Landscape Tip of the Month: Leaf Removal

yellow fall leaves on a lawn beside a house.While you may only get a handful of trees that turn out truly beautiful foliage this fall, you will likely still wind up with a yard full of leaves. Deciduous trees lose their leaves at different times throughout the winter months and when the trees shake off the leaves, they settle into a carpet on your lawn.

While crunching through leaves might be terrific fun, leaving those leaves in place on your lawn can actually cause damage to your grass in the long term. If you have just a handful of leaves on your lawn, your grass will be fine, generally. But if your trees produce a thick carpet of leaves, the matted leaves will block sunlight and air from circulating correctly.

The loss of sunshine and air will cause any plant to wither and die, and this is exactly what you can expect from your grass. In the case of leaves, the best defense against damage is to have the leaves collected on a regular basis to avoid the thick piles which can lead to problems.

The rich colors of fall are perhaps the best part of the season, but it is not just the leaves changing in the trees that create these beautiful tones. You can add a tremendous amount of fall color to your landscape and garden by planting fall blooming flowers.

sedum flowers blooming in the fallThe most popular types of flowers for the fall include the purple hues of aster, chrysanthemums in a wide variety of colors, and the deep tones of sedum and Mexican sage. These hearty perennials can be planted and nurtured all year so that as the bright colors of summer are starting to fade, the richer tones of fall come through in your containers and gardens.

When selecting fall blooming flowers, you can easily arrange for newly potted mums to enjoy just for a single season, or you can plan your fall colors for every year by arranging your garden to bloom in different seasons. Potted fall flowers are simple ways to add boosts of color immediately, and you can easily move the potted plant into the garden when you change décor as well.

Contact Landscape Associates to add seasonal color to your landscape this fall. 

aeration of cool season grassWhether your lawn is fescue, Bermuda or zoysia grasses, this is the peak season to begin preparing your lawn for the colder winter months. Of course, the type of grass that you have on your lawn will determine just how you prep it for the winter.

Fescue – A cold weather grass, fescue typically dies out over the summer months. The heat and fungus that develop in the heat kill out the fescue, and if you’re hoping for a bright lawn in the cooler months of the year, this is the time to aerate and then reseed your fescue. Aerate and reseed at the same time between now and October to provide the ideal growing conditions.

Bermuda – A hearty summer grass, Bermuda thrives in the hot months of summer and fades during the colder months, only to come back strong in the spring of every year. Bermuda does not need to be reseeded as it regenerates itself, but you can overseed your Bermuda lawn with winter grasses to thicken your lawn and produce a brighter color during the winter.

Zoysia – Another grass that thrives in milder temperatures, zoysia can fade in the coldest months of the year. To enjoy a green lawn year round, consider overseeding your zoysia grasses with cold weather grasses now to provide a lush green lawn all winter long.

Contact Landscape Associates for fall aeration and overseeding services, to keep your lawn looking its best this fall and winter.

White grubs have the look of fat little worms, but they are actually the larva stage of beetles. These junebugs and the other beetles you see around your home in the summer months have laid eggs that create the white grubs that can easily grow into a serious problem in the fall and winter.

white grubs in the palm of a handWhile white grubs aren’t poisonous or at all harmful to people, they are very harmful to grass and lawns – especially if they appear in high numbers. When the grubs begin to feed, they can actually sever the root systems of the grass. Without roots, the grass dies and leaves patches of dead brown. You may even be able to roll up the patches of grass since they have very little actually holding them to the soil without roots.

To rid yourself of a white grub problem, you will need to treat your lawn with the pesticide designed for this particular variety of pests. The good news is that it is usually a topical application followed by a deep watering. The pesticide will filter through the grass to kill off the white grubs and prevent the continuation of the beetle and grub cycle as well.

Let Landscape Associates be your pest authority. Contact us to help handle any pests in your lawn or outdoor areas.

Going green is still a hot trend in decorating and landscaping, and one new trend in going green is the use of recycled glass mulches. If you’ve dreamed of fiery reds and oranges or calming dark violets and emerald blues, then it may be time to add them to your garden’s palette with glass mulch.

What Does Garden Glass Mulch Add?

Garden glass mulch uses tumbled glass to add more color to commercial properties and residential gardens. By using recycled glass materials, which are both inexpensive and extremely low-impact in their production, property owners can add unique notes of contrast and depth of color. Here are some of the benefits to using this form of mulch in walkways, decorative pits, and more.

A True Glass Act

When one thinks of glass, one may not think of strewn piles of the substance as anything but dangerous, but the exact opposite is true of decorative glass mulch. This glass has been tumbled until it has no sharp edges, making it safe to use in family environments.

Because it comes in so many different colors, it is easy to match your mulch to a particular landscaping application. Yellow landscape glass mulch, for example, may make the best compliment toward a sun-themed garden or landscaping display, while a glass melange of blues, beiges, and greens can make an eye catching display in a large scale fish pond outside of a business. Darker reds and ambers are also a wonderful contrast to some of the other colors that can be found in nature during certain times of the year, and can even be changed or added to as the seasons change for a more “natural” transformation.

Glass Mulch in Atlanta


Another popular application of glass mulch is in fireplaces and firepits. Glass mulch makes a wonderful compliment to an open flame, as the firelight creates a dazzling color show. More importantly, the common melting temperature of glass is 2700°F, far higher than what a conventional fireplace could reach. Some glass can even withstand temperatures as high as 4200°F before melting.

Additionally, glass will not scorch black if it has been treated properly, and while it is not a good idea to put glass directly into any exposed flames, you won’t have to worry about smoke charri

ng your glass and inhibiting its ability to shine. Glass mulch offers great functionality and design in the right landscapes.

If you have a garden, you may have considered a fountain for an accent feature. For most homeowners, a large fountain is not usually a viable option, as it requires a large open space. Instead, consider the merits of a smaller fountain:

A Variety to Choose From

Whether indoor or outdoor, small fountains make wonderful decoration pieces. They enhance both commercial and residential designs, and there are designs for every type of garden. For example, tiled backdrops in the Moorish or Spanish style can add color and pattern to your garden with hand-painted tiles. Another option for a small fountain is to choose a statue. Statuary fountains have long been a staple of art and design, as seen in some of the most famous fountains across Italy and the rest of Europe. Since the early days of the Roman Empire, through the Renaissance and beyond, sculptures and fountains have been an extremely complimentary design aesthetic. With smaller fountain statues, you can have the sound and movement of a water feature for a reasonable price. Although it may not be a life-sized statue, a smaller fountain can have a charming subject like fish, birds, or a small cherub.

small fountain in backyardWith a small fountain, you still have plenty of options. One of the problems with a larger fountain statue is the cost; they can easily rise to the $3,000 and higher range. A small fountain is easier on your budget, and can give you an opportunity to explore additional options. For example, consider lighting your fountain; with the right placement and positioning, your display will come alive at night, giving you many more hours to enjoy it.

Multiple Fountains

Don’t be surprised if, after installing one small fountain, you find you have room for another. If your landscape has multiple outdoor areas, different fountains can serve different uses. As an example, you may have a small jet fountain in a formally landscaped area, and a calming, bubbling fountain in a sheltered retreat. If you have your heart set on a small fountain in your landscape, consider talking to a landscape designer who can help you plan the perfect spot for it in your garden.

A bioswale is a landscape element that is getting an increasing amount of attention recenetly, due to the benefits that it offers communities and other environments. Bioswales use what is known as a swaled drainage course, designed with sloped sides and typically filled out with vegetation, compost, and other biological components, hence the “bio” in bioswale.

These drainage elelments combine to create an environment in which water will spend a great amount of time, during which pollutants and silt are removed. The water helps to keep any vegetation or compost fresh, creating a self-sustaining method of draining and pollution removal that can continue to benefit a community or area for years to come.

Where Georgia Enters the Picture

Bioswale in Georgia

Universities and other organizations in the state have begun to focus on the idea of using swales to naturally reduce the amount of pollution found in the environment, and generally make state and local property much more sustainable, comfortable, and energy efficient as a result. By using on-site storm water management solutions such as bioswales, Georgian property owners may be able to contribute to a reduction in the overall amount of pollution that occurs due to industrial production and manufacturing.

Georgia Southern University has already enacted several “sustainable site” initiatives which aim to have an impact of reducing environmental pollution, creating more pedestrian-friendly walk ways, and enacting intelligent storm water management solutions throughout the campus, which include bioswale installation, along with volunteer efforts to clean local green areas. The results so far have been promising, with a decrease in the amount of storm water run off and an increase in green spaces restored.

Lessons from the West Coast

Portland, Oregon was one of the first adopters of the large-scale bioswale initiative. The Willamette, a river running through Portland, was the target of a bioswale that ran 2330 feet. With proper application, management, and maintenance, this bioswale has managed to reduce 50% of suspended solids which were entering the river, saving an untold number of animals, fish, and birds from the negative impact of industrialization, and preserving a state river.

California has also focused on using bioswales, with Sonoma County leading the way toward reduction of run off into nearby Sonoma Creek. Their results have similarly been successful, and are an example of how storm water management and commercial interests can actually work side by side. The roofs of buildings and a parking lot area were a primary area of focus, ultimately leading to a successful bioswale system that continues to work to this day.

Why Georgia Needs Bioswales

Water runoff is a larger issue than most people realize. Roads, parking lots, and other common areas of pollution can all pick up toxins and harmful chemicals from simple rainwater. The same is true of lawns and other areas that use pesticides. The larger the human presence is in an area, the more likely we will have an impact on the pollution levels of our local water.

Biological waste and other factors lead to an increase in the amount of pollutants in rainwater, creating a uniquely labeled “urban runoff” effect that can do great amounts of harm to native plant and animal populations, along with the health of those who live in the area. Storm water management and runoff are key issues as Georgia moves forward in restoring and enhancing our lands. Urban runoff is the leading source of water quality issues in the country, and targeted solutions like bioswales are a remedy that has proven effective. If you feel your community may benefit from the installation of a bioswale, you should speak with a professional landscape installer about how to implement a solution that benefits your landscape.

dwarf morning glory "blue my mind" varietyMost people know that annuals are plants that survive for just one growing season, like vegetable plants for gardens such as corn, lettuce and beans. But savvy gardeners understand the valuable role that annuals play in adding color and variety to their flowerbeds. And so they are always looking for new varieties to try. The spring of 2013 does not disappoint. There are a number of exceptional annual plants for your garden debuting this year. Be sure to ask at your nursery if you don’t see these varieties.

Blues to Choose

The Evolvulus “Blue My Mind” dwarf marigold (left) is one such flower. This heat-tolerant annual from Proven Winners can work as a ground cover or container plant, and comes in a pure blue that will complement any garden. Another blue groundcover is the “Hot Springs” Lobelia from Ball FloraPlant. This is also a heat-tolerant annual, with small white-eyed blue flowers. Although blue is one of the most popular colors, this flower also comes in white and lavender-pink.

Purple Petunias

coleus marooned varietyPetunias are the workhorses of the annual flowerbed, and this year Burpee brings us a spectacular one, the “Blue a Fuse” petunia.  Don’t let the name confuse you. This annual has a rainbow of purple, blue, yellow and white on display, that will make it a favorite in any landscape.  Angelonia “Serenita” snapdragons from PanAmerican Seed come in several different pastel shades, violet included. Their beauty belies the toughness of these flowers, which resist heat, drought, deer and rabbit alike, making them a  great option for Georgia gardeners.

In a different vein are the Colorblaze “Marooned” coleus plants by Proven Winners (right). These coleus thrive in sun and shade, and can grow up to three feet tall. Their deep wine-colored foliage complements blues and pinks, and adds dramatic color to shady gardens as well. Although coleus are annuals, this variety can be adapted as a houseplant as well.

Powerful Pinks

Picasso in Pink variety petuniaThere are always plenty of pink annuals to choose from. The Lanai “Candy Cane” verbena is named appropriately: its remarkable stripes of pinkish red on white give the plant the appearance of peppermint candy. It looks great in baskets and planters as well as flowerbeds. This striped verbena, part of the award-winning Lanai series, provides mesmerizing beauty while being drought and powdery-mildew resistant. And it’s edible too!

Finally, the Supertunia “Picasso in Pink” petunia by Proven Winners (left) provides bicolor petunias that can cover a lot of ground in your garden. Bright pink, with a picotee chartreuse edge, these flowers provide a wonderful accent; for example, surrounded by whites and greens. They require a good deal of fertilizer, but with proper care are long-lasting.

Next time you visit your local garden center, keep a look out for these new varieties. They are all sure to be popular this summer.

Some Common Landscaping Mistakes

3 seedlings ready for plantingNow that the warm weather is here, your mind might turn to fixing up your garden or getting your lawn in order. While it’s easy to get excited while walking through your local garden center, it’s important to invest some time in simple planning before you start planting. From unnecessary decoration, to a lack of proper planning for your plants, some common mistakes can make it harder for plants to grow where you want them to. Here are a few of the most common errors, and how you can avoid them when making your own landscaping plans.

Plan Before You Plant

Landscape renovation starts with planning. Whether you are doing the work on your own, or you’re hiring contractors from a landscaping company, you need to plan what you are doing before you break any dirt. This is more than a simple matter of planting for the right amount of sunlight. You have to also consider:

Before you start to buy, take a walk along your street. What is thriving in your neighbors’ front yards? Every property is different, but if your homes face the same direction, it can give you a starting point in choosing plants. Compile a list of plants you like and bring it with you to the garden center. It is easy to get caught up in the variety of beautiful flowers and shrubs for sale and end up going over budget.

Maintenance Mistakes

a foxglove plantAnother mistake that home landscapers make is with maintenance techniques such as cutting the grass too low. Every grass variety has its own requirements. Bring a clump of grass with you to your local nursery. A professional should be able to tell you what variety it is and its requirements for care and feeding.

Improper pruning techniques are another issue. Most homeowners can handle simple pruning jobs like boxwood hedges. But when it comes to trees, let a professional handle the job. Professional landscapers understand the right time, technique and tools for a pruning job. A healthy tree can add thousands of dollars to your property’s value, so professional pruning to keep trees healthy is a solid investment.

Forgetting TLC

It can be stressful being a new plant. Help your new landscaping off to a good start by fertilizing when you plant and watering frequently for the first few weeks. Keep an eye out for disease and insect pests that could prove deadly to a new plant – or worse, be introduced from a new plant into your garden.

The Wrong Tools

Finally, remember that having the right tools is important for both garden installation and maintenance. Keep pruning tools clean by wiping them after use, and sharpen regularly with a sharpening stone. Keep other hand tools clean and rust-free by storing them in a bucket of oiled sand. Using quality tools in good condition will make any gardening job much easier.

In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, Dolly the sheep was cloned and eBay started operations. But the year was also famous for one other event: the emergence and swarming of 17 year cycle cicadas on the East Coast of the US. Back in 1996, those cicadas buried their eggs and then died off. Now their descendents are starting to emerge.

an adult cicada on a branchIf you were not old enough to remember that time, you probably don’t know what to expect from what is basically their cyclical mating season. What are these bugs and should you be worried? Frankly, the coming cicada swarm is more of a sound and littering nuisance than anything else – there is little else to be concerned about.

Although cicadas are often mistakenly referred to as locusts, they actually have very little resemblance to the destructive insect known to decimate crops, trees, and even farm animals. These insects instead live fairly reclusive lives, with the exception of the massive swarms every 17 years.  When threatened, they tend to fly away. They have no poison, no substantial biting power and are not aggressive in any way. That is good news for us, because their mating season can last for up to six weeks, and they can congregate in swarms of up to 1.5 million per square acre. While noisy and scary looking, a large, buzzing black cloud of cicadas is pretty harmless.

The Mystery of the Cicada

Cicadas are a fascinating study into the life of the periodical insect. Although the news most often reports on the 17 year variety that we will see on the eastern coasts of the country, there are also thirteen year cicadas native to the south and Midwest. Each variety of cicada has a primary number of years by which their cycle continues, although the actual reason for the cycle is not known. But whether it lasts 13, 15, or 17 years, the cycle begins with the emergence from the ground of juvenile cicadas. They quickly mature, and during a six week period congregate in a frenzied cloud. Swarms are loud; some have been recorded producing noise of up to 100 decibels – the same level of volume as a motorcycle revving its engine.

Clean Up Concerns

The main issue of the cicada cycle is what happens after the season is over. Unfortunately, their exceptional numbers make for an interesting mess to clean up. Millions of cicada corpses can litter any given patch of property, make clean up bother. Like with fallen leaves of autumn, sweeping cicada bodies will be a necessary chore for homeowners  – although there may not be much jumping into the gathered piles.