New Orleans Landscaping & Pools: special advertising sectionThis is the season Louisianans like to play in the garden, plant annuals and perennials and spruce up their landscaping. That has always been the case in this part of the country, but since the 2005 hurricanes, for many people the job has been more challenging and time-consuming. A number of professionals in the area make it their business to beautify residential and commercial environments. Whether it is simply a small back yard garden, or an entire landscape, including pools, outdoor kitchens and extended living areas, area residents benefit by the creative talent of outdoor specialists.

“Emotional stress is at a peak right now,” says Beverly Katz, owner of Exterior Designs, Inc. “People tell me I’m a ‘landscape therapist.’ They just need something better in their lives right now, someplace they can go in their home where there is not all this construction constantly. People want things cleaned up immediately. They want cleanliness, simplicity, not a whole lot of busy plants. I find a lot of people like monochromatic colors, something soft, comfortable, with fresh soil and mulch.”

Katz should know. She has designed and installed some of the most imaginative gardens, courtyards, pools, arbors and landscaping in the city. Katz is a licensed landscape contractor and horticulturist, and a regional board member for the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Included on her staff is a certified landscape architect, and a qualified team of architectural and engineering consultants.

Katz, who speaks to groups about landscaping and outdoor design, empathizes with her clients, since she, too, suffered extensive damages after Katrina. “I had six feet of water and my business was wiped out,” she says. “So I know that to create something beautiful in your yard really helps people mentally. People understand nature.”

Increasingly, homeowners and business owners are incorporating river rock and flagstone into their landscape designs. Swanson’s Stone Yard supplies everything from gravel to 2,000-pound rocks, granite, rare red rock and even stone veneers that go on walls.

“Right now, everybody’s just trying to get things back to the way they were before,” says Frank Swanson, who co-owns the company with his wife, Cheryl. “What’s different now is that people want things bigger and wider than they used to be. Everybody is starting with a clean slate, so they’re adding a lot of elements they may have wanted to add for a long time.”

Swanson’s Stone Yard works in a wide geographic area, from Mount Herman, outside of Kentwood, La., to Biloxi, the Florida parishes and New Orleans.

“One thing that seems to be hotter than ever now is the outdoor kitchen,” Swanson says. “Everybody wants something, even if it’s as simple as a barbecue, or something really fancy. We use really nice faux stone around the bottoms, and fine tile counter tops.”

Swanson’s deals with a lot of contractors, and offers contractor pricing, but individuals should feel free to shop their West Bank location, as well as the Hammond location that offers a full line of accessories, including bird feeders, wind chimes, fountains and more.

Swanson’s specializes in design and construction of all types of water features, including ponds, waterfalls and streams.

Even in areas of town that did not flood, New Orleanians are clamoring for new garden designs and expanded landscaping. Landscape Images, Ltd. has been designing Uptown and Metairie residential and commercial landscapes for more than 23 years. 

“I think the storms just opened doors for people to rethink their gardens,” says Marianne Mumford, who co-owns the business with her husband Alan. Both are landscape architects. “We’ve been extremely busy and a lot of that just has to do with people who have decided this is the time to re-do things.”

Landscape Images, Ltd. is a design/build company that only implements what it designs. “We also do full service maintenance. It really is our goal to preserve a design, and it is so important to understand the direction the garden needs to develop,” Marianne says.

Landscape Images, Ltd. travels to the potential client’s home for consultation, and then develops a full-scale rendering, or in some cases, more informal sketches. “We work a lot of different ways,” says Marianne. “We’re flexible and in tune with people’s needs. Customer communications is a major emphasis in our business.”

The company is currently working on a volunteer basis for the Green Charter Middle School Edible Garden project, and has done some restoration work at City Park.

One of the most critical elements in outdoor design is lighting. Decorator Shoppe in Metairie offers outdoor lighting for landscapes and pools. The showroom features innovative ideas to illuminate outdoor living and recreation areas. Included are hanging lights, mounted fixtures, electric and gas selections, recessed lighting and a wide assortment of artistically inspired landscape lighting.

Decorator Shoppe works with decorators and contractors, but the retail store is  open to the public.  The store features lamps, mirrors and fans, as well as the full assortment of lighting.

Contact Information:
Exterior  504/866-0276
Swanson’s Stone Yard: 3944 Peters Road, New Orleans – 367-2339;
14203 University Ave., Hammond – 985/543-0703

Landscape Images, 504/734-8380
Decorator Shoppe: 5029 Veterans Blvd., Metairie – 504/888-2801