Full-Service Landscape Design
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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:

GRO-LOW FRAGRANT SUMAC:

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.

SPICEBUSH:

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.

COMMON WITCH HAZEL:

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 Sep 2021
Fall Landscape

Don’t Let Your Landscape FALL Flat

Summer is winding down, vacations are ending, and those yellow school buses are making a comeback. Fall also brings changes to the temperatures and environment. This season makes it a great time to determine how your landscape faired over the warmer months and spruce things up as we head into the colder temperatures.

Extreme heat, lack of rain, and high humidity are all culprits that challenge lawn and landscape plantings. However, the most visibly affected area on most properties throughout the Delaware Valley is the turf.  So, what can be done to bring back that lush, green, golf course-like lawn you had back in April? And how can you also take advantage of the seasonal holidays to add some interest and color back to your landscape? We’re sharing some professional tips.

Lawn

Fungus was the quick spreading grass killer fueled by heat, humidity, and the over-watering suburban homeowner over the past few months. Fungus first appears as some yellowing areas which rapidly took over the lawn if not treated properly. The first inclination is to crank the irrigation up and even have it come on multiple times throughout the day. Unfortunately, more water adds to the problem making it much more difficult to correct with fungicides.

Don’t despair; in a few steps, you can bring your lawn back to its former beauty. Once this fungus (among us) is kept at bay, it’s on to the next step – Fall Lawn Renovation.

First, thatch your lawn to remove all built-up dead turf blades and debris. This can be done manually with a metal tined rake for those ready for a workout or by machine to be quick and efficient. Then, aerate your soil to remedy compaction and allow air, beneficial nutrients, and water to reach the root zone easily. Next, add a peat moss/soil mixture spread to any excessive bare spots throughout to provide the seed a stable germination medium. Lastly, apply grass seed along with a starter fertilizer for that extra boost. Ensure the new seed receives adequate water throughout its growing cycle to become a mature, hardened-off blade.

Flowers

Now that your lawn is the envy of the PGA tour, some much-needed seasonal color should follow suit. Mums are the staple fall flower that, when planted in masses, can create a stunning effect, but don’t stop there. Kale, cabbage, asters, and sedum will all add that vibrancy back into your landscape once the petunias and impatiens have all lost their appeal. Some of these are even perennials which means they will re-emerge each year to brighten your landscape. I can’t stress enough that planting in masses will help you achieve that WOW factor.  Quantities of three are good, five even better, and more than seven is a knockout!

Décor

Halloween and Thanksgiving are close enough to one another that outdoor décor displays can cover both.  If ghouls and goblins aren’t your things, you can still be festive and arrange pumpkins, multi-colored gourds, straw bales, and corn stalks. These all evoke the feeling of the fall harvest and are an excellent addition to entryways and landscaped areas. As with flower plantings, more is better! If you typically only purchased two pumpkins in the past, this year, get 9 of various sizes and arrange them in multiple groupings throughout.  Corn stalks are a great accent to any vertical elements of your home and landscape, such as light poles, doors, and tree trunks. The best aspect about these items is that they are relatively inexpensive, so you can go all out without breaking the bank.

Fall is associated with the end of the growing season, but no need to sit back and watch things wilt and die.  Finish up strong in a blaze of oranges, yellows, purples, and burgundies.  “Autumn… the year’s last, loveliest smile”- William Cullen Bryants

01 Aug 2021
Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer: How is Your Landscape Weathering the Heat?

School’s out, beaches are crowded, and that giant fireball high in the sky is baking your landscapes. The golf course-esque front lawn and lush landscape plantings you enjoyed throughout the spring may be showing signs of stress due to higher temperatures. Just how we become uncomfortable on a 95-degree day scorching in the sun, our lawns and landscapes are no different. So let’s touch on three aspects that, if addressed, will keep your lawn and plantings growing beautifully into the fall.

Fungus

The silent, creeping killer of lawns and shrub material which is most prevalent July-August. It thrives in hot and humid conditions overtaking the turf of suburbia. Fungus usually shows up as patches of brown, yellow, or white in the lawn seemingly overnight, and most homeowners are inclined to crank up their irrigation systems to bring back that beloved emerald green color. Unfortunately, water only adds fuel to the fire and causes the fungus to spread more rapidly. Once the onset of a fungal infection is identified in a lawn or plant, an appropriate fungicide should be applied. Treating it will halt the continued spread and allow for the regrowth of lawn blades and new leaves.

It also might be necessary to reseed the affected lawn areas if the fungus was there for an extended period as the root system may have also been compromised.

Weeds

Considered by most to be public enemy #1 in the fight to maintain a manicured property. When lawns and landscape plants start to stress in the heat of the summer, it’s a weed’s time to shine. They will overtake any thin or bare areas of an untreated lawn or light mulch covering in landscape beds. The first defense to these unwanted guests is keeping healthy, lush grounds and properly mulched beds. Mulch layers should be a minimum of 2-3″ and bare lawn spots quickly patched with seed. If it’s too late and they have already set up residence, post-emergent selective herbicides will aid in the fight. As with all herbicides, read directions thoroughly and follow manufactures recommendations as there are many limitations to application.

The best practice is not to even give weeds the chance to germinate. Pre-emergents for turf and landscape beds are generally applied in the spring as they last for multiple months throughout the season.

Irrigation

Water is the essence of all life, and plants drink a lot of it, especially in the summer. Unfortunately, drought is commonplace in our area, where there could be little rain for weeks and temps 85 and above. Plants are trained to conserve water in times when lacking, but only to an extent. That is when we need to step in and provide that much-needed supplemental watering either with an excellent old-fashioned hose and watering pale or an automated irrigation system.

Irrigation systems can be programmed to provide water at different frequencies in spring, summer, and fall and gauge the amount of rainfall received to what is needed. In addition, wifi-capable control modules are becoming more commonplace, allowing complete control from the palm of your hand and communicating with local weather forecasts.

Summer is generally the time of family vacations, relaxing by the pool, and enjoying everything outside Mother Nature offers. And, a well-thought-out plan that addresses these necessary maintenance practices will allow more time to appreciate your landscape and not have to overwork at it.

You can also hire a professional! Give our award-winning team a call today at 856-753-1944.

01 Jul 2021
weeds

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.

Mulch

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.

01 Jun 2021
Shade Structures

Great Ways to Incorporate Shade Structures

As summer approaches and the sun continually gets higher in the sky day by day, patio spaces will begin to heat up and bake. Higher temps can make for an uncomfortable experience at any outdoor party or BBQ. There is no need to sweat it, though, because there are many ways to include shade elements within your space to beat the heat. Shade sails, pergolas, or even pavilion-style roof structures can all be custom-designed to fit your needs.

Shade Sails

Shade sails first became popular at resort destinations and hotels but made their way into residential landscapes more and more every year. The design concept is based on having at least 3-4 fixed anchor points either on a home’s façade or posts. These connections are usually a galvanized or stainless steel eye anchor bolts. The sail itself is made from decorative, UV resistant, tensioned fabric available in an array of vibrant colors. Multiple sails can be combined and layered to create an architectural parabolic focal point. There are numerous online manufacturers that will design complete kits that even the novice handyman would install.

Pergolas

Pergolas are another way to achieve filtered shade and be constructed from wood, vinyl, composite, or aluminum materials. Three essential elements compose a pergola- vertical posts/columns, support cross-beams/rafters, and ornate purlins. These structures not only provide shade but can be home for flowering woody vines such as wisteria, honeysuckle, trumpet vine, to name a few. Retractable canopy systems are also available for individuals who want the look of a pergola with the option to have complete shade. Sunbrella fabrics are used on sliding tracks mounted between the rafters and can either be operated manually or remotely. These pergolas are the best solutions to appease both the sun worshipper and shade lover alike.

Pavillions

Open-air, pavilion-style, solid roof structures are the ultimate way to create an outdoor shaded room that can be utilized in any weather. As with a pergola, pavilions have vertical posts/columns and can be tied into a home façade or built freestanding. The framed solid roof allows for the incorporation of recessed lighting, fans, audio-visual, not to mention a force field from those burning UV rays. Shade is not the only way these roof structures can provide refuge from the sun. Misters can even be integrated into the soffit overhang to offer added relief. Many construction codes and township setback requirements apply to these, so some pre-design research is recommended.

Your yard can provide sanctuary from the sun with more architectural ways than just the typical patio umbrella. On the next bright day, sit in your space and evaluate sun patterns throughout the day. Make a wish list of your needs for how you would like to increase the use of the area and decide which solution works best.

Stay cool this summer!

01 May 2021
Brighten Up Your Everyday Landscape

How Can You Brighten Up Your Everyday Landscape?

Undoubtedly the number one requested item by homeowners looking to renovate their existing landscape is…. COLOR.  A way to brighten things up a bit and introduce life back into a generally stagnant landscape.  Specific color combinations can evoke feelings of warmth (red/orange), relaxation (blue/purple), or tranquility (pink, yellow).  So it’s important to carefully consider the perception you wish to convey with the use of color. It’s relatively inexpensive to achieve a color palette worthy of being framed in a museum with a wide array of annuals, perennials, and container gardens.
 

Annuals

An annual planting performs its entire life cycle in one growing season.  In our region, this season is typically March until November, depending on the specific variety. They also have to be planted every year and removed at the end of their cycle. Although annuals have an added maintenance aspect, they will provide the “best bloom for your buck.”
 
A single flat of annual flowers goes a long way and can provide continuous color from last spring frost to the first frost of the fall.  But don’t stop at one flat; plant multiple in large masses to create that WOW factor which will be the envy of the entire neighborhood.  Annual plantings are the perfect way to change up the look of your landscape from season to season.
 

Perennials

Perennials are the right fit for those with a not-so-green thumb or the time to replant annuals year to year.  In contrast to annuals, perennials will re-emerge each spring and flourish until winter. At this time, the top portion of the plant will die back, leaving the roots to start the whole process all over again come the following spring.  As with annuals, perennials will have bloom cycles concentrated in the spring, summer, or fall seasons. They have a larger growth habit than annuals that should be considered for their location and spread and increase overall size as the years’ progress.
 
Perennial design should be done so in a fashion as to create an ever-evolving showcase of blooms throughout the seasons.  They can provide specific colors, textures, and even fragrances not found in annual arrangements.
 

Container Gardens

Sometimes when space is limited, decorative container gardens can achieve the look you desire. The days of ordinary terracotta pots are long gone, and bold colors and designs are available in ceramic, stone, and composite. These planting vessels are a great way to add accents of color to your outdoor entertainment space. Cobalt blues, chartreuse greens, and crimson reds may seem a bit loud for the timider gardener but can provide that little extra pop of needed color. Annual plantings are typically reserved for these container gardens and can be removed at the end of the season.
 
An easy way to create added interest is to include plantings of complimenting colors but contrasting textures. The use of grasses/sedges, flowering plants, and trailing vines will create your own mini landscape. Edibles are also a great addition not only for their nutritional value but also for the aesthetics of the flower/fruit they produce. Nothing better than freshly picked herbs and vegetables while dining al fresco on a midsummer night.
 
These three options will quickly increase the overall enjoyment of your space while not breaking the bank. A well-thought-out planting color scheme can increase your property value, be therapeutic, and create a space everyone will admire.  And, this entire process is meant to be dynamic and ever-evolving, so if something doesn’t work at first, don’t give up; just try again.

If you’d rather hire a professional, or if you want more ideas on how to brighten up your yard, give our award-winning team a call today at 856-753-1944.

31 Oct 2017

The Accredited Landscaper

Choosing the right landscape professional for your project. Have you ever wondered of all if those titles and abbreviations after someone’s name actually make them more credible? They do. The landscape industry is no different than any other facet of corporate America in accrediting individuals based upon education, knowledge and experience. It is these select few who have invested in themselves and their companies to be better suited to service their clientele and provide the highest quality product. The following are three certifications commonly seen in the landscape realm which should be considered by any homeowner anticipating having a landscape/hardscape project completed.

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02 Jul 2017

The Landscape Of Wi-Fi

Incorporating Wi-Fi devices to control outdoor systems? The smartphone and tablet have proven to take control of our daily lives with apps and features to manipulate just about everything. Home automation from these applications has become common place in new construction and renovations, so why not extend that same ease of Wi-Fi use outdoors? Irrigation systems, LED landscape lighting and outdoor audio can all be controlled with just a simple swipe of the hand. These functions not only make operation a breeze but also are environmentally friendly by optimizing water usage and energy consumption.

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16 Jan 2017

Gettin’ Fired Up!

Bring warmth to that outdoor entertainment space. Now that the holidays have passed, Old Man Winter has set in and the shock of all the credit card bills is just now beginning to diminish, it’s time to start thinking about your landscape again. You know that barren wasteland of which a glimpse is caught now and again through a frosty window. The summer barbecues, family parties and relaxing sunsets are now all just a fond memory. An outdoor entertainment space doesn’t have to be left vacant during the winter months. Just how we turn up the thermostat inside when a chill is in the air, warmth can also be brought outside to make these spaces enjoyable and functional with the use of fire. This is no secret because fire has been warming souls and bringing people together since the beginning of time. It’s today’s applications and uses to harness this primeval element which makes it easily added to any outdoor environment.

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15 May 2016

What’s Your Plan?

Developing a comprehensive landscape design. Every great plan begins with just an idea: An idea of that outdoor entertainment space, complete with fireplace and bar top, or just how to arrange landscape plantings to complement the style of your home. It’s the next steps which are so important in transforming this idea into a reality. Site evaluations, conceptual drawings and final site plans/3D imagery all compose the path leading your ultimate “staycation.” Before jumping into this process, the undoubtedly most important aspect is determining a budget. This mystical number will help guide the direction of the plans and how they are composed.

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