Category Archives: Landscape Maintenance

Landscaping with Rocks

Limestone Boulders | Indiana Limestone Co. A Polycor Inc Company

There are literally 101 ways of landscaping with rocks, and probably hundreds more. When many people think about landscaping they focus only on flowers, ground covers, shrubs and trees. The elements missing in this type of landscape design are stones and rocks, which provide varying heights and contours that keep the backyard landscape interesting and unique. Successfully integrating rocks into your landscape turns them into a focal point – each rock being placed to create a specific look and feel.

Additionally if you’re using natural rock, it looks like it’s part of your yard’s natural environment even if you purchased the stone elsewhere. Of course the greatest advantage of using rocks in your garden is they require no watering, trimming, or fuss.

Having rocks in your landscape changes the overall feel of your yard. Think of a Zen rock garden as one example. It’s both beautiful and relaxing, and has a practical application for individuals who enjoy moving meditations. Other ideas include using stone in combination with water features for a deep-forest atmosphere, or lava rock for a tropical paradise. The potential combinations are only limited by the space available, the budget and your imagination.

Choosing Rocks for your Landscape

Landscaping with rocks means taking a little time to educate yourself on the different types of rocks available to you. There’s a huge difference in cost and materials comparing a water feature with stone to decorative ground cover. Not all rock is the same in terms of durability.

Additionally you also have fake rock from which to choose. Fake rock is lighter and comes in custom sizes and colors. These stones offer the advantage of having hollow areas that are perfect for storing tools or hiding unappealing eyesores (like exposed piping).

Accent Landscape Boulders

Accent boulders help you build levels into your landscape without bringing in extra soil. They also give the whole landscape design a unique character that impacts the view with a little drama and interesting angles.

One of the keys to using accent boulders effectively is making them appear as if they literally grew out of that spot. Putting the bottom of the stone down about 4″-6″ achieves that effect, particularly in combination with decorative grasses nearby.

images boulder retaining walls - Bing Images | Landscaping with boulders,  Rock wall gardens, Rock wall landscape

Planning and Placement of your Landscape Rocks

Use graph paper and try a couple of different plans for the landscape. Landscaping with rocks, and particularly boulders, is heavy work. You want to get the placement right on the first try. When drawing your rock design I would suggest grouping your rocks in sets of three, four, or five, in various sizes and shapes. This type of plan creates a natural appeal rather than something that seems formal and contrived.

Types of Landscape Rocks

Gallery | WLM

Small to medium sized rocks have a lot of flexibility in your landscape design. Use small stones in place of mulch in combination with landscape fabric for weed control, for example. Small stones help with drainage around pools and patios, and make a textural filler around trees too.

Place medium sized stones so as to create garden pathways. Or, use them as a natural support for a top heavy plant. Medium sized stones also create rustic borders and low-lying walls with a little engineering.

Three very popular natural stones for landscaping with rocks are flagstone, schist and river rock. The flat nature of flagstone and its unique shape makes it ideal for creating patios and pathways. Smaller pieces can be attached to garden boxes or fountains for a cobbled look.

Schist comes in a wide variety of colors, which is one reason why people like using it in landscape design. Schist has long, thin rock layers that work well in small garden streams. Blueschist provides striking appeal for wallscapes. Greenschist stands out when polished to a marble finish, and Chert has stripes of black for a dramatic backdrop in ponds.

Drainage/Dry Creek Beds » French Drain Installation | Backyard Drainage | Dry  River Beds | Landscapes by Terra

As the name implies, river rock comes from rivers and has soft, round edges. This makes it a good option for landscape designs requiring draining. Of course river rock also suits water features beautifully. Scatter a few river rocks around areas that attract butterflies to give them a soft surface for landing.

Whether you want a splash of texture and natural colors for ground covering or a full-out rock garden, landscaping with rocks is a great choice. Rocks endure the elements and truly offer one-of-a-kind uniqueness in sizes and shapes, some of which are sure to fit your plans.

Use artificial rocks to cover unattractive areas or as clever hiding holes for tools, then bring natural rocks of all sizes into the landscape to tie your theme together perfectly.

DekoRRa Rock Medium Rock Enclosure - Faux Rock - 109

Symptoms Of A Dying Tree

SIGNS OF A DYING OR DEAD TREE

You should be aware of the signs of a dying or dead tree to prevent unwanted damage to your property. When trees begin to die they become a hazard. Dead branches can fall on cars, homes, garages, sheds, fences, pools, power lines, pets, and people. There are warning signs you should look for to help determine the health of your tree.

  • Leaves are brown when they should not be during growth season.
  • Red or Brown needles on your Evergreen is a sign that the tree is dying.
  • Branches that have lost its bark is a sign of a dead branch.
  • Fungus on the branches is a telltale sign that the branch is dead.
  • The bark is dry, loose, and falling off.
  • There are holes in the bark that indicate insect infestation.
  • The trunk has fungus.
  • The trunk and roots are slimy indicate a dead tree.
  • Missing bark at the trunk.
  • Carpenter ants at the base and around the tree.
  • If you peel away the bark and the tree is dry then you have a dying tree.
10 Signs of a Dying Tree You Shouldn't Ignore

WHAT TIME OF YEAR SHOULD TREES BE PRUNED?

Winter is a great time to cut most trees. As a general rule, trees and woody shrubs that don’t bloom are usually fully dormant in late winter – and should be pruned in the “dead” of winter. Blooming trees and shrubs should be pruned after they bloom.

Occasionally, pruning species such as maple and birch should be done in mid-summer for minimal sap loss. Prune trees for the importance of both health and safety. Trees that already dead should come down before they become a source of injury or property damage – any time of year!

How to Prune Trees Without Killing Them (step-by-step with pictures) -  BestLife52

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