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How to Make the Most of the Fall Landscape Season

Landscapes, when you think about it, are living entities – complex “organisms” that go through stages of life just like every other living thing. From their “birth” every spring to maturity over the summer, to their inevitable aging over the fall and entry into their quiet winter slumber. 

This annual lifecycle does not mean you have to start over every year. Far from it. Instead, when you implement well-thought-out landscape management strategies, you can extend the life and value of your landscape significantly, reaping benefits and squeezing the joy out of it far beyond what the less-prepared might expect.

Topics: Home Landscape Ideas Seasonal Garden Interest Landscape Value and ROI

How to Manage Your Landscape in the Late Summer

How do you make up for lost time late in the landscape season when your gardens have gotten away from you? There comes a time in everyone’s home management experience when their best intentions to take care of their landscape slips away as the distractions of family, work and the pleasures of summer take priority.

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest

The Importance of Understanding Available Sun for Your Garden

Sunlight – like most critical gardening elements – is highly dynamic. The sun is constantly moving throughout the day, as well as from season to season. Add in human-influenced elements such as buildings, walls, and other plantings, and you’ve got a surprising number of factors that all need to be considered when accurately determining the amount of sunlight your garden gets at different times.

Topics: Ecological and Sustainable Landscapes Seasonal Garden Interest

A Fine Gardener Digs into the Truth About Soil

It’s tough for soil to get any respect. To most people, it’s just dirt. But the truth is, soil is a miracle, a universe unto itself right under our feet. It may seem weird at first, but the soil is essentially a living thing, teeming with bacterial life (mostly in a good way) and tiny critters that enable plants to thrive in a wide variety of conditions and environments.

Topics: Ecological and Sustainable Landscapes Landscape and Garden Maintenance Seasonal Garden Interest

Getting Ready for Summer in Your Garden: 4 Tips to Prepare for Long Days & Heat Ahead

Here’s a timeless gardening truth -- after spring cleanups are completed, and mulch is refreshed in the gardens, most homeowners do not do anything more to support or prepare their landscape for the long hot days of summer.

The reason is simple. We have escaped the winter doldrums, and spring is such a gift that we accept it gratefully and simply sit back and enjoy it. Leaves spring out, the grass grows, and trees and shrubs are flowering. We are lulled into thinking that we don’t need to do anything more. But sooner than you think, the blooms are gone, the weeds explode, and you stand there, stunned, saying “what the heck happened?”

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest

The Top 25 Perennial Picks for Peak Performance and Low Effort

Okay, so maybe this month’s blog post title is a mouthful, but it’s an important one as we head toward peak growing season. Why? Because it’s all about the role of perennials in adding color and vibrancy to a garden without adding a lot of extra work.

Let’s face it – it’s hard to know what plants are good choices for hardiness and the ability to provide color and visual interest all season long. This is especially true for the non-gardener who at least recognizes the value of having perennials in the garden, but doesn’t want to get bogged down tending to them or end up having to hire a professional gardening service every week.

Topics: Home Landscape Ideas Seasonal Garden Interest

2017: The Seasons in Review

It’s that time of year when it’s interesting to look back and review all that’s happened in the past 12 months. Even in gardening and landscaping, a lot goes on.

Now, I’m one of those people who embraces seasonality. I love to witness nature slowly turning -- the changes each season brings to the landscape and all the living things in it. I, like a lot of gardeners, deeply sense the cycles of nature – the rebirth of spring, the growth and vitality of summer, the maturing of autumn, and the quiet slumber of winter. Each season brings its demands and rewards for gardeners and lovers of nature.

What has made me so happy about gardening in 2017 is that we really did seem to rebound from two devastating drought years. It didn't seem possible at the end of 2016 that we could recover so well from the damage of drought. But I think we did. Plants were thriving all over the landscape. Roses and hydrangea bloomed with abandon. Perennials, groundcovers, and annuals put on a fantastic show. Fruits and seeds abounded post-bloom -- especially the winterberries. This happy native plant is now in full, glorious display. You will notice them bursting with red throughout landscapes wild and managed. Maybe you have some in your gardens -- if you don't, you should.

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest

Fall cleanup: What to do with all the leaves?

To rake or not to rake – that has been the eternal question for homeowners every fall. Conventional thinking has always leaned toward picking up leaves; however, environmentally-minded folks make a good point when they claim that leaf litter is a natural compost and you should just leave leaves where they fall.

Both sides are right. The trick is, we need to reframe our fall clean-up thinking to reflect what it is we’re really doing -- we’re closing down our gardens and tucking them in for the winter. The goal is to stage your garden to help it transition into dormancy in the most supportive way so it can withstand whatever forces of winter are thrown at it.

Topics: Seasonal Garden Interest

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: Designing Gardens and Landscapes Seasonal Garden Interest

How to Weed your garden Like a Pro: Part II

In Part I about weeding your garden like a pro, we discussed mindset and approach. Now, it’s time to demystify all those weeds. What are they all about anyway? I mean, why do they even show up in the first place?

Let’s find out what the heck is going on with weeds.

Some say a weed is any plant you don't want. And on some level that’s true. If you have a specific design – a garden expression -- and an unplanned plant shows up, sure, you can call it a weed and pull it. But is it really a weed? Is a seedling from a maple tree or a Rose of Sharon a weed? Are the new little Black-eyed Susans or Verbena bonariensis blooming in the middle of the boxwood border really so bad?

Topics: Landscape and Garden Maintenance Seasonal Garden Interest