Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Landscape Part #1 Design Goals

When you first decide to tackle that landscape project you may want to gather your thoughts before you grab a shovel.

First thing to consider is what are your design goals?
Some goals may be:
  • Curb Appeal
  • Re-Sale
  • Add Function
  • Update
  • Fix Problems
Remember the old Saying "Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative"
That is the best way to describe adding CURB APPEAL.
Some of the most noticeable and usually needed element are adding or revamping walkways, especially if you have been stuck with the original builders idea of a walkway that is barely wide enough to walk on or lacks function or creativity.

When adding plants or other design elements look at the Architecture and Style of the house. Victorian style house you may choose a more pyramidal style tree such as a Linden or Cleveland Select Pear. For a Modern style house, a more round tree may work better like Ginnala Maple, or Hawthorn.

Another Design Goal may be for Resale. In this case you will want the maximum return for the least investment. Simply replacing overgrown shrubs with smaller versions, getting rid of the out of style junipers, and most of all eliminate all weeds. Irrigation systems are one of the best investments for your landscape, and despite the typical cost of $2000-7000 you will get that money back when you sell.

Keep the plants to a minumum but remember to add color and texture. Not every potential buyer will appreciate a large perennial garden especially if they are looking for low maintenance. Keep the design with simple clean lines that flow, you may want to invest in some select larger specimen plants by the doors or patios.

A third design goal may be to add Function to your landscape. This may be a Courtyard, a Circular Driveway, Patio, BBQ, or any element that will improve your enjoyment of the property.
Typically these are larger ticket items and unlike most landscape improvements will not have as great of return on investment.

Another design goal may be to fix problems. Especially removing those old junipers, replacing a decaying timber wall, or thin out overgrown plants.

The Last design goal may be to Fix Problems. These are the problems that you must address or the issues will cost more in the long run, and could possibly cause other major issues. 90% of the time this will involve drainage issues, keeping water away from the foundation is always need to be a consideration in every landscape project no matter how big or small.

I have seen many "Landscapers" install berms for a decorative feature, but the homeowners soon find that they have disrupted the flow of drainage and now have a water feature where the flow of drainage has been stopped.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Weeds in the Landscape!

Nothing is more disheartening then seeing your hardwork (or hard earned money) being overrun by malicious uninvited rouge bastards!

What is a Weed?

Now that we have that out of the way, what is a weed? My definition is any plant growing where it is not wanted. The most obvious are yellow dandelions in the green lawn, or bindweeds creeping though your bushes. This year I found a buckthorn growing in my mugo.

If you have a new landscape, unfortunately you will have weeds. It is inevitable that even with the best weed fighting precautions some weeds will emerge the first year. Typically I expect to find weeds exploiting any gap in the weed fabric; at the edger, base of plants, or in the soil that was installed on top of the weed fabric with the mulch (mainly rock mulch). The main thing is to eradicate the weeds before they can get established, as if you can stay on top of them from the start you will never have a weed problem- until they blow in from the neighbors.

Why do they haunt my garden?

Weeds will occur any time the soil has been disturbed. When you think about it you are asking for it. By cultivating the soil for a new garden or new lawn you are improving the conditions for the desired plants; loosening the soil adding nutrients and water, and As it happens this is exactly what the weeds need as well. Left unplanted you will get a bumper crop of weeds in 2-3 weeks.

Where do they come from?

Weeds lie dormant in soil for decades just waiting for the opportunity to see the light of day.

In undisturbed soil the weed seeds at the surface have all ready germinated and been dealt with.

By tilling or digging in the soil all these dormant seeds are brought to the top and given a chance will capitalize on the situation.

How to deal with these demons from the deep?

Best defense is a good offence, you must out compete. By planting your desired plants soon after preparing your soil, they will be using the nutrient before the weeds have a chance to germinate, greatly reducing the number and virility of the invaders.

Hire only the best!

Chemical agents should only be called in as measures of the last r

esort. I do have to admit that I keep two chemicals on standby at all times. Round-up™ (Glyphosate) is a must have in my arsenal, it works by being absorbed by only the Green living tissues (and roots) of plants. Most trees and shrubs are protected by their corky bark (leaves are still susceptible), and once dry the chemicals are no longer active. This means you can plant within a few da

ys of spraying. Use Round-up™ to eradicate any green weeds that have sprouted before they have a chance to flower and spread. Also, Very important NOT to use the extended release formulas because they are not as friendly and have a pre-emergent additives. Pre-

emergent means that the weeds seeds have not germinated or sprouted; Post emergent means that the weeds have grown and are green. So on to the Pre-Emergent, this is usually a granular

and gets applied to areas that are not going to be planted such as under wood mulch between

shrubs. Being pre-emergent means that it will not harm any plants all ready established, including perennials and annuals but will harm bulbs. These chemicals will typically be effective for 2-3 months.

Now that you are armed (and no longer dangerous), with this new kn

owledge go forth and conquer!