The Wonders of Hydromulching – What to Expect


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 04-02-2013

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sprayNot so many people instantly turn to Hydromulching when they need to fix a bare patch of dirt on their lawn.

Perhaps only a few people are aware of this great method of seeding and the numerous advantages.

What Is Hydromulching and How It Works

Hydromulching is simply the process of planting which involves spraying the ground with a soupy mixture of mulch. The mulch which is a mixture of water, seeds, fertilizer, coloring, and tackifier makes Hydromulching unique and effective.

Once the ground is sprayed on using a specially designed machine with a hose or a mounted gun, the result is an instant cover that conserves moisture and protects the surface of the ground from wind or rain.

Since the Hydromulch contains tackifier or binder which holds all the elements together, it can stay in place though exposed to a variety of weather conditions.

A little time is required to let the mulch dry before supplying water. And you do not need much.

Just a little amount of water is needed, just so that it stays damp long enough for the seeds to germinate. This hydromulch makes a perfect nursery for seeds.

After a couple of days, grass will start growing though it might not be visible at first. But if you look closely, you will see little hair-like things protruding through the mulch. Given a few more days, those tiny sprouts will have turned green.

This is when you add more water at night since the roots are about four times longer than what you see above the ground.

Preparing the soil prior to spraying is also an important thing to note. Loosen the soil or add a thin layer of soil so it would be easier for tiny grass roots to penetrate the ground and absorb moisture.This is also the perfect time to mix some slow release fertilizer to the soil.

These procedures will make a huge difference for the results both in the time it takes for the grass to grow and in the overall appearance of your lawn. In a few more days, your once unpleasant lawn will be covered with nice green grass your neighbors will envy.

If you have problem with erosion, Hydromulching is also a perfect solution. It is made to hold tight to very steep banks. Your Hydro Spray Grass operator will only need to adjust the mix to hold to just about any slope.

It’s surprising how well it holds onto steep banks during a heavy rain or even a storm. The top soil can be washed away but the hydro mulch will hold on remarkably well.

After about three days, the area will be festooned with young grass all over the slope with roots holding the bank in place making your erosion concern yesterday’s problem.

Getting the Greenest Lawn On the Block


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 28-01-2013

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frontCurb appeal – the general attractiveness of a property from the sidewalk.

Often used by Realtors during a home’s evaluation, it’s also used by opinionated neighbors who are dedicated to the value of the community. One of the best ways to maintain curb appeal is a great lawn.

Don’t assume grass is simply grass, as there are a variety of types grown.

Several factors, such as climate, are to be considered when picking the type of grass to maintain. For cooler climates…

  • Bentgrasses
  • Bluegrasses
  • Fescues

… work the best.

Warmer climates will benefit from:

  • Bermudagrass
  • Centipedegrass
  • St. Augustinegrass

Other factors such as foot traffic, shading, and costs are to be researched before selecting grass type.

To be the greenest (and greatest) lawn on the block takes work, but the following tips will help.

Don’t over fertilize

Yes, fertilizing is a necessity, however there is a limit.

Fertilizing will help the grass grow faster, but it will also attract insects and make the grass more vulnerable to disease. Do this once a year between October and November to promote growth during the cold months where the blades stop growing beneath the soil.

Use slow-releasing fertilizer for best results (or organic for eco-friendly homeowners)

Mow on high

Taller grass = healthy grass.

It will keep soil cool and moist, and shade out weed seeds to prevent growth. With moist soil, nutrients will be produced and encourage the grass to spread into bare spots. Also, avoid mowing in the same direction as it will cause ruts in the lawn.

Say NO to pesticides

It will kill the nutrients your grass needs, plus the earthworms you need to keep your soul rich.

Water For Long Periods

Instead of frequent watering, as plants underground can remain alive and dormant for months. It’s better to deeply penetrate the lawn for an hour per week, versus a few minutes every day.

Remove Weeds

As soon as they appear (the cute dandelions too!) get rid of them. Dig down and get the root of the weed, as the root will continue growth year round.

Add Lime

To combat acid rain throughout the year, sprinkle liquid lime into the soil.

Remember, healthy grass is tougher to succumb to damage. Let the envy begin.

This post was written by Philippe Allaire, a home owner and expert on home renovations with 15 years experience under his belt, from gardens to drywall, we can accomplish your project together.

The Prettiest Trees for Your Winter Garden


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Plants | Posted on 14-01-2013

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This is a guest post by some Jersey guys! See the bottom of this post for more about them.

I really liked the idea of this post because it shows you that winter need not be a dead time for your garden.

Just because it’s a winter wonderland outside doesn’t mean that you can’t have bright and beautiful colors in your garden.

If your garden is heavily biased toward spring and summer blooms, it may look empty and sad during the cold months.

Why not keep the winter blues away with an eye-catching landscape that’ll have you feeling happy and eager to get outdoors?

Rather than spending all of your time indoors and watching Christmas holiday specials on television, you’ll be able to sit at the window and soak in the view of your own private winter wonderland. Winter trees will also attract and provide sustenance for birds and wildlife that will add visual interest to an otherwise lonely landscape.

You can also cut branches and gather leaves to create striking natural holiday displays for your home interiors.

With a gorgeous winter garden, you might even feel compelled to leave off the holidays lights next year and let the plants show off on their own merits. More often than not, artificial lights can’t match the loveliness of natural lipstick-red winter berries.

Just don’t get too carried away: make sure to mix and match these trees with spring- and summer-blooming plants to keep your garden beautiful 365 days a year.

If you would rather have just one arboreal centerpiece for the winter, consider using large, uncut stones in your landscapes. In the winter, the foliage will fall away and reveal rock formations that mimic wild mountain ranges and lend a romantic atmosphere to your garden.

In the warm months, they can be easily hidden and let the flowers steal the show.

No matter what you finally decide to do, here are a few suggested arboreal additions whose bold colors will make your garden a feast for the eyes year-round.

Flame Willow
Perfect for smaller spaces, the Salix “Flame” variety of willow tree look incredible in the winter.

Their orange-red branches will light your winter landscape on fire.

In the warmer months, the branches become covered with light green foliage.

They spend those months looking deceptively plain, but once winter rolls around, these accent trees show their true colors. At maturity, they can grow up to 20 feet tall if they’re pruned and maintained well. Of all the trees on this list, the Flame Willow is the most labor-intensive; however, the payoff is huge.

Colorado Blue Spruce
An old faithful, this evergreen variety is the classic Christmas tree.

Its sharp needles range in color from blue-green to silvery blue, and it produces slender, reddish cones.

In addition to being the ideal coniferous tree, the blue spruce emits a very pleasantly sweet scent.

Stewart’s Silver Crown American Holly

This variety of evergreen holly develops a dense, pyramidal canopy that retains its variegated coloring throughout the winter. It’s more interesting than traditional holly, but has all of the trademark features of the species.

In addition to its gorgeous, spiny leaves, the tree bears the typical red holly berries. The fruit is very showy and attracts many bird species over the winter. This hardy tree does very well in tough conditions with poor drainage, air pollution, and compacted soil.

Paper Birch

The birch tree’s iconic black-and-white bark patterns have appeared in countless paintings and works of literature for centuries.

In the fall, its leaves turn gold and red-orange. As the bark peels down in vertical strips, the tree’s red-orange inner bark is revealed. You can use the peeled bark for decoration both inside and outside of your home.

Despite its relatively small size (growing to a maximum of 30 feet tall), the hawthorn tree brings a whole lot of drama.

Its diminutive proportions make it exceedingly easy to prune, so it does well near pathways and in tight spaces.

In the fall, it produces clusters of tiny red berries that remain on the branches throughout the winter.

Since the berries are edible, you can use them in home cooking or leave them to attract birds to your yard.

Snowdrift Crabapple

These petite trees are lovely all year long, with spectacular white blossoms in the springtime and luscious red fruits in the fall and winter. Snowdrift crab is hardy and thrives in a variety of conditions. Wild birds will pay you a visit every day to get their fill of these tasty fruits, keeping you company as their migrations take them through your region.

Image Credits: mmwm, mandj98, jamm2

Why Proper Drainage is Critical for Landscaping


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 05-01-2013

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yard-drainageHave you ever noticed how in some areas of your yard water pools up after watering while other parts seem to magically make the water disappear?

Or perhaps you have some grass and it’s got a nasty fungal issue with mushrooms popping up every now and then.

When it comes to all the different aspects of your garden and landscaping, there is one that is perhaps the most ignored–and that is draining. In this context draining is how you plan for water, whether from sprinkling or rain, is supposed to flow through your yard.

If your landscaping is not planned out with proper drainage in mind, it can result in a host of problems ranging from small puddles of water in the middle of your yard to damaging water flow toward the foundation of your home.

Problems from Poor Drainage

There are many different problems which can be caused from an improperly planned drainage system in your yard. Some of them are minor issues, and others can be costly and devastating. The following are just some of the more common issues people with poor drainage find.

  • Root Rot – If you have an area of the yard that is not properly drained it will often retain the water there for quite a long time. It could be a visible eyesore where there are small puddles of water, or it could all be occurring under the surface of your yard.

    When you have plants growing in soil that is overly drenched for days at a time, it can cause significant problems. This is especially true for larger plants and trees due to the long term damage that can result.

  • Pooling – Most yards naturally have some areas which are slightly higher than others. If you don’t intentionally manipulate the yard to have extra water flow off into a desired area then you’ll likely have small pools or puddles all throughout your yard. In minor cases these pools will be absorbed fairly quickly causing only small problems, but for more serious cases it can cause large pooling of water that can last for days after a heavy rain.
  • Home Flooding – The foundation of a home is not designed to be constantly wet, and if you don’t have a drainage design which pulls the water away from your home you will eventually have flooding problems. As the water remains near your foundation tiny cracks or holes will develop letting the water through. During heavy rains this could cause significant damage.
  • Unhealthy grass, plants and Trees – When the water is not properly drained it will cause some areas to get insufficient water absorption during a rain, and some will be drenched.

Benefits of Proper Drainage in Your Garden

One of the biggest benefits of a well planned out drainage system is that you can use the natural rain water to help keep all your plants and trees healthy.

In many parts of the country you can greatly reduce or even eliminate the need to water your plants if you have a well designed drainage plan. A good drainage plan will design the slope of the yard to bring water from one area to another. This can be done not only by building some areas up and lowering other areas, but also by adding in items like decorative rocks or retaining walls.

Once you have a good plan of how the water will flow in your yard, you can add in plants which will best take advantage of the water. Adding plants which require very little water to an area that you have designed to keep dryer, and those that can tolerate very moist soil to the area near the bottom of your hard is an excellent way to take advantage of as much of the water as possible.

Whether you live in a climate which is naturally very rainy like the North East, or a dryer area like the Texas climate, it is important to plan out your drainage properly. Also keep in mind that you will need to plan for all seasons since in many parts of the country you could have very dry conditions for some months and very wet for others.

How to Plan Your Drainage

If you’ve never made a drainage plan for your yard before it might be best to contact a professional. There are many little things to consider during the planning phase that can have drastic affects on the success or failure of your landscape.

Keep in mind that you can use not only changes in the elevation of your yard and the use of plants, rocks and other above ground things, but also you can add in underground drainage options. This can be done by burying a pipe with holes in it with medium sized rocks. The pipe can lead water away from one area and to another or even off into an existing sewer system to remove excess water.

It is important to have the pipe at the right depth and installed correctly or it could actually cause more harm than good though so if you aren’t sure, don’t hesitate to ask an expert.

Image credit: Brian Tobin

The Riddle of What Exactly Is Wildscaping?


Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in landscaping | Posted on 04-01-2013

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Many gardeners and landscapers have not heard of the term wildscaping which is quickly growing in popularity.

Wildscaping is a method of designing your home’s landscaping in a way that will help to attract local wildlife. This is typically done by using a wide variety of different plants which are native to the area. In addition to attracting wildlife, this is often a great way to have an easy to maintain landscape since the plants will naturally thrive.

Types of Wildlife Which Are Attracted

When you’re planning your wildscaping project it is important to think about what types of wildlife you most want to attract. For most people they will be looking to bring in smaller animals such as birds or butterflies.

If you’re not careful, however, you might attract some larger animals as well. Learning how to attract the most desirable animals can be tricky at first, but it is well worth the effort. Below are some simple tips and tricks that will help you to get started (you can also read the article series, Austin Wildscape Landscaping For Wildlife for some more tips):

  • Attracting Birds – To attract birds you’re going to want to try to think of either what they eat or where they live, or both. Many people today are planting bushes and flowers that grow seeds or berries which birds love. This is a more natural way to attract birds than a bird feeder, and in many cases will be more effective as well. If you’re looking to bring in one particular type of bird you can do some simple research to find exactly what foods they eat or what types of trees they prefer to live in and plant those.
  • Attracting Butterflies – Butterflies enjoy eating out of a wide range of flowers. There are hundreds of different species of butterfly so find out which ones you want to attract and plant the flowers they prefer. Remember, many butterflies don’t stay in the same area all year so it might be smart to wildscape your yard for a variety of different types.
  • Small Mammals – While many people think of bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks and other small mammals as pests, others love watching them scurry around. When planting things that these little critters like, make sure to plant them far enough from the house that they won’t try to break in.
  • Larger Mammals – In some parts of the country, like right here in Texas, you can plant different things to bring in larger animals like deer, raccoons, elk and other large animals. This is only recommended when you have a lot of property and can keep them at enough of a distance to ensure safety. Remember, these are wild animals and they can quickly hurt you or cause a lot of property damage.

Benefits of Wildscaping

While the primary reasons many people start learning about wildscaping is that they want to attract the wildlife to their yard, there are other benefits as well.

To start with there is the fact that the vast majority of plants which will attract animals native to your area will be plants which are also native to the area. This is because most animals that thrive in a particular part of the country do so because there is an abundance of whatever plants they eat, or safety for them.

Planting things which are native to the area will make them much easier to keep healthy since you won’t be fighting the natural climate or water levels each plant likes. People living in dryer areas, for example, will find that plants which thrive on low amounts of moisture are easier to take care of.

More and more people today are trying to live their lives in a more harmonious way, and this is especially true when it comes to nature.

People are eating organic foods, trying to buy from local farmers and generally just live in a more natural way. This is just one of the reasons why wildscaping is becoming so popular.

As we learn new ways to live and work with nature, rather than fighting and destroying it we will almost certainly find that our lives become easier, more peaceful and enjoyable as well.
If you’re looking to start a wildscaping project you’re going to want to first take some time doing the research.

Once you get started it you’ll find that it’s quite easy to find all the plants you want, but keeping them healthy is important. Make sure you know which plants are full sun tolerant and which are not, for example. It can also be confusing to match up which plants will attract which animals. You can learn about this type of thing by either doing some research on the Internet, or just going out and observing nature. Taking pictures of plants you like and bringing them to an expert in your area is another great way to learn more.

Remember, the more you know about the local plant and wildlife the more successful your wildscaping project will be.

It is also important to note that it can often take time for the animals to discover the new plants you’ve chosen. Birds and other animals will eventually discover them so just keep your yard nice and healthy and remain patient until you begin to see your new friends moving into the area.