Author Archives: GCSDev

Early Spring Gardener’s Calendar

* Plan your summer vegetable and herb garden. We offer a wide selection of seeds that include all of your favorite annuals, perennials, vegetables and other novelties as well as many hard-to-find selections. Inventory your pots and flats and discard unusable ones. Make a list of the supplies you will need. Have your garden soil tested for nutrient content. We offer a variety of do-it-yourself soil test kits.

* Prune woody plants while dormant, including fruit trees, summer- and fall-blooming shrubs and vines. Limit pruning of spring-blooming trees and shrubs to the removal of sucker growth and rubbing or broken branches. Spray trees and shrubs with year-round horticultural oil to reduce insect population.

* Sharpen, clean and oil tools and lawn mowers. Begin heavy annual pruning of shrub roses as new leaves appear.

* Plant pansies, English daisies and primrose as soon as the earth is workable. Plant strawberry plants. Sow cool-season vegetables and herbs in the garden.

* Start spring cleanup and begin major lawn work. Remove debris, dethatch your lawn or aerate compacted areas to improve water penetration.

* Spray needles and limbs of Arborvitae, Cryptomeria, false cypress, fir, hemlock, Juniper, pine, yew and spruce (except blue spruce) for spider mites with year-round horticultural oil.

* Apply fertilizer to perennials and roses with. Feed berry bushes, grapevines, rhubarb and asparagus a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer before new growth begins. Fertilize trees and shrubs.

*Apply crabgrass preventer with fertilizer to feed the lawn and control crabgrass. Do not use on newly seeded lawns.

* Continue spring cleanup. Cultivate to remove winter weeds and debris from the planting beds. Apply corn gluten or a pre-emergent herbicide with fertilizer specified for gardens and scratch it in to prevent future weeds. Do not use in gardens where you will be direct seeding.

* Reseed bare spots in established lawns. Keep the area moist until seedlings appear, then mow when the new grass is 3? high.

* Prune forsythia and other spring-flowering trees & shrubs after the flowers fall.

* Dig and divide crowded early spring bulbs after they finish blooming. Enrich the soil with bone meal.

* Plant and transplant trees and shrubs, including roses, ground covers, and perennials.

* Transplant cool-season seedlings into the garden. When the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees, sow warm-season vegetable and herb seeds.

* Place gro-thru sets over peonies, grasses or any other perennials in need of support.

Needled Evergreens for a Shady Space

Evergreens are a very important addition to the winter landscape. During the coldest months of the year, when most other plants have been stripped of their leaves or have died back to the ground, evergreens are the stronghold in the garden that provide stunning texture and color, shelter for winter wildlife and the hope of spring for everyone.

Choosing a broad-leafed evergreen for a shady location in the garden is simple. There are so very many to choose from: Rhododendron, azalea, camellia, aucuba and cherry laurel are just the beginning, and there are many more options for any size or shape of shady space. It’s a different story when it comes to hunting for a needled evergreen for that darker corner of the landscape, but it is not impossible.

Popular needled evergreen options for shady spaces include…

  • Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canandensis) – Broadly conical and gracefully branched, reaching up to 75 feet high.
  • Dragon’s Eye Pine (Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus-draconis’) – Part shade. A very unique, asymmetrically shaped pine with a pale halo on the needles.
  • Dwarf Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtuse ‘Nana Gracillis’) – Slowing growing, compact plant with dark green scale-like leaves.
  • Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) – Light shade. Graceful, pyramidal tree with bluish-green scaly foliage and exfoliating cinnamon-colored bark. Growing to 65 feet tall.
  • Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) – Light Shade. Needles are thick and succulent, whorled around the branches.
  • Nootka False Cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) – Light to part shade. Narrowly pyramidal growing up to 60 feet tall.
  • Russian Cypress (Microbiota decussate) – Part shade to full shade. Low to the ground forming a rosette of soft, graceful branches. Great ground cover for a shady location.
  • Spreading English Yew (Taxas bacata repandans) – Part shade to full shade. Three feet high and mounding. Great foundation plant in front of windows or at the back of borders.
  • Upright Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’) – Part to full shade. Four foot tall, stiff, linear form.
  • American White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) – Light to part shade. Scale-like foliage formed into flat plane fans. Grows up to 40 feet tall.
  • False Arborvitae (Thujopsis dolabrata) – Light to part shade. Pale green leaf scales with white undersides. Grow up to 65 feet tall.

Not sure which of these evergreens may do well in your landscape? There are different cultivars to explore, and our experts can help you make the best choice for your landscaping needs.




Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

Do you love cats but don’t love them in your garden? Outdoor cats will seek out a nice patch of soil to do their business or to roll around and play. Cats will mark their territories on sheds, fences or plants, and may even raise a new litter under a deck or in an open shed. Fortunately, there are a number of safe yet effective ways to keep our furry friends, or those of our neighbors, from messing up the garden.

Discouraging Cats

Whether the cats visiting your garden are prowling pets, lost strays or wild-bred feral cats, the same techniques can be used to make your garden and landscape less cat-friendly. Popular options include…

  • Commercial Repellents
    There are a many effective odor and taste repellents on the market. Seek out a product that is safe for humans and animals made from botanical oils. You will need to reapply this type of repellent after a heavy rain but usage will decrease once the cat is retrained to go elsewhere.
  • Citrus Smells
    Cats don’t like the sharp, tangy smell of citrus. Instead of composting them, throw the peels of oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit on the ground where cats tend to visit.
  • Heavily Scented Plants
    Some plants are known to repel cats by their scent, particularly plants with strong odors that will irritate sensitive feline noses. Try planting Coleus canina, otherwise known as scaredy cat plant, along with pennyroyal, rue, lemon-thyme, geranium or lavender throughout the yard and garden.
  • Uncomfortable Ground
    Use stones instead of mulch as a ground cover to prevent cats from digging. Sharper, larger stones are best and will be uncomfortable for cats to walk across or lay on as well. You can also lay chicken wire on top of the mulch to make it less comfortable for cats and to prevent digging.
  • Opt for Thorns
    Plant low growing, thorny plants such as carpet roses, barberry or prickly pear at the base of your bird feeder to protect your feathered friends from predatory cats. Use thorny plants in borders or alongside fences to help keep cats away as well. Even plants with sharp, stiff foliage, such as holly, can be effective.
  • Sprinklers
    Install a motion-activated sprinkler. This method is used to frighten cats away, not to soak them. As the cat is retrained to go elsewhere its use eventually becomes unnecessary.
  • Sound Deterrents
    Install an ultrasound device containing a motion sensor which, when triggered, gives off a high-pitched sound that is imperceptible to humans but bothersome to cats. With their sensitive ears, cats may avoid any area where the sound is strongest.
  • Remove Food
    Be sure there are no food sources for outdoor cats in your yard. Do not feed your own pets outside, and keep trash cans tightly covered or inside a garage where cats cannot reach them. Keep compost piles behind a fence and under a mesh cover as well so cats cannot forage for scraps.

Using several techniques simultaneously will have the best effect at discouraging cats. These are clever, intelligent creatures that can easily overcome one obstacle, but when you have used several tactics at once, the cats will take the easier route of simply staying away.

What You Should Never Do

While there are many ways to keep cats out of your yard, you should never take steps that could deliberately injure or kill the animals. Avoid harmful traps, toxic poisons or setting your dogs on outdoor cats, as these methods can easily backfire and hurt local wildlife instead. With patience and perseverance, it is possible to keep cats out of your garden safely.

Eastern North American Native Ferns

Ferns are magnificent, whether in the wild or under cultivation. Among the oldest plants on earth, ferns can be traced back to the Coal Age, over 300 million years ago. Today, ferns are one of the most overlooked and under-utilized perennials in the garden.

Types of Ferns

Eastern North American native ferns are available in a vast array of sizes, forms and textures and thrive in a variety of habitats. Many ferns present a combination of both fertile (with spores) and infertile (without spores) fronds that add an additional element of interest to their growth and texture. Some ferns prefer sun, some shade. Some prefer moist soil, some dry. Some spread quickly, some stay put. Some are easy to grow, some… not so much. You get the picture – the versatility of this plant group ensures a selection for every gardener and every garden situation.

With so many ferns to choose from, which is right for your landscaping needs? Consider the following popular varieties, or come in to consult with our landscaping experts to find the perfect fern to complement your landscape.

  • Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) – Grows 24-36 inches tall. The stiff fertile fronds appear in spring, first green and later turning cinnamon-brown. The plant grows neatly in a symmetrical clump. This fern does best in a shady site with moist soil.
  • Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) – This is one of the few evergreen ferns native to the eastern United States. The leathery fronds of this durable fern reach 18 inches in height. The Christmas fern is not an aggressive spreader and is easy to nurture in a moist, shady garden.
  • Hay-Scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) – This lovely fern grows to about two feet in height and spreads rapidly. Spreading may be controlled by pulling out some of the growth in spring. This fern does best in full sun to partial shade and will tolerate somewhat hot, dry sites. Hay-scented fern produces lightly scented, apple-green, lacy fronds that add delicacy to the garden.
  • Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana) – This fern is unusual for its sterile, three-foot tall fronds that have brown spore cases in the middle of the frond with pale green leaflets both above and below. Interrupted fern grows best in a shady site with moist soil. This fern will tolerate more light and drier soil than most, and it is remarkably easy to grow.
  • Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) – This fern can reach up to 36 inches, although its height can be quite variable. This easy-to-grow fern is an excellent choice for beginners. In the spring, Lady ferns produce a hearty flush of reddish-green growth. This is when the plant is most beautiful. Lady fern does best in shady conditions with slightly acid, moist to wet soil.
  • Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) – At 18 inches tall, this specimen is the daintiest of the Eastern North American native ferns. The fan-like leaves are borne on delicate, curving, black stems. This fern does best in filtered light and well-drained, cool soil. This fern spreads fairly slowly.
  • Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) – This fern produces light-green, gracefully arching fronds that reach up to 40 inches or more. This is an excellent choice for background planting. Underground runners extend in all directions and will colonize large areas, so it needs abundant space. The early spring fiddleheads are edible. Ostrich fern does best in sun to partial shade and moist soil. It is native to marshy areas.
  • Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) – This fern forms a three-foot, vase-shaped clump of bright green fronds. Light brown spores are borne on the top of the fertile fronds. Royal fern does best in shade or sun and a moist organic soil.
  • Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) – This fern makes a spectacular ground cover of 18 inch high, light green fronds. The fronds emerge in the spring tinged pinkish-purple until maturity. This fern prefers average moisture and part sun.

Phased Landscape Installation

Redoing your landscape, whether you are starting from scratch, updating parts of an existing design or completely renovating your yard, can be a lengthy and expensive process. Phased landscape installation can help you adjust your time, labor and budget to create your dream landscape in easy-to-manage steps.

How Phased Landscape Installation Works

Instead of doing an entire large landscape at one time from start to finish, phased landscape installation breaks the project into more manageable pieces. It may take several weeks, months or years to complete the landscape installation in phases, depending on the size of the project and what resources are available to complete it.

Phased landscape installation can be beneficial in several ways. Not only does it make a large project more manageable, but it also allows for tweaks and refinements throughout the process as needs, preferences and living styles may change over time. Installing a landscape in phases can also better accommodate a limited budget or limited time with shorter seasons, while still allowing for the yard, garden and landscape to be used and enjoyed before the full project is complete.

Designing a Master Landscaping Plan

Creating a master landscaping plan is a critical first step in phased landscape installation. A master plan is necessary to keep the landscape’s end result in mind, and that plan can be adjusted as needed throughout the different phases. When the full project can be envisioned, it is also easier to plan the order of phases to be installed with the greatest efficiency so there is less disruption to established parts of the landscape when a new phase is begun.

The first part of a master plan should involve a comprehensive evaluation of the site and its landscaping needs. This should include soil condition and quality, drainage concerns, sunlight levels, potential erosion problems and more. This evaluation can help direct the landscape installation to correct difficulties with each step. After the overall evaluation, the first phases of landscape installation need to be sufficiently detailed for the project to get underway. Later phases and finishing touches may change by the time the final phase of installation is ready to begin, and so those phases may not necessarily be as firm when the landscaping plan is first developed.

It is important to keep the master plan accessible, especially when it may take several years to fully install a larger, more elaborate landscape. Notes, changes, suggestions and updates should all be documented. This will ensure that all contractors and experts – who may change over the years – are aware of the overall landscape vision.

Landscape Phases to Plan

The order of projects in phased installation will vary depending on the overall master plan for the landscape, as well as how each phase is integrated into the overall process. Needs and preferences can also influence which phases are implemented first to ensure the landscape is usable and enjoyable from the very first phase. Typical phases in a landscape plan may include…

  • Surfaces – Sod, seeding, groundcovers, or mulching for erosion control and visual appeal.
  • Hardscapes – Borders and edging, terraces, retaining walls, etc.
  • Gas and Electrical Lines – Support for water feature pumps, lighting, outdoor kitchens, etc.
  • Irrigation – Sprinkler systems and drip plans as well as drainage adjustments.
  • Shade – Large trees and plants to provide shade for outdoor living spaces as well as structures.
  • Entertaining Space – Patios, decks, pool surrounds and similar high use spaces.
  • Structures – Pergolas, trellises, arbors, sheds, play structures, etc.
  • Waterscapes – Ponds or pondless waterfalls, creeks and streams, or fountains.
  • Garden Space – Raised beds or dedicated growing areas for practical harvests, fruit trees, etc.
  • Pathways – Connections between parts of the landscape or around the entire home.
  • Plantings – Shrubbery and flowerbeds, specimen plants, etc.

While the order of phase installation can vary greatly, many plans opt to put surfaces, hardscapes and shade early in the master plan. Surfaces are often used right away and help a landscape look attractive even as the plan is being implemented, while hardscapes establish the borders that will gradually frame the entire landscape. Shade is also important to implement early, as larger trees have slower growth cycles and will take longer to mature and provide their full benefits, so the sooner they are planted the sooner they will be providing that shade. Of course, depending on the exact budget and master landscaping plan, several phases may be implemented at once, or smaller phases may be spread out over a greater period.

In addition to these potential phases, it is important to consider the final phase of landscape installation – care and maintenance. Particularly when plants are young and the ground may still be settling, extra care may be needed to nurture plants and ensure they adjust to their new environment. Proper care, including pruning, fertilization and pest control, will help keep the landscape looking just as attractive and inviting as it is from the first moment of installation.

Are you considering phased landscape installation? Our experts can help develop your master landscaping plan and recommend the best phases to create your dream landscape!

The Use of Focal Points in the Landscape

We have all used focal points in our daily lives, from showcasing favorite photos in a gallery wall to throw pillows adding a pop of color on the sofa to choosing accessories to highlight our best features. But did you know you can use landscape focal points in a similar way, drawing the eye to the very best features of your home and property to accentuate its unique characteristics and highlight its beauty? Learn how to truly showcase your landscaping with the best focal points to give your home extra flair.

What Is a Focal Point?

A focal point is a highlighted, outstanding feature that draws the eye and grabs attention. In the landscape, this can be nearly any type of feature, from plants to structures to hardscaping to ornamentation. Popular landscaping focal points include…

  • Unique specimen plants, either unusual varieties, unique shapes or exceptional sizes
  • Water features such as ponds, waterfalls or fountains
  • Boulders, terraces or other dramatic hardscape details
  • A bird feeding station or other wildlife-oriented feature
  • A colorful flowerbed, container garden or even a dramatic window box
  • A statue or sculpture, even as simple as a gazing ball or sundial
  • Inviting structures such as gates, arbors, pergolas or arches
  • A seating area or other outdoor gathering space
  • A uniquely designed pathway, such as a mosaic, stepping stones or bridge
  • Specially designed pavers, such as a mural-like feature

A focal point can be anything unique, whether it is a naturally-occurring feature of the existing landscape or something you have dreamed of adding to your yard or garden.

The Purpose of a Focal Point

While a focal point initially draws the eye, it actually does far more than just attract attention. A well designed landscape will work with focal points to bring order and dimension to the yard, centralizing the view and directing guests’ viewpoints. A focal point can add character to the yard as well, whether it creates a sense of natural elegance, adds a chic, modern touch or even introduces a bit of whimsy to the landscape. Focal points can also help distract from less aesthetically pleasing views, such as drawing attention away from a neighbor’s yard, minimizing the appearance of a trouble spot or redirecting sightlines away from a utility box or air conditioning unit.

Choosing a Landscaping Focal Point

Which focal point you choose for your landscape will depend on several factors, and you want to consider each one carefully when planning to use a focal point.

  • Yard Size: The focal point should be proportionally sized to the yard. A too-large focal point will overwhelm a small, intimate yard, making it seem more crowded and cramped, while a too-small focal point can be lost in a larger space.
  • Landscape Style: A focal point should coordinate with the style of the yard and garden. A cozy cottage garden can look great when focused around a romantic statue or elegant bird bath, but a stark obelisk would look out of place.
  • Seasonal Changes: Ideally, a focal point will remain attractive and eye-catching throughout the year, even with seasonal changes in nearby plants and light levels. Opt for a focal point that can be enjoyed year-round for the best results.
  • Viewing Angles: A good focal point will draw the eye in a pleasing way no matter where it is viewed from, including different angles, windows or approaches. Paying attention to every viewpoint will ensure the focal point serves its purpose however it is viewed.

Once these factors are considered, a landscape may have one or more focal points. So long as they are balanced and appropriate to the yard’s design, they can be beautiful features that will be stunning highlights in the landscape.

Designing Your Landscape Around a Focal Point

Once you have selected a focal point for the landscape, it is best to coordinate the landscape’s overall design to enhance and complement that focus. This will ensure its beauty and prominence in the landscape without creating an overwhelming or dominating effect. Easy ways to design your landscape around a focal point include…

  • Paying attention to symmetry to draw the eye to the focal point. You may opt for a completely symmetrical, geometric layout to lead the eye to the focal point, or choose a deliberately asymmetrical design that builds dramatically to the focus.
  • Coordinate colors, plants and other features to work with the focal point rather than contrast and detract from it. Coordinated colors, shapes and textures – even when used in variety – can add to your focal point and enhance its beauty and drama.
  • Highlight the focal point without blocking it from view, particularly when considering views from different angles and in different seasons. This may include regular pruning and other care to keep the surrounding landscape in check.
  • Keep the focal point in good condition so it is not a disappointment when it draws the eye. Plants should be properly pruned and shaped, while statues and other accents may need regular cleaning. Structures may need regular repairs or repainting to look their best.
  • Consider muting nearby landscaping features to further highlight the focal point. Opt for more subtle plants and fewer accents away from the focal point to ensure no other areas of the landscape compete with the intended focus.
  • Design pathways, borders and lighting to highlight the focal point and draw attention to the appropriate space, both visually and physically. This will keep your focal point centralized in the landscape at all times, serving its purpose as your landscape highlight.

A focal point is more than just a highlight of your yard, it can become the centerpiece of your landscape, set the mood for your outdoor space and showcase the beauty of your home. Working with a focal point can help you draw together the entire space in an eye-catching way you’ll always be proud to see.

Want to design your landscape around an appropriate focal point? Our design experts can help you choose just the right focus and create a stunning look to highlight your landscape’s best features!

Creating Depth and Character in the Garden

No matter what you grow, your garden does not have to be a bland, predictable space. With careful planning, it is easy to create depth and character in the garden to reflect your personal flair and the enjoyment you find among your flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Understanding Your Foreground, Middle Ground and Background

Before planning your garden to enhance its depth and character, it is important to understand the different levels of space you have to work with. Your garden’s location, size and shape, as well as the overall layout, are part of these levels and can help you plan the best design to reflect your personal style.

  • Foreground – The front of your garden, including borders, edging, fences, and entryways, as well as the first plants a visitor encounters when stepping into the space. Visually, this area is the welcome to your gardening or landscaping space.
  • Middle Ground – The bulk of the garden or landscape, the center or middle areas. This will include most open spaces and the most heavily used parts of your garden, those that are accessed and admired the most.
  • Background – The furthest, rear point of your gardening space, that provides a backdrop or endpoint for the design. This can include rear fences, walls or property borders and is the stopping point for your garden.

As you design your garden, each of these areas can be enhanced to create a more aesthetically pleasing space and an overall design rich in texture, color and creativity.

Depth in the Garden

Adding depth to the garden varies the space and makes the garden appear larger and more spacious. This can easily improve a narrow landscaping area or open up a small garden, and it maximizes growing space to allow for more plants. Great options to add more garden depth include…

  • Tiers
    Tiers, with taller plants at the back and shorter plants in the foreground, expand the space and give it a better scale. Taller plants can be added in corners or at the sides, with shorter plants filling in the center. Terraces, containers and raised beds can all create tiers.
  • Colors
    Warm colors, such as red, yellow and orange, are bold and filling, and are best used at the front of the garden to create a welcoming flow. Cooler tones, such as greens and blues, are best in the background where they recede from the eye and give an illusion of greater depth and openness.
  • Contrasting Textures
    Gardens and landscapes look smaller when they are uniform. Textural contrasts, however, break up sightlines and add more visual interest, enhancing depth. Opt for finer textures and airy plant structures to increase depth in the middle ground and background, while fuller, more compact textures are best in the foreground.
  • Plant Size
    Positioning larger, taller plants in the background and reserving smaller plants for the foreground of your garden will enhance its depth. In small gardens, dwarf or miniature plant varieties immediately create greater depth and make the space seem more generous.
  • Secret Spaces
    Adding a secret space will create depth as it draws the eye into the landscaping design and encourages more detailed examination of the area. Meditation niches, cozy benches or swings, or other places invite more interest in the garden and improve the depth.
  • Reflections
    Just like a mirror creates more depth in a small room, reflections create more depth in a garden. Gazing balls, reflecting pools or mosaics are great options, but be sure there are no overly focused reflections that might damage nearby plants with excess glare.
  • Views
    If your garden overlooks a dramatic view, such as a mountain range, ocean cliff or adjacent park, take advantage of that view for more personal garden depth. Avoid blocking the view, and instead frame it to draw the eye deeper into your space.
  • Vertical Gardening
    Taking your garden vertical with climbing plants on a green wall, trellis or other support is a great way to increase depth and add more gardening space. Many vegetables and flowering vines can easily be trained to grow vertically.

Character in the Garden

Adding character to the garden personalizes it to reflect your unique style and flair. This adds a meaningful touch to your space, no matter how big or small it may be. Fun ways to give your garden more character include…

  • Specimen Plants
    Unusual plants create a focal point in your garden and draw the eye into the space. Even in a veggie garden or berry patch, an unexpected specimen can be an interesting feature.
  • Unique Shapes
    Give your garden extra flair by incorporating unusual shapes, such as topiaries or plants with unexpected foliage or flower shapes. This extra texture will also enhance the garden’s depth.
  • Curves
    Gardens and landscaping don’t need to follow straight lines. Help your landscape flow with curved garden rows, curving beds or other smooth, elegant lines.
  • Fill-Ins
    Bare spaces cause a disjointed look in the garden, but you can easily fill in patches with extra herbs, flowers or ornamental grasses. This will add even more texture and interest to the area.
  • Welcomes
    Welcome visitors to your garden with a fun, customized gate, quirky arbor or unique archway. This feature will draw the eye and encourage visitors to enter and enjoy the space.
  • Curbing
    Get creative with curbing to border your garden area with personal flair. Instead of predictable options, choose colored curbing or add accents such as glass bottles or stepping stones.
  • Wildlife
    Welcome wildlife to your garden to add life to the space. Bird feeders and baths, a butterfly, bee or toad house, or even a koi pond can bring movement and life to your garden.
  • Surprises
    There’s always room in the garden for a surprise or two. It might be a hidden gnome peeking out at guests, scattered sunflowers that grow through other plantings, exotic edibles or flowers with potent perfumes to lure guests in to seek out the surprise.

You can add depth and character to your garden in many ways. If you aren’t sure just how to go about personalizing and enhancing your garden, ask our experts for help to create the garden of your dreams!

The Value of Updating an Existing Landscape

Landscaping has a tremendous impact on the value, curb appeal and aesthetic beauty of your home. If your landscaping feels outdated, old or worn, however, it is not necessary to rip out all the plants and start from scratch. Updating an existing landscape can be a faster, easier and more cost-efficient approach to give your property a fresh appearance.

When to Update Your Landscape

Even without starting from a blank slate, updating your landscape can be an overwhelming project. There are times when updating is a good value, however, and can actually create savings or bring you significant profits.

  • The Overgrown Landscape
    Shaggy, overgrown landscaping may be causing problems you aren’t aware of, such as damaging underground water or septic pipes, gas lines or electrical cables. Elevated lines could also be damaged by falling branches. An overgrown landscape will block views and could scratch your home’s siding, cause roof damage or stain or crack concrete in the sidewalk, driveway or patio areas. All of these problems can lead to very costly repairs.
  • The For Sale Landscape
    If you plan on selling your home, the landscaping is one of the first things potential buyers will notice. Poorly maintained landscaping gives a bad first impression that could discourage buyers, while an updated landscape adds significant value and may increase the sales price. A complicated landscape might put off buyers who aren’t interested in outdoor maintenance, but a simple, fresh landscape can welcome new owners to your home.
  • The Unused Landscape
    A lush lawn and ornamental plantings may be pretty, but they don’t necessarily add value to your home. Updating your landscape to include gardening space and edibles such as fruit trees, berry bushes and fresh herbs, however, can dramatically cut grocery bills. Similarly, a wide swath of lawn does no good to your quality of life if you don’t enjoy it, but adding a recreation area, entertaining space or other outdoor living areas can be a fantastic value.
  • The High Maintenance Landscape
    Complicated gardens, plants that require extensive care and lawns that need generous fertilizing and watering can be a significant financial drain on homeowners. Updating your landscape to minimize lawn surfaces or opt for lower-care options can be a beautiful way to modernize your property and lower the time and money needed to keep it looking its best.

By updating your landscape, you can save both time and money, and you’ll find yourself enjoying your new landscape much more than any outdated design.

Ideas to Update Your Landscape for the Most Value

Depending on your reasons for updating your landscape, its existing condition and the budget and timeline you have for the project, there are many options that will add good value to your property. Popular choices include…

  • Fast Updates
    For an updated look right away, add new mulch around trees and in flowerbeds to create a pop of color, suppress weeds and give the area a unified look. Other easy options include pruning shrubs, weeding and adding containers to an entryway or colorful flowers to existing beds.
  • Widening Pathways
    Wider pathways give your home a more welcoming, open feel that is ideal for entertaining. Existing paths can be expanded with pavers, bricks, gravel or mulch to make them broader, and it is also a good time to be sure they are level and easy to navigate.
  • Deepening Beds
    Deep flowerbeds create a luxurious buffer around your home and provide space for additional plantings, such as a row of colorful annuals along the front edge of the bed. When deepening beds, you can also easily change their shape for a fresh, new look.
  • Protecting Privacy
    Landscaping that protects privacy is always desirable, and tall ornamental grasses, a green wall, large containers or fencing can create a more private space for you to enjoy. Consider enclosing a patio, blocking unwanted views or otherwise sheltering your space for greater privacy.
  • Casting Shade
    Plants or structures that shade your home or outdoor spaces can help control temperature to make the area more comfortable and save on heating and cooling bills. Planting trees or installing awnings, pergolas or other shade structures are the most popular options.
  • Lighting Up
    The right lighting can give your landscape a whole new look, with more security as well. Add lights to pathways, specimen plants, architectural features or outdoor living areas to update your landscape and create a brighter, safer, more enjoyable space.
  • New Niches
    Creating a cozy niche in your landscape is a great way to encourage you to enjoy being outdoors. A comfortable hammock, swing or bench can lead to more time outdoors, a fire pit welcomes gatherings, or a meditation feature such as a fountain can be a peaceful addition.
  • Outdoor Rooms
    For more formal entertaining, a complete outdoor room can add tremendous value to your property. An outdoor kitchen, grill or bar is a great choice, or you might opt for an entertainment area complete with a television, fire pit and extra seating.
  • Trees
    Trees are ideal long-term investments that add wonderful value to your property. A small tree may not seem significant, but over the years it will grow into a luxurious specimen that provides shade and distinction, as well as fruit, nuts or other benefits, depending on the tree.
  • Sod
    If it’s your lawn that needs updating, consider new sod for instant results. Replacing sod will even out your lawn, remove weeds, repair bare or thin patches and provide luxurious footing all in one step.

No how you choose to update your existing landscape, our experts can help you find just the right options to refresh your property for your needs and budget. Contact us today and see how we can bring new life to your old landscape!

The Value of Natural Stone vs. Pavers

The hardscaping in your landscape, including pathways, steps and patios, is a key element of your yard, and the decision to opt for natural stone or pavers is not one to consider lightly or without scrutiny of both materials. By carefully comparing the pros and cons of each option, you can choose the best material and design for your home, needs and budget.

About Natural Stone

Natural stone is any stone material that has been naturally quarried for construction use, including home interiors as well as landscaping. There are different types of stone that make ideal landscaping options, including flagstone, slate, granite, limestone and fieldstone. Each one has a unique texture and variable colors, with rich, natural appeal. The stones may be cut rugged or smooth to suit different design preferences, and can be fitted into any type of landscaping design. Many designers opt to use natural stone for a more rugged or rustic look, and it is always beautiful when the type of stone is matched to the surrounding region for an integrated look.

There are several pros to using natural stone for your landscaping needs, including…

  • Natural material has color and texture variations for more visual interest
  • Generally does not require sealants or other treatments to stay at its peak
  • Extremely durable when correctly cut and installed, making it ideal for heavy use
  • More of an artisan look with a timeless appeal

Of course, natural stone may not be ideal for every landscaping project. The potential cons of using natural stone include:

  • Potentially more expensive than pavers or other manufactured options
  • Requires more expertise and extensive labor to install correctly
  • Top layers on certain types of stones may occasionally shear or splinter off

About Pavers

Pavers are engineered concrete stone, often created in uniform, symmetrical shapes. Because they are more geometric than natural stone, they have much more flexibility for landscaping design options, and because they are engineered, there are more color options than most natural stones. The color is also more uniform, which can give your landscaping a more formal or planned look than the rustic nature of natural stone.

The benefits of using pavers for all your hardscaping needs include…

  • Greater customization for project designs and color choices
  • Generally cheaper than natural stone, depending on options
  • Less time to install a complete project, so you can be enjoying it sooner
  • Easier to repair or replace if any one paver is damaged
  • Durable material is suitable for both moderate and heavy use

Just as with natural stone, however, there are cons that must be considered before choosing pavers for your patio, driveway, paths, edging or other projects, such as…

  • Slight fading is common after installation, particularly in full sun
  • Joints and seams need to be periodically resanded
  • Stones may absorb stains if sealant is not applied and renewed appropriately
  • Smaller stones may settle more easily if not installed properly

Considering the Value of Natural Stone vs. Pavers

Whichever material you choose, both natural stone and pavers can add value and beauty to your landscaping and outdoor living areas. Professional assistance from start to finish will ensure the project looks its best, meets your needs and will have fewer long-term difficulties. The very best value for both natural stone and engineered pavers will include expert design consultation, a thorough project plan and experienced installation.

Choosing between natural stone and pavers is a very personal decision, and different projects and design preferences may prefer either material. The choice often depends on the available budget, the amount of use the area will receive and how to coordinate with the house and surrounding landscape. Properly done, however, both materials can add amazing value to your property and you will enjoy your hardscaped areas for many years to come.

The Value of Maintenance

For many people, their home is the single most expensive purchase they will ever make in their lives. Once that purchase is made, a great deal of time, effort and money will go into home maintenance over the years, from painting rooms and replacing carpeting to general repairs and more elaborate renovations. Few homeowners realize, however, that the care and maintenance of their lawn and landscaping is equally valuable for the upkeep of their home and its tremendous investment.

Why Landscaping Matters

Landscaping is one of the first things you notice about a new home even before you consider purchasing it, and after you move in, your landscaping will greet and welcome your family members, friends and guests. Yet landscaping is far more than just a pretty picture that frames your home, it also performs a number of practical, essential tasks that add to the value of your home and property, including…

  • Providing shade to promote energy efficiency with heating and cooling
  • Providing a windbreak to lessen severe weather
  • Creating privacy barriers to shield windows or outdoor living spaces
  • Enhancing security by creating natural barriers to unwanted entry
  • Managing pests and overall property pest control
  • Welcoming native wildlife for plant pollination or pest control
  • Contributing to food production with gardens, berry bushes or fruit trees

With so much value that your landscape can add to your home, proper maintenance is essential not only to keep it looking its best, but also to ensure that it fulfills all these functions admirably.

If You Don’t Maintain Your Landscape

While a well-maintained landscape can be a great asset to your home, a poorly maintained landscape can be equally damaging to your property’s value. If your landscaping isn’t well cared for, many difficult problems can arise, far beyond a loss of curb appeal or aesthetic appearance. Problems that can be caused by unkempt or improperly planned landscaping include…

  • Damage to septic tanks, irrigation systems and other underground pipes
  • Falling branches disconnecting power lines or other wires
  • Damage to the roof, gutters or awnings
  • Contamination of a pool, hot tub, backyard pond or other water feature
  • Staining a deck, patio or walkway with fallen debris
  • Cracking concrete from root growth
  • Invitations for insects to invade the home’s perimeter
  • Spread of diseases among landscaping plants

When problems become severe, not only can there be tremendous costs for repairs, but homeowners may also be subject to fines, fees or other penalties from homeowner associations or municipal guidelines. These costs can be far higher and more troublesome than the price of proper maintenance and landscaping upkeep.

Landscaping Maintenance to Consider

There are many different types of lawn and landscaping maintenance to consider, all of which can add value to your property and prevent unsightly and potentially expensive problems. Different options include…

  • Regular lawn care, from weekly mows and trims to seasonal dethatching, fertilization, weed control and repair for brown patches or thin areas
  • Pruning and shaping of trees and shrubs to maintain proper shapes and foster healthy, lush growth for the plants to reach their full potential
  • Tree and stump removal and turf reshaping to renew areas where plants need to be removed due to age, size or health
  • Seasonal cleanup of flowerbeds or naturalized areas, including raking, brush cleanout, selective pruning and mulch renewal
  • Flowerbed nourishment with soil amendments, fertilization and similar treatments to encourage better blooming and more floral color
  • Irrigation plans, from full planning and installation of a new sprinkler system to necessary maintenance and emergency repairs
  • Pest and weed control for lawns, flowerbeds, borders and other areas using appropriate techniques to control or eliminate unwanted guests

Whether a one-time service is necessary to correct a simple problem or ongoing services are desired to keep your landscaping looking its very best throughout the year, proper landscaping maintenance adds tremendous value to your home and is a smart investment for your property.