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.

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.