Tag Archives: fall landscaping

Make Your Yard Kid-Friendly This Spring


Make Your Yard Kid-Friendly This Spring

With the changing weather, it’s time to start sending the kids outside to play again. If it’s time to renovate your back or front yard, taking the kids into consideration for remodels is a wise decision. Make sure all the corners and surfaces are ready for whatever rambunctious activity they come up with next!

Consider the Materials

Sometimes the location of backyard attributes is less important than the materials that make them up. Installing grass or turf in place of a harder surface is not only a safer option, but it can also be a more aesthetic one. Larger backyards can often incorporate both beautiful views and utility so that kids and parents are both happy!

Patios and walkways also make great additions to any spacious yard, and a little bit of sidewalk chalk can provide non-toxic fun close to home. When the sun goes down, patios also offer perfect surfaces for meals and events. Install lights and comfortable furniture to ensure that every family member is cozy and enjoying themselves when using the patio.

Account for Basic Safety

The appearance of your yard is important, but what happens under and behind surfaces can be pivotal to the overall structure. Always check for damages and general wear-and-tear caused by natural — and human — influences. Water damage and loose parts can cause problems, especially after the winter months, and taking that into consideration will ensure that your yard is safe.

Investing in snow removal services and any efforts to promote general upkeep are a must for conscientious parents and grandparents. Take care of any impending repairs before diving into any major changes to your yard.

Fence it in

If you have children who like sports, craft them a makeshift field by installing a fence that will enclose their play space and offer the privacy you desire. Not only will they have room to call their own, but balls and toys are less likely end up on the other side of the wall, or in the neighbor’s backyard.

Look into investing in a fence for your pool as well; especially with younger children. It will serve as added protection from falling or water incidents that can cause serious harm. This applies to pets too!

Start Today

Get ready for a spring makeover with Blue Tree Landscaping! Contact our team of experts to get a quote on brand-new amenities for your backyard. Whether you have basic commercial landscaping needs or need help with pool installation or lawn care, let us help you optimize your backyard for every family member.

Everything You Should Know About Planting in the Fall

Everything You Should Know About Planting in the Fall

Early fall is a great time to add new plants to your yard or garden. You’ll want to plan out what you’re going to plant long before your area will experience an intense frost so that your plants have time to root. The fall offers a great climate for your plants to grow, in addition to a more pleasant environment for you to work in. The following are all of the items you should plant this season.

Plant Vegetables in Your Garden

There are many vegetables that should be planted during cooler weather, such as different types of lettuce, salad greens like kale or spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes, and cauliflower. Most of these vegetables should be planted as early in the fall as possible, or even in the late summer. So, make sure to check the seed packet before starting. Types of garlic and onion, for example, can be planted in the fall to be harvested in the spring or summer. This is also a great time to plant many types of herbs, like basil.

Plant Flowers for Spring

Now is the best time to plant flowers that will bloom in the spring. Unlike planting in the spring, when the ground is still cold from the winter, planting in the fall allows the flowers to root while the ground is still warm. Perennial flowers, like tulips, black-eyed Susans, pansies, peonies, and daffodils, are all great choices to plant now. This is also a good time to plant roses. Come springtime, you will have a beautiful array of flowers in your yard.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

It is also beneficial for trees and shrubs to take root while the ground is still warm. Trees and shrubs with fall colors — such as deep reds, oranges, and yellows — would be a great addition to your yard. Try planting a Japanese maple tree in your front yard to spruce up your landscaping. This is also a good time to plant larger trees, such as various types of maple or pine trees.

Make Your Yard Stand Out

Landscaping is a key component to making your yard stand out. Combined with hardscaping, landscaping your yard helps you to make the most of your outdoor space. Contact Blue Tree Landscaping to transform your yard into the manicured lawn you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you have an idea in mind or need help brainstorming, Blue Tree will help you every step of the way.

Everything You Need to Know About Swales

Image result for swale pictures

Everything You Need to Know About Swales

If you live in an area that receives a lot of rain or heavy storms, it is a good idea to add a swale to your yard. Read further to learn about what swales are and how they can help make your yard self-sufficient — and even prevent flooding.

What Are Swales?

A swale can be naturally occurring or man-made. It is a low, trench-like stretch of land in your yard that helps excess water to be absorbed by the soil, as opposed to pooling on or flooding out of your yard. Your soil’s ability to hold a lot of water at once makes this an effective method for water management. A swale will allow the soil to slowly absorb and redistribute the excess water to where it is needed most.

Typically, swales are constructed to manage water runoff from heavy rain. During a storm, a swale can help control excessive amounts of water in order to prevent flooding. Swales are an easier, cheaper, and more efficient way to catch excess rainwater in your yard, in comparison to other man-made alternatives.

In addition to flooding prevention, swales are often designed to irrigate specific areas of your yard, such as a garden. The excess water in the soil will also attract microorganisms that will help fertilize your yard. Both of these benefits will help to make your yard self-sufficient and maintain its ideal state. But in order to get the most out of your swale, you will need to keep the area as cool and wet as possible. This can be achieved by ensuring that there are shady plants nearby and covering the area with mulch.

Where to Build a Swale

Before building a swale, you’ll need to decide the best location for it. Keep in mind that swales should not be constructed too close to a building. In addition, swales can be different sizes depending on your needs and the amount of rainfall. You’ll want to take note of the terrain, how much rainwater you typically get, where excess water tends to enter and leave your yard, and whether or not you want to use the excess water to irrigate certain areas of your yard, among other factors.

The Next Step

Contact Blue Tree Landscaping to further discuss swale location, construction, and management, in addition to all of your other lawn care needs. From landscaping to hardscaping to installing in ground pools, Blue Tree takes care of it all. They’ll design, construct, and maintain your ideal outdoor space — all year round.

Why You Need Different Kinds of Soil While Landscaping

6 tips for growing vebetablesAutumn in America can mean many things to Americans. Football season is back. Apple picking is now the go-to weekend activity. And there is still time to plant crops like beets and broccoli. However, there’s more to seasonal gardening than just knowing what types of produce should be harvested at this time of year. The type of soil you plant your crops in matters almost as much as the crops themselves.

Below, we’ll discuss the properties of each kind of soil, and what conditions they’re best utilized in.

Sandy Soil 

Sandy soil behaves quite similarly to the beachy landscapes its name is derived from: it’s dry and gritty to the touch, and, because it is comprised of large particles, it doesn’t retain much water. Moreover, like the sand found on beaches, sandy soil gets heated up rapidly compared to the surrounding environment. While this means sandy soil is far from ideal for summer gardening, this light soil is great for springtime planting.

Silty Soil 

Silty soils is far smoother than sandy soil, and is much less coarse to the touch. This means that, unlike sandy soil, it will hold a far greater quantity of water. When moistened, silty soil will take on an almost soapy texture due to the water it retains. Of course, this water capacity comes at the expense of soil nutrients, and the soil should not be stepped on, as that will affect its aeration. Silty soil is ideal for agricultural uses at all types of the year, given ideal conditions are present.

Clay 

Out of the soils on this list, clay has the smallest sized particles. This means that clay can hold greater volumes of water than the other soils on this list, which makes clay among the densest and heaviest of soil types. Moreover, since it drains more slowly than all other soil types, clay retains nutrients for long stretches of time, which are ideal for plant growth. Clay soil is best used during the fall and spring, as summer weather can make clay very dry and heavy.

Peaty Soil 

Peaty soil, like moss or lichen, is soft to the touch, and is very rich in nutrients and organic material. In fact, much of the peaty soil around today formed during the last 9,000 years, as plants submerged as melting glaciers slowly decomposed. Once drained of excess water, peaty soil is a great growing medium in most climates. However, peaty soil should be avoided during the summer months, as it is highly combustible. Additionally, peaty soil typically contains a high pH, which, while detrimental for some plants to grow, can help regulate diseases in the soil thanks to its acidic composition.

Loam 

The type of soil that gardens and gardeners love is loamy soil. It contains an ideal balance of silt, sand, clay, and humus. Because of its high organic matter content, loam contains a high pH and a high amount of calcium. Loam does a great job of retaining water and plant nutrients, but isn’t difficult to drain, as air moves freely between soil particles down to the roots.

Although loamy soil is the ideal material to work with, don’t despair if you don’t have it in your garden. That’s because soil will always favor one particle’s size over the two others. Then again, there are many ways to condition your soil, and, depending on the unique composition of your land, loam can still yield verdant grassy lawns, delicious vegetables, or bountiful harvests.

If you’d like professional help deciding which soils to use, contact Blue Tree Landscaping for advice. Blue Tree will also assist with picking the right plants for your yard so that you can create a healthy and aesthetically pleasing space.

Find Your Ideal Front Walkway

hardscaping-09How to Find and Create Your Ideal Front Walkway

We all use some sort of pathway to enter our homes, whether that involves an existing walkway or cutting through the yard to get inside. Hardscaping your yard, in addition to landscaping, will not only increase your home’s curb appeal, but also make your home a more inviting place for you and your guests.

Functional Hardscaping is Key

The term hardscaping refers to the “hard,” non-living materials used to create and define your outdoor space. This includes walkways, patios, and decks. Hardscaping helps you to appreciate and enjoy your outdoor space, in addition to making that space easier to navigate. This is crucial for a walkway. The walkway should be both visually appealing and functional. Your walkway should follow the natural pathway you or your guests might use to enter your home. The walkway might connect the sidewalk or street to your front door, or it might connect your driveway to the front door. It all depends on your needs.

Consider Your Space

Once you have an idea in mind of where your walkway should be, you should next consider the space you have to work with. A walkway should compliment your home, your outdoor space, and your landscaping. Factors to consider include the size and shape of your lawn and home, the materials and style of the home, any existing trees or plants that you want to keep, and any places where you might want to add large plants. When deciding the shape, width, and placement of your walkway, always keep the above factors in mind.

Design and Materials

Your pathway should be wide enough for one or two people to walk on it comfortably. Walkways that meet this requirement generally range from 3 to 5 feet wide, depending on the size of your home. A larger home, or a home with two front doors, will call for a larger walkway. As for the shape of your walkway, it could be either straight or curved. However, you don’t want the walkway to involve too many curves — more than one or two curves might tempt you and your guests to stray from the walkway, making it functionally useless. As for the material for your walkway, consider the style of your home. Stone and brick are both popular and versatile walkway materials, but a brick walkway would not necessarily compliment a “modern” home.

The Next Step

Blue Tree Landscaping will help you to actualize the transformation of your outdoor space. Contact Blue Tree for all of your hardscaping, landscaping, and lawn care needs. Whether you have specific ideas in mind or need help brainstorming, designing, and creating your space, Blue Tree is here to help during every step.

How to Choose the Best Color Scheme for Your Yard

flower-bed-ideas-4How to Choose the Best Color Scheme for Your Yard

Once you’ve mastered interior decorating for your home, why not try exterior decorating? Whether you have yet to hire a landscaping service for your yard, or have already transformed your yard, you’re ready to think about the next step: choosing a color scheme and design aesthetic for your outdoor space. Think of your yard as an extension of your home. You want it to be a welcoming place, somewhere to entertain your friends and family, or a relaxing place to soak up some vitamin D. The right color scheme for your yard will make your space that much more enjoyable.

Before you choose a color scheme, think about your color preferences. Color can greatly affect our mood; we generally have colors that we strongly like and dislike. In addition, think about the colors in your yard and how they will pair with your outdoor space. Red flowers pair well with taupe furniture, for example, but not so well with red furniture. The following are some ideas on how to choose a color scheme for your yard:

A Modern Option

If you’re a fan of bright colors and want your outdoor space to feel vibrant and ready for nighttime entertaining, color blocking might be a trend to keep in mind. This trend focuses on pairing bright shades of opposite colors. Try pairing purples and greens or oranges and blues for a bold look.

 A Cohesive Variety

If your home is a collection of fabrics from your travels, knickknacks, and family heirlooms, then an eclectic color scheme for your backyard might be the perfect extension of your home. Look for mismatched patterns, fabrics, and materials with a variety of bright and neutral colors.

 Keep Minimalism in Mind

When in doubt, consider a minimalist approach, such as a neutral color that compliments the color of your home and your patio. This will help to make the shades of your garden and pool really “pop.” Feel like that’s a little too plain? Consider a neutral striped pattern for your patio furniture, or a bright accent color, such as red or orange. Or, if you’re into more of the relaxed ambiance of the ocean, try mixing in some pale blue or turquoise as an accent color.

Time to Get Started

If you still haven’t hired a landscaping service, contact Blue Tree Landscaping today. Blue Tree will help you to create and maintain your dream outdoor space so that you can get the most out of your yard.

End of Summer Maintenance for Your Yard

img_4109

Yard Maintenance for the End of the Summer

When summer is at a close, it can be tempting to sit on the patio and enjoy the last bit of the season. But don’t stop now. There’s still yard work to tackle in order to ensure the very best start to the season the next year.

 Path Maintenance

All those walkways and footpaths have received a lot of use this year. Keep them going the next year, and avoid a winter spill, with a bit of maintenance now. Look over any bricks, pavers, and stones for cracks or slips. Adjust the paths as necessary, replacing any broken pieces.

 Lawn Care

It’s not over yet. Keep mowing and maintaining your grass to help it stay healthy. For the last mowing or two of the year, be sure to drop the mower blade. This way, more sunlight can get through, ensuring a healthier lawn. While you’re at it, this is a great time to aerate your yard. Aeration allows water, oxygen, and fertilizer easier access to your lawn’s roots.

 Problem Areas

Is the grass patchy in one area? Does your lawn need fertilizer? Assess the condition of your yard now and deal with it accordingly. Determine your grass type to decide on the optimal time to fertilize it. Plant grass seed to fix any sketchy areas so it has time to take root before snow hits.

 Playtime is Over

As the weather starts to cool down, put away any unused children’s toys. Store them indoors, or outdoors in specially made bins built to withstand the elements. Grab the rakes, shovels, and any other landscaping tools lying around the yard. Instead of just shoving them in the garage until next year, clean them up, polish them off, and make sure you get the dirt off of them to avoid wintertime erosion. Get rid of anything that won’t survive another season, and add it to your list of things needed for next year so you won’t forget (and take advantage of season’s end sales while you’re at it).

 Rake It Up

Piles of leaves in the yard may be fun to jump in, but they don’t do anything for your landscape. To avoid suffocating your grass, and any plants or flowers in the area, be sure to quickly rake up and remove any falling leaves before they become a wet, soggy problem.

 Avoid procrastinating over your late summer yard maintenance. With just a bit of work, you can ensure a beautiful, lush lawn for the next season. Send in the professionals for a spotless yard without the work. Call Blue Tree Landscaping, the one-stop-shop for everything lawn care (and pools), to get your yard in great shape tomorrow.

Keep Color in Your Garden During the Coldest Days of Winter

keep color in your gardeSeasons come and go, but when it comes to your overall garden and landscape design, your home doesn’t have to be colorless and devoid of healthy plant life during the winter. Keeping your garden full of color and looking good year-round, especially in comparison to some of your neighbors’ yards, isn’t as hard as it seems.

Whether you are looking for someone to come in and completely overhaul your garden, install an underground sprinkler system, or just provide tips on gardening and lawn care, Blue Tree Landscaping has got you covered. To give you a bit of a head start on what will survive, if not thrive, during a Pennsylvania winter, here are three plants that would look great in your garden.

Red Sprite Winterberry Holly

This type of Holly is native to the region and can grow to be 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. It’s a rounded shrub that produces bright red fruits (berries) in the winter, and it’s definitely eye-catching. The berries will attract a variety of birds, but are of no interest to deer during any season. You’ll want to plant this in full sun and slightly acidic, moist soil. Because of its hardiness, it won’t require constant pruning or care.

Winter Jasmine

This perennial will bloom with bright yellow flowers during January and February. It can grow up to 4 feet high and 4-7 feet wide, and can be somewhat difficult to contain because it tends to take root wherever it touches the ground. In fact, winter jasmine can act as a windy vine if supported, or as a shrub if not. If you decide to add this lively plant to your yard, be sure to prune it regularly. Or, if you’re looking to cover a large area in your yard, let it grow unhampered for a while!

Camelia

Arguably one of the most popular of winter plants, this evergreen will bloom from fall to early spring. It’s a bit of a show-off in how brightly colored its rose-like petals are, especially in contrast to other plants included in a winter garden, and it acts as a beautiful backdrop to a snowy yard. Plant it in a partially shaded area where there is protection from strong winds.

 

How to Protect Your Plants and Trees from Cold Weather

How to Protect Your Plants and Trees from Cold WeatherOur cold Philadelphia winters aren’t just hard on us—they’re hard on our gardens and landscaping too! But despite the hardship many plants, trees, and shrubs endure over the winter, all is not lost, and you needn’t surrender your garden design to the low temperatures.

How to Protect your Plants and Trees from Cold Weather

Each type of garden life will react differently to winter—particularly trees, shrubs, and plants. So let’s look at each aspect of your garden design individually…

Trees

Trees are some of nature’s heartier plants, which means they weather winter quite well for the most part. Trees meant for warm weather, however, will require specific care and should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

While trees generally do well over winter, they do have a couple of weak spots that you can help them with—most notably root injury and frost heaving. Root injury occurs when frost penetrates the ground deep enough to damage the roots of the tree. You can give your trees a hand by using mulch, which acts as an insulator to (somewhat) protect the roots. If you have a freshly planted or transplanted tree, mulch can help protect the roots from any gaps in the backfilling.

The other issue with trees in winter is frost heaving, which is caused by freezing and thawing (making the soil expand and contract). Adding a layer of mulch, 4 to 6 inches deep, can help maintain a more steady temperature and prevent the heaving action.

So the answer to protecting trees in winter is, in many cases, mulch.

If your trees are damaged already from frost, don’t prune until they’re healthy again, and cover any areas where bark has been removed.

Shrubs

There is a fairly easy way to protect shrubs from frost: cover them with a blanket. While this isn’t practical for the entire winter, it can help in a flash frost in fall or spring.

Plants

This category is extremely broad, so we’ll try to cover as much as we can. However for fickle plants, especially warm-weather plants, you’ll need to consult their specific cold-weather rules.

Unfortunately, some plants simply aren’t designed to make it through the winter, especially less hearty species. Plants especially vulnerable to frost can be dug up, potted, and brought in doors. Similarly, plants with bulbs can be dug up, and the bulbs can be stored for the winter in a cool, dry place.

If the first frost is impending but hasn’t hit yet, thoroughly water your plants before they frost or freeze. This will give them a layer of insulating water and help collapse any air tunnels (which lets frost get to the roots).


Professional Winter Prep

If you’ve spent ample time and money on your garden design and want to ensure that it makes it through the winter and is resplendent for spring—contact us. Our professionals here at Blue Tree can help you prepare your garden design for winter…and beyond.

6 Steps to Prep Your Yard for Winter

6 Steps ro Prep Your Yard for WinterYour yard and landscape design should be put to rest for winter in the same loving way you put a child to bed…with careful planning and a soothing touch. After all, it’s about to lay dormant for months while fighting off the pings of frost.

Luckily, prepping your landscape design for the cold winter isn’t difficult—it just takes a little planning and some elbow grease.

How to Prep Your Yard for Winter

Prepping your yard for winter can be accomplished in 6 (relatively) simple steps…

1. Mow Your Lawn

Many Philadelphia residents give the lawn a last mowing based on a somewhat arbitrary date, generally around the time it gets cold. But our cold-season grasses like bluegrass and fescue will continue growing through the cold, albeit at a slower pace. Continue mowing until the ground is frozen (though with the slowed growth you’ll only need to mow every two weeks). Keeping the grass short before snowfall will help prevent fungal growth.

2. Remove Some Debris

Removing all leaves and natural debris isn’t required, as they can provide excellent ground cover and fertilizer. However, having said that, look for larger clumps and remove them to prevent your lawn from being smothered.

3. Aerate

Aeration (creating little holes in your lawn) will help uncompact your lawn and provide it with much-needed oxygen. While it shouldn’t be done willy-nilly (over aerating has no value), it proves exceedingly useful if you have lawn clippings or other natural debris that are more than half an inch deep.

4. Fertilize—for Winter

In the springtime, lawns can be fertilized with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to promote quick growth. In winter, however, you want the exact opposite…slow growth. Look for a fertilizer with potassium to slow lawn growth but still leave the soil ready for spring blooms.

5. Don’t Prune the Perennials

Many homeowners prune back their perennials in the fall in preparation for spring. We say leave them be. Letting them finish their natural growth cycle is a powerful way to let their energy reserves store up.

6. Control your Weeds

Fall is the best time to control weeds—especially those that prey on your perennials. By spraying for weeds in the fall you disrupt their natural growth cycle, causing them to die over winter without having the energy required to reboot in the spring.

 

With a little elbow grease your landscape design will be ready to hibernate over winter—and bloom brilliantly in the spring.

If in the spring you decide that your landscape design could use a little sprucing up, give us a call here at Blue Tree Landscaping. Our hardscaping, garden designs, and other elements can give your yard that extra oomph it needs.