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.

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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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

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.


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


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.


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.


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


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:




Holly Fern



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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Summer Color

Did you know that 25% of Americans look forward to summer for
the sole purpose that they get to enjoy their beautiful surroundings outdoors? This is especially true for occupants of the northern states. So why not add to your enjoyment of your surroundings by enhancing your backyard or outdoor living space with some summer blooms?

There are many perennials that bloom during the summer and are
available right now. In this article we will discuss some of the easiest to
care for, which are full sun flowers. These flowers are common to your
neighborhood plant store. Why? Because, most people like low maintenance
plantings. Read below and be sure to brighten your summer days.


This awesome flower actually withers on a daily basis, but do
not be concerned! The next day another bright bloom will be replaced on the
same stalk, keeping the color consistent in the warmer months. There are
actually two different varieties of daylilies, as well. The yellow, pink, and
pastel colored blooms need full sun attention, while the darker colors (purples
and reds) need shade. They are also one of the more adaptable landscape plants
growing in zones all over the country. You really cannot go wrong with this
bright perennial.

Black-eyed Susans

You probably saw fields of these as a child, but what is great
about a Susan is that they can fill a space in a quick amount of time. Growing
over three feet tall, their yellow petals average about six inches long. The
perfect summer appearance, the black-eyed susan blooms from June to October. So
you can enjoy them all summer and into the fall. They are perfect along
driveways or walkways.

Shasta Daisies

Countless games of “he loves me/ he loves me not” took place
with these flowers as children. It is a classic addition to any backyard, and
just shouts “summertime”. A fun fact is that daisies are actually said to be
America’s favorite flower! Probably because they grow in full sun and bloom
year after year after year. If you plant these in your backyard, there’s a bonus…you
will probably get even more pops of color. These unassuming flowers attract

Cranesbill Geraniums

There is great variety in the geranium family itself. These
flowers are most commonly used in rock and retaining walls. The way that they
grow looks like they are “spilling out” of the pot, soil, or nook or cranny.
The most common type is the salmon colored Wargrave Pink. They grow constantly
throughout the summer in most regions of the US. These flowers need almost no
care at all, and do well in semi-shade and sunlight. They can grow 18-24” tall
and are sure to attract the eye!

So there’s your recipe for enjoyment of summer color and the
great outdoors. Head out to your favorite landscaping store and grab your
palette. You can’t go wrong with low maintenance blooms like these…and visitors
to your home will enjoy the colors, too!

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Manageable Steps for Your Spring Garden & Lawn

Every season brings creative opportunities in the garden. Spring is an ideal time for gardeners as you get ready for the beauty of your garden to come alive after the winter slumber.  Sometimes the nurturing will feel like a lot of work (sigh….) — but it
is easier to master when you prioritize and organize. Here’s what we hope will
prove to be a helpful To Do List.

1. Pruning

Forblooming shrubs such as berries, juniper, and dogwoods, prune as soon as bloomshave passed. This is also the perfect time to prep your roses.  Please note, not all types of roses need to be pruned, other than for clean-up and size control, but if you are going to prune your roses, early spring is the perfect time.

(TIP: Pruning before the leaf buds open causes the rose bush to
put its full energy into new growth. If you are uncertain how to prune roses or
which roses need pruning, touch base with your favorite gardening expert or do
an internet search).

2. Deadheading

Many gardeners do not think of deadheading as an art, but instead as a chore.
Maybe it is more of a chore but, one worth doing since you are tending to your
garden in a most intimate way. To deadhead a flower, you must look at it and at
the plant it is growing on. Notice the plant’s health, how well it is doing in
regards to the plants around it and the state of the weed population. This is a
perfect time to evaluate whether or not to leave a seed pod on your pansies or
daffodils.  Consider how you wish to set the stage for how these well known standards in the Northeast will do in your garden moving forward or maybe you want to find room to add some geraniums, orange honeysuckle or something new.  Which leads us to…

3. Weeding

Get ready to get dirty and pull weeds from your beds and borders before they
have a chance to make them their permanent residence and spread.  Enough said about the joys of weeding…

4. Composting

If you piled up lots of organic matter in the fall you may be surprised to find
that it has broken down a bit during the winter.  This material can be used as a great mulch or you can simply combine new material with it and still use it as planned for compost.

Never made compost before? GOOD NEWS! Compost is one of the
easiest (and cheapest!) ways to amend your soil. It’s organic matter decayed by
the sun and soil microorganisms. It can be used to improve the overall health
(soil structure) of your earth by adding nutrients and promoting the
microorganisms that assist in soil temperature regulation and improve pH.  And, the task of making compost is easy.  You know you’re mission is accomplished when the
pile has become dark brown and crumbly (actual time depends on the environment).

5. Tools

Now is the time to take inventory of what you need for the season.  Make repairs or new purchases (TIP: Garage sales are great source for the budget conscious). Your list should include pruning shears and to find out the best for you – ask your favorite gardening professional.  You will be pleased when you have what you need when you need it (and more so, if you didn’t break the budget) when summer sets in.

6. Plant

Time to let your creative juices flow as now is the time to select and add new
plants. (TIP: Be sure, the threat of frost has past and the earth has thawed). Consider trees, shrubs, hardy annuals, and summer blooming bulbs.  And, ask your favorite gardener for suggestions that are ideal for the conditions (sun, shade, dry, moist, etc.) in your garden and region.

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All About Mulch

What is Mulch?

Mulch is any (ideally, organic) substance that you can spread or lay over the surface of your soil as a covering.  Use it to keep moisture in your earth, suppress weeds, keep soil cool and also to make the garden bed look more attractive. A key benefit to organic mulches is that they help improve your soil’s fertility as they decompose.

Examples of organic mulches include:

  • Bark, Shredded or
  • Compost and Composted
  • Grass Clippings
  • Newspaper
  • Shredded Leaves
  • Straw

Organic mulch will decompose and have to be replaced but,
in the process it will also improve your soil’s fertility. Generally, the dryer
and woodier the mulch, the slower it will decompose and the less nutrients it
will give to the soil.

TIP: Be sure your mulch is weed seedling free.

How to use your mulch:

  • Bark mulches are
    best used around trees, shrubs and anywhere you won’t be doing a lot of
    digging.  Elect to use woody mulches
    where you know it will mix well into the soil and you know you don’t
    intend to move it later to make way for new plants.
  • Compost and Composted
    can be used anywhere as long as they are weed free. You can use
    them as a coating of mulch or simply side dress plants with them during
    the growing season to insulate and give a boost of slow released
  • Grass Clippings
    are a mixed bag and worthy of a warning because of the slimy consistency
    that gets matted down and restricts water from passing while creating an
    unpleasant odor as they decompose.
    For this reason, clippings are best suited to remote areas of your
    garden where you basically want to suppress weeds and don’t have high

TIP: The best way to use grass clippings is
to use a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the lawn to add fertility to
that soil. Best plan; place untreated grass clippings into your compost bin or
unplanted areas.

  • Newspaper as
    mulch is not new and is increasing in popularity because many newspapers
    have switched to using organic dyes, especially for their black &
    white sections. The art of mulching with shredded newspaper traditionally
    works well because it keeps plant roots moist while shipping.  And, layered sheets are effective at suppressing weeds and controlling soil temperatures.  Newspaper is also great for smothering existing grass and jump starting a new garden bed.

TIP: Moisten (4-8)
sheets to keep them in place and cover the newspaper with a 1-3 inch layer of
another organic mulch material and your weed protection should last throughout
the growing season.

  • Shredded Leaves
    are natures favorite mulch. Shredded leaves can be used as mulch anywhere
    and have the added bonus of being free. I have never had so many earth
    worms in my flower gardens as I’ve had since I started using shredded leaf
    mulch about 3 years ago. Even my compost pile doesn’t have as much
    activity as under these leaves.

TIP: Spread a layer in the spring, before plants spread out, the leaf mulch tends to blend
into the view within a short time. Spread a layer over your vegetable garden in
the fall and it will begin decomposing over the winter.

  • Straw and Salt Hay
    have always been popular mulches for the vegetable garden. They keep the
    soil and soil born diseases from splashing up on lower plant leaves and
    make paths less muddy. Straw decomposes very slowly and will last the
    entire growing season. It also makes a nice home for spiders and other
    beneficial insects who will move in and help keep the pest population in
    control. And finally, it’s easy to either rake up or work into the soil
    when it’s time to plant a new crop or put the vegetable garden to bed.
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The Cactus Plant – Resilient & Versatile

Cactus is a type of plant that really does not receive enough credit. Not only can this plant grow both outside and inside, they are a great accent to almost any porch or backyard in
the summer. Known for their ease of care, cacti are considered stem succulents,and are mostly grown in pots. However, the larger species of this plant are grown in soil – and can be too spacious for indoors.

It is believed that the first cacti were introduced to Europeans by Christopher Columbus as early as the 15th century! Although there is some controversy around this exact date, many native tribes of Brazil, the Aztecs, and also Mexican natives depicted cacti in
drawings 12,000 years ago, which mean that they would have had to be established beforehand.  As of 1753 there were 22 species named, and today there are around 2,000.

Cactus can survive in the driest of conditions due to their spines that can store water for years! The way that this works is that while many plants open their pores (Stomata) during the day, cactus open theirs at night. By opening their pores at night they are at less
of a risk of warm temperatures and water evaporation due to sunlight. Then,
while most plants would produce their sugars at night, this fascinating plant
has the ability to do so during the day to complete photosynthesis. Talk about
adaptations to overcome adversity!

Now, if you are looking to add some cacti to your plant collection they can really be a great addition. If you forget to water them for several days, no worries. If you travel for work you
should make this your ornamental plant selection. Not only are they low
maintenance but you have the option to move them to different parts of your
home in the winter, and then outdoors for the summer. Here are some of the most
common types found here in the states:

Golden Ball

Perhaps the most common type of cactus grown indoors in the United States, the Golden Ball cactus are just like their name- perfectly shaped circular thorns. They grow in clusters, and are most used as decorative houseplants. Maybe this is because this type of cactus
actually does not do well with direct sunlight. Some will grow pink or white
flowers at the top, which add to their visual appeal.


If you do not want to put any time into a plant look no further than the Pincushion cactus; they really need no pampering at all. Carrying both flowers and cactus fruit, the popular
Pincushion cacti are fleshy and tubular. This plant does need direct sunlight
and low humidity, so consider this when planning the placement of this “cute”
cactus plant.

Cereus Peruvianus

A larger type Cactus, the Cereus Peruvianus will grow quickly without much maintenance. You will need a very large pot with air holes in the bottom for ventilation will help this plant thrive. Really, the beautiful white flowers that grow with this type will be a
great addition to any space that you choose.

Cacti can be great conversation pieces. You can adorn them with strings of beads or white lights. You can placeSouthwest style knick-knacks around them or in the pots themselves. They really are enjoyable, and we can help you make the best selection for your home.
Perfect for a sun porch or sunny breakfast nook!  So, make the non-commitment and pick up a new cactus today. You will not be disappointed and will be amazed as you watch this
plant grow with so little of your time invested.

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Creating a Low Maintenance Lawn

NJ Landscape Designer

NJ Landscape Designer

Want a beautiful lawn, but don’t want to waste your valuable time on gardening and re-gardening after every winter? Well, there are some low-maintenance ideas here that can assist in the transition, especially after the colder months. You’ll also find some out-of-the box ideas that differ from your traditional lawn care.

Grass Options

Grass is usually what first comes to mind when it comes to traditional lawns, but there are alternatives. Groundcover is a low maintenance option, as is Clover. A nice low-maintenance choice is ornamental grasses, which require less time and care than a full lawn that you’d have to mow!

Groundcover can include such plant types as Verbena, Bishops weed, and Juniper. These types grow very short, and therefore do not require trimming. The first year of growth is the hardest, which requires weeding, mulching, and an edge barrier system, but it is well
worth it in the long run, as once the cover takes hold, then little care is needed at all. There are even edible varieties of Groundcover you can experiment with – like Strawberry plants!

If you still want the “grass lawn look” without the hassle; ornamental grasses require some trimming, but are nice because they grow well in most climates. Another benefit of these grasses is that they are also drought resistant for the summer! Ornamental grasses seldom
require fertilizer, and are supposed to be grown a little longer than traditional grass. Common types are names like Feather reed, Fountain grass, and Desert plains.

Clover many times is actually confused for grass, and is the “wild common form” that we see growing in fields or open areas. It is a soil enhancer, which means that it chokes weeds and enables other plants to grow prosperously in the area. Common types of Clover are DutchWhite and Yellow Blossom. Looking for the lowest possible maintenance from year
to year? Most gardeners recommend Dutch White as it is considered a perennial,
and will return easily after winter. This way you will not have to reseed the

Flower Options

Interesting and beautiful to the eye of course are flowers. Flowers are an easy way to brighten up a lawn and keep your outdoor space pleasing to the eye. Easy, that is, if you choose the right types! Here is some information about the easiest types of flowers to maintain. Keep in mind, however that most flowers do best with at least a little sun and
moisture. And the planting period (time of year) must be followed. A common
mistake made is not waiting long enough to plant in the spring, and then
flowers freeze.


First, Hydrangeas are flowers with certain colors based on the acidity of the soil in the area. Colors can be blue, purple, or cream. These plants grow in shrubs, and luckily tolerate almost any soil type. They require partial shade, and will produce flowers from
summer to fall! Perfect to enjoy from spring to fall.

Geraniums are a good choice for our climate. There is a lot to be said about this flower, but most of all know that it is a tough cookie! The Geranium will stand up to winds and cold, while being flexible with soil type. They can thrive in both full sun or partial shade, and
are even resistant to animal encounters; especially deer.


Another suggestion for a low maintenance flower is Foxglove. This lavender, blue, or pink flower is quite dramatic as spikes surround the tall stems. The tubular shape will also seed itself for the next year, and multiplies easily. It’s only requirement is that it has well
drained soil…it cannot sit in a place that collects a lot of water.


If you are still not feeling 100% about the options above, there is a newer type of landscaping that has become very popular – Xeriscaping (pronounced “Zero-scaping”). The key part of the word here being “zero.” No doubt the most hands off you will be able to get with an outdoor space – this type of lawn care is your friend.

Xeriscaping is especially good for areas that do not have enough water supplied from irrigation, or for drier climates. On the other hand, it is becoming more mainstreamed and is being used in other areas as a low maintenance option. Popular elements for this type of
landscaping are Gravel, Garden Rocks, Succulents, Cacti, and Native
Plants.  You will definitely save money on the water bill, and these types of lawns have been said to be more visually interesting than the normal.

You simply cover an area with rocks or gravel (or even rubber mulch) and plant
hardy plants like cacti in certain spots. Or place them in pots here and there
instead of planting in the ground. Add an occasional decorative rock or fake
“boulder” to complete the look.

Hopefully after reading this article you’re not feeling so overwhelmed with creating your backyard or outdoor space for the upcoming season. There are many options at hand that you can tailor to your own personal interest and time frames. Consider finding a non-traditional lawn idea that works for you; you will reap the benefits and will have time for
more activities this spring/ summer! Don’t hesitate to ask us, your local lawn and garden professional, for more


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