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Posts by Mark Battalini

Small Flowering Trees South Florida Edition

Small trees are an often overlooked option in the landscape of homes and businesses. They’re an ideal solution for smaller properties and their vibrant and unusual flowers provide visual interest. Many are salt-tolerant and can be used to create a screen, while others provide shade and remain compact enough to preserve a specific view. Some of the best flowering trees for Florida encompass the following, in no particular order.

Plumeria

The plant’s scientific name is Plumeria, but it’s also known as Frangipani. Its ugly duckling appearance in the winter is misleading. Blooms of red, white, yellow, pink and multi-colors transform it into a tropical showcase as it flowers profusely from spring to autumn. The blossoms are fragrant, used to make leis in Hawaii, and in lotions, candles and perfumes. It can grow up to 20 ft., is drought and salt tolerant, and is both a succulent and deciduous.

Japonica

There are several different types of the japonica species. The most petite is the Desert Cassia. It grows fairly quickly to a height of 10 ft., flowers in the spring and autumn, is salt tolerant, and attracts butterflies. The tree is also known as “scrambled egg tree” and “golden shower tree” due to its prolific yellow blossoms. Its cousin, Cassia surattensis, grows from 12-15 ft. in height and tolerates salt.

Jatropha

The compact/dwarf version will amaze with blooms every day of the year. It has small red flowers, can be grown as a bush, or trained as a single-trunk tree. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. It’s one of the smallest of the species, but quickly grows to about eight ft., and is drought tolerant.

Red Cluster Bottlebrush

This is a showy specimen featuring bright red flowers. Homeowners can cultivate it as a single or multi-trunk tree or a bush. Excellent for small yards and as an accent plant, the flower spikes resemble a bottlebrush and appear periodically throughout the year. It’s highly attractive to honey bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A weeping version is also available and both are moderately tolerant to salt and can grow up to 25 ft. high.

Pick a Favorite

No matter what size yard or the preferred blossom color, there’s a small tree to accommodate any need in Florida. The temperate climate and mild winters allow dozens of small flowering trees to thrive, providing interest, beauty, and nectar for wildlife.

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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Common DIY Landscape Mistakes

Many homeowners prefer to take matters into their own hands when it comes to landscaping their property. While some projects can turn out fine, those that are contemplating intricate, complex and complicated designs should consult with a landscape design professional. They can provide valuable assistance in choosing the right plants and decorative elements for the space and ensure gas grills and patio fireplaces are installed properly.

Budgeting – Landscaping projects cost an average of 30 percent more than anticipated. Before anyone can create an accurate budget, they need to know what materials are needed, the quantity, and their cost.

Existing Landscape Problems – Areas with poor drainage to those that are erosion-prone need to be addressed and fixed before any landscaping projects can proceed.

Functional Design – A new design element can make environments more attractive, but they must also be functional and accommodate the way a family actually uses their leisure and entertainment space. Any element should make a smooth transition into the rest of the environment and not interrupt existing usages.

Irrigation – Plants need the appropriate amount of water at the right times. One of the most neglected facets of landscaping is an irrigation system that is capable of delivering the correct amount of moisture to different types of plants in multiple areas.

Lighting – Exterior lighting helps keep people and pets safe in the dark. It also deters trespassers and can be used to accent a specific feature. Don’t forget to install adequate lighting options.

Overcrowding – In an effort to work in everything that homeowners want, the yard can quickly become overcrowded. The effect is a cluttered appearance that isn’t conducive to peacefulness or entertainment. It also won’t leave enough room for plantings to grow well. The same overcrowding occurs when too many ornamental items are installed.

Patio Too Small – Most people don’t realize how much space a patio requires. After pools, plants and other features are added, there often isn’t enough space for a patio or it won’t be large enough to accommodate more than a couple of chairs. Patios shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Too Much Yard – One of the top mistakes homeowners make is trying to combine too many features into a yard that’s too small to contain it all. The problem is compounded if the end result requires more care and upkeep than the homeowner has time to perform.

Wildlife – Homeowners will have to consider if they want to attract wildlife into their yard or repel it. The landscape design and plants selected have the ability to accomplish either goal. Remember that wildlife encompasses everything from rodents and raccoons to birds, bees and butterflies.

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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Best Time of Year to Add Sod

There’s no reason to spread grass seed, add fertilizer, and water in the hope of sprouting a new lawn when adding sod is so much easier and provides a lush carpet of ready-made grass. The best time to lay sod in Florida is typically April through July. Those times allow the grass to settle and grow for an entire season before cooler weather arrives.

Sod is grass that’s already been planted and grown in soil. The grass roots are very dense and helps hold the sod together while it’s manipulated, cut, and laid down in its ultimate destination. It’s most commonly available in rolls that have been precut into one long slab and are rolled out into the desired area, but precut squares that are laid down individually are also offered by some landscapers for spot jobs.

Sod is an excellent solution for anyone that wants to enjoy their lawn immediately rather than enduring the time it takes for a seeded lawn to grow. The time sod is added will also depend on the type of grass desired. Some types prefer certain conditions to get the best start when it’s first planted, while others can be planted almost any time. St. Augustine grass, for example, should be laid when nighttime temperatures are between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The sod will require light yet frequent watering for the first two to three weeks after it’s laid to help it set and begin growing in its new environment. Fertilizer shouldn’t be applied until at least 60 days have passed and a sodded lawn shouldn’t be mowed for at least three to four weeks.

Laying sod in the early spring or autumn won’t provide the grass with the temperatures required for vigorous growth. Roots go dormant and growth stops when soil temperatures are 55 degrees or less. Planted at the right time and with proper care, individuals can enjoy an instant lawn that will grow even thicker and lusher as the year progresses.

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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Weed Control Options

No one wants weeds in their lawn, flowerbeds, drives or walkways. There are multiple ways to control the unwelcome visitors ranging from preventative to chemical and many are complementary. There’s no single method that works best in all conditions or environments and some are harmful to people, pets and plants. It’s best to get professional assistance to determine the best options for each individual situation.

Biological

These consist of bacteria, fungi, insects, and microscopic nematodes to control and destroy weeds. They’re effective, but can have unwanted and unintended effects if not utilized properly. They should only be employed by a professional.

Chemical

Weed-killing chemicals are available in multiple forms and they’re effective. They’re also harmful to kids, pets, and the people applying them. There’s a time and place for chemical options and a landscape professional should be consulted.

Edging

The physical barrier is a simple solution that’s also cost effective. It prevents weed roots from breaching the barrier and entering flower beds or overgrowing driveways and walkways.

Groundcover

A groundcover is great for areas that are difficult to reach with a mower and its dense growth helps choke out weeds. Groundcovers are available in varying heights, many of which are adorned with colorful blooms that attract bees and butterflies.

Landscape Fabric

This is the foundation of weed control before plants are installed in the ground. A layer of landscape fabric – with or without a layer of mulch – aids in preventing weeds from sprouting in the first place.

Mulch

An application of mulch helps prevent weed growth, keeps soil cooler, and aids in moisture retention.

Organic

These methods include everything from vinegar or salt water solutions, the application of specific minerals, rock salt, and even boiling water to kill weeds. The drawbacks are that they can affect desirable plants, erode and stain brick and concrete surfaces, and create areas where plants won’t grow at all for long periods.

Sunlight Deprivation

Every plant needs light to live, even weeds. Depriving them of the sun’s rays will eventually kill them. People used newspapers covered in mulch in the past to block the sun. A similar technique using modern materials will work just as well and is primarily used for flower beds.

Tilling

Whether you’re using a rototiller or a trowel, both methods break up and soil disrupt the root growth of weeds. It’s more time intensive, but it’s effective over time and also helps aerate the soil.

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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Best Edibles for Your Backyard

A backyard garden isn’t just for people that want to eat healthier. People across the nation are adding small herb gardens, kitchen gardens, and miniature orchards to their outdoor living space for fun and profit. Florida’s climate enables homeowners to cultivate an extremely wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

The temperate weather conditions even allow backyard gardeners to diversify. ‘Warm weather’ crops are planted during the warmest part of the year. After harvesting, the weather provides desirable conditions for crops that prefer cooler temperatures to flourish.

Warm weather and a long growing season are ideal conditions for almost any type of fruit or vegetable that South Florida residents want to cultivate. Edibles encompassing beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, along with cucumbers, squash, asparagus and any type of salad greens are favorites for the dinner table. Onions, cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower can also be grown.

Florida is home to one of the best environments for growing citrus fruits ranging from oranges and lemons to limes, grapefruit, and nectarines. Figs, mangoes, avocados, peaches, and plums are also good selections. Homeowners can easily add blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, to their repertoire. Apples and cherries can be added to backyards, even if there’s not a lot of room. Many common fruit tree varieties are available in the form of dwarf and columnar trees.

The South Florida climate also enables individuals to grow out of the ordinary options such as certain types of coffee beans and bananas. For more adventurous gardeners and those that like to experiment with rare varieties they can try breadfruit, loquats, and tropical types of persimmons, in addition to jackfruit, mamey sapote, canistel, and atemoya.

South Florida is home to one of the most conducive climates for growing fruits, vegetables, and even nuts. It’s easy to start a backyard garden with the most highly-sought and healthy options available. In many instances, the plants yield much more than a family can use and they’re utilizing their excess to add some cash to their wallet by selling it at farm markets.

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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Colorful Shrubs

Shrubs don’t have to have exotic blossoms to be landscape standouts. There are many shrubs that have extremely colorful foliage that provide interest in unique ways. Many combine spectacular floral displays with unusually-colored leaves that put on their own show at various times of the year. For those that crave colorful shrubs, the following are some suggestions in no particular order.

Dart’s Gold™ Ninebark

Foliage is yellow gold in spring, turns lime green, and then transitions to golden yellow with a hint of bronze in the autumn. It has small white flowers in clusters that produce small red fruits. The bush grows 4-5 feet high and wide.

Goshiki™ Variegated False Holly

The evergreen features white, cream, yellow, pink and orange hues on each leaf, adding interest during slower winter months. It’s drought tolerant, deer resistant, and grows 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Nightglow™ Diervilla

Emergent burgundy foliage gives way to leaves that approach black in color during summer and then turns red in the autumn before the bush sheds its leaves. It also has tubular, bright yellow flowers and reaches 2-3 feet in height and width.

Purple Hebe

White flowers emerge and rise above the burgundy/plum spotted foliage in late summer. Leaves fade to green as they age. It grows 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Rainbow Fizz™ Spirea

Foliage begins as a copper red color in the spring, transitioning to shades of yellow, gold and orange all at the same time in summer’s heat. It has fuzzy pink blooms throughout the summer and foliage turns copper again with autumn. It grows 3-4 feet in width and height.

Wine & Roses™ Weigela

The combination of rosy pink flowers against dark purple foliage provides a show stopping vision. Spring foliage is so dark it almost appears black. The award-winning shrub requires little maintenance, is deer resistant, and grows 4-5 feet wide and high.

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

Herbs that Grow Well in South Florida

Few things are as tasty and satisfying as cooking with homegrown herbs. There are dozens of culinary herbs from which to choose and with South Florida’s climate, nothing is off the table. While it’s possible to grow some of the more exotic herbs and spices, there are 10 basic herbs that no kitchen garden should be without and they grow extremely well in Florida.

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemon balm
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

You can buy plants from a nursery – it’s easier and you won’t have to wait for them to sprout, but herbs are fairly easy to start from seed. Spring and summer are the best times to begin a kitchen garden. If you want new plants for the following season, let the herbs flower and go to seed. Many self-sow easily.

The 10 basic herbs are an ideal place to start before graduating to more difficult herbs to grow. Begin by growing what you like and what you’ll use most often. If you buy seedlings, be sure you know what you’re getting. There are many different types of mint and thyme, for example. It’s important to make distinctions.

You’ll also want to know the growth habits of the herbs you plant. Mint and oregano can be aggressive in the garden and overpower their neighbors. Some herbs are best grown in pots to keep them contained, but it will mean they’ll need to be watered more often and have excellent drainage.

Harvesting your herbs can be tricky. You don’t want to pick them too often or not enough, but they will need to be pinched to encourage growth. Doing so will ensure the plants remain more compact and produce a greater yield.

Having success with one type of herb is a heady experience and you’ll be tempted to add several more. Don’t do it. Each herb has its own particular needs and it’s best to introduce one more at a time to the kitchen garden.

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 Time of Day to Water the Yard

A lush green lawn is a beauty to behold and sufficient moisture is one of the essential requirements. If you have a modern irrigation system installed, your irrigation specialist will program it to automatically water at the optimal time.

If you’re still watering by hand, there’s one very important aspect with which you should be concerned. Evaporation in its many forms is the enemy of lawn watering. Water can evaporate through the effects of sun, wind, high temperatures, and low humidity levels.

Daytime isn’t the best time to water the lawn. Late at night or early in the morning when air temperatures are cooler and the dew has fallen is preferable to minimize evaporation. Never water during the hottest part of the day. It’s a waste of water and can actually dehydrate the lawn and stress the grass.

Watering on windy days is also a waste of time, money and water. A light breeze isn’t a problem, but a strong wind will result in much of the water evaporating before it has time to soak into the lawn where it needs to be.

Most lawns require anywhere from 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week if you don’t receive sufficient rain. A rain gauge can be a valuable tool for monitoring how much rain has fallen and if your lawn is still thirsty. Most experts recommend watering until the moisture has penetrated six inches below the surface.

One of the reasons it’s a good idea to have an irrigation system installed by a professional is that the high-tech systems available now can be programmed to water at the proper time and they can even detect the amount of rainfall so lawns aren’t overwatered. They take the guesswork out of the best time of day to water the yard.

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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Hardscape can Enhance your Landscape

Most people automatically think of plants when they hear the word landscape, but it also encompasses a wide variety of other features that enhance, beautify, and add interest and value to properties. Within landscapes, there are ample opportunities to incorporate hardscapes.

Hardscapes can include paved paths and driveways, fountains, waterfalls, and pools, along with statuary, patios, fire pits and retaining walls. It can embrace decks, gazebos, pergolas, and stairways. Hardscape features are those made of materials such as metal, stone, brick, concrete and wood – the non-living elements within a landscape.

A hardscape can be decorative, practical or both. It can be as simple as adding a bench or something more complicated such as installing fencing. The elements work together to complement current or future landscaping, the architectural style of a home or business, improve functionality of the outdoor space, and meet the needs of the property owner.

Hardscaping is also an efficient and effective way to create a sense of dimension or emphasize boundaries between properties or other elements in the landscape. Fences and water hardscapes are particularly beneficial for masking traffic noise and water hardscapes are desirable for relaxing and entertaining.

In the past, the practice was typically to utilize one type of hardscaping to the exclusion of another. Today, the trend in cutting edge landscape design is to combine features for a more well-rounded approach or create ‘zones.’

Other trends include sleek and modern that utilizes linear and contemporary design with modern materials such as porcelain, that’re easy to clean and maintain. Another trend features multipurpose walls that double as benches, raised planters, or garden beds in which to grow a kitchen garden. Adding state-of-the-art lighting is also popular and contributes to safety and security.

No matter what type of hardscapes you may have envisioned, your landscape designer is sure to have ideas and concepts you may never have even considered. A landscape professional can introduce you to a wide variety of hardscape options and assist you in deciding what will work best on your property.

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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Adding Plants to Shady Areas

Every property has them – areas of shade where nothing ever seems to want to grow. To fill in shady spots in the garden or landscape, it’s essential that the greenery that’s planted is shade-loving or shade-tolerant at the very least.

It’s possible to fill in those less well-lit areas with distinctly colored and patterned foliage. There are even plants that will bloom in those conditions for a burst of color in an unexpected location. There are annuals for those that like to change up their look each year, or the ever popular plant-them-and-forget-them perennials. First, you have to determine what type of shade you have – filtered, partial, full or deep.

Filtered Shade

This is one of the most common situations in landscapes, whether it’s a large estate or a small backyard. In filtered shade, sunlight is filtered through a canopy of leaves. The pattern of light shifts all day. Filtered shade is also known as dappled light. Begonias, fuchsias and bleeding heart are good choices.

Partial Shade

Another common situation is partial shade. It occurs when an area receives 2-4 hours of sun per day. Lily of the valley will grow in partial or full shade. Impatiens don’t mind shade and caladiums and coleus are valued for their showy foliage.

Full Shade

You have full shade when very little sunlight reaches plants due to thick trees, canopies or overhangs on structures. Hostas like shade and potted dead nettle is another option that’s non-invasive and doesn’t sting like ordinary nettles.

Deep/dense Shade

This occurs when plants receive no direct sun exposure and the light they do receive is reflected or indirect. It’s a difficult situation, but there are remedies. Primroses, coral bells, and foxglove are just some of the options for this type of environment.

Choose Carefully

If you purchase from a nursery, talk with one of their specialists to ensure the plants you choose will grow in the conditions where you plan to place them. If you’re going to purchase plants from a supermarket or similar outlet, research your options online before making a purchase.

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