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Planning Ahead for 2024 Landscape Projects

As the year winds down and the holiday season approaches, landscape improvements may not be the first thing on your mind. Creating a landscape plan for next year is a key way to maximize your landscaping efforts, and there’s no time like the present to start thinking about new projects.

Professional planning ensures that all the elements in your landscape work together both visually and practically.

New patios and outdoor living spaces, planting bed installation, turf area development, and tree installation or removal are all sizable improvements that benefit greatly from deliberate planning. When timed correctly, new improvements will complement existing landscape elements.

In addition to avoiding a disruption to your property, long-range planning also allows you to schedule new additions and services at times of the year that maximize their viability and usefulness. By starting the conversation now, we can advise you on which tasks are best to handle during the fall and winter and which should be scheduled for warmer weather next year. An extended plan also allows you to schedule new projects in a way that fits your budget.

For maintenance and landscape upgrades, a long-range plan allows you to maximize the return on your investment while limiting disruption to your property.

Even if your immediate plans only include a few modest improvements, a comprehensive plan will help you get the biggest long-term bang for your buck. With a solid plan of attack, you can set priorities and formulate manageable timelines so that your landscape comes together evenly over time.

Fall Is Ideal for Softscaping

Your landscape can be broken down into two main categories: hardscapes, which are all the solid and permanent elements like patios, walkways and walls, and softscapes, which are all the living elements like trees, shrubs, and annual and perennial plants. Over time, landscapes can become overgrown for their space, crowding walkways and blocking windows. If the plantings in your landscape are due for a refresh, fall is a great time to tackle softscape renovations.

Replacing overgrown trees and shrubs with properly sized plantings is a surefire way to give your landscape a fresh look.

Why Plant in Fall?

Most homeowners think of spring as the best time to plant, but there are several compelling reasons why autumn is the ideal season for adding softscaping to your property.

Plants Prefer Fall Temperatures: In autumn, the soil retains warmth, which is great for root development, while cooler air temperatures reduce heat stress on the above-ground portions of the plant.

Fall Is Prime Time for Root Growth: As temperatures cool, plants shift their efforts away from top growth and toward root growth. This natural shift in plant growth behavior helps new plants establish a stronger root system before winter.

Reduced Pest Issues: Pests and insects tend to be less active in the fall, further reducing stress to new plantings.

By planting in the fall, you give your plants a head start for the following spring.

Springtime Beauty Starts Now

Whether you need something simple like new walkway perennial beds or a more substantial renovation of your foundation shrubs and ornamental trees, fall is a perfect time to set a plan for new softscapes in motion. Contact us to get the process started!

Enhance Your Evenings with Landscaping Lighting

Enhance Your Evenings with Landscaping Lighting

In planning your landscaping, don’t forget what your yard will – or could – look like after the sun goes down. The right lighting can add an entirely new dimension to your landscaping that will increase both the functionality and visual appeal of your outdoor spaces.

Even a simple lighting system can create an impressive visual effect while also providing safety, security, and increased usability for your property.

Lighting can use your larger landscape features and your house itself to create dramatic shadows or silhouettes. Different effects can be created by up-lighting a shrub or tree (shining light from the ground up) or by down-lighting it (shining light down from overhead). The right illumination can also transform an otherwise neglected porch or patio into an inviting living space for warm summer nights.

Well-placed landscape lights also provide enhanced safety and security. Exterior landscape lighting makes your great outdoors safer for your guests and more secure from unwanted visitors. It can light paths to help guests reach your door safely and eliminate shadows where an intruder might hide.

With exterior lighting, enough is plenty, so it’s important not to overdo.

Hively can design a lighting plan to use various types of lights – wash lights, bullets, path or spread lights, or well lights – where each will effectively contribute to an overall pleasing scheme without creating an overly lighted effect. Installation is not disruptive to existing landscapes, and most light fixtures can be tucked out of plain view.

Let Us Help You Get Ready for Fall

Fall weather can be a wild card. Days go from mild and sunny to cold and gray literally overnight. Once the weather turns, the notion of yard work becomes less attractive. In spite of that, it pays to give your yard a thorough fall cleanup before winter sets in.

Leaf Removal

Typically, the biggest cleanup task at this time of year is leaf removal. Thick blankets of leaves left to lie can damage grass by blocking needed sunlight, thus weakening the turf’s viability. If left on the ground through the winter, fallen leaves can also render your lawn more susceptible to winter damage. Hively offers leaf removal as part of our fall cleanup service.

Fall leaves with rake

Fall Bed Cleanup

Cutting back perennials and removing dead or dying branches from trees and shrubs will help prepare both for go-time in the spring. Plant beds are also notorious for collecting dead leaves, debris, and trash during the fall. These messes only get worse over the course of the winter. By the time the warm, wet spring rolls around, you’ll find yourself with mucky beds full of slime. In addition to being unsightly, unkempt plant beds are also breeding grounds for pests and fungus.

Plan Now for Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Colorful blooms from bulbs will be a sight for sore eyes after another gray winter. Spring-flowering bulbs of all kinds are a major contributor to year-round color in any landscape. It’s important to remember that different bulbs have different blooming times. Bulbs look great in massive plantings of single types or in beds that combine many varieties. As a general rule, bulbs provide the best display when planted in groups of 15 or more.

Annual and Perennial Floral Displays

If you have ever been to a garden center, you have no doubt heard about annual plants and perennial plants. So what really is the difference between “annual” and “perennial” plants? It’s all in the life cycle.

As the name suggests, an annual is a plant that lives for just one season. Whether you plant from seed or purchase seedlings to plant, an annual will sprout, flower, seed, and then die, all in the same year. Popular annuals include zinnias, marigolds and impatiens.

In contrast, perennials can live for three or more growing seasons. They are generally more drought-resistant than annuals, and can be planted from bulb or seed. Roses, peonies, mums, and daylilies are common perennials.

You may have a spot in your flower bed where a perennial displays wonderful color in spring. Once the spring flowers fade, however, something may be needed to fill the gap with color. That’s the job of an annual. By combining the dependability of perennials with the season-long color of annuals, you can create a garden that’s a showcase from spring through fall.

Shape Your Landscape With Retaining Walls

Does your property include a lot of elevation? A retaining wall can help you make the most of available space. Would you like to see that steep hill being used for something other than sled riding? Terracing it with retaining walls can create level areas that are not only perfect for planting beds but also much easier to maintain.

Retaining walls can be built in a wide variety of sizes with various materials, including natural or cut stone, treated timbers, poured concrete, and pre-cast blocks in assorted colors and textures.

For maximum strength and durability, pre-cast blocks are likely to be your best bet. They’re engineered to interlock with each other as they’re laid, and most have a built-in “setback” to give the finished wall a slightly slanted angle for added stability.

Remember that careful engineering and design are very important, especially if your retaining wall will be supporting major structures on your property. Be sure to consider all of the construction materials available, and choose a design that blends in well with your property while addressing the uses you have planned for the area.

When properly designed, retaining walls can add graceful architectural elements to your landscape while improving its overall usefulness. You may be surprised to learn just how functional your landscape can become!

Thirsty Plants Help Dry It Up

Drainage issues are a common landscape problem during times of heavy rain. Some drainage issues require some type of working drainage system. In many cases, however, drainage can be addressed with the help of living landscaping.

All plants need water. Some plants require a lot of it. If you have an area that suffers from poor drainage, extra-thirsty plants can help the situation. If an existing plant bed experiences standing water, try planting hostas, elephant ears, or cannas. Certain varieties of dogwoods or holly bushes will also do well in wet conditions.

If you have a turf area that is always a swampy mess, you may want to consider replacing the turf with a water garden. A water garden typically includes plants that prefer super-soaked soil and rocks that collect and direct runoff while limiting exposed mud.

While we’d like to call our own shots when it comes to landscape design, sometimes geography and Mother Nature make our best-laid plans difficult to achieve. If drainage is an issue in your landscape, it may be time to introduce landscapes that love it wet.

Caring for Trees & Shrubs

The trees in your landscape are some of your most important outdoor investments. Full-grown trees add both beauty and value to your property that grow each year. With the right care, most trees improve with age and will last for generations.

Here are a few tips for keeping your trees and shrubs in tip-top shape:

• Water – We often forget that even mature trees need regular watering. This is especially true for young trees or during long periods of stress.

• Fertilize – Trees in the forests fertilize themselves with decomposing leaves and materials, but in our landscapes, they need help. Slow-release fertilizers made for trees add nutrients back into the soil without damaging the roots of the plants.

• Prune – Shaping trees when they are young not only makes them look better but also keeps them healthy as they grow and prevents problems later. Equally important is removing dead, diseased, or insect-infested branches as they appear. A program of annual inspection for needed pruning will help assure good looks and better health.

• Protect against insects and disease – Regular inspection for insects and disease can catch damage before it begins.

With the proper care and protection, your trees can provide beauty and value to your property for many years to come.

Winter Is Time For Hardscape Planning

As fall weather turns to winter, it’s easy to think that you have plenty of time to plan your spring landscape and outdoor living projects. In reality, the clock is ticking! With supply chain and labor challenges showing no signs of letting up, most reputable contractors are scheduling work months in advance and Hively is no different. The time to plan your spring and summer 2022 landscape projects is now. With careful planning, your backyard can become a personal vacation destination.   

The term “hardscaping” refers to landscaping features that are permanently established and typically nonliving. Patios, water elements, fire pits and outdoor structures all fall into this category. Hardscaping additions can transform an underused area of your property into an comfortable living space which allows your family and friends to fully enjoy the landscape.

The key to getting the most out of your hardscaping is comprehensive planning. The first step in effective planning is to decide what you want from your new space. You may want a quiet retreat, a place to host large gatherings, or an area that can be a little of both.

stone staircase leading up a sloped flowerbed into a wooded area

Whatever your specific vision is for new hardscaping, now is the time to set your project in motion. If you begin planning and building now, your new outdoor living space will be ready for you to enjoy once spring arrives. While the season just past is still fresh in your mind, look forward to the next steps that will take your backyard to a whole new level.

Warm Up This Fall

As the nights grow cooler this fall, there’s no need to move the party indoors. There are several ways to keep things warm and cozy outside well into the night, extending the fall season.

Fire Pits and Fireplaces

There’s something beautiful and rustic about burning wood outdoors. You can have a pit dug into the ground and built up with stone walls if you like. Often, fire pits will include installed seating at the right height for comfortable seating and the right distance from the heat. A well-designed fire pit will become the centerpiece of your outdoor evenings as night cools off and your party heats up.

For a more formal look, consider a brick or stone fireplace with shelves and storage space for wood. You can also incorporate a built-in grill or a “pizza-type” oven into the design. A fireplace designed and placed properly can serve many functions for your outdoor life while adding both pleasure and increased property value. These are great ways to extend your days and the season by adding comfort and beauty to your patio.

Low-Voltage Lights For Navigating Safely

Regardless of the temperature outside, proper lighting is essential for maximizing the use of your patio. Low-voltage exterior light fixtures come in an amazing variety of types and sizes. There are ground-level lights on stakes and well lights that send their light upward onto a wall or into a tree. There are also suspended lights that can be suspended from tree branches or any structure. This type of lighting can provide ample illumination to help you and your guests move about safely. Plus, the low-voltage requirements won’t drive up your electric bill.