Monthly Archives: October 2016

Let’s Learn About Winter Landscape Tips

While most landscaping tips are concerned with tending plants during the growing season, winter landscaping is every bit as important if you want to have a great-looking lawn and healthy, vibrant plants. With the arrival of fall and cold weather, it is essential to complete a few projects to keep your landscaping protected during the dormant months. Prepare shrubs, trees and grass now, and they will return healthy in the spring and leave you with a neat, well-tended winter landscape.

Winter Landscapes: Preparing Your Lawn

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. Feeding the lawn early in autumn will give the roots a boost before winter arrives. A second feeding in late October will keep it winterized and strong in the freezing weather.

If your lawn has some bare patches, early autumn is a perfect time to install sod or reseed. Adding sod gives you an instantly perfect lawn that will be a pleasure when the warm weather returns. To firmly establish new sod, keep it moist for the first week after it is laid. After the first week, it can be watered as needed. Avoid having sod laid in hot, dry weather, as it will be hard for the roots to establish.

Be sure the sod contains varieties of grass that are indigenous to your region. The sod should not look dry and should be sitting on a pallet no longer than two days. It should not be warm to the touch. You can eliminate a lot of uncertainty by buying sod from a reputable grower. For types and average pricing, see our sod price guide.

Winter Landscaping Tips for Pruning Shrubs and Hedges

Pruning is very important to encourage healthy growth in spring. Most pruning should be done after the leaves turn, indicating that the plant is dormant. A good rule of thumb is to prune spring blooming shrubs immediately after flowering and to prune summer blooming shrubs in the dormant season. Pruning late in the growing season will encourage new growth that will be damaged by frost.

When pruning, use caution to make a good cut at a slight angle about 1/4 inch from the branch. You may want to hire a professional gardener to help with this delicate task.

Some shrubs need to be wrapped with burlap to protect them from frost. If you have experienced frost damage in the past, make sure to protect these plants before the temperature dips down. Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plants to provide insulation for the winter. Wait until spring to fertilize shrubs and trees.

Landscaping Tips for Trees

Like most of the plants in your yard, trees need special care. It is important to keep tree limbs away from power lines and away from the roof of your house. Branches can easily pull down gutters or cause other costly damage if they are hanging over your house.

When planning to prune trees, consult with a professional arborist. He or she will know the best method for your species of trees and the correct time of year for pruning. A professional arborist will also know how to safely remove any troublesome branches without causing damage to the tree. Typically, tree pruning should be done in early autumn or late spring.

Preparing Landscape Fixtures for Winter

Winter landscapes are made up not only of plant-life, but of many other objects, as well. Just like the plants, however, these fixtures often require special care to weather the cold. Walkways and patios can take a beating in cold weather. Shifts in temperature and humidity can cause concrete and brick to heave and settle unevenly. Keeping them free of water build up and debris will reduce the chances of winter damage. If you noticed water or ice accumulation last winter, take steps now to provide proper drainage. This can be as simple as adding a small gravel drainage channel next to a walkway or fixing a gutter that drips onto steps.

Having a professional pool cleaning company winterize your swimming pool is essential. Drain the water and cover the pool to keep out leaves and animals. In winter, it is not uncommon for deer or other wildlife to walk over pool covers, so choose the strongest cover you can afford.

Hot tubs and spas will be a welcome treat in the cool weather. Make sure the heater and pump are functioning properly. If not handled correctly, water could freeze in the pump, pipes, or the hot tub itself, causing irreparable damage.

Know More About Spring Gardening Tips

hggg3One day it’s a bleak winter, the next we wake to a warm breeze and blue skies. We’re sure that spring is upon us so we run eagerly into the yard with shovel, rake and seeds, intent upon transforming the landscape into a colorful paradise.

But wait! The end product will only be as good as the foundation it’s built on. If you prepare in early spring, you’ll be rewarded later in the season.

Sharpen Tools
Beat the rush to the hardware store and get shovels, hoes and pruners sharpened to a fine edge. Splurge and buy a second mower blade so you’ll have a new, sharp blade on the mower while the second is being sharpened. Turf mowed with a dull blade injures the grass and opens the door to disease and costly corrective action.

Order Soil Testing
If you’re putting in a new lawn or plant bed or had problems last year growing your favorite vegetables, soil testing provides the feedback to help you determine what fertilizers and soil conditioners are necessary for optimum results.

Contact Landscaping Pros Early
If you need them, contact landscape professionals early in the season to avoid the dreaded wait list.

When putting in a new lawn, make arrangements early for sod delivery or be prepared to buy sod as soon as it is delivered to garden centers. Accept only moist sod rolls, rejecting any that have yellowed turf or dry roots.

Keep a Garden Journal
Make a resolution to keep notes on the garden and plantings. A small pad of paper kept in a plastic bag with the hand tools is all that’s necessary to remember just which peony needed more sun and needs to be moved come autumn.

Try to jot down some of your successes and failures from last year. This information can be an invaluable guide to this year’s garden.

Throw Away Outdated Chemicals
One last chore before you’re ready: Sort garden chemicals and discard all of the outdated or unused chemicals according to label instructions. Check the lock on your chemical storage area to assure that kids or pets have no access.

Till the Soil
Hands-on gardening starts when the soil contains no ice crystals and a handful crumbles easily. No cheating here. Walking on or working in soil that is too wet causes compaction, driving the air out of the soil and bonding particles together.

When opening a new garden bed, dig it to about eight inches, removing clods and stones as you go. Add no more than 1-1/4 inches of organic matter (compost and/or aged barnyard manure) plus any other fertilizers or supplements that the soil analysis recommends, and dig in evenly.

Try hard to refrain from planting seeds or setting in early-spring vegetable or flower transplants for an additional week. Instead, lightly rake the soil each day to dislodge sprouting weeds.
Begin Planting
When is it the right time to plant? That depends on weather, soil conditions and what you’re planting.

Bare root shrubs, roses and trees can go in when the soil is workable. While the soil is cool, their roots begin to grow. These are generally less expensive than container grown plants. Buy top grade roses, trees and shrubs. They could be part of your landscape far after the mortgage is paid off.

Cold-weather loving plants, like spinach, peas (both the decorative and edible varieties) and ornamentals such as pansies, can withstand some frost.

But hold off on putting in peppers and tomatoes without protective devices around them until there isn’t a hint of frost on the horizon. Ask at the garden center when the last expected frost generally occurs in your area.

Remember to Prune
Plan to prune early-flowering shrubs, like forsythia and lilac, as soon as blooms fade. Next year’s flowers have set within 10 days of the end of the bloom, so timing is important.
Some flowers either die completely or lose their foliage when warm weather arrives.

The same thing happens in the kitchen garden. Spinach and lettuce make way for warm season crops like squash and corn. Set a plan early to incorporate changes, and your garden will be always useful and colorful.

How to Make Your Landscape Fit for the Fall

The summer season is quickly simmering away and fall will be here before you know it. Before you head out to snatch up the first pumpkin spiced latte of the season, take a few moments to prepare your home’s landscape. Fall is a season of vivid colors and is a perfect time to spend mornings and evenings out in your yard sipping on something warm while bundled up in a light jacket. With a few great landscape ideas, your yard can become an autumn oasis.

Fall Foundation

The very first thing that you should know about landscaping in the fall is that you should focus on the colors and textures of your project. Even the smallest of spaces can look quite large with a few well placed large shrubs and small trees. Focus on layering trees and shrubs to give the impression that your yard stretches on for miles. Japanese maples are great for just this occasion.

It’s also a good idea to plant a few evergreens around the edges of your yard. They’re great for privacy and for giving the rest of your landscape a lush backdrop. One word of advice with evergreens is that it’s best that you select those that will grow to the right height for your lawn. For instance, an Australian pine only reaches about 15 feet tall and eight feet wide while a fernspray false cypress reaches ten feet tall and four feet wide.

Paint Your Home

Don’t only focus on your yard when it comes to landscaping. The fall time is a great time to give the exterior a fresh coat of paint for $1,500 to $3,600. If the paint on your home is fine, consider taking care of any areas of chipped paint that you might have and repairing your siding for $250 to $919. It would be a shame to have a spectacular landscape only to have a home that’s in desperate need of a new coat of paint.

While you’re at it, you can also add a few plant or window boxes to your home. Some of the advantages of including such boxes with your landscaping design are:

Giving texture to the exterior of your home
Bringing color to your brick, siding, or colored exterior
Adding greenery to homes that don’t have much in the way of open grounds
Develop Good Plant Habits

While you’re picking out your plant selection for fall landscaping, pay special attention to plant habits. What this means is focus on the shapes that plants have as they grow. Some have a narrow, upstanding shape while others develop a gentle downward curve. Consider mixing and matching plant habits to give your yard a hint of intrigue and allure.

If you want to add a pattern to your fall wonderland, repeating plant shapes is the way to go. If there are taller trees in the background around your yard, you can copy those shapes to blend the background and foreground together better. To break up the pattern a bit and add some interest, use repeated plant shapes but change up the colors here and there. Great options for color include blue-silver spruce, blue-green pine, and deep green arborvitae.

Don’t Forget About Hardscaping

Make sure that you leave some room for hardscaping this fall season. Sidewalks, rock formations, pavers, fountains, and stone retainer walls are all great options. If you do decide to balance your soft landscaping with hard landscaping, go for something that is functional, offers safety or security, and adds to the overall beauty of your property. Two great things about adding a fountain — which costs anywhere between $964 and $4,072 to install — is that it can make you feel more secluded and it also blocks out noise coming from nearby streets.

If you find yourself hard-pressed to make a decision regarding the type of hardscaping to include, stone is a popular choice because it doesn’t take too much work to take care of and fits in well with nearly every style of landscape. Should you be able to find a type of stone that is native to your particular area, all the better. Don’t be afraid to include more than one type of stone to add variety.

Keeping Up Appearances

No matter how much you might enjoy the sight of leaves drifting lazily through the air as they fall from the trees, that’s no excuse for you not to rake up the fallen leaves in your yard. When you go out into your yard, those fallen leaves can become slippery and pose as a safety risk to you, your family, and your guests. Something else to think about is that those fallen leaves can be concealing something that requires your attention, such as a sidewalk that needs to be repaired. Take out some time every week to rake up your lawn.

You’ll also want to make sure that you keep up with pool maintenance during the chillier months of the year. Just because you don’t plan on swimming in your pool doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep the chemicals balanced and the water free of bugs, leaves, and various debris. To make things easier on you, clean your pool whenever you rake up the leaves in your yard.

A Plant for Every Season

To save yourself some time and money on landscaping, include plants that look fantastic in your yard no matter what season it may be. Great examples include:

Hydrangeas
Pagoda dogwood
Fothergilla
Ninebarks
Viburnums
Plan Ahead

Before you throw away all of those leaves that you’re raking up, think about making them into a compost pile. Compost piles don’t take up much space and make great fuel for your plants and soil for next year. Besides ground leaves, you can also add grass clippings, vegetable trimmings, small branches and sticks, and loose flower petals.

Before you trade your shorts and flip-flops for jackets and boots, spend some time out in your yard developing your fall landscape. Rather than traveling to see the most beautiful autumn locations, you can take a look outside your window and admire the majesty of the changing seasons.

Beautiful Advantages Of Stunning Roof Gardens

hg1The thought of building a natural oasis on top of a building may seem a little odd, but the fact is that rooftop gardens have been around for centuries. Roof Gardens began in Europe a long time ago and since then have become the latest trend in gardening. Not only are rooftop gardens beautiful and unique, they are also efficient in many unique ways.

Hidden Hideaways (and Benefits)

Of course, one advantages of the roof garden is its secrecy. No more kids, vermin, and strangers tromping through your flowerbeds. Not only does their “secret” location keep them safe, but it adds a concealed privacy to your outdoor habitat. And this uniqueness can actually add economic value to your home due to its aesthetic appeal.

Here are some other ways rooftop gardens benefit you and your environment:

Energy Efficiency: Roof gardens absorb a lot of energy by being on top of a structure. They provide natural noise and thermal heat insulation, thereby cutting down on utility bills. Plus, since the foliage itself needs water and sun, they actually retain twice as much rainfall and sun. What this means for you is less water runoff, and therefore less flooding; and in bigger cities this decreases the excess heat caused by urban heat islands. Roof gardens actually cool places off to a certain degree.
Creates Space: By utilizing the space on top of a structure or building, you then have more room in your own backyard for other projects. Also, if you live in a city, roof gardens are one of your only chances to grow plant life away from the noise and pollution of city streets.
Provides for Nature: Not only do rooftop gardens add to your own peace and tranquility through their special beauty, they also improve the natural environment by providing wildlife habitats (something people in the city may lack). Plus, due to the extra foliage these gardens also re-oxygenate the air and retain harmful toxins, allowing your home and neighborhood to reap the natural benefits.
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Some Tips to Keep in Mind

Though you may be ready to start planting soon, there are some little things to remember about your rooftop garden before you begin:

First, you must have tough plants. On the roof these plants get the brunt of all the weather, year-round, so even with proper maintenance, the tougher the plant, the more productive the roof garden.
Second, make sure you have a flat or gently sloped roof. Otherwise there will be problems, not only with the plants themselves but with rainwater run-off as well.
Third, make sure everything is water tight and that your roof can handle the weight. Some roof gardens just use planters, and are therefore light. But if you’re thinking of a more extensive project with pavers and stone, then make sure your roof is suitable for the installation.The thought of building a natural oasis on top of a building may seem a little odd, but the fact is that rooftop gardens have been around for centuries. Roof Gardens began in Europe a long time ago and since then have become the latest trend in gardening. Not only are rooftop gardens beautiful and unique, they are also efficient in many unique ways.

Hidden Hideaways (and Benefits)

Of course, one advantages of the roof garden is its secrecy. No more kids, vermin, and strangers tromping through your flowerbeds. Not only does their “secret” location keep them safe, but it adds a concealed privacy to your outdoor habitat. And this uniqueness can actually add economic value to your home due to its aesthetic appeal.

Here are some other ways rooftop gardens benefit you and your environment:

Energy Efficiency: Roof gardens absorb a lot of energy by being on top of a structure. They provide natural noise and thermal heat insulation, thereby cutting down on utility bills. Plus, since the foliage itself needs water and sun, they actually retain twice as much rainfall and sun. What this means for you is less water runoff, and therefore less flooding; and in bigger cities this decreases the excess heat caused by urban heat islands. Roof gardens actually cool places off to a certain degree.
Creates Space: By utilizing the space on top of a structure or building, you then have more room in your own backyard for other projects. Also, if you live in a city, roof gardens are one of your only chances to grow plant life away from the noise and pollution of city streets.
Provides for Nature: Not only do rooftop gardens add to your own peace and tranquility through their special beauty, they also improve the natural environment by providing wildlife habitats (something people in the city may lack). Plus, due to the extra foliage these gardens also re-oxygenate the air and retain harmful toxins, allowing your home and neighborhood to reap the natural benefits.

Some Tips to Keep in Mind

Though you may be ready to start planting soon, there are some little things to remember about your rooftop garden before you begin:

First, you must have tough plants. On the roof these plants get the brunt of all the weather, year-round, so even with proper maintenance, the tougher the plant, the more productive the roof garden.
Second, make sure you have a flat or gently sloped roof. Otherwise there will be problems, not only with the plants themselves but with rainwater run-off as well.
Third, make sure everything is water tight and that your roof can handle the weight. Some roof gardens just use planters, and are therefore light. But if you’re thinking of a more extensive project with pavers and stone, then make sure your roof is suitable for the installation.