Green Stormwater Infrastructure Partners

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is a group of businesses and individuals who have joined together to help build a just, green and thriving economy within the Philadelphia region. The SBN is an effective resource that helps locally-owned businesses improve their environmental and community impact while also advancing profits. Cedar Run Landscapes has been involved with SBN since 2008 when we won the triple bottom award. We have also been closely involved in the organizations newest priority initiative, Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Partners.

PDW Rain Check Project: Concrete driveway replaced with permeable pavers

The trend toward sustainable living and awareness of how individual actions impact our local environment has begun to transform how we manage our stormwater. To help improve upon this movement it is essential that industry leaders help identify the barriers small businesses come across within the GSI industry. Cedar Run Landscapes has taken up this task by participating as a member of the GSI Partners sub-committee, Local Community of Practice. This committee consists of industry leaders that are focused on growing a vibrant green stormwater approach to the management of stormwater. Several of the committee’s objectives are to grow leadership among its participants, identify any obstacles that GSI businesses come across during implementing new infrastructure, and providing recommendations to improve the process.

A rain garden capturing roof runoff from two neighboring homes.

GSI Partners was created in response to the Philadelphia Water Department’s program ‘Green Cities Clean Waters’, a 25 year plan to protect and enhance our watershed through managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure. Cedar Run Landscapes has also been a part of the Philadelphia Water Departments Rain Check Program, which supports Green Cities Clean Waters. Check out our previous blog posts to see some of our recent projects we’ve installed through Rain Check.

Project of the Month: Philadelphia Water Department and Permeable Patios

Cedar Run Landscapes has been selected to participate in PWD’s Rain Check pilot program. This program was developed to help homeowners improve their landscapes while managing stormwater runoff. By redirecting this runoff we are reducing the amount of rainwater that enters Philadelphia’s sewer systems and in effect decreasing water pollution and improving our waterways. To learn more about this program, click here.

This month Cedar Run Landscapes installed a 126 sq. ft. permeable natural stone patio. Below are several photos taken during the installation process. Permeable patios are constructed to permit water to soak though the joints of the paving stones where the aggregate base below filters out particulates. This cleans the water as it percolates into the water table.

Here is Keith, one of our supervisors,  finishing the depaving and removing of compacted sub-soil  before the installation of the permeable patio.

The crew is  filling in the patio joints with clean stone which will allow water to seep into the base below and into the ground.

Finished patio after being sprayed down with water.

By installing permeable patios and implementing other types of storm water solutions, Cedar Run Landscapes is taking the initiative in sustainable design. We are proud to be participating in greening our local communities and hope to continue providing innovative techniques for handling stormwater issues. With each project installed, we are reducing runoff and helping to protect the health of our watersheds.

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

Get Your Pond Up and Running

The days are getting longer and we are beginning to see activity in our ponds. But before our good Aerobic bacteria start to establish, a clean out of the pond is needed.  Having a layer of gunk at the bottom of your pond or water that is the color of dark tea are fairly good indicators that it is time to do a full clean-out. If however, you just have a small amount of debris and the water quality looks clear, simply removing debris will suffice. Along with cleaning out any debris from the bottom of the pond, make sure to clean out all mats and filter materials, clean out the filtration boxes and replace at least 10% of the water. If you’re using public water make sure you use a water conditioner.

Pond clean-outs should be done before plant life begins to fully emerge and the good pond bacteria hasn’t started colonizing, usually before the water temperature reaches 55°F. A full clean out replaces nutrient rich water with fresh clean water, a process similar to the way spring rains and snow melt naturally flush out our natural ponds and lakes. Click here to learn more about how to do a pond clean out. 

Cedar Run Landscapes provides full pond services and is currently doing our annual spring clean outs. Even if you think your pond just needs some tidying up we would be glad to assist you. To be added to our list of pond maintenance customers, contact us at info@cedarrunlandscapes.com.

Philadelphia International Flower Show

Cedar Run Landscapes traveled down to the Pennsylvania Convention Center this week to assist Flowers by David in their preparations for next weeks Philadelphia Flower Show.  Flowers by David, located in Langhorne PA, has been a major exhibitor at the show since 1997. This year’s display, titled KāKua (Tattoo), was inspired by Hawaiian tribal tattoos and is dominated by a striking modernistic water feature.

Our expertise in water features lead Flowers by David to call on us to help assist with this display. If you find the time we recommend that you head on down to the Philadelphia International Flower Show next week to check out this display as well as many others. It’s a great place to get inspiration and design ideas to implement in your own landscape.

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

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.