Friday, December 4, 2009

Introduce Yourself!

What's the value of a home landscape?

Many green industry and real estate articles will suggest that the value of a home landscape lies in the continual ROI (return on investment) that an aesthetically pleasing landscape affords you in terms of property value. It's true! Many studies conclude that an investment in home landscaping yields favorable returns, and that's reason enough to spend your money in your yard. But is ROI the only way to measure the value of a landscape?

We submit that it is not! While a beautiful, well-maintained home landscape is a strategic investment, it is also so much more than that. We believe that your home landscape is truly a reflection of you: your values, your tastes, your lifestyle.

The way you establish and decorate your home allows your guests to enjoy an insight into who you are. Your furniture, artwork, paint choices, knick-knacks and family photos are an extension of what makes your style exceptional. This unique reflection of you should not, however, be confined to the interior of your home! The design of the exterior of your home also makes a statement and is the first and often only impression that many people will have of you. Countless people pass by your home regularly; do they notice your landscape? Is it unique? Does your landscape simply blend into the space surrounding it? If so, is that who you are? We don't think so.

As someone drives past your house, don't you want them to notice what is yours? Wouldn't you love them to pause and think 'Wow! That yard looks great! What a beautiful design- I wonder what kind of person lives there?' Your home should reflect who you are and provide visual interest to those who are so lucky as to view it. Much as the frame of a picture perfectly displays a masterpiece, your home landscape should uniquely accentuate your beautiful house and serve as an extension of your personality.

With that in mind, spend some time thinking about what you want people to know about you. Brainstorm what makes you 'you' and translate those qualities into a beautiful home landscaping that really reflects your personality (Call a professional if you need some help!) Your landscape, however small, should be something you take pride in- something that captures the essence of YOU. Go ahead, introduce yourself to the world!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fall Landscaping Tasks

As fall begins to transition to winter, it is important that landscapes are adequately prepared for the coming season. Winter can take a harsh toll on plants and soils not adequately prepared for the climate extremes present during the season, and prevention of winter damage begins with a proper fall cleaning of the landscape. The following suggestions provide a brief overview of the annual tasks that fall requires of homeowners.

1. Leaf removal is an essential undertaking for any owner of a recently aerated and seeded lawn. As leaves fall onto the grass, they prevent newly germinated grass seed from receiving adequate sunlight. Shading will cause new grass to die if leaves are not removed in a timely fashion.

2. Irrigation systems in Virginia should be winterized in the fall as winter ground temperatures often reach below the freezing point. The winterization of an irrigation system includes the removal of water from the pipes and other components so that water cannot freeze in the system and damage any mechanisms. This service should be performed in mid- to late- fall so as to avoid early winter damage.

3. Pruning should be a part of any fall landscaping agenda. The benefits of a pruning program include training of a tree or shrub’s form, improvement of flowering and fruiting, restriction of growth, and maintenance of plant health. Training a tree can prevent storm damage and diseases that occur in weak branch angles. Pruning out old wood can influence plants to flower more profusely due to the availability of excess energy. Eliminating excess plant material can help to maintain a controlled plant size. Additionally, removing diseased plant material can prevent the spread of the pathogen throughout the tree.

Though it is possible to prune your plants year- round, late autumn through winter is a good time to prune trees and shrubs as the new growth of spring and summer has had ample time to acclimatize. Additionally, the food storage that was used in the growth of spring and summer shoots has been replenished through carbohydrate storing.

4. In addition to pruning trees and shrubs, it is important to mulch their roots. Mulch is a natural insulator, keeping soil warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Warmer soil temperatures allow for increased root growth, which helps the plant to be better prepared for spring and summer growth. Mulch also decreases the amount of soil moisture that is lost to evaporation, providing trees, shrubs, and flowers with more moisture than bare soil. Additionally, mulch minimizes weed competition for a plant; it is more difficult for weed seeds to germinate when covered by mulch. Reducing weed competition improves the water source for the desired plant. As organic mulch decomposes, it provides the underlying soil with nutrients and improves the aggregation of the soil’s structure. Improved aggregation allows for more efficient air and water movement throughout the soil, which in turn improves the efficiency of the plants’ biotic processes.

The ideal mulch application consists of an even coverage of 2 to 4 inches of mulch over the soil surface. Less than 2 inches of mulch can make the application ineffective while more than 4 inches of mulch around the trunks of trees and shrubs can actually cause damage by making the plant more susceptible to cankering and disease.

5. Fall is also an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs. Though the air is cooler, the soil retains the heat from summer’s sunshine. Cool air temperature prevents vegetative growth on the above-ground portions of the plant while warm soil temperature allows for the establishment of the plant’s root system. This allows the plant to prepare its root system to support the impending growth flush of spring and summer, which improves the plant’s ability to withstand drought and heat.

6. In addition to trees and shrubs, fall annuals can add interest to a winter landscape; without the leaves of deciduous species, winter landscapes tend to look barren and dull. Pansies can perk up a landscape by adding pockets of color in beds and under trees.

As November winds to a close, homeowners should plan to tend to their landscapes before the onset of winter. Preparing a landscape for cold weather can be a sizeable task; whether hiring a professional to help or performing the work personally, every homeowner should begin delineating a plan of action. A properly maintained winter landscape yields faster and more satisfying results as soon as the weather warms in the spring.

For all you Richmond homeowners in need of some fall clean up assistance, call Robbins Landscaping, Inc. at (804)748-3978!
Robbins Landscaping, Inc.