Monthly Archives: March 2015

Sprinkler System Options

SprinklersIf you’re tired of tangled hoses, heavy watering cans, and remembering (or forgetting!) to water by hand, it may be time to consider installing a sprinkler system. Sprinkler system options range from the classic above-ground sprinkler to the more efficient and complex drip irrigation system. At the end of the day, the goal is to maintain a healthy lawn and a lush, thriving landscape. Consider the following sprinkler system options, then talk to a landscaping expert to figure out which one is right for you.

Above-ground sprinklers

Your most basic and inexpensive option is the above-ground sprinkler, which is ideal for watering large, open expanses like lawns. Usually connected to a hose, the classic above-ground sprinkler can be purchased with a stationary or rotating head, and should be placed in a central location to cover as much ground as possible. The downside of these sprinklers is that a lot of water will be lost in the process (at times, 50-70%) and the watering is unlikely to be even. If you have flowerbeds, trees, or shrubbery that need gentle and attentive care, read on to explore more efficient watering options.

In ground pop-up sprinkler systems

A professional in ground sprinkler system will water your entire landscape on a scheduled timer. The sprinkler systems generally spray a large amount of water over a large amount of land, so they work best when the landscape requires uniform maintenance. Those interested in installing an in ground sprinkler system should work with a landscaping expert to determine an irrigation plan that’s right for your specific yard — water pressure and soil makeup must be checked, in addition to existing water, gas, and electric lines. For this type of system, trenches will need to be dug in order to place pipes 15-18” underground. Valves will be attached to control water flow, and then the appropriate sprinkler heads must be attached, in addition to wiring, a timer, and a backflow preventer. If you plan on using a traditional in ground sprinkler system, try to lay out your plants in groups — ones that need heavy watering, average watering, and little to no watering.

Drip irrigation systems

Drip irrigation systems are low-pressure systems that conserve water and deliver just the right amount to the different parts of your yard through flexible tubing connected to individual emitters. Drip systems are the most efficient watering option, as they lose the least amount of water through evaporation or overspray. Supply lines can lie directly on the ground and be covered by a thin layer of mulch, or remain exposed until the plants flourish and spread. More advanced landscapes that involve flowerbeds, vegetable rows, or shrubbery can benefit from drip irrigation systems, which are precise in the amount and method in which water is delivered. The controlled water flow also prevents weeds, as the in-between areas are not watered. If you already have an underground sprinkler system in place, you can work with a landscaping expert to convert it into a drip system. Pop-up sprinkler heads can easily be replaced with drip irrigation water emitters, which save water and water more efficiently.

 

There are various ways to maintain a healthy, green landscape. Do your research or consult a landscaping expert at Blue Tree to figure out which watering method is best for your yard.

Spring Cleaning: Get Your Yard in Shape For the New Season

spring cleaningWe know this may be hard to believe right now, but spring is on its way. While this doesn’t mean it’s time to put away your giant down coats, it does mean you can start working on readying your garden for warmer days to come. Taking steps now to give your garden an extra boost could save you time and headaches in the coming weeks. Here are some spring cleaning tips that will ensure your garden looks healthier and more beautiful than ever this season.

First off, test your soil’s readiness to see if it’s dry enough to work with. If you work on your soil before it’s ready, you could compact it, or form hard clods by digging in it too soon. Check if it’s dry enough by dropping a ball of soil onto the ground. If it stays in a clump, wait a couple of days before working on your garden. If it shatters, it’s time to get to work.

Pesky weeds are often the first to emerge come springtime, so prevent them by applying a pre-emergent weed control to beat them before they germinate. If you want to avoid chemicals, you can make it harder for weeds to germinate by covering your soil with mulch, dried leaves, cardboard, or newspapers. This will block sunlight from reaching the soil, and later you can cut spaces in your cover when you’re ready to place your own plants.

If you have winter mulch, you can start removing it. If it’s starting to decompose and doesn’t seem to have weed seeds, you can work it into the soil, adding fresh mulch as you go. You can also get a head start on your vegetable garden by growing your tomatoes, peppers, and other heat-loving plants indoors until they’re ready to be transplanted into the garden when warmer days arrive.

If you didn’t prune back your perennials last fall, you can still do so now. Plants actually do well if you leave them unpruned through the winter, since the overgrowth serves as a form of protection from the elements. Once you see new growth at the base of the plant, though, you can start cutting back the dead parts to give it room to grow. Just to be safe, it’s a good idea to wait until the threat of hard frost has passed to do this.

You certainly don’t need to wait until the new season is officially here to get your garden spring ready. If you need help getting started on your garden, or if you have bigger plans for your outdoor space this season, Blue Tree Landscaping is here to help.

Composting 101: Turning Your Trash into Fertilizer GOLD

compostingComposting. You’ve probably heard this buzzword a million times before, and you know it’s supposed to reduce waste and improve your yard, but how does it all actually work? Composting may sound like a lot of effort, but the rewards for your garden will be well worth the energy you put into it. Plus, you’ll know that what you’re using is natural, not to mention quite cost-effective. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how to get in on composting and create a healthier garden.

Start Small: The best way to begin composting is to start small. There are two types of composting bins: stationary and rotating. For ongoing composting, stationary bins are the best option, but if you’re looking to create and decompose a pile within a certain time frame, rotating bins are your best choice. Regardless, make sure your compost pile takes up at least one cubic foot of space. This will ensure it has a high enough mass to heat up sufficiently, which is critical to allowing essential microbes a hospitable environment for survival .

Keep a mix of brown and green matter:  You’ll want your compost pile to be a good mix of brown and green matter, along with some moisture to keep the material bacteria-rich. Start out by using shredded newspaper, wood chips, and dry leaves as the brown element, and use kitchen scraps like fruit skin and egg shells as well as grass clippings as the green component. Generally, you want to have more brown matter than green matter in your pile. Try a ratio of three fourths brown matter to one fourth green matter, or increase the amount of brown matter even further. If your bin will be outside, avoid adding fish, meat, or dairy that can attract pests.

Compost Needs Oxygen:  Once you’ve got a great compost pile in the works, make sure it gets enough oxygen by turning it somewhat regularly (the timing for this can vary based on how quickly you’d like your compost to decompose). Use an ordinary gardening tool like a fork or shovel, or purchase a compost aerator for the absolute best results. If you’re using a stationary bin, you’ll also want to consistently add scraps and materials to your pile, as this keeps new nutrients available to the bacteria that carry out the decomposition process.

Plants Thrive with Compost:  Composting, once it starts to run smoothly, ultimately provides the best environment for plants to thrive. Among other things, it allows plants to absorb a balanced diet of nutrients, and prevents certain harmful pathogens from reaching them. So, get started today!