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What to Know Before Planting Around Your Property

When planning a landscape in Shippensburg, PA, it’s tempting to pick the most colorful, vibrant plants. An eye-popping property filled with yellows, purples, pinks, and other bold colors is sure to catch anyone’s eye. However, the right plant for a property is not always the most colorful.

Gardening novices can easily be overwhelmed on a trip to their local garden center, where employees may ask a host of questions that have little to do with homeowners’ preferences and everything to do with the growing conditions around their properties. Those questions may seem a little intense, but they’re well-intentioned. Successful gardening is more about soil conditions and access to sunlight than it is about the plants themselves. An awe-inspiring hydrangea bush will only impress if it’s planted in a location where it can thrive.

The Landscape, Nursery and Urban Forestry program at UMass Amherst Extension advises homeowners to learn about the following site conditions, and ultimately share that knowledge with local garden center representatives, before they pick and plant anything around their properties.

• Hardiness zone: The Plant Hardiness Zone Map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is designed to help gardeners determine which plants are most likely to thrive where they live. The map can be found on the USDA website at www.usda.gov.

• Light availability, intensity, and duration, from full sun to deep shade: Prior to planting, homeowners can document this information in a notebook or on their smartphones. Do so for a long enough period of time that you can get an accurate of idea of the conditions in which plants will have to grow, and then take that information with you to the garden center where you will buy your plants. Employees can then use this info to help you find the right fit given the light conditions.

• Water availability, both quantity and quality, as well as ease of access

• Exposure to wind and temperature extremes

• Exposure to weather events, snow loads, erosion, and flooding: Garden center employees can likely recommend plants based on traditional weather patterns in a given area.

• Soil type, drainage and compaction: Shippensburg, PA homeowners can take note of any areas of their property where water pools or the ground feels especially soggy after rainfall. Share this information with garden center employees prior to picking plants for such areas. If soil appears compacted, aeration prior to planting may be necessary.

• Competition from existing vegetation, keeping in mind the roots underground that you can’t see

• Above ground wires or obstructions: Trees will grow up, and the presence of power lines or other obstructions may threaten the trees or prove dangerous if trees eventually grow into or hang over power lines.

Knowledge of various conditions prior to planting can save homeowners the cost of replacing plants and the hassle of dealing with plants that don’t take.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can assist with your next planting project. Contact our landscaping professionals in Shippensburg, PA today!

Adding Plants to Water Features

Water features can make for relaxing and eye-catching additions to outdoor spaces in Shippensburg and Chambersburg, PA. According to the online gardening resource Garden Know-How, a water feature is any landscape enhancement that uses water and other material to bring tranquility and beauty to a space.

Thanks to their soothing sounds and aesthetic appeal, water features like ponds and fountains are often included in healing gardens. But they can be used in any and all landscapes.

Shippensburg & Chambersburg, PA homeowners can explore various water features, such as waterfalls, koi ponds and even rain bells, which offer soothing chime sounds when it rains. One consideration when installing a water feature is whether or not to incorporate live plants. Certain plants are better suited for water features than others.

Surrounding plants

It is possible to create a miniature ecosystem in a yard by surrounding a water feature with certain plants. Gardening Know-How advises using canna lily or taro at the edge of a pond. These plants thrive with roots in mud and their tops in shallow water. Broadleaf arrowhead is another option, as it can do well in a pond’s shallow edges. It’s a perennial so it will come back and requires little maintenance.

Floating plants

Many plants can live on the surface of the water and provide hiding spots for wildlife in a natural water feature setting. Lotus, also called water lily, is a popular and fragrant option. Water hyacinth produces vibrant lavender flowers that pop on stems that can reach three feet in height. This stunning species can be invasive, but it can be managed by planting within a hoop or submerged woven basket, indicates Happy DIY Home. Other free-floating plants to consider are duckweed, fairy moss and butterfly fern. Floating plants look beautiful and they can help filter water and control algae growth.

Submerged plants

Submerged plants are a necessity in water features that have fish. Submerged plants are grown in weighted pots placed on the bottom of the pond. They provide shelter for fish and help oxygenate the water. Hornwort, anacharis, water milfoil, and dwarf sagittaria are some examples of submerged plants.

Water features attract wildlife, including potentially pesky insects. Planting pitcher plants in submerged pots can help reduce the presence of unwanted insects in a water feature.

Some water-loving plants are invasive, so it is always best to check with a local agricultural extension or the Department of Environmental Protection to see if certain floating or submerged plants are restricted where you live. For those who want to contain plants, placing pots of cascading greenery and flowers near to fountains, pools and ponds is another way to add appeal without having to dig in the ground.

If you have questions or require landscaping services in Shippensburg & Chambersburg, PA plus the surrounding Franklin County, PA area, contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today!

How to Add Shade to a Deck or Patio

Shippensburg homeowners eagerly await the arrival of the warm weather so they can cast off the remnants of cabin fever and bask in the sunshine. However, as summer nears its dog days, the same sun homeowners once coveted can contribute to uncomfortable conditions in outdoor entertaining spaces.

Meteorologists at WHAS11 in Kentucky took to their neighborhoods in July 2020 to test just how hot surfaces can get in the sun during peak daytime temperatures. Concrete sitting in the sun almost all day reached a temperature of 134.7 F, while the same concrete in the shade clocked in at just under 80 F. When air temperatures are around 90 F, unshaded concrete and asphalt can be 125 F and 140 F, respectively. While wood decking may not be as hot as asphalt and concrete, it still can get steamy underfoot.

Shippensburg homeowners who want to be able to enjoy their outdoor spaces in an array of temperatures can think about investing in shade solutions. Sun-blocking ideas like awnings, shade trees and large umbrellas can help people enjoy their yards all day long.

Canopy: A patio canopy is typically a freestanding unit that can be installed over a patio or a deck. Some people prefer to bolt it down so it will not be knocked over in windy conditions. The fabric on the canopy can be removed during the off-season, helping to improve its longevity.

Awning: Awnings may be stationary or retractable. Many are installed directly onto a home and can cast shade on specific areas of outdoor entertaining spaces.

Shade sail: Similar to an awning but a bit less structurally rigid, shade sails are large pieces of triangular fabric installed over areas of a patio, pool or landscape, according to The Family Handyman. Shade sails are light and airy and can be customized.

Trees: A natural way to increase shade in a yard is to plant more shade trees. If sun glare is an issue all year long, and it’s not just the heat of the sun that is troublesome, think about planting evergreen trees. Deciduous cousins will drop their leaves in fall and only be effective during the warm weather.

Patio umbrellas: Many umbrellas start at around $25. Umbrellas can be paired with patio tables, while stationary cantilever umbrellas sit out of the way on their own heavy-duty stands. A cantilever umbrella tends to provide more shade than patio table umbrellas.

Curtains: Homeowners can block sunlight outdoors the way they do inside, offers MSN. Hang curtains from the sides of canopies or between posts on a deck to provide shade and cozy spaces.

Shade is in high demand when the sun is hot. Options abound for making outdoor areas more comfortable in Shippensburg.

Signs of Drought Stress and What to Do About It

A pristine lawn is a source of pride for homeowners in Shippensburg, PA. Even the most well-maintained lawns must confront a host of challenges in a given year, and perhaps no challenge is more daunting than drought.

Homeowners may feel helpless when drought strikes and begins to transform their lawns from green sources of pride to off-color eyesores. However, learning to identify signs of drought stress and what to do about it can help Shippensburg, PA homeowners get their lawns through dry periods.

Signs of drought stress

The lawn care experts at TruGreen note that there are four common characteristics of drought stress. Perhaps the most noticeable is changes in color, but it’s important that homeowners recognize there’s a difference between a change in hue and a change in color. When a lawn changes its hue, typically turning from bright green to a dull gray or blue green color, it is in what TruGreen identifies as the first stage of drought stress. Regular watering, if it’s allowed (local drought restrictions may dictate how much water can be applied to the lawn), can help the grass regain its moisture and the lawn may recover within a couple of days. When lawns change from green to brown, this is indicative that the lawn is in a dormancy stage. At this point, the lawn is entering survival mode. Watering to save the lawn will need to be more extensive. Deep and repeated watering for two to three weeks may help restore the lawn, but some parts ultimately may not recover. And deep watering may not be allowed until drought restrictions are lifted, increasing the likelihood that a significant portion of the lawn turns brown.

Footprints in the lawn are another sign of drought stress TruGreen indicates that this is a result of lawns that are too tired to spring back up after they have been walked on.

Wilting also indicates drought stress is affecting the lawn. Wilting occurs when grass blades roll or fold because they don’t have sufficient water content.

What to do about drought stress

In addition to the watering techniques noted above, Shippensburg, PA homeowners can try other strategies to help their lawns make it through a drought. TruGreen advises against mowing drought-stressed grass and keeping off the lawn as much as possible.

Removing tall weeds is another strategy homeowners can try. Doing so ensures the grass, and not the weeds, gets what little water is available during a drought.

Homeowners also should resist the temptation to mow too close, especially when signs of drought stress are just beginning to appear. TruGreen notes that mowing too close creates a shallow root system that makes lawns more vulnerable to drought.

It can be hard to watch a pristine lawn suffer from drought stress. But several strategies can increase the likelihood that lawns survive such conditions. More information about combatting drought can be found at www.trugreen.com.

Shippensburg, PA homeowners looking for expert help in mitigating drought stress in their lawns should contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today. We can help restore your landscape and improve the overall health of your lawn. Contact us today!

Sod Vs. Seed: Which Is Your Best Option?

A pristine lawn can be the finishing touch to a landscape and add significant value to a home in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. According to a joint study by the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington, homes with high curb appeal sell for an average of 7 percent more than similar houses without inviting exteriors.

When it comes to establishing a lawn, homeowners have two key options: starting from seed or installing sod. Each comes with its share of advantages and disadvantages. Which option makes the most sense for a given lawn will boil down to various factors, including homeowners’ budgets.

Seed

Seed is the first thing homeowners may think of when planning a lawn. Seed is an inexpensive, easily installed option. Plus, garden centers sell a variety of seeds specific to particular regions and climates. The home improvement resource Fixr says seed will cost an average of 24 cents per square foot installed compared to $1.29 for sod. That affordability compels many homeowners to turn to seed. However, seed can take up to two years to produce a lush lawn and it requires high maintenance in the initial months to establish the grass.

Seed also requires greater soil preparation, including tilling to loosen soil and keeping the lawn well watered until the grass is hardy. Weeds also may mix in with seed more readily, meaning weed prevention becomes an additional task.

Sod

One of the advantages to sod is that it can produce an instant lawn. When time is of the essence, sod will produce a complete lawn nearly as soon as the sod is laid. Sod can be used to mitigate soil erosion, as it works faster than seed, which needs to establish a root system to keep soil in check. Also, sod does not require as much soil preparation as seed.

The potential disadvantages to sod are its cost and the time it takes to install it, particularly on a large property. In addition, sod will require careful maintenance for at least the first two weeks until the sod takes stronger roots. It can be an expensive mistake if sod doesn’t thrive and new pieces need to be installed. The Family Handyman says sod tends to be sun-loving and may not work in shadier areas of a property.

Sod and seed are the two main options for lush lawns. Each has its perks, and homeowners can speak with a local lawn specialist to determine which option is best for their lawn. Need landscaping advice in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA? Contact the expert team at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC today!

How to Address Moss in the Lawn

Lawn care can be a labor of love. Maintaining a pristine lawn is no small task, but it’s one that many Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA homeowners proudly take on, knowing that all the hard work and time spent outside on sunny summer afternoons is well worth the sweat equity.

After putting in so much effort to create a lush, green lawn, it’s understandable if homeowners react with disbelief when something threatens the health of their turf. Moss is one such threat. Recognizing the threat moss poses is the first step to corralling it before it overtakes a lawn.

Explaining Moss

Moss can be especially menacing because its green appearance allows it to blend in with grass rather easily. As moss spreads, it becomes more noticeable. According to the turf care experts at Scotts’, moss is a plant with shallow roots that spreads by spores and root-like structures called rhizoids. Moss is opportunistic, and it will grow where turfgrass is thin and weak. However, moss does not kill the grass. Rather, the conditions that promote the growth of moss can kill the grass. Such conditions may include compacted soil or excessive thatch, acidic or infertile soil, excessive shade, and insufficient or excessive watering.

How Can Moss Be Controlled

Penn State Extension notes that the first step to controlling moss is to test the soil. Soil test kits are inexpensive and available at most home renovation stores. Test results will reveal if the soil is lacking nutrients or if lime needs to be applied and when to apply it. Such a report also will indicate when to fertilize the lawn, which can help restore the turfgrass so it’s more capable of competing with the moss.

If the underlying cause of moss is shade and/or moisture in the yard, Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA homeowners can speak with the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC to discuss their options. Replacing existing turf with one that is well-suited to shade and/or moisture may prevent mold from overtaking the lawn in the future. Penn State Extension notes that some turfgrasses may be best-adapted to shaded, well-drained soils, while others may be more likely to thrive in shaded, moist soils. Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can help homeowners find a turf that will not only thrive in the conditions in their yards, but also in their local climates.

Moss can quickly take advantage of conditions that make it difficult for turfgrass to grow. Homeowners who recognize that moss is overtaking their lawn can address it in various ways. Contact Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC today for expert lawn care and landscaping services in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA.

Techniques to Revitalize a Lawn After a Long Winter

Pristine, snow-covered landscapes can be wonders to behold. While that blanket of white is idyllic, a lawn’s delicate blades may be paying a hefty price beneath the cold, heavy piles of snow.

Snow plows push salt and sand up on the grass while subterranean animals like mice and moles dig burrows beneath piles of snow as they try to find food and stay warm. Such conditions are not favorable for thriving landscapes in Chambersburg, PA. When the spring thaw arrives, lawns may be in dire need of some TLC. The following techniques can mitigate winter-related lawn damage.

Clear out debris

Remove any scattered leaves, branches and other debris that has been strewn across the property due to storms or snow-laden trees. This will give you a clean canvas to work on.

Dry out snow mold

The Family Handyman says snow mold is a cold-season fungus that causes gray-colored circles or patches on the lawn where there has been snow. To alleviate snow mold, rake the lawn to loosen matted grass and facilitate the drying-out process.

De-thatch the lawn

Heavy snow can compress the grass and cause some of it to die off. De-thatching helps to remove dead grass blades and separate any matting. This enables water, nutrients and air to reach the lawn’s roots more effectively. Thinning out old organic matter also helps encourage new growth.

Aerate the soil

Coupled with dethatching, aeration involves loosening the soil or poking holes to allow nutrients to move freely to the roots.

Kill weeds before they spread

Weeds may be the first to start growing when the weather begins to warm. Address them promptly by manually pulling them or applying an herbicide.

Overseed the lawn

Chances are there are some bare spots that have formed over the winter. Overseeding can help to fill in the lawn. Make sure that frosts are largely a thing of the past and soil temperature is around 50 F to 60 F before seeding. Water daily until grass fills in.

Apply nutrients

Fertilizer and compost can restore nutrients to the lawn that may have been used up over winter. A soil test at a nearby horticultural center can tell you which nutrients are needed, according to the Chemistry Cachet, a guide to using chemistry secrets for healthy living, beauty, cleaning, and gardening.

Your lawn can be restored to its pre-winter glory with the help of the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC. We can help revitalize your lawn and landscape in Chambersburg, PA and the surrounding Franklin County, PA area. Contact us today!

Stay Safe When Landscaping

Landscaping is typically viewed as a chore by homeowners, many of who enjoy doing some work on their lawns and gardens in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. But only few homeowners may recognize the potential dangers of lawn maintenance.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 230,000 people per year are treated for various injuries resulting from lawn and garden tools. Common injuries include loss of fingers, lacerations, broken and dislocated bones, eye injuries, and burns. Many of these injuries are entirely preventable if homeowners prioritize safety when tending to their lawns and gardens.

Understand the equipment

Homeowners should not assume they know how to use all of the tools necessary to maintain lush lawns and bountiful gardens. Familiarize yourself with the proper operation of manual and motorized equipment by reading the owner’s manual thoroughly, making special note of recommended safety guidelines. Take some time to locate the power buttons and other parts by comparing them to illustrations in the guide. Once you feel comfortable handling the equipment, then you can begin to use it.

Wear appropriate protective gear

Failure to wear protective gear can lead to injury. Personal protective equipment includes gloves, eye protection, ear protection, boots, and a hard hat if necessary. When working during visibility conditions or at night, wear a reflective vest. Other protective items include a hat to shade your eyes from the sun’s rays. Sunscreen will protect the skin from UVA and UVB radiation. Long pants and sleeves can guard against flying debris.

Watch your surroundings

Thousands of injuries occur to children and pets who get hurt around mowers. It’s best if children and pets remain indoors when homeowners are mowing or using other power equipment that may kick up debris. Children under the age of 12 may not have the strength or ability to operate lawn tools. Also, never make a game of riding a child on a riding mower. Nobody under the age of 16 should operate riding lawn mowers.

Get approval before digging

It’s difficult to know what is beneath the ground without having a property surveyed and marked. Digging without approval can result in damage to gas lines or water/sewer pipes. Always check with the utility company before digging trenches or holes.

Unplug or turn off all equipment

When not in use, keep lawn equipment off. Do not try to repair or fix a snag or obstruction in equipment while it is on. Don’t modify the equipment in any way, such as removing protective guards.

Exercise caution with chemicals

Follow manufacturers’ safety instructions when using pesticides or fertilizers. Avoid application on windy days or right before a rainstorm, as this can spread the product and damage the ecosystem. Keep people and pets away from treated areas. Maintaining the yard is both a necessity and a hobby.

Homeowners who prioritize safety can greatly reduce their risk of injury by contacting the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape LLC. We can take care of all of your landscaping needs in Chambersburg & Shippensburg, PA. Contact us today!

Tips When Planting Shade Trees

Beautiful landscaping can add instant curb appeal to a property in Shippensburg and Chambersburg, PA. But beauty isn’t the only thing that makes idyllic landscaping attractive to homeowners. Some landscaping features, such as shade trees, save homeowners money while adding aesthetic appeal.

The U.S. Department of Energy notes that shading is the most cost-effective way to reduce solar heat gain in a home. Shading also cuts air conditioning costs, which tend to be expensive in areas with warm, humid climates. In fact, the DOE notes that well-planned landscapes can reduce unshaded homes’ air conditioning costs by anywhere from 15 to 50 percent.

When planting shade trees, one of the first decisions homeowners will need to make is which type of tree, deciduous or evergreen, they want to plant. Deciduous trees are those that seasonally shed their leaves, while evergreens are trees that keep their leaves throughout the year. Deciduous trees can help keep homes cool in the summer by blocking sun, and those same trees can be beneficial in winter after they shed their leaves by letting the sun in and keeping homes warm. But evergreens also can be beneficial in winter by blocking wind, potentially preventing cold air from making its way into a home through cracks in walls or around windows.

When planting shade trees, techniques vary depending on which type of tree homeowners ultimately choose to plant.

Planting deciduous trees

The DOE says that deciduous trees that are between six and eight feet tall when planted will begin shading the windows of a home within a year of being planted. Depending on the species of the plant and the home, those same deciduous trees may begin shading the roof within five to 10 years of being planted. When planting deciduous trees, homeowners should keep these tips in mind.

Plant trees to the south of the home. When planted to the south of the home, deciduous trees can screen between 70 and 90 percent of the summer sun while still allowing residents to feel summer breezes.

Consider sun angles. Homeowners who want to shade their homes from low afternoon sun angles should plant trees with crowns that are lower to the ground on the west side of their homes.

Cool air before it reaches your home. Shrubs and groundcover plants can be planted to cool air before it reaches a home.

Evergreen trees

Planting evergreens to block wind is known as “windbreaking,” which lowers the wind chill near a home. Wind also can be used to cool a home in summer. But these benefits can only be realized when evergreens are strategically planted.

Location, location, location: The DOE advises planting evergreen trees to the north and northwest of the home to stop wind. In addition, to get the most bang for your windbreaking buck, the distance between the home and windbreak should be two to five times the height of the mature tree.

Plant trees on either side of the house. Planting trees on either side of the house will direct cooling winds toward the home in the summer.

Shade trees can help homeowners reduce their energy bills, making them valuable and attractive additions to any landscape in Shippensburg and Chambersburg, PA.

Contact the landscaping professionals at Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC for expert tree planting advice in Shippensburg and Chambersburg, PA.

How to Protect Your Yard from Deer

With more than 60 different species of deer worldwide, there’s a good chance individuals will have some sort of interaction with these majestic animals at one point during their lifetimes.

Deer, which live on all continents except Antarctica, can survive in everything from mountainous areas to wet rainforests to suburban neighborhoods. These herbivores are voracious eaters that will search far and wide for their meals. Home landscapes tend to be easy pickings for foraging deer.

Many people are excited to see deer in their neighborhoods and yards in Shippensburg, PA because they can be such graceful creatures to behold. However, once deer start to munch on ornamental trees, annuals and flowering shrubs, the novelty of these animals may wear off. Furthermore, deer also can be covered in ticks that spread illnesses like Lyme disease. Here are some tips to keep deer at bay.

Avoid tasty morsels

Deer like English ivy, lettuces, impatiens, pansies, and hostas. Fruit trees also are targets. Choose other plants to grow, and wait until after early spring, when deer aren’t as concerned with regaining weight lost during the winter, to get them in the ground.

Use fishing line to deter deer

Put a few stakes in the ground and then run fishing line at a height of about three feet. Deer can sense movement but do not have keen vision. As the deer approach your garden, they’ll brush against the “invisible” fishing line and then get spooked off.

Plant plants that produce strong aromas

The experts at Good Housekeeping suggest planting lavender and marigolds, which emit strong aromas. Deer will be reluctant to walk through because the smell can interfere with their ability to find food and assess their environment via their sense of smell.

Stock up on soap

The tallow in soap helps keep deer away, according to the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science. Scented soaps like Irish Spring may be especially good at warding off deer.

Plant in levels

Raised beds and sunken gardens can discourage deer from coming into the yard because they aren’t avid climbers, offers the home and garden resource This Old House.

Employ harmless scare tactics

Deer are skittish, and any unfamiliar movement or sound may scare them away. Cans hung from strings, sundials and lights can keep them at bay.

Deer will seek out an easy meal, but homeowners can take steps to safeguard their trees, flowers and shrubs. If you need landscaping work done in Shippensburg, PA, contact our expert team at Locust Ridge Landscape. We can help you achieve all of your landscaping goals, so contact us today to schedule an appointment or receive a free quote.