Benefits of mulch in the landscape.

Spring cleanups with Mulch installation in Easthampton Massachusetts

So it’s the first week of May here in Western Massachusetts and the blooms this spring have been nothing but striking! Ornamental trees bursting in whites & pinks, fresh foliage making its annual arrival and the daphodils withstanding the numerous spring rains. Its safe to say we have been gifted with a picturesque landscape thus far!
The only downside to abundant plant growth is the unsightly and invasive weeds that can come with it. In order to maintain control of our landscaping beds we must install garden mulches.
Let’s quickly go over what mulch actually is and how it will benifit your garden beds.

Technically speaking mulch is just a soil covering material. Even though mulches come in a range of styles and material types, we at Cedar Horticulture only reccomend organic bark mulch to our trusted clients. Not only does natural mulch look best, it also provides the most benifits to the plants and the soils beneath.

Some of the reasons mulch is so important to our landscape include:

WEED PREVENTION
Bark mulch acts as a barrier and will greatly reduce weed germination by limiting sunlight and soil exposure.

CURB APPEAL
When we add rich tones of natural mulch to the flower beds around our property, it immediately brings a contrasting color that complements the existing plantings. Freshening up with a light coating each spring will garuntee a well manicured look.

MOISTURE RETENTION
Saving water is huge! When we add mulch to the gardens we will help reduce water usage during the summer heat by decreasing evaporation. Bark mulch will absorb the water and retain it longer then other mulches such as rock or rubber materials. Leaving more water available for our plants and trees vital root systems.

IMPROVE SOIL QUALITY
As natural bark mulch breaks down over time it will add organic matter back to the soils. This will increase the overall nutrients available to the plants and flower beds.

If mulching services are on your agenda this spring we ask you to consider us to be your landscaping partner. We will care for your plants and trees as if they are our own.

3 steps to a healthier lawn

#1 soil testing & fertilizer program
#2 mowing & watering procedures
#3 core aeration & over seeding

Despite clashing viewpoints, turf grass can be an important element in our urban landscapes. When maintained with sustainable & sensible techniques lawn areas provide financial value, improve water & air quality and help protect the local environment. The following tasks listed below are vital steps to reaping the benefits of a lush healthy lawn.

#1 SOIL TESTING & FERTILIZER PROGRAMS

Testing routinely every 3-4 years provides a measurement of plant available nutrients in the soil and plays a crucial role in our fertilization programs. Periodic soil testing will aid in correcting nutrient deficiencies as well as help save money from avoiding excessive fertilizer applications. This is the first step with all of our new clients when inquiring about lawncare.

Growing a beautiful lawn cannot be done without high soil quality. Over time these nutrients naturally deplete and will need to be replenished. Throughout the season mulching grass clippings back into the lawn will assist in adding the needed nitrogen required for growing vigorous turf.
However a more comprehensive fertilizer program will still be recommended for achieving and maintaining optimal soil pH levels.

#2 MOWING & WATERING PROCEDURES

Using improper mowing techniques is one of the more overlooked causes of damaged, unsightly lawns. With just a small amount of knowledge these issues can easily be corrected.
GRASS HEIGHT in our climate should be maintained on the taller side, in the 3.5 inches range. Mowing too short will directly reduce root growth as well as the plant’s ability to photosynthesis.
FREQUENCY of mowing should be done regularly, especially so during cooler growing Temps of 60-75°f. Removing more then 1/3 of the grass blade at one time will result in damaged root systems and can be prevented by mowing more often.
Making sure using only SHARP BLADES will reduce the damage given to the turf by providing a cleaner cut. Frayed lawns will result in discoloration and are at much higher risk of disease.

Water conservation and landscape stewardship are topics that hold our focus here at Cedar Horticulture. If you are anything like us im sure you want to do your part as well.
Begin with installing native grass types fitting for our region being mindful of  differing site conditions. This will provide a more successful lawn while requiring less overall water & maintenance.
Other things to consider are timing of watering. Make sure to choose a consistent morning routine with deep soakings and don’t forget to keep monitoring. Typically, cool season grasses in our area will need 1″-1.5″ of water per week between rainfall and from additional water sources.

If these tasks seem difficult to manage, reducing the lawn areas and replacing with garden beds will be a much better solution. Some great eco friendly ideas include permaculture, edible gardens, native habitats and rewilding designs. These options yield much more seasonal interest while further helping the ecosystem.

#3 AERATION AND OVER SEEDING

Aerating is the process of removing small plugs of soil and grass from the lawn in order to allow air, water & nutrients to better reach the soil zone beneath.
We do this to help stimulate root growth and reduce compaction. In the end growing healthier, stronger turf grass.
When combining aeration services with over seeding in the early fall the benifits we receive are increased. Mixing cooler temperatures with lawn cultivation creates good seed to soil contact and better germination rates.

We at Cedar Horticulture understand lawn areas still have there space in our urban environment. Whether it’s a small footpath through a garden or even a local athletic field, however we encourage our community to constantly consider more sustainable maintenance options as technology increases as well as reducing the overall lawn sizes at our homes and businesses. We highly encourage re-introducing native plants and trees to our landscapes, doing so will better provide an ecosystem which includes food, water and shelter for birds, insects and other kinds of wildlife.

Spring cleanup checklist for the lawn & garden.

Professional spring landscaping in Southampton, Massachusetts

Now that spring is in the air, it’s time to evaluate our lawn and garden situations.
Is your property ready for the growing season?

If not, that is quite alright. Cedar Horticulture has you covered!
We specialize in landscape maintenance and our custom seasonal packages are built to rejuvinate the lawn & landscape.

Here are some garden chores we recommend knocking off the checklist this spring.

  • Remove debris leftover from winter.
  • Soil testing.
  • Garden cleanup/deadheading.
  • Shrub/tree trimming.
  • Reseed bare/thin spots in the turf.
  • Lawn & garden fertilization.
  • Redefining garden bed edges.
  • Mulch applications.
  • Seasonal flower plantings.

Debris removal
Over the course of the winter months, even the most manicured landscapes will encounter stray leaves and fallen tree branches. Now would be an obvious time to clean up after old man winter or any mess left over from the fall that might have been overlooked.

Soil testing
In order to achieve optimal available nutrients in the lawn & gardens, the soils must be monitored. Blindly throwing down chemical fertilizers without analyzing the soil is not a sustainable approach to landscaping. We recommend having the soil tested at least every 3 years. This will help save money and yield greater results.

Deadheading/weeding
Spring is the time when our beloved perennials begin to grow back, but unfortunately annual weed growth increases as well. It is important to begin the year with good weed control if we would like to avoid having our gardens overrun by them. These early spring months provide a window of opportunity to cut back last seasons growth on grasses & perennials, apply pre-emergent weed control and finish with a application of bark mulch.

Seasonal pruning
As we know, living in New England each season is unique to its own. This goes the same for pruning requirements in our landscapes. All ornamental trees & shrubs have an optimal time for trimming and shaping, this can sometimes be difficult to understand for some homeowners and contractors. During our complete spring cleanup we remove dead/damaged limbs and prune back shrubs that bloom on the current seasons growth. Such as rose of sharon, butterfly bush, ornamental grasses, herbaceous perennials, certain varieties of hydrangea etc.

Spring seeding
Even though we suggest making most lawn renovations during the fall seasons. Correcting lawn damages and filling in bare spots can properly be taken care of in the spring. Keep in mind there are several key factors to success when planting grass seed in the spring. Such as timing, soil temperatures, weed germination & soil quality.

Lawn & garden fertilization
As our landscapes grow, so does its need for Essential plant nutrients. We provide the soils with these nutrients in the form of a fertilizer, both organically or traditionally. Once the soil temperatures reach 55° we know it’s time to begin our lawn care program. At Cedar Horticulture we offer clients a 6 step weed and feed option as well as an organic fertilizer program.

Garden bed edging
A well defined garden edge is the ultimate landscaping detail that really shows off the formal presentation of your property.
Having a crisp border separating your lawn and garden areas will help with mulch runoff, issues with weeds all while providing a well delineated look. We offer both natural garden bed Redefining as well as the installation of steel edging.

Mulch applications
One of our personal favorite chores in the landscape is applying organic mulches come spring time, right as the perennials make their first appearance. The aroma of shredded bark mulch is almost as inviting as the rich color it provides. We may enjoy the looks and smells of organic mulch, however the benefits do not stop there. More importantly introducing healthy amounts of organic mulch to our landscape beds will assist in moisture retention, weed suppression, soil quality & soil temperatures. All very important benefits for maintaining a sustainable landscape.

Seasonal flower plantings.
In our colder climate of Western Massachusetts, flowering shrubs and perennials may seem to take their time blooming. So to speed up the spring energy we recommend introducing cold hardy annuals to our containers and garden beds. Try mixing in these flowering annuals alongside any bulbs planted in the fall for a warming spring show.
-viola
-dianthus
-petunia
-snapdragon
-impatiens
-geraniums

If you have any garden questions or would like to request an estimate for landscaping services, follow the link below.

2021 landscape maintenance packages

Potted pink flowers surrounded by lush ferns beside rock garden in Northampton Massachusetts

Maintaining the lawn & landscape can be a daunting, time consuming task. let our team do the work for you, we are committed to meticulously maintaining your property with integrity & professionalism.

All maintenance plans are billed a convenient, flat monthly rate for 8 months from April-November. Designed for easier budgeting and to include your specific landscaping needs.

Lawn mowing season is based on a 23 visit schedule. Mulch applications & other landscape enhancements can be added a la carte to any landscape maintenance plans.

Is low maintenance for you?

This is the perfect package when thinking simplicity and budgets. We will keep your property looking tip top all season, without any unnecessary extras. 

Our most common package.

Do you cherish your lawn? Do you want to correct any turf issues? This is the package for you! The ESSENTIAL plan includes a full lawncare program as well as regular maintenance of the landscape. 

Complete landscape management. 

Fine gardening is the theme of this seasonal program. Creative annual flower change outs with every season. Our team will work directly with you to cater your personal garden styles. 

We are signing clients up!

Don’t wait to reserve your spot on our landscape maintenance route in 2021. Feel free to contact us for a free property assessment & estimate.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Planting with winter in mind.

In order to truly enjoy a well balanced landscape, all 4 seasons must be considered in the garden design process.
Average contractors commonly look past some of these areas but Cedar Horticulture focuses on the finer details. We use winter intrests as the foundations of our landscape designs. 

Here is a few of our favorite planting ideas for some added winter charm. Boring wintertime gardens are not acceptable!

Evergreens & Evergreens

For obvious reasons evergreens come to mind, these year long garden forms allow for bold backdrops. Consider golden arborvitae or dwarf blue spruce for an added variety of tones beyond typical shades of green. 

Needles and cones normally come to mind when first thinking about evergreens but there are broadleaf varieties as well. Ranging from formal boxwood hedges to lush patches of rhododendrons. Some forms of broadleaf evergreens also bloom flowers in other seasons, providing wide ranges of intrest. 
 

Barks & Branch Structures.

The leaves have long dropped and our deciduous trees can finally show off their unique framework. 
Textured and twisted branches create the most interesting aspects in winter garden displays. 

Introduce ornamental shrubs such as corkscrew hazel for a unique feel like no other. Selections of birch trees will flaunt exfoliating bark and red/yellow twig dogwoods for bursts of contrasting colors.

 

Foliage & Berries.

Perennial foliage can be left in ways that adds depth and softens the gardens, all while providing shelter for valuable wildlife activity. 

Fruiting shrubs & trees provide vital food sources during the winter months when other sources have been buried with snow. These plants not only serve a purpose but also presents striking berry displays, bringing iconic seasonal images.
Examples: beauty berry, eastern red cedar, serviceberry, crabapple

Combine these ideas with other seasonal schemes.

Please inquire for more winter planting ideas.
We also specialize in landscape & garden maintenance. 

Winter pruning in the landscape

December is rolling back around!

As our trees & shrubs loose their leaves and reach dormancy, it is believed we can take pause on all responsibilities in our lawn & landscapes. However the dormant winter season brings many opportunities to drastically improve the health of our plants and the values of our properties.

Many of the plants in our landscapes are deciduous, meaning they loose their leaves in the fall. This allows us the opportunity to view and make the proper cuts needed to reduce and renew overgrown ornamental trees/shrubs. These plants do not become stressed by winter pruning and respond well with new growth in the spring.

Types of plants that enjoy a winter pruning:


.Hydrangea paniculata & macrophylla varieties. 

 These ornamental shrubs bloom on new wood so cutting them back during the proper season will encourage new growth and more attractive flowers 
.summer flowering trees/shrubs.
Ornamental shrubs/trees that bloom in late summer including, rose of sharon, smoke bush, kousa dogwoods, vitex, butterfly bush.
.Evergreen/deciduous trees.
Removing low overhanging limbs will help prevent possible damaged branches and future plant health issues. Raising the canopy on trees will also allow for more sunlight to reach the grass beneath, yielding a healthier understory.

If you or someone you know is interested in a free estimate we would be happy to take a look at your landscape or property to make suggestions for winter pruning and plant rejuvenation this season.

Thank you, Zachary 
413-349-8377