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01 Oct 2021
Fall is for Planting

Fall is for Planting

The dog days of summer are now behind us, days are shorter, and temperatures much more comfortable. This time of year, the fall, is the most ideal for adding vegetation to your landscape.  Plants are beginning to prepare for winter and going into a dormancy stage to conserve energy for the long, harsh cold. This reduced growth activity is precisely what allows their installation or transplantation with little or no stress to the plant itself. Also, now’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the array of vibrant colors the fall has to offer in making your selections. The following are my three fall favorites which capture both bold leaf and berry colors:


Rhus aromatic ‘Gro-Low’ (Latin) is underutilized in the landscape primarily due to its name.  Sumac is not at all poisonous, and the actual species, which is, has no relation.  This fast-growing, low shrub gets about 2-3’ tall and 6-8’ wide.  They have a great scarlet fall color and create a stunning effect when planted in large sweeping masses. Gro-Low, like most sumacs, will tolerate poor soil conditions and prefer full sun to part shade. The leaves, when brushed against, emit a lemon-like fragrance.  It is also an excellent choice for attracting birds and wildlife.


Lindera Benzoin (Latin) grows 5-8’ in the landscape and prefers a location that offers part shade and moist soils.  As fall sets in, the leaves turn buttery yellow, accompanied by crimson red berries. The yellow then turns papery tan toward the end of fall and persists on the branches throughout the winter. The berries attract wildlife and are quickly eaten due to their high-fat content in preparation for winter. In addition, the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly larvae feed on the leaves and use them for protection before their chrysalis stage.


Hamamelis virginiana (Latin) is another North American Native found in woodlands throughout the northeast. A fall-blooming deciduous shrub with twisted, ribbon-like yellow petals emerging along the entire length of branches. The leaves also display a vibrant golden hue which really will brighten up an understory planting.  Witch Hazel is a large growing shrub sometimes getting 15-20’ tall. It prefers full sun to part shade and moist, acidic soils high in organic matter.  It’s most notably known for its medicinal properties as a natural anti-inflammatory and antiviral astringent.

Fall is an encore performance of color display and the final bow for a great year in the growth cycle of many plants. Introducing them to your property at this perfect time of year ensures their survivability to thrive and flourish for many seasons to come. Visit a local garden center nursery on a brisk weekend morning and stroll the rows to see the colors that pique your interest!

01 Jul 2021

Got Weeds? Best Solutions to Winning the Battle Over These Unwanted Guests

By definition, “a weed is a plant held to have no value, especially one growing plentifully and detrimentally in a garden, lawn, etc.” The sole purpose of their life cycle is to grow, produce seed, and spread as quickly as possible.  Weeds have mastered this art by setting up residence anywhere and ensuring the continuation of their species.  The solution to keeping them at bay is not such a daunting task as typically believed.  Even a novice gardener can keep their landscape virtually weed-free if the following steps are continuously followed.


The first and most crucial step is to ensure proper mulch coverage throughout the landscape beds.  A minimum of 2-3″ should be maintained to block out any sunlight to the soil and weed seeds below.  Mulch is an organic material and will decay over time, creating soil and an ideal medium for weed growth.

Each year (typically in early spring), assess mulch depth to ensure a 2-3″ coverage.  Excessive mulch build-up may occur over the years, causing adverse reactions to landscape plants. It should be reduced accordingly.  A ½-1″ addition of fresh mulch yearly should be all that is needed to prevent weeds and maintain a clean, fresh appearance.

Pre-emergent spray

The use of pre-emergents in combination with the mulching practices mentioned above will deliver an even more effective deterrent to weed growth.  A pre-emergent targets the actual seed before it has had a chance to germinate by blocking a key enzyme necessary to the process.  The pre-emergent does not kill established weeds, so you must remove them prior.

It is best to apply pre-emergents before yearly mulching as it will create a distinct barrier between soil below and mulch above.  If used correctly, it can be effective for three months, so an additional summer application may be necessary.  It can be spread directly over the mulch as it will break down with watering and make its way to the soil layer below.

Inevitably, some weeds will still get past and overcome these defenses, so post-emergent solutions will need to be used.  If the good old-fashioned ‘on your hands and knees pulling’ is not appealing, then there are many herbicides and organic options to eradicate them.

Post-emergent spray

Whether your weapon of choice is Roundup or an organic alternative composed of acidic and oils, be sure to avoid any adjacent ornamental plants.  Many of these applications are systemic and absorbed in the leaves, and transported throughout the plant and root.  The only disadvantage of the post-emergent solution is the abundance of weed carcasses left behind.  A weed graveyard almost looks as bad as they do alive.

Landscape fabric

Landscape fabric is another viable option but has its limitations.  It should only be used under inorganic landscape coverings such as stone or rubber mulch.  The reason for not using fabric under organic wood mulch was already mentioned- wood decays.  This decomposition will eventually create a soil layer on top of the fabric, providing weeds a place to set up shop. The roots will also attach to the fabric, making them difficult to remove.  As long as the inorganics are free from any silts or soil, the landscape fabric will work great and last for many years.

Weeds will always find their way into our landscapes and prove to be a formidable opponent in this never-ending battle.  Developing a consistent regimen will limit their presence and allow you to enjoy your landscape without so much rigorous work.

02 Mar 2017

Audible Landscape

Incorporating sound into your outdoor entertainment space. Spring officially begins March 20 and soon those barren wastelands of patios and decks will once again be alive with activity. Grills will be fired up, furniture cushions placed and portable stereos plugged in. Time out. … Portable stereos?

02 Apr 2016

To Plant or Not to Plant…

That is the Question: And Here’s the Answer. With literally thousands of plant species and varieties available to introduce in your landscape, it is sometimes a daunting task to select the ones best suited for the space. There are multiple factors, if considered, that will ensure a healthy life for the new addition to your landscape family. Size (growth habit), zone (hardiness), exposure (sun/shade), soil (clay/sand), water (wet/dry) and wildlife (wanted/unwanted) are the main factors to focus on when making this choice. A little initial research can prove to be extremely beneficial in protecting your exterior investment.

22 Sep 2015

Fall is for Planting

The dog days of summer are now long behind us, days are shorter and temperatures much more comfortable. It’s this time of year, the fall, which is the most ideal for introductions into your landscape. Plants are beginning to prepare for winter and going into a stage of dormancy to conserve energy for the long, harsh winter. This reduced growth activity is exactly what allows their installation/transplant with little or no stress to the plant itself. Also take advantage of the array of vibrant colors the fall has to offer in making your selections.