The Winter of 2015 is Over! Now to Get Your Yard Back in Order

There’s no denying that the Winter of 2015 was horrendous.

As the nine-feet of snow in many yards finally melts, homeowners and gardeners are now confronting the full impact of this historic winter’s repeated snowstorms and extreme cold. As they venture out to inspect their gardens, they are finding sobering sights of winter devastation.

The bad news…

  • As happens with any severe winter, snow and ice has broken tree branches and shrubs. Unfortunately, this winter has been worse than most.
  • The winter kill (caused by the weight of the snow and falling icicles) to ornamental bushes and plants is significant. Some plantings did not survive and will need to be replaced.
  • Salt on roads and driveways has destroyed the edges of lawns.
  • Some yards are seeing snow mold.
  • South and west facing plants and trees have suffered excessive winter burn.
  •  Snow blowers and snowplows have sometimes overshot the pavement and dug up lawns and plantings.
  • The freeze-thaw-freeze conditions have been bad for grass roots, which may have been killed.
  • In order to survive, hungry deer and other wild life have been eating the bottom foliage off garden plantings and bushes.
  • Tree stakes may have be broken, become unstable or are girdling from being connected to the tree too long.
  • A garden’s hardscape (paved areas, pools, fountains, fireplaces) may have suffered from heaving caused by melting snow and then freezing temperatures This may have resulted in structural damage.
  • The extreme cold has placed many plants and trees behind schedule for spring blooming.

The good news…

The damage from the Winter of 2015 is completely reversible with time, effort and expertise. For more then two decades, PrincetonScapes has dealt with winters (yes, including the previous record-holding winter of 1996).

No matter how harsh the season or how intense Mother Nature’s impact, PrincetonScapes has the expertise to return your yard and gardens to their previous beauty. From hardscape repair to spring planting to mulching to simple cleanup, we offer complete landscaping and property care, as well as construction services.

It’s been a difficult and challenging winter, but it’s now behind us. Now it’s time to restore to your ground to their former elegance – or even better.

Landscape design

I recently received a postcard in the mail from a competitor offering a $50 landscape design.  It made me think. While I admire the drive to get more work and there are many great programs on the market today that will produce high quality displays, a design is something that should evolve with time and effort. There are times when one would be foolish to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a landscape design. Simple foundation plantings where you are simply looking for a row of plants in front of your house or you have a bed or two off to the side of your driveway that just needs to be conceptualized you could get away with a cheap design or really no design at all.

The catch is that those designs are seldom exceptional, they sort of look generic or they are heavy with what is in the nursery at the time of year that you do your project. Again, there is nothing wrong with this,  but if you are looking to have an interesting, unique, seasonal garden or landscape it takes planning. What is your soil like? What are your lighting conditions? Are there acidic trees nearby? Does the wind blow particularly hard in the winter because you are so exposed? These are questions that can be asked, but a professional landscape designer or architect will want to see and feel the conditions. Designing landscapes is both an art and a science. When done well people notice.

It is much like buying a cheap production seashore painting at the mall or buying a unique one at a local art show. Yes they may both be paintings of the seashore, but they certainly are not the same. One is $5o and meant to hang in an office building or dorm room, the other may cost hundreds or thousands, but would hang in your home.

Time to seed the lawns

Did you know that we have just entered the VERY best time of the year to seed and establish a lawn? The reasons are simple- Turf grass in our area is a cool season crop, the most noxious or troublesome weeds in our area are warm season crops. SO in other words, the weeds germinate and grow as it gets warmer in the summer. Turf germinates and thrives in cooler temperatures. So if you seed in the spring, while the grass seed will germinate, it will soon be out competed by broad-leaf weeds and crabgrass. However if you seed now the broad-leaf weeds, crabgrass and the like are all dying a natural death. Your newly seeded grass will germinate and have 3 months this fall and another 3 months in the spring to establish before competing with the weeds.
So if your lawn is in tough shape or you are thinking maybe next spring you will seed your lawn, DON’T do it. Plant your seed now and in approx 10 days you will be mowing your new turf for the first time and by the middle to end of September you will have a lush green lawn that will be the envy of your neighbors!

Time to build the patio!

Well another summer is racing bye. As we get back from our vacations, camps and general summer activities, it is a great time to focus on our landscapes. There is nothing like sitting around on a patio on a beautiful summer or autumn day! Whether the patio is constructed of Bluestone, Goshen-stone, brick paver, or any one of the great concrete pavers out there. A good patio installation contractor can also help you enhance your patio by adding features such as fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, water features, seat walls (whether stone or concrete segment), out door lighting, etc. There are many landscapers out there, we believe we are one of the best and our Angie’s List A rating is only one of the many referrals that we can produce to prove it.

So if you are in search or a landscape patio installation contractor, give us a call! And also, check out our website for pictures and ideas. The phone number or a contact page is on there as well.

Lawns under stress

We have all seen the brown lawns this year…. For those of us who take great pride in our lawns it is not a pretty site. The weather pattern this year is again challenging for growing and maintaining a healthy, weed and pest free lawn.  Mother Nature is conspiring against us, between the excessive rain in June, to draught like conditions of July, to a record long and intense heat wave, to humidity consistently being as high (OR HIGHER) than it ever gets here, the weather is creating the perfect storm for our lawns to struggle.  And struggle they are.

So, what do we do? The best answer for that is to first look at what we need to guard against. Fungus is prevalent due to the humidity. Crabgrass is prevalent due to both the rain in June and the draught/ heat of July. The grass is already stressed because it is a cool season crop growing in rainforest like conditions, so pests such as grubs are able to take off.

Many of these afflictions look like draught or heat stress. While it may be those issues, you must look closer and if you have a lawn service call them that is what they are there for. And remember, you see your lawn every day, they see it once a week or maybe once a month depending upon the level of service that you have. So you are an important part of the early detection which will help to avert a total collapse. If you do not have a lawn service contact the expert at your local garden store, they can help.

Unfortunately (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) what you think of as heat or draught stress, can and often times is grub or fungus damage. Caught early and you can save it, BUT if you decide without looking further to add time to your irrigation, you can create a problem with fungus that is much like adding gas to a fire.  The fungus feeds on water. SO if you have brown spots or areas of your lawn and you have increased the watering and the spots are growing. STOP the watering and figure out your problem ASAP. If it is grubs (or other surface insects) or fungus, they are treatable. The sooner the better.

The crabgrass, nut sedge and other broadleaf weeds are extreme this year. Even in turf grass areas where we have put down 2 rounds of pre-emergent control. The best advice here is to again let your lawn service know, but also realize that you are in great company. Some of the finest lawns that we see (whether we or a competitor have serviced them) have some level of weeds this year. Depending on the severity of the weed problem, most reputable lawn services will be able to knock them back. And for those of you who do this on your own there are controls you can buy.

There are cultural practices that can be done proactively to the lawns that will help, they include aeration, topdressing, adding microbial nutrients etc. These can cost more than conventional lawn care and on their own are not going to produce a perfect weed free lawn. But they will make the soils and environment more healthy which in turn will make the turf (and all living landscape) more healthy which will make them less susceptible to pests and disease.

I hope this helps.

Drought and your lawn- Massachusetts

This year has been incredibly tough in terms of the weather and your plants and your turf. From the start of the year until Mid April in Massachusetts we had over a 6 inch deficit in terms of rain fall and the temperatures were well above average. The winter snows and subsequent melting are essential to healthy plants and lawns. We did have a 2 month period of average rainfall and temperatures, which was nice, but not enough to fully recharge the water table or the plants root zones.

In this period of extended heat and drought the landscape is in serious trouble. In terms of your lawns, if you have a sprinkler system use it, but use it regularly. The plants will not react well to intermittent watering at this point. The best time to water the lawn is early in the morning, never water at night as it will encourage disease and fungus to grow in your lawn.

Established shrubs and ornamentals should be able to survive this, but if you notice wilt and feel it essential to water. Water deeply- let a hose drip at the base of the tree long enough for the water to thoroughly soak deep into the root zone.

Early spring

It is April 20th and everyone in Massachusetts who loves their landscapes and yards should be praying for rain. We are in a moderate to severe drought. The plants and turf are going through dormancy typically seen in August. The good news is that the rain seems to be on it’s way and the plants are resilient and all will be in great shape once the rain starts. Let’s hope it is this weekend!!

Snow, yup snow

As I sit here the day after Labor Day, I am thinking of snow.  I realize there is still time to enjoy our back yards, cookouts the beach etc but the winter season is not all that terribly far away. 

I love the seasons, they are a time to enjoy, but also a time to plan.  In the winter we strategize how best to get spring clean ups done efficiently as well as how to deal with building stone walls and patios in the mud.  When springtime comes we turn our attention to thinking about the dry season and how that will affect the plants and lawns. When summer comes we look ahead to autumn and leaves falling. We think out how many more weeks we have to get our work done efficiently.  And as soon as Labor day passes we are working on snow. Now is the time to sign up for snow plowing, snow services, ice and snow melting, pushing, shoveling, removal or whatever form of winter weather services that you need.  We order our salt, fix up our sanders, our plows, our trucks and snowblowers. 
So if you are a commercial property manager and are in need of a profesional snow company, please consider us. You can go to our web site and sign up on line for a quote or request a meeting. 

While there are many good snow companies out there,