Posts Tagged 'landscape'

Spring Has Sprung.

bunny in golden morning spring landscape

Stop Crepe Myrtle Murder. At Home.

I have seen some sad-looking crepe myrtle plants on my morning walks with the dog. This fine flowering specimen of a tree is prized for its smooth trunk and air-kissed colorful petals that bloom from late Spring through the summer. I wanted to find out the right way to trim these beauties and searched for some ideas from the Grumpy Gardener. The objective with each pruning (do this like now!) is to maintain a well-spaced, main trunk with handsome bark and to thin out the center to permit easy penetration of sunlight and air. You can also trim back the tops of the plant no more than one-third. Heres what our Grumpy Gardener recommends:

Before you prune anything, it’s a good idea to know what you’re trying to accomplish. I always say if a bird can easily fly through the center of your crepe myrtle, the branches are spaced about right. If a bird can easily fly through the center of your house, you’re probably missing some windows.

Bad way to prune. And ugly result at that.

Bad way to prune. And ugly result at that.

To properly prune a mature crepe myrtle, you need 3 tools:

  • Hand pruners to clip twigs and branches less than 1/2-inch thick.
  • Loppers to cut branches 1/2-inch to 1-1/2 inches thick
  • Pole pruners or a pruning saw to cut branches more than 1-1/2 inches thick.

Remove branches in the following order:

  1. Suckers coming up from the base.
  2. All side branches growing from the main trunks up to a height of at least 4 feet.
  3. All higher branches growing inward towards the center of the tree.
  4. All crossing, rubbing, and dead branches.
  5. Branches growing at awkward angles that detract from the tree’s appearance.
Crape Myrtle After (could still use some thinning out of the inside however)

Crape Myrtle After (could still use some thinning out of the inside however)

Always cut back to a larger branch of the trunk. Don’t leave stubs. Removing seed heads on the end of branches is optional. Leaving them doesn’t reduce blooming. If you want to keep the height within a lower range, opt for a compact version. Continue reading ‘Stop Crepe Myrtle Murder. At Home.’

It’s National Poison Prevention Week!

As pet parents honor this week by assessing animal toxins in their homes, the ASPCA wants to remind us to take care when planning (or planting) their springtime gardens, too. Our furry friends can come in to alot of danger when accidentally ingesting or coming into contact with garden-related products, insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants.So, let’s save our furry family members with some helpful and healthy tips from the ASPCA.

  • When designing and planting your green space, keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and dogs, and may cause liver failure or heart problems. These are blooming now so keep puppies and elderly pups at bay.
  • When walking your dog, take care to keep Fido off the grass and away from toxic lawn and garden products. Cocoa mulch—a byproduct of chocolate—is especially problematic because it attracts dogs with its sweet smell and can cause them gastrointestinal distress or more serious neurological problems if consumed in large quantities.

Continue reading ‘It’s National Poison Prevention Week!’

Outdoor Design Tips from the WDC Experts.

It’s Outdoor Week at the Washington Design Center! On Tuesday, a very creative panel of experts talked about  how homeowners can create outdoor spaces that complement the overall architecture of their homes. The panel included Anthony Cusat of McHale Landscape Design, Elizabeth Norman of Elizabeth Norman Landscaping, Jay Graham of Graham Landscape Architecture, and interior designers Barbara Hawthorn and Dana Tydings. Here is what progressed from this insightful event. (transcribed from the Home & Design website post):

Q: What is the best way to formulate a plan for furnishing my outdoor spaces?

A: Elizabeth Norman. The first thing to do is to determine how you live in and use the space. On a recent job, my client was trying to do everything—read, relax, play and entertain—in a small space. We took all the furniture out and didn’t put it back unless it solved a problem.

Q: What are some of the challenges homeowners face when embarking on an outdoor project?

A: Barbara Hawthorn I ask clients, “How do you envision using this space? How many months will you really use it?” One of the challenges is making a space attractive during its fallow time, designing for all seasons. I tell clients to have the philosophy that “it is going to grow with me.” The fact that it is going to take time [for a landscape to mature] is one of the hardest things to convey.

Barbara Hawthorn created a sultry evening setting complete with a fire element offering warmth and light.

Barbara Hawthorn a beautiful evening setting complete with a fire element for warmth and light.

Q: How can I be sure that my interior style will marry with my outdoor furnishings plan?

A: Dana Tydings. In a perfect world, you would meet with your landscape designer and your interior designer at the same time. People don’t realize that if they are working together, they can save you time and money.

Q: What is the difference between a garden and a landscape?

A: Jay Graham. A garden is very dynamic. It changes constantly and you engage with it. A landscape is an established setting for your house.

A: Elizabeth Norman. A landscape flows into a bigger vernacular, into the surrounding geography. A garden sits within the landscape. It quakes and moves all the time. It changes color daily in small ways and in big ways four times a year.

Q: What should I look for in an outdoor fabric?

A: Barbara Hawthorn. There are so many new fabrics now. They are incredibly easy to clean and don’t limit your versatility. The new solution-dyed acrylics are resistant to sunlight, rain, and discoloration from falling leaves.

Q: How can I stick to a budget and use the latest designer fabrics?

A. Dana Tydings. The newest outdoor fabrics are not inexpensive. At $60 to $80 a yard, you should order them sparingly. Do it in stages and do it right.

A: Barbara Hawthorn. Be sure to include welting in the seams to be sure cushions are durable.

A: Elizabeth Norman. You can jazz up affordable fabrics in solids and stripes with pillows in more expensive patterns. I like to change pillows seasonally.

Q: What types of elements should an effective landscape include?

A: Jay Graham. Thinking about how the landscape itself is “furnished” is important. I like to design low walls in a landscape that can be used used for sitting, dining and putting drinks on even when the furniture is put away.

Q: How can lighting enhance my landscape design?

A: Anthony Cusat. Low-voltage lights create a nice, warm glow. The new LED lights have warmer tones now. It’s very beautiful to up-light trees, such as crape myrtles, from below. Or you can add moonlighting by installing LED lights in the trees, shining down.

Q: What are some trends in outdoor living spaces?

A: Anthony Cusat. We build a lot of outdoor kitchens with grills, sinks, refrigerators and beverage centers as well as wine-tasting gardens that connect to a pool house.

Q: How can I create an eco-friendly garden?

A: Elizabeth Norman. It used to be really hard to have an organic garden. Now, Lowe’s organic department is as big as its conventional one. Ask professionals for plants that don’t need poisons to look good. And remember that some organic products are just as poisonous as their conventional counterparts.

When Interiors and Exteriors Collide.

Although I practice interior design, I have designed a few outdoor spaces and each time, realize how my everyday creative skills apply to spaces situated under the stars as well. So when I see the results of interior designers and landscape architects working together, I get teary eyed {well, not really, but I do get a giddy grin}. As is the case of interior designer Henry Brown and landscape designer Lawrence Huntington’s beautiful outdoor dining and living spaces at Henry’s Portland, Oregon home. Raise your hand if the sophisticated black and white awning stripe fabric layered with classic and casual green gardens gets you giddy too?!

Elegant outdoor dining room black and white

elegant outdoor living room space black and white

Elegant outdoor dining room black and white

elegant outdoor living room space black and white

elegant outdoor living room space black and white

elegant outdoor living room space black and white

elegant outdoor living room space black and white

Photographs by John Granen for Traditional Home.

Organic Greens.

Everyone is going green tomorrow for St. Patrick’s Day! This is typically the time of year when our lawns green up too. If 2010 is your year for going a bit more earth-friendly, start with an environmentally safe way to grow and maintain a greener, healthier lawn. And celebrate your hard work with some organic green beer! Luck of the Irish.

This Old House shows us how to go organic outdoors:

1. Start by mowing the lawn very short.
2. Next, use a gas-powered aerator to punch air holes into the lawn.
3. Use a shovel to broadcast ½ to 1 inch of compost over the lawn.
4. Rake the compost into lawn using a garden rake.
5. Check the health of the soil with a test kit; for acidic soil, add pelletized limestone with a broadcast spreader.
6. Add chicken-manure fertilizer to the lawn with broadcast spreader.
7. Spread grass seed over the lawn using broadcast spreader.
8. Use the back of a leaf rake to work the grass seed into the lawn.
9. Lightly water the lawn two or three times per day.
10. Once grass germinates, return to normal watering: irrigate the lawn with 1 inch of water per week.

However, if you lead a busy life, hate yard work, or need a complete landscape overhaul and would rather leave it to a really good landscape company here in the Washington, DC area, call my friends at Wheat’s Landscape.

Artisan Garden Ideas from RH.

Looks like Restoration Hardware is branching out big time into a full spectrum of outdoor landscape furnishings, accessories, and lighting, with a broader collection of exclusive handcrafted items to enhance city dwellings and countryside cottages alike. The new 2010 Restoration Hardware Garden catalog will be arriving in mailboxes on and around February 25th and will give all homeowners and designers lots more choices in outdoor decor. I know my friend’s urban landscape design biz (to be named soon) will find some perfect pairings for the unique, classic, and compact urban outdoor spaces in and around Washington DC. Pssst… more to come about that lil’ biz. He’s a fantastic designer and gardener. And we make an excellent indoor and outdoor team. =)


Just a Thought.

"A person should design the way he makes a living, around how he wishes to make a life" — Charlie Byrd

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