Monthly Archives: August 2014

Three End-of-Summer Landscaping Tips

Sprinkler systemsYour lawn survived the first two months of summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down. The final few weeks of summer can be the hottest and driest of the year, and homeowners need to continue routine maintenance so their lawns can be ready for the non-growing season. Here are three things you can do right now to keep your lawn happy and healthy for the rest of the year.  Better yet, call us, and we’ll do it for you!

1) Mow wisely

The end of summer means fewer hours of sunshine, which translates to fewer nutrients for your lawn. Your lawn also may need the strength to survive what could be a cold and punishing winter. Mow your grass when it’s around 3 inches tall, then leave the clippings right where they are. By doing this, you can ensure that your grass doesn’t lose any valuable nutrients.

There are benefits to using a mulching lawn mower. The right amount of mulching will create clippings that are over eighty percent nitrogen, and can provide up to a quarter of an average lawn’s fertilizing needs. By allowing you to mow and fertilize at the same time, a mulching lawn mower can do wonders for your lawn!

2) Invest in an efficient sprinkler

Any landscaper knows the importance of an efficient, effective sprinkler. With a number of states currently in the middle of a drought with no foreseeable end, it’s increasingly important to make the most of your water supply. By choosing the right sprinkler for your lawn, you’ll be doing what’s best for your landscape, your budget, and the environment.

An oscillating sprinkler works best for most rectangular lawns, and their range covers average lawns between 4000 and 5000 square feet. For smaller lawns, try a stationary sprinkler that moves in a circular pattern. Owners of larger lawns should use a pulsating sprinkler, which has high pressure that can cover up to 10,000 square feet.

An irrigation system is really the best option for most homeowners.  Blue Tree can install a system  that will eliminate the need for you to worry about when, where and how much to water.  Call us at 610.222.0590 for more information.

3) Test your soil’s pH

You should routinely check the acidity levels of your soil, but the final few weeks of summer is an essential time to have it done. A neutral pH is vital for preparing your lawn for the autumn and winter months, and allows it to have the most optimal growing season when next spring rolls around.

Homeowners should use either a home testing kit or the help of a local soil acidity professional to determine their soil’s pH. The ideal soil pH at the beginning of autumn is roughly 6.5, although this number will slightly vary across regions.

Gardens and lawns are living things that need care and attention the whole year round. By taking a few simple steps this August, you can rest assured that your lawn’s next growing season will be off to a great start!

Planting a Vegetable Garden

Plant a Vegetable GardenWe all know that vegetable gardening has a variety of benefits: It can boost your health, motivate you to spend more time outdoors, act as a bonding experience for your entire family, and help you relax and de-stress after a long day. A garden can also be a great addition to an outdoor landscape, adding color and liveliness to any space. The best part of gardening is its relative simplicity—you don’t need much training to make it work. However, there are some tricks and techniques which, used properly, can take your garden to new heights.

Here are some tips on growing a happy, healthy, and beautiful vegetable garden:

1. Pay attention to seasonality.

There is a reason some types of produce are more available (and tastier) during certain seasons. Seasonality is why we eat strawberries in the summer, apples in the winter, and squash in the fall. So when you are at the nursery, thinking about what to plant, consider the season.

Pro tip: Remember to plant those seasonal crops early in the season so that they will blossom at the height of the season.

2. Grow a variety of plants.

Plants are meant to be part of an ecosystem, or, in other words, a diverse landscape of plants and animals. Your plants will grow better if you take steps to imitate a natural ecosystem within your garden. This means planting a variety of different types of fruits and vegetables. You can even plant some flowers to diversify your garden further.

As a bonus, all of those plants and flowers will yield a colorful and diverse landscape, making your garden even more beautiful.

Another benefit of varying your plants is that if one fails, you will still have others to focus on. Plus, if you are successful, you can make a salad!

3. Use homemade compost.

Using homemade compost is environmentally sustainable and can save you money. Instead of tossing your organic waste into the trashcan to be dumped in a landfill, create a separate waste bin for compost to be made into fertilizer. Decomposing organic material (fruits, vegetables, and paper products—no meat or fats) will create fertilizer better than any store-bought version.

Here are some tips on composting, including a chart of what you can compost:  http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.html.

Happy planting!

 

 

 

How to Pick the Perfect Hardscape for Your Yard

Hardscape for your YardHardscape, or the landscape portion of your backyard that is not alive, includes patios, walkways, gazebos, pergolas, retaining walls and steps. All of these elements can add unique beauty to your outdoor space and can expand the architecture of your home into the backyard portion of your property.

Patios and Walkways

Adding a patio or walkway to your yard can transform a traditional yard into a special space. Walkways are great because they often connect different areas of your yard. For instance, you may choose install a pathway between your garden and your gazebo, or between your pool and your gazebo. Walkways are also useful in that they can highlight entry and exit points for guests. A patio would be another great addition to your yard, as it allows you to extend your home into your outdoor space. You can create a patio area with an outdoor kitchen and grill or an outdoor dinner seating area with a fire pit. Incorporating a patio into your backyard also increases the usable square footage of your home.

Gazebos

Adding a beautiful gazebo to your yard can create a special oasis during any season. This excellent feature creates additional seating space and helps increase the value of your home. By providing shade during the hot summer or a spot to hide during a spring shower, a gazebo can be the perfect spot for any season.

Pergolas

Like gazebos, pergolas add a special aesthetically pleasing feature to your yard. Pergolas are overhead wooden structures that give the feeling of being in a “room,” but keep your outdoor space open. While they cannot protect you from the sun or rain like a gazebo can, adding hanging plants or lights can make a pergola a fantastic area for morning coffee or late night s’mores. There are a number of different pergola styles to choose from, but some of the most popular are garden pergolas, made with the traditional post and beam look, and arched pergolas with roofs that maximize shade.

Retaining walls and steps

Constructing walls and steps can help define the different aspects of your backyard. If you have a hilly yard, a retaining wall can prevent downward slope movement and allow you to reclaim any unused space. Retaining walls can be made of stone or concrete, and are an excellent addition to a backyard garden. Additionally, putting steps into your yard can provide access from your fenced off inground pool area over to the patio, or can enhance the path up to the gazebo.

It’s unquestionable that hardscaping adds to the outdoor space of your home. While picking which elements you’d like to incorporate, keep in mind what is best for your family, space and backyard uses!

 

 

 

 

 

How to Use Trees and Shrubs to Transform Your Yard

Greenery for Your YardYou’ve just finished planting your outdoor garden and building a fence around your in-ground swimming pool. Forgot something? How about shade and privacy? Trees and shrubs can be the finishing touches you never knew your backyard was missing.

Create Shade

Planting trees in your backyard can create natural shade on sunny days. Consider planting them in places that would cover popular backyard spots, like poolside spaces or children’s play areas. That will keep everyone protected during peak outdoor hours, when the sun is especially hot.

Add Privacy

For some, having a backyard that neighbors and passing cars can’t see is a top priority. Lining the edges of your property with flora can isolate your yard better than any “KEEP OUT” sign. For a structured and tidy look, you can plant trees and shrubs of similar types, identically spaced in a straight line. For a more playful feel, use a mixture of different types of plants. It all depends on the ambiance that you’re aiming for.

Define Outdoor Space

Shrubs can be used to make your favorite outdoor spot more cozy and defined. Whether you’re enclosing the patio or separating the play area from the grill, shrubs can be an attractive and understated way to define a variety of outdoor spaces.

Provide a Sound Barrier

If there is a lot of street noise on your block, adding trees can create a soothing sound barrier. (In any case, they tend to be a better aesthetic and environmental solution than building a 30-foot-tall sound-proof fence.) According to the Environmental Protection Agency, trees like the Hardy Evergreen, Canopied Juniper, and White Pine can decrease road noise and absorb traffic pollution. When deciding on the best option for you, be sure to take into account the height and number of rows you’re looking to add.

Hand-picked trees and shrubs can be key to transforming your backyard into the private and tranquil oasis you’ve imagined. But before you get out the shovel, remember to consider which greenery will best suit your specific needs.

 

 

 

Four Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Garden

Vegetable Garden PhotoSweet summertime is in full swing! No matter what activities keep you busy during the day, everyone knows that when the sun sets, it’s time for a delicious family dinner. What’s one of the best parts? Fresh summer ingredients; especially if they come from your own garden! Before setting the table, though, here are some tips to consider to get the most out of your garden this summer.

Good Lighting- When the sun finally sets and it’s time for dinner, finding those perfectly ripe tomatoes in the dark can be tough. Adding in some outdoor lighting around your garden can make a big difference in that it not only makes it easier for you to find ingredients outside, but it also shows off your beautiful garden to guests after dark. Be sure to consider how much lighting you would like, and whether a switch or time controlled system would work best for you.

Keep It Contained- Designing a backyard that works for everyone can be tough, but if you have little kids or pets, it may be a good idea to protect your garden. Installing a fence or gated area around your garden will keep it safe from an excited puppy, but it’ll still be easily accessible for you to grab some basil as a last minute addition to any dish!

Read Up for a Green Thumb- While taking care of your garden can be hard work, the outcome is always well worth it. Be sure to research what you’re planting and how best to take care of it. Crops like tomatoes, sweet corn, squash and peppers need extra nitrogen during growing seasons. If it’s getting hot in your yard and you’re growing basil, add mulch to keep the soil moist. Don’t forget to always water your garden after adding fertilizer to help the nutrients move to the roots.

Water, Water, Water- We aren’t the only ones that need a big gulp of water as the temperature’s skyrocket at the end of summer. Your garden will probably need a little extra love in the heat. HGTV suggests adding a dripping garden hose to the bottom of your plants every few days. If you can, create watering basins for the water to slowly go deeper into the soil. You can also use sprinklers or water your plants yourself in the morning to avoid extra loss from evaporation.

 

How to Keep Your Kids Safe Around an Inground Pool

Inground Pool Montgomery County PAAn inground pool is a great way to enhance your property and make your home an even better space for recreation and entertainment. If you have small children, however, your pool can also be a source of anxiety. Drowning is the second most prevalent cause of injury-related death in children, so it’s critical that you inform yourself on ways to keep your family safe. So how can you ensure your family has fun in the pool of their dreams while making sure they remain protected?

Most child drowning incidents happen when kids find their way into the pool on their own, so it’s important to ensure you have barriers for when your little one tries to sneak off. Be sure to install a fence that encompasses the entire perimeter of the pool that is at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates. Many fences come with alarms that you can set up to indicate when the latch has been disturbed.

In addition to notifying you when the pool gate is opened, pool alarms can also alert you when the water has been disturbed. Surface alarms can have more false alerts since they’re more easily triggered by the wind, so it’s a good idea to go for one that detects movement beneath the water so you’ll know if anyone is in the pool.

Drain entrapment can happen when the force of the pools drain’s suction pulls in a part of the body, clothing, or hair. Though rare, this has caused cases of drowning. In addition to having an anti-entrapment drain cover, you may also consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS), which automatically shuts off a pump if an obstruction is detected.

Swimming lessons can bring you the peace of mind that the measures you’re taking to protect your children extend beyond your own pool. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time near water, even if these are small bodies like ponds. The American Association of Pediatrics says children as young as a year old can take swimming lessons. Children usually can’t swim effectively until they are six or seven years old, but learning controlled breathing and floating on their back can make a crucial difference.

Learn the signs of drowning. This is probably the most important step you can take toward protecting your family. People who are drowning can’t call for help because they can’t breathe, and they can’t wave their arms because they’re struggling to stay afloat. Children make noise when they are playing in water, so if a child is silent, get to him or her immediately to find out why.