Landscaping Blog

How To Attract Butterflies To Your Yard

Written on May 27, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Written by Green T
Warmer weather has arrived and perhaps you’re on the look out for butterflies. These graceful insects love warm, sunny weather, and sipping on the nectar from flowers. If you want to attract butterflies to your home, consider planting a butterfly garden or just adding a few of their favorite flowers to your garden. To attract butterflies plant flowers they like! Butterflies love flowers that blossom brightly in colors like, purple, pink, red, orange, and yellow. They also prefer flowers that are flat-topped or clustered, for easy landing and sipping. In addition, they prefer flowers with shorter flower tubes, which make it easier to sip nectar. You’ll also want to plant flowers that bloom several times or a variety of flowers that blossom over the seasons. Consider planting spring blossoming flowers like: blackhaw viburnum, blueberry, candytuft, lilac, lupine, wild plum. Butterfly-friendly summer flowers include: butterfly bush, black-eyed susan, cosmos, milkweed, prairie clover, and purple coneflower. In the fall, these flowers will blossom and attract butterflies: aster, coreopsis verticillata, goldenrod, pale leaf sunflower, sedum, and sweet black-eyed susan. Aside from feeding the butterflies, be sure to provide areas for their caterpillars to eat and grow. Butterfly caterpillars like plants such as: dill, parsley, milkweed, pawpaw, snapdragons, violets, wild senna, and willow. Most butterfly caterpillars do not damage plants, but if you are concerned about plant damage, keep their plants away from vegetable gardens and consider planting them near taller plants that will hide any damage. Butterflies prefer sunshine and less windy areas. Consider planting bushes to offer protection from the elements and predators. They also like to eat in sunshine, so their favorite flowers will be ones that receive sun from mid morning to mid afternoon. In addition, you can provide resting areas for them to bask in the sun. Butterflies like flat stones in full sun and shallow dishes. Installing a butterfly feeder (similar to a hummingbird feeder) in these areas can also attract them. Butterflies’ offspring tend to survive better when they are using native plants to the area. In Illinois, this includes plants like: bee balm, lavender, mint, phlox, zinnia, joe-pye weed, sedum, forget-me-not. Butterflies return year after year to areas that make it easy for them to thrive, and providing assistance for all their stages of life will make your yard a surefire butterfly-friendly zone. Lastly, refrain from using insecticides. Although they may kill pests, they can kill butterflies as well. Some insecticides are marketed as environmentally friendly, and even those can cause butterflies harm. Instead of using insecticides near your butterfly garden, plant natural insect repellants like mint, marigold, rosemary, and lemongrass.
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5 Low Maintenance Trees For Midwest

Written on May 23, 2016 at 9:25 pm | Written by Green T
Crabapple – These trees grow to about 15 to 25 feet tall at average maturity and have beautiful blossoming spring flowers. Crabapple trees need good drainage and should be planted in higher areas with full sun exposure. Lastly, they require very little pruning and are rather disease resistant, making a great low maintenance option. Hackberry – Hackberry trees are medium to large sized trees that bear small fruit. They are tolerant of Chicago winds and value for their drought tolerance. Hackberry trees are known for their interesting bark pattern and round-topped canopy. This species prefers moist soil but can grow in rocky or hilly areas. Northern Red Oak – This is one of the fastest growing oak tree species and can reach a large 92 – 141 feet tall. A ten-year-old tree can be 15 – 20 feet tall. These trees can tolerate a variety of conditions, though it prefers well-drained soil. Red oaks are known for their beautiful fall foliage, with bright red leaves. Silver Linden – Silver linden trees are known for their leaves that are dark green on top and silvery on the bottom. They can thrive in a variety of soil types, though they do best in well-drained soil. Silver lindens produce fragrant, yellow, summer flowers. These trees are resistant to Japanese beetles and other insect pests. Concolor fir – Concolor fir or white fir trees are medium to large evergreen trees that are popularly used as Christmas trees, but make great ornamental addition to any landscape. They prefer 4 hours of direct sunlight per day and well-drained soil. Many birds and other animals are drawn to these trees for their bark, buds, needles, and seeds. Although they are slow growers, they fill landscapes beautifully throughout the year.
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Top 10 Low Maintenance Plants for Illinois Landscaping

Written on May 13, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Written by Green T
1. Daylily – A perennial plant that is adaptable, daylilies can endure many years in a garden with very little care. They produce beautiful, fragrant flowers that bloom in spring throughout summer into frost season.

  2. Hosta – These shade-tolerant plants survive in most soil types and through summer drought. Hostas are perennials that reach maturation in 3 to 6 years, bloom in the summer, and are great for groundcover and sloped areas of your garden.

  3. Yarrow – A perennial plant that is strongly fragrant and low maintenance. They flower between May and June and keep pests away, while attracting good predatory ones like ladybugs.

  4. Switchgrass – This perennial grass is often used for ground cover, erosion control, and ornamental grass. It can grow several feet tall and changes to a beautiful golden color in the fall.

  5. Hardy geranium – Hardy geraniums are perennial flowers that grow in most climates, take shade, and produce beautiful flowers that bloom spring through fall. These flowers are pest and disease resistant and some varieties are cold tolerant.

  6. Coreopsis – Coreopsis are tolerant of varying soil types, even dry soil, making them low maintenance. Many coreopsis plants have delicate yellow flowers, and tall species can grow 4 feet in height.

  7. Coneflower – These lovely flowering perennials bloom mid-summer through fall and attract butterflies and songbirds. They require very little extra care and grow 2 to 4 feet tall.

  8. Aromatic aster – This perennial plant has colorful blooms for about one to two months, and does well in sunshine and dry soil. Aromatic aster occurs naturally in northern Illinois and hilly areas of southern Illinois.

  9. Little bluestem – Little bluestem gets its name from the blue color of its stem in the spring, but becomes a bright reddish color in the fall. It grows best in full sun and well-drained soil, but requires little care.

  10. Veronica – These perennials are often used as groundcover and blossom in bright, long lasting colors. Veronica (speedwell) are drought resistant and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

 

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Plant Watering Tips

Written on April 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Written by Green T
You’ve planted a new garden and your perennials are beginning to blossom, a sure sign of spring. During this rainy season with widely varying temperatures, doesn’t the weather have you wondering: what is the best way to water my plants? Green T Landscaping is happy to provide our best plant watering tips so your babies can blossom and grow, grow, grow this season! plant watering tips Top Plant Watering Tips 1. Water the roots. The root system of a plant is what absorbs the moisture and gives nutrients to the entire plant. Often times, we’ll water the leaves of a plant and miss the roots entirely! This is a surefire way to dehydrate your plant, stunt its growth, and waste water. Ideally the root system should be damp at all times. 2. Water thoroughly. When watering your plants, make sure to saturate the roots enough to soak down 6 -12 inches, where most roots are concentrated depending on plant or tree species. Giving each plant about one inch of water does the trick. 3. Water in the morning. Watering plants in the morning allows them to absorb water and have water the entire day while sustaining the heat of the sun. It also gives the plant leaves time to dry out if they’ve been wetted, which decreases the chances of plant diseases. 4. Water only when needed. If it rains enough for you to use an umbrella all day, your plants do not require water for some time. Watch the weather and plan accordingly to avoid overwatering your plants. Overwatering is detrimental to plants and can cause them to wilt. 5. Water more, but less often. Giving your plants a good, deep watering twice a week as opposed to a little water every day helps them thrive. 6. Give large quantities of water in doses. The ground near your plant may not soak in water fast enough and it can appear that your plant has had its fill of water. To thoroughly water your plants, give them water, move to another section, then water them again. This ensures that the plants will get enough water down to the roots.  
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Green T New Plants Care:

Written on April 15, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Written by Green T
After using lawn care services to create your beautiful backyard oasis, the last thing on your mind is plant care. Your new plants need care to remain a gorgeous, lively part of your landscaping — but how do you care for them properly? New plant care is actually quite different from established plant care. This is because plants can be temperamental and take time to adjust to their new environment, just like any other living being.   Plants that grow rapidly, like flowers and vegetables will likely only need attention are care for the first two or three weeks. Since they develop quickly, they are more apt to establishing themselves in their new environment. Perennials can take a bit longer, at nearly a month of special attention. As expected, larger, woody plants like trees, bushes, and shrubs should be carefully attended to during their first season and even at the beginning of their second season.   After this period of special attention, plants develop their strength through short periods of stress. This can stress can be achieved from a very short period without water, or simply pruning. It is recommended to strengthen your plants by allowing stressors to affect them, however too much stress is not good on a plant at any time, especially a newer plant so make sure to carefully watch your new plant develop.   One of the most important factors in a new plant’s success in its new environment is water. Plants need their new roots and the soil surrounding it to be moist, constantly, but not soaking wet. A plant that is lacking water may begin to wilt; however a plant with too much water can also wilt. If you are unsure whether your plant is under or over watered, dig a bit in the surrounding dirt and feel for moisture. Ideally this area would be damp, but not wet.   Plants rely on the nutrient from the soil surrounding them. To keep your plants happy and healthy, allow them to adjust their soil environment before fertilizing them. Vegetables and flowers can be fed after two or three weeks, perennials after a month, and trees after their first season. Make sure to adjust fertilization for each type, as one plant food does not fit all types of plant life.   Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to take care, feed, water, and enjoy your beautiful new plant landscaping.
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Winterizing Your Roses

Written on November 2, 2015 at 12:00 am | Written by Green T
When you hear roses, you think of spring. The vibrant colors, the fresh and warming air, but what goes into getting your roses prepped before this point? Winterizing! If you want to get a head start into spring, these tips can help your roses flourish the way they were meant to. And of course survive the harsh winters.

Know Your Zone

Chicago winters are cold! A friendly reminder of just how cold they can be, comes from the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Most of Illinois falls into Zone 5B. This means, most species of roses need just a little bit of work from you to get them on the right track for spring.

Watering

You can still continue to water your roses through the fall. Watering your roses before the ground freezes gives them time to absorb the water, which in return acts as an insulator. It will make them hardier against the winter elements and this gives them the best chance of surviving the season.

Winterizing

Rose, Winterizing Your Roses, Chicago Winters, Winterizing,You will want to stop using nitrogen fertilizers early in the fall. Nitrogen fertilizers encourage blade growth and this could cause an unexpected bloom before winter is even over. Fertilizers with phosphorus only are recommended because they promote root growth.

Pruning should be done in moderation before the first frost. Prune back the canes to about 30-36 inches. Do not do any major pruning as rose bushes tend to die from the top down. Cutting your roses too short makes them more susceptible to the damaging cold. Tie the tips of the long canes together. Doing this will reinforce the canes and will help prevent them from breaking in the wind. Don’t forget to remove any dead or diseased cane.

After your pruning, you’re going to want to remove any fallen leaves or debris from around and in the plant. Leaves and other debris, present an opportunity for disease and encourages pests to settle down, usually at the rose’s expense. Don’t forget to remove any invasive plants from the area. Before the temperatures reach below freezing, pull down the long canes of tea and climbing roses. Lay the canes flat on the ground and cover them with mulch or pine branches.

Now what to do with those low-growing roses? This is the most involved part of the process and will take a few extra things. Bringing in new soil, create a one foot high, one foot thick mound around the rose bush. Create a chicken wire or mesh wire barrier around the plant. Make sure there is a foot of clearance around the rose bush. Now you’re going to fill the cylinder you just created with chopped leaves, dry wood chips, pine needles or compost. Now, we have the most sensitive and non-hardy roses. This is where the you will have to use the Minnesota Tip method.

Until Spring

Winterizing your roses, Rosebush, Roses, Chicago WeatherWinterizing becomes easier as you become familiar with it. Knowing what type of roses you have, will also determine what has to go into winterizing them. As the winter continues, you’ll want to check your roses to make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be. If starting a garden of your own is on your mind, contact the experts at Green T Landscaping.
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How Trees Are Good For You

Written on September 28, 2015 at 12:05 am | Written by Green T
Trees, health, mood, crimeTrees are pretty amazing. They clean and produce the air we need to live, they save lives, and they even strengthen our local communities. In urban areas, trees have been known to help discourage violence and solve problems. Studies have even shown that the closer one lives to trees and parks the less chronic disease one is likely to have.

What Trees Do For Us

There are so many ways trees are valuable to physical, mental and community health. Scientist Geoffrey Donovan has studies that have shown trees are beneficial to our heart and lungs (fewer respiratory related deaths with more trees) and resulted in fewer cases of low birth weight babies. Trees are responsible for a good mood, according to a study by researchers from the University of Exeter. In addition, trees are responsible for lower stress. Researchers in Holland found that those who live in tree-covered areas are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Trees and Crime

When it comes to our local community, trees are incredibly valuable. Another Donovan study found that in Portland more trees and larger yards equated decreased crime. While urban planners previously thought trees provided criminals cover, they are slowly overcoming that unfounded bias. In a study out of Chicago focusing on public housing, residents who were surrounded by and had views of trees (as opposed to asphalt and concrete) had less internal conflict and used more constructive methods to solve issues. Trees also add value to homes. Houses with mature landscape are appraised higher and sell for money. Trees also reduce energy costs and reduce the need for air conditioning and heating, especially when planted on the west side of a home. Green T Landscaping experts are here to help you make your lawn and yard the best it can be. We’re experts with more than 22,000 satisfied customers all over Illinois! Contact us today at (630) 717-0007.
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The Difference Between Hardscape and Softscape

Written on September 2, 2015 at 12:12 am | Written by Green T
Landscaping is the process of designing the exterior of your home with materials such as stone and plants to add to the aesthetic appeal of your home. Landscaping can be divided into two distinct yet equally important parts to the overall look of your yard. This includes hardscape and softscape which contribute equally to the overall appearance of your property.

Hardscape

Hardscape, Landscaping, Lawn CareWhat is hardscaping? Hardscaping refers to the creation of inanimate elements in landscaping. It is the literal bricks and mortar of the landscaping industry. Hardscape is an important aspect of landscaping because it helps to prevent the absorption of water. Hardscaping is implemented early in the landscaping process to outline the area and set a foundation for the desired shape of the design as well as making room for the softscape to integrate nicely as a whole. Hardscaping can also create a nice and visual boundary for your property line as well as help slow soil erosion.

Softscape

softscapeWhat is softscaping? Softscaping refers to the live, horticultural element of landscaping. Softscaping can be permanent with plants such as evergreen trees and shrubs. For more customization you can add temporary, seasonal plants. Planning and arrangement of these plants and elements is the pinnacle of effective landscaping and the overall look of the project.

Green T Landscaping

Here at Green T Landscaping we have trained professionals that will meet your every landscaping need. We serve the Chicagoland area. Green T Landscaping provides vision and implementation on completely customizable scapes designed to fit your personality and style. Contact Green T Landscaping for an estimate to see how we can improve your yard or call us at (630) 717-0007. Take a look at our portfolio gallery to see some examples of hard and softscape in harmony.
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The Hazards of Volcano Mulching

Written on July 13, 2015 at 12:49 am | Written by Green T
Trees are wonderful! They improve the look of our property, they provide shade, and they’re great for the environment (us humans just love that oxygen they produce day after day!). Most people take good care of their trees, but you may not be aware of one practice that might actually be harming them: volcano mulching.

What Is Volcano Mulching?

Volcano mulching is the practice of piling on the mulch all around a tree and up against the trunk until the mulch looks like a volcano. I’m sure you have seen the tree with so much mulch around it, it looks like Mt. Vesuvius with a giant trunk sticking out of the top. Perhaps you have even done it yourself, having copied a neighbor or friend. Well, while mulch is great, you can have too much of a good thing.

Why Is Volcano Mulching Bad For Trees?

While you might feel like using all that mulch is great and it’s providing a nice, strong barrier against the elements, it is actually hurting your tree. When you put that much mulch up against the trunk, you are creating an environment of moisture and warmth that can cause the bark to rot. The bark is crucial because it is your tree’s protection. It is what keeps pests, insects, climate conditions, and diseases OUT. Trees may also start growing small roots in the mulch, which will sap away much-needed strength and energy. Worst case scenario, those errant roots can encircle the tree and prevent water and nutrients from flowing up and the tree can die.

How to mulch. Green T Landscaping, Volcano Mulch.

So, What To Do?

When you mulch, spread it all out and rake it flat, Keep it around 2 to 4 inches. Make sure water is absorbed by the mulch instead of being run off. Spread the mulch from the base of the tree to the point where the branches end (the drip line). When you apply it properly, mulch is wonderful for trees and provides much needed nutrients and prevents evaporation. So mulch your trees, just don’t suffocate them!

Green T Landscaping

Green T Landscaping experts are here to help you make your lawn and yard the best it can be. We’re experts with more than 22,000 satisfied customers all over Illinois! Contact us today at 630-231-0007 for a free estimate so we can schedule an appointment for your lawn care program.
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Attract Hummingbirds in Your Yard by Making Hummingbird Food

Written on July 28, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Written by Green T
Many homeowners can build their yards into beautiful landscapes with the right combination of plants and hardscape features but attracting certain wildlife can really put your landscape over the top.  One such animal that can be easily attracted to a landscape is the brightly colored hummingbird whose presence can really enhance the beauty and appeal of your yard.  All you need to attract hummingbirds onto your yard is the proper feeder and hummingbird food which you can make yourself. Ingredients and Instructions for Hummingbird Food The ingredients for hummingbird food are common ingredients found in most households:
  • 1 cup of regular cane sugar
  • 4 cups of water
Some people like to add red food coloring to the mixture but it is not clear whether this actually helps attract more hummingbirds or not.  Food coloring could also be bad for the birds so try with the clear mixture first.  Once you gather the ingredients, follow these instructions:
  • Heat the water until it boils
  • Turn the heat off and add the sugar
  • Stir the solution until the sugar is completely dissolved
Once the sugar is dissolved, let the solution cool and put it in the bird feeder.  Any leftovers of the solution can be stored in the refrigerator for later use.  This solution goes bad in about 3 to 5 days so clean out the bird feeder and replace the solution regularly to make sure the hummingbirds always have fresh nectar.
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