An Avian Arcadia

images4 Arcadia is defined as “any real or imagined place that promotes peace and tranquility”. This sounds like something worth aspiring to – we could all use some more peace in our usually hectic lives.

But what about out little bird friends?images2 To see them enjoying a refreshing bath leaves you in no doubt that they absolutely love it. They sing and flap around, getting rid of the grime of the day – it’s a joy to behold. It’s one of the few times we can step inside their minds, as we can so easily relate to their pleasure – it’s just the same as we feel when we have a good shower.

“This little bit chipped off in brilliance, and went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.”

These days, most standing water is unsafe, contaminated by industrial or urban pollution. It’s becoming harder for the native birds to find water enough to drink, let alone bathe in, and this is where we come in.

We can provide this resource, and in the process reap the benefits of a garden full of gorgeous birds. There are quite a few quite practical reasons to encourage birds to visit your garden, and I will list some of them for you.

“The bird sang louder, clearer – a rich, exulting lay…”

Different bird species prey on different bugs

Different bird species prey on different bugs

Firstly, they are beautiful. Birdsong can’t fail to make you happy, and appreciating the sheer variety of forms and colors of the singers will keep you spellbound. If you have young children, bird watching can be a wonderful introduction to animals, and biology in general.

Birds eat many destructive garden insects

Birds eat many destructive garden insects

Secondly, they fill an important niche in the food chain of your garden, and that is eating bugs – aphids, spiders, mosquitoes, and many others. Depending on which bird species you have visiting you, many pests can be controlled without using any chemicals at all.

Artificial pollination is time consuming and expensive, but increasingly necessary due to declining bee populations

Artificial pollination is time consuming and expensive, but increasingly necessary due to declining bee populations

Another huge benefit of attracting birds is that of pollination. To our great misfortune, overuse of pesticides has devastated the world’s native bee populations. As bees are generally the main pollinators in nature, some farmers are having to turn to artificial methods of pollination to ensure the success of their crops.

Birds can fill this need nicely. Do a little research on the plants you have, find a suitable bird pollinator, and then invite that species to come. You can offer food and shelter tailored to them, and then sit back and let them do the work for you.

“And then he spied a breeze, and situated softly upon a pile of wind…”

Click photo for more information on endangered species.

Click photo for more information on endangered species.

They can also weed for you! Weeding has to be one of the most tiresome garden chores, and birds will happily do it free of charge. The great majority of birds eat some form of seed or another, and each one they eat is one less weed for you to deal with.

In my opinion, one of the most important reason to encourage birds is that of nature conservation. Too many species of birds are doing it tough due to housing and agriculture encroaching on their habitat. We can provide much needed relief by providing a haven for them in the middle of it all. The value of massed individual efforts to support vanishing species’ cannot be overestimated. And, really, we owe it to them.

“…and gliding rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!”

There is no doubt that the beauty of a well kept garden will substantially increase the value of the property it occupies, as well as the value of the whole street in general. This should never be overlooked by the savvy homeowner; it can translate to many more dollars in your pocket in the long run.

The garden, outdoors, and specifically birdsong has been found to decrease stress levels, increase levels of vitamin D, and provide excellent low impact exercise. So for those of us not fortunate enough to own our own homes, there are still overwhelming reasons to encourage our little winged visitors.

“Come, and make thy calm retreat, among green leaves and blossoms sweet.”

imagesrr

Growing worms will encourage ground feeders, which will also feed on less desirable insects

So, how do you do it? What enticements can you use to draw them in, and encourage them to stay? The primary things any creature needs are food, water and shelter, and birds are no different. Provide one or more of these, and they will more than likely stay in your garden, and provide you with years of service and delight.

Firstly, food. There are a few ways you can do this. Buying the appropriate seed, and placing feeders around your house and garden is the obvious choice. However, you can also undertake plantings that encourage the species you want, or just birds in general. There are many attractive plants and grasses that would fulfill this purpose, and your local garden supplier or landscaper will be aware of the local bird populations, and can help you choose plants that will be appropriate for your situation.

A third option is to encourage the species that the birds feed on. Not spraying moths and their caterpillar forms will greatly encourage birds that prey on them. Some insecticides do great harm to native bird populations, so it’s always better to avoid these as much as you can. Build a worm farm and you will encourage ground feeders.

“…Was shrunken hard and dry, and every spirit upon earth seemed fervourless as I.”

Standard “hanging bowl” style – easy and portable

Standard “hanging bowl” style – easy and portable

Water is no doubt the singular most important thing birds need to survive. Due to their low body weight, they lose water quickly and need to drink often, especially in summer.

There are so many gorgeous options for bird baths, there will be one out there you will just love.

The hanging bowl style is simple and effective, so much so that you can literally have them all over your garden. Or choose just one and be able to move it around whenever you want. They are also easy to clean when necessary, and can double as bird feeders.

A solar powered modern “bowl on a pole”

A solar powered modern “bowl on a pole”

Another design that has stood the test of time is the “bowl on a pole”. The basic design has evolved throughout the centuries into some modern marvels, like the solar powered one shown to the left. The trend is increasingly towards multi-purposing, and this one is a perfect example. The incorporation of a solar light into its design would make it a beautiful and useful focal point in any garden.

“Two feather’d guests from Alabama, two together, and their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with brown…”

Another style available is the solar fountain type. This one will also encourage water insects for your bird friends, and has the important feature of movement.

Solar powered fountain type, but with an old style look

Solar powered fountain type, but with an old style look

Moving water doesn’t stagnate as still water can, and this kind of fountain will require minimal cleaning.

This could quite easily be placed on a balcony, and features a removable cover which will deter mosquitoes

This could quite easily be placed on a balcony, and features a removable cover which will deter mosquitoes

There are also modern solutions for those of you in small spaces. Many bird baths available today are just a shallow bowl, which can be placed anywhere and decorated anyway you want.

Lastly, to go even smaller, a sweet little balcony model that anyone can find room for. You could also float flowers or candles in it and it would look very elegant.

You could also detach this and use it as a table centerpiece

You could also detach this and use it as a table centerpiece

Go see your local nursery or landscaper. They will have a range of bird baths for you to choose from, and will of course arrange installation for you if necessary. Some models need to be plumbed and connected to power, and you need to have this done correctly.


Rob Lundholm
Lundholm Landscaping
P.O. Box 1066
Cape May, NJ 08204
Office 609-898-9136
Cell 609-722-1814
Email: rob@lundholmlandscaping.com
http://www.lundholmlandscaping.com

business card

 


Posted in Cape May Gardener, Gardening, Informative, Landscaping, Lawn and Garden, weeds | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The mysterious case of the Bag Worm

Bag worms are a nasty little pest, which can quickly defoliate over one hundred species of trees, including cypress, juniper, pine, spruce, apple, elm and willow.
So, what are they?

Typical bag moth case

Typical bag moth case

Bag worms, or bag moths, are a family of the Lepidoptera order of insects, making them closely related to moths and butterflies.

Bag of an as yet unidentified species of moth

Bag of an as yet unidentified species of moth

The family is fairly small compared to some others, comprising about 1350 different species, three of which are found in North America. These are the Evergreen, Snailcase and Grass bagworms. The Snailcase bagworm reproduces without the assistance of any males, and thus each egg is a perfect clone of its parent! They are often mistakenly referred to as Case worms, but the two species are very different. Case worm bags are quite flimsy and made primarily of silk, while bag worms use plant material from their environment to strengthen theirs.

Where are they?

Bagworm larva found in the Negev desert in 2014

Bagworm larva found in the Negev desert in 2014

They are found all over the world, and some of them have even managed to naturally colonize continents they were not formally native to. They thrive in the eastern United States as far west as Nebraska, north to New England, and south throughout Texas. Use of insecticides in urban areas has decreased populations of their predators, (mostly small wasps and hornets), and this is where the largest populations of bag moths are usually found. Woodpeckers, sparrows and white footed mice can also feed on the eggs inside the bags, but the eggs are so hard they pass straight through, starting a new infestation wherever the animal chooses to drop them.
Most bagworms are completely harmless, and you wouldn’t even know they were there, were it not for their little “sleeping bags” all round your garden. In fact, one Madagascan species locally named “Fangalabola”, is encouraged to breed on Acacia, and its pupae collected as protein rich animal food.
A few species, however, can become serious pests, and have caused a great deal of damage to Acacia in South Africa, and oranges (Citrus x-sinensis) in Florida.

A circular argument

Newly hatched bag worm feeding

Newly hatched bag worm feeding

Bag moths have the same life cycle as your average moth, larva to pupa to adult. It starts with a clutch of 300 to 800 eggs inside the bag. These were laid by the female who has since died. Sometimes she falls out of the bag, while in some species the eggs hatch inside the dead parent.

They poke their heads out of the bags…

They poke their heads out of the bags…

The eggs hatch into larvae, which climb out of their bags and head for the top of whatever plant they happen to be on at the time. They spin a fine silken thread up to three feet long, which is caught by the wind and off they float to colonize a new host.
When they find a suitable one, they attach themselves to a branch with silk, and start building their bag. They start with silk, and build on top of that with material from their surroundings. They poke their heads out of the bags and munch on your tree’s leaves and buds, and they can cause major devastation in a very short time. When they get to about an inch long, (although some species can grow to 5 inches!) they close up their head hole and pupate.

Adult male evergreen bag moth – note the vestigial legs

Adult male evergreen bag moth – note the vestigial legs

After attaining adulthood, the males fly off in search of a mate, while the females just wait for a likely suitor to turn up. Both sexes of adult bag moth have only vestigial mouth parts and legs, and the females have only vestigial eyes and no wings at all, as they never leave their bag. This is why both sexes of adult live only a short time – they literally cannot eat.
After mating, which the male accomplishes through the bottom end of his lady’s bag, both will die within hours and the whole cycle starts again.
So what’s the downside?
The larval stage of this insect can wreak absolute havoc with many species of ornamental and fruit trees, and very major damage can be done in only a matter of days to both home gardens and agricultural crops.
Please! Make them stop!

Ten days work

Ten days work

There are several methods you can use to control this pest, and which one you choose will depend upon a variety of factors. There is not much you can do to prevent these pests from visiting your garden, as their mode of transport is generally airborne.
Be gentle.
Not using broad spectrum pesticides is always a good idea, you can retain many beneficial insects this way, such as the wasps that feed on bagworms. Adding flowering plants to the landscape has been shown to increase the numbers of beneficial predatory wasps. If only people would breed ladybugs instead of spraying aphids this world would be a better place.
What should I do?
The best and gentlest way to control bagworms is to go round your garden, remove the bags, and dispose of them by placing in a bucket of soapy water or a sealed container. If you have young children you can make a “Let’s get the bag ladies” game out of it – many hands make light work!
There are several species of bacteria (esp. Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) which have been shown to be effective in controlling bagworms. These are best applied when the worms are in their early larval stages. Bacillus thuringiensis is available at nurseries and garden centers as Dipel or Thuricide.
When should I do it?
Caterpillars generally emerge at the start of June, so removing the bags before this is the most effective manual control method. The timing could be slightly earlier or later depending on your specific climate zone, so if you are unsure ask your local nursery person for advice. The bagworms will feed voraciously and grow until around late August, when they close up their bags and cease feeding.


Rob Lundholm
Lundholm Landscaping
P.O. Box 1066
Cape May, NJ 08204
Office 609-898-9136
Cell 609-722-1814
Email: rob@lundholmlandscaping.com
http://www.lundholmlandscaping.com

business card

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Fire-up this Fall

images7The weather is finally getting colder, and the balmy summer days coming to an end. Time to pack up the tools and head inside for four months, sit in front of the fire and read a book.
No! Wrong! Winter provides you with a perfect opportunity to get things accomplished that you don’t have time to do during the frantic growth of spring and the laziness of summer.
In these times when every dollar counts, many people are looking to live smarter, and take advantage of every square foot they can. This means considering their outdoor spaces as rooms, and decorating them appropriately.
Getting outside in the colder months is difficult for most of us. On those days it doesn’t rain, it’s usually too cold to really enjoy the outdoors much. So, instead of curling up inside by the fire, take the fire outside with you!
A Million Years of Campfire Stories

A microscope image of sediment shows burned bone. Analysis revealed that the bone was burned at campfire temperatures, and not by wildfires or lightning, and has been dated at around one million years old. Our oldest BBQ!

A microscope image of sediment shows burned bone. Analysis revealed that the bone was burned at campfire temperatures, and not by wildfires or lightning, and has been dated at around one million years old. Our oldest BBQ!

Our ancestors have been using fire for around 1 million years, and it is arguably the most important tool we have ever used. The industrial revolution would have been impossible without it, and all the things a modern society depends on would not exist without our using it in some form or another.
However, from time immemorial we have had other very important uses for fire, and two of these can be recreated quite easily in your backyard. As well as the obvious use as heating, fire is a social event – it draws people together, inspires conversation. Our ancestors have known this for eons, and gathering around the campfire is still a time honored tradition in many countries.
The Modern Campfire

Ye Olde style campfire - drawing people together for thousands of years

Ye Olde style campfire – drawing people together for thousands of years

You can recreate this ambiance in your own outdoor space with a fire pit. There are so many different styles to choose from, it is really only limited by your imagination.
Fire pits are very versatile, and look amazing in most settings. They are functional, affordable and practical. Whatever style you decide on, rest assured that it will look great, and become the focal point of your outdoor space.images6
If you are using it as a source of heat then it will bring the whole family together, as no one will want to move away. It is an ideal opportunity for the whole family to sit and talk, tell stories, and just have a great time.
That sounds awesome.
images4It is, but it gets even better. As well as the heating and social aspects of your fire pit, you also get to cook on it. There are many gorgeous “coffee table” models that make it very easy to cook and socialise at the same time. You can get “hang over the fire” models which will allow you to use your lovely cast iron cookware. (Or give you an excuse to go buy some!) There’s nothing quite like the taste of hearty food cooked in a Dutch Oven. You can find many great recipes for dutch ovens, and they’re not just for cooking stews!

Imagine – a few chairs, some friends and family, and a big pot of soup hanging over the fire. Heaven on a chilly day.

Imagine – a few chairs, some friends and family, and a big pot of soup hanging over the fire. Heaven on a chilly day.

What else can they do?
Apart from the very practical uses I have mentioned so far, this article would not be complete without mentioning the beautiful sculptural effects you can achieve with fire. It has a mesmerising quality, which can be used to images2very great effect in almost every space.
Where do I get one?
Of course it is possible to build your own fire pit, but as with everything there are downsides. Outdoor fire laws can differ widely, and hefty fines generally apply for those who get it wrong. If you choose to go this route, be very certain about the laws that apply to you before proceeding.
Secondly, some fires just don’t burn properly unless the fireplace is correctly constructed. The oxygen intake, or draft, can have a great impact on the efficiency of burning, and can mean the difference between a lovely fire and a column of grey smoke.
Thirdly, some places don’t even allow wood burning, and all outdoor fires must be gas fueled and connected by a professional. In these cases you need to get help to…
Get it right, first time.images3
Your best bet is to get your fire pit installed by a reputable landscaper. They will be well aware of any laws applicable to the products they sell or install, and will get it right, first time. They will show you models perfectly suited to your situation and budget, and get it safely installed for you. All you have to do is sit back with a coffee and some friends and enjoy it.


Rob Lundholm
Lundholm Landscaping
P.O. Box 1066
Cape May, NJ 08204
Office 609-898-9136
Cell 609-722-1814
Email: rob@lundholmlandscaping.com
http://www.lundholmlandscaping.com

business card

 

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It’s Way too Cold and Nasty! Try Landscaping Indoors!?!?

Image

In these cold, windy, nasty times people find it difficult to get out and enjoy nature,  walk on the grass and literally smell the roses. Most of us would love to be able to enjoy nature whenever we want, whenever we need to – and fortunately we can!  Simply look within…  Your home that is… Houseplants!!!

There are so many benefits to the cultivation of indoor plants that you would be crazy not to enjoy the positives yourself. These benefits apply equally to business premises and offices as well as to your private homes, so you can enjoy the well being that plants bring everywhere you go.

Did you know???

-Plants improve indoor air quality – they remove volatile organic compounds emitted from plastics and synthetic furnishings, reduce CO2 by up to 25%, and CO by a whopping 90%. They also filter nitrogen and sulfur oxides, ozone and microscopic dust particulates.

-In a three month study it was shown that workers with plants in their offices suffered considerably less illness, and had less time off.

-Plants help reduce background noise. As well as being brilliant in reducing noise levels in your gardens, plants in your houses can also absorb noise, and thus help promote a calm, peaceful atmosphere.

-They lower stress and counter negative feelings.

-They’ve been shown to improve productivity in both schools and workplaces.

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(Cleaning the air while bringing a room to life!)

So let’s get started!

Placement

So, where do I put my plethora of new plants? Anywhere with abundant natural light, but avoid direct afternoon sun.  If you live in a cave and have very limited sunlight, there are many species available that will tolerate less light. If you choose to enjoy more than one houseplant, it’s always good to group them together. Apart from providing a more bountiful feel to the arrangement, it creates a micro-climate for the plants which will benefit all of them. If the air in your home is very dry, place a dish of water somewhere near the plants to create a localized increase in humidity. A light misting with a spray bottle once a day also creates the same effect.

Choice Overload…

So, which ones should you choose? To provide a comprehensive list would be well beyond the scope of this article and your attention span.  Choices depend a great deal on your own location, so the best idea is to ask your local nursery for ideas.  If you don’t have any luck finding a nursery that is open this time of year, box stores, pharmacies and supermarkets usually have a vast selection of house plants.  As a small business person, I always recommend shopping local whenever possible.  Also, check out which plants your friends grow indoors, or any businesses that have them. Chances are they will work for you also. Whenever I go into a hotel lobby, shopping mall or office complex, I always take a few minutes to enjoy the species of plants on display.  Not only do I steal their ideas but I quickly pick up on which houseplant varieties require the least amount of maintenance(plants in these environments are likely only watered once a week, if not less). Some of my best houseplant arrangement ideas I picked up while waiting outside of a clothing store at the mall!

If budget is a problem, you don’t necessarily need to buy houseplants! How about grabbing some cuttings from your friends or neighbors? Most people are more than happy to help out a fellow gardener with plants and good advice, and it’s an excellent way to meet people.

If you have plants outdoors in pots you can bring them in for short periods of time, then rotate them to make an ever changing display. Of course you must use common sense when doing this – you can’t bring one in from the snow to a heated room and expect the plant to like it.

Houseplant Care

Indoor plants don’t require any more care than your outdoor ones, you just need to treat them a little differently. Self watering pots are a great investment in time saving, and water retentive potting mixes will improve this even further. If you have chosen large leafed plants, they will love it if you wipe the dust off their leaves occasionally with water or milk. You can achieve this with the smaller plants by giving them a shower, or taking them outside when it’s raining. In between, you can give them a misting with a spray bottle.

How Often Should I Water??

The most common cause of house plants dying off is over watering.  People ask me on a regular basis, “How often should I water my houseplants”.  My answer is, “The plant will tell you”.  Once a plant starts to wilt, it’s time to water.  Usually once a week, but that could fluctuate based on humidity and a number of other factors.

Image

(Rootbound plants seldom thrive and often choke themselves-  Either reduce the size of a plant like this or plant in a larger pot)

Re-potting is very important, and you should generally do it once a year. Potting mix gets depleted of vital nutrients and trace elements, and fertilizers can only do so much. There are some things in this world that you can buy cheaply with no problems, but potting mix is not one of them. I recommend buying the best you can afford, as it will be so very worth it in the long run.

If you wish your plant to continue growing larger, you need to purchase a pot a little larger than the one it’s in. Don’t forget to include a layer of pebbles or mesh at the bottom for drainage. Gently tease the roots loose after removing the plant from it’s pot, and place it in it’s new home with fresh potting mix.  water it in well and enjoy!  A layer of pebbles on top of the soil will help minimize evaporation as well as provide a cleaner look.

If you want to keep your plant at it’s current size, you can generally trim the roots of most plants without ill effects, and put it back in the same pot with fresh potting mix. I would suggest you thoroughly wash the pot before putting the plant back in, just to help keep any diseases in check.

Just a little something to keep us busy for a few more weeks.

Keep in mind that Lundholm Landscaping offers off season discounts on projects like pavers, hardscaping, planting, water features or anything else that you have in mind.  Contact me in any of the following ways to discuss your project.  My initial 30 minute conversation is always free!

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

Office 609-898-9136

Cell 609-722-1814

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

lundholmlandscaping.com

Posted in Cape May, Cape May Landscaper, Extreme Landscaping, Gardening, Home Maintenance, House Plants, landscape Design in Avalon, Landscape Design in Cape May, landscape Design in Stone Harbor, Landscaping, Lundholm Landscaping | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I Have Seen the Future of Pavers and Hardscaping!!!

Monday was yet another washout of a January workday.  I received a sales call from my friends at PAVERART, asking me to stop in to have a look at some of their new products.  I was already planning to stop by their shop later this week and pick up an order of engraved pavers for a project at the Cape May Fire House.  I took advantage of the rainy day and immediately hopped in the truck.

I love taking this trip as I am fascinated with their work and their vast array of projects.  Paverart is a custom paver design company.  Not only do they engrave pavers for municipal projects and fundraisers, they design and create anything you can imagine using pavers!  Check out the pictures and descriptions below…

Fire-Pit-Ring-Trainer-Ortiz-071211-C

Jazz up that fancy new fire pit with a custom ring!

Sierra Exif JPEG

Instead of a boring standard paver pattern or circle, add something like this!!!

Sierra Exif JPEG

Add your company’s logo to the front of your business or organization.

Sierra Exif JPEG

Bring the entrance of your church to life!

Sports Teams & College Mascots you ask, watch the video below!

YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE YOUR EYES!!!!  Click the link below to watch Paverart’s complete collection of high school, college and pro sports team logos and mascots!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jk69WLZW3M

Here is their latest and greatest project to date!!!  It’s still in progress…

Sundial

 

 

This is an educational, interactive sundial that will be installed at an elementary school!  The circles around the perimeter will have the numbers 1 through 12 engraved into the circles.  The open rectangle in the center feature individual pavers with the months engraved.   As the student stands on the month, his/her shadow will be cast to display the exact time!

Check out their unbelievable products and services at Paverartllc.com.  These works of art can be used in new paver patios or worked into your existing pavers.

As a reminder, Lundholm Landscaping specializes in landscape design and construction including state of the art irrigation, landscape lighting, paver patios, walkways and driveways, flag stone, field stone, planting, grading and lawn renovations.  We have great off season rates!  Contact us today for a free initial consultation!

Thanks for reading.

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

Office 609-898-9136

Mobile/Text 609-722-1814

lundholmlandscaping.com

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

Posted in Avalon, Cape May, Cape May Landscaper, Extreme Landscaping, Informative, Landscape Contractor, landscape Design in Avalon, Landscape Design in Cape May, landscape Design in Stone Harbor, Lundholm Landscaping, Outdoor Living Area, Stone Harbor | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hot Weather Landscaping “Do’s and Don’ts”

<a href=”http://lundholmlandscaping.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/heat-wave.png”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-426″ title=”Heat Wave” src=”http://lundholmlandscaping.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/heat-wave.png&#8221; alt=”” width=”181″ height=”136″ /></a>

Extreme heat and humidity are in the forecast.   The weather people are predicting a week full of 90 degree temperatures.  I make it a point to never trust a forecast when it comes to precipitation.  They have managed to be somewhat consistent when it comes to predicting temperature.  

It’s okay, don’t panic, I’m here to help you, your lawn and your garden survive!

Step 1.  Take a deep breath and RELAX!  This is not the first time that we’ve seen extreme temperatures and it certainly isn’t the last.

Step 2.  Maintain a regular deep watering of your lawn and garden. Make sure to water in the early morning hours, prior to sunrise is ideal.  If you are fortunate enough to have an automatic watering or irrigation system, double check your scheduled run times to make sure that you are not watering too late in the morning.  Watering while the sun is higher in the sky is useless because often times, in high heat, the water evaporates so quickly that it never reaches the soil or the roots of your plants.  Further, water sitting on leaves can become extremely hot and burn plants. I went through Amazon.com selection and found a few useful timing devices to help keep your watering on track…

3. Double check mulch around your plantings. A 2″-3″ layer of a good quality mulch is essential to keeping soil moist and cool. I am not an endorser of colored mulches(sorry, read my previous blog on mulch) because  colored mulch that I have seen are nothing more than shredded pallets died Red or Black. Colored mulches are somewhat effective in moisture retention and weed control but fail in comparison to a premium quality hardwood root mulch.

4. If you grow flowers or vegetables in pots or small movable planters, move them to a shadier location until the heat wave passes.

5. Put technology to work for you invest in water absorbing products that hold a significant amount of moisture and release it over time. Simply mix a few crystals into the soil around your plants. Water is released over time keeping your plants hydrated and healthy. My partners at Amazon.com ship these products immediately. If you cannot afford water retaining crystals such as the products listed below, a cheaper alternative is any “Clay Based” kitty litters. The drawback to the aforementioned water retention products is the fact that they dissolve completely away after a short period of time.

6. When possible, screening or shading is another alternative. Heavy grade screening materials are available from home improvement warehouses and can be temporarily draped over plants. Ambitious gardeners will construct a temporary frame as shown below. This an extreme circumstance… We have to do what we have to do.

<img src=”http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTCxqXGBpkhENuloK5_nPZWoQkpB6iJE20Hkf0n_5g1xUfNAYnCFg&#8221; alt=”” />

7. Did I mention not to panic?? In extreme heat, just as they do in winter, plants want to go dormant(shut down). This is completely normal as plants will show signs of stress to include wilting leaves, browning and reduced flower and vegetable production.
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Questions, comments or would like to talk about your landscaping?  Contact me, Rob Lundholm, direct in any of the following ways…

Office 609-898-9136

Call/Text my Cell at 609-722-1814

New Jersey Home Improvement Contractor License Number 

13VH04413400

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Stay Cool Man!!!

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DIY Home Landscapers: What YOU should be doing in YOUR yard this week.

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Things have been really busy on this end. I figured it’s a great time to post a landscaping/gardening tip!

Today’s topic deals with rain, irrigation and one of my few pet peeves. Mother Nature has been kind enough to bestow plenty of natural irrigation upon us these past few weeks. It’s important to make sure that are lawn and gardens are receiving the proper amount of water. Here are a few quick irrigation tips…

-Make sure lawns are receiving 1 inch of irrigation per week, including rain. If you are fortunate enough to have an irrigation system, simply place a few empty pie tins(tuna cans work well too)around your property, turn on your sprinkler system and time how long it takes the pie tin to fill up. Now divide that time by 3(recommended waterings per week) and that is precisely how long to set your sprinklers. An infrequent, deep, thorough watering promotes deep root growth and a drought tolerant lawn.

-Switch from chemical based fertilizers to organics or a bio nutritional program. Organics and bio nutrition focus more on the soil than on the grass by creating a micro environment in your soil which is full of beneficial bacteria and insects.

-In the event of heavy downpours or excessive amounts of rain, keep a close eye on your lawn and gardens for fungus. Fungus usually appears as patches of dead or browning grass which quickly rots away roots and plantings. Some varieties are extremely aggressive and can spread quickly. Much more in fungus in future blogs.

-Update your irrigation system to include a rain sensor. If you don’t already have one, a rain sensor insures that your sprinklers will not run once a certain rain threshold is reached. Once the sensor dries out, operation will resume. My biggest pet peeve in life is driving around during a rain storm and seeing sprinklers running.

-Make sure all sprinkler heads are fully operational. Take the time to go through each zone and closely watch to make sure that all sprinkler heads are popping up, rotating properly and not leaking. Faulty sprinkler heads waste water and leave parts of your lawn without water.

Irrigation is one of my true passions. My ultimate therapy is installing a sprinkler system, fine tuning it to perfection and just watching it operate. I spend a good bit of time every year making sure that I am up to the minute on irrigation products, trends and technology. The latest trend is water savings with the use of water saving sprinkler heads and smart controllers. The latest technology allows users to monitor and control their systems using a computer, smart phone or tablet!

If you have any concerns about your sprinkler system, please call me and I will be more than happy to stop by, go through your system and analyze every detail. If you are interested in having a system installed, I provide free estimates. Over the next few months, I will be completing an E-book titled “Sprinkler System in a Weekend”. This comprehensive, step by step manual will guide users through the exact system that I use to design, purchase and install their own irrigation system.

That’s it for now. Remember that Lundholm Landscaping is a full service landscaping company specializing in all phases of landscape design, construction and maintenance. My initial consultation is always free to customers in my work areas. Contact me today in any of the following ways or be really brave and post a comment below!

Rob Lundholm
Lundholm Landscaping
NJ HIC License Number 13VH04413400
Office Phone 609-898-9136
Cell/text 609-722-1814
Fax 609-770-3035
Email Rob@lundholmlandscaping.com
Lundholmlandscaping.com

Posted in Avalon, Cape May, Gardening, Holistic Lawn Care, Landscape Contractor, landscape Design in Avalon, Landscape Design in Cape May, landscape Design in Stone Harbor, Landscaping, Lundholm Landscaping, Organic Lawn Care, Stone Harbor | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Home Landscapers: What YOU should be doing in YOUR yard this week!

It’s a great time of the year to be a landscaper. The temperatures are finally getting warmer, the leaves are ready to come out and suddenly our lawns are beginning to show a greenish tint!

Last week we tuned up our hand tools and power equipment, raked and fertilized our lawns and finally did that soil test that I have been bugging you about. Your muscle soreness should be subsiding as the chore of raking reminded us that maybe we should start actually using our gym memberships. It’s still a week or so early for us to starting thinking about mulch so I am going to take it easy on you this week.. We are going to try a quick an easy soil test that only takes 15-20 minutes and the results are instant. I borrowed this from my friend, Phil Nauta, who is the most knowledgeable person I have ever met when it comes to soil and growing vegetables. Here goes…

Using that freshly sharpened spade, pick a random spot in the yard and dig a hole 1 foot long, 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep. Take the following observations…

Was it easy to dig the hole or would you compare the chore to digging through concrete?

Hopefully the chore was easy and you uncovered dark, rich soil brimming with organic matter and full of life. Ideally we want our soil to be dark brown, easily form into a ball, then break apart with a gentle squeezing of the hand.

Take a good sniff!

We want our dirt to have the smell of the forest floor which means that our soil is draining well. Should you experience any foul odor similar to rotten eggs, it’s a sure sign that you have drainage problems.

How much life do you see?

Healthy soil will have at least 10 earth worms moving around and several other life forms. Lack of insects means lack of organic matter and nutrients.

How deep are the roots???

Grass roots should extend at least an inch into the soil. Shallow roots mean compacted soil and lack of organic matter.

A gorgeous lawn, healthy shrubs and succulent vegetables have one thing in common. HEALTHY SOIL full of organic material. A common thread in all of my articles is the term “Compost Pile”. I highly recommend having a compost pile where you can recycle everything from egg shells to leaves. Composting is an all natural process that breaks down organic material back into a rich, fluffy, topsoil like material that you can add to your lawn and garden to enrich your existing soil. Fresh compost will correct most, if not all, of the soil deficiencies listed above. If you don’t have access to a compost pile, you can buy compost in any garden center, nursery or hardware store. Much, much more on compost in later articles.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the comment section below. I answer questions as quickly as possible.

That’s it for this week! If you need me to come to your property and analyze your soil, professionally mow your lawn or completely make over your existing property, contact me in any of the following ways…

Rob Lundholm
Lundholm Landscaping
Office 609-898-9136
Mobile/text 609-722-1814
Email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

Posted in Avalon, Cape May, Gardening, Holistic Lawn Care, landscape Design in Avalon, Landscape Design in Cape May, landscape Design in Stone Harbor, Landscaping, Landscaping Contractor, Lundholm Landscaping, Soil Testing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Home Landscapers: What YOU should be doing in YOUR yard!

My calendar says late March but my thermometer says it’s still February. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for warm temperatures, long days and sunshine. With the nice weather comes our favorite time of the year… Landscaping Time!

Here’s a couple of quick tips on what you should be doing in your yard this week…

1. Power Equipment Tune Up.

The official start of my landscaping season begins with making sure that my power equipment is in proper working order. A little bit of maintenance now can lead to a stress free season of yard work! I start with my lawn mowers. I thoroughly drain all engine oil, replace my oil filters and fill with the manufacturers recommended oil. Next I remove and replace the spark plugs and thoroughly lubricate all moving parts including axles, cables, carburetor and controls. I prefer white lithium spray grease because it is drier than normal household lubricants and doesn’t seem to attract dirt and debris. My next job is to remove,inspect and clean the air filters. Providing clean air to the engine insures peak performance through the hot mowing season. Finally, I remove the blades, thoroughly clean the underside of the mowing deck, coat the deck with a non stick lubricant(cooking spray works best for me) and install a sharp blade. Next up are my 2 cycle engines which consist of my string trimmers, edgers, blowers, hedge trimmers and chain saws. These engines require air filter cleaning and/or replacement, new spark plugs and thoroughly cleaning and lubricating the entire machine.

2. Hand Tool Maintenance.

My collection of hand tools is large and includes everything from my favorite pair of pruning shears to my 48″ level headed grading rake. I personally inspect every piece of equipment looking for damaged parts or something that might break and cause a delay in my work day. I make sure all surfaces are clean and free of caked up dirt and debris from the previous season. Once the tools are clean I sharpen every single blade and the cutting edge of all shovels. A sharp clean shovel will outperform a dirty one every day of the week. My shovels are not sharpened to the point where they will be dangerous but a nice clean edge does wonders. Finally I spray all metal surfaces and moving parts with spray lubricant which helps to keep tools clean as well as inhibits rust.

3. Soil Testing.

Some readers may have never heard of a soil test but it’s the single most important task in maintaining a healthy lawn. A soil test is performed by gathering a sampling of the soil from around your property, sending it to a lab and having it analyzed. My primary reason for a soil test is checking the pH level of the soil. If soil pH is off in any direction,it could mean the difference between a SHOW LAWN and a disaster! I go into great detail on soil testing in a 10 step series that I published last year titled “UPDATED: Ten Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn”. All of these 10 steps should be listed in the right hand margin. I recommend reading it over at your leisure.

4. Rake your Lawn

Now is the ideal time to wake up that lawn. For best results, I recommend using a spring tine rake. These are rakes with thin metal tines attached to springs which provide a pressurized combing of the grass and root zone. This gentle stroke stimulates the grass plants. Spring tine rakes are great for raking up twigs from the surface of the lawn as well as removing any thatch that may have built up over the winter. After raking the entire lawn and placing all of the debris in your compost bin(much more on compost in future blogs), cut your grass using one of the lower settings on your lawn mower. If the gentle raking doesn’t wake up your lawn,the first buzz of the season will!

5. Feeding

Early spring lawn feeding is the final step in getting the chlorophyll moving and the green up process. For my regular readers, you know that I do not advocate any type of “5 or 6 or however many step plan”! These programs only encourage grass to grow rapidly and become green which always results in hot weather brown out or the need for excessive watering. For more detailed information on my recommendations for feeding a lawn, read my series “UPDATED: Ten Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn” listed in the right hand margin. I recommend bio nutritional fertilizers which are geared towards building healthy soils, deep root systems and strong immune systems to naturally resists pests and disease through the use of beneficial bacteria. For fast green up in the spring, I use straight urea which is available from feed supplies and most nurseries.

That should keep you busy for this week! Now get out there and get dirty!!!

If you would like to have these landscaping tips delivered directly to your email inbox, click on the link in the right hand margin titled “Landscaping Tips Delivered”. As soon I hit the publish key, these blogs are delivered right to your email inbox.

As always if you have a landscape/gardening question or have a project in mind, contact me in any of the following ways or post a comment below…

Rob Lundholm
Lundholm Landscaping
Office 609-898-9136
Mobile/Text 609-722-1814
Fax 609-770-3035
P.O. Box 1066
Cape May, NJ 08204
Lundholmlandscaping.com

Posted in Landscaping | Leave a comment

Don’t Even Think About Buying a Snow Thrower Until You Read This…

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(Photo Courtesy of Severe NJ Weather)

It’s freezing cold outside, the ground is frozen and I noticed that snow is in the forecast!

As a proven expert in the field of all things LANDSCAPING, I thought it would be a great time to share my knowledge of snow throwers.  It’s my civic duty to make sure that you are fully educated when making a snow thrower purchase. Should you have any further questions, never hesitate to contact me!  For now, keep reading…

I’m sure that I don’t need to remind anyone about the winter of 2010. Snow, Snow, then a little more snow. I still have blisters and my lower back has not yet fully recovered. It was during this time, that I realized that my current snow removal equipment was way out its league. I had to reload and switch to the big guns.

Living at the Jersey Cape has its own set of challenges when it comes to snow removal. We are at the mercy of the Delaware Bay. I keep track of the water temperature and the effects that it has on crossing weather systems(I know, I am such a weather nerd). As snow storms approach, if the Delaware Bay water temperature is above 40 degrees, the storms seem to start out as snow, then gradually transition to rain. Thus resulting in the snow washing away. On the other hand, when the water temperature is below 40 degrees things can get UGLY… fast.

If you’ve had it with shoveling snow, and are ready to invest in a snow thrower, keep reading as we take an in depth look at the different types of snow throwers on the market and which one will be get you the most bang for your buck.

single stage snow thrower refers to a single stage model which has a serious of plastic or metal blades with rubber edges. The blades sweep up the snow and throw it through a centrally mounted chute in one quick motion. Most are equipped with a deflector chute which can easily be aimed within a 180 degree radius. Perfect for pavers, pavement or concrete.  Snow throwers are not recommended for gravel or stone driveways… for obvious reasons.   Here are a few different styles of snow throwers.

(Photo courtesy of Ryobi)

Leaf Blowers.  That’s right, my leaf blower is an exceptional tool for moving light fluffy snow. Capable of effectively blowing up to 3 inches of light snow, leaf blowers have been used for years. Both hand held and back pack models work extremely well.  Since we don’t usually get much light fluffy snow, you probably would have never imagined such a use for a tool that you already have. Price Range $0.00(if you already have one) up to $350.00.

Power-Shovel-38361

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Power Shovel. A power shovel is exactly that, a power shovel. About the size of a snow shovel, these hand held machines require almost no maintenance and have a small rotating blade that throws the snow forward. Power shovels are electric powered, extremely light weight(anyone can use one) and are recommended for use on porches, patios, small sidewalks and are effective up to 2 inches of snow. Perfect for light fluffy snow, but leave it in the closet for the wet, heavy stuff as you’ll spend more time resetting your circuit breaker than you will moving snow. Expect to spend up $125.00 and I recommend the Toro or the Craftsman.

1500 Power Curve® (38371)

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Single Stage Electric. The next step up in snow throwers is the single stage, electric snow thrower. Motor sizes range from 10 to 12 amperes with clearing widths range from 16″ to 20″ and offer the same environmentally friendly ease of the power broom with just a bit more UMPH! Equipped with a small set of wheels in the back, this type of machine is easily maneuverable and handles light, fluffy snow up to 6 inches. Features include an adjustable chute, extremely low maintenance and easily stores in the hall closet. Not recommended for heavy snow. You won’t go wrong buying the Toro, MTD or Craftsman models. You’ll need around $300.00 and a good 12 gauge extension cord(HINT: make sure to buy enough 12 guage extension cord to reach the end of your driveway).

Power-Clear-621E-38452

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Gas Powered Single Stage. This model is the Cadillac of single stage snow throwers. With clearing widths of 18-24 inches, the 2 cycle engines range from 3 to 6 horsepower. Still light and maneuverable, the single stage gas versions pack a lot more punch than the smaller, electric models and are not limited by the length of the extension cord. The first time I tried one of these, I was moving 5 inches of new snow with a layer of slush on the bottom. This machine was so strong that I had to readjust the chute as it was blowing snow and slush 20 feet into the air. This machine pulls itself along and is a beast in up to 8 inches of snow. These models are relatively light weight with a folding handle and take up very little space in the shed or garage. The models that I’ve used have all been electric start and started with ease. This series is a great homeowner model for Jersey Cape snows. These models are NOT designed or built for constant every day use. I recommend Toro, Honda, Troy Built and Craftsman and are all in the $400.00-$650.00 price range.

Two Stage Snow Blowers have a 2 stage blade system designed to get snow and ice out of the way quickly. The first series of blades are auger style, serrated blades that pick snow up from the sidewalk and move the snow into the second stage. Stage two is an impeller that blows the snow through the discharge chute to the desired location. Two stage units are perfect for any surface(including stone and gravel) and work well when dealing with inclines. Almost all are self propelled with 6 or more forward speeds and no fewer than 2 reverse speeds. Snow blowers range in size from just a few horsepower up to heavy duty, Diesel powered machines that clear roads, runways or train tracks.

Since none of us will be clearing runways or train tracks in the near future, I’ll focus this report on homeowner and light commercial applications. Two stage machines mean BUSINESS and can do SERIOUS TO DAMAGE if not operated properly. Always read the owners manual and consult a professional should you feel hesitant or over matched.

Power-Max-724-OE-37770

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Entry level of two stage snow throwers are equipped with 4-6 horsepower with 20-24 inch clearing path model. These models are on the smaller side, self propelled, store easily and are equipped with some form of electric start. Perfect for up to 8 inches of snowfall, this unit is the most popular in the Cape May area. Look for models that are single hand operation which allow you to adjust the discharge chute without stopping the machine. Price Range $450-$650. Preferred models are Craftsman, John Deere, Troy Built, Honda, Ariens and Cub Cadet.

Power-Max-HD-928-OE-38660

(Photo Compliments of Toro)

Light commercial model snow blowers range from 8 to 10 horsepower with clearing paths of 24-30 inches. This clean running, 4 stage engine line is relatively heavy duty and are very popular with professionals. Sized to clear sidewalks and driveways, these units include larger tires and are often equipped with chains and/or weights for added traction(weights and chains are also available as after market add ons). Some of the newest models replace with wheels with a Track Drive. The most impressive feature of this line of snow blowers is the ability to break through the ice and mounds of snow that are left behind by Municipal snow plows! When shopping in this size category, look for models that are equipped with built-in lights. You may not do much snow blowing at night but it’s a convenient feature in a pinch. For those of us without price restraints, heated grips and power steering are also available! Price Range $800-$1,200. Preferred models are Craftsman, John Deere, Troy Built, Honda, Ariens and Cub Cadet.

(Photo compliments of Craftsman)

Lawn Tractor Mounted Snow Blowers. For those fortunate enough to own a heavy duty lawn or garden tractor, many manufacturers make snow blowers that mount directly to the front and connect to the blade drive pulley. These models are very similar in size and ability to the light commercial line and can be very handy! Models vary depending on manufacturer and the overall size and weight of your lawn tractor. I recommend installing this unit on your tractor immediately following the mowing season. The conversion process takes time and is more enjoyable on a late fall afternoon as opposed to the night before a snowfall. Consult the manufacturer of your lawn tractor as to the availability and avoid buying “Universal” models. Lawn tractor mounted snow throwers always require a weight kit and chains and are useless without both so remember to factor in these additional costs when purchasing. Price range based on size and model with all kinds of handy options(see enclosed cab picture above).

A few things to consider when owning a gas snow removal machine. Always drain all fuel from the tank. If you don’t have means to drain the tank, add a fuel stabilizer to keep gas from going stale and clogging the injectors. Always keep your eye on the weather and make sure your machine is in proper working order prior to a snowfall.

As always, don’t overwork yourself and call me if you need me. Office 609-898-9136, Cell or Text 609-722-1814 or email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

Posted in Landscaping | 2 Comments