Friday, November 30, 2012

Evaluating Your Landscaping Drainage Problems

Just as the artist needs the right kind of paper to create his masterpiece on, the landscaper needs the right groundwork for building a successful landscape. Unlike the artist, however, the landscaper doesn't have the luxury of trotting down to the local arts and crafts supply store to buy the perfectly graded plot for building his landscape on. We have to work with what we have. That does not mean, though, that we have to settle for what we have.
Improper drainage can doom a landscaping project before it ever begins. Fortunately, drainage issues can be corrected in most cases. Evaluating the lay of the land so that you can identify and correct drainage problems before undertaking further landscaping projects can save you a lot of time, money and heartbreak later. Remember, it's always easier to address these issues before you get started with your landscaping than to try to go back after the fact and correct something that you missed.
Flood Plains
There are several glaring red flags with indicate drainage issues on a property, if you know what to look for. Before you get started, if you don't already know, take a look at your plat or survey and determine if there are nearby flood plains. If part of your property lies in a flood plain, then you are going to have some drainage problems due to the hydric soil (soil that easily holds high volumes of water). If your actual home lies within the flood plain, on the other hand, you might be better served abandoning your landscaping plans and turning your attention to selling the home and relocating.
Drainage Easements
Next, find the drainage easements that are marked on your map (usually labeled with a DE). These most often lie along the property lines. Drainage easements mark the areas that are subject to heavy water flow during rainstorms. These easements generally experience a high degree of erosion, due to water flow. It is important to not construct any fences or structures, such as shed and other outbuildings, along drainage easements.
Creeks, Rivers and Other Bodies of Water
Thirdly, determine the location of any nearby bodies of water such as creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes. When you are first checking out a property, you may view a creek running through it as an attractive selling point. However, when the rains come that creek becomes more of a landscape liability than a boon. Creeks create higher risk of flooding, contribute to unstable soils and are subject to bank erosion. Also, any development upstream will serve to increase the water flow of the creek.
If the creek has vegetation along its banks, leave it, as this provides a crucial buffer between the delicate creek bank and the rest of the landscape. If there is not plentiful vegetation along the creek, consider installing some your first order of business. Vegetation along creek banks limit bank erosion and helps maintain water quality.
Also take a look at the elevation and slope of your property. You want to be able to get a clear idea of not only where water will be coming from, but where it will go. If you have any doubts, wait for the next rain and step outside. Take note of the path of water through the property so that you can address the notable drainage issues later.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Landscaping Maintenance Advice for Winter

Different seasons require different maintenance tasks for your landscaping. The Northwest almost never sees extremely cold, harsh winters. This allows residents to avoid many of the winter preparation tasks that gardeners in the Midwest, for instance, must carry out. Still, there are a few preparatory projects that landscaping maintenance experts recommend for this time of year.
Caring for Evergreen Plants
Some Northwest specimens, such as hollies and azaleas, photosynthesize sunlight into energy all year long. For this type of evergreen plant, keep up basic landscaping maintenance during the fall. Remove crossed branches through pruning. Avoid spraying toxic pesticides; instead, spray bug infestations with horticultural oil, which is available from landscaping maintenance retailers.
Getting your Lawn Ready for Winter
Landscaping maintenance gurus do not recommend applying fertilizer in the fall, since most turf species are dormant during the winter months. However, you should continue to cut your lawn to 1.5 inches throughout the winter. (Wintertime landscaping maintenance involves waiting for a dry spell so you can actually cut the lawn.) You should also remove the flowers of weeds now, so as to prevent weed seeds from being dispersed throughout your lawn. Finally, keep your lawn raked of leaves and debris to avoid mold issues later on.
Deadheading Spent Blossoms
Hydrangeas and other flowering plants should be deadheaded once they're done blooming. This landscaping maintenance task can even cause a second round of blossoms in the fall. Just remove flower remnants to send the plant the message that it can bloom again.
Soil Amendment
If soil doesn't have the right nutrients, it won't produce strong, healthy plants. Autumn is a good season for soil amendment. For testing, bring a soil sample to a local nursery or university nursery to have it tested. Those who are familiar with landscaping yards know that local soils are often heavy in clay, which prevents drainage and can even drown certain species. With test results in hand, you'll have a better understanding of which compounds should be added to improve soil quality.
Laying Down Mulch
Mulch is soil insulation - it balances soil temperatures during the winter. Mulch also reduces the growth of weeds and makes it much easier to pull any weeds that do grow. Lastly, mulch provides a layer of nutrient-rich humus, creating a light, airy layer of topsoil. When landscaping properties, it's wise to save grass clippings, dry leaves and other organic detritus to act as mulch later on. You can also buy mulch from a landscaping maintenance retailer.
Tender Pruning
Landscaping maintenance experts cringe when they over-pruning. Too often, pruning involves simply "shaving" plants with electrical tools. This approach is quick, but it harms the plant over the long term. Instead, wait until herbaceous perennials turn brown. Then, gently prune the plant by removing crossed branches. Basically, you want to create some space around the heart of the bush or shrub. Certain species require special pruning techniques, so ask a landscaping maintenance expert if you're not sure how to cut back a certain species.
These landscape winterization methods will set up your yard for an eruption of new growth and beautiful blossoms when spring returns.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Mulch Is So Popular, We Had Trouble Keeping It In Stock

At Dixon Landscape Materials we have always sold a lot of Black Mulch and had trouble keeping enough of it in stock, so now we stock 100 yards of it at a time!

Black Mulch is very popular for home landscaping around plants and bushes and is just as popular in commercial landscaping. The color gives excellent contrast with the plants, trees and bushes.

Dixon Landscape Materials is located at 150 East H Street in Dixon, CA. Call us at 707-678-8200 and visit our website at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to prepare flower beds for winter, keep moisture in and weeds out us...

In this episode of Growing Wisdom Dave uses mulch to prepare his soil for the long winter. Using mulch is a great way to keep plants healthy through the colder winter months. Mulch keeps moisture in, helps prevent frost heaves and keeps weeds out. Mulch can be placed around plants any time of the year but early spring or late fall are the easiest times to do this chore. I make my own mulch by grinding up leaves and twigs from around the yard.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Backyard Landscaping Ideas

Professional backyard landscape design plan for a large Mediterranean garden. Go through details and principles used to create this Mediterranean backyard landscaping idea.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Principles of Garden Design

Learn about the "Principles of Garden Design" with Dr. Ann Marie VanDerZanden of Iowa State University. More landscape design information can be found in's Gardens, Lawns, and Landscapes:

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Make a Gas Fire Pit From Scratch

How to Make a Gas Fire Pit From Scratch: Building the gas-fired fire pit in my small back garden.

In the end I found the flame too "sooty" to use for cooking food - I subsequently learned that you need to introduce a venturi-action in order to introduce enough oxygen to the flame to get a clean burn, so I would recommend buying a proper kit rather than doing it this way.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Product: Permeable Aggregate Binder!


Permeable Aggregate Binder
Water Permeable TechnologyEkoFlo® is an easy to install, pour-in-place, permeable pavement system for patios, walkways, and other solid surface applications. EkoFlo® utilizes native aggregates, creating a durable, long lasting, and aesthetic surface.

Installing EkoFlo® provides an advanced, efficient, and economical filtration system that is ideal for pathways, banding, borders and tree wells. Pavements may require as little as 10% of EkoFlo® to be classified as permeable.

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Product To Help Keep Bark In Place!

Bark Binder™
Landscape Mulch Stabilizer

Bark Binder™ is:
  • An easy-t-apply and long-lasting liquid which is applied with standard spraying equipment.
  • EPA-compliant and works naturally to bind with mulch and chipped wood fibers.
  • Creates a durable, yet pliable structure for your landscape and is highly resistant to wind, washouts and erosion.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to Design a Rock Garden

A lot of considerations need to be made when designing a rock garden. Because of that, this landscaping video from explains some of the key points to keep in mind in order to design a rock garden.