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Monday, August 19, 2019

Ploetry - I'm Stuck

They met on the Internet in the same town in a somewhat awkward circumstance.

Unknowingly, they had similar pasts, acquaintances, friends and stories.

Fortunately, all that fell between the keys on their keyboards.

All was new: no listings, no profiles, no nothing.

He through himself out there for weeks, his heart on his sleeve.

For weeks, she threw her hair back and wore her heart beyond her blouse.

They adored one another and perhaps thought of love, but rarely was there a day to make that on-line time, their time.

One day that cyber-space became their intimate space in a small cafe over salads and several glasses of white wine.

Music was piped in as eyes saw one another for the first time, hands were held and they brushed against one another.

They never knew they knew each other so well. And, they didn't.

Yet, they did.

Those few wonderful hours became that relationship they may have regretted if not acted upon. They both knew so and pondered the thoughts of action or loss of lasting love.

He, boyishly, said, "I'm stuck."

She said, "Why? We just met."

He said, "That's fine. It feels wonderful!"

They just celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary last week.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Highlight Your Property and Landscape - Pressure Wash

I often pressure wash my customers' properties.

It's wonderful to make the tired and darkened man-made surfaces look fresh and renewed. The surrounding plants, lawn and home's architecture then stand-out for all they are.

Yet, I never thought of making pressure washing a business or advertising such.

However, a gentleman who has worked with me before called me today and showed interest in doing just so. He is articulate, meticulous and has a wonderful work ethic, as well as one hell of a classic music collection. The latter does matter.

Proper and effective pressure washing is having the right equipment and knowing surfaces, materials, textures and how to best address them. It's also about protecting plants when need be. Helpful are also a good eye, some methodology, a dose of patience and a keen sense of awareness.

We aren't quite done with summer yet, but those trees and shrubs which have dropped fruit, seeds and flowers on our decks, drives and walkways, are mostly done. The kids (for many) will be going back to school soon and the football season get-togethers and the holidays aren't far off.

It's a great time to considering cleaning:

• Driveways   • Walkways   • Patios   • Retaining Walls   • Inlaid Brick and Concrete Borders   • Home Foundations   • Vinyl Siding   • Eaves and Soffits   • Pots and Planters   • Decks and Railings   • Docks and Pilings

We will also spend the time you need to help you select a sealant or stain for your wooden deck, railing or fencing and then apply whatever your choice is.

I am reviewing the new equipment he recently purchased and we will be making an assessment of what we need based on all the equipment, nozzles and attachments I already have.

We will be working on projects together initially and I am certain he will glean some of those techniques and efficiencies which have been helpful to me. My partner in this is no teenager, but a man with drive and a history of sound customer service. I'm thankful.

This is great time to clean up, make things shine and show off your landscape.

Call me at 803-553-5757.

Oh, I'm Doug.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Monkeying Around with Monkey Grass - Monkey Grass Beds with Monkey Grass Borders

Monkey grass (Liriope muscari or Liriope spicata) is not a grass.

The two species, muscari and spicata, often referred to as clumping lilyturf and creeping lilyturf respectively, are not in the lily family either, but in the asparagus family. Don't go thinking about sauteing or roasting up some liriope in some extra virgin olive, butter, garlic and lemon; then drizzly on some aioli. Although, it does sound delicious.

People's opinions somewhat near that "love-it-or-hate-it" attitude, like those I sometimes hear about plants such as nandina, azaleas, loropetalums, etc. Frankly, I appreciate the proper species placed in the right location. And, sometimes I'm thinking, "No. You didn't."

Muscari, due to its clumping habit, is great for borders, edges and delineating a bed, walkway or vignette, while spicata is a wonderful groundcover as it will take off and expand its original footprint once established.

Both have their own slight physical differences and there are several cultivars within each species.

Several years ago I was on a customer's property doing several projects over many months while also performing routine maintenance. There was this rather large bed with sizable shrubs and three to four substantial trees. In the area which constituted the edge of the bed where the driveway met the walk to the front door, was a field of monkey grass.

At that time it was all about the same height and was spreading into the bed, but not truly encroaching any of the other plants. It appeared that spicata (creeping liriope) was used as the border and it spread into the bed. I thought, "Wouldn't it be more attractive if I shaped (created) a monkey grass border and treat the remainder as a monkey grass bed? Yes!" It would also help the other plants stand out. I pictured a height, shape and depth for the border and began shaping the border, considering what height I wanted for the bed.

This can work if you have a vision, a light-weight combination string edger/trimmer, a good eye and two deft hands.

Due to lighting and angles, it make also take a good eye to recognize the variations and shapes of the monkey grass border and bed creation in these photos.

I slightly ramped up the ends of the border for another effect.

Those little interesting looking glossy plants are Farfugium japonicum var. giganteum, also known as giant leopard and tractor seat (a farmerism) plants.

Oh, this bed or vignette, is just one of many on another gorgeous property I am honored to work on. Unfortunately, the owner has one hell of an irrigation system and at this time of year I am almost always in catch-up mode. That's okay.

Thanks, Terri!?

Saturday, August 10, 2019

"I Don't Play Net." What?!

This following article was posted July 2013 on my old tennis blog.

I was playing on a mixed doubles (first time with this team) team years ago and the captain hadn't decided the final line-up until match time.

I was paired with this young lady who had good pace on both ground strokes and could move well laterally. I had only hit with or against her a few times in practice. She had great strokes.

However, our opponents didn't meet each other just the day before and we had our hands full. I noticed my partner wasn't coming in, even when I may have had enough time to go grab a snack and go cover her service box. Our opponents were not obliviously to the fact either.

During her next service and between serves I walked back to her and invited her to come up to the net. "I don't play net," she said, which up to this point was quite obvious. I asked, "What side of the court do you prefer, the backcourt or where we may when this match? She laughed. I said, "Get your ass up here and let's beat this couple.

She began charging and playing the net and although we lost the match, our odds of winning increased dramatically. Later, she actually said, "It's a lot more fun up here." Duh?

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Ploetry - Regardless, I Wrote This for You

It may have happened way back, in school.

Perhaps, it happened that we day we met.

I believe it happened that first time I looked over my shoulder and I realized I was no longer alone.

It must of have been that day I, not knowing you, sat at a chair near you, uncomfortably close...later knowing you more than I ever expected.

You said something, smiled and we discussed everything under the sun, except for roses.

No need.

The rose was beside me.

Regardless, I wrote this for you.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Every Little Step I Take - Landscaping Projects

When I began Back40 several years ago I could afford to dedicate almost an entire week to certain projects. Now, it's a different story and actually, for the better.

Other than routine maintenance, emergencies or seasonal plant concerns, most of what I do is not time critical. Also, most customers enjoy seeing areas of their property transformed over time and seeing things evolve. There are also budgetary and other concerns for not doing it all at once.

I prefer working on segmented projects for several reasons. Yet, mostly, sometimes, one simply has to step back and see how the change to one area affects the entire property.

This latest project was one of many and most likely, many more. The property owner was referred to me by another customer and when I met her and visited her property I knew there was much to do and she was anxious. Properties and landscapes, particularly those for which time has been well spent or those handed down are to be enjoyed and sometimes slight changes become drastic ones.

The property owner and I now have a wonderful relationship - not something I expect from, nor deserve on any level.

I have performed so many little projects on her property, from laying sod to pruning trees and shrubs to taking out small trees and advising her as to what her yard guy should do next. Upon completing a project for her I am usually asked, "What's next?" - something I usually ask. Hopefully, both of us will be around for a while, so I usually respond with, "I'll stop by soon and we'll see." We are both comfortable with this and expectations are tempered. I believe the results justify such patience.

I will leave you with some before and after photos from the last few months.

The first was the sodding of an area of her lawn which I knew received ample sunlight and planting a japanese maple (Lucy - she beat me in naming it.) and the latest was the installation of some shade and partial-sun plants - japanese holly ferns, a painted japanese fern; stain glass, patriot and paul's glory hostas, and two amethyst gold lenten roses.

Every Little Step

I grew up dancing and I still do. I love when dance and hip hop music was fun and was about just that. Hit it, Bobby! I can still out dance you.







Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Pretty Maids All in a Row

Crepe Myrtles Before
Thank you Eagles - Hotel California. (more below)

This is one of the best row placements of crepe myrtles - well spaced, not too close to the home or the street - great job, whomever.

They are mature and mingle with each other slightly about mid-crown.

Crepe Myrtles After
They had been crepe murdered (pollarded) once and thankfully, only once. And, it was done at a height which allows these girls to maintain their tree shape and the vase-like branch structure via some proper pruning.

There weren't many more dead branches than I am used to from a crepe myrtle only being cut back once, but there were plenty of spindly whips, weak and diverted branches.

Now their gorgeous legs are exposed and they have beautiful, healthy hair.

Next came Eva and Zsa Zsa, truly having having had bad hair days (years).

Zsa Zsa Before

Both had been cut back (crepe murdered) two to three times at about four feet. There was so much interesting stuff going on below such height - co-dominant stems early on, more split stems (healthy) and some interesting spread and angles.

Zsa Zsa needed most of her attention paid to the branches above the scene of the crime(s), but some below - again, indiscriminately cutting back the main stems of trees has no healthy benefits and rarely any aesthetically, particularly over time.

Zsa Zsa After
Eva, I'm sorry to say, is not and probably will not do as well as Zsa Zsa. She had injuries and dead branches below the scene of the crime, many. What's done above can adversely affect the life of a plant below and such issues were not addressed. And, they had to be more than obvious.

Clarifying Note: These deficiencies were not the fault of the current property owner. They were purchased along with the home.

Eva Before
The great part is: They both look wonderful now, have lost some  unneeded weight and have many less weaker branches, caused by neglect, taking up the resources these trees need to be healthy and what they should be.

This is why they called me.

The result should be substantial growth in the crown and over time they will more resemble crepe myrtles

Eva After