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Treating Summer Drought Stress in your Landscape

Fall is  an excellent time for landscape improvements, the sun’s still shining, temperatures are more mellow. Plants love this time of year, it’s perfect to establish healthy roots and still mild enough to work outdoors comfortably.

When you go outside this month to decorate your porch or rake your leaves you may start to notice plants struggling that were looking healthy during the summer. This can confuse and bewilder homeowners. A once healthy fir tree may start dropping its needles, or a mature ornamental tree will drop its leaves a month early. Although it’s  been weeks since the summer heat wave, these are symptoms your landscape was under summer water stress.

What’s normal and what is a sign for concern? This can be hard to determine but here are some troubleshooting tips to help you prevent and diagnose drought stress in your landscape:

Needle drop on your conifers 

You have established conifers that are losing their needles like crazy. This can be dramatic, but it is usually a normal part of getting ready for winter for most conifers. If the interior needles (closest to the trunk) of your trees are shedding that is probably normal.

Signs to watch out for: The center branch (central leader) having dieback issues. This is a sign the tree could not get water into its system. The tips or new growth drying out and losing needles or entire branches. A tree care professional can determine if selective pruning will help your plant recover or not.

Leaf drop or branch die off in ornamentals 

Die out in the crown or on main branches of trees or early leaf drop can be dramatic and very concerning to homeowners. Many deciduous ornamental and flowering trees will drop leaves in order to combat drought stress.  On young plants you can slightly scrape the bark and if you reveal green it’s likely going to be ok. Maintenance involves diagnosing issues, removing any dead wood and in many cases this will restore the plant’s health. 

Early fall color on ornamental shade trees or shrubs

Although beautiful, this can be alarming! Check to see if leaf buds are still developing normally in the dormant period. These can usually be found at the base of the dropping leaf. Be mindful to offer irrigation during dry autumn times, or dry spells prior to a frost.

Perennials browning or crisping, dropping flowers early 

It is not uncommon for perennials to be looking rough by the fall. If you have flowers and ornamental grasses in your landscape that have well established root systems, this is probably not cause for alarm. You can wait for the foliage to begin to die back naturally and then help by cutting back remaining foliage. Landscape technicians will mulch leaving some space for the crown of perennial plants to emerge the next spring.

Plants need a lot less water by the time September comes around, but once the ground is freezing, plants cannot take up moisture, even if the surrounding soil is moist. So water your plants and trees that are in containers and the landscape prior to a freeze.

Disease and Pests 

Pathogens and insects often attack plants when they are undergoing stress. Ongoing landscape maintenance is the key to monitoring and keeping your garden healthy to prevent diseases and infestations before they start. If you do have an issue that requires treatment, increasing the overall health of your soil and plant is imperative to helping your plants recover. Multiple threats will attack stressed plants, so make sure an experienced professional diagnoses all your disease and insect issues.

Landscape techniques to prevent summer drought stress

Regular steady irrigation schedule, adjusted to the seasonal weather conditions is so important to establishing a healthy landscape.

An automatic sprinkler or drip irrigation system. These actually save you money and conserve water by getting your landscape the irrigation it needs in regular intervals. 

Give your landscape trees room to mature, do not plant annuals and perennials right at the base of trees. Give a buffer of 3-5 feet around trees to ensure that you do not drown or bury the base of your tree in bark, compost or other plantings. Young trees need longer durations of deep watering than other plants, so be sure to target their needs specifically.

Monitor slopes and drainage issues. Areas of the landscape on hills or slopes often need water delivered at a slower rate. They also pose a challenge to plant your landscape plants at the proper depth.

Ongoing landscape maintenance will help prevent stress issues, but if your garden is displaying the symptoms of drought stress this fall, we can help you diagnose and salvage your landscape so that by next spring it is revitalized and healthy again.

Call us today to schedule your landscape maintenance or tree care consultation. 

Summer Landscape Additions

Summer Landscaping… There is still time to make your landscape everything you had wanted when the summer started. These summer landscape additions can transform an “average” yard into an excellent one. And, with that in mind, you and your family and friends can enjoy the remaining warm weather in the comfort of your own backyard. Use these summer landscape additions to reinvent your design in August and well into Labor Day.

Lighting up the Night

Adding lights along your sidewalks and gardens creates an enchanting ambiance to your yard when the sun goes down. You can have your family and friends over for a summer evening barbecue. A romantic evening for two…Or even some quiet time of your own for an evening. Adding the element of the soft lighting contrasts the darkness and allows you to experience your yard in a whole new way.

Learn more about how we can light up your landscape

The Sound of Water

A fountain or stream in your landscape can transform your yard to a private oasis. There is nothing more soothing than the sound of running water. Water summer landscape additions are perfect for enjoying a summer evening with a book, or a morning cup of coffee. Water features also improve the look of your landscape design. Even the simple addition of a small water feature can enhance the aesthetic quality of your yard. Or perhaps you want to make a bigger statement? In this case the larger water features’ possibilities are endless. You can even make this the focal point of your yard. With any of these choices, you can’t go wrong adding the calming effects of water.

Learn more about our fountain and water installation services

And then there was FIRE!

There are few things in a yard that can make people come together more than a fire pit. A fire pit is a staple for classic American, summer time cooking. Making hotdogs, s’mores or campfire pies is sure to draw a crowd. Incorporating a fire pit into the overall design of your landscape will make the property feel like it’s made for enjoying good food, fun people, and making memories.

Following the right path…

Paths and Patios may start with a new path from the street to your front door so guests don’t have to traverse the front lawn, stairs and a front porch. But don’t stop there!

Paths and Patios can be created using slate, brick, concrete, rough stone, gravel, crushed granite, pavers of all shapes and colors or a mix therein. Frontier Professionals can create paths and patios, steps, fire pits to suit your needs, solve problems and enhance your landscape and property value.

Suited to your own aesthetic tastes, we can create living spaces that extend the hospitality of your home, extended and open up an area for entertaining or create a quiet retreat. We can configure them to fit nearly any shape, size or scope of project; they may be used to meet a number of landscape goals while letting water drain through.

Check our our full range of Path and Patio services

Color…Color…Color…

Summer…You want to make the most of it while you can. Adding flowers along your walkways, on your front step, or in a flower garden will help you enjoy some of the best delicacies of the season. Flowers are easily maintained. They add character and texture to your yard. They also make for a nice contrast between the seasons and give you something fresh to look at and enjoy. There are also different types of foliage plants that have texture and color. Needles, flowers on plants, perennials, annuals, grasses and even brightly-colored bark on shrubs and trees give something even in their dormant season. Your Professionals at Frontier will surely fit your needs and work with you to get the best result possible.

Find out more about how we can add color to your landscape

Arborist Insights: Rescuing Trees After Winter Distress

While midsummer is marked by long evenings, BBQs, and time spent outdoors, it’s also a critical time to check up on tree health after a season of intense winter distress. The consequences of a prolonged cold season can be quite serious and aren’t always recognized from the ground unless you know what to look for.

 

large-tree-with-full-flush-foliage

 

Greg Irwin, Frontier’s ISA-Certified Tree Service Manager, shares: “After an abnormally long winter and short spring, we’re observing excessive rapid growth and full flushing of foliage on many trees. Our top recommendation for most situations is to have trees trimmed for thinning and perform crown reduction for weight issues, structure and balance.”

 

Winter Distress: What to Look For

 

Trees That Look Abnormally Full

tree-with-heavy-full-flush-foliage

 

In years when winter is unusually cold, long, and intense, trees’ dormancy periods are extended – sometimes as much as a month to six weeks longer than average. When the severe winter is followed by a short spring, the result is a near “shock mode” of explosive foliage.

Look over your trees during or just after a rainfall. Do you notice them hanging atypically low, sagging down further than normal? This heavy bowing is likely the result of extra weight from an excess of foliage.

 

Trees Encroaching Heavily on Other Trees & Shrubs

Are you observing significant encroachment of your trees on other trees and shrubs, even if you had them pruned last year? Clearance issues are common as branches hang low over houses, driveways, and sidewalks.

 

Birch tree bowed limb extending over sidewalk

 

Bending, Bowing, and Breaks: What’s At Stake

While cabling and bracing can offer partial solutions, the increase in foliage after a prolonged winter puts even small limbs at risk of breaking due to extra weight, on almost any tree species. While larger limbs won’t break, they may bow out so far that they can’t be cabled and will have to be removed.

 

For large tree sections or limbs that were previously compromised or had beginnings of decay, rapid growth and the resulting excess weight can increase the stress on poor attachments tenfold.  Healthy trees are at risk, too, as the weight alone can cause breakage for many ornamental varieties.

 

Birch trees are particularly susceptible due to their growth habits. If bowed limbs are not straightened up and cabled promptly, they may fail entirely.

 

Birch tree with bowed limbs

 

Hidden Issues in Healthy-Looking Trees

 

Rapid growth and full foliage tree closeupWhile bowing and sagging are easy to identify from the outside, other problems remain hidden and can catch you with troubling surprises later.

 

When a short spring and warm summer follow an extended winter, the speed of new growth can do quite a number on your trees from the inside out. As the growing season progresses, an abundance of internal suckers can create an environment that seriously affects the health of your tree overall.

 

Additionally, an exponential increase in new leaves means that autumn cleanup is going to be markedly more work than a more typical year as the litter layer dies and falls off. While this isn’t hazardous, a good pruning treatment is smart. Left unchecked, the amount of leaf drop can be doubled in volume, which means twice as much work to clean up later on.

 

 

Rescuing Your Trees From Winter Distress: What To Do Next

Call Frontier Tree Service to schedule services for your trees. Our highly-trained ISA-Certified arborists will expertly evaluate your situation and make the very best recommendation for the health and safety of trees around your home or business.  

Greg Irwin ISA certified arborist Vancouver WA

ISA certified arborist, Greg Irwin

“For the 2017 season, our top recommendation for most situations is to have trees trimmed for thinning, as well as perform crown reduction for weight issues, structure and balance.” – Greg Irwin, ISA-Certified Arborist and Frontier Tree Services Manager.

 

Frontier Tree Services include:

  • Pruning
  • Ornamental pruning
  • Tree, shrub, and stump removal
  • Cabling and Bracing
  • Chipping
  • Planting
  • Risk Assessment
  • Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Cleanup
  • 24/7 Emergency Tree Services

 

Call (360) 574-4125 or send us an email to arrange a consultation today.

 

Learn more about proper tree care by visiting the Frontier Landscaping blog.

 

Solving Water Problems With Dry Creek Beds

Dry creek bed, drainage solution, solving water problems

Dry creek beds provide attractive, functional relief, especially if your landscape is plagued by standing water. In the wet PNW, drainage problems are a common headache. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Floostanding water in lawnded flower beds
  • Pooling water below a deck
  • Swampy places in the lawn
  • Puddles around a foundation

Leaving drainage issues unaddressed has serious consequences, from dead lawn and plants to costly repairs and decreased property value.

 

The Good News

Frontier Landscaping has years of experience designing and implementing features that effectively carry water away from problem areas. Dry creek beds are star performers, particularly in sloped terrain. They work twice as hard for a landscape by running water from Point A to B, and standing alone as an attractive feature in drier months of the year.

“Even property owners with no drainage issues may choose to install a dry creek bed due to the elements of natural beauty in the way they look.”

dry creek bed with ornamental plantings as an attractive drainage solutioon

 

Controlling Water Flow

Dry creek beds are an excellent choice for addressing places in the landscape that are hard-hit by heavy rains.  While a flat place in the yard may benefit more from a simple lawn drain, gradients and hillsides need the water capacity and speed that a dry creek bed can provide during extreme conditions. Effectively redirecting the flow of water saves you from ongoing erosion and long-term damage.

 

Water-Wise Gardening

When property owners are looking for a greener way to landscape, dry creek beds play an exciting role. Different-sized rocks, boulders, and choice plantings give eye-pleasing texture to outdoor spaces, but require much less water than an expanse of lawn. While bark dust alone can look flat, a dry creek bed introduces definition and contrast. It’s aesthetically pleasing and earth-friendly — a winning combination.

 

Dry Creek Beds for Natural Beauty

We regularly install dry creek beds to add natural beauty to a landscape. Expertly balancing a few key ingredients (a natural shape, native plantings, multiple sizes of stone) brings a natural, organic flow to an area. The results are breathtaking in any season, wet or dry.  

 

Additional Considerations

No two landscapes are exactly alike, and the solution that works for one may not work for another.  While dry creek beds are particularly suited to slopes and hillsides, they aren’t usually the best choice for flat ground.

Other elements, like French drains, catch basins, and lawn drains also have a part to play — and that’s just the beginning. Frontier’s installation team has years of experience solving drainage problems for local property owners.  

 

French drain pipe and garden path installation

French drain pipe (L), installed as a garden path (R). 

 

French drains are a functional solution for flat terrain and less water. They often have a part to play in designing an overall solution for moving water in a landscape. Read more about them here.

 

surface water catch basin diagram

 

Ranging in size from 6 to 24 inches, catch basins can be square or circular. These grated drains are typically placed alongside a driveway or in a low or sloped spot in the yard or hardscaping, like a patio. This is a straightforward fix for diverting water away from wet spots. A blend of rocks around it allows the catch basin to blend in with the landscape.

From basic to beautiful, there are many combinations of elements we can put to work that provide an effective long-term solution for drainage issues in your landscape.

Ready to learn how can we help you solve your standing water problems? Call (360) 574-8979 or email us for a consultation. We’ll work with you to protect your landscape with the right drainage solution to meet your needs.

Find more inspiration for dry creek beds and landscape design by visiting us on Houzz!

houzz_logo

Summer Tree Care

Many trees need special care in the summer including extra water and proper pruning. Frontier Tree Service is here to help take care of all your tree needs. Whether you have one tree or a whole forest, our team of certified professionals is available for a variety of services.

 Summer Fruit Tree Pruning

This is a great time of year for summer pruning on most fruit trees, especially fall-bearing trees like apples and pears. This helps to keep their shape and size at the level you desire. It also helps to remove excess fruit that the tree cannot support. This needs to be done in the next month before fruit production gets close to harvest.

Evergreen Pruning

Now is also the right time for pruning back broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas. They benefit from a hearty cutback from year to year. This will help set blooms for next year and will keep their size and shape neat and tidy.

  • Tree Planting
  • Ornamental Pruning
  • Tree Removal
  • Stump Grinding
  • Cabling and Bracing
  • Risk Assessment
  • Emergency Services

Questions?

Contact us with all your tree questions and ideas. We are always available!

 

10 Water-Saving Tips for a Dry Summer

We’ve had a pretty dry year here in the Portland-Vancouver area. Here at Frontier, we are taking steps to save water and we recommend that you do the same. Here are our Top 10 Tips for saving water this summer.

Saving Water

  1. Water when it’s cool

Save your watering chores for the evening or early morning. This reduces evaporation dramatically and helps plants stay more hydrated for longer. It also prevents any leaf burn that can happen when water droplets on foliage reflect sunlight.

  1. Only water at the roots

Keep your hose or sprinklers close to the ground. Plants drink water through their roots so there is no reason to ever water their foliage. By only adding water at the soil line, you will reduce waste via evaporation and increase water intake.

  1. Add mulch to planting beds

Mulch (in the form of bark chips, straw or yard clippings) will do wonders for saving water. Apply a thick layer of mulch to planting beds and around trees to keep them cool and lock in moisture. It slows evaporation and insulates against high temperatures. With the added bonus of keeping the weeds down!

  1. Keep your grass a little longer

The next time you cut your grass (or have it cut), consider raising the blade a bit. Keeping your grass a little longer will help preserve moisture and allow your water to go farther. Keep it long to keep it green!

Saving Water 2

  1. Water Deeply

Plants benefit the most from long, deep watering that are less frequent. We recommend watering most plants once or twice a week. New plants might need more but most established plants do well with that schedule. It even helps them by encouraging deeper root growth!

  1. Install Smart Irrigation

Irrigation has come a long way! Now you can go well beyond just a timer. Smart controllers have sensors that adjust for the weather and surrounding conditions to make sure plants only get water when they need it. Contact Frontier to talk about irrigation options.

  1. Consider drip irrigation

Drip irrigation consists of hoses (drip tape), with small holes at intervals, that lay right on the ground. The water drips out slowly onto the soil. This is a very efficient way to water plants because the water goes directly where it is needed.

  1. Water Twice a Week 

We recommend watering no more than twice a week for lawns and established plants. The key is to water deeply each time. Lawns, trees, shrubs and established plants all do well with biweekly watering. Note: Areas with clay, sand, sloping yards etc may change how you can water your lawn and plants.

  1. Keep it Clean without Water

Avoid using water to clean off driveways and sidewalks. Use a blower or broom to save water and keep your spaces clean and clear. If you need a helping hand, the Frontier Maintenance team is ready!

  1. Amend your soil

Healthy, nutritious soil will hold water in proper amounts. If you have too much sand or (more likely) too much clay, plants can struggle to form healthy roots that take up the right amount of water. By adding compost and other amendments to your soil, you can increase the efficiency of your plants’ water intake.

Need more help in your yard? Frontier Landscaping can help! Contact us today.

 

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