Mulching 101

What kind of mulch should I use?  Facts about dyed mulch.

What kind of mulch to use, how much should I use, do I need mulch, how much mulch should I put on my plants?
Did you know that all dyed mulches and many other mulches are made out of grinding up wood pallets that may have had chemical spills or harmful products on them.  Tree stumps are also common in mulches.  Only bark mulch is the highest quality and will prevent you from getting artillery fungus all over your mulch.  Spores from the fungus will fly to shiny objects like cars, siding, or anything close by.  It is very difficult to remove from objects even though they are tiny dots, there are hundreds of them.   Artillery fungus does not adhere to bark.  Typically bark mulches are not as evenly ground as mulches that use other wood products but they are much better for your plants and our environment.  Think about all of the dye that is washing off every time it rains into the soil and then the water table where we all get our water to drink!  Think about all the people using dyed mulch because it does keep its color longer.  That is a lot of pollution. 

What Should I Do to Prune My Shrub Roses?

Many people think that you have to treat shrub roses like you would hybrid tea roses by mulching their crown for winter and pruning them at a certain place. Not so with shrub roses. They are very low maintenance plants. Don’t be afraid to cut them back considerably in the spring so that they are reshaped to grow into the space provided later in the season. They can take major pruning. I would suggest that you wait to cut them back until they are about to push new growth for the season in case we have late frosts that might cause them to die back an inch or two.

What do I do for Spring Cleanup?

It’s always nijce to get outside on a lovely spring day. First thing to do is to cut back all the perennials and ornamental grass that needs to be cut so everything is neat and tidy. Of course the dead leaves need to be picked up unless you are in the middle of the woods. Fertilizing your plants, especially if they are only a couple of years old is important. Use fertilizer with an acidifier or buy an acidifier to be added to the acid loving plants like the azaleas, rhododendrons, and hollies. Check out our website to see what things should be done when during the year. If you haven’t mulched in two years and your mulch has broken down, it is time to remulch with a 100% hardwood bark mulch that is naturally aged. Colored mulches are adding dyes to our water table we all drink. The wood used is from pallets of spilled chemicals, tree roots and stumps, throw away wood that has not been decomposed to kill all diseases in the wood. Edging can be done by hand or with a machine for deeper cuts to the edge. Hand pruning should be done before the new growth grows if you are doing any rejuvinating of older shrubs so they will look better after hard pruning. Some people use pre-emergent herbicide that is spread on top of the ground to keep weed seeds from germinating. This is a personal preference. All landscapes will have some weeds but mulching will help a lot in keeping the moisture in the soil and the weeds from taking over your landscape.

Outdoor Entry Foyer with Seating

Center Valley, PA, Lehigh County, outdoor entry foyer, front of house, landscape
Using the Front of Your House

When I met with this client, they had a lovely property in the front of their house that was not being utilized.  The back of their house was very sunny so they wanted to have a retreat from that environment and enjoy more of the land that they pay taxes to have.                                                                                                                                                                                                  We created a path to the front door that is an experience versus a walk to get from here to there.  It has a patio space for just the two of them to relax and enjoy a different atmosphere than they have in the back of the house with their deck.

Sheared Yews, Old, Tired Landscape, narrow path, Center Valley, PA
Old, Sheared Yews in a Tired Landscape

A Woodland Retreat

Shade garden, outdoor living room, Zionsville, PA, Lehigh County,
Bringing the Beauty of Nature into Your Outdoor Living Environment

This outdoor room was created as the second project that this client had done with Garden Design. They told me that they would like to have an outdoor room that felt like it was a part of their woods but still have some sun for light. Their very talented son built the lovely table that you see out a large piece of stone. The patio was created to hold the table and chairs and a relaxing spot for two. Annuals are added every year by the client to give some color for the entire summer.

Landscaping the Woods, Zionsville, PA, Lehigh  County, Changing the grade for a patio
The Hill that Existed Before We Started To Build the Patio

Farmhouse Makeover

Zionsville, PA Lehigh County, Bank planting, Natural Stone Steps
Bank planting with natural boulder stairs

Do you have a neglected area with some shrubs that were too big for the location so you started to shear them into balls to keep them down?  Have you sort of lost interest in taking care of your property because you are so busy?  These homeowners decided it was time to redo.  This was the area next to the driveway as you entered the home so it was seen every time someone went in and out of the driveway.  The sliding doors were not being utilized because you had to go down a steep bank to get to the driveway. 

In order to solve the problems here, we removed all of the old shrubs, put in some attractive natural stone steps because this was not a main access route and replanted the bank with a low maintenance planting.  The homeowners are very happy with the result.

Sheared yews to remove, before installation, Zionsville, PA.
Before: New access to doors. This landscape needs lots of help!

A Contemplative Japanese Garden

Landscape to Relax, Allentown, PA, Lehigh County, Lehigh Parkway
t A Tucked Away Japanese Garden Retreat

A beautiful copper bell was the inspiration for this Japanese Garden.  It was a special piece that belonged to the client and it needed to have a prominant place in the newly designed landscape.

The property was already fenced in for privacy and security because of an existing pool, but the back yard was never developed.  We put in a stepping stone  flagstone path with a sitting area for a bench to sit and admire the bell and contemplate the restful environment.

Boulders with Mazus reptans, a very low ground cover  that acts as a moss substitute, was used to give that Japanese garden feeling.  Because of the path that now exists and travels through the garden to get to the bench and bell, the area seems so much larger than when it was all grass and creates lovely views while enjoying the pool.

Lehigh Parkway, Allentown, PA, Irregular Flagstone path, winding garden path, Japanese Garden

Hello world! Welcome to Joanne Kostecky Garden Design, Inc.

jkgd Landscape for Lifestyle
Outdoor Living with Style

This outdoor living room was created in a back yard that had absolutely nothing outside the back door other than grass.  It was in a new development that was a field before and so there were:  no mature trees anywhere, no shade, no privacy, no place to go and relax and no place to connect with nature.  

After meeting the homeowner who wanted to have all those things, I designed a space that provided shade by using a shade structure with the shade coming from the wood rather than vines because he wanted it to be neat and tidy.  The plants are used to create privacy but not block the rest of his property from view. 

The water feature was built with moss rock which is my favorite for water features because it has more character than most  other rocks.  It comes from the surface of the soil so that it doesn’t have pieces that are broken, as most rocks are that are used in the landscape.  The sound of the water is very soothings as you sit having dinner or relaxing. 

Of course, you really want to see what the property looked like before we started two years before this picture was taken.  The arrows in the two photographs picture the neighbor’s existing evergreen tree.  Would you believe, this is it!!

Before the outdoor living environment, water feature, pond, moss rock
Before We Started