Fall is for Planting

It may seem counterintuitive, with its cool rains and falling temperatures, but fall is the perfect time to plant. It may feel cooler to us, but the ground remains warm and soft enough to safely welcome a variety of plants. Get ahead of the spring frenzy by starting planting projects when the leaves turn and begin to, well, fall.

 

Benefits of Fall Planting

The benefits of fall planting are numerous. The air temperatures may have dropped, but with ground temperatures starting in the 50’s, new plants can create strong root systems with access to vital growth nutrients. Even established plants entering hibernation take advantage of the fall to strengthen roots in preparation for spring growth. Then cooler temperatures also decrease transplant stress when moving plants from containers into the ground, increasing the probability of the plant’s root system taking hold. Typical fall weather also provides more days to plant than the spring with its unpredictable weather and rain showers. The showers that do occur offer a free watering source, saving you time and money. Plus, it is easy to water (if rain is less than an inch per week) because plants need less due to reduced photosynthesis stemming from fall’s shorter days and cooler temperatures.

 

Fall planting further saves money with the reduced need for fertilization and disease management. Since the upcoming winter weather will halt any above ground growth, additional fertilization is not needed after late summer. The cooler weather also decreases the risk of costly diseases from pests that can easily damage immature plants and new growth. Additionally, in the fall many nurseries and garden centers discount plants and seeds allowing landscaping budgets to go further.

 

What to Plant

Although not all plants are suited for fall planting, for example warm weather annuals and acid loving plants do much better in warmer seasons, there are a wide variety of plants that are ideal. These plants include:

 Turf Grasses: Fall is the perfect time for cool weather grasses. Grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, and Ryegrass experience huge growth spurts in the fall and spring before periods of dormancy in the winter and summer. (Note: these grasses are the exception to the fertilization rule and do benefit from early and late fall fertilization)

Perennials: Planting perennials, such as: Pansies, Daylilies, and Peonies, allows time for strong root systems to grow before winter dormancy and become established before spring’s intense and unpredictable storms.

Trees and Shrubs: Trees and shrubs fair far better when planted in the fall. Transplant shock is minimized by cooler temperatures and allows for increased establishment before the extreme temperatures of winter and summer.

Bulbs: Daffodils, Hyacinth, Tulips and other bulbs are the perfect choice for fall planting. Since these plants need a period of cold dormancy to bloom, fall planting ensures brilliant blooms in the spring.

 

Fall is the perfect time to plant. However, there is about an 8-week window best suited for root development and growth. Country Club Landscaping is the local expert at maximizing this time frame to prepare beautiful beds for spring. In addition to advising on location, overall design, and plant selection, we can install and maintain your new or updated landscape design. Choose Country Club Landscaping for your fall plating projects and enhance the beauty of your landscape naturally.

 

 

Soil pH: Getting to the Root of Plant Growth

Soil. That brown, sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy, stuff from which your plants and grass grow is a carefully balanced micro ecosystem teeming with life. Packed full of nutrients and microorganisms, healthy soil is key to creating plant growth. These nutrients and microorganisms require a very specific environment to grow and feed plant life. At the heart of this environment is soil with a proper Ph factor.

 

What is pH and why does it matter?

Soil pH describes the acidity or alkinity of the soil. pH is expressed through the pH factor, numerical scale ranging from 0.0 (acidic) to 14.0 (alkaline) with 7.0 as the value indicating neutral (neither acidic or alkaline). A simple soil test can easily determine your soil’s pH factor. The pH factor will show if your soil is too acidic, has too much alkinity, or is somewhere in-between. The pH factor is important because it influences factors related to plant growth, such as: bacteria (both good and bad), nutrient leaching (the loss of nutrients), availability of nutrients, toxicity, and soil structure. Most lawns and household plants grow best in soil that is slightly acidic to neutral (approximately a pH factor of 5.5-7). If the soil test results show a factor outside this range, you may struggle with the health of your soil and ability to grow grass and plants. Luckily, soil pH can be fixed!

 

How to correct your pH

There are several products available with the ability to increase either the alkinity or acidity of soil. These products include: lime and dolomite, that can increase alkinity, and ammonium sulfate and sulfur, to increase acidity. Understanding proper application of these additives depends heavily on soil type (sand, silt, clay, etc) and your total square footage. Over application of lime and dolomite can cause complete loss of acidity, while overapplication of ammonium sulfate and sulfur can burn plant roots. It is truly a balancing act!

 

Humic DG

Our favorite product to better soil pH is a soil conditioner known as Humic DG. Humic DG is a granular comprised primarily of dry humate and micro sized humric particles. Humic acid is a natural occurring soil conditioner. It has a unique carbon-based matrix that includes high concentrations of both trace minerals and organic acids. Humic acid increases a plant’s ability to absorb essential nutrients while improving soil structure. It also can stimulate beneficial microorganisms which can improve the pH of your soil long-term. Humic DG provides all the benefits of humric acid in an easy to spread, biodegradable form. It is highly soluble in soil and works effectively to foster an environment encouraging plant growth and nutrient absorption. Humic DG is the must have for well-conditioned and balanced soil.

 

The crew at Country Club Landscaping are soil experts! Through our soil services we provide the testing, products, and applications needed to foster soil ideal for plant and lawn growth. If you struggle with growing healthy grass and plants our soil services are only a phone call away!

Plant Health Care: Steps to Take Now to Prepare for Winter

As temperatures cool, and the days become shorter, we welcome the return of school, football, and all things pumpkin spice. We pull out sweaters, stack wood for the fireplace, and plan for the holidays. Just like us, our landscape is preparing for the transition to cooler weather. There are both natural processes and active steps we can take to help plants and greenery survive through the winter.  It may be newly fall, but winter is right around the corner making it the perfect time to start the winterization process.

How Plants Prepare

We’ve all seen the beauty of fall colors – trees changing from summer green to beautiful and rich shades of red, orange, and yellow. We see annuals, perennials, and other plants slowly loses their blooms and leaves. It may seem sudden, but our landscape has been preparing all summer for this specific process. Through the growing season plants and trees have meticulously stored extra water and nutrients, creating stores of food to live off during the winter. As the season changes, food production slows down and the plants begin to shed their green leaves and bright blooms to prepare for hibernation.  To the naked eye it may appear as though your lawn, plants, and trees are “dead”; however, the root systems, bark, and seeds are very much alive and waiting for the first signs of spring to begin their growth process all over again.

How We Can Help

Although plants have their own natural process to prepare for winter, there are proactive steps we can take to ensure beautiful blooms and lush greenery come spring. The trick is to begin early in the fall for the best outcomes.

For the lawn: Now is the time for aeration and overseeding. Aeration is the process of removing small cores of compacted soil and grass to increase water and nutrient flow to your lawn’s root system. The extra space also allows roots to grow further into the ground creating stronger roots and healthier grass. Aeration pairs perfectly with overseeding to create hardier lawns year-round. By filling in bare spots with a variety of resilient grass types, lawns are less susceptible disease and stay greener longer. Since healthy landscapes start from the ground up, take advantage of the cooler weather to add a soil conditioner. Soil conditioner will increase the vibrancy of your lawn while reducing brown spots. Finally, to ensure good growth in the spring, continue to maintain your regular lawn maintenance until first frost, and plan for fall fertilization and weed control. Spraying now for fall weeds is more effective in controlling their growth than during summer months.

For trees and plants: Much like your lawn maintenance, keeping to your pruning and trimming schedule will help plants and trees flourish the following spring. By pruning back shrubs and trees during their dormant season, you reduce the risk of devastating disease and reduce the risk of broken and damaged limbs that can be weighed down with snow and ice. Plan to fertilize trees and shrubs during this time as well. Fall fertilization increases soil productivity, giving tress and shrubs a nutrient boost as they push through their last growth before winter. This is also a great time to plant new trees and shrubs. The cool air and warm soil create a welcoming environment for bulbs and seedlings. Plants should go into the ground no later than the end of October for maximum effectiveness. As nights get closer to freezing temperatures, laying a fresh layer of mulch or hay on flowerbeds will help to protect more delicate plants from hard freezes.

By properly preparing your lawn and landscape for the winter you set the stage for gorgeous spring growth. As part of our Plant Health Care Program and regular services, Country Club Landscaping is happy to help all our customers take full advantage of the fall. We have the timeline down to a science resulting in plush lawns and beautiful landscapes. Call today to learn more!

Beyond the Landscape: Must Have Enhancements for Any Budget or Design

Love your landscape but want something more? Or, maybe the design is beautiful but doesn’t beckon your family to the great outdoors?  Perhaps then it is time to consider an enhancement project. Accent your landscape with any of these ideas to create an attractive and functional outdoor space.

 

Fire pits and Fireplaces

Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces can bring a sense of sophistication and fun to any backyard. Diverse in style, they are easy additions to pre-existing decks, porches, outdoor living spaces, or as a stand-alone project. Fire pits and fireplaces can be installed with a traditional wood burning design, as gas fueled, or electric allowing you total control over size and intensity of the flame. The self-contained design provides safety while allowing your family to enjoy the relaxing ambiance of open flame, perhaps while roasting marshmallows for s’mores?

 

Water Features

Turn any landscape or yard into a private oasis with the addition for a water feature. Water features come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit any size yard, landscape, or budget. Ponds, pools, fountains, water walls, rain curtains, modern, traditional, Avant Garde – the possibilities are endless! Water features promote relaxation and can decrease stress through their soothing sounds and serene beauty. They also attract beneficial wildlife and can decrease unwanted noise pollution.  No matter the size or complexity of the water feature, it will add a unique and relaxing feel to your backyard.

                                                                 

Lighting

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, landscape lighting is an excellent accent and increases home safety. Strategically placed lights can highlight interesting architectural or landscape design features, create additional depth and intrigue, while illuminating driveways, sidewalls, and other pathways. Landscape lighting bulbs are available in a variety of hues, colors, and sizes to fit pre-existing fixtures and compliment your home and landscape design. They can be added, or retrofitted, to create curb appeal and make a memorable first impression. Landscape lights are also the perfect way to enjoy your yard well into the night by creating bright and inviting outdoor entertainment spaces.

 

Seasonal Color

Perhaps the easiest way to spruce up a property is through the addition of seasonal plants. Each season offers its own, unique additions that can keep flowerbeds and landscapes feeling fresh and new year-round. From annuals to mums to poinsettias and holiday greenery, seasonal color and plants are a budget friendly way to naturally enhance the beauty of your landscape.

When considering anyone of these projects consider contacting Country Club Landscaping! We offer free assessment and quotes on all enhancement and accent projects. We believe all customers deserve to see their dream landscape become a reality.

Keep it Easy, Keep it Green: Products to Save Your Yard This Summer

As the dog days of summer approach, many customers begin to ask about products capable of increasing their free time and decreasing time spent watering and maintaining green lawns and landscapes. There are numerous products on the market that have been designed specifically for these purposes. These products can cut time and costs associated with summer lawn care. Read on to learn about some of our favorites.

 

Gator Bags

Tree Gator bags are 15 – 30 gallon bags mounted to the base of a tree, or shrub, and filled with water. The bags slowly release the stored water directly into the root system for deep saturation. The bags not only conserve water by preventing run-off and evaporation, but also prevent transplant shock in new trees and shrubs and prevent heat stress from drought in both new and established plants. Depending on tree size, the bags only need to be filled every 5 to 7 days. Water soluble nutrients can be added as needed to keep trees and shrubs healthy. Gator bags are easy to install: just zip, fill, and go! They have been designed to save money, time, and create peace of mind.

 

 Terra Sorb

Terra Sorb is a long-lasting protectant designed to ensure plants receive necessary water and nutrients during drought and hot weather. They are capable of absorbing over 150 times their weight in water. The crystals are mixed into the soil dry, absorb water when it is plentiful, and release the water as needed to prevent heat stress and maintain optimal plant health. As the water is released the potassium-based polymers breakdown into fertilizer. Terra Sorb can be applied annually to protect plants and landscapes.

 

Rain Bird Products

For customers wanting a long-term investment in their free time, an inground sprinkler system can provide just that. Rain Bird has been providing high quality sprinkler and irrigation systems since 1935. Their products have been designed to save time and conserve water. These sprinkler systems emit the right amount of water with each application to ensure a healthy yard without the hefty bill. Rain Bird also offers rain shut-off and moisture sensing devices to further cost savings over the life of a sprinkler system. Each Rain Bird system installation can be customized to the unique needs and layout of every yard.

 

Country Club Landscaping is proud to use only the highest quality products to create and maintain beautiful lawns year-round. From gator bags to sprinkler installation, we offer the above services and more to enhance the beauty of your landscape.

Beauty in the Heat of Summer: Creating Drought Tolerant Landscapes

Small Residential Drought Tolerant Landscape

The sweltering heat of summer can quickly undo the beauty of spring landscaping and contribute to rising utility costs as homeowners struggle to keep lawns green and flowers blooming. Instead of fighting the heat, homeowners can turn to practical and attractive alternatives. Drought and heat tolerant landscapes conserve water, lower utility bills, and offer the same curbside appeal and personal enjoyment as their traditional counterparts; all the while, surviving the hottest days of summer.

 

Bedding and Accents

Adding gravel, stones, and pavers is an easy way to reduce summer utility costs while maintaining function and appeal. Replace traditional bedding materials and reduce lawn space around flower beds, patios, porches, decks, and play equipment with hardscape materials. Gravel and stones can bring a sense of depth and balance to garden beds. Further, pavers can be used to extend outdoor living and play areas. As a bonus, hard materials offer year-round intrigue with no summer maintenance.

 

Blooms and Plants

Several options exist to create beautiful beds hardy enough to withstand summer’s hottest temperatures. Drought resistant plants, like succulents, ornamental grasses, and perennials, require more sun and less water making them excellent planting options. Consider using a combination of the three for a variety height, color, and texture. Many of these plants can be used in planters and containers or can be planted directly into the ground. Some particularly beautiful varieties include:

Succulents: Aloe, Hens and Chicks (shown), Sunburst, and Plush Plant

Ornamental grasses: Fountain grass (shown – cherry sparkler variety), Little bluestem, Blue fescue, Feather reedgrass

Perennials: Black-eyed Susan (shown), Blazing Star, Hardy Geraniums, Purple Cone Flower

 

Lawn

Trying to keep a lawn green during summer months is a time consuming and expensive act. As the heat increases, so does the quantity of water needed to maintain a healthy and lush yard. As a result, many people are investing in modern artificial turf as an alternative to traditional lawns. Today’s turf feels and looks like real grass. It has the benefit of year-round greenery with minimal maintenance to upkeep its appearance. Plus, artificial turf is inhospitable to common yard pests decreasing the risk of bites and disease from mosquitos, ticks, ants, etc. Artificial Turf is available in a variety of styles and price points to compliment any home and budget. It is family friendly, pet friendly, and, most importantly, able to withstand summer’s heat.

 

Interested in learning more about drought tolerant landscapes? Considering calling Country Club Landscaping to inquire about changes, large or small, we can make to help your landscape survive and thrive during the summer months.

LED: The NEW Landscape Light

 Home and patio with landscaped lighting

 

Entertainment, design, style, safety, security – the reasons for modern landscape lighting are many. From pure aesthetic to completely functional, today’s LED bulbs are offering longer lasting illumination good for any purpose. Long gone are incandescent bulbs requiring high maintenance with a short life span. LED lights offer a better value, a variety of hues and style, with less maintenance than their predecessor.

 

Value

Although LED bulbs run at a higher per bulb price point, that money is quickly recouped through greater efficiency and long-term cost savings. On average, an LED bulb burns up to 50,000 hours (approximately 17.1 years) versus the 2,000 – 5,000 hours (approximately 1.7 years) offered by traditional incandescent bulbs. This increased life expectancy reduces both upkeep and utility costs. Longer lasting bulbs result in less service calls for maintenance and bulb replacements. And, since LED bulbs run at a lower wattage, you can have equal to, or more, LED bulbs and still see cost savings. Low wattage LED bulbs also require less energy to burn, translating into less money spent on electricity.

 

The savings are applicable whether the goal is retrofitting a pre-existing lighting scheme or installing a new system. LED bulbs come in a variety of sizes and styles to easily retrofit a current system. Whether it’s flood lights, path lights, lamps, etc. there are LED bulbs available to meet the needs of any landscape lighting design. Further, the savings are even more apparent when installing a new system with LED lights. LED lights requires smaller transformers and less wire than incandescent bulbs, meaning less labor and material costs during the installation.

 

Style

LED lights offer a diverse array of hues and colors to fit any landscape lighting design. Whereas incandescent bulbs offer only the traditional yellow hue, or 2700k (the temperature at which the bulb burns), Led lights range from yellow to light blue (2700 – 6000K). Providing a wider range of options to compliment a home’s exterior color, landscape and garden beds, and overall brightness and visibility. Further, LED lights are also available in variety of colors and color changing systems to make any outdoor living space party ready. From green, blue, purple, to pink bright colors can be added to accent and highlight interesting features, pools, patios, play and seating areas.

 

From retrofitting to new design, Country Club Landscaping has the means necessary to create efficient and attractive landscape lighting. Let us help take your home from daytime to nighttime with style, safety, and entertainment in mind.

Landscape Lighting: Illumination and Beautification

Since Country Club Landscaping began in 2005, we’ve noticed customers missing the use of landscape lighting to increase curb appeal, safety, and time spent outdoors. Landscape lighting has steadily grown in popularity, and with new bulb technology, is more efficient and cost effective than ever (more on this next week!). Today’s lighting techniques offer a diverse range of styles and uses that are a must have for every discerning home owner.

 

Accent and Highlight

Accent lighting boosts home value and curb appeal by leaving a memorable first impression day or night. It can be used to create focal points highlighting interesting architectural features, and/or valued landscaped and garden areas. Further, accent lighting accentuates textures and details not easily seen in daylight. Accent lighting can also be used to create interesting shadows and depth as part of an overall design scheme.

 

Safety

Strategically placed lights are a practical and attractive way to enhance home safety. Use lights to brighten stairs, low hanging branches, and other safety hazards; making it easier for you, family, and guests to move around when the sun goes down. Plus, landscape lighting is a proven way to deter intruders. Eliminating unwanted darkened and shadowed areas increases visibility and decreases spots that would conceal movement. Safety lights can be comprised of a variety of styles to best highlight your home.

 

Entertainment

Landscape lighting extends the time your family can enjoy being outdoors. Adding lights to patios, pergolas, outdoor kitchens, and outdoor living spaces makes warm, bright, and inviting places for evening entertainment and relaxation. Lights can also be added in or around pools and play areas for safe fun after daylight hours. Additionally, entertainment lighting can be designed around your current aesthetic to maintain the unique feel of your backyard.

 

Country Club Landscaping’s professionals are experts at advising on landscape lighting schemes and designs.  We are well versed in the various methods and techniques to create an ambiance that the whole family can enjoy! Whether customers desire lighting to accent their homes, decrease safety concerns, entertain, or a combination of the three, choosing Country Club Landscaping is a guaranteed way to make those goals a reality.

Rain Gardens: Natural Rain Water Management

For customer’s seeking natural ways to manage run-off, while increasing soil permeability and fertility, rain gardens are an effective and attractive solution. Rain gardens are composed of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers planted in a slightly depressed garden or down-slope. The gardens are designed to catch run-off from hard materials, such as: roofs, driveways, sidewalks, and patios. These beautiful gardens are great way to utilize local, natural resources to reduce water waste and enhance your landscape.

 

How They Work

As previously mentioned, rain gardens are created in depressed areas with native plants and flowers to catch and absorb rainwater. The depressed bed holds the water allowing it to infiltrate into the soil. As the run-off is absorbed, pollutants are naturally removed by the plants, mulch, and soil. According to groundwater.org, rain gardens are effective in removing 90% of nutrients and chemicals, up to 80% of sediments, and absorbing 30% more water than conventional lawns. As a result, the run-off becomes groundwater for plants while encouraging healthy soil through increased permeability. As an added bonus, for homeowners with ponds, or near rivers and lakes, the absorption and filtration properties of rain gardens can improve overall water quality.

 

The Benefits

In addition to their beauty, rain gardens hold many benefits. First, rain gardens reduce the need for watering as a result of their high absorption rate. And, since they absorb and drain run-off within a 12-48 hour period, rain gardens can also reduce mosquito populations as they are not ideal for breeding.  Rain gardens also require very little fertilization and upkeep to ensure continued growth. Since they are comprised of native plant materials, rain gardens require minimal maintenance as the plants are acclimated to local conditions and rainfall. Further, the native plants act to attract local birds, butterflies, pollinators, and other helpful insects; thus, creating a mini-ecosystem from which other plants and trees can benefit.

 

Country Club Landscaping can help interested customers assess their landscape to identify rain garden placement, design custom rain gardens, and provide installation. With a wide variety of plants and flowers native to Ohio, we are able to create custom rain gardens that reflect each customer’s unique style in color schemes that complement their pre-existing landscape. As always, we remain committed to utilizing best practice and natural solutions to enhance the beauty of nature.

Getting to the Root of It: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Soil

As landscapers, we know our customers want the greenest lawns, fullest blooms, and hardiest roots. They want lawns and landscapes that are beautiful and thriving. The simple truth of it – none of this is possible without healthy soil. Soil is more than brown dirt from which plants and grasses grow. It is a complex, living being entwined in a symbiotic relationship with the plants growing from it. The slightest changes to the pH level and/or nutrients in soil can have beneficial, or disastrous consequences, to a landscape.

 

Is My Soil Healthy?

Healthy soil can be identified both by visual examination and soil testing. Visual examination can be completed by a simple soil dig. Healthy soil is dark brown in nature and should be full of root systems, visible animal activity (think earthworms and arthropods), and mycorrhizal fungi (white, fibrous hairs on root systems). The soil should crumble away and be moist to the touch. Soil testing uses small soil samples to measure the overall health and fertility of soil. The testing process assesses pH level and pinpoints any nutrient deficiencies. Test results provide information regarding any needed adjustments to fix the deficiencies.

 

How Do I Create and Maintain Healthy Soil?

The easiest way to create healthy soil is to feed it regularly. Utilize fertilizers to ensure soil is getting enough needed nutrients to feed plants and the complex organisms living in it. Soil can also be fed through composting, grass clippings, and organic mulch. Further, periodic aeration (creating small holes in your lawn and flower beds) aids in the exchange of helpful gasses from the atmosphere and from the soil. It also allows for better movement of water and nutrients through the soil and the roots of plants and grasses. Finally, complete annual soil testing and take the results seriously! In addition to the general fertilizer and methods mentioned above, add the specific nutrients identified through the test results to ensure your soil is in peak growing condition.

 

Enrolling in a soil and plant care program, like the County Club Landscaping Plant Health Care Program, is a great way to ensure your soil is getting the love and attention it needs! Our comprehensive, year-round program provides the necessary testing and fertilization needed to ensure proper pH, and a rich biome of nutrients and microorganisms, to create and maintain healthy soil for plant growth. It’s just one more thing we do to enhance the beauty of nature….naturally.