Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Design and Material Considerations for Garden Paths

Pathways are essential for foot traffic. The first law of any path is to move people from point A to point B as directly as possible. Curving paths wind enticingly through the landscape. Straight lines are typically for more formal paths closer to the building or home. A formal path leads the eye to a focal point such as a front door, garden gate, statue of garden water feature. Plantings often follow the lines laid out by the straight path to emphasize the visual focus. 

Practical considerations include dry, non-slippery surfaces and enough width for two people to walk side by side or pass each other comfortably. Crabapple LandscapExperts often marry the hardscaping and building architecture with paths in the landscape in order to pull the design together, particularly close to the architecture.
Paths contribute to the character of a property, and the layout (straight or winding) and the choice of materials affect the overall impression of the garden. Most gardens or recreational areas are immediately adjacent to houses or buildings, and paths provide an essential link between the two, extending the architecture into the greenery.

On the other hand, a garden path is an aesthetic decision. .An integral part of any garden, a path can be used to lead the eye deeper into the landscape, and entice your residents to explore its beauties. A garden path provides structure, unifies the landscape and can be beautiful in and of itself. A well-planned path serves many purposes in the garden in addition to the merely practical.

Your Crabapple Rep can help you choose a path design and discuss materials that will blend harmoniously with the existing site and with your objective.  

Photos courtesy ThaiGardenPaths and BanasStones)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eliminate Standing Water to Reduce Mosquito Populations

A smooth, velvet-like Crabapple lawn isn’t only an aesthetic plus, it is a health benefit to residents as well. Poorly graded lawns can have low spots that collect and hold water, turning the property into mosquito spa. These blood-thirsty insect pests generally do not travel far from their original breeding grounds, so targeting and eliminating standing water can help reduce nearby mosquito populations. Make sure water isn't pooling in your yard, in recreational areas or on lawns that you manage.

According to the Georgia State Department of Public Health, several mosquito-borne viruses circulate in Georgia each year and are capable of causing disease in humans and other animals. The most common mosquito-borne viruses in Georgia include West Nile virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis virus, and LaCrosse virus. Saint Louis encephalitis virus has also been detected in Georgia in the past. Mosquito-borne viruses are most active late spring through early fall in Georgia.

If there are large numbers of mosquitoes on the property you manage or in your subdivision, residents could be at increased risk of infection. Always take personal protective measures to avoid mosquito bites, especially when mosquito-borne viruses have been identified near you.

To permanently fix drainage problems, as the property manager, you'll probably need the help of Crabapple LandscapExperts who can evaluate evidence of standing water, re-grade the property where needed, and improve your drainage systems to physically eliminate this threat. Neighborhood-wide mosquito spraying may also be helpful to treat infested locations. Ask your Rep from Crabapple LandscapExperts for his/her recommendations.  

Mosquito photo thanks to 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Crabapple's Simple 3-Step Recipe for Showy Containers

Get rid of the mystery! Learn the simple 3-step method that Crabapple LandscapExperts use for sure-fire, fail-proof containers filled with beauty that enhance the residential communities and spotlight rental offices and luxury hotels in our care.

Initially, a suitable container is selected to enhance the surrounding architecture and gardens. The materials might be chosen to blend harmoniously with the buildings and hardscapes, or might be a vivid contrast chosen to set off the surrounding landscape and make a statement.

The key to successful containers is the size; they should be large to encompass enough soil to support a number of plants, to maintain moisture and temperature levels, plus containers must have drainage holes at the bottom to let out excess water.  

The plants are chosen with expert care to provide a long bloom season, a compelling color scheme and months of eye-catching beauty.

In the containers the LandscapExperts place: 

Thrillers. The “star performer” of the container, the Thriller is the tallest, most striking plant in the center of the planting, often with bright flowers or variegated or architectural foliage that draws attention.  

Fillers. Billowing, fine-textured plants are chosen to surround  and set off the main plant while adding color and mass to the overall composition. A number of fillers are typically included to add interest and variation.  

SpillersSpillers are trailing plants that cascade over the container edge to the ground, softening the look and visually anchoring the pot to its surroundings.

Crabapple LandscapExperts create lush compositions in our containers, considering scale, color, texture and form. Thrillers are approximately 2/3 the height of the container, while the overall mass is also in proportion to the space.

Now, while the hot summer plantings are in their full glory, is when you should be thinking about having containers planted for fall and winter. Rely on your LandscapExperts to create the perfect container plantings for your property.   

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Variegated Foliage Enlivens Shady Areas

Crabapple LandscapExperts know that variegated plants are essential for the creative landscape. One great way that we brighten up shady spots in the landscapes we maintain is with the use of plants with colorful variegated leaves.  

Added-value landscapes depend on four-season plants that yield attractive gardens year round. The days are long past when a shrub or perennial bloomed for two weeks and then moved backstage until the following year. 

Variegated plants are the refreshing cutting edge of contemporary horticulture, with their colorful edgings, veinings, splashes, marbling, mottling, all adding to the landscape color palette.    

Regardless of whether or not variegated shrubs or perennials have flowers, their patterned leaves provide interest and enliven dark spots for months at a time, particularly in the case of broad-leaved evergreens.  Residents love the colorful foliage so much the flowers don’t matter! 

Whether large scale as with a variegated tree or small scale as with a colorful groundcover up close and personal, variegated foliage is the winning way to add long-term color.

Example Variegated Shrubs:
Aucuba variegated Gold Dust Plant (top left)
Variegated Abelia Twist of Lime
Buxus Golden Dream 
Arborvitae Golden Spire

Example Variegated Perennials
Hosta 'Francee' (right)
Tiarella ‘Dark Star’ Coral Bells

Example Variegated Groundcovers:
Liriope 'Variagated' (center right)
Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow'  (above left)
Trachelospermum 'Snow N Summer' Asiatic Jasmine (left)

Consult with your LandscapExpert Rep to include more of these sparkling shrubs in your properties' landscapes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Harvesting Herbs, also known as Summer Pruning

So you planted some scentsational herbs this past spring and have been growing them all summer. Now what?

An herb garden or a container of herbs is beautiful and a fragrant joy all season long. You have probably been judiciously snipping some of the tips to season your meals. Now, however, is not the time to be timid!

Crabapple LandscapExperts explain that vigorously growing, leafy herbs like basil, oregano, sweet marjoram, lemon balm,  tarragon or dill may be cut back severely; one half to two thirds of the plant, to use fresh*, or to dry or freeze for later use. Use a sharp knife or pruning shears and cut just above a leaf or pair of leaves, leaving 4 to 6 inches to re-grow, giving you another harvest in about six weeks. In the case of chives, it’s best to snip as many of the tubular leaves as you need down to the ground, instead of giving the whole clump a butch haircut. In the case of the annual herb basil, be vigilant in keeping the flowers pinched off. This promotes the growth of new leaves (your objective) and hinders the setting of seed followed by the death of the plant.

Perennial herbs that are woody sub-shrubs like rosemary and lavender should not be harvested so severely. Cut back only about one third of the growth, taking care that there are leaves on the remaining branches. Carefully prune using very sharp clippers so that new growth will be produced and that a good shape is maintained.  

After this summer pruning, water the herb plants well and fertilize using rich compost or an organic mulch to stimulate new growth. You will be rewarded by succeeding harvests in the weeks to come.

Genovese Pesto Recipe for a harvest of fresh Basil:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup pine nuts (or substitute shelled walnuts)
½ to 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Either toss ingredients into a food processor, or for a more authentic texture chop basil, garlic and pine nuts finely with a very sharp chef’s knife before whisking in EVOO and Parmesan. Serve over freshly boiled pasta or potato gnocci and garnish with a few basil leaves.

Lemon Balm Wine Cooler Recipe for a harvest of fresh Lemon Balm:
fresh lemon balm, large handful
white wine, your choice
lemons for garnish
ginger ale or soda water

Cut a large handful of fresh lemon balm and put it into the bottom of a pitcher. Pour in a bottle of white wine and macerate the leaves with a wooden spoon, Refrigerate 4-8 hours.
Strain out the lemon balm and compost it. The remaining wine will smell delightfully of lemon balm. Pour half wine and half ginger ale over ice in tall glasses, garnish with extra-thin lemon slices, and serve. 

Enjoy the herbs to their fullest. What are some of your favorite ways to use fresh, home grown  herbs? 

Photo Credits, Geri Laufer, Pesto by giniann on Wordpress, Wine Cooler by Associated Press.