Category Archives: Landscape Management

3 Advantages Of Native Landscapes

Home owners should be concerned not only about the aesthetics of their landscapes, but also about the content.

I am going to go ahead and say this in spite of my friends in the landscape industry who think otherwise:

All landscaping should be done using only plants native to the area.

I trust that they will forgive me for swimming  against the tide. Many of them are coming to agree, and I suspect that many more will follow as the weight of science and public opinion come to bare.

There are at least 3 very good reasons why:

Native landscapes help the homeowner

Yuapon Holly Is native to this area.
Plants like this Yaupon Holly are native to my area, and can be used in many ways in the landscape.

Native plants do well in landscapes because they are native. It is really that simple. Because natives have become established over hundreds of years, they have adapted to the conditions in which they grow, and are therefore resistant to native pests, acclimated to local weather patterns, including rainfall, and are comfortable with the fertility levels of their native soils. This means little expense in the areas of irrigation, labor, pest control, and fertilizer.

By contrast, non native plants are generally ill suited to one or more of those climatic factors. They may flounder and require much more of one element or other, requiring more time, effort, and expense than their native counterparts. On the other hand, they may flourish in the new environment to the point of dominating it. Expenses rise in relation to the difficulty of keeping such plants alive, or keeping them from taking over the landscape.

Native landscapes help the environment

Because native plants in the home landscape require little beyond what nature affords them, the elements which are typically thought to be damaging to our environment are needed less often, if at all. The impact of introducing fewer pesticides, less fertilizer, and less wasted water spread out over millions of home lawns throughout the country would be a positive step toward easing the strain on our planet.

Introduced plants may not only add more of a strain to resources that can be ecologically damaging, but they may also escape into the wild and cause problems with the environmental ballance in an area. There are many cases where they have done so. Invasive species have developed near mono-cultures in many areas, removing both native plant life and the animals that depended on them for survival.

Native landscapes do both at the same time

Native landscaping saves money and help the environment simultaneously. There are few examples of such synergy in most fields  It is the perfect marriage of good economic and environmental policy for the home owner.

Avoid Non Native Species In Landscapes

Why you should avoid using non native species in landscapes

What is the biggest mistake you can make when planning and implementing your landscape? Poor color or placement? No. The biggest mistake in landscaping is to plant invasive, non native species in your landscape. Why?
Your landscape plants can become dangerous to your local environment.
Many of the seemingly innocuous foreign landscape plants used during the last century have now made their way into the wild, and in many cases, they dominate the larger landscape, gradually eliminating the native plants as they eat more and more space.

The invasion has been slow, and hardly noticeable to most people, and each new generation comes to think of the invaders as a part of the landscape, assuming that it has always existed in it’s present form.

The plant once used to decorate aquariums and backyard show ponds, Hydrilla, has become the dominate feature in ponds and lakes throughout much of the Southern United States, and has clogged waterways, and destroyed fishing in many areas.

Asian Privet destroying East Texas park

One common shrub, Asian Privet, has consumed the forest floor in much of the Southeastern United States, taking out natives, both plant and animal as it continues.

There are hundreds of other examples like the Japanese Silk Tree, Kudzu, Johnson grass, and Bahia grass to name a few. These plants were once seen as being beneficial for one purpose or another, but have now become a multimillion dollar problem, and the obvious monetary cost is only the tip of the iceberg. Loss of native species and biodiversity eventually have consequences we may not yet understand. It is difficult to determine what the cost will be to local environments, and consequently, the pocketbook as the invasion continues.

Why you should be concerned about non native species.

Why should all of this be a concern for you? Your choice of landscape plants for your home may determine the extent to which this trend continues. When planning a landscape, make sure that the plants you choose are native to your area. This will not only slow the spread of the exotic invasion, but will also provide immediate and tangible economic benefit to you. Native plants are comfortable in your area, they are used to your climate and conditions, and will require less special care. They have existed where they are because they like the conditions, and are largely immune to local pests and diseases, meaning that there will be fewer pest and disease problems to eat up your hard earned dollars.

You will also be helping to preserve native wildlife, especially birds, and since birds consume insects in large quantities, you will be reducing pests even more. When the birds native to an area lose the plants that they prefer as food, and they are replaced by plants with less nutritive seed, the natives will move away in search of more “native like” surroundings. Keeping your landscape native will help to preserve natural balance.
Native plants

Green Money Saving Lawn and Landscape Tips

A well planned landscape can save you lots of money. A lousy one can cost you lots of money.

Whether you hire a landscaper to install your lawn and landscape, or do it yourself, there are some things you should give close attention to aside from the standard design principles commonly followed today. These tips will help to “green” your lawn and landscape, and keep some green in your wallet.

Soil type and irrigation

What could be more green than saving one of our most important natural resources; water? If you have a heavy clay soil, and you want to grow almost any of our common lawn grasses, you should be certain that the soil is amended properly, or top soil added.

If this is not done, you will be at constant odds with mother nature and your pocketbook when the heat of summer arrives. The best practice for lawn grass irrigation is to water deeply, and infrequently, but if you have hard clay soils, and nothing else to absorb and hold the water for the plants, you will have to water more often, using less water each time to achieve similar results. If you attempt to water deeply on clay soils, the result will be excess runoff. When watering more frequently to avoid runoff, you will still need to have the same amount of water, but it will have to be broken up into several smaller increments. Either way, the water used is less efficient. You will lose water to runoff, or evaporation, neither of which is desirable, and in some places, it is even considered criminal!

To avoid this problem, you need to start before the landscape and lawn are installed, or renovated.

Make sure that there is sufficient top soil to become an adequate root zone for your lawn grasses and landscape beds. Plan your irrigation layout carefully to avoid having tree watering or bed watering on the same station with lawn watering. Each of these will require differing amounts of water, and you could end up drowning one type of plant while allowing the others to die of thirst! Be certain that your landscape beds are not built in a basin, and that they have good surface drainage, otherwise the plants being used could suffocate from excessive watering. Be sure to clump your plantings according to water needs and water use. Landscaping is more than just making a drawing, and choosing plants, it involves the proper placement of the plants to achieve the best combination of growing conditions.

Plant and bed placement tips

This tip will help you to save money, and “green” up your homes pest control program: When designing landscape beds, leave yourself a foot or more of space between the plants and the home. Do the same with bark mulch. That extra foot of space between your walls and plants can mean the difference between a full blown insect insurgency, and a healthy symbiotic relation between the great outdoors and the insect and mold free comfort of your indoor living space.

Pests use plants and bark mulch as a covered highway onto and into your home. The further you can keep these 2 elements from your exterior walls the better. You would probably be surprised at the difference just a few inches of space can make when it comes to insects. Instead of using the mulch between the plants and the foundation, try digging a trench, and adding coarse sand with pebbles on top. Tunneling insects like termites will find the sand and pebbles impossible to make a tunnel without having it cave in behind them. Other types of insects will see the space as being a cover-less dead end, and  and you will save yourself a lot of money on pest treatments in the long run.