Landscape Design Basics: Stage 3- Bringing the Design Together

Thanks for checking back in with me.  We are currently working on a series of articles taking you inside my mind as a design a custom landscape.  Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve learned so far…

Stage 1:  Determined homeowner needs and vision for the project.  In this example, we are actually working in my own back yard…  literally.  I took a series of digital pictures from several different angles.  Finally I took detailed measurements while preparing a very rough sketch.

Stage 2:  We determined the highlights and components of the project, analyzed the pictures and prepared a scale drawing of the work area.  Drawing the work area to scale is important because it assures us that all of our components will be the right size as well as placed in the appropriate places.

Today, we discuss Stage 3!  This is the most important step in the design process  and illustrates my process for picking materials, finalizing all details and getting ready to create a finished drawing.

I’m going to start this stage by describing my exact thought process as I do a virtual tour of this project in my mind.

First, I want the area to be private and screened to my neighbors.  The neighbor’s house is very nice and well maintained but is a summer rental.  It’s important that we are not on display in our new outdoor living room, especially to strangers during the rental season.  This project will feature 2 entrances, one that will be inviting to our guests as they approach our parking area and a second that will act as back door as it leads to our raised vegetable garden as well as the kids trampoline/gymnastics area.

As visitors drive into our driveway, the custom arbor will immediately catch the eye.  This view will feature the arbor(highlighted at night with subtle uplights) and a 4′ high Privet hedge screening.  Because of the limited view into this outdoor living room, guests curiosity will be peaked as the entrance will be extremely inviting.  The combination of attractive plantings, seasonal colors,  dark green surrounding privacy evergreens and partial views of the custom outdoor fireplace will be irresistible.  Large, flat flag stone inlaid into the lawn will act as a door mat  leading directly into the fireplace area.  A flag stone patio will create a hard surface for adirondack chairs for direct fire front viewing.  The addition of a bistro table will offer us the opportunity to enjoy a meal in our new outdoor living room.  All seating will face the fireplace and be accented with thick, inviting cushions and pillows.  After the entrance experience, the eye will immediately be drawn to a hammock area.  The hammock area will separate the outdoor living room from our vegetable garden area.  Construction materials will match the entrance arbor with flag stone underneath to provide footing for climbing in and out of hammock.

Below are sample photos for the fireplace, arbor and hammock and flag stone.  I will add my own unique design elements but these pictures will provide a visual reference for what we are trying to accomplish.

entrance arbor

This is an example of the arbor that I have in mind.    This landscape is a little overgrown for what we have planned but this is an excellent example of how nature and basic carpentry can create an inviting entrance.

outdoor fire place

Quite a bit more extravagant than the Home Depot special, this outdoor fire place makes a substantial statement in being the focal point of the project.  Our construction technique will consist of a frame kit with a stacked stone veneer.  Ours will not be quite as tall but will feature a custom, personalized mantle piece.

pergola hammock

This is where I will spend the majority of my Sundays this summer listening to the Phillies games dreaming of my next project.  The construction details will match the entrance arbor.  Since we are going for a rustic theme, wood surfaces will be left untreated so to weather.

flag stone with grass

This is my exact vision of the entrance and patio area.  I love the rustic look and colors.  The stone used on the fire place will match the color(s) of the flag stone.    As illustrated here, the stone will be inset into the grass so that a lawn mower can easily roll over the stone so not create any gashes.

I hope the project is beginning to make sense.  I can picture the entire finished area in my mind as if I were standing there right now.  At this point, I am ready to sit down and put my entire work of art into a working drawing.

As you can see, I love extreme change in the landscape.  I pride myself on being able to listen to a homeowners needs, picking up cues from the property and coming up with an efficient, professional plan.  The majority of my customers pick up on my passion and usually entrust me by saying… “Just bring your vision to life”.

My design services range from rustic back yard living rooms to extreme outdoor kitchens and way beyond.  As always, I am up to the minute on cutting edge hardscaping and pavers materials and practices, retaining walls, seating areas, state of the art irrigation, landscape lighting, custom planting and garden design, landscape lighting, annuals, perennials, water features, ponds and basically anything else you can imagine.

To have future blogs sent directly to your email inbox, simply click on the link to the right titled…  “Landscaping Tips Delivered”.  As soon as the blog is posted, it lands directly in your inbox!  It couldn’t be easier.

If you think you are ready for an “Extreme Landscape Makeover”, it’s a great time to get started.  Contact me in any of the following ways…

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

office phone 609-898-9136

Cell/text 609-722-1814

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

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Landscape Design Made Simple: Stage 2- Analyzing Details and Putting Ideas on Paper

It’s December 3rd, 2012 and it’s time to continue on with our Landscape Design Series.

We made the decision to take a part of our back yard and turn it into a fire pit/outdoor entertaining type area.  That’s correct, I am taking you into my own back yard.

To summarize, Stage 1 of my design process dealt with analyzing the proposed work area, taking measurements, photos and a sit down interview( my wife and I in this case) to determine the homeowners vision for the project.

Since I posted Stage 1 of my design process, I have analyzed all aspects of my project and came up with the following design criteria…

-Fire Pit needs to be large enough to be the focal point of this project

-Materials to be natural stone to blend in with the surrounding woods and overall theme

-Flag Stone Patio to be constructed of large jaggged pieces of flag stone with grass in between. Pieces need to be large enough for adirondack chairs

-Project area to be partially surrounded by a privacy planting

-Entrance to project area to be framed by wood arbor and Flag Stone Walkway

-Hammock Pergola to be constructed to match entrance arbor

-Trampoline to be relocated to edge of project area so that it can be viewed from fire pit area but not the focal point

-Project to connect with raised planter area with more raised planters to be added

Below is a series of pictures with a brief explanation of my thought process as I view the individual photos.

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This picture represents the entrance to the project area.  The Vitex(multi stem tree on the left side) will be relocated to another area.  The Japanese Holly(small round evergreens) will be replaced with Privet maintained at a height of 4 feet.  Privet will provide a rapid growing privacy hedge but will be transparent in winter as leaves drop off in early winter.  Emerald Green Arborvitae(upright evergreen shown on left edge of picture) will continue to wrap around the outside edge of the project area to provide privacy from the neighboring house.  The arbor will be centered in this opening with flag stone walkway leading into the fire pit area.

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This view represents the view from the edge of our driveway.  We spend a lot of time in this area growing vegetables in the raised planter and watching the kids on the trampoline..  My design will move the trampoline out of direct sight, add at least 2 more raised planters and section off the two areas with the hammock pergola and additional plantings.  This view also represents the need for a privacy hedge as the neighboring house and living room are immediately adjacent.  When the trampoline is relocated, it will be anchored with a system that is much more attractive than cinder block and have measures taken to keep grass from growing underneath.

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This view shows the woods in the back ground.  My vision is to keep a portion of that view in tact.  This view also shows the need to keep firewood neat and organized

A few other logistical items that I need to factor in are running electric to the hammock/pergola area for Christmas lights, a garden hose connection(s), landscape lighting and speaker wire for outdoor speakers with volume control.  Even if I don’t plan to install my speakers or landscape lighting at this point, I suggest running the wire while the project site is torn apart.  The landscape lighting and outside speakers are expensive but the wiring is relatively cheap.

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This is what I call my “Blank Slate”.  My drawing shown above is a scale drawing showing my exact work area and all of the items that I plan to leave in place.  If you look closely on the bottom right hand corner, you will notice that my scale is 1 inch equals 5 feet.  That simply means that 1 inch on paper represents 5 feet of actual land.  Drawing things to scale helps me arrange all of my components so that everything fits and is appropriately spaced.  Once my design is complete and drawn out, I will use this as a working drawing and use these scale measurements when laying out my actual work area.

In the next stage, I will walk you through how I put my ideas and measurements into an actual working drawing and tie it all together with sample photos.  This is where it gets good!

Rather than wait to see when my blogs are posted, feel free to join over 500 others who receive my posts directly to their email inbox.  It’s as easy as clicking on the link to the right titled “Landscaping Tips Delivered” and follow the tips for signing up.  I will never send any spam or junk emails.

Have a question???  Comment???  Feel free to post at the bottom of this blog.  If you need a landscape design and or installation, please don’t hesitate to contact me in any of the following ways…

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping, LLC

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, New Jersey 08204

Office Phone 609-898-9136

Cell/Text 609-722-1814

Fax 609-770-3035

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

Make it a great day!

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

Landscape Design Made Simple

As things begin to wind down in the landscaping world, I consider this a great time to start planning for next year. Each year, I like to take an area of my property and completely change it. This year, I have decided to add a KICK ASS outdoor fire pit with slate patio and hammock area. I’m going to work the progress of my project into a DO IT YOURSELF home landscape design series.

Today’s blog is the first of many on my personal process of designing a landscape. I start with a very detailed sit down session with the client. We start with some basic questions such as…

What do you like about your existing landscape?

What do you dislike about your existing landscape?

What made you decide that you wanted to do this project?

Are you giving me carte blanche on this design or would you like to be involved?

How do you see yourself using the proposed area?

How much money do you have to spend on this project?

After taking detailed notes from the sit down session, we then take a long, slow walk around the proposed area. I take detailed measurements and make a rough sketch. Once our interview and walk through sessions are complete, I walk the entire property and take several photos of the outside of the property. My final step in this first stage is to go back inside of the house and take more photos from the inside of the house looking out.

At this point, I have everything I need and I am ready to sit down and do my actual design. I always do my design as quickly as I can so that the ideas are fresh in my mind.

My next posting in this series will take you inside my mind as I complete an actual landscape design! Stay tuned….

If you would like to subscribe to my blog and have this and future blogs delivered directly to your email inbox, click on the link in the right hand margin titled “Landscaping Tips Delivered”.

Tired of looking at your landscape and want the most cutting edge landscape design, contact me in any of the following ways…

Rob Lundholm
Lundholm Landscaping
Office phone (609)898-9136
Cell/text(609)722-1814
Email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

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

UPDATED! 10 Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn, Step 10 of 10

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Today is the final posting in the UPDATED! 10 Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn presented by Rob Lundholm of Lundholm Landscaping.  I have actually run out of things to write about in the category so I decided to make Step 10 a review of the previous 9 steps.

I decided to a few months back that I was sick to my stomach of watching homeowners get brainwashed by big companies into thinking that a healthy lawn needs to be fed 6 times every season and that chemicals, pesticides and herbicides are essential in creating and maintaining a healthy lawn.  I’ve seen the future of lawn care and it is the complete opposite of what homeowners are being sold by fancy ads and loads of shallow promises.  My plan teaches homeowners how to build a healthy lawn by creating healthy soil.  With healthy soil, there exists a self defense system which wards off unwanted pests and creates soil and grass that is so healthy that there is no room for weeds.  Lastly, we will have created a vigorous root system which uses significantly less water and stands up to the challenge of heat, drought and stress!

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In creating perfect soil, we need good soil texture.  Dig a hole anywhere on your property to a depth of about 6 inches.  Grab a handful of soil, close your hand forming the soil into a ball.  The soil should now easily break apart in your hand. 

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Now that we have identified our soil texture, lets test our soil to make sure that the pH(potential of hydrogen) is in the proper range.  Cool season grasses prefer a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.  PH out of this range can effect the availabilty of certain micro and macro nutrients and create major problems.  Contact your local State University Extension Center to purchase a soil test kit.

We carefully followed my “Fool Proof” tips for collecting a soil sample, carefully packaged the sample and sent if off to the lab.  We waited a few weeks, received our test results and carefully read and analyzed the test results. 

You may, or may not have a few issues to correct with your soil.  The most common having to do with lowering or raising pH.  Our next step was to create a plan for correcting our soil problems.  We integrated our pH correction in with our normal late summer/early fall practices. 

Late summer/early fall maintenance includes aerating your entire lawn, top dressing with 1/2 inch of premium compost and overseeding using a power seeder.  This process opens up the soil which allows  air and water to reach into the root zone as well as replenishes valuable nutrients which may have been depleted over the years.  Using a power seeder injects seed into the soil which eliminates the possibilty seed being washed away, blown away or eaten by birds.

Once we finished our soil correction and fall maintenance, we took a close look at our equipment.  We learned that it is imperative to cut our lawn at a height of 3 inches and to always, always, always leave the grass clippings on the lawn.  It goes without saying that a sharp lawn mower blade and a clean mower deck are of utmost importance when maintaining our “Perfect Lawn”. 

Once we established our perfect lawn, my feeding regimen revealed the shocking truth about the ease and simplicity of keeping our perfect lawn looking good and thriving…  without chemicals.  Three applications of a bio-nutritional type fertilizer is all it takes. 

From here, I threw in a few nuggets of wisdom, from my bag of tricks, in the area of cutting/edging techniques as well as the “Proper” way to maintain our engines and vast array of power equipment. 

Finally, it was a piece of cake rounding out our program with a few simple steps to winterize our new “Perfect Lawn”.  This step involves a final feeding, cutting the grass down to 2 inches and keeping the lawn free of fallen leaves.

There we have it!  Follow my instructions to the letter and you will be the envy of your neighborhood.  You will save money, have incredible health and know that you have created a lawn that will give you many years of enjoyment.

Please use and share this information as you see fit.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to post in the comment section at the bottom of this page or send me an email directly to rob@lundholmlandscaping.com.  I do my best to respond as quickly as possible.

If you have a landscaping need or want to be the envy of your neighborhood without actually doing the work, I will be happy to discuss your needs.  Contact me in any of the following ways….

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

Office 609-898-9136

Cell/text 609-722-1814

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

lundholmlandscaping.com

Think Green!

Posted in Landscaping | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

UPDATED! 10 Insider Tips to a Perfect Lawn, Step 9 of 10

It’s been a few weeks since we last met. 

I’ve been working a huge new venture which is changing every aspect of how I do business.  .  Those that have been reading my blogs since the beginning know exactly which direction I am going.  Kinda scary but I am super pumped!  Much, much more on that in future blogs.  In case you don’t know me, my name is Rob Lundholm and I own and operate Lundholm Landscaping in Cape May, New Jersey.  I take time out of my day to dabble in writing about landscaping because it lets my customers know that I care about them and the service that I am producing.   We specialize in landscape makeovers, extreme landscaping, consulting, cutting edge technology, pavers, irrigation, landscape lighting, ponds, waterfalls, fire pits and pretty much anything that grows or looks nice in the landscape.   

We are methodically moving along through “My Updated”…  10 Insider Tips to a Perfect Lawn.  If you missed any of the previous 8 steps, they are all listed in the right hand margin.  Feel free to click away and bring yourself up to speed!

Today we learn exactly what to do to winterize our “Perfect Lawn“.  Let’s push the clock forward a few weeks to mid November.  The leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground in a mad rush.  That perfect new lawn should be taking shape rather nicely in that perfectly balanced soil that we have been working to create all season. 

For ease of explanation, lets assume that today is the last day that you will cut your lawn this season.  Prior to cutting, quickly rake up or blow any leaves into and pile and place them into your compost bin.  You do have a compost bin…  right???  Of course you do!  Don’t stress if you don’t get every leave, they will  be picked up by the lawn mower.  In case you are wondering, I will be posting a complete, start to finish, professional fall clean up in a future blog.  Anyone want to volunteer their property??  Of course there will be a charge but I will go easy on ya!!!

Set your lawn mower to a height of 2 inches and cut the grass one last time, this time using your bagger.  This 2 inch height makes it easier to clean up future leaves, improves air circulation so that thatch build up decomposes faster and allows air and water to easily flow into the soil.  Round out your cutting season with a nice tour with your trimmer.  At this point, we are done with our main power equipment for the season.  I recommend that you drain all gasoline from your power equipment and let the engine run until it stalls out completely so that all fuel is out of your machine.  Thoroughly coat all metal components, cables and moving parts with a premium spray lubricant(WD-40 for instance).  It’s safe at this point to store the lawn mower, string trimmer and edger in a place where you won’t trip over them for the next 3 or so months. 

Now, let’s focus on your new child.  You’re perfect lawn!  As a professional, my main concern for my wintering lawn(s) is building and strengthening a healthy root system.  Since our “Perfect” lawn, growing in “Perfect” soil, complimented by “Perfect” soil texture is winding down, it’s safe for us to add an additional application of Sumagrow(Sumagrow.com) or Holganix(Holganix.com).  As a reminder, these bio-nutritional feedings create a healthy soil micro-environment which adequately feeds the root systems and encourages deep growth.  Root systems work like crazy in late fall to store as much energy as possible for it’s dormancy.    A deep healthy root system lessens the need for water and keeps our lawns thick and healthy through high heat and drought conditions.  Just because the actual grass blades go dormant during the cold winter months it doesn’t mean that the roots go to sleep as well.  

While the grass is cut low, it’s a great time to remove any visible, remaining weeds.  You notice that I wrote “remove” and not “treat”.  I have eliminated the use of herbicides in my treatment programs.  For my customers, we actually walk the lawn with a weed prong and remove all weeds, including roots, by hand.  If we find that there are large bare spots left over from the hand weeding, we fill in these bare spots using a mixture of topsoil, sand and annual rye grass seed.  If time does not allow such activity, it’s fine to spot treat any weeds that you find on your property.  This takes a few extra minutes but reduces the impact on the environment and ensures sustainability for our soil’s micro-environment that we have painstakingly created using steps 1-8! 

From here, do your best to keep the leaves from piling up on your lawn and enjoy some time off.  That’s step 9 in a nut shell!  You have done so well in creating your perfect lawn that I wanted to give you a little treat.  A nice, quick, easy read!  In all honesty, the leg work has been done, the lawn is ready to take a nap and the only problem is figuring what to do with that extra hour or two every week.

For help with your landscape contact me in any of the following ways…

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

office 609-898-9136

cell/text 609-722-1814

subscribe in the box to the right title “Landscaping Tips Delivered”

Rock on!

Posted in Cape May Landscaper, Gardening, Holistic Lawn Care, How to Have a Perfect Lawn, How to Have a Perfect Lawn, Landscape Contractor, Landscaping, Lundholm Landscaping, Organic Lawn Care | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UPDATED! 10 Insider Secrets to a PERFECT LAWN, Step 8 of 10

 

We are moving right along in our 10 Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn.  Thanks for checking back in and following me.  If you are a first time reader, I suggest you bring yourself up to speed by quickly reviewing steps 1-7.  Do so by clicking on the individual listings in the right hand margin.

At this point, you may be asking…  “Who in the hell are you and why are you spending your time giving away your secrets?”

My name is Rob Lundholm and I own and operate Lundholm Landscaping in Cape May, New Jersey.  My company specializes in “Extreme Landscape Makeovers” which includes every phase from design, demolition, hardscaping, pavers, irrigation, landscape lighting, grading, sod, planting, mulching and so on.  My work is on display all over South Jersey.  I pride myself on being extremely cutting edge in the field of Landscape Technology, specifically forward thinking!  I spend a ton of time researching new products, experimenting with technology and educating my customers.  I want to build your trust by giving away my information and establish myself as an expert in the field.

On a tip from a very close friend and expert in the publishing world we decided that I would put my knowledge into a series of e-books that cover everything from Creating the Perfect Lawn to Installing a kick ass holiday lighting display.  This blog is my “lead in” to my e-books being published… which is only a short time down the road.  For now my knowledge is free, but I don’t know how much longer I will be able to just give away all that knowledge and expertise that I have in my ultra secret, closely guarded, spiral notebook!

Back to the subject at hand.  Today’s step in our quest to create a “Perfect Lawn” deals with our power equipment.  Specifically keeping our machinery in optimal working order!  Let’s start with the most important piece of equipment in maintaining our perfect lawn….  that would be our Lawn Mower.

Whether you are using one of these…

 or one of these…

one of these…

one of these…

or you are ultra modern and own one of these…

Yes, that’s a remote control lawn mower!  I told you I was cutting edge… no pun intended.

No matter which type of mower you are currently using, the concept is still the same.  We must keep our equipment clean, lubricated and maintained in order to keep our perfect lawn in PERFECT shape.  Here are a few quick tips to keep your mower in shape.

-Always use a sharp blade.  I recommend having at least 1 extra blade(sharpened) on hand at all times.  A dull blade will shred the blades of your lawn, stunt growth and make your lawn susceptible to disease.  As a rule of thumb, sharpen your blade every six cuts.

-While changing and/or sharpening your blade, it’s a great time to inspect the under side of the deck of your mower.  Check to make sure there is no build up of grass clippings or other debris as these obstructions could rob your mower of power.  Once your deck is clean, spray the underside of your mower with cooking spray.  Yes, I said cooking spray.  If it keeps eggs from sticking to a frying pan, it will keep grass from sticking to the bottom of a  lawn mower.

-While changing a blade on a lawn mower, always, always, always disconnect the spark plug.  While you are at it, quickly remove the spark plug and inspect for carbon build up which appears as a black, sooty like substance that keeps the spark plug from doing its job. If you find your plug to be dirty, either clean it with a wire brush or install a new plug.

If your spark plug looks like this, throw it away, spend $2.00 and buy a new one.

-Check engine oil before every cutting.  Keeping the engine properly lubricated will produce optimal power and the precision results that your “PERFECT” lawn deserves.  Change the oil in your mower at least once every year, more often if you have a large lawn.

-Inspect, clean or replace the air filter.  All gas engines have an air filter which cleans the air that is taken into the carburetor for the engine to use for combustion.  Whether cleaning or replacing the air filter, always saturate the foam element with oil to insure that dirt particles stick to the filter and stay out of your carburetor.

-Most manufacturers sell a “Tune Up Kit” for their specific engines which includes oil, oil filter(when applicable), air filter, spark plug and spray lubricant.

-Check and lubricate cables

-Lubricate all moving parts to include wheels, axles, throttle body and height adjusters.

-Always cut your lawn at a height of 3 inches.  Avoid cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blades off in one cutting and leave the clippings lay whenever possible.

Edgers, Trimmers and Blowers

These tools are just as important as your lawn mower when maintaining that “Perfect Lawn”.  Always keep cutting areas clean and feel free to coat and areas with cook spray to keep debris from sticking.  Keep your spark plugs and air filters clean and regularly lubricate and inspect cables.  It is also very important to use the proper amount of 2 cycle oil if your engine require your to mix oil with the gas.  Most manufacturers sell containers of oil that are pre-measured for ease of mixing.

These items may seem simple but are very important in maximizing the life of your equipment and making your chore of cutting and trimming as painless as possible.  I suggest that you have a special tool box marked “Power Equipment Tools” that is specifically for all of your lawn and garden power tools.  In the event that a quick repair is needed, all your tools will be in one place.  It’s a good idea to have an extra blade, spark plug, oil, air filter, trimmer string, replacement edger blades and lubricant.

That’s it for today.  Good luck keeping your power equipment in tip top shape and get in touch with me in any of the following ways…

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

Office 609-898-9136

Cell/Text 609-722-1814

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

lundholmlandscaping.com

Posted in Avalon, Cape May, Home Maintenance, Informative, Lawn and Garden, Power Equipment, Stone Harbor | Leave a comment

UPDATED! 10 Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn. Tip 7 of 10

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Thanks for checking back in.  If you have followed the previous 6 Steps, you should be well on your way to that “Perfect” lawn.  As a quick refresher, we have learned about soil texture, soil pH, soil testing, soil test results and analysis, correcting problems and deficiencies, proper ways to water and finally my insider tips on proper mowing techniques.

Step 7 is quite the leap of faith!  Today, we learn PROPER ways to feed your lawn… you may not like what you read!

<<<WARNING>>>   I am not a proponent of any 4, 5, 6 or however many step fertilizing programs that promise to keep your lawn green “All Season Long”.  I am all about BIO-NUTRITION!!!!

What is Bio-Nutrition, you ask??

Here it is in a nut shell…

For starters, please take a walk today and find the nearest heavily wooded, un-manicured section of woods.  Find an area where the leaves have piled up over time.  Reach down and gently move the leaves to one side or the other exposing the soil.  What you will find is dark, nutrient rich, all natural soil.

The pure soil that we find in the forest is the soil that we are trying to reproduce to create our “Perfect” lawn.  The secret to perfect soil is microbes!  Microbes are microscopic, beneficial bacteria that ward off pests, create naturally occurring nitrogen, aerate soil and create a micro-environment where grass roots thrive. This micro environment that we are creating under our lawn is much like that in nature.  We have organisms that are living, eating, excreting, reproducing, dying, rotting, decomposing and feeding.   This process taking place under our lawn is the exact process that allows trees and other plant life to thrive in the forest. Thriving roots equal thriving grass plants.    Thriving grass plants equal….  “THE PERFECT LAWN”.

I know exactly what you are thinking…

Where in the world am I going to find microbes and beneficial bacteria???

In the ever changing landscaping world, this brand of all natural soil enhancer is known as BIO-NUTRITION.  To create the perfect lawn, we feed the soil new and fresh microbes 2-3 times per growing season.  Over time, healthy microbes weed out all of the weaker microbes.   Additional applications of bio-nutrition will lessen until the soil is self sustaining.  The end result… healthy, self sustaining soil.  As a result, we have a lawn that is so thick that there is no room for weeds as well as ward off pest and disease.

 

There are several brands that have made their way onto the market.  I have extensive experience with two of the industry leaders.  Here’s a quick look at each…

Holganix-  www.holganix.com-   A bio-nutrition soil enhancer available in liquid and granular form.  I have not yet tried granular Holganix but have used the liquid.  Great product with the exception of requiring refrigeration.  A 4 gallon container will cost just over $100.00 and treats 80,000 square feet or 2 acres.

Suma Green-  www.sumagreen.com-  A bio-nutrition fertilizer that is currently available in liquid form.  Builds deep roots, thick healthy lawns and works remarkably well in shady areas.  Works great with new seed or existing lawns.  Currently available in liquid only.  A 2 gallon container will run around $100 and will cover 2 acres.

I am not here to bash the big brand fertilizers.  I have done extensive research on this subject over the past year.  The results of my research concludes that the last thing that we should do, as responsible homeowners, is dump multiple applications of chemical fertilizers on our lawns.  These fertilizers are meant to force top growth and rapid green up and force grass plants to suck nutrients from the soil.  Several chemicals mixed in with these fertilizers kill the beneficial bacteria in the soil leaving lawns very prone to weed infestation, disease and drought.

I’m not asking you to switch your current lawn care regimen.  I’m asking you to make a conscience effort to know exactly what you are putting on your lawn and what impact it will have on your lawn.  My system is a peek into the future of lawn care.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to receive these posts in your inbox, please either comment below or click on the link to the right titled “Landscaping Tips Delivered”.

As always, if you have a landscaping need, please contact me in any of the following ways….

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

Office 609-898-9136

Cell/Text 609-722-1814

lundholmlandscaping.wordpress.com

See you out there…

 

Posted in Gardening, Holistic Lawn Care, Informative, Landscaping, Organic Lawn Care, Ph | Leave a comment

UPDATED!! 10 Insider Secrets to a Perfect Lawn, Step 6 of 10!

Allow me to start out by saying that I sincerely appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to read what I have to stay.  I realized last year that not everyone can afford a landscape professional to completely renovate their yard.  It’s my civic duty to a share my secrets of how I, as a landscape professional, take a yard full or distressed lawn and weeds and turn it into the nicest lawn on the block.  If you are a first time reader, I encourage you to click on steps 1-5 which are listed in the right hand margin to bring yourself up to speed. 

WARNING!!!

No one said it was going to be easy.  This process takes time and eager homeowners will need to possess a few basic things…

-Elbow grease

-Tools you probably already own

-Patience 

-The right knowledge and resources(provided by this blog, of course)  

As a matter of fact, this is probably my favorite tip of them all.  Today we learn a few of my personal secrets that will make your neighbors think that you hired the greenskeeper from Augusta National to mow your lawn.

We interupt this blog to bring you a quick word from our sponsor…  (A fancy way for me to throw in my plug line that not only identifies who we are, while increasing our Google Ranking!!! ) 

Lundholm Landscaping is a full service landscape construction company that specializes in EXTREME Landscape Makeovers in Cape May County and beyond!  Continue reading through to find our contact information!

Back to the reason that you are still reading…

It’s safe to assume, at this point, that you have put the previous 5 tips to use and now you are the proud owner of the greenest, healthiest lawn on your block!  Now it’s time to polish off your skills and round our readers into the total PRO!

Let’s start with an advanced mowing technique that is a mystery to most. If you have ever watched a PGA tour event or a Major League Baseball game, you have certainly noticed the striped lines in the turf.  Its actually a very simple attachment that bolts to the under side of any lawn mower.  The concept is a medium weight roller that simply bends the grass blades over.  The picture below was borrowed from patternyourlawn.com.  Check them out!

A Seriously Professional Look!

Lawn rollers, like the one used above, come in every size and easily mount to push mowers, riding mowers and commercials mowers.

When “mowing for show”, remember to empty the bag as soon as it shows signs of being full, do not empty the bag when the lawn mower is on the sidewalk and always, always, always make straight, even lines.  Start by making 2 complete laps around the area where you are mowing… as if you were a painter cutting in around windows and doors.  Carefully(as slowly as you can stand it) cut the field of your lawn in a back and forth manner making sharp, crisp turns at the end of each row.  Overlap the previous row by and inch or two to insure that there are no “Mohawks” and move on to the next section.  Alternate the pattern in which you cut your lawn to avoid leaving permanent wheel lines.  I like to use a 4 pattern rotation which involves north to south, east to west, northeast to southwest rounded out by northwest to southeast.  Sometimes alternating patterns will require significantly more mowing time but perfection takes time.  Be certain to sharpen your lawn mower blade every 5-7 cuts and set the mower height to 3 inches…  NO SHORTER!!!  Unless you are actually the greenskeeper at August National! 

Edging is another area that most people only associate with sidewalks.  I love a professionally edged sidewalk with tight square corners, but a properly edge flower bed separates the serious gardeners from the average Joe.  For Planting Beds, I recommend a 3 inch deep edge.  This depth separates the lawn from the mulch and looks AWESOME with a really cool shadow line.  Another benefit is that grass roots dry out when exposed and minimize the likelihood of grass advancing into flower beds.  The image below illustrates the difference between an average flower bed edge and a professional bed edge.  I prefer to use a string trimmer turned on its side, but a blade edger works just as well.

Gotta Love the Look of a Professionally Edged Bed

The final aspect where the pros earn their money is trimming.  String trimmers come in a variety of models ranging from electric, battery operated, gas powered and clean burning propane powered.  There is no specialized technique for trimming.  Don’t scalp the edges of your lawn and pay particular attention to where the debris is flying.  Trim before mowing so that trimmings are sucked up by the lawn mower and aim your trimmings to keep them out of of flower beds(lessening the chance for weeds) and off of sidewalks.  Do not trim too close to tree bark and avoid damage at all costs. 

For those of you who have read and applied all of the previous 5 steps, you should be getting plenty of practice as you may find yourself mowing every 5-7 days!  I’m very proud of you!  Should any of you like to show off your work, feel free to send me pictures…  Heck, I may even post them on a future blog or use them in one of my future books! 

Feeling overwhelmed??  It’s ok!  I’m here for you.  I offer several options if you have a question…

Send me a direct message through any of the contact information listed below.

Click the link on the top right hand margin titled “landscaping tips delivered”.  BTW I am almost up to my 500th subscriber!

Post a comment at the bottom of this blog. 

Thanks again for reading and I look forward to Step 7!!!

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

Office 609-898-9136

Cell/Text 609-722-1814

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

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UPDATED! 10 Tips to a Perfect! Tip 5 of 10

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We are rolling now!  We are approaching peak grass planting season and we are half way through our “UPDATED” series on 10 Tips to a Perfect Lawn.

Today’s Tips delves into Watering

At Lundholm Landscaping, we pride ourselves on superior knowledge in all things landscaping.  Since not everyone can afford a professional, I decided to offer up a few vital nuggets of information.  If you have been reading my blogs on “10 Tips to a Perfect Lawn” and following my advice, you are well on your way to having a perfect lawn.  So far we have learned the importance of soil texture, learned how to test and analyze a soil test report and step 4 brushed on grass seed basics.  In case you have been living under a rock and haven’t read tips 1 through 4, look in the immediate right hand margin and read until your hearts content.

Let’s learn about Water!!!

Watering is not only important to establishing a perfect lawn, but essential to maintaining a healthy, perfect lawn.  Today we will learn why to water, how to water, when to water and how much water to apply.

Lawns need water to complete the photosynthesis process.  Too much water will result in drowning the roots or causing fungus.  Not enough water causes grass to dry out and go into dormancy or die altogether, in extreme circumstances.  In an ideal situation, water hits grass blades, works its way into the soil, cascades over the root system then eventually perculates back into the ground.

Whether you have in-ground sprinklers or use a standard lawn sprinkler supplied by a garden hose, the following tips apply.  Lawns thrive when 1 inch of water is applied each week.  The most effective way to measure 1 inch of water is by doing the following process…

Gather a series of empty tuna fish cans or empty pie tins(both measure 1 inch in depth).  Spread the empty containers throughout your lawn.  Turn on your sprinkler(s) and record how long it takes to fill the individual containers.  Now that we have reached the 1 inch level, divide the time into thirds.

Here’s why…

I recommend watering your lawn 3 days per week and avoid watering every day.  A deep watering every third day is much more effective as this allows water to seep deep into your soil.  On the non watering days, the roots of grass plants sense there is water deeper in the soil.  The roots will actually grow deeper into the soil to find this water.  Grass roots are even smart enough to follow the same channels in the soil that the water travels.  Deeper roots equal a healthier lawn.

Infrequent, Deep Watering Promotes Strong Healthy Roots!

In-ground sprinkler systems will require the above practice for each zone.

While watering, keep a close eye on watering conditions and be sure that every inch of your lawn is being effectively watered.  If dry spots, or extremely wet spots are noticed, make appropriate adjustments.

Always water early in the morning, preferably just before sunrise.  Early morning watering allows water to slowly saturate the soil before evaporation can occur.  Some circumstances, however, do not permit early morning watering.  If this is the case and watering is only possible later in the day, always avoid watering after sunset or any time during the overnight hours. Watering during these times could create puddling which results in drowning a lawn or the eventual growth of fungus.

Finally, keep a close eye on the weather.  Avoid watering before, during(duh) and after rain.  For the high tech homeowner, invest in a rain sensor.  Rain sensors will over ride and shut down a sprinkler system when a pre-determined amount of rain is collected in the sensor.  Once the sensor dries out, normal operation resumes.  Another simple way to keep track of rain is by using a rain gauge.  Rain gauges are available from most hardware stores for under $5. Simply place the rain gauge in an exposed area and monitor watering manually.

When planting a new lawn, I recommend keeping the soil moist until all seed varieties have germinated!  By moist, I mean just moist and no puddling.  This may require several short watering sessions during the day.  It all depends on your means of watering.  Closely monitor your watering, as soon as you see puddling, shut it off and wait until the soil begins to dry out.  It takes a day or two to figure out your schedule so have patience and enjoy the fruits of your hard work!  We are very close to seeing results!

I have great news!

In my spare time, I have been pumping out e-books like they are going out of style. I have been on pace to write a detailed e-book every month.  This month’s e-book is pretty serious stuff.  The title is self explanatory!  I’m calling it….

Sprinkler System in a Weekend!  Take a wild guess as to what this e-book centers around????

You guessed it….  Installing your very own sprinkler system in a weekend!  Are curious as to how much this new e-book will cost??  I’ll probably give it away!!!

Anyway, that’s just about all I have on watering.  Very simple but extremely important.

If you are interested in having me come to your property and analyze your watering system, feel free to reach me in any of the following ways….

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

Office 609-898-9136

Cell/Text 609-722-1814

email rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you out there.

Posted in Avalon, Cape May, Holistic Lawn Care, Landscaping, Lundholm Landscaping, Organic Lawn Care, Soil Testing, Stone Harbor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

UPDATED 10 Insider Tips to a Perfect Lawn. Tip 4 of 10.

Today is a big day.  It’s tip number 4 and it’s a big one….

Let’s take a few seconds to review.  I am Rob Lundholm and my company is Lundholm Landscaping.  We are a full service landscape design and construction firm out of Cape May, New Jersey.  After noticing so many, brown and burnt up lawns during the recent heat waves, I decided to revisit a ten step program that I wrote last spring and give it a touch up…  actually an overhaul.  This time around, I decided to go into a lot more detail, especially in the area of building healthy soil.  If you have not read any of the previous 3 steps, feel free to click on the links that are listed in the right hand margin so that you are up to speed!

Let’s review…

In step 1 we identified soil texture.  Step 2 we learned about the importance of soil testing, where to buy a soil test kit and how to gather a quality sample.  Step 3 taught us exactly how to analyze our soil sample and formulate a plan of attack for creating the PERFECT LAWN.  Today it’s time to identify and choose the right seed for our lawn.

In our area of the country, the 3 main varieties of grass are Rye Grass, Fescue and Blue Grass.  The fourth variety is often mistaken for a weed and is called Bermuda Grass.

Listed below are the common turf grasses and a brief description of each….

Rye Grass

Commonly referred to as Annual or Perennial Rye.  Rye grass is a clumping variety and usually the first grass to green up in the spring(often called Winter Rye).  Rye grass is very common in Northern Climates as its easily adapts to cold weather and rarely turns completely brown.  Preferring a sunny spot, Rye is a fast grower and affords the ability to be cut lower than other varieties which makes it an ideal choice for golf courses and athletic fields.  Let’s compare annual rye to perennial rye…

Annual Rye– Similar to the growing cycle of an annual flowering plant, Annual Rye Grass completes its life cycle in one year.  Annual Rye germinates extremely fast(3-5 days) and has vigorous growth habits.  Common applications for Annual Rye are temporary uses, temporary erosion barriers, forage for livestock, hayfields and for a quick fix while waiting for slower germinating varieties to establish themselves.

Rye grass is easily identified by taking a close look at a lawn in early spring.  A tell tale sign is noticeable clumping and dark green grass plants.  Rye grass is amongst the easiest to grow as it is extremely resistant to disease, drought and heavy traffic.

Fescue

In my opinion, Fescue is the finest quality grass available.  Fescue is a bit of a late spring bloomer, is hearty, has a nice color and is a matting type grass that spreads through a vigorous rhizomatic root system.   There are new varieties of Fescue and hybrids coming on the market on a regular basis.  My personal favorites are Black Magic and Kentucky 31.  Both are somewhat slow to germinate but are well worth the extra time.  If sewing Black Magic, Kentucky 31 or any other variety, make sure your seed blend contains a fast germinating seed like Annual or Perennial Rye.  Once these tougher varieties of Fescues germinate, they will muscle out the weaker Rye grasses and establish a thick healthy green carpet.

Fescue can be difficult to identify because of the numerous varieties.  Tall Fescue is tall(obviously), extremely thin bladed and clumping while Turf Type or Dwaft Fescues have thick grass blades and form a thick carpet like lawn which actually chokes out weeds and has a natural resistance to insects because of naturally occurring endophytes.  Tall Fescue does well in extreme heat circumstances but may need frequent reseeding due to it’s clumping growth habits(similar to Rye).  Turf Type Fescues have been hybridized to the point where vertical growth rates are extremely slow so that less frequent mowing is necessary while the grass spreads.  Fescues can be planted in either sun or shade and adapt well in a variety of climates.

Blue Grass

Blue Grass is by far the most beautiful.  On the flip side, certain blue grass varieties are extremely high maintenance.  Blue grass is easily identified by it’s tall thin blueish grass blades.  Most varieties go dormant and turn brown in extreme summer heat as well as winter.  Be extremely careful when selecting Blue Grass as some varieties are extremely susceptible to disease, do not like traffic and will not grow in shade.  Blue Grass requires frequent, managed watering as well as regular fertilization.  Newer, more improved varieties of Blue Grass are much less fickle and are frequently used on Golf Courses and Athletic Fields.

Although the look of a finely manicure Kentucky Blue Grass lawn is second to none, if you are not a seasoned gardener, be really careful planting Blue Grass as you may be overwhelmed at the amount of attention it needs.

Bermuda Grass

We have all seen this one.  In northern climates, this emerges into our lawns and gardens as an invasive weed, in southern climates, Bermuda Grass makes up every lawn on every block.  In a recent visit to southern Florida, I took a close look at the lawns in a random neighborhood.  I noticed that no matter how well a homeowner kept their house, Bermuda grass was thick, light green in color and basically weed free.  I found it interesting that my arch nemesis in the north not only made up every lawn but appeared to be extremely low maintenance and quite attractive.  Hmmm???  No wonder local sod farms are working new varieties of Bermuda Grass into their fields.  If you can’t be ’em, join ’em!

Bermuda grass takes over our northern lawns when it gets hot and it spreads like wildfire.  It loves our sandy soil, it works its way into our planting beds, its impossible to kill(with or without chemicals) and it’s UGLY.  I have spent the majority of the last 6 years trying to come up with a reasonable method to control Bermuda Grass.

Bermuda Grass has a sub-surface root like rhizomatic structure that runs underground from a few inches to several feet.  Bermuda Grass is very hard to pull up and the roots can be sharp and course.  That’s about all I will mention on the subject of Bermuda Grass at this point, but look for future articles on controlling invasive weeds in the near future.

Now that we have identified the major grass varieties, it’s time to decide which variety is right for you.  Since there are so many varieties of seed on the market today I recommend doing research on which grass varieties will work best in your specific area.  A simple way to accomplish this is by going to a local garden center, nursery or landscape supply and taking a look at the variety of different blends and seed mixtures.  I prefer local garden centers to chain stores because the products are much more localized and you can expect a more knowledgeable staff.  As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the seed, the higher the quality.  As always, buy the best seed that you can afford.

Pictured below is a sample label on the back of a bag of grass seed.

Seed companies are required by law to post this label on their packaging.  This may look like Chinese at first, but it’s actually very simple.  As we read through, I notice that this is a very common “Contractor’s Mixture” which translates to cheap and simple.

The primary Seed in this mixture is “Prospect Tall Fescue” and makes up 47% of the seed in this bag.  The remaining varieties are 24% Annual Rye, 14% Boreal Red Fescue and 10% Blue Grass.  If we keep reading, we notice the small presence of Inert Matter, Other Weed Seed and Other Crop Seed.  These are small seed particles work their way in with the actual seeds during the harvesting process and are almost irrelevant.

I interpret this grass seed mixture to work in the following manner…

Quick germination of the annual rye-  3-10 days from sewing of seed.

Germination of Red Fescue- 10-14 days from sewing of seed.

Germination of Blue Grass- 14-21 days from sewing of seed.

Germination of Tall Fescue-  14-21 days from sewing.

The premium tall fescue will germinate in as little as 2-3 weeks but takes much longer to establish itself as turf grass.  The quick germinating annual rye grass will add stability to the soil, control erosion and provide instant gratification.  Once the soil is stabilized, the fescue and blue grass varieties will have a much better environment to thrive.

This seed mixture is an ideal mixture for most lawns in my immediate area.  When shopping for seed, take special considerations into effect such as shade, traffic and irrigation.  Picking the correct seed mixture before you start is crucial to creating your “Perfect Lawn”.   Check, then double check that the seed mixture that you buy will work with your individual property.  Trial and error is costly and time consuming!

Whew, that was a lot of information and could be confusing.  If you have made it this far, you are well on your way!  Now go buy some seed and get to work!

If you are having trouble identifying what type of grass you have or are interested in learning what type of grass would be best for you, feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation.  If outside of my work area, I suggest contacting your local extension center.

Thanks again for reading and be sure to check back or subscribe to this blog for future updates.

Rob Lundholm

Lundholm Landscaping

P.O. Box 1066

Cape May, NJ 08204

Office (609)898-9136

Cell/Text (609)722-1814

rob@lundholmlandscaping.com

http://www.lundholmlandscaping

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