Posts by Mark Battalini

Fragrant Plants for your South Florida Yard

People design their yards for a variety of purposes. Some are eco-friendly for water efficiency and others are planted to attract birds, butterflies, and honey bees. One of the most popular trends is the fragrant garden, planted to celebrate the many plants with pleasing scents.

Living in South Florida, you’re fortunate in that you have options not readily available to other locations within the nation that include trees, vines, and bushes. The following are some of the more fragrant plants you may want to plant in your yard.

Banana Shrub

Foodies will love this bush with flowers that smell like ripe bananas. It can grow large, but it’s easy to keep trimmed and within bounds. It’s very hardy and has one-inch flowers that resemble magnolia blossoms edged with crimson.

Gardenia

These are best situated in smaller beds, but they also thrive as a container plant where they can be treated to the nutrient-rich soil they crave. The large white blossoms are famous for their use in perfumes.

Jasmine

Angel wing and star jasmine have delicate white blossoms that attract bees. The former can be trained to climb, be grown in a hanging basket, or as a container plant. The latter is a vine that’s prized for its aromatic star-shaped blooms.

Magnolia

The tree is known for its enormous white blossoms that can be as large as a saucer when fully open. Highly fragrant, both evergreen and deciduous varieties are available. Magnolia fossils have been found dating to 100 million years ago.

YLang Ylang Tree

If you have plenty of room and want a shade tree that will emit the scent of Chanel No. 5, this is the tree for you. It’s the basis for the perfume and can grow up to 50 ft. in height. The aroma is said to be an aphrodisiac.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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Pros of Adding Rock to Plant Beds

Rock is quickly becoming a go-to in South Florida gardens. The material has a higher initial cost, but is highly durable. Rocks offer a multitude of design options and they’re available in a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes, and types. Highly versatile, they can be used as mulch or edging. It’s best to use smaller stones since heavier stones can begin to sink into the ground over time.

Adds Minerals

Many soils are lacking in essential minerals that plants can’t manufacture on their own. While rocks in and of themselves won’t help mineralize soil, powdered rock can be added to plant beds.

Curb Appeal

No matter what type is chosen – rocks, stones or pebbles – the material offers clean lines and a lighter appearance that adds to curb appeal.

Doesn’t Decompose

Rock doesn’t decay, so it doesn’t need to be replaced like traditional wood-based mulch, which begins to decompose when exposed to moisture. A small amount of rock may need to be added after its initial settling and rock is so durable that it can even outlast the lifetime of the garden.

Drainage

For those that are employing raised beds, pea gravel and similar stones provide additional drainage so plant roots don’t become water logged. Pebbles and rocks are equally beneficial for plant beds that suffer with drainage issues.

Low Maintenance

Rocks aren’t easily disturbed by rain, wind, people, or pets and require very little maintenance. They retain their color and appearance for years; though they may need an occasional hosing down to remove dust.

Minimizes Weeds

While no type of mulch will completely eliminate weeds in the flower bed, rocks will significantly limit their growth. Any undesirable growth can easily be plucked out.

Reduces Erosion

Wind and rain can gradually move soil around. Stones reduce that movement making them ideal for preserving soil, even in heavy rains.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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lawn pest control

Common Yard Pests that can Destroy your Landscape

A great range of insect pests live and thrive in South Florida’s tropics-like climate and an infestation can decimate the landscape. Some will attack lawns, while others will gravitate directly to the foliage or flowers of specific plants. A well-cared for landscape can be irresistible to insect pests.

Aphids

Often referred to as plant lice, they can be red, green, black, brown or purple. They multiple readily and typically feed on leaves and stems. They’re indiscriminate eaters, sucking the sap from any type of plant growth. Aphids secrete a sugary liquid called honeydew that provides an ideal environment for the growth of a fungus called sooty mold.

Armyworms

They’re the larval form of a moth, primarily attacking blades of grass, but they’ll also settle for vegetables. The striped worms are voracious and can defoliate a lawn within a matter of days.

Coconut Mealybugs

Like aphids, they suck the juices from plants and leave excrement upon which sooty mold grows.

Japanese Beetles

One of the most voracious and destructive insects to ever invade the U.S., Japanese beetles are not picky eaters and will destroy landscapes in short order. The grubs thrive in moist soil and are very active in warm temperatures that prevail in South Florida.

Mole Crickets

Some species eat plant materials, while others will feed on a combination of greenery and other insects. The primary cause of damage caused by mole crickets is through their burrowing habits that disturb roots.

Spider Mites

Very small and sometimes difficult to see, species come in different colors. They typically leave fine strands of silk-like webbing on plants they infest. They feed on foliage and suck sap from plants.

Slugs and Snails

Both types of pests prefer young, tender growth for their meals, but are equally able to derive sustenance from decomposing plant matter. They’re indiscriminate feeders.

White Grubs

Commonly known as white grubs – a generic term – these pests are the larvae of scarab beetle species. They feed on the roots of a wide range of lawn grasses and it can be difficult to diagnose which species of larvae is in residence without professional expertise.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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Unique Landscapes: Bamboo

The bamboo plant is one of the most often overlooked options for the landscape. Its appearance enables individuals to create unique environments. Bamboo has advantages and drawbacks. For individuals that are attempting a DIY project, it’s critical to understand the growth habits of the two types of bamboo and what the planting will be designed to accomplish.

Bamboo is a fast grower and can gain 2-3 feet in height each day, attaining its full height in four years. Some varieties throw out underground runners and spend more of their energy growing outward rather than upward. Running bamboo seldom stays where it’s planted and can be extremely invasive.  Clumping bamboos typically only grow a few inches in width each year.

Individuals need to be aware that even clumping bamboo is capable of damaging foundations, driveways, walkways, fountains, pools, and similar items over time. There are also plants that resemble bamboo in appearance and gardeners should make sure that they actually have bamboo and not an invasive plant that they’ll regret planting.

The growth habit of clumping bamboo makes it appropriate for use as privacy screens and sound barriers. Bamboo is often used against chain link to hide the fence from view. Bamboo provides a pleasingly contrasting texture and color to the landscape, along with an exotic feel.

The plant is a member of the grass family and the canes will get larger in diameter each year. With clumping bamboo, it’s easy to create a graceful oasis in any corner of the yard. Bamboo isn’t always a uniform green hue, either. There are species featuring stem banding in shades of blue, black, purple, brown, pink and yellow.

It’s a good idea to consult with a landscaping professional who is knowledgeable about the various types of bamboo and the growth habits of each. While most bamboo prefers a sunny location, there are also species that grow best in shaded areas. No matter what color is preferred, bamboo is sure to add interest within any landscape.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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Beautiful Palm Trees

A number of palm tree species grow in Florida and they’re highly prized. There are actually 2,500 different species of palm trees from around the world, all of which will grow and flourish in the state’s tropical environment. While all of them aren’t cultivated, there’s a palm species to please practically anyone.

Palms vary widely. There are those known as “mini” palms, such as the Pygmy Date Palm that typically grows from 6-12 feet in height and the Arikury Palm that grows to 6 ft. tall. The Areca Palm remains small and is popular as a houseplant in cold climates. The most commonly grown palms in Florida range in size from the modest 15-foot height of the Christmas Palm to the stately 80-ft. height of the Coconut Palm and Royal Palm.

Some grow very slowly and make great specimen trees, while others are quick growing and require a significant amount of room. There are palms that are ideal for around the pool and those that are best grown in a formal garden setting. The long, weeping fronds of the Piccabeen Palm enables it to tolerate high winds and there’s also the Sabal Palm, the state tree of Florida.

Aside from choosing the right size palm tree for the available space, another concern will be fronds and fruit that can cause injuries to people and pets or damage to property when they fall. Those that shed dead fronds on their own are called self-cleaning palms. It’s essential that professionals be called to remove fronds and fruits from these trees.

Palm trees have varying types of foliage depending on the species that can range from bright green outstretched fronds to beautiful silver-green fans. Some grow as majestic single trunked trees, but others are multi-stemmed varieties. The appearance of the trunks also has considerable variation. Some palm trunks are relatively smooth or resemble bottles, while others have trunks covered in spines.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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Efficient Irrigation

The most efficient and cost effective way to water the landscape is with a programmable irrigation system that delivers an exact amount of water in different areas according to the needs of the plantings. For those that haven’t had a system installed, there are other ways to make the task of watering less tedious, time consuming, and more cost effective.

Efficient irrigation doesn’t have to be an elaborate or expensive set up. Those caring for small gardens can purchase drip/trickle irrigation or soaker hoses that connect directly to an outside faucet. Rather than spraying water through the air, drip and soaker hoses release small amounts of water directly onto the ground around plantings. They can reduce water usage by 30 to 70 percent.

Soil sensors are a great way to monitor the moisture in lawns and beds. They eliminate the guesswork of trying to determine if the lawn needs to be watered. The devices can be incorporated throughout lawns or beds to ascertain if a specific area requires water. The sensors help to eliminate over or under watering.

A spray hose attachment is another alternative. With the attachment, individuals can direct water at the plants that need it while leaving surrounding soil dry. An added benefit is that aids in minimizing weed growth.

Watering at the right time is equally important. Watering at night or early in the morning minimizes evaporation from the sun’s rays. It also helps to minimize the scalding of plants. Consider collecting rainwater and using it to water small areas and hanging baskets.

Mulching does much more than reduce weed growth. It also works to retain moisture around plantings and enables flowers, trees and shrubs to go longer between waterings.

Some professional landscapers are adding water retentive gels or granules to soil. They soak up water like a sponge and retain it where it’s available to plants. Individuals shouldn’t try to utilize this method on their own. Creating the right formula of soil to granules is a very precise science.

Individuals should also consider plantings that require less water to flourish. There are numerous options available that are aesthetically pleasing and accommodate gardeners’ desire for unique plants and brightly colored blossoms.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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Pros and Cons of Adding a Bougainvillea

A bougainvillea is among one of the most popular vines and you may want to add it to your landscape. Beautiful blossoms are just one of the most attractive features of the vine. There are many reasons to plant one in your own yard, but there are also some drawbacks about which you may not be aware. The following are some of the pros and cons of adding a bougainvillea vine to your landscape.

Pros

The vines have become popular for planting around homes and along fences as a security feature and intruder deterrent due to their very sharp thorns.

They’re fast growing.

A bougainvillea will produce a profusion of showy blooms over the course of three to five weeks, depending on the health of the vine.

It’s drought resistant and adapts to a wide variety of soil conditions.

Bougainvillea can be grown in containers on the patio, which will assist in keeping it under control, but it will still require a trellis or other type of support. It’s never a good idea to cultivate them indoors due to the thorns.

Cons

Bougainvillea’s sharp thorns are able to piece clothing and deliver a nasty wound to bare skin. They’re not recommended in homes with children, the elderly, or pets.

The vine’s sap is toxic and if ingested in sufficient amounts, people and pets can become very ill.

If pricked by one of the thorns, you may develop an allergic response similar to that of poison ivy or poison oak. It may produce symptoms that include blisters, swelling, pain, or itching and stinging.

It blooms best when water stressed. That can be a problem for homes with automatic irrigation systems. That can be remedied by planting it in specific locations or adjusting the irrigation system to deliver less moisture to the area where the vine is planted.

Bougainvillea has the potential to become invasive due to its fast growing nature and adaptability if it’s not managed and maintained properly.

It needs to be planted a minimum of four feet from walkways and similar locations to prevent injuries to people and pets. To ensure it doesn’t disturb other landscape plants, it should be grown at least six to nine feet from any other plant.

The vine will require support. Make sure arbors and trellises are strong enough to support it.

Bougainvillea requires regular pruning to promote a proper form and prevent it from running rampant.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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Tips for an Allergy-Friendly Yard

The wide array of beautiful blossoms that many people enjoy is often denied those with allergies. It’s just not bedding plants that increase the symptoms of allergies. Even trees that may have no obvious discernable blooms emit pollen and can trigger an allergic reaction. No one has to be content with a plant-free yard or settle for adorning their yard with statuary.

It’s important to understand that even though individuals may take every precaution to protect themselves, pollen is borne on the wind and the plants that a neighbor has six houses down can still affect them. It’s a good idea to consult with a landscape professional to discover plantings that produce the least amount of pollen.

If at all possible, have an allergy test performed. It will provide answers about the substances to which someone is most susceptible. Using information obtained by the test, individuals will know what not to plant in their yard. To minimize allergies, try the following tips.

  • Begin an allergy medication regimen about two weeks before pollen season starts.
  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning to help filter out pollen.
  • Wear a NIOSH approved mask, but if one isn’t available, any mouth/nose covering is better than none. Glasses, gloves and long sleeves can minimize contact with pollen.
  • Immediately change clothes, wash what was worn outside when coming in from outdoors, and shower and wash hair.
  • Have a friend mow if grass produces an allergic response or use a lawn service.
  • Garden on windless days, early in the morning, or after a rain.

There are numerous flowers, bushes, trees, vines, and grasses that are known to produce less pollen than others or that typically don’t stimulate an allergic response as easily. Included in that list are snapdragons, zinnias, impatiens, clematis and begonias. Pears, plums, and Chinese palms are good tree choices for those with allergies.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

Read more

Best Fruit Trees for your South Florida Yard

An increasing number of Florida residents are choosing to plant orchards in their back yard – or at least one or two trees of their favorite fruits. The trees provide the means to eat healthier, save money, and offer a new and exciting gardening experience. The range of fruit trees that will grow and prosper in South Florida is extensive. Gardeners are only limited by their personal tastes and preferences.

Citrus trees immediately come to mind when thinking of Florida. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and tangerines grow in abundance. The traditional fruits are readily available and while they can be grown in a backyard garden, adventurous gardeners often want to try their hand at growing other types of fruit.

For avocados, buy plants already started of a particular cultivar. Many people plant seeds from an avocado they buy at the store. They’re easy to grow, but won’t typically produce the same variety of avocado as the seed that was planted and take several years to begin bearing fruit.

Jackfruit grows well in South Florida and has done so for over 100 years.

Lychee lovers will be glad to know that the fruit readily grows in South Florida. The trees don’t like wet “feet” and should be planted in well-drained areas.

The sweet, succulent flesh of mangoes can be enjoyed fresh from a backyard garden. There are dozens of varieties from which to choose. They can be planted from seed, but there are two types of seeds – one will result in an exact clone of the mother plant while the other type of seed may produce an entirely different variety.

Papayas are technically large plants, though they look much like trees. Easy to grow from seed, fruits can often be harvested in 6-12 months.

Tamarind trees grow well in South Florida, but they also release nitrogen and carbon dioxide at night that can cause problems for anyone with breathing difficulties.

A wide range of fruit-bearing trees can be grown in South Florida due to its unique climate. Others include bananas, figs and guava, along with loquats, mulberries and persimmons. It pays to do some research before planning any type of backyard orchard. Each type of fruit tree has its own moisture requirements and while there are dwarf varieties of some fruits, many trees take up a significant amount of space.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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residential landscaping boca raton

Welcoming Landscapes

Before creating a welcoming landscape, it’s important to understand what it is. Better known as curb appeal, it includes the arrangement of plants and decorative features around the home. It’s a combination of factors that makes someone smile when they see their house. It’s a feeling of pride and children’s eagerness to invite friends over. In short, a welcoming landscape is a place of beauty that seems to say, “Come in and visit.”

The front yard is the first thing that people see when they look at a home. Creating a welcoming landscape can encompass a wide variety of techniques, such as removing overgrown bushes, trimming back hedges, or adding attractive fencing. It can include a pathway, decorative features, and specific plantings to highlight unique architecture.

Creating a social space is an invitation to neighbors to say hello or stop and chat. It can be achieved with appropriate lawn furniture or something as simple as adding a deck or a porch swing.

Flowers are always a welcoming sight. They can be used to create a bright splash of color or gently lead people to the front door. The great thing about flower beds is that they can be established directly in the ground or homeowners can utilize simple raised beds and those that use decorative planters.

Sometimes a simple welcome message such as a door wreath or potted plants around the door can change the atmosphere. The type of steps leading into the front door can transform the entire feel of a home. Steps that are entirely utilitarian in nature will get people in the house, but an open set of steps invites people to sit and linger.

Every property is different and will require crafting different and unique solutions. The endeavor begins with the front yard – it’s the first thing that others see whether the homeowner is planning to sell or spend a lifetime in the home. A welcoming landscape will be part of the precious memories families recall about their home.

RCH Landscaping is a full service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install, and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians have an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

Contact RCH Landscaping Today for a Free Estimate

561-779-9760

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