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Gardening Trends: Planting Your Garden by Phases of the Moon

The last super moon of 2019 — often called the worm moon, or the last full moon of winter — has been regaling us this week — and last night’s was a stunner! What a way to say good-bye to winter and welcome spring. The timing of the worm moon’s light show helps underscore an emerging trend in gardening.

Planting by Phases of the Moon

Planting by Phases of the Moon

Planting by the Moon

According to such notable organizations as Better Homes and Gardens (BH&G), planting by the moon’s phases is a trend that may allow us to grow healthier, stronger and more fruitful plants.

To help us think this interesting BG&H post through, Deck and Patio has been in touch with a local horticulture consultant. Below, Sandra Vultaggio from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. Here’s her response:

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

“I do not know much on the topic of lunar planting, but know of some folklore associated with it. That said, all of what I read in that article sounds plausible. I have also heard that you can time crops by the moon phases. For instance, you can begin planting summer crops outdoors after the last full moon of May. The truth behind this is typically on a full moon, cloudless night, you’ll have the greatest chance of having a frost. And by that time, here on Long island, you’re probably safe from frosts.

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?

“They also say to plant all of your above-ground-fruiting crops (plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc, as well as your flowering annuals) during the waxing moon. Meaning, the time that the moon is growing fuller. The theory suggests that as the light from the moon increases each night, plants are stimulated to produce leaves and stems.”

“On the flip side, plant your below-ground-fruiting crops (carrots, potatoes, onions, as well as trees, shrubs and annuals) during the waning moon. Meaning, the time that the moon is getting smaller. As the amount of over-night light decreases, plants are stimulated to produce roots and tubers.

 

Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

“Whether all this is true or not, I do not know. But, like I said, it is very plausible! Our ancestors, old farmers and gardeners, who depended on their gardens and crops for their lives, did not look at a paper calendar to determine planting times. 

They observed their surroundings. Everything from precipitation events, wind direction, moon phases, the arrival of certain wildlife or the bloom-time of certain flowers, all played a part in the decisions on their land. These practices are held scared by some families, as they should. They are invaluable lessons that have been passed down generation to generation.”

— Sandra Vultaggio

 

Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

If you’re thinking of planting annuals by phases of the moon, Moonflowers might be fun. This gorgeous flower is usually seen in more tropical regions than the Northeast — as a perennial. But even with our winters, they have been successfully grown up in our neck of the woods as an “annual.”

 

Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

These are definitely stunning annuals that can be dug up and stored in winter and can be grown in the northeast despite being tropical plants. Just plant them in spring and treat them as annuals. They have a long bloom period. 

Planting by the moon's phases

Planting by the moon’s phases

So if you’ve had a chance to enjoy this week’s salute to spring in the sky — the worm moon — take note of its message. The ground is warming up enough for worms to come to the surface — and planting time is here. 

If you decide to plant flowers or crops via the moon’s phases, let us know how it went.

Happy spring!

 

 

By |2019-03-21T13:41:57-05:00March 21st, 2019|Ask the Experts, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscaping, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening Trends: Planting Your Garden by Phases of the Moon

Landscaping with Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: “Living Coral”

In Pennsylvania recently, the legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early spring. And we thought fellow gardeners and outdoor living aficionados would find this to be a great time to plan summer gardens and landscapes.

At Deck and Patio, we frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors, including Pantone’s Color of the year, which for 2019 is “Living Coral.” (Our feature photo above, is from Pantone’s announcement of this year’s color.)

Pantone sees this hue as “animating and life-affirming” and we agree that Living Coral will inspire in any garden. 

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

 

To bring you some expert advice on plants that will offer that uplifting color, we spoke with our good friend, Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Diagnostic Lab, and she has some great ideas for our part of the Northeast. Her comments on plant ideas follow.

 

 

 

 

So! Let’s get planning:

Coral Drift Rose

Coral Drift Rose

 

 

Coral Drift® Rose: Bright coral-orange flowers bloom bountifully throughout the growing season. They make great container plants or planted in mass in a sunny border: see https://www.driftroses.com/collection1

 

 

 

 

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

 

 

 

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’: Beautiful coral-orange-pink Coral Bells will pop in a partially shaded garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coral Charm Peony (Photo: Waysidegardens.com)

‘Coral Charm’ Peony (Photo: Waysidegardens.com)

 

 

 

‘Coral Charm’ Peony: Add some variety to the pink and white fluffy peonies of spring with this peachy-coral peony with a bright golden center. Peonies grow well in full sun and are deer resistant.

 

 

 

 

 

Dianthus 'Coral Reef' from ILoveHostas.net

Dianthus ‘Coral Reef’ from ILoveHostas.net

 

 

 

Dianthus ‘Coral Reef’: Grassy, grey-green, evergreen mounds of foliage are topped with bright, cheery and fragrant coral-pink flowers with white edges. Begins blooming in spring and will repeat throughout the growing season. This perennial is deer resistant too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

 

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’: Attract hummingbirds to your garden with this beautiful coral salvia. These plants are not winter hardy on Long island, but will provide summer-long blooms in full sun gardens. (Photo from: Buyrareseeds.com)

 

 

 

 

We’d like to Sandra V. For her ideas today. In addition, Deck and Patio has a few other delightful plants to suggest: the Kniphofia Red-hot Popsicle, the gorgeous Dahlia, and the Coral Rose (shown below) which also fare very well in the Northeast.

 

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

 

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

 

Coral Rose

The pièce de résistance: a delicate Coral Rose.

 

 

 

 

By |2019-02-07T14:01:23-05:00February 7th, 2019|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Landscaping with Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: “Living Coral”

Landscaping Construction Products That Can Withstand Winter

So far on Long Island, we’ve not had many snow events this winter. But if predictions hold true, the worst is yet to come. Such snow and ice events, frequently followed by a warm thaw in our neck of the woods, demands outdoor construction materials that will hold up to these freeze/thaw conditions.

Let’s Begin with Patio Materials

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Bloc pavers, for example, are engineered in Canada where extra paver strength is essential. 

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, Techo-Bloc stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, these pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

Another reason Deck and Patio loves these paving stones is they look so natural. Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images, or in a “running block” pattern.

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials,” says Dave.

Now to Capped Composite Decking

 Fiberon Decking

Photo: Fiberon Decking

Capped composite decking boards are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, for example, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“Most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, although length of warranties may differ.” adds Dave. 

“Even with capped composite durability, it is important, to remove any existing snow from your deck after a snow/ice event. It’s also best not to use metal shovels to do this. Choose plastic for snow removal.”

The Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon Decking suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice, or, again, a plastic shovel. If a de-icer is really necessary, choose rock salt that is labeled as not harmful to asphalt or grass, then sweep the used rock salt into the trash and rinse the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

 

Removing Snow from Your Deck The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

Removing Snow from Your Deck
The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

 

So! Choose the right materials and remove the snow from your decking, says Dave Stockwell, and you won’t worry if predictions about the polar vortex turn out correct. Indeed, let it snow…let it snow…let it snow. Enjoy this fun video:

 

 

 

Caring for Your Deck

Last week our blog focused on a fun use of your deck or patio over July 4th. And after the holiday is over, we’ll highlight new ideas for cool ways to use your deck.  

But today our focus is on caring for your decks — especially if they will be getting a lot of use during the height of the outdoor season.

 

 

Deck Structure/Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

Deck Structure/Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

 

For expert advice on deck maintenance, we spoke with Edie Kello from Viance — the company that makes the preservatives for pressure-treated lumber commonly used for deck structures.

 

 

 

Question: What’s your advice on how to maintain a new wood deck.

Answer: “A deck is a special part of your outdoor living space that should last for years,” says Kello. “Keep it looking its best with the right deck cleaners, sealers and stains to enhance its long-term beauty.”

 

Mahogany Deck by Deck and Patio

Mahogany Deck by Deck and Patio

“For New Wood Decks,” she continues:

•Allow the wood 6-8 weeks to dry prior to applying any sealer or stain.

•Apply a high-quality oil or water-based finish with UV protection to slow down the process of the wood turning gray from exposure to the sun.

•Apply a water repellent sealer at least every two years.

•And always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for new and re-applications.

Deck Care

•To provide long term aesthetic appeal, maintain a deck that is dry and clean.

•Keep your deck free from dirt and debris.

•Liquid detergents, water and a stiff bristle brush will remove most mildew and dirt.

•For hard to clean wood surfaces, use a deck brightener containing Oxalic acid to retain the wood’s natural beauty.

•Always follow the manufacturer’s mixing and application instructions.

•Never use household chloride bleaches on decks as it can cause damage to the wood fibers and fasteners.

•Care should be taken if a pressure-washer is used for cleaning decks, as excessive pressure may cause damage to your deck’s surface.

•Make sure water can drain away from the deck and there is adequate ventilation so water can evaporate to lessen mold and mildew growth.

— Edie Kello, Viance Company

 

 

But what if your deck is a composite? Well, all decks benefit from a bit of care and cleaning — even durable capped composite decks. Depending on the type of composite you have, the cleaning materials may vary. So we thought the best thing is to go right to the manufacturer’s mouth, so to speak.

 

Popular Composite Decking

Deck and Patio Trex Pool Surround & Deck

Deck and Patio Trex Pool Surround & Deck

 

 

For details on maintaining Trex decking, check out the information on their different Trex products at their website.

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

 

 

Here’s how to care and maintain your Fiberon deck from the manufacturer’s website’s blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

 

 

And as for TimberTech, you can download a PDF on how to care for your TimberTech Capped Composite Decking. 

 

 

 

 

Fall Gardening Tips from Hicks Nurseries, Westbury, Long Island

Like our friends at Hicks Nurseries, Deck and Patio and our blog followers love each new season for the gifts it brings.

Autumn is no exception. So in case you missed it at their own website, Hicks Nurseries’ gave us permission to share below their October 23rd blog on: FALL GARDENING – YES, YOU CAN!.  Enjoy!

 

By Karen Musgrave, Hicks Nurseries

Fall can be a confusing time for the novice gardener. Their gardens are producing less, if any fruit and flowers are starting to look tired and leggy. The weather is cooler and it seems like the time to garden has ended . . . or has it?

Fall is a great time to plant!

Fall gardening? Yes, you can! Although the air temperatures are cooler the ground temperature is still plenty warm for root growth. Here on Long Island you can plant trees, shrubs and perennials well into late fall. Learn how to plant here.

 

Lawn Renovation

Now is the time to re-seed your lawn or fill in bare spots that may have formed over the summer months. Plentiful rainfall, cooler temperatures and the lack of competition from weeds combine to make this the best time to accomplish lawn seeding or sodding. Learn more here.

 

 

Move Houseplants & Tropicals Indoors for Winter

If you moved your houseplants and tropical plants such as hibiscus outdoors for the summer, now is the time to transition them indoors for the winter. Learn how here.

 

Dig Up Summer Blooming Bulbs & Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs

 

Summer Blooming Bulbs

Not all bulbs can survive the winter outdoors. Dahlias, elephant ears, cannas and caladium are of few of the bulbs you will need to dig up before winter. Learn more here.

 

Spring Blooming Bulbs

Now is also the time to plant tulips, daffodils and other spring blooming bulbs. These bulbs require a period of cold (winter). Plant them now and they will bloom next spring. Learn more here.

Mulch

Nothing makes the flower beds in front of your home look nicer – especially in the winter – than a layer of beautiful mulch. Mulch gives beds a finished look, helps the soil to retain water for your trees and shrubs and suppresses weed growth.

 

What About Pruning? 

Heavy pruning at this time could result in the stimulation of new growth that may not have enough time to mature before winter; making it prone to frost damage. Limit pruning to the removal of dead or damaged branches during this time. Learn more about pruning here.

 

For information about how and when to prune hydrangeas , read our Hydrangea pamphlet.

 

Fall is a great time to garden. The weather is cooler and the sun is shining, get out there and enjoy it! A little work now will save you time this spring.”

A big thanks to Hicks Nurseries. Note: Today’s feature photo at the top of this blog is from Hicks’ Facebook page.

***

For tips on how falling leaves can affect your driveways, decks, lawns, and patios, etc., Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio reminds everyone that the tannin in leaves can stain pavers, concrete etc.

“It is better — and easier to remove the leaves than to seal your decks and patios,” says Dave. For more on this, see our blog.

 

 

 

By |2017-10-26T13:29:35-05:00October 26th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Creative Design, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Fall Gardening Tips from Hicks Nurseries, Westbury, Long Island

Deck and Patio Can Help You Choose the Right Patio or Driveway Materials

At The Deck and Patio Company, when we say “Patio” is our middle name, it’s more than a play on words. We have been successfully enhancing the front and back hardscape of clients on Long Island and her environs for over 25 years.

We have become known as experts in natural stone, pavers and other landscaping materials.

“Brickwork and stonework are using new trends in recent years,” says owner of Deck and Patio, Dave Stockwell. “And we like to think the many awards we have received for our projects suggest the superb design talents and installation competence of our team. For example, all the photos in today’s post are of projects that won local, national or international awards.”

 

Done properly, Dave adds, outdoor hardscapes are more than serviceable — they can be an essential element in ensuring a residence and property remain one harmonious whole.

To accomplish this requires choosing a new hardscape’s ideal hue, texture and pattern so that it complements the exterior of your residence and other outdoor spaces. It also needs to be designed in a way perfectly suited to the amount of property space involved and the use it will have.

 

 

 

 

“For a truly welcoming entrance,” says Dave, “driveways constructed in the right paving stones can offer inviting curb appeal and distinction. In backyards, the right patio material can feel like an extension of its surroundings.”

This is a beautiful example of a paving stone driveway. “Our design team was brought in during the early planning stages and construction of this home,” says Dave. “We worked with the architect and homeowners.”

The driveway was done in handsome earth-tone concrete tumbled pavers that appear as an extension of the geometric patterns and hues of the home’s Glen Gary brick.

 

 

 

Like many of Deck and Patio’s clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses.

For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to natural stone, Travertine is a popular choice. Warning: it is key to work with reputable suppliers for this product as some Travertine comes from countries that produces a stone that will not hold up in the freeze/thaw climate of the Northeast.

For this glorious expansive Travertine patio, Deck and Patio installed Travertine from Turkey — for its beauty, density and porosity — which we could guarantee would withstand our area’s severe climate changes and maintain its elegance.

 

 

 

 

If you have trouble deciding on the right hardscape materials, consider stopping by our design center in Huntington Station where we created an outdoor display for just this purpose.

When visiting this outdoor display, you can walk-on them, and even touch various materials to get a proper sense of how a finished hardscape will look in natural light.

Plus, if desired, our staff can explain the different benefits of each one — be it bluestone, brick, concrete pavers, permeable pavers, Travertine, etc.

Hope to see you here!

 

 

By |2017-10-05T12:28:20-05:00October 5th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Creative Design, Driveways, Patios & Decks, paving stones|Comments Off on Deck and Patio Can Help You Choose the Right Patio or Driveway Materials

Fall Is a Great Time to Design/Build a New Deck

Whether you need to replace your old one, or you are starting from scratch, fall is a great time to build that new deck.

Why? Because design and build firms like Deck and Patio have a bit more available time in their hectic schedules. Fall weather is also usually very good, which allows for outdoor construction jobs to get done quickly.

Plus, with the addition of a few special amenities like a custom fire pit, patio cover, and, perhaps space heaters, the outdoor season can be stretched far beyond early fall.

Deck Basics

The structure of a deck is most often attached to the house. It’s usually elevated, that is, designed to suit the “lay of the land.” The land’s topography also helps determine how high and how many levels it should be.

 

Decking Materials on Display at Deck and Patio Design Center

Decking Materials on Display at Deck and Patio Design Center

In addition to choosing the right design/build experts, the most important thing is choosing the deck material you want to use, i.e., natural wood, capped composite and pressure-treated wood.

Here’s some of the most commonly used deck materials:

— cedar       — mahogany,

— Ipe          — TimberTech

— Trex        — Fiberon, etc.

Of course, there are advantages and limitations to each of these.

So, how to decide? To make it easier, Deck and Patio has built at our design center in Huntington Station an outdoor display comprised of a wide variety of these materials. Our experts are happy to explain the benefits of each.

Here, you can walk on these installed boards, touch them, and get an idea of what they look like in sunlight. We believe this is the best way to get the information you need to start your deck project.

Safety Is Extremely Important

All of our decks are built to code, including concrete footings 36″ deep and 12″ diameter. Our decks are designed to be safe and unique. For those clients not wishing to go with the traditional rectangular deck, an angular (octagonal), rounded, or curved deck and rails can be designed to suit their outdoor needs.

Make It Multi-Seasonal and Comfortable

There’s lots of custom options for your deck, including special railings, deck design inlays, custom seating, built-in fire pits. Here’s some of our finished decks  that might help you think though your own project:

 

Deck and Patio "Cedar" Deck

Deck and Patio “Cedar” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Mahogany" deck

Deck and Patio “Mahogany” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Ipe" Deck

Deck and Patio “Ipe” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "TimberTech" Deck

Deck and Patio “TimberTech” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Trex" Deck

Deck and Patio “Trex” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Fiberon" Deck

Deck and Patio “Fiberon” Deck

 

By |2017-09-21T13:15:39-05:00September 21st, 2017|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Composite Decking, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Railings, Trex Decking|Comments Off on Fall Is a Great Time to Design/Build a New Deck

Before the Leaves Fall: Some Backyard Maintenance Tips

 

 

 

It’s weeks away. But as sure as leaf tannin stains decks and driveways, fall foliage is coming.

So kick back and give a few thoughts to some backyard maintenance that can be done now — and might make falling leaves less of a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning

Right now — on the cusp of early fall — is the ideal time to prune. Cutting plants back now will give them enough time to callous over before the first frost.

Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.

 

 

 

Ponds

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

One area that needs a little care before leaves drop is the backyard pond.

In a previous post, our blog covered in detail the importance of protecting pond water from falling leaves.

“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and get rid of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. Water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”

Pond experts at Aquascape Inc., a leading pond supply company, also suggest “tenting” the net so it doesn’t sag into the water when it becomes heavy with leaves and debris.

They also say to trim back aquatic plants to reduce the amount of organic material decomposing in the colder months. A previous blog offers more details on water plants and how to care for pond fish in fall.

 

 

 

Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Before the leaves start falling off trees in your yard, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.

“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.

“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”

 

 

 

 

 

Plantings

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

To give plants a head start before spring, now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.

Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.

In an earlier blog, we discussed — Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Pond Project

Deck and Patio Pond Project

A bit of effort in fall — before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.

 

 

Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

Lawn Mowing

Lawn Mowing

A beautifully manicured green lawn takes a lot of watering and fertilizing, not to mention mowing. It’s truly not easy being green.

In speaking with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, it turns out, this is something very much on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” says Vultaggio. “A lawn is a high-input plant that requires a good deal of water and fertilizer to stay green, so it’s a good idea, say on Long Island, to reduce the amount of lawn we preserve.”

Vultaggio suggests, instead, planting more native perennials and shrubs.“Over time, after the planting stage, these will require much less irrigation. Perennials are pretty self-sufficient in searching for water on their own. Plus, their fertilizer requirements are at a minimum.”

Adding native plants is also a great help to local wildlife, who thrive when they can feed, find cover, and raise their young around familiar flora. “In fact, The National Wildlife Federation has a program (see fact sheet) devoted to reducing lawns and introducing pollinators to the garden through native plants,” says Vultaggio.

Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

For those who are eager to save some money, time — all while helping local wildlife — Vultaggio suggests the following native plants:

 

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

1. Monarda (Bee Balm):

Native to North America, this beautiful flowering plant is from the mint family. It’s easy to grow, is deer resistant, and attracts pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

It’s tubular flowers come in a variety of colors (pink, white, violet, red) and bloom in high summer through early fall. Bee Balm takes to full sun or light shade, and prefers a well-drained fertile soil. It needs some protection from excess moisture in winter.

 

 

 

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

2. Violet-colored Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather):

Gayfeather (tall purple plant on the left) is an extremely easy plant to grow.

It blooms in late summer and grows from corms that sprout in spring. Part of the sunflower family, it, too, is native to North America. It likes full sun, well-drained soils; it attract birds and butterflies, and is an ideal perennial.

Because the Gayfeather often grows to a robust 2-4’ feet tall, it may require staking or some other support.

 

 

 

3.  Nectar and pollen-rich Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed):

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed is native to eastern North America and blooms in clusters of orange flowers from mid-late summer. It is drought-tolerant and attracts birds and pollinators. It is a particularly good source of nectar for Monarchs; plus Monarch caterpillars feed off its leaves.

This plant thrives in poor dry soils, likes full sun; it is deer resistant, and is nicely fragrant.  These two photos are of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

 

 

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

4.  Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker):

This frequently bi-colored flower makes a dramatic statement in the garden and is an ideal plant for those who are new to gardening. In fact, this plant is so easy to grow it has been described as “tough to kill.” It is fairly drought-resistant, plus hummingbirds and butterflies love it. It is best planted in early spring or late fall.

When in bloom, the blossoms appear a bit like a hot poker or torch and for those feeling a bit of sadness saying good-bye to some of their lawn, note that these plants boast very “grass-like” leaves. This photo is of Vultaggio’s own garden and is courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

(Note: the dramatic dark blue/black flowers in the foreground are Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ which bloom from late spring to early autumn.)

 

For those unsure on how Ito remove turfgrass, Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, offers the following tips:

 

 


Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

— Decide where you want to reduce the lawn area

— Use powdered lime, flour, or spray paint to mark the exact section you wish to cut back;

— Water the area ahead of time and then ‘scalp’ the grass (cut it to expose the stems)

— Now you have two options: (1) The physically harder, but quicker, one is: Using a turf cutter or spade, dig out the turf. Add soil and plant right away.  (Note: keep the removed turfgrass. After the sod breaks down, the turf can help make nitrogen-rich soil around the roots of plants).

Or…(2) try an easier, but slower, alternative method: Cover the sod with about 7 layers of newspaper or thin cardboard. Add a minimum of 6 inches of compost or topsoil on top.  The grass underneath will decompose in due course. Planting can then be done without any cultivation of the soil. Of course, if starting this process now, by the time the area is ready, it would be time to put in fall plants. For some ideas on ideal fall plants, visit this earlier blog.

— Dave Stockwell

 

 

By |2018-04-03T13:52:19-05:00July 13th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

April Gardening is For the Birds: Some “To Do’s” and “Not To Do’s”

Today’s garden planning goes well beyond simply color and texture. Some of the delights of outdoor living are the amazing creatures our gardens and water features attract.

With that in mind, below are some “to do” and “not to do” lawn/garden ideas for the month of April that we put together with the help of Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension.

 

April “To Do’s”

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

During March and April many birds migrate back up north. Ruby-throated hummingbirds, for example, make their home in Mexico and Central America during winter, and are already en route to our neck of the woods.

So if you want to invite them to your yard, it’s time to fill hummingbird feeders etc. As for blooms, Vultaggio says that these hummingbirds particularly love rhododendrons and azaleas. “They also love Columbine, which they track as they move north.”

 

Oriolefest feeder

Oriolefest feeder

Other delightful birds — e.g., the Baltimore Oriole and certain Warblers — also arrive on Long Island and other areas of the Northeast in April.

Oriole migration coincides with that of hummingbirds, says Vultaggio — arriving usually a week ahead of their smaller rapid-flapping friends. For the Orioles, she puts out oranges, which they love.

Like hummingbirds, Orioles winter in Mexico and Central and South America. It’s worth planning for their arrival because they don’t stay around long. They begin migrating south again in August. So get your Oriole-feeders out early.

 

 

“When it comes to bees, which have been on the decline in alarming numbers, some suggest that we leave dandelions in our lawns for them,” says Vultggio. For while hummingbirds, etc. are going after nectar, the bees are in search of pollen,” she says.

This means it’s a good idea to cultivate both pollen and nectar producing plants, adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Indeed, we recommend sufficient seasonal plantings so that the right blooms appear from early spring into late fall. We also suggest that you plant them in clusters to provide havens for birds and pollinators.”

Dave says that early April is also a great time to clean and repair any bird houses so they’ll be ready for birds to nest.

 

April “Not to Do’s” 

 

“April is a good time of year to postpone any severe pruning you might want to do,” says Vultaggio. “This time of year is usually mating season, and squirrels and birds are busy building their nests.”

“You don’t want to be cutting down trees while these creatures are nesting. Also, it’s helpful to the birds if you don’t make a thorough clean up of your yard during spring maintenance. Leave behind loose twigs and leaves for them to build their nests.”

During April, gardeners often find it necessary to go after insects and pests that might destroy their garden. This can mean applying fungicide or spraying insecticides.

“Be sure that when you do this, not to spray the blooming trees and shrubs. You don’t want to harm birds, bees and other pollinating insects,” adds Dave Stockwell.


 

Finally, Vultaggio says that doing a few things — and not doing some others — will help attract all the beautiful creatures we want to enjoy when outdoors. In fact, right now, she is daily tracking the 2017 migration of hummingbirds to our area in the Northeast.

“I went to hummingbirds.net just this morning. And guess what? They were already in Virginia.”

 

 

2016 Baltimore Oriole Sighting on Long Island:

2016 Baltimore Oriole Sighting on Long Island:

This photo of a Baltimore Oriole was taken by Sandra Vultaggio last spring. Note: yellow/orange Helianthus and pink Zinnias in her garden make a perfect spot for her feeder. “The feeder is actually a hummingbird feeder,” says Vultaggio, “but Orioles will feed from it as well.”