Well if you couldn’t tell it was summer already based off the weather, maybe all of the blooming crape myrtles tipped you off!
Crape myrtles are a perfect addition to any southern landscape due to their ability to handle our hot summers and their beautiful color show put on in late fall. Crapes come in a wide variety of colors and sizes and are easily trained to either take on the appearance of a shrub or tree. Even the bark of crape myrtles is pretty and comes in varying colors!
Training a crape myrtle to look like a tree is actually extremely easy. First, you cut back all of the limbs growing from the ground except for three to five of the strongest. Then just continue to cut off any branches growing out of these limbs so that half of the crape has no branches growing. As the plant continues to get taller, simply cut the lowest branches off to maintain the shape. One quick note: Don’t cut the crape myrtle’s new growth back to its point of origin each winter. This is actually extremely bad for the plant and can lead to a decay of the interior wood.
Crape myrtles do best in well-drained soil with around six hours of direct sunlight. They also prefer applications of fertilizers with low phosphorous in late February or early March. Although crapes are extremely hearty, they do have two natural enemies: powdery mildew and aphids. Generally, most crape myrtle varieties with a Native American title are resistant to powdery mildew. If your plant is infected with powdery mildew, there is a wide range of organic or otherwise fungicides that can be applied. As for aphids, you can either knock them off with a strong blast of water or employ some of the helpers we discussed in an earlier blog.
If you would like to add some crape myrtles to your landscape, or just need a little help getting them to look the way you want, let one of Complete Landsculpture’s talented teams come give you a hand!
By: Wylee Wooldridge
There’s a hidden fungus growing on the roots of 90 percent of the plants on this planet. What does this mean for your plants? That they’re going to be extra healthy!
Mycorrhiza is a fungus which forms a mutualistic relationship with plants by attaching itself to their roots and aiding in all things plants do. The name of this fungus literally means “root fungus” as it is derived from Myco (fungus) and rhiza (roots). So how exactly does this fungus benefit plant systems?
Mycorrhiza attaches itself to the roots of plants forming a fuzzy outer lining. Thanks to the added surface area provided by the fungus, plants become much better at absorbing water and nutrients from the soil meaning less water and fertilizer is required. In return for these great benefits, the plants supply a steady source of carbohydrates in the form of glucose and sucrose to the fungus.
This fungus has also been shown to help plants in breaking down certain demineralized nutrients, such as phosphate ions, which a plant would have otherwise not had access to. In a similar process, this fungus has also been found to give plants an enhanced pathogen resistance by way of acting as a barrier between the plants roots and potential harmful agents. Mycorrhiza can even help plants break down petroleum and heavy metals at contaminated sites!
So what does this all mean for a gardener? Mycorrhiza can help you make transplanting a breeze. You can actually buy mycorrhiza inoculates which can then be either mixed in with your soil before planting or watered in like a standard fertilizer. It’s like giving your plants a new best friend!
By: Wylee Wooldridge
Saving water, not worrying about water restrictions and having a healthier lawn; you could have all of this with just a simple drip irrigation system!
Drip irrigation has long been a fixture in the commercial agriculture community due to its extreme efficiency with water. Slowly delivering water directly to the ground, and therefore to the plants’ roots, drastically cuts the amount of water lost due to evaporation and gives the soil a better chance to absorb the water. Some studies even show drip irrigation can cut outdoor water needs by up to 70 percent!
But what exactly is drip irrigation? In a nutshell, it’s the application of water directly to the soil where your plants’ roots need it most. Drip irrigation really isn’t that complex, although it does require a decent amount of equipment to get the pressure correct and keep sediment out of the fine holes in the tubing. Let’s look over exactly what goes into a drip irrigation system.
First, you’ll want to buy a timer if you’re using your outdoor spigot. This will help ensure that your garden and trees are getting the correct amount of water even when you aren’t home. You’ll then want to attach some sort of diverter, such as a T or Y hose so that you can continue using your hose.
Next you’ll need to get a pressure regulator. Drip irrigation systems are centered around the fact that they don’t need to use high pressure water as they literally drip water onto the soil. Most households’ water pressure is far too high, therefore the need for a pressure regulator. To the pressure regulator you should then add a filter. Water is delivered to the soil through tiny holes in the tubing which could get clogged due to the sediment in the water. A filter with a mesh of 120 to 150 should be perfect.
As for the water emitter, you’ll have your choice from drip tape, drip circles or emitter tubing. Drip tape is great for raised garden beds or if your garden is planted in rows. Drip circles are ideal for trees. You’ll want to place your drip circles at your tree’s drip line. To figure out where your drip line is, imagine your tree’s foliage as a giant umbrella. A circle around your tree where the foliage/umbrella ends is your tree’s drip line. Your last option is the emitter tubing which is the best bet for landscaped beds as it can bend to the shape of the bed and even curl around plants.
If you would like help designing the perfect drip irrigation system or would like some help installing a drip irrigation system, give the Certified Irrigation Specialists at Complete Landsculpture a call.
By: Wylee Wooldridge
So what exactly is there to do with your landscape while the heat continues to ramp up in July? Actually quite a bit!
Your yard still needs your attention even if it feels like it’s too hot to be outside. I know that staying in the nice, cool, air conditioned house feels like the best option, but you put those plants in the ground so now it’s your responsibility to keep them alive!
So what exactly should you be focusing on during the hotter months of the year? Here’s a quick list to make sure your landscape continues to thrive.
• Did you know that as nighttime temperatures stay above 70 degrees, fungus can begin to attack your lawn? Keep an eye out for brown patches as that indicates the presence of a fungus. If you notice any fungal signs, look into a fungicide or let Complete Landsculpture come check it out.
• Unfortunately, mosquito season is in full effect. Although there hasn’t been much rain, it is still a good idea to do a sweep of your property and dispose of any unwanted standing water. If you have some standing water that you’d like to keep, make sure to toss in a Mosquito Dunk comprised of Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria which is only harmful to insects in their larval stage.
• Mulch, mulch and more mulch! I know this is a “tip” for that gets put out for each and every season, but that’s because mulch actually helps that much! Mulch is especially useful during the summer as it keeps weeds out of the garden (which are competing for water and nutrients with your wanted plants) and it keeps moisture in the soil.
• Now is the time of year to keep your grass high! Never mow more than 1/3 of a grass blade off and keep your grass about 3.5 to 4 inches tall. As long as you don’t remove more than 1/3 of the length of your grass, make sure to leave the clippings on your lawn as this returns nutrients to your soil while also acting as mulch.
• If you have a compost pile, make sure not to add any weeds that contained seed heads. Most compost doesn’t get hot enough to kill the seeds which may come back with a vengeance when you spread your compost.
If you feel like your lawn could use a little extra help during these hot summer months, contact Complete Landsculpture to set up weekly maintenance visits from our talented landscaping teams.
By: Wylee Wooldridge
Once you have some nice shade trees installed you’ll probably find yourself with a little extra money saved up from your electricity bills. You might also find yourself with a couple of brown spots between your trees and your house. “Well, I guess that’s the cost of lower electricity bills,” you might think. But don’t think like that; there are plenty of plants that thrive in low sun.
Some people actually design entire gardens based on using plants which thrive in the shade. Most turf grasses require lots of sun, so it shouldn’t be too surprising if your grass begins to thin out. If you’re looking for turf, however, St. Augustine is one of the most shade tolerant varieties in our area and will have no problem reclaiming spaces from other less hearty grasses; so long as it gets the water it needs.
If you’re thinking more along the lines of groundcover to fill the flower beds around your house, take a look at some liriope. This plant closely resembles monkey or mondo grass, however it produces lilac covered flowers. The variegated liriope variety “Silver Dragon” doesn’t clump like monkey grass and will fill in any area.
If you want to add a little extra pop to your shade garden, think about adding some caladium. These annuals come as bulbs and offer a wide range of colors ranging from white to a pinkish red.
Then there’s the old groundcover standby known as Asian jasmine. This dense, fast growing groundcover is ideal for large spaces as it grows extremely fast. This is a fairly drought-tolerant plant which loves full shade; exactly what we’re looking for in a shady Texas garden!
If you need any help selecting plants, shade trees or designing your very own shade garden, give the experts at Complete Landsculpture a call!
By: Wylee Wooldridge
It’s July in the south which, when it comes down to it, is the same as saying “it’s hot!” As the heat rises, so goes our electricity bills. With the heat of the sun beating down on your property, a little extra shade may sound quite appealing right now. Pavilions and patio covers are a great way to shade people, but what about shading your house and lowering that energy bill?
Although summer is not the time to plant new trees, it is the time we tend to wish we had a few more trees around. Before we get back into the cooler months and stop thinking about how bad we would like some more shade, let’s spend some time looking at the value of shade trees and how plant them strategically.
First of all, let’s take a look at what kind of shade trees are best for our area. The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension has put together a great guide for shade trees in the north central Texas region. You’ll want to have a decent understanding of your soil’s composition as some trees that grow in one part of north central Texas may not grow in another.
Also consider that smaller trees (6-8ft) tend to be a better landscaping investment as they recover faster from the shock of transplanting than larger trees. Still, you’ll want shade trees that will grow tall enough to cast a shadow on the roof of your house.
When it comes to where to plant your shade trees, a few things should be taken into consideration. First things first, when looking for shade trees, only consider deciduous varieties as these will have leaves to block the sun during the summer months while losing the leaves in the winter when you actually want a little extra sun. You’ll want to place your shade trees on the east and west sides of your house, roughly 15 to 20 feet from your walls. Make sure to choose a tree with strong wood and branches when planting this close to your house.
Also make sure to have a tree covering your air conditioner. You can actually save as much as 10 percent on your electricity bill by simply shading your air conditioner unit! Casting some extra shade on your sidewalk, driveway and patio can actually reduce the air temperature by not allowing the concrete to warm up and emit heat.
You can kick your ability to save energy through the use of trees up a notch by planting a row of evergreen trees to the north/northwest of your house. Trees in this location will act as a wind block during the winter.
If you’d like a little help choosing the best trees for your area, contact the tree experts at Complete Landsculpture!
By: Wylee Wooldridge
Imagine this scene: The sun is setting on a warm day spent swimming in the pool, lounging around and enjoying a long summer day. Everything’s perfect, until you catch a hint of that mouthwatering smell coming from your neighbor’s grillstravaganza. If only there was a way to continue enjoying your outdoor experience just as the evening is starting to get nice. What about adding your new favorite room of the house?
This new favorite room doesn’t actually need to be in your house! Maybe I should just say your favorite room at your house… Either way, an outdoor kitchen is a great way to extend the functional space of your home while having a new excuse to spend time outside.
Seeing as it’s grilling season, now is the perfect time to think about your dream grilling space. An outdoor kitchen is so much more than just a grill station, though! They help create a new intimacy for get-togethers as no one needs to be locked inside cooking while everyone else enjoys the outdoors. Why would you need to go inside when you have a range, grill, sink, refrigerator and cabinets all at your disposal and all outdoors?
I don’t know about you, but I always like to watch a little TV while I make my meals. The experts at Complete Landsculpture can install audio and video entertainment within your outdoor kitchen to make sure you get the best outdoor cooking experience around. Depending on how far you want to go with it, you can have your outdoor kitchen with all of the amenities of just another room in your house, except without all those pesky walls.
Now is the perfect time to start thinking about an outdoor kitchen. Have it done just in time to catch the end of grilling season and the beginning of the cool fall nights!
By: Wylee Wooldridge
Although outdoor living may seem all but dead during the summer months in North Texas and Oklahoma City, it can actually thrive with the right preparation.
Summer is the perfect time to hang out! It’s no fun to try and crowd all of your friends inside your house, and cleaning your floors afterward is definitely not anyone’s idea of fun. Having a get-together outside makes the whole event feel more open and (pardon the pun) warm. But does it need to be hot?
Talented landscape architects like Complete Landsculpture tend to have a few tricks for homeowners to be able to enjoy their outdoor spaces, even during the summer! I wish I could give you a rule of thumb for how much cooler it is under shade versus in the sun, but the fact is there are far too many variables that come into play. What we CAN do is make those variables a little less… variable.
One such factor we can control is wind. Obviously, it feels cooler when the air isn’t stagnant. To make sure you have some moving air, how about installing some ceiling fans in your outdoor living space? You can even up the ante and add the cooling properties of evaporation into the mix with some strategically placed misters.
Swimming pools are the tried and true method of cooling off during our brutal summers, but nobody wants to run into a freezing air conditioned house all wet. Not to mention tracking all of that water in. Plus, being in the sun suddenly loses its appeal when you’re not submerged in water. This is where pavilions really shine.
Adding a pavilion next to your pool creates a whole new outdoor living experience. Having a pool party in the middle of the day suddenly becomes much less of a hassle as you don’t need to worry about all of that wet foot traffic in and out of your house. Just dip in the pool, dry out under the pavilion and repeat as necessary!
So instead of staying cooped up indoors to avoid the heat this summer, contact the experts at Complete Landsculpture to enhance your outdoor living spaces with some heat beating tricks.
By: Wylee Wooldridge
Smart Irrigation Month, an initiative of the Irrigation Association, is nearly upon us! As a leader in water conservation and smart water management, Complete Landsculpture is always looking for ways to get the word out about the need to watch your water. Water conservation in North Texas has become even more important in recent days since the discovery of zebra mussels in Lewisville Lake.
Zebra mussels are an invasive species which spawn prolifically due to their having no natural predators in the US. They can form a four to five inch carpet on any hard surface in a lake, clogging drains and pipelines. Scientists hope that the searing Texas summer will kill off the zebra mussel population in Lewisville Lake once the lake temperature reaches 90 degrees.
So what can you do to help conserve water and participate in Smart Irrigation Month all while another North Texas water source is under attack by zebra mussels? The Irrigation Association has these tips:
- Plant right – This includes xeriscaping and grouping plants with similar moisture needs.
- Invest in an irrigation system – Automated irrigation systems can make sure your yard gets only the water it needs when it needs it while also helping you comply with our watering restrictions.
- Water wisely – This section has great tips on how to set your irrigation controller for your specific soil type, irrigation zones and season.
- Maintain and upgrade your system – Make sure to have your system inspected monthly and consider installing a smart irrigation system.
By: Wylee Wooldridge