Monthly Archives: February 2017

Flowers Bloom In Spring

After a cold winter, the sight of spring approaching is a welcomed sight. Trees begin to get their leaves and flowers begin to sprout up again. It’s an exciting time for all who enjoy time in their garden. If you’ve recently bought your home, you may not know what flowers are in your garden currently or you may be unsure of what to start planting.

While some spring flowers last for the season, others you won’t see until the weather turns again. A spring garden can add additional curb appeal to your home. A beautiful spring garden takes proper preparation. To start planning, see a few flowers that bloom in spring.

Any garden takes proper care and maintenance. If you could use a little help caring for your plants this year, contact a landscaping pro for up to four quotes from contractors in your area for free.

Gardening Costs

Like any landscaping project, it’s a good idea to have a budget ready. If you’re starting a new garden, it’s a good idea to consider having your soil tested before planting anything. A soil test can tell you if pH levels are sufficient for optimal gardening. After testing, you’ll know if the flower garden you desire is set up for success or what you may need to do to change it. The average cost to test soil is $1,142. However, there are a few DIY soil tests you can do that may not be as accurate, but give you an idea of how acidic your soil is.

As any gardener knows, simply planting a few seeds will not grow a healthy garden. These gardens need to be maintained regularly. Make watering daily less of a chore by installing a drip irrigation system into the flower bed. The average cost to install a drip irrigation system is between $300 and $750 per 500sf. This depends on the size of your flower garden and what quality parts are used.

When To Plant Spring Flowers

To some, this may sound strange, but the best time to plant spring flowers is actually in the fall. Bulbs and perennials will return year after year, so fall is the perfect opportunity to get a jump start on next year’s garden. Bulbs should be planted before the ground is frozen for an immediate spring bloom. Perennials that are cold-tolerant should be planted in the early fall, so they can get enough nutrients before the winter begins.

Spring Flower Bulbs

Blooming bulbs are one of the first signs that spring is here. Sometimes, you can see a few blooms before the snow has all melted away. One of the most common bulb, tulips, has up to 100 varieties in many colors. It’s often one of the first flowers to arrive in spring. However, this bloom has a short lifecycle of about two to three weeks. Here are a few other common bulbs you might see this spring:

  • Lily
  • Daffodil
  • Hyacinth
  • Snowdrop

Early Spring Flowers

As I mentioned, the tulip is one of the first flowers you’ll see blooming in spring. However, it won’t be the only flower to take center stage. Keep in mind, these flowers can bloom at different times depending on your zone, so always check before planting. Perennials and flowering trees will start to bud and add a little bit of color to the landscape. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Bloodroot, characterized by white petals and yellow center.
  • Forsynthia, a shrub with many golden-yellow flowers.
  • Iris, often purple petals that fold open.
  • Lilac, a shrub with small purple blooms and a strong floral smell.

Late Spring Flowers

As an encore, there are many flowers that show off a bit later in the spring and stay through the early summer. Late spring flowers will begin blooming after the last frost. These tend to be less of the bulb variety and more perennials. Some blooms will even last through the summer season. These flowers are a great choice for lasting color in your garden. Here are a few to consider adding:

  • Alstroemeria, a variety of colors with different markings on the petals.
  • Common bluebell, blooms blue hues face downward.
  • Cherry blossom, pink flowers that adorn the steams of the tree.
  • Magnolia, varieties of trees or shrubs with large flowers of pink, white or purple.

What Flowers To Plant In Spring

Once your spring flowers have bloomed, you should start thinking about what to garden for the rest of the year. Certain flowers bloom at certain times depending on your zone. In some places, you could see blooms even into late fall. Begonias and dahlias are two popular summer bulb choices that will last.

Additionally, spring is the perfect time to start your vegetable garden. Seedlings can even be started indoors as early as march and be transferred outside after the last frost. Herbs like lavender, sage and basil look beautiful as well and add flavor to your garden.

Simple Tips For Preparing Yard For A Cold Winter

As summer comes to a close, many homeowners begin to look ahead to the colder months. Unpacking sweaters they may have stored and bringing out their coat racks to fill with scarves and mittens. For many of us, winter presents blustery cold conditions, keeping us inside our cozy homes for the next few months.

But before you get ready to hibernate indoors, take care of what’s outside first. You’ve likely put a lot of time and thought into your landscaping around the home. If not prepared, the frosty temperatures can destroy the spring blooms you anticipate every year. So take advantage of a sunny fall day and prepare your yard for a cold winter with these tips.

If you’re ready to get started on your lawn care, contact a pro today for up to four free quotes from landscaping contractors in your area.

Clean Up

Fall is a beautiful time of year when you’re able to see leaves in a variety of warm hues. As beautiful as it is, eventually, those leaves will end up in your lawn. At first, it’s fine to continue mowing over them, as it turns to mulch and provides added nutrients to your lawn. But, once the leaves become too much to mow over, you must rake them up.

Another thing you should clean and store for the winter months is any lawn furniture you’ve enjoyed in the summer. Leaving them out in the winter elements can change their appearance and ruin any finishes on them. This is especially true for wood furniture. Store away in a shed or garage until you’re ready to use again next year.

Prep Your Water System

Winter weather can have a terrible effect on your outdoor water systems and features. Make sure all the water is shut off, hoses unattached and put away. If you have a rain barrel, you’ll want to drain that for the winter as water can freeze and damage the barrel.

This is also a great time to clean out your gutters. It’s recommended that gutters are cleaned at least twice a year and it’s important to go into the winter months with a clean gutter to prevent any damage.

Mowing

The last day you mow for the year depends on the climate you live in. Ideally, you’ll want to stop mowing after the first fall frost. You can look up the prediction for your area using the Farmer’s Almanac to better plan your last mow. Use the lowest setting on your lawn mower the last few times you cut the grass.

You also may want to consider applying a winter fertilizer to your grass to give it an extra boost for the spring.

Aeration

An important, but often forgotten aspect about lawn care task is aeration. This creates small holes in your lawn to allow nutrients to get into the ground and refresh your grass. Fall is an ideal time to do this task, because your lawn needs time to soak in the nutrients and regrow without disturbance. To aerate your yard, you can do this yourself by renting a machine or purchasing special shoes that allow you to do this task while walking around your lawn. For larger lawns, it’s best to contact a pro who has the right tools to help.

Protect Your Perennials

Your beautiful flowers that were a delight this summer now need proper care to bloom again next year. First, you should know what flowers are perennials and annuals. Annuals, unless they are self-seeding, need to be pulled up as they will not come back the next year.

However, perennial flowers should be expected to return the next year, if you have cared for them properly during the season. But to ensure they bloom the next year, you’ll want to protect them from the snow and cold. Add extra mulch around them after the first frost and cut them back to allow for new flowers to bloom in the spring.

Garden Prep

If you have a fruit and vegetable garden, winterizing it gives you a start to the best produce the following year. As wonderful as your garden has been this year, it’s now time to remove any plants that are done growing. Pests can inhabit old plants during the late-fall months and potentially ruin your garden the following year. Remove any weeds you see as well.

Now that the season has ended, consider having your soil tested. This way, you’ll know the pH levels and nutrients that are in your soil to determine what plants will thrive next year.

Plan Ahead

Now that your yard is winterized, you have a few months to consider how you want your landscaping to look next season. Plan out any major projects you’d like to complete like installing a water feature or flowerbed. If you have a garden or intend to plant new flowers, this is an important step because many need to be planted at a specific time of year. Be aware so you don’t plant a late-summer flower in early spring!

Plant For Spring

You may be surprised to hear that there actually is some planting to be done in the fall months. Spring bulbs and shrubs are best planted in the fall, before the first frost. This will give them time to grow and flowers ready to bloom as the weather begins to change in the spring.

Some Benefits Of Installing A Rain Barrel

From washing the dishes to using the shower, water consumption is a part of every household. Many of us will likely turn on a faucet today, without giving it a second thought. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American uses 320 gallons of water per day and out of that, 30% is used for the outdoors. That means there is almost 100 gallons being used to water lawns, gardens and other landscaping features.

For many, that number might be surprising. If your household is trying to reduce your environmental impact, there are plenty of ways you can reduce your water consumption, especially outdoors. Rain barrels have gained in popularity across the country. If you don’t have one, now is a great time to consider a rain barrel installation.

How Does A Rain Barrel Work?

Rain barrels are a great way to save money and the environment. This practice is not new; it actually dates back to ancient times when people would use wooden barrels to catch the water and use for various household purposes. Now, barrels come in plastic with many modern features, but stick to the same idea; collecting water from a natural source and use for landscaping.

Today, many rain barrels collect water with the help of a downspout coming from the roof or gutter, directed into the barrel with the help of a diverter. The water is filtered through a screen that covers the top, to catch any debris such as leaves and sticks. In simpler models, water flows simply with the help of gravity when you’re ready to water your lawn and garden.

Saving Money & the Earth

As previously mentioned, by utilizing a rain barrel to collect water, it helps cut down on water usage, saving you money on your water bill and reducing the amount of water used. But did you know that rainwater is actually the best water you can use for your plants? Treated water that flows from your hose has salts and chemicals that are tough on plants. Rainwater has nutrients and minerals that your garden will love.

It also helps improve erosion in your yard. Many times, the area near the roof will eventually erode, making it difficult to landscape in that specific area. With the help of a downspout, the water is directed into the rain barrel, helping your garden and protecting your lawn.

Additionally, if you live in an area where drought or water restrictions are frequent, rain barrels provide your own reserve during this time to keep your garden growing.

Rain Barrel Costs

The benefits of a rain barrel can be just what your lawn and garden needs. But what are the costs? A 55-gallon standard rain barrel kit can range from $100 to $150, depending on the style you choose. However, many cities have programs to assist with these costs, so be sure to research before you buy.

Some don’t include downspouts, diverters, stands or other amenities you may need for your set up.

DIY Rain Barrel Installation

When you’re ready to install your rain barrel, you can either install it yourself or call a pro, depending on how comfortable you are with DIY projects. There are two ways to install a rain barrel. For either method, you’ll want to place your barrel on a flat, raised surface. Many people use cement blocks or bricks to do so. One way is to simply position it under a downspout, that is if your downspout doesn’t reach the ground all the way. An elbow can help direct the flow of water if needed.

A more common and recommended way is to install a diverter in your downspout, to easily direct the flow of water from your roof and allow overflow to exit through the existing downspout. A diverter is easy to disconnect during winter months and allows for debris to flow away from the house as normal. A rain barrel kit typically comes with all the materials you need to start harvesting rainwater with the use of a diverter. It should also come with instructions that may vary by product. Outside of what the kit provides, you’ll likely need:

  • Hacksaw
  • Utility Knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Pencil
  • Measuring Tape
  • Gutter Bracket (optional)

Start by locating the place you wish to place your diverter. Measure and mark this section on the downspout. It’s best to keep it level with the top of the rain barrel for even flow of water. Safely saw off the portion of the downspout you wish to remove, from the highest point you marked with your pencil. If you’re able, take the downspout off the house to saw. Attach the diverter as instructed. Once installed, place the connecting tube to the port and attach to the rain barrel. You now have your own water storage system!

Rain Barrel Maintenance

Once you’ve installed your rain barrel, you’ll want to be sure you care for it properly. Always disconnect before the first freeze, if you live in a colder climate. As temperatures cool, the water can quickly become ice that could damage your barrel. It’s also recommended that when the barrel is disconnected for the season, it’s given a quick scrub with a water and vinegar solution to get rid of any residue from the summer season.