Archives for Landscape Design

Turf Disease

Turf grass is widely used for applications ranging from lawns and athletic fields to golf courses and polo fields. The primary reason is its ability to withstand a high level of foot traffic. It has great recuperative abilities, but it can also fall prey to diseases. In South Florida, most turf grass diseases are the result of fungal growth due to weather conditions.

Brown Patch Fungus

The disease is most obvious during the months of November to May and is especially aggressive. Particularly prevalent when daytime temperatures are over 80° F and nighttime temperatures are above 70° F, it presents as large patches of brown grass with a darker outer ring. Causative factors include high rainfall and humidity, along with excessive irrigation, that leaves the grass damp for more than 48 hours.

Dollar Spot

The disease takes its name from the silver dollar-sized spots that occur throughout the grass. Occurring during warm weather, there will be lesions on the grass blades within the spots. The disease thrives in soil with low nitrogen levels.

Root Rot

All types of grass are subject to root rot and the warm and humid climate conditions are conducive to its appearance. It proliferates when grass is wet for too long and there’s minimal air circulation.

Fairy Ring

It’s particularly difficult to eradicate. It can infect turf for many years before it’s noticed. It presents as dark green or brown patches of grass on the surface that can reach up to 20 ft. in diameter. It gets its name from the mushrooms that sometimes grow on the edges of the rings. Its spread via root systems.

Rust Fungus

The fungi weaken grass, making it more susceptible to other types of diseases. Typically appearing in the spring and fall when moisture levels are higher, it likes shady spots. It coats grass in an orange or yellow powder, grass grows slower, and the grass blades turn rust colored and/or die.

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Westport RTM again eyeing leaf blower restrictions

The Importance of Landscape Maintenance for Your Business

Businesses often overlook the importance of maintaining their landscaping. It’s a consideration that’s outside of daily operations, but can make a significant difference to a company’s reputation and bottom line.

Image is Everything

A business with well-kept landscaping is perceived by customers, vendors and visitors as one with which they’d like to conduct commerce. It welcomes individuals, aids in new client acquisition, and conveys a subtle message that the business offers an elevated level of service. The aesthetic value for presentation of the business should never be underestimated.

Safety and Security

Landscaping is just as important as maintaining indoor repairs. Business landscaping can also encompass keeping sidewalks and pathways level and clean, along with maintaining water features. Dead branches or leaf piles are unattractive and can lead to injuries.

Landscaping aids in mitigating the potential for customer or employee accidents and injuries that can result in loss of employee time and customer litigation. It’s also an important security measure that limits the ability of intruders and vandals to find hiding spaces.

Greater Employee Productivity

Employees that arrive to a workplace with well-groomed grounds have a better mood and are more productive overall. The landscape also provides them with an invigorating environment in which to take breaks. They have greater pride in their work and the company.

Mitigates the Spread of Plant Disease and Pests

Even small landscapes can fall prey to a wide variety of plant-based diseases and insect pests. If left unchecked, they can spread to contaminate other landscapes and even home lawns and gardens. Regular maintenance is an effective way of mitigating that potential.

The Search for Sustainability

Many customers and clients are seeking out businesses that are eco-friendly. Businesses can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by planting native species that sustain pollinators and other native wildlife. It’s an effective way to promote similar practices within the community and improve the public image of the company.

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What is Considered Natural Landscape Design?

Changing climatic conditions has many South Florida residents considering natural landscape design. It’s often referred to as native gardening and offers an alternative to precisely mown lawns and high-maintenance species,

Dispelling Myths

Natural landscape design doesn’t mean turning outdoor spaces into a meadow or allowing rampant and uncontrolled growth. Nor will it make homes or businesses appear unoccupied. Native plants are not weeds and natural landscaping poses no danger or threat. Natural landscapes aren’t bland. The wide range of native species enables designers to incorporate multiple colors and textures into the landscape.

Native Species

The landscape design utilizes plants, trees, gras, shrubs, and wildflowers native to a region. It emulates an ecosystem that would evolve naturally. There’s extensive variety that can be achieved, depending on the type of plants that are installed.

Multiple Benefits

Natural landscape design is more sustainable. It also enhances biodiversity, which has a positive effect on communities as a whole It supports native pollinators such as butterflies and birds. The plants used are more resistant to insect pests and diseases, meaning fewer chemicals are required that pose a threat to people and animals.

Native South Florida species also tend to have deeper root systems that help them weather storms, flooding and hurricanes. The landscapes generally produce less green waste than other types.


There are some disadvantages associated with natural landscaping, depending on perspective. They have a messy appearance compared to the manicured look that’s typically cultivated. That can result in discord with neighbors who appreciate a tidier appearance or those living in communities governed by an HOA. Those elements should factor into any decision before “going natural.”. The landscapes also require regular maintenance for the same reasons as other landscape types.

Not for Everyone

Despite the benefits of natural landscape design, it’s not an option that’s necessarily right for everyone. There may be zoning ordinances that prevent certain types of plants. That doesn’t mean that individuals can’t incorporate elements of natural landscaping into their outdoor spaces. It’s best to consult with a landscape design company familiar with the technique before making any changes.

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What Can Cause Damage to Your Lawn

A beautiful lawn invites people to play, but it also requires a significant amount of work. Despite your best intentions, you can inadvertently cause damage to your lawn through well-intentioned mistakes.

Over Fertilizing

A too generous or frequent application of fertilizer weakens grass and can burn it. Excess fertilizer lays on top of the ground and washes off during rainfall or irrigation where it contaminates water sources.

Watering at the Wrong Time

Lawns should be watered in the early morning hours to mitigate evaporation. Water quickly evaporates in the hot sun before it can soak into the soil. Watering at night allows moisture to set on the grass, providing an environment for disease.

Overwatering and Underwatering

Too much water creates runoff and puddling. The soil can’t absorb the moisture quick enough. Underwatering doesn’t allow nutrients to make their way beneath the soil and to the roots where they’re needed. Grass shouldn’t be watered every day.

Cutting Grass Too Short

Each type of grass has an optimal length at which it should be maintained. When cut too short, grass blades must use stored nutrients from the roots to produce more growth, weakening the grass.

Using Dull Mower Blades

Dull mower blades rip and tear grass instead of providing a clean cut. The result is ragged edges and stressed lawns that are more susceptible to disease and insect predations.

Mowing When Wet

Grass blades bend when they’re wet instead of standing stiffly upright. Grass is more difficult to cut, contributes to thatch, and the potential for disease.

Mowing in the Same Direction

Besides creating small troughs and ruts in the soil, mowing in the same direction can result in uneven cutting due to ground topography.

Throwing Shade

Too much shade from trees, shrubs, pergolas or canopies robs lawns of the light they need to thrive. Every grass species has its own light requirements.

Thatch Build Up

Thatch is a layer of vegetative material that builds up on lawns from grass clippings and stems. The material forms a mat on the soil that makes it difficult for water, nutrients and air to penetrate. If not aerated, lawns can die for lack of nutrients and thatch provides an environment where multiple diseases can multiply.

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What to Know About Low Maintenance Landscaping

The first thing to understand about low-maintenance landscape is that the term doesn’t mean no maintenance. There will still be garden tasks to perform, but the time spent will be much less than in a traditional landscape model. Low maintenance landscapes don’t have to be an all or nothing decision. It’s entirely possible to incorporate various elements into an existing environment. There are multiple components that can be selected for a low-maintenance landscape that include the following.

Artificial Turf

Made of synthetic fibers, artificial turf withstands high foot traffic and feels like real grass. It doesn’t require fertilizer, watering, or insect control Best of all, it eliminates mowing.


They don’t drop copious amounts of leaves that have to be raked. Evergreens are available as trees and bushes in a variety of textures and color gradations.

Gravel and Rocks

Both elements can be used to create paths and walkways The materials can also be utilized as a ground cover, mulch to reduce weeds, or borders for flowerbeds.

Ground Covers

There are dozens of plant-based ground covers from which to choose and many have blossoms that can attract pollinators. They’re great for slopes, minimizing erosion and are effective for controlling weed growth.

Hardscape Options

These are non-plant items in the landscape ranging from statuary, firepits and patios to pergolas, water features and walkways. Simply install them and leave them alone.

Ornamental Grass

They can add interest to the environment and are a good choice for minimizing erosion. The seeds provide food and a source of nesting materials for birds. Flowering varieties attract pollinators.

Perennial Plants

It’s a good idea to start with native plants that are already adapted to the South Florida climate and thrive in the local conditions. They’re more resistant to disease and insect pests. They encompass a wide range of colors, textures and heights. Perennials return every year with no effort on the part of gardeners.

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Drainage System Types: Problems and Solutions

Multiple types of drainage systems can be established. They each solve problems of excess or standing water that can cause erosion and promote insect populations such as disease-carrying mosquitos. Depending on the situation, drain systems can be combined. There are three primary types, surface, subsurface and slope, with some variations depending on where they’re used and the amount of water that needs to be controlled.

Surface Drain

This type of system is designed to remove water from the ground’s surface. The system typically uses an open concrete conduit or gravel-lined pathway to divert water to drains or another location.

A surface drain system can also be installed to empty into a tank or other receptacle beneath the soil’s surface. These are sometimes referred to as dry wells. The receptacle has perforations to allow the water to drain and be absorbed into the water table.

Swale Drain

Another type of surface drain, it utilizes a shallow ditch lined with turf or other vegetation to slow run off, mitigate erosion, and divert waterflow. They help keep storm drains from being overwhelmed if there’s a heavy rain.

Subsurface Drain

Also known as a French drain, these are installed beneath the surface of the ground. They use pipes covered by a layer of soil to remove excess water. Despite the name, they’re not French and are named after Massachusetts Judge Henry French, who wrote about them in 1859.

Slope Drain

The systems are designed to carry water away from a structure and down a slope through a pipe. The pipe is anchored to the slope Gutters and drains attached to homes and businesses are an example of one type of slop drainage.

Consult a Professional

Diverting and directing water may seem like an easy task, but there are multiple variables to be considered. It isn’t appropriate as a DIY project and individuals can inadvertently cause damage to surrounding properties. Installing an effective drain system requires the expertise of a professional.

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HS2: One million cubic metres of chalk from Chiltern tunnels used for landscaping

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Landscape Design

Planning your garden design and browsing the potential plants to install is a fun endeavor. However, many people often wonder why their finished design isn’t quite what they envisioned. There are 3 very common mistakes that home designers make that can result in a landscape gone awry.

Colors and Styles

There are some colors that just don’t work well together and have a jarring effect on the eyes. The flower colors you choose to plant near your home can be overwhelming or give you a washed-out looking landscape. Examples would be a red brick home flanked by purple, red or lavender flowers, or a white house surrounded by white or beige flowers.

The same is true for the types of flowers you plant in relation to the style of home you have. The clean lines of modern style gardens would look completely out of place against a home with a classic architectural design.

Sparse Flower Beds

Many people begin with good intentions, only to discover their budget didn’t extend to all the plants they wanted to install. To make up for that, they often purchase fewer flowers and plant them further apart. The appearance is one of an anemic flower bed.

This type of planting in an open invitation for weeds to take over the bed. To counter weed growth, individuals often mulch the bed in the mistaken belief that it will be low maintenance. Instead, what they have is a mulch garden, reminiscent of a commercial landscape.

Even Numbered Plants

If you want to highlight a specific feature, such as a doorway, install a plant on either side of the entrance. Garden design for flower beds doesn’t work that way. An uneven number of plants invites the eye to wander and rove throughout the entire design. Groupings of 3 to 11 plants tend to work best. You’ll also need to avoid installing them in rows that are precision planned and overly straight.

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Summer Landscape Tips You Cannot Miss

Summer gardening requires proper preparation. Debris, dead plants and weeds should be removed. Apply much before the heat of summer. Some trees will need to be trimmed, while flowers may need to be deadheaded or cut back. Fertilizing will need to be performed during early spring.

Hardiness Zone

Long-time South Florida residents have a good grasp of what will grow well in the subtropical climate and their maintenance needs. Those new to the region will be well-advised to conduct some research before installing any type of plants, shrubs or trees. Some are highly invasive, some won’t grow well at all, and others provide much-needed sources of food for pollinators.

Soil Composition

Your soil may have been amended to provide more fertile ground for a variety of plants. That process may need to be performed for the first time or renewed. South Florida soils can be comprised of clay, sand, loam, or a combination of those.

Use Native Plants

A wide variety of flowering plants, vines, bushes, and trees are well adapted to the South Florida climate. They provide a rainbow of color in the landscape and a source of nectar and pollen for native pollinator species. You can also choose to plant some of the native species that are on the endangered list to help preserve them.


A myriad of groundcovers are available that provide colorful blossoms and are great for areas where nothing else seems to want to grow. They have the added benefit of suppressing weed growth.

Tree Trimming

To maintain the shape and health of trees, keep them pruned and trimmed. Remove dead or damaged branches and remove trees that have becomes a hazard. Have nuts from tall palms professionally removed. Keeping trees maintained will also lessen the potential damage to homes and outbuildings during storms.


South Florida typically receives enough rainfall for plants to grow well, but the area does experience dry spells and even droughts. If watering by hand, do so doing cool evening hours to minimize evaporation.

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Westport RTM again eyeing leaf blower restrictions

Keeping Your Lawn Healthy in the Summer

Summer is a time for outdoor activities with family and friends and you want a lush, green carpet upon which to recreate. Maintaining lawn health in summer can be problematic for homeowners due to the hot and humid weather conditions. It’s a balancing act that can keep homeowners on their toes.

Regular Mowing

It’s critical to understand that different grass species have different mowing requirements. Some are best kept at 1.5 to 2 inches. Others, such as Bermuda grass, thrives when maintained at .5 to 1.5 inches and St. Augustine grass is happy at 3.5 to 4 inches.

Take no more than 1/3 of the height of the grass blades when you mow, never mow when the grass is wet, and always keep mower blades sharp. It ensures the grass is cut instead of ripped and torn, which opens the lawn to disease and insect pests. To avoid creating ruts and areas of uneven height and growth, it’s best to alternate the direction you mow each time.


Applying fertilizer should be done in the spring to supply lawns with the nutrients they need during the summer growing season. Fertilizing during the summer months is irresponsible and there are bans against applying fertilizer during certain months. Frequent rains wash it into waterways. It contaminates drinking water and creates a toxic runoff that can spawn algae blooms.


South Florida typically receives sufficient rainfall for lawns to thrive. However, there have been dry spells and the state has also experienced times of drought. Lawns need about ½ to ¾ of an inch of rain per week, depending upon the species that’s planted. If no rainfall is in the forecast, you’ll need to water. If you’re watering by hand rather than a programmable irrigation system, always water during cool, evening hours.

To save money when you need to water, you may want to consider rainwater harvesting. It prevents pooling and puddling, enhances drainage, limits runoff, and provides an alternative source of moisture if watering bans are enacted.

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Outdoor Design Ideas with Native Florida Plants

The allure of planting vividly colored annual plants can be strong. The problem is that they often don’t do well if there’s any flooding and a drought will elevate your water bill keeping them watered. The solution is installing native Florida flowers that are adapted to survive, and even thrive, in the South Florida conditions. An added bonus is that they require less maintenance.

Black-eye Susan

Salt and drought resistant, it’s a tough wildflower that has a brown center and petals that can be red, yellow or orange.

Beach Sunflower

It likes hot, dry conditions and doesn’t mind coastal areas. It attracts butterflies and the flowerheads follow the sun as it passes overhead. The blooms are yellow, have brown centers, bloom almost year-round, and self-sows.


Also known as tickseed, it’s a wildflower that sports bright yellow blossoms in spring and summer. It’s drought tolerant and reseeds itself.

Native Orchids

Florida has at least 106 different species of native orchids, with 18 listed as threatened and 58 are endangered. They come in multiple colors and planting them helps preserve native species.


Vivid red or orange tubular flowers grow on stalks and the plant is a member of the coffee family. It can be grown as a bush or small tree. They’re essential to pollinators that includes butterflies and hummingbirds.

Purple Coneflower

Also known as echinacea, it’s an endangered Florida wildflower. They’re characterized by pinkish-purple petals and dark centers.

Star Anise

Commonly associated with Asia, there are several species of the shrub that are native only to Florida. It can grow up to 15 ft. tall, with fragrant pinkish, yellow or white blossoms.

Florida Asters

There are 331 species of asters native to Florida. Many are listed as endangered, with 41 only found in the state.


It’s also known as blanket flower and some studies indicate it was introduced to Florida several centuries ago. The plant made a comfortable home in the state and thrived, providing an excellent source of pollen and nectar for pollinators. Blossoms can be single, double, semi-double or tubular, depending on the species. Blooms are red, yellow or orange.

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