OJB’s Expert Panel: Continuing Care

The recent recognition by the federal government that landscape is a STEM discipline is a reminder of the complexity and collaboration that happens all across our profession. Over the next several months, we will shine a light on the wide range of people at OJB who bring their special skills and expertise into our working conversations every day. Up first, a spotlight on Levi Johnson, leader of our Continuing Care division.

Continuing Care—Fostering Plant Health + Longevity

No matter the scale of garden or landscape, it is important to protect your investment by planning for optimal care. Continuing care is a distinct discipline and department at OJB. During construction, our team is often on site to monitor soil health, protection and proper installation. As projects close out, we offer maintenance guidelines on watering, pest control and other care conditions. Once landscapes are established, we offer continuing care for monitoring, managing and maintaining the vibrancy of plants, grasses and trees. Meet Levi.

A conversation with Levi Johnson, Continuing Care Specialist

What does a Continuing Care Specialist do?
Continuing care doesn’t just start after a project is complete – it often begins during design and construction. I provide horticultural knowledge throughout all phases of projects, from in-field support early on, and continuing through all stages of a project’s development. My job is to make sure we are providing the best care for every plant — in every combination.

How did you develop an interest in landscape design and maintenance?
I’ve always been drawn to nature. I earned my Bachelor of Life Science degree from Brigham Young University in Landscape Management in 2015, and while attending BYU, I worked as a campus arborist. In this role, I helped maintain the diverse landscape there. Amazingly, there are over 18,000 trees on the campus. I learned so much about how to support plant and tree health, no matter the age and condition.

How did you come to OJB?
After graduating, I worked with a landscape contractor in Dallas as a Project Manager where I oversaw multi-million-dollar landscape installations. Next, I was the director of a high-end residential maintenance company where I managed Houston’s finest estate landscapes. I knew of OJB’s work in Texas, especially in mixed use and campus settings. It was a natural fit to join the team at OJB in Houston in 2022. I was drawn to the company’s philosophy of looking at plant and landscape health as a holistic conversation across disciplines and an on-going necessity.

Who do you often collaborate with at OJB?
Anna Williams, OJB’s Plant Scientistin Dallas is my awesome Continuing Care partner. She and I collaborate on custom materials that teach clients and their maintenance crews how to care for plant palettes in the landscape throughout the seasons. We also work with our internal design and construction teams on plant palettes and choices throughout projects. We are a great balance of scientific knowledge and practical application.

Can you share one of the Continuing Care projects at OJB that you’re especially excited about?
That would be Aggie Park in College Station in Texas. We are excited to be working with Texas A&M on some strategies and tools that will help extend the beauty and health of their public realm investment. It’s a unique kind of space that acts a forecourt to the Stadium. While it swells with visitors for game day and other special occasions, it is also a public park and magnet for families every day. We helped protect and relocate some of the large oaks on the existing site, as well as select and place large boulders and aquatic plants during construction that line a man-made detention pond. Since completion, we are helping ensure the longevity and health of the green infrastructure, especially for water. The site can absorb huge amounts of water in high rainwater events without flooding. The trees, grasses, soils and pond work together to slow down, absorb and retain water. It’s a complete system.

What are some of the other strategies, tools, and services you offer?
We can offer inspection of sites, horticulturist/arborist expertise, irrigation reports, hardscape reports, and a punch list of things to be done by service providers. We can provide guidance and can lead the RFP process for maintenance contracts. We commission projects and provide maintenance resource guides for plants utilized on the site and hardscape/furniture. We love the diversity and complexity of assignments.

How does pricing work for Continuing Care Services?
We work in lots of different ways, depending on the site and specific client needs. We work to provide a custom set of services for every client. Sometimes, we will work for a short period or scope of work to solve a specific challenge. We also provide annual maintenance contracts.

Tell us what’s in your literal or metaphorical toolbelt as Continuing Care Specialist at OJB?
I go on a lot of site visits, and during those I wear my OJB workman’s vest—it’s full of pockets! So, that’s my “toolbelt.” In it, I hold my iPad for keeping notes on site; my measuring tape, my phone; and, of course, a hardhat is essential for safety.

What’s your favorite plant right now?
That has to be the Button Willow Sugar Shack! Mine bloomed spectacularly this year. Want to see a picture?

Continue the conversation!

Have questions about Continuing Care? Send a message to Levi at ljohnson@ojb.com