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The Science Of Fall Color

We all marvel at the fall colors in our region. That’s because we’ve been blessed with the right climatic conditions. However, there are a lot of explanations for this phenomenon, many of them wrong.

Back in 2012, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) posted a release on its treesaregood.org website explaining the science of autumn beauty. It’s all about the temperature swings and diminishing hours of daylight. The release says, “Leaf pigments play a crucial role in the colors we see. Chlorophylls, carotenoids, and anthocyanins present in a leaf help determine what color the leaf will display.

“The pigment that gives leaves their green color is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is used in photosynthesis, which is the process that uses sunlight to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (sugars) that fuel tree growth. During the spring and summer, with more hours of sunlight and warmer temperatures, this photosynthetic process is most active, thus leaves are green. 

“When daylight hours become less and temperatures are cooler, photosynthesis slows down, and there is less chlorophyll. This decline reveals a yellow or orange pigment, carotenoid. Carotenoids, the same pigment found in carrots and corn, are usually masked by the chlorophyll.

Unlike chlorophyll and carotenoids, which are present in leaf cells throughout the growing season, anthocyanins are produced in autumn. Anthocyanins give color to familiar fruits, such as cranberries, red apples, cherries, and plums. These complex, water soluble compounds in leaf cells react with excess stored plant sugars and exposure to sunlight, creating vivid pink, red and purple leaves. A mixture of red anthocyanin pigment and yellow carotene often results in the bright orange color seen in some leaves.

“Weather conditions that occur before and during the decline of chlorophyll production can affect the color that leaves may display. Carotenoids are always present, so the yellow and gold colors are the least affected by weather. 

“Colors most affected by weather are the red tones created by anthocyanin. On warm sunny days lots of sugar is produced in the leaves. Trees exposed to brighter sunlight generate the reaction between the anthocyanins and the excess sugar creating the bright red hue. Cooler temperatures cause the veins in the leaves to gradually close preventing the sugars from moving out which preserves the red tones. Thus, a succession of warm sunny days and cool crisp nights can paint the most spectacular display of color.

“The level of moisture in the soil can also affect autumn color. A severe summer drought can delay the onset of color change by weeks. Ideal conditions for producing the most brilliant colors are a warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and sunny fall days with the cooler temperatures at night.”Now that you know the science between the color change, enjoy your fall leaf peeping.

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Aerate Your Lawn This Fall

Aeration is one of the kindest things you can do for your lawn before putting it to bed for the winter, especially if you have the heavy clay soil that predominates our area. Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn, and I recommend that you do it before you do any overseeding.

Plant roots need water and oxygen. When soil is compacted, there’s little space between soil particles for these essentials. Aeration removes plugs of soil, giving the particles a little more breathing room. The spaces created by aeration quickly close up when a heavy lawnmower is run over it every week and the family plays on the lawn. As a result, aeration may be an annual part of lawn care in many area communities.  

At first glance, aerators may look like a big walk behind lawn mower. Instead of blades, though, an aerator has spoon like tines or hollow tubes that the machine drives into the sod. The tubes come out of the soil filled with sod and deposit it on the lawn surface. The “plugs” are left in place to decompose and return organic matter to the lawn. 

Initially, the holes left by the sod plugs provide a wide open space for water and oxygen to enter. With time, though, the holes close up with surrounding soil, which expands to fill the empty spaces. The looser soil provides the water and oxygen with a path to penetrate the whole lawn.

Aerators can be rented at equipment rental stores. If you decide on the DIY approach, I think it’ll be a one time task.  Next time, you’ll turn it over to our lawn care professionals. An aerator may look like a lawn mower but it’s heavier, takes more strength to control and operates slower than a lawn mower. When you calculate the cost of renting the machine, transporting it to and from your home and the sweat and hard labor you put into the task, I think you’ll opt for having the job done professionally.

Two other jobs that are often associated with aerating are rolling and dethatching. They shouldn’t be. Lawns should not be rolled, especially those growing in clay soil. Rolling is done to take bumps out of the lawn but the soil in those bumps needs to end up somewhere. It fills up already restricted spaces between soil particles, further compacting the soil. If you do roll, it’s best to aerate right after, whether you planned to or not, in order to allow the soil to breathe. Dethatching is the gathering of dead grass plants that accumulate in turf, not grass clippings. Some lawns never need dethatching and most don’t need it as often as aerating. A lawn care professional can advise you on any services needed for a beautiful, healthy lawn.

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Bring Houseplants Back Indoors

As we get deeper into autumn, the nights are getting cooler, while the days continue to be warm. This is ideal weather for planting trees and shrubs but will soon be too cold for those tender houseplants that have been vacationing on your deck or patio all summer.

The first step for your houseplant migration back indoors is to prepare the space for them. The odds are that the space these plants vacated last spring is already repurposed, either with other plants or something else. Consequently, there may be some rearranging needed before your plants can be returned to their favorite spot.

Your houseplant transition doesn’t have to take place all at once. Base the move on forecast overnight lows nearing each plant’s cold tolerance level. They should all be back indoors when the first hard frost warning is issued.

Be sure the plants are clean before moving them inside. Remove weeds that may have taken up residence in their container. Also guard against taking insects indoors where they can infest your healthy plants. If you can see insect activity, such as eggs, chewed leaves or the insects themselves, pick off what’s visible and hose off others. If no insects or insect activity is visible, take the precautionary step of shaking the plant and then submerging the container in water to drown any insects in the soil or on the soil surface as a result of your shaking them.

Quarantining the plants for a day or two before taking them into the house would be a good idea if you’re able to. You need a place in which they can get sufficient sunlight during the day and not freeze at night. Suggestions include a garage or outbuilding with enough windows to allow photosynthesis to continue or a glassed in, unheated sunroom. This quarantine will allow the plants to adjust to an inside environment gradually. It’ll also give their soil an opportunity to dry out from their dunking, and you can check for any lingering insects. Don’t forget to water these plants if they need it. When you take the plants indoors, base your watering regimen on the humidity in the house. There’s no rain to supplement your watering. It’s all up to you to quench their thirst.

While in quarantine, check your plants to see if they’ve gained weight on their summer vacation. Those whose crowns are substantially larger than when you put them outside can be pruned before going into the house. Otherwise, they may not fit the space you have planned for them. Using pruning shears or sharp kitchen scissors remove up to half the foliage, if necessary. One third is even better. If you can identify new growth, you can prune off only that foliage and it’ll look just like it did when you took it outside. Regardless of how much you prune your plants, try to maintain their natural shape.

I’m sure you enjoyed your houseplant gracing your deck or patio all season. But now it’s time to bring them back to their natural environment. There’s a reason why they’re called houseplants; the house is their natural environment. These easy steps will make the transition good for the plants and for you.

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Turn Fallen Leaves Into Next Spring’s Compost

The bane of fall can become the boom of spring. I’m talking about fallen leaves. They should be raked or blown from the lawn and flower beds, so why not put them to work helping maintain your landscape?

Leaves that you rake or blow to the curb for the municipality to take away will be composted and used in parks and around public buildings. With a little extra effort, you can compost and use the good, natural organic matter to keep your own landscape healthy. Compost is sometimes referred to as black gold, and soon it could be all over your yard just for the taking.

If you already compost, all you need to do is add the leaves to the material already decomposing. If you’re new to composting, you’ll need a bin for the raw material to decompose in. If you’re handy, you can make a wood box or a chicken wire enclosure, or even use a plastic trash can.  Periodically, you’ll have to stir the material up. You can find how-to information online. You can also buy tumbling composters at big box stores and online. Then all you do is turn the handle periodically to stir the material.

Leaves should be chopped up or they won’t compost thoroughly over the winter. At least not in cold climates like ours here in upstate New York. My favorite chopping method is to load the leaves into a plastic trash can. Put on safety equipment, especially safety glasses. Then fire up your string trimmer and plunge it into the can of leaves just as you would an immersion blender in the kitchen. Repeat until the leaves are pulverized. Finally, haul the trash can to the composter and dump it. 

The easiest way to compost leaves that fall on your lawn is to set your lawn mower to mulching mode when the leaves begin to fall. Each time you mow, the mower will chop the leaves right along with the grass clippings and drop them into the turf. As the leaves and clippings decompose, they’ll return organic matter to the soil. 

While the mower will take care of the leaves that fall on the lawn, you’ll still have the leaves that fall in your planting beds, on the driveway and other hard surfaces to compost and return to the beds in the spring. When the soil has dried out in the spring, load the compost into a wheelbarrow or garden cart, and take it to the beds. Don’t dump it. Using a shovel, scatter it throughout the beds. Then work the compost into the soil with an iron rake. 

Don’t compost leaves from diseased or insect-infested trees. They could contaminate the compost and spread the disease organisms or insects to other plants when you spread the compost in the spring. Contaminated leaves should be bagged and put in a trash tote. You can compost some kitchen scraps like coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable scraps. If you throw kitchen scraps into the compost, check for animal activity when you turn the compost. Some people have reported rodents going after the food scraps.

Compost is an excellent source of organic matter for your soil. It’s free and requires little more labor than it takes to get your leaves to the curb. Your plants will love it and so will you.

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Selecting A Quality Tree For Fall Planting

Fall doesn’t officially begin until later in September, but everyone considers Labor Day the unofficial start. Typically, the nighttime temperatures begin to fall while the daytime temperatures stay warm. It’s also when the rains return so new plantings will receive sufficient water without your having to supplement it with irrigation. And, that’s exactly why the nursery industry reminds us that Fall is for Planting.

Garden centers join in on this promotion, too. Contrary to some people’s opinion that garden centers just use the fall season to get rid of leftover nursery stock, reputable garden centers actually get fresh stock for the season. They may mark down stock that’s left from spring sales, also. That’s OK because most of their nursery stock will be perfectly fine, if they took care of it. So, how do you tell a good tree from a bad one? The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) published a consumer information bulletin, Buying High-Quality Trees, in which they offered the tips below.

A high-quality tree has….

• Strong form with well-spaced, firmly attached branches.

• A  trunk free of wounds or damage.

•  A quality root system to support healthy growth.

Conversely, a low-quality tree has…

• Weak form in which multiple stems originate from the same point and branches grow into each other.

•  A trunk with wounds from handling or incorrect pruning.

•  Limited, crushed or circling roots in an undersized root ball or container.

Some of the ways you know a tree’s form is strong is even spacing of branches along the trunk. Avoid branches facing upward and forming narrow angles. As the branches grow, they’ll compete with the trunk for the limited space between them and branches usually lose the fight and break. Trees in which the trunk splits into two equal leaders can be a problem as it grows. Those two leaders are called co-dominate but one is always stronger. If the angle between them is narrow, the weaker will inevitably split. This can be prevented by cabling and bracing but that’s an extra expense. It should be noted that the limbs you see on a young tree will seldom survive to maturity, but the spacing will remain true to form. Branches don’t grow upward; they remain in the same position for life. As the trunk grows higher, it shoots out new branches, while the lower ones are shaded out by the upper branches or have to be pruned off for clearance purposes.

Always inspect the trunk of a tree you’re considering buying. Look for signs of insects, wounds like frost cracks (injuries to the bark that run vertically up the tree), and improper pruning cuts. Sometimes the grower removes the lower branches to encourage a fuller crown. If flush cuts – those flat to the trunk – were made, special tissue in the branch collar was removed. This tissue contains cells that help the pruning wound to callous over to protect the tree from insect or diseases. Any pruning cuts should bulge out like a donut but shouldn’t leave any branch stubs. If the trunk is wrapped in protective material, remove it and inspect the trunk before you buy the tree.

Whether the tree is bare root, balled and burlapped or containerized, you should check the roots before buying. Bare roots are easiest to check. Make sure the roots are moist and not discolored or crushed. The roots were probably pruned when the tree was dug. Make sure the root ends are cleanly cut, rather than ragged as though they were ripped from the ground. If the roots are long, the ragged end can be pruned so it’ll grow correctly. Containerized plants are the next easiest to check at the garden store before buying. Slip it out of the pot and look for roots encircling several other roots. If present, try pulling the offending root out straight. If it’s too big to be straightened, pass on the tree, unless the garden center offers to fix it for you at no charge. The repair involves cutting the offending root and removing the section that crosses other roots. A girdling root that remains in place can eventually kill all or part of the tree. Also check the root collar, the point at which the root and trunk connect, to be sure it’s not buried in the container soil. If it is, pull the soil away and make sure that collar remains exposed when you plant the tree.

Balled and burlap roots are the most difficult to check. However, you can check the root collar and make sure it isn’t buried. Be sure to retain the right to return the tree if you find any root damage like girdling root when you get the tree home. You’ll cut the string or wire holding the burlap to the trunk when you plant the tree, and that’s when you can examine the rootball closely.

Regardless of whether you buy a bare root, containerized or balled and burlapped tree you should keep the roots moist but not sopping wet if you aren’t going to plant it right away. When you do plant it, dig the hole two or three time larger around than the rootball but only as deep. Before planting, remove the pot from containerized trees but just the string or wire from balled and burlapped trees. The burlap will decompose in the ground. Spread the roots out when planting bare root stock. As you backfill, stop periodically to tamp down the soil lightly but not enough to compact it. Be careful not to bury the root collar. Finally, water the backfill.

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Time To Think About Fall Color

When you think about fall color in your landscape, what comes to mind? Colorful leaves that give trees and shrubs a moment of brilliance before falling to the ground for you to rake up? Or perhaps chrysanthemums (mums)? Colorful leaves are short lived and mums all by themselves are quite boring. This post gives you ideas for other colorful fall plants that are hardy in our area.

Flowers that provided early spring color can also provide late fall color. These include violas like pansies and violets. Snap dragons and marigold will also bloom well into the fall, as will petunias. You may have to refresh or replace them in the late summer or early fall, especially if they didn’t get enough water or deadheading but they’re well suited to the weather that’s in store.

If you started the season with crocuses, you may want to end the season with the plant we call fall crocus. This bulb isn’t just a rebloom of the spring crocus. It just looks like it. Actually, the spring crocus is a member of the same family as the iris while the fall crocus is a member of the lily family. Another common name for the fall crocus is meadow saffron but don’t get excited about the saffron name. In fact, you won’t want to confuse it with the very expensive spice. The meadow saffron, or fall crocus, is actually poisonous. The fall crocus photo was taken in October at Chanticleer, a public garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

I’m not trying to minimize mums. Mass plantings are beautiful. I’m just making the point that they aren’t the only plant that flowers in fall, and suggesting that you diversify your autumn plant palette. Monoculture (limiting your plantings to one species) is never a good idea. Asters are the most common companion to mums. That’s because they both have similar growing requirements and blooming schedules. The list of fall blooming plants also includes Black Eyed Susans, Autumn sedum, Cranesbill (hardy) geraniums, sweet alyssum and heuchera, which is also called coral bells. Daylilies can also bloom into the fall, as can sunflowers.  Bleeding hearts, another early spring bloomer, also adds another dimension to your fall plant palette. 

Don’t forget shrubs when planting for fall color. The hydrangea is an example of a late blooming shrub. Witch hazel blooms in late fall into winter.  But shrubs can show color in other ways. For example, the beauty bush displays its fruit (pictured) well into the fall and dogwoods are famous for their red twigs.

Fall doesn’t have to be any less colorful than spring and summer. Before you start packing things away and battening down the hatches for winter, why not take a trip to your garden center and see what they’ve got to make your autumn more colorful than ever? We have two or three months before you have to think winter. Make it joyful and colorful. Fall is for planting bedding plants and perennials as well as trees and shrubs. If you’d like help making selections and planting them, our landscape professionals are happy to lend a hand. 

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Tree Selection & Placement

Fall is for planting, and that time will soon be upon us. Selecting a tree and a planting site should be no trivial matter. After all, many trees that are planted this fall may outlive their owners. You should prepare to plant with longevity in mind because it’ll only happen if you select the right plant for the right place. Otherwise, your efforts and investment could become a short-lived money pit.

If you don’t like where you’re living, you can move. Few trees have that luxury. They have to stand there and take whatever nature and the environment metes out. As stressed trees’ health decline, they begin costing money for repair. When they finally give up the ghost, the cost to take them down becomes a major investment. It will then cost even more to fill the empty space left by the tree removal.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) suggests you ask yourself these questions and use your answers in making your tree selection and placement decisions:

• Why am I planting this tree? What functions will it serve? Large, healthy trees increase property values and make outdoor surroundings more pleasant. A deciduous shade tree that loses its leaves in fall provides cooling relief from summer’s heat while allowing the winter sun to warm your home. An ornamental tree displays beautiful flowers, leaves, bark or fruit. Evergreens with dense, persistent foliage can provide a windbreak or a screen for privacy. A tree or shrub that produces fruit can provide food for you or wildlife. Trees can also reduce runoff, filter out pollutants and add oxygen to the air we breathe.

• Is a small, medium or large tree best suited for the location and available space? Do overhead or belowground utilities preclude planting a large, growing tree — or any tree at all? What clearance is needed for sidewalks, patios, or driveways? Selecting the right form (shape) to complement the desired function (what you want the tree to do) can significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase the tree’s value in the landscape. In addition, mature tree size determines the level of benefits received. Larger trees typically provide the greatest economic and environmental returns. Depending on the site, you can choose from hundreds of form and size combinations. A low, spreading tree may be planted under overhead utility lines. A narrow, columnar evergreen may provide a screen between two buildings. Large, vase-shaped trees can create an arbor over a driveway. 

Site conditions to consider when making your selection and placement decisions include soil conditions, exposure to sun and wind, drainage, space constraints, hardiness zone, human activity and insect and disease susceptibility. If the site is shady, you’ll want to select a shade tolerant tree instead of one that loves sun. You won’t want to select a tree that won’t tolerate wet feet for a low part your landscape. Hardiness is the plant’s ability to survive in the extreme temperatures of the particular geographic region where you’re planting the tree. We’re in Zone 5. Planting the wrong tree in the wrong place accounts for more tree deaths than all insect and disease related deaths combined.

• What are the soil conditions? Is enough soil of sufficient quality available to support mature tree growth?  When new homes are built, the soil is often disturbed, shallow, compacted and subject to drought. Most trees will suffer in these conditions without additional care. We can take soil samples from your yard to test for texture, fertility, salinity and pH (alkalinity or acidity). These tests can be used to determine which trees are suited for your property and may include recommendations for improving poor soil conditions. 

Following these ISA recommendations, which I heartily endorse, can make this an autumn to remember…the start of a long and beneficial relationship.

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Check Your Lawn For Grubs

photo credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

It’s already that time of year when I remind you to check your lawn for grubs. These pests have been destroying lawns for decades. We can’t eliminate them but we can manage them with a little diligent observation.

During June and the first couple weeks in July, grubs in their adult stage have been flying around trying to find a mate. You may have seen…or heard them. They’re big, brown beetles with either an attraction to light or a very poor sense of direction. We usually become aware of them when they fly right at our windows, making a distinctive sound as they hit. There are usually enough of them that it sounds like a hail storm. If you’ve experienced this phenomenon, it’s a safe bet that you have grubs in your lawn, or soon will.

The beetles are either European chafers or Japanese beetles. After mating, the female lays eggs in the turf of your lawn. The immature stage is crescent-shaped white grubs. Upon emergence from the eggs, grubs immediately burrow into the root zone of your lawn and begin feasting on grass roots. They continue feeding until the soil surface temperatures go down and winter sets in. This is when they burrow deeper into the soil, where it’s warmer. In the spring, they rise back up to the root zone and continue their feast until they’re about two inches long. They then pupate, morph into adults and begin flying into your windows all over again.

The best time to wage war against grubs is in the fall. This is when they are small and weak and don’t require aggressive control measures. If you wait until next spring to control them, the grubs will be bigger, stronger and more resistant to control measures. And they will have had more time to destroy your lawn.

You can start looking for grubs now. You may not see them on your first try but keep at it. To check for grubs, cut several one-foot squares of sod from different areas of your lawn. A sharp knife is the only tool you’ll need. Roll the pieces of sod back and check both the bottom of the sod and the hole for little grubs that look like the picture. If you count six or fewer grubs in each square, you don’t have a big enough infestation to warrant treatment. If any of the squares has seven or more grubs, you should put the sod back in place and apply a treatment.

Treatment is an easy do it yourself job. You can buy granular grub control products at garden centers and home stores and spread them just as you would granulated fertilizer. Follow label directions. Don’t use more than the label directs on the false assumption that twice as much will be twice effective. Just the opposite is true. If this is a job you’d rather not do yourself, our lawn care professionals can diagnose whether you have a grub problem and, if you do, apply the most effective material at just the right strength. This service is part of our lawn care program but we also offer it to property owners who aren’t on a lawn care program.

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Boundary Trees May Not Make Good Neighbors

Poet Robert Frost’s statement about fences making good neighbors may not apply to trees planted on a boundary line. Boundary trees have been sources of contention between neighbors for centuries, and it has led to laws that govern who owns boundary line trees and who’s responsible for their care.

A book, entitled Arboriculture and the Law, published by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), states that, generally, courts find that a tree positioned on a property line between two residences is common property, and thus, the responsibility of both property owners. ISA explains, “This typically means the tree cannot be pruned, destroyed, or altered without both parties agreeing to the changes. Sometimes this requires the two parties to have a written agreement on the terms of care for the tree. If a tree is securely on your property, in the eyes of the law you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep.”

Sometimes a tree that you planted near your lot line grows and grows until it straddles the boundary between your yard and the neighbor’s. When that happens, you have a new partner in the ownership of that tree. This can lead to disagreements between you and your reluctant co-owner. This situation can be prevented by making sure you know the expected trunk diameter and crown and root spread of any tree or shrub you plant close to the boundary line and make sure it’s far enough into your property to keep it from encroaching on your neighbor’s property. As an aside, shared ownership also applies to fences on the boundary line. So, install fences several inches on your side of the line, too.

More common than a tree straddling a boundary line is a tree that’s allowed to grow unattended until branches hang over into your neighbor’s yard and drops leaves in their yard, possibly in their pool or on their patio, or drops litter on their vehicles. Worse yet are situations in which branches hanging over the neighbor’s house breaks and falls on the roof or the roots grow under the driveway, causing it to heave. Who’s responsible for such damage? According to the lawyers who wrote the ISA book, the common rule of thumb is that a homeowner should consider themselves responsible for tending to any trees that could cause harm to a neighbor’s home or person.

If you don’t take the responsibility for your interfering tree, the neighbor can take the necessary action on their side of the boundary, according to the law. They can remove any portion of the tree invading their property. ISA states that courts have determined that a landowner owns all the space above and below his property, and if something invades either of those areas, it is his
right to remove it.

If the wind breaks a branch and it falls on the neighbor’s roof you can’t escape responsibility by pleading ignorance or that it was an “Act of God.” If you could have prevented the damage by regularly checking and maintaining your tree(s), you may be able to prevent many problems in your life. It’s also a good idea to maintain a photo history with before and after of everything you do or have done. If your trees or landscape does sustain damage, ISA recommends that you….

• Contact your homeowner’s insurance company.
• Have the insurance company send a professional tree and landscaping appraiser out to your property immediately after the damage has occurred.
• Have the appraiser determine your financial loss, including the cost of removal and repair.
• Have any repairs or removal work performed by our professional arborists. We have 13 ISA Certified Arborists and one Board Certified Arborist on staff.

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Take Stock – Where Do You Need Color?

The best time to know where you need more plants in your landscape is when the plants you have are in bloom, or recently bloomed. That time is now. So take photos and make notes so you’ll know exactly where you need more plants and what types of plants you need. Or better yet, try some ideas now.

Spring flowering plants like bulbs and flowering shrubs are through blooming for the season. Now they’re foliage plants. Does the green of these foliage plants satisfy you? Is there balance between areas that are in summer bloom and the foliage plants that have already bloomed? Or is the void of color in part of your landscape a major distraction? This is a personal preference. I’m a woody plant lover so I like mass areas of foliage.

If you want more color, take a trip to the garden center and buy annuals. For just a bit of color to break up the green monochrome, plant annuals around the base of trees or a bed of shrubs. You should have a mulched area between the plants and the grass, walkway or whatever’s adjacent to the foliage plant(s). Foliage plant beds that border on grass can be easily expanded by removing some grass and planting annuals.

You may have a space that looks barren, devoid of either flower or foliage plants. Such a space will give you a blank slate to experiment.  Consider removing the sod and plant a bed of annuals. Experiment with plants of different heights and colors with a view to replacing the annuals with perennials either this fall or next spring. Since this is an experiment, I suggest saving the sod in case you decide that the space looks better in grass than flowers and be sure to take photos.

When you cut the sod, rent a sod cutter. Depending on the size bed you’re making, you’ll cut small, flat rectangles or large rectangles that you can roll up for easy handling. Roll out black plastic on the driveway or a part of your yard where it won’t be an eyesore or kill any other plants. The area you choose should get plenty of sunlight and access to water. The sod likes plenty of both. Finally, roll out the sod on to the plastic. Makes sure it gets plenty of moisture in the form of rain, your hose, a sprinkler or a combination. 

Should you decide that your new bed looks better as lawn, you can just pull the flowers out, then level and rake the ground. Before resodding, you might want to put down some pre-emergent weed killer to keep from having unwanted flowers growing up in your lawn next season. After any waiting period specified on the pre-emergent package, put the pieces of sod together like a jigsaw puzzle. Walk on it to make sure it makes good contact with the soil and water it.

An easy alternative for temporary fill-ins for flowerless areas is to use containers. Containerize annuals and place them in the area you want filled with color. If you like the color they bring to the space, leave them in place for the season and then replace the containers with low maintenance perennials. If the color doesn’t do anything for you, use the containerized plants to give plenty of color to your deck, patio, pool area or front entrance – any area that needs softening with a little color.

A landscape can never have too much color but don’t forget foliage plants. They add structure and bulk to a landscape, and they give it form. Foliage plants can also add color to your landscape without showy blooms. Choose varieties with colorful leaves and form. A weeping lace leaf Japanese red maple is a good example. Plants with variegated leaves are also good choices.If you know that an area of your landscape needs help but can’t come up with satisfying ideas, or if you prefer to enjoy your landscape without having to do the work, I suggest you work with one of our landscape designers to give your property just the look you want. And our landscape installation professionals can bring the design to life