Holiday Decor: To Light or Not to Light

LIGHTING: Most of us have some appreciation for the extreme holiday lighting we see at this time of year, but at our own home subtle holiday decor may be more to our liking. Let’s start with a subtle approach for your front door. This is the main attraction which sets the tone for the grand entry. The illumination should be elegant enough to match your indoor decor and lifestyle while adding a holiday spirit for you and your guests as they enter your home. Evergreen roping with lights to frame the door or pots with illuminated evergreen shrubs flanking the entrance add this elegant touch. Now try adding a few ground flood lights with a amber colored bulb to wash the house with a soft, mellow glow. If you prefer more lighting, pick a specimen tree or a few shrubs in a prominent location and wrap the branches heavily with lights. This will give your home and landscape a festive feel.

HOLIDAY-POTSDECORATIONS: If you like, skip most of the lights and add live plant material. Use evergreen roping, pine cones and bows to add both color and texture. Hang a wreath on your shed, gate, front door or barn with a spot light. The wreath can be bittersweet wine, grape vine or even winterberry twigs for a unique look. Set electric candles in the front and side windows to create a feeling of warmth and home. This will give the home depth when seen from the road. You can also use plant material from your yard and add them into your garden pots or make your own spray to hang on a door, gate or mail box. Use Holly, Inkberry, Rhododendron, Skimmia, Evergreen Magnolia, Cypress or Birch branches or other plants with decorative berries. With the cold weather they should look fresh for weeks.

SPECIAL EVENTS: Let’s say its New Year’s Eve or another celebration. Add more glimmer to your existing holiday decor with white or silver bows and twigs. Change the amber bulb to white or blue for new crisp look for your party.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. For more ideas, contact our design specialists here at Goldberg & Rodler.

Written by Rick Schneider

Fall Spectacles

As we enter November and the mums finish flowering, fall may feel bittersweet. Bitter in the sense that winter is approaching and sweet with the delicious aromas of pumpkin spices, wood smoke and hot apple cider. Fall is a great time to witness local foliage change from green to rich, vibrant hues of purple, red, orange and gold.

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is the New York state tree and shows off its beautiful red color in mid to late October. The bark on a Sugar Maple is dark grey and exfoliates (peels away) on older trees.  20% of New York State forest is Sugar Maple and this native staple tree is an icon for New York, especially this time of year.

A brilliant yellow fall color shows up on the Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) which is native to China. It is considered a living fossil as it has no close living relatives in the species and is similar only to extinct species found in the fossil record. They’ve been around since the dinosaurs walked the earth and can live for hundreds of years. They make excellent street trees, as long as you plant the male form. The female form’s fruits have quite a noxious odor.

 

Dwarf Fothergilla in fall colorA beautiful small tree specimen is Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). A New York native, Witch-Hazel is an ideal plant for wet or dry conditions and perfect for your fall and winter landscape.  If you can see a Witch-Hazel, you’ll notice yellow flowers hiding among lush yellow leaves. The flowers have an aroma quintessential of fall and have an abstract shape. Witch-Hazel can grow up to 12’ tall and is a unique specimen for your landscape. Related to the Witch-Hazel is a shrub called Fothergilla. The Dwarf Fothergilla is an excellent native shrub for the landscape and the fall color is striking.

Virginia Creeper in English IvyA trailing plant that shows brilliant red color in the fall is Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Don’t be frightened by this bright red vine that looks like poison ivy. There is a noticeable difference if you can recognize the distinguishable characteristics. For example, Virginia Creeper has 5-7 compound leafs that are always toothed (serrated edges) while poison ivy has only 3 leafs and with only a few teeth or none at all. Another discernible difference is the bark on Virginia Creeper, which appears to be woody. It is important to be wary when you see Virginia Creeper, it almost always grows alongside poison ivy. Ironically, poison ivy has a beautiful fall color (reds, purples, and yellow) but we can skip that one in the landscape!

Hurry up and get outside for an autumn stroll, and witness your fall foliage in magnificent colors. Goldberg and Rodler’s experienced staff is always working to bring you up to date information, ideas, and assistance with your seasonal landscape. At Goldberg & Rodler, we are experts in landscape maintenance, so when that big leaf drop happens, don’t hesitate to contact us for your fall cleanup this year.

Written by Nick Onesto

 

Let’s Get Started Now

The change of seasons always make us reassess things around us. Summer makes you think of beaches, vacations and muggy nights filled with fireflies. Fall has us thinking about returning to school, holidays, and shorter, colder days. As it gets chillier out, we’re reminded that Old Man Winter isn’t far behind. Here at Goldberg & Rodler we like to think a little bit further ahead. As designers and planners we always have an eye towards the future. We’re already thinking about spring of 2014 and our job as consultants is to educate our clients and potential clients to “begin with the end in mind.”

Knowing what you want to accomplish when updating your garden is important. Expressing when to have it done is equally important. Anyone who has had home improvement done knows everything takes longer than we anticipate. If you’d like a landscape ready to use for spring and summer of 2014, you need to start planning now.

  • Here are some questions you might ask yourself  when thinking about changing your landscape:
  • Do I want a beautiful spring display of tulips and daffodils?
  • Should I protect my investment in the landscape (whether new or established)
    with winter mulch?
  • When is a good time to prune my trees and shrubs?
  • Is there a major event I’m planning to have at my home next year?
  • Am I thinking about a new pool, patio, front walk, driveway, lighting scheme,
    perennials, privacy screening or another facet of landscape construction?

All of these questions lead to the same conclusion. Start planning now. Some items (such as bulb planting) might take several weeks from planning to installation, others (such as pool design and permits) may take several months. Spring is usually the busiest time of year for the landscape industry, so why not catch the undivided attention of your favorite landscape designer in the off season? Let’s get started now! Do you have a question for us? Comment below or contact us.

Isn’t this where you want to be next summer?

Fall Means…

Pumpkins, hot cider and football. But it also means core aeration, lawn renovation, bulbs and fall cleanup! Don’t give up on your garden just because the weather has cooled. There are many items still on the check list before getting cozy inside for the winter.

This lawn could use an aeration and re-seeding.Now is the best time to help out your lawn. Core aeration can provide valuable air circulation to an established lawn. Now is also the best time to renovate your turf. Lime is very important, especially on Long Island. The pH of the soil across most of Long Island trends toward acidic. A simple soil test can figure out if you need to raise the pH of your soil to help your plants grow better. Tree Care of Long Island offers soil testing and lime application (among many other services) for your lawn and plants.  Fall is the best time to seed your lawn. Depending on the variety, grass seed needs a temperature range of 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate properly. Make sure to water adequately while not overwatering and that the seeds is in contact with the soil. Birds LOVE grass seed. To protect your seed sprinkle a light dusting of compost over it. This will also help keep the seed moist.

 

Bulbs. My favorite kind of fall shopping. The varieties available get more diverse and spectacular every year. We’re placing orders now for installations to occur before Thanksgiving. Many times the first signs of spring are those crocus and miniature daffodils coming up in almost bare beds. Don’t miss out on a fantastic spring color display! Daffodils are critter resistant but tulips are on the menu for deer, squirrels and other furry friends so plan accordingly. The key to a show stopping bulb display is massing. If there weren’t enough one year, add more for the next season. You can never have too many bulbs! They are some of the most cost efficient plants you can put in your garden, especially if you get a naturalizing variety which will multiply and bloom for many years.

 

Don’t forget to schedule your fall cleanup. Perennials and ornamental grasses need to be cut down, leaves collected and disposed of, whether on the ground or in the gutters. A blocked gutter can cause roof leaks if the water backs up under the shingles. Protect your outdoor furniture. We offer shrink wrapping for pots, tables and chairs, barbecues and other outdoor furnishings. Remember to have a professional blow out irrigation and pool lines to prevent damage from water freezing and thawing in the lines throughout the season. Drain and cover any fountains. Talk to a professional for pond care and winterization if you have animals in the pond. Hungry birds and raccoons can make a meal out of unsuspecting koi and goldfish when the weather turns nasty.

As we move into fall, keep the winter items in the back of your mind, such as snow plowing, anti-transpirant applications, decorations, winter compost, and more! Stay tuned for our winter entry.

Do you have a question for us? Comment below or contact us.

Summer Annuals: Old & New

Impatiens, lantana, elephant ears, petunias and other annuals are found in summer gardens year after year. The blight on impatiens has taken the number one landscape annual out of commission. Dragon Wing begonias are a great shade alternative. They flower profusely and look great in a bed or a container and provide a unique texture in the landscape.

Coleus has some of the most beautiful foliage I’ve ever seen, is shade loving and there is a variety called ‘Wasabi’ that can take full sun with sufficient irrigation. ‘Wasabi’ is a bright lime green and makes a wonderful accent planting for both containers and beds. There is a plentiful selection of coleus varieties, with different colors and forms to choose from.

Caladium is another showy foliage plant for shade and makes a statement as a centerpiece in a pot or as a mass in a bed. Bright annuals can make a shady area seem sunnier with contrasting colors.

The classics never go out of style but why not make a bold statement in your summer garden with some unique flowering succulents? For sunny areas, cacti and succulents are an easy way to make planters and the landscape pop. These plants come in a wide range of foliage and flower colors and offer a distinctive show that we rarely see up north.

Agave, Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’ & Scaevola in SeptemberPrickly Pear Cacti are winter hardy on Long Island. Warning: Be careful of their tiny spines. Sticky tape can help remove them from your skin. There is a thornless variety but it may not overwinter as well.

For the past few years, we’ve tried a few ideas out at our garden center – including mixed pots of succulents. Not only do they have showy foliage and flowers, but they require very little water, making them a more sustainable and lower maintenance option in the heat of summer. Agave ‘Americana’ and Croton ‘Petra’ make an eye-catching centerpiece while purple ice plant and Scaevola ‘New Wonder’ trail over the sides and bloom non-stop through the summer until fall.

Many of the succulents we use in green roof and wall installations double as perennials and groundcovers in the garden. Sedum ‘Vera Jameson,’ Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood,’ and Sedum spurium (many varieties) are just a few succulents that perform well in the landscape. Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’ blooms in late summer/early fall and gives us one last hurrah in the garden before the cold weather sets in.

Want some advice on annuals for your garden? Contact Ashley at Goldberg & Rodler.

Spring Start Up & Cleanup

Fast forward to three months from now. Maybe you’re sipping a margarita by a pool, possibly in your own backyard, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and – Wait a minute, how can that happen if you don’t start now? It’s warming up and boy is there a lot to do in the garden, but you can’t do anything without cleaning up first. There’s vegetable gardens to plan, pools to open, patios to design, furniture to get out of storage, powerwashing, fertilization and pruning to be done.

Where to start?

Think of spring as the time to take inventory of your outside spaces. If you’re unsure how to go about it, take advantage of our Free Property Analysis. We will professionally assess your property to determine if any damage has occurred over the winter, such as salt and wind burn. We can evaluate and determine if your turf needs remediation or if your plants need fertilization. What about pruning? Our certified arborists can study the health of your trees and shrubs and make recommendations. Maybe your trees were damaged in Hurricane Sandy or from all the heavy snow we had this winter. Proper pruning can help reduce the risk of damage next time we have a major storm event.

Goldberg & Rodler offers many garden care and landscape maintenance services to take care of your property throughout the growing season. We’re here to answer any questions you may have. Don’t delay getting outdoors, that nice weather is just around the corner, and don’t we all want to be relaxing by the pool in our beautiful backyard gardens?

Spring is Almost Here!

I had a bad dream last night. I dreamt that I had to put on a wedding in my backyard and it needed massive pruning. I woke up and my hand was sore from clenching dream pruners! I think this is my subconscious reminding me that it’s time to get out and cleanup the garden! Now is the time to cut back any remaining perennials and grasses such as liriope and carex. However, acorus only needs a good combing with a leaf rake.

Spring also means time to apply a pre-emergent to your lawn to prevent broadleaf weeds like crab grass or dandelions. This must be done before the forsythia finish blooming. Our expert arborist, Gary Carbocci, says to lime your lawn to raise the pH as our soil on Long Island is very acidic. Also see our article on how to use vinegar as an organic herbicide.

It’s also the best time to weed! Get those garden nuisances before they get established and add a fresh layer of mulch to beds, remembering to keep the root flare clear (see Mulch Volcano article here). Prune damaged branches on trees and shrubs. Trim yellow leaves on broadleaf evergreens. Any other pruning should wait until after the plant flowers so the buds aren’t removed.

Wow, looks like I have a lot to do, but it will all be worth it once I can see my bulbs popping up. Bulbs are my spring alarm clock and I can’t wait for it to ring.

Winter Interest

During winter, the garden takes on a different character with the play of light and shadow. It is also a time when the unique features of certain plants are highlighted. Witch-hazel, to the left, is a small tree that blooms in February. It’s a wonderful native specimen to showcase during a time when there are few things in flower. Camellias also flower during the winter, but be careful to protect their broad evergreen leaves with an anti-transpirant to reduce wind burn. These do best in a more sheltered area such as behind a windbreak or near a building.

In addition to flowers, there are countless
varieties of trees and shrubs with interesting forms, bark, berries, cones and evergreen color to animate the winter landscape. Berries provide food for birds during the winter as well as color for your garden. A mature Japanese Dogwood or Crape Myrtle (at right) both have multicolored, exfoliating bark that stand out in any landscape. The reddish color of the Crape Myrtle’s bark is a striking contrast in a winter landscape. A Montgomery Spruce has beautiful blue needles all year (shown in bottom picture with the granite wall).

Grasses, whether evergreen or perennial, can give you good groundcover all year long. Green liriope doesn’t get a haircut until Mid-March. Acorus only needs a light raking. Dwarf fountain grass plumes usually last though early winter if there hasn’t been a heavy snowfall. Grasses like this should be cut down as soon as they start looking messy, but don’t cut them down based on color. The brown plumes add a feathery, light look to your landscape and contrast well with blue skies and white snow.

Hardscape elements, such as paving, boulders and walls, stand out. Structural elements such as sculptures, pergolas and gazebos enliven an outdoor space all year but in winter they can take center stage. A patio heater or fire pit can make an outdoor space usable on mild winter days. Warm drinks like cocoa, tea and coffee can extend your stay outdoors but remember to dress warmly and to extinguish the fire before returning inside. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. An arboretum like Planting Fields in Oyster Bay is a great place to explore year round and there aren’t as many people in the winter so you can relax more and take your time to enjoy everything. They have numerous trails through the woods on the grounds but they also have greenhouses to explore if it is too nippy outside.

Exterior lighting schemes can highlight unique landscape elements like the Westchester granite wall to the right. The light picks up the bits of mica in the stone and makes it glitter. During the summer, plants might cover most of this wall, but in the winter when the perennials die back it has a chance to shine. Winter is a time to showcase textures and elements not seen in the summer months when brilliantly colored flowers take center stage.

 

Bulbs, Bulbs, Bulbs!

I got a great question today about bulbs: “What is a bulb’s life span? How many years before I have to replant?”

Red Tulips & Mixed DaffodilsIt depends on the type of bulb. Daffodils should multiply and come back every year, tulips you might get a few years out of but they will never be as nice as the first year. Bulb growers cut the flowers off and ship the bulbs the next year with all that extra energy stored inside. Daffodils are the only critter resistant bulb, so if you have a ton of squirrels or deer, stick with them or plant your tulips under chicken wire so they can’t dig them up.

I’m crazy about bulbs, they’re one of my favorite plants because I like to make arrangements with them all over my house. I add something to my yard every year! There are so many different varieties out there. Make sure you plant them at the right depth and water thoroughly after. A nice deep fertilization after they’re done blooming can help them store up energy for the next season.

Tulips, Pansies, DaffodilsAs far as designs go, I love to mix and match and plant big masses. Use light and dark combinations of tulips to play off each other, such as light and dark pink. Daffodils come in so many colors, sizes and bloom periods now you can have a garden of just daffodils for months! Fragrant daffodils make great cut flowers.

Snowdrops bloom quite possibly when snow is still on the ground. Crocus come up next and let us know spring is here. Hyacinths show up around Easter & Passover. After that comes the riot of color from daffodils and tulips, then alliums to usher in the summer. The giant globe shape of some of the alliums make a statement in a bed of liriope or other groundcover. They also make for great cut flowers and you can let them dry out and have an arrangement all year.

Hyacinth & Early, Mini Daffodils (Tete a Tete)

Bulbs don’t need to be divided like perennials do for rejuvenation, but some bulbs will dig themselves deeper or into an awkward position which can inhibit growth and/or blooming. I turned over a bed of wood scilla (by happy accident when I was putting in new perennials and shrubs) that had been planted at least 15 years ago and it revived them and they’re blooming great now.

The key to a show stopping bulb display is massing. If there weren’t enough one year, add more for the next season. You can never have too many bulbs! They are probably the most cost efficient plant you can put in your garden, especially if you get a naturalizing variety which will multiply and bloom for many years.

Feel free to ask me any questions and get those bulbs in before the ground freezes!

 

Fall & Winter Services

Sign up now for our Fall/Winter Services. If you haven’t given a thought to protecting your broadleaf evergreens yet, it isn’t too late! An anti-desiccant spray can reduce water loss through the leaves during a time when your plants can’t take in water from the frozen ground. Reapply in mid-winter.

Make sure your gutters are clear. During a heavy snowfall, ice dams can form and water may back up under the flashing behind the gutters. This can cause leaks and if not treated, mold growth.

Road salt can damage your plants. You won’t see the damage until Spring when it is too late. Make sure to pile contaminated snow away from your plants. Try calcium chloride; a less harmful chemical to melt the ice. Calcium is a nutrient plants can tolerate but still minimize the amount you put down.

2-3” of shredded bark or compost at the bases of trees and shrubs can insulate shallow roots and conserve moisture before the soil freezes. 

Make sure the flue is clear in your chimney so you can snuggle by the fire all winter.

Did you wrap up or store your furniture? We offer shrink wrapping for outdoor furniture, barbecues, pots and even boats.

Who’s doing your holiday decorations and/or lighting? Sick of getting up on that ladder every year? Let us do it for you while you stay inside with a cup of hot cocoa.