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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Redefined Borders and Japanese Maple Bed

Plant Bed Before Redefining Borders
This is a beautiful cluster of azaleas, but we recommended to the customer to redefine and extend the border for greater distinction between bed and lawn.

We used a manual technique which better holds in mulch and is easier to maintain over time, even using an electric trimmer/edger.

We also ran a drip line off of a faucet timer under the walkway and throughout out this bed and the new bed we were to install.

Plant Bed After Redefining BordersHere is the result of redefining the border around the azalea bed. Actually it extends further down around other plants and ends at a cluster of juniper in the corner of the property.

Next, we designed a plant bed in the area at the corner of the walkway and driveway where we had removed about three to four dead indian hawthornes and one azalea for transplanting.

The drip line was installed prior along with the azalea bed irrigation.

Japanese Maple Bed SiteThe soil was amended to adjust the pH per soil samples we had tested, the planting holes were amended with compost and we applied and secured landscape barrier/weed blocker after planting.

We installed a bloodgood japanese maple, and three each of pink muhly grass and beyond blue fescue, with the focal point being from the center of the lawn, streetside.

It's difficult to truly appreciate newly installed young plants particularly way short of mature height and spread, but give these grasses some growing time, sunshine and warmer weather and they'll start showing their true colors and potential.

Japanese Maple BedThe japanese maple just needs some time to feel out her new environs and stretch out her limbs a little. I'll be back to prune her some time when she shows me what she wants to do.

This is about the third or fourth project for this property. Next up, other than some care for the health of the soil and lawn is removing some more dead hawthorns and hopefully planning another bed.

Thank you J and R!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Those Darn Invasive Neighbors (Plants)

I saw this Non Sequitir piece and I had to laugh, loudly.

I've worked on many of these issues, yes, with climbing vines and ivies, but more so with shrubs and tree branches.

My theory, or practice rather, is, if the plant's trunk (main stem) is in your yard it is your responsibility and the same goes for your neighbor. And, if a branch or stem crosses (encroaches) your property line, then you have the right to prune it back to your property line.

I have yet to see a customer's neighbor get up in arms with any of my methods or practices, but there is some S.C. legal statute which deals with "willfully and maliciously injuring" a neighbor's plant. Most pruning, even not-so-proper pruning, is not going to cause severe injury or death to a plant. And, "willfully and maliciously" is an entirely different issue.

The bad part about simply cutting back branches or stems at the property line, particularly for trees, is that you will probably always be simply cutting back branches or stems at the property line. It would be nice to know your neighbor or speak with them about making a proper pruning cut on their side for a branch which has no other future than to cross into your property, particularly if it is a property or personal safety hazard. Plus, simply cutting back at the property line usually means more dense and muddled branches and foliage in the future or another dying branch stub to look at while you are sippin' tea or mint juleps on your back porch.

I have conferred with plenty of my customer's neighbors and sometimes the third party conversation is a benefit to the home owner.

And, I have also had neighbors decide together about what to do with a shared overgrown border and they have shared the cost in some fashion.

The worst cases are usually those back property lines where one or both property owners just let things go for several years. I have seen some neighbors to the rear whom I presume couldn't care less about what happens along their property lines and the problem with these neighbors is my customers usually don't even know who they are or have even see them - there's no way they could have ever.

After taking Back40 to providing proper pruning and care of not just shrubs and trees, but restoring lawns and creating new plant beds and installing some interesting hardscapes and pathways, this is where it all began...

...in the back forty and along the borders of properties, taken caring of, eliminating or restoring what went wrong, perhaps the unwanted encroaching growth from a neighbor's property.

Currently, three of our largest projects are dealing with what's taking place along the borders and property lines. Some are for the homeowner wanting to restore their property and enjoy it for many years to come, while others are to prepare the property for sale.

We have staged (prepped) home's landscapes for sale, but many have to be brought back (restored) to a state for which the owner or reseller can even begin to imagine putting them on the market.

And, these aren't all run-down properties. Many are in neighborhoods where the front yard is to be maintained and showcased; however, the back yard has been neglected for quite some time. We are currently working on a gorgeous property with a back forty which has twenty years of uncontrolled growth.

We love to work with those whom see their home as their final home because, over time, we get to see the progress and enjoy the results, those they (we) will enjoy for years to come. But, we all have different considerations, realities and schedules for our properties.

We will, but have yet to find one we can't address.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Red Hots! Get Your Red Hots Here!

Many of you may know this, but if you love birds, have birder feeders or would like to see more birds around your property, then you have to try hot pepper suet.

There is a rail-less deck just beside this feeder and bath and the yoshino cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) tree provides some pretty darn good shade during certain times of the day during the spring and summer.

I enjoy spending time on the deck, but more so, hanging out in the shed to give all the birds which love this suet, a little space.

And, between the bird bath and the hot pepper suet, there is often a line of birds hanging out to be next at the feeder as if this was the next release of a Harry Potter novel or the next iPhone for many human peeps.

I am a squirrel advocate (in most cases) and I do love to joke with bird lovers about that new squirrel (bird) feeder they just purchased.

I have yet to see a squirrel or any other critter attempt to get near this simple little flimsy feeder and there are obviously several ways to access the suet, or run off with it.

So, if you haven't tried Hot Pepper Suet, you should. I got mine at Wild Birds Unlimited at the Forest Park Shopping Center on Forest Drive.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Go Make Your Bed. Right Now!

Perhaps you have heard or heard yourself saying the title of this post before.

And, the image to the left, even if you click to enlarge it, still may not seem that interesting and the results (see next image), not so dramatic.

Yet, this and all our projects interest me in some fashion or I wouldn't choose them. Even a down-in-the-dirt, not-much-thought-required cut-back and clean-up project deserves our best - perhaps not so intriguing in execution, but definitely satisfying in the results, even if not so dramatic or pristine.

We have other, rather larger projects going on which range from acquiring support for or performing tasks such as laying, stamping and staining concrete, irrigation and drainage, sodding and seeding to hardscaping and re-doing or designing plant beds; yet, this slight make-over of a dogwood tree and its bed is just as important.

Not so obvious, as I didn't take a photo of the truly bad side of the tree, but a monster multi-stem vine had already had its way with and caused the demise of several of the dogwood's branches. Several previously bad cuts had been made on branches and ivy had run amok on the tree and in the bed. It is difficult to eradicate ivy, but at least she is no longer taking over the tree. Some other pruning for health and aesthetics was also performed and fertilizer was applied to the bed.

There were other foreigners and volunteer plants trying to take hold in the bed as well as a few weeds.

I changed the linens, cleaned things up and used a few hospital corners.

On this same property I had already performed another similar project on a row of crepe myrtles, which are hardier, while dogwoods seem to have more issues and the occasional mature branch partially dead. We know how beautiful their blooms can be, so they are worthy of some good attention.

The point is, take a look around and target a bed, a part of your property or a tree and focus on it.

Most of our customers know I will dissuade them from addressing too many aspects of their property at one time, for various reasons.

Actually, the results are more easily digested and more enjoyable as you see them occur in different areas unless you are totally impatient or believe you can persuade Mother Nature to go along with your every wish.

No, I didn't provide the bird feeder. The after picture was taken at a different angle. Or, a squirrel hung it there when I wasn't paying attention. You know how much they love bird feeders.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Fire Wood Alert - March 26, 2018

The wood indicated in the photo was placed roadside yesterday in front of of 3529 Greenway Drive in Forest Acres.

There are about 10 to 12 pieces cut to roughly 1 1/2 to 2 feet.

Most of the wood is dead and mostly dry and light - great for fire place or pit.

If you pick up this wood, out of courtesy, please take the entire pile and let me know you did so.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Leaf-out, Bud Break and Temperature - Don't Panic

Okay, so the last several weeks have been a little crazy around the Midlands of South Carolina - particularly with the evening lows bouncing all over the chart while  some trees and shrubs were already leafing out and breaking bud.

In fact, we have lows tonight with feel likes temperatures below freezing and some fairly substantial winds.

When plants leaf out or break bud is not totally depending on warming temperatures, some do, but for most there is some combination of this, their own biological clock (like us), having met their chilling requirement and the amount of sunlight (not warmth) each day. This can vary within the same genus, from specie to specie, even living next door to one another.

I have two gorgeous Nikko Blue hydrangeas, whose apical (terminal) flower buds recently broke and got zapped by the cold and even some of the associate leaves, but fortunately I didn't cut her back last year so I have plenty of healthier buds down the stem to work with.

The beautifully shaped loropetalum showed off a little and now she is truly confused. A little raking and she'll look wonderful next week.

A tea olive started to get busy and then simply said, "I'll just wait."

A few hostas came flushing up and outward and now seem to be in a holding pattern.

I somewhat failed to help it out and my showcase sago palm transformed into this cool looking bronze color. Not certain I have ever protected sago's from the cold in this area; I have had them turn almost every tone of brown and come back in the spring. I'm not touching those leaves (truly, not fronds) until I see plenty of new growth coming up and unfurling in the sunlight. Then, I'll probably give it a little fertilizer and make some thinning cuts. I'm going to enjoy that cool looking bronze thing I have in my yard, for now.

So if you are not certain what a plant is telling you, or how and when to care for it or prune it, give it a little time and see what is says to you in the coming warmer weeks.

Fire Wood Alert

The wood indicated in the photo was placed roadside yesterday along the right property line of 1321 Heatherwood Road in Columbia.

There are roughly 15 pieces cut to roughly 1 1/2 to 2 feet. There are two to three odd shorts pieces as well.

Most of the wood is dead or was dying and is mostly dry and light - great for fire place or pit.

If you pick up this wood, out of courtesy, please take the entire pile.