Landscaping 101

When you decide to decorate your landscape with trees and shrubs, there are upsides and downsides. The upside is that your property will have color and texture, and will actually have increased value. The downside is that in order to maintain the visual aesthetics and value, those trees and shrubs have to be meticulously attended to on a regular basis. The problem with that is that many homeowners are not confident about their pruning abilities, nor should they be unless they have extensive experience with this particular task. Improper pruning can have serious consequences for the plant, which is why we highly recommend leaving the job to your landscape professionals. However, there are some tips we can offer those of you who just have some minor pruning to complete. With the correct tools and the correct techniques, you can help keep your trees and shrubs in perfect health and shape, and in turn, keep your landscape looking spectacular all season long. Okay, yes, pruning CAN be kind of frightening if you do not know what you are doing. But just as with everything else, practice makes perfect. You may want to start small – perhaps practice your pruning technique on a small indoor tree or even a more resilient outdoor shrub. The idea is to start learning on a plant that will not suffer greatly if you prune too much, which can easily happen. A properly pruned plant is a healthy plant, so you want to learn as much as you can about the art form. But why prune at all? Of course there is the aesthetic appeal. You want your ornamentals to accent your garden and overall property. However, pruning has several beneficial effects on the plant itself. When you prune your plant, the flow of water and nutrients throughout the plant’s vascular system is greatly improved. It also permits thriving areas of the plant to receive the most moisture and sustenance while those areas of the plant that are not performing very well are removed, no longer taking away from the healthy parts of the plant. It is difficult to describe specific techniques because each plant is unique and the method is equally as distinctive. But what we can recommend is that you employ the best tools for the job. Landscaping experts stress the importance of not utilizing cheap tools. While they may be more expensive, high quality pruning shears, loppers, saws, and hand pruners are an asset and should be considered an investment in the overall well-being of your landscape. Tools that are sturdier are going to stay sharp longer, and will also deliver a more precise and healthy cut. Higher quality tools will also last longer, so the higher price you pay may seem a lot at first, but you will not have to keep replacing the tools. Now that you have high quality tools, make sure to keep them sharp. The sharper a pruning tool, the less stress your hands and arms will undergo when trying to cut through thicker branches. A sharpened tool will also deliver a healthier cut. While pruning is beneficial to a tree or shrub, it is still a small trauma from which the tree or shrub must heal. If you think about a cut on our own skin, one that is “clean” will heal better than if the cut were caused by something serrated and rusty. There would be an increased risk of infection and it would probably result in an unattractive scar. The same thinking goes for any ornamental. The cleaner the cut, the faster the plant will heal, and the less likely there will be any scarring. Last but not least, keep your pruning tools clean. As with any tool, you want to make sure it is free from debris and gunk. However, it is also important to clean the blades before beginning to prune a different plant. Again, using ourselves as an example, if a surgeon is going to operate on a different patient, he will not use the same tools because they can spread disease and bacteria. The same thinking applies with pruning tools because each plant has its own unique make up of bacteria. In addition, if the plant has a disease you are not aware of, you can transmit that disease to another plant by utilizing tools that have not been properly cleansed. Landscape technicians recommend wiping the blades with rubbing alcohol to eliminate any bacteria. You will also want to make sure the tools are adequately cleansed before putting them away after your pruning is complete.

September 9, 2017

Blog - Landscaping

Planting trees and bushes and installing flower beds on your landscape is all fun and games until you catch sight of a terrible vision – a slimy snail or slug. In most gardens, this icky insect is ubiquitous. Your first instinct may be to run inside and get your salt shaker to bring a hard death to this particular insect, but before you do, let us learn about this insect, whether or not it is a threat to your landscape, and what to do about it if it is. First, what is the difference between a snail and a slug? A snail is easily identifiable by its protective shell, and to the layman, that is about all the difference between the two. Both of these insects are mollusks and have antennae and eyes, as well as a stretchable body which leaves behind a slimy trail. This slime is an important part of a snail or slug’s existence, since they need to remain moist in order to live. This slime also helps them move around your landscape. So, are they a threat to your garden beds? The short answer is – YES! These insects can wreak havoc on your landscape, especially if you have fruit plants or trees, including tomatoes, strawberries, peach trees, etc. However, even if you do not have these specific types of plants in your landscape, you may still experience snails or slugs sliming their way up a garden fence or wall located near your plants, especially when the weather becomes cooler in temperature. One reason slugs and snails can become a huge problem is because they multiply quickly. These insects are hermaphrodites, which means they can reproduce all on their own. A snail or slug can lay close to 500 eggs in just one season (and by the way, snails and slugs can live up to four years, so you definitely want to nip this problem in the bud!) However, if you have your landscape treated prior to or during the warmer months, you can easily combat this prospective snail or slug infestation. So how do you get rid of these mollusks? Well, there is the old salt trick. However, landscaping experts actually discourage this style of removal because while the snail or slug will surely shrivel up and die, the chemical makeup of the soil in your landscape will also be altered, which can create even more problems. One solution to eliminating these insects without the use of pesticides is beer. Apparently just like humans, they find the smell of beer appealing. They will make their way into the hopped up mixture and drown. However, the best route is prevention. There are a couple of ways to go here. First, you can remove certain plants from your landscape and replace them with plants that are not has alluring to snails or slugs. If you are committed to keeping fruit plants in your garden, you can look into setting baits and traps prior to the temperatures rising. If you are not sure where to find these garden-eating culprits, check inside your basement or crawl space or perhaps a backyard shed. These insects hibernate during the winter months and will often seek refuge inside your home, preferably in a dark, damp area such as a basement. Some of these traps actually employ electricity which is beneficial if you are opposed to using chemicals to stop any infestations. There are also pesticides that can be employed. However, sometimes pesticides do not always do the trick and use of them can also harm insects that are beneficial to your landscape, or can also harm family pets or even children who might wander into the garden. If you are not sure which route is best for your landscape, contact your trusted landscape specialist and receive professional advice you can count on!

August 10, 2017

Landscaping "How To"

If you are not a property owner, when you see deer it is probably met with some feelings of awe and wonderment. However, if you are a property owner and you see a deer, it might be more likely that the sight is followed with an annoyed grunt while wondering what these animals are about to do to your landscape. Unfortunately as more and more land is developed, deer are having a hard time finding places to graze that do not overlap with where we humans live. Deer are basically harmless creatures, but they can destroy flower beds and other garden areas while trying to satiate their insatiable appetites. While some people are happy to have these majestic guests on their property, even putting out hay and corn to encourage revisits, others find them not only annoying, but costly as well since they will have to replant or replace the areas that have been eaten. If you happen to fall into the latter category, ease your mind – there is help available! Here are some tips and tricks from landscaping experts on how to protect your garden beds and deter the reappearance of deer. Stonecrops is a plant not many people have heard of, but it is an excellent way to create color within your landscape without enticing deer to come and feast without abandon. The plant itself is extremely vibrant, sprouting orange, red, yellow, or pink flowers. In addition to not being on the menu for deer, stonecrops is also frequently implemented in many stone gardens, since the flowers offer contrasting colors against the gray colors of the stones. So with stonecrops, you are killing two birds with one stone figuratively speaking, of course by planting something that will not appeal to deer, causing them to carry on to another property, and will also enliven your overall landscape with an abundance of color. Another plant that is helpful at keeping not only deer, but other nuisance animals away as well is the prickly pear cactus. This plant essentially offers the same advantages of having a barbed-wire fence around your landscape. However, instead of having a visually off-putting barrier, you have a beautiful plant doing the same job, as it grows magnificent yellow flowers that will catch the eye of any passer-by. Most animals are not looking to get jabbed or stuck, so they take great measures to avoid the prickly pear cactus; and if they do get jabbed or stuck, you can be assured that they will not be returning any time soon. Lambs ears are another deer-repelling plant that will bring an abundance of color to your landscape. Deer have an extreme dislike for the taste and texture of this particular plant, so you are guaranteed that it will never be eaten by this particular animal. This plant grows as tall spikes with light purple flowers growing at the top. The foliage has a silver-ish hue, which looks great with the purple flowers. The foliage also has a very velvety feel to it, which is why deer find this plant unappetizing. Chances are these plants will do the trick in deterring deer from using your landscape as a buffet. The other positive is that your landscape will be overflowing with vibrant color that will add to its overall financial and aesthetic value. For more suggestions, consult your trusted landscaping specialist.

July 11, 2017