Landscaping – “Falling Into Spring”

The fall season is a beautiful time of year filled with crisp cool air and colorful trees.  It’s also a festive time filled with preparations for the up-coming holiday season; hanging decorations, buying presents, holiday parties and cleaning up gardens and landscapes.

The Cleanup

Most find the task of disposing of old dried-out foliage to denote a daunting time of year – clearing dries up flower beds, and involves raking leaves and cleaning out gutters.  However, it can be a time of renewal and will make for less work next spring when you want to be outdoors doing fun activities and less yard work.

By October, a good portion of your annual flowers and plants will dry out.  They need to be cleared away and/or can be used as compost to create nourishment for your garden next spring.

Once you clear away the garden and decaying plants, place about a 2” layer of compost around the areas where you want to place flowers and plants in the springtime.  For the remainder of the fall and throughout the winter months, there is pretty much little to no care needed for the garden; just let Mother Nature take its course.  However, if you have shade trees that lose leaves in the fall, keep the maintenance of raking the dry leafs for a few weeks during the fall and into the early winter until the trees are bare.

Another purpose for removing dried-out foliage for next season is to prevent any kind of fire hazard.  Dried brush, flowers, leafs and plants are prone to creating a quick fire if precautious are not taken, so clear them as soon as possible and dispose of the remains properly.

Landscaping Lighting Overgrowth

This is also a good time to check the outdoor lighting for overgrowth.  Make sure it is cleared of debris and dried out plants as well.  Since the winter nights are longer, it is essential that your outdoor lighting is not only working properly, but also not obstructed by overgrowth.  Check all the bulbs to ensure they are in working order and check the lighting casings to make sure there is no broken glass or damage.

So now you’ve cleared away the old dried-out foliage and checked all lighting for safety. Now it’s time to do a bit of pre-planning gardening.

Gardening Preparation

Fall is usually a good time to either transplant shrubs and/or plant new ones.  There is normally more rain during this time of year, which alleviates stress on the plants.  In addition, the cost for new scrubs is lower and you may find some good bargains at your local nursery.  If you decide to plant new trees during this time, don’t forget to stake them for sturdiness for the harsh winter months ahead.  Late fall is also a good time to do any trimming of your existing trees and bushes.

And last, plant your annual bulbs in the fall before the ground hardens.  They help to nourish the soil and bring a beautiful colorful touch to the early days of spring.

Doing a little spring cleaning for the yard in fall will not only give your home that drive-up groomed look appeal, but it will also buy you some valuable time in the spring when you can enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine.

Your Guide to Planting Bulbs in the Fall

It’s never too early to start getting ready for spring! In fact, fall is one of the best times to plant spring-blooming flower bulbs, as many bulbs need a cold dormant period before they can grow and bloom. Flower bulbs are a popular choice for both novice and experienced gardeners alike. The majority of them require very little upkeep, and they produce fantastic displays throughout the spring and summer.

So, before you settle in for your long winter’s nap, prepare your garden for a burst of color when the following spring rolls around.

Choose Flower Bulbs to Plant in the Fall

Chances are you’ll have no trouble finding bulbs to plant this fall, and your local garden center is probably bursting with them. The hardest part for most landscapers? Choosing which flowers to plant.

Obviously, you should choose fall bulbs that produce blooms you personally find attractive. Since these flowers come in a multitude of colors, select colors that complement each other, your home, and the rest of your landscape.

Some of the classic and most popular bulbs for fall planting include tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths. Nearly any spring-blooming flower bulb can be planted in the fall, however, and you should never feel limited to these choices alone. As long as a flower bulb will do well in your climate, then by all means – plant away!

Prepare to Plant Your Fall Flower Bulbs

Before you purchase your bulbs, decide where they will go first. You don’t necessarily need to have a designated flower garden in which to plant bulbs. For instance, you can plant bulbs in front of your porch, at the corners of your home, along your sidewalk, around a tree, or even in random clusters around your yard. Make sure the area you choose will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day in both the spring and summer.

Wherever you decide to plant your bulbs in the fall, work the soil well before the first frost. Opt for either a tiller or a double digger. Remove rocks, twigs, weeds, and other debris. When you’re done, the soil should appear loose with very few clumps.

The soil where you plant your bulbs in the fall should also drain well. If it retains too much moisture, it could encourage bulb-rot and fungus.

Planting Time!

Once you buy your spring-blooming bulbs, it’s important to get them into the ground as soon as possible. Plant spring-blooming flower bulbs early enough to allow them to establish roots before winter sets in. Don’t make the mistake of buying them too late. Plant your bulbs roughly a month before the first expected frost.

The depth your bulbs should be planted is usually marked on the package. However, you should plant the majority of bulbs between three and six inches deep. Always put bulbs into the ground with the pointed end facing up. Although it’s only necessary in the coldest climates, you can also spread several inches of mulch on top of the soil where your bulbs are planted. This will help retain moisture and protect them from the harsh winter temperatures.

Take the right steps when planting flower bulbs in the fall, and in the spring, your landscaping will have the burst of color you longed for during those cold winter months.

Solar Deck Lighting for a Truly Green Look

Solar power is the talk of the town these days. With the impending energy crisis constantly on everyone’s mind, most people are turning to eco-friendly alternatives for everything from basic lighting needs to extensive green home alterations.

As someone with a green thumb, you have probably already considered several options for lighting up your garden. After all, the only thing that can keep a garden beautiful at night is lighting, whether it’s a full moon, or solar deck and garden lighting.

There are several affordable options when it comes to lighting up your garden using the power of the sun. Modern lamps and lights typically depend on LEDs for power-efficient lighting; and when combined with solar technology, the result is valuable solutions for landscaping lights.

There are several types of deck lighting options in the solar range of products. Whether you want embedded lights, vintage 19th century lanterns or the more modern variations, you have several choices from which to choose.

Embedded lights: These lights can enhance the visual appeal of your outer decks and stairs at night, and stay out of the way in the daytime so you won’t even know they’re there. Available in a variety of models specially designed for decks, stairs and even water, these efficient lights add a high measure of safety for you and your family. These lights can also be set to automatic mode so they turn on when the sunlight starts to dim.

Walk lights: These in-ground lights are easy to install and are very little trouble to maintain. They can be used to line the walkway leading up to the front deck, to provide landing lights for you and your guests. The effect is stunning, and these lights won’t cost you a bundle, either. They are usually available in packs of 6, 10 or 12, and cost as little as $15.

Spots: Spotlights are a great way to highlight certain features of your landscape, but they can also be effective for deck lighting. If you’re worried about a glare that could make seeing more difficult, put them at an angle so the light (remember it’s a spot so it can be angled at will) falls below waist level, solving your problem and brightening the area at the same time.

Lanterns: These are more vintage types of lighting, but powered by modern solar technology. Use these as themed lighting to enhance the look of your deck and surrounding area – including the path – and to sync them with any traditional Victorian lawn ornaments you may have. Lanterns are great for making those weekend lawn parties a truly enlightening experience. Plus, your guests won’t be tripping over your precious flowers either.

The important thing to remember about choosing the right solar deck lighting is to make everything a part of the same theme. A rock garden doesn’t go very well with modern art lawn ornaments and 19th century lantern deck lights. If you are confused, consult a professional landscaping contractor or at least someone with a little experience in landscape lighting.