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Steps to Winterizing Your Outdoor Water Feature

Image of an outdoor water feature with frozen water. Read our blog to learn steps to winterize your outdoor water feature.

Winter preparations need to be made for all aspects of your landscape, including your water features. Taking the time to protect your fountain or other outdoor water features from the risk of damage from water and freezing temperatures will protect your investment.

Size matters

If a water feature is large enough, it may be best to keep it running all year. This may be a necessity for water features containing fish. If you have a pond with fish, check during the winter to make sure there is a space for them to get oxygen if the water freezes over. To do this, you can get a de-icer that floats or aim the pump toward the surface to create an open area for the fish to breathe.

For smaller water features, it is easiest to drain and properly protect it for the season. Otherwise, water can settle, freeze, and expand, causing cracks or damage to your water feature.

Follow these simple steps to winterize your outdoor water feature:

  • Empty the water from the water feature and make sure the pump is fully drained.
  • Store the pump in a dry location like a garage or shed.
  • Remove any leaves or debris.
  • Use a cleaner such as Simple Green and scrub to remove dirt and algae.
  • Dry it out with sponges or towels, or let it air dry.
  • Remove any pieces that are unsteady or at risk of toppling over in the snow or wind.
  • Get or make a cover for your water feature. Ideas include using burlap sacks, towels and a tarp, or a plastic waterproof cover. Tuck towels or covers into it, and then cover with a regular tarp or an appropriately sized waterproof cover.
  • Secure with string to keep the cover taut. Make sure there is some airflow to the water feature and that it isn’t completely sealed.

Once spring arrives, it will be easy to get your water feature up and running again for another year of enjoyment.

At Frontier Landscaping we design, install, and maintain a wide variety of water features. We construct large multi-featured waterscapes as well as smaller, simpler set-ups. Give us a call for an estimate on your new water feature project.

Preventing Property Damage from Winter Weather

Image of a collapsed home surrounded by snow, damaged from a winter storm.

Your home is a huge investment worth protecting. Preventing property damage from winter weather should be a priority for homeowners. Rain, snow, ice, wind, freezing, flooding, fire – Mother Nature has many ways to cause problems. While you can’t control the weather, you can control how prepared your property is to safely weather the storm.

Cost of winter weather property damage

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2021 winter storm damage caused over $1 billion dollars in insured property losses. This does not include uninsured property damage liability. It is important to read your homeowner’s insurance policy and understand what it does and does not cover if your property is damaged by weather. You may be surprised to see that it may not cover things like losses from landslides or erosion.

Property damage isn’t limited to physical damage to your home structure. Unfortunately, trees, plants, and other parts of your yard are often casualties. The ice storm of February 2021 alone caused the most tree damage of any storm event in the past 30 years!

Steps for preventing winter weather property damage

The good news is that your home and your yard don’t have to be casualties of winter weather. While you can’t stop hazardous weather from happening, you can prevent winter weather property damage with a little preparation:

Close up image of a gutter at the top of a house with frozen water inside of it.

  • Keep walkways and pathways clear. This goes for your driveway, sidewalk, and any areas of entry or exit around your home. Keep these free of any obstructions.
  • Clean your gutters and downspouts. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are free from leaves and other debris so that water can easily flow off your roof and away from your house.
  • Keep storm drains clear. During heavy rains, flooding can happen fast when water cannot properly drain from roadways. Keep an eye on this if you have a drain in front of your home.
  • Don’t let snow and ice build up. Property damage is more likely to occur when snow and ice build up, not just from water but from weight. De-icer, a snow shovel or snow blower, and a roof snow rake to help with rooftop snow removal can all come in handy.
  • Assess drainage and water pooling. Proper drainage is key to preventing flooding and water damage to your home. Sunken areas around your foundation or in your yard are high-risk for water accumulation. Drainage solutions like rain gardens or permeable pavers are not only effective, but can also add value to your property.
  • Check for areas of erosion. Heavy rains can cause soil to wash away, increasing risk of flooding, landslides, and muddy messes. Installing retaining walls, culverts, or other landscaping features to aid with drainage can help prevent erosion.
  • Trim and prune your trees. Remove dead, low-hanging, bowing, and damaged tree branches. Added weight from snow and ice is a recipe for broken branches and property damage. Cut back overgrown trees and plants that are too close to the house. Be sure to also check for high-risk branches overhanging your roof. Having a professional assess and prune your trees and plants is a worthwhile investment.
  • Check for tree growth near power lines. NEVER remove these branches yourself. Contact your local power company about tree limbs that need to be pruned near power lines. Homeowners are generally responsible for trees growing near and around power lines. Power companies are responsible for trees touching or causing downed power lines. Removal of branches near power lines should be done by a tree trimming professional. The power company may shut off the power to the lines temporarily so pruning can be done safely.
  • Winterize any outdoor spigots and irrigation elements. If indoor pipes are at risk of freezing, so are outdoor pipes. Make sure sprinkler lines and outdoor spigots are properly winterized.
  • Secure anything at risk of becoming a projectile in high winds. This includes loose shingles, siding, fencing, lighting, and objects like lawn decorations, furniture, or swing sets. If you can’t nail it down or secure it into the ground, have a plan to store it when hazardous weather strikes.

Resources for dealing with weather-related property damage

In Washington:

In Oregon:

National:

Your home is a huge investment worth protecting. Keeping up on property maintenance is key to safeguarding your property against damage from hazardous weather.

For help with landscape and tree maintenance, property maintenance, residential or commercial cleanup, irrigation, erosion control and drainage solutions, contact us today!

A Win-Win Situation: De-Icing Strategies for People, Pet, and Plant Health

A Win-Win Situation: De-Icing Strategies for People, Pet, and Plant Health

Image of a person's left arm with their right hand pouring de-icing material from a bucket into their left hand.
Winter in the Pacific Northwest has already been a wet one. As temperatures drop, the risk of injury goes up. Snow and ice on your driveway, walkways, decks, and patios can create hazardous conditions for people and for pets. The cost of slip-and-fall injuries can be measured in time, money, and bodily pain. Just ask the one million Americans injured by slipping and falling annually.

While safely and effectively clearing snow and ice should be the priority, some methods are more plant and pet friendly than others. The key to using de-icers for snow and ice removal is to use as little as is necessary to effectively de-ice, while minimizing adverse impact on surrounding plants, and pets that frolic among them. 

De-icing options

There are many different options for melting ice. The products most often used, and most widely available, generally contain some form of chloride. Minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are combined with chloride ions to form salts used to melt ice. Other de-icing options include urea-based products, and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a chloride-free option. Each type of de-icer is effective down to a different temperature, and each type results in its own unique watery solution once the snow and ice melt.

Sand or gravel may provide increased traction on slippery surfaces by providing increased friction to prevent slipping. While application can help prevent formation of new ice, it does not cause snow or ice to melt.

Things to consider where de-icing is needed

It is important to consider the type and placement of plants along walkways, roadways, and any other areas where de-icing is often required. Younger, newer plants may be more susceptible to harm than older, more mature plants with well-established root systems. While unseen at this time of year, it is also important to consider the positioning of any bulbs planted in the areas where de-icing will occur. The melted water absorbed into soil can affect bulb growth of early spring blooms located in these areas.

Image of bright purple flowers poking up through the snow. These flowers can be impacted by de-icing strategies so look for safe options!
Risk of harm from de-icers is highest with overuse and overapplication, regardless of which type is used. After applying de-icer, the resulting melted solution may be:

  • Corrosive to metals, concrete, pavers, and other hard surfaces
  • Scorching to plant leaves and flowers
  • Suffocating to plant roots, with the salty soil preventing plant roots from absorbing the water necessary for growth and survival
  • Toxic to pets, especially if more concentrated, making them sick when licked off paws after walking through it
  • Polluting to waterways and marine life where storm drains bring this runoff water

With many options and factors to consider, doing your homework is necessary when it comes to the best de-icer solution for your individual situation. Whichever de-icing strategy you choose, remember that minimal necessary de-icer use is the key to maximal health for people, pets, and plants alike.

As always, the experts at Frontier Landscaping are here to assist with plant health needs. Call us today! 

Holiday Safety Inside and Out

Holiday Safety Inside and Out

Christmastime is here again! Family and friends will gather to celebrate and be merry. Safety is also stressed this time of year — don’t drink and drive, plan ahead for winter weather, stay home if you are sick. But there are other risks to consider that you may not think about when it comes to decorating your home with holiday cheer.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that, between 2015-2019, U.S. fire departments responded to a combined average of 8.350 fires, causing 93 deaths, 708 injuries, and $314 million in direct property damage annually. The three main causes? Christmas tree fires, holiday decorations, and candles. Improper electrical connections and lights account for half of Christmas tree fires. The good news is that these fires are preventable with some easy steps towards holiday safety.

Image of a candle burning close to a Christmas tree with a burning fireplace in the background, a good reminder to consider holiday safety!

Follow these simple steps for holiday safety:

 

To stay safe indoors:

Image of a full surge protector. Don't forget holiday safety!

  • Make sure your Christmas tree does not dry out. The needles should stay on when you touch them.
  • Water your Christmas tree daily.
  • Keep your Christmas tree at least three feet away from heat sources, like fireplaces, heating ducts, radiators, candles, and other lights, to name a few.
  • Make sure that all exits are free and clear of the tree or holiday decorations.
  • Check all lights for burnt out bulbs, faulty connections, or exposed wiring. Test them to make sure they work properly before hanging them on the tree or elsewhere.
  • Indoor lights are for indoor use only, outdoor lights are for outdoor use only.
  • Check to see how many light strands can be safely connected to each other. This is determined by the maximum conductivity rating and wattage of the outlet they are plugged into. Check out Backyard Boss’s guide for more technical information and the math equation to determine how many Christmas lights you can string together.
  • Use a power strip with a surge protector. This will trip if the circuit is overloaded, and is easier to address than blowing a fuse for the house.
  • Do not overload outlets or power strips.
  • Always unplug lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house.

To stay safe outdoors:

  • Use lights and decorations rated for outdoor use only.
  • Use extension cords that are rated for outdoor use.
  • When wrapping a tree in lights, start from the bottom of the trunk and work upward, finishing with the branches. There are online Christmas light calculators available to help determine how many lights you may need.
  • Consider attaching lights with twine, wire or tape to outdoor trees to avoid damaging branches and ends.
  • Staples should never be used to attach lights to trees. They damage the tree.
  • Do not hang lights or decorations on newly planted saplings or young trees. The weight can damage them. Full, healthy trees only, please.
  • Set your lights and decorations on a timer so that they are not on day and night. This reduces the risk of overheating and also prolongs their lifespan.
  • Avoid injuries by keeping walkways well lit, and free of snow and ice.
  • Take down your lights and decorations after the holidays. Leaving lights on trees or bushes year-round can impede growth and cause damage. This can also increase risk of wear and tear to the lights themselves, increasing fire risk when used again. Not to mention what squirrels could do….

After the festivities end

Come January 2022, it will be time to clean up and pack things away until next year. Real Christmas trees can be recycled. Local waste management companies have their own policies and procedures for tree disposal. Check with your local provider for specifics. There are various charities and organizations locally that provide recycling services:

May the warmth you feel together come from within, not from a holiday fire. Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

Winter Landscape Revamps

Winter Landscape Revamps

Even though winter can be stormy and rainy in the Pacific Northwest, our climate is mild enough that most landscape installations can take place regardless.

A big benefit of landscape renovation in the off season is your landscape is ready to enjoy once warmer spring temperatures resume. Here are a few things you may consider adding this winter.

Retaining walls

Retaining walls are an excellent way to increase your curb appeal. They allow for integration with landscape lighting and maximize your planting space. We can create retaining walls that include staircases, raised or terraced garden beds.
When you add plants and areas for flowers, it breaks up the hardscape and adds year-round interest, it also secures your slope and can be used to redirect water away from your structures.

Our retaining wall projects will leave your landscape beautiful, strong, functional, and long lasting.

We are preferred contractors at Mutual Materials. We can help in all aspects of your wall-building project including design, grading, excavation, drainage and wall construction.

Hedging and privacy screening

Now that outdoor socializing is happening year-round, you may realize that you are outside and in view of neighbors. For added privacy consider and evergreen hedge, mixed border, or landscape trees to separate your property from your neighbors.

Hedging helps not only provide much needed privacy, but it also buffers noise, provides habitat for birds and can provide shade to your patio or garden. As long as the ground is not frozen, winter is an excellent time to get new plants established, with a reduced risk of transplant shock.

Landscape Lighting

Adding new lights can aid with entertaining, safety, and security around your home. Installing outdoor lights can also enhance the time you can enjoy your landscape for entertaining.

Give us a call today to start a project! You will be happy you got yours in ahead of the rush!

Winter Landscape Maintenance Tasks for an Effortless Spring

Winter Landscape Maintenance Tasks for an Effortless Spring

Just because it is winter, doesn’t mean Mother Nature is entirely asleep. Although your landscape plants are dormant this time of year, there are tasks you can do now that will give you a healthier and more beautiful landscape next spring.

Winter clean ups help prevent pest issues over the winter months and get you a head start on spring gardening!

Leaf clean-up

If you haven’t done so already now is the time to gather and pick up fallen leaves from your deciduous plants and trees. While you can utilize leaves as a way to mulch there are a few tips to make sure you don’t lead to pathogens or weeds later.

If your plants showed any signs of disease, do not use those leaves, this is especially important in ornamental cherry trees, rose bushes, and fruit trees. All clippings need to be disposed of away from your landscape. You should also be careful to make sure there are no seed heads in your leaf piles that may try to germinate in your leaves over the winter.

Mulching for an easier spring

Do not mulch over the crowns of your plants or change the depth at the base of your landscape trees. This can inhibit the air circulation and lead to fungal issues with your plants next spring. With mulching, there can be too much of a good thing, so make sure you don’t overwhelm your plants with mulch, create a consistent application and avoid overdoing it on slopes. You don’t want rain to wash away your product!

When properly applied, mulch will help your soil retain water next spring and prevent winter weeds. Be sure to mulch the non-planted areas about three inches deep with compost, mulch, or bark for the best visual impact and practical success. There are winter and early spring weeds, so mulch will help prevent those before they can take hold in your soil.

Cutting back perennial plants

Many perennials “die-back” to the ground and return effortlessly the following spring. By this time of year you will be able to identify what plants remain woody and above ground and what have retreated back to below ground level. If your perennial truly is herbaceous (no woody above ground structure) you are free to remove the last season’s foliage. Hostas, coneflowers, and other flowering perennial plants are ready to be “put to bed” now.

There are a few perennial plants that can play tricks on you, like potentilla, lavender, and rosemary. These plants have a woody structure and are technically small woody shrubs often grouped with perennials because of their size. These perform best to shearing no more than a third of the whole plant, rather than a tough cut back. If you go too deep they will not grow back vigorously like other perennial plants. If they do get very woody and you can’t maintain their shape, it may be wise to replace them with younger plants.

Spent blooms

There are many reasons to hire a professional landscaper and flowering plants is one of them. Often folks who struggle with “Why won’t my plant bloom,” have mistakenly pruned off the flower buds in the winter.

It is safe to cut off the blooms of hydrangeas and roses in the winter. Do not prune your rhododendrons, azaleas, or lilacs right now, because you may be removing their spring buds inadvertently in the process. If in doubt, consider the bloom time. It’s best to be cautious not to over prune your spring blooming plants if you can’t accurately identify them.

Contact us today for help getting your garden prepared this winter for a lovely spring.