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Designing Your Ideal Garden: an Interview with Jason Minshew of J Bird and Company

By Jason Minshew

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

JBird and Company is a landscape design and gardening service based in Austin, TX owned by Jason Minshew and his wife Annie Taylor. The company was started in 2008. Between now and then we have weathered the topsy turvy economy, drought, heavy rains, and strong winds but we are still standing strong!

JBird and Company offers a full range of design, installation, and maintenance services. Since 1995 Jason has worked in the horticulture industry. Over the years he has worked with Austin's most sophisticated gardeners and has become well respected for his knowledge of plants, growing techniques, and strong design sense.

In a quick overview, please explain the steps of designing and renovating your garden from start to finish:

Draw a scale drawing. The process then goes like this: Clearing, leveling and/or grading, hardscape, bed preparation, plant trees & shrubs, irrigation & lights. Then plant your perennials and ground covers. Top dress with mulch and water, water, water!

What are a few ways one can plan for this process?

1. Get a survey done of your property or find an existing one. 2. Find gardens and/or pictures of gardens that you like that can help the landscaper understand the style of design and plants that you are attracted to. 3. Watch the light in the places that you want to plant. Record what time the sun first hits and when the place(s) go back into shade. Watch and record the light through the different seasons to help you choose the right plants.

What regular maintenance is required for someone who wishes to upkeep their garden's appeal?

Regular maintenance depends on the type of garden you want. Lawns, annual beds, and vegetable gardens require more maintenance, as in watering and general T.L.C. Native plants require less water and horticultural maintenance but if you want to have a tidy space you still need to keep up the maintenance, such as weeding and cutting back. A garden needs a gardener or someone doing maintenance, once there is no gardener (or no maintenance) it will go back to nature.

What suggestions do you have for someone whose soil is not ideal for gardening?

Soil science is very interesting and the best thing you can do is read Gardening Success with Difficult Soils by Scott Ogden. The Natural Gardener has an excellent selection of soil amendments and a knowledgeable staff. One can also get their soil analyzed.

In your personal opinion, what is your favorite garden feature, and why?

I love to see food growing in gardens. It is beautiful and healthy and a great way to use the space and our resources. Eating out of your own garden or orchard is so satisfying on many levels.

What is the best way for people to reach you and or your company?

Please contact us directly. Jason's Mobile Phone is 512-799-6723. Email is fine too, jbirdlandscape@gmail.com.

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