Our Designers Experience at Lancasters, MAHTS

As a designer, I like to attend any course at MAHTS that discusses design, site planning, or sustainability practices in the landscape. One course that really interested me was ‘Sustainable Design and Construction’.  The speaker touched on LEED standards and explained various sustainable landscape projects, but the one thing that sparked my interest during the presentation was a new program that has been developed called ‘Sustainable Sites Initiative.’

Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is a program that promotes sustainable land development and management practices. SITES first began to materialize in 2005 when the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center joined forces and held a summit in Austin, Texas. Now 7 years later the initiative had just certified three projects in their pilot program.

The difference between this program and something like LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is that SITES focuses completely on the landscape. It may be a vacant lot, shopping mall, park, or single family home. No matter the project, SITES provides comprehensive guidelines to those who wish to create a sustainable landscape.

This initiative is very exiting to those of us in the industry. We now have an organization that will help guide us in creating long lasting eco-sensitive landscapes. Cedar Run Landscapes will be keeping an eye on the progress of the pilot program as it winds down this year and the guidelines are refined. Please check back with us for updates.

Our Project Managers experience at MAHTS in Lancaster

Our off season tends to be populated with educational events and conferences.  These events help to keep us informed of industry trends, new products, and updated construction methods. Recently several members of Cedar Run Landscapes attended the Middle Atlantic Hardscaping Trade Show in Lancaster.  Some of the presentations I attended included hardscaping in the pool environment, how to guarantee compaction and eliminate structural failures in the residential market, and step design and integration.  I also gave 2 presentations at this year’s show, focusing on the integration of water features with hardscaping, and rainwater harvesting.  It was rewarding to offer some of my own knowledge after having received so much valuable information from this show over the years.

E.P. Henry Display at MAHTS in Lancaster PA

There were also some interesting product displays at the show, including a raised patio and rainwater collection system combination.  It’s exciting to see the technological progression and construction method innovation currently evident in our industry.  With everyone from the manufacturers to installers focused on green construction and sustainable practices we are sure to see some great advances in this area in the near future.

Here at Cedar Run Landscapes we are always focused on innovative construction and new sustainable practices within the industry. We have installed several rainwater harvesting systems similar to the one that was on display at the show. If you would like to learn more about one of these project Click here.

 

The Rain Guy’s Summer Travels

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This summer ‘The Rain Guy’ took a trip to check out some interesting projects that were happening in New York and Chicago. He first stopped by New York City’s High Line which opened up its second section between West 20th and West 30th Streets on June 8, 2011.

The High Line

View of High Line

The High Line is a linear park built on the former elevated freight railroad along the lower west side of Manhattan. The park takes the concept of a green roof to a whole new level. The multiple layered ‘living roof’ includes pourous drainage, gravel, filter fabric, subsoil and topsoil, allowing everything from small perennials to full grown tree’s to grown high above the streetscape. Parts of the park are also designed to re-circulate water and there are future plans to harvest rainwater from the roofs of nearby buildings. The High Line Project is a great example of how sustainable landscape ideas can be successfully used to create unique and beautiful spaces.

Bird houses on the High Line

After visiting New York, The Rain Guy was then off to Chicago to participate in Aquascape Inc.’s sustainable outdoor water feature build at Shedd Aquarium. The pond, stream and wetland installation was devised to serve as a hands-on training event for Certified Aquascape Contractors to learn the latest innovations and applications of sustainable landscape solutions. The design philosophy of this project was to incorporate the native flora and fauna while emulating a native Illinois stream.

Contractors working together at Shedd Aquarium

The Rain Guy worked with contractors from across the continent to install a 30’ x15’ pond, which included a 1,500 gallon reservoir, allowing the feature to operate for extended periods without rainfall. Along with a 50-foot long stream and waterfall system, the project included an oversized wetland to provide water filtration while also creating a unique aquatic habitat. The water feature will serve as one of the aquarium’s exhibits. It will also help educate visitors about the importance of native habitats and how we can make a positive impact on our environment.

Completed Water Feature

Completed Water Feature before Landscaping

To learn more about these places check out the links below:

High Line

http://www.thehighline.org/

http://www.asla.org/sustainablelandscapes/highline.html

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/ny-high-line/cook-photography

Shedd Aquarium

http://www.aquascapeinc.com/index.php?page=news&n_id=63

http://www.sheddaquarium.org/

http://www.houzz.com/photos/31584/Shedd-Aquarium-Water-Feature-landscape-chicago

Montgomery Township’s Autumn Festival

Please Join Us This Saturday at the Montgomery Township Autumn Festival

This day long event will take place from 10 til 4 at William F. Maule Park at Windlestrae off of Kenas Road in North Wales.

Along with our display booth, our staff will be available just around the corner at our  office and display gardens. Please stop by before or after you attend this great family event to check out our water features.
Rain Date, Sunday October 2 12:00-4:00 PM

Lawn Care and Renovation

The lawn is often thought of as an extension of our home. It’s a place were families gather to relax and have fun. But keeping a green lush lawn means understanding the requirements of our lawn and providing the appropriate conditions they need to thrive. Such things as drought, excessive shade, poor drainage, soil compaction, inadequate fertility, acid soils, infestations, disease, thatch build-up, improper mowing, poorly adapted grass species, and others may contribute to poor lawn performance.

Cool Season Grasses:

Most lawns in the Philadelphia region consist of cool season grasses, like perennial rye, Kentucky bluegrass and the fescues. These grass species thrive during the cooler seasons of fall and spring and can handle the freezing conditions and snow cover of winter. It’s during the hot and dry summers that these grasses struggle, often going dormant and turning brown.

 Soil Conditions:

One of the first important steps to a successful lawn is to assess your soil conditions. Check the degree of compaction and amount of topsoil present. Also it is essential to get a soil test done.  You can easily purchase a test kit from a university or private test lab. A soil test report will provide you with information about pH and lime levels and the amount of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and organic matter in the soil. Along with the test results, test sites will often provide recommendations for liming, soil amendments and fertilizing. Taking these steps will help you determine the best course to take in improving your lawn.

Helpful tips to improve your lawn:

 Mow Right

  • Cut lawn at 3” or higher, not cutting more than ⅓ of the leaf tissue
  • Mow frequently during active growth
  • Leave clippings on your lawn, clippings containing important nutrients that will return to the soil, significantly reducing the need for fertilizer applications.
  • Make sure mowing blades are sharp

 Feed Right

  • Choose a complete fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) made for lawns
  • Read and follow all directions when applying
  • Spring and early fall are the best times to feed
  • Sweep products off hard surfaces and back into the lawn

Water Right

  • Its okay for lawns to go dormant during the summer
  • If you choose to water during the summer do it early in the morning
  • Water deeply and infrequently, about 1” a week when there is inadequate rain fall.
  • Frequent light watering encourages shallow rooting and germination of weed seeds

 Lawn Renovation

 If you have been struggling  to get a successfully established lawn it might be time to do a full lawn overhall. Lawn renovations restore failing lawn and with the arrival of cooler temperatures, September signals the perfect time to renovate thin, tired, weak, and wore out lawns.

Basic Steps for Renovating a Lawn

Step

Options

Comments

Weed Control Physically Pull For large or spreading weeds; won’t kill all weeds.
Broadleaf Herbicide If weeds are primarily non-grasses.
Nonselective Herbicide   Kills most green vegetation; allow 5-14 days to effectively kill the plants.
 Thatch Removal Vigorous Hand Raking Not practical for extreme thatch problem or large areas.
Vertical Mower Can be rented or hired; can also be used to prepare seedbed.
Sod Cutter Recommended for extreme thatch problem; can be rented or hired.
Soil Preparation Vigorous Hand Raking For small sites with little vegetation remaining.
Aeration 3-5 passes with commercial aerifier; especially recommended if soil is compacted.
Vertical Mowing Tines should nick surface to a depth of ⅛-½ inch.
 Fertilize Nitrogen (N) Phosphorus (P) Potassium (K) ½ pound of N per 1000 square feet; P and K as determined by a soil test.
Seeding  Hand For small sites mix 1 part seed with 4 parts fine sawdust or a natural organic fertilizer such as Milorganite.
Rotary Spreader Preferred method if mixed with sawdust or Milorganite.
Drop Spreader Seed in 2 directions or overlap ½ way.
Slit Seeder Equipment can be rented but requires skill; generally best done by professionals
Irrigate Water lightly to provide good seed-soil contact; then, water lightly twice daily to rewet soil surface. Don’t allow to become soggy.
Mow At 3½ inches, mow to 2½ inches with sharp mower; continue regular mowing as needed.

Other Helpful Links:

Penn State University’s Center for Turfgrass Science Home Lawns Website

Using Composts to Improve Turf Performance

Recycling Turfgrass Clippings

Meadows and Prairies: Wildlife-Friendly Alternatives to Lawn

Garden Giving Update

Collecting Extra Veggies

A student collects excess greens to donate to charity.

Last fall our staff volunteered to help in the creation of a garden at Shady Grove Elementary School of theWissahickon School District in Montgomery County. Cedar Run Landscapes donated soil, labor, and equipment which helped students create and plant a vegetable and flower garden.

Students working in the garden during recess.

The school’s initial goal was to help teach students about the earth and environment. As time has passed, another benefit that has taken form; students have been harvesting excess lettuce, spinach, and chard from their garden and donating it to the local food cupboard. They have also created a garden club, where students volunteer during their recess to help care for the garden.

Gardening with Annuals

Aside

 Blooming from mid-May until autumn’s first frost, these colorful plants can produce a dramatic and striking landscape. Their diverse colors and textures provide the gardener with numerous opportunities, like filling in open spaces in a bed, defining an edge in a garden or jazzing up an area in a planter box or container.

Cedar Run Landscapes has just received its spring order of new annuals. Each year we introduce new and different varieties to our customer’s gardens. This year we are featuring annual vines. Annual vines will add a vertical dimension to the garden, livening up even the smallest of spaces.

The Lime Sweet Potato Vines bright lime green foliage will brighten up any area and its large tubers are edible.

 

The Moon Vine blossoms, reaching 6 inches in diameter, are quite fragrant and open up at twilight.

 Some of the other interesting varieties we are carrying this season: 

Magilla Perilla

Reaching up to 24” tall, the brilliant splashes of hot pink, deep plum, and green foliage will add a tropical feel to any garden.

 
Sun lovers, these beauty’s really spice up a container garden and are a great filler plant.
 

Ptilotus ‘Joey’

A heat and drought tolerant annual, it has cone like spikes of feathery flowers with silver green foliage.

Angelonia

 Often called the Summer Snapdragon, its attractive flowers reaching 1-2 feet high and are covered with snapdragon-like flowers.  

 

Here are a few tips on how to care for your annuals once planted:

• Watering

Keep them evenly moist.  This may include daily watering. Make sure there are holes at  the bottom of  your plantings to allow excess water to escape and remember pots in the sun will need to be watered more than pots in the shade. 

• Fertilize

We suggest a combination of a slow timed release fertilizer such as osmocote, which provides 3-4 months of steady feeding, and a liquid fertilizer such as Peters 20-20-20 to be applied every two weeks.

• Deadhead

Remove dead blossoms to keep the plant growing and attractive.  If blooms remain, the plant will put its energy into seeds rather than new blooms and foliage.

 • Trim Back

Some plants become leggy or become too large as the season progresses.  Cut stems just above a leaf using sharp scissors or pruners.  This invigorates the plant to produce more foliage.

Here are a few links to learn more about annuals:

 http://www.finegardening.com/design/articles/a-constantly-changing-border-design-annuals.aspx

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/annuals/

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/annual/

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/annuals/annual_index.html

Converting Lawn to Meadow

More and more people are becoming environmentally conscious and looking for ways to become greener.  One way we can all make a difference is by decreasing the amount of lawn we have on our property. Our society has created an unsustainable monoculture of grass that requires annual fertilizing and constant watering during the hot summer months. Not to mention the harmful pesticides we use to keep a weed free lawn inhabitable to most insects and the noise and air pollution created by weekly lawn mowing.

Taking this monoculture landscape and transforming it into a diverse native meadow provides many benefits to our environment and local ecosystem. Meadows are low maintenance, needing to be cut only once or twice a year, and require little to no fertilizers or pesticides. Meadows also create a wonderful ecosystem helping to sustain wildlife. Native plant species provide food for insects that then help feed amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds.

The grass varieties we usually see in our perfectly manicured lawns are often a non-native species with a shallow root system. These shallow roots limit the amount of water and nutrients absorbed and why we so often have to throw on the hose to keep our lawns from browning out. Native meadow plants on the other hand have developed extensive root systems allowing them to be drought resistant and able to find the nutrients they need without our help.  These roots are also powerful soil stabilizers that can be used on sloped areas were lawns are difficult to maintain. Below you can compare the different species and their root system. The first plant to the left, Kentucky Bluegrass, is a commonly used grass species.

 

Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Illinois Native Plant Guide

Meadows can act as pollutant filters unlike the typical lawn that does little to absorb excess fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants. This excess is instead washed away with the rain and ends up in our waterways destroying aquatic habitats. Wet meadows strategically placed in a storm water system can provide a filtration barrier, absorbing those contaminants that have run off lawns and imperious surfaces, before it reaches our waterways.

To create a sustainable meadow requires planning and time. The need to have a good understanding of the site conditions and to know what type of habitat would thrive best in those conditions is critical to a successful meadowscape. It will take several years to develop a mature meadow, although with the right plant selection one will see beautiful flowering plants within the first season.  The most fantastic part about meadows is their aesthetic diversity. Each season brings with it new color, texture, and movement.

Meadow Fall Colors and Textures

Resources:

Urban & suburban Meadow by Catherine Zimmerman

http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/faq-environment.htm#environment

http://www.gardeninggonewild.com/?p=12945

MAHTS and Our Experience

After a few fun days in Atlantic City, Cedar Run Landscapes thought it would be great to share our experiences. Conferences like E. P. Henry’s MAHTS (Mid Atlantic Hardscaping Trade Show) are incredibly valuable to the landscaping business because these opportunities give companies like ours the chance to learn from the leading experts in the industry.

And it just so happens Cedar Run Landscapes President, Alden Zove, is one of those leading experts. Here he explains his experience at the conference as a lecturer and attendee.

“I had been invited by E.P. Henry to speak at MAHTS on two topics, the integration of our rainwater harvest and re-use systems with their new Coventry Eco Cobble, a permeable paving solution, and on the combination of water features with hardscape installations. I offered each seminar twice a day during the three-day show.

I was excited to see the number of attendees that where interested in what I had to present, with over 50 persons in attendance at each lecture. My Rainwater Harvesting presentation included a short video of our most recent addition to the display features at our office; here is a link to that video.  I discussed the many eco-sensitive techniques that we incorporate in our designs, and appreciated the interest that was shown by the audience in wanting to know how they could incorporate these techniques in their own projects.

My discussion on water features and hardscaping was also very well received. There were many comments on how the addition of water added excitement to our hardscape projects by providing an opportunity to engage the senses in the outdoor rooms we created. The educational aspect of water features was seen as a way to have the attendees customers get their children out of doors and away from the computer and television and become involved with the natural world that awaits them outside.

Some of my most memorable moments from the show where when I was on the trade show floor talking to the vendors that were displaying the new products they were offering. I was heartened to see how most of them were adopting the concepts of the green movement by offering more energy efficient equipment, more eco sensitive materials, and the inclusion of products designed to lower the carbon footprint of their customers. I see that the landscape industry is getting well aligned with the need to incorporate the tenants of the Triple Bottom Line. The concept of taking into account the effects of their business decisions on People, Planet and Profits, is beginning to make sense to these companies, and they are adjusting their mindset to include the TBL in their business plans.”

Here is what Bill, Cedar Run Landscapes Project Manager, had to say:

“I had an enjoyable and informative time at the MAHTS show this year.  On display were EP Henry’s brand new products along with new tools available to the hardscaping industry.  There were also educational seminars, Curtis, one of our supervisors, and I both attended the EP Henry Authorized Permeable Pavement Installer class where we were instructed in the proper methods and standards for building pervious pavement systems.  Attending off season trade shows helps all of us at Cedar Run learn about new concepts and stay current with continually changing building codes. “

The one thing that stands out the most at these conferences is the diversity of seminar topics to choice from. As the Landscape designer for Cedar Run Landscapes I had a difficult time choosing which seminars to attend. After careful thought I decided on Contract Writing, Professionalism in the Design Build, Leed in Hardscaping, and Pro Landscapes Fundamentals Training seminars.  My favorite out of these was Professionalism in the Design Build seminar. Joe Palimeno speaking for Vander Kooi & Associates touched on a variety of topics including how to understand the clients needs, develop presentations, and present proposals in a professional manor that will benefit both the company and the client.

All of us at Cedar Run Landscapes had a wonderful time at the event and look forward to the up coming season so we can begin applying all of the wonderful information we learned from this experience.

Taking a trip to Atlantic City

This week “The Rain Guy” along with his employees will be attending  MAHTS (mid-atlantic hardscaping trade show) in Atlantic City, NJ. This three day event will be filled with interesting exhibitors  and many educational lectures. “The Rain Guy” will be leading several of these lecturers including ‘Water Features and Hardscaping’ and ‘Rainwater Harvesting’.

Check back later this week for an update on this event and what we saw.