score for sunny afternoons.

The plants were chosen to make it easy to restore the garden after the harsh winter and maintain it through the spring and summer months. When the temperatures start to rise, landscape crews will trim back some of the dead brush and re-mulch the garden, restoring nutrients to the soil. After that, Nobile says, a half hour per week is all that's needed to keep the Garden of Hope thriving.


Lessons Learned:

1 - Good relationships with vendors can help cut costs for projects
2 - Non-invasive plants look good, and also can be very easy to maintain

3 - When spring arrives, clear out dead plants and re-mulch your gardens to help them grow