Posts by Mark Battalini

Ways to Protect Plants in a Florida Cold Snap

It doesn’t happen often, but it does occur – a spell of unseasonably cold weather that can damage plants. There’s typically one cold snap in Florida each year and climate change has made weather conditions much less predictable. Even if temperatures don’t reach the freezing mark, winds can make it feel colder and plants can suffer.

Below freezing temperatures aren’t beyond the realm of possibility. In 1899, Tallahassee saw temperatures of 2 degrees below zero. Miami National Airport recorded 30 degrees in Dec. 1989 and again in Jan. 1985. Fortunately, there are measures that can be employed to lessen the potential for damage.

Location Matters

South and east sides of buildings hold heat longer than other locations, which means there will be more heat radiated back to plants. A fence on the north side of a property provides a level of protection against cold and winds. Flowers planted under and next to cold-hearty bushes or shrubs helps shield them from the cold.

Preventative Care

Plants within landscapes that have been well cared for are better equipped to survive a cold period. That includes fertilizing at the right time, regular watering, weed control, and managing insect pests and rodents.

Mulching

Applying mulch helps preserve moisture for healthier plants, can discourage insects, and provides an insulating layer. If the forecast calls for below-normal temperatures, it can be helpful to water mulch early in the morning ahead of the front. The mulch will absorb the moisture, be warmed by the sun, and aid in protecting roots.

Cover them Up

Covering a plant is an effective way to protect it from cold temperatures. There are a number of materials available that are inexpensive, lightweight, and reusable. Whenever possible, don’t place heavy materials on plants that will compress foliage or bend branches. Don’t wrap them too tightly, make sure the cover reaches the ground, anchor the bottom to prevent it from blowing off. When the temperature warms, remove the coverings. Avoid plastic as it doesn’t allow plants to breathe. 

Plan the Landscape

The best protection against times of cold weather is a well-planned landscape that employs features that protect plants, along with plantings that are able to withstand the occasional cold snap.

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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Protecting your Landscape from Pests

There are dozens of pests that can arrive in your landscape uninvited. Insects are the No. 1 problem that individuals experience. The first order of business if you observe a problem is hire a professional. There are also beneficial insects that live in your landscape and a professional has the experience and knowledge to tell the difference.

Don’t immediately assume that complete and total annihilation is the only option for dealing with pests. There are measures that every property owner can employ to aid in making the landscape less attractive to insect pests.

Pest-Repelling Plants

Some plants are repulsive to certain types of insects. They’re attractive and add character to the landscape. Pest-repelling plants can be used in companion plantings to discourage bugs within the landscape. In addition to some herbs and flowers such as chrysanthemums, don’t overlook carnivorous plants that feed on insects.

Maintaining Distance

Bushes, vines, trees and even flower beds established near structures are an invitation to insects that can enter homes and commercial properties. It’s a good idea to maintain a distance of about six feet between buildings and plants. When mature, trees shouldn’t overhang structures. Keep trees pruned and inspect them regularly to prevent infestations before they occur. Dense plantings are also an invitation to mice and rats.

Clean up Debris

Leaving leaf piles, decaying wood, grass clippings, and mulch are all capable of calling insects to homes. If you don’t have a bagger on the mower, be sure and rake up grass clippings. Keep debris cleaned up.

Avoid Wood

Using wood chips are often viewed as an eco-friendly way to mulch or reduce mowing areas, and decrease the time spent on landscape maintenance. However, a great many insects, not to mention mice and rats, find wood chips and woodpiles a safe haven. Synthetic alternatives or pebbles offer a highly attractive option that won’t invite pests.

Professional Services

There are definitely times when professional services should be sought. The experts can address any current infestations and make the landscape less attractive to insects and rodents. They have a variety of methods that can be employed to keep your landscape healthy, which will significantly reduce the potential for pests to take up residence.

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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Shopping Tips when Visiting a Nursery

A nursery can be a wondrous place full of familiar favorites and exotic finds. The typical gardener will arrive home with far more plants than they planned for and some that they absolutely should have avoided. The following are some tips to use when visiting a nursery.

Shop Local Nurseries

Big box stores and similar outlets typically offer more plants, but they often lack the knowledge to guide consumers on their choices beyond what’s written on the included tag. Local nurseries are more likely to have varieties that will thrive and flourish in the South Florida landscape and personnel are far better equipped to answer any questions.

Plan the Plants

Gardeners should have some idea of what they’re seeking before visiting the nursery. That will require some research on the part of individuals. Just because a tree or plant looks good in someone else’s landscape doesn’t mean it’s right in every yard. It could grow too large, produce a large amount of debris from leaves or blossoms, develop thorns as it matures, or be toxic to children and pets.

Shop on Weekdays

Shopping will be a much less stressful outing during the week. Large crowds are normal on weekends. Workers will also have more time to answer questions.

Look First

Make it a point of wandering through the entire nursery before making a decision to purchase anything. Read the tags and observe where plants are placed – sun or shade. Annuals may not present a problem with overgrowing their area, but they could self-seed and be invasive. Perennials may stay in their allotted space better and bloom more freely once established. Don’t buy in haste.

Buds and Roots

When plants are transplanted to the landscape, they’ll need to undergo a period of recovery. Choose plants with more buds than open blooms. The plant will experience less shock. Blossoms often wither and die, while buds will usually recover.

It’s not a good idea to purchase a plant that’s completely root-bound. The roots will be so tightly bound that it will be difficult for the plant to absorb the nutrients it needs from the soil. A root-bound plant needs to have its roots loosened before planting and watered well until it becomes established.

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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Maintaining Commercial Landscapes

Some commercial landscapes are beautiful to behold. They receive the regular care and maintenance needed to prevent overgrowth and provide a superior aesthetic. They’re neat, green, and mark properties as those that are desirable with which to conduct business. A lush landscape requires attention to detail and an elevated level of knowledge about the plantings involved.

Trimming

Trees need to be judiciously trimmed to maintain their shape and remove damaged limbs. Landscape professionals can identify areas of potential problems such as weak branches that can fall and cause injuries or damage property features. Regular inspections ensure that damage from storms or insects hasn’t occurred. Bushes and vines can also require trimming to prevent them from overgrowing their space.

Irrigation

Different types of plantings require varying amounts of moisture that can be insufficient. Even in Florida’s climate, rain amounts can be insufficient for particular plantings. A properly installed irrigation system is essential for delivering the right amount of precipitation and at the correct time. That requires an irrigation system that’s been properly installed, calibrated and adjusted.

Lawn Care

Grass grows best when its not too long or too short and each type of lawn grass has specific requirements. Cutting lawns too short will result in browning and leave them susceptible to insects and disease, while leaving them too long will present an unkempt appearance and encourage insects.

Fertilization

A one-size-fits-all fertilization program can do a significant amount of damage or if applied at the wrong time. There are different fertilizer formulas to achieve specific results. Grass requires a different fertilizer for growth than one that encourages blossoms. Some types of plants obtain their nutrients from closer to the surface, while others are deep feeders.

Insects

There are hundreds of potential insect pests that can infest every aspect of a commercial landscape. What works to control one species won’t necessarily work on others. Regular maintenance and inspections by a professional are an effective way to identify potential problems before they escalate.

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 a Mango Tree to your South Florida Yard

If you love mangos and want to grow your own, you’re not alone. South Florida residents are adding the trees to their landscape and as part of home orchards and gardens. Mangos typically grow in tropical locales and South Florida’s climate provides an environment in which the trees can flourish.

The mango is actually a member of the cashew family. It’s one of the most widely cultivated and highly desired trees by home gardeners. Through a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative of the past, a mango seedling program was created in South Florida. It was spearheaded by David Fairchild, founder of the USDA’s Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction program. Several mango varieties were developed as a result.

Height

The average mango tree grows to about 100 feet in height with a canopy of approximately 35 feet wide. With proper trimming, trees can be kept to a smaller, more manageable height of about 15 feet. You can also choose dwarf mango varieties, along with those that can even be grown in containers, though fruit production may be less than a tree planted in the ground.

Disease Control

Mango trees have dense canopies. Pruning them to achieve an open canopy reduces the risk of insect pests, bacterial and fungal diseases, and provides easier access should disease control measures need to be applied. After they’re established, the trees require little if any irrigation. Watering them can actually promote disease and insect infestations. Fertilize lightly and mulch.

Production and Harvest

Keeping mangos small in stature ensures a greater yield and easier harvesting. More of the tree’s energy will be channeled into bloom production rather than upward growth. Pruning also aids in larger fruits. If your mango tree sets a lot of blooms, you could easily find yourself with fruits that are too heavy and break branches.

Thinning the unripened fruit will preserve branch health and improve fruit production. You’ll have higher quality fruit to give away to friends or family – or sell at a local farm market for extra cash. Mango trees are self-pollinating and one tree is sufficient to produce fruit.

However, it’s advantageous to have other flowering plants nearby to entice honey bees and beneficial pollinating insects. There are a number of mango varieties developed that grow well in South Florida and are ready for harvest at different times of the year. The only problem will be deciding which one to grow.

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

Don’t Skimp on your Irrigation System

An irrigation system will keep your lawn and other plantings healthy throughout the year. It’s a smart investment that will save you a considerable amount of time, effort and money on your water bills. However, irrigation systems can be expensive and many people are tempted to do the work themselves or skimp on materials. It’s a decision that could come back to haunt you.

Water for All

Trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers all need water, but they need them in different amounts. Watering them all in the same way will result in some plants getting too much, while others are water-starved. Installing irrigation heads in the right number and calibrating the output is essential.

Different Methods

A properly installed irrigation system typically incorporates sprinkler heads for lawns, along with a drip system for flower beds and similar areas. Trusting in lawn sprinkler heads to water delicate flowers can beat smaller plants down with the force of the precipitation.

Output and Boundaries

Sprinkler heads should be adjusted to operate at different output levels for varying amounts of time, depending upon the area being watered. Without proper calibration, you can also have overspray in which the precipitation is dispersing water over your boundaries and into your driveway, sidewalk, and roadway.

Coverage Area

Each type of sprinkler head has a maximum distance over which it disperses water. Putting in fewer sprinkler heads than necessary will result in dry areas where the moisture doesn’t reach. You’ll be plagued with dry areas where plantings don’t receive sufficient water.

No Rain Shut Off

Florida receives a substantial amount of rain that feeds the moisture needs of plants. Every irrigation system should include a rain shutoff setting that senses the amount of moisture in the soil. It ensures the sprinkler system only activates when necessary for plant health and water savings for you.

Technology and Professionals

It’s well worth the money to hire irrigation professionals. They have knowledge of, and access to, the latest technological advances. They know how to calculate coverage area, adjust sprinkler heads for appropriate output, and install systems that ensure every planting receives moisture according to its own needs.

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

Adding Some Holiday Accents to your Landscape

South Florida residents are as enthusiastic in their holiday decorating as people in any other state. Adding accents and decorations can take unique directions due to the differences in vegetation and climate that are at the same time unusual and extremely beautiful. The following are just some of the ways individuals can add holiday accents to their Christmas decorating plans.

Plants

The holiday wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of traditional holiday plants. Poinsettias can be arranged around the front door to welcome visitors and wreaths of pine and holly berries are always a festive touch for entryways. Trees can be decorated with lights on the lawn and for a snowy appearance, there are non-toxic aerosol sprays that can be applied.

Lights

An age-old tradition, lights are available in every color to accommodate personal preferences, coordinate with existing features, or to create a theme. They can be used to adorn fences, pools and houses. Wrapping the trunks of palm trees with LED lights will make the fronds seem to glow.

The availability of outdoor LED lights means individuals can save money on their electric costs and even add more lights if they want. LEDs shine brighter than traditional bulbs, so it takes fewer to create the desired effect. Multiple types of LED trees are offered for outdoor use. Structures can be decorated with icicle lights and for a unique appearance, “meteor” lights provide a glittering, twinkling and cascading effect that will mesmerize all that view them.

Inflatables

There are dozens of inflatables available to decorate lawns ranging from snowmen, Christmas trees and snow globes to Nativity scenes, Santa and his sleigh, and polar bears. A number of inflatables are also offered for those that have an appreciation for TV and movie characters. The Grinch and baby Yoda are among the top 12 favorites for 2020. They all feature lights making them popular for nighttime displays.

Animatronics

The decorations feature lights and motion, making them particularly appealing. Individuals can select from reindeer, a Jack-in-the-Box, and Santa, along with rocking horses, soldiers and nutcrackers inspired by The Nutcracker ballet.

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

What is Plant Dormancy?

With Southern Florida’s tropical climate, many people assume that plants grow and bloom year-round without a break and never experience a dormant period. Most deciduous plants require a dormant period in which they prepare for a time of less water, fewer nutrients, less sunlight, and lower temperatures. Dormancy is when plants go into survival mode.

Dormancy periods are a little different in South Florida. Lawn grass, for instance, experiences a form of dormancy. It remains green and grows at a much slower rate, but doesn’t completely “sleep.” Unless there are extreme or unusual fluctuations in weather conditions, lawn grass won’t experience the same type of dormancy as those in northern locales.

The South Florida climate is the primary reason that some plants don’t grow well. They don’t have an adequate dormancy period. Perennial plants have a type of “memory” triggered by hormones that tell them when it’s time to resume growing based on temperature and increased light.

Succulents are popular in Florida and they also undergo a period of dormancy during which they don’t grow as quickly as they do at other times of the year. Succulents tend to be opportunistic growers and will flourish as long as their desired growing conditions are being met.

The South Florida climate doesn’t offer enough of a chilly period for some trees and plants to succeed. Tree leaves may or may not turn colors and fall in the autumn. Some plants will do well at first, then die out without enough of a dormancy cycle. Others may adapt by dropping their leaves and entering into a short period of self-induced dormancy.

Florida does have a dormancy period, but it’s not like that of even other areas of the state. A wide variety of native species have dormancy periods that align with the specific climate. Others engage in a near dormant state that lasts for a very short time – instead of months as in northern states – and enables them to marshal their resources for another round of growth.

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

When to Add Fresh Soil to Plant Beds

There will come a time when individuals will need to add fresh soil to their plant beds. Every plant bed can benefit from the addition of fresh soil, particularly in the form of compost. A mixture of 10 percent potting soil, 30 percent compost and 60 percent topsoil can be purchased and is equally beneficial. The exception to that mix is plants such as succulents that require specialized soil mediums.

One way to identify if it’s time to amend the soil in beds is to observe the condition of the previous year’s plants. If they were underperforming in regard to blooms, appeared weak, or had roots showing its time to add some soil. It’s a good idea to add fresh soil every couple of years.

A certain amount of soil will be displaced, such as when plants are removed at the end of their productive season, and will need to be replaced. Soil will also be compacted through rain, watering and other factors.

The nutrients in soil become depleted over time and simply adding fertilizer won’t work forever. Whether individuals are raising their plants in raised beds or directly in the ground, the addition of new soil provides a fresh infusion of nutrients and enriches the soil for lusher growth, better blooms, and a greater yield for vegetable plants.

The best time to incorporate fresh soil in an empty bed is during the spring before any plants are placed in the ground or in the autumn in preparation for the following planting season. For those that have existing beds of perennials, the plants can be dug up and the fresh dirt worked into the soil before quickly interring the plants again. The plants will require a period of adjustment as they reset their roots.

Conversely, soil can be amended in stages. Each time a new plant goes in the ground, add a handful of new soil or compost to the hole that’s been prepared. If plants have already been placed in the ground, a top dressing can be applied by spreading the new soil over the top of existing dirt, being careful not to “bury” the plants or cover their leaves.

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

Need a Commercial Landscape Overhaul?

Whether a full or partial landscape overhaul is required for a commercial property, the first step is to hire a professional with experience in that particular arena. There are issues and considerations specific to commercial landscapes that can arise that will need the expertise of a professional landscaper.

A landscape overhaul will improve the appearance of any business and make it more attractive to potential clients and customers. It’s an excellent way to boost curb appeal for owners that may be considering selling a property. The great part about a landscape overhaul is that it doesn’t have to include replacing every element.

Make a Plan

The experts will create a plan to accommodate the needs of the client while taking a multitude of variables into consideration. As professionals, they’re knowledgeable about what plants grow well within individual situations, along with what the landscaping will look like when plantings attain maturity. Trees and bushes may be deep or shallow-rooted and can destroy sidewalks and foundations if planted too closely.

Removal and Installations

The experts will remove any unhealthy trees or shrubs that have overgrown their bounds. They’ll be able to remove, expand, or modify any existing flower beds or plant entirely new beds. The installation of an irrigation system is essential. Professional landscapers will be able to create a custom irrigation solution for optimal plant health. They’ll also mulch appropriately, which will provide savings on water bills.

Special Features

The owners of commercial properties are only limited by their imagination when it comes to hard landscaping, which includes any non-living element. Depending upon the type of property, owners may want to install fencing, a swimming pool, fountain, pathways, or playground equipment. Professional landscapers are able to create and execute plans for the inclusion of any attractive or functional feature desired.

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