Color your landscape in winter

winter landscape sceneWinter again. Cold, ice, snow, and a lifeless landscape. Time to head inside and let the garden hibernate, while you toast your toes by the fire.

Are you kidding? Although it is difficult to cultivate the cold and wet winter soils, with a bit of forethought you can make your garden a delight in winter, which in turn encourages everyone to get outside and enjoy it. Nature has provided you with many gorgeous winter flowering plants you can use to liven up your surroundings, all you have to do is choose which ones you like.

Although, this may not be as easy a task as you might think. There are so many options it is silly, and choosing between them all can prove to be rather difficult! For lack of a better idea, I will list them alphabetically.

We’ll start with Acacia.

There are around 1200 species, called Wattles in their native Australia, but there are other names such as whistling thorn or thorntree. Others are also found in Africa, Europe, Asia and North and South America. They’re actually part of the legume family, and you can see this in the seed pods and seeds, which look just like little beans. Most of them are very cold tolerant, with several of them able to withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.

acacia buxifolia - Golden globes of sunshine will brighten your winter

Acacia buxifolia

 The Box-Leaf Wattle, Acacia buxifolia, also called box leaf thorn or box-leaved acacia, is an Australian native, growing anywhere from 3 – 13 feet tall and requiring full sun. As the name suggests, this species’ leaves resemble those of the Boxwoods (Buxus spp.), and can tolerate temperatures down to 19.4 degrees.

acacia longifolia

Acacia longifolia

Next up is the coast wattle or Sydney Golden Wattle, Acacia longifolia. As the common name suggests, this one is an Australian native, and can be extraordinarily useful as a garden plant. Not only is it very frost tolerant, surviving temperatures as low as 19 degrees, but is also very salt and drought tolerant. This makes it perfect for windbreaks and many other low maintenance uses. Due to its hardiness however, it can multiply to the point that it becomes a nuisance, and it has been declared a pest in South Africa.

Acacia glaucoptera

Acacia glaucoptera

I saved the best acacia till last, and it’s Acacia glaucoptera, The Flat Wattle. It’s native to Western Australia, has the same cold tolerance as its more standard looking cousins, but has very unique foliage. The tiny little flower balls appear to grow on the leaves themselves, and provide a spectacular color contrast.

Acacia purpureapetala

Acacia purpureapetala

Of the 1200 or so species, there is one that differs in flower color from the usual yellow range, and produces gorgeous pink flowers. It is native to far north eastern Queensland, and unfortunately is critically endangered.

Warning!! If you are prone to hay fever you may want to think twice about Acacia. They produce copious amounts of pollen, and I can tell you from personal experience that it is bad news.

Next up is Cyclamen.

Cyclamen purpurascens purpurascens

Cyclamen purpurascens purpurascens

Twenty three species of Cyclamen means that you can’t fail to find one that you will love. They are native to Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, with one species found in Somalia  The lowers come in varying shades of white, pink and purple, and the leaves are also beautifully variegated. They grow from a tuber, and there are varieties that bloom at any given time of the year. The autumn and winter flowering kinds are the ones you want, and there is plenty of choice. Cyclamen purpurascens is a lovely autumn flowering species with deep pink flowers. It comes in three different forms, Cyclamen purpurascens purpurascens with pink to purple flowers, Cyclamen purpurascens carmineolineatum with white flowers with a a thin carmine band, and Cyclamen purpurascens album with all white flowers.

Cyclamen persicum Sterling - a lovely shaded pink variety.

Cyclamen persicum Sterling – a lovely shaded pink variety.

So that’s got you sorted for autumn and the start of winter, now you need to go get some others to extend the flowering period. Cyclamen persicum, Cyclamen

Cyclamen persicum (on left) and Cyclamen hederifolium.

Cyclamen persicum (on left) and Cyclamen hederifolium.

hederifolium, and Cyclamen coum are all winter flowering varieties, and will brighten your garden for just that little bit longer. Persicum will only tolerate a brief and mild frost, whereas hederifolium and coum can handle temperatures as low as -4° F.

 I will continue this list in subsequent posts, and if any readers have comments or ideas I would love to hear them. If I get enough I could collate them and share with everyone. Have a great 2015, and happy gardening.


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

link to online business card

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How to maximize a small garden – Top 10 tips

Not every home has enough gardening place to grow the various kinds of plants, trees, herbs and veggies that they would like to. Irrespective of the space available, if you have a strong will, a little time and a love for gardening, you can overcome the space constraints to a considerable extent, by following proper garden maximizing techniques.
If the property you are living in has a smaller garden (or none at all), and if you want to maximize your garden, the following top 10 gardening tips can be of a great help.Window plantations
1. Window Plantations: Are you living in an apartment with little or no gardening space at all? Don’t give up yet. Window boxes can help you create small window gardens to grow your own food, and also some beautiful flowers.

You can use your window boxes to plant some incredible edibles. Window box plantations are the best way to maximize whatever little space you have available for gardening, and enable you to grow veggies and some delicious herbs. These boxes are normally around two feet long and are good to grow basil, rosemary, oregano and chives.

Patio Plantations

Patio Plantations

2. Patio Plantations: Small gardens need ample sunlight (at least 6-8 hrs) for best plant growth. To develop patio gardens, the most important ingredient is a couple of bags containing a good quality soilless mix, which you can buy from a local nursery or landscaper. This mixture is light weight, usually contains appropriate fertilizer and is capable of draining fast, which is ideal for growing veggies.

All food plants require plenty of water and sunlight to survive, so careful planning is necessary before planting. Choose a place that has easy access to water, such as a tap or a faucet, to be able to water the plants as and when needed with minimal fuss. Or you could make use of plant stands with wheels on them. This enables you to move your garden to follow the sun if you need to, perfect for people in apartments, or those with high buildings either side.

Though patio plantations do not have a huge output, they are still capable of producing enough greens to prepare a fresh salad or salsa for your loved ones.

Grow your own tea

Grow your own tea

3. Grow your own tea! If you are a tea lover, you can grow your own tea with the help of portable tea garden baskets. All you need is a wooden crate (old wine crate) or any other container that has good drainage. Visit your local nursery or garden market and ask for soil that is suitable for growing herbal tea at home.

To ensure maximum growth, plant geranium, mint, rose or pineapple tea plants where there is abundant sunlight – perfect for your window boxes! Soon you will be ready to savor the flavor of these home grown teas in the morning, or by adding some sprigs to your black tea in the evenings. Also remember, these portable tea garden baskets also make excellent gifts for small garden lovers and tea enthusiasts. This is also a really good way to start exploring the world of medicinal teas.

Patio pots

Patio pots

4. Garden Pots: As long as there is enough sunlight, any flat surface can serve as a portable garden to grow various kinds of crops. The advantage growing veggies in pots is that they do not demand much labor. It is always a great idea to devote as much space as possible in to growing veggies you and your family love.

If you have decided to grow veggies like tomatoes, beans or cucumber, medium size pots at least two feet in diameter are required. On the other hand, if you would like to grow herbs, peppers, leafy veggies, kale, etc., smaller pots having one foot diameter would be enough. Small pots with greens also look great when tucked in between the larger pots, and will assist in making the most of the available space.

If you want to keep your garden green all year long, choose your plants carefully. They should have varied harvesting times. This way, while some plants are ripe and ready to reap, others will still be flowering, keeping your patio green throughout the year.

5. Use Clusters: Staking is required for large plants such tomatoes. This allows the plants to grow vertically so that they can get enough sunlight and air. This ensures less space consumption. Clustering also helps to accommodate smaller plants such as carrots, radishes, etc under bigger ones. Bamboo is a good and cost effective clustering option. You can also use metal clusters for better support, however, they are expensive compared to wooden alternatives.

Use Superfast productive plants

Use Super productive plants

6. Use Superfast productive plants: Instead of waiting for longer periods of time for the fruits or veggies to ripen, get some super fast productive plants such as cherry tomatoes, which grow quickly compared to contemporary plants.

7. Mix them up! Combining various plants belonging to the same species, can yield a better crop and less space consumption. Since all the plants and herbs planted in a single pot are from the same species, the kind of soil required, amount of water, sunlight and air required to nourish them will all be the same.

This makes gardening easier; saving you a lot of time, which otherwise is spent on cultivating each of them separately. Pots suitable for this kind of gardening are generally 18 inches long and can hold various plants belonging to the same species, such as lemon chiles, peppers, habanero, etc., all in the same pot.

Dwarf Veggies

Dwarf Veggies

8. Dwarf Veggies: As the name suggests, these plants are dwarf sized and are a perfect fit for small gardens. Many plant breeders have now introduced dwarf veggie plants that consume less space and yield better crops. An example would be ‘Diamant’ cucumber. This little vegetable plant though tiny in size is capable of producing some seriously delicious cucumbers.

9. Focal Point Creation: This is very important for every small garden. Creating a focal point helps look the garden much bigger that it actually is. Actually, any place in the garden that is clearly visible from inside of the house, or entrance can serve as a focal point. Many gardeners define it as, “a point where things intersect.” For example, a focal point could be a farther point across the corner of your front yard, which is easily visible from the entrance, dining room and the guest room. Adding a fountain, growing a large tree, adding your favorite sculpture or a simple birdbath, etc., can serve as an anchor to your courtyard, giving your garden an expanded and posh look.

Wall Climbers10. Wall Climbers: When you have a little space to spare, wasting even a bit of it is undesired. So leaving your courtyard walls bare, will only contradict a small garden’s definition. Consider espalier fruit trees, or vertical herb or strawberry garden. Remember, walls are just like a plain canvas looking forward to be painted by good gardening artists to expand their gardens. So, don’t sit back. Go ahead, and paint them green!

As an occupant, or as a home owner, its totally up to you to decide on how to expand your small garden. Some people like to maximize their gardens to increase the value of their homes while others like to maximize their gardens by growing a variety of commercial crops that can save them some money. Yet others do it for the love of gardening. Whatever might be the reason, maximizing your small garden can only benefit you in more than one ways. Happy garden maximizing!


 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

link to online business card

Scan the code, and save my contact info straight to your phone.

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Make your own nightlife

“I love the nightlife, I love to boogie…”

And if you really want to boogie, who am I to stop you? In this season of glitter and twinkles, here’s another treatise about lights. But this one’s a bit different. I want to show you the many benefits of subtle and well thought out garden lighting, and how it can vastly improve your appreciation and experience of your landscaping at night. You can enjoy a beautiful light show that you don’t have to take down when the silly season is over. If you think smart, you can recycle your Christmas decorations into lovely accents for your garden.

As you know, I am a great proponent of making the most of your available space, both inside and out. People’s budgets and square footage are shrinking, which makes finding ways of extending the time you can spend outside enjoying your garden increasingly important. No amount of vitamins can replace the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. But don’t stop there. Night time outdoors is a deliciously different experience. To fully take advantage of it however, you need lighting.

There are many reasons to install and use garden and outdoor lighting, some of them more obvious than others, and this article will aim to give you some ideas and make informed choices.

Why light up at all?

First and foremost is that of safety. Outdoor lighting plays an important part in home security, but it is only effective if you use it correctly. There have been many studies which show that incorrect installation and usage actually increased crime by up to 77% in the case of property crime, and 40% increase in overall crime.

The standard, two bulb motion sensing security light. Works well and does the job, but there are much cheaper options available.

The standard, two bulb motion sensing security light. Works well and does the job, but there are much cheaper options available. Be aware that you need to spend time initially setting these lights up properly to reap any real benefit.

The “incorrect usage” referred to is the horribly wasteful practice of leaving lights on 24/7. It not only helps criminals commit their crimes quicker (because they can see better), it contributes to urban light pollution, which has many negative points beyond the scope of this article.

Here's a modern led sensor light. Solar powered, low maintenance - what more could you want?

Here’s a modern led sensor light. Solar powered, low maintenance – what more could you want?

The key is to use movement operated sensor lights. These have been shown to reduce the amount and severity of property crimes committed around schools and residential areas. The lights need to be bright enough to see 100 meters and ideally to identify colors.

Gone are the days of blinding lights and frightening power bills. There are compact fluorescent globes that match most existing light fittings, low consumption wired LED systems, and the mostly set-and-forget solar powered ones.

They need to be shaded so as to only illuminate the area required, and not spill over into adjacent areas. There’s a simple test you can do to see if your security lights are aimed properly. If you stand outside the area to be illuminated, you should not be able to see the actual bulb of the light when it’s on.

Garden lighting comes in many shapes and forms, from as cost effective and low maintenance as candles, to amazing high-tech light shows that can be surprisingly affordable.

light a candle, see it glow,”

These lovely votives can be placed in almost any container, and provide a warm glow to any dark corner.

These lovely votive candles can be placed in almost any container, and provide a warm glow to any situation.

The simplest form is the candle. Candles have meant many things to many people throughout the ages, and being akin to fire stirs the primitive within us. Fat and tallow candles were the very first type of portable light, and they have since developed a connection with each of us in some way. They have become ingrained in many religious and ceremonial traditions, and symbolically represent peace, hope, healing, light, love, renewal and comfort.They’re a great focus for meditation, which can be another perfect way of enjoying everything your garden has to offer you to its fullest.

B00NVJF8W2

A lovely and sturdy design you can move around to suit the occasion.

They provide food for more than one of your senses, as I have lately seen some with bamboo wicks that give you that crackling sound like an open fire, there are many scented varieties to provide a lovely ambiance, and the citronella variety are excellent at keeping the bugs away.

B00EREFWQC

These sconces would grace any outdoor setting, from cozy to grand. A few of these attached to the posts of your pergola will provide a wonderfully intimate atmosphere when you’re in the mood for some outdoor entertaining.

They’re not great on windy evenings, but this problem can be solved using shades, and the light has a lovely warm ambiance that artificial lighting cannot recreate. Many different candle shades can be purchased, or you can use whatever items you have at hand. This is an excellent way to extend the lifespan of items that may have no practical use anymore. (I know – I’m always going on about re-using things, but it makes sense, right?)

images17In the same vein, dual purpose items really save you time and money, and give you an opportunity to bring out your creative side. These simple little hanging balls are a lovely thing of themselves, but imagine how lovely they would look at night time with a candle burning inside them. You could also use them for bird feeders or waterers, or charming little pots for small hanging plants.

Cheaper than candles. Really!

B00C2AW6SA

A few of these placed strategically around your garden will give a gorgeous glow, and highlight that amazing foliage.

B000VUNXEYThere are many LED versions of candles, from amazingly cheap to just cheap. The LED itself comes in many colors,  warm and cool whites, and they even flicker to mimic candlelight if you want. They’re actually more versatile than candles as they don’t heat up at all, and this means you can use them in many more places. There are numerous solar powered models so there are no wires or batteries required.

Enhance your water features.

Enhance your water features.

You can get bollard models for safety on your paths, up-lights to make the most of your trees and shrubs,  and waterproof ones that float in your ponds and water features. You can get meters of twinkling beauty to wrap around trees, posts, verandahs, pergola’s and just about anything you can think of. image 19With some judicious use of color you could have a light sculpture to be really proud of, like this incredible grape vine creation. Imagine this trailed over your pergola or fence. Just stunning.

Garden cred.

If you want more watts than an LED can give you, there are many wonderful wired options to inspire you. They also come in a plethora of colors, shapes and sizes, and there is truly something for every taste and budget. images11Some of these lights are dual function such as these simple but very elegant step lights. Safety and beauty all in one.

imagesFor those with more expansive lawns there are glowing pots that provide one of the most arresting focal points I have ever seen. Have you heard of street cred? Just one of these pots would give you all the garden cred you could ask for! And I can’t help but imagine how a few would look glowing through a mist or fog.

Enhance your water features.

Enhance your water features.

Your water features in particular can be spectacularly enhanced by subtle underwater lighting, and many moods can be created with judicious use of colors. Fish look totally different in light other than daylight, and you can get a whole different level of enjoyment of them as well. This kind of lighting can look absolutely beautiful in a swimming pool as well.

This group of bird baths would look fairly ordinary in the daytime. At night, beautifully lit, they become a magical grotto.

This group of bird baths would look fairly ordinary in the daytime. At night, beautifully lit, they become a magical grotto.

Any digging or electrical installation needs to be carried out by qualified professional of course. Contact your local landscape contractor or gardening center and they will point you in the right direction with respect to products and tradespeople.


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

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History of the Christmas tree

Stunning modern tree - even the presents are decorations!

Stunning modern tree – even the presents are decorations!

We all love the Christmas tree. Digging out the decorations from the shed, and once more making magic with a wire and vinyl construction that’s never been within fifty miles of a forest. A twinkling standard, that we think of once a year and then pack away into oblivion for the next eleven months – without ever knowing why. The Christmas tree is steeped in tradition and history, and it’s a history that may surprise some people as it has very little to do with Christianity at all.

Pagans did it first

Ancient people thought that the winter came because the sun god had become weak or sick, and the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, marked the time he would begin to recover his strength. They celebrated the solstice by bringing evergreen tree limbs into their homes to remind them of the crops that would flourish soon now that the sun was coming back.

Many ancient cultures had the same idea. The Egyptians’ sun god was Ra, and every year on the solstice, when Ra began to recover from his sickness, they would strew their homes with green rushes, which symbolized the triumph of life over death. The early Romans had a festival called Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, their god of agriculture. To mark the occasion they decorated their temples and their homes with evergreen foliage and ivy. Druids, priests of the ancient Celtic people, also decorated temples with this same symbol of everlasting life, using holly, laurel and fir branches. The Vikings of the north thought that evergreens were beloved of the sun god Balder, as they seemed to never die, and they considered mistletoe to have magical properties.

The “”Holy Thorn” of Glastonbury

The "Holy Thorn" of Glastonbury

The “Holy Thorn” of Glastonbury replete with prayer ribbons.

There is a legend regarding very early Christian veneration of a tree, which dates back to the days just after Christ’s death. Joseph of Arimathea traveled to England, taking with him the staff once owned by Jesus. He stuck the staff in the ground on Wearyall Hill, before laying down to rest. When he awoke he found that the staff had sprouted into a tree, which became a shrine for European Christians.

It survived for centuries, before being felled by Puritans around 1647. Devout believers took cuttings from the tree and planted them around the town of Glastonbury, and a cutting from these trees was placed back on the original site in 1951. This tree flowers twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. DNA testing has been performed on this plant, which shows that it is indeed of middle eastern origins. Every year, a sprig of twigs is taken from this tree and sent to the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, to decorate her Christmas table.

We don’t want none of that

Early Christians were quite resistant to the idea of celebrating the solstice, the theologian Tertullian (circa 1 AD) going so far as to say that those who did so were doomed to the fires of hell.

“Let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent, affix to their posts, laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable.”

In the 11th century throughout Europe a form of entertainment called the “Mystery Play” became popular. One of these was the “Paradise Play”, and showed the story of Adam and Eve, their creation, sin, and eventual banishment from Eden. The only prop that was used in this particular play was the Paradise Tree, a fir tree hung with the apples that Eve would eat and offer to Adam.

In the years between the 11th and 15th centuries AD certain “improvements” to the play had been made by various authors and actors, and the Church forbade its performance because of moral concerns. The people liked their Paradise Play however, and they began setting them up in their own homes. Their  Paradise Trees were decorated with apples, symbolizing spiritual death, and homemade communion wafers to mean everlasting life. Later on, red and white paper flowers were added, red for knowledge and white for innocence.

The custom of burning the evergreen wood that Tertullian had denounced was still alive and well in the very first documented town Christmas tree, very likely a Paradise Tree, in the market square of Riga in Latvia, in 1510. The ceremony was attended by “men in black hats”, and they burned the tree afterwards. This custom survived until at least 1584, when a historian, Balthasar Russow wrote about a custom in Riga in which the people decorated a fir tree in the market square, and “young men went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame”.

By the time of the 17th century, the custom was very widespread, and people were going around lopping off the tops of fir trees, which permanently stunted them. Lumber industries became so concerned that statutes were made in Germany to prevent people having more than one tree.

Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria and her family around their tree - 1846.

Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria and her family around their tree – 1846.

stampThe custom was bought to America by the Pennsylvanian German settlers, starting around 1683, and they were public trees as early as 1747. They also brought with them their habit of putting candles on some kind of stand underneath the tree, usually one for each member of the family. These candles eventually migrated to the tree itself, becoming the forerunners of our modern Christmas lights. The spread of the Christmas tree was almost guaranteed with the publication of a photograph in 1846 showing Britains’ beloved Queen Victoria standing with her family by a huge decorated tree. Victoria’s husband, Albert, was of German descent and had bought his traditions with him to England. The east coast socialites of America emulated this fashion, and thus the tradition took firm hold.

President Coolidge lighting the national tree in 1923

President Coolidge lighting the national tree in 1923

23 rd president Benjamin Harrison was the first to put up a tree in the White House for his family and guests to enjoy in 1889. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit the first national Christmas tree in the White House grounds. Not only was it the first “community tree”, it was also the first to  be graced with electric lights, 2500 bulbs of white, red and green.In 1929 First Lady Hoover began the tradition of overseeing the decoration of her tree, and this has been part of the first lady’s duties ever since.

 Christmas trees have come a long way since then, but they remain a symbol of joy to all, no matter your religious persuasions.

This gorgeous 2008 tree was almost entirely powered by LED bulbs, and was fully 50% more energy efficient then the 2007 tree. Even Christmas has gone green!

This gorgeous 2008 tree was almost entirely powered by LED bulbs, and was fully 50% more energy efficient then the 2007 tree. Even Christmas has gone green!

Merry Christmas to all from Lundholm Landscaping.

 


 

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

link to online business card

Scan the code, and save my contact info straight to your phone.

Posted in Holiday Blogs, Landscaping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Light up your Christmas

Grumpy cat with santa hat and red noseOh yes, it’s that time of year again. Struggling with shopping and budgets, getting frazzled with the kids and in-laws – it seems to come sooner every year. But there’s a good side, of course. Catching up with friends and relly’s you haven’t seen for ages, enjoying some really good food and company, and of course the delight on the children’s faces when the big day finally rolls around. The Christmas season is one time of year that everyone can enjoy, regardless of their religious beliefs.

It’s basically a worldwide tradition to light up our homes with sparkling lights and a shiny tree, but there are other ways to decorate and enjoy your holiday season. As people’s homes get smaller, many are opting to decorate their garden instead, and this way the whole neighborhood benefits from the show. Indeed, Christmas light competitions (friendly and otherwise!) spring up almost everywhere, and people feel they are letting the side down if they don’t participate.

Observance of Christmas was banned in Massachusetts from 1659 to 1681 due to its pagan origins.

Observance of Christmas was banned in Massachusetts from 1659 to 1681 due to its pagan origins.

Love or hate it, the Christmas season is here to stay, and if you can’t beat em, join em. But how do you make your Christmas artistry stand out among the sometimes blinding competition? Just think outside the box, be different, be weird even. I promise it will pay off in compliments, and the satisfaction of doing your own thing.

Keep it safe

Firstly, of course, is safety. Dozens of light strings plugged into overloaded adapters is a recipe for disaster, and you shouldn’t need me telling you it’s a bad idea. Keep your power strips clean and well maintained, and if they are old, rattling or have worn cords or exposed wiring you need to replace them. It’s worth it for the overload protection they offer. That, combined with your household safety switch, will virtually eliminate any worries of electrical problems or fires.

Look after any light fittings you have, don’t treat them roughly, store them carefully after use and always replace failed bulbs promptly. This is the case with all your lights, not just the Christmas ones. Especially in outdoor fittings, it will prevent moisture getting into the exposed contacts and rusting them.

A very early set of string lights

A very early set of string lights

And spare globes too!

And spare globes too!

Ok, now for the fun part! In the Christmas season of 1880, Thomas Edison (cunning businessman that he was) decided to advertise his newly invented string lights by putting them up all around his laboratory compound. The commuters on the passing trains were treated to an advertising spectacle that must have truly blown their minds, being the first time they had ever seen such a thing. It took a long time for the lights to catch on however, mainly due to them costing almost $2000 in today’s money!

LED bulbs are energy efficient, cost next to nothing to run, and come in an amazing variety of colors. Perfect for any landscaping use at all.

LED bulbs are energy efficient, cost next to nothing to run, and come in an amazing variety of colors. Perfect.

The good thing for us is that it will cost nowhere near that much to design a lighting show that you will be very proud of. The coolest, most energy efficient bulb is the LED. It is small, very simple in design, uses next to no power at all, and is very easily solar powered. They can glow, twinkle and sparkle, as most of them have built in controllers that can change their light patterns. I’ve even seen ones that play  Christmas music while the lights whirl around in synchronization.

DIY lightshow

Using these lights, you can make absolutely anything into a stunning seasonal decoration, very different from your standard, plastic laughing Santa. They are so cheap you can afford a lot more of them than the standard strings of lights, and they are so very versatile, you can use them for many different projects all year round.

A gorgeous, simple ball of light.  Even though individual LED's produce little light, en-masse they provide a stunning and unique display.

A gorgeous, simple ball of light. Even though individual LED’s produce little light, en-masse they provide a stunning and unique display.

Like this one for instance. On Amazon, a LED light very much like this one will cost you upwards of $70. However, using simple household or garden items and a string of LED lights, you can make one for less than $20. Grab two hanging basket frames, and wire them together to construct a sphere. Attach a chain to the ball so you can hang it up. Then grab your string of LED’s and attach them, one by one, to the hanging ball. I find that duct tape works very well for this, even outside it will remain fastened for a long time. You can use whatever

Even a small tree will look incredible with this kind of treatment. You could use a Christmas tree shaped tree, and have LED presents glowing underneath it.

Even a small tree will look incredible with this kind of treatment. You could use a Christmas tree shaped tree, and have LED presents glowing underneath it. Maybe make some small light balls for hanging decorations. That’s would look so beautiful.

colors you want, and even customize your own colored lights by applying a thin coat of appropriately colored nail polish on white LED bulbs. You can use any round object you like for this, I’ve done it on a plastic blow up beach ball, and the lights made the ball look like it was glowing – it was very pretty.

Use what you have

It doesn't need to be huge, like this impressive cactus. Most plants look simply gorgeous at night wrapped in light, it brings out textures and features that you don't notice in the harsh light of day.

It doesn’t need to be huge, like this impressive cactus. Most plants look simply gorgeous at night, wrapped in light. It brings out textures and features that you don’t notice in the harsh light of day.

Do you have spectacular silhouettes in your garden? These may be very easily highlighted by cunning use of LED strings and, lit up at night, will provide a whole new dimension to your garden and your appreciation of it. Although these soft yellow bulbs look stunning, if you want a more Christmassy look, just use colored bulbs. Easy.

And you don't need to use green LED's for this awesome tree. Dress it up with sparkling flashing colors if you want - it's your tree!

And you don’t need to use green LED’s for this awesome tree. Dress it up with sparkling flashing colors if you want – it’s your tree!

Here’s a more obviously Christmassy display, but one also easily recreated at home. I can think of three methods. First is to get hold of some fairly stiff wire, bend it into a spiral, and attach your LED string to it. You could either attach your spiral to a pole or stand, as shown, or hang it up. Second method is to construct a cone shape from some clear plastic sheeting, and use a hot glue gun to attach your lights to it. You could also stick other decorations on the cone if you wanted to. Or another spiral on the inside going the other way. The possibilities are enormous. Thirdly, you could make your cone out of cardboard and paint it black. Or green, red, whatever you like. The kids will get a real kick out of helping make their very own modern Christmas tree.

Architectural features look amazing when highlighted with light. I also provides ample soft lighting to service any outdoor celebrations you're planning.

Architectural features look amazing when highlighted with light. I also provides ample soft lighting to service any outdoor celebrations you’re planning.

 Any  good looking architectural feature your home may possess can be used as a focal point also. Even the most mundane of dwellings, cunningly lit, can become a wonderland of texture and shadow that’s lovely to see.

Maybe some Christmas balls scattered around your yard is more your thing. Fairly simple to do, but stunningly effective. imagesqqqDepending on what you chose to make them from, you could actually play games with them if you wanted to – the kids would just love that (and you know you would too).

imageswwwSometimes the same thing repeated over again is all the statement you need to make. The gorgeous sea of light cast by these votive candles is just beautiful. Somehow restful, and strongly reminds me of all those massed candles you see in catholic churches. The same effect could very easily be had by using little tea-light LED’s instead of the candles. They make them flicker now, just like real candles, and you can’t even tell the difference.

This glowing reindeer seems to be looking out for Santa to arrive.

This glowing reindeer seems to be looking out for Santa to arrive.

And sometimes just one stunning item is all you need to say all you want. This gorgeous lonesome reindeer is so perfect, he doesn’t need any company.

And if you think you have no space for decorations and bling, think again. Any of these ideas can be scaled up or down to suit your space, so the flat dwellers out there have no excuse not to join in and be merry.

Grab a jar, put a Christmas decoration and cotton wool for snow inside, glue an LED tea light in the lid, and you have ... well ... this.

Grab a jar, put a Christmas decoration and cotton wool for snow inside, glue an LED tea light in the lid, and you have … well … this. You could decorate with these if you lived in a shoebox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 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

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Scan the code, and save my contact info straight to your phone.

 

Posted in Cape May Gardener, Cape May Landscaper, Holiday Blogs, Landscaping, outdoor entertaining | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Water, water everywhere

Gorgeous landscaping idea - a water garden with lilies.Incorporating a water feature, pond or natural pool into your garden design is a wonderful option. They are not only of great environmental benefit, but also add incredible beauty to your garden. Natural ponds and pools support the animals in your area, attracting a variety of indigenous wildlife into your garden including lizards, dragonflies, frogs, birds and more.

Your water garden will also provide an excellent place for breeding. Frogs and many other critters will happily visit ponds during breeding season. The frog’s tadpole offspring are a welcome addition to many ponds as they enjoy eating algae. Birds will also love to visit your natural pond or pool, not only to drink and bathe, but also to create nests in neighboring trees to breed. Knowing there’s a source of fresh water at hand, many birds will choose to nest nearby, so your pond can also become a great first home for baby birds!

As I have said before, this kind of first hand education is of immense benefit to children. Learning about the web of life is vitally important, and will generally give them a lifelong respect for all forms of life. And it needn’t stop with children. Many adults derive great pleasure from watching nature unfold before their very eyes.

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A perfect place to sit, read a book and enjoy your garden.

Ponds, pools and water features will, and do, require care and on-going maintenance, taking up your precious time. Many pond or pool owners tell me this, however also confess that the joy and reward gained from the experience is well worth it. Taking the time to find the ideal position in your garden for a water feature, or feature’s, is highly recommended and should be first priority on your list. Some things you need to consider are drainage and irrigation, electrical sources, the amount of natural light, impact on water temperature, accessibility for maintenance and more.

You will also have to think about the neighboring trees and impact of the surrounding environment. For example, a water feature or pond placed near trees will require more time spent collecting leaves, but if you are introducing fish or animals into the pond they might prefer a shaded area. The position of your pond is also important if you are introducing fish or animals, you will need to consider if the area will be shaded, full sun or partly covered to suit their temperature requirements.

A whole "natural" watercourse can be incorporated into your landscape.

A whole “natural” watercourse can be incorporated into your landscape.

The water in your pond can be heated to create the perfect environment for fish or animals if the natural conditions in your area aren’t right. Heating the water in your pond can be  expensive, but if you are considering it there are many alternative methods that are friendlier to the planet, and cost a lot less in the long run. You could include solar panels or lights into your design, and use plants or materials which will warm the water naturally.

In order to properly maintain a pond or pool you will have to clean it regularly  . The leaves will need to be removed from the water’s surface and bottom as required. Fouled water also needs to be removed, adding clean water to compensate for evaporation. Introducing fresh water will return the PH, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia levels to their optimum, preventing the water from becoming toxic. Water testing kits can be bought from your local garden supplier, and come with detailed instructions. They’re easy to use, and are a must have investment for pond and pool owners.

The filter and/or skimmer that’s installed will also need to be cleaned as recommended. If the installation of any electrical outlets or underground plumbing is required, make sure you call a professional. Not only are water and electricity a deadly combination, but you can be guaranteed of a safe and professional job carried out to all council, state and national standards and specifications.

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A beautiful, Asian inspired pond. You couldn’t help but be relaxed here, and what lovely surroundings to explore your inner self. It looks complicated, but the individual elements are simple and very achievable.

If you have fish or other creatures in your water garden, you will also have to consider their on-going maintenance. It is best to consult a professional about which fish and animals are best to introduce into your garden. Different species will require different environmental settings, and you will need to get this right, or your pond will be a graveyard rather than a wonderland. Koi fish for example, which are a popular and much loved pond fish, require quite specific pond conditions. Choosing a species native to your area may be far easier to maintain.

Plants, like aquatic animals, will also require certain pond conditions. Most aquatic plants prefer full sun so shaded areas will need consideration when it comes to choosing plants. If your pond or pool has a water feature, waterfall or strong current you should also be careful about which plants you introduce. Many aquatic plants do not like the constant splashing or root disturbance from a water current, while other plants will prefer the conditions and will thrive. Oxygen is also important to all aquatic species, both fish and plants alike obtain their oxygen from water, not air. An aeration unit may be required where there is an abundance of flora and fauna with a limited water supply.

Having your design created by a professional landscaper is greatly advised. They can inform you which are the most suitable plants and materials to use in your design. You can also be assured the work will be completed to a high standard, complying with all and any regulations in your area.

If you have always wanted to create a pond or water feature in your garden but were unsure about cost, maintenance required or anything else, my advice would be to start small. Small ponds and features can always be added to later by creating adjacent ponds or connecting waterways. Smaller ponds are easier and cheaper to create but they will require more maintenance than larger bodies of water. Larger ponds require less maintenance as the water will stay clean for longer, but they require more skill and planning than a smaller pond. Whether you opt for a small, large, or any other sized pond, it is highly recommended to employ an experienced professional who has the experience to help you with your project.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fe/Clear_Water_Revival_Natural_Pool.jpg

A tranquil natural swimming pool, with incorporated regeneration zone.

A great option for environmentally friendly gardens are natural swimming pools. Natural pools are split into two areas, the open ‘chamber’ area in which you swim and the ‘regeneration zone’.

The regeneration zone can be designed into the pool area in many ways, creating a modern or more natural look. The zone consists of plants that clean the water naturally. A water current, stream or waterfall will also clean and aerate the water.

You can use solar panels or other methods to heat the water and in winter, if the temperatures in your area get low enough, you could have a place to ice skate! Combine this with submersible lights and you would have a skating wonderland! How gorgeous would that look?

Natural pools also eliminate the need to introduce any toxic and costly chemicals into the water. Because of this they can be a more cost efficient option compared to an average pool, and less maintenance. The chemical free water will also benefit the native wildlife in your area and provide a natural habitat and ecosystem for neighboring wildlife. The chemicals you would find in most pools aren’t safe for animals or insects. Creating a natural body of water in your garden will provide them with a fresh source of water. Whether you’re after a small plunge pool or a larger family sized swimming pool you can enjoy swimming in fresh clean water, as if from a mountain spring, and with no stinging eyes!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Single_Chamber_NSP.jpgIf you’re thinking about creating a water feature, pond or pool in your garden, or know someone who is, consider incorporating natural elements and environment friendly options into the design. Not only will the native wildlife in your neighborhood benefit, your wallet will benefit from the cost-efficiency and your garden will benefit from a beautiful natural feature.

For those whining about having no space for this sort of thing, there's a solution for you too.

Despite what you may think, there’s a water garden for absolutely everyone. Just scale it to suit your needs!

Erin Harriman.

We’d love to know what you think. What you like (or don’t like). What would you like to read about? This blog is for you, so tell us what you would like to see.


 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

qr code for digital business card

Posted in Cape May Gardener, Cape May Landscaper, Gardening, Landscape Makeover, Landscaping, Lawn and Garden, Outdoor Living Area | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Forget the florist – grow your own

Give me, odorous at sunrise, a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. – Walt Whitman

While searching for quotes for this piece, I found hundreds of them. Flowers mean many things to many people. Of course their beauty is paramount to most of us, but there is so much more in a flower than beauty or scent.

Flowers also have their own language. In 1714, after five years in exile at the Ottoman Court, King Charles II of Sweden brought back to Europe the knowledge of the coded messages being used by the ladies of the Turkish harems. Lady Mary Wortly Montague introduced the idea to the English Court in 1718, and by the time of Queen Victoria in 1837 the tradition was Empire wide.

So, let’s see what we can make them say for you!

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

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Simple red geraniums in terracotta pots give a stunning display, picking up the red stripe in the awning, and giving a subtle Mediterranean feel

Flowers can fill many niches in your overall garden scheme. They can be spectacular color displays during a certain season, as changeable as your mood. Or they may offer a stable background with which to play with design and form. You don’t even necessarily need a garden! An incredible display can be achieved using pots and window boxes, and that’s what I’m going to focus on in this article.

How does your garden grow?

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Don’t use garden soil for your pots. A good purpose made potting mix will provide all that your plants need.

As with any successful garden, soil preparation is the key. You need top quality potting mix, and a handful of slow release pellet type fertilizer. Do yourself and your plants a favor and buy the best you can afford. Cheap potting mix is usually just that. Cheap. Inferior quality, lacking in water retention qualities and the micro-organisms necessary for strong sustainable growth. The last two times I ever bought cheap potting mix were the last for me. The first lot ended up sprouting all these crazy little yellow fungi, and the second gave me an infestation of spider mite which I am still battling to this day. I kid you not. You’ve been warned.

One good little piece of information that came out of all that was the idea of putting your bags of potting mix in the sun for a few days before using them. The heat and moisture inside the bags will kill the majority of soil borne bacteria and spores.

Contain yourself!

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A re-purposed bird bath makes a striking rock garden. Note the pot behind painted to match. This is a great way to unify a collection of odd pots.

Here’s where it can get incredibly interesting. You see, you don’t need pots – you can use anything that will hold soil. From old toilet bowls to teacups – if you can put soil in it you can use it : as a centerpiece, or part of a very unique display. Growing pansies in grandma’s old, cracked milk jug is a great way to remember and honor her for many years to come. If you have many different kinds of pots and containers, you can tie them all together by painting the pots the same. Or you could paint them to reflect the color of the flowers growing within. Or to contrast with them. The variations are only limited by your imagination.

Silver bells and cockle shells…

Unusual pots provide a sculptural element to your garden

Unusual pots provide a sculptural element to your garden, and are an innovative way to re-use old and well-loved items.

So what do you grow? As always, my strong advice is to just go for a wander around your neighborhood and see what is working for other people around you. The elderly couple out pruning in the front yard are an invaluable source of information about what works and what doesn’t. Your local nurseryman or landscaper will also generally be more than happy to give you advice. One tip I will share is one I always use. When ever you plant something, no matter what it is, I always put a few appropriately sized flower bulbs in the pot with it. It’s a real buzz to get a little surprise every spring when they come bursting through.

Also, think outside the box. Although they are generally thought of as upright plants, a hanging basket full of Freesia is an absolute joy to behold. I’ve also seen Jasmine in a basket – small but very striking.

images (5)And pretty maids all in a row.

So where do you put them? If you’re so tight on space that you need pots, where will they fit?

Vertical gardens are very popular. They’re basically a metal mesh frame attached to a wall, which you hang pots on. You can have an ever-changing display this way, and rotate plants in and out from your larger garden if you have one. Vertical gardens are also an excellent solution for herbs, and I have had excellent results with strawberries in them.

An exceptionally gorgeous arrangement

An exceptionally gorgeous arrangement

Staircases are custom-made to display objects of beauty, and plants certainly qualify. A pot of vibrant color on each step will go a long way to lifting your mood and the ambiance of the area. Use common sense here though, you need to leave room to walk!

If you are lucky enough to have a pergola, or other outdoor structure, you can use the space above your head for a stunning hanging pot display.

I would love to know your thoughts about flowers – do you have a special favorite? Why? What memories do they evoke for you?


 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

new digital business card

Posted in Holiday Blogs, House Plants, Informative, Landscaping, Lawn and Garden | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kid safe gardens

A mini fairy wonderland

A mini fairy wonderland

Creating a child and animal friendly garden is a great idea, not only if you have animals or children yourself, but also for your visitors as it provides everyone peace of mind in the safe area. Whether your gardening ideas are for children, or you want to express your inner child in the garden, a safe garden design is always of great importance.

There are many ways to achieve this, using child and animal friendly design principles and materials, as well as researching which plants are safe to use in your design are two great ways to start. Some species of plant are very toxic for certain animals, as well as humans.

Many ornamental garden plants are toxic or fatal to humans and pets. Click the photo for a list of the most common of them.

Many ornamental garden plants are toxic or fatal to humans and pets. Click the photo for a list of the most common of them.

Aloe Vera is a great relief if you’re sunburned, and a must have addition to many succulent gardens. Amaryllis is a beautiful flower used commonly for garden beds and flower arrangements, but along with Aloe Vera it is quite toxic to both cats and dogs. Both plants can cause some nasty symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and more.

There are many plants used commonly in gardens that are toxic to animals and humans, they are also easily mistaken for non-toxic species, so it is always best to consult a professional about which plants are safe and most suitable for your garden design.

A good practice when creating a child or animal friendly garden is to consider the appropriate fencing and gates required for your design. You should also consider the gardens’ paths and outdoor flooring, ensuring decked, paved and stoned areas are flat and even – this will prevent many trips and tumbles.

Hiring a professional landscaper to design your outdoor flooring areas will assure you the materials used are quality, safe, and best suited for your design. You can also rest easy knowing the work has been done to the utmost standard, will look great, and last for many years to come!

A captivating, spacious water garden, with an Asian style bridge crossing it. Pink and red foliage in the distance is a lovely contrast to the green in the foreground.If you have a water feature in your garden or you’re considering installing one, you should always have them designed and installed professionally using high quality materials. Ill-fitted or ill-fitting designs are  hazardous, and sometimes downright dangerous when it comes to children and animals.

All areas with exposed bodies of water should always be fenced and secured appropriately, and along with water features and fountains will require constant supervision when children and animals are present. Taking into account the design of your water feature or fountain before building your garden is always smart, and may be crucial for your gardens safe design.

For those with grand ideas, and grander budgets - a train set to die for

For those with grand ideas, and grander budgets – a train set to die for

Creating a special or hidden area in your garden will not only appeal to children but adds a sense of whimsy to any garden. Miniature tree stump cities for elves or dinosaurs, fairy gardens, and hidden paths are popular options for children, and give them a place to create their own spaces. Scented flowers and herbs are a great idea for planting around stepping or hopscotch stones, and high traffic areas.

If themed gardens aren’t for you, then raised garden beds are a wonderful alternative option, and allow children the freedom to design and decorate their garden how they please without infringing on your garden’s overall design.

Children crossing a pool on stepping stones.Mazes, enclosed walkways, and even rooms can be created using plants. Build a secret spot in your garden by planting tall plants like ferns in a circle, the foliage will create shade and provide privacy. Placing stepping-stones strategically among the foliage in your garden can create hidden paths for little feet to explore!

When it comes to the plants used in your design, using native options can bring more wildlife into your garden. Flowering trees and plants attract many species of birds who collect the pollen and nectar. Not only will the birds be a welcome addition to your garden, they can also help to pollinate the flowering plants in your garden along with the bees. Some plant species rely solely on birds to pollinate their flowers, including most blue colored flowers, as bees are unable to see the color blue.

A gorgeous little witch's hut playhouse. The kids will just love it!You can attract more bees into your garden by planting pollen and nectar-rich plants like Salvia and lavender. Installing a bird bath and feeder into your garden is always a good idea too, as it provides a clean food and water source for birds to eat, drink and bathe, helping them to thrive.

Incorporating logs into your garden can attract lizards, frogs and many insects, as they are the ideal habitat for small mammals, insects and amphibians. Larger gardens that can accommodate them will benefit greatly from planting trees. They not only offer great shade, but house a variety of wildlife to discover, big and small.

An imaginative play area with multiple steps leading up to a gazebo like structure.

Play areas and equipment for children or animals need to be designed safely and built properly, ensuring they are structurally sound and that all floor surfaces are even. There are many options for children’s play equipment, you can find something to suit every type of outdoor space that will fit easily and seamlessly into your garden design.

When designed and built properly the space can become a great asset to your backyard – some people might even say the best asset! Sandpits are amazing fun for youngsters and  a great educational tool for them as well, teaching them physics, stimulating their senses and providing a place for them to build.

You are advised to consult a professional if you’re installing a sand pit or any play equipment. They will inform you of the best possible materials to use for the job, and provide vital insights on how to complete the build, even providing you planning, safety and design advice if you need it.

Remember – whether you’re designing a garden with children, animals, wildlife, or family in mind you can always add something fun. A little mystery or whimsy, something unique or pleasing to the senses. Create something special and exciting and invite your garden’s visitors to leave with a lingering sense of magic and wonder!

Written by Erin Harriman

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

link to online business card

Posted in Avalon, Cape May Landscaper, Gardening, Landscape Contractor, landscape Design in Avalon, Landscape Makeover, Landscaping, Landscaping Contractor | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with Digitaria

D. Sanguinalis seedlings

D. Sanguinalis seedlings

Digitaria is a large genus of annual plants, which grow worldwide in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate regions. Its name comes from the Latin word “digitus”, which means finger. This quite accurately describes the finger like leaves sprouting from the stem.
It is native to Europe, but has become easily naturalized in many places worldwide, including Northern USA, where it is considered a weed plant. However, due to its incredible rate of setting seed, in many parts of Africa it is grown as a crop.
There it is known as “Fonio”, and the seeds are used as a grain, ground to flour or used to make couscous. You can brew beer and make porridge with it. It can produce an amazing amount of forage for stock – up to 17 tons per

Characteristic spreading form

Characteristic spreading form

acre, and dried and bundled for use as hay.
It’s also been used as a crop in parts of Germany and Poland, and here it’s called Polish millet. It was brought to the US by immigrants to serve as grain for them as forage for their stock. Farmers often deliberately seed it into their fields, or till patches in their pasture to encourage its growth.
Although there are many species of this plant, this article will deal with the two most destructive and invasive of them, Digitaria sanguinalis, and Digitaria ischaemum.

Digitaria sanguinalis

Mature plant ready to flower

Mature plant ready to flower

Its name translates as “red finger”, and it is also known as large crabgrass, hairy crabgrass, finger grass, or summer grass in the southern hemisphere. It has a low, spreading habit, and resembles crab’s legs coming out from a central “body”.
It’s an annual, meaning it grows all year, sets seed and then dies. The problem lies in the fact

Fine hairs, and red coloring at the leaf joints are the defining characteristics of this species

Fine hairs, and red coloring at the leaf joints are the defining characteristics of this species

that one plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds, and these can very quickly take over your lawn areas.
The roots of this plant exude a toxic substance that kills other lawn grasses, and provides perfect conditions for the stems to spread. When the plant dies off in the fall, it leaves conspicuous brown patches in your lawn which are quickly colonized by next year’s seedlings. The stems themselves have nodes, or joints, which very easily sprout roots when in contact with the soil, and in this way plants can grow up to one foot in diameter.
Crabgrass can quickly become a problem, as it is more than able to flourish in hot and dry conditions, which enables it to out-compete stressed lawn grasses.

Digitaria ischaemum

Seedhead of D. Ischaemum. Note the difference from Sanguinalis, where they radiate from a central point

Seedhead of D. Ischaemum. Note the difference from Sanguinalis, where they radiate from a central point

D. Sanguinalis

D. Sanguinalis

This species, to all intents and purposes, is the same as the other in its growth habits and subsequent annoyance to gardeners. There are minor visual differences only, and treatment of both species is the same.

I recommend to divide your lawn into sections, and just do one section per day. Or one per week, whatever you can handle. Then it doesn’t seem like such a huge job to do. It’s like anything, you just need to start, and you will find it gets done in no time.

Close up of D. Ischaemum seeds, showing their shorter, ovate form

Close up of D. Ischaemum seeds, showing their shorter, ovate form

The longer, pointier seeds of D. Sanguinalis

The longer, pointier seeds of D. Sanguinalis

If you have a horrible infestation, as a very last resort you can spot treat your lawn with an appropriate herbicide. Consult your landscaper or garden professional for formulations appropriate for your particular situation.


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

link to online business card

Posted in Landscaping | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Save money, drop by drop

Reduce, reuse, recycle…

7876It’s the mantra for the modern world. If you’re not living green you will be highly irresponsible, and in many cases a social outcast. We all owe it to our planet, and our children, to go as easy as we can on the resources available, and recycle them when practical to do so. It’s not very difficult, the ways we can do this increase almost daily, with the constant invention of resource and money saving products.

“Across the window-pane It pours and pours;”

One of the most powerful things we can do to recycle and save money is harvesting rainwater. Our planet’s water supplies are under stress: industry and stupidity have ruined much of it, and what remains is dwindling quickly, and thus becoming increasingly expensive. It makes a lot of sense to harvest your own, taking advantage of that which falls from the sky, absolutely free.

There are many worrying reports of dangerous chemicals being found in municipal drinking water. Chromium 6, fluoride, and chlorine, just to name a few. Just one reason why rain is honestly one of the greatest gifts that nature bestows on us, and collecting it for later use really is a no-brainer. Harvesting your own rainwater:

  • eases pressure on municipal supplies
  • eases pressure on storm water systems
  • eases flooding and runoff erosion
  • allows full use of a very finite resource
  • greatly reduces water bills
  • gives you water free from the chemicals that many cities add to their water supplies

Now that you know the benefits of having a suitable rainwater catchment system, let’s go get you some free water!

Rainwater Harvesting

Note the purple reclaimed water piping. Indoors…

Note the purple reclaimed water piping. Indoors…

The absolute ideal situation is where you are in the planning stages of building your home. You can confer with your builder and landscaper, and decide on a water harvesting system that is perfect for you, and have it installed and connected at the same time as your household plumbing.

…and outdoors

…and outdoors

This situation will also let you take full advantage of grey water recycling, which can be expensive to retrofit into an existing plumbing system.

The basis of any rainwater system are the storage tanks. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and one of them will be perfect for you.

The old standard

You can even get them color co-ordinated – match your roof, match your wall or match your garden – your choice.

You can even get them color coordinated – match your roof, match your wall or match your garden – your choice.

The ones I remember as a child were the round, galvanized corrugated iron ones. They were cheap, effective, and could double as many other items when they finally rusted through. (Wood sheds, chicken houses, and cubby houses for kids, to name a few. I made a fully plumbed shower stall out of one when I lived in the bush!)

The art of concealment

The art of concealment

Metal tanks have come a long way since then. Many of them have a food grade membrane sealed to the inside, and are designed to exclude insects, dust and vermin. They need to be placed on a solid slab, and cannot be used underground. They can, however, be repaired by the manufacturer if they are punctured.

The concrete behemoth

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Concrete tank form ready to pour

Concrete is mostly used for fairly large tanks, due to its great structural strength, and these tanks can hold massive amounts of water. They are delivered in preformed parts, or poured on site into a form, which is taken away later.

Lawn on top of a tank

Lawn on top of a tank

They can be installed underground, and this is their main use. They do crack, but very rarely, and this can be repaired although it may prove rather expensive if you have opted for the in-ground model. They come with load bearing tops, so the space above them is not wasted – you can use it just as you normally would any outdoor space.

Good old polyethylene

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If these plants were taller, you probably wouldn’t even see the tank, and you could direct the overflow to water them. Perfect.

It’s been around for quite a while now, and it just gets better with age and engineering. Modern “poly” tanks are strong, lightweight and UV resistant. Most of them come with a 25 year guarantee. They can be situated above or below ground, they are affordable, and they are repairable. They come in all manner of colors, shapes and sizes, and can be customized to perfectly suit your situation.

Rainwater_tanks_4_side_view_2

Good use of otherwise difficult space – these homeowners won’t run out of water for quite a while

There are some things that need to be considered when deciding to purchase one of these systems, the major one being maintenance. It’s not a heavy burden, and many of these will be on a home owner’s to-do list anyway, as part of normal roof maintenance.

REGULAR MAINTENANCE SHOULD INCLUDE:

  • Keeping roof catchments clean and clear of moss, lichen, debris and leaves
  • Cutting back trees and branches that overhang roofs
  • Regular inspections and, if necessary, cleaning of gutters
  • Cleaning gutter and tank inlets and screens every 3–4 months
  • Disinfecting the water supply, if tank contamination is apparent
  • Inspecting tanks annually, and cleaning them if necessary
  • Testing the water periodically

GOOD DESIGN FEATURES SHOULD INCLUDE:

  • A clean, impervious roof made from non-toxic material
  • The absence of lead flashing or lead-based paints
  • A coarse filter and first flush device to intercept water entering the tank, and gutter guards or screens
  • Wire mesh (screens) to cover all tank inlets
  • A covered and light-proof tank
  • Tank taps or draw-off pipes that are at least 100 mm above the tank floor (Alternatively, a floating arm draw-off valve)
  • A tank floor which slopes towards the sump and washout pipe
  • A well-covered manhole for easy access and inspection.

The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association has a website with a wealth of information about products, regulations, press releases and more. You can sign up for newsletters and get discounts on cool water saving products and services.

Grey water Harvesting

Now that you’ve got all the free water you could want, let me show you how you can use it twice!

Grey water systems divert waste water from your bath, shower and washing machine for further use. It can either run straight to where it is to be used, or you can store it in tanks for later treatment and/or use.

This water can be used to flush toilets and for irrigation purposes. Modern detergents are formulated to comply with very strict safety and environmental regulations, and are perfectly safe to use for watering veggie gardens and lawns.

Your best bet is to contact your local landscaper, and ask them for advice. They will know any relevant laws and regulations that may apply to you, they will be able to source products that will perfectly match your needs, and they can organize installation for you.


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

link to online business card

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