Landscaping Blog

6 Winter Landscaping Tips

Written on December 5, 2016 at 9:47 pm | Written by Green T
winter_landscaping
Gardeners in snowy regions have plenty of reasons to get cold feet about winter: Plants are at rest and their bright colors dissipate, leaving a palette of white and gray. And with nothing to plant, they might think there are few winter landscaping tips — or to dos. In fact, careful planning in spring, summer, and fall — plus a few easy accents during winter — can lead to a beautiful landscape that shines against the stark relief of the restful season. “If you want to be sure you have some winter interest in your garden, you are really looking at just a few things,” says Barbara Pierson, nursery manager at White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut.

1. Focus on bark. Sure, deciduous trees lose their leaves in wintertime, leaving their branches and trunks in focus. But that can be a good thing, Pierson says, “if you have any interesting ornamental trees that have really visually distinctive bark, which will end up adding winter interest.” Many of those trees and some shrubs are smaller, meaning they’re easier to find spots for in the winter landscape. A few of Pierson’s favorites include dogwoods and birch trees, great for both texture and color.

2. Include berries. Many trees and shrubs have berries they hold onto during fall and winter, and those can provide food for birds overwintering in your area. “Crabapples hold their little fruit,” Pierson says, and they make a great addition to the winter landscape. “A holly with berries is really beautiful,” she says.

3. Remember evergreens. Evergreens are great in the winter landscape for many reasons. First, there’s color: Evergreens are not just green; they’re available in yellow, such as Gold Thread false cypress, and blues, including dwarf blue spruce, and all colors in between. And evergreens just make good design sense, Pierson says. “They are really important for a winter landscape, but they make good focal points all year-round,” she says. “I always like to have at least one or two evergreens and work a border around those. When you are planting a new bed, you always want to have at least one evergreen.”

4. Rely on your hardscape. Winter is a good time to critically assess your landscape, figuring out where it’s missing focal points. The solution to enhancing your winter landscaping might not be a plant at all. “Winter is the best time to consider hardscape,” Pierson says. “A trellis, a bench, an arbor, even a garden sculpture are really essential.”

5. Adorn your summertime containers. Window boxes, hanging baskets, winter-hardy containers: All are indispensable for winter landscaping. Miniature dwarf Alberta spruce and broadleaf evergreens, such as Japanese Andromeda, holly and rhododendron, are perfect for wintertime, but they all have to be watered during dry periods. You don’t have to spend money on plants, Pierson says. “Fill containers with evergreen boughs of different textures and colors and interesting twigs,” she says, “anything with color in it.”

6. Stick with four-season perennials. Some perennials have evergreen foliage — ornamental grasses, hellebores, even dianthus with its beautiful low-creeping foliage — making them great for winter landscaping, Pierson says. “Make sure to read the plant label and find out if the plant has foliage in the winter, so you can see it year-round,” she says. Winter is also a great time to stock up on the nonplant elements you’ll need for the next year’s garden, Pierson says. “It’s a good time to bargain-shop for anything for the garden,” she says. Take a tape measure, research plants, figure out seeds you’ll need, and write down what worked and what didn’t in the current year. Source by: http://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscaping-projects/landscape-basics/winter-landscaping-tips/ Image source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/19/25/bf/1925bf29f8ca9dc75444ddc488069bc5.jpg

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Fall Cleanup Time

Written on September 6, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Written by Green T

It is that time again to put your landscaping beds to bed for the winter. This a very important step if you want your landscape looking fresh and revived in the spring. We’ve got a great team here to take that large or small job off your hands. Below is a list of what you want to do every fall to your landscape beds.

Collect Leaves

Collecting the leaves not only will help keep your yard looking clean and well kept, but it reduces the chances for mildew build up underneath them after a long winter. Mildew build up can leave your yard more susceptible to disease when spring arrives. Clean up the fallen leaves to keep your lawn healthy.

Plant New Shrubs

Planting shrubs in early fall gives the plants a head start at establishing roots in the season’s cool, moist soil. The soil is also warmer now than in the spring, so there is still time for roots to form before the unwanted snow falls. Roots can grow in soil as cold as 40 degrees, and the soil remains warm long after the temperature becomes frigid.

Think Spring!

Here we are talking about preparing for winter and now were telling you to think spring; let’s clarify. Just like with planting new shrubs, it is important to think about your spring perennials so they look extra awesome in the spring. By planting them in the fall, they have a better chance of establishing root growth, and getting more buds. Pictured above are daffodils, one of our favorites! They’re beautiful in spring. The best time to plant these flowers are 2 to 4 weeks before the ground freezes. Plants these this fall to give your yard a pop of color this spring!

Trim Dead Limbs

Trimming out lifeless branches can help protect small ornamental trees from further damage by cutting cracked, loose, and diseased limbs close to (but not flush with) the trunk; leave the wounds exposed to heal. The benefit of trimming back the dead limbs is that it allows nutrients to flow to the healthy limbs, which allows the tree or shrub grow much stronger. It also helps prevent further decay.

Cut Back Perennials

This probably one of the best chores you could do this fall. Removing the old flowers is beneficial for the plant because it promotes the growth of new flowers. If the dead flowers are left on the plants they will eventually consume the majority of the plant’s energy. By removing the dead flowers, the plants energy is now focused on root growth, which contribute to a stronger plant.

Mulch Young Plants

Mulch provides insulation to soil around the newly planted plants, which would help protect the roots from colder temperatures associated with fall. It also retains water helping to keep the roots moist. Mulch provides protection from weeds.

Whether your job is big or small, call us today to schedule your Fall Clean Up Estimate!

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Best Summer Flowers

Written on August 10, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Written by Green T
In the summer months of Illinois, sunshine and heat are plenty, while rain can be hit and miss. Some plants fare better in this weather and are surprisingly low maintenance. Add some of these summer favorites to your landscape and garden for hearty beauties that will thrive in the summer. Sunflowers – The sunflower is a bright, cheery addition to any landscape. Depending on the variety, they grow a couple feet to 12 feet tall! Sunflowers are drought tolerant and their roots can span quite a distance to find water. Bonus: once established, sunflowers grow faster than weeds. Zinnias – Zinnias are easy-to-grow, beautiful flowers that are relatives of marigolds. They come in a variety of brilliant colors and blossom all summer long. Zinnias thrive in sunshine and well-drained soil, making them a perfect summertime plant. Peonies – A popular wedding favorite, peonies are lovely flowers that are surprisingly low maintenance. They are known to bloom for 100 years with little attention! Peonies love sunshine and blossom during spring and early summer. Yarrow – Yarrow is one of the best perennials for summer. They prefer hot, dry, sunny weather, but are quite adaptable. Yarrow is very low maintenance and yields bright yellow flowers all summer long. Blanket Flower – Gaillardia, also known as blanket flower, is a brightly flowering species related to sunflowers. They attract butterflies and make a great addition to a butterfly garden. Blanket flowers love sunshine and are drought resistant.
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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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