Archive for March, 2009

Why use a Landscape Architect?

You may wonder why it is a good idea to hire an Architect to design your residential landscape project, after all , it does add to the overall cost.  But remember, you always get what you pay for. The consequences of an inexpensive pair of shoes may not be that great, but the problems encountered with a tree planted too close to your house or a flagstone patio that drains water up against your sliding glass door can be significant. When interviewing a potential landscaper for your project, ask them specific questions about their education, experience and references.

Landscape Designer or Landscape Architect?

An individual does not have to have any formal schooling to call themselves a designer, often they just have a few years of experience in making things look pretty.  They usually do whatever the homeowner suggests, and they, the homeowner, often know even less about the landscaping process than the contractor does. I see many local projects that are not appropriate for our climate, they use trees and shrubs that do not thrive , use excessive amounts of bluegrass lawn, flagstone patios that are too small or too large  and the list goes on and on.  On the other hand, an architect will have an appropriate degree from a college or university and they will be glad to offer that information.  A good architect will ask you many questions about how you intend to use your landscape.

  • Do you need places for children or pets to play?
  • How about entertaining, do you need an outdoor kitchen or just a spot for the grill?
  • Do you enjoy working in the yard?  Mowing the grass?
  • Would you like to grow your own food?

Obviously the list of questions could (and should be) extensive, after all, the more they know about you and how you want to use your outdoor spaces the more likely their landscape design will be successful. You will have enough lawn to appease the neighbors and the kids to play on, but not too much to mow or be politically incorrect in our dry climate.  Large trees will shade the patio in the heat of a summer afternoon but not block the winter sun from warming your house. A good landscape design will add thousands of dollars to the value of the property because it seamlessly integrates the house and it’s inhabitants with the outside and nature. Remember what Ben Franklin said so long ago” An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure ”  Get a landscape that works!

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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When is the Ideal Pruning Season in Durango, Colorado?

Do you get confused about when the best time is to prune certain trees and shrubs?

Some guidelines to be aware of include:

1)  Temperature Changes–If you live in a cold place where the temperatures can fluctuate , it is important to monitor those temperatures so that you don’t prune too early.  Generally it is safe to prune when the temperatures are holding steady during the day and don’t dip too significantly at night. 

2) If you notice that plants are beginning to bud then it’s safe.

3) Spring flowering plants (forsythia etc) should be pruned after they flower or you will reduce their bloom.

Early Spring (March-April)

Plant type: Ornamental grasses
Task: Cut as close to the ground as possible.
Tip: Tying the tops before cutting makes the job fast and easy.

Plant type:Semiwoody perennials (Butterfly bush, Russian sage)
Task: Cut back to about 4″ to produce strong new stems and best flower display.
Tip: May be cut back anytime during the winter or fall

Plant type:Broad-leaved evergreens (boxwood, holly, firethorn)
Task: Prune out stems with winter-injured foliage.
Tip: Wait until later in the spring to shear or hedge so new growth will quickly cover cut tips.

Plant type: Summer-flowering trees, shrubs, vines, hydrangea, and roses
Task: Remove dead, damaged, or crowded stems, shape or reduce size if desired.
Tip: Summer flower buds develop on new growth. Spring fertilization and adequate moisture in the summer will maximize number and size of summer blooms.

Early Summer (May-June)

Plant type: Spring-flowering shrubs (forsythia, rhododendron, lilacs)
Task: Prune for shaping or size control following the “prune after flowering” rule. These plants form buds for next year’s flowers during the summer. Pruning after midsummer will cut off flower buds.
Tip:Deadheading — removing fading flowers — benefits plants like rhododendron and lilac by preventing seed formation and directing growth into flower buds for next spring. Thinning multistemmed shrubs by removing several of the oldest stems each year will maintain size and keep plant vigorously blooming on new stems. If any of these plants, like forsythia and lilac, are overgrown, cut down to 3″ to 4″ for a fresh start. A drastic procedure for problem plants growing too vigorously in full sun, this technique is called “rejuvenation” and is not for the timid gardener!

Plant type: Evergreen shrubs (yews, juniper, boxwood)
Task: Hedging and shaping if desired or thinning to reduce size.
Tip: Cut just as growth begins so new growth covers cut tips. Each job should include some inner thinning of the bush to ensure the outside layer of foliage doesn’t become very thick, resulting in a thin shell of very dense foliage that is attractive to insects.

Midsummer/Fall (July-November)

Plant type: Flowering perennials and annuals
Task:
Deadheading — removing flowers as they fade — extends the flowering or promotes a second flush of flowers. After the frost in your area , when the perennials have slowed down and annuals have died, cut down the flower heads  and mulch the area well for next year’s growth.
Tip: Do not deadhead if dried flowers or seed are attractive or desirable for propagation.  Some folks like the look of their garden plants in the snow.

Winter (December-February)

Plant type: Deciduous and evergreen trees, crab apples and other pest-prone plants
Task: Remove any dead, damaged, or hazardous limbs. Prune limbs that interfere with walkways and structures. Remove crossed or rubbing limbs. Prune out suckers.
Tip:Winter is a great time to prune; insect and disease pressure is minimized and the plant architecture is visible. Also it is not as stressfull to the plant as it can be in mid-summer.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555
Durango, Colorado

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Encourage Snow to Melt Using a Shovel in Durango, Colorado

Snow Piles Limit Growth of Plants

These pictures show small piles in my yard in Durango, Colorado, do you have big deep piles of snow on your grass or plants?    Your grass wants to enjoy the sun, but cannot when the snow piles are on it.  Work on spreading out your piles of snow, so that your grass will dry out and the snow will melt faster.  Once you do that your grass will really enjoy an early spring raking to encourage growth. Imagine how nice the green grass will look this spring.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

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Protect your bulbs NOW! Gardenhart’s Tips for Durango Colorado.

Durango, Colorado’s Hungry Deer; How to Prevent Animals Eating Your Favorite Bulbs

I couldn’t believe that as soon as the snow has melted the bulbs are starting to grow.  We live in an area that the deer and elk are prevalent and food is scarce this time of year, so they eat whatever they can find.  My wife had also forgotten that we live where deer are searching for food.  Unfortunately we planted quite a few bulbs on the south side of our house where the deer can get to them easily.  Last year we didn’t really get to enjoy the tulips because the deer had eaten them all.  We did enjoy the daffodils and grape hyacinths because the deer don’t like them at all.

My recommendations are to protect your tulips and other bulbs with a screening using chicken wire or re-mesh, which is used under concrete.  There are some products like Deer Away that you can spray on the plants, but the best way to deter them is to fence them out.  Plant lots of daffodils if you know there are deer that may want to eat.

Cheers,

David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

970-749-1555

http://www.gardenhartlandscapedesign.com

Facebook for more sustainable landscaping tips.

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