Q&A Session with Jessica Suttle, Graduate Landscape Architect

Fast Facts About Jessica

Discipline: Landscape Architecture

Hometown: Centerville, OH

Education: The Ohio State University, Ball State University

Podcast Currently Listening to: The Model Health Show



She got married on a mountain in Costa Rica, and her itch to travel takes her far and wide. It’s no surprise that Graduate Landscape Architect Jessica Suttle’s love for beautiful places has translated into her work in landscape and site design.

What sparked your love for landscape architecture?

In college, I was unsure of what direction I wanted to take or what I wanted to do as a career. I started out exploring education classes, marine biology classes, and accounting classes but never really felt that I loved any of them. I always enjoyed math and problem solving growing up, which eventually led me to architecture. I took a variety of design, architecture, and engineering classes the following year in college. It wasn’t until one of my early level classes when I was offered extra credit to attend a career fair that I spoke with a firm about golf course design and resort design. I knew immediately that was what I wanted to do. I took a nine-month internship in Austin, Texas, that really started to broadened my horizon on the type of projects landscape architects work on and ended up loving it.

What do you do in your free time?

My husband, Steve, and I love to travel. We spend most of our free time away exploring, but if we are not traveling, we are most likely at a concert, music festival, or brewery somewhere with our friends and family. Our first “date” was a four-day music festival in Okeechobee, Florida, where I got a drum stick from the band Mumford and Sons. Since that day, I have caught (or asked for) eight other drum sticks from some of our favorite bands.

I also work at a local brewery, Fountain Square Brewery, on the weekends which helps support our expensive hobbies. I’m even about to brew my first beer, a peach Berliner Weisse, which is a kettle sour.

Jessica and her husband Steve


Where is the most interesting place you have been?

I’ve been to 19 countries in my lifetime. Our most recent trip, prior to our wedding in Costa Rica, was a 2.5-week cruise in the western Mediterranean. We left from Rome, Italy, and ended in Barcelona, Spain, and visited a few cities in Italy, Sicily, Malta, Spain, and France in between! It was so surreal seeing many of the historic buildings and landscapes I studied in college. Steve and I got our engagement pictures done in Rome at the Colosseum and Roman Forum. And Barcelona was one of our favorite cities from the trip because of Antoni Gaudi’s work.

Jessica and Steve in Rome


Tell us about the wedding!

Steve and I got married in Costa Rica this past May in a Greek amphitheater on a mountain overlooking the ocean. I visited Costa Rica before but found this specific resort on Pinterest and loved it. I originally wanted to elope, but when Steve asked my parents for permission, they made him promise we wouldn’t. Costa Rica it was!

Jessica and Steve’s wedding in Costa Rica


Do you have any unique souvenirs from your travels?

I get a rock from all the volcanoes we go to.

What is your dream vacation?

My dream vacation destination changes often because there are so many places we haven’t been yet. Next year, our goal is either Faroe Islands or a backpacking/camping trip in Banff National Park, Canada. Fiji has also always been at the top of my bucket list too, although being in a plane that long scares me. Ironically, I’m scared to death of flying. You probably don’t want to sit next to me on an airplane.

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?

I haven’t had a sip of soda in more than 20 years! I ran track in high school and was told by the coaches that giving up soda would decrease my time by a few seconds. I always saw this more as a challenge to see if I could go without, but a small part of me also wanted to see if the coaches were correct. I don’t think it actually helped me improve my time, but I’m hopeful the decision is benefiting me now.

Indiana Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects

Honor Award

Prophetstown State Park Aquatic Center for Indiana Department of Natural Resources

The project to construct a family aquatic center at Prophetstown was intended to expand recreational opportunities at one of the newest state parks in Indiana. The overall 2,000+ acre park, located at the confluence of the Tippecanoe River and the Wabash River, includes extensive oak savannah and prairie restoration, a historic farmstead, native American exhibits, camping, trails, and access to the Tippecanoe River and wetland features, but is continuing to expand facilities to enhance the user experience.

prophetstownstateparkaquaticcenter1  prophetstownstateparkaquaticcenter6






Incorporating an engaging aquatic facility into the open prairie landscape aesthetic without being garish was a key project goal. Initially designed for an approximate bather load of 700, with a plan for expansion to 1,200; components include a zero-depth leisure pool, water spray features, a large interactive water dumping feature, open water play, body and tube slides, a lazy river with adventure channel, lawn areas for sunbathing, lawn volleyball, deck area, wireless access for guests, bathhouse building, and concessions. Other features include a pool mechanical building, new access road, bike paths connected to the park trail network, parking lot, perimeter fencing, and landscaping that carries through the “prairie” theme of the park.

Subdued colors, utilization of natural materials, and thoughtful placement within the existing topography were points of emphasis. Views to and from the aquatic complex were planned to minimize views of parked cars and the impact on the park aesthetic.

The new aquatic center opened in 2013 and allows both new and returning park visitors the ability to cool off and have fun at the new facility.




Why Should I Use Native Plants?

Schmidt Associates predominantly utilizes native plants in our landscape designs. A simple definition of native is a species that originated in a geographic region without human involvement. These plants are best adapted for Indiana climate variations and the local pests.  Drought and disease resistance are great attributes of native species, but as evidenced by the damage caused by Emerald Ash Borer, an Asian beetle decimating native ash trees; native plants alone cannot replace the value of biodiversity in a planting.  A rich, biodiverse palette not only provides visual interest, habitat, and food sources; it also protects against disproportionate loss of any one species. Pollinators benefit from the multiple bloom times and nectar sources that diverse plantings provide.  As evidenced by the decline of Monarch butterfly populations, biodiverse plantings including milkweed are necessary for healthy ecosystems.

Three easy to grow, highly ornamental natives include:

Echinacea purpurea or purple coneflower is a full sun, perennial native plant.  Enjoy the blooms all summer and into the fall as goldfinch feed on the seeds.

Coneflower at Bloomington Utilities

Amelanchier canadensis or serviceberry is a small, ornamental, native tree.  Its brief white spring bloom is followed by edible blueberrylike fruit.  Robins, Cardinals, and many other birds love this plant.

Amelanchier canadensis

Stylophorum diphyllum or celandine poppy is great for spring color.  This woodland wildflower thrives in moist semi-shaded areas and will colonize by self-seeding.  It is not easy to find in stores; grow this plant and share with friends!

celandine poppy

Remember that native plants are adapted and require lower maintenance, but that “no maintenance” is not realistic based on cultural aesthetic expectations.  Planting from seed may take a couple years of knocking back more aggressive weeds before the desired plant matrix is developed.  Once established, a mixed native grass/wildflower planting may need to be mowed early spring to tidy up the dead foliage.  Leaving this foliage through the winter provides visual interest and habitat. Aesthetics are typically more the cause of maintenance versus cultural needs of the plant.

Indiana’s native plants are beautiful!  Let’s use them to cultivate a healthy, vibrant and diverse ecosystem.