White Shovel | Landscape Design Install Clean-Up
17 Oct 2016

What will your landscape look like?

When you’ve seen as many landscapes as I have, you begin to question people just a little bit.

The other day I was at a clients home checking on an installation, and one of the installers approached me with a question. “Why are they putting 3 Crepe Myrtles right there in the middle of the yard?”

It was a good question, he was obviously thinking, “I don’t think I would have done that!”

In the landscape design world we all have our own version of what’s pleasing, and what is distasteful. We all have different opinions of what we like and do not like. All of us equally made to be uniquely different.

So, the question is, “Are we free to create what ever we want to create?” Basically, can we do whatever we want to with our plants in our landscape?

This question is obviously similar to the question asked by the installer. It’s sort of like a puzzle, a lot of people see creativity as something that is unique, or out of the box. Essentially, something without rules or bounds.

But what’s the real story? can you really place your plants where ever you like?

Early on in my design career, I would often ask clients what they wanted me to do for them. The reply would usually come back “Well, your the designer, what do you think?” What these clients were saying was directly retaliated to my design skill, not necessarily to my ability to be “creative.”

Confused yet?

You see when your designing anything there are rules a designer must follow in order to create something that is visually appealing. Some of these rules you might recognize like the rule of balance. This means you can’t have a lot on the right and a little on the left. It’s just not balanced, and it won’t be visually appealing. There are several rules like this, and a designer must be in tune with all of them.

The next thing a designer is looking for is the clients preference. Since the designer can place just about any color, texture, or balance type (such as asymmetrical, and symmetrical.) A designer begins looking around to see if the client has preferred a certain color in other areas of their home. He or she might also ask certain questions such as “Do you prefer a more formal, organized look, or would you rather it to be more natural?” These questions are a small part of obtaining the clients preference. This part of the process allows the designer to follow the rules, but customize them to fit the clients preference.

Then the next step is to think about bed or site limitations. Some things just can’t be done. For example, if you have a power line where the rules of design call for a tree, you’re going to need to get creative. Other examples include the client no wishing their windows to be covered in shrubs. There can also be limitations where the client doesn’t like certain plants such as the Crepe Myrtle. Even if the designer thinks the Crepe is a great option for an area, he or she has to get creative.

So, what do we learn from this?

Creativity is sparked when limitations come into play. Creativity is this wonderful world where you pursue the rules, and clients preferences and attempt to have them meet in the middle. Because the perfect meet in the middle when it comes to landscape design means “you” get the perfect landscape.

Ask yourself again “What would my perfect landscape look like?” Then give us a call, we can walk you through the incredible process of designing your landscape. You will get to experience the gift of creativity, as you and the designer address all the limitations of your new landscape.

Get the landscape you would love from White Shovel….. Call 256-612-4439 anytime and leave a message, and a designer will be right with you.


06 Sep 2016

WOW! Is that my “house?”

I wasn’t quite sure what was going on! It was late April, on a beautiful summer day, I was sitting on the back deck with a young lady. I was showing her the designs I had put together for her front yard. Back then we didn’t use iPads to show designs, we had actual pictures printed and brought them to your home. She was looking at the photos, where I had designed a few different ideas for a landscape across the front of her home.

She was stunned, and began to cry. I was still new to our design process, and of course I hadn’t seen everything, but this was new for me. I asked her if everything was OK, to which she replied “YES!” These are just so beautiful, I never imagined it could be so nice.

This was my first experience in “art.” Art to me was something that grabbed a persons heart, it was something so beautiful and so personal you couldn’t help but stare.

Landscape design has become a passion for White Shovel, we long to see our clients eyes light up, and smiles come across their face. Our design process consist of 3 different appointments, each one is meant to learn more about the client, and build something they would love.

The first appointment is meant to interview the client, and their landscape. We want to know what you really like, and most of the time our clients don’t really know what they like. This takes work on the part of the designer, and we have to ask just the right questions. We want to reveal to ourselves as well as to you what you would love to see. We also interview your landscape, we check and recheck. What’s going to be practical, and beautiful. What’s going to give you pleasure, as well as be easy to maintain.

The second appointment is all about looking at the ideas we came up with. We want to show you the things which we thought, were what you would love. Showing you what we were thinking based on what we thought you were thinking. It’s a fun process, and it gives you the opportunity to say what you like, and what you do not like.

The third appointment is where we discuss the cost for installation if you choose to go that route. It shows you how the plants will be laid out, and how many of each plant you will need. It also will show you different options and packages for installation. Most people don’t realize this, but landscaping can be installed small and you can watch it grow. This saves you a lot of money. You can also install it large and enjoy it in a more immediate fashion.

All three steps are necessary components, however, a client may choose to just take the photos on the second appointment and install the landscape themselves.

We live to serve, and design, and we hope to see you soon.

06 Sep 2016

September Gardening Tip (Cooling Down)

The sweet smell of cool air, thought of pumpkins and the aroma of the approaching holidays is upon us. Yes people, it’s September already, and in the gardening world that means a few things.

September is a great time to do a little pruning, as well as cut back on your watering a little. As the heat dies down and we get a little more rain than normal, you landscape is beginning to relax. Alabama Summers are hot, and after a long hot summer your plants can use some phosphorous. This long word helps plants convert other nutrients into usable building blocks with which to grow. (Phosphorous is the “P” on your fertilizer purchased at your local supplier.) This key ingredient will strengthen and rebuild your plants. Think about it like a nice glass of lemonade after a long hot day.

06 Sep 2016

White Shovel Inspiration (Our Inspiring History | Our Passion)

I wanted so badly to write about how incredible our history has been, I wanted to talk about how inspiring and fast learning we started out to be. Actually, it really didn’t start off quite that great.

In the beginning White Shovel was a small town lawn care business called Turfs R Us. We didn’t have 40 employees, or large trucks with fancy equipment. There was just me, and a lawn mower. Well actually I had a push-mower, a weed whacker, and a hand held blower.

In the beginning mowing was a great start, and allowed me to access to learn more about clients. I’d like to say that in the beginning all I wanted to do was design landscapes, but actually all I wanted to do was make clients happy. When I finally hired the first person to help me, we weren’t just mowing grass. We were assisting clients in maintaining beautiful yards. We pulled weeds, rolled up hoses and organized toys from their children and pets in the back yard.

I remember, almost to the day when the first client asked me for plant, and garden advice. I must of had a blank look on my face. I didn’t know about plants, and I certainly didn’t know about design.

It didn’t stop there, for the next couple of months more then 20 people asked me for plant, and design advice. Honestly, I was stunned! Who was supposed to be giving them advice, and why weren’t they doing it. I just couldn’t believe there was that many people who had yards, and needed a few ideas or some plant advice. But there was.

After doing some searching in the phone book (which was popular at that time) I began to realize the giant gap between “Landscape Architect” and “Residential Design Advice.”

That was the day I enrolled in a landscape design college course. Then, over the next few months, I began to exercise my learning on a daily basis. I was helping clients with design advice, and learning about plants from both the course and in my daily life. My skills grew rapidly.

After the first year of doing this, I sold my lawn care businesses and began the creation of what we know and love now as White Shovel. Working close beside me, my wife and I proceeded to design and install landscapes on a small level, perfecting our craft. Then we decided it was time to build a team.

One of the big issues we had in the beginning, which most people might see as a benefit. We didn’t have any competition, this led to hundreds of errors. Simply because there was no one to copy, or check ourselves against. Our process employs a serve the client method that was un-heard of in the landscape world. People didn’t design landscapes for free, and they certainly didn’t give consulting advice away.

People to this day remain skeptical of our design process, and we are often misunderstood. However, for those which have experienced the high cost of a Landscape Architect, or the small advice of a lawn care person trying to help. You can appreciate the great lengths we go through to bring you wonderful ideas at a very great price.

White Shovel now, is a power house of low maintenance designs, and systemized installation. Our team works round the clock to delver the best design ideas in the business. We have dedicated people to produce design ideas on photos of your home. Each client is designated with a “design rep” that walks them through choosing a design they will love forever. Separating our design and consulting from our pricing department, allows the client to experience exact pricing every time. No hype or price hikes for higher or lower paying clients. We offer systemized landscape design – install – and landscape clean up.

We hope you will consider getting ideas from us before beginning your next landscape project. I personally promise amazement, and I know you will enjoy looking at your home completely designed several ways during our design process.


31 Aug 2016

Landscaping Install Tip

Today, I want you to think about the uses for the shovel. Yes, the shovel. You need to think about the different ways the shovel “cannot” be used.

#1. Most people feel the shovel can be used to pry plants out of the ground. This is the leading cause of broken shovels. You can use the shovel to pry a little, but then you need to locate the roots that need to be cut. After you should be able to lift the plant free.

#2. You cannot use the shovel as a rake. If you have lots of dirt to spread, you can use the shovel to spread the dirt out. However, in order to get a clean, even finish you are going to need a good metal rake.

31 Aug 2016

Design Tip of the Day “Smart”

Be Smart… when looking at the area to be designed. Be sure to look at the background you are desinging against. Most people feel like the earth is the canvas when they are designing a landscape. Most of the time however, the front of your home is the canvas. Which means you can’t plant big trees in front of the windows. It also means you need to do things to make the front of the house look better.

25 Aug 2016

Removing Bermuda Grass “Hot Tip”

Bermuda grass removal from your landscape can be a daunting task. It seems the more you remove, the more it comes back. It’s like you can’t find the beginning, or the end. Maybe we can help with that!

#1. Start by raking back the mulch down to the dirt, and exposing all of the white roots from the Bermuda

#2. Next, use a shovel to dig on the outskirts of the area where the Bermuda is growing. Try to break up the soil, but don’t remove the dirt.

#3. Then, you will want to begin working the soil with your hands. Put on your gloves, and begin to break apart the soil with your hands. slowly removing the white roots. Making sure to go all the way to the end of each root.

#4. Once you’ve completed this, you can put the dirt and mulch back in the area.

#5. Over the next few weeks, look for any stragglers. If you see a green sprout coming up, repeat the process on that particular area. This should completely eliminate Bermuda from your beds.

Hope you enjoyed….