Unique Rain Garden

Cedar Run Landscapes has become a pioneer in creative sustainable landscapes and integrated storm water management systems. We have the tools to implement solutions to solve your stormwater issues while improving the beauty of your property. Elements such as this 4 tiered rain garden help to purify storm water by capturing runoff and allowing it to percolate into the ground. The use of native plants in these types of projects help to optimize the amount of water that is absorbed while minimizing the need to water, fertilize, and maintain the landscape.

Before work begins, an outline of where each rain garden will be located is marked on the ground.

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After a day of excavation, each garden is taking shape as they are carved out of the slope.

The finished garden has 3 natural dry stacked stone walls with river stone overflows. In a large rain event, the garden is designed to allow water to overflow from one garden to the next. This will create a dramatic scene during and soon after a storm.

The 4 tiered garden retains storm water that flows from the backyard and neighboring property, preventing water from flowing down the slope and directly into the street.

Invasive Plants in the Landscape

Invasive plants are defined as those that are nonnative and cause harm to the economy, environment or human health. These plants are highly adaptable, quick growers, and difficult to eradicate.  Although there are many invasive plants to watch out for, below are several that are frequently seen in the landscape.

Privets (Japanese, Border, Chinese and Common), Ligustrum genus 

These invasive shrubs mainly spread through seed, often distributed by birds which have eaten the fruit. Once established the shrub will colonize the area, forming dense thickets which choke out any native species that would otherwise occupy the area.  What makes the Ligustrum species difficult to eradicate is its ability to regenerate new growth from roots and stumps. Privet pollen is also a severe allergenic.

Alternative Native Species: Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera), Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus

Burning bush was introduced into the United States for use as an ornamental shrub. Its attractive, bright red fall color has made it a popular choice but its fast growing nature and exceptional seed production has landed it on the invasive list. This is another shrub that forms dense monotypic stands that reduces habitat diversity. In open woodlands this shrub will replace native shrubs while creating a dense root mass that prevents herbaceous growth.

Alternative Native Species: Red Cokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum)

Japanese Stilt Grass, Microstagium vimineum 

Introduced into the United States by accident, Japanese stilt grass grows in a variety of habitats from full sun to dense shade, preferring moist, acidic to neutral soils that are high in nitrogen. Spreading exclusively by seed, this annual grass can produce between 100-1000 seed per parent plant. Seeds often fall close but can be carried by water or moved around by humans or animals. Alternative native species will vary depending on site conditions

There are a number of strategies used to control these species including mechanical and chemical. The most important and easiest is to discover an invasion early and remove them before the population becomes too high. Preventing them from entering a vulnerable habitat in the first place is most ideal. Here at Cedar Run Landscapes we hope that by providing information about these plants and recommending the removal these species from the landscape can help minimize habitat destruction due to invasive plants.

If you would like to learn more about these species or others check out this DCNR site.  http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/plants/invasiveplants/index.htm

 

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.

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

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