Tidy Up Your Flower Beds This Spring with Mulch

springMulchemily @ go haus go

I get more and more excited each week as spring draws closer. One of my favorite days of the year is when I am out and about in winter and suddenly see that the buds on the trees have begun to swell. It’s marvelous to discover that it’s almost time for everything to really start growing again.

One task that should be on your spring cleanup list if you have flower beds is adding mulch. This is especially useful if you have laid wood chips before. They tend to turn gray and otherwise become dull looking over the course of a year due to conditions like rain and snow. Putting a fresh layer down can really make your flower beds more eye-catching in a jiffy.

There are a few different types of mulch available to the home gardener. The ones that are the most aesthetically pleasing include:

  • Cacao (cocoa) hulls
  • Rocks or pebbles
  • Rubber
  • Straw
  • Wood chips

Adding one of these to your flower beds does more than just make it look more presentable. It will also help protect the plants from wild fluctuations in temperature, help stop weeds from being so problematic and keep water from evaporating away so easily.

You need to figure out how much mulch to purchase by calculating the area of your flower beds and multiply by how deep you wish the layer to be. You can use this handy calculator from Cornell University if you aren’t feeling mathematically inclined at the moment. You would then see how many cubic feet are in bags of the mulch of your choice and divide by that number to see how many you would need to buy. You can also buy it by the cubic yard if you have a large area to mulch. 

Once you have brought the mulch to your yard, spread it evenly over the top of the soil or existing mulch. Do not work it into the soil. Keep it a few inches away from the trunks of any trees and shrubs since having it too close can cause fungal and other problems.

What is your favorite type of mulch?

Image by emily @ go haus go under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Assess Your Lawn for Winter Snow Plow Damage and Other Problems

LawnSnowDamageFlickrshaire productions

Winter can really take a toll on your lawn sometimes. Your grass and plants are subjected to freezing temperatures and otherwise snowy conditions. Diseases like snow mold creep in.  Accidents can happen where you end up with snow plow damage. Once spring hits, you may likely be able to repair the damage from all of these problems, so now is the time to make a task list of what will need to be done.

On a day when the snow has (at least temporarily) melted, take a walk around your lawn. Bring at least a basic sketch of your yard so that you can take notes. A camera can also be helpful. Check for any spots that seem to be problematic and note them on your paper, along with possible causes and the steps needed to fix it.

If you have snow plow damage, you may be able to fix it by adding in soil to make any holes level and reseeding in the spring. If you notice clumps of grass, you may have a problem with snow molds. Part of the treatment for this is a good spring raking and removing the clumps.

Once you have walked over your yard, calculate how much grass seed that you will need to sow. The exact amount will depend on the type of seed that you use (which will likely be helpfully placed on the bag’s label) and the extent of the damage.Order a bit extra to account for seed that fails to germinate and spots that didn’t survive. Another possibility is using pieces of sod if you have several spots in need of repair.

Do you have any other ways that you prepare for spring cleanups?

Image by shaire productions under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Send a Special Valentine’s Day Bouquet Using the Language of Flowers

Some of the sentiments expressed by the flowers that are  included in this bouquet express gratitude (hydrangeas), love at first sight (lavendar roses) and admiration (pink roses).

Some of the sentiments expressed by the flowers that are included in this bouquet express gratitude (hydrangeas), love at first sight (lavender roses) and admiration (pink roses).

People have long attributed meanings to flowers based on characteristics like their color. This is known as floriography. During the Victorian era in the 1800s, an intricate language of flowers developed. Secret admirers, for example, could send off a bouquet that would express their ardent desire in a time that was otherwise often prim, proper and reserved. Many flowers have more than one meaning and there can be many different flowers that can express a certain emotion.

You do have to be careful in what flowers you put together under this system. The recipient could get confused if you sent along red roses (romantic love) or lavender roses (love at first sight) when you merely wanted to send someone a friendly non-romantic expression of gladness. If that’s the case, yellow roses are in order.

If you are planning on sending flowers this Valentine’s Day (or any other occasion), why not send a secret message along? Many of the meanings below are taken from our sister company Yedowitz Florists, who would be happy to assist you with your needs.

Roses

One of the most popular flowers to give to those that we love in some manner is the rose. If you wish to express romantic love, send the classic red rose. Yellow denotes friendship, gladness and joy in the platonic sense. White is innocence. As mentioned above, lavender expresses that you fell in love at first sight.

Other Common Bouquet Flowers:

  • Alstroemeria  = Friendship
  • Bird of Paradise = Joyfulness
  • Carnations = Love, fascination, and distinction, depending on the color used
  • Chrysanthemums = Cheerfulness and rest, with the specific colors having their own meanings
  • Daffodils =  Unrequited love, great regard and respect, and chivalry
  • Daisies = Innocence, purity, and gentleness
  • Ferns = Sincerity, confidence, and shelter
  • Gerbera Daisies = Cheerfulness
  • Lilies = Purity of the heart
  • Sunflowers = Loyalty, happiness, longevity and many other meanings depending on where the giver lives
  • Tulips = Declarations of love

Have you sent a bouquet where you chose the flowers according to their meanings?

Image by muffet under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Watch For Your Landscaping Contracts This Week!

ContractsAreComingFlickr24oranges.nl

If you are one of our regular customers (thank you!), you should be receiving your landscaping contracts in the near future. We like to make sure to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, so call us if you do not receive it within a couple of weeks. That length of time should allow for any problems due to snow and other weather conditions that may slow mail down.

As we mentioned before, it’s always a good idea to have a contract written up and signed by both parties when you have work done on your house. It helps the professional be aware of what you want done and lets them know when they can expect your payment. You can rest easier knowing that your expectations have been laid out. In the unfortunate case of something going wrong, you will have proof of what you wanted to be done and by when.

Make sure that you read over the entire contract carefully before signing. Ask us if you do not understand a part or would like to talk about making changes. It is important that you know what you are agreeing to have done in your landscape and what your part of the deal will be. 

Once both parties have signed, keep a copy for your records. You may want to add dates to your calendar so that you can remember when a payment is due and when you can expect services to be performed.

Did you get your contract yet?

Image by 24oranges.nl under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Consider Hiring a Landscape Professional This Year

Hiring a landscape professional may be just the ticket for your gardenI like to try to save money by doing projects myself sometimes. I am proud that even though I do not know much about cars, I was able to figure out how to change my own taillight. I’ve crafted and fixed and muddled my way through many other projects.

However, I’ve recognized that there are times when it’s more efficient to call in a professional. Cleaning and organizing are not my forte, so I have hired cleaners before and hope to get regular housekeeping someday. They have the skills and knowledge to get the job done much faster and do a better job in the process.

Now is the time to start thinking seriously about hiring a landscape professional. We have preconceived notions that services like this are not affordable, but it might not be as bad as you think. Sit down and calculate how much it cost you to do your own garden care last year:

  • Did you have to buy any equipment or supplies?
  • How much money/space did it cost to maintain and store your equipment?
  • How much did you spend on fuel for your mower and other tools?
  • How many hours did it take you approximately? Is there something else you could have been doing with that time to make money, rest or do activities that you love?

Once you have that number calculated out, give us a call. We can help you figure out how much service is needed to maintain your yard and what the price would be. You may be surprised to find out that it could indeed cost less to have your lawn care done for you in the coming year, leaving you with the satisfaction of a beautiful garden and more free time in your life.

Image by Richard Thompson3 under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Check Your Winter Precipitation Levels and Burlapped Shrubs

WinterPrecipitationFlickrdaryl_mitchell

Instead of staying cooped up inside and forgetting about your garden, take a minute to think about how much winter precipitation you have had so far. If you have wrapped evergreen shrubs in burlap for protection, now is also a good time to go outside on one of the milder days and see how they are doing.

Winter Precipitation Check

One task that you can do now while you wait for your garden to come alive again in the spring is to check your winter precipitation levels. You may want to place a rain gauge or weather station in your garden to help you keep track of how much precipitation you have received. You can also watch the exact amounts accrued through websites like weather.com.

We do not often think about watering our plants during the winter, but it may be necessary if the temperatures have been warmer than usual and there has not been much snow or rain.  If it has been a few weeks since you have had either and the temperatures are in the 40s, give them some water. Do not leave it until later in the afternoon in case freezing temperatures set in and cause damage to the wet plants.

Burlap Shrub Inspection

Inspect any of your evergreen shrubs that are wrapped in burlap for protection. If there is snow present, you can gently shake it off because heavy snow accumulation can add pressure to the branches and cause them to break. You don’t want to be too forceful with the removal, though, or that act itself will cause damage.

How much snow or rain have you had so far?

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

Save for Future Landscaping Plans

SavingMoneyFlickrKenWilcox

I once did a savings plan where I put aside a certain amount each week. I started at the beginning of the year and put in $1, which was pretty easy. Next week it increased to $2 and kept increasing by a dollar each time. Since it ramped up slowly, it didn’t seem so painful. It was a good thing that I had set aside money since at the end of the year, I happened to need some dental crowns. I likely would not have been able to get the work done if I had not prudently set aside savings.

It is also a smart idea to save for future landscaping needs that you will have in the spring and summer. If you wait until it’s time to get the work done, you may have an emergency come up or otherwise find that you do not have enough money.

Start by estimating how much you will need, especially if you are planning on doing some renovations. You can call us now to get a tenative cost for our services. Add on a little extra (10% is a good minimum) just in case you find that it ends up a bit more than you expected. Divide that number by either 12 (months) or 52 (weeks) to see the amount that you would need for your goal. Some online banking accounts allow you to add a nickname, so you can specify somehow that it is for a beautiful garden to help keep you motivated.

One trick that I like to use is to have it autodraft from my checking to my savings. You have to be careful that you do not accidentally overdraft the account, of course, but with this method, I don’t have to think about putting the money in there.

What helps you save up money? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Image by Ken Wilcox under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives License

Watch for Signs of Trouble in Your Winter Landscape

Snow can be rough and break tree branches

Even though the winter landscape is a bit quiet overall, there are still steps you can take to make sure your garden is in proper shape and ready for the next growing season. Two problems that yards may face are broken limbs and the presence of frozen puddles.

Broken Limbs?

A common cause of broken tree branches is snow or ice accumulation. When the branches are weighted down after a storm, the stress can cause them to break. You have to be careful with branches that are covered with snow. If it is not frozen and icy, you could try lightly using a broom handle or other similar tool from underneath to knock some of the heavy snow off. This action can actually cause a branch to break also, so care should be exercised when doing this and avoid when possible. If it is covered with ice, it is even more likely for damage to occur and you should let nature take its course.

If you do have a tree branch that is broken, assess the situation. If it looks like it is in a dangerous position (hanging by a small bit, for example or a large branch), call a professional to help properly remove it. Otherwise, leave it alone until spring. If the damage is too extensive, you may end up needing to remove the tree, but get a consultation to see if that is a good idea before going forward.

Frozen Puddles?

You may not immediately think of a frozen puddle as anything more than the potential for falls. After all, it’s winter and snow, rain and slush are commonly present. Frozen puddles in a certain area, especially if they are recurring, may be a sign that there is a drainage problem present. Take note of where it is located and do a soil drainage test in the spring once temperatures warm up.

Image by huipiiing under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Happy New Year!

HappyNewYearFlickrKoshyk

Can you believe that it’s it’s 2015 already? Happy New Year! May you have health, prosperity and peace throughout this new year.

What goals do you have for your garden this year? I ordered a catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. One of my resolutions is to try growing something new and unusual. I also want to germinate seeds in my new little greenhouse. Finally, my husband and I plan to buy a farm someday where we’ll have a vegetable garden, an orchard, livestock and more. This year we will look into the details of what we want so that we know how much it will cost and get an idea of when we can make this all happen.

Ideas for Garden Related Resolutions:

-You too could try planting something new in your garden. The Internet is a wonderful tool for research and daydreaming even when the weather is dreary outside. Make sure that you check the tags to read about its growing conditions. It is important to choose a plant that will work where you want to plant it.

-Maybe you could add a new feature to your landscape. Have you been dreaming of a fire pit? A patio cover? An arbor? If you need help in determining how to make this project happen, give us a call.

-Get organized! Learn about the different tasks that you should be doing around the yard and make a schedule so that you can stay on top of it all.

Once again, all of us at Emil Yedowitz Landscaping and Irrigation Solutions wish you a very Happy New Year!

Image by Koshyk under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Cutting Back Perennials

Irises can be cut back in the fall

Irises can be cut back in the fall

If you are still looking to work on your garden even after your final cleanup, you could try cutting back perennials. Many of them can be pruned either in fall or spring. This can help your landscape look more attractive if the leaves are dead and drooping. It can also keep the plant healthier since some pests and diseases tend to attack the plant or use it as a cozy home until winter is over.

First, you need to determine if you should be cutting back each perennial in fall or spring. If you have one with attractive fruit or foliage, you will likely want to leave it alone to keep the four season interest going. If it has seedheads present, these will help visiting wildlife survive through the winter. 

If you do decide that you need to do some pruning, Cornell University says to “cut back most perennials to about 3 inches from the ground. Any closer may damage crowns.” Use a sharp pair of hand pruners or loppers to trim away. Clean up all of the foliage that you remove to discourage diseases and pests.

Examples of Perennials to Cut Back in Fall:

  • Bearded iris
  • Bee balm
  • Brunnera
  • Daylily
  • Peony
  • Phlox
  • Siberian iris
  • Veronica

Examples of Perennials to Cut Back in Spring:

  • Bishop’s hat
  • Dianthus
  • European ginger
  • Fern
  • Hardy geranium
  • Hellebore
  • Heuchera
  • Lenten rose
  • Moss phlox
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Some sedums

Are you cutting back perennials in fall or spring? What has worked best in your garden?

Image by Vanessa Myers