Award-winning landscaper a natural at work
MINDEN – If you landscape your property with nature in mind, you’ll reap what you sow. That is one of the professional philosophies that won Carson Valley landscaper Jim Rowley three awards from the Nevada Landscape Association for a residential water feature he designed in 1999.
Rowley, a landscape contractor and owner of Naturally Beautiful Gardens, was awarded the president’s award, the best residential landscape award and the best water feature award at the association’s annual awards banquet in Reno last November.
“I knew we had a pretty good chance to win at least one award, and I was thrilled when that happened,” Rowley said. “After the second award, my wife looked over at me and said ‘Are you OK?’ and by the third, I was feeling sheepish.”
Rowley said the Douglas County private residence site he won the awards for landscaping already had some great natural features.
“Going in, we knew that it was going to be something special, and we left most of the 15 acres natural,” he said. “It was a very unusual site and we were just trying to do our best. The general contractor on the job, John Ottman of Ottman Construction, encouraged me to do my very best. A lot of general contractors might have told me to speed up and cut corners, but John would always ask me ‘Is that going to be good enough?’ His commitment to excellence was one of the keys to how well it turned out.”
Rowley, 46, has been landscaping since 1972, when he first went to work as a gardener in the Bay Area. After a few years, he decided he liked it enough to become a licensed and make it a career. He and his wife, Carol, 48, have been in Douglas County since 1994.
Currently, his business is by word-of-mouth and he’s plenty busy – probably from his philosophy that gardening naturally is the most logical way to go.
“I almost never use pesticides, and I like to use natural plants that fit into the site’s habitat,” Rowley said. “Native plants bring in things that you wouldn’t see without them – they make it come alive with the animals that come in, and from that you create a living, natural habitat.”
Rowley said that he adapted his no-pesticide policy after thinking about the consequences of using noxious chemicals on wildlife as well as himself.
“One day I thought, ‘What if you spray a bug and a bird comes along and eats it?” he said. “I also wondered if I wanted to spend my life around poisons. The truth is, very often the biological controls are more effective in the long run, anyway, and bugs are critical for the food chain. They’re the bottom, but don’t forget they pollinate.”
For do-it-yourself landscapers, Rowley suggests taking a good look at your site and make the design you choose appropriate to the architecture of the home and the neighborhood as well as the site.
“Don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole,” he said. “And use natural landscaping whenever possible. One trend, which can be nice if used properly, is the ornamental grasses, and I also like to see more low maintenance color – for that I often try to convince my clients to add bulbs.”
Rowley said the low organic matter in our Carson Valley soil requires plenty of amendments, and starting with wildflowers can be a beautiful and economic beginning.