Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rain Garden Solution Keeps Rain Water on Location

Rainfall nourishes metro-Atlanta’s green plants and allows our famous tree cover to flourish. Rain falling on landscapes layered with trees, shrubs, groundcovers and turf stays where it falls and supplies moisture to plant roots before going deeper to replenish ground water stores.

But storm water from rain storms that lands on hard surfaces like parking lots, driveways, sidewalks and roofs is subject to runoff. Compacted lawn areas and bare or sloping ground are also subject to erosion that can cause water pollution and flooding. When storm water flows into storm drains rain it is swiftly removed from the surrounding area and is unable to soak into the ground causing diminished groundwater.

Rain Garden Randolph College
A rain garden is CrabappleLandscapExperts’s simple yet effective solution to this urban problem. Our rain gardens are created as a swale or low spot adjacent to your parking area or slope and plant it with versatile, water-loving plants that are tough enough to withstand dry soils inbetween rains. We carefully choose plants that require little to no fertilization, often natives and grasses. 

The planted depression collects and immobilizes the rainwater runoff, and then excess water is absorbed into the ground and some evaporates. Water is used by the selected plants as they transpire  moisture through their leaves and return water vapor to the atmosphere. Rain gardens can cut down on the amount of solid pollutants reaching creeks and streams by an estimated 30%.

CrabappleLandscapExperts makes the most of this natural resource for HOAs and for the properties you manage. Call one of our Expert Reps to discuss the installation of a rain garden on your property at 770-740-9739.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Planting in Shade

Shady woodland
Even though some plants do best in full sun and popular veggie and flower gardens get the lion’s share of attention, a shade garden can provide the perfect conditions for an astounding number of flowering and foliage plants. A huge selection of perennials, ferns, shrubs, ground covers and under-story trees do beautifully in many types of shade. 

Landscapes are not static, but change their degree of shade over time as newly-planted shrubs and small trees mature to their full size. Gardens that were originally sunny may evolve into an ever-increasing amount of shade and the plant list necessarily changes. Conversely, if a tree is removed or blown down in a storm with the resulting sunlight flooding a garden formerly in shade, those plants will languish and change-outs will be needed. Consult your Crabapple Rep in these situations for creative solutions.

'High Fragrance' Camellia
Shade is considered a challenge by many landscapers. If shade is caused by a woodland or forest of trees, competing root systems and water needs of the trees will compound the problem. Low light levels, limited water, competition for nutrients and poor air circulation are all shady challenges. Shallow-rooted maples and elms are particularly problematic for underplanting. Poor air circulation, coupled with lower light levels means leaves stay wet longer and plant disease problems can be magnified. Crabapple LandscapExperts select disease-resistant varieties, use wider plant spacing and employ soaker hoses and drip irrigation to avoid getting extra water on the leaves.

Landscapes differ in the type of shade. Crabapple LandscapExperts will determine the amount of shade present and which plants are adapted to the available conditions.

Hosta Royal Standard
Full Shade
Little to no direct sunlight is available in the shadow of buildings, under mature trees or thick hedges, or next to solid walls. In this situation the shade lasts all day. Plant selection is most limited in dense shade, but some plant selections for deep shade include Chinese sacred lily, Cast iron plant, Cryptomeria, Plum Yew and reliable ferns. White, chartreuse and variegated foliage stand out in the shade, with pink, white or red caladium for summer bedding. Contrasting textures (coarse hostas next to fine ferns) and glossy leaf surfaces have more impact than dull ones.  Our skilled landscape designers can make this type of shade into a cool retreat with paving, fountains and ground covers along with seating and tables to enhance this type of environment.

Medium Shade 
Direct rays of sun are blocked for part to most of the day in this situation. Many established landscapes have large areas of partial shade where shadows fall for much of the day, but receive some direct sunshine either early or late. Light can sometimes be reflected off of buildings to produce medium shade. Under deciduous trees, spring ephemerals get plenty of sunlight before the trees leaf out in springtime. 

Open Shade
Open or Dappled Shade
Areas of light shade are shaded but still bright, as under the high shade of tall pines, under thin tree cover or beneath trees with tiny leaves.  As the sun moves across the sky, shadows move with it and garden areas get a lot of filtered light and dappled sun in intervals throughout the day. Many plants (including “full sun” plants) do well in this type of shade, and in metro-Atlanta they thrive when some of the hot afternoon sun is mitigated.  Part of the day the garden is in sun, while the other part is shade. Camellias, gardenias and native azaleas do best with some afternoon shade. Light Shade also provides relief from evaporation and goes a long way toward the maintenance of soil moisture, particularly when mulched.  

Your Crabapple LandscapExperts will provide a wide plant pallette and great installation and maintenance programs for shady locations in the properties you manage.

Photos by Geri Laufer 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Safety Checklist: Public and Private Playgrounds

 Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS assist many clients with playgrounds and recreational areas on their properties. The current epidemic of childhood obesity calls for creative approaches to the problem, and outdoor play is a great idea. 

Plastic structure under tarp
We help them comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidelines for playground accessibility and compliance to ensure that all children get an equal opportunity to participate in the play experience. According to the guidelines, half of the playground's elevated components must be accessible by a ramp, and for every elevated part of the playground, there must be a corresponding number of ground level structures for a wide variety of play experiences.  

Another aspect of playgrounds includes voluntary standards organized by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Based on these two exemplary organizations, Crabapple can provide great support to property managers and Homeowners Association Reps. 

Safety Checklist for Private and Public Playgrounds 
  • We ensure that play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart. 
  • We check for dangerous hardware and verify that all bolts are present, that they remain tight, and that there are no more than 2 threads protruding outward. 
  • If the play surface is made from loose fill, we make sure the surfaces around the playground equipment have at least 1 inch of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel per foot of play structure height.  (For more about play surfaces, see last week's Blog.)
  •  If the surface is synthetic (for example, rubber mats or poured-in-place rubber surface), we visually inspect the surface for unusual wear patterns. 
  • We check that the safety surface extends at least 6 feet in all directions beyond the play equipment. For swings, the rule is that the safety surface extend twice the height of the top beam, both in front of the swings and behind them. 
  • Crabapple examines swing set hardware for wear. We verify that all "S" hooks remain closed (a dime should not be able to pass through the openings). Worn swing seats can cause injuries or ripped clothing. We check swing seats for wear or cracking and verify that the ends have no excessive wear. 
  • Spaces that can entrap children are tightened up, such as openings in guardrails or between rung ladders that measure less than 3.5 inches or greater than 9 inches. 
  • Sharp points or edges on all play equipment are eliminated. 
  • We look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps and rocks. 
  • Crabapple makes sure that all elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls. 
  • We provide suggestions that all children be properly supervised while using the playground and that inappropriate play be discouraged. 
  • We schedule a safety check with property managers and HOA Reps at least once a year.
Schedule your annual safety check today by asking your Crabapple Rep or calling 770-740-0739.  

 photos thanks to Wiki Commons

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Safe Surfaces + Flooring for Playgrounds + Activity Areas

Playgrounds and playing are important alternatives that help reduce childhood obesity and have many different social, emotional and cognitive benefits.The “Voice of Play” website is the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association's  (IPEMA) effort to educate the general public, parents, teachers, and organizations such as Parent Student Teacher Association, PTA, PTO and community groups about the various benefits of play.

But have you thought about what’s underfoot in the active or playground areas of the properties you manage? Safety flooring and safe surfaces are just as important as the playground equipment itself and can prevent serious injuries to children, pre-schoolers, seniors or sports participants. Let Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS help you consider the surfaces and "paving options" available in order to drastically reduce the chances of injury on your properties.  

Rubber Mulch
Crabapple makes available a large selection of playground flooring and we enable you to choose the surfacing solution that is right for you. Your safety needs, design scheme and budget are all important considerations for the LandscapEXPERTS Team.

Some of the choices include:  
  • Traditional wood playground mulch
  • Engineered wood fiber 
  • 12-inch wood fiber or Woodcarpet® mat 
  • Rubber playground mulch 
  • High-performance artificial turf playground surfacing 
  • Soft tile playground surfaces  
  • Poured-in-place surfacing with “curbs” to border the area  can be molded into designs or shapes
  • Swing set mats to control erosion under swings or at the base of slides are a first step

 In addition to playground surfaces, safety flooring is useful on patios, garden walks, decks, swimming pools and green roofing. The materials are useful publically for preschools, community centers, sports complexes, municipal walkways, restaurants and parking garages. We invite you to contact the service team at CrabappleLandscapEXPERTS to discuss the installation of a safe and fun environment.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Root Prune NOW before Transplanting

NOW is the time to Root Prune Before Transplanting 

Do you have a favorite Japanese Maple tree or woody ornamental of any size that you want bo be moved to another location? If so, call the LandscapExperts a few months ahead of time. This will allow us to come and root prune the root system prior to the actual move. The tree or shrub is more likely to transplant successfully when the time comes to actually transplant it. 

What is root pruning?
Root systems range far and wide, growing in the top 18 - 24 inches of soil, and extending beyond the drip line of the branches and leaves. This is known as the “pancake theory” of root growth. Root pruning involves using a sharpened garden spade to cut a narrow (1-2 inch wide) trench around the trunk(s) in a circle that outlines the future root ball that we intend to dig up when we move the tree or shrub.UGA has a PDF that gives recommendations for approximate sizes of root balls for different types of plants (evergreen shrubs, Japanese maple trees). 

We fill in the narrow trench and leave the tree in place for now, and in the intervening months it will regenerate plenty of feeder roots closer to the trunk, inside the proscribed circle. This guarantees success when the tree is actually moved a few months later, during the winter while it is dormant. So rest assured, the LandscapExperts Team will safely move your favorite shrubs and trees. 

photos courtesy Wiki Commons from,,