Meet John McGuire

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John McGuire – Landscape Design Professional

Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you study landscape design?
Since 2015 my summers have consisted of landscaping. In 2019 I applied to Cincinnati State for Landscape Horticulture and Sustainable Horticulture. When I wasn’t landscaping, I was in school and if I wasn’t in school, I was landscaping.

Many designers have a moment when they fall in love with designing with plants. When did you know this was what you wanted to do for your career?
For me it wasn’t so much a moment, but a realization that I had a knowledge and understanding of landscapes and plants that I could share with others. I find pleasure in helping people create the landscape that they dream of, one that’s aesthetically pleasing and functioning within the natural environment. I believe society has lost touch with the natural world, and if I can create a landscape for a client that would make them more apt to go outside and enjoy the beauty around them, I believe I have done my job.

What landscapes inspire you and why?
Two landscapes styles I find the most inspiring are xeriscapes and edible landscapes.

Xeriscaping is a design concept requiring little or no irrigation and maintenance. Typically, it is used in arid regions but can be adopted in Ohio as well. Many plants used in xeriscape designs align with plants used for pollinator gardens. By using rock elements with drought resistant plants, you can create a ‘Southwest’ style feel to your landscape. My favorite plant for a xeriscape is Ohio’s only native cacti, Eastern Prickly Pear.

Edible Landscaping is a design concept that uses plants that are aesthetically pleasing and offer some sort of edible resource that can be consumed (Fruits, greens, nuts, herbs, vegetables, fungi, and more). Before American colonization, indigenous people lived off the land, it was their grocery store. Wild edible plants are up to 2-3 times more nutrient dense than store bought produce, and can offer an abundance of food, which can be stored or preserved and used in later months. By having your own edible landscape, you can save money, eat healthy, and live a sustainable life.

What makes for a successful landscape?
That is dependent on your definition of success. A landscape’s success can be based on how often it gets complimented or looked at; a landscape that makes people stop their car and look, that’s powerful in itself. A successful landscape may be one that has a homeowner using their outdoor space. I find people who have “successful” landscapes tend to use them more because it’s enjoyable. I look at the success of a landscape in relationship to its role in nature. A landscape with only five types of plants or shrubs and a bunch of bare mulch spaces may have minimal ecological benefits. Landscapes with a diverse range of plant material tend to be healthier and more resilient than other landscapes. Diversity in the landscape gives life and a home to many types of wildlife and insects which helps maintain balance within itself.

What do you first notice when visiting a new landscape?
Plant life. Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous material. I’m a plant nerd. If someone has a cool or funky tree or plant, I’ll notice.

When you are not designing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy anything outdoors related, specifically kayaking, hiking, camping, or hunting. I appreciate good times with friends and family. Listening to music.

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