Emerald Green arborvitae is an evergreen in the Cypress family (Cupressaceae). Although some might say they are, technically, tall shrubs, they are commonly referred to as “trees”.
Emerald Green Arborvitaes are great for privacy hedges and wind breaks on any property. Emerald Green Arborvitae typically reach about 12 feet in height and spread between 3 and 4 feet wide. They grow in a pyramid shape, which differs from how most shrubs grow in a ‘globe’ like shape. The pyramid shape helps make them a great privacy hedge. Emerald Green Arborvitae can be confused with Green Giant Arborvitae, which grow much faster, and much taller. Green Giant arborvitae are not good privacy hedges because of their massive size.
Emerald Green’s will have no problem with freezing temperatures or ice in the winter. They are low maintenance until they reach maturity, which at that point will likely need hedge trimming each spring. Trim arborvitae in the spring before new growth is established.
If you are planting more than one arborvitae, make sure to properly space each plant out. We recommend at least 3 feet apart from one another. They will grow into the space between one another, and if they are planted too close together they can get crowded. When shrubs or trees get crowded, they are more susceptible to disease.
Dig a hole that is at least 3 inches wider than the base of the arborvitae. This is important because when you back fill the plant, you want enough room to move the shrub around for adjustments and remove air pockets. If you allow air pockets with sloppy back filling, the arborvitae will begin to lean as the soil gets more compacted.
Do not plant arborvitaes too low below the surface. They are much better off planted at the surface level, or slightly above the surface. Most trees and shrubs are like this. There is an old saying when it comes to planting: “If it’s too low, it never grows, and if it’s too high, it’ll never die”.
Hollies are very versatile plants that can range anywhere from only a foot high, to trees that are 70 feet tall. In ancient times, hollies were used to decorate statues of Saturn (the Roman god of the harvest), to providing medieval protection from evil spirits, and of course decorating our houses at Christmas time with them.
In Pennsylvania, hollies will have no problem growing. They are most hardy in regions 5 and 6, and in Southeast Pennsylvania we are zone 6. Zone 5 would be the Lehigh County and above.
Gender Of The Holly
When you think of hollies, you think of the bright white flowers, red berries, and the shiny prickly leaves. The gender of the holly actually plays a big role in the appearance of the plant. Female hollies will produce berries as long as they are pollinated by a bee who bring seed from a nearby male holly.
These plants do not require regular pruning or trimming, but if you want to keep them small, or to prevent them from overcrowding, pruning is going to be required. Holly bushes are very low maintenance as well, and typically do not need to be watered unless we are in a dry spell.
We always recommend mulch for our clients for a variety of reasons. Hollies are no exception. They have a shallow root system which makes them susceptible to rot and freeze thaw damage in the winter. Mulch not only helps prevent this, but once it decomposes it adds nutrients back into the soil so fertilizer is unnecessary. Also, who doesn’t like the way a fresh garden bed of mulch looks?
How To Plant Hollies
The holly bush you purchase is most likely going to be in a pot. The size of the pot should not matter, but most likely it’s going to be in a three gallon pot. Find the spot you wish to have your holly planted, and make sure it has adequate sunlight and good drainage. All good landscapes start with knowing what your plants need.
Dig a hole in the ground that is about 3 inches wider than the diameter of the holly. Do not dig the hole too deep; allow the holly to sit about one or two inches above the soil line.
Remove the holly from the container and using a shovel or spade, slice about 3 or four inserts into the root ball. Don’t cut the ball in half, just about one or two inches deep. This will prevent the roots from wrapping in a circle and choking itself out. Cutting these inserts will let the ball branch out into the garden.
Back fill the holly. (Fill in the space around the plant)
Sprinkle compost or manure around the bush to help with water retention.
Add mulch around the base.
We hope you enjoyed our post on holly plant care! Visit our blog for more information on other plants and “how to’s“.
Liriope is a grass like perennial that typically grows up to 12-18″ tall. They can grow in just about any soil condition, but prefer well drained soil like most perennials. These plants make a great natural border wall for landscapes and garden beds. Liriope can tolerate full sun and almost full shade, which makes them a versatile plant for any landscape. They do not expand aggressively like the Liriope Spicata, so you don’t have to worry about them taking over a garden. One of the best parts about Liriope is their bloom season, which is in August-September. Most perennials flower in the spring, but Liriope’s late bloom gives landscapes a nice violet-blue color in the late summer-early fall.
How To Plant Liriope
If you are planting Liriope as a border plant for a landscape, make sure to give at least a foot of space between the edge since these plants spread about 8-12 inches. Planting is very similar to hosta planting.
Dig a hole a few inches deep, depending on how long the root system is. Give ample room for the roots to spread.
Fill in the hole by spreading soil around the crown of the Liriope. If this is a brand new plant with no foliage, do not cover the stolons when spreading soil. The eye is the part that will grow into the plant, so leave it exposed. Most likely though, you are planting Liriope with
How To Divide Liriope
Dividing Liriope is also as easy as planting them. Dig up the plant you are dividing, and shake the dirt off of the root system. From here, simply pluck off the individual, or clusters of plant you wish to separate, and plant them by following the instructions above.
We hope you enjoyed this article about Liriope planting and division! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.
Hostas are an easy, low maintenance perennial that are perfect for shady areas. Most vibrant perennials require full sun, but not hostas! These plants are excellent for growing under trees as ground cover, or wherever you need to fill in space in a shady area. Hostas come in many different color variations, but the most common variation is green and white. Hostas do flower, and grow a long stalk with usually pink or purple flowers on it. While they may look tropical, they are actually native to Asia. They can withstand very harsh weather conditions are extremely durable. The only drawback for hostas: deer love them. From what I have seen, hostas are a deer’s favorite plant of choice.
How To Plant Hostas
Hosta planting is very simple and easy to follow.
Dig a hole about 8-12 inches deep, depending on how long the root system is. Give ample room for the roots to spread.
Fill in the hole by spreading soil around the crown of the hosta. Don’t cover the eye of the root ball when spreading soil. The eye is the part that will grow into the plant, so leave it exposed.
Dividing Hosta Plants
Hostas can grow very fast and begin to take over gardens. Dividing hostas is very simple as well. Gently dig up the hosta you wish to divide. Once the hosta and it’s roots are out of the ground, shake off excess dirt so you can take a good look at the root structure. You will notice that the giant root system is intertwined with other hosta roots. From here, with your hands, separate the the hosta into even parts, ensuring that both newly divided hostas have enough roots to be re-planted. Even if the division is not perfect, and one hosta has more roots than the other, it should be fine.
We recommend hostas for landscapes that will not have a deer problem. If deer are a concern, some recommend planting daffodils around the hostas to give them protection, but we personally have not tried this. Slugs can also be an issue with hostas, but they can be easily managed by sprinkling sand or insecticide around the base of the plant. At the end of the year during a fall cleanup, be sure to cut hostas down to about 2 or 3 inches in height and compost the rest of the dying plant.
We hope you enjoyed this article about hosta planting and division! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.
Iris, the Greek word for “Rainbow”, are some of our favorite flowers for a garden. Bearded iris have creeping rhizomes (like certain grass types we have discussed) that spread horizontally instead of vertically like most flowers. These flowers bloom in the late spring, and can make a great color addition to any garden.
Similar to daylilies, bearded iris require full sun (6+ hours) and prefer well drained soil. If drainage is a concern, plant Iris in a garden bed that is sloped, or slightly raised above the ground. The best part about planting Iris, is that they are deer resistant, which means you no longer have to worry about deer ruining your garden!
Planting Bearded Iris
The area which she is pointing to is the main section of the rhizome. It’s important that when you are planting Iris, to NOT fully cover this section of the flower.
Dig a hole twice the width of the longest rhizome, and about six inches deep.
Like the daylily, build a small mound within the hole which will allow the Iris to sit on. Roughly 75% of the main rhizome (pictured above) should be exposed above the surface level.
The Iris has a front and back. The back is where the rhizome roots are pointing. When planting, aim the roots away from lawn or garden edges so the rhizomes have enough area to expand.
Water, and add fertilizer if this is a newly established garden. Add something with a nitrogen content no higher than 10.
Iris will require slightly more upkeep than other other low maintenance perennials. They expand quickly and will create multiple rhizomes that increase the number of Iris in a garden. Every few years they need to be divided.
To divide the Bearded Iris, dig up the roots of the flower first. In the picture above you can easily see the clump of Iris rhizomes. Simply dig up the plant, and pull off the rhizomes around the middle one, which will be the biggest rhizome. If you are going to transport the rhizome to another area, be sure that the height of the established rhizome is no bigger than 3 inches or so. Most gardeners recommend dividing Iris one month after they have flowered.
We hope this was informative and you enjoyed reading this! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.
The daylily is one of the most reliable flowers you can grow in a garden. They are extremely insect and disease resistant, which makes them very low maintenance. The botanical name Hemerocallisis Greek, and translates in English to “Beauty for a day”. This is quite fitting for daylilies considering they often have multiple flowers that bloom for a day, and die within 24 hours of blooming.
Daylilys bloom in June, and only show their great beauty for a few weeks. Most breeds of daylily thrive in full sun (6+) hours, and don’t require fertilization. We recommend adding compost or mulchto the gardens every year to help supply them with basic nutrients.
When And How To Plant Daylilies
We recommend planting daylilies in the spring, so they have a lot of time to establish before the winter. Realistically, they can be planted almost any time of the year because they are so resilient. When planting a daylily, consider the following steps:
Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the size of the root system, and around 6 inches deep. Give at least 12 inches of space between each plant.
Once the hole has been dug, create a small mound within the hole that will allow the crown to sit just above the surface level.
The daylily’s roots should be spread out on top of the mound so they have space to grow and expand.
Cover the root structure and mound with soil and leave just the crown exposed to sunlight.
Water, and wait for them to bloom!
After the daylilies have been established, they will return year after year stronger than ever! We hope you enjoyed this blog topic. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.
If you don’t want to hire a lawn care company for fertilizing services, it’s worth doing some research on how to do it yourself. We lay out a basic schedule for homeowners to follow in order to setup a fertilizing schedule for your lawn, and get the best lawn in the neighborhood.
Once the weather starts to warm up, it’s a good idea to cleanup the lawn once again. Rake up any dead grass or leaves that were left from the winter. Around March or April it’s best to put a fertilizer down that also has pre-emergent crabgrass and weed protection. Some companies we recommend are Scotts Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer and Lesco Professional, 19-0-7, Crabgrass Preventer Turf Fertilizer.
Be sure that you are mowing high! Too often we are asked to cut the lawn around 3 inches. This is TOO low for the spring and summer. 3.5″ should be the absolute lowest. In order to get thick, healthy grass, lawns need to grow high during these seasons. Fall and Winter are the only times you should be cutting at 3″ or lower. If you want the lawn to be overtaken by crabgrass and weeds, by all means mow the lawn too low!
Also, this is a great time to overseed and aerate if you haven’t yet. Lawns will be compacted from the cold Northern winters, and aerating is a great way to loosen the soil. Overseeding, in combination with a fertilizer and pre-emergent, is the absolute best way to jump start a lawn.
The lawn shouldn’t need fertilizer until around July, so for the most part, summer is spent enjoying the lawn. If you have had problems with grubs in the past, however, we suggest applying Scott’s GrubEx in the early summer. Grubs are the larvae of Japanese Beetles and other Beetle species like the June Beetle.
Scott’s Summerguard is a great option for a lawn that has issues with ants, spiders or ticks. It’s essentially a nitrogen heavy fertilizer that also has insecticides in it. If the lawn doesn’t have an issue with insects, just apply a regular granular fertilizer with a Nitrogen content of at least 20. So looking at the bag it should say something like “20-0-8”.
Grubs love healthy lawns. The nicer your lawn is, the more likely you are going to have an issue with grubs. Grubs feed on the roots of grass seeds. The healthier a lawn is, the more resistant it will be to grub damage. If the lawn is facing a drought and it’s not being watered enough, the damage done by grubs will be far worse. Be sure that grubs are the problem and not a fungus such as lawn rust.
Additionally, make sure the lawn has enough water if there is a drought. In the summer of 2018, I don’t think we had a single week where it didn’t rain, so there wasn’t a problem with drought!
It’s finally time to start lowering the cutting height of the lawn. Do this periodically however, and not all at once. Never take off more than a third of the grass height in one mow. Simplest way to safely lower the cutting height is by lowering the deck of the deck a quarter-half inch every week until you get to 2.75-3″. Southern grasses can go lower, but for the northeast keep it at the minimum 2.75 inches.
Cutting low is important for preparing a lawn for winter. If grass is left high in the winter, the lawn will be susceptible to “snow mold”.
Fertilizer can be applied twice in the fall to maximize lawn health. This can be done in early September, around Labor day, and again towards the end of October or November. if you decide to skip the labor day fertilizer, be sure to apply the final one in October or November. This is one of the most important times to fertilize. The “final fertilizer” helps feed the lawn through the winter, and ensures the lawn will come back stronger than ever in the Spring.
How to setup a fertilizing schedule for your lawn:
End of March/April: Pre-emergent herbicide and fertilizer combination
June: GrubEx treatment for grub prevention
Early-Mid July: Standard Granular Fertilizer With Nitrogen Content above 20. OR, Scott’s Summerguard if insects are an issue.
Labor Day-Early September: Standard Granular Fertilizer With High Nitrogen content (30+). Look at Scott’s Fall Lawnfood.
November: Same as above, Standard Granular Fertilizer With High Nitrogen content (30+). Look at Scott’s Fall Lawnfood.
I hope these tips helped! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us.
Follow These Tips To Maximize Your Lawn’s Health This Winter
In order to prepare a lawn for winter, a few steps must be taken. Whether your lawn looked like the best on the block, or worst on the block, getting a lawn ready for the winter is very important. It might help to first take inventory of the property.
Ask the following questions before preparing the lawn for winter:
Does the lawn have patchy spots where grass is missing?
Is the lawn still covered in leaves?
What is the general color of the grass?
Is the lawn mostly weeds or onion grass?
Has the lawn been aerated or overseeded in the last two years?
Has the lawn been fertilized?
If the answer to these questions are no, consider changing that. We have written numerous times about the importance of leaf cleanup, aeration, overseeding, and fertilizing so check those articles out if you have not. But let’s start with the first bullet point.
If the lawn is bare, or missing grass, there could be a few reasons why. A lawn mower tire can leave divets in the rain which may cause serious damage to a given area. If the tracks are only a little brown, and not sunken in deep, the lawn will recover fine. If the area is missing grass because of shade, you may be fighting an uphill battle trying to grow grass, but I will attach an article in which we talk about grass growing in the shade here. If the patch of grass has been damaged by equipment or foot traffic, an aeration, overseeding, and fertilizing protocol should be followed in the fall, but can also be done in the spring and will yield good results.
Fall and Spring Leaf Cleanup
Leaves left on a lawn will certainly damage the lawn come spring. Leaves if mulched up on a lawn, however, are good for your lawn. Compost is organic material grounded so finely that it becomes soil or soil-like. Compost is amazing for lawns and gardens, so leaves that are mulched up finely can be great for a lawn. All that is needed for this is a mulching mower (any lawn mower that has a side discharge).
Either get a leaf cleanup service to remove the leaves or mulch them up. If the leaves are left on a lawn, they will block sunlight from grass which will kill it, and they will retain too much moisture which invites disease and insects to plague the lawn come spring.
The Color Of Your Lawn/ Fertilizing
Depending on the grass type, the color of the lawn can tell you a lot. If the grass is white and very thick, that’s zoysia grass and you should not be worried that it’s dead. Zoysia grass is a southern grass that goes dormant in November and turns white. Kentucky Bluegrass and Ryegrass will be a dark green color and look nice during the winter. If the grass has a light green or yellowish fade to it, it might need some fertilizer. A nitrogen rich fertilizer is best for this time of the year. Look on a fertilizer bag for something with a 24-0-0 Label for maximum results.
Aeration and Overseeding
If the lawn hasn’t been aerated or overseeded in the past few years, definitely consider having this done. Unfortunately the lawn is too compact and frozen now in December as this blog is written, but this can be done in the Spring. The aeration will loosen the soil for the new seeds, and provide it a strong foundation for germination. Water the lawn lightly each day for ten days, and soon the lawn will begin to have new life.
Excessive Weeds On The Lawn
In order to get the lawn free of weeds, chemicals are going to need to be applied. I recommend using a granular fertilizer/herbicide combination. The stronger herbicides are not over the counter and can only be purchased by licensed applicators, but an amazing lawn can be achieved by using over the counter granular herbicides. The key here is to apply early in the season. Buy the generic Weed N’ Feed or whichever brand you prefer, and apply early in the Spring before the weed seeds can germinate. Apply the recommended dose per 1,000 sqft of the property.
Hopefully these tips can help with preparing the lawn for winter, although some of the steps need to be done in the spring. If you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend!
Whether you are selling your home, or just want to improve your curb appeal, we have a few tips that can help. Being that we are a landscaping company, we are going to start with the landscaping basics.
Clean Up Existing Garden Beds
The easiest way to enhance curb appeal is probably the most annoying. Pulling the weeds from your garden beds is the best place to start. Not only do overgrown weeds look bad, they can also be stealing vital nutrients from your flowers or shrubs. The best time to do this is in the early spring before they really start to take over garden beds. Put down a pre-emergent like Preen Garden Weed Preventer to help prevent weed seeds from germinating.
Install Mulch or Stone
Mulch is an easy way to enhance curb appeal. Just by laying down black, brown or red mulch you have instantly enhanced a garden bed’s look. When installing mulch, be sure not to pile it up near the base of trees or shrubs. Far too often we see homes with a mountain of mulch around the root of a tree. While this might look aesthetic, it can do a lot of harm to the tree. Black mulch is the most common and a personal favorite of ours. Red and Brown can sometimes clash with certain flowers or shrubs decreasing the curb appeal.
Stone is best for shaded areas, or used in combination with mulch. Some people choose stone over mulch because of the perceived low maintenance. Weeds will grow anywhere that water collects, including between stones, so stones are definitely not weed proof.
Edge Your Property
Edging is a super fast way to really make your lawn stand out. You can either buy an edger from a local dealer or use a string trimmer. If the edge is too overgrown like the first picture below, using an edging tool with a blade will be much more efficient.
We use a Husqvarna edger and are super happy with the results from it. We also have an Echo edger which works great too. A string trimmer can be used to keep up maintenance of a finely edged curb.
Maintain A Healthy Lawn
This is the easiest of all ways to improve your home’s curb appeal. Regular mowing, and mowing at the correct heights during the right time of the year is the key to a healthy lawn. From April through July mow at a height of 3.5 inches. In August-November mow at around 3 – 3.25 inches.
Apply a nitrogen fertilizer around three times a year, starting in March or April, once during the summer, and November before winter comes. Using store bought “Weed N’ Feed” can honestly give you a tremendous lawn without using heavy pesticides or herbicides.
If you don’t have time to work on the lawn, hire a mowing service like us! (shameless plug).
Trim Hedges and Prune Bushes
Pruning bushes and trimming hedges can easily improve your home’s curb appeal. Buy or rent a hedge trimmer from Home Depot and contour the hedges to it’s natural shape. Certain shrubs will have a globe like shape or a box like shape. Trim off the new growth and try to maintain the natural shape. Pruning can be trickier. Consult with an expert on how far your should prune back a shrub. If a shrub is pruned back too far, it can permanently damage the plant.
In Pennsylvania and other Northeast Regions, almost all lawns will have a mix of cool season grasses. Our region in particular has harsh winters and hotter summers, so a grass seed that can withstand both is what you will need. Warm season grasses like Bermuda grass are very common in the South because they are heat tolerant, but in the Northeast, a grass type like this won’t survive the winter. When you go to buy grass seed, make sure the bag has a mix of the following: Tall Fescue, Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass.
A mix is best for planting grass seed in Pennsylvania because of our sporadic weather conditions. Kentucky Bluegrass goes dormant during droughts and periods of extensive heat, while fescues and ryegrass tend to fair better. Kentucky Bluegrass is better during the colder months like April and October, while fescues and ryegrass tend to be dormant. Each grass type compliments one another. A lawn that has only one type of grass seed is more susceptible to weed takeovers during dormancy periods.
The best way to prevent your lawn from going dormant (turning brown) is to water during times of drought, and to not cut your grass too low. Pennsylvania grasses could only be watered once a week during a drought, but make sure to really soak the ground. If the ground has become too solid and begun to crack, a deep watering is going to be needed or else the water won’t soak in properly.
Sometimes homeowners want their lawns cut below three inches in the summer, and do not realize the stress they’re putting on their lawn. Just like a shrub that has been pruned too deep, grass can be easily stressed and damaged.
Fertilizing with a nitrogen fertilizer in May is the best, but applying fertilizer during the summer is not ideal. A nitrogen based fertilizer is best reserved for May and around September. Avoid applying fertilizer to a brown patch in the summer, as the yellow spots on your lawn are most likely due to drought or disease. Fesuce, ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass all are susceptible to brown patches of dormancy, and a fungicide may need to be applied.
Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass do not need excess fertilizer like we stated in a previous post. Applying fertilizer to a lawn with a fungus will only enable the fungus to spread.
Excessive Shade Areas
Fine fescue and tall fescue are your best options for shady areas. They have their limits though, and it’s hard to expect an area that gets less than four hours of sun will look as nice as the rest of your lawn. Plant a fescue blend in the fall after leaves have fallen off the trees around them, so they can get extra sunlight during their germination period. Water every day for at least 10 days and avoid foot traffic and mowing it.
Normal Sun (4+) Hours
Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescues are all great options for planting in sunny areas. In our opinion, avoid planting zoysia grass. The picture to the right is of zoysia. We dislike zoysia because of the early dormancy that it goes through in Pennsylvania. Around October the zoysia grass will become a light yellow/white color that makes the lawn look terrible. They are a creeping grass which allows them to overtake large amounts of the lawn with relative ease. Zoysia grass can not be striped, so if you like looking at the nice stripes on your lawn, plant a mix of Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass.
When To Plant Grass Seed In Pennsylvania
Ideally, planting grass should be done at the end of August through the beginning of October. You may also be able to plant grass seed in the beginning of Spring, but Fall is the best time in our opinion. Have the lawnaerated before you overseed for the best results. Overseeding is when you double or triple the amount of seed that is recommended per square feet of your lawn. The best practice for overseeding in our opinion is applying the regular amount of grass seed recommended for your lawn vertically, and then applying the same amount horizontally, ensuring full coverage of the spreader. If the ground you are seeding is completely bare, make sure to pick any weeds, and to mix in some composted soil or peat moss to help the grass seed retain moisture.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us and we will gladly help!