Welcome to Grove Landscaping!

Doug GroveLet us help you create a beautiful, personal landscape, one that enhances your home and your lifestyle while at the same time increasing your property value.

We specialize in custom residential landscaping. We are well-qualified to design your new surroundings, or completely renovate your existing landscape.

We’re not happy until you are!

- Doug Grove, President

Perennials for old fashioned gardens


Perennials for old fashioned gardens

Phlox, David

Davidii phlox

In Northfield, we do a lot of landscaping around older homes. I remember when I was younger, my Mom and Dad would take me to Grandma’s house. I’ll never forget how much I enjoyed looking at all the all the flowers in her garden. (A sign of things to come?). Grandma Smith would use a lot of them for flower arranging. Grandpa was a pastor, and she would make arrangements for the church alter every Sunday.

Fern, Ostrich

Ostrich fern

Other than a few shrubs around the front porch, I can’t recall seeing many houses “formally” landscaped back then. But almost everyone had a flower or vegetable garden of some sort.  Anyway, I like to incorporate some of the more old-fashioned varieties of perennials in my landscape plans. With the tremendous rise in popularity of perennials, a lot of new varieties are finding their way to the market, which makes the truly old fashioned perennials harder to find. I think too many of the older homes are over-landscaped,  like they tried too hard too make it look “contemporary”. To my way of thinking, it takes away from the uniqueness of the older home by covering up some of its best features.

Convallaria, Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Of course there are the old standbys of peonies, hollyhocks, and lily-of-the-valley, but take a look at the list below. Hopefully, you will find a few that would suite your Grandma’s fancy.

Monarda, Raspberry Wine

Monarda, Raspberry Wine

Beebalm (Monarda),     Aster Bellflower (Campanula), Bleeding-heart (Dicentra),      Blue Bells (Mertensia), Daylily (Hemerocallis),      Delphinium, Forget-me-nots (Myosotis,)      Hollyhock (Althaea), Foloves (Digitalis),      Gas Plant (Dictamnus),      Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema), Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria),     Lupines, (Lupinus), Monkshood (Aconitum),      Pansies (Viola),       Phlox (creeping and standard garden variety),        Ostrich fern,           Sedum (Both groundcover and var. ‘Autumn Joy’),  Peony (Paeonia),      Primrose (Primula),      Tiger Lily (Lilium).





A Garden Pathway


Ground covers are making themselves at home  around  a flagstone pathway as it makes  its way to the gate at the far end of the garden. We needed to fit this garden between the house and nearby driveway (out of view to the left of the picture).     A picket fence and some large arborvitae trunks outside of the fence  form an “outdoor room”  and also separate  the driveway from the garden.

We used ajuga,  lamiastrum,and lamium for the ground covers, along with some hostas that we recycled from from her garden in the back yard. We also made use of ,grasses, annual geraniums, and perennial salvia. In the front left corner you can see part of a bird feeding station that is visible form the kitchen.

I  designed an entrance that used that brick pavers to lead through a gated picket fence to make a nice lead-in to the back entrance, which was recently added on to the house.

After you come through the gate, the garden is on your left. A trellis placed at the corner will have a clematis growing on it to soften the abruptness of the deck meeting the corner of the house.

Why are the leaves on my tree turning yellow?

Yellow leaves can be a sign of iron deficiency. Chlorosis is a common problem of many acid loving trees and shrubs in Minnesota, particularly in urban areas. Chlorosis is caused by a lack of micronutrients, resulting in the inability of the plant to produce chlorophyll, which is essential to the plant’s survival. It can cause the decline of the plant and eventually its’ death. The leaves show the first signs of chlorosis, which will start to turn a pale green or light yellow. It will start out in blotches, progressing to a bright yellow and spreading to the whole leaf, except the veins.

The plant that gets the most attention concerning this problem is the Pin Oak. It is commonly found in trees improperly planted in heavy clay or poorly drained soils which lock up the micronutrients, most commonly iron. The lack of magnesium, zinc, or copper can also cause the same symptoms. Construction damage is also a common cause due to soil compaction and root damage.



Chlorosis is a sign that something is wrong underneath the ground, and not in the leaves. . Planting the tree in the right spot is the best “cure” The soil should be acid, in the ph range of 5-6.5. Avoid planting the Eastern strain of Pin Oak. The northern pin oak is more resistant to chlorosis.

If doing a new construction project, make sure the roots are protected against compaction or damage.

The soil can be acidified, but not all at once. Drill a hole about 2’ apart and 18” deep, and fill it with a mix of soil sulpher and sand. You will need to repeat this treatment in the spring and fall, continuing the treatment even after the leaves regain their normal color, because the sulpher can leach through the soil.

Spraying the leaves with an iron chelate solution will give the leaves a quick green-up, but is not a good long term solution because it doesn’t address the real problem, which is in the soil.


Landscaping a Small Space

Designing and landscaping small spaces is one of my favorite things to do. I tend be be somewhat of a private person myself, so I enjoy creating intimate, private spaces. There is something therapeutic about being outside, yet having that feeling that you are still “in your room”. Sort of like relaxing in your den or your favorite chair after a long day. There are a lot of things to consider when landscaping a small space, but I will hit a few of the basics

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A well designed space can be the difference between actually enjoying your time in the space, or just looking at it from your window, wishing you would have spent your money on that new hardwood floor. .

The first thing to do is to ask yourself some questions. Don’t forget to consider practicality as well as esthetics.”What am I going to use the area for? Entertaining? Do I just need a place to put my grill or do I also want room for patio furniture and a hot tub?” Questions like this will help you determine the size, the location (a grill would normally be close to the kitchen, for example) and how you will access it. What features would you like to see? How about a water feature, such as a pond or bubbling rock? Do you want a paver patio, a deck, or just a small area of grass? If you need a walkway will it be flagstone, pavers, or any of the new concrete products available? In the photo above, the large piece of flagstone to the right of the sidewalk will be where the grill goes. The two large boulders integrated into the sidewalk and the flower pots do nice job of framing the door to the three season porch.

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Just like a room in your house, your outdoor room also has walls, a floor, and a ceiling. The walls could be a hedge, your house, a fence, or even a low  flagstone wall. The ceiling could be an arbor, the canopy of a large tree, or even the sky. The floor, can be composed of any number of things, including a  patio, a walkway, planting beds and even your lawn. Consider how you want to incorporate these elements in to your space to create your outdoor room. In the job we did in photo at the left, the walls are a lattice fence, the house, and a small detached garage. The sky is the canopy of a shade tree, and the floor is combination of a paver patio, a raised planting bed, some lawn, and a flagstone walkway. The raised planting bed could also be considered part of the wall. (Click on photo to enlarge)

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Don’t be afraid to consider breaking up your room into into smaller segments. This can create interest and also give you the feeling that it is actually a bit larger by creating depth. Make sure you keep it in scale, however. For instance, don’t use pieces of flagstone in your walkway that are too large, or a plant that that has large leaves instead of one with

a finer texture that will look better in a narrow planting bed. In these photos I used a walkway, raised planting beds, and a small patch of lawn to break up the space. The lattice fence screens the area from a neighboring daycare center. The lattice-work creates privacy without feeling too boxed in.

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In the lower left photo, the boulder in the foreground and the trunks of the Pagoda Dogwood in the background add a feeling of depth.The Pagoda Dogwood forces your eye to follow the sidewalk around it to the entrance, adding an illusion of a larger area.The wooden steps are actually quite close to where I was standing when I took this picture.
Right: A little serendipity never hurt anybody! In this picture, a small, old stature my client picked up is combined with a birdbath. You can find them hiding on a low stone seat-wall in among the ferns.

The photo at the below is the view of our pond from our bedroom window, and shows what can be done with a problem area. The pond itself is 11′ by 16′



Building a timber-framed step system and boulder wall




The steep slope along both sides of this home really restricted access to the back yard. That plus the fact that the  deep shade that covered the area most of the day made for quite a “slippery slope” when it rained. We built timber framed steps and put in a dark blue dresser trap rock inside the frame. In order to keep any soil or gravel from washing out through the bottom of the timber on to the next step down,we installed a weep barrier (usually of 2×6 treated  wood) right underneath each timber step.

The upper lawn originally started to slope down hill at about the corner of the house, where it turned in to weeds and brambles. Our client wanted to neaten up the area and extend the yard, so we brought in several loads of good black dirt and extended the lawn about 230 feet where we constructed a boulder wall where it dropped off.



Almost done with the wall

A Crafty Boulder Wall

After opening up their back yard to accommodate a new deck, patio and future hot tub, some wall construction was in order.  This home is located in the country, and the the field stone pictured here occurs naturally in the area, so it fit the bill nicely. We always like to use materials that  are native to the area if we can.

On walls of this size, I like to use stones that are consistent  in size and install them with the flat side out. Although it takes longer to construct, I it gives the wall a more “hand crafted”, quality look.

The wall is backed by a thick layer of felt-like material , which both keeps the soil from settling and the face of the wall clean. Behind the felt is a 12″ layer of gravel that drains the water to prevent water pressure from building up (possibly pushing the wall out), and down to a drain tile  that empties out at the end of the wall and flows downhill, away from the house.



Timber steps, field stone walls, and some extra parking

New house, steep slope

Fill for the new parking

A spot to park a third car. An easier way to get from the upper side deck down to the back yard. Less mowing on the steepslope along the side of the house.  All three conditions were issues that were addressed for these homeowners in their newly built country home.   We started the process by hauling in fill to create level spot for the extra parking. We then used brick pavers  to construct a landing  next to the upper deck and walkway along the side of the garage. We then installed a timber framed  step system with three landings, which fit the contour of the hill, and also provided “resting” places. with the intent of putting a small wooden bench on the larger landing.  The owner had a pile of field stone from the basement excavation, so we recycled them and constructed some low boulder retaining walls which also serve as planters. We also installed another larger wall (not pictured) to support the raised grade  along the garage for the parking space. We decided to make the newly leveled area larger than was needed to park a car, in order to plant shrubs, perennials, and a Japanese tree lilac to visually soften things up and “anchor” the wall.

"The Hill"

"The steps"






Many hands make light work



A while back I drew up a landscape plan for Emmaus church after they had  constructed a new addition to accommodate their growing congregation. The plan included birch and crabapple  trees, shrubs, a paver patio, and flower beds for several varieties of annuals and perennials. Grove Landscaping crews did the  heavy machine work, patio construction, and planted the larger trees (clump birch and crabapples). A church day was scheduled to install the remainder of the plan. Several volunteers  showed up that Saturday and did a great job of finishing the landscaping. They planted the shrubs, laid sod, installed a drain tile along the parking lot and in the back yard, pruned, planted annuals and perennials, moved a large boulder, and spread shredded bark. It was finished in one day, which shows you how hard everyone worked!






Tone Down a High Front Porch

A low flagstone wall enclosing a raised planting bed seemed to be a natural fit as I considered options for for front of this home. The  height of the front porch and concrete steps leading up to it made the front entrance look heavy and imposing, and needed some toning down. The lower wall comes out 6-7 feet beyond the steps to help push them visually back, helping to minimize their size. We chose to leave the
existing flowering crab, which gave us a chance to leave it on the lower level and have its own small space. We also integrated two large flat stones into the wall to add some  points of interest. A magnolia on the far corner of the house helps balance off the crab tree. Because of the raised grade, we found it necessary to install window wells as needed for the basement windows. The area under the crabapple and along the driveway will be planted with low ground covers

Build a small burm to add interest to your lawn



Before we could landscape the back of this home on a corner lot, we had to solve a drainage problem due to inadequate sloping for channeling rain water away from the foundation, and a heavy clay soil resulting in poor drainage. We installed catch basins at the bottom of the two downspouts at both corners of the house, and used non-perforated drain tile to carry excess water away from the foundation to a point about half way to the back property line, where it exited onto the back half of the lawn and continued on the surface to a common swale that ran between the two properties. We were then able to begin our landscaping.

In addition to planting along the foundation I planned in two berms at each of the two property corners, plus the berm you see pictured here, which I decided to sweep out and around an existing red maple tree. When the plants mature, this berm will do a good job of the tall corner and with it’s steeply pitched roof .We  included a small clump magnolia tree, native-style grasses, butterfly bushes (Asclepias), yellow coneflowers, and ground cover. A large  glacial boulder was included  for added interest. The plywood is one of two “plywood paths” that we laid down to protect the lawn from the loader tracks we used when placing the large stone.