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  1.  

    Spring is almost here, and lawns and gardens are beginning to awaken all over. You may be wondering, however, which garden plants are right for you? Consider the following questions to choose plants that will benefit your landscape.

    1. What is the purpose of your garden?
    The answer to this question will determine much about which plants you choose for your garden. Do you wish your garden to produce delicious, organic food, or do you simply want a lovely ornamental garden of interesting flowering plants? Many people now incorporate both of these features using a technique called edible landscaping. Rather than planting rows of vegetables, food producing plants are incorporated into garden beds alongside ornamental and flowering plants.

    2. How much sunlight does your garden receive?
    Different plants require different amounts of sunlight to survive. So, is your yard sunny or shady? Most landscapes are comprised of a combination of both. Consider how much sunlight each area receives before placing your garden plants. Those identified as sun-loving plants will need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day; shade or partial sun plants can survive on 5 hours per day or less.

    Sunny edible plants include:

    • Tomatoes
    • Herbs
    • Peppers
    • Corn

    Shade tolerant edibles include:

    • Potatoes
    • Lettuce
    • Rhubarb
    • Garlic
    • Spinach

    3. Do you want a low-maintenance garden?
    Many people love to come home to a well-landscaped yard and relish biting into home grown vegetables. However, today’s hectic and busy schedules leave little time for nurturing plants. If you want a beautiful edible landscape in a hurry, try these suggestions.

    Choose perennial edibles. Perennial plants come back every year. This saves you the time of purchasing new plants or growing from seed.

    There are only three common perennial vegetables. These are:

    • Rhubarb
    • Asparagus
    • Artichoke

    However, there are many other edible plants that will compliment an ornamental landscape.

    • Top Hat blueberries are a dwarf variety that grows only 2 feet in diameter. Plant these among or in place of more traditional shrubbery.
    • Dwarf fruit trees are small enough for any yard and usually produce full sized fruit. You can find dwarf varieties of apples, pears, figs, pomegranates, and more. These trees will be laced with lovely flowers each spring.
    • Strawberries make a wonderful ground cover and can be planted between existing plants
    • Passionflower is a native vine that produces an edible fruit in the fall. It resembles the clematis and will bring a tropical feel to any trellis.
    • Grapes are easy to grow and the long-lived vines can handle cold weather. Grapes do well on a sturdy fence in full sun.

    If you live in or around Ann Arbor Michigan, feel free to contact us about any of your landscaping needs.

  2. Beauty and practicality are the watchwords for landscape design in 2017. Homeowners want their landscape to be beautiful enough to turn heads. Here are some landscaping ideas and trends to consider:

     

    Environmentally conscious gardeners choose plants that require little maintenance, such as self-sustainable plants that can thrive from rainfall. Plants that require less attention, like dwarf shrubs, decreases costs to the budget as well, making it an obvious choice. This goes for grasses that don’t need much work as well.

     

    Fruits and Vegetables

    The popular choice of turf grass has been replaced by vegetable and fruit gardens. Most kinds of turf grass, after all, need a lot of care, such as mowing, regular watering, fertilizing and aerating. Moreover, at the end of all that work it still can’t be eaten. Fruits and vegetables are not only edible but can be planted in ways that are very aesthetically pleasing.

     

    Some gardeners plant their edible plants among flowers, and it’s important to know which flowers can exist happily with stands of lettuce or tomatoes. Azaleas and rhododendrons, for example, poison the ground around them, as do walnut trees.

     

    Natural Materials

    Walkways and walls are moving away from the use of fake rocks and are more often being constructed from real stone and wood now. This wood is often found in old buildings that are no longer in use, such as barns and warehouses. Old railway ties are used to decorate pathways and make the frames for raised garden beds. The good thing about repurposed wood is that it’s already acclimated to the weather.

     

    Water Features

    Of all landscaping ideas and trends, water features add a sense of peace to any landscape and do not have to be showy or expensive. They can range from water bubbling in a copper pot to a spectacular wall of water that pours down into a pool.

    The 2017 landscape looks to be environmentally friendly and easy to maintain even as it loses nothing of its beauty and ability to give pleasure.

  3. How Much Mulch Do I Need For My Residential Landscape?

    The process of placing mulch on a residential landscape can be done quickly and efficiently if proper procedures are implemented during the prep phase. Each procedure is vital and makes typical mulching tasks around plants and trees easier.

     

    Consider Each Mulch Option

    If you want to boost curb appeal by using mulch in key areas around your

    property, you must fully understand how each product is sold. At most stores, mulch is offered in one bag or in bulk; typically, bagged mulch for residential landscapes can cover about two cubic feet, and bulk mulch is suitable for one cubic yard.

    Because different mulch products contain unique blends, the variety that you select can influence how many bags you’ll need. The most popular mulch options include:

    • Economy mulch
    • Dried mulch
    • Cedar mulch

    If you pick an economy blend for your yard, you’ll get a bag of low-end material that can typically cover about a yard of landscape for $19. This option is worth considering during situations when curb appeal isn’t important, as economy mulch doesn’t have a professional appearance. If your landscape lacks curb appeal, any dried mulch will make the yard stand out. The price of dried mulch varies; however, a bag of dry material for a yard of landscape usually costs no higher than $36. Cedar mulch is the most expensive option; most retailers sell this blend for about $47, which is also enough mulch for a yard. When compared to the other blends, cedar is the best practical option since it lasts longer. This is possible because cedar is a heavy mulch material, so it doesn’t scatter around a yard when strong winds impact an area.

     

    Use Strategic Mulch Methods

    In order to cover key locations effectively and efficiently with mulch, you must tackle the entire process strategically. According to experts, one cubic yard of material can completely conceal weeds in a 324-square foot area that has a depth of an inch. However, if you need precise results, you can figure out how many cubic yards of a product is required for a space by multiplying the square footage by the depth of the mulch. When you have the total, you can determine how much mulch you’ll need by dividing the number by 324.

    Because different residential landscapes have a unique layout, certain procedures must be implemented to make key spots stand out. For example, when mulch is applied in an area where a new bed is found, you must place two to three inches of the material on the ground to produce professional results. If a bed isn’t new, you’ll only need to pour an inch of mulch on the landscape.
    If you need to enhance your property by working with a company that hauls landscaping products, carefully determine how much mulch you’ll need in advance. Then, place a tarp on the ground so that the driver will know where to dump the mulch. The tarp will also make the process of removing stray pieces of mulch easier.

  4. Perfect landscaping requires consideration of both hardscaping and softscaping elements. Hardscaping the use of man-made materials that are unlikely to change over time. Softscaping is the use of natural elements creating the right ambiance to the property. If you are thinking of changing your softscape elements, follow these tips.

    Trees

    The choice of the perfect trees allows you to create a relaxed atmosphere. With so many trees being claimed by Dutch Elm Disease, now may be a good time to plant some new trees. If you are thinking of planting trees, then make sure to choose ones based on the surrounding climate.

    • Trembling Aspen – Its beautiful yellow fall leaves perfectly compliment its gray bark. This tree thrives in most conditions growing very rapidly.
    • Linden Basswood- This tree usually has multiple trunks near the ground adding to its immense beauty. It finishes with a lovely full crown. Gorgeous flowers turn to fruit in the fall. This tree is particularly lovely because of its bright red buds in the early spring.
    • Northern White Cedar- This tree stays evergreen throughout most of the year. Its needles will turn brown, however, in the winter. Planting a row often reduces heating costs, because they serve as a great windbreak.

    Shrubs

    Choosing the right shrubs adds visual interest to the landscape. They can be used to divide areas in large yards into smaller areas that are often easy to hardscape. Plant a row of shrubs as a privacy fence. They also make a great backdrop to other plants. When you are choosing shrubs, consider these choices:

    • American Bladdernut- Those property owners with a dark corner will find that the paler colored leaves on this shrub help bring natural light to dark corners.
    • Blueberry- This beautiful shrub comes in two different varieties. The highbush has beautiful leaves that change colors throughout the different seasons. The low-sweet shrub makes an outstanding ground cover. Both produce berries that are edible.
    • Chokeberry- Property owners who are looking for a quickly spreading shrub need to consider the chokeberry. Red and green leaves emerge in the spring before turning bright green in the summer’s heat. As the cool days of fall arrive, they turn a beautiful golden yellow.

    Vines

    Many owners overlook the use of vines. They grow quickly making an interesting addition while owners are waiting for trees to mature. Vines can be trained to climb almost anything. Softscape maintenance is easy to perform on vines. It is easy to control their height and width with pruning. When considering vines, think about these choices.

    • Greenbrier- One of the most versatile vines to grow as it thrives in almost any soil conditions. This vine produces yellow leaves in the fall which may hang on until December giving drab winter landscaping a much needed boost.
    • Moonseed- This vine can be trained to climb, but it also makes a great ground cover. Property owners who have wet areas particularly love this vine that has blue-black berries and beautiful yellow leaves in the fall.

     

    We would love to discuss the particulars of your softscape maintenance and landscaping needs with you. Please call us today in Ann Arbor Michigan.

     

  5. Mulch Tips

    As the weather warms and homeowners and landscapers become active, many questions begin to arise when it comes to mulching landscape beds.  Information contained herein provided by Michigan State University (MSU) Extension.

    Why mulch?
    Mulch can provide a range of benefits for landscape beds. Here are just a few:

    • Conserve soil moisture. Mulch reduces evaporation from the soil surface and helps to ensure that water reaches plant roots instead of going back into the atmosphere.
    • Reduce soil temperatures. In a research trial in southwest Michigan, we found that 3 inches of wood chip mulch reduced midday soil temperature by 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Add organic matter. As mulch breaks down it adds organic matter to the soil, which aids in the soil’s ability to retain important plant nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron.
    • Weed control. Mulch can help to control weeds, reducing the need for herbicides or hand-weeding.
    • Neatly applied mulch can improve contrast between beds and lawn, providing a cleaner-looking edge.
    • Avoid lawn mower blight and string trimmer trauma. Providing a buffer between mowers and weed wackers reduces the likelihood of trunk damage to trees.

     
    How much mulch should I apply?
    Deeper is not always better: 2 to 3 inches of mulch is adequate to get the maximum mulch benefit in most cases. If a site already has mulch from last year, a thin, 1-inch top-dressing is more than adequate. When mulching perennials in the landscape, take care not to spread mulch over the crown of the plants.

    What’s the best material to use for mulch?
    To a large extent, the “best” mulch material is in the eye of the beholder. Most organic materials such as ground bark, ground wood chips or shredded leaves can provide the key benefits of moisture conservation, weed control, thermal insulation and organic matter addition. Therefore, cost, aesthetic appearance and availability are often the deciding factors. Inorganic mulches such as rock or shredded tires do not need to be replaced, but do not add organic matter to the soil.

    What about lawn clippings as mulch?
    Lawn clipping are a poor choice for mulch since they tend to mat together and impede water penetration if they dry out. In addition, they are unsightly and can produce an unpleasant odor as they decompose. Michigan State University Extension says a better alternative is to compost your lawn clippings and then use the compost in your garden or as a top-dressed amendment before you apply mulch. Or use a mulching mower that returns the clippings back into your yard.

    Is it true that mulch can “tie-up” soil nutrients?
    In theory, organic mulches that are low in nitrogen, such as wood chips, can reduce soil nitrogen availability during the process of microbial decomposition. In reality, we see little evidence of this in trees and shrubs. We monitored plant nitrogen in landscape shrubs and found no difference between plants without mulch and those that were mulched with pine, hardwood bark and wood chips. In fact, in a couple of instances, the mulched plants had increased plant nitrogen. The one case where nutrient tie-up could be a concern is with annual bedding plants since they have limited root systems.

     

    SOURCE:  Michigan State University Extension, Departments of Horticulture and Forestry by Bert Cregg,

  6. A homeowner doesn’t have to own a great deal of land to have a water feature. Even a cauldron with a few aquatic plants and a bubbling fountain can bring a sense of tranquility. A small fountain can even be brought indoors. The trick is to make sure that it blends in well with the landscape or the decor. Here are some types of water features:

     

    Formal Features

    These features have strict, geometric shapes such a circles or squares. They are most often constructed of reinforced and waterproofed concrete and have an outlet and an overflow to avoid flooding. In an area that’s subject to frost, the sides should be sloped to let the ice expand upwards while it freezes. Another trick is to float a plank made of pinewood in the pool so the ice can expand into it. A formal pool can also be built with recesses for plants and stepping stones.Formal water features tend to be more attractive if they are raised as opposed to sunken. There is, after all, pleasure to be had in sitting on the edge of a still, clear pool that holds some floating plants. It’s also safer for children, because it reduces the risk of them slipping and falling into the water.

    Informal Features

    These are the types of features that mimic how water behaves in nature, which means they need a lot of space in many cases. Informal pools are often made of black plastic or rubber buried in the earth with their edges held down by boulders or layers of gravel. Aquatic plants in special containers can be placed in these pools, but planting at their edges can be challenging.

    Waterfalls

    The sound of falling water is soothing, and the most pleasing waterfalls are often made from level changes in small, formal pools. Some homeowners are fortunate enough to have waterwalls, where cascades roar down into a pool or pond, but this requires a very large pump hidden in a pumphouse. A waterfall in a small pond can be managed by a pump that’s smaller, submersible and inexpensive. For larger waterfalls, a pump can be placed just outside of the pool at the lower level and hidden in a brick box with a slab of stone over it. One interesting design is to have a stepped waterfall, where water trickles down the side of a flight of brick or stone steps. Waterfalls can also link the levels of streams or water courses that meander through a yard.

    Fountains

    A water fountain creating ripples in the pond.

    Fountains can be simple or quite complicated. The rule is that the spray should not be too high for the area of water. This means it shouldn’t be taller than the distance from the source of the spray to the pool’s edge. A spray that’s too high can actually be snatched by the wind, which causes the pool to empty out over time. Fountains can be free-standing, or they can be part of a pool.

    Whether small and intimate or large and showy, pools, fountains and other features add beauty to any landscape.

  7. Star Award

    Twin Oaks Landscape, Inc. of Ann Arbor, Michigan has received the 5 Star Award for “Excellence in Customer Service” from Pulse of the City News. This award is based on independent research of Pulse of the City News. This research is done with professionals in these fields that have not only worked them, but have also been customers at one point in time themselves. The research is also, not only, done with The Pulse of The City but with The Stirling Center people as well. Every field has a star that stands out, and this field is acknowledged by Star awards. This field deals with conflict more so than other fields. This is because people have different taste on how they want things (especially in construction and customer service related fields). Twin Oaks Landscape stands out from the rest with excellent customer service.

    Thank You from Twin Oaks Landscape, Inc.

    Thank you to our wonderful customers and employees who have done their share and have helped us to achieve this exciting award. Without you, we would not be able to reach this amazing achievement. Also, thank you to The Pulse City News research team and The Stirling Center for choosing us to receive the 5 star award in “Excellence in Customer Service.”

    “We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to a high level of service. Being acknowledged for what we practice each and every day is appreciated.” says Sara Speen (The Corporate Controller of Twin Oaks Landscape, Inc.).

  8. Landscaping efforts are often only as good as the enhancements strategically placed throughout the region. For example, plants around a focal point can make all the difference in the world. Likewise, the right mulch can turn a beautiful garden into a breathtaking piece of paradise. Of course, it helps to stay on top of everything by keeping furnishings up-to-date and tending to plants. They are all very simple efforts to enhance your landscaping, but every single suggestion is worth every ounce of effort.

    Beautifying Focal Points

    Some focal points are, by design, architectural masterpieces such as elegant entrances and luxurious clubhouses. However, others are not quite the beautiful scene one would hope for, like street signs. That isn’t to say you cannot take steps to make them more attractive. In fact, a beautiful way to enhance focal points is to add plants. If you lack the space to plant anything, invest in matching planters to draw the eye and beautify the area with a touch of green.

    A Contrasting Touch

    A variety of plants, from trees to flowers, are used in HOA Landscaping to beautify the neighborhood as well as create a natural paradise. However, the missing piece that will set the plants off and make the area a breathtaking sight to behold is mulch. In fact, selecting the right mulch helps to make the plants pop and adds depth to flowerbeds with sharp, clean lines. Better yet, mulch not only helps prevent weeds but also aids in holding moisture in to reduce water usage.

    Stay on Top of Furnishings

    A couple of park benches add a touch of class that is difficult to compete with. That is unless the paint has chipped off the iron or the wood has faded and rotted. Likewise, trash cans, recycling cans, and pottery that looks tired and worn out will drag the rest of your HOA Landscaping down with it. Rather than allow a worn bench detract from the area’s overall appearance, stay on top of your furnishing by:

    • Repairing damaged furniture
    • Replacing destroyed furnishings
    • Adding a fresh coat of paint once a year

    Prune Your Plants

    Plants do indeed add a fresh, natural kind of beauty people find relaxing and peaceful. However, dying and dead plants seem to sap the energy out of an otherwise beautiful park or walkway. However, untended bushes and plants growing out of control serve to add a quality of wilderness some people appreciate. In short, stay on top of the foliage by clearing out dead plants, tending dying plants, and keeping everything pruned and clean.

    Enhancing HOA Landscaping doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort, just a creative touch. A prime example is adding mulch to make plants pop or adding some plants around focal points to beautify them. Granted, keeping furnishing beautiful rather than worn out and staying on top of your landscaping will ensure your neighborhood is indeed a breathtaking paradise.

     

  9. As spring approaches, your thoughts turn to your lawn and landscape. Perhaps your vision of shade trees, blooming color, and a winding garden pathway is not yet a reality. Maybe one of your DIY projects to beautify your landscape did not turned out as you wished. It may be time to hire a commercial landscape firm to bring out the best features of your property.

     

    Finding the Right Commercial Landscape Company for Your Property

    Is there a problem with the landscape at your business? You are aware that your outdoors creates the first impression for potential customers, but maybe you haven’t gotten the chance yet to clean it up or been able to maintain what is there. An unkempt lawn outside your business may be a situation where you need the services of a landscape firm. Professional landscapers can green up the lawn and add a few attractive flowerbeds to offer blooming color and a welcoming scenario to those who may do business inside. Easy maintenance and plants that last may simplify issues with the landscape at your business.

    Do you find the plantings in your landscape are becoming an overgrown mess? The shrubbery has no shape and blooms are limited, the lawn has brown patches, the trees no longer look healthy, branches broken by winter storms litter the ground, and you do not know where to begin. You realize that you need help in all these situations, leading to the question: What type of commercial landscape firm should I hire?

     

    Finding the Right Commercial Landscape Firm

    Begin the process by looking for referrals from friends and neighbors. If you’ve noticed a beautiful lawn in your neighborhood, keep an eye out for signs there and names on the trucks or just ask your neighbor with the lovely landscape. If you have a special project to complete, such as flower gardens lining the fence, a professional can be of great assistance.

    Once you’ve collected company names, you should:

    1. Take a look at previous jobs the company has installed.
    1. Be sure to question reliability and professionalism.
    1. Compare prices on both installation of new materials and maintenance of what is already growing in your yard.
    1. Most importantly, make sure the landscaper knows your wishes. If you would like to handle some of the maintenance yourself, make sure that is agreeable to the landscaper providing the estimate.

    Discuss scheduling and decide about how much time you will need the service. How much time is an important consideration. Do you have a large lawn with trees, shrubs, and flowerbeds, that need regular care? Keeping the yard manicured regularly calls for someone to be there with proper equipment who also knows when and how to fertilize the lawn.

     

    Simple is Beautiful

    Consider that simple is often the most attractive method of creating a beautiful landscape. Simple yard designs impact your outdoor space with coordinating colors and long-lasting blooms. The right plant in the right place offers a sense of continuity that delights the eye. Homeowners can rarely accomplish this feel with DIY designs and plant material from the big-box store. Ask the landscape professional how the company would implement your vision.

     

    Perhaps the campus of your business would benefit from easy maintenance and plants that last. Call us for a simple, well-planned design. Our experience has shown us which plants thrive in the often temperamental Ann Arbor landscape. Simple yard ideas installed at your business can help to provide the feeling of success. A well-manicured landscape helps attract new customers.

     

  10. The care and maintenance of your commercial property’s landscaping can impact everything from curb appeal to water consumption and more. In some communities, such as apartments, office buildings, and retail centers, regular landscaping maintenance tasks must be performed almost weekly to tend to the needs of the property. While many properties have ongoing maintenance needs, there are also seasonal needs that must be considered. You can better plan out your commercial property maintenance services throughout the year when you focus on these points.

     

    Seasonal Landscaping Maintenance Needs

    In a cold weather climate, commercial property owners must take steps seasonally to provide the best care for vegetation and landscaping features. For example, each fall before the first freeze, property owners should winterize their irrigation systems. If you fail to perform this step, you may have to deal with burst pipes in the irrigation system and costly repairs, damage to vegetation, and more. Likewise, in the spring, when temperatures rise, the irrigation system must be brought back online. This allows you to irrigate the landscaping as needed throughout the warm months of the year. In addition, to irrigation system maintenance, raking leaves, fertilizing the lawn, aerating the soil, and mulching, the flowerbeds must be tended to seasonally.

     

    Year-Round Maintenance Tasks

    While there are many seasonal landscaping tasks that require attention throughout the year, there are also year-round tasks that must be addressed by property owners. Lawn mowing services, weeding services for your beds, tree and bush trimming services, and more are required throughout most months of the year. Commercial property maintenance services can generally be customized to fit the exact needs of the property. Professional services will greatly reduce the amount of time and effort needed to maintain your landscaping in great condition year-round.

     

    A Comprehensive Maintenance Service Plan

    Very few commercial property owners handle landscaping tasks on their own. Some have an on-site groundskeeper who will handle the work for them, but most outsource landscaping tasks to a professional crew. When looking for a professional landscaping company to hire, search for a company that offers the full range of services you need throughout the year. In addition, look for a company that will take the lead on developing and implementing a year-round plan for the care of your landscaping. This will ensure the best care of your property while minimizing the amount of time and attention you need to focus on this task.

     

    A key component to property maintenance involves lawn and garden care. These tasks can improve your property’s curb appeal and bolster property value. They can affect how customers and clients view your property and your business. They can also impact property condition, erosion, energy efficiency, water conservation, and more. However, caring for your landscaping features requires a considerable amount of time and effort. A smart idea is to look for a skilled landscaping team to assist you with developing and executing a landscaping maintenance plan for your commercial property.