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

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.

 

Late Fall Fertilizer

Yes, it’s getting chilly out there and YES It is time to apply your final application of fertilizer to your lawn!  If you think it’s too cold to fertilize your lawn….think again.

Fall Fertilizer

Here are the many benefits to a late fall, early winter fertilizer:

  1. The grass plants will have better color going into the winter months
  2. And, the grass plants will green up earlier in the spring
  3. The grass plant foliage will be much denser going into the winter
  4. The grass plants roots will grow deeper and denser
  5. and the grass plants energy reserve will be increased going into the winter.

So break out the spreader and break open a bag of fertilizer and spread away!

 

Plants That Help You Garden

One of the great things about gardening is that in some way your garden can take care of itself. Now, that’s not endorsing abandoning garden chores completely, but there are a few things that you can do to make your work a little easier. One of these things is to select plants for your garden that will help control insect pests.

Certain plants contain properties that either invite beneficial insects or repel harmful insects. Beneficial insects prey on pests that cause damage in the garden. Ladybugs and praying mantis are good examples of beneficial bugs.

Using plants for pest control not only cuts down on your workload, but it also reduces the amount of insecticides that you use in your garden. And fewer insecticides means more good bugs, which in turn means help in controlling bad bugs.

Remember that what works in one garden may not work in another. Every garden is different with its own microclimate, soil type, and pest control issues. It is important to experiment to find out what works best for your situation. With this thought in mind, it also helps to choose plants that are native to your area. This way beneficial insects will already know what to look for.

Artemisia: This plant produces a strong antiseptic, although not unpleasant aroma that repels most insects. Planted in drifts it can also deter small animals. One popular variety is ‘Powis Castle.’ Probably best not to plant in vegetable gardens because it produces a botanical poison.

basil1-1Basil: The oils in basil are said to repel thrips, flies and mosquitoes. Plant basil alongside any tomato plants for larger, tastier tomatoes.

Bee Balm: This plant attracts bees to the garden. It is another plant that you can grow with your tomatoes.

Borage: This plant is a real workhorse in the garden. It repels tomato hornworms and cabbage worms and attracts beneficial bees and wasps. Borage also adds trace elements to the soil. This is an annual, but readily come back each year from seed.

Catnip: This plant repels just about everything, except for cats of course! Use it to keep 300_78968away flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, and weevils. Use sachets of dried catnip to deter ants from invading your kitchen. A favorite variety of catnip is ‘Six Hills Giant’ because of its proliferation of sky blue blooms.

Chives: are great herbs. Not only do they have great flavor, but their grassy foliage and round heads also add so much interest to any garden. You can plant chives to repel Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies. It has been said that chives will help prevent scab when planted among apple trees.

Chrysanthemums: When you do use an insecticide, use one made from chrysanthemums called pyrethrum. This all-natural pesticide can help control things like roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and ants. In the garden white flowering chrysanthemums are said to drive away Japanese beetles.

Garlic: A lot can be said about garlic. It’s really great stuff. In addition to its great taste and health benefits, garlic planted near roses repels aphids. It also deters codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, and carrot root fly.

Marigolds: The marigold is probably the most well known plant for repelling insects. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to images-140offend a host of destructive insects and wild rabbits as well. If you choose marigolds for your garden they must be scented to work as a repellent. And while this plant drives away many bad bugs, it also attracts spider mites and snails.

Nasturtiums: Plant nasturtiums with your tomatoes and cucumbers as a way to fight off wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow blooming varieties, act as a trap for aphids.

So, let some of these plants make your garden more interesting and share the work of pest control and of attracting pollinators to your garden.

Spring Feeding: Yes or No?

“Do my trees and shrubs really need to be fertilized?” We hear this question time and time again from our customers, and the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Construction activities when homes are built lead to soil that is heavily compacted, poorly aerated and poorly drained – not the best conditions for tree and shrub growth. Consider too that in their natural forest habitat, trees and shrubs have a constant supply of nutrientsimages-75 from decomposing layers of leaves and other organic matter on the forest floor. But in our lawns and landscapes, we regularly rake away leaves and other organic matter before it has a chance to decompose.

What Fertilizer Does

Fertilizer ensures that your trees and shrubs have the essential nutrients they need for healthy growth: nitro- gen, phosphorus and potassium. When they’re fertilized regularly, your trees and shrubs will exhibit deeper color, denser growth and better blooming. Plus, they’ll have an improved ability to fight off insects and disease. Fertilization also helps roots to branch out and grow in size, making it easier for your trees and shrubs to survive drought and other stresses.

What if They’re Not Fertilized?

Without fertilization, your trees and shrubs won’t be able to reach their true potential. And over time, they may begin to show signs of nutrient deficiency, including:

• Poor leaf color

• Reduced leaf size

• Premature fall coloration and leaf drop

• Reduced twig and branch growth

• An overall reduction in tree growth and vigor

By having your trees and shrubs fertilized regularly, you’ll be rewarded with healthier, more beautiful trees and shrubs that you can enjoy for many years to come.

Can Your Lawn Take the Heat?

Summer will be here soon, and it can be brutal on your lawn. But summer hardiness can be improved this year and in the years ahead. Here are some things to think about throughout the rest of the growing season:

Mowing: As temperatures increase, you should gradually raise your mowing height by 25% to 50%. Also, you should remove no more than 1⁄3 of the grass blade at a time. This will keep the soil shaded and encourage deeper roots. When summer heat starts to subside, you can gradually lower the mowing height again.

Watering: Water your lawn deeply and infrequently, since light, frequent waterings encourage shallow roots that can’t sustain grass plants. Your lawn needs from 1″ to 1.5″ lawn-hostasof water per week from rainfall or sprinkling, and you should soak the soil to a depth of 6″ each time. Early morning is the best time to water.

Core Aeration and Fertilization in the Fall: Core aeration opens up the soil, breaks
 up thatch and improves the flow of air, water and nutrients to the roots. By having your lawn fertilized after aeration, your turf will be less susceptible to disease while exhibiting improved recovery from the stresses of summer heat and drought. Fall fertilization will also lead to fewer summer weed problems and better fall-to-spring color.

Have Three Seasons of Floral Beauty

Did you ever consider having three full seasons of color on your property? You can, and it’s fairly easy! By using early to late bulbs in spring, annuals in the summer and mums in Pansy_Atlas_Mixthe fall- plus your flowering trees and shrubs- you’ll have non-stop color almost year-round. Here are a few tips that may make your personal “flower show” more successful.

There are two basic ways to plan floral displays. You can go for the maximum visual impact or “wow appeal” by having a few massive beds of one or two types of flowers. The challenge with this approach is that in trying to keep the gardens fresh, you need to eliminate the spring bulbs before planting the summer annuals. And then do the same again in the fall when the chrysanthemums are ready to become your focal point. This process is more work and can be more expense, but you can really knock the socks off your guests and neighbors with massive flows of color.

The second basic approach is to plant your flowers in a border-type bed of mixed types of mixed_bulb_flowers_1plants. With this approach, you will mix all of the different kinds of flowers through the season, so that as your bulb foliage dies down your annuals begin to thrive and help cover the browning bulb leaves. Many gardeners find this approach more enjoyable for the variety it delivers year round. And you can include small shrubs and perennials as well. Planning a great mixed garden takes careful planning with consideration of blooming times and height of the different plants chosen.

The hardest part of creating a floral show comes first- improving the soil. As with all kinds of gardens the old saying also holds true for flowerbeds, “for every dime you spend on plants, put ninety cents into the soil.” Incorporate organic materials and lots of it. You can use compost, rotted manure, peat moss or any combination of these. Just be sure it’s mixed in really well and deep.

Once the soil is ready, the fun can begin! In selecting your spring bulbs, the choices are enough to boggle the mind. And since most bulbs bloom either early spring, mid-spring or Unknown-17late spring, you can have a succession of beauty and enjoyment just from the bulbs you select. It’s good to be aware that some bulbs (like daffodils) continue to multiply and stay vigorous from year to year while others (like tulips) tend to dwindle in quantity and quality if not pulled out and separated each year. A great feature of bulbs is that most get planted in the fall, so all winter you can imagine the show you’ll have in the spring.

There is also an abundance of summer annuals from which to choose. Be sure to select annuals that will work well in the amount of sun your garden gets and how well you’ll be able to water during hot, dry periods.

Even though most annuals will keep blooming until cold weather, extending the fall with one more change is exciting. Like all the plants we’ve been talking about mums come in a variety of size, color and texture. The standard garden mum is a good performer almost every year. From rust to deep reds and bright yellows and whites, grouping of three or five plants (or more) add a vast burst of color to an almost-finished season.

The great thing to remember is that you can “jump onboard” during any season and enjoy the wonderful feeling of watching something you’ve planted grow!

Plant Health Care

The most common reason homeowners and business mangers call in a tree or lawn expert is because they are concerned something is wrong with their plants. Tree decline, insects,  power rakedisease attack and the weather often works against us. Sometimes a simple solution is available. For others, a more complex program is needed. Sometimes, when a problem has gone on too long, the plants may be lost.

These types of situations led to the development of Plant Health Care programs. Basically, PHC programs are designed to maintain or improve the health of your plants using the most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive practices and treatments available. They operate by monitoring your landscape. This may be as simple as an annual walk-through or as involved as monthly visits. It depends on the complexity and diversity of your landscape. Often monitoring is done in conjunction with your tree care and lawn care programs; while regular preventive and curative applications are being made, other aspects of your property are checked for healthy growth.

When problems beyond the scope of your regular programs arise, your professional will devise solutions and work with you to implement them.

The main point is to work with professionals who are trained and interested in helping keep your property in top condition- people who know how to spot and identify problems or potential problems and how to communicate effectively with you, the owner. Here at Emil Yedowitz Landscaping, we are devoted to finding the best plan for helping you to maintain a healthy landscape.

Mulch- More Than Just “Pretty”

Much more to mulch then what meets the eye

images-11Mulch- most of us think of it as something there to make the ground look good.  And a clean edging job and fresh mulch does just that. The consistent color and texture do improve the looks of your shrubs and flowers. In fact, dark colored mulches even widen the pupil of the eye, making bright plants stand out even more. Mulching also cuts down a lot on the amount of time and effort it will take to keep your beds and your whole property looking better throughout the entire season. Here are some of the advantages of spring mulching.

Some of the things you can count on mulch to do for you:

  • Prevent many weeds and grasses from sprouting by blocking sunlight from the soil
  • Keep up to 21% more moisture in the soil around the root zone
  • Help soil stay up to 10 degrees cooler in summer, which reduces stress on the plants

mulching-794901What is the best mulch to use? There is a huge variety of mulch materials available and you can have “bulk” or bagged mulches. Your choice will probably depend on what’s available and your personal preference for color and texture.

Whatever type of mulch you prefer, it’s best to get an early start for the most benefits. So mulch now for an easier season later on.

Make This the Year Crabgrass Loses!

It doesn’t have to be an uphill battle

Scientists have recorded 50-year-old crabgrass seeds sprouting after being brought to the surface from deep in the soil! They are very tough seeds, and a challenge when it comes to controlling this grassy weed.

A Very Prolific Producer

Just one mature crabgrass plant can produce from 4,000 to tens of thousands of seeds, which are then brought into your lawn by birds, on the shoes of your mailman or other images-75visitors and blown in by the wind. Once these seeds lodge in your soil, they don’t need much to germinate, grow and begin to spread. Because crabgrass is an annual, it grows quickly to a circular plant 12 inches in diameter. It defeats your slower growing turf and leaves large holes or voids when it dies in the fall.

A Two Prong Attack to Win Against Crabgrass

  1. Crabgrass needs bare or nearly bare soil in order to germinate. It has trouble getting a hold in thick and healthy lawns. So the first step is to keep your lawn healthy and thick. That means a good fertilization program: keeping up with pests and being sure the lawn gets enough water and is mowed properly.
  2. Use a combination of both pre- and post- emergent herbicides to directly control crabgrass.

A pre-emergent herbicide is applied in the spring or late fall to set up a barrier in the soil. As weed seeds just begin to germinate, they are eliminated by the pre-emergent.

A post-emergent herbicide can be used to treat any established crabgrass plants in your lawn. This type of herbicide will kill off the crabgrass without harming your established lawn.

Crabgrass and other annual weed seeds will keep coming into your lawn. The best solution is to remember the “two prong” attack- healthy lawn practices and a combination of herbicides- to get any that slip through and make sure you win this year!