Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Functions of Garden Hedges and Plant Choices

Crabapple LandscapExperts suggest there are many reasons to include a hedge on the properties you manage.  

Functions of Hedges
  • Privacy: A hedge can be a security shield, act as screening, a barrier to traffic noise levels; hedges mark property lines, control human and animal passage ways
  • Enclosure: Hedges create practical borders or dividers, separate areas using low shrubs as hedges, demarcate gardens, edge and define paths  
  • Organic fence-substitute: A hedge allows filtered wind to pass through unlike a solid fence, protects more delicate plants from cold weather or acts as a windbreak, and hedges are  renewable resources, and can be environmentally beneficial as wildlife refuges
  • Decorative: Hedges enhance the proportion and appearance of house and lawns, cost effective, long lasting, low maintenance
Materials for hedges
Evergreen Hedges are unchanging throughout the year, and can serve as tall privacy screens or low borders. They are often formally sheared, which means higher maintenance costs. 

Tall Screening 
  • Holly 
  • Illicum
  • Dwarf Wax Myrtle/Bayberry
  • Camellia
  • Tea Olive 
Low Evergreen Hedges are useful to separate areas
  • Boxwood 
  • Dwarf Holly, Box Holly
  • Indian Hawthorn 
  • Glossy Abelia  
  • Pittosporum
Deciduous Hedges are often more informal

Flowering and fruiting hedges are chosen for compact growth without pruning. 
  • Knockout Roses 
  • Forsythia
  • Lilac 
  • Blueberry
  • Azaleas
  • Hydrangea
  • Ornamental grasses 
Specialty hedges can be chosen for their thorns. Some of these include 
  • Barberry
  • Citrus
  • Roses
  • Quince
  • Cotoneaster
A word to the wise: two hedging materials are problematic: Leyland Cypress tends to get too large and swallows up properties, block windows, cut sunlight, while Privet or Ligustrum is an invasive exotic, spread by seed and invader of parks and natural areas. 

Photo Credits thanks to Missouri Botanic Garden, Knockout Roses

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Showers- Few and Far Between

Because Spring came so early this year, we are seeing many of the May flowers in bloom-- but without benefit of many April Showers. The Rainfall Scorecard for Atlanta posted by the National Weather Service Forecast Office is an interesting comparison (at least interesting to horticultural geeks like the Crabapple LandscapExperts team). It compares the monthly rainfall for the past years (since 1996).  In this case, for the months December 2010 to mid-April 2011 we had a rainfall of  25.04 inches V.S. this year's December 2011 to mid-April 2012 with a rainfall total of only 12.51 inches, shows that we are lagging behind at only 51% of last year's winter rains. 

The rains that arrived last night and today will help to moisten parched soils around Atlanta.

What does this mean for the landscapes that Crabapple maintains for our property managers and HOA reps? 
  • First, less moisture means reduced incidence of fungus problems on dogwoods and lawns; a good thing. 
  • But second, Atlanta's trees and shrubs may be suffering. Trees drink deeply and depend on replenished moisture levels through the winter to survive our typically dry summers. Plus, our trees won't show the ill effects of drought until it is too late to do anything about it. The saying is "trees take seven years to die". But we won't let it come to that! 
Your LandscapExperts will help you evaluate the stress on your shade trees and may recommend irrigation for impossible-to-replace mature trees during times of prolonged drought. Solutions such as trickle irrigation or once-a-week deep watering may be indicated. Call your LandscapExperts Rep at 770-740-9737 to discuss your landscape needs. 

photo credits: thanks to Seasons Magic and Holly Sasnet

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keeping Sidewalks and Walkways Safe

Sidewalks provide safety for pedestrians by separating cars and those walking or jogging. Well-designed, safe places for people to walk are important in the public sector, as well as in condo communities, apartment complexes, subdivisions, townhome neighborhoods, outdoor malls, businesses, industrial companies;  essentially along all public and private rights-of-way. 

Circulation is the main purpose of sidewalks. They are intended and designed as an efficient way to get people from one point to another on foot. Providing safe pathways where people may walk is an essential responsibility of property owners, and Crabapple LandscapExperts is here to help keep your residents and customers safe.

Ask for a walkway audit by the LandscapExpert Team for commercial, residential and industrial clients in order to identify high risk areas for trip, slip or fall incidents and then have us eliminate any hazards.

Sidewalks must comply with Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, including ramp accessibility and surface smoothness. The ADA defines a “trip hazard” as any vertical change of ¼ inch or more at any joint or crack. Since ADA demands strict compliance, trip hazards represent a legal liability for our clients. Owners, managers and Crabapple LandscapExperts are all concerned that the sidewalks be safe.  

Tree roots can cause sidewalk upheaval  

Unpaved pathways set off from the road may have exposed roots

“Cut-throughs” and side paths may have eroded gullies that catch rainwater.

Shoulders may not be wide enough to walk, to change a tire or fix a bike, or may need a guard rail

Sidewalks and paths may need additional lighting to provide safety, or may be in need of shrub pruning

Stepping stones may need to be leveled

Let your Crabapple LandscapExperts help you increase the safety level of the properties you manage by giving us a call at 770-740-9739. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We Don’t Guess, We Soil Test

 To understand more about the nutrient levels in the soils of the properties we care for, Crabapple LandscapExperts do routine, periodic soil tests. We see a vast improvement to the health of plants in your landscapes when we factor in the type of plants in each specific area and the levels of nutrients available, provided by scientific testing.

Reasons to test the soil:
High nutrient levels /too much fertilizer in the past can cause 
  • too rapid growth 
  • waste of money  
  • harm the environment

Low nutrient levels./too little fertilizer in the past results in 
  • poor or slow growth 
  • yellowing or discoloration of plants
  • bare patches 

Crabapple maintains nutrition levels by using the right kind and right amount of fertilizer, compost and organic matter to add to optimize growth and create a thriving plant population with terrific curb appeal.

In the case of a specialty flower bed, raised bed or a pet veggie plot, homeowners and  community gardeners may wish to test the soil themselves. Either phone Crabapple or follow these instructions
  • Watch the how-to video on YouTube by Walter Reeves 
  • Locate your county extension office on this searchablemap for GA CES 
  • Obtain a postage-paid UGA Sample Kit(s) for $15 each
  • Take multiple small samples from all over the area as shown in the video, mix them together, then put about a pound of the uniform mixture in the sample bag 
  • mail to the soil testing labs in Athens or take it to your local county extension office
  • follow the recommendations when the lab report comes back

Crabapple does all this for you, so be assured that the soils and plants on the properties you manage are getting the best care in metro-Atlanta.