Tips From the Pros

It's our business at TPS Landscaping to be aware of how your landscaping will look in all of the seasons. While some people don't think of winter as a time to focus on landscaping, we definitely want your yard to look the best it can all year round. It's what makes our Asheville and Hendersonville, NC area so beautiful!
Check out this article from the NC Cooperative extension.

Gardens should have four seasons of interest. Of course, a lot of emphasis is placed on a spring and summer show. Even fall can be beautiful by picking trees and shrubs with fall color. What about winter, you may say? Winter interest can be added to the home landscape in many ways, such as the use of plants with winter berries, exfoliating bark, colorful twigs, and even winter flowers. Plants with winter berries provide a colorful addition to your winter garden, but they also provide much-needed food for wildlife, especially birds. And, if you are the crafty type, berries add interest to fall and winter flower arrangements! One of the most familiar plants with berries is the holly. There are many different species of hollies, ranging greatly in size. A favorite holly is the Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata). This is one of the deciduous hollies. The leaves shed in the fall to reveal a magnificent display of brilliant-red berries. This species will need a non-bearing male plant to produce berries. Another one of my favorite shrubs for berries is the beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma or C. americana). This shrub puts on a show of vivid purple berries in the autumn, after its leaves have shed. Due to its growing habit the beautyberry is better suited to the informal, natural garden than the formal garden. There are many other plants that produce berries for winter enjoyment including firethorn or pyracantha (Pyracantha coccinea), certain cultivars of crabapple (Malus spp.), and junipers (Juniperus spp.). Deciduous trees with attractive bark can be beautiful year-round. Some bark exfoliates exposing colorful layers of bark underneath and creating unique patterns. Examples of trees with exfoliating bark include some cultivars of crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez’, L. indica ‘Apalachee’, etc.), Heritage river birch (Betula nigra ‘Heritage’), kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia), and paperbark maple (Acer griseum). Some bark is smooth or has a unique texture that would stand out in a winter landscape. Examples of textural bark include American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). The Redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea) and the Tartarian dogwood (Cornus alba) are both used for their brightly colored stems. The younger twigs on these dogwoods are yellow or brilliant red and stand out if set in front of an evergreen. Often, these plants are pruned to within 2-3” of the ground each spring to provide the most colorful display in the fall and winter; however, flower and fruit production will be sacrificed if maintained in this fashion. There are plants that flower in the winter and very early spring that are worth noting. A favorite is the witchhazel. There are two species that are commonly planted: the native witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), a yellow-flowered, fall-blooming species, and the vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis), a yellow-, orange-, or red-flowered, winter-blooming species. Both are stunning if set in front of an evergreen shrub or tree to highlight the flowers. Other winter-flowering plants include winter daphne (Daphne odora), which has extremely fragrant blossoms, Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), and buttercup winterhazel (Corylopsis pauciflora). With a little planning, you too can incorporate a variety of trees, shrubs, and perennials that will create a stunning garden with interest in all four seasons.

Rhonda Gaster, N.C. Cooperative Extension

On November 8th, TPS Landscaping was awarded first place in Blue Ridge Now's Best of Blue Ridge in the landscaping lawn care category. We were please to accept this award and thankful that our clients voted for us! Landscaping Design, Installation and Maintenance is our passion and we are happy that our reputation is solid in our community!

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People assume that winter weather causes all plants to die, but that's not necessarily so. TPS Landscaping is happy to design and install your landscaping, and even do the maintenance but we want to give you tips so you can do some work yourself, if that's something you enjoy!  There are steps you can take to nurture your plants so that come springtime, they are refreshed and ready to grow and bloom again. Freezes can affect plant life and in some cases might cause the plant to prematurely die, but follow a few of our quick tips to ensure your garden or flower bed comes back stronger than ever when we hit the warmer months.

Shear back your Liriope(Monkey Grass) to make room for new spring growth. Cutting back your Liriope is important so that it doesn’t overrun your garden. Cutting back in the winter allows the plant to lay dormant for a few months and grow fresh in the spring. Additionally, cutting it back rids the plant of dying leaves.

Make sure you are taking care of your more temperamental plants such as your bulbs. These types of plants are unable to withstand the winter temperatures and must be treated with care and brought indoors for the winter months. If you are pulling your bulbs out of the ground to store them make sure you pat off any excess dirt, but do not wash with water as that could cause the bulb to ultimately rot. When storing your bulbs you will want to find a cool, dry environment such as a closet or a basement and an easy storage container is a cardboard box, as you don’t want anything like a plastic bag that could trap moisture around your bulbs and cause them to rot. If your bulbs are already bloomed they can add a nice splash of color in your home during the dreary winter months.

Cut back your ornamental grasses six to eight inches, divide large clumps, and replace. Your ornamental grass can be cut back in the late winter or very early spring, as soon as temperatures stay consistently above freezing.
This is something that can be kept in mind throughout the winter, as it will not be a pressing gardening need until the weather starts to warm up, but it’s never too soon to start planning!
A method to cut the grass is called clumping. When you clump large sections of your ornamental grass you tie a rope or bungee cord around the clump of grass before cutting off the dead foliage.

It’s important to cut back flowering vines in the later winter because that is when the plant is dormant. You will want to cut the oldest stems to six inches in length because then the renewal process can begin.

All of these tips are meant to help your garden survive the winter and prepare for the spring. Most plants enter a sort of dormancy during the cold winter months, but the proper care of these plants ensures a beautiful and bright spring! And as always, if you are in Mills River, Hendersonville, Asheville or the surrounding area, give up a call for your Western North Carolina landscaping needs.
Well, we certainly have had our share of flooding. While you can’t stop the rain from falling, you can take measures to reduce the impact of flooding and water damage to your lawn, soil, plants and trees.

Grass, Soil and Mulch
Soil composition and grass type can both play a big part in how well a lawn will handle flooding. An ideal soil type crumbles easily and allows water to drain adequately; however, it should also not be so light that it washes away during heavy rain. Sand and other loosely-packed soil varieties are likely to experience the most severe water damage (and can even be washed away completely), while clay and other very dense soil types that don’t allow for much drainage will result in a lot of standing water that doesn’t easily subside during the flood cleanup process.
Adding mulch or a compost mixture can help improve soil composition and drainage, but make sure if you’re using mulch specifically for your garden or flowerbeds that you use a heavier hardwood mulch or one made of manmade materials. Light mulch chips, such as pine, tend to get washed away very easily which will make flood cleanup a hassle, plus it can clog drains.

Plant Life
A good way to naturally avert water damage is to plant specific varieties of trees, shrubs and plants in certain areas of your yard. Plants with a high water tolerance should be planted in areas that don’t drain well since their roots can handle being submerged. Shallow root plants that are more susceptible to water damage should be planted in higher elevated areas of a yard or in raised flower beds. Another good rule of thumb is to choose native varieties of flowers, plants and shrubs for your yard, as they usually will require very little watering between rainfall and can withstand water damage if flooding occurs.

If the lay of the land isn't conducive to draining excess water, there are ways you can create natural features that will aid in proper drainage and decrease the likelihood of standing water.
We, at TPS Landscaping, can proactively implement the above tips to prevent the ill effects of flooding.

We call this season the "fall" because all around us right now (if you live near leaf-dropping trees in a temporal zone), leaves are turning yellow and looking a little dry and crusty. So when a stiff breeze comes along, those leaves seem to "fall" off, thus justifying the name "fall."

Sounds reasonable, no? But the truth is much more interesting.

According to Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden and a renowned botanist, the wind doesn't gently pull leaves off trees. Trees are more proactive than that. They throw their leaves off. Instead of calling this season "The Fall," if trees could talk they'd call this the "Get Off Me" season.

Here's why.

Around this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, as the days grow shorter and colder, those changes trigger a hormone in leaf-dropping trees that sends a chemical message to every leaf that says, in essence, "Time to go! Let's part company!"

Once the message is received, says Raven, little cells appear at the place where the leaf stem meets the branch. They are called "abscission" cells. They have the same root as the word scissors, meaning they are designed, like scissors, to make a cut.

And within a few days or weeks, every leaf on these deciduous trees develops a thin bumpy line of cells that push the leaf, bit by bit, away from the stem. You can't see this without a microscope, but if you looked through one, you'd see those scissors cells lined right up.

That's where the tree gives each leaf a push, leaving it increasingly dangling. "So with that very slender connection, they're sort of ready to be kicked off," says Raven, and then a breeze comes along and finishes the job.

So the truth is, the wind isn't making the leaves fall. It's the tree.

The tree is deeply programmed by eons of evolution to insist that the leaves drop away. Why? Why not let the leaves stick around? Why drop?

Raven explains that leaves are basically the kitchen staff of a tree. During the spring, summer and early fall they make the food that helps the tree grow and thrive and reproduce. When the days get short and cold, food production slows down, giving the tree an option: It can keep the kitchen staff or it can let it go.

If trees kept their leaves permanently they wouldn't have to grow new ones, but leaves are not the brightest of bulbs (sorry!). Every so often, when the winter weather has a break and the days turn warm, Raven says leaves will start photosynthesizing. "They get some water up and they start operating and making food and then it freezes again."

When the cold snap's back on, the leaves will be caught with water in their veins, freeze and die. So instead of a food staff that's resting, the tree is stuck with a food staff that's dead. And when spring comes, the permanent help will be no help. The tree will die.

That's why every fall, deciduous trees in many parts of North America get rid of their leaves and grow new ones in the spring. It's safer that way. So for leaves, falling in the fall isn't optional. The trees are shoving them off.

-from NPR