10830 Fairmount Road Newbury, Ohio 44065
Mon-Sat: 07:00 - 17:00
26 Jan 2018

Rain can be a pain

Any guesses to the number one function of your landscape? Though a rather boring thought, it’s the control of rain water. We tend to spend a lot of time and energy choosing plants and flowers that are pleasing. Yet, poor drainage will kill turf and trees. Too much water can undermine patios, walks, and your home’s foundation. Not to mention a wet yard is a bother for foot traffic, play, and routine maintenance. And how about those pesky mosquitoes!  Yes, proper drainage is, was, and always will be job number one.

Water issues do not go away by themselves. Unless addressed, drainage problems will present bigger issues. There are numerous solutions to resolve and control water issues. The follow solutions are in order of choice.

  • Grading is achieved by pitching beds away from foundations or grading lawn area to allow water to drain.
  • Swales help divert and carry water away from structures, patios, and planting beds.
  • Raised beds are a successful option for planting beds located in a perpetually soggy area.
  • Drain tile is a last resort, but often a necessity. Collection points or catch basins are installed and connected to underground pipes that empty into a stream, a wood line, or public utility. This option can be the more costly to install and will need periodic maintenance to keep working to it’s potential.

At Outdoor Concepts we assess the situation, come up with a resolution, and get your yard just where is needs to be for maximum enjoyment.

24 Jan 2017

The ins and outs of firewood

Have you noticed this new interest around town? Fireplaces. Local restaurants are extending the dining experience, taking it outdoors. Love the notion of people spending more time outside!

Sitting around fire finds it’s way to the backyard too. Free standing fire pits are portable and not a huge investment. With a little more space and permanence, a fireplace can be a great architectural focal point. New product lines make the fireplace install affordable and don’t require a concrete footer.

If not outside, perhaps it’s indoors where you’ll enjoy a wood burning fire this season. Consider the type of wood to burn. Seasoned firewood is aged for six months or more. Unseasoned wood doesn’t produce the same heat. Hardwoods such as Maple, Oak or Ash are best. Pine trees contain too much sap or pitch and are not appropriate for indoor burning. Though Ash wood is a great burning wood, it does have the potential problem of containing the Emerald Ash Borer. To help prevent the spread of the insect, many counties have quarantined Ash firewood, making it unlawful to transport Ash across county lines.  When purchasing firewood, your firewood delivery service should be aware of this restriction.

Did you know firewood sales are regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture? The standard unit measurement for firewood sales is a cord. A cord of wood is stacked parallel to each piece of wood, not criss-crossed. The area measures 4’ x 4’ x 8’ and equals 128 cubic feet. Often the term “rick” is used to identify half cords, but this is not a recognized or even legal unit of measurement. Wood can only be sold by the cord or fractions of a cord such as 1/2 cord or 1/4 cord. Technically, the bundles of wood outside retail stores, deliveries by the truckload, piles, or face cord are not using legitimate units.  Luckily, the firewood police do not make a big deal about this, but if you do order bulk firewood, you should be buying some portion of a cord.

So, when designing your backyard oasis. Consider, a fireplace or fire pit. A wood fire offers a wonderful gathering place for friends and family.

 

 

19 Jan 2017

Watering mystery

Watering plant and turf can be somewhat of a mystery; not all landscapes are created equal. 

Some landscapes are well established, some newly planted, sun filled, shaded, different soil composition, and the list goes on. So many variables, not to mention natural rainfall, make it hard to have a hard set of rules. 

What we know. Established plants have deeper root systems. To a certain extent, can provide for themselves. Additional water is still needed, however, older plantings will be far less susceptible to a couple of really hot days. Eventually, drought conditions catch up with the ability to provide for themselves. On the other hand, newly planted landscapes need much more attention.

How much water? As a general rule of thumb, turf and plants (to be well hydrated) need 1″ of natural rainfall or supplemental water per week. Water infrequently and thoroughly. Avoid light daily watering. Saturating the root zone helps develop a deep rooted plant, better to withstand periods of drought. Irrigation systems need periodic adjustment, based on the time of year and current season conditions.

When to water? Watering is best done in the morning, allowing the foliage to be dry by nightfall thus, minimizing disease potential.

Take the mystery away. Observe how much water your plants and turf are getting, especially  during the hottest month. You could 1) Set up a rain gauge or a can the collects and measures water 2) Check the soil’s moisture by using a soil probe 3) Or simply, stick your finger 3″-4″ into the soil. Proper soil moisture will leave your finger slightly moist.

Most important take- away. A wilted plant can either have not enough water OR too much water.  We tend to only think of not enough water and the poor plant sits in a puddle all summer long. That makes proper assessment is so important.

 

 

 

 

19 Jan 2017

To mulch or not to mulch

Mulching every year can be a big expense. Is it really necessary?
Annual mulching provides a finished look to the landscape. Without a doubt, mulching looks great at first. As time goes by the newness fades and so does the wow factor.
However, the added benefits of mulching far surpass the initial install.

5 Benefits of Mulching

  1. Suppresses weed growth
  2. Organics fertilize plants
  3. Retains moisture
  4. Helps fluctuating soil temperatures
  5. Helps achieve a finished and visually pleasing look

By definition mulch can be any variety of different materials. Such as bark mulch, recycled/ dyed mulch, wood chips, pine needles, straw, grass clipping, gravel, and cocoa shells. Though very different, each has a positive effect within the scope of application. Bark mulch or recycled/ dyed pallet mulch are most popular for planting beds.

Though it’s totally your preference, I like bark mulch, as it fulfills all 5 benefits mentioned above. The dyed mulch is made from recycled wood pallets that have been munched up and dyed various colors. The dying process allows longer color retention than bark mulch. It doesn’t break down as readily as bark mulch and therefore plants don’t fully benefit from the fertilizing effect. Eventually, the dye fades, leaving the look of wood chips.

The depth of applied much is important too. You’ll want to maintain about a 2″ depth of mulch. Any more is actually detrimental to the plant material, not allowing for free movement of air and water. Less than an inch is not enough for good weed suppression and moisture retention.

Bottom line, mulch is not just for looks. It is part of a good maintenance program that you and your plants will enjoy the entire season.

 

 

19 Jan 2017

It’s show time

 

The Oscars recognize excellence in cinematic achievement. For gardeners the really big show is SPRINGTIME!

Other seasons certainly get the nomination, however, springtime gets my vote. Who can deny great performances by chirping birds, maple trees teeming with buckets of sap, and emerging spring bulbs as they push through the earth?

Much to our dismay, sometimes the long awaited show of bulbs doesn’t happen. Why?

  • Critter activity – digging, eating
  • Bulbs lack stored energy

Bulbs go through a process of photosynthesis. Very simply, bulbs store up food starches for the next year’s bloom by absorbing sunlight through its leaves. Shady locations play an adverse role in the process. Additionally, if the greenery’s cut down prematurely, the process halts. For this reason, it becomes crucial to leave naturalized areas of bulbs (when bulbs spread with no effort) undisturbed after their bloom and allow the plant to die back naturally. The lack of stored energy holds true for tulips too. However, generally speaking, tulips are more short –lived from a flowering perspective.

What to do

  • Wait as long as possible to cut down the foliage.
  • When leaves are brown, the process is complete.
  • At the end of May, transplant poor producers to sunnier areas.
  • Fertilize anytime in the Spring. Use a basic nursery fertilizer.
  • Remember, positive effects will be seen the following year.

Nature’s excellent achievements hold me captive year after year. There is much to be excited about as the days get longer and the temperatures get warmer. I look forward to seeing you out in the garden.

 

07 Apr 2016

Preparing our woody plants

  Are we in for another brutal winter? The Farmer's Almanac predicts a colder winter with above average snowfall. I have always been somewhat skeptical of predictions. Yet interestingly, Farmer's Almanac has 80-85% accuracy for the publication's annual forecast. I find it amusing; the publishers are very secretive about their method of calculation.

What we do know - our plants were severely abused by last winter's cold temps, frequent snowfall, and overall length of season. So, what can we do to not have a repeat performance? I will preface my plan of action to say, there is actaully little that can be done to minimize damage from sub zero temperatures. However, there is much we can do to protect and preserve our plant material from the winter's elements.

Every good protection plan starts with the right plant material. Choose plants tolerant of our hardiness zone. The zones are mapped out based on the average minimum winter temperature. Depending on your proximity to the lake, we are in the plant hardiness zone 4-5.

To explore how we can best protect our plant material this winter, let's start from the bottom up. Roots are best protected with a blanket of mulch. It seems anti-climatic to mulch in the fall, when our outdoor time winds down. A layer of mulch helps fluctuating soil temperatures. In other words, mulch will help retain any soil heat available. Eventually, the ground will freeze and the roots will be subjected to the sub freezing temps.

We can also take measures to protect the plant's structure above ground. Narrow leaf evergreens and broadleaf evergreens such as Rhododendron, Holly, and Azalea are highly susceptible to desiccation. Once the ground freezes, evergreen plants cannot replace lost moisture due to sun and wind. Burlap and or anti-desiccants can help minimize this exposure and in turn minimize damage. This can be especially effective on those plants exposed to west of southern exposures or sweeping winds. Anti-desiccants (such as "Wiltproof") come in a liquid form, sprayed on foliage. This protective layer holds in moisture and acts somewhat like wrapping your plants with plastic wrap. It is very effective, only limited by its longevity. Its effectiveness is about one month, depending on rain and snowfall. Make note: Temps need to be above freezing in order to apply, making re-applicaton difficult without an occassional winter thaw. And finally, there's snow load to consider. Snowfall can be heavy at times and cause branches and limbs to snap. An easy and cost effective way to protect broadleaf and deciduous shrubs is simply wrap plants with twine.

Who's to say what kind of winter it will be. Taking a few precautions to protect and preserve our landscape investment is always a good idea. Let's prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If we can be of help, give us a call. 440-729-3127

07 Apr 2016

A-maze-ment

I have been known to say that spring time is my favorite season. This miraculous time of year never ceases to amaze me. Amazement is defined as a feeling of great surprise or wonder. That just about says it all for the Spring of 2015. I am in awe of the wonder of nature and I am surprised at the winter damage to our plants and turf.

 

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