GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2002 show29
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Show #29

We're working again on the Georgia lake house. Today we address issues with the front yard. We've purposely held off until fall for several
reasons. It has been hot and dry this summer, there have been watering restrictions in place and because fall is a better time to plant the shrubs and trees. The outside temperatures are cooling but the soil will be a little warmer. This makes an excellent environment for the roots to establish themselves.

The front yard of the home has many challenges. Since it is on a severe
slope it has been a rather barren site. It has a lot of eroded soil and
a lot of underbrush. We first cleared the underbrush, anything smaller
than an inch or two in diameter was removed. This gave us a clear view
to the street and presented a cleaner feel to the property. The
homeowner felt that the view looking from the house to the street was
more important than the view from the street to the house. The plants
are placed so they are easily seen from the house, specifically from the
front door. Since we are striving to keep as natural a look as possible
we've used pine straw extensively. One bale per 50 to 60 feet has been
used which provides 2-3 inches of cover. This will serve as an
insulating blanket and help prevent erosion and is attractive. It
provides a nice backdrop for the Otto Lucen Laurels. They are balled and
burlapped and provide a backdrop for the River Birch. Indigenous
boulders have been utilized as well. These boulders were found close to
the property, thus fit very naturally with the site. Variegated Liriop,
a nice evergreen, has been used as a ground cover. They add a little
spice and interest next to important circulation areas and also minimize
erosion. It is a simple plan but effective.

River Birch, Betula Nigra - when this size, are typically balled and
burlapped. When installing plants like this several people will be
needed because of the weight. There is a wire basket covering the soil
ball, leave it on. It will only slightly restrict root growth and then
only where the roots would hit the wire. The wire provides a simple way
to get the tree into the ground. Over time it will corrode and break
down. The nylon strap, on the other hand, does need to be removed. The burlap can remain, it too will disintegrate, just peel it back from the trunk of the tree. Once planted the tree provides an upright, vertical
focal point to the landscape. It's an attractive plant, especially for
this location because it is woodsy, kind of informal. River Birches need
a lot of moisture when they're establishing, don't let them dry out. For
the first year or so water them 2 or 3 times a week, each time providing
several gallons of water to the root ball, allowing the roots to
establish.

The Deodore Cedar, Cedrus Deodora, is an evergreen, they can grow to 30 to 60 feet tall, even taller and 20 to 30 feet across. They provide a
solid, dense screen because it has a fine texture with a blue-green or
bluish-silver needle. It doesn't compete with other elements in the
landscape, is a great plant for dry areas although it will respond well
if moisture is present. It is tough and durable, sometimes not real cold
tolerant but if in the middle to lower south it is a good choice.

This house has some very challenging spots for plants to survive. Warren Davenport is an ivy expert and has some unusual ivy plants that are ideal for difficult situations. Adult ivy, Hetera species in the adult
form has flowers and fruit. This plant is called Treetop and is an
excellent variety to put in an area that is harsh. This area has low
available water, poor soil conditions and shade. This plant has an
excellent root system and does well in these poor conditions. For the
first couple of weeks it may need special care, watering, etc. but then
will thrive in these conditions. He places this plant, Treetop under the
deck, next to the waterfall, it will soften the corner and make a
beautiful addition.

Warren has selected another ivy for the front of the house, this one is
called Glacier. There are harsh lines at the corner of the house in the
front, this plant will break those up. There is excellent drainage at
this spot of the yard, combined with the fact there is little water in
this area. Therefore, a drought resistant plant is needed. This plant
will grow to between five and five and a half feet tall. It's
circumference can reach nine and a half feet. It will be a specimen
plant at the corner of the house. In planting we want a wide hole but
not much deeper than the height of the root ball, in fact it will sit an
inch to an inch and a half higher than the surrounding soil. As clay
settles the plant will drop and we don't want a lot of soil around the
crown of the stem. The root system is very healthy and when planting not much is needed. We add soil around the base, water several times
throughout the next month, then leave it alone. Because of the low
phosphorus in the soil at this location Warren uses a fertilizer with a
higher phosphorus number.

We've previously discussed the problems moving people from the front of the property, down the steep hill, to the lower deck, then ultimately to the greenspace and the lake itself. Erosion is a problem because the
water from the front yard and from the driveway move down the hill. The builder installed a french drain, black plastic pipe, it captures water
coming off the driveway but there are no holes in the drain so the water
rockets through the tube and creates erosion at the end of the tubing.
We've decided on installing railroad/landscaping type ties all the way
down to the greenspace. These ties will be in the shape of a "U" and
will be filled with pebbles. These will offer secure steps, will act as
a type of retaining wall and slow the water as it moves through the
area.

At the bottom we view some steps already installed. We have two primary objectives for these steps. As steps, move people from the top of the property to the bottom and secondly to stop or at least slow erosion. We're actually using landscape timbers and have placed one on top of another. They are pressure treated, thus will last a long time. They've been imbedded into the ground with 2 foot re-bar or iron spikes. This secures the timbers to the ground and acts like a mini-retaining wall. We've added gravel-type material to fill in the step or tread area. This is effective because it is non-skid or non-slick regardless if it's wet or dry and because when it rains the water percolates slowly through the stone and into the ground without washing the soil away. This is an economical, convenient, yet effective way to address the problems of the area.

In the south we can enjoy our landscapes 365 days a a year, but many of us leave before the sun rises and get home after the sun sets. Outdoor lighting allows us to enjoy our yards and landscape 24 hours a day. Darren Huff is an outdoor lighting expert with Artistic Nights. He
frequently receives calls from homeowners, especially this time of year,
saying we've put money into landscaping but can't enjoy it as we would
like. Darren has placed some very attractive lighting fixtures in this
yard that accent the landscaping and add to the livability of this home.
The homeowner frequently visits the neighbors at night, therefore paths
have been created with mulch and river rocks. Darren didn't want to
compete with these features and believes in the "less is more"
philosophy. He wanted a light fixture that would provide a spread of
light throughout the area but not over light the area. The light chosen
is unique in that it is not traditionally used as a path light. It is a
beautiful fixture, sturdy, yet barely noticeable. The light it provides
is barely visible from above, yet lights the pathway. It's dubbed a
barbecue light because it is traditionally used over barbecue grills.
The light spreads well and Darren knew it wouldn't require many
fixtures. He used four lights in one area that is about 200 feet in
length. He believes in using the fewest number of lights needed to
illuminate an area, make it secure, but not make it look like a prison
courtyard. The down lit lighting used on the pathways creates a very
natural feel. It is similar to the sun or moon.

At the waterfalls Darren has used a frog and umbrella fixture. In some
instances it isn't possible to conceal a fixture as he has with the
barbecue lights. The frog and umbrella fixtures go with the water
feature but also serves to enhance the landscaping rather than competing with it. This feature enhances the textures - the mulch, the water moving, etc. This fixture is beautiful, a sculpture. It isn't a good
idea to put a light in the water itself because it can make the water
look murky.

In the front yard Darren has used uplighting. Anytime there is a focal
point, a tree, a home, things like that if up lit, creates a dramatic
reverse effect of what the sun of moon accomplish. In this case he's
used his basic fixture which is a spotlight. This is different from what
might be found at a home improvement store, even the stake that goes in the ground looks substantial. We've all seen landscaping lights leaning and broken, these are solid, they're not going to break easily. This light is a 50 watt halogen creating a more dramatic effect, it could be replaced with something as low as a 20 watt bulb. The lights used in the other fixtures were all 25 watts or less, producing the "moon glow'
effect Darren wanted.

These lights create a very soothing effect, not glaring, just a nice
glow at night that lets the homeowner subtly enjoy the landscape. As he says, we don't want the yard to look like a landing strip for a small
airplane. Darren has done a wonderful job.

It is estimated that one third of the country has experienced a severe
drought this summer. If that is the case yet you still want a beautiful
landscape consider an efficient, yet economical watering approach. A
drip system is one of Dr. Rick's' favorites. We can install this system
ourselves, we don't need to hire someone, it's simple, reasonable,
inexpensive and effective at getting water directly to the root systems
of your plants. How do you get started? First determine how much water
pressure you have. If over 60 pounds you will need a water regulator, it
reduces the pressure down to about 30 pounds, which makes the drip
system more effective and won't blow the heads or emitters out of the
system. Once done install a female adapter onto the pressure regulator.
Then take the header line (a poly tube) of black polyurethane and press
it up inside. It's a barb like fitting that secures the entire line to
the female adapter. The header line is a tube that goes from your faucet to the system, it is about a half inch in diameter and provides the bulk of the water to the different emitters. It is black because it contains carbon black, this is added to polyethylene to prevent light degradation of the pipe. If it were white it would breakdown quickly. From the polyethylene we punch a hole at appropriate lengths with a little punch device, place a fitting into the pipe, then place a spaghetti tube. We determine the length of the spaghetti tube based upon the distance to the plant we want to water. Dr. Rick recommends the spaghetti tube be not much more than 3 feet in length because water pressure reduces fairly quickly after that length. After determining the proper length, cut the spaghetti tube and apply the emitter. The emitters can be placed in a series so if you have a lot of plants you may want to place the emitters every two feet or so. There are several emitter options to choose from depending on where you want water applied. One emitter will supply 2-4 gallons per hour to a particular spot. Another will provide a spray and has an adjustable spray dial which could provide 1-5 gallons of water per hour. There are different heads that can be used depending on the type of plant you want to water. There are pattern sprinklers providing water overhead. The options are limitless depending on the area and plants to be watered.

At this house, because it is on a severe slope water will go down the
hill not to the new plants. There are mature trees present and they will
wick up much of the water in the area. For that reason a drip system is
an economical, effective way to water and in this landscape one of the
few ways to make sure these new plants especially the water lovers like
the River Birch will get water.

Link :: The Vintage Ivy Collection ,
Sharp Top Trees , Fiskars Brands-drip system

Locations :: Darren Huff-Artistic Nights - 770-855-8340

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By Kimberly Toscano, Encore Azaleas, Photographs courtesy of Encore Azaleas

When moving into a new home it is always tempting to start planting as soon as possible. But, before digging into planting take some time to get to know the landscape and develop a plan for success. For an informative article on the topic, click here.


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