Category Archives: Commercial Landscaping

6 Landscaping Ideas for Your Commercial Property

Landscaping Ideas for Commericial PropertyCommercial landscaping might be subtle, but it still takes a surprising amount of planning. In fact, subtle landscape design can take as much concerted effort in the planning stages as more dramatic landscaping, as it involves trying to do more with less.

To help you find the balance between subtle and awe-inspiring features for your commercial property’s landscape design, we’ve put together six of our favorite, diverse ideas…

1. Entrance Focus

If your aim is for a professional, elegant landscape design, you’ll need minimal—but impactful—designs. Since elegance is generally simplistic in design, you’ll want to pick one, or a limited number, of focal points. One of those should be your entrance.

Think of your entrance as your welcoming area, and use pathways to highlight it. Consider opting for pathways with a distinctive material like interlocking brick or stamped concrete. Use statement greenery, like dynamic bushes, shrubs, and small trees—but stay away from too many plants or it will be a distraction from the design.

2. Fashion Meets Function

Design isn’t solely about looks—it is also about function! Make your landscape design as functional as it is fashionable by adding furniture. Pick a theme and stick with it, so choose either modern furniture (there are some stunning options available now), a more classic look like antique wrought iron, or stylized concrete. Use furniture sparingly so that the area doesn’t appear cluttered, but provide enough so that your commercial space offers an outdoor lounge area for staff and clients.

3. Shrub Signage

A clever way to introduce shrubbery or colorful plants is to create signage. Spell out the name of your company, or use plants in your company colors to make landscape-based branding.

4. Install a Water Feature

Water features are a great way to add more nature into your landscape design. Not only can they look extremely natural, but they can also give your property a more calming and down-to-earth look. Water features with more minimal water use will be more cost-effective over the long run.

5. Plan Your Watering

When you add multiple live elements (plants, shrubs, trees, etc.) to large commercial properties, you’re creating a difficult watering landscape. Keeping live elements in groupings, or ‘zones,’ will help keep your watering process easier and more effective. You’ll also use a lot less water.

6. Think Seasonally

Keep Philadelphia’s seasons in mind while you’re designing your commercial landscaping. Plan accordingly so that your landscaping looks beautiful year-round, and not just in the summer.

Summer Maintenance for Commercial Spaces

Summer MaintenanceLandscaping is heavily affected by all seasons—especially with Philadelphia’s seasonal fluctuations. Our cold winters are contrasted by hot summers, and your commercial landscaping plan needs to keep up with the change.

By recognizing the special needs of summer landscaping, you can prevent plant death and grass burns, and maintain a beautiful landscape and hardscape.

 Summer Maintenance Tips for Commercial Spaces

To help you put your best ‘green’ foot forward this summer, here are some of our expert tips to beat the summer heat through irrigation sprinklers, landscape design, hardscape design, and more.

 1. Heat Management

Heat is your biggest issue during summer, with temperatures reaching well over 90 degrees. While you can’t air condition the outdoors, you can protect some of the more vulnerable plants by moving planters out of direct sunlight during the hottest days.

2.Insects & Pests

Any camper knows that insects—unfortunately—thrive in the summer heat. If you don’t want to spray strong pesticides across all your growing spaces, you’ll need to visually monitor for insects. Knowing which insects are eating your plants will help give you a plan of attack—especially with natural remedies. For example, fungal diseases hate baking soda and aphids hate Ivory soap.

3. Watering

Water…or lack thereof, when it comes to landscaping, is directly related to the heat, as extremely high temperatures evaporate much-needed water from plants. Watering can be difficult during summer months—even with irrigation sprinklers—as wind carries the water, and heat evaporates it before the plants’ roots can consume it. Watering at the wrong time of day can burn your grass and plants. So, use your irrigation sprinklers to water before and after sunrise to keep your water bill lower and to give your plants time to absorb the water.

4. Mowing

Many commercial grounds managers are tempted into mowing the grass to a shorter level so it will ‘last longer.’ Don’t be seduced by this, though, as mowing the grass too short will cause it to dehydrate, burn, and otherwise fail to thrive.

5. Hardscaping
If your year-round maintenance—especially in summer—is becoming too difficult to maintain, then give some thought to using a hardscape technique. A hardscape design, through elements like retaining walls and walkways, can help you manage water flow while reducing your need for summer (and year round!) maintenance.

 

For help with your commercial landscape design and maintenance—or to discuss a hardscape concept—give us a call here at Blue Tree. Our professionals can help guide you in the right direction, while providing you with the manpower you need to get the job done.

8 Summer Garden Watering Tips to Help Your Plants Thrive

Summer Garden WateringAny seasoned gardener knows that gardening is hard: there’s a serious science behind all of it, from planting the right plants in the right places to giving them the correct amount of water. The science behind proper watering is why professional irrigation sprinkler systems have become so popular.

When it comes to watering, more isn’t necessarily better. A professional irrigation sprinkler system that targets the right areas might be a great solution to look into. But in the meantime, to help you water in the most efficient way (for your plants, your budget, and the environment) we’ve put together our 8 top watering tips:

1. Don’t Water Too Often

Healthy plants require healthy roots—and watering too often is inefficient for the root system. Allowing the roots to dry out a little before watering encourages their growth, which makes for healthier plants. So, don’t water everyday (unless it’s one of our scorching hot Philly summer days, and the earth is bone dry). Generally, watering 2-3 times a week is plenty.

2. Water Well

The above point recommends not watering everyday (especially for flower beds), but when you’re watering a few days a week, be sure to water thoroughly—although don’t create an impromptu swimming pool.

3. Time your Watering

Whether you’re standing there with a hose or have an automatic irrigation sprinkler system, time your watering correctly. Ideally, you want to water early in the morning or late in the evening. Avoiding watering midday will keep the majority of the water from evaporating, and you’ll keep your leaves from burning.

4. Avoid Watering the Leaves

Watering the leaves instead of the base/roots of the plant can keep them from burning, but it will also encourage mold and plant diseases. Plant diseases thrive in hot, moist environments—especially on the leaves themselves.

5. Don’t Water All at Once

If you have plants that require a large quantity of water, it’s better to water them in parts. So water the flowerbed, then move on to another section. Once the water has seeped into the soil you can return to water the flowerbed again.

6. Water Distribution

Be mindful of where you’re watering plants, as continually watering one side over the other will encourage lop-sided root growth. Lop-sided roots disrupt healthy nutrient absorption.

7. Use Moisture Sensors

If you want to be a high-tech, environmentally-conscious gardener, you can install water sensors that will alert you to the right density of water. Installing these on existing irrigation systems can make a big difference on your water bill (although it will take some time for them to ‘pay for themselves’).

8. Never Ever Over Water

More truly isn’t better with garden watering. Overwatering, aka ‘waterlogging,’ can deprive the roots of much-needed oxygen. Roots can drown in water.

Proper watering can enhance an already beautiful garden. If your garden and overall landscaping is lackluster, then call the pros here at Blue Tree Landscaping. Our professional landscapers in the Philadelphia area can help you plan your garden with the right plants for specific locations based on sun patterns, drainage, and a number of other critical factors.

Irrigation systems mean less work and higher payoffs!

Blue Tree LandscapingSummer is supposed to be a time of relaxation. It’s also supposed to be a time of beauty, with gardens of vibrant reds, blues, yellows and greens in full bloom. Cultivating that beautiful garden, however, can be quite the hassle. Not only is routine watering necessary, but you also have to prepare for droughts and periods of higher-than-average heat.

At Blue Tree Landscaping, we want you to have both the beauty and the relaxation. One way you can reduce your gardening workload is to invest in an automated irrigation system.

Just the right amount

“The more the merrier” does not apply when it comes to watering your plants. Too often, above ground and manual irrigation methods oversaturate your garden. Just as destructive as forgetting to water the plants, though, is is watering too often. This can deplete the plants’ nutrients as they get lost with the run-off. On the other hand, you can calibrate your irrigation system to water the right part of the plant with the right size water droplet. As opposed to the spray of a hose, irrigation systems spread smaller water droplets that can hit the roots instead of the leaves. This is key, as standing moisture on the leaves fosters diseases, while large water droplets can compact the soil and damage the roots.

Of course, watering too much also means wasting your time. With some simple planning, you can set up an automated watering routine with your irrigation system tailored to your specific watering needs.

Less water, less money, more value

Time is money, and so is water. As mentioned, a properly calibrated irrigation system cuts water usage in two ways: the frequency of the watering and the size of the water droplet. The more efficient your irrigation system, the more efficient your budget. It’s as simple as that. In addition, implementing an irrigation system also creates value for your property.

Proper installation with Blue Tree

Installing an efficient irrigation system is no small task. More goes into the design than you might think. Ensuring uniform watering requires appropriate spacing, and this can only be achieved with an accurate analysis of your lawn or garden’s needs.

Efficiency isn’t the only goal, however. Safety is a big concern when it comes to irrigation system installation, as electronic sensors and timers are critical components of any irrigation system.

Thankfully, Blue Tree has a team of experts ready to safely and efficiently install your irrigation system. Call us today to discuss your lawn’s unique needs!

April is the Perfect Time to Plant

April - Perfect Time to PlantWith the beginning of April comes warmer air, sunnier days, and melting snow. It marks the very beginning of springtime and is the perfect window to plant new trees and shrubs. April is known to be a rainy month, which may not be ideal weather for most, but it’s perfect conditions for Blue Tree Landscaping to prepare your lawn for a rich, full, and green Philadelphia summer.

Why you should start now

It’s important to keep your lawn and garden as lively and healthy as possible. An early start means more time for your trees, shrubs, and flowers to bloom and look full throughout the summer. Because of the rain, the ground will be soft enough to easily turn the soil in order to plant bulbs, baby trees, and transplant potted plants. The warming weather makes it easier for the plants to quickly take root and grow strong, as the ground is no longer frozen. And don’t worry about the cold: on average, the last date for frost is in April, so your plants will not be too harmed by the weather. Although frost and cold are still concerns this month, trees and shrubs planted at this time will not be harmed.

What to plant

Different kinds of plants thrive at different times during the spring and summer, so not everything will be quite ready for planting in April. April is the perfect month to prune evergreens, plant annuals like snapdragons and marigolds, and plant dahlias and lilies toward the end of the month. It’s also a good time to tend to your lawn by seeding and sodding the grass after this long, tough winter. If you’re not sure what you need to do to your lawn, or what would look the best, just leave it to us. We can discuss the best options depending on your space, soil, and sun exposure.

How we can help

Blue Tree Landscaping can expertly plant your trees, shrubs, flowers, and other vegetation. If you don’t have a green thumb or the time to devote to planting, it doesn’t have to reflect on your yard or your garden. As talented landscapers, we can revive your lawn for spring and design a view you’d look forward to seeing every day. Our landscapers based in the Philadelphia area know what you need this spring to make a true impression that lasts through the entire summer.

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.

Snow Removal Guide

Shovel Snow Safely with Tips from Blue TreeIt may seem like summer was only a few weeks ago, but the freezing temperatures and consistent snowfall of winter are just around the corner. And what’s one of the least appealing parts of winter? Clearing away all of that snow! Here are some tips for making the process of snow-removal a bit easier and more appealing when using one of the three most popular methods.

Shoveling

It’s best to treat shoveling snow like any athletic activity and stretch beforehand! This will decrease the likelihood of developing cramps and/or soreness later that day. Additionally, try to simply push the snow instead of lifting it, and buy a shovel with a curved handle to prevent back problems. When choosing where to pile snow, remember that another storm is likely in the future, so leave some empty space around your driveway for future shoveling endeavors.

Finally, remember to take breaks throughout, and stay hydrated!

Snowblowing

If you have a large driveway or simply don’t feel like spending hours shoveling every time a snow storm hits your area, and you don’t have a snowblower already, you may want to consider investing in one. When you first take it out after a blizzard or snowstorm, pick a safe spot (or two) that is far away from your house to blow the snow into. Then, adjust the chute to face the area. If possible, snow blow with the wind instead of against it so as to prevent excess snow from flurrying back into areas you’ve already cleared.

Using Ice Melt

A great way to combat the dangers of snowstorms while simultaneously cutting down on your shoveling and maintenance time is to apply ice melt to your driveways and and sidewalks before a storm. If you own a commercial property, ice melt is particularly advantageous. Apply ice melt to all pertinent areas around your business or home in advance; this will make it easier to rid surfaces of ice afterwards through shoveling and additional ice melt. Carbonyl Diamide, Potassium Chloride, and Sodium Chloride are all types of ice melt that perform best at temperatures between 20℉ and 30℉, a common range for below-freezing weather in the Philadelphia area. However, be sure to research which kind of ice melt is best for you before using it. Certain types are more likely to cause damage to concrete or vegetation, may be unsafe for pets, or may require you to wear gloves while applying.

Choosing the Right Sod for Your Yard

Get a Green Lawn with SodSod, or “turf,” is what most lawns are made of. It is a dense, pre-grown layer of grass and soil, held together by a tangle of roots. It can be installed in large sheets like a carpet. Dozens of varieties are available, each with unique pros and cons. When it comes to which variety you should choose, there is no “one size fits all” answer, and the decision often boils down to personal preference. Still, certain types of sod will fit your yard’s features better than others will. Making the right choice means knowing the options, and understanding the tradeoffs.

Bermudagrass

If you want to picture Bermudagrass, think golf courses and suburban developments. Imported from Bermuda but native to the Middle East, Bermudagrass is available in several strains, which vary in color and texture. All yield the same perfectly manicured look. The catch: all Bermudagrass strains are “invasive,” tending to spread where they’re not wanted. They also do poorly in the shade. Bermudagrass is a great choice for open lawns, but has mixed performance around trees and in wooded areas.

Centipedegrass

The perfect compromise between “wild” and “ordered,” Centipedegrass thrives in warm weather and grows wild in Southeast Asia, though many newly created strains are able to hold up to colder weather. It is noted for its resilience, and keeps its characteristic bright-green hue well into the fall. Named for its rows of identical blades, it resembles a gently disordered carpet up close, and requires little maintenance.

Bluegrass

Neither truly blue nor musical, Bluegrass is still a popular choice in cold or dry regions. Bred for drought resistance and water conservation at the University of Nebraska, it can grow in sand, clay, and marshes. Overall, it may be the toughest breed out there. Further padding its resume, it tends to grow horizontally, and tops out at four inches. This makes regular mowing unnecessary. Those who choose Bluegrass will have little to be blue about.

Fescue grass

Fescue grass is perfect for seasonal climates as it is more than able to withstand cold temperatures. It is available in variable heights and colors, all of which can tolerate sustained cold and shade. This allows fescue to thrive in all temperate and northern US climates. Why it wasn’t named “rescue” grass is beyond us.

 

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Blue Tree LandscapingPruning trees and shrubs are not only good for the appearance of your home and yard, but it can benefit the safety of your family and also keep up with the health of your plants. There are a lot of reasons to prune and trim your trees.

There is also a lot that goes into the process. Should you do it yourself or get a company to help? Should you trim a little or prune a whole lot?

The Benefits of Pruning

You can shape your trees and shrubs by trimming down the branches that are too long or gangly. That’s the obvious benefit of pruning, but you can also use it to help shape the way your tree grows. This can be a little tricky, but if you pay attention to the way your tree naturally grows, you can encourage your tree or shrub to grow the way you want.

Besides shaping, pruning can be really important for the safety of your family. If you neglect dead or broken branches, they could easily fall on someone or something and cause injury or damage.

Additionally, branches can sometimes block the view when pulling out of a driveway, which is dangerous. The best way to avoid these issues from happening is to take preventative measures by trimming and pruning before these branches become a problem.

Finally, pruning can encourage healthy growth in your trees. When you trim off the dead and diseased branches, the tree has room to regrow healthy branches without the disease continuing to spread. It also opens up the healthy branches and leaves to get sunlight more easily. The best way to keep your trees healthy is to make sure they stay trimmed.

The Basic Strategy for Pruning

1. Cut off all of the dead, diseased, broken, and rotten branches. This will ensure the health of your tree and make it look so much better in a small amount of time. This also opens up your tree or shrub, so you may be happy with the result after just this first step.

2. If you want to train your tree’s growth, you have to trim the branches and encourage growth where you want it. In order to make this work, you have to work with the natural growth patterns.

3. Now just make some corrective trims and step back to admire your work. If you cut off a lot of branches, it may be a long time before you will want to prune again.

Should You Prune Yourself or Hire a Professional?

Pruning is difficult and a little dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. It also requires equipment and tools. If you don’t have these tools, or if you don’t know how to use them confidently, then you shouldn’t try to do this yourself. You don’t want to fall off a ladder while holding a saw.

Besides, you don’t need to prune very often if it’s done well, so you’ll only have to pay for it about once a year. So if you don’t already have the skills and tools for pruning, it’s a good idea to either safely learn or splurge and hire a professional.