Category Archives: Planting

Pre-Spring Landscape Care for the Bay Area Gardener

Who else is ready for Spring?

Here are some tips for Bay Area gardeners and landscape artists for January and February! There is plenty to do, so read on!

What Can I Plant?

Bay Area gardeners wanting to create a flowerful landscape should check out azaleas and camellias at your local garden store. Local landscape artists and nursery experts are great resources for learning what flowers will grow well when planted in late winter and early Spring.

If you are looking for colorful trees to fill out your landscape in 2020, look into maple trees. Japanese and paper maples are recommended for our climate during this time of year.

(Do check your local planting guide for types of plants and trees that will thrive at this time of year. )

Maintenance is Key

I used to miss plodding around in my garden and landscape during the winter months, before I understood the lifecycle of the garden and our ecosystem. All of that to say, there is always more to do!

Citrus plants, in particular, will benefit if you provide them with fertilizer six to eight weeks before blossoms appear. All deciduous plants will benefit from pruning excess stems, leaves and other old growth as they prepare to bear fruit in the upcoming Spring season.

Dream On

One of the benefits of growing and maintaining a thoughtful and fruitful landscape is imagining an atmosphere, then building it, growing, and living within that vision. While the list of items to plant in January in the Bay Area isn’t long, the time spared can be allocated to dreaming about Spring. Why not put pen to paper and sketch your vision for your ultimate 2020 landscape?

What do you want to grow where you live? What do you want to see? Sketch it out and save your pennies… Spring is around the corner.

Happy New Year!

How To Make Poinsettias Last Longer

How to Make a Poinsettia Last Longer

Poinsettias come in a wide range of colors. You can find reds, marbles, whites, and even pinks. Whichever color you choose, the care is the same for a long lasting poinsettia.

1) The actual flower of a poinsettia is directly in the center. The leaves, the colored portions, are actually leaves that have colored up. They will start as a green leaf and turn red, pink, or white as it grows and matures. When selecting your poinsettias, pick ones that have the flowers in the center that aren’t open, this way the whole plant will last a lot longer for you. 

2)  Place poinsettias in a sunny area away from drafts – this is very important to keep the plant growing and thriving. You want to maintain the plant in a temperature of 65 – 75 degrees F.

3) Keep a poinsettia moist, but not soaking wet (if you need a refresher on overwatering, check out our blog 4 Signs of Overwatering Plants). If you have a pot cover, make sure to drain the water to avoid plant rot.

4) Poinsettias are very susceptible to carbon monoxide. If your poinsettia is constantly wilted, you might want to check your monitoring systems to make sure you don’t have high levels of carbon monoxide at your property.

5) If you really want them to last longer than 6-8 weeks, consider fertilizing them after the leaves fully bloom. You may get a few more weeks out of them!

In conclusion, give it sun, keep it warm, keep it well-watered (not soaked), and enjoy the holiday season a little bit longer with your Poinsettia this year!

Winter Vegetable Planting

Decorative, Perennial and Delicious! Two Perfect Vegetables for Winter Planting

Do the words “winter” and “garden” ever cross your mind?

Asparagus and Artichoke are perfect for winter planting, and once established, are a long term relationship that will keep giving… With the right care, they will produce delicious vegetables for years to come! Read on for tips on planting and caring for these perennial beauties in your Bay Area landscape.

Asparagus Planting Tips

Cited from the Mercury News: “Asparagus, once established, can keep on giving for up to 20 years. Avoid varieties that have been bred for the hot and humid summers and extremely cold winters of the East Coast such as Mary Washington and Jersey Giant.

UC Davis has developed several hybrids that work well in our mild climate: UC 157 F1, Atlas F1, Apollo, Grande and Purple Passion.”

Make sure your asparagus will get full sun and well-drained soil! Too much moisture can lead to root rot and disease.

Plant asparagus crowns from your local nursery with the bud ends up, 12 to 18 inches apart, (rows should be at least four feet between) and cover with 2 inches of soil.

Remember the long term relationship I mentioned? Don’t plan to harvest your asparagus until the second year. By year four, you should be in good shape for an annual harvest.

How to Plant Artichokes

The artichoke is the lobster of vegetables! This large, gorgeous plant and takes time to cultivate, and to enjoy when it is time to eat. The time invested is worth the result! I like my artichokes best dipped in butter or oil with some salt and good conversation once it gets to my plate.

Before planting, it is important to amend the soil before planting. Talk to Bayscape before planting for tips to ensure a successful crop! You’ll need to purchase a part of the root (root division) from a nursery, as artichokes don’t produce from seed.

Artichokes spread up to six feet wide, and up to four feet tall. Make sure you create the space you will need for your ‘chokes to thrive. Check out this excellent article from Marin Master Gardeners for tips on Irrigating, Fertilizing, and more.

We hope you are enjoying the fall season in the Bay! There’s one more winter perennial that we’ll discuss in our next blog. (Hint, your grandmother may have made a sweet pie out of it… ).

Bay Area Fall Planting Shrubs Guide

It’s Harvest Season! (And the Perfect Time to Plant Shrubs)

 

Fall is here in the Bay Area! We hope you’re enjoying all of the richness of the harvest season.

October is a great time to consider planting shrubs, woody ornamentals and trees. According to the University of California Master Gardeners, Ceanothus, manzanita, Monardella villosa (coyote mint), ribes (currant), toyon, buckwheat are all good choices. Buckwheat has the added benefit of being a cover crop that returns nutrients to your soil.

Speaking of woody plants and shrubs, you might even consider planting your own food forest! October is a great time to plant berry trees and bushes. Blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries can be planted in the fall and enjoyed year after year, producing fruit you can harvest at home. These types of plants enjoy northern sunlight, so consider that when you are planning your landscape.

Whenever you are planting something new, remember to add soil amendments such as fertilizers and compost before planting your new shrubs. Read up on what types of soils your new plants will thrive in (loamy, well-draining, etc.) and create the right environment for your new additions to thrive! Thoughtful amendments keep your soil healthy, and work with your shrubs and trees to prevent soil erosion.

Most shrubs and trees will develop deep roots if planted and watered with care and attention. You can conserve water and support your new landscape additions by watering deep and long (five minutes or more at the base) so the water can reach far below the surface to nurture healthy root growth. It’s always best to water early in the morning and later in the evening to prevent evaporation.

When considering how to beautify your landscape this fall, enjoy the design process! We recommend creating a “map” of your land, sketching what plants will grow best in certain locations. Imagine colors and designs that complement one another and your vision for your land. It’s a creative investment that will give back for years to come. If you want some help, contact us.

How to Sample Soil

Why We Take Soil Samples (And You Should Too)

When it comes to landscape installation or building gardens, we always take a soil sample. Plants have varying needs and will respond differently to particular types of soil. Soil sampling is important to determine soil texture, pH level, and the soil nutrients in order to grow the proper trees, shrubs, and turf.

A soil test can provide information on the proper amount of lime and fertilizer to apply to your lawn, garden and other areas of your landscape. When gardeners apply the amount of fertilizer that is necessary (and at the appropriate time) nutrient runoff into surface and ground water is minimal, therefore money is saved while plant health is optimized. It’s a win-win!

If you want the most successful plant growth in your garden or landscape, we suggest you take a soil sample, or have a licensed landscaper take it for you. Always take the sample at approximately the same time of the year, but collect samples 3-6 months before planting.

The reliability of the soil test is no better than the sample you submit. For results you can
depend on, it is vitally important that you take samples correctly.

Here are the steps to properly take a soil sample:

1. Source the Equipment: It is important to have the proper tools for soil sampling. Wear gloves to protect your hands, then grab a soil knife or soil probe, and a clean bucket to gather up the soil.

2. Decide on Location: Determine where in your lawn would give the best general understanding of your soil profile. For example, don’t take soil samples under rain spouts or gutters. You may have a property that requires several soil samples, as soil may vary in depth, texture, and quality, even from one location to another. For example, a soil brought to a building site for grading and backfilling around a structure will differ from the native soil. Decide carefully if you may have varying soil types, and be prepared to test multiple areas.

3. Determine Depth of Soil Sample: For trees and shrubs, you’ll want to sample 4 to 6″ deep. In turf areas, sample 4″ deep. The depth of sampling should be from 6 to 8″ in all soil except sandy soil, where cores should be 10-12″ deep. Take a 1-2 pint composite sample from the cores. Next you will mix and package…

4. Mix Soil: Stop here! If you are using a home test kit, read their specific instructions first before mixing or packaging soil. If you are shipping off to a lab, you would mix all of your soil samples into a bucket so that you can get a general understanding of the soil profile. Remove any organic matter, such as  leaves and sticks from the sample.

5. Send Soil to The Lab or Test At Home: Here’s a list of 10 Best Soil Test Kits. Companies like SS Delta will test soil for you, if you prefer to ship soil into a lab. Visit their website to learn more.

Once you receive the results, you’ll be able to determine lime requirements for addressing pH issues, as well as fertilizer and irrigation needs, which will help you successfully grow trees, shrubs, and other plants on your lawn. Good luck and get sampling!

Four Signs of Overwatering Plants

4 Signs of Overwatering Plants

Ever wonder if you are overwatering your plants? Chances are, the plants are probably getting more water than they need. There are a few obvious overwatering signs. If you can identify these four warning signs, your plant can still thrive!

1. Got brown and wilty leaves? Many mistake this for a dry plant, quite the contrary. This also occurs when plants have too much water. The difference between the overwatering and underwatering is that too little water will result in your plant’s leaves feeling crispy and dry, while too much water results in limp, wilty, and soft leaves and foliage.

2. Stunted slow growth accompanied by yellowing leaves is a symptom of overwatering a plant. You may even see leaves falling off. If the plant has yellowing leaves and old leaves simultaneously, as well as new leaves that are falling at the same accelerated rate – too much water!

3. Roots are the primary source for your plants food, water and oxygen intake. Roots need to take in water, but they also need air to breathe. Healthy soil allows for oxygen to exist in the spaces between soil particles. If the soil is constantly wet, there is not enough air pockets. This means there is a limited oxygen supply and the plant can’t breathe….basically drowning the plant.

4. Blisters and lesions are another sign of overwatering. Water pressure begins to build in the When the roots absorb more water than they can use, the water pressure builds and cells will eventually die and burst, resulting in areas that look like they have lesions or blisters. Once these blisters erupt, brown or white wart-like growths begin to form in their place.

If you sense any of these warning signs may present on your plants, go ahead and gently push your finger an inch or two down in to the soil. If the soil feels moist and wet, it is a strong indication that overwatering has occurred. If you’d like a more sophisticated way to measure soil, your local nursery or home improvement store sells accurate moisture meters. Insert these in the root ball and it will tell you how much water is in the soil.

Reduce Embers and the Home Ignition Zone

Preventing Wildfire Destruction: Removing Embers from ‘Home Ignition Zones’

Research by the National Fire Protection Agency around home destruction vs. survival in wildfires point to embers and small flames as the most common and frequent way that the majority of homes ignite in wildfires.

What is an Ember?

Embers are burning pieces of airborne wood and/or vegetation that can be carried more than a mile through the wind. Embers can cause spot fires and ignite homes, debris and other objects. 

Experiments, models and post-fire studies have shown homes ignite due to the condition of the home and everything around it, up to 200’ from the foundation. This is called the Home Ignition Zone (source: Firewise USA).

Homeowners can prepare their homes to withstand ember ignitions and minimize the likelihood of flames or surface fire touching the home or any other structures on the property.

What are Home Ignition Zones?

The Home Ignition Zone, or HIZ, was developed by retired USDA Forest Service fire scientist Jack Cohen in the late 1990s, following breakthrough research into how homes ignite from effects of radiant heat. The HIZ is divided into three zones, Immediate, Intermediate, and Extended Zone.

 

What actions should Homeowners take to Reduce Ember Ignition in the Immediate Home Ignition Zone?

 

The home and the area 0-5’ from the furthest attached exterior point of the home; defined as a non-combustible area, is the Immediate Zone. This is the most important zone to take immediate action on, as it’s the most vulnerable to embers. The following steps will help prevent embers from igniting your home:

  • Clear leaves and debris from gutters and eaves.
  • Remove dead vegetation and other items from under decks and porches, within 10′ of the home.
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent combustable debris from accumulating.
  • Remove flammable materials (firewood, propane tanks, gas cans) within 30′ of the home’s foundation and outbuildings – including garages and sheds.
  • Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10′ from the ground (wildfire can spread to tree tops).
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down! Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for fire!
  • Think about switching to some Xeriscape, or more sustainable landscape options, to cut back on the amount of lawn exposed.
  • Dispose of lawn debris and cuttings quickly. Don’t let those sit on your property!
  • Replace or repair roof tiles that are loose or missing, to prevent ember penetration.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent embers from entering.

 

What actions should Homeowners take in the Intermediate Home Ignition Zone?

 

5-30’ from the furthest exterior point of the home, is considered the Intermediate Zone.

  • Consider careful Landscaping and hardscaping installation, for example create breaks that can help influence and decrease fire behavior
  • Create fuel breaks with driveways, walkways/paths, patios, and decks.
  • Clear vegetation from under large stationary propane tanks.
  • Keep lawns and native grasses mowed to a height of four inches.
  • Remove vegetation under trees, sometimes called “ladder fuels” so a surface fire cannot reach the tree crowns.
  • Prune trees up to 6 to 10′ from the ground; for shorter trees do not exceed 1/3 of the overall tree height.
  • Space trees to have a minimum of 18′ between crowns with the distance increasing with the percentage of slope.
  • Tree and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters of a few each to break up the continuity.

 

What actions should Homeowners take in the Extended Home Ignition zone?

 

30-100′ out to 200′ is the Extended Home Ignition zone.

  • In regards to landscaping, the goal here is to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.
  • Trees 30 to 60′ from the home should have at least 12′ between canopy tops.
  • Trees 60 to 100′ from the home should have at least 6′ between the canopy tops.
  • Dispose of heavy accumulations of ground litter/debris.
  • Remove small conifers growing between mature trees.
  • Remove deadwood (Visit Arbortek Trees’ helpful blog on how to remove deadwood safely).

    Firewise Defensible Space

    Photo from Firewise USA

Thank you to Firewise USA for this valuable research and insight! If you have a large property and would like assistance with clean up of your defensible space and tree canopies, we are a phone call away. Now is the time to get proactive before wildfire danger arrives!

How to Budget and Plan a New Residential Landscape

How To Plan and Budget a Residential Landscape Installation

New year, new beginnings! January is a perfect time to start planning your residential landscape for the year. As we list our New Year’s goals, start visualizing your dream landscape design.

We have listed some frequent residential landscape questions and answers to help you start planning your dream landscape for 2018, as well as a checklist to help you get your ideas formulated.

General questions to as yourself, before beginning a residential landscape project:

  • Where am I landscaping? The backyard, the front yard or both?
  • What piece of the landscaping project gets top priority?
  • What, if any, outdoor activities do I want to enjoy in my yard?
  • Do I have a deadline for this landscape project? Does it need to be installed within the next 3-6 months? The next 6-12 months?
  • Can my landscape project be completed in phases (Possible constraints such as availability of finances and/or weather conditions need to be considered in the timeline.

 

How much should I budget for residential landscaping installations?

When it comes to a landscape project, think of it as you would any other home remodel. The most expensive part of the installation is typically the hardscape. If your new landscape design requires a new driveway, walkways, patios, stone walkways, water fountains, or permanent planters – this will require approximately 60 to 70% of your budget.

The remaining 30 to 40% of your landscape budget will go to plants (consider all shrubs, flowers, and trees), irrigation (hopefully you are installing smart irrigation), mulch, grading, and drainage.

…Psst…look for local rebates for smart irrigation! Check out our article How To Renovate Your Yard (and Get Paid to Do It!)

You will want to check with your local nursery during the landscape budget planning stage as well. Find out when plants are in bloom – you will want to see them in bloom before you purchase a large amount. Then determine best availability for your choices, then the cost. If buying in bulk, you may be able to work a discount!

Is there an ideal time to begin a residential landscape installation?

Weather is typically mild for us in the California Bay area, so any time of year is a great time to start and complete a residential landscape project. If you don’t live here in the Bayscape Landscape service area, check out Farmers Almanac or hop on over to Yelp for local landscape designers or landscape maintenance companies.

No matter where you live, there are factors to be considered for determining the perfect timetable for your residential landscape project. First, when finances will be available. Second, if there are any major events happening at your home this year that required that landscape to be finished.

Ok, you are ready to get started!

If you have a completed design or are considering working with professional landscape designer, we would be happy to provide you with an estimate and guide you through the process! Head over to our contact page and drop us a line! We are happy to assist in your new residential landscape installation.

How to add fall color to a garden

How to Add Bold Color to a Fall Garden

How to add Bold Color to a Fall Garden 

As we switch our wardrobe from shorts and tanks to long sleeves and jeans, we must also switch to fall colors in the garden. Fall colors in the garden can be started in late summer or early autumn. In this blog, we will show you how to spread your dollar to attain the richest and boldest colors in a fall garden.

First, lets talk about how to build a garden bed in fall. First, choose plants that can grow in similar conditions. For example, part shade or full sun plants should be grouped together in the planting bed. Place small plants in the front of the garden (or we call these border plants), and start working next largest behind the border plant, and work up to tallest plant in the back.

A good fall border plant start is the Begonia. Begonias are great for the lowest level and thrive in sun or shade. If you have cuttings, you can plant these in fall. In the winter time, we suggest bringing in before the frost.

Anenome are a great fit behind a border plant. They can adapt to a variety of soils, but like well drained soils. They will bloom in many colors until the first frost. These go a long way, so plant 18″ apart. The Anenome is a great “bang for your buck” type of garden plant.

No fall garden is complete without the bold colors of Chrysanthiumums. They love the morning sun! They also bloom in response to the shortened fall days. We love the Chrysanthiumums for the wide variety of colors, shapes, and textures these beauties behold. You can plan on these blooming through late fall.

You can’t pass a grocery store without seeing rows and rows of Mums for sale. Mums certainly are the flagship plant of the fall. Go ahead and buy some these year, but forget about buying them again. Cut stems down to about 1 ft. in December, and they will come back in spring. They are a hearty plant that will keep coming back if you prune them correctly. They need light watering and plant the roots shallow.

Next in your garden bed, try adding Black Adder. It’s a vertical plant addition, so place these towards the back of the garden bed. Black Adder attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Important to note, Black Adders can not start from seed, you need to start from cuttings only.

In the very last row of your bold fall garden bed, we suggest a Butterfly Bush, named aptly for the insect they attract most. These can grow 36 to 96″ tall! These will bloom until October.

If you are going to start shopping for bright autumn garden color, only shop when the plants are in bloom! Plants in the same species will look different during the time of year you shop for them. Now is a great time to head to the nursery and design your fall garden bed.

If you’d like assistance from your friends at Bayscape, give us a call! Or visit our Seasonal Colors services page to learn more.

How to add bright color to a fall garden

Turf Fertilization

Let’s Talk Turf

Fertilizing  turfgrass isn’t just about enhancing green color for aesthetic. Fertilizing turf maintains the lawn density and plant vigor, and encourages growth and recovery from turf damage and seasonal stresses (such as a drought season). If you own a commercial property, manage an HOA, or a facility manager at a municipality, you’re probably well-informed about this subject already. But do you know that your window of time to fertilize is short? Are you working with certified and licensed landscapers skilled in the fertilization testing and application process? We aren’t talking about regular ‘ol landscape maintenance. We are talking TURF. And having unhealthy turfgrass is out of the question for your facility or property.

What happens when you don’t fertilize turf?

Unfertilized turf will gradually lose density. Undesirable grasses (such as crabgrass) and broadleaf weeds (such as dandelion and clover) will encroach and the risk for soil erosion then increases. Properly fertilized turf better tolerates heat, drought, cold, and regular wear from traffic.  Malnourished turfgrasses are also more prone to damage from diseases and insects — this damage is more noticeable and recovery takes longer.

Applying the correct fertilizer at the right time helps turfgrass accumulate and store the essential plant foods (sugars/carbohydrates) that it requires for healthy growth and development. Dense, properly fertilized lawns require fewer pesticides to manage weeds, insects, and diseases in the long run.

Fertilizing turf should be handled by a professional, to achieve the best results. The process includes soil testing, tissue testing and reviewing the “fertilizer basics.”We review the phosphorus and potassium levels, as well as nitrogen sources. We review the nutrients offered in fertilizers and compare to turf testing results. From there, we calculate the ratios for turfgrass fertilization.

We strongly encourage our commercial, municipal and HOA clients to take the next month to have your turf tested and fertilized. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Before and After Turf

The turf on the left has not been fertilized for three years and is malnourished. The leaves are yellowing (chlorotic) and the soil is becoming visible near the canopy base. The turf on the right has been regularly fertilized. It has a pleasing green color and much higher shoot density to resist pests. Photo and caption from Purdue Extension.