Landscaping Newsletter and Garden Tips 
April, 2014     Volume 118

We're celebrating the arrival of spring with a boatload of new projects.
Installing a wildflower meadow or two.  Fertilizing lots of lawns.  Trying to keep
the deer from eating all the new flowers that we just planted. 

And, we'll finally be able to use Melissa's new potting shelf.

This is the gorgeous new potting bench. 

Last year, I saw Melissa struggling to pot new plants.  She was bending over to the ground to fill up pots.  She's a cardiac patient and the whole process seemed to give her chest pains.

Melissa never even knew I saw her efforts.  But, I remembered and when it came time to shop for Christmas presents, I had an idea.

First, I contacted McMartin & Beggins, Furniture Makers.  They're based in Whitman, MD. 

They hand craft beautiful custom furniture, based on their designs or your own ideas.  In this case, I had something special in mind. 

There are holes on the top shelf next to the sink.  I put containers
inside the bottom cabinet to catch the excess soil.

I salvaged the sink from an old farmhouse.  We added brand new Kohler hardware with an extra long nozzle for washing hands, vegetables and flowers.

The grating on the back of the potting shelf is from a 100 year old wrought iron fence in Annapolis.  I had to buy nine pieces of fencing to get these two wonderfully intricate gate parts.  I left them rusty...they look well loved that way.

There are two different types of wood on this piece.  McMartin & Beggins suggested Black Walnut and Cedar.  They guided me every step of the way, but they allowed me to make suggestions and changes as we went along.

We've oiled the wood to prevent weather damage.  I can envision Melissa hanging her hand tools from little tea cup hooks we'll insert on the ends.  She'll store extra utensils, potting soil and even flower pots in the cabinets below.
On Christmas Day, we blindfolded Melissa and led her outside to the deck.  The whole family was in on the secret.  Here's what she saw...
Here's Melissa on Christmas Day.  She told me that this potting bench is the best gift she's ever gotten...except for her engagement ring in a Christmas Eve stocking many years ago.

For more beautiful furniture, visit their website, mcmartinbeggins.com.  You'll be able to see a local custom furniture designer.  They were so great to work with.  It was amazing to see the process and I appreciated the entire experience.  And, Melissa loved the outcome!

April Garden Tips


Try to get ahead on weeds by applying a pre-emergent weed killer to landscape beds. Put it down now or in early April for best results. It works by preventing all seeds from germinating, not just weed seeds.  So, don't apply anywhere you're planting vegetable or flower seeds.

Finish tree and shrub pruning this month.  However, don't touch spring bloomers like azaleas until their flowers fade.  It's okay to trim evergreens until late summer.  If you prune evergreens later, new tender growth will get zapped by winter cold.

Around this time of year, a potpourri of information is released by all the gardening sites about how to fertilize your roses.  Some of it's good and some of it stinks (pardon the pun.)

Healthy pink roses in full summer bloom.

We did a lot of research on the internet and found this site to be our favorite.  It's "Fertilizing your Roses For Dummies."  It's a wonderful common sense approach whether you're using liquid or granular fertilizer.  It discusses how long to fertilize, when to water and the nutrients your roses may need.  And, it's well written and (happily) brief enough to hold your attention.

*  Mowing is one of the most important basics we complete for lawn maintenance.  If it's done right, it will help the root system of your lawn.  If you cut the grass too short, the consequences may be severe.
Regardless of whether the lawn is fertilized, irrigated or receives weed controls, proper mowing practices are essential if a high quality lawn is to develop.
Properly mowed lawns will have fewer weed populations, better moisture stress tolerance and generally better quality than lawns not properly mowed. 
We suggest that the first cut of the year take the grass very short.  Afterward, the generally recommended mowing height for a healthy lawn is 3 1/2 - 4 inches.
If we can assist with mowing services this season, please call me for a no-cost estimate.  We still have a few spots open, but they're filling up quickly.  410.770.5882.

Boggy Areas Got You Bogged Down?

I can't believe how many drainage problems we're encountering this spring.  Moisture from last winter's snow and rain is creating real difficulty on the low lying areas of the Eastern Shore.

Most yards may have a low spot or two, but we're seeing some properties that are almost completely submerged.

We're experts in assisting you with drainage issues.  When Melissa and I moved into our house seven years ago, my own yard had a ditch full of water every time it rained.

My answer to this problem was to create a drain to divert the water away from my house.  It's a time tested solution that has helped many homeowners in this area.

This is a drain, very similar to one that I use in my own yard.

First we measured the area with a laser transit to assure accurate readings BEFORE we began to dig.  This tool is essential in grading and drainage work.

We sculpted the trench to assure it was deep enough to hold the pvc pipe we chose.  We placed typar (landscaping fabric that looks similar to screening or burlap) inside the hole.  Typar helps hold the soil back so that the drainage ditch doesn't collapse and contaminate your drain.

Next, we laid perforated pipe inside the drain.  When it rains or when snow melts, water goes into the pipe and starts to be pushed toward the run-off area.

We laid more typar over the pipe and fill in the top and sides with wash gravel.  This type of gravel is larger than pea gravel (small white stones) and it provides a natural Eastern Shore style look.

Grading is usually the final step in a drainage job.  You want to smooth out the dips and low lying areas in the lawn.  Often, we'll need to add additional topsoil to even out problem areas.

Drainage solutions may incorporate other features as well.  We may need to connect to down spouts or use t-connectors to tie in to pipes or boxes.  Metal grate boxes can help hold water in a particularly wet area.

Here's a photo of one of the styles of grate boxes we use.  There are dozens of styles available on the market. 

There are many ways to divert standing water or relieve soggy areas.  One final solution:  create a rain garden.  

We've had several clients who embraced their marshy, mucky areas and turned them into a garden, filled with plant material that loves "wet feet."  See what can happen for yourself.

Please feel free to contact us for a possible solution to your drainage issues.
  Estimates are always free!