Full-Service Landscape Design
8 Pineview Ave, Berlin, NJ 08009
ph: (856) 753.1944
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01 Aug 2021
Dog Days of Summer

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

Schools 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 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 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.

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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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.
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20 Feb 2016

Striving for Straight F’s

Achieving the Ultimate in Outdoor Entertainment. Ever since I can remember, it has always been engrained in school to study hard, pay attention, try your best and straight A’s will come your way. This couldn’t have proved to be truer, with one exception, the designing and implementation of an outdoor entertainment area. I now personally strive for straight F’s when developing architectural plans for these spaces. Food, Fire and Fluidity have become the main elements, when brought together, which deliver the ultimate staycation of any homeowners dreams.

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