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Interview with Alicia Bell: Tips for Creating a Beautiful and Sustainable Denver Landscape


Alicia Bell Denver Landscape Designer

Creating a stunning landscape that enhances your home's curb appeal while promoting sustainability can seem like a daunting task. To guide us through this journey, we turned to Alicia Bell, a seasoned Denver landscape designer based in Colorado. With her expertise in designing outdoor spaces that are both beautiful and eco-friendly, Alicia shares invaluable tips and insights that will help you transform your yard into a sustainable sanctuary. Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to revamp your existing landscape, Alicia's advice will provide the inspiration and knowledge you need to create a harmonious and environmentally conscious outdoor haven.


 

Form: Alicia, I've worked with you for awhile now but I would love to know how long you've been a Denver landscape designer for?


Alicia Bell: My whole life, as I grew up in the family landscape business. It's a beautiful industry with great personalities and endless inspiration. 


Form: I love that you've been doing this your whole life. That means you've had a lot of experience and time to gain this knowledge. So lets get into it...


We all know that curb appeal is important to the value of our home. Having a beautiful place to escape to makes all the difference in our hectic lives. I'm curious, with so much that happens in a landscaping project, how do you get started? Are there certain questions you ask a client or are there specific aspects you're looking at when it comes to the landscape?


Alicia Bell: I begin a project with a plot plan/survey as the base for the landscape design. I evaluate site conditions: elevations, mature trees, materials to repurpose, and site drainage prior to beginning a design. I meet with clients for a Schematic Presentation with conversation to hear their thoughts prior to jumping into the design phase. 


Form: What are some key considerations for landscaping in Colorado's climate and terrain?


Alicia Bell: Colorado's high plains climate is quite the challenge in comparison to much of the USA. Factors to consider include: freeze/thaw cycles, spring storms, high elevations, and drought conditions. Hiring a professional in Colorado's climate is highly advised as we have seen many changes in climate, insect epidemics, storm patterns, and varying outdoor style and design. Selecting materials is a time consuming commitment, for example choosing the best plant for the specific N/S/E/W exposure, paver product to match the existing exterior, patio size to accommodate furniture and entertaining, and so much more! 



Alicia Bell Denver Landscape Designer



Form: I know the struggles of finding the right plants for the right locations, many plants have lost their lives to this learning curve! Can you provide examples of native plants and materials that thrive in Colorado's environment?


Alicia Bell: I sure can! It depends on the direction the plant will face and the irrigation available. A resource I point clients towards to see some options for full sun and partial sun plants is called Plant Select. There are many great material options for retaining walls, patio pavers, stairs, low voltage lighting, pergolas and fire features- depending on the sun exposure, soil conditions, and budget.


Form: There is a lot of talk about pollinators in Colorado, what plants help bring pollinators to your yard?


Alicia Bell: Yes, pollinators come in many shapes and sizes- fragrance and color are great attractants. Perennials and shrubs with recurrent blooms are a great way to encourage pollinators throughout the summer seasons. I have a couple favorites:  Hyssop and the Bloomeran


Form: I've also learned that having Colorado native plants and pollinators helps with water conservation. How do you approach water conservation and sustainable landscaping practices in Colorado?


Alicia Bell: I work with clients to find plants that appeal to them with low water needs. Oftentimes, these lower water plants simultaneously require less maintenance as well. Reducing Bluegrass Lawn will serve property owners dividends in the future. Utilizing existing elements onsite or preserving areas of the landscape can be a more sustainable approach to some projects. Working with skilled installation companies will also reduce the amount of waste a project accrews and the ability to plan and prepare to preserve areas/elements.


Alicia Bell Denver Landscape Designer

Form: What strategies do you recommend for maximizing outdoor living spaces, particularly in Colorado's variable weather conditions? Do you have a favorite brand/designer for outdoor furniture?


Alicia Bell: A strategy for outdoor living spaces is to assess the sun exposure and to find a comfortable space or create the comfortable space to host a dinner party mid-summer. Adequate shade is going to be crucial for enjoying a space during the hot summer months. There are many options for shade: pergolas, trees, shades, etc. The outdoor furniture offerings have grown and I have a couple high quality favorites: Castelle and Gloster


Form: As a designer, I not only want the outdoors to have function but to keep form front of mind too. How do you ensure that the Denver landscape design complements the architectural style of the home?


Alicia Bell: Matching style and theme is one of my favorite challenges- I tend to bring samples to find a match for textures and colors. I review the work of the interior designer/architect/builder to get a feel for the style and work to guide the theme outdoors. I value a strong relationship between indoor and outdoor space for a continuous atmosphere.



Alicia Bell Denver Landscape Designer


Form: How do you prioritize the client's aesthetic preferences while also considering the practical aspects of maintenance and long-term sustainability?


Alicia Bell: What a great question! Design is quite the combination, right? Balancing Client goals with environmental restraints and desired budget can require more planning than expected- another reason to hire someone whom you feel comfortable. I strive to be honest with my clients. If there is a desired material or plant that I know will not thrive... I will say so. I am a resource to my Clients: regularly engaging product representatives, installation contractors, craftsmen, and plant experts to protect the longevity of a Client's investment.


Form: I know we've talked about water conservation but another big issue in Colorado are the wildfires. How do you incorporate elements of fire mitigation and wildfire prevention into landscape design plans?


Alicia Bell: Fire mitigation is important on many of my projects- I will contact local fire departments for resources they have available and research the local HOA/ city landscape guidelines. Some of these things include using fire grade materials for your roof and fire-resistant siding on your home. Then keeping your trees trimmed and healthy along with any other plants in your yard/garden will all make a difference.


 

I like to think of the landscape of your home as one more room that can be designed and created to fit your needs. Whether you want to host gatherings, grow your own vegetables, or create a retreat to escape to after a long days work, there are a million ways you can design your landscape to fit the function while looking beautiful. To work directly with Alicia, check out her website here. Ready to make some changes to the inside of your home or patio space? Book a consult with me today!

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