Early Planning provides for Full Summer Fun
The daylight hours are short, the temperatures are cold, and the winter snows are upon us. For most people, spring seems like a long way off and landscaping is just about the last thing on their mind! You can chase away those winter blues by beginning to think ahead about springtime patio and landscape projects. Winter is a great time to begin the planning and design process, or maybe just dusting off that set of plans in the closet that took a back seat to other home improvement projects last year.
A well designed landscape can help you create privacy, improve your home’s security, reduce your energy bills, increase your home value, and most importantly, enhance the beauty of your property. Your home is your sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and your landscaping should be a part of that. Your landscaping can bring you a sense of peace and tranquility…a place to relax and “get away from it all”. Best of all, a well designed and installed landscape can help you accomplish all of your goals without creating future maintenance headaches!
As with any renovation project, it is important to begin by consulting a landscape professional. Soil type, sun and wind exposure, and water availability can vary greatly within aresidential development and even between neighboring houses. Each site is unique, and an experienced professional will take all of these factors into consideration. A landscape designer will listen intently to your goals and use his or her plant knowledge to help you develop a plan that fits your personal taste in style, color, and preferences for future maintenance (or lack thereof!).
So, put down that snow shovel, take off your hat and scarf, and call Buck & Sons today to get started on your new landscape plan. There is no better way to get out of the winter doldrums and when the weather finally breaks, you’ll you ready to enjoy summer with your newly enhanced great outdoors!
Rather than sit inside all day, we make productive use of this time with a little winter dormant pruning. With the foliage off of deciduous trees and shrubs, pruning becomes a much quicker and easier process. At no other time of the year is it as easy to see problem branches that are dead, rubbing, crossing or growing inward. Branches that are infringing upon a structure or neighboring tree or shrub should be judiciously pruned so not to adversely affect the overall shape and aesthetic value of the plant. Sometimes, however, removal of a tree or shrub may be the only solution when it has been planted improperly by not allowing adequate room for growth. Your goal in pruning, as always, should be to maintain the natural habit of the plant unless you are maintaining a formal hedge or artistic topiary. Please don’t turn your valuable shrubs into green outdoor boxes. Nothing detracts more from the aesthetic or monetary value of your landscape than improper pruning.
Winter can be a dull and boring time of year. Most of us manage to get a few things accomplished indoors that we had put off during the summer months but seem to leave our out-of-doors “out in the cold”. Yeah… maybe we raked a few leaves but that’s the extent of the care that our greatest outdoor investment gets for the season.
Certain trees and shrubs should not be pruned in the winter months. Trees such as Maple and Birch sap excessively when pruned anytime from late December through early June. Wait until the appropriate time of the year for pruning these tree ‘bleeders’. Spring flowering shrubs such as Lilac, Forsythia, Rhododendron, Azalea and Viburnum set buds in the preceding growing season for flowers the following spring. Your much anticipated blooming plants could easily be ruined for another year if you prune off all of the flower buds. A good rule of thumb is to prune spring flowering shrubs shortly after they have finished blooming. In central Ohio, we try not to prune spring flowering shrubs any later than the end of June. This timing may vary for your region of the country as well as any seasonal or climactic changes during the growing season.
To apply wound dressing or not to apply wound dressing? This is a perennial topic of discussion (sometimes heated) among arborists, nursery growers, landscapers and gardeners. The current “Green Industry” standard and recommendation today is to not apply wound dressing. University and industry studies have indicated that wound dressings can actually hinder the healing process after a pruning wound is sealed with a common dressing. It seems that the outer, active growth ring, also known as the vascular cambium layer becomes obstructed making the healing process more difficult for your tree or shrub. If you absolutely do feel you need to apply a wound dressing, try to apply inside of this outer growth ring. For the most part however, your efforts are simply cosmetic in nature and it may be best to use your money for a new tree, shrub or perennial if any damage or extensive pruning is required.
So…pick out a nice, pleasant winter day and grab your sharpened and cleaned pruning tools. Proper pruning techniques will add beauty and longevity to your plants. Your plants will increase in their beauty and functionality as well as increasing the value of your property. If you are unsure as to proper pruning techniques, there are several books available or garden clubs you could join. You of course can always contact professional landscape service firms that have experienced horticulturists that are Ohio Certified Landscape Technicians. Be sure to ask if they have these technicians employed.
Just because winter has arrived doesn’t mean you have to forget about your landscape! Here are some important things you can do to improve your piece of the great outdoors even as the snow piles up in your driveway.
Plan Now for your Spring Landscape Projects!
The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting colder, and the first winter snows are upon us. If you are like most people, spring seems like a long way off and landscaping is just about the last thing on your mind. Winter though is actually a great time to start planning for new springtime patio and landscape projects. It may also be a good time to dust off that set of plans you have in the closet that took a back seat to other home improvement projects this past summer. Often times the planning process is the most time consuming aspect of a project. If you wait until warm weather arrives in early spring to begin, your project may not be completed until mid summer. By starting to think about your landscape projects now, you will have plenty of time to work out all of the details of your plan with your landscape designer. When the weather breaks, you will be ready to go on the installation and you will have the entire summer to enjoy your new patio and landscaping!
Look for Plants That Stand Out in the Winter
When you think of winter, you think of Pine trees, Spruce trees, and Holly shrubs. While these plants, and other evergreens, are “the old stand-bys” for winter interest, there are many other plants that can really liven up your winter landscape. One such plant that is gaining in popularity is the Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus alba). Some cultivars of this plant have spring flowers, variegated foliage, and good fall color; but it is winter when they truly stand out! As the weather gets colder you will notice the brown stems beginning to turn red, with the newest stems having the most vibrant color. Another interesting selection is the Red Twig Dogwood’s cousin, the Yellow Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Silver & Gold’). Plants that maintain their berries through the winter provide a splash of color and also are attractive to many birds hunting for scarce winter food. The familiar Blue Holly (Ilex x meservae) has a deciduous relative, Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata), that maintains bright red berries on its bare branches throughout the winter. The Winter King Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’) is a great ornamental tree that also has red berries during the winter. The berries can be especially striking when viewed with a backdrop of Spruce trees!
Finish those Fall Clean-Ups
With the exception of some Oak trees and Pear trees, most deciduous trees have dropped there leaves. If you have not already, be sure to get rake all your leaves off the lawn or at least mulch them into the lawn with your lawn mower. Leaves can smother your lawn if left on through the entire winter and make it more susceptible to disease problems in the spring. A little work and preparation now and through the winter months can make a big impact on your landscape come spring. And if you are considering any patio or landscape projects for 2009, start planning for that now. Before you know it, you will be able to replace that hot chocolate in the house with a tall glass of iced tea on your new patio!