Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LandscapExpert Sod Planting, A.K.A. “Green Side Up”

Property managers and homeowners who choose sod make a smart investment in the appearance of their properties and homes. Bermuda grass or Zoysia sod provide vigorous, drought-resistant summertime green lawns that do well in the metro-Atlanta area without demanding extra care after establishment. Consult with Crabapple LandscapExperts to determine if an upgrade to a hybrid Bermuda or Zoysia sod is right for you. 
Sod makes sense when planting a commercial property, creating an instant, picture-perfect lawn that takes less time to establish than seeding, sprigging or plugging. Crabapple LandscapExperts will consult on the type of turf that is best for your particular application, whether in sun or shade, heavy or light traffic or specialty cases.This time of year is ideal to establish a warm-season lawn. The soil is warmed from the spring, and the grass is in a vigorous growth phase, perfect for quick establishment. 
Crabapple will also determine how much square footage of sod will be needed for any application and place your order with a reputable sod farm, ensuring fresh, vigorous sod.
● The area to be sodded will be prepped by breaking up and loosening the soil, then leveled and raked to remove extraneous stones, sticks, leaves and debris.
● Typically, Crabapple LandscapExperts will spread a complete fertilizer before the sod is laid and rake it into the soil where the roots will be placed.
● Dry soils are deeply watered a day or two before laying sod.
● Sod comes in strips that are laid in a running bond pattern as for bricklaying. Crabapple’s LandscapExperts will butt joints tightly but will not overlap edges. Afterward, the newly laid lawn is rolled lightly with a half-filled lawn roller for good adhesion.
● Immediate watering is essential, and during the first week or two the sod should not be allowed to dry out until the roots grab hold and begin to grow into the prepared soil.
Enjoy a beautiful turf that sets off the architecture and gardens like a picture frame. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Landscape Roses

Crabapple LandscapExperts joke, “The difference between landscape roses and florist roses is 60 mph”.  While fragrant hybrid teas are meant to be individually pampered in rose gardens or enjoyed in bouquets, the goal for Landscape Roses is low maintenance with high impact. Individual flowers are less important than the overall color effect from a distance and continual reblooming throughout the season. 

Roses, known as the “Queen of Flowers,” have been beloved for millennia. Originally the wild, tough, thorny yet fragrant European plants bloomed once a year. Rose History is fascinating. A revolution in rose breeding and growing took place in Europe in the 1700s and 1800s when increased trade with the Orient brought Rosa chinensis, and Rosa x odorata to the West. Their impact in Europe was phenomenal because their most remarkable quality - continual repeat blooming – had been completely unknown in Europe at the time and made them an instant sensation. We now call the resulting plants “heirloom” or “old fashioned roses” such as Gallicas, Bourbons and Hybrid Perpetuals. 

Moving to the mid-twentieth century, beautiful but fussy Hybrid Tea roses came into fashion in the 1940s and 50s when “better living through chemistry” was the mantra. Breeders were focused on developing exquisite blooms to the detriment of horticultural characteristics, so grafted roses became high-maintenance, susceptible to diseases, needing fungicides, insecticides and lots of chemicals, along with deadheading and pruning to keep them performing well. 

Today’s Landscape Roses are impressive for many reasons: a natural disease-resistance, ability to grow in a variety of climates with a minimum of attention, compact growth requiring little pruning, and continuous bloom with flowers borne consistently over a very long season. There are growth habits to suit every landscape niche, whether tiny miniatures, low growing groundcover roses with widely spreading habits, large climbers, hedge roses that can be closely planted and sheared, or carefree shrub roses. Furthermore, Landscape Roses come in a rainbow of colors (except, of course, the mythic blue rose)
Excellent Qualities of Landscape Roses:
● work well in the landscape because of similar cultural requirements as other plants growing there
● non-stop blooms throughout the season, producing fast, repeat flushes
● large colorful flowers or flower clusters that show up well across a distance
● little to no pruning required
● self-cleaning blooms, with petals that fade attractively, then fall off after flower is past without turning brown
● Extremely disease resistant or disease-free, entirely eliminating the need for spraying for historic rose diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew
● heat tolerant, without developing leaf drop when under stress in climates with hot, muggy temperatures; hardy without the need for winter protection in cold-winter climates
● grow on own-roots
● huge selection of colors sizes and habits

Crabapple LandscapExperts can advise you on the best landscape roses for your particular property.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lawn Edging

The difference between a good lawn and a great lawn is only an edging away! Crabapple LandscapExperts provide edging along walkways, entrances, drives, curb lines, shrub and flower beds and tree rings when providing our expert service to our maintenance customers. Although the typical resident may not realize just why a Crabapple landscape looks so great, a tailored, “English garden” look results from this added care.

The simplest type of garden edging is a shallow trench cut at a lawn’s edge. Edging refers to a vertical (or 45-degree) slice between the lawn and adjacent hardscapes or beds. Defining this interface helps in mowing and makes the landscape look well-groomed. Additionally, neatly-edged tree wells provide protection for trees in the lawn against string trimmers that can damage the bark. Once defined, this edge requires periodic maintenance to keep it looking crisp.

The vertical cut along the grass boundaries is made by well-trained LandscapExperts with specialized equipment. Using a power edger between the pavement and the grass, Crabapple LandscapExperts place the wheel on the pavement with the vertical blade over the edge, and push the tool along the edge. With a proper length blade and an established half-inch cut, the power edger is an accurate and efficient method of edging, producing fewer divots than other options. LandscapExperts take care not to run the edger blade up against the concrete, which causes undue wear to the blade.

Our LandscapExperts wear protective footwear and eye protection, are familiar with the tools and follow the manufacturers’ safety instructions. Crabapple LandscapExperts has a great safety record of working smart and efficiently, not hard.

Photo credits and thanks to 
Greensboro Gardens, Home Depot, Marshall Brothers


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Success with Container Gardens for Newbies & Folks Without Gardens

“Eat local.” “Organic is best.” We hear these admonitions regularly. Crabapple LandscapExperts suggest that potting up a few herbs and a vegetable or two is a great way for non-gardeners, brown thumbers, or those who don’t have a yard to do a little gardening and harvest their own crops. It’s also a great way to involve children in the planting and eating of veggies.

All you need is a little spot outdoors and some sun,. A large container is a manageable space that won’t overwhelm even the newest beginner. As far as containers go, choose a large one (16 inches, round or square, is a good rule of thumb), to minimize fluctuations in moisture and temperature that occur when a smaller pot is used. Make sure the container has at least one drainage hole at the bottom.

Choose a commercial potting mix with both water-holder granules and long-term nutrients to take your veggies through the summer. Fill the container to the brim, using plenty of potting soil. Don’t worry about packing it down because after watering the soil will soon settle to an inch or two below the rim. 

Instead of putting pot shards or rocks at bottom, use a piece of old screen (it can be cut with utility scissors) over the drainage hole to prevent the soil mix from seeping out. 

The idea for containers is to use a single tall plant in the middle (Thriller), then two or three kinds of colorful or fragrant plants of medium-height (Fillers) in the container, and finally add a few trailing plants around the edge to cascade over the sides (Spiller).

To help you decide what to plant, a few “container recipes” follow. Please modify as you like.

Container Recipe 1- Full Sun
Plant in the center: 1 tomato plant such as “Cherry” or “Sweet 100”, and insert 1 tomato cage for support (small, 3-hoops)
Plant your fillers around the tomato, alternating: 2 oregano and 2 colorful annual flowers such as marigold or nasturtium
Allow to trail over the edge: 2 creeping golden lemon thyme

Container Recipe 2 – Full Sun
Plant in center: 1 upright rosemary
Plant around the rosemary, alternating: 2 Spicy Globe mini-Basil, 2 parsley
Allow to trail over the edge (trailing annuals like petunias or Fan Flower)

Container Recipe 3 –Part Shade
Plant in center: upright ornamental shrub such as: elephants ears,  hibiscus, gardenia, nandina, bouganvilla, boxwood, etc.
Plant around the edge, alternating 2 Coleus and 2 begonias
Plant over the edge 2 trailers such as variegated jasmine or sweet potato vine 

Thoroughly water the newly-planted container garden. During the first week or two, keep an eye on the moisture level until the plants become established and roots grow into the soil in the container.

If you wish, you may also add a whirly-gig, a rain gauge, or a decorative butterfly or hummingbird on a stake to complete your ensemble. Keep Crabapple LandscapExperts updated on your container garden. We would love to see your photos posted on the Crabapple LandscapExperts Facebook Page. Become a Fan today!

Middle photo credit:
Top and bottom credit: Geri Laufer