This post is officially just to tantalize you and inspire you to get on the ball! If this kind of project is in your spring plans, better start planning now.
This project unfolded as a multi-step project; it was phased in. There have been different installs on different parts of the property. Their house is a wooden, Colorado-style cabin and the landscape we installed there is low maintenance, blooming and evergreen shrubs combined. Not many forbs or perennials, not many full size trees. This property is on a wooded site, so keeping things natural and open, yet well maintained is necessary.
For the hardscape elements, the family wanted more outdoor space that was civilized! They got a grill kitchen, pergola and stone patio that fits the bill. They also have an uncovered patio section that is backed by a lovely retaining wall that we've begun to plant. This creates a sense of enclosure and also deals with the steep slop that used to be back there.
The biggest practical hurdles were drainage related. There was a lot of water runoff onto the driveway and we put it on a very deep gravel base to encourage drainage. We were working to move larger quantities of water down the slope and away from the living space. There is also a homeowner installed irrigation system which had to be expanded and updated. However, the homeowners are knowledgable about plants and fun to work with! That makes it all better. The really like their flowers and containers... and they look great on the patio, don't they?
Retaining wall – Higgins Stone 14” Ledge Rock
Pergola – Treated Pine lumber and stained to match the Log cabin home.
Kitchen – Chocolate color/ matte texture concrete. Matte-finish sealer with no gloss, just to make color darker. Minnesota blend cobble stone veneer to match the existing home. The stone veneer is Minnesota blend.
Lighting - Kichler LED path, under cap (under bar), up and down lights in and in front of trees and on pergola.
Patio – Black Hills Rustic flagstone with pea gravel between the joints for better drainage and possible future perennial plants added into the joints.
Irrigation – Hunter I 20 lawn rotors and Rainbird drip valve, pipe and emitters.
Fire pit - Higgins Stone 14” Ledge Rock with Kansas river rock in center.
What happens in our landscapes when they get bombarded by ice and snow? These watery forces tend to break or damage the structure of trees and shrubs- like break the actual branches. They do little harm to the plants’ internal structure. These aren’t particularly cold sensitive plants we are talking about….
But salt and saline are VICIOUS to our plants. Frequently people who live on the sea shore plant totally different landscapes from the rest of us inland folks. However, we need to keep in mind that salt from snow trucks does the same damage as the ocean on our landscape! Salt is a desiccating factor- it will suck all the moisture from the plant, externally. It also burns or scorches outer leaves/ needles, browning or yellowing on the branches and can stunt growth.
Ways to counteract salt in your landscape: use a sand mixture for traction. Put up burlap snow fences or wrap delicate plants in burlap. Water the area heavily to help wash salt away or to dilute its effect in the soil. Here is a great explanation of what salt does to ice:
A compromise is to salt LIGHTLY, and allow the salt to do some work, and then scrape the ice off. Salts work by melting some ice and creating brine. The brine works its way between the concrete or asphalt and the ice and will loosen the ice, so you always want to salt more on the high side of the surface you are treating. All properly installed pavers and walkways are pitched. Sidewalks should be-and usually are- pitched towards the street so salt more on the property side to allow the brine to work its way towards the street.—greenerdesigns.com
Plants that deal with salt well—you can create a planting area with most of these in a snowy salt zone.
Daffodils- Line your beds with daffodils. They are cost effective, beautiful, deer-resistant, salt-tolerant and last for decades. Yes, their bloom time is short—plant a selection that are early, mid and late blooming. Plant a row of perennials that come into green/ flower immediately after the daffodils bloom- Liriope, daylilies do decent duty here.
Ornamental grasses- thankfully, many of our prairie-friendly grasses are really impervious to salt. Miscanthus (maiden grasses), panicum (switchgrasses), pennisetum (fountain grasses) do great! Try little blue stem and prairie dropseed for smaller scale grasses.
Roses- hardy Rugosa roses and Nearly Wild roses do great. They are similar in that they aren’t grafted, use their own rootstock and are single bloomers. They are very hardy, very old roses- they just haven’t changed in a couple hundred years! They grow tall- 3-5 feet and make good hedges or green fences. No pest issues to speak of.
Lilacs, Rose of Sharon, Viburnum—all three of these plants have many varieties and nearly all are salt, wind, snow tolerant! You can create a great hedge from these (Blue Muffin viburnum and Blue Chiffon Rose of Sharon!!).
Do you have a partial sun/ partial shade area that are just not interesting? Plant some of these salt-tolerant, easy care plants (they all appreciate a bit more water than drought, as do most partial sun shrubs): Beautyberry, chokeberry, clethra (known as Summersweet).
Beautyberry dichotoma ‘Issei’- has a mounding Asian shape. Cut down yearly to about 3-4’, it produces these purple berries every fall. Not vigorous or invasive, needs a group planting so it will create a great repetitive form.
Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’- great summer bloomer, pink spires with shiny green leaves. Very upright shape. Underused as a shade foundation plant!! 3-6’ H.
Also, never forget this woodland beauty for salt/snow/ ice tolerant plantings: the witch hazel. It’s a small tree (12-15’ H x W) or a big shrub. Very open and blooms at the end of February, first part of March!!
Landscape clean up—keep in mind that this snow melt will create about 1” of water for your trees and grass. However, the absorption will be an issue. So much of the snow will melt all at once and the ground will become saturated, leaving much of it to run off. Never fear, a good rain in a couple weeks will help everything! Here’s to hoping.
Please PLEASE keep off of your lawn and garden beds. As in, don’t work in them. Don’t clean them up or whatever you think you may be doing in the wet, wet, soddenly wet ground. You are in fact compacting the soil, damaging young plants and altogether wrecking your soil. Cheers! J
Reminder about the LHB Home Show- Feb 21-23. Lawrence Landscape and the LLI Tree Farm will be out there. I’ll be out there all Sunday… so will Baby Jay. But if you’re interested in trees, landscaping, come take a look and say hello. This is a chance to come see some of the tree varieties we sell (pictures, not the actual trees!) and think about your spring landscape plans!
Although it's subzero outside and I'm sure you don't want to be out right now, there are a few things you can do to 1) prepare for the madness of spring and 2) help your new landscape survive this rotten winter!
1. February is when we really start cleaning up the landscape beds. We will be cleaning out perennial foliage, pruning roses down, cutting all the ornamental grasses to 18", and more! But what can you do now?
Identify what you have to do and when to do it. You have to get the leaves out of your beds, prune perennials and grasses. But you don't want to do it until the worst of winter is over. Not now. How is your lawn faring? Where will your lawn be in the spring? Where will your new garden beds lie? What do you HAVE to change for your mental health?? The time to talk with a professional designer is now. The time to list your priorities and changes for the next growing season is NOW! If you want a beautiful lawn, now is the time to consult with Professor Chas about lawn applications (fertilizer, herbicide, reseeding/ sodding) and identifying potential problems. Something I notice about lawns, if it was a problem last year, it will come back to haunt you this year! I suggest, too, that if you have too much shade to grow a great lawn, consult with a great landscape designer. Your choices are either to acquiesce to having not a great lawn and finding a shade-friendly alternative (ground cover, shade beds, mulch beds, etc).Or you must decide to change your shade situation! If you want to take out a "bad" tree (damaged, poorly grown, old), winter is your best friend! Call your arborist/ tree service and make some plans!
2. How can we help our existing trees and shrubs survive winter's grip?? WATER. Once a month, give the newly planted trees and shrubs a long, long, slow drink.
This is where these Gator bags come in handy. For more than one tree or shrub, you simply fill the bag and move to the next one. If you dont' have these, use a hose on a low drip and let it sit for an hour or so per tree. The low pressure allows more water to absorb, rather than run off. Clearly, you want to pick a WARM day (ha ha ha). This weekend should be mid 40 degree temperatures and 28 or so at night, warm enough to water.
Another tip, work on your pruning during warm stretches in February. You can (but don't have to) prune your roses and other summer blooming shrubs. The dormacy is the safest time for them to be pruned. Don't prune lilacs, forsythia, crabapple trees or other early bloomers- you will prune off their buds/blooms. They bloom on last year's wood. Therefore, only prune those after blooming.
Fertilizing won't begin (on your landscapes) until late February and March. So just sit tight there!
Here are the services we provide the Lawrence area: irrigation design, install, repair, lawn maintenance, tree injections, landscape design and install, container design and install, hardscape design, maintenance and install. We do it all from walkways to patios to firepits to fugicide! Give us a call (785) 843-4370.
Many folks come to us with questions about outdoor kitchens! Not suprisingly, this is on most folks wishlist.
Lately, we've been privvy to new developments in the industry. One of our workshops we attended debuted the new Ready-To-Finish OUtdoor Kitchen systems. This is a pre-fab collection of cabinest, counters and appliances that work together and are finished with stone veneer. One good way to implement this system is on an existing concrete pad- you want a new kitchen but want to keep your exisitng pad and footprint the same.
Another new development that lets us work smarter, not harder, is the new Perma-base from our buddies at Sturgis Materials (one of our stone suppliers in Kansas City). Go here to learn a little more about the veneer process! Caution: let a certified installer do the work for you!
Stone veneer cabinets and columns, cottonwood limestone countertops.
Stone veneer fireplace and walls, cottonwood limestone mantle/ column caps/ hearth, stained and stamped concrete patio with lighting.
Stone veneer kitchen, stained and stamped concrete patio, marble countertops.
Modular wallblock retaining wall and fire feature, ivory travertine patio, cottonwood limestone countertops and column caps.
And from our tree farm....
This is the moment to plan out your best landscape!
Fall is the best time to figure out what is working for you and what needs to change in your home landscape! Make sure you're addressing the drainage and cultural issues that might exist- bury your downspouts, address pooling water. Cultural issues might be soil problems, soils lacking in moisture or poor, heavy clay soil. These are just some things to keep in mind when assessing your own landscape. This is an awesome checklist/ questionairre we use with many of our clients who are intersted in a renovation/ overhaul.
Also- Fall is a wonderful time to remember which trees you love! Trees form the backbone on any landscape and support everything else. They can grow for half a century and provide incredible savings and relief when it comes to your utility costs! We had the opportunity to visit Loma Vista Nursery and got a glimpse inside one of our favorite tree companies, J Frank Schmidt. We buy many of our young tree slips from them that we plant and grow to maturity at the LLI Tree Farm. As a tree nerd, I'm very excited at some of their new offerings (most of which are improved native species!). They are bringing out a Prairie Gold Aspen tree- yes, a lowland aspen!! Also, a Crimson Spire Oak-- this lovely oak is a tall, narrow favorite that turns a lovely scarlet in fall. As well as the NEW stuff, I'm reminded this fall how much I love crabapple trees. They are a perfect small ornamental blooming tree- the crown can wind and cloud-like or rounded. They come in dwarf sizes for the front of your house as well as full size 20' trees! There are fruitless trees for those who REALLY don't want any fruit trash in their yard and then there are varieties that offer smaller fruit fit for the birds, for us nature lovers. Here is an aswesome chart they made to compare varieties!
Many of our clients have called in to ask us about pruning (roses, hydrangeas, perennials). Here is the best advice I have: wait until the shrubs are in true winter dormancy. The best time to prune is late February or early March for most summer blooming and evergreen shrubs. This means ninebark, spirea, roses, viburnum, TREES of all sorts, boxwood, evergreens, etc. Why? Pruning early in fall actually spurs growth! If the days are still warm (hello 60 degree days), this will bring on some new growth that will get killed off by cold. As well, it's better to wait until winter is nearly done to assess any damage from snow and ice before you prune. When I prune roses, I look to improve air circulation within the plant. I try to open it up like a hand.
What can you do this weekend? Make sure all of your newer plants have plenty of soil, compost or mulch around them covering the root balls. I pile up oak leaves in beds with no disease issues. My main disese issue come up with iris leaf spot- so I cut those back in the summer and cleaned up thoroughly in the bed. I allow the rest of my beds to get nestled in with a nice layer of leaves on them. I mow my yard to grind up leaf matter into tiny bits, thus making it so I don't HAVE to rake. Last week my husband mowed with the bagger on to gather up some leaves in a particularly dense area. We put these on our compost!
Have a warm weekend!
This week we welcomed the Master Gardeners to our Tree Farm. Glen, one of our bosses here at Lawrence Landscape, talked about irrigation for the home gardener. I, Laurel, gave a little rundown of why we design.
Drip Irrigation Basics by Glen Westervelt
Connection to water source:
The “Trunk” Line:
Typically ½ line Poly Ethylene pipe (will handle up to 3 GPM or 180 GPH)
Fittings: Elbow, Tee, Coupler, shut off valve, End cap
The lateral lines:
Drippers rated in GPH (gallons per hour) 1 GPM = 60 Gallon per hour.
PC drippers are” Pressure Compensated” you should get the same amount of water out of the dripper next to the house as you do at the end of your line always buy PC drippers.
Don’t run more than about 20 GPH off of each ¼” connection to the trunk line.
In line drippers: The drippers are made as part of the hose
Advantages: Less parts to lose, easy to install, ¼” line works great for pots with the use of ¼” tees
Control you watering by:
Things to remember:
Changing the size of the dripper
Change the number of drippers per plant.
Change how long you are running the “Zone”
Drip irrigation works very slow, typically you will have run times in excess of one hour.
Animals tend to chew on it if they find out it has water in it.. you should keep parts on hand to fix when needed.
- Just because you can’t see it running … don’t drown your plants
Design- why? and how?
By Laurel Sears
Why do we design a landscape? As plant lovers, why do we NOT just shove as many cool plants as we can in an OK arrangement? What’s the difference between design and an OK arrangement??
We design because….
Use. We use our spaces a lot. The use of our space is specific. We can’t do a great design if we don’t consider how the space will be used!
Good design is satisfying. Plain and simple. Basic design tenets: repetition/ rhythm, harmony, balance.
Uses resources intelligently.
--Water- irrigation and design go together. Doesn’t have to be a larger system but a well-designed area takes plant maintenance into consideration! It’s a must.
--Labor: mowing, maintenance, weeding, pruning....
--Culture (the type of soil, amount of sun and water) - good design puts plants of the same culture together in a way that maximizes their effect.
Create meaning. Yes, this is deep! To capture a fleeting part of another landscape. For example: woodland garden, Japanese garden, prairie meadow. We might choose to plant Sugar maples in honor of our fall trip to Vermont. To relive our grandmother’s rose garden….
Ways to get a good design (from a designer or yourself): Know these things or find them out!
-How will it be used? And how much time do you plan to spend in it daily/ weekly?
-Kids? Dogs? Animals?
-Who will maintain it? How? Water? Pruning etc?
-How much maintenance do they/you plan to do
-What do you dis/like about the current space?
-How long do you plan to be in your house (assuming the design is for your home landscape)?
-Any specific cultural elements that can impact design? Bog, wet, dry, sandy, rocky, etc.
-BUDGET. Pet peeve of every professional designer ever—the secret budget. Yes, we may (likely) come in over budget because (likely) you want to spend less than your budget and custom services are always more expensive than anyone wants! But… designers will always pare down or spread out a design in phases. If we at least know a ballpark, the conversation will be much more fruitful!
Follow Lawrence Landscape @ www.lawrencelandscape.com/blog Also, on About The House with Jeremy Taylor, KLWN radio
Twitter and Facebook
This update is from one of our senior designers, John Karrasch.
Decks without Borders
We’ve all seen them, the little 10’x12’ treated lumber decks created to transition from the house to the yard. We cram a table with 4 chairs and a grill on them and then spend the rest of summer trying to navigate around the furniture while making our way to the narrow openings in the railing.
What if your deck space gave you unlimited access and views to your yard? What if you could enjoy a 180 degree view of your yard during the summer and from the kitchen table in the winter?
Our most recent deck project does just that. We removed the existing 12’x14’ deck that was not functioning for the homeowners’ needs and greatly minimized the view of their beautiful new landscape (to be installed after deck is completed)and replaced it with a 14’x16’ open access deck of composite material. The added benefit of steps wrapping the deck is that people may use the steps as seating and for displaying potted plants.
Sometimes the best design is not what you add- but what you take away! jk
More updates when the landscape is installed.
If you're interested in local agriculture, come visit the farms in our rich valley. It's the Kaw Valley Farm tour: October 5, 6. 10:00 am- 6:00, $10 per carload for the whole weekend.
Come see us at the LLI Tree Farm this weekend. We will be offering free pie pumpkins for the little ones- paint them, paint your faces, use our PUMPKIN SLING SHOT! Enjoy some cider while you walk through the trees. We've set up a self-guided tour with information on our trees to learn more about what might work in your landscape. Start with the baby trees, check out the kinds of maples we grow and lots more. If you want more information, we will be happy to drive you out into the field!
Buy tickets at The Community Mercantile, the LLI Tree Farm, The Farmer's Market and more. Enjoy the Fall landscape with your family, at your own pace! Have an adventure.... hope to see you there.
Tree Planting Season- how do I pick the tree for me?
-Determine the purpose of the tree
Shade? Privacy? Decoration? Storm water mediation?
-Determine ideal mature size and where will it be planted?
Often desired placement = size constrictions. KNOW THIS.
-Any environmental concerns about tree location?
Low and wet. High and dry. Very sunny. Undertory and shady. All concerns to remember….
Other pertinent questions: how long will you be at your current residence? What kinds of trees are planted in your neighborhood?
In order to support a balanced tree ecosystem, we need to vary what we plant. We’ve planted tons and tons of Ash trees over the last 15-20 years. Now, we are faced with a devastating epidemic: Emerald Ash Borer. It’s been confirmed as far west as Wyandotte County. We aren’t far behind. This will wipe out most of the Ash trees in the city- with a few specimen examples saved by rigorous spraying, injecting, care and maintenance. We’ve begun, as a city, to overplant red maples. In order to keep another red maple plague at bay, we must vary what we plant!
When you purchase your tree, learn the botanical name. This ensures that you are getting what you think you’re getting. If you go down south and ask about a Tulip tree, chances are you’ll end up with a southern magnolia! However, most folks up here are consistent that a Tulip tree is a Liriodendron or Tulip poplar. [Side note: this is one of my absolute favorite LARGE trees. Need shade? Need a lovely, wetland loving, pollen free tree with the most amazing spring blooms?? Here you go!]
Here are some of the awesome street trees/ shade trees that are recommened for our area, that we grow at the LLI Tree Farm. (note: each name is a pdf put out by JF Schmidt, from whom we buy saplings for planting. Also, these are accepted street trees in many neighborhoods in Lawrence, KS.)
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
'Skyline' Honelocust (Gleditsia triacanthos 'Skycole')
Of course you love red maple (Acer rubrum), who doesn't? But of course, those are overplanted. These other trees offer different qualities of shade, hardiness, fall color and spring loveliness... investigate your options! Come down to the Tree Farm and look at all of the large and small trees we have to offer.
Kaw Valley Farm Tour-- October 5 and 6. Click the link for the poster!
We are on the tour, as we are every year! Tickets are $10 per carload :). You can visit us out at the tree farm or buy a ticket elsewhere around town. Lots of fun planned for that weekend- potato sling shot/ cannon, face painting (9-1 pm), pumpkin painting, cider and self-guided tree tour! We would love to see you that weekend.
On the radio this weekend discussing the whole reason some of us live in Kansas: GARDEN VEGETABLES (and all those other summer edibles). And then of course-- LAWNS!
It's not time to overseed and get grass seed to grow yet. In about two weeks, we suggest starting your lawn renovation. Now, we like to present a program for you that will make you a happy camper. It includes core aeration, verticutting, seed and starter fertilizer. It's important to know that this doesn't include any grading or new soil. For the homeowners who have nice thick turf but a few dead patches, this will work really well. Fall is a good time to seed because with regular water and cooler nights, the seed can germinate and get good roots put out.
One of our Facebook friends posted this picture of her grass. Anyone know what is wrong?
Hint: It's a really complex name. It's called Brown Patch. I know. I know. Anyway, brown patch is a fungal disease. It happens when the lawn is watered in the evening or early morning and the water stays on the leaf blade too long. The recommended treatment is to change watering times to early morning as the sun is coming up. Also, fertilize in fall with a Nitrogen dominant fertilizer. The fungicide that we would apply is useful but should be a last resort. If you change your watering and allow it to dry between waterings, the grass should begin to recover. Here is the K-State info sheet on it!
So, we may not have mountains or an ocean but we do have good soil and sun to grow plants!
Here are some highlights for us home gardeners.
Let’s talk about Basil:
Do you use much of this? I usually plant as many plants as I can, at least 6-8. Right now I have two varieties: Lettuce Leaf and Genovese Basil (the most widely used, the best flavor for Italian cooking and pesto). The varietal offerings vary but the main types are Thai basil (for use in southeast Asian food, minty flavor), decorative basil (like purple ruffles, tastes pretty good for most food!), Genovese (the gold standard for Italian and pesto recipes) and Greek or globe basil (I use this for drying, tiny leaves, dark oregano-type flavor).
Tips for harvesting basil: basil will turn brown quickly when cut. I use my thumb nail and cut only the top 1/3 of the plant. That first rosette should be tender and flavorful. Don’t use the thicker stems or super whangy-fiery tasting parts. Never take more than a third of the plant! Wash/ rinse dirt off of the leaves and pat dry. Or use a salad spinner to dry. Refrigerate. Some people take long stalks of basil and put them in a vase to keep them fresh. I usually just refrigerate and use as quickly as possible- within 12 hours!
Eating it: infused olive oil. Just stuff leaves in a bottle and fill with good quality olive oil. This stuff is a treat- drizzle on your tomatoes and mozzarella. Use it to sautee onions or in stir fry. I use it as a base for my Mediterranean cooking!
Schiffonade (thin strips) with mozzarella, garden tomatoes and balsamic/ olive oil is amazing!
Pesto (literally the word for “paste” in Italian): this is a summer staple for us! Simplest recipe ever, leftover will freeze beautifully. Add nuts, basil, cheese and blend. Drizzle in oil until consistency is soft, paste-like. Measurements: I go by the handful. Dress pasta, bake chicken with it or spread it on italian bread!
3 parts- Lots of fresh basil. (If you want a milder flavor, use half fresh basil, half Italian flat-leaf parsley)
1 part- Pine nuts or good quality English walnuts (Mild flavor is key. Use unsalted almonds if you want.)
1 part- Peccorino romano, grated.
A few cloves of garlic. Make a wise choice! What is your mood?
Olive oil to desired consistency.
Salt. Always need more than you think!
Garden favorites: How are your vegetables doing? Are your tomatoes split from too much water? Here is what is on for harvest right now!
Peppers- from mild bell peppers to spicy jalapenos and wax pepper to HOT cayenne, these are coming on strong. Due to the cool weather, my hottest peppers are not very hot right now and aren’t ripening. I just the milder ones off and eat them, regardless. The hot cayenne I am letting redden on the bush. I also put the wax peppers in vinegar for a spicy addition to soups, salads, etc.
Tomatoes- If yours are splitting, you want to make sure you aren’t watering any more. That’s too much rain right there! Adequately fertilize (not more than every 4-6 weeks for garden grown). Mulch with newspapers and compost or just compost. I have been picking mine green and allowing to ripen inside. Tomato pests are HUGE right now. The best defense is mulch, clean up all litter and use an organic spray. I choose Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew- it’s good for worms, caterpillars. These are attacking my Kale and cole crops as well as my tomatoes.
Tomatillos- These little guys are also called ground tomatoes. Same family but different taste. Excellent for green chile, Chile Verde and salsa. Mine are producing SO many!!