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.

From Conception to Creation: The Outdoor Living and Landscape Design Project Process

 

Country Club Landscaping believes the yard is an extension of the home and should provide the same attractive and welcoming feel. A well-manicured landscape, perfect pergola and patio, and/or soothing water feature can transform a mundane yard into an enjoyable year-round space for the entire family. As we explored in our post earlier this month, a detailed and thorough plan is just the first step in this process. Our three step project model is a creative and collaborative approach to landscape design and outdoor living.

 

Step 1: Assessment and Design

During the planning stage of the project, our design team completes the site analysis and project interview. The analysis and interview help our team to identify the vision and goal for each design. Numerous factors are discussed and considered, such as: budget, customer needs, and planned use of the design, maintenance, and project site location. The goal is to create a design that is beautiful, sustainable, and mirrors each family’s personal style.

 

Step 2: Pre-Build

Once the design blueprint is finalized with the customer, our team meets to discuss the timetable and specifications of the project. During this stage we are also working closely with the customer to select hardscape and plant materials. This time is also used to prepare the selected site for project installation. Equipment is brought in to begin the initial dig. Whether the project is big or small, from flowerbeds to a pool, the area must be dug and prepped for the building process.

 

Step 3: The Build

Our skilled team begins to turn your vision into reality! As the features are installed we maintain a high level of communication to ensure the design remains consistent with the original vision. Regular progress updates and project walk-through allow customers to remain informed for the duration of the build. As the project nears completion, the team removes equipment and debris to leave your lawn, and new landscape, feature, or outdoor living space, in pristine condition. Finally, it is time to enjoy your new outdoor space!

 

At Country Club Landscaping our goal is to ensure all customers have a positive experience throughout the duration of their project. Each valued customer is viewed as a partner and is guaranteed the highest level of communication and professionalism. From conception, to creation, and beyond – Country Club Landscaping is there every step of the way.

Everything Begins With a Plan

With the promise of spring quickly approaching many of our customers are ready to embark on landscape design and outdoor living projects. Not only does a well-planned landscape or outdoor living space provide value to a home, it also connects our customers to nature and the great outdoors. Understanding the fundamentals of landscape planning can help homeowners select designs, plants, and features that are best suited for their needs, use of space, and personal style. Using the following tips to properly plan for a project is a sure-fire way to see the project through to completion.

 

Site Analysis

The first step in planning a design is to complete a thorough site analysis. The site analysis provides critical property information that will dictate final location, design, and plant selection. The analysis includes 2 basic components that are used to create a blue print of the property and final project.

  1.  Property Assessment: The property assessment provides insight into pre-project preparation and blue print accuracy. This step includes: walking around the property to understand site-lines and views, taking note of topography and hydrozones (where water pools and flows), identifying pre-existing features (trees, fencing, sidewalks, patios, etc), and confirming property dimensions. Part of this process also involves contacting local utilities to identify locations of underground utility lines.
  2. Plant Assessment: The plant assessment helps guide plant selection beyond aesthetic. Since different plants grow better in different conditions identification of soil type, shade/sun ratios, and local Plant Zones will inform which plants are best suited for the project.

 

Personalized and Informed Design

Information from the site analysis should help guide final design and plant selection. Always start with a big vision! The landscaping team can help turn that vision into a reality. The team and homeowner collaborate to sort out wants versus needs, intended use of the space, and identify stylized touches to ensure the finished project feels like an extension of the home.  Projects can be designed at any scale, and completed in phases, to allow the homeowner’s full vision to be realized. The landscaping team will continue to guide the homeowner step-by-step through the final design process. Once the details are teased out, and the finalized design is drawn into the blue print, the materials are acquired and the yard can be prepped for installation. The project has officially moved from planning to implementation!

 

Country Club Landscaping is committed to the planning process in order to help customer’s create their dream outdoor space. Our experienced team can complete the site analysis, provide project recommendations, draw up project designs, and complete the installation.  From conception to completion we are with you every step of the way!

 

Down and Out: Ensuring Proper Downspout Drainage

 

Our last blog post discussed the importance of creating an effective drainage system to avoid water damage and costly home repairs. This time we more closely examine the cornerstone of any home drainage system, downspouts. Improperly placed and installed downspouts result in seeping and pooling at the home’s foundation. This can ultimately cause soil erosion, plant death, basement and lower level flooding, and foundation and structural damage.  Considering downspout locations and quantities, proper installation, and supplemental extension systems are all ways to ensure downspout efficiency.

 

Location and Quantity

Home size, layout, and landscape are important factors in determining location and number of downspouts. Downspouts should be installed for every 20’ of guttering. Gutters should slope approximately ½” every 10’ to maximize water flow from the gutter into the downspout system. Downspouts should be installed in inconspicuous places as much as possible. This will help to maintain a home’s curbside appeal. Further, it is recommended downspouts are installed in unobstructed areas where the water can easily be diverted away from the home. Meters, sidewalks, and landscape consisting of plants/trees with deep root systems create barriers to water diversion and expulsion.

 

The Parts

Downspouts typically consist of the following: an outlet connecting the gutter and downspout, elbows at the top and bottom to curve into the home’s outer wall and expel water at the bottom, union sleeves connecting the elbows to the downspout, the downspout itself, and brackets for mounting. The parts are easily fitted through a slip joint system; where a smaller end is slipped inside a larger one and then fastened by screws. The successive pieces should always be fitted so the upper section fits into the lower one to avoid leakage. Upon assembly, the downspout system should be set into the outlet and then brackets placed every 10’ down the home for secure attachment. It is recommended the water is discharged at least 2’-3’ from the home’s foundation. For many homeowners this makes extension systems a necessity.

 

Extension Systems

Splash blocks and underground downspout diverters are the most common extension systems. Both can be combined with a French Drain, or be used as a stand-alone feature, depending on the property’s slope and pre-disposition to pooling and flooding. Splash blocks are the simpler of the two. They come in a variety of functional and decorative designs that easily add additional length needed to divert water flow. They are placed directly beneath the opening of the lower elbow to usher water away from the home.

Underground downspout diverters connect directly to the lower elbow opening and send the water through a PVC pipe system buried a foot or two below the ground. These systems should run about 10’ away from the home. They can empty into a French Drain, or can be fitted with a bubble pot allowing water to evenly disperse in the yard.

 

Properly installed downspouts are the first line of defense in preventing water damage to your home and landscape. If you are concerned your gutter and downspouts are not up to par, or unsure if your current system can effectively manage Ohio’s rainfall, Country Club Landscaping is happy to provide assessment. Protect your landscape. Protect your home. We are here to help!

Fight the Flood: Building an Effective Drainage System

Spring rain showers are a welcome relief from the dreary days of winter. However, much like their winter counterparts’ snow and sleet, these showers can wreak havoc on homes and landscapes. Pooling rainwater from ineffective draining systems can lead to flooded plant beds, wet basements, cracked foundation, and mosquitoes (yuck!). A proper drainage system is the best way to manage mosquito population, protect your home, and preserve your landscape from costly repairs associated with standing water. An effective system is comprised of two components: one that collects and moves water away from the home’s foundation and plant beds, and a second that drains the water to prevent pooling.

 

Gutters and Downspouts

All homes are built with the foundation for an organized drainage system. Gutters and downspouts are used to collect rainwater from the roof and begin the process of diverting it. The rainwater is caught by the gutter and transferred through vertical downspouts to be expelled a safe distance from the house. All too often, this system is rendered ineffective by improperly sloped gutters and shortened downspouts.

 

Checking gutters and downspouts is the first step to creating an effective drainage system. Gutters should be sloped to prevent sagging and pooling. On average, they should slope .5” for every 10’ of roof leading towards a downspout. Downspouts should run the length of the home and extend at least 2’ to 3’ past the foundation to guide the water into the second part of the drainage system. Downspout extensions can be comprised of underground drain lines, or splash blocks to meet the 2’-3’ minimum requirement. Extensions may actually need to be longer if the yard is sloped towards the home. Once the rainwater has been moved through the gutters and downspouts a drain is used to prevent further accumulation.

 

French Drains

Although there are a lot of options on the market, the French Drain is one of the most common drainage systems. It is a simple and versatile way to divert water and prevent pooling. Essentially, the French Drain is a trench that can be lined with a variety of materials channeling water into an underground pipe system. Whereas gutters and downspouts manage precipitation from the roof, French Drains manage the water at the ground level. With a slope of no less than 1%, water enters the drain field (or high end) and runs to the exit point (or low end) where it is expelled at a safe distance from the home. This system helps to prevent pooling, seepage, and soil erosion all of which attract mosquitoes and threaten plant health and the home’s structural integrity.

 

By addressing drainage from top to bottom, homeowners are working to stave off foundation damage, basement leaks, and ensuring an attractive and enjoyable outdoor space free from drowned plant beds and mosquitoes. In our commitment to plant health and landscape integrity, Country Club Landscaping is pleased to offer drainage assessment and installation. Our team of trained professionals will analyze your current drainage system to determine overall effectiveness, provide recommendations, and install downspout extensions and French Drains. Drainage inspection and installation is just one of the many services we offer to meet customer’s needs and enhance their quality of outdoor living.

Wintertime is the Ideal Time: Dormant Pruning

hand tree grass branch winter plant sky sunlight leaf flower wind mast blue electricity garden cut gardening bud workers hedge gardener pruning individually pruning shears grass family outdoor structure hedge trimmer cut hedges branches cut

Dormancy refers to the suspended, or slowed down state, plants enter during the winter months. Much like hibernation in animals, dormancy conserves energy which helps the plants survive freezing temperatures and a reduction in natural resources. Although your plants and trees may be in a suspended state they still require care and maintenance. Dormant pruning is a proven and effective means to sustaining a healthy landscape during the winter months. It is vital to damage prevention, disease prevention, improved plant health, and lush greenery in the spring.

 

Seasonal Protection and Preparation

Ohio winters can be unpredictable with extreme weather, including: sub-zero temperatures, snow, sleet, and ice. This severe weather can wreak havoc on trees and plants causing damage and broken limbs. Dormant pruning helps minimize the extent of this damage by removing limbs that are already weak and/or are showing signs of injury. By proactively pruning these damaged limbs your plants and trees are better prepared to manage the winter weather.

 

Precise and Efficient

The barren landscape of winter is actually advantageous for dormant pruning. Since most trees and plants have lost their greenery, it allows for more precise and efficient cuts. Without leaves to obstruct a full view it is easier to identify weak and injured limbs and asses healthy branch structure. Further, pruning leafless plantings may actually reduce overall stress to the landscape. Limbs are easier to access, cut, and remove; diminishing injury risk to healthy limbs and encouraging robust, new growth come spring.

 

 Increased Health and Wellness

Dormant pruning benefits the overall health of your landscape by managing pests, disease, and increasing access to sunlight. Fresh cuts during winter months are less aromatic to pests carrying bacteria and fungi. As a result, pruned trees and plants are less likely to be infected by diseases spread from visiting insects. The dormant pruning process also helps open the entire landscape to much needed sunlight. Access to this vital resource will continue to feed and strengthen plants throughout the winter months when they are vulnerable to weather conditions. This combination of pest and disease prevention, coupled with access to sunlight, meets the winter healthcare needs of your landscape.

 

Dormant pruning is part of Country Club Landscaping’s comprehensive Plant Health Care Program because it is a critical component to year-round plant health care. It provides a foundation for healthy plant growth by reducing plant stress, pro-actively preventing damage and injury, and managing pests and disease. Dormant Pruning is just one of the many ways our Plant Health Care Program pro-actively cares for your landscape. To schedule a pruning, or to learn more about our Plant Health Care Program, contact us today!

True Plant Health Care You Can Live With

An Unique Approach

Your landscape is a continuous growing investment worth protecting. Country Club Landscaping’s new Plant Health Care program (PHC) has been designed to create the most beautiful, sustainable landscapes possible while protecting your family and our environment. This is NOT a traditional Tree and Shrub program that blankets your landscape in dangerous synthetic chemicals, but instead is a targeted holistic program that increases soil health, produces stronger plants, and promotes stunning blooms.

Don’t risk the health of your landscape plants through neglect and inadequate care. Our PHC program differs from that of other companies’ in its comprehensive approach. We add soil care, four season protections, and a stringent Integrated Pest Management (IPM) regime to protect the life in your soil, our pollinators, and most importantly your family.  We use safe natural and organic products to control destructive pest, damaging diseases, and to ensure we are at the leading edge of client care. The secret to the whole program is being pro-active. We have specifically timed the application of each step to work hand in hand with mother nature to solve problems, BEFORE they happen. Ultimately, saving you money and ensuring a breathtaking landscape.

 

The PHC Way

Healthy soil is alive with a network of organisms working together in a symbiotic relationship with plants. Many urban soils are often left barren, having been stripped, or depleted, of these important organisms through common, unsustainable horticulture practices. PHC takes a pro-active approach by utilizing regular, professional treatment services to prevent and reverse mineral depletion by (literally) getting to the root of the problem. Our integrated approach works with the natural law of return; returning removed nutrients in the same quantities they were taken away to maintain a balanced ecological state and fertile soil.

Healthy soil results in healthy plants that need protection from inclement weather and hungry pests. PHC protects your plants using protective Dormant Oil Sprays and Winter Anti-desiccants. Our Foliar Stress Reducing Nutrient Boost encourages strong roots and shoots giving you bigger longer lasting blooms. By controlling pests and disease with botanical oils, biological soil drenches, and our targeted injectables we eliminate unnecessary broad-spectrum blanketing of insecticides and fungicides that are toxic to people animals, and pollinators. The addition of deep root fertilization, mycorrhizae inoculation, and vertical mulching rounds out the program and allows your landscape to reach its fullest potential.

 

Flexible and Affordable

Are you concerned about the high cost of other programs? With three levels of service, we can find a package to work within your budget. Each program is designed specifically to fit the needs of your landscape and not a general-purpose application. Our team of professionals have a passion for serving our customers and providing them with an everlasting positive experience that exceeds the competition.

Country Club Landscaping’s Plant Health Care program reflects our dedication to remaining an industry leader by approaching landscaping through sustainable and holistic practices. Our commitment to best practice is exemplified by using products reflective of our dedication to leading the way and changing the industry’s approach to landscaping. By creating and maintaining healthy soil, providing comprehensive plant care, and controlling damaging pests our PHC program is sure to enhance the beauty of your landscape……naturally.

The Science of Snow and Ice Management

Nothing is quite as beautiful as waking up to freshly fallen snow. Unfortunately, with that beauty there are also serious safety hazards and the risk of property damage. Slips, falls, and damage due to accumulation can be adverted with the proper tools and a proactive strategy. The tips and tricks that follow are sure to save you time (and a strained back!) and help effectively manage snow and ice accumulation.

The real science behind snow and ice removal is staying ahead of the accumulation as much as possible. Instead of waiting for the snow to completely pass; periodically clear any walkways, porches, and driveways. Removing the snow every few inches will mean less physical stress on the body due to the reduced overall weight of accumulation. Further, taking a proactive stance means the snow and ice is easier to remove because it has not been packed down by footfalls, traffic, and additional snowfall.

While clearing snow it is important to “work smarter, not harder” and to be prepared for frigid temperatures and physical labor. Wearing breathable layers of cotton, silk, or wicking materials reduces risk of overheating in the cold and are easy to pull on and off as needed. Ensure your own safety with a pair of waterproof and slip resistance boots. When shoveling, a pushing method is recommended over lifting and dumping since it causes less strain and helps conserve energy. This is a must if you will be clearing snow every few hours.

Having the right equipment can also help reduce strain and decrease time outdoors. Avoiding wide-blade shovels and opting for a smaller scoop with a d-shaped grip allows for better control and less lower back strain. Shovels are also available with a second auxiliary grip or wheels to help literally push the snow away. Snow throwers are another excellent option for snow removal. They are the smaller, less expensive cousin to the snow blower. Snow throwers are the least labor intensive option and are available in both gas and electric models.

Once the snow is cleared, reduce freezing and increase traction with an ice melter. There are many traditional and green options on the market. The most effective ice melters contain magnesium chloride or calcium chloride which will continue to melt at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Rock salt is slightly cheaper and can manage melting up to 20 degrees. Pet owners and animal lovers may prefer something “greener” due to research showing sodium, calcium, and magnesium chloride can cause sores on paw pads and are toxic if ingested. Green options are usually salt free without sodium and magnesium chloride. These products are more effective at offering traction than actually melting ice or snow. Look for items marked “pet friendly” to ensure they will be safe around animals. Sand and kitty litter are also traction only options that are 100% pet safe.

Of course, you could stay warm indoors and hire a professional to manage the snow and ice for you! This is a great option for someone with previous, or current, back injuries or cardiac concerns, physical impairments that would prevent safe snow removal, or if it is just too dang cold!! Country Club Landscaping offers residential and commercial snow and ice management. Available packages include snow removal from drive and walkaways, salting services, and ice damage inspection (commercial package only). Our services are offered in convenient and affordable packages to save you time and prevent worry all winter long.

Whether your choose the DIY or professional route, this guide to snow and ice removal and management is sure to reduce stress, maintain a safer homestead, and allow more time to enjoy the winter weather as you see fit!

Resources
www.BobVilla.com
www.des.nh.gov/divisions/water/wmb/salt-reduction-initative/impact.htm
www.SIMA.org