Adding Annuals to Your Garden

AnnualsFlickrdaryl_mitchell

 

If you are looking to revitalize your garden, try adding some annuals.  They only last one growing season, so if you decide you don’t like how they look, you can just try different plants next year. You can include plants like tropical species that might otherwise not be able to survive the winter in your area by treating them as annuals.

Color Combinations

These types of plants usually come in brilliant colors that will instantly improve your yard. As Cornell University states, “There is no right or wrong when it comes to color in the garden.  Color choices are a matter of personal taste.” One way to choose plants is to pick annuals with complementary colors to the plants that are already in your garden. You can also try choosing all warm or cool colors.

Design Considerations

Think about your current plants when you are shopping for annuals. Check for the mature height so you do not accidentally plant a taller annual in front of a shorter one. Look at the growing facts like sun and water requirements, spacing and flowering time. Choose plants that bloom at different times throughout the year to help extend the color show.

Suggestions to Get You Started

Not sure which annuals are the best for your landscape? There are some that will fit into almost any garden. Pansies, marigolds and snapdragons are very cheery species that are available in a wide variety of shades. Petunias add beauty and fragrance. Impatiens and coleus work well in your shadier spots.

If you would like help choosing or planting some annuals in your garden this year, call us today for an appointment!

Image by daryl_mitchell under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Spring Color Displays Are Popping Up!

Crocuses are a great addition for a spring color display

Crocuses in the snow

One of the best days of the year is when I see flowers blooming for the first time after a long dreary winter. I love the reminder that the world is coming alive again! Spring color displays are showing up everywhere. The following plants can be used in your garden to provide that effect.

Annuals

One of the easiest ways to add color to your garden each year is to plant annuals like coleus, impatiens and pansies. These species can be started from seed or you can buy plants at your local nursery. They will flower during the growing season and then die off. Next week I will go into more detail about planning and designing with annuals in mind.

Bulbs

If you’re looking for flowers that bloom even when the ground is snowy, try one of the bulbs that bloom early in the year. I am partial to crocuses, personally. You can also plant species like snowdrops and glory-of-the-snow. If you want to add these to your garden, though, you will have to wait until autumn. Bulbs meant to be planted in spring will bloom for you in summer, which can be a good way to keep colors going in your garden.

Forsythia

The cheery yellow blossoms of the forsythia are a sure sign that spring is right around the corner. This is one of the first shrubs to come alive each year. It is generally unremarkable for the rest of the growing season, however.

Fruit Trees

In addition to gorgeous flower shows in the spring, fruit trees will reward you with a bounteous feast later in the year. Make sure you get cultivars that are known to grow in your area. It is especially necessary to choose one that matches the amount of chill hours (how much time they spend at colder temperatures) or you may have blossom and fruiting problems.

Redbud

One of the lovelies little trees around is the redbud. It is so eager to bloom in spring that the pink flowers burst open even before the leaves do. I recommend the ‘Forest Pansy’ cultivar, which has rich purple leaves in contrast to the rosy blossoms.

What is popping up in your garden these days?

Image by Muffet under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Choosing Plants for Your Garden

ChoosingPlantsFlickrtracie7779

Spring is right around the corner and you may have already started planning for new landscape improvements. It’s tempting to run down to your local garden center and buy any plant that catches your eye, but you must resist that urge and do your homework. Choosing plants for your garden requires attention to the conditions present in your yard.

USDA Zones

The USDA produces a map that divides locations into hardiness zones based on the average minimum low temperature each year, with 1 being the coldest and 13 the warmest. For example, Yonkers, NY is rated as USDA Zone 7a.

Each plant has a general range of zones where is it most likely to be successful. While this is not an absolute guarantee (microclimates and other factors can affect its chances in your own garden), choosing a plant that is meant for your zone helps its possibility of survival.

Plant Life Span

Think about how much work you want to do in your garden and whether you want it to change yearly.  Annuals grow for one season, then die. Biennials last two growing seasons before the end. Perennials, trees and shrubs usually live for many years. Some people like cheery annuals like pansies that brighten up your garden, but need to be replanted yearly. Perennials last longer, but may need pruning to spruce them up.

Size

When you are shopping, make sure you look at the tags to see what the expected size will be at maturity. It is easy enough to forget and buy a plant that looks like it will work in your space based on the container size at the garden center, but turns out to spread farther than desirable over the years. You don’t want to have an imbalance where front plants tower over rear ones (thus hiding them) or end up with your plants becoming crowded from improper spacing

Planting Site Conditions

Plants do not all have the same preferences and needs. Look at the tag and see the sunlight requirements. Ask a garden center associate if your site has special needs. For example, clay soil, places that tend to be wet or acidity all require specific species that are able to tolerate those conditions.

Ensure Fruit Pollination

If you are trying to grow fruit in your yard, make sure you have enough plants available for cross-pollination. Some species are able to fertilize themselves, but many need a different cultivar (cultivated variety – think Golden Delicious and Fuji for applies) nearby. If you only have one plant, you may not get any fruit at all.

Choosing plants for your garden carefully will help you get the best possible look for your landscape and make it easier for them to grow properly. If you would like assistance in planning out your garden this year, don’t hesitate to call.

Image by tracie7779 under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Mulch During Your Spring Cleanup

Mulch is beneficial in the garden

When you are doing your spring cleanup to prepare your garden for the coming growing season, take the time to put down some new mulch. This practice helps your plants stay healthy and strong. It also makes your yard more visually appealing.

Some Benefits of Mulch

When you put wood chips, compost, or other common mulching materials into your garden beds, your plants benefit greatly. This layer above the soil insulates the plants better from temperature fluctuations that could freeze the roots or evaporate the water present. Weeds have a harder time pushing through to the surface and growing properly. It is also aesthetically pleasing and adds a uniform color to the base of your plantings.

Two Reasons to Mulch Every Year:

1)Mulch is often made of natural organic materials. Over time as they are exposed to air, water and organisms, it begins to break down. If it is not replenished yearly, it will become thinner and you will lose the beneficial properties.

2)Since the mulch has been through the elements and decomposition, it can look old and weathered. A fresh layer will reinvigorate your planting beds and accent the colors of your foliage and flowers.

How Much Should You Use?

Two to three inches is a good general guideline to use when applying mulch in your landscape. This is enough to cover the soil up properly and add insulation. You can figure out how much you need by multiplying the length and width of your garden (using feet) times how deep you want the layer to be, converted to feet. Three inches would be .25 feet, for example. The resulting number is how many cubic yards are needed to cover the entire area.

A warning for trees and shrubs: Make sure you leave at least six inches of space around the trunk that is free of mulch. If you have it closer, this can invite pests and diseases to invade the plant. It can also keep the bark moist, leading to rot.

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Planning for Landscape Improvements

A landscape plan can help you improve your garden successfully

Is your garden ready for an update? When you are planning for landscape improvements, take the time to research your options and carefully consider any new plants or other garden features that you want to add. This can help you optimize costs, pick the best options and avoid problems in the future

Think About Your Needs

Why do you want to make changes to your landscape? How much do you want to spend? Perhaps you now have kids and would like to add a playground. You may want a garden that attracts hummingbirds, or one that provides fruits and vegetables. Write down a list of possible additions for your garden. Look at the costs for different options.

Create a Landscape Plan

Sketch out at least a basic layout of your yard. Note where there are currently plants, concrete, and any other features. If you are adding plants, research some different possibilities to make sure they will grow in your garden. Use the mature size when calculating where you can place them.

Need a Helping Hand?

If you are not sure about the best options for your garden, you may want to call in a professional for assistance. They can help you lay out a plan for your landscape improvements and even install it for you.

Image by Landscape Design Advisor via Flickr Creative Commons

Contract or No Contract?

Signing a contract

You’ve done your homework and selected a landscaping company to come and do work at your house. They had great reviews, beautiful examples in their portfolio and seemed to understand what you wanted done to your garden. Since you clicked so well, do you really need to have a contract?

Expectations Are Laid Out

Have you ever played the game Telephone? Spoken messages can become distorted and we tend to forget parts or transform it into what we think we heard. A written contract solidifies what each side is expected to do and when. You won’t have to wonder if your landscaper remembers that you really wanted petunias or that you don’t want a fountain. They won’t have to hope you know when to pay them and how much.

Peace of Mind

In a perfect world, a contract would not be needed. Both parties would fulfill all of their obligations without fail.  We know, of course, that this is far from the case. Unexpected things can happen even with the best of companies and clients. A contract will help protect you just in case things cannot be resolved and you need to meet with a mediator or go to small claims court.

Always Have a Contract

When you hire someone to beautify your landscape, always sign a contract clearly stating what you would like them to do. If they refuse to do one, move along. Professional landscaping companies will always want to have one written up to protect both of you.

Image by danmoyle via Flickr Creative Commons

Hiring a Landscape Professional

Perhaps you’ve been daydreaming of renovating your garden this spring once the cold snowy days are over. Is hiring a landscape professional to do it for you worth it?

The answer is a resounding yes!Paver-patio

When you hire a landscaping company, you get the benefit of their years of experience in creating and caring for yards. They know the plants that grow the best locally, the best way to mow a lawn and how to get rid of those pesky pests. They have trained in safe methods and have the proper tools to help make your garden flourish.

Curb appeal can be yours….

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A landscape professional can also help your add value to your home. A properly maintained landscape provides beauty and “curb appeal” to the neighborhood. Your house becomes worth more since it has an attractive exterior. Trees and shrubs can also be especially beneficial since they reduce energy costs, can provide edible fruit and live for a long time.

This is especially important when you are thinking about selling your place.Think about it from a buyer’s perspective…if you drive up to check out a prospective house, your first impression is the front yard. If it’s unimpressive or unkempt, it will color the whole experience. You can hire someone to improve your curb appeal

 Finding the Right Professional Is Key

When you are checking out potential landscaping companies, look for their credentials. They should hold the proper licenses and insurance for your area.  Other good signs include national accreditations and memberships in trade organizations. Ask to see a portfolio with examples of their work so you can assess whether they can provide the level of care and style you are wanting. Look for reviews on the Internet.

Ready? Call Us Today!

We here at Emil Yedowitz Landscaping and Irrigation Solutions would love to help you transform and maintain your garden. Contact us now to get started!

Snow in the forecast

December 2013 has certainly been a little more “white” than we expected.  In preparation for the winter months, have you:

1) Prepared your broadleaf evergreens for the harsh winter winds and temperatures?

Your broadleaf evergreens prefer a winter coat for the winter. This can be accomplished Snow Covered Evergreenby wrapping the shrubs/trees with burlap….or  a more modern and esthetically pleasing technique is spraying your shrubs/trees with an anti-desiccant.  Some type of winter protection will help protect your shrubs/trees from drying out and burning over the winter.

2) “Winterized” your lawn care equipment?

It’s simple…..Change your engine oil first.  If you want to get a jump on the spring season, you can sharpen any blades your equipment may have.  Pop in a new air filter (and pre-filter if you have one) and check/change the fuel filter.  Then,

Blades Sharp?

Blades Sharp?

pour some fuel stabilizer into the fuel tank and run your engine (to get the stabilizer into the fuel lines).  If possible, shut off the fuel switch and let your engine run “out of gas” until it stalls.  Done!

3) Prep’d your snow removal equipment for the snowy months?

Snow is coming….get the snow blower out of the shed.  Check your engine oil…is it full? Is the oil clean?  Turn on Snow Removal Equipmentthe fuel switch and start the engine.  If you prepared your engine properly at the end of the winter last year…you should have no problem starting the engine up.  Lastly, check linkages, chains, any other moving parts.  Make sure they are functioning properly too.

 

Not too late for Spring Color

Spring Color

Nothing announces spring with as much color and life as the early blooms of crocus, the brilliant trumpets of daffodils and the elegance of tulips. Spring-flowering bulbs of all kinds are an important part of maintaining year-round color in any garden, and now is the season to begin or expand your plantings.

PLANNING THE BULB DISPLAY

It’s important to check the different blooming times of bulbs.. Tulips, for instance, can be broken into as many as five or six periods periods ranging over several months.

Mixing purple giant crocus and white mid-season tulips for instance, and then expecting them to bloom together can be disappointing. On the other hand, mixing early and late varieties in your plan greatly extends your blooming season.
HEIGHT CONSIDERATION
Besides keeping shorter growing kinds in front, avoid mixing plants with extremely different heights to maintain a balanced look. Also very tall varieties should be avoided in windy areas to prevent damage to the blooms and stems.

Another consideration in planning is the possibility of damage by rodents. Moles and ground squirrels (chipmunks) love to discover a bed of tulips and can virtually destroy your display before you get to enjoy it. Daffodils, on the other hand, are poisonous to rodents and will not be bothered. If your location is likely to attract these underground feeders, either protect the bulbs in baskets or stick with the variety’s they won’t eat.

 A final thought on planning bulb displays is maintenance!

Tulips must be dug up and separated at least once every several years or they will decline and produce fewer and fewer flowers.. Daffodils can continue to multiply and produce excellent displays without being replanted. This feature makes daffodils and narcissi popular for naturalizing. Another maintenance note is that the bulbs draw  their nutrients for the following year largely from the dying foliage, which, must be left in place until it completely withers. This is an especially important factor in rotating mass plantings.

Fall Color in the Landscape

Fall is here…

Lawn furniture is getting put away (slowly), snow blowers are being pulled out from the sheds and sent away for a quick tune up.  People ask me, “Joe…what can you possibly be landscaping in the fall?”

Truth be told, we are busy planting lawns, installing colorful hardy mums and getting our Spring bulbs into inventory for November/December planting.

Yes…Fall Color / Spring Color.

Hardy mums offer great curb appeal to a home.  They are bright, cheerful and continue to flower right through the first frost.  Unknown-17They accent halloween decorations, they are the centerpiece of Thanksgiving decorations….simply said they are just beautiful!!!

And what am I doing with bulbs you ask? Well, we install bulbs in November/December…they get cooled off and roots out during the winter months, and sure enough they welcome the spring season with a beautiful array of spring color……

Tulips...Spring Color

Tulips…Spring Color

You know ……Tulips, Daffodils,  Hyacinth, etc..

So just because the summer season has come to an end doesn’t mean your flowers and seasonal color has to also.  Spruce up your landscape with hardy fall mums and a display of spring blooming bulbs.  Trust me….you won’t regret it!