What To Do With All Those Leaves

Why not compost them. Leaves are a natural energy source and provide high levels of nutrients to your garden plants once composted. Even if you were to just pile shredded leaves up and let them sit over winter, a layer of compost at the bottom of the pile would greet you come spring. Here are some tips to help you on your way to creating a rich organic compost to feed your garden next spring.

  • Shred your leaves, whole leaves prevent air and water from circulating throughout the pile. Use a chipper/shredder, leaf blower that has a reverse ‘vacuum’ options or a bagging lawn mower. Double shredding is even more helpful as the smaller pieces will decompose at a faster rate.
  • Adding nitrogen to your compost pile will help move along the process much faster. A ratio of 4 parts leaf waste to 1 part green waste provides you with an optimum decomposition rate. Non-meat kitchen waste, including tea bags, coffee grounds and eggshells help make up the green waste. Coffee grounds and lawn clippings are both great sources of nitrogen and they also add moisture to the mix. Be careful not to add lawn clippings that have been treated with herbicides as the resulting compost may potentially kill plants next spring.
  • The more chopped up everything is the faster your pile will transform into rich black compost. Also mixing and turning the pile will facilitate the process.
  • Adding a chimney in the middle of your compost pile will allow air and water to flow throughout the whole pile. Create a chimney by rolling flexible wire fencing into a tube, making sure it will be tall enough to extend above the top of your pile.

 

For additional information visit these websites:

Your Own Compost Pile

Composting 101

Building Your Compost Pile

Making a Splash In the Landscape

This 2,700 gallon pond has thirty feet of stream and two pooling areas. Water trickling through the streams and flowing into the pools will provide our customer with a wonderful respite from the world for years to come.

Project Site Before Construction Began

Our innovative low maintenance filtration system contains a Skimming Wet-well and Constructed Wetland. The Skimming Wet-well traps large debris and prevents it from entering the pumping system before the water is sent to the Constructed Wetland.

The pond liner has been installed and the Skimming Wet-well is being constructed. Aquablox and Aquascapes inc. new Snorkel are in place and will be covered with field stone, filtering out any large debris.

Once the water is filtered through the Skimming Wet-well, it is pumped up through  the Constructed Wetland where the water is filtered  even more through stone aggregate. Aquatic plants fill the wetland area to help filter out excess nutrients in the water.

Aquablox line the base of the Constructed Wetland. Stone aggregate will cover the blocks, providing further filtration and a medium for aquatic plants to absorb nutrients from the water.

Not having a filter box system, which has messy filter pads and needs to be cleaned regularly, will give our customer more time enjoy the feature and less  maintaining it. They also  enjoy the diversity of plant material that can now thrive in their landscape. Over time this system well evolve into a complete ecosystem, supporting bog, marginal and submerged aquatic plants as well as attracting various types of wildlife such as dragonflies, frogs, and butterflies.

Aquatic Gardens Big and Small

In the 2012 August edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine, Melissa Ozawa brings to light the different ways you can bring an aquatic garden to your outdoor living space with the article ‘The Garden Aquatic’. Martha and John Mark Courtney, one of Cedar Run Landscapes aquatic plant suppliers, discuss the benefits of introducing an aquatic garden to your landscape and provide helpful tips on how to create that little water oasis. To see Martha and John in action check out this video where they discuss the variety of plant material you can use.

Patio container gardens are great for small spaces

Throughout our display gardens here at Cedar Run Landscapes we provide numerous opportunities, big and small, to create an aquatic garden. We’ve got everything from large ponds with bogs, marshy edges, and varying shelves heights to small container gardens which both can incorporate many types of plants.

Adding a pond to your landscape creates many different opportunities to add a variety of plant material

 

Fire Pits in the Landscape

Including the element of fire to your outdoor landscape can extend the enjoyment you will get out of your back yard. They provide, warmth, light, a cooking source, and ambiance, making them a natural gathering spot for socializing, entertaining, and relaxing. A fire pit can also serve as an important focal point in your landscape design.

Built in sitting walls provide a great space for people to sit and enjoy the fire, the wide ledge surrounding the fire pit also allows for a place to put up for feet or set down a drink.

Weather it be a built-in or portable, the options are limitless when choosing a fire pit. There are many options when it comes to size, shape, and style of your fire pit. Even a small space can accommodate a fire-friendly container.

A portable fire pit can be much less expensive than a built in and allows you to change where you would like to enjoy the flames.

For those DIY homeowners out there here are a few tips on creating a perfect place for a fire pit:

Location:

• When choosing a space for your fire pit make sure that the flames and sparks will not reach any structure, plant material, or any other combustible material.

• Fire pits are natural gathering places, so try locating yours near other social areas such as an outdoor kitchen, patio, or pool.

• Look into your local code ordinances as they will often times dictate where you may locate a fire pit, as well as what type of fuel you can burn.

Sizing

• Use marking paint, chalk, or a hose to mark the position and size of the pit in your yard, and then move the chairs into place to see how it feels.

• Providing at least 7 feet of space around the edge of the fire pit will ensure plenty of room for furniture and traffic.

• If you’re installing an above ground fire pit, height is an important consideration. Raising the pit to 12-14 inches off the ground will make the fire just below most standard patio furniture. If you want to be able to sit right next to the fire, a height of 18-20 inches would be most comfortable.

Create a focal point within your patio area for people to together around

 

Pond Plants Are In Stock

Is your pond up and running but, aesthetically, it’s missing something? Adding pond plants can provide additional interest in your landscape while helping to create a balanced ecosystem. Plant life filters water, removes excess nutrients, adds oxygen, and creates shade. These benefits along with the aesthetic qualities of pond plants provide a vital role in the development of a healthy pond system.

The four main types of plant life you can add to your pond system are oxygenating, floating, deep water, and marginal water plants. Each type has a specific function as well as grows in a specific area of the pond. Oxygenating plants are submerged in a pond and help introduce oxygen into the water. These types of plants also clean the water by feeding on decaying organic matter. Floating plants help cover the water surface, providing much needed shade to the water below.  Deep water plants, most commonly lilies, give the impression of a floating plant but are rooted deep below the pond surface. These types of plants also provide shade. Shading the water prevents ponds from over heating while also inhibiting algae growth. Marginal Water plants provide great water filtration and create interest along the edges of the pond.

Please stop by Cedar Run Landscapes if you would like to check out our selection of pond plants. We’ve had several requests to provide information about our pond plant selection online. Below are links to our pond plant inventory. We are a certified retailer of Van Bloem Gardens and have added a link to their online library, where you can search for pond plants by common or scientific name. While your visiting you will also find a thumbnail image of the plant species with basic information about that plant.

Van Bloem Gardens Complete Water Plant Library

Cedar Run Landscapes In-Stock Pond Plants

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

Image

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