Landscape Contractor Serving Commercial and Residential
March 20, 2022 0 Comments

Seedy Beginnings

Just the sight of seed racks and onion sets was enough to stir a longing for new growth in the midst of the dreariness and silence of winter. With a plethora of varieties and cultivars, the decision to plant becomes more complicated.  Since this is the best time to get tomatoes and peppers going, I figured I would start there.

Along with the tomatoes and peppers, I got a jump start on my herbs. Usually one basil plant would do me for all my culinary necessities. But how can I have a seed pack with a million seeds and not start a million plants? I guess we will become avid pesto eaters this season!

If you have never planted vegetables and are unsure of when is the best time to plant, what plants do best started inside and which do well in your area, Southern States offers a great summary.

March 16, 2022 0 Comments

Spring Cleanup

Quick Checklist to Get Your Yard Ready for Growing!

  • Remove all weeds, debris, and fallen leaves & branches
  • Prune back all expired perennials
  • Cut back liriope and other groundcovers
  • Shape deciduous shrubs that have not started to leaf out
  • Edge beds with trench edge to define and border the beds and trees
  • Remove any old mulch that has not broken down (can be distributed in wooded areas on the property/woodlines).
  • Install new mulch to freshen the beds, reduce weeds and retain moisture for the coming summer
  • Plant annual color for a summer-long shot of color

Check out our 22 point checklist for a property review.

Interested in a spring cleanup? Contact us to schedule your cleanup today!

November 24, 2021 0 Comments

Free Seasonal Decorations

Apparently Christmas is upon us . . . at least that is what the Mall was telling me! It used to be that Christmas music didn't make a comeback until after Thanksgiving. Now you can expect it to start piping while the employees are removing the Halloween goods from the shelves. Crazy!

But jumping the seasonal gun aside, now is the time to take a look at what you have in the yard that can assist you in reducing your holiday expenses and bring the beauty of outside inside. A few things to keep in mind when you are collecting your natural decorations:

  • Trim judiciously and only what you need. Try to be even in your pruning. You don't want to harm your shrubs/trees nor leave them looking like frankenshrubs!
  • On the flip side, do not fear cutting them!
  • The aridity in a winter house can cause rapid deterioration of the cuttings. Try to cut them as close to the time to your events to have them at their best. Sometimes misting them can keep them from drying out.
  • Protect your surfaces: if you are setting the cuttings on a table or mantlepiece, make sure that you put something down to keep your cuttings from damaging the surface with moisture or sap.
  • Be creative! Make wreaths, centerpieces, and mantle arrangements from your generous plants

Some great things to look for:

  • boxwood
  • spruce
  • pine  (beware of sap)
  • holly
  • magnolia grandiflora
  • Harry Lauder Walking Stick & Corkscrew Willow for branches
  • pine cones
  • dry seed heads of interest

While you are hunting for decorations on your property, don't forget to slow down and appreciate everything around you.

Happy Fall!

 

September 18, 2021 0 Comments

Fall for Bulbs

Planning for Spring Joy

The end of summer is an unlikely time to be thinking about spring but a little bit of planning can bring springtime joys.

Fall is the time to get your spring bulbs ordered and installed. Don't be intimidated by the planting of them either. I like to dig a hole 6" deep, do a cluster of 10 or 12 bulbs in the hole, bury them and call it a day. The splashes of color in the spring make a statement. You can also plant them in neat rows or groupings if you are trying to cover a larger area.

Try to avoid planting them so far apart that they appear to be accidental. Make it intentional and go overboard. They have such a short life that you want them to get all the attention they deserve!

Think:

  • tulips

  • daffodils (deer proof)

  • iris

  • crocus

  • allium (deer proof)

 

 

July 4, 2021 0 Comments

How is Your Garden Growing?

Maintain Your Garden in 3 Easy Steps

Watering:

Never let your plants drown or drought. Slightly moist soil is your best bet. If the ground is saturated, the plants will rot at the roots. Not enough water will cause desiccation. In the heat of summer, especially, keep an eye on the plants. The curling and drooping of branches and leaves is an urgent indicator: Water!

Watering in the morning or in the evening ensures that the most amount of moisture is reaching the plant and not just evaporating.

Weeding:

For better or worse, you need to manually pull out most weeds. Wear waterproof gloves and consider a comfortable sitting pad for extensive weeding. The trick to pulling weeds is to get the root out as well. Weeds will slide out of the soil easier when the soil is wet—and when the weeds are young. Pull the weed from its base (close to the soil line); if you miss the root, try using a fork to gently pry the plant out of the ground, roots and all.

If your weeds regrow, then you have a persistent root that you need to dig out. Use a spade or digging fork to dig up persistent weeds by the roots. Remove as many root pieces as you can. While weeding, hold the trowel vertically (like a child holding a crayon) to eliminate strain on your wrist.

Pruning:

By pinching and pruning, plants can focus their energy on making food instead of foliage. Pinching off extra flowers will help, too: Fewer flowers (along with fewer leaves) means more plant attention on developing bigger, better veggies, bringing forth that quality harvest you’ve been dreaming of.

In addition to increasing fruit size and quantity, pinching and pruning can help train plants to grow where you need them to, like up trellises, stakes, and other supports, keeping your garden looking well-maintained. This can also help keep your plants healthy, as removing excess foliage encourages good airflow through the plant, as well as makes it easier to spot pests or diseases before they become a serious problem.

February 2, 2021 0 Comments

Show Your Outdoor Space Some Love

Checklist for February in Virginia:

 

  • Order seeds you plan on starting indoors
  • Cut back your grasses and perennials. They can be cut all the way to the ground since they regenerate from the roots up.
  • Overseed your lawn
  • Mulch your beds
  • Remove any remaining leaves
  • Prune your summer flowering shrubs.
  • Prune out winter damage from your evergreens and trees
  • To rejuvenate your hollies, trim back now or early spring
January 4, 2021 0 Comments

Don’t be a Sucker

Suckers are those extra growths that occur from the bottom of the tree, usually unwanted and unsightly. They sap away at the growth of the tree and require trimming to keep them in check.

Certain plants are more prone to developing unattractive suckers and are, therefore, higher in maintenance.

Here are a few of the usual suspects:

  • Cherry
  • Magnolia
  • Crapemyrtle
  • Anything grafted

If you notice that a multi-stemmed tree has spindly and clustered growths coming from the base, it is time to get the pruners out.

Cut them off as close to the ground/base as possible. If you leave too much stem, they will continue to be a nuisance.

They can be cut off at any time, but dormancy (winter) and full growth (summer) are the best times for removal. Cutting too close to the fall allows for new growth to begin again before there is time to harden off. This could endanger the plant itself.

Are they detrimental to the health of the tree/plant?

No. Though they utilize energy that could go into flower or leaf production, the biggest reason for removal is aesthetic.

January 2, 2021 0 Comments

Not So Evergreen

"Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius." -Pietro Aretino

The winter chill can do a number on your favorite yard friends. It is important to distinguish what is "normal" wintertime attire and what is "damage." Evergreen trees and shrubs tend to take a beating with the cold--more so than deciduous (plants that lose all their leaves in winter) ones. Some hold up relatively well while others always seem to take on a rather questionable appearance.

Normal Evergreen Behavior
  • Coppery coloring
  • Reddish coloring
  • Spotty coloring
  • Some leaf loss
  • Some breakage from winter storms

Abnormal Evergreen Behavior

  • Breaking of branches
  • Leaves or needles falling off, leaving barrenness
  • Brittle branches
December 8, 2020 0 Comments

Beat the Winter Blues

Flowers . . .  are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Winter can be such a droll time of year. It seems that all color has gone from the landscape and even the sun keeps you feeling like something is missing. I find solace in the monotony of it all. It seems the perfect time to indulge in a warm mug of chocolate, to immerse yourself in a long heartfelt conversation with a new friend, or to get lost in a frivolous novel.

Over the years, I have grown accustomed to and embrace the rhythms of the landscaper's life. The ebbs and flows of rest and stress are as predictable as the seasons. The wintertime is my rest and renewal time--the retreat from the march of progress. It is my time to regroup, re-evaluate, and to contemplate. It is in this grayness that I find hope

Many people find their renewal in the fresh sights and smells of springtime. One cannot fail to rejoice in the bursting buds and the new life that is exploding from every living thing. Unfortunately, spring is the most demanding time for my profession. It is one that allows me little time to (literally) "stop and smell the roses."

Instead of lamenting the unfair trade that I have made with Life, that of colorless rest in lieu of springtime vitality, I have adapted. I have learned to make up for the "grayness" of my restful time by surrounding myself with everything alive and growing. The plants that adorn my deck in the summer, come inside and continue their show. With the fresh air that they bring comes a sense of life and growth that few things (outside of my own children) can evoke.

November 15, 2020 0 Comments

Off With Her Head!

With Fall upon us, you should not neglect the outdoors. 

Your irrigation heads should be on their way to dormancy and your perennials should be getting cut back. Most irrigation systems by this time are either blown out and winterized or on the schedule to be done. Proper maintenance of your irrigation system ensures that next spring is a smooth transition. Delaying this step can result in cracked lines if water freezes in the lines, and damaged heads.

As for your perennials, unless you like the look of the petrified remains leaves, and stems (which some do!) now is the time to cut your perennials back nearly to the ground. You can leave a few inches above the mulch for identification/location purposes. Most perennials come back from their roots and do not require the prior year's growth to revive. Fall is a great time to divide those perennials that seem to have taken on a presence of their own. In most cases, a sharp shovel and some well-placed shoves will cut your perennial so it can be transplanted or given away.

Some plants that you can hold off on cutting back due to their winter appeal are:

  • Grasses
  • Liriope
  • Heuchera
  • Sedum

So get out your shears and pruners and lop away!