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Spring into Summer Action: Completing Your Garden Plant Assessments

Here in New England, the growing season is in full swing after a cool, wet spring. For gardeners, the challenge has always been when to truly dive into active garden editing. In other words - when can we start tweaking in the form of digging, dividing, moving, adding and even chucking plants? Once the hint of warm weather arrives, many gardeners succumb to the urge to do everything at once and end up making rushed and often bad decisions…including buying plants with no plan of where they’ll be planted.

Here’s One Golden Rule of Gardening: Spring garden assessments should happen in the latter half of the season. In New England, that means after Memorial Day. Period. This timing gives your garden a chance to rebound from winter so you can see both the plants and the full composition of your garden. Trying to assess in March, April, or even May can lead to bad decisions.

Topics: Garden Tips

Bulb care: How to get the most out of your bulbs, now and later

Bulbs are perhaps one of the most valuable and productive friends a flower gardener can have. Cared for properly, they seem to automatically provide life and color in a bleak landscape after a hard winter. They are springtime incarnate.

But after bulbs finish flowering, there’s the ugly aftermath. Faded, collapsed petals; wilted and yellowing leaves and stems. What’s a gardener to do?

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the anatomy of bulbs to learn how to properly care for them and determine an appropriate time and technique for cleaning up that mess while still supporting the health and vitality of the bulb.

Topics: Bulb Gardens

7 Must-do’s For Landscape Curb Appeal That You Will Love

In the real estate business everyone talks about curb appeal but, you ask, what the heck is that anyway and what does it have to do with me? Seriously, who cares about what the curb thinks?

Actually, everyone cares about curb appeal -- even you as a property owner to some extent – and especially anyone buying or selling a property. We may think we couldn’t care less about what other people think about our curb appeal, but the truth is how you feel about the look of your property influences how you feel about your home – and your home life.

Topics: Local Landscape

3 Tips for Busy Homeowners: How to Have a Well-Tended Landscape

Most traditional landscape management has been based on principles of control rather than cooperation. Historically, gardeners have worked hard to achieve what they considered “natural perfection.” Lush, well-tended flower beds and perfectly-shaped shrubs and hedges bordering thick, green lawns.

Of course, all this “perfection and control” takes a terrible toll – on the gardener and the landscape. Hours of backbreaking labor is needed to weed, prune, water, and tend needy plants that don’t really want to be where they’re planted. Tons of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers are applied in order to keep everything and everybody in line. As a result, landscapes are all too often ecological nightmares.

Today, it’s appropriate to consider entering into a new relationship with the natural world. Taking a step away, if you will, from everything that we’ve collectively (mis)learned about “proper garden care” and how a cultivated landscape should look. Gardens need to be less wasteful and more environmentally benign.

Topics: Landscape Tips

First 6 Steps to Create the Garden of Your Dreams

If you love the outdoors and growing things, I’ll bet that, at one time or another, you’ve dreamed about the perfect garden – what you’d plant, how it would look – and then you thought “how would I ever manage to maintain something like that?” It’s easier than you think.

In fact, it’s possible to create the garden of your dreams that is both beautiful and manageable. However, it’s easy to make just a couple of mistakes that turn that garden of perfection into a garden of woe.

There are six landscape basics that come into play with the perfect garden and when they are addressed, maintenance becomes totally manageable:

Topics: Garden Design design

Understand your landscape by breaking it down into layers

Your landscape can be a confusing place. As spring’s thaw gradually reveals its details, it can be difficult to comprehend all of the aspects of your gardens and landscape. However, there is a way that you can simplify and categorize it that will make understanding it significantly easier.

I like to break down the landscape into five main layers or niches as a way to organize my thinking. It’s helpful to understand these niches before you go out to do any landscape assessments – say, after winter or a storm to uncover the damage done or before you do a big project and want to use your assessment as a basis for discussion with a landscape professional.

These layers/niches will help you categorize information and plan for the work needed to best maintain your landscape and to make the best decisions around changing it.

Topics: Landscape Site Analysis

5 Best Money-Saving Landscape Tips

Even those of us who are passionate about landscaping and gardening can be equally passionate about saving time and money doing it. Minimizing effort and expense on your landscaping chores is all about knowing the best times to perform certain tasks around your gardens and lawn. Whether it’s maintenance or planning or installing – understanding the seasons is key for making sure you time your work so that it’s cost- and time-effective.

If you’re ready to lessen your burden when it comes to maintaining your landscape and all the elements in it, here are 5 tips to make your life easier:

Topics: Garden Tips Landscape Tips

4 Simple Steps for Achieving a Low Maintenance Landscape

Everybody loves a beautiful landscape but who really loves taking care of it? If you’re a homeowner who envies a gorgeous landscape design but dreads the idea of having to take care of one yourself, take heart – we’ll show you how to achieve the landscaping of your dreams with minimal maintenance.

Let’s demystify the term “low maintenance”

Most people realize that “low maintenance” does not mean “no maintenance.” All landscapes requires some kind of care, but with a little planning and insight, maintenance can be minimized.

A simple, irrefutable fact of nature is that nature abhors a vacuum – that is, nature likes to fill in open spaces with plants. So any homeowner who takes a completely hands-off approach will find their property filling in with whatever plants happen to like their property’s environment. This is something ecologists call “succession” -- a term that is used to describe the successive process of plant establishment and growth over time. For example, shrubs and weedy growth will be the first plants to establish themselves in an untouched meadow, followed by fast-growing evergreens and other softwoods that eventually are replaced by hardwoods. The meadow, over time, turns into mature forest, known as a climax community.

Topics: home landscape ideas

Three Expert Steps To Assess Your Spring Landscape

March 20th is the first day of spring and each first day of this season can be wildly different from the year before. We’ve had years where we’ve been tucked under six feet of snow and others where the crocus are forcing their way up and out of the soil and the forsythia are threatening an explosion of yellow flowers.

This time of year is hard on gardeners and garden lovers because we are itching for some color in the garden and warmth on our backs and faces. The March winds (and snow in the northeast from the blizzard named Stella) can still be blowing strong, the temps still a little bitter and the ground a bit frozen, but boy are we ready. 

Topics: Spring Garden Landscape Site Analysis

The Power of Positive Bulb Planting

If you’re a flower person, you’ll do just about anything to extend the colorful season to enjoy plants in bloom and a riot of color in your gardens. Doing any work now may sound odd, seeing that this is the start of the gloomy season of late fall, when most plants have died back, skies are grey, and the hint of winter is in the air.

Topics: Bulb Gardens