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Monthly Archives: April 2014

April 23, 2014

Deer Proofing Your Landscape

What can you plant to help deter deer from visiting your garden?

Apparently deer rely on their sense of smell when it comes to food. By planting strong smelling perennials like Chives, Nepeta and Lavender, you can help mask the smell of more appetizing plants. Plants with rough or fuzzy texture or thorns planted around more valuable perennials can help to keep the deer away as well. Examples of these would be Lamb’s ear or Echinops. This article by the University of Vermont extension service gives a little more information that may help in choosing deer resistant plant material.

What can I do to help prevent deer from entering my garden?

Deer in general are rather skittish and can be easily scared off. Try using wind chimes, wind socks, scarecrows or even a motion light can be used to keep them away in the evening hours. Stringing fishing line around the portions of your landscape that you want to protect at a height of 2-3’, has been said to help deter the deer. They will be startled when bumping into this invisible barrier and hopefully flee. Hanging dryer sheets or soap from nearby trees or posts gives the garden a human scent that may also help to discourage deer from entering the area.

Even with the use of these other methods keeping the area completely fenced in is really the only way to ensure that they won’t make a meal out of your landscape. Especially here in the rural areas of Vermont. If you choose to go with this method, the fence should be at least 8’ high and have gaps no bigger than 6”.

April 16, 2014

Spring Bulb Planting

There are several types of bulbs known as “tender bulbs”, which need be planted in your gardens and containers in the spring for summer flowers and interest.  These bulbs are not cold hardy enough to withstand our Vermont winters, but will thrive in the summer Landscape if treated like annuals.  They are great in containers for decks & patios as well.

These “tender bulbs” include:

  • Gladiolas
  • Oriental & Asiatic Lilies
  • Caladium
  • Canna Lilies
  • Elephant Ears
  • Calla Lilies
  • Dahlias

It is safe to plant these bulbs when there is no longer a threat of frost, the ground has warmed up and dried out some.  A good rule of thumb is to plant them when you think it’s safe to plant your vegetable garden.  Be sure to plant them in a sunny well-drained area. In general bulbs need to be planted as deep as three times their diameter. Some bulbs may have more specific instructions, which you will find on the package they come in. An all-purpose fertilizer that is low in nitrogen or compost should be applied to the soil when planting. It is important to keep the plants well watered, allowing them to dry out slightly between waterings.

American Meadows, located here in Vermont, has a great information on planting bulbs in spring.

 

April 11, 2014

Container Gardening – Home & Garden Show Workshop Summary

There are many things to take into consideration when it comes to container gardening. First you need to determine the placement of your planters. Are they going to be permanent or are you going to need to be able to move them? After you decide where you want them, you need to decide how many you would like and how large you want them.  Would you prefer to have one large pot or would you like two or three pots of different sizes to fill the same space? Are your containers going to serve a useful purpose such as growing herbs or veggies? Or are they going to be purely aesthetic? Are these containers going to be used for more than just a summer display?

Once you have made the decision about where to place them, how many you want, and what their purpose is going be, it is time to start considering your plant material. Are your containers going to be in the sun or in the shade?  This question plays a major role in what type of plants will thrive in your planting. Watering requirements also play a key part in plant selection. Some plants like to have consistently wet soil, while others like to dry out a bit between waterings. And lastly what color palette are you going to use?

If you are going to use your containers to grow Herbs or Vegetables, be sure that there is good drainage in the pots you choose. Full sun is also best for this type of planting. Almost every herb or vegetable can be grown in a container, but here are a few that are sure to do well.

  • Herbs: Dill, Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Lavender, Parsley, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage & Thyme
  • Vegetables:  Peas, Tomatoes, Radishes, Cucumber, Peppers, Eggplant, Zucchini & Beans

For Spring/Summer containers, you need to take the size of the pot into consideration. You don’t want to overcrowd the plant material. For a 12” pot use 3-4 plants and for a 24” pot use 6-8 plants and so on. Using a slow release fertilizer is very important for annual plants, since their season is so short here in Vermont. Choosing a color palette is going to be important when it comes to plant selection. There are four different aesthetics you could choose from. They are as follows:

  • Monochrome: All One Color
  • Analogous: Hot Colors (Red, Orange, Yellow) vs Cool Colors (Blue, Green, Purple)
  • Complimentary: Purple & Yellow, Red & Green, Blue & Orange
  • Triad: Blue, Yellow, Red or Purple, Green, Orange

Once you have chosen your color palette, you next need to take balance into consideration. It is important to use varying heights to create interest and to give each plant importance within the planting.  An easy way to remember this is always make sure you have a thriller, a filler and a spiller in your container. In other words, you need a tall plant focal plant, mid height plants & a plant to trail over the edge of the pot. If you remember to do this, your planters are sure to be beautiful. Here are some examples of each type of plant:

  • Thriller/Tall Vertical Element (Back or Center): Grass, Coleus, Banana
  • Filler/Mid-Section (Throughout): Nemesia, Osteospurmum, Ageratum
  • Spiller/Low Trailing (At Edge): Vines, Petunia, Ivy Geranium

For Fall Containers you need to take cold hardiness/frost tolerance into consideration when choosing plant material. This is especially important here in Vermont where the fall weather is unpredictable. The use of different textures will also increase the aesthetic interest of your planting. This can be achieved by using a mixture of flowering plants and purely foliage plants together in the same pot. Fall plantings usually also consist of warmer tones like red, yellow, orange, rust & sometimes purple. Taking Varying heights into consideration is still important. Here are some examples of some plants that will work well for Fall Plantings:

  • Flowering: Hardy Garden Mums, Sedum, Pansies & Nemesia
  • Foliage: Ornamental Cabbage or Kale, Heuchera & Grasses

Winter Containers are much like large floral arrangements, using mixed cut boughs.  They provide some aesthetic interest by front doors & on decks when nothing is in bloom. When creating a winter display, you will want to consider texture, as most of the components will be green. To begin, if your pot is large enough you can plant a small evergreen in the center and work out from there. If you are using a smaller container or don’t want to use any trees, just start with one type of bough. First place boughs all around the planter, by putting the cut end directly into the soil. Once you have worked your way around the container, mix in the second type of bough and so on.  After you have added all the boughs you want, you can add some red twig dogwood or curly willow branches to provide interest. Adding some artificial stems of berries can be a nice look as well. You will want to use a plastic berry and not foam or real ones, as they will either crack or turn brown and not make it through the winter. Examples of Mixed boughs are as follows:

  • Balsam, White Pine, Cedar & Juniper
  • Additional Greens for protected spots include Boxwood, Holly & Magnolia
April 1, 2014

Landscape Design Trend – Fire Pits

DiStefano2As evident by the photo of our work gracing the cover of The Best of Central Vermont Trend Watch this Spring, fire pits are becoming more and more popular in the landscape.  They have become one of the first things that new clients ask to be incorporated into landscape designs of both new landscapes & landscape renovations.  Why is this?

One of the major landscape trends over the past few years is to extend your home/living space outward into your yard. By incorporating a fire pit into the landscape you are increasing your ability to use your yard well into the evening and throughout the year especially here in Vermont. Not only do fire pits add to your useable outdoor space, they can also fit any design style.  P1100104If your style is natural and free flowing, small boulders ringing the fire pit, with larger boulders strategically placed as seats would be easily incorporated.  A formal fire pit built out of stone can either be set into the patio or built up as a raised feature for you to place furniture around. Outdoor fire places can create an even more formal look which can be incorporated into outdoor kitchens and double as pizza ovens. 16257_541197365954384_830669991_n

Whatever style is chosen the space is guaranteed to be a hit and you’ll be glad you added one to your landscape. You can see some of our past blog posts featuring fire pits titled Backayard Patio and Shelburne Landscape, or this HGTV link for photos of outdoor fire pit designs.