The best landscapes are the ones which have various areas that have a different purpose. For example a covered area, a vegetable garden or a flower border. Landscape edging not only helps accentuate all of these places but also provides a unifying element to your garden. Edging is one of the most practical methods of creating defined and clear lines in your garden. It also helps hold the mulch in place and prevents people from trampling on your prized flowers or vegetables.
Edging not only serves an aesthetic purpose but it has a functional purpose as well. There are many options for homeowners. They can use a simple trench for paving stones or they may go for decorative wooden edges.
However there are several things which you should consider when you decide to go for lawn edging.
Why consider garden bed edging?
Edging creates a clear boundary between the beds and the other areas in the garden. Landscape edging can help define a flower border, a single tree or a shrub garden. It can also help define the separation of a patio from the surrounding area. It emphasizes the lines of the flower beds and therefore makes it the main focus of the garden.
It also prevents that trough from creeping into the surrounding areas. It prevents the soil or the mulch in the garden beds from spilling on to the lawn. Usually when it is raining or when you are watering the garden the mud can slide onto the grass and give it an untidy look.
Some people choose to go for taller landscape edging while others might even use short edges or fences. Not only do these help provide a defined path but can also keep visitors out of the areas where you don’t want them to go.
However, it should be kept in mind that edging should be firm. If it is not placed firmly it might loosen and you would have to repeat the edging process.
Here are some types of garden bed edging that could give your garden a different look and feel:
A divider can be placed between the lawn and the garden bed. It can be a simple trench or a v shaped ditch.
Bricks or flat stones are wide materials. These help create a firm base which is suitable for the wheels of a lawn mower.
If your aim is to keep the much in its place you might need to use a material which is at least 2 inches above and 4 inches below the ground.
If you are simply considering something aesthetic, you can choose from a variety of landscaping materials. You can choose to add new material to the garden scheme and make it look more aesthetic.
However, it should be kept in mind that the cost of each type of material and quality can be different. Using stones or boulders is completely free. On the other hand if you choose wood, aluminum or any other material to be used as an edge you might need to pay accordingly. Do consider all of these points when selecting a garden bed edging for your lawn.
One of the best ways to add value to a home is to have an outdoor living space designed. And a landscape architect is the best professional that can design and extend your living space as well.
Eloquent Landscape architects in Sydney is capable of designing outdoor kitchens, arbours, fountains, patios, fireplaces/fire pits, and installed seating. Implementing these features to your outdoor space is not only environmentally friendly, but it also provides an inviting ambiance for you, your family, and guests.
Reasons for Hiring a Landscape Architect
Hiring a landscape architect gains your outdoor space multiple benefits, to include:
Create an outdoor design you will love
An outdoor design you love is an instant mood booster. Hiring a landscape architect will not only boost up your outdoor area but also do a design that complies with codes and regulations. A lovely outdoor space becomes a special place to be enjoyed by you, your family and guests over the years.
Landscape architects are trained to assess the problem and possibility areas of your property. This makes them come up with a systematic plan in choosing the best textures, colours, materials, and styles for your outdoor space. They will guide and help you select the perfect design for your outdoor area and handle all the details of preparation and construction.
Provide you a low-maintenance garden
A landscape architect can provide you a low-maintenance garden as per taste and preference. This means using plants that require less watering and fertilizing. This type of garden can be friendly to insects such as butterflies and bumblebees as well.
Good placement of trees
Trees and shrubs strategically placed in the garden can help lower energy bills. An experienced and professional landscape architect will be able to know the exact locations to place the shrubs and trees to reduce your cooling and heating costs.
Incorporate natural swimming pools
Aquamarine-coloured pools are not the trendy style of today. The trend is with low maintenance and chemical-free natural-looking pools. This makes the all-natural pool a must-have for any large backspace. You can work on having this wonderful feature to your outdoor space with your chosen landscape architect.
Add permeable paving
Sidewalks and patios become lovely to look at when permeable paving is used. Other than that, the paving encourages groundwater recharging as well as reduce runoff. This offers an instant solution for driveways prone to flooding.
Expert design and construction from start to finish
A reliable and professional landscape architect will stay with your project from start to finish. He/she will be working closely with you to ensure that everything you want to be included will be part of the project as long as it is possible. This means that the landscape architect will recommend designs that meet your expectations and follow through after the project is finished.
Creatively design a rain garden
Some backyards flood during the rainy season. A landscape architect provides the perfect solution by constructing a rain garden. A rain garden also provides beneficial insects and birds a natural habitat as well as filter runoff rainwater from lawns and sidewalks. They work and look better than installing a French or storm drain.
Expanding your living space outside as well as increase the value of your home is by having it landscaped professionally. Eloquent Landscape architects in Sydney can help you beautify your property.
A stump by formal definition is the bottom part of the tree left projecting from the ground after most of the trunk has fallen or been cut down. It is constantly left behind protruding because it is tough to remove it without special equipment. Unknowingly, it poses a lot of danger, since it can or will cause accidents if completely ignored or mismanaged.
How does Stump Grinding work?
Stump grinders usually start their job by vertically cutting hardened surface roots attached to the central stump in order to facilitate digging its surrounding portions.
Special equipment known as the stump grinding machine comes with a circular saw that resembles a bicycle’s chain rings that is solely responsible for making gradual and vertical cuts on the stump. In some cases where the stump is shallow, other field personnel uses chainsaws to create horizontal cuts to slowly remove smaller portions. Consequently, deep-rooted stumps are eliminated painstakingly with the same process, though, would take a longer time to get the job done.
Smaller portions, bits or pieces of wood chips scattered around the work area are cleared and collected for disposal; but garden enthusiasts use it for mulching, a way of growing healthy plants without the use of synthetic fertilizers.
The part where the stump once stood would create a hole right after the clearing operations. Part of the job is covering or filling in the excavation with soil or sand until everything appears plain on sight and new plans for construction can commence.
Other options include planting it with grass or ornamental plants in order to look just like a part of a lawn or a garden.
The best thing about stump grinding is its concern for the environment. The job does not use chemicals to prevent contamination; thereby preserving natural soil minerals or nutrients.
Top 5 reasons why stump should be removed or grinded
A stump in an open field will be dangerous for children and adults alike since it is projected on the surface. A single mistake can lead to a slip or fall while playing or simply walking down the street or pavement.
A stump is exposed to heat or rain, and when it is left there to rot, it could be a home for harmful insects like ants, termites and other pests which can or will cause additional problems in the community.
A lot of stumps on sight can hinder future developments in terms of construction and implementation of infrastructure projects in your area. Removing them would facilitate a smooth-sailing plan that would benefit everybody.
Some varieties of tree stumps have the possibility of regrowing because the root balls are still intact underground. When this happens, a new tree of the same kind stands unexpectedly and could cause obstruction or disturbance in the neighborhood. The hassle of cutting it for the second time would entail an additional cost of labor or manpower.
A ground or area free of stumps can be a venue for an exceptional landscape project like theme parks or community playgrounds. With these on sight will probably be an eyesore, especially in an urban setting.
Why avail of stump grinding services?
Stump removal should not be done personally by homeowners or residents in a particular area. Why? It is because the nature of the job takes a lot of risk or danger. Leave it to the experts because they have the proper orientation, skills, and training. They also use special tools, machinery, and equipment to perform a specific line of work, based on your needs. Sutherland Shire tree removal by Cutting Edge Tree Care can do the work for you safely and properly.
Most people when they want to unwind would rather it outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Whether it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon or after work hours, enjoying the fresh air is quite enjoyable.
If your outdoor space is well maintained and beautiful, it’s pretty great. You can entertain guests, enjoy a quiet evening out with loved ones or simply chill alone asking the sights and sounds. A landscaped lawn can do a great deal for the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space.
Do you need to hire a landscaper? Besides beautifying the space there are also quite a few benefits of hiring landscapers in Byron bay. Read on to see why you would benefit from hiring landscapers.
Grass lawns are a great way of bringing something green into your home. It can help cool down the surroundings and the beautiful color is easy on the eyes as well. The trees planted by the landscapers provide shade. During summer most people refrain from sitting outside. However, you wouldn’t have to worry about sunburn when you are sitting under the shade of the trees.
It can be a great place for children to play and have fun. You wouldn’t have to be worried about the kids not playing outdoors. When it’s so lovely outside even children want to go out and enjoy. A small swing hung onto a tree can add a rustic yet charming touch.
The overall effect of the grass and trees is pretty cooling. It can help lower the heat entering your home as well. This makes your home more energy efficient as well and help reduce utility bills.
On the other hand having grass and trees planted in your home can also help towards reducing the pollution in your area. The plants take in carbon di oxide and release oxygen into the surroundings thus clearing the air of harmful gases and dust particles. A single tree can provide enough oxygen for about four people. Imagine a landscape filled with lush trees and beautiful grass. It’s not only going to beautify the surroundings but allow for fresh air to circulate within your home.
When you have beautiful looking water features added to the landscape it can add a unique and charming touch to your surroundings. This way you can provide a beautiful looking backdrop for your living room space. A window or a glass door overlooking the pretty landscape can add tons of appeal to your indoor space as well.
Beautiful landscapes can also increase the value of your home. Buyers interested in homes which not only have a classy interior but a beautiful outdoor space are quick to buy a home with a beautifully featured landscape. In fact when renting out spaces, property owners might charge more for a home which has a beautiful landscape.
With the increase in pollution, it’s become a necessity to incorporate a green and lush landscape within homes. It not only promotes the beauty of the home but is great for health purposes as well. Who wouldn’t benefit from all the fresh air which comes along with lush trees?
If you are considering hiring landscapers in Byron bay, make sure you hire the right people. Get to know if they specialize in specific kind of landscapes and whether they handle residential projects as well.
Trees can be absolutely beautiful, but they can also cause a serious hazard. Limbs or entire trees falling can create tons of property damage and bodily harm. However, problem trees can be difficult to identify to non-experts. As for dealing with them, having an inexperienced person attempting to handle these problems can be almost as hazardous as leaving them in place. Between the difficulties of getting good access and managing the work site, dealing with a dangerous tree can be a chore. Thankfully, an arborist can help diagnose and address the problem and keep you and your property safe, via a variety of tree maintenance procedures.
Types of Tree Maintenance
There are a few different methods that can help maintain a tree. While the final decision should be based on safety, however, there are some preferences to keep in mind.
One of the most effective options is tree removal. However, this naturally eliminates the entire tree and is very work intensive. The whole tree gets removed, including the stump and root system. All of these components need to be removed and disposed of. This makes tree removal one of the most the expensive options, and it also can deprive you of a tree. Unless you are seeking this option out, it should only be reserved for trees deemed too dangerous to manage another way.
Tree topping is another tree management option. As the name suggests, the process involves removing the entire top of the tree, leaving only lateral branches which aren’t big enough to take over as a new dominant branch. The process stunts the vertical growth of a tree, keeping it restrained and the overall tree shorter. This can obviously limit the potential of the tree to cause damage. However, the cuts from a topping can take a long time to heal, leaving the tree possibly vulnerable to a fungal infection which may kill the tree. This is a viable option for tree manage.
Tree lopping is the most precise tree management option. It involves the idea of taking care of the most significant and most dangerous lateral branches. This avoids massive cuts to the core of the tree but helps to maintain the tree in a safe and healthy fashion. Safe and healthy trees are less likely to fall and cause damage but keep the natural beauty of the tree intact.
The Process of Tree Lopping
A professional arborist can perform the service of tree lopping in Brisbane and keep your trees safe and healthy and keep your property undamaged.
The first step is to get an inspection and estimation of the project. A professional arborist can examine the tree and give you an accurate picture of the work that needs to be done. Many experts performing tree lopping in Brisbane will perform an inspection and provide a no-obligation estimate at no cost.
The arborist can then determine the scope of the tree lopping to take place. Some of the services that can be recommended are the removal of dangerous or overhanging branches, reducing the crown and weight of a tree, removal of any dead wood on the tree, elimination of any broken or diseased branches and even bracing a tree with a steel cable to increase sturdiness. The arborist can recommend which services suit your project the best.
Most professionals performing the tree lopping service will also handle the entire clean up and removal process, leaving you with a safe and healthy tree.
Enjoy the natural beauty of your tree without any danger by having an arborist manage tree lopping for any growth on your property.
If you think there are too many synthetic elements in your house, you are probably right. You definitely need a redo from the work you have done in your house and you have to change everything to incorporate a little bit of nature. From our bedrooms to our kitchens, everything is synthetic and smart.
Living on the smart devices, we have stopped blending nature in our lives. We need to do that right now. Following are a few ways to do it without spending a lot of budget:
1. Get Landscaping Done
One of the easiest ways to add nature into your house is to get landscaping done. Landscaping gets the garden or lawn made into your house to add color, freshness and natural aura into your house that was missing before. Garden landscaping Adelaide services can offer you an amazing service without costing you an arm and a leg.
2. Get Organic Plants
The best thing to add to your house is greenery. Get some organic sun-loving plants that can be used and placed to add color, refreshment and leisure in your house. Not only will the air be fresher but you will be able to enjoy the look of the entire house.
3. Add Flowers
Instead of spending time on air fresheners and artificial scents, you can always opt for natural flowers in water vases and replace them on alternate days. Flowers add color, fragrance and beauty to your house instead of making a hefty purchase every second day. Flowers are completely natural and do not cause disturbance in the air you breathe in.
4. Scented Candles
The best thing about getting scented candles is that the wax is completely organic and does no harm to the atmosphere. Scented candles add color, add fragrance and an absolute wonder to your house. You are able to enjoy the fresh smell along with the colors they add.
Scented candles come in multiple colors and shapes. You can even choose the ones that come in glass holders so there is no mess around the melted wax in the candles. There’s nothing better and more cost effective than this! Candles can be easily replaced, moved from one place to another and changed when you don’t feel like turning them on.
5. Grow Fruits and Vegetables
The best thing about having landscaping done in your house is the ability to grow fruits and vegetables. You will be able to grow your favorite ones without spending too much money and time on them. The advantages of having fruits and vegetables is the ability to get fresh produce, have natural fragrance in your house and freshness in your house.
There is nothing better than enjoying the freshness in the house when you get yummy and toxin free stuff.
Lonicera pileata, also known as Privet Honeysuckle, is a native evergreen plant of China. If you want a low growing living fence, then the Lonicera pileata may be the right plant for you. It only attains heights of 2 to 3 feet, with a spread of 8 feet. It is a hardy plant in USDA zones 5 through 9. Late in the spring, small white blooms appear and perfume the air.
Finding the Location
The best time to plant the Lonicera pileata is early in the spring or early fall. You’ll want to find an area that has full sun exposure, but it can also grow in locations with partial shade.
Prepare the Planting Area
Prepare the area by removing all the grass and weeds. They will remove moisture and nutrients that your Lonicera pileata needs to grow. You can pull the weeds, or till them into the soil, where they will decompose. No matter if you are planting one tree or many, the width of the area to clear out is 4 to 5 feet in diameter.
Dig the Holes
Dig holes that are twice the diameter of the Lonicera pileata root ball. The depth of the planting hole should be the same as the length of the root ball. If planting more than one hole, leave 6 to 10 feet between each one.
Dig a hole that is twice the diameter of the Lonicera pileata’s container. Keep the depth the same as the root ball. Before you place the root ball into the hole, scuff the sides and bottom of the planting hole. This loosens the soil and allows the roots to penetrate beyond the walls of the hole easier.
Amend the Soil
Fill the planting hole with water. As you wait for the water drains into the soil naturally, prepare the soil you removed from the hole. Amend the soil with 3 inches of well-rotted compost. Compost adds nutrients to the soil and provides better drainage for the water.
When all the water has drained out of the hole, it is time to plant your Lonicera pileata. Remove the root ball out of the container. It usually just pulls out of the container but if you have trouble getting the plant out, turn the pot upside down and bang the rim on the edge of a table top. Make sure there is someone to catch it so it does not fall down on the ground.
Plant the Lonicera pileata
Place the root ball in the center of the hole. Check the top of the root ball. It should be level with the soil.
Fill in the hole with the amended soil. When the hole is half full of soil, firm the soil down around the root ball with your hands. This removes the air pockets in the soil. Fill the hole the rest of the way. Tamp the soil with your feet or use a shovel.
Caring for the Lonicera pileata
Water the Lonicera pileata as soon as it is planted with a water hose. Turn the water on to a slow flow and allow it to run while you plant the next shrub. During the growing season, provide an inch of water every week to your hedge. Omit watering if your area has had ample rainfall.
Add a 2 to 4 inch layer of organic mulch around the Lonicera pileata. Do not place the mulch up against the base of the plants. This makes them more susceptible to disease, rot and bug problems. Keep the mulch at least two inches away from the base of the plant.
“American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants”; Christopher Brickell; 2004
Although you can buy topiaries at the nursery, it can be more rewarding to grow and shape your own. Topiaries are best done with trainable shrubs and vines like rosemary, boxwood and holly, and grow most popularly in the shape of a lollipop.
Use rosemary for a small topiary or holly or boxwood for a larger one. Pot the shrub or plant in rich, quick-draining potting soil for more flexible placement, and to protect the plants with indoor locations during the winter. Put a large stake behind the plant in the pot, and tie the main stem or trunk of the plant to the stake.
Allow the plant to grow for several weeks to months before you attempt to train it. Turn the plant often for even growth in the crown, and water it as necessary for the breed. Cut away suckers or shoots growing low on the trunk.
Train the plant once it reaches the height you want. Decide on your design – one, two or three balls, sitting on top of each other – and trim the plant to that design. Pinch or prune away shoots around your design to leave a rough pattern.
Trim and neaten the remaining foliage to accomplish your desired design. Keep in mind that upward shoots grow more quickly and may distract from the pattern of the topiary.
Trim the topiary every one to two weeks to encourage thicker growth and neatness. Always trim to your desired pattern to control the growth.
Tips: Low light leads to sparse growth, and leads to unsatisfactory topiaries. Make sure your plant gets the light and water it needs for best growth.
Never allow the topiary to flower, as this will destroy the pattern.
The method of xeriscaping, which means attempting to grow plants that have less requirements of water, has become quite popular in this age when most people are thinking green. Besides being a benefit for conservation of water resources, xeriscaping also adds to the aesthetic value of the landscape and cuts down the time required on watering, weeding and trimming. Because plants are carefully chosen from those that have less requirements for water, weeds do not grow much in xeriscaped gardens. Mostly, xerophytic plants like cacti, succulents and shrubs that have minimal water needs are selected. The word xeriscape is a portmanteau of two words – the Greek ‘xeri’ which means ‘dry’ and ‘scape’ which stands for landscape.
People who are planning on going green with xeriscaping need very few resources to begin with. Most people set up these gardens in their lawns. The soil must be conditioned to retain water so that the irrigation requirement is further lessened. The plants can be obtained from any nursery, where even tips on buying the right choice of plants for little or no water requirements are provided. Xeriscaped gardens can be made to look beautiful by selecting a mélange of different kinds of plants, keeping in mind how these plants will look in the garden when they are fully grown. There are gardening specialists who can be invited to plan out and set up a xeriscape garden. Among the various suggestions that a xeriscape expert would provide, one is to group all plants with similar water requirements together so that the watering of the garden can be planned out properly.
Apart from the fact that xeriscaping is a good way of water conservation, it is also true that it makes the gardening job more efficient and less time-consuming. Cutting down on various garden tasks by the judicious selection of native and desert plants is one prime benefit. If a xeriscape is set up in the lawn, it makes a unique statement for the house and also cuts down on mowing time. Xeriscape gardening clearly shows how people do not need to invest in expensive resources in their mission of going green.
So if you are a person who genuinely wishes to take some constructive environment friendly steps, this is surely one thing you can do right away in your home. Xeriscaping is simple, practical, and speaks volumes about you and your thoughts.
Not often seen in home landscaping or in gardens, the fiery orange blossoms of Flame Azalea are a real attention-grabber. Never seen this native member of the Rhododendron genus? Then gaze in astonishment at this beauty.
This picture was taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.
Image Credit to Rob Travis
Now Flame Azalea varies in color yellow and apricot to orange to salmon to red. Here, for instance, is a spectacular photograph of a yellow Flame Azalea .
And here’s a photograph of a shrub with peach-colored flowers.
Finally, here is one of a deeply-colored Flame Azalea, ‘Mandarin Red.’ These blooms remain beautiful for weeks.1 In fall, foliage color is also attractive.
Although Flame Azaleas are usually seen along a mountain road, is it possible to purchase one commercially for landscaping your home? Happily, yes. Are special conditions required for survival and thriving of the flaming beauties? No-Flame Azaleas do best in USDA Zones 4 to 7. They prefer moist, rich, slightly acid soil and light dappled shade to mostly sunny. They do fairly well in clay soil.
Locating Your Flame Azalea
Are you willing to take on the intense orange color and relatively large size of the Flame Azalea, which at maturity can grow to a width of 15 feet?2 Planning and placement is key when landscaping with such a large shrub. Its girth is de-emphasized by planting the azalea near a larger structure, such as a house. When situated near your home, ample space needs to be provided for future growth; but take note: the Flame Azalea is not evergreen. Another suitable location for Flame Azaleas is at the entrance way to a large front yard, where it suggests similar warmth may be found within the home. Finally, azaleas are often used along the edge of a lawn surrounded by woods.
Other plants should be bold enough not to be overpowered. Many shades of yellow can be used to compliment the brilliant blooms of Flame Azalea. One way to make certain they won’t fail to be noticed is to plant larger flowers in large groups or smaller flowers in beds.
1. Eastern Plant Specialties – Flame Azalea
2. HGTV – Flame Azalea
References and Resources:
Sunlight Gardens – Rhododendron calendulaceum United States National Arboretum – Azalea Questions and Answers Images from pinterest and Advance image search by google (available for reuse unless credit specified)
While some people give yucca plants a bad rap, I think they’re great. Granted, the extensive (rhizomatous) root system by which the plants spread can make them rather difficult to get rid of, but who would want to? Yucca plants are some of the most versatile and long-lasting evergreens in the landscape. Need some drama or perhaps something different? Add a yucca. Want a focal point that really stands out? Plant a yucca.
People have been growing and using yucca plants for many years. Native to both Central and North America, yuccas not only offer interest with their spiky, dagger-like foliage, but when grown in the right conditions, they will send up striking white flowers from midsummer through fall. In addition to their beauty, yucca plants are also pretty useful. Sure they look great in the back of that rock or succulent garden, but they’re also a natural detergent. In fact, one of the common names for yucca is Soapweed. Whether it’s soap for bathing, shampoo for washing hair, or detergent for cleaning clothes, the roots from yucca plants can be crushed and soaked in water to produce a foamy mix that’s well suited for this purpose.
Yucca juice has been used to make paint and is sometimes included as an ingredient for dyes. Another well-known use for yucca plants is fiber for sewing or making rope. Some species are even used for paper pulp. The leaves are suitable for basket-weaving (though I would definitely recommend practicing extreme care, as their needle-sharp foliage packs quite a wallop). When picked at the right time, just as they come into bloom, yucca flower buds were often roasted and eaten. The fruit from thick-leafed varieties was deemed edible, as were the cooked leaves and stems in some species.
There are well over forty types of yucca plants species. Some are shrubby while others are tree-like. Some are solid green; others are variegated. Some are grown in pots and others in the ground. Likewise, many can be grown indoors while others prefer to be outside. Adam’s needle (Y. filamentosa) is the most commonly seen variety in the garden, having curly threads along the leaf margins. A shorter version well adapted to cooler regions is Y. glauca, otherwise known as Soapweed. The Spanish bayonet (Y. aloifolia) is a tall, shrubby-branched species while the Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia) is a tree-like variety with short leaves that form on the twisted ends of branches. Y. treculeana, or Spanish dagger, is a thick-leafed yucca whereas Buckley (y. constricta) is a thin-leafed variety. The stemless Lord’s candle (Y. whipplei) has attractive bluish-green foliage, and then there’s the variegated species, Y. filamentosa ‘Color Guard.’ Other noteworthy yucca plants include Y. flaccida, Y. rigida, Y. guatamaensis, Y. filifers, and Y. elata.
Yucca plants are easy to grow, thriving in sunny, well-draining areas of the landscape. They are especially tolerant of drought-like conditions. Since they do have those extensive root systems, put them in an area that will allow them plenty of growing room. They may require occasional pruning too, especially for those grown indoors. I love how carefree yucca plants are and the number of uses they can provide makes them one of the most versatile evergreens in the landscape.
Personal experience Garden amp; Forest, Vol. 8, Tree Yuccas in the United States by Charles Sargent Agaves, Yuccas amp; Related Plants: A Gardener’s Guide by Gary amp; Mary Irish
There are continuous efforts to create the better lawn. Particularly in the more arid parts of the country, turf requiring less water while still looking lush and green would be welcome in creating the desired look. On the one hand, this is an admirable endeavor in preserving a precious resource such as water, but on the other, are we so conditioned to believe that landscapes must include expanses of grass in the first place?
Now I am not against beautiful lawns full of grass per se; they are an important component of many sports arenas certainly, and make for important grounds for gathering in public places such as parks. They are wonderful for running on when playing and exercising. They should be looked at as special. But in this country at least, they are looked upon by most as the primary building block of the typical landscape. I can imagine when our country was mostly wilderness, how an isolated landscape was seen as an escape where plants were chosen for the reminder they might provide of another place and time, the old country, for example. But now, with an ever growing population taking over more and more of the land, landscaping needs a new paradigm by putting emphasis on the natural environment.
My point may have its origins in extolling the virtues of the near-elimination of grass-centric landscapes, but my greater argument is for the use of native plants. Whether you live in the mid-West, in which case you should consider plants native to the mid-West, or the Southeast (consider using the plants of the Southeast!), the plants that have evolved in your region will grow naturally with those conditions, be it the unique conditions of the soil, the precipitation, the amount of sunlight, and significantly, in concert with the particular fauna of that region. By doing so, you would naturally use less supplemental water and maybe eliminate the use of fertilizers and pesticides altogether!
Back when our country was young and being settled, a single specimen of a particular tree or shrub with an exotic shape and colors may have stood out in an entire wilderness, but look at the typical suburb and these exotic plants are everywhere. In many cases, they multiply without check and crowd out the native flora. Native plants are the ones that our native fauna have evolved with for thousands of years! And back to the ubiquitous grass and lawns: how much harm is being done to the ecology by keeping them lush and ‘cared-for’ with chemicals that can be poison to our living soil, our watersheds, etc.? Their exorbitant use of precious water. Then add up the usage of all those gas and electric lawnmowers. And blowers. As for artificial lawns, they have their advantages, but outdoor carpeting doesn’t participate in the cycle of life.
Doing away with the lawn and planting more native plants isn’t so much adding yet another thing to worry about in our lives – those with home landscapes may well eventually end up with more time on their hands. Imagine recomposing your land such that you can spend that much less time tending to it and more time relaxing in it. Is the only time you walk on your lawn when you are mowing it? Replacing your lawn results in not having to take care of it anymore. Well chosen native plants and shrubs means less water and pruning. And more birds, bees, and butterflies!
Most of you are familiar with the silver fuzzy catkins that signal the coming of spring faithfully every March. Some know Pussy Willow as a bush that grows in the wild, semi-open areas that have been left to overgrow, while others cultivate the bush for its excellent dried floral material that seems to have no trouble finding a place within the home every spring. In this article, I will deal with not only how to optimize the bush in the landscape, but also on the different varieties of Pussy Willow and their uses. In this article, I will deal with Common Pussy Willow, French Pink Pussy Willow, and Curly Pussy Willow.
Common Pussy Willow
Common Pussy Willow consists of any bush that grows in the wild by itself. There seem to be two varieties of wild Pussy Willow, the ones that bloom early and the ones that grow aggressively, bloom later, and usually have a slightly lesser catkin performance. Both varieties grow up to forty feet in height, will grow six to twelve inches in diameter, and live between forty and sixty years. Sprouts grow freely from the ground and from the branches. The tree can handle severe pruning and cutting back.
French Pink Pussy Willow
French Pink Pussy Willow is an improved cultivar in that it retains strong growth, has improved catkin size and density, and its twigs and catkin scales retain a red color in the winter. As a tree, it will grow 30-40 feet in height and 20-30 feet wide, often exhibiting multiple branching. It does tend to put out sprouts, which require pruning.
Curly Pussy Willow
Curly Pussy Willow is a rare variety of Pussy Willow that I was able to get a hold of through my involvement in the Floral Industry over the years. How large the bush will actually grow is uncertain, as I continue to prune my bushes heavily every spring to satisfy demand. I assume it will grow to the size of any other pussy willow. So far, it has exhibited strong growth and reliable bloom and twig performance. Catkin density is thick, but the catkin size is lacking in that the catkins are not really fluffy. But the feature that really defines this cultivar and makes it stand out is the tendency of the twig to flatten out, curl, contort, and eventually look like some weird type of hockey stick or golf club.
Propagating Pussy Willow is really easy. Before the bush puts out leaves, cut some twigs and put them in water. A stem a quarter of an inch thick and about a foot high usually works the best. Look for twigs that exhibit fast, strong growth. Avoid thin, weak, slow growing side branches, as they usually do not produce a good cutting. Make sure the water stays fresh and does not dry up. Within a couple weeks, roots will be developing. When the roots are between one to two inches long, remove the cuttings from the water and plant in the ground or in flowerpots. During the first year, water frequently. At the end of the year, if the plants are in flowerpots, they can be planted in the ground. During the first year, a lot of the plant’s energy is invested in its root system. By the second year, you should start seeing strong, good growth.
Left to itself, Pussy Willow will grow two to four feet a year when mature, to six feet per year when young. The problem with this is the bush tends to stretch into a tree, leaving the valuable twigs out of reach and even somewhat out of sight. The tree also tends to produce poorer bloom when not pruned.
There are several ways that the tree can be pruned. As the tree can take a heavy pruning, there are multiple pruning options, a lot of room for error, and little risk of losing the tree due to lack of pruning as a hard cut will produce a new crown of growth within a couple years.
A method I employ in my yard is to let the tree row as a single trunk to about six feet high where I let the tree branch out. Each year after the catkins blow, I prune the new growth six inches above last year’s cut. The result is a semi-formal yet informal tree that looks really good eleven and a half months of the year. (The other two weeks being when it is a bare skeleton before the new growth has fully emerged.) After six years of such pruning, the dead wood and knobbiness of the overall crown became a bit too much so I thinned out the wood inside the crown, leaving about thirty good stubs on a really bare skeleton. It looked really ugly in April, but now you probably wouldn’t be able to tell if it had been pruned at all. Because Pussy Willow sprouts off of old wood, this shape can basically be held for many years. And with the use of a short stepladder, there is always a supply of high quality twigs for floral use.
Don’t be afraid to prune Pussy Willow hard. Feel free to experiment with different shapes, forms, and ideas. If there is a plant that can take a heavy pruning and not even blink, it is Pussy Willow. Although Pussy Willow does not have as much deadwood as regular willow, pruning eliminates that as well. And pruning encourages healthy growth with good bloom quality.
When you pick Pussy Willow for freshly cut flower arrangements, it is best to pick it early, just after most of the catkins have opened. It can be picked later, but if the catkins are starting to pop, it is probably better to dry them. Dried Pussy Willow tends to lose a bit of its fresh, sharp look, but still looks pretty decent. Since the catkins sometimes droop while drying, hanging the branches upside-down from a rafter for a couple weeks will remedy that. Once dried, Pussy Willow will keep for upwards of a year or more. Curly Pussy Willow can presumably last for decades, as it is a woody stem. It blooms a couple weeks later than French Pink Pussy Willow, but can be picked as early as November if harvested for its curly twigs.
Willow twigs can be used in basket weaving and other related crafts. To make a wreath of Pussy Willow, all you need is a base frame and some florist wire to wire the twigs to the wreath base. If the desired effect is to have the twigs fan out from a core, wind the twig around the base a couple times, then let it fan out. There should only be about a foot to eighteen inches of twig when the winding is done. It is good to harvest the twigs long and trim them as needed while weaving. There are almost unlimited possibilities, just let your imagination run wild!