What is your spring landscape maintenance plan? We all want to get our landscape gardens off on the right roots so we can enjoy a healthy, thriving and vibrant landscape through the spring, summer and fall. Spring landscape maintenance plans start with general plant and bed maintenance, followed by shrub pruning, perennial cutbacks, fertilizing, mulching and edging beds. Garden Design Inc. offers full service Spring Landscape Maintenance and ongoing landscape services for Allentown, Emmaus and the entire Lehigh Valley Landscape companies.
March – April Landscape Maintenance
Overview: Plants begin to break dormancy. Work done now sets tone for remainder of season. Good Garden Hygiene will reduce needs for excessive pesticide and herbicide throughout the season
General Plant Maintenance:
Cut back and cleanup dead and decayed perennial growth from prior season
Prune any dead branching from woody shrubs and small trees
Weed removal – winter weeds bittercrest, chickweed dandelion etc.
Check for Scale and treat with Horticultural Oil
Divide Perennials – where appropriate to fill in and encourage healthier growth.
Exposed lighting wire or irrigation tubing – dig and bury
Check lighting systems, replace bulbs as needed, adjust timer as needed
Check downspouts and drains for clogs or other issues
Inspect hardscapes for heaving – repair lifting or shifting paving
Inspect general garden drainage and resolve any washout problems
Mow Liriope, Epimedium and other appropriate cutback groundcovers
Hand groom Fern, Hellebore, Bergenia, Geranium (semi-evergreen perennials)
Uncover plant crowns and ‘press down’ from winter heave
Cutback and Divide Grasses
Rejuvenate Pruning – on heavy bloomers – Roses, Spirea, Hydrangea, Weigela
Selective Pruning – to Form/Shape larger woody flowering shrubs i.e. Viburnum
Reduction Pruning – Reduce 1/3 old wood past seasons i.e. Red Twig Dogwood
Rejuvenate Pruning – form oriented shrubs i.e. boxwood and ilex
Selective Pruning – Remove dead and damaged wood
Disease & Pest – Inspect and treat Scale and psyllid (boxwood)
Selective Pruning – Remove dead/diseased wood and prune minor to good form
Remove reversions, scions and root sucker growth
Perennials – Fertilize around the crown, not on it
Shrubs – fertilize 3-5” around the drip line, not inside or beyond
Trees – Fertilize 6-12” around the drip line. Deep plug fertilize every 48”
Cut bed edges – Check work order for specification Hand Edge vs. Machine
Note prior over mulching and remove/spread out before new mulch
Install mulch between plants – do not ever dump onto a plant!
Move mulch around plants, never closer than 1” to crown or trunk
A variety of landscape business options are available for landscaping Allentown pa. How do you choose which landscaping companies to call? If you have an extensive landscape project in mind, you first priority is the landscape designer. Look for a landscaping company with a highly regarded landscape designer. Review their landscape plans for other projects. Are you looking for patio designs or landscape gardens? How well does the landscape designer know landscape trees and shrubs? Ask to see before and after pictures with the landscape plans. Landscaping Allentown pa requires a qualified landscpae designer first.
Allentown Landscaping companies range in quality of their tradesman. When choosing an Allentown Landscaping Company, ask the following questions. Are the installers skilled and certified landscape professionals? Are they certified landscape technicians? Do they attend educational seminars? How long have they been with the Allentown Landscaping Companies? Are they generally clean cut and professional landscapers? Landscaping Allentown PA is best served by skilled landscape professionals.
Lehigh Valley Landscaping Companies can be evaluated by how long they have been in business. Do you want a company landscaping Allentown PA who just bought their first shovel yesterday? Many people think that landscape gardeners may not need to be experienced. They think landscape gardeners just pull weeds. But professional landscapers must be trained horticulturalist who know plant cultures, diseases and proper pruning techniques. An Allentown Landscaping company that has been in business over 20 years proves they are qualified landscape professionals.
Read the reviews! Landscape company reviews are spread across today internet, Just look up Landscaping Allentown PA and reviews to find information from your friends and neighbors. These reviews are your most important tool in determining the quality of an Allentown Landscape Company. Good companies have lots of good reviews. For example, Garden Design Inc reviews at Google, Facebook, Houzz & Yelp. You can try the internet sites that claim to review local contracting companies, but overall these are just money making ventures that don’t accurately represent quality landscape companies in the Allentown landscaping market. But of them all, Angie’s List is probably the best.
Perhaps you are here wanting the names of specific companies to call. Of course, we want the potential Landscaping Allentown PA customer to give us a chance at Garden Design Inc. But there are other very good choices. Plantique is the oldest Allentown Landscaping Company. They have skilled craftsman and quality landscape designers. Western Lehigh Landscaping has been around a while and I’ve always been impressed with the quality of their work. These are the most established three companies, most award winning, most skilled landscape designers generally best know for custom residential landscape projects. There are a handful of Allentown Landscaping companies, who do good work but are not as well known for the quality of their landscape designs in the specific Landscaping Allentown PA market.
Architectural Landscaping Containers add character and interest to patio landscaping projects, front entry landscapes or as accents in landscape planting beds. I was recently at the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Trade Show in Baltimore Md. (MANTS) where each year I am excited by the many new and old options of architectural pottery and landscape containers. The manufacturers keep improving the technology for attractive, quality finishes. I want them all for my landscape, but let’s be smart about this. Each type and style of landscape containers has a unique fit in the gardens.
One of the most classical Architectural Landscaping Containers is the metal urns as in the picture above. These fit especially well in more formal gardens with architectural plantings and classically designed patios. Iron fluted landscape containers are popular at either side of a front door in the front of house landscaping. The extra large metal urn pictured above would sit well within the landscape plantings. The large scale makes a focal point statement int the gardens.
For a less formal, more organic landscape, clay pottery may be an ideal fit. The architectural pottery shown above has lovely antique finishes that would accent a casual paver patio and backyard landscape project. Combine a few sizes in close proximity to develop more dynamic container gardens. The balance of three is especially pleasing aesthetically (small, medium and large). Not the longer, more trough type containers on the right. Combine those in an arrangement to create even more landscape interests.
The Versailles Box style container offers an especially substantial architectural interest for landscape spaces. These are commonly planted with larger specimen shrub or tree options. A ‘standard’ form of hydrangea tree would be an appropriate scaled specimen for these Versailles boxes.
How much does a paver patio cost ? A standard concrete paver patio cost in the landscape client anywhere from $14 per square foot to $25 per square foot in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. If you want a specific price and not a broad price range for your patio project, go to one of the many HomeInfo type websites. They will give a very narrow price range for the question ‘how much does a paver patio cost’. But, they aren’t accurate and don’t account for the broad range of landscape design and landscape construction factors of each unique patio landscape project. Those sites list prices at least 20% less than built project pricing. If you want to understand the more complex factors of a paver patio price and why the range is so broad, keep reading. This first article will focus on the cost of landscape labor in relation to the price per square foot for a concrete paver patio in the Allentown region.
First let me qualify my experiences and knowledge base with regard to these price ranges for concrete paver patios. Those price per square foot price ranges are based on over 30 years of real world professional experience in four different states across the country. It is also based on conversations with other professional associates in this hardscaping industry; professionals who practice in California, North Carolina, Maryland and more diverse locations. Finally, it is based on conversations with concrete paver manufacturing companies who are knowledgeable of the range of landscape contractor pricing for paver patios in Allentown, Macungie, Emmaus, Coopersburg and Bethlehem.
This discussion is specifically about paver patio pricing in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. And more specifically it pertains to paver patio pricing in Allentown, Lower Macungie, Emmaus, Coopersburg and Bethlehem area landscape projects. When combined, the Lehigh Valley is the third largest metropolitan region in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia and Pittsburg. Location affects labor costs which are the first factor in paver patio pricing. Though the discussion of landscape labor costs relate specifically the Lehigh Valley, the principles can be applied anywhere.
Labor is the most significant and most varied cost involved in a paver patio project. The skilled landscape labor force in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton is competitive since the areas unemployment is low. This means landscape labor costs are higher than many other regions. Local business owners report that finding qualified labor is the biggest landscape business challenge. Average wages for a hardscape professional are high compared to other moderately trained physical labor. Not only is labor is the most significant cost in the price of a paver patio, it is also the most significant factor for the quality of the patio when completed.
Labor cost variations influence the range of the square foot price for a concrete paver patio. Landscape clients can hire a patio landscape company from the Allentown area who will build a paver patio for $14/sf. Those companies will pay their employees the lowest wages and thus generally have the least experienced installers. They are likely younger, less experienced and unsupervised. They may have high employee turnover and a work culture of ‘who cares’ because they are just there for now and will move on to a better job soon enough, with higher pay. The cuts will be less accurate, the joints less tight, and the base less well compacted. An established, reputable landscape company in Allentown may charge $18/sf for the same patio. Such a landscape company will have employees who have been with the company for some years and are loyal because they are treated well and paid fairly. Employees who are dedicated to a company are also dedicated to a quality product because they realize the employee and the company survive and grow together. Reputable, established companies take the time required to ensure high quality so that the patio lasts. Supervision, safety and benefits all help the professional patio installer create a better quality patio. You may pay more up front, but in the long run you will save money by note having to repair and replace. When picking a company, ask about the employees. How long have they been with the company? What benefits are offered? Get to know your landscape contractor and the company culture. Then you can find that balance of price and quality with regard to labor costs and what the employees are paid.
The cost of overhead is the next labor factor in the price of a patio. The least expensive overhead is often a company where the owner does the paver patio installation along with a helper or two. They may operate out of the owner’s home property further reducing overhead costs. The owner likely wears all the hats with the help of a part time bookkeeper/accountant. Design is seldom as creatively and thoroughly addressed up front as the creativity can happen during the process with the owner hands on. That has many draw backs, and some benefits. This owner/operator is less often trained in business or landscape design, but may have a unique natural ability in those areas. But be careful, a company like that can be more expensive. Since the owner is out doing the work, that on the job labor cost is high.
The highest cost landscape patio companies are front office heavy with an owner(s), a business manager, a designer and a bookkeeper. They tend to have larger property and equipment overheads to manage and thus employee fleet managers and yard staff. They will tend to be at the most expensive end of the paver patio price range because all those indirect labor costs must be covered in your paver patio price. They tend to leak money at all the edges, duplicate tasks, and have bloated payrolls. In theory, this can be overcome if the company can maintain high volumes of sales and create an economy of scale. My experience and observation is shows that to be the rare exception.
Somewhere between the owner/operator and the corporate large company is the tightly run professional landscape design build company. The owner may have a college degree and be a capable business man, landscape designer and people manager. She runs a tight ship, works lots of hours and wears many hats well. The client has a direct personal relationship with the owner during the entire design and construction process. And there is a clear line of responsibility for quality. These companies can have a ‘family’ type work culture resulting in the highest levels of loyalty and dedication to quality. Generally, this scenario yields the best price to quality ratio. In the Allentown, Emmaus, Coopersburg and Lower Macungie areas, paver patios may cost in the $18 to $22 per square foot for a small professional landscape company where the owner wears many hats but does not do the actual construction.
These generalizations are intended to share a framework of thoughts regarding the general price range of a paver patio in the Allentown region. If you are considering a landscpae project, ask the salesman ‘how much does a paver patio cost’. How they answer will shed light on the type of company you are dealing with. There are exceptions to the three categories. I know of large corporate companies, small owner/operators, and landscape design build companies that all build a quality product at a very competitive and similar price. This discussion of landscape labor in relation to paver patio pricing is intended to encourage the potential patio buyer to research a company’s labor culture. Ask how long employees have been with the company. Ask the companies philosophy about labor. Does the employee work for the company or does the company work for the employee and the client? Get to know who will build your patio. Are the landscape technicians polite, neat and organized, reputable and safe? Do they respect the company, like working with the company, plan to stay? Focus first on labor quality and costs in the process of determining the cost to value balance in paver patio pricing.
Sun versus Shade – Landscape Guide for proper plant choices
What amount of sun is full sun, part sun or partial shade? And how can knowing these specifications guide plant choices?
Each landscape plant has a preferred range of sun exposure. All shrubs, trees and perennials need sunlight. And it is often more than one would think. But each plant has specific sunlight preferences relating to the quantity of light, the quality of light, and the time of day it receives that sunlight exposure. These specific light exposure preferences are easily found with sources such as http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org with their PlantFinder application. This source provides a detailed range of landscape specifications for virtually all ornamental landscape shrubs, trees and perennials.
The majority of landscape trees, shrubs and perennials prefer over six hours of full sunlight. This is considered a full sun preference. Within the full sun plant category, there are many nuances that are less easily understood. For example, many Hydrangea varieties are listed as a full sun plant. However, Hydrangea does not like hot, late day sun. Therefore, Hydrangea should be located where they get good morning sunlight into early afternoon. That would be on the east side of buildings or larger shrub and tree groupings.
Few landscape plants are truly adapted to blazing full sun throughout the entire day. Mediterranean plants like roses, Hypericum, lavender and succulents all tolerant full, hot, all day full sun. They are also a group of plants that tend to be drought tolerant. They in fact prefer the dry soil over too much water. Thought the standard is at least six hours of sunlight, this group may be best classified as a full, full sun grouping and prefers at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight to be healthiest. This landscape category also tends to tolerate the sandy or clay soils with little organic components.
The full sun, part shade landscape plants is a category that includes plants that prefer at least 3 hours of full sunlight. They will tolerate more if available. But this category of tree, shrub and perennial often prefers relief from late day sun or full summer hot sun. These plants will tolerate mildly filtered sunlight if direct, unimpeded sunlight is not available. But don’t expect as optimal plant health if placed in filtered light.
Part shade plants are a group thrives best in filtered sunlight. For example, a loose tree canopy above the landscape gardens will allow dappled sunlight through to give a sequence of sun and shade to each plant. These plants are the types that tend to wilt and burn easily if exposed to direct sunlight any time after morning. They are also a group of plants that tend to prefer rich, organic soils because they have evolved in the hummus of a forest floor.
The full shade plant category is by far the most limited with regard to options and choices. Not many plant families or species truly prefer full shade. At least not many that are commonly used in the ornamental horticulture and landscape trades. We struggle to find plant options when a garden is especially shady. And often those garden tend to be dry in the urban and sub-urban landscape posing yet another level to the plant choice challenge. Plants like Rhododendron are often thought of as full shade plants, but that is a misconception. The plant will tolerate full shade, but it will not be as healthy and grow as well as it would in a part shade setting.
Landscape plants and plantings have preferences, but will often tolerate a little less or a little more sunlight than generally specified. They may not grow as well, but sometimes we just have to put a certain plant in a certain location because we love it there. This means we may need to water the plant and fertilize it more, take a little extra care. But don’t be afraid to try and to learn. That process is the joy of landscaping, the journey not the desitnation.
This video is a landscape design and landscape construction project completed by Garden Design in Allentown, PA. The landscaping included a brick patio, stone steps and landscape plantings. This is an existing landscape that was renovated. The project also included a custom cedar wood fence.
This landscaping design was based on a client wanting a diverse range of plantings to create a lush landscape garden. There were some existing plants in the projects area that we re-used. The Japanese maple stayed in place by the side patio. We transplanted the perennials including hosta, ghost fern, and daylily to name a few.
The new plantings included deciduous azalea by the large back windows. We in stalled a range of colors of the exbury variety of azalea. Vanderwolf pines are installed along the back fence to create a privacy screen. These are a lovely pine with a thick, blue hued needle. Serbian spruce are placed along the side fence to screen views of the neighbors house. Flowering shrubs include hydrangea, viburnum, and beauty berry. Aucuba was used as an evergreen shrub in the dense shade.
The outdoor patio space is set at the side sun room. The patio is natural clay brick with a bluestone border. The custom cedar fence provides privacy for the patio. An irregular flagstone patio leads from the patio to the back landscape gardens. Bluestone heavy tread steps transition the walkway from the patio to the back yard gardens. These large, natural cut stones add a warm organic character to the project.
Garden Design Inc. is a landscaping company located in Allentown PA. We specialize in outdoor living projects that include patios, landscaping, landscape lighting and much more. The quality of landscape design stems from the experience and skills of our landscape designers. We gratefully compete with a few other good landscaping companies in our Allentown market. They keep us designing the best landscapes we can creatively dream up.
Garden Design Inc. was invited to develop planting plans for the pictured property in Emmaus PA. The home is newly constructed with no existing landscaping. But, it does have outstanding views of the natural landscape vistas beyond the back of the home. The program for this phase of landscaping is divided into four phases. One phase is to provide a beautiful entry planting where the driveway exits the main road. Another priority is to install tree, shrub and perennial plantings along the busy main road. The front of the home plantings invite visitors and soften the architecture. Finally, several planting islands extend visual interest and create a sense of space to the gardens. This is a conceptual planting plan. It allows us to share the design ideas and character without investing the extensive time required to detail each planting choice. This level plan allows us to budget a project. Once a client reviews the ideas and budget, we can then design the specific plant varieties.
All of the gardens are a combination of trees, shrubs and perennials. Trees provide the main vertical architecture. They help scale a property into the surroundings. Trees also provide the middle and taller level layers to the landscape. This design has a combination of evergreen and deciduous trees. The evergreen trees are designed as landscape anchors and strong visual screens. The deciduous trees are mostly small to medium size flowering trees. These create a veil to screen views and provide seasonal interest in flowers and fall leaf color.
Shrubs are the backbones of a planting design. This design uses a combination of evergreen and deciduous flowering shrubs. Larger sizes are used along the roadway and the perimeters. These will tend to be more of the evergreen varieties that flower but not as profusely as others. Small and more ornamental shrubs are used to ward the fronts of the planting beds and nearer to the home.
Perennials, ornamental grasses and ground covers complete the planting design. These are arranged toward the front of the planting beds. The perennials are designed with contrasting textures and bloom seasons. The goal is continuous landscape interests from spring to fall.
Late fall brings the end to the showy colors and rich foliage in most landscapes. But it is also a festive time of year with a couple major holidays running from late November until the New Year. Now is the time to empty the landscape containers and create winter landscape decorating. Mums and annual cabbages will carry the color through the Halloween season, but what to do for Thanksgiving and the December holidays? That is the time to empty your pots and urns of the summer plantings and replace them with fall-winter arrangements.
Start by taking out the old plants from your urns but leave the soil. Pick a couple or few central evergreen feature plant or deciduous twigs for the center and height of the pot. Cuttings from evergreen trees such as holly, spruce, pine, juniper or arborvitae work well. You can also use the bare branches of a red twig dogwood or the winterberry holly with its red berries. Trim the branch ends and insert them directly into the soil.
Next pick mid-level cuttings for the urn. Boxwood, cherry laurel and holly cutting with the red berries work well for the mid-level fillers and are easy to find. Blue color juniper can add a dynamic to the overall color scheme. Magnolia leaves and branches will add a varied texture. Think of these plants as the skirt that hides the bases and gives foundation to the central feature plants. Don’t be afraid to subtly add some fake fruit or ornament to this level.
Finally, the base level foliage can be added. You will want to look for something that hangs over the edges a bit and acts as the lower hem of the skirt. Low growing or weeping type junipers work well for this. If you have access to Russian Juniper (Microbiota) it makes a wonderful accent because the needles turn a beautiful bronze color. Ivy and Euonymus are long trailing plants that will hang low over the edges.
Winter Urns can be a fun and easy project for anyone. The required materials should be easy to find throughout the neighborhood. Finding and procuring them affords a good excuse to meet new neighbors during a holiday season.
One of the lesser used forms of residential landscape design would be the implementation of water features. Typically, when a homeowner is proposed a water feature, there is often a wary and cautious response. As a homeowner, you may begin to worry about the cost of the feature, the upkeep and yearly maintenance, and the cost. In early forms of design, yes, this would have posed a problem in residential design. Fortunately, many designers and non-designers alike are finding new and innovative ways to create successful and low maintenance fountain and water features. Tutorials are even available online that teach those who interested to make their very own homemade water feature.
Implementing water features in your landscape, especially if well kept, can cause housing values to increase. Additionally, water features provide a classy appeal to a landscape which can make you feel as if you home is the most expensive on the block.
The types of water features can differ based on your own personal preference. Some of the more common water features include ponds and waterfalls; however, some of the newer ones consist of bubbling rocks and even cascade falls.
Certain flowing water features now have the ability to reuse its water using electrical pumps and the water flow rate can be set off on a timer to turn on or off at certain times. This is both cost and energy effective.
Consider evaluating your landscape and see if and where it would be most suitable to install a water feature. Keep in mind that water features should be placed in area where falling debri is minimal. Installing one near a pine tree is poor planning considering it is likely that pine needles will fall into the feature, which can potentially cause some problems and pump can clog or break. It is also important to ensure that proper lining is installed for in ground water features. Water that sits on karst landscapes, or limestone dominant land, can cause deterioration of the limestone and form sinkholes.
Aside from a few minor considerations, water features are versatile and have the ability to be used in a variety of environments. Depending the number and scale of water features, a focal point can be formed. A water feature can be surrounded by small perennials and shrubs or it can sit in the center of a paved or gravel space. This is solely up to the owner and the designer. By the end of the implementation, a well-placed and design water feature will be on display for visitors, and it will create a calming atmosphere for the surrounding landscape.
Are you interested in Deck Design for your backyard landscape? The implementation of decking has a mixed connotation. While they clearly have the potential to create an interesting outdoor living space for the home owner, often times their designs are constructed in an uninteresting, boring, and bland fashion. They are usually the last addition to be constructed on a typical suburban home. What tends to be a common re-occurrence is that the deck design appears to be an awkward rectangular addition to the back of a house, left to rot.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities to dress up a deck, and typically that can be done by experimenting with decking materials, preservation techniques, and surrounding vegetation. Decks have opened the doors to landscape architects to explore how this type of structure can reach top efficiency while also retaining a visual aesthetic.
Primarily, material and surrounding vegetation can make or break a decking design. Materials play a significant role in the sense that it affects color scheme and other forms of visual aesthetics, but it also influences the maintenance and upkeep of the structure as well. For example, wood is not an uncommon material used in construction, but certain types of wood need a type of sealant to prevent water seepage and rotting. Insects are often a culprit of decking deterioration as well. With proper repellant these detrimental elements can be prevented.
Installing a deck with suitable materials should require little maintenance post construction. Using materials such as composites typically have the least amount of maintenance due to their rot resistant abilities. When using woody materials, it is best to use tropical hardwoods for they are more rot resistant and they do not attract wood-boring insects. Some suitable hardwoods may consist of teak and ipe. One of the newer materials being integrated into decking design is aluminum. A unique feature to the type of aluminum that is used in deck design is that it is a strong material, and it does not give off a ping sound while walking on it.
Keep in mind that this is an outdoor room, so consider the elements when selected the placement of your deck. Sun and wind patterns will play a significant role. While a deck becomes an entity of its own, it is important to integrate the form in its natural surroundings. Perennials, shrubs, and small trees are all suitable vegetation to surround your deck.
As a finished project, decks provide an open space for people to congregate, similar to the roles of a patio. With its elevated properties, a deck gives the illusion of being in the house without actually standing inside the structure, but by acknowledging the similar elevations. Note that there is a range of possibilities of what can be placed on the deck, but nothing beats a nice set of seating and dining area. Adding a few planters would not be a bad idea. Consider what you want to use the space for, and build onto your deck landscape design from there. Perhaps the space will become a dinner seating area, which can be used during the day, and with the implementation of landscape lighting, it can be used after dark as well. Regardless of the design, find one the fits best with you and your landscape
Distinctive Landscape Design & Construction for Over 30 Years