Throughout the year, we’ll be highlighting notable women in our community. We want to spotlight those who are shaping where we live and giving back to our neighborhood. Do you know someone you think we should feature? Let us know in the comments!
As we slide into the warmer temperatures and longer days of summer, we find our minds drifting into vacation mode. And, thanks to Jill Risberg, the President of The Whole Blooming Landscape, you can create a personal oasis to rival any vacation in your very own yard. We sat down with this month’s Notable Woman to talk about landscaping trends, dream projects, and running a small business.
How did you get into landscape architecture and design and how long have you been in the field?
I initially started out studying to be a forester. I was a huge plant geek and was always doing projects at home and with family members who were gardeners. A friend noticed that I was always drawing something and suggested I should switch to Landscape Architecture. Not really knowing what it was at the time, I did some research, switched majors and the rest is history. I moved to Charlotte after graduating from Rutgers with a degree in landscape architecture in 1989. I’ve been working in the industry since then and settled into the design/build end around 1998.
What services do you offer through The Whole Blooming Landscape?
Why the whole blooming landscape, of course! Seriously, we do just about everything. Landscape design, hardscape installation, drainage, grading, planting, irrigation, low voltage lighting, water features, horticultural maintenance, and even mowing.
At a high level, what does the process look like when a client comes to you with a new project request?
All projects start the same way with a client intake form. Our yards are very personal spaces and we try to treat each project with attention and care. We start with an initial phone conversation with either myself or our senior designer, Adrienne Thompson. At that time, a meeting is scheduled for a consultation to discuss the project further. From there, we either create a proposal, or if it is a larger project go to the design phase. While master planning for the entire property is our forte, we do work on smaller projects, such as re-doing small beds, planting a tree or installing annuals in beds and containers.
What are some common landscaping mistakes that homeowners can make when a professional isn’t involved?
Piece mealing things together without a plan can end up causing problems down the road and costing more money in the long run. We can advise and help suggest the best way to phase projects so that it works smoothly with things you might do in the future as well as current conditions. We can also take into account grading and drainage issues and the proper placement of plants for light and moisture requirements. We spend a lot of time talking people out of having lawn in deep shade! A master plan isn’t always necessary, but if you have future plans that include an addition or a pool, we strongly suggest having one done so that there are no surprises, and you can phase your project to enjoy your yard for years to come.
Landscaping is so much more than maintaining a yard. People are truly looking for outdoor living spaces. What current hardscape trends or client requests are you seeing more of these days?
With our current stay-at-home situation, people are really taking advantage of creating an outdoor oasis. The most common is enlarging or creating and improving patio space, adding covered porches and decks, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits/fireplaces. The yard has really become an extension of the home, and clients want to utilize all of it!
What about softscape trends and requests?
The big request is always low maintenance! I think there is also a trend now for people to be more responsible with their plant choices and less reliant on irrigation systems and horticultural chemicals. We are getting requests for native plants and are trying to guide people to non-invasive pest and disease resistant cultivars that fit into our ecosystem. We still get requests for lawn, but are also finding quite a few clients that are switching to a synthetic lawn for a low maintenance, environmentally-friendly option.
Where do you find inspiration for your landscape designs?
Everywhere! The natural world is a great place to observe how to create inviting spaces. Of course, looking at the work of other designers and visiting private and public spaces that are well designed are part of it, too.
What would be a dream project of yours?
Being able to work with a client from the very beginning of a project through to completion. Helping with site analysis to site the house or addition properly, creating a proper grading and drainage plan to minimize issues post-construction. Working to create an outdoor living space that flows with the style of the house.
Do you have any tips for someone who wants to find more enjoyment from their outdoor space?
Before doing any projects spend some time in your yard as it is. Figure out what you like and what you don’t. Think about spaces you enjoy being in and how they might apply to your space.
As the president of a small business, what is one piece of advice or lesson you have learned that you can share with other aspiring female leaders in our community?
Don’t undervalue your time and talent. If someone doesn’t respect your knowledge and what you have to offer then they aren’t the right client for you. Spend your time working with clients that value your knowledge and the service you provide.
To learn more and see more of Jill’s work, visit the Whole Blooming Landscape website.