Monthly Archives: October 2015

Happy Halloween from Blue Tree Landscaping!

Happy Halloween!

Wishing all of our customers, friends and families a Happy Halloween!  Keep your children safe this Halloween by following these helpful tips from the CDC:

 http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/

4 Questions to Ask Before Selecting Your Patio Furniture

patio furnitureTurning your backyard into a welcoming living space is a great way to enjoy the nature around you while maintaining the comfort of home. However, your patio furniture selections should rely on much more than looks and plush. Before making that purchase, here are 4 simple questions to ask yourself:

1. How difficult will caring for this furniture be?

Maintaining indoor furniture can be quite a hassle, but caring for outdoor furniture can be just as time-consuming. When selecting a piece, consider its durability and how easy its upkeep will be. For example, plastic patio furniture is quick and easy to clean, whereas teak can lose its color, and wrought iron can rust after a heavy downpour. Make sure you know the required upkeep before buying a piece, and be certain you’re willing to put in the work.

2. Where will I store my furniture when winter hits?

When the chill of winter arrives, you’ll need to store your furniture somewhere safe from the elements. Doing so will help your patio furniture last longer and better sustain its shape and color. Keep potential storage spaces in mind when making your purchase, and if you know your space is limited, consider patio furniture that can be folded or taken apart in the winter months.

3. Am I comfortable or content?

Make the extra investment and go for comfort when making a patio furniture purchase. After all, why buy furniture for the outdoors if you’ll only be yearning for the indoors when you take a seat? Consider the height of your furniture pieces, and make sure they’re the right fit for you. Also be mindful of armrests and cushions when buying patio chairs. These will help you achieve optimal comfort when enjoying the sunshine.

4. Will my patio furniture be in direct sunlight or underneath a shaded space?

If you have a motorized awning or the shade of tall trees over your patio space, then good for you! If not, adding a patio umbrella to your purchase may be ideal. Not only do they provide necessary shade, but they can also be a bright finishing piece to your other patio purchases, especially if you’re in need of some additional color. Also, for those more than breezy days, make sure the umbrella you select has wind vents to keep it safe and steady.

October: Tree-Transplanting Month

Tree transplantingOctober is a great time of year to transplant trees, shrubs, and rosebushes to improve your landscape design. That is, transplanting them now works well because they have just enough time to take root before they go into hibernation with the rest of your yard.

So—how exactly do you transport trees and shrubs?

 How to Transplant Trees and Shrubs

The bad news about transplanting for landscape design is that it seems like an easy concept, but it can be deceptively difficult. The transplanting of trees and shrubs must be executed correctly or the roots won’t take and the plant will die.

If you follow these steps from our professional landscapers, though, you’ll be good to go:

Step #1: Scout your Location

When scouting out the best location for your transplant landscape design, pay close attention to the spacing of other large plants, water drainage, and sun and shade. If you’re unsure of the specific needs of your trees, shrubs, or rosebushes, Google them beforehand.

Step #2: Dig Your Hole—First

Be sure to dig your hole in your new landscape design transplant area first, so as to not dry out the roots or subject them to damage from the elements for an extended period of time. When digging the new hole ensure it is twice the width of the original rootball size (see step #3 for details), but dig it a little shallower than the original rootball to avoid water settling in and rotting the roots. Don’t break up the earth at the bottom of the new hole, as this, surprisingly, can cause the tree to sink and rot.

Step #3: Rootball

Measure or estimate the width and depth of the rootball based on the average size of the tree or shrub. You may need to do an exploratory dig around the roots to determine the exact size (while this is arduous, it does have the added benefit of making you feel a bit like an archeologist). Keep as much of the rootball intact as possible by digging around the main mass of roots (although it’s impossible to get every single root). When cutting through offshoot roots use a sharp shovel or pruners for a clean cut.

 Step #4: Transplant

After you have removed enough dirt around the rootball and cut through the remaining offshoot roots, you should be able to put your shovel under the tree or shrub and lift. Next, gently transport the plant to the hole in the new location. If it is too large to transport easily by lifting it, then put it on a tarp for transport. After placing it (gently) in the hole, cover it with dirt and tap the soil down to remove any air pockets (which could cause it to shift and not take root properly).

Step #5: Reverse Moat

To help water stay where it’s needed, create a mounded dirt ring (a couple of inches high will suffice) around the tree.

Step #6: Mulch

Rodents and other pests love to eat freshly transplanted plants, so spread a layer of mulch around yours—but not too close to the trunk/base, or you’ll restrict needed air.

Need Some Help with your Landscape Design?

If transplanting is an attempt to boost your garden design in a yard that looks lackluster, consider giving us a call here at Blue Tree. Our professionals can help you plan and implement a landscape design that will look fabulous for years to come.

Spring Flowers to Plant in October

Blue Tree Landscaping TipsTaking some time to think about your spring garden design in October will result in a colorful spring landscape! Now is the time to plant the bulbs responsible for some of spring’s most beautiful flowers.

Spring Plants to Plant in October

Some of our favorite flowers should be planted in October (before the first frost) for a stunning spring bloom. These include tulips, hyacinths, snowdrops, daffodils, and crocus.

When buying the bulbs for your spring garden design, you want to look for those that are plump and firm, as shriveled, soft, or otherwise damaged-looking bulbs likely aren’t healthy and fresh. Ideally, buy your bulbs from an established grower that can be relied upon to have fresh bulbs.

 How to Plant Bulbs in October

The process of planting bulbs is one of the easier gardening tasks, as most fresh bulbs are pretty hearty. All they need in order to survive is to be planted in an area with well-drained soil and at least a bit of sunshine. Easily-drained soil is key, as the torrential downpours of spring can drown bulbs. So, avoid planting in spots where excess water often accumulates.

 Bulb-Planting Steps

The steps to planting bulbs in October should go as follows:

  • Leverage your garden design to spread out the color, while paying attention to drainage and sunshine.
  • Plant the bulbs, facing upwards (if you can’t figure out which way is up then plant them on their sides to be safe) at a depth that is two to three times their length.
  • Plant the bulbs far enough apart that you could fit double the full width of the bulb size between them.
  • Pack the earth gently around the bulbs, removing soil clumps and air pockets.
  • If squirrels, mice, and other pests regularly ravage your garden then you may want to cover the area with chicken wire (although be sure to remove it at the first sign of shoot growth).
  • After the ground is frozen you will want to cover the area with mulch—but only after it freezes, to avoid suffocating the bulbs.

Voila!

Overall Garden Design

If come spring your tulips and other bulbs are looking ravishing, but the rest of your garden design isn’t, give us a call here at Blue Tree landscaping in Philadelphia. Our professionals practice holistic garden design that is specifically adapted to take every aspect of your space and lifestyle into consideration, and can spruce up spaces large or small.

 

Assess Your Landscape Lighting Needs

Landscape Lighting NeedsWith the onset of Daylight Savings Time, it’s about to get darker earlier. But your landscaped yard needn’t be blacked out when you get home!

To help light your winter night, take this period before Daylight Savings Time to assess your current landscape lighting and to discover any gaps in it and needs you may have.

How to Asses your Landscape Lighting Needs 

To assess your landscape lighting needs for the darker winter months, try following these tips:

 1. Go on a Walkabout

This down-under inspired tip may seem juvenile, but walk naturally about your yard around dusk. Your walking path will give you an idea of the natural flow of your yard, the most popular spots, and which spots need the most lighting.

2. Pick a Purpose

Landscape lighting isn’t installed willy-nilly: it has a purpose. So, pick your purpose. Does your yard need task lighting, perhaps for lighting up a path? Could it use accent lighting to show off a specific object or area? Or do you need broad lighting that illuminates the entire space to allow children to play (or to scare off small animals)?

3. Avoid Light Pollution

Landscape lighting is a great way to illuminate your yard in a classy and safe way. Using too much of it, however, or not properly positioning it at the needed areas, can create light pollution for you and your neighbours. Be sure to keep this in mind when planning your lighting scheme. To avoid too much light, use shields, timers, dimmers, motion sensors, or other forms of lighting control.

4. Understand Voltage

If you will be adding to an existing landscape lighting design, or incorporating significant lighting into a yard without landscape lighting, then you will need to consider voltage. Depending on the location and type of lighting, you may need 120 volts, which requires burying the cable at least 18 inches below the ground and may necessitate a small transformer. More simple lighting designs can leverage solar power, which won’t require cabling or a transformer.

5. Decide DIY or Pro

Simple landscape lighting tasks, like installing a few solar-powered path lights, can be relatively easy DIY projects. Larger lighting installations, however, may be best handled by a pro…a pro who can ensure that your lighting design parallels the quality of your overall landscape design.

 

If you could use a professional hand with your landscape lighting project in Philadelphia (and the surrounding areas) give us a call here at Blue Tree. We can ensure that you get high-quality lighting, a beautiful lighting concept, and professional-grade installation.

6 Creative Ways to Decorate Your Yard for Halloween

Tips for Halloween from Blue Tree LandscapingWhether you’re creating a full haunted house to complement your garden design this Halloween or are just looking for a little festive scariness, here are 6 creative ways to decorate your yard for this spooky holiday!

1. Glowing Eyes

If you have bushes in your garden design, add some super-creepy glowing eyes to them. This “monster in the bush” is ridiculously easy to make—simply cut eye-shaped holes in an empty toilet paper roll, insert a glow stick, and place it in a thick bush. The glow stick will project light through the holes only, creating mysterious glowing eyes.

2. Yard Cemetery

Creating a cemetery in your front or back yard takes a little bit of effort, but it can span the whole yard and makes a great garden design idea with high impact. If you’re short on time you can purchase fake tombstones at a Halloween store, Walmart, or Dollar Store. For a more authentic look, you can create your own with large pieces of Styrofoam or cardboard and grey and black paint. Use funny gravestone names like ‘Bea A. Fraid’ or ‘Yul B. Next’ to add a little humor to your spook. For bonus points, spread some cobwebs over them. Work the tombstones into your garden design by placing them along a walkway, or randomly throughout your yard.

3. Coffin (Cooler)

No spooky yard is complete without a coffin. If you’re feeling super creative and have some time on your hands, you can create this spooky decoration—however be warned that it does take some time. If you’re not good with a saw and nails you can much more easily make a coffin out of a large cardboard box. Paint the materials black, add a skeleton or spooky Halloween creature to the inside, and you’re done.

If you’ll be entertaining adults in your yard this year, consider putting in a quick Styrofoam and plastic lining to create a ‘coffin cooler.’

4. A Ghostly Walkway

A ghostly walkway is a low-effort, high-impact idea for spooky landscape outdoor lighting. Line your garden walkways with milk jugs (with jack-o-lantern style faces that you’ve drawn on them—a thick black sharpie does the trick). Add a tealight or small electronic light and you’ve got great Halloween-themed lanterns to light the way through your creepy garden design.

5. Cheesecloth Ghost

No Halloween yard is complete without a ghost hanging from the tree! Use something large, light, and round for the head (like a round Styrofoam ball, a kid’s ball, or etc.), sculpt the shoulders and hands with a wire hanger or bailing wire and then drape a large cheesecloth over the top. Draw on black eye holes and you’ll have a ghost that will hang on a tree and gently blow around in the wind. For added effect tie fishing line to it so you can move it as trick-or-treaters pass by!

6. Broomstick Parking

To create a witches’ parking area, make a sign to hang on any large container (a decorative vase often works best, but almost anything will do) saying ‘park your brooms here.’ Then, add old-style brooms (upside down, so the straw is showing), and voila! You can place it anywhere in your garden design, although near your door will likely have the most impact.