Monthly Archives: August 2015

The 6 Best Plants for Fall Colors

Fall Color Ideas from Blue Tree LandscapingFall colors make the end of summer and the looming winter all worthwhile. But while the leaves on trees naturally turn colors in the fall, most instances of fall colors in home gardens are planned.

To help ensure that you enjoy rich hues of red, yellow, and orange this fall, here are 6 plants to leverage in your garden design:

1. Dogwood

This beautiful plant is popular for its summer flowering shades of white and pink, but it has so much more to offer. In the fall, it produces stunning purple/red shades that provide that rich, deep color that you look for in autumn. Dogwood is best planted in areas that are reasonably moist, but in soil that has decent drainage.

2. Chokeberry

Chokeberry is another popular favorite that is beautiful across multiple seasons. Springtime brings delicate white flowers that grow into red fruit in late summer, and then in fall the chokeberry produces brilliantly colored orange and red foliage. You can plant it almost anywhere, but keep garden design space in mind as it can grow up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

3. Amur Maple

Maple colors are an iconic part of fall, and the Amur maple provides just these famous shades. This small tree (or large shrub, depending on how you prune it) offers bright and rich red leaves in the fall. Be sure to prune the Amur maple back though, as it can grow up to 25 feet tall.

4. Sumac

Sumac is widely known for two of its characteristics: its bright red foliage in the fall and its year-round heartiness. Incorporate this fall beauty into your garden design carefully though, as it spreads extremely easily. Its ability to spread quickly makes sumac a tough plant for small spaces.

5. Serviceberry

Serviceberry is another multi-season favorite, offering white flowers in the spring, scrumptious summer fruits, and lovely orange/red leaves come fall. This plant can grow up to 20 feet tall without pruning.

6. Fothergilla

Fothergilla is one of those underused plants that simply doesn’t get enough glory. This relatively hearty shrub offers honey-scented flowers combined with deep blue/green leaves in the spring (and part of summer), and then turns into a cascade of orange and gold in the fall. It can grow up to 6 feet in height but can be pruned smaller for small landscape design spaces.


Multi-Season Garden Design

Fall is but one of our beautiful Philly gardening seasons. So while planting for fall is a great idea to extend quality outdoor time further, it shouldn’t be your only concern. An ideal landscape design will incorporate and carefully place plants across your garden that will offer you beauty across all seasons. It’s an art of course, and one that takes experience and knowledge. Let our background in seasonal planting work for you—give us a call here at Blue Tree Landscaping today.

13 Shrubs to Plant for More Privacy

13 shrubsIf you’re the proud owner of a beautiful backyard, chances are you like showing it off to your family and friends. However, despite that desire to showcase your yard, you likely don’t want neighbors and passerbyers to be able to peer in at any time.

Shrubs planted with privacy in mind can be a great investment for your garden design. And while they require more care than fences do, they also offer more natural beauty.

In addition to selecting the right size shrubs for your needs, you’ll want to carefully consider how fast growing you would like them to be. While shrubs that grow very quickly are great to create an initial barrier, they will require more pruning over time. So, you have a choice between faster initial growth and higher long-term workload, or slower initial growth and lower long-term workload.

Privacy Shrubs by Growth Speed

To help you pick the right shrubs for your garden design, here is a list of shrubs based on their growth speeds:

Slow-Growing Shrubs

  •  Berckman’s Golden Arborvitae- a densely-branched shrub that grows to about five feet and requires little to no pruning
  • Camellia Japonica- a large, flowering evergreen-style shrub that can grow up to 20 feet.
  • Emerald Arborvitae- a 15-foot evergreen that requires little to no pruning
  • Japanese Yew- a unique column-shaped shrub that is extremely tall, growing 30 feet or more
  • Saucer Magnolia- a deciduous beauty that offers great privacy when installed in groups and can grow up to 30 feet (if it isn’t pruned).

Shrubs with Intermediate Growth Speeds

  • Dense Yew- a six-foot-tall shrub that provides great privacy due to its dense branches.
  • French Lilac- This medium-height shrub grows from 8 to 14 feet in height and produces fragrant blooms. It will require pruning to keep it from getting too wide and too round.
  • Savannah Holly- an evergreen shrub that grows between 8 and 12 feet in height and between 6 to 8 feet in width. It can be pruned as desired, but doesn’t require it.
  • Sweet Olive- This evergreen shrub grows up to 10 feet in height and up to 8 feet in width. Its broad leaves and dense branches make it popular for a privacy fence and its small, white, apricot-scented blooms make it more popular still in garden design.

 Fast-Growing Shrubs 

  • Dwarf Pink Almond- This deciduous variety grows only up to 5 feet in height. It offers beautiful double-pink blossoms and requires pruning after its blooming cycle.
  • Forsythia- This super-tall shrub can reach 30 feet in height if not pruned…and a whopping 20 feet wide! In the spring season it will bloom with ample small yellow flowers.
  • Nikko Blue Hydrangea- this shrub is known for its blue-colored, snowball-shaped blossoms and can grow up to 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
  • Red Twig Dogwood- a deciduous bush that grows up to 8 feet tall and blooms creamy white flowers during the summer months.

  Privacy Fence Shrub Designs

If you’re looking for an entire landscape design that includes privacy shrubs—or for hard workers to plant the shrubs—look no further. Call us here at Blue Tree Landscaping for expert advice and help!

How to Plan for Late Summer & Early Fall Planting

Late Summer PlantsWith the late summer malaise that encourages us all to relax and relish in the landscape design beauty that we’ve built, don’t forget about late summer/early fall planting. Keeping your garden and landscape design in mind even during these late season months will help your plants spring up beautifully after the winter thaw.

 What to Plant in August & Fall

Late summer and fall planting is significantly different from spring and summer planting. Instead of selecting flowers and vegetables that will spring up over the coming months, you’re planting quickly-sprouting vegetables and plants that will hibernate over the winter and sprout in the spring. You also need to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in your landscape design planning.

To help point you in the right direction, consider the following factors when planting in the late summer and early fall:


Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs for next year. By allowing them to lay dormant over the winter, you’ll get beautiful blooms in the spring after the winter thaw. If you don’t plant bulbs now, then they won’t bloom in the spring, as dormancy is part of their blooming cycle.

 Be a Pansy

Late summer is also a great time for planting pansies. By planting them now, you’ll get a late fall bloom, and then another beautiful bloom in the spring. This means you’ll get double your money from these long-time gardening favorites.

To help the pansies bloom as successfully as possible, you’ll want to remove any dying non-perennials around them, giving them room to roost. If you have a mulcher, consider adding a layer of mulch to help prevent thaws and refreezes from damaging the early growth cycle of these (and other) plants.

 Cool-Weather Veggies

If you spent all summer saying ‘next year I’ll plant a veggie garden,’ it isn’t too late! August is a great time to plant cool-weather veggies like broccoli, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, chards, and more. If you haven’t germinated seeds yet, you’ll want to count back from the upcoming frost date to ensure that you have time to grow them to an edible status before the first frost. If you don’t have time for any of the longer growth options then consider fast-growing plants such as lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens.

Garden & Landscape Design

If during your end-of-summer planting and prep time you notice that your yard is somewhat lacking in luster…or if you consistently run out of space during outdoor entertainment events—then consider giving us a call here at Blue Tree. Fall can be a great time to plan for patio expansions, pool additions, irrigation sprinklers, and other landscaping elements. Don’t wait until spring to spruce up your yard—because spring turns into summer quickly, and you may lose another patio season!

Revitalize Your Patio Space for Summer Fun

Revitalize Your PatioWith summer comes endless BBQs, birthdays, garden parties, and other excuses to entertain outside. With all of this outdoor merriment, however, comes elbow grease to spruce up your outdoor spaces…which have likely faded and degraded over the tough fall, winter, and spring months.

One (relatively) easy way to revitalize patios is to clean and reseal your patios’ stones and pavers. Bringing your patio stones and pavers back to life is a two-step process:

 1. Cleaning

You’d be amazed at the dirt, grime, and minerals that build up on patio stones over time. There are a few ways to clean your stones, each of which should be chosen based on how much build up your stones have…


Using a solution of equal parts vinegar and water will help eat away at the mineral and other build up, as vinegar is a mildly acidic cleaning product. While it will only help with small amounts of mineral and other build up, it won’t harm your stones.

Pressure Washer

For a chemical free approach to cleaning try using a pressure washer. If you don’t have one handy you can borrow one from a neighbor or friend, or rent one from a hardware store. For particularly grimy stones you may need multiple passes with the washer.

Stone Cleaner

For grime and build up that can’t be removed with pressure washer or vinegar you can purchase a stone cleaner from a hardware store. This should only be used when necessary, as it can eat away at the stone. Another option is muriatic acid, which works well to remove mineral buildup, but is also extremely harsh on your stones and pavers.

After cleaning, you may need to replace cracked or crumbling bricks or stones, and you may want to put new jointing sand in if it has worn away significantly over time.

 2. Resealing

Once your stones, bricks, and pavers are clean you’ll already see a visual revitalization. To bring that ‘new again’ look a step further—and to protect them from wear and tear—reseal them. A sealer will give them a glossy look, and will help water bead off.

You will want to wait a day after washing before applying a sealer, to ensure that the stones are fully dry. You can choose from a matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss sealer at your local hardware store based on the desired look.

Here are our professional resealing tips:

  • The sealer can be rolled or sprayed on—but we recommend spraying, as it doesn’t pick up the jointing sand and trap it under the sealer.
  • If you’re using a solvent-based sealer you may need an industrial sprayer as it can eat through the cheaper plastic varieties.
  • Ensure the bricks are 100% free of all moisture, or the sealer may turn whitish in color.
  • Ensure that you allow at least a few hours before foot traffic resumes on the stones (and ideally 24 hours for any heavier traffic).
  • Follow the sealant instructions carefully—especially if you’ve never resealed patios before.

 After Revitalization

After you’ve brought your patio back to life…and are probably planning your next outdoor event, take a moment to consider other work that could improve the space. Could your patio use an expansion? Could you use an added eating area for larger crowds? Would stone walkways or hardscaping add something to the design?

If you answered yes—or ‘maybe’—to any of those questions, give us a call here at Blue Tree. We can offer you advice based on your yard, your entertaining lifestyle, and other factors key to your outdoor space.

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.