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Innovative Garden Design and Plant Care: An Interview with Christie Dustman, Inc.

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Christie Dustman & Company, Inc. wants you to fall in love with your garden. We offer complete garden design services, as well as installation of plants and hardscaping such as patios, walkways, sitting walls and stepping stones. We want to translate your wants, needs and vision into a practical and aesthetically pleasing landscape. The creative process begins with your designer meeting you on-site to assess your property, discuss your goals and begin brainstorming. Preliminary layouts and designs are developed and finalized with your feedback and goals in mind, then plant selections and materials are added to complete the Master Plan. We then prepare the pricing options for bringing your garden to life.

With your completed Design Plan in hand, your garden is ready to be built. We subcontract qualified companies to implement all the features of your new landscape and oversee each step and make sure you know what is happening during the construction phase. Once your garden is installed, we offer aesthetic hand-maintenance to keep your garden beautiful and care-free.

How did you get into this line of work?

I've always loved plants. My father is an avid gardener and bonsai practitioner and does specialized pruning in his own business. I wanted a way to contribute to others by bringing beauty into their lives through their garden landscapes.

What should homeowners be looking for in a good landscaping company?

First of all, someone with integrity and a good track record. Ask if there are installed gardens that you can view to get a sense of the quality of work, and also a sense of who you will be working with and whether they share your aesthetic sensibilities. In working closely with someone to develop a design, you want to be sure you feel comfortable with the designer.

How often should the average homeowner receive garden maintenance?

We see a garden as more than the sum of its individual parts. As it matures, proportion, balance and crowding are important to modulate. The frequency of maintenance depends on the level of care desired. Some homeowners love the tailored look, which requires much more frequent weeding and pruning to keep plants from becoming shaggy; other homeowners like a more 'natural' look or would prefer bi-annual clean-ups in the Spring and Autumn. Our maintenance services are matched individually to a client's needs, gardening style, and budget, and we individually prune each plant based on what it needs instead of indiscriminately shearing all plants to keep them the same size as the last visit.

What is involved in the process of pruning?

Pruning is most simply deciding what to remove and what to leave. Pruning is wounding a plant so it needs to be done with thought and a long term goal. By removing certain branches, it makes other parts of the plant get bigger or change direction. By leaving certain branches, it gives the plant a certain shape and size. For me, pruning is like sculpting. I can see the plant as it is now and how it could be. I then make cuts to achieve this long term goal.

Do you have a specific design style or does it alter for each customer's needs?

What we offer is a personal and personable approach to an art form that very few people can fully manage themselves. Each new landscape is brought forth with a fresh eye and attention to that particular client's needs and goals, as well as any inherent challenges in the site. Our designs are unique to the client, although our style may be thought of as more flowing and graceful, rather than the more conservative approach of symmetry and rectilinear conceptions.

What sets your business apart from other comparable companies? Do you believe you do anything better/different?

I believe that I place equal weight on making a landscape functional and beautiful. Many times it is easy and irresponsible to just make a landscape beautiful. This can involve overplanting and not thinking through how the space will be used long term. For instance, a patio can be too small, too far away from the back door, not inviting and/or not big enough for a table, chairs and grill. This is the sort of hindsight mistake that I avoid by carefully thinking through the goals for the design first and then how to make it truly lovely.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

To get a sense of our style and see some examples of our landscapes, we love potential clients to look through our website: www.christiedustman.com.

We can be contacted through the website via email, or interested individuals can call us at our office in Roslindale: 617.327.0330.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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