Landscaping Needs Vary By Season

Judging a home by its appearance is often par for the home-buying course. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 49 percent of buying decisions are made from the street.

An appealing home exterior suggests the homeowner takes pride in his or her home and wants to make every effort to maintain that home. Curb appeal involves various components a home’s exterior, but beautiful landscaping can make a home stand out. While maintaining a lawn is something many homeowners may think is exclusive to spring and summer, lawn maintenance is really a year-round endeavor. The following steps can help anyone maintain curb appeal no matter the season.

Spring

Spring is a season of renewal when plants and trees will begin to look fresh and green once more. Spring maintenance includes applying fertilizer to lawns, replenishing mulch in planting beds, creating more pronounced edges around the lawn and garden beds, and testing soil. Some homeowners like to apply a weed-prevention product in the spring as well. Spring is a good time to plant annuals that will add a pop of color to the landscape. For those concerned about permanent planting, container gardening allows homeowners to move around planters in a configuration that works best for them.

Summer

Summer landscaping is all about maintaining what was established in the spring. Regular mowing, weeding and trimming can keep a landscape manicured. Other than drought, weeds are perhaps the biggest lawn and garden nuisance to a landscape in the summertime. Black medic, carpetweed, knotweed, mallow and prostate spurge are some of the weeds that will crop up during the summer. Seeds begin to germinate as soil warms up. According to the University of Maryland Extension, control with a broadleaf postemergent herbicide applied when the weed is actively growing will help prevent weeds from suffocating lawns.

Autumn

Autumn is often a forgotten season when it comes to maintaining a landscape. However, fall is a key time to keep landscapes in order. According to the landscaping resource LoveYourLandscape.com, fall is the ideal time to tend to a lawn that just endured summer heat. Seeding and fertilizing can ensure a stronger lawn come next spring. Perennials should be pruned and cut back. Raking leaves will help keep the property looking presentable.

Winter

One of the ways to maintain an attractive landscape throughout winter is to install plants that can survive the colder temperatures. Winterberry is a cousin of holly, but loses its leaves in the fall. The bright red berries can be a stark contrast to the white of winter snowfall. Camellia is an evergreen that blooms from fall to early spring and looks like pink roses. Heather is a popular plant in the United Kingdom, but is growing in popularity on this side of the Atlantic as well. The Home Depot says this plant blooms all year and offers beautiful flowers in summer and fall. In winter, the thick foliage makes for an appealing contrast to the more delicate blooms of other winter plants.

Maintaining a landscape through the seasons makes a home attractive all year long.

No matter the season, Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC offers landscaping services in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, and Fayetteville, PA year round. Contact us today!

Autumn Is a Prime Time to Tend Lawns and Gardens

Autumn is gardening season. That statement may not seem right to those who think of the spring as the peak time to care for lawns and gardens. However, autumn is an ideal time to get into the garden and ensure that flowers, trees and garden beds will over-winter successfully.

A number of things make autumn a prime gardening season. The cooler days of fall enable gardeners to spend ample time outdoors without the threat of blazing heat. In addition, soil harbors a lot of residual warmth in autumn. Also, the colder temperatures haven’t yet arrived in autumn, nor have the leaves completely fallen, making fall a prime time to assess what’s already in the landscape, what needs pruning back and where to address planting for next year.

Gardening enthusiasts can focus their attention on these areas this fall.

Pamper perennials

As annuals and perennials start to fall back, mark the spots where perennials are located so they can be easily identified later on. This way, when planning spots for spring bulbs or other spring layouts for next year, perennials won’t be overlooked or covered over.

Prune shrubs & clean up borders

Look at shrubs and trees and cut out dead or diseased wood. Weed and tidy up borders and lawn edging.

Install pavers or rock wall

Embrace the cooler temperatures to work on labor-intensive projects, such as putting in a garden bed, retaining wall or walkway.

Remove spent summer veggies

Take out vegetable garden plants that have already bloomed and borne fruit. Tidy up vegetable gardens and start to sow cooler weather plants, such as onions, garlic, beans, and sweet peas.

Rake and compost

Rake the leaves and gather grass clippings to add to the compost pile.

Plant spring bulbs

Get tulips and other spring bulbs ready for planting so they’ll burst with color next year.

Dig up herbs

Relocate herbs like parsley or basil to indoor gardens. Otherwise, strip all leaves and freeze for storage during winter.

Consider mums

Chrysanthemum plants are perennials. While they look beautiful in pots, if planted, maintained and winterized, they can bloom every fall.

Fertilize the lawn

Fertilizing in autumn helps ensure grass will stay healthy throughout the winter.

Add mulch and compost to the garden

Replenish spent soil with mulch and compost so garden beds will be revitalized for spring planting.

Prune hedges

Tidy up hedges, as they won’t be growing much more this year.

Clean and store equipment

Clean, sharpen and oil all equipment, storing lawn and garden tools properly so they are ready for spring and not lying out all winter.

Autumn may not seem like gardening season, but there are plenty of lawn and garden tasks to tend to during this time of year.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can assist you with all of your autumn landscaping needs. We provide landscaping services to both residential and commercial customers in Chambersburg, Fayetteville, and Shippensburg, PA. Contact us today!

The Basics of Mulching

Mulch is available in various forms. Like other land and garden products, mulch can go a long way toward helping plants thrive. Locust Ridge Landscape uses superior mulch that is much better for your soil and plants. Our mulch eventually rots down thus loosening up the soil so plants can better thrive.

Mulch comprises just about any material that is spread over the surface of soil. Its purpose is primarily to help soil retain moisture. In addition, mulch can staunch weed growth, keep soil cool, improve the aesthetics of garden beds, and even improve soil nutrient composition. When the right mulch is chosen, it can reduce the amount of time homeowners spend watering and weeding their gardens and insulate plants from dramatic changes in weather.

Gardeners may not realize that mulch also can prevent garden soil from becoming overly compacted, according to HGTV. This can mean beneficial earthworms can move easily through the soil, creating channels for water and depositing their nutrient-rich waste products.

Gardeners can choose organic or inorganic mulch. Organic mulches are derived from natural materials that will decompose over time, lending organic matter as well as various nutrients to the soil. Organic mulches also may contain beneficial microorganisms that can fight against plant diseases. Inorganic mulches may be made of stones, landscape fabrics and plastic. Both types will need to be amended or replaced as they degrade. Those who want the most environmentally-friendly mulching materials can choose all-natural mulches instead of synthetic alternatives.

To work effectively, mulch should be applied in a two- to three-inch layer of material, state the experts at Old World Garden Farms. This is the ideal amount to retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth without choking plants. Also, mulch that is too thick may make it impossible for water to penetrate, or it may prevent the soil from airing out, causing continuously wet conditions that lead to root and stem rot.

The University of Connecticut Home & Garden Education Center says mulch should not be placed directly against plant crowns or tree bases, as this can promote the development of disease. It may also serve as a habitat for bark- and stem-eating rodents. The center also suggests watering newly installed bark or wood mulches to prevent fungi from colonizing in dry mulch and causing problems like a water-repellent surface on the mulch.

Home landscapers considering mulch types may find that compost, manure and grass clippings (from nonpesticide-treated lawns) can be inexpensive and versatile in garden beds. The home advice site The Spruce notes that newspaper may also be effective. Many newspapers have switched over to organic dyes, especially for their black and white sections. Newspapers are an inexpensive way to suppress weeds and act like organic mulch in beds. They can be covered with other organic mulch, like shredded bark, for more visual appeal.

Mulch can be a versatile asset when doing gardening projects around home landscapes. And the benefits are more than just aesthetic.

Select the Right Fertilizer for Your Needs

For plants to truly flourish, the right growing conditions and soil that offers the right nutrients is of paramount importance. Fertilizer enhances soil so that plants and flowers can thrive. However, fertilizer is not a one-size-fits-all mix.

Choosing fertilizer can be a little overwhelming thanks to the variety of formulations available at neighborhood lawn and garden centers. Shelves contain all-purpose products, such as those billed as vegetable fertilizer, and even formulations geared toward specific flower varieties. Others may feature buzz words like “all-natural” or “organic,” and consumers may not be sure just what they need to keep plants healthy. The following guidelines can help any would-be gardener or landscaper grow more vibrant plants.

Start with a soil test

It’s difficult to determine what plants need without an accurate picture of what’s going on in the ground. A soil test can paint a picture of what’s going on and indicate if any nutrients are lacking. A common misconception is that gardeners fertilize plants. But fertilizer amends the soil that feeds plants, according to the soil-testing lab professionals at Virginia Tech. Soil types vary by region, and conditions may even vary between spots on a landscape. Testing where the plants will be placed can yield the most accurate results. Soil tests are available at gardening centers and online. Otherwise, landscaping professionals can conduct tests.

Know the N-P-K ratio

Most fertilizers will come with information concerning the nutrients within. Most notably it will have a breakdown of how much nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) is in the mix. Judging by the soil test, gardeners can choose a product that will give them the right ratio to amend the soil for the type of plant they are hoping to grow. Complete fertilizers often have NPK in the formulation. Incomplete fertilizers may have only one or two nutrients. This allows a person to customize fertilizer even more without overdoing it with a particular nutrient.

Grow plant knowledge

A cursory knowledge of the plants being planted in the garden also can be helpful. Gardeners must recognize that some plants will not tolerate excess amounts of a particular fertilizer component, while some may need more. Checking books out of the library, seeking information online and consulting with landscaping experts will help expand homeowners’ knowledge about plant types and the needs of each particular plant they hope to grow.

Solid and liquid fertilizer

Fertilizers are generally sold in pellets, spikes and liquid forms. Pellets or granules are dispersed over large areas and will gradually offer nutrients when the soil is watered. Liquid fertilizer is concentrated and fast-acting. These may be used for container plants or smaller areas. Spikes usually are placed in houseplants or to feed individual trees or shrubs. Depending on the formulation, fertilizer may need to be reapplied once a month or more. Consult the product packaging for the correct application advice.
Fertilizer amends soil to grow stronger, more resilient plants.