Category Archives: Landscape Maintenance

Landscaping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Pavers & Retaining Walls – Garcias Landscaping

While there is nothing that can’t be fixed with a little hard work, the key to your satisfaction and peace of mind is learning how to avoid landscaping mistakes before they happen.

Failure to Plan

Thumbing through gardening magazines or strolling through your local nursery may spark your imagination and enthusiasm but coming home with a carload of plants before deciding where to put them may leave you disappointed with the finished result. In addition to researching the unique requirements and potential growth of each species, it’s important to strive for balance, harmony, and sustainability when considering your design. The team of landscape design experts at The Grounds Guys can help you achieve the look you desire while adding beauty and value to your home.

Neglecting the Front Yard

Many homeowners make the mistake of focusing on the backyard where they spend the majority of their time, to the detriment of the front yard space. In addition to consideration for your view of the yard from your indoor living area, focus on your curb appeal by adding some color and dimension and defining the pathway to your front door.

Bad Pruning Habits

Pruning is a vital component of landscape maintenance, which, when done correctly can encourage and control the growth of your plants. When done incorrectly, however, pruning can cause damage to your plants and cause your landscaping to appear unprofessional and unhealthy.

Cutting Your Grass Too Low

Whether your intention is to mimic the look of your favorite golf course, or to stretch out the amount of time in between mowing, cutting your grass too low can have dire consequences to its health and appearance. When too much of the stalk is removed the grass is unable to properly endure photosynthesis and root growth may be stunted. For best results, aim for a height that matches the variety and species of turf.

Excessive Ornamentation

Decorative items serve a unique function in most outdoor designs, but one of the biggest landscape design mistakes you can make is allowing them to take over your yard. Focus your efforts on creating a more natural and varied decor, incorporating a mixture of shrubs, grasses, flowers, and trees, with just a few strategically placed, high-quality decorations to attract the eye.

Not Using the Correct Irrigation

Adequate levels of moisture are crucial to a healthy lawn and garden, and both overwatering and underwatering can have detrimental effects. A professionally installed irrigation system takes the guesswork out of watering your plants and can be customized to meet the unique requirements of the various plants around your property.

Neglecting to Think About Color

Choose your color palette prior to planting, to ensure the colors work together with each other and the exterior of your home. Too many colors or too much of one color can be overwhelming, while too little may appear boring. Factor in seasonal color variations by researching flowering shrubs and variations in foliage prior to installation.

Spring Landscaping in NJ – The Best Time to Get Started - Landscape  Solutions

Lawn Mowing Tricks No One Ever Told You

When to Start Mowing in the Spring | The Turfgrass Group Inc

Mowing the grass is a pretty straightforward task, but are you unintentionally making the chore harder than it needs to be? Follow these 10 tips from Lowe’s to make mowing the lawn easier for you and more beneficial for your grass.

Sharpen the Blades

At first you may think this tip simply lengthens your to-do list, but sharp blades prevent you from having to make multiple passes. A quick investment of your time at the start of summer can make mowing the lawn easier all season long.

Top Off the Tank

There’s nothing more annoying than running out of fuel mid-mow. Plus, you’re advised not to refuel a hot lawn mower. If you think the tank is running low, remember to top it off before you start the mower next time.

Check the Lawn for Debris

The last thing you need is for a rock, stick or baseball to dull your lawn mower’s freshly sharpened blades. To prevent frustration and potential injury, clear these items from the grass before you start mowing.

Time Your Mowing Just Right

The best time of day to mow is when it’s cool outside, so in the morning or evening. Mowing when it’s cool helps keep moisture in the roots where it’s needed. It also reduces the chance of heat exhaustion.

Still, the evening is preferable to the morning, because this gives the grass 12 hours of darkness to heal before the sun comes up. The grass also tends to be dewy or wet from being watered in the morning, and you shouldn’t mow when the grass is wet for your own personal safety and the health of your grass.

Keep the Grass Long Enough

You may think giving your grass an extreme cut will prolong the time until you need to mow again, but cutting more than one-third of the blade at a time can damage the grass. Plus, longer blades shade the ground, which slows evaporation and helps prevent weeds from sprouting. In this way, more frequent, less extreme cuts result in a healthier lawn and fewer weeds.

Keep Grass Even Longer in the Shade

Longer grass signifies longer roots. Since grass growing under a tree must compete with tree roots for water and nutrients, help the grass stay as healthy as possible by leaving it longer than the grass growing in full sun.

Rethink Your Mowing Schedule

It’s easy to cut the grass on a set weekly schedule, but keep in mind that hot, dry weather slows the growth of cool-season grass. In these conditions, you’ll be happy to hear you can mow less frequently without harming the grass.

Speaking of schedules, check out these cleaning schedules, checklists and charts from Molly Maid, a fellow Neighborly company!

Change Up Your Mowing Pattern

You may fall into the habit of always mowing along the same route, but since grass tends to lean in the direction you mow, you’ll encourage more upward growth and avoid ruts if you switch up the way you mow each time with different mowing patterns.

Skip the Bag

Do you think leaving grass clippings behind looks messy? Maybe so, but this organic fertilizing technique returns nitrogen and other valuable nutrients to the soil. Make sure you shoot grass clippings onto areas you’ve already mowed as a free way to promote a healthier lawn.

Use Caution on Hills

If you have a steep yard, never mow straight up and down. This could make you slip and injure yourself. For easier lawn mowing and a reduced chance of injury, mow from side to side across the hill.

Low Maintenance Lawn Care Services in Minneapolis

How to Protect Trees from Deer

How to manage deer damage on trees and other plants | UMN Extension

Deer are infamous for damaging trees and shrubs. Hungry animals may browse on leaves, pine needles, buds, or bark. But deer don’t just eat your landscape; territorial bucks can also kill trees by scraping them with their antlers. Young and recently planted landscapes are the most susceptible to these animal antics, so take steps now to protect your trees from deer.

Physical Barriers Provide the Best Protection

You have probably heard all kinds of ideas for how to protect trees from deer. Deterrents range from mothballs and heavily scented soaps to garlic and decaying fish heads. All repellants work to some degree, but deer can acclimate, or the scents can lose their potency following rainfall or irrigation.

One surefire way to keep deer from eating your pine trees and evergreen shrubs is to install a physical barrier. You have a few options, depending on the size of your property and your aesthetic preferences. Here are the top suggestions:

Install nylon netting over low-lying shrubs: Cover the plants with a nylon mesh screen, pinning down the corners with twine or zip-ties attached to tent stakes.

Wrap shrubs in burlap: Deer are a big threat to young shrubs in the wintertime. Encasing plants in burlap sacks doesn’t just cover up the tempting foliage; it also helps prevent the branches from bending out of shape during wet, heavy snowfall.

Surround plants with wire metal cages: The cages should stand at least six feet tall. Position them a few feet out from young trees or shrubs and support the cages with stakes. Even though deer can leap over a six-foot fence, they are reluctant to enter a small space, such as a fenced-in bed of rhododendrons or yews. Have a small plant you want to protect? Surround it with an old tomato cage, wire-hanging basket, or milk crate anchored with tent stakes.

Wrap trunks with tree wrap: Paper or plastic tree wrap protects young and thin-barked trees from buck rubs. Replace the wrap every few months to prevent moisture buildup or insect infestation.

Install a deer-proof fence around your entire yard: Conventional residential fencing can keep deer out as long as it’s at least eight feet tall. Other options include exclusion fencing, snow fencing, slanted outrigger fencing, and binder twine fencing. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has more information about constructing different kinds of fences.

Build a Simple Fence to Protect Fruit Trees From Deer - Hobby Farms

Other Ways to Protect Trees from Deer

In addition to installing a physical barrier, here are other methods that have proven effective against hungry and territorial deer:

Remove plants from your landscape that deer are known to love, such as cedar, yew, rhododendron, maples, and roses.

Choose plants that deer dislike, such as those with fern-like foliage, fuzzy leaves, spines, or strong odors.

Spray vulnerable trees and shrubs with smelly, bitter-tasting deer repellent.

Remove food sources from your yard, including bird feeders and pet food dishes.

Install motion-detector sprinklers to scare deer away.

Pruning Trees in the Winter

While each type of tree has unique requirements for optimal health and growth, most will benefit from tree care during the winter months, including pruning. Carrying out this practice during the dormancy period is commonly used to ensure vigorous growth in the spring, but regardless of whether you need to remove unhealthy or dead branches, encroaching limbs, or want a better harvest, pruning can help.

When is the Best Time to Prune Trees?

The short answer to the question “Is it OK to prune in the winter?” is “yes”. In most situations, winter is the optimal time for pruning, after the tree has entered a state of dormancy and most of the leaves have fallen. Once the branches and limbs are exposed it is much easier to observe the structure of the tree and may help to identify areas of concern that may otherwise remain unseen.

Fruit trees and varieties including bald cypress, honey locust, juniper, poplar, and spruce trees all respond well to winter pruning, but sap-producing trees such as birch, elm, maple, and walnut are better left until late summer or early fall due to seepage.

How to Prune Trees in the Winter

You will need:

Gloves

Hand pruner

Handsaw

Loppers

Protective/warm clothing and eye wear

Shears

Which tools you use will depend on the diameter of the branches you wish to remove. Before you begin, examine the tree to determine a suitable course of action, taking note of any dead or dying limbs.

Begin pruning by removing smaller branches first in order to thin, shape, or reduce their numbers:

Take your hand pruners and make a clean, diagonal cut one-quarter of an inch above where a bud faces outwards from the plant.

Make cuts at a 45-degree angle to discourage disease or water damage.

Keep in mind pruning will encourage new growth in the direction of the cut.

To remove large branches or limbs:

Larger branches should be cut in stages to prevent injury to yourself or the tree.

Make a series of three separate cuts using your handsaw, beginning with a cut halfway through the underside of the limb, approximately 18 inches from the trunk of the tree.

Once complete, move to the top of the branch and begin cutting approximately one inch further out from the cut on the underside, sawing through to remove the limb.

Make your final cut at a 45-degree angle just outside of the branch’s collar, close to the trunk of the tree.

Benefits of Winter Tree Care:

Pruning trees in winter comes with a number of benefits, which include:

Avoid the spread of pests or diseases, which are more active during the spring and summer.

Free up valuable time in the spring to put towards other outdoor projects.

Less stress on trees, allowing time for pruning cuts to heal before warm weather insects and pathogens may be introduced.

Eliminate damage in the drop zone beneath the tree once the ground has frozen.

A Balanced Landscape for your Warsaw, IN Landscaping

Phlox is a great perennial for your landscape in Warsaw, Winona Lake, and Syracuse.

One of the comments I hear most as I meet with clients in Warsaw, Syracuse, Leesburg, and Winona Lake is “I would really like to have a balanced landscape and plantings.” Balance means alot of different things to different people throughout the greater Warsaw, In area. In this post, I would like to provide some explanation of what I consider to be a balanced landscape.

Me idea of a balanced landscape in Warsaw, IN & Syracuse, IN includes proper scale, flowing design, easy maintenance, evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees, perennial and annual flowers, water, sunlight, shade and good air movement. In Warsaw, Winona Lake, and Syracuse there is no shortage of water as most properties are either on the water or near it.

Proper Scale

A landscape should reflect the the size and scale of your home or lake house. This means that in time, mature plantings should appear that they belong. Wise choices avoid the pitfalls of designs that incorporate planting that are too large, too small, and too many or too few. All of us have seen foundation plantings that cover windows and crowd out walkways or hedges so think that plants are diseased and sickly. A landscape in Warsaw or Syracuse should express the uniqueness of the homeowner while enhancing the architecture. There is no right or wrong but a casual passerby should see the home and the landscape as one beautifully framed picture.

Flowing Design

A design integrates the needs of the homeowner with the use of the outdoor spaces created. I like an easy traffic pattern that moves one from the front of the home to the rear or lakeside with color and interest, while positioning service areas for air conditioners, pool equipment, trash cans, and storage sheds for quick accessibility but not necessarily in the line of vision. For those of you that live or have cottages on one of our many lakes in Warsaw, Winona Lake, Syracuse, North Webster, Leesburg or Culver, getting all that lake gear from the garage to the lake can be a problem. Traffic patterns become critical.

Next week I will continue with this blog post by providing more details on maintenance, planting suggestions, and water requirements.

Proper watering is the most important element to maintain healthy plants. It is most favorable to the plant to water in the morning hours. If this is not possible, sometime in the evening hours after 5 p.m. is the next best time. Please carefully follow the instructions below to ensure the survival of your investment. 

Trees: Soak the root ball of shade and ornamental trees by placing the hose on one side of the tree, about 6” from the trunk. Turn on the hose so that it’s a slow trickle, with just a pencil-thin water stream coming out. Let the hose sit there for about 20 minutes. After that time, move the hose to the opposite side of the tree and let it sit there for another 20 minutes. Do this 2-3 times per week under normal, 70 – 80 degree days, and more often during hotter and drier days.

Shrubs: Soak root ball for 30 seconds to a minute on all sides of the plant, every day for 2 weeks during hot, dry conditions. Cut back to every other day for the following 2 weeks, or during cool or wet periods.

Perennials: Water for 15-45 seconds every day for 2 weeks during hot, dry conditions, or as often as is necessary. During extremely hot, dry conditions watering may be required twice daily. However, under normal conditions once per day is sufficient.

Fertilizing

All plants were fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer upon installation. All fertilizing for trees, shrubs, and perennials should be done in the spring with a slow-release, granular fertilizer. Although it is not necessary for the plant’s survival if it hasn’t been experiencing stressful conditions, it is beneficial until the plant’s root system has become well-established. All annuals should be sprayed with a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer every three weeks during the growing season.

Pruning

Shrubs and trees will require little to no pruning for the first few growing seasons. However, once pruning becomes necessary, it is recommended to have a professional maintenance company do all trimming and pruning since each species has different pruning requirements. Most perennials should be cut back to 1-2” from the ground in the fall once they have started to die back. Grasses can be cut back to 2-3” from the ground in either late fall/early winter or early spring before the new growth starts to come up.

How To Stop Weeds In Your Warsaw & Syracuse Landscaping

Question: How can I stop weeds in my landscape beds this spring? Last year I spent most of the summer weeding and I don’t want to do that again.

Answer: Limit tilling of the soils in your landscape beds in Warsaw, In and Syracuse, IN to once a year at most. Lightly rake instead. Only disturb the soils where you will be planting things. Use a pre-emergent herbicide in your landscaping to help control weeds. Then follow up with a generous layer of mulch.

Landscaping requires attention throughout the season.  You can’t put off maintaining your landscaping if you live in Warsaw or Syracuse.  It will take time to maintain.  

Fall Clean Ups in Warsaw In & Syracuse IN

WLM Landscape Maintenance Crew

We are well under way on getting our clients fall clean up completed in Warsaw, Syracuse, Leesburg, Winona Lake, Culver, Columbia City, and Ft. Wayne. Fall Clean ups in Warsaw, IN should include not only cleaning up the landscape beds but trimming/pruning of the plant material in the landscaping. It’s also a good idea to edge the landscape beds to separate the lawn/turf from the landscape beds. Sometimes getting rid of the debris can cause homeowners a problem if you live in Warsaw or Syracuse so if you need some help, please give us a call at 574.268.2566 and we will be glad to help.

Some of the benefits of a fall clean up for your Warsaw landscape include reducing the size of plants if they have grown too large. Performing a fall clean up right now in Warsaw will make the work load smaller in the spring time.

Check out this short video of our Landscape Maintenance Crew performing a Fall Clean Up in Warsaw, IN: https://youtu.be/FDLf-GGCG1U

 

 

Fall in Warsaw, IN & Syracuse, IN. What To Do?

Landscape Maintenance in Warsaw, IN and Syracuse, IN

It won’t be long and a color will wash all the deciduous trees in the Warsaw, Winona Lake, Syracuse, Ft. Wayne, Columbia City and Culver areas with the magnificent color of fall foliage.  October in Warsaw, IN and Syracuse, IN is one of the busiest time of our landscaping season only second to April through June.

Our fall clean up and landscape maintenance work will culminate in December, when hard pruning begins, but for now it’s all hands on deck to get our fall project work completed and fall leaf clean ups finished.

Here is a list of things that your Warsaw, IN landscape will need as we move into fall.

  1. Fall in Warsaw, IN brings some of the best weather conditions for starting new plantings.  As the weather cools and the days get shorter, many plants grow roots deeper into the soils more easily so now is a great time to install a new landscape, renovate your existing landscape, or transplant some of your existing plant material.  Now is also a good time to overseed your lawn.
  2. Propagate.  Are there any plants in your Syracuse, IN landscaping that you would like to reproduce?  How about taking cutting before the first frost?  Now is a good time to do both if you live in Warsaw, IN or Syracuse, IN.
  3. Germinate.  Fall is a great time to plant seeds or overseed your lawn.  Now is also a good time to start a wildflower garden from seed.
  4. Frost Protection. In Warsaw, IN, frost and potential freezing isn’t far off and your delicate plants will need some protection if you want them to look good next season.
  5. Feeding.  If you own a home in Warsaw or Syracuse, fall is a great time to fertilize your plants so they aren’t nutrient deficient next spring.  Use fertilizers made specifically for the plant.  Fall is also the best time of year to feed your lawn.  Need a lawn fertilization program?  We can help you there as well. 
  6. Weeds.  Don’t be afraid to put down some more pre-emergent herbicide in your landscape beds that will give you even better weed control next spring and summer.

Mulch In Your Warsaw, IN Landscaping

Mulching your landscape beds in Warsaw, IN and Syracuse, IN will help prevent weed growth.

Installing mulch in your landscape beds every year is a great idea for many reasons.  Mulch can be added to your landscaping during any time of the year if you live or own a lake house in Warsaw or Syracuse.

Most people in Warsaw believe that mulch attracts bugs and insects that can damage the home or landscape.  That is somewhat true only if the mulch is an inferior product!  At WLM, Inc. we use only a shredded hardwood mulch and not left over construction debris that is ground up, dyed and sold as a landscape mulch.  Not all mulch is the same so be careful which supplier or contractor you choose for your mulching needs.

How to tell if you have bad mulch:

  • mulch floats when it rains
  • color fades quickly
  • large chunks of wood in the mulch
  • trash and other debris in the mulch

Benefits of Mulching Your Warsaw, IN & Syracuse, IN Landscaping:

  • Retains soil moisture up to 75% and reduces watering
  • Mulch decomposes over time and turns to a compost which feeds the plants
  • Makes the landscape look brand new every season
  • Reduces weed germination and growth
  • Invites desirable insects to your landscape beds
  • Reduces heat stress to landscaping plant material
  • Allows Warsaw homeowners the ability to plant additional flowers with less effort

Every spring and into summer, our crews are out in the Warsaw, Winona Lake, Syracuse, Leesburg, Ft. Wayne, Columbia City, Culver and North Webster areas installing mulch for our clients.  If you need help keeping your landscaping beds cleaned up and mulched, please reach out to our office located in Warsaw, IN.