landscaping photos

Environmental Sustainability

We are dedicated to creating landscapes which are not only beautiful but also promote environmental sustainability and decrease dependence on pesticides. This has been our mantra from day one, as we continue to seek out methods that will decrease your overall resource use.

Promoting use of native plant material

Native plant material requires little to no pesticide and fertilizer treatments and, once established, will not require irrigation for survival. These plants require less maintenance and are more cost effective in the landscape. Native plants are hardy in this region because they have adapted and evolved to local climates and soils throughout time and therefore withstand cold temperatures and drought conditions. Native plants also promote biodiversity, provide food and shelter for wildlife and restore regional landscapes. Mantis Gardens does not use native species exclusively, but we rely heavily on them for our plant selection and will always choose native first, where applicable. If you are interested, we can provide you with an ALL NATIVE landscape package. Just Ask!

Promoting use of locally grown plant material

This is a separate issue from “native plant material”. The two are often confused. For example, we could buy a rhododendron that is native to this region, but was grown and shipped in from Oregon. Or we could buy a non-native species, like a Japanese maple that was grown by a local nursery in Buncombe County. Although it is not always possible to do so, we will always make a concerted effort to buy plant material that was locally grown. This supports local growers and reduces fuel use for shipping.

Encouraging beneficial insects

Simply put, there are “good bugs” and “bad bugs” in your landscape. Bad bugs feed on the plants we want. Good (beneficial) bugs feed on the bad bugs that are eating our plants. (You’ll note that we chose as our namesake the praying mantis—one of our favorite “good bugs”). The more beneficial insects you have in a landscape, the less you’ll need to use pesticides. Landscapes that encourage beneficial insect populations are ones which have high biodiversity of plant material present, many different species of plants blooming throughout the season, and low pesticide use.

Building healthy soils

Creating healthy soils, rich in organic material, is the building block of a healthy landscape. High soil fertility will ensure that your plants are fundamentally healthy and thriving, which will in turn mean they are less dependent on fertilizer and pesticide treatments and that they will develop deep, healthy root systems, making them more drought tolerant.

Reducing nutrient run-off

Improper residential use of fertilizers is responsible for a large percentage of the nutrient run-off found in North Carolina ground and surface waters. Not reading fertilizer labels thoroughly, using too much fertilizer, using the wrong type of fertilizers and using fertilizers at the wrong time of year are common problems which can result in dangerously high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in our ground and surface waters. Building healthy soils that are rich in organic material is the first and most fundamental way Mantis Gardens addresses this problem. Doing so dramatically decreases or even eliminates the need for fertilizers. In situations where fertilizers are needed, we use organic fertilizers which, by nature, are slow-release. We are careful to never over-fertilize and to only fertilize during appropriate times of year.

Generously using mulches

High quality mulches, applied to your landscape at a depth of 3-4 inches, dramatically decrease the presence of weeds in your yard, therefore decreasing your need to use herbicides to control those weeds. Mulch also keeps the root systems of plants cool and moist, making them more drought tolerant, saving you water and money.

Creating edible landscapes

To Mantis Gardens, this means using trees and shrubs in your landscape that provide food for local wildlife as well as for you and your family. This can include native species (blueberry & serviceberry), as well as non-native species (fig & apple). There are many varieties of fruiting trees and shrubs that can be artfully incorporated into your landscape.

Encouraging vegetable production

Your active involvement in the local fresh food movement can start in your own yard. Growing your own vegetables and herbs is easier than you think and a lot can be accomplished in a very small space. Just like fruiting trees and shrubs, vegetables can be incorporated into your landscape in an elegant and beautiful way. Let us help you experience the joy of harvesting dinner from you own yard. This is a low-cost and fun way to eat local, fresh food that you can trust and it arrives at your table without consuming a single drop of fuel.


Talk about sustainability and wise resource use; this just makes good sense for any homeowner. Tons of yard and kitchen waste are sent to the landfill or through our septic system every year, at serious cost to our environment. Most of this material can easily be composted at home and turned into a high-quality nutrient for your soil. You simply cannot buy a product that can match the nutrients provided by home composting—and it’s FREE! Let us show you how it’s done.

Rainwater harvesting

Sediment is the number one pollutant in WNC waterways. Stormwater run-off is largely responsible. Rainwater harvesting eliminates (or slows, depending of the system) the stormwater leaving your property, increasing water quality, decreasing municipal water use and saving you money. Mantis Gardens does not install these systems but we will include them in your design, explain the process to you and connect you with the right people.


Since 2006 and the arrival of Colony Collapse disorder, more and more Americans are tuning into how very important honeybees are to our food supply. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80% of our fruit, vegetable and seed crops. Becoming a beekeeper allows you to become directly involved in supporting our local honeybee population. Beekeeping is a wonderful hobby which offers endless opportunities for learning and for meeting a lot of interesting and fun people in the process. Keeping bees on your property also increases pollination rates in your garden dramatically, resulting in more flowers and higher yields in not only your yard but your neighbors’ yards too. We are beekeepers and passionate about this fascinating little pollinator and we’d love to help get you started.

Keeping Backyard Chickens

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of a few local “chickeners” keeping small flocks of laying hens is now legal within Asheville city limits. Keeping chickens can be a wonderful step towards greater sustainability for your household. Afterall, what could be more fresh and local than gathering fresh eggs from your own backyard? It is also very fun and especially rewarding if you have young children. Your chickens will also provide a built in free supply of high quality manure that can go right back into your garden beds. Let us help you get started with your own backyard flock.

Re-using plant containers

The nursery industry depends heavily on black plastic pots for container grown plants. These pots are a petroleum based product which are non-recyclable and are often only used once. Mantis Gardens makes the extra effort to return all containers (1 gallon and larger) to the local growers to be re-used. We are currently seeking growers who will accept containers smaller than 1 gallon, so please contact us if you know of one.

Matching proper plants with proper sites

This is elementary, yet crucial. Proper site evaluation must occur to assure best plant selection for the job. Issues such as sun exposure, slope, pH and drainage must be taken into account. A plant put in unfavorable conditions (for instance, a rhododendron in full sun and heavy clay soil), will be stressed and experience greater disease pressure (if, indeed, it survives at all). That same plant, located in rich soil on a partly sunny slope, will grow healthy and strong, decreasing your need for fertilizers and pesticides, and making it more cost effective in the landscape.

Excellent Customer Service

  • We return your phone calls and emails promptly.
  • We will take the time to listen to you and incorporate your individual needs into your design.
  • There is no such thing as a dumb question. We believe customer education on horticultural issues is an important part of what we offer and is an aspect of the work we enjoy very much. We look forward to taking the time to answer your questions.
  • We value honesty and integrity, and if we must, will choose those virtues over ease or profit.
  • Efficiency is one of our key goals. We will get in, get the work done and get out of your way in a timely fashion.
  • We believe that clients shouldn’t be surprised when it comes to money. That means we NEVER go over the budget that was agreed upon and placed in writing before commencement of each project. A check with our many references will bear this out.
  • We have a fun and well-mannered staff that works enthusiastically, making for an enjoyable experience for us and our customers.