Benefits of Mulch

With warmer weather here it is time to get out in the yard and see what is left after one of the coldest winters on record.  You may notice some plants, especially broad leaf evergreens, with dieback or other damage.  This happens because of the winter winds drying the leaves and the inability of the plant to take up moisture with below freezing temperatures.  Mulch can help prevent this from happening.  When we place a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the plants and trees in our landscapes it helps regulate soil temperatures.  The mulch will delay ground freezing in the fall and prevent repetative freeze-thaw cycles during the fall and spring.

Mulch has other benefits as well.  A good layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist throughout the growing season which reduces the amount of water needed.  The mulch will also prevent weed growth and add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.  A nice mulch also adds beauty to the landscape and allows you to enjoy more time in your yard instead of constantly working in it.

Let us know if you have any questions or are in need of mulch.  We are always ready to help you enjoy your yard.  You can also visit our website at bladerunnerslandscape.com for more ideas.  We wish you the best throughout your summer.

Happy New Year!

To date there has been very little snow this year.  Back in October, it appeared as though winter was going to be a repeat of last year.  Many predicted a repeat of the prior winter.  Then before Thanksgiving we had measurable snow and we thought is was the beginning of the next ice age.   December dried up and has turned out to be one of the least snowiest Decembers on record.  Let’s not get too excited!  This is all just part of the ebb and flow of weather patterns.  If you look at weather charts and precipitation amounts throughout the years you will find some years heavy and some light.  We’ll have to be patient see what Old Man Winter will bring to us over the coming months.

As we close out the year we reflect on how grateful we are for our customers.  We understand that without you there would be no purpose for what we do.   We appreciate all of your business, as well as, your trust in us when you pass on a referral.  From all of us at BladeRunners we wish you the best in the new year.

Harsh Winter…Again?

As we all know, last year was one of the roughest winters in our life time.  The snow came down at record rates and the temperatures weren’t much better.  Many days we had temperatures below zero.  These conditions aren’t only rough on us they are also tough on our landscapes.  Last year, many evergreens were affected by the severe cold temperatures and harsh winter winds.  Below are some tips to winterize your plants for the winter.

1.  Water is very important to the survival of plants during the winter months.  Water plants well, especially evergreens, prior to the ground freezing late in the fall.

2.  Before the ground freezes, mulch plants around the base to a depth of 2-3″.  This will help delay freezing of the ground and help regulate soil temperatures to avoid constant freezing            and thawing conditions.

3.  Burlap shields may be constructed around evergreen plants to act as a windbreak.  Burlap should not be in direct contact with plant material.  Never wrap plants tightly in burlap.

4.  Anti-desiccant sprays, such as Wilt-Pruf, may also be used on broad leaf evergreens to prevent moisture loss.  This should be used according to the product label.

All of these methods will help prevent desiccation, which is the water loss of a plant due to winter winds, warm sunny days during the winter months, and unavailable frozen water.  This fall, use these tips to protect your landscape investment.

Prunning

Around this time of year we are often called on to trim trees and shrubs in the landscape.  Is it really the best time?  The answer depends on what you are prunning and what your intentions are for that plant.  Here are a few tips on pruning that may help.

There are two basic types of pruning cuts you can make.

  1. Heading Back:  Heading Back induces branching and a more dense compact growth habit in plants.  Stems should be pruned back to a bud, which faces the direction you wish the plant to grow, generally outward.  Prune just above the bud.
  2. Thinning:  Thinning removes entire branches or stems back to there point of origin.  Thinning cuts open up the foliage and allow it to breath better and lead to a more natural looking landscape plant.  It is important that no stub is left when thinning.  Suckers should be pruned to keep nutrients flowing to other parts of the plant.  Suckers are unwanted sprouts that generally grow from the base of a plants trunk.

In general, flowering plants should be pruned just after the time of flowering so as to not interfere with flower bud development.  Pruning should also not take place in the fall since it may induce new growth that will not have time to harden off properly for winter.  Coniferous trees and shrubs should be pruned or pinched off during the “Candle Stage”.  This is the tender new growth in late spring or early summer, which is generally a different color.  About half of the candle should be removed.

If your shrubs have become too large and unruly for basic pruning practices you can sometimes rejuvenate them trimming them back to just above the ground.  This works better for some than others.  Usually, deciduous shrubs will have a better chance and recover faster than evergreens.  Burning bush or spirea are a great example of those that can be rejuvenated by making extreme cuts.  This can be done in the winter when plants are dormant or in late spring after leafing out.  Just be patient for there return to a normal shape.

Hopefully these guidelines will help your pruning adventures in the coming weeks.

 

Shifting Walks

Late Winter and early Spring weather can cause severe damage to walkways within the landscape.   This is  due to water accumulating under the walk and expanding under freezing temperatures at night, causing the walk to shift upwards.   There are a few things we can do to prevent this from happening.

The first is to use proper installation materials and practices.  The base material should be one that compacts well while allowing for adequate drainage.  We recommend a natural 21AA aggregate, to a minimum depth of 6 inches, with a small sand layer on the top.  In heavier soils a greater depth should be used to allow for better drainage.

We should also take measures to move water away from the walk.  Direct roof and sump drains to other locations by rerouting them to and area that will drain away from the walk.  The surrounding grade should slope away from the walk as well allowing for any water on the surface to easily exit the area.

Concrete walks usually crack when this happens and cannot be repaired back to new conditions.  Brick pavers can be lifted and relayed to once again make a beautiful walkway.  As mentioned, the key is to prevent water from freezing under the walk.  If you have issues with your walks, whether they are concrete or brick, feel free to contact us for help at anytime.  You can also visit our website for more information or to view photos at bladerunnerslandscape.com

Has It Been That Long?

As we enter the new year I can’t help but reflect back on how we have grown over the years from a one man operation to having multiple crews installing a variety of landscapes and maintaining a number of properties.  I realize, none of this would have been possible without the support of our customers.   Whether we have been serving your needs for 1 year or 18 plus, we truly appreciate your patronage.  In the future we hope to continue to build on our relationships  and serve your needs as a landscape design, build, and maintenance company.  This winter has been one for the record books with extreme temperatures and snow amounts .  I’m sure we are not alone in wishing it was over.  We look forward to seeing you when the weather breaks and your landscape begins to bloom.  Our goal is to work on your outdoors so that you can enjoy the outdoors.  We wish you the best in 2014.

 

 

 

Record Setting Winter

As we all have heard by now, this year is one of the coldest and snowiest winters in metro Detroit.  Believe it or not, currently we are ranked 5th in snowfall amounts since records began in the late 1800′s.  Everyone, no matter their age,  seems to say that this is how the winters were when they were kids.  I began doing a little research to find out who was right and what I found seems to prove we are all wrong.

According to the National Weather Service the following is a list of the top 10 snowiest winters in Detroit:

1.   1880-1881     93.6 inches                                    6.   2010-2011    69.1 inches

2.   1925-1926     78.9 inches                                    7.   1907-1908    67.2 inches

3.   1981-1982     74.0 inches                                    8.   1929-1930    67.2 inches

4.   2007-2008   71.7 inches                                     9.   2008-2009  65.7 inches

5.   1899-1900    69.1 inches                                   10.   2004-2005  63.8 inches

To date we have received 70.1 inches of snow this season putting us at number 5.  What’s interesting is that with this year included 5 of the top 11 snowiest seasons in the Detroit area have happened in the last 10 years and 5 others occurred before 1930.  I guess if you were born prior to the 1930′s or after the millennium change you can say that it really did snow a lot more when you were little.  As for the rest of us we can just embellish our stories.

 

Adding a Swimming Pool to Your Yard?

If you are thinking of adding a swimming pool to your yard in the near future you may want to develop a full plan before moving forward.  Begin by thinking about what you desire in the end. Will it be inground or above?   Is it simply a pool out in the middle of the lawn?  Do you want to be able to sit by it or grill by it?  What about screening?  Are there neighbors or unwanted views you want to block?  Where will the fence go?  What are the requirements of the local township or city?

Think of these factors before you even begin finding a pool contractor to do the work.  Then once you have found a contractor you will want to work in conjunction with a landscape company to develop a master plan of how that new pool will fit into the landscape you are dreaming of.  Too often, people begin with the pool and then try to landscape around it as an after thought.  Once installed, the pool can not be moved.  Everything must fit into place with what is existing.  It would be like building the shell of a house and then trying to fit all of the rooms, closets, and hallways you wish at the end.  The planning must all take place before work begins so the pool is installed in the best possible location and your vision from the beginning ends up as a reality.

If you are thinking there is a pool in your future, start with a plan for the whole yard and not just the pool.  You can get more ideas on our website at bladerunnerslandscape.com

Dangerous Walls

Spring is the time of the year to watch out for leaning, shifting, and buckling retaining walls.  This happens because of either poor base preparation, inadequate building material, or improper drainage behind the wall.

When constructing a retaining wall of any size the base material is one of the  most important aspects of the entire wall.  If the foundation fails everything else will follow.  The base needs to be a crushed rock material that will compact and drain well.  There also needs to be a large enough platform to support the wall that is being built.  This varies on every wall but over-building is never a bad idea.  As a rule, a minimum of six inches of crushed material should be used and at least half of the first row of building material should be buried below grade.

The constructions material being used is also important.  Whatever the material, it needs to be suited for the application.  A smaller wall block will not suffice for a larger wall that is holding back a large slope or a patio.  Be sure to speak with the manufacturer to determine which unit is suitable for your project.  Again, over construction os never a bad idea.

The third factor, that causes walls to fail, is drainage.  This is probably the most overlooked, as well, since it doesn’t directly affect construction but water may be the number one reason for retaining wall failure.  It is important to deflect as much water as possible away from the wall by way of grading and redirecting downspouts to other areas.  There should also be a drain stone behind the wall, as well as a drain pipe at the bottom to carry any water that collects away from the wall.

If you have a retaining wall in need of repair or are looking to build one follow these steps.  Of course, you can always contact BladeRunners Landscaping, Inc. for advice or help on your project or visit our website at bladerunnerslandscape.com to view photos.  When these factors are addressed a retaining wall will last and stay beautiful for years to come.

Elegance In Pavers

During the past 17 years that we’ve been in business many new and exciting hardscape products and ideas have been introduced into the landscape market.  In the past, patios, walks, and retaining walls were generally very basic.  The focus was on function first and aesthetics second.  More recently, however, we have seen the beauty these structures can provide equal that of the function.

A few years ago Unilock introduced a new type of concrete paver onto the scene.  These pavers have a more realistic surface texture and enhanced coloring to give a bold but elegant look to the landscape.  The durability is equal or better than any other paver on the market while giving a completely unique look to each jobsite they are installed on.  If what you have is old, tired and boring these may spark your interest and inspire you to make a change.

As you look outside this winter think of the outdoor projects you would like to accomplish this year.  I invite you to visit our website and look at pictures of these products as they have been installed to get a feel of the real beauty they can provide.  If you would like more information on any of these materials or are interested in creating your own unique landscape please contact us to have a design drawn specifically for you.