Monthly Archives: November 2016

Should You Know 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.

Create a Small Garden with Difficult Soil

Don’t blame yourself if you’re having trouble sustaining your yard. It doesn’t mean you lack a green thumb or can’t keep the simplest of species alive. The number one problem in any kind of landscaping is soil. Unless you live in a fertile part of the country, there’s a good chance you’ll run into difficult soil that will hinder you in growing even the most maintenance-free flowers or plants. There are several reasons why plants have a hard time growing, but when nature seems to be stacked against you, these soil solutions can make the difference between a garden that’s great, and one that’s nearly non-existent.

Causes of Difficult Soil

All yards run into difficulties at some point and a lot of it has to do with the ground it’s growing in. So the first line of attack is a good defense: identifying the setback.

pH Balance: the most troublesome dilemma is your yard’s chemical composition. Dirt has a pH level which is measured using a scale ranging from 0-14. Since plants need a nice balance of several chemical elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.) in order to effectively grow, you need to make sure its pH level is balanced as well. It should always stay somewhere between 5 and 7. Below that it’s too acidic, and above that it’s too alkaline; too much in either direction and you have a problem.
Salty Soil: If your plant leaves are discolored, if brown crust is surfacing, or if a powdery material is dusting the top of your small garden, then you may have saline or sodic soil. In other words, sodium levels are high and it’s stressing your yard.
Soil Species: Soil structure could also be causing some obstacles. Clay can hold too much water at times and then suddenly dry out and get hard (hardpan). Sandy dirt can’t hold water at all, and therefore nutrients simply slide away with the irrigation.
Lucky for us, the modern gardener has the benefit of decades of science and research that can be used to modify whatever dirt we’re dealing with. Contemporary garden planning and soil additives are the key elements in keeping our plants healthy, and easy to manage.

Common Soil Additives

Before you can find a suitable soil solution, you must understand your specific soil problem. Therefore, it’s a good idea to hire a professional to test it. Take a dirt sample from the plot and a water sample from the irrigation source, and give it to a testing facility who’ll quickly diagnose the difficulty.

Once you know what your dirt is lacking, you can improve its structure with soil additives like organic compost, top soil, and activation products that can help to thicken sand, calm down clay, and dilute salt. Soil additives are often a necessity when balancing pH levels. If you want to keep it organic, however, make sure to read labels carefully. You may even want to consult a gardening specialist in your area for suggestions on what soil additives will work best.

Drainage Solutions

Soil additives are only one element in making your garden grow. When it comes to small gardens, raised garden beds, or entire lawns, another common predicament is drainage. Soil could be draining too fast, which washes away vital nutrients and creates puddles (causing root destruction and rotting). But if it’s not getting enough irrigation, it could become hardpan and barren. There are different solutions to improper drainage (some that you can to do on your own and some larger projects which may take the hand of a professional), but there’s only one overriding philosophy: moderation and proportion.

Compost: Once again, soil structure is essential. Add compost to thicken sandy dirt, but beware of overfilling: it causes settling and the compost could waterlog.
Dry Dirt: Adding dry dirt, such as limestone and silica sand, could help soak up the moisture from clay, but watch out for overdoing it because it alters pH levels as well.
No Tilling: We love to feel like we’re doing something, so sometimes gardeners over-till the earth, which only aggravates the soil and upsets natural drainage systems.
Grading: It’s crucial to have proper surface drainage, which means your yard must be appropriately sloped so water doesn’t collect. Underground tile and subsurface pipes can’t do it alone: you have to actually move around and correctly grade the topsoil.
Low spots: Backfilling low spots help to avoid water buildup, but you’ll have to get a backhoe, dig up the ground, and add new dirt (of the same species) until it is leveled.
Irrigation: To make sure the yard is getting just the right amount of water, you may want to hire a landscape contractor to install a sprinkler system for $1,800 to $2,500 to control the exact amount of irrigation your lawn receives.

Information About Landscape Curbing

You’ve most likely seen landscape curbing but didn’t know its industry name. Landscape curbing is exactly what it looks like: a curb around your landscape. Just like curbs around streets, landscape curbing is made of concrete and poured in forms that match the curved lines you would like around your landscaping. But don’t think that the only kind of landscape curbing you can get is what you’ve already seen; there are several ideas that haven’t even been discovered yet.

Concrete Lawn Edging

Special machines, aptly named concrete curbing machines, can lay the edging you desire wherever you want. If you want gorgeous rounded curves or sharp straight lines, professional landscapers can make your lawn look perfect in your vision. But the versatility of concrete lawn edging does not end with shapes and lines; landscapers can also style and stain your landscape curbing for the exact look that will work best with your landscape design.

Concrete Staining & Concrete Stamping

Your concrete lawn edging does not have to have the appearance of actual street curbing. Many lawns look perfect with that whitish-grey concrete look because the color complements the surrounding streets and nearby sidewalks. But this landscape curbing look is not for every yard and nor should it be. Concrete can be stained, the same as wood, to look nearly any color. Certainly, earthy tones like reds and browns work best to complement your landscaping, but if you want something more bold, then you can have it. No more do you have to rely on those black or green lawn edgings that never last.

Beyond that, if you don’t like the look of a typical landscape curb, you can have your landscape curbing styled into whatever form you like by way of concrete stamping. Concrete stamping is a technique to form concrete to look like bricks or stones or pavers, or even dolphins if that’s what you want. Concrete stamping has become a popular way to turn boring sidewalks and patios into the look of real brick or stone, without all the cost. This same treatment can be applied to your landscape curbing, and in combination with concrete staining, your landscape curbs can look the exact way you want them to.

Benefits of Landscape Curbing

Not only is landscape curbing a popular and versatile design choice, it is also the best functional choice to contain your landscaping or better yet, to keep weeds and grass out of your landscaping. Think about how often mowers, edgers, and weed eaters run into that plastic lawn edging, and how durable it is. The plastic stuff cracks, rips, and gets pulled out of the ground, plus you still have to do all that weeding.

With landscape curbing, the concrete is heavy enough that it won’t allow those pesky weeds to creep into your mulch and landscaping. This right here prevents you from having to work so much to maintain that beautiful lawn. Further than that, concrete is a million times more durable than those plastic spools of lawn edging. You can run mowers, weed eaters, and anything else into this concrete lawn edging and it’s not going anywhere. If you concrete stain your curbs, there is even less worry because the stain goes all the way through, and a little chip from a mower blade will disappear. If it doesn’t, it will give a nice weathered look to those bricks you had stamped into the concrete.

Concrete Landscape Curbing

Whatever you are considering for your landscape design, make sure it includes landscape curbing. You need some lawn edging no matter what your design, and if you don’t want this smooth accent to outline your lawn, it can be stained to disappear while still doing the hard work that concrete edging does.