Have the Best Flowers Guaranteed!

Nothing in the landscape provides for a more beautiful, colorful and extended display better than annual flowers. These seasonal annuals include geranium, begonia, and impatiens just to name a few. What do landscapers and expert gardeners know that sends their floral displays into explosions of color?

Choose the right plants for your exposure
1) First evaluate where you will be planting your annual flowers in order to be successful. If the area that you want to plant flowers is shady, stick with shade tolerant flowers. Don’t try to put sun-loving annuals such as geranium, marigold or petunia in shady areas. No matter how well you care for them, they will fail. The importance of this first consideration cannot be emphasized enough. Put the right plant in the right location.
2) Buy healthy plants. This may seem obvious but you want plants that are well rooted in their pots. Pop one plant out of its cell and have a look. It should be thick with roots. Look for annuals that are thick and sturdy as opposed to tall and leggy. Foliage should be showing signs of rapid growth and rich in color. With this observation you’ll know the grower has been feeding your baby annuals regularly.
3) Prepare your soil like you would a vegetable garden. Add a good organic compost to your proposed flower bed. Incorporate four to six inches into the soil with a tiller or turn over with a shovel. Make sure that the soil is well mixed. This step is crucial to root growth. Rapidly growing annuals require healthy root development to support healthy, heavy blooming plants.
4) Water! Never let your newly planted annuals dry out. If your plants become stressed from lack of water, they could be set back days if not weeks in growth. Water thoroughly and deeply. This will encourage deeper root growth. Never overwater as this can be as bad if not worse than under watering. More plants die from overwatering than not.
5) Feed! Most people forget that annual flowers require food like any plant. Since annual flowers are constantly growing all season long, a good slow release fertilizer is great for them. There are many brands to choose from and timing of release. A good slow release fertilizer will offer feeding over a 3-4 month period. Supplemental feedings throughout the season with a liquid fertilizer at half strength will make your annuals explode with color. Although all other steps are important for a successful floral display, this one tip will put your display over the top this season! Happy planting!

Five Things You Should Do On the 1st REALLY GREAT Spring Weekend

BuckAndSonsSpringCleanUp

This weekend promises to be the first really great weekend this spring in Ohio, weather speaking that is! What should you do if you’re itching to get out and work in the yard? Here are five things we recommend … Enjoy!

  1. Aerate.  This helps manage dead grass, leaves and winter debris, while also loosening all of that hardened and compacted soil.
  2. The Great Clean Up. If you’ve got trees, they’ve likely shed branches this winter.  Picking up lingering leaves, dead grass and other “unmentionables” will make you feel accomplished, and your lawn look GREAT.
  3. Start Fertilizing.  Hit your lawn with a nice dose of fertilizer to kick off the growing process. Read the directions! The correct amount you add to your lawn is imperative, as well as, how you apply the fertilizer.  Pick a hybrid blend of fertilizer, as it will release a little now — and save some for later too.
  4. Apply Seed.  This is a great time to introduce some fresh cultivars of grass seed into your lawn.  Also, since we’re in the Spring season, the rains will do the trick in keeping the seed moist.
  5. Call Us.  No one loves your lawn like we do.  If you’d like us to give you an estimate on managing the above and more — on routine cutting and maintenance … Or even bigger landscape architectural projects, we’d love to hear from you before the summer settles in and schedules book up with activities.  Think 876-BUCK.

 

Winter Landscape Tips

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 drawinghave 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 Winterberry Hollystems 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!

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 winter-king-hawthorn-fruitDogwood’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

Patioandyard4With 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!

Pave Your Way to Better Living

Concrete pavers can be a beautiful and durable addition to your home.  A wide assortment of styles, patterns and colors allow you to create unique driveways and walkways that can really add curb appeal and value to your home.  Concrete pavers can also be used to create a stunning array of “outdoor rooms” and patios that extend your functional living space into the great outdoors.  Within just a matter of days, your new patterned surfaces can be ready to be put into service entertaining guests, leading visitors through your landscape to your front door, and increasing your real estate value.  Though your new concrete paver areas are sturdy enough to provide you with years of use and beauty, they also are flexible enough to allow for future adaptation.

As you use your “outdoor room” you may contemplate new ideas and uses for your space.  Concrete pavers allow you to seamlessly incorporate new features such as seat walls, fire pits, built-in grills, and fountains that you may not have thought of (or wanted to pay for) originally.  You can also easily increase the square footage of your patio in order to accommodate these new uses and the increased number of guests who will want to come over to enjoy your beautiful and unique space!  With more flexibility than a wood deck, greater durability than a poured concrete slab, and unsurpassed beauty and charm it is hard to find something not to like about concrete pavers!

Limited Only By Your Imagination

The wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes make concrete pavers one of the most versatile paving materials available today.  This diversity allows for numerous choices in patterns and layouts no matter what style of concrete paver you choose.  Combining more than one style of paver can provide an almost endless number of options that will result in a unique “one of a kind” finished product.  With concrete pavers, you are truly limited only by your imagination!

Old World Charm or Bold Modern Style

No matter which style of concrete paver you choose, you can be sure that the end result will be one that adds instant personality to your home.  If “Old World Charm” is your style, choose a tumbled concrete paver to create that “lived in,” vintage feeling.  Since every individual paver is hand placed, each and every project exudes the artistic craftsmanship of the old world.  For those who prefer a clean and modern look, choose from a variety of contemporary style concrete pavers to give your home and landscape a fresh and up to date appearance.  Still others may prefer a natural stone appearance and pavers can provide this look as well.

Benefits of Patio Pavers

  • Affordable
  • Adds Value to Your Home
  • Durable
  • Low Maintenance
  • Flexible
  • Easy to Repair and Modify
  • Increase Your Living Space
  • Old World Charm and Beauty or Bold Contemporary Style

Next Year’s Landscape Success Begins NOW!

Next Year’s Landscape Success Begins NOW!

As the weather turns cool and crisp, you might be tempted to think that your lawn and garden don’t need you anymore. But now is the best time to condition your landscape for a strong start to next spring. Your lawn and ornamentals will also reward you next spring if you give them a hand in making the most of the cooler months.

Don’t abandon the lawn!

During the fall, don’t be fooled as the top growth of your lawn slows. The real action is happening below ground, because this is the time of year when root growth goes into high gear. Fall fertility promotes healthy root growth especially when the soil has been opened through aeration. Roots that have nutrients, adequate moisture and room to expand can store more nutrients for better winter color and earlier spring green-up. Aerate and feed your lawn this fall!

Fortify your trees and shrubs with a good solid meal this fall

Trees and most all other ornamental plants need care in the fall be it pruning, cutting back, mulching or feeding. Fertilization is extremely important in the fall where root growth is building reserves for growth and flower production during the fall and winter. Investing in your landscape now will pay you back many times over next year. Be sure to call us with any questions or requests for quotations. Fall feeding of woody ornamentals has been proven as the optimal time of year to feed these ornamentals.

Spring spectacles begin now – Set yourself off from the crowd with spring flowering bulbs

The only game in town, as far as spectacular spring blooming displays are concerned, remains to be in fall planted bulbs. Of course we are talking about the ever popular spring bloomers such as tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, lily, iris etc. To most of us though that want instant gratification, bulb planting in the fall seems like such a waste of money, time and back-breaking effort. But after about four long cold months, your investment “springs” to life and rewards your efforts with beautiful and unsurpassed colorful displays. The good news too is that bulbs such as daffodils reward you year after year and there are hundreds of varieties and types of bulbs from which to choose. Don’t miss your fall opportunity to spring some life into your landscape investment. For bulb ideas, we have provided you with a link to one of our spring flowering bulb suppliers. SpringDisplays. If prompted for a password, enter ‘shovel‘.

Be sure to use our exclusive and completely free online calculator to determine exactly how many bulbs that you will need here

Quality Landscape Reflects Pride Inside Home & Office

First impressions of you or your business begins before anyone sets one foot inside of your door. The quality of your landscape, or lack thereof, will set the tone and opinion of you based upon outside appearances. This is simply human nature. If your home or office appears neat and well maintained, visitors will make an initial assessment that you are a person that takes pride in his or her home or business. Personal opinions might even translate into that you are a successful person and hard-working from this first outdoor impression.

Studies have shown that morale increases in office environments where the outward appearances look attractive, implying pride and success. An unkempt and dingy outside appearance could actually turn away potential customers and highly motivated workers.

Have a landscape design professional evaluate your home or office. Many times simple landscape maintenance techniques will spring new life into an existing landscape. At times, however, some minor changes in plant placement or the removal of an overgrown shrub or tree with be necessary to give a home or office an updated and appealing new look.

Landscapes that have some age, and especially those that have not received proper maintenance over the years may require complete landscape renovation. If you find yourself in this predicament, this is a great opportunity to hire a competent landscape design professional to make the absolute best that your structure and site have to offer. Be the envy of your community with that all important first impression!

Save Green with a Well Planned Landscape

On a cold winter day, nothing feels better than coming home to a toasty warm house.  Who doesn’t enjoy that peaceful feeling as you sit down to watch the snow fall outside your window from the comfort of a reclining chair in a pleasant 70 degree environment?  Life is good…then the utility bills arrive!  With the recent cold snap, you have no doubt noticed a spike in your gas and/or electric bills.  You probably also notice the same thing when that dread piece of mail arrives in July and August!  You may be willing to move the thermostat a degree or two one way or the other, but comfort is still important and maybe the kids just don’t want to wear their winter coats at the kitchen table for dinner.  You grit your teeth, reset the thermostat, and prepare to purchase ink by the barrel for writing checks to the utility company.  If this sounds familiar, you may be surprised to know that some simple changes to your landscape can make a big difference in your energy bills.

There are 3 primary ways that your home may gain or lose heat: 1) air infiltration, 2) heat conduction, and 3) solar radiation.  A carefully designed landscape that takes these things into account can help reduce home heating and cooling costs by 25%.  This could mean hundreds of dollars in energy savings each year!  In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy recently released a study showing that with even as few as 3 well positioned trees, you could see savings of $100 to $250 annually.  Following some additional simple guidelines, you can make changes to your landscape that will leave you with even more green in your pocket.

In the winter, your home may be losing 20% to 30% of its heat due to air infiltration.  One way to reduce that heat loss is by setting up windbreaks in your landscaping.  By positioning evergreen trees and shrubs along the north and northwest sides of your property (the direction of Ohio’s prevailing winter winds), you may be able to reduce heating costs anywhere from 25% to 40%.  Ideally your windbreak should be located 2 to 5 times as

wind break

evergreen windbreak

far away from your house as the mature height of your trees.  For example, if you are planting a double row of spruce trees that will reach a mature height of 30’, you should try to locate them 60’ to 150’ away from your house.  While this is the optimal range, the size of your property may require you to plant a little bit closer than that.  On the other hand, if you have a very large property, studies have shown that windbreaks are able to achieve noticeable results even when they are located as far away as 30 times the mature height of the plantings!

Unfortunately, the end of winter does not mean the end of utility bills!  During summer, when you are trying to cool your home, you may be fighting the effects of solar radiation and heat conduction though your windows and walls.  The best way to help keep your house cool is by shading it.  In the same way that you seek out shade to cool off on a hot summer day, your home can be kept cooler by shading the roof and sun facing walls (primarily south and west) with trees and shrubs.  The shade from your trees and shrubs can actually cool the surrounding air by as much as 9 degrees.  This can dramatically reduce your air conditioning costs; possibly by as much as 50%.  Just think of how many ice-cold lemonades that would buy!  By planting deciduous shade trees on the south and west sides of your house, you can cool your home in the summer and still allow sunlight to shine through in the winter when you actually want to take advantage of the

Shade trees

Summer shield from Sun

solar radiation heating your home. Well positioned shrubs can also “insulate” your walls without inhibiting air flow.  And don’t forget to shade your air conditioning unit.  In addition to the aesthetic benefits of screening the air conditioner, a shaded unit can operate 10% more efficiently than one exposed to the hot summer sun.

When it comes to reducing your energy bills, landscaping can do more than just slow the wind and provide shade.  Areas of lawn or groundcover can be up to 25 degrees cooler than asphalt in the summer so maximize the amount of planted area on your property and minimize pavement.  While structures such as pergolas and trellises are helpful in providing shade to your home, you will not get the added cooling benefits of plant transpiration and

Directing wind

Directing cooling winds

evaporation.  Tree filled neighborhoods have been shown to have air temperatures that are 3 to 6 degrees cooler than surrounding open neighborhoods due to the combination of shade and the cooling effects of evaporation.  If your home is not air conditioned, you can actually use plant material to direct summer winds toward your windows.  (If you do have central air conditioning however you are actually better off not directing summer winds toward your home.  Studies have shown that directing these warm winds toward your house is actually a detriment to keeping energy bills low when you are using air conditioning.)

There are numerous possibilities for how to use your landscape to reduce energy costs.  The savings you could achieve may even pay for the landscape renovations within just 8 years!  Contact Buck & Sons today to consult with a landscape designer and find out how you can use your landscaping to make your home more energy efficient.  Don’t spend another winter lamenting huge utility bills!  This year go green and save some green in the process!                      by Pete Marsh, Lead Designer – Buck & Sons Landscape

Plan Your Summer Fun Now!

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.

Patios and Gardens

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!