planters-container-gardening

Container Gardening Tips

Container gardening isn’t just for the urban landscape, or those of us with attention deficit issues.  Containers and planters are a great way to add POP to your landscape and create visual focal points that might be hard to achieve with traditional landscape techniques.  Planters can also be used to rotate seasonal flowers and decorations, even in the cold winter months.

Don’t be fooled, however, while container gardening can be easier than traditional landscaping, it does not guarantee success. Follow our tips for the best results.

Choosing the Right Planters

When it comes to selecting containers, the sheer volume of available styles and sizes can be overwhelming. However, there are some basic qualities you should look for in every container or planter you choose.

Look for containers that allow ample drainage and are made from non-porous materials. This will help you with keeping your plants watered, but not flooded.

The best containers will be flat-sided or wider at the top. If you are planning on planting annuals, you will want a container that is at least 8 inches deep. Grasses and shrubs will need more room, between 16 and 24 inches deep. If you are looking to add a variety of plants within one container, be sure that it is at least 12 inches wide.

Prepping Your Container

Before filling your planters with soil, be sure to add some stones to the bottom, particularly over the drainage holes. This will help maintain moisture.

We recommend bagged potting soil for flowering annuals. This will help prevent disease, while keeping your planter lightweight. Be sure to select a potting soil that contains a slow-release fertilizer to help your plants to stay healthy longer.

Choosing Your Plants

When selecting plant material, be sure to choose plants that are still fairly small. Smaller plants are easier to install and larger, more mature plants may be root bound in the original container, which will cause them to lose moisture more quickly.  Properly planted and fertilized material will quickly fill in and make your container(s) look great!

Use bold colors, or variations of the same color, to design eye-catching displays. Do not be afraid to mix textures. The best arrangements use a variety of heights within the same planter. For example, choose tall plants like sedge grasses for the center or back of the planter, add medium height plants like begonias to the middle, and hanging or trailing plants such ipomoea around the outer edges of the planter. This will add visual interest to your container garden.

If you plan on adding a variety of plants to one container, choose plants that will grow harmoniously together, meaning that they match as far as watering and sunlight needs.

Maintaining Your Container Garden

If you plan on switching out plants based on season, consider using smaller pots within larger containers. This will make removing and replacing plants easier- when the season changes simply lift out the old and drop in the new!

Be sure to water your potted plants often and to place them where they will receive appropriate sunlight.

For flowering plants, be sure to trim off any dead blossoms to make room for new flowers.

Need Inspiration?

If you are looking for a professional design for your porch, patio or landscape with a container garden, talk to Hively. Our specialists will select the right plants, planters and accessories for your home, and we can maintain your plants, ensuring that they stay beautiful all season long.

 

summer lawn tips

It’s Hot! Keep Your Landscape Happy with These Summer Weather Tips

It’s the time of year when the air conditioning is cranked up and working outside is the last thing you want to do. Our region has experienced a mild and wet spring but summer is officially here and you can bet heat waves are in our future. While you can hide out in your AC, your landscape is stranded out there in the heat. How can you keep your landscape happy on the hottest of summer days? Follow these simple summer landscaping tips to help your plants survive the season.

 

Keep Your Landscape Hydrated

Landscapes, especially newly installed landscapes, can be vulnerable during dry, summer months, so maintaining a watering schedule based on the types of plants within your garden is essential. Look at the list below to see how often and for how long you should water your landscape.

No matter the plant, be sure that the water penetrates the roots. Lawn sprinklers are designed for grass, and are not the best choice for shrubs and flowers. This is because the water may stay on leaves and be evaporated before having the chance to reach the plant’s roots, or linger, inviting fungi to take residence on the plant.

In addition, help your landscape retain moisture by adding mulch around newly planted shrubs and trees.

Female hand holding a shower that sprayed water on the lawn

Water in the early morning or late evening.

Fertilization

Most homeowners only think about fertilization during planting season, but certain varieties of plants can benefit from continual feeding throughout the hot season. The type of fertilizer you want is dependent upon the type of plant and your desired results. Plant food and fertilizers typically have three numbers listed on the label. These three numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium respectively.  As a general rule, fruiting plants – fruits and vegetables – will prosper better with a higher ratio of phosphorous and potassium, while foliage plants, like shrubs, will benefit from higher ratios of nitrogen within their fertilizers.

Summer Landscaping Tips by Plant

Perennials

Water perennials, such as irises, hydrangeas, peonies and roses, for ten seconds twice a week during the summer. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for flowering plants. Roses, azaleas and hydrangeas prefer acidic fertilizers.

Annuals

If the summer has been particularly dry, your annuals may need daily watering. Water for ten seconds, again, ensuring that the water penetrates the roots of the plant.

Shrubs

Water shrubs and bushes for thirty seconds each, twice a week. Holly bushes prefer acidic fertilizers, while leafy shrubs used for privacy will benefit from nitrogen-rich plant food.

Trees

Newly planted trees require much more water than smaller plants. Water your trees for three to five minutes twice a week during the summer. Evergreens and dogwoods benefit best from acidic fertilizers.

Summer Landscaping Tips for Your Lawn

Change the Height of Your Mower Blade

By allowing your grass to grow a bit longer, you are helping it survive the heat. When grass has been cut too short, it prevents the plants’ ability to photosynthesize or create their own food. If your grass has been growing for some time, and is considerably high, only cut one-third of its height. Wait a week, and continue to cut only one-third. Repeat until you have the desired length.

Sharpen Your Mower Blade

A dull blade won’t only mutilate your lawn, but can increase the damage to your grass caused by heat. A sharper blade helps your grass heal more quickly after being cut.

Leave Your Clippings Be

Unless your grass clippings are in danger of being blown into the street, storm drains or bodies of water, allow them to lie where they lay. The clippings will help to fertilize the remaining grass.

Resist the Urge to Fertilize, Aerate or Dethatch

Mixing high temperatures with fertilizer can harm your lawn and cause it to burn. Lawn aeration and dethatching should be avoided because it adds to the stress of the plants.

Don’t Flood Your Lawn

Water your lawn regularly, but not every day. Constant watering can weaken the grass and turn your yard into mud.

Check One More Thing Off Your List

Does the pressure of maintaining your lawn seem too much? Would you rather have professional, certified landscapers take care of everything than try to remember these summer landscaping tips? Contact Hively for a free consultation today!

weed-control-herbicide

Choosing the Right Herbicide for Ultimate Weed Control

Spring has arrived and with it will come all the joys of being outside enjoying your landscape…and weeds. Crabgrass, thistle, nutsedge and all of our other favorite perennial weeds will thrive this spring, especially because the of the mild winter that was not cold enough to permanently damage existing dormant seeds. Great! So, now what?

One of the most cost efficient and effective weed control methods is with the use of a pre-emergent herbicide. This is just what it sounds like; pre-emergent herbicides prevent weeds from emerging from seeds by interrupting the germination process as seeds move from dormancy to growth mode. It’s like putting down a barrier across the treated area that weeds can’t penetrate.

Most pre-emergent herbicides are granular or powder based and activated by water. Some pre-emergents are applied on their own and some are applied with other materials, like fertilizers.  This gives pre-emergents the advantage of efficiency combined with a longer effective treatment period to help with extended weed control. Many pre-emergents have a 90 day efficacy if applied in ideal conditions. Since ideal conditions are pretty rare in real life, we suggest a 45 day inspection cycle which allows us the flexibility to re-apply material before weed pressure begins to increase.

In new or existing planting beds, pre-emergents are spread prior to new mulch.  It is important to note that some pre-emergent herbicides can damage certain flowering perennials, annuals and bulbs that have not yet broken bud. It is very important to have an qualified and experienced applicator performing the applications to avoid any issues. The applicator must be able to read and follow the application instructions AND be able to positively identify plant material to ensure success.

Of course, any individual or company that applies herbicides and fertilizers for monetary compensation must be registered with the PA State Department of Agriculture. Registered individuals carry an ID card and registered companies are required to display their BU number on all vehicles that transport controlled chemicals and in all promotional materials. Hively’s BU number is 0299.

If you have a weed problem, or want to avoid having to deal with weed control, please contact our office for assistance.  We love landscapes but we don’t like weeds!

spring garden

Spring Garden and Landscape Preparation

In order to keep your landscape looking its best year-round, now is the time to put your springtime prep work in. The experts at Hively Landscapes came up with the following list to help you focus your efforts and save time during your spring garden and landscape preparation, so you can spend more of it enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Apply Fertilizers & Pre-Emergents

A warm winter like the one we’ve had in south central PA presents a myriad of threats to your lawn and landscape. In warm climates (or during abnormally warm winters), weeds can germinate as early as February, and can quickly invade a landscape. The best way to combat them is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in January or February, and then follow up with a post-emergent treatment as spring arrives.

Also, applying a slow-release fertilizer will provide the right amount of nutrients to your soil, allowing your lawn to thrive and push out weeds, as well as promote top growth.

Cut Back Overgrown Plants Continue reading

flower buds on tree branch ready to bloom

How Warm Winter Weather is Harming Your Plants

Warm, 60- to 70-degree February weather in south central PA feels wonderful for those of us longing for spring, but your lawn and landscape don’t share the same sentiments. In fact, drastic changes in temperature can do quite a bit of harm to your lawn, trees and shrubs, and affect their health throughout the entire growing season.

If you’re wondering what kind of harm a little warm weather can do to your outdoor environment, we’ve broken it down for you below.

How a warm winter harms your lawn

Living in a climate characterized by cold winters means we use cool-season grasses in our lawns. Grasses such as Kentucky or rough bluegrass, ryegrass, fine or turf-type fescue all make great sunny area lawn grasses for Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Rock Salt Alternatives: You Won’t Believe What is Destroying Your Walkway

snow shovel in snowWe’ve been blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with snow-filled winters in Pennsylvania in recent years. While fun for some, those winters wreak havoc on our roads and landscapes. If you have concrete or natural stone walkways at your home, you may even have noticed their condition deteriorating.

Here is a key question: How do you fight off the hazardous ice that forms on the steps and sidewalks around your home? If your answer is with rock salt or other deicers containing ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate, then you’re contributing to their deterioration!

Fortunately, there are alternatives that can save your sidewalks, steps, and landscape. If you want to be properly motivated first, check out the ways in which rock salt is detrimental to your property: Continue reading

deck with furniture

Winterizing Your Deck, Patio and Other Outdoor Spaces

As the recent burst of cold fall weather has reminded us, winter is just around the corner. With the Thanksgiving holiday over, it’s time to winterize your deck, patio and other outdoor living spaces before the weekends get any colder! Here is a short list of things to do, compiled by our staff, to prepare your landscape and outdoor areas for the colder months ahead.

If you have outdoor furniture, cover it or store it inside a garage or shed.  This can help preserve the appearance of your furniture, and in the case of wooden or stone material, may protect it from serious damage caused by freeze/thaw cycles. If you don’t have a grill cover, invest in one!  We’ve been using the same grill at our office for over 12 years, and it still looks and works great because we cover it every day.

Many of us have power equipment with small engines such as lawn mowers, chainsaws, string trimmers, and leaf blowers that are put away in the shed and forgotten about after the last use. It’s common for the latter three to have two-stroke engines that use a fuel-oil mixture. With those, be sure to top off the tank. The oil in the mix will help stabilize the fuel over the winter months. Continue reading

residential landscape plan

Winter Planning Leads to Early Spring Installation

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Ben Franklin said it best, and we’d like to think he was referring to planning spring projects over the winter months.

We don’t blame you for putting your landscape on the back burner during a busy holiday season, where you certainly want your home looking great for those extra guests who will be stopping by. We encourage you to not forget your landscape, however, as this is your best opportunity to get a jump on next year. Here are just a few reasons one of the best kept secrets to landscaping success is as simple as and preparation.

Don’t wait until after the holidays

Early winter seems to fly by with the flurry of holidays and family gatherings. By the time you recover from the holidays and have everything cleaned up, spring may have already sprung. So now is the perfect time to jump in and start planning your landscaping projects for next season, as everyone else is caught up in the busy season as well. Continue reading

tree-planting

5 Steps to Better Fall Lawn Care

It appears cool weather may finally be here to stay after a hot, dry summer and early fall. Along with fall maintenance tasks such as swapping your screens for storm windows, reversing your ceiling fan, and cleaning rain gutters, you should prepare your home’s landscape for what’s coming.

No one wants to start the spring by replacing one of our beloved trees or shrubs that didn’t make it through the harsh winter. Remember a blizzard named Jonas dumping a few feet of snow in South Central PA and Central MD earlier this year?

The good news is there’s plenty you can do to help your landscape survive the fall and winter and thrive in the spring. Simply follow these simple fall lawn care tips to be well on your way to a happy and healthy landscape in 2017 (and beyond)!

  1. Planting. If you’re planning on adding some new trees or shrubs to your yard, now is the perfect time to start planting for next year. Not only will you save some money as local nurseries discount their remaining material to minimize inventory, but your plant will receive the benefits of building root mass in the cool, moist soil without the stress of drought, high temperatures, or sun scorch.

Continue reading

fall plants

Add a Dash of Color to Your Fall Landscape

Whether the local thermometers agree or not, fall is underway here in Pennsylvania. Summer 2016 was another scorcher, and while York, Lancaster and Adams counties aren’t currently in a declared drought, many of our neighboring counties are.

It may not be obvious yet, but the dry weather is wreaking havoc on our landscapes. For example, most trees will begin going dormant early and without much color, as the leaves will simply turn brown and begin to drop. We expect 75 to 80% of the leaves to be off trees before Thanksgiving arrives, which is 3 to 4 weeks earlier than recent years.

Despite the lack of rain, we can still count on colorful fall shrubs and perennials. Here’s a list of some of our favorites to add around your home. We’ve broken them down by size for easy reference. Continue reading

a backyard area with pool and outdoor lighting

Improve Ambiance, Comfort & Safety with Simple Landscape Lighting

One of the often forgotten and generally underused secrets of a beautiful landscape is landscape lighting. Used properly, landscape lighting brings out a property’s beauty in a way that’s much different from the way in which natural lighting highlights that same beauty.

Because landscape lighting doesn’t reveal everything, your eye goes just to the parts of your landscape that you and your lighting expert choose to highlight. With 50 years of experience in beautifying landscapes, the team at Hively qualifies as experts, and our landscape design team has perfected the use of landscape lighting to bring out the beauty of your property after the sun goes down. Continue reading

grass

Ensure Landscape Success with Simple Soil Testing

Summer is in full swing, and our recent travels around York, PA have revealed that this summer’s heat and lack of rain has taken a toll on local lawns and landscapes.

Many landscape owners believe that the problem is simply the inevitable result of this year’s extreme heat and irregular rain, but something else may be having an effect, and even with ideal temperatures and rainfall, that factor can prevent lawns and landscapes from being fully healthy and looking great.

Fortunately for these home and business owners, the team at Hively Landscapes has the ability to transform their lawns and landscapes from an eyesore into the lush green lawns and beautiful gardens you thought were only possible in commercials. Continue reading

Natural Pest Control

mosquitoIn celebration of Shark Week 2016 kicking off this Sunday (June 26), we wanted to draw attention to a real danger to humans here in Pennsylvania… mosquitoes! You may be surprised to learn that the deadliest animal in the world is also one of the smallest in size. Here in Pennsylvania, we most associate mosquitoes with the West Nile Virus, and in other parts of the world they also carry malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, and the much talked about, Zika virus. Mosquitoes are hard to escape as they are found in every region of the world except for Antarctica, and in Alaska they’re so big and plentiful that they’re the unofficial state bird. Continue reading

Professionally done landscape by Hively Landscapes

3 Options for Proactive Landscape Maintenance

If you’re familiar with our blog you’ve likely read our previous article on the benefits of proactive lawn care maintenance. From maximizing your flowers and growth to early identification and treatment of problems, residents and businesses alike have found that by selecting a proactive landscape maintenance plan with Hively Landscapes they’re maximizing their landscape investment, while avoiding costly replacements, removals, and other landscape troubles.

We offer three forms of proactive maintenance, and have outlined each below. Continue reading

5 Lawn Care Tips to Keep Your Grass the Greenest on the Block

If your landscape is like many, the most visible part of it is the grass.  Grass, or turfgrass, is a source of pride and often frustration for many DIY homeowners. The team at Hively Landscapes would like to help alleviate some of that frustration by providing you with a few simple lawn care tips we’ve learned over the nearly 50 years we’ve been beautifying landscapes in Dover, PA.

If you’re interested in helping improve your lawn’s curb appeal, without pouring much more of your hard earned money into your landscape, we encourage you to follow these lawn care tips.

  • grass cut too shortLet it GROW! The ideal length for the most common grasses in our region (fescue and bluegrass blends) is between 3 and 4 ½ inches.  Grass cut to this length is better able to withstand dry stretches and longer grass can help inhibit the growth of many common weeds.
  • MULCH it! Most professionals prefer to mulch grass clippings generated by mowing and not to bag them.  The truth is that grass clippings contain a high percentage of nitrogen, which returns to the soil when these clippings break down.  Nitrogen also happens to be a key component of fertilizer and very beneficial to healthy grass.

Continue reading