Things Your Landscaper Shouldn’t Do…

Being in Northeast Ohio, there are scores of companies doing work in our area. There are several landscape practices that from the Horticultural community’s point of view, shouldn’t be done, here is a list of things you should watch out for:

  • Transporting Plant Material that isn’t Covered: Trees, bushes and shrubs breath through their foliage or needles. When exposed to the high winds while in a vehicle, this can strip them of their ability to breath and cause wind burn. Although not noticeable initially, what could happen is that the leaves on the plant begin to burn or dry out and defoliate. Although this won’t always kill a plant, if driving long distances it very well could. Make sure your landscaper uses a covered trailer or uses some sort of tarp or cloth to prevent wind burn
  • Mulching Trees Up Over the Base: Although this is commonly seen, mulch and soil should not be put up around the base of the tree to the point where it is very thick around the trunk and exposed roots. Homeowners and businesses alike sometimes request this to be done because it “looks better” however heavy mulching could create an area where bugs and moisture populate where normally they would not, causing the base of the tree or bark to rot or create a safe haven for insects or slugs to live and munch on your plants.Although a lot of landscapers comply, simply to satisfy the customer, you should think twice before requesting this. If your landscaper
    GermanIris

    German or Bearded Iris (Variegated)

    does this, simply ask them to leave 2-3 inches around the base of your trees or shrubs un-mulched. Most plants in general do not like to be mulched up to their bases! Always leave an inch around the base of the plant where the mulch is not piled high as it could also burn out some perennials and tender annuals depending on the type of mulch you use. Another plant that doesn’t like to be mulched are German Iris, their rhizomes should be at the top of the soil, and exposed to sunlight where they can stay dry. If mulched or buried in soil to deep, they may begin to rot and insects will also eat them.

  • Using Dyed, Un-Composted Mulches: Be careful what type of mulch you buy! Although some dyed mulches are okay, others may be made of ground pallets or secondary lumber or building material, and then dyed. These don’t break down easily and provide no nutrients to your plants. Some inexpensive dyed mulches will even lose their color after several rains, and expose the light colored shredded lumber. Although sometimes good for commercial instances, they are generally not good for your home garden. A composted natural bark mulch is best for your plants. A composted mulch is usually made of natural materials that have been composted over a period of time. Composting sterilizes the medium, as well as generates nutrients and microorganisms that are beneficial to your soil and plants.
  • Overcrowding Plants:  Unless you want instant gratification with your landscape when it is installed, you should not have more plants installed than necessary. Some designers will recommend more plants than necessary simply to sell you more and make more money. However overcrowded landscapes at installation typically become overcrowded, overgrown landscapes a few years down the road causing you to tear out or have to severely cut back your plants. If you feel your landscaper is recommending more plants than is necessary, simply ask them what the mature size of the plants will be, and if they will need to be trimmed and how often to keep them at a manageable size. Below are images if a landscape we installed (which may look bare to some at the time of planting) and a picture of the same landscape years later. You can see how nicely it filled in over time without being overcrowded:BEFORE    AFTER
  • Blowing Grass Clippings Into Your Beds: Whether just mowing your lawn, or using a leaf blower to clear away clippings, clippings should not be blown into your beds. Why? Although clippings will break down into mulch, grass and weed seeds may also be contained in clippings which will cause weeds to grow in your beds. Mowing companies should always run mowers so the clippings blow away from your beds, into the lawn where they can break down in your lawn. (It also doesn’t look very nice when you have grass clippings laying all over your mulch!)

 

Proven Winners® Certified iGarden Center Training

Landscape Creations Nursery has completed the necessary training to become a 2013 Proven Winners® Certified Garden Center.

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This program provides garden center owners and employees with up-to-date information so they can assist consumers in choosing and growing Proven Winners plants. As a 2013 Certified Garden Center, our employees have successfully completed a training program and test that evaluated their gardening knowledge and ability to assist customers with questions about plant performance, characteristics, and care. Each spring the training program reviews the Proven Winners collection, highlighting new additions to ensure that employees have the most current and comprehensive information.

According to Marshall Dirks, Director of Marketing for Proven Winners, “A knowledgeable sales staff increases the chances consumers have for success with their plant purchases. Proven Winners is committed to making sure that employees have the resources necessary to stay informed.”

About Proven Winners:

Proven Winners is an international marketing cooperative comprised of some of the world’s best plant propagators. As a group, they are dedicated to developing new hybrid color varieties that will perform well for both the grower and consumer. Proven Winners plants are found at more than 8,000 retail centers nationwide. For more information about Proven Winners visit www.provenwinners.com.

April Showers – Why Plants Turn Bright Green After a Storm

459px-Lightning_hits_treeApril showers bring May flowers… along with longer sunny days and the thaw of winter with warmer temperatures.  Warm weather mixed with cold fronts also bring in thunderstorms. Storms can cause a burst in plant growth and here’s why:

All life on earth depends upon Nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen exists in the atmosphere and soil, but for plants and other organisms to utilize it, it must be fixated. So what does this have to do with thunderstorms? Lightening is one of many ways that can cause Nitrogen (N2) to be fixated. It allows plants to absorb it through foliage and into the rain down to the soil. So, its not a coincidence when you look outside and suddenly everything looks bright green after a storm.

Crop rotation using legumes such as soy beans also helps Nitrogen to become available in the soil through bacteria that live in symbiosis with these types of plants. This is  why many farmers switch crops from year to year to help keep their soil healthy as well as their plants.

Vinegar Weed Control, Myth or Fact?

spraySo we found a lot of hype on the web about using vinegar to kill weeds, so we thought we would look into it as it seems to be a relatively safe, non-toxic approach as opposed to commercial weed killers.

But, we want to understand how the vinegar kills the weeds… Products like Round-Up attack the plants chlorophyll, preventing it from performing photosynthesis, causing the plants to dry up and “starve” to death. Other products attack dicotyledons (broad leafed plants like dandelions) as opposed to monocotyledon plants (grasses), so they kill your weeds, but not your grass. Apparently, it is the slight acidic property of vinegar which causes it to kill weeds… and there are several “recipes” or suggestions on how to use it all over the web.

First, let us point out some issues with some of the recipes we found…

  • Soap – Yes, it will help the vinegar stick to the plant, maybe even help dry it out, but too much soap if leached into the ground can also kill plants you may not want to kill. Ever throw used soapy car wash water on your lawn…? You probably saw a big brown spot a few days later!
  • Salt – Again, like soap if it reaches the soil, and builds up can prevent plants from growing or burn them out, and you should never use your tap water (softened) to water plants.
  • Water – It turns out you are not supposed to dilute the vinegar, the stronger the acidity level, the better it is to kill the weeds
  • Vinegar – It is recommended to use 5% Distilled Vinegar, as opposed to other kinds – after doing a little research we determined that the regular 5% Distilled Vinegar should be more than acidic enough to do the job, any higher percents of vinegar are NOT necessary.

What we are going to do:

  • Test plain vinegar on weeds
  • Test vinegar with our choice amount of liquid dish detergent
  • Test vinegar with an alternative to dish detergent (we will reveal it later!)
  • Test the spray both on sidewalk and gravel areas & around other plants
  • Test plants in both the sun and in the shade
  • Pour some of the solution on the ground around weeds (not spray) and see if the ingredients in the soil cause problems to the plants

We will update with pictures and results!

A couple things we do know about vinegar, you can use it to make buttermilk, and running  a 1/4 cup full in your dishwasher leaves your glasses sparkling clean!

Have you tried this before? Please feel free to comment below – we want to hear about your experience using vinegar to kill weeds: