Community Blog

Landscape + Garden Design

Landscape & Garden Design Expert
Joanie Burns
Landscape + Garden Design

For over 20 years, Joanie has designed and installed gardens for residential as well as commercial properties. She meets a client, assesses their needs, provides a complete estimate and awaits their reply. Sometimes it’s a foundation planting that has over the years, taken over the front of the house and sometimes, it’s a brand new house in need of a full planting.  Joanie loves taking an existing garden, removing all the plants and replanting the ones that are worthy.  As much as she’d like to save all of the plants, some have overstayed their welcome or just haven’t been pruned/maintained properly to keep them in shape.

Every garden is different, some clients want to be involved and know exactly what they want to install and some trust me to paint the perfect picture to accentuate their home.  Joanie spends a lot of time at the nurseries hand picking every tree, shrub and perennial. As a designer, it’s important to know how each plant matures, interacts with the neighboring plants, Shapes, sizes color and textures are equally important when planting a garden. Over time, the garden will mature and provide the client with years of enjoyment.

Joanie looks forward to sharing her gardening projects from planters to plantations from all around the country with you all. If there’s something specific you’d like to see posts and pics about let us know via the contact page.

Meet her able assistants: Tulip and Rhody (Rhodedendron):


Perennials:  Plants that will return year after year.   Every 3 - 4 years, you can divide your perennials and either use the extra or give some to your neighbor.  The goal in a perennial bed is to have enough so they shade out the weeds.  In the beginning, they will be spaced so they have room to thrive. Over time they will spread out.  Some perennials are much faster growers than others and will spread quickly.  Try to avoid those in your beds.  The plants I tend to choose are tough and reproduce at a medium rate and do not require a sprinkler system.  If you haven’t had rain in a week or two, get out the hose and water away.

Annuals:  They are best used in containers.  For containers, you need three things, the thrill (in the center) for height, the fill (around the thrill) and the spill (drapey plants around the fill) for the edge of the container.  Miracle Grow or Osmoscote help feed them throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. People do use annuals for their front beds, ie. impatiens, I can’t remember the name.  I prefer to use carpet roses which are perennials.  They stay low, add color and return year after year with minimal effort.  Some pruning may need to be done but overall, once you plant them, you’re good to go. They come in a small assortment of colors, pale yellow, graduations of pink and white.


I prefer a a square lattice fence over a solid fence.  I feel it’s more neighborly.  The ability to see through, let air flow, have vines grown through it are all great elements for a garden.  Over time, this bed will fill in giving you different heights, shapes and textures.  The goal of every garden is to vary the colors, and heights.  There’s nothing worse than a horizontal garden.

The next three photos are various stages of a formal rose garden.  Symmetry, structured by hardscape to enhance the sharp, rectangular beds.  Once the roses are planted, they soften the entire area.  I’m a fan of symmetry. I find it very calming looking out over this garden.  The light throughout the day changes the mood of this garden.  It’s also a great spot for outdoor entertaining.


I learned a while ago that Granville, New York is the slate capitol of the world. Well maybe not the world but maybe the northeast.  Anyway, they provide most of the material for slate roofs. It’s 30 minutes from my house.

When I bought this little gem, the property had 9 too many trees. On .14 of an acre, they took up a lot of space.  The backyard had most of the nine and one was 1’ from the sliding door. It was massive.  Once the trees were gone, it was time to head to Granville to make a deal with a defunct quarry. The large pieces of slate were loaded into a truck and brought across state lines to my humble abode in Manchester.

There was quite a bit of prep work. Grading, adding pea stone as a base then placing each 500lb. Piece of slate in the perfect spot.  I added some soil and grass seed and voila, I had grass grout lines. It was short lived and in the end more pea stones in the grout lines was more practical.  Since this photo was taken, I edged the patio with carpet roses, hostas and low, ornamental grasses. It’s now a sweet spot to kick back and relax.

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Joanie Burns

Joan Burns grew up in Queens with 55 families on her street. In the sixth grade, she moved to Purchase where she dropped her accent “in a hurry” and fell in love with Trusty Red Rusty. For one year, when she was sixteen, her family lived in Iran. It was an adventure that would inspire a lifetime of travel.