Grow Your Own Herbs

herb gardenOver the course of time, herbs have been used to flavor foods and beverages, perfume our homes and bodies, decorate our gardens, and treat our ills.  The utility of herbs can’t be measured. Here we share how you grow your own selection, indoors or outdoors.

1st – Prepare your soil A rich soil is best, and is easy to work with.  Most herbs will thrive and survive in a wide variety of soil types, and by making simple improvements, you will yield a soil ideal for the herb.  First, test your soil for texture and fertility.  A good soil is 50% solids and 50% porous space.  The porous space provides room for water, air, and plant roots. The solids things like fine rock particles and organic matter such as decayed plant matter. Loam is the ideal garden soil, with a combination of 20 percent clay, 40 percent silt, and 40 percent sand.  To make the soil drain better or hold more water, you can easily add organic matter.  Organic matter is any material that was once living but is now dead and decaying. You can use ground corncobs, sawdust, bark chips, straw, hay, eggshells, or grass clippings from your own yard.

Remember, your soil should be at least 6 inches deep regardless of whether you are growing your herbs indoors or outdoors.  If you are starting with plants, be sure to place the base of the stem 1 inch below the lip of the pot when growing them indoors.
2nd – Choose your space You will have many opportunities to be creative with the layout and location of your herb garden.  Maybe you would like a container garden in or close to the kitchen for the aromatic herbs that you love to use in your gourmet recipes.  Or you would like the look and aroma of rows of lacy anise swaying in the breeze along the walk to and from your house.  And, note that while a separate herb garden is aromatic and beautiful, you can blend herbs with flowers, vegetables and even your shrub beds.  Your landscape professional / garden center professional can help you select the easiest growing herbs for the area you have in mind.

3rd – Make your selections

The best way to select which herbs to grow is to make a list of those you will most likely use and enjoy.  Then determine their soil, light, and water needs.  Use their height, spread and growth habits to decide where to place them.  During winter, Mint, Chives, Rosemary, Basil and Parsley do very well indoors.  For the outdoors, good herbs to plant in the spring include Chervil, Cilantro (also known as Coriander), and Dill.

4th – Plant your herbs Most of us decide to try our hand at growing a few favorite herbs first. You might want to start with just two, until you get a feel for it. Common choices are basil,  parsley, dill, cilantro, oregano or thyme in a pot on the windowsill.  Once you get started, you might find yourself adding to the selection simply because it is easy for most herbs to thrive with little care.  Many herbs, such as mint, do have the ability to grow quite quickly. Plant them according to the instructions provided with the herbs you purchased. It’s important to allow enough depth for good growth. Be sure pots are not too small.

 

5th – Harvest with care

When you have your plants going, take special care when harvesting. Pruning too much off at one time off any one plant can kill it.  The best strategy is to harvest a little at a time, but harvest often. It is also helpful to inspect the individual plants before harvesting. Allow plants that do not look too healthy a bit more time to recover between harvests. Not only will you improve the longevity, you will also improve the quality of the herbs as they make their way to your dinner table. Your herb plants, if looked after, will continue providing flavor, scent, and pleasure for many years!

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TRELLISES AND CLIMBING PLANTS, VINES

trellisTrellises offer charm even as they stand alone but, most people can’t wait to plant a climbing plant to enhance the trellis with natural beauty. Consider adding a trellis to your front or back yard, side yard, courtyard or walkway. You can add a traditional look with ivy or toss in color with flowers, berries…even fruits or vegetables.

Perennial flowering vines like the trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is one of the best trellis plants because it grows in a clinging way as much as 30 feet each year.  It also thrives in most climates and has huge, showy, reddish-orange flowers.  It flourishes best with full sun exposure and drier, poorer soils.

Clematis vines are also great for growing on trellises.  This variety sticks to and climbs the trellis with small tendrils at a rate of up to 12 feet per year.  The Clematis species also have a wide selection of flower colors to select from and they grow best in full sun to part shade.   Consider the Dropmore Scarlet Honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownie “Dropmore Scarlet”), which blooms with red flowers and doesn’t die in winter.

Annual Flowering vines bring some of the best annual trellis plants including the Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab), which has charming purple flowers and grows up to 15 feet long.  A well known and easy to find option is the Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor).  Morning glories have rich blue, purple or pink flowers and may grow up to 10 feet.  The Cardinal Climber vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), the Black Eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) and the Moonflower vine (Ipomoea alba) are also fantastic trellis climbers that you can consider. Your landscaping/gardening professional at our center can help you make the best choice!

Climbing roses offer delicious fragrances and are hardy, re-blooming varieties.  They usually grow up to 8-10 feet, which means you may need a few of them to cover a trellis.  Please make a special note about climbing roses: Climbing roses don’t have tendrils to stick onto the trellis supports.  Thus, you need to tie the canes of the plant to the trellis to keep them upright.  Some beautiful climbing roses include cultivars like Seven Sisters, William Baffin, Henry Kelsey and John Davis.

Climbers of the fruit and berry varieties include hardy kiwi and grapes.  They grow very well on trellis support.  The hop vine (Humulus lupulus) is also a great choice and happens to yield the flowers used to make beer.  Hardy kiwis and hops do well with partial shade while grapes do best in full sunlight.

There is a great selection of vegetables that grow wonderfully on trellises.  Their cover lasts for up to two seasons a year.  The key is to select a non-bush plant such as tomatoes, peas, cucumbers or pole bean gourds.  You may also choose to use a non-bush vegetable plant that generates fruit smaller than a soccer ball can be grown on a trellis as well.  Those options include some melons, squash and small pumpkins.  You may look for the Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus cocineus), which produces edible pods.

So you can have a beautiful ivy-covered or flowered trellis for looks, or a veggie trellis for function!

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UNDERSTANDING SOIL TYPES

soilFor gardeners and property owners, there are up to five different soil types that you can utilize for lawn, garden and landscaping.  Each of the five is made up of a combination of three types of weathered rock particles: sand, silt, and clay.  The balance of how these three particles are combined defines the soil’s type—how it feels to the touch and how it retains water and nutrients. And so – how it helps plants and trees to grow.

1. Sandy soil, of all the types, has the largest particles.  It is dry and gritty to the touch and because the particles have huge spaces between them, it doesn’t retain water well.  Instead, water drains rapidly and falls straight through to the places where the roots, particularly those of seedlings, cannot reach.  The nutrients in sandy soil are not utilized by the plants because they are quickly carried away with the runoff.  The benefit of sandy soil is that it is lightweight and warms up quickly with the spring sun.  To determine how sandy the soil is that you are working with, you simply moisten it and roll it into a ball to check the predominant particle type.  If it is sandy soil, your effort to form a ball will fail and it will crumble through your fingers.

2. Silty soil has smaller particles than sandy soil, which makes it smooth to the touch.  When wet it is sort of soapy, slick, and when you roll it between your fingers there will be a coat of dirt left on your skin.  Silty soil retains water well but it doesn’t hold on to as much volume of nutrients making it just fairly fertile.  Due to its moisture-retentive quality, silty soil is cold and drains poorly.  Silty soil can also easily compact, so it is best to avoid trampling on it when working in the garden.  It can become poorly aerated, too.

3. Clay soil has the smallest particles among the three, so it offers good water storage qualities.  It is also sticky to the touch when wet and smooth when dry.  Because of the tiny size of the particles and its tendency to settle together, little air passes through its spaces.  It is also slower to drain and has a tighter hold on plant nutrients.  Thus, clay soil is rich in plant food, which is better for growth.  It takes longer to warm up in response to the sun because the water trapped within it also needs to be warmed up.  The downside to clay soil is it can be very heavy to work with, wet or dry.  In summer months, it turns hard and compact which makes it difficult to turn. To determine if you have clay, wet it and try rolling it up into a ball.  If it forms a ball or sausage-like shape, then you have clay.

4. Peaty soil is dark brown or black in color, soft, easily compressed due to its high water content, and rich in organic matter.  When peat is drained it turns into a good growing medium.  In the summer sun and heat, peat can become very dry and create a fire hazard.  The best benefits of peat soil are its ability to hold water during the dry months and protect the roots from damage during the very wet months.  It is also helpful to regulate the soil chemistry or pH levels as well as acting like an agent of disease control for the soil.  You can tell if you have peat in your hands by wetting it and trying to form a ball.  It won’t take shape, as it is a spongy material and when squeezed, water will be released.

5. Saline soil is usually found in extremely dry regions and is usually briny because of its high salt content.  It can cause damage by stalling plant growth and germination.  It can cause problems with irrigation too.  The salty content is due to the collection of soluble salts in the rhizosphere* – high salt contents prevent water uptake by plants, leading to drought and stress to the plant.  As with the other soils, it is easy to find if you have saline soil.  You will probably see a white layer coating on the surface, your plants aren’t doing well, and you will see leaf tip burn on the younger leaves.

Loam is the ideal soil type for gardening.  It contains a balance of sand, silt and clay that creates higher pH and calcium levels due to its previous organic matter content. The key characteristics of loam are its dark color and mealy texture, which is soft, dry and crumbly.  It holds nutrients well and yet drains well.  The touch test for loam is a smooth, partly gritty, partly sticky ball that crumbles easily.  Although loamy soil is the ideal material to work with, don’t despair if you don’t have it in our garden.  You can condition your soil by adding beneficial soil inoculents, cover your soil with compost or simply spray the area with compost tea. Don’t hesitate to ask your landscaping and gardening professional here at our center about how to improve your soil and growing power!

*The rhizosphere is a certain section of the soil in the ground and will be the subject of an upcoming article.

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Gardening in the wintertime…Grow some herbs!

Yes, it’s cold out. Yes, there is snow on the ground or if not, there will be soon. You sigh as you look out the window, missing the sunny days tending your garden. Well, that knack for nurturing green things can be put to good use during cold winter months, by growing herbs to cook with! Save money, and have some fun, and take pleasure in the herbs that do well and end up in your meals!

First, get veggie friendly potting soil and place into a window box or other gardening container, and make room at one of your brightly lit windows! Find the sunniest window you’ve got. Now, go to your landscaping and garden store (ours! ) and pick out herbs you and your family like. Oregano and basil are hardy and fairly easy to grow. Oregano needs the most light. Chives, Thyme, Rosemary, and Mint are other grower-friendly choices.

Chives can be used in dips, spreads, salads (like onion). Mint can be used in teas, desserts, and soups. Rosemary is known for lamb but try it with beef or pork or chicken too. Oregano – and pasta – a match made in heaven! Also any Italian dish will welcome your Oregano.

You CAN place each herb in a pot (4 inch, 5 inch) and sit them on your window ledge. But be sure there is a hole in the pot for water to drain or roots will rot. Read the instructions for the right watering amount. If you have outdoor herbs growing, you can move them inside – too late for this year, but something to consider next fall.

Most herbs need 4 to 6 hours of good light, ideally. Another one that is a good kitchen-growing herb is savory. Less known, but just as tasty as those named above. Savory is used in meats, stuffing (dressing), soups and sauces.

You may want to talk to your gardening pro about what soil works best for which herbs. Some need less fertilizing than others. You can also ask about feeding your herbs, and buy the right feed (they’ll need nutrients after the first few weeks).

The neat thing is that, after some experimentation, you’ll end up with ingredients for dishes, and can proudly say, “I used my basil in this dish, see it over there on the window ledge?” It is not uncommon for an herb or two to die out of every 3 to 5 planted. It’s a bit tricky, and you’ll get better at it as you go. So don’t be bothered if your frankincense fizzles or your cilantro curls up and disappears. Be patient, play around a bit, and find your fit with certain herbs. Let the kids help too, for a fun winter project.

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Ideas for Autumn – Enhancing your home

The front porch and entryway is the place where your home makes a first impression. Let’s get this important asset to your home shined up and ready for the festive season, with visits from friends and family!

Replace old hardware
House numbers, the entry door lockset, a wall-mounted mailbox, your doorbell plaquard, and an overhead light fixture are all elements that can add style and interest to your home’s exterior appeal. If any of these things are out of date or dingy, your home may not be conveying the aesthetic you would like. These elements typically add the most appeal when they function collectively, rather than as mix-and-match pieces. So replace one or all of these features for an instant front-of-the-house facelift! Also, clean off any dirty spots around windows, doorknobs, lightswitch plates, and other apparatuses. Use metal polish on the door fixtures or even the hinges. Oiled-bronze finishes suit traditional homes, while brushed nickel suits more contemporary ones.

Apply a fresh coat of paint
Make a statement by giving your front door a blast of color with paint or by installing a custom wood door. For bare wood, use a primer. If it has been painted, lightly sand the surface to improve adhesion, making sure to scrape and spot-prime peeling areas. Your entry should also reflect the home’s interior, so choose an overhead garland or a wreath that reflects your personal style, picked up at your favorite lawn and garden store! (wink wink)

Use color
Create a big impact with your fall displays by using contrasting and complimentary colors. Stick with cool colors, like blues, purples, and greens, to complement different shades of red, orange, and yellow leaves. If decorating with fall foliage or greens, add some color that contrasts the color of your house.

Accent your walkway
Here’s an inexpensive outdoor idea that’s also a cinch to execute. Simply layer a stocky glass vase with faux-snow and real cranberries (or fake, if you’re worried about animals). Tuck in a pillar candle. Align your walkway with fir bundles topped with these pretty luminaries that are easy to make. Pick up some pinecones and they too can be placed in glass squares or cylinders with faux snow and a battery-operated tealight or votive.

Create perfect symmetry
Symmetry is not only pleasing to the eye, it’s also the simplest to arrange. Symmetrical compositions of light fixtures and front-door accents create welcoming entryways and boost curb appeal. A door flanked by two sidelights or lantern-style sconces not only safely guide visitors to the door, but can also be coordinated with the door hardware and matching urns placed in the corner or on either side of the door. Urns can be filled with cinnamon brooms, pussywillows, or other branches, silk or real.

Install outdoor lighting to welcome visitors
Low-voltage landscape lighting makes a huge impact on your home’s curb appeal while also providing safety and security. Fixtures can add accent lighting to trees or the house or can illuminate a walking path. If you aren’t able to use lights that require wiring, install solar fixtures (but understand that their light levels are not as bright or as reliable).

Conceal that unsightly air conditioner
Plantings conceal the unit and also help save energy by shading the air conditioner’s condensing unit for part of the day when the sun is shining. You can use low-care plantings that look great and don’t take up a lot of time. Incorporate hearty plants with shrubbery, which your friendly landscaping professional at our store will gladly recommend! You want to make deer-resistant choices.

Don’t forget the mailbox
If your box is out front on a post, consider a new post, or give it a fresh coat of paint. Maybe it’s time for a new mailbox! Don’t forget to add a festive bow that can share cheer from Thanksgiving through the New Year!

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Trees and their Uses

Any landscape professional will tell you that trees can add a lot of interest to your property. They surely can, but there are also other benefits, like shade – and barriers from wind or noise. In fact, trees provide a lot more for us than we ever consider. The uses for and benefits of trees are many, whether you are looking for fun or function! Read below to learn more about this popular backyard staple.
Benefits

A young healthy tree can provide a net cooling effect similar to ten room-sized air conditioners operating for 20 hours a day! (According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Not only may this save you money, but in particular, trees save energy. Especially if the tree will cast a shadow on your home as it grows. Not to mention that later in the year, trees near the home can also provide a barrier from cold weather temperatures. They can prevent snowdrifts piling up against your home as well.

Trees also benefit your entire yard. They do this by saving water and soil, and cleaning the air. Surprisingly, this all starts with water evaporation from your own yard. The roots of a tree act like a sponge and not only drink the water, but hold the soil in place. The water is then evaporated back into the atmosphere surrounding the area, and you guessed it — increases the moisture. Simultaneously, odors and other gases from your lawn or neighbor’s lawn are absorbed and filtered by the leaves and bark. It really is better under the shade of a tree! Your air there is actually fresher!

Types of Trees
So, now that you are sold on the benefits of trees in your yard, let’s dive in to learn about some types of trees that you can utilize in your space.

New to landscaping or taking care of a lawn? No problem, because there are still trees for you! Three of the easiest trees to care for in the Northeast are listed below so you won’t be able to go wrong.

Red Oak Tree
This is not the only type of oak tree planted in the Northeast, but it is known mostly for its’ pretty leaves, which have a reddish tint come fall. These trees can grow up to 90 feet, providing plenty of shade, and are fairly tolerant of harsh conditions and soil.

Black Birch
This tree’s bark is commonly confused with wild cherry bark. The trunk of this tree does not grow very wide, but the height can grow up to 70 feet. It is recommended to place this tree in a low point in your lawn to ensure that it collects enough water. This tree adds another special something to your lawn environment, as a scent of wintergreen oil ascends from the twigs. If you are feeling ambitious enough, you could try to make birch beer or tea!

Sugar Maple
A great ornamental and shade tree is the sugar maple. In fall, this tree will have pops of brilliant color, and in the summer it will provide shelter and relief as its’ crown can grow dense and wide. This tree is extremely tolerant and does not require much water, making care very easy for you in your yard.

Really, we could go on and on about trees. However, this article is simply to spark your interest. Where can you go wrong with healthy air and clean water? Not to mention some color for your enjoyment in the fall, and please don’t hesitate to contact your professional landscaping and gardening experts at our center. Not only can we recommend the perfect tree for your needs, but the hassle of the planting can be taken care of for you as well. For your next planting project, try a tree!

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ADDING SHADE TO YOUR PROPERTY

We love the summer sun, with the way it makes things like swimming pools, lemonade, and wildflowers enhance our summer days. But sometimes, it’s too hot, and we seek escape from that same sun that we love! If you want to make your backyard, front yard, sideyard, driveway or walkways – any area of your home – more shady, read on for tips from HighTech Landscapes, your lawn and garden professionals.

Most people like to do pockets of shade – having a mix of sunny and shaded areas. Here we share several ways to add shade to various spots around your home.

Towering trees are great for shading large areas. An
example of a large shade tree would be a fern-leaved Catalina Ironwood, which
grows 45 to 55 feet in height and can be placed in the center of the yard to shade
a large lawn area, or beside a patio or deck to shade a certain seating area.
Crimson King Maples have a gorgeous maroon color and also grow 40 to 50 feet
and provide good shade. These trees like all types of soil so you can plant
them just about anywhere – they are an easy to grow, adaptable tree

If you want a tree that grows quickly, we suggest the Silver Maple. But it does spread and can be considered a nuisance tree by some, so look into fast growing options. We’ll share those in an upcoming article.

Another good shade tree that is medium sized for shading slightly smaller areas would be a Muskogee crape myrtle or a Mimosa Tree. Mimosa trees are rather uncommon but they are lovely ornamental trees that attract hummingbirds. They grow to a height of 20 to 35 feet. Note that the first couple of years, branching is light, but they gain many branches as
they age. Mimosa trees are considered easy to grow, and drought tolerant.

To shade a small area, consider erecting an arbor. These are a lovely visual focal point and can be planted with a beautiful winding vine such as Wisteria or Honeysuckle. An arbor covered with colorful blooms and thick leaves not only looks lovely to the eye but is a nice source of shade. Ask your landscaping professional to help you choose climbing, blooming plants for an arbor or trellis, and explain what coaxing you may need to do to get
them to grow the way you wish.

To shade a walkway, you want plants and shrubs two to four feet in height. You can achieve a uniform look using all of one shrub, or mix and match. You have to consider both the soil and the amount of sunlight when choosing the plant to line a path or sidewalk, so this may be time to ask your landscaping advisor. A good hardy choice is Boxwood, and others are Spring Heath or Buttonbush. Decide in advance if you want just greenery, or a blooming border for your pathway.

Add some plantings and beat the heat! Call High Tech Landscapes – central New Jersey’s choice for gardening.

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Flowers of the Northeastern United States

Despite the harsh winters throughout the northeastern region of the country, there are an abundance of plantings that are robust in color, of all shapes and sizes, that thrive despite their location.   They range from towering trees, bushes, and ground covers to blooming and flowering plants. And, unlike more  tender garden flowers, Northeast natives are very cold tolerant.  These native flowering plants and trees survive even frigid winter conditions.

Native Flowering Vines

The Ground Nut (Apois Tuberosa or Americana) grows from 15 to 20 feet and spreads 4 to 6 feet in late spring or early/mid summer.  It likes sun to partial sun and develops pinkish-lavender and maroon flowers, which form in clusters that are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.  The flowers are fragrant. Please note, this plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering
seeds.

Woodbine (Clematis Virginiana) grows 12 to 20 feet and spreads 3 to 6 feet from August through October with full sun to partial shade, and blooms with fragrant white flowers in late summer through early fall.  If given support, it will climb rapidly with the aid of tendrilous leaf petioles to 20’. Without support, it will sprawl along the ground as a dense, tangled ground cover.

Native Flowering Trees

Magnolia are beautiful flowering trees that produce 3-to 4 inch-wide pinkish, white blossoms each spring. These trees grow best in acidic, well-drained, moist soil with either full sun or partial sun exposure. Magnolias can grow up to 30 feet tall and have an average
spread of between 15 and 30 feet wide. They are relatively slow-growing trees
that can take up to 20 years to bloom from the time you plant them. Gardeners
recommend pruning these trees in late summer and late winter to avoid sap
bleeding and ensure a healthy framework.

Pagoda Dogwood is named for its horizontal branches that resemble a pagoda. It produces creamy-colored, yellowish white blossoms that give off a sweet aroma. The pagoda dogwood also produces berries that feed a variety of Northeastern bird species and other
animals. This tree will grow up to 25 feet and survives best in cultivation
zones 4 through 8. Though the pagoda dogwood will survive in partial sunlight, it
thrives and produces the most blossoms with direct sunlight. The tree prefers
well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Other common names for the pagoda dogwood
include pigeon berry and alternate-leaf dogwood.

Native Flowering Shrubs

Buttercup winter hazel (Corylopsis Pauciflora) has clusters of dangling yellow flowers that appear in early spring and last for about two weeks in cool weather.
Buttercup winter hazel is a small shrub, spreading to about 4 feet tall
and wide. It has small, beautifully pleated leaves and a rather delicate
appearance, but it is a tough shrub. Plant it in part shade.

Azaleas are spring-bloomers that put on a dazzling show every year in the dappled light under tall trees. One in particular, the Pinxterbloom azalea (Rhododendron Periclymenoides), is a deciduous shrub known for its white, pink, or violet flowers in early spring. This native azalea grows naturally on the banks of streams and in woods, and
looks very pretty under trees in woodland gardens. It grows up to about 6 feet
tall and is amazingly drought-tolerant.

Native Flowering Plants

Wild Anemone (Anemone Canadensis) is an easy-to-grow, easy-to-love plant that thrives in moist soils rich in organic matter. Its large white flowers are a highlight of the spring border. A vigorous groundcover, it can happily fill in a large space within a growing
season. It likes shade to partly sunny and well-drained soil.

The Common blue violet, or common meadow violet (Viola Sororia), is the state flower of both Rhode Island and New Jersey. This flower grows in the moist soil of woody areas in the Northeast, and the plant grows up to 6 inches in height. Its purple flowers bloom from
April through June.

New Jersey is home to all of the above, and if you are interested in knowing more
about any of them, to consider enhancing your own lawn and garden, just ask
High Tech Landscapes of Branchburg.

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Creating the Ideal Landscape for your Home or Property

Most likely, everyone has a different vision of what the “perfect landscape” is. To that we would say the only requirement is that it needs to be unique to you and be something that YOU like! Your home is your castle.  No matter the size,  no matter how modest or grand, the space around you affects your quality of life. Now may be the perfect time to create the perfect surroundings for you /  your family.

There are so many different attractions and visual elements that can be incorporated into your space. You can be a minimalist, or go big! Not sure how to begin? Here’s a good way to begin the process…Think of  landscaping as “PLANT!” Plan-Labor-Aerate-Nourish-Trim.

1. PLAN

First, know yourself. Do you want to have
to clean up leaves and trim bushes weekly? Would you prefer a low maintenance
outdoor space? Not only that but would you wish to have a special garden or a
pond to add interest? A professional landscaper can help you with these options
in a simple consultation that could make all of the difference!

Now before you go getting overwhelmed, you can start with the basics. The building blocks. Many designers and planners will tell you to picture the big items. The main areas of sight such as a tree, your patio, or larger plants that you have and want to keep. Now you can enhance them by surrounding them with a ring of smaller plants or shrubbery. Or
strip the dirt bare around them and add gravel and one statue. It really is up
to you! The initial visualization stages are important, and you should sketch
it out. If your home and project are large, have your landscaper draw it up for
you.

2. LABOR

Once you have a plan, you now need the work to be done. For many this stage can be the toughest. Let’s say you’d love a patio in your backyard, but you need to move dirt and flatten the area to get one. Maybe you have to erect a fence, or dig out an old stump. Do what you can on your own, but be realistic.

Anything beyond basic landscaping most often requires assistance from a professional, and someone to come in to do the grunt work, if you are a busy working professional. Patios, ponds, deck projects need a certain level of expertise. Plan your labor time and costs accordingly.

3. AERATE

Aerate in this use means, “clear the area”. Open up your space so you have a more
blank canvas to start with. Remove the debris from the ground to begin laying down the gravel, sod, or native grasses that you’ve chosen. Consider your soil type back in the planning stage. Ground cover looks great, it’s an instant way to make a bare or drab area look nicer.

4. NOURISH

Now that your grasses, plants, trees or shrubs are in place – there is some care
involved. Whether you went with two big potted plants and the rest of the area
is mulch, or you planted a dozen bushes and a row of flowers, you have to
nourish them as needed, with the right amount of water and the occasional food
or fertilizer. Read the info that came with your plantings, or ask a gardening
professional.

5. TRIMMING-

Trimming in this article not only means that you may have to trim something back once in a while, but also, it means “applying the final touches” to your ideal landscape. You may enjoy decorating your overall outdoor space! Consider adding finishing touches such as: lanterns or lights, furniture, stepping stones, crystals or prisms, wind chimes…or whatever else you like to have around you! Be creative and be sure to play off the overall look and feel of your home. After spending all of this time improving your outdoor area, you can then reap the benefits – sit back, relax, and enjoy! (Have a friend come over to admire your work!)

Contact High Tech Landscapes in Branchburg to begin your initial consultation and planning process! We can assist in any of the areas described above. After all, it is never to late to have the escape you always dreamed of right outside your door!

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Make a Summer Splash – with Windowboxes

A colorful, beautiful garden on a miniature scale – essentially, that’s what you are creating when you hang and fill a windowbox. Windowboxes come in many sizes and styles – shop your local garden center for one that matches your home or ask  your gardening professional to choose one for you. There are wood and metal styles, rustic to sleek and sophisticated.

Once you’ve chosen your boxes, it’s time to choose the plants. The benefit of window boxes  is that they enhance your home with greenery and summer colors – without blowing your budget. All you need is good container potting soil and an assortment of hardy plants and blooms. Some ideas for you, which look very pretty in windowboxes, include:

Pansies

Caladium

Ivy

Holly Fern

Impatiens

Periwinkle

Coral bells

Flowering kale and Sedge work well for a longer life/longer season

It’s good to choose flowers that have pretty leaves/lots of leaves, so that when not in
bloom, the box still looks nice and full. Experiment with what grows well in
your window area. Some plants need more sun than others so keep the location of
your windowboxes in mind when selecting plantings. However, another great thing
about windowboxes is the ease with which you can remove a single dead or dying
plant and replace it, without redoing the whole box.

Box gardening, container gardening – these hobbies are becoming more popular. As a
society, we have less space to work with and less time, so confining plants and
flowers to urns, bowls and boxes enables us to enjoy nature’s beauty, without a
lot of muss and fuss. Have fun filling your container – get a child or teen
involved. When they plant it, they have more incentive to care for it.

You can get creative with box plantings too. Windowboxes can brighten any eave or dormer. They can line the railing of your front porch or balcony – or line the fencing
around your backyard or deck. Take a walk around the outside of your home and
look for dull or drab spots where a hanging box or hanging planter, or a plant
stand holding a large bowl or plant pot would look attractive and add some
color. Kick it up a notch by adding a small box/planter on or beside your
mailbox stand, that matches the planters on the front of the house.

 

Window boxes typically need watered just once or twice a week. Depending on plantings
chosen, you may want to add plant food pellets or spikes. Ask your local
professional how to care for and feed the plants you’ve chosen. At HighTech
Landscapes, we welcome all questions and are happy to help you choose plants
and flowers for your home. We are New Jersey’s landscaping choice, based in
Branchburg, NJ. We know what plants thrive best in this area.

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