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Friday
Apr172015

BEACH RESTORATION: Where did all of the sand go?

Here on Long Island, our precious coastline is a big part of our pride and recreation, weather it’s the scenic beauty of the North Shore bluffs or the pristine sand coast of the South Shore beaches and bays. We've got it all. However, our shores are constantly under attack with Nor’easters, hurricanes, tidal surges or even bad wind storms. During these storms, immense power rips away at the bluffs, sand dunes and beaches, compromising our land and homes.

Beach restoration has been a hot topic for many of our communities close to the water. I will address two properties, one on the North Fork and one on a South Shore Bay. Both had been battered with hurricane Sandy, with pre and post Nor’easters.

NORTH SHORE BLUFF:

This property sits high on a bluff which has previously suffered from numerous storms and erosion. Past attempts were made to stabilize the bluff without success. For this property the DEC approved a boulder embankment to stabilize the bottom of the bluff but the slope was still eroding from the top down. We were brought in to stabilize the slope with a network of jute netting and native vegetation, consisting of American Beach Grass, Rugosa Rose, Beach Plum and Bayberry to reflect the existing plants on the adjoining embankment. Within one year the roots took hold, the natural indigenous habitat was restored and the slope is on its way to a full recovery. This has held up well in the past two Nor’easters with no erosion or slippage of the slope.

North Shore Bluff before and after restoration.

 

 

SOUTH SHORE BAY:

On this property we have a different scenario with the lower elevation and less slope to the shoreline. This south shore property was hit hard with tidal surges from past storms. A previous homeowner had cleared and planted a lawn along the shoreline which did not hold up well in the aftermath of these storms. To restore this eroded area we added a sand and soil mix with jute matting and some boulders to strengthen the area. The DEC does not permit a retaining wall of any sort so we had to slope the area gently and re vegetate. We added American Beach Grass, Bayberry and White Potentilla which fare well with this deer inundated area. The existing vegetation on either side of the eroded area was kept in a natural vegetated state with native grasses and shrubs which absorbed the tidal surges from Hurricane Sandy. Very little erosion was present in the adjacent area that was left natural while the cleared area with lawn was carved away by the storms. This made for a good case study on the effects of removing native vegetation and over development of a shoreline. Two years later the shoreline is stable and the plantings have spread their root system throughout the sandy mix to strengthen the shoreline and blend seamlessly with the adjoining natural habitat.

South Bay Beach before and after restoration.

 

With a professional plan to restore Mother Nature we can revive and care for our waterfronts so we can retain the soil, sand, and vegetation. This protects our parks, beaches, property values and the overall beauty of this magnificent island we call home.

If you want advice or guidance on restoring your waterfront property please contact Goldberg and Rodler and we will connect you with one of our designers to schedule a consultation.

 

Written by Rick Schneider

 

Friday
Apr172015

Landscape Design Principles and Elements of Composition: Texture

Feathery plumes of Dwarf Fountain Grass alongside Bluestone Stepping Stones and crushed Long Island gravel.This is the second in a series of articles on Landscape Design Principles and Elements of Composition (click here for the first entry on Color). Today we want to talk about texture in the landscape. There are many ways to achieve different textures with plants, but utilizing natural materials in a garden such as bark and foliage can work well in combination with other elements like gravel, stone, and wood that contribute to a garden’s sensory experience.

Groundcovers, especially between stepping stones, can lend to a variety of ground plane textures. Imagine the feel of soft, cool grass or gatherings of moss under bare feet on a spring morning. Soft, fuzzy perennial Lamb’s Ear in the garden is wonderful to rub between your fingers, as are the leaves of a sage plant. Showy grasses like Hakonechloa or Dwarf Fountain Grass blades are anything but sharp. Get up close and touch the ethereally light, delicate plumes on an ornamental grass when it flowers in the late summer. A mass in the distance is a beautiful visual but there’s nothing like sitting amongst them. Enjoy the grasses from the weathered wood of a favorite garden bench, or planted with a piece of bleached driftwood as a sculptural element to contrast the wispy blades.

Textural contrast of ferns and a Weeping White Pine.We can’t talk about foliage textures without mentioning ferns. There are so many varieties hardy in our area, all of them a textural delight to use in the garden. The fronds of a fern are what we notice first, but get up close and see the curled up fiddleheads (before the frond opens). Even the underside of the fern has something to offer with the clusters of sporangia, usually a contrasting red or brown, especially showy on the evergreen Christmas Fern.

Spiky variegated Agave nestled softly among Scaevola, Lantana and Alyssum.On the opposite side of soft vegetation are the bristly, sharp plants like Agave and Prickly Pear Cactus. Agave is mainly used as an annual or indoor plant here but Yucca is another spiky plant that you can use in the garden and there are many varieties hardy to Long Island.  Prickly Pear Cactus is considered hardy but may take a hit in harsh winters. It is best to plant them in a protected, well-drained area if you want them outside. The needles of many conifers also fall into the sharp category such as Blue Spruce. Not only is the color striking but the coarse surface makes these evergreens stand out from softer White Pine and the many textures of arborvitae.

The coppery, exfoliating trunk of a Paperbark Maple at Planting Fields Arboretum.Exfoliating bark on a Crape Myrtle, Paperbark Maple or River Birch adds almost an architectural texture during all seasons. Though they may look very rough to some, they can all seem quite wispy at times. A Japanese Dogwood, Hinoki Cypress or Alaskan Cedar on the other hand, offers a very firm exfoliating bark - not ones you’d want to touch. They are definitely a stronger visual presence in the garden. Then you have the smooth gray bark of a stately Beech tree that resembles a column holding up a canopy.

A garden needs rough and rigid objects to balance the smooth and soft offerings. The obvious rigidity in a landscape is the paved surfaces, but we will go beyond that. Stone walls are classic in a garden as are brick and stone paving. These materials also last a long time in the garden, weathering over the years. Weathering can add to the character of the stone and brick and lend a softer feeling to the aged hardscape. Cast stone and terra cotta planters are another way to bring solid forms into the landscape. Whether a rounded shape or squared off trough, planters provide a solid visual anchor for specialty plantings like summer annuals or winter displays.

Visually and physically speaking, textures in the garden are one of the greatest ways we experience outdoor space. Another major influence is lighting and its counterpart shadows. With the right lighting scheme, not only can a property be used day or night, it can also enhance the beauty of both man and Mother Nature’s architecture. Stay tuned for our next piece on light and shadow in the garden!

 

Written by Ashley Palko Haugsjaa

Monday
Apr062015

Pollination: The Importance of Sex in the Garden

Heliconius Melpomene Madiera AKA Piano Key Butterfly feeding on Pentas at Butterfly World in Florida.Birds, bees and butterflies are more than beautiful, living garden accessories. They are essential fauna for our flora. Plants need to be pollinated. Some can be pollinated by the wind, like corn and wheat, but these flying wonders do much of the heavy lifting for other plants and are vital for them to produce berries, seeds and fruit. Seed development and fruit production are important for a plant’s continued survival. More than three quarters of all plants rely on pollination for survival. One third of the food we eat is reliant upon pollination to be produced. Chocolate, fruits, vegetables, coffee, even livestock that are raised on grains and vegetables are all dependant on the pollinators. 

Our beautiful gardens do so much more than visually stimulate us. They support an ecosystem. Flies, beetles, bats and moths are also common pollinators, but in a typical residential landscape, we prefer to open our gardens to the elegant birds, bees and butterflies. There are several things to consider when making an inviting environment for our pollinators. 

A common bumblebee hanging out on a centaurea. Scent, color and shape are some of the biggest factors in attracting pollinators to a garden. Clumping plants together in a mass makes it easier for a pollinator to find them. Red, orange, yellow and other bright colors serve as a beacon to attract them. In our gardens we prefer the pleasant scents of lilac, privet, roses, iris, catmint and herbs and so do bees. While bees cannot see red (butterflies and birds can) they are attracted to other bright colors and having several masses of different flowers is the best option to attract them. When you mass flowers, it not only creates a beautiful palette of plants to enjoy it is also beneficial for both the pollinator and your plants. They can easily locate these plants so they can return and don’t have to go far to find additional nourishment. The more colors you have, the more diverse a spectrum of pollinators you can attract.

A typical hummingbird feeder. Note the red plastic flowers to catch their eyes!Birds are attracted by sight to flowers as they don’t have a sense of smell to guide them to nectar. Birds also eat the creepy crawly critters we don’t want in our flowers while pollinating at the same time! Berries are an important food source for birds especially when the weather is cold and there are no insects to munch on. Any plant that can offer shelter for nest building and a hideaway from predators is a bonus for our winged friends. Winterberry, holly, black-eyed Susan, coneflower, millet, liatris, sunflowers, dogwood and juniper all offer berries and seeds for birds. You can also add a bird feeder to supplement their diet during lean, cold months.

A fuzzy yellow moth and an elegant orange Monarch butterfly on a purple butterfly bush.Hummingbirds are a popular bird we try to attract to our gardens and there are several ways to do so. Besides offering them attractive, trumpet shaped flowers you can also put out a feeder (which may also work for butterflies). Make sure to have a LOT of red to attract these hovering beauties and to follow the directions on filling the feeder with the best mixture to attract these interesting creatures. Hummingbirds have been observed sipping nectar from summer flowers like lantana, fuchsia, petunia and begonia. They may also visit coral bells, geranium, bee balm, honeysuckle (make sure it is a non-invasive cultivar), trumpet vine, butterfly bush, weigela, and crabapple. In the Northeast, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird can be spotted during summer months only as they migrate south for winter. If you can’t catch a glimpse of a hummingbird, many of these plants also attract butterflies.

Like hummingbirds, butterflies are also attracted to the color red. However, unlike hummingbirds that can hover while they sip, butterflies need a landing space, a wide petal or leaf to perch upon while they feed. Butterfly weed, yarrow, coneflower, black-eyed Susan, butterfly bush, and herbs like thyme and chives have either leaves or sturdy clusters of flowers to perch upon.

A small fountain or birdbath will provide water as well as style.No matter which plants we decide upon together, it is important to have a succession of blooms throughout the season to make sure you have a constant array of pollinating visitors. There is convincing evidence that pesticides and herbicides have contributed to the honeybee’s population decline. Make sure to reduce toxins in the garden. One of the ways to do this is to avoid open flowers if you have to spray anything to reduce likelihood of contaminating their food source. Choose liquid over powder as powder can stick to a pollinator’s body much like pollen does.  One last requirement for our fluttering friends: have water in the garden! Pollinators need water and having a small dish, birdbath or fountain adds a sculptural element and a necessary source of water for them in the garden.

Are you interested in attracting pollinators to your garden? We would love to answer your questions about flora and fauna. Call (631) 271-6460 or email us and talk to a professional landscape designer today!

 

Written by Ashley Palko Haugsjaa

Photos by Ashey Palko Haugsjaa

Thursday
Mar122015

Getting the Most from a Small Scale Garden

Improving your outdoor living space doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Goldberg and Rodler specializes in landscape projects of all sizes. Small scale projects can enhance an existing landscape aesthetic, create a comfortable atmosphere, and increase functionality of your garden. Site design can create private space in a large landscape, or maximize usability on smaller properties. Small scale projects are great opportunities to add seating or overhead elements to existing patios and decks as well as highlighting specimen plants. If you don’t want a total landscape makeover, we can work within your budget to meet your goals with a small space garden design.

A small garden and patio space for relaxing with friends and family.

The ideal outdoor space enhances the overall perception of your landscape. You can create specific moods using planting strategies and sensitivity to the creation of microclimates. Microclimates are isolated pockets of the environment that are different from the surrounding climates. They can be hotter or colder depending on the degree of screening provided by plant massing and sun/shade exposure. It doesn’t take much time for initial plantings to fill in and start creating the intimacy that define small space gardens. Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) is a great evergreen tree for screening larger spaces while Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata) can provide excellent screening in smaller spaces.  Skip Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus "Schipkaensis') is a relatively fast growing shrub you could use in smaller shady areas to screen neighbors or unsightly utilities.  Take advantage of the opportunity to highlight a specimen plant.  Small trees and large shrubs like Weeping Norway Spruce (Picea pendula) and Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) can act as the centerpiece of your intimate space.  This area can become a unique destination, not only for yourself but for family and friends as well.

A narrow backyard that seemed unusable, has been transformed into an intimate gathering space.

Overhead structures like pergolas or arbors can be a tasteful addition to your existing outdoor space. They are custom wood or PVC structures that can be a free standing entity or an extension of your house. They invite opportunities for seating and entertaining. Depending on the spacing of the rafters, you can control the amount of filtered light as well as shadow patterns. An organic addition attached to these pergolas and arbors can be trained vines that add seasonal color and filtered summer shade.

A pergola trained with wisteria will create a comfortable microclimate over time.Small scale site design in your landscape is an opportunity to introduce intimate landscape details and can offer you privacy and improved aesthetics at a price fit for your budget. These designs can provide your landscape with a suggested destination and focal point while utilizing perspective to frame and showcase views. These techniques are also perfect for making small spaces seem larger and opening up tight spaces that feel cramped and uncomfortable. Consult with the experienced staff at Goldberg and Rodler to bring your small scale site design to life. 

Written by Nick Onesto

Wednesday
Mar042015

Introducing: Mary Catherine Schaefer Gutmann

Mary Catherine Schaefer GutmannGoldberg and Rodler is thrilled to announce a new addition to our staff of horticultural experts. Mary Catherine Gutmann has joined Goldberg & Rodler, Inc. and brought her significant horticultural knowledge and experience to serve our clients. Mary Catherine has over 25 years of plant diagnostic and garden care skills, most recently with Ireland Gannon Associates and Martin Viette Nursery.

What does that mean for you, our valued client? In her new role as After Care Manager for Goldberg & Rodler, Inc., she will be inspecting, reviewing and providing specific horticultural advice for all of our landscape projects, new and old. For our maintenance clients, Mary Catherine will manage a schedule of regular visits to look after all the fine gardening details for our clients' lawns and gardens. If your landscape project needs any type of service or replacements plants, Mary Catherine will be involved with that as well.

We've added another important professional to our team in an effort to be more efficient and, most importantly, better serve our clients.

So when your hear that Mary Catherine is going to visit your garden, or if you see her out there performing an inspection, go out there and say hello. She will happily answer your questions so fire away and be prepared to raise your horticultural IQ.

You can reach Mary Catherine several different ways:

Email: marycatherine@goldbergandrodler.net
Office: (631) 271-6460 x26
Cell: (631) 258-4004