Posted on February 18th, 2013 No comments
The recent Chicago Auto Show showcased a dazzling variety of cars in all kinds of price ranges. Some visitors may have been there looking for a new car, with a budget in mind, while others went to dream about the possibilities.
Since spring is only a few weeks away (and you’ve found yourself reading our blog), you may already be thinking of landscaping your property this year. If you are considering using a professional for installation or maintenance services, it is helpful to think of budgeting for a landscape investment in a similar way to budgeting for a car.
There are times when you know you need to put some money away to maintain or purchase a vehicle. Maybe your worn-out sedan is crossing the 200,000 mile mark, or your family just outgrew the minivan. In determining your goals, you need to decide if you are going to downsize from the minivan you have been driving since the last millennium… or maybe it’s time to consider the sporty coupe you have been eyeing for years. Whatever the reason for your being ready to shop, you have to consider a budget range before shopping.
Considering maintenance? It is no different than when speaking with a landscape consultant. It is important to look at your needs in the same terms as spending money on your existing car. Are you looking for an “oil change”, “new wiper blades” or “transmission flush”? These are necessary periodic maintenance visits, with relatively small monthly costs involved. $0-$300.
This is similar to your typical landscape maintenance visit. These services involve mowing, pruning, fertilizing and spring/fall clean-up visits. These services can be presented in a seasonal cost, or spread out over a number of months.
Thinking of making small improvements to your vehicle to make it last a bit longer? Maybe you are not budgeting for a new car, but need to spend more than the typical maintenance costs to extend the life of what you have. The same principles exist your with your property. If you have made the decision to live in your home for years to come, landscape enhancements are often considered to update the look of your property. Consider improvements in your landscape in the same budget range as what you would spend on improving and extending the life of the car you are driving.
These enhancements are typically small plantings, hardscape projects, installing landscape lighting or possibly a small water feature added to the garden. $500-$3,000.
Or, are you considering purchasing a new car? If you decide to buy a new car, you have to decide on a feasible price range. Most people realize the price difference between a GM sedan and a BMW sedan, and know which one they will be able to afford.
This is a harder distinction to make when developing a landscape plan. Just like buying a car, it is important to set a realistic budget. You may not know what landscaping costs, but you know what cars cost. The two costs are very much the same. Some comparisons:
A nice landscape project can be accomplished for the price of a used car. $3,000-$15,000.
A complete landscape design and installation is about the price of a popular new car. $15,000-$35,000.
The larger and more detailed your project, the closer you get to the price range of premium class luxury cars. Upwards of $35,000+
A Budget Refines Your Project
It is important that you provide your designer/salesman with a price range so that they can realistically propose concepts that you will be able to conceivably purchase.
You won’t be interested in the economy car, when you have the budget and desire for the luxury car (or vice versa).
Some base models may be $40k, but you might be test driving the one that is $60k. Plan a budget range and discuss it with your landscape designer. With this guidance, you will be presented with a design that will fit your expectations and not one that will break the bank.
Allow your designer to conceptualize with a budget in mind. Your time spent in the preliminary stages of design will be much more effective and productive if you are on the same budget page.
Whether you are going to the mechanic, dealership, landscape designer or maintenance manager, it’s going to be an investment in time and money to find the best fit for you. Be open and honest with your designer, and they will strive to build you the best project within your budget. In the end, a good full-service landscape contractor aims for complete satisfaction with your landscape investment, and will strive to keep it looking great for years to come.
Posted on September 14th, 2012 No comments
Another summer’s behind us, and autumn is the time to be preparing your garden for winter. Our winters can be long, dry and brutal. Here’s what you can do now and in the coming weeks to help your garden endure the cold and snowy months ahead.
- If you fertilize only once a year, now is the best time to do it.
- September and October are the best months to apply broadleaf weed control.
- Mow until the grass stops growing, usually sometime in November. The last mow should be short, approximately at a two-inch blade height.
- Rake and dispose of all leaves and other debris before winter to prevent diseases.
Trees and Shrubs:
- Apply a 2-inch layer of organic mulch, which reduces weeds, controls soil erosion, and maintains soil moisture around roots. When applying, keep mulch at least 6 inches away from the tree trunk to prevent trunk rot. Apply after a hard frost in the fall.
- Fertilize trees and shrubs when dormant in late October or early November, before the ground freezes.
- Watering plants deeply is the single best thing you can do to get plants through the winter. Watering helps prevent desiccation, or drying out caused by water loss. Soak plants well when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit; you can water usually right up until Thanksgiving.
- Certain trees and shrubs benefit from fall pruning, which also adds a preventive measure to reduce ice and snow damage.
- Cut back plants 3-4 inches above ground after they have been touched by frost.
- Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch after the ground has frozen. Shredded leaves (done with your lawnmower) or compost is ideal for mulching, as it won’t need to be removed. Evergreen boughs laid on the ground also offer winter protection, are attractive and fairly easy to remove in spring.
Annuals and Bulbs:
- You can overwinter certain annuals such as Begonia, Impatiens and Coleus by taking cuttings and propagating them. Be wary of bringing the entire plant in, as it is likely to be infested with insects. Shade-loving outdoor annuals will require full sun indoors.
- Dig up tender bulbs such as Dahlia and Gladiola after leaves have been blackened by frost. Any soft bulbs should be discarded. Allow them to dry, and store in vermiculite or peat in a cool, dry place.
Taking these steps now will give your garden a great start next spring, for another summer of entertaining, barbecuing and relaxing under the sun.
Posted on June 30th, 2011 No comments
Our crews at Nature’s Perspective have begun pruning small trees and shrubs at our maintenance properties. The record rains and cool temperatures, interspersed with a few hot days, has made for lots of spectacular growth. We like to wait until most plants have finished flowering and after the new growth has started to harden up. This makes for the most efficient and effective pruning. We try to prune using the plant’s natural habit as a guide so that when we are done, the plants look tidy, but not sheared nor sculpted. Here is some information on the how and why of pruning… if in doubt give us a call.
Proper pruning enhances the beauty of any landscape tree and shrub, while improper pruning can ruin or greatly reduce its landscape value.
The old saying is to “prune when the knife is sharp.” That means that the “best time” to prune is almost any time you and the proper tools are ready. This can be true, but there are some “better” times to prune. The only time you should not do a hard prune is late summer when rapid growth may be encouraged but will not harden off before winter. Dormant pruning is a term for pruning done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. It is a time when the branch structure is visible (since leaves are off) and corrective pruning can be done easily.
Spring-flowering plants typically bloom on last season’s growth, or on old wood, and should be pruned soon after they bloom. This will allow for vigorous summertime growth and result in flower buds the following spring. Examples of this type of plant are Forsythia, Lilac and Viburnum.
Some shrubs that bloom after June usually do so from buds which are formed on shoots that grow the same spring, or on new wood. These shrubs can be pruned in fall or winter to promote vigorous shoot growth in the spring. Examples of this type of plant are Hydrangea, Summer Spirea and Rose.
It is important to know which type of shrub you have and which pruning time is best for your shrub.
Types of Pruning
Besides trimming to tidy the appearance of the plant and to control growth, there are two major types of pruning: gradual or renewal pruning and rejuvenation pruning.
In gradual renewal pruning, a few of the tallest or oldest branches are removed at or slightly above ground level annually. Generally one third of the plant can be should be removed each year, creating a fully renewed plant in three years. Removing these oldest largest stems allows light into the interior of the plant which stimulates new vigorous shoots to develop. Some thinning may be necessary each year to shorten long branches or to maintain a symmetrical shape. This pruning will help increase flowering and fruiting production, even on the first year of the pruning cycle.
Another type of pruning is rejuvenation pruning. This is the complete cutting of all stems to slightly above ground level (6 to 12 inches). This is a more drastic option, but is ideal if your shrub has become too large, leggy or has too many stems. Do not do this type of pruning during the growing season. A flush of new growth will emerge in spring. Similar to renewal pruning, some thinning may be necessary each year to shorten long branches or to maintain a symmetrical shape.
Use high quality tools designed for pruning, such as bypass pruners, pruning saws and loppers. Wear thick gloves. Sharp, clean tools are essential- and keeping a sharp eye on your work assures safety.