Q&A with Andy Swartzentruber, landscape designer for Best of the CRANDIC winner Iowa City Landscaping
What is your absolute favorite native tree and why?
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa). This is a prairie tree species with extremely thick and fire-resistant bark. Because of this, and because they are so drought-tolerant, they could compete with prairie grasses. They have a distinct “twisted” form as they mature and it’s not uncommon for this tree to reach heights of between 75 and 100 feet. They are a year-round beauty.
Which plant do you wish would disappear from landscaping in Iowa?
Crimson Pygmy Barberry (Berberis thunbergii). While the burgundy foliage is attractive and adds contrast, this plant is very thorny and therefore difficult for homeowners to maintain. This plant is also somewhat invasive which is another reason why I tend to avoid it.
Which public Iowa City Landscaping project are you most proud of?
As a company we are proud of the landscaping we installed at Hancher Auditorium in 2016. This project looks better each and every year as it begins to mature.
Is there one winter landscaping tip you can give our readers to prepare their yards for spring?
Take the winter months to evaluate your gardens and landscaping. Consider any changes or additions that might be needed. I would advise anyone interested in hiring a designer to plan and install a project to contact them during the winter months. This will ensure timely installation once warmer weather returns. It’s never too early to begin planning for spring.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 289.