trees

Shade Trees for Texas Heat

Shade Trees for Texas Heat

Summers in Texas can be scorching, but there is a simple remedy: Plant more trees!  Here are some of our favorite Medium to Large, Texas-Tough Trees...

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Light Up Your Outdoors: "Nightscaping"

"Nightscaping" outdoor spaces, becomes a great addition to your home.  While it's often an afterthought, it's actually one of the most important aspects of your landscape.  Nightscaping helps make your outdoor living space:

  • More comfortable, safe and inviting when its dark out.
  • Increases the time available to enjoy your yard.
  • Illuminate paths, steps, architectural features, and landscape elements, such as fountains and statuary.

When designing your 'Nightscape', it's important to remember that the shadows are just as important as the lights.  The purpose of Nightscaping is not just to make a dimmer version of your daytime landscape.  You have opportunity to create a completely different vista both physically – as in the case of illuminating a seating area for use, but also visually – by adding depth to your view after dark from inside or outside your home.

There are many lighting options which have different effects that allow you to utilize or highlight important areas in your yard.  Here are some ideas to consider with outdoor lighting: 

Paths, Sidewalks, Steps or Driveways – Lights help you get safely from one place to another; mix up the fixtures along these areas. You can use down-lights from surrounding trees, a few lights along a pathway, and also up-lights to help light up your steps. The idea is to light an interesting area or feature close to the walk or drive and allow the light to spill over to light your way – avoiding the runway look.

Entry Ways – The walkways to your home.  They should be lit with right amount of light to create a warm, inviting welcome and allow you and your guests to see where you are going.  Make sure lights won't shine in eyes either coming in or going out the door.

Trees & Shrubs – Up-lighting creates bold shadows or silhouettes in the landscape that can make a dramatic, yet elegant effect.  Down-lighting mimics the effect of moonlight forming soft, diffused shadows in your yard.

Decks, Patios, Gazebos – Lighting these features creates an inviting ambiance allowing more time that can be spent outside enjoying life after the sun goes down.

Water Features – Lights in ponds or on fountains highlight the rippling water and make your water feature a focal point, even from indoors.  During the day you are drawn to the sound and appearance, while at night the lights will enhance the presence of your water feature.

Architectural Features – Lighting pillars, stone and veneer make shadows and cast light into your landscape.  Using lights in this way makes your home more interesting and inviting.

With shorter days coming soon in the Fall, now is an excellent time to plan your outdoor lighting project.  You will need to make a few decisions before you get started. Anyone can install the plastic lighting from the big box stores and have inexpensive lights the same day. You shouldn't expect those lights to last more than a season or two at most.

Professional fixtures and transformers are guaranteed for many years, but they do cost more.  You will also need to decide between halogen lights and LED lights.  Halogens have been used for many years to create a golden glow with a warm and cozy light effect.  However, they need larger amounts of energy, have a limited life and should be installed by someone who understands voltage drop.  The bulbs can be costly to replace.  LED fixtures and lights cost more than halogen, but most professional grade manufacturers guarantee them for up to ten years.  LED lights have a long life, are very energy-efficient and durable.  If you consider the time and money involved in purchasing and changing the halogen bulbs, LEDs might be more cost-effective in the long run.

Our long, hot summer will be behind us and we'll want more time outside enjoying our wonderful fall weather... Lighting up your outside world is a great way to improve your home and now is the time to do it!  Living Expression Landscapes can help make it a reality, either full design and installation or consultation on a DIY job – just give us a call at 281-681-8715

Extend Crape Myrtle Blooms

The summer beauty of all the blooming Crape Myrtles is everywhere.  Wouldn't it be lovely if we could enjoy these blooms year round?  Although that's not possible, there are some ways we can prolong the crape myrtle's blooming season.  Here are some tips...

  • Now is the time to deadhead it (cutting off the dead blooms and seed heads as soon as they fade), which can often make it bloom again.  Don't confuse developing seed heads with seed heads though because they can look very similar.  Keep in mind this can be done anytime throughout June and July.
  • After deadheading, try to boost the blooms by feeding your Crape Myrtle with a water-soluble, bloom-booster or even Miracle Gro.
  • Avoid pruning in the fall, since pruning can stimulate new sprout growth that may be killed by the coming cold weather.
  • Remember the best time to prune crape myrtles is in February, since this is when the fully dormant Crape Myrtle's naked branches give you a view of its structure and frame.  But definitely avoid the "Crape Murder" trend of your neighbors!

Living Expression Landscapes is a full-service landscape design and maintenance company.  Call us to take care of all your year-round landscape needs, including pruning and fertilizing, so your yard always looks at it's best!

By Living Expression Landscapes

By Living Expression Landscapes

Light Up Your Outdoors: "Nightscaping"

"Nightscaping" outdoor spaces, becomes a great addition to your home.  While it's often an afterthought, it's actually one of the most important aspects of your landscape.  Nightscaping helps make your outdoor living space:

  • More comfortable, safe and inviting when its dark out.
  • Increases the time available to enjoy your yard.
  • Illuminate paths, steps, architectural features, and landscape elements, such as fountains and statuary.

When designing your 'Nightscape', it's important to remember that the shadows are just as important as the lights.  The purpose of Nightscaping is not just to make a dimmer version of your daytime landscape.  You have opportunity to create a completely different vista both physically – as in the case of illuminating a seating area for use, but also visually – by adding depth to your view after dark from inside or outside your home.

There are many lighting options which have different effects that allow you to utilize or highlight important areas in your yard.  Here are some ideas to consider with outdoor lighting: 

Paths, Sidewalks, Steps or Driveways – Lights help you get safely from one place to another; mix up the fixtures along these areas. You can use down-lights from surrounding trees, a few lights along a pathway, and also up-lights to help light up your steps. The idea is to light an interesting area or feature close to the walk or drive and allow the light to spill over to light your way – avoiding the runway look.

Entry Ways – The walkways to your home.  They should be lit with right amount of light to create a warm, inviting welcome and allow you and your guests to see where you are going.  Make sure lights won't shine in eyes either coming in or going out the door.

Trees & Shrubs – Up-lighting creates bold shadows or silhouettes in the landscape that can make a dramatic, yet elegant effect.  Down-lighting mimics the effect of moonlight forming soft, diffused shadows in your yard.

Decks, Patios, Gazebos – Lighting these features creates an inviting ambiance allowing more time that can be spent outside enjoying life after the sun goes down.

Water Features – Lights in ponds or on fountains highlight the rippling water and make your water feature a focal point, even from indoors.  During the day you are drawn to the sound and appearance, while at night the lights will enhance the presence of your water feature.

Architectural Features – Lighting pillars, stone and veneer make shadows and cast light into your landscape.  Using lights in this way makes your home more interesting and inviting.

With shorter days coming soon in the Fall, now is an excellent time to plan your outdoor lighting project.  You will need to make a few decisions before you get started. Anyone can install the plastic lighting from the big box stores and have inexpensive lights the same day. You shouldn't expect those lights to last more than a season or two at most.

Professional fixtures and transformers are guaranteed for many years, but they do cost more.  You will also need to decide between halogen lights and LED lights.  Halogens have been used for many years to create a golden glow with a warm and cozy light effect.  However, they need larger amounts of energy, have a limited life and should be installed by someone who understands voltage drop.  The bulbs can be costly to replace.  LED fixtures and lights cost more than halogen, but most professional grade manufacturers guarantee them for up to ten years.  LED lights have a long life, are very energy-efficient and durable.  If you consider the time and money involved in purchasing and changing the halogen bulbs, LEDs might be more cost-effective in the long run.

Our long, hot summer will be behind us and we'll want more time outside enjoying our wonderful fall weather... Lighting up your outside world is a great way to improve your home and now is the time to do it!  Living Expression Landscapes can help make it a reality, either full design and installation or consultation on a DIY job – just give us a call at 281-681-8715

Plant Pest and Fungal Problems

Along with the wonderful warm weather of Spring, we are also seeing damaging fungal diseases and pests emerge on plants.  If left unchecked, these fungal diseases and pests could get out of hand and cause long-term damage to your lawns and landscape plants. Below are just a few to watch for in the Houston area...

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS)

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale is a small insect that appears as a white or gray felt-like encrustation sticking to the bark of Crape Myrtles.  They might be found anywhere on our beloved trees, and often appears near pruning sites and branch crotches of more mature wood. It causes extensive honeydew deposits and the growth of black sooty mold, blemishing the beauty of the Crape myrtle.  Although heavy scale infestations are seldom fatal to the Crape Myrtle, the aesthetic impacts are significant. 

Often times, the first sign of CMBS is that black sooty mold on the tree bark, however aphids can also cause this black sooty mold symptom so a close inspection will determine which pest is present. Unfortunately CMBS can be a difficult pest to control and it may take multiple years of treatment, as opposed to the easier controlled aphids.

Bark Scale

Bark Scale

Prevention and Treatment for CMBS

- Before buying crape myrtles, inspect the nursery crop carefully for signs of CMBS infestations.  Avoid crape myrtles with significant damage.

- At any time if you notice Crapemyrtle Bark Scale you can mix dishwashing soap with water and scrub the branches with a soft bristle brush.  This will remove many of the female scales and egg masses, making insecticide control more effective.  Washing will also remove much of the black mold that builds up on the bark of infested trees.

- As the crapemyrtles begin to really bloom, drench the soil around the drip line of the affected tree (where the feeder roots are) with an systemic insecticide such as an Annual Tree & Shrub Insect Control.  Just correctly mix with water and apply in a 3-4 foot band from the root zone in towards the tree trunk all the way around the plant.  The best control was achieved between May and JulyWhen drenching the soil with a systemic insecticide, allow several weeks for the product to reach the plant.

- Winter is an especially good time to treat for scales because the Crape Myrtles are in their dormant season and a higher application rate can be used without damaging the plant.  Cover the tree thoroughly with pesticide during the dormant season, especially when using horticulture oil.

Black Spot on Roses

You may begin to see dark spots on the foliage of your roses during the Spring, which eventually become yellow and drop.  The spots can be very small or large enough to cover the entire leaf.  This problem is called Rose Black Spot and it's caused by fungus.  Some plants can handle the defoliation, but if a newly planted or young specimen loses all of its leaves too early in the season, it could be a lost cause.  It’s best to diagnose early and treat the plant if needed.

Rose: Black Spot by Scot Nelson

Rose: Black Spot by Scot Nelson

Treatment and Prevention of Rose Black Spot

- Remove infected foliage and twigs. Fungal diseases are easily spread from plant to plant and from one leaf to the rest of the leaves. When detected early, removing infected plant tissue is a great way to protect the healthy plants and foliage.

- Keep foliage dry.  While rain is unavoidable, you can control your irrigation system. Always water at the soil level, not on top of the foliage.  Adjust or replace sprinkler heads that spray water into the air and on top of your plants,  Otherwise, water early in the morning so leaves have the daytime to dry off versus watering at night because fungal diseases thrive in the cool, dark night much more than in the daytime.  Or consider having us install a drip irrigation system for you, if you don't already have one, since there are many advantages to that. 

- Fungicides: In some instances, fungicides might be an appropriate treatment.  Early detection and treatment is best.  In the early spring when the leaf buds on the rose bushes first start to push out the little leaves, spray all the rose bushes with a black spot treatment fungicide.  Repeat every 3 weeks during the blooming season.

- If a plant is heavily infected, fungicides may not always solve the problem and you should remove the infected plant so as to protect the rest of your landscape.

There are many other pests & diseases that are prevalent around the Houston area as well.  Prevention is key.  Healthy, well-maintained plants will have the best chance of deterring fungal diseases.  Need help this spring maintaining your landscape?  Not only do we maintain landscapes, but we also keep an eye out for disease and pest problems that might arise.  Living Expression Landscapes can provide you with prompt detection, diagnosis and treatment!

Design, Installation, & Maintenance by Living Expression Landcapes

Design, Installation, & Maintenance by Living Expression Landcapes

 

 

Create Your Own Certified Wildlife Habitat

Create Your Own Certified Wildlife Habitat

Everyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife, even if you only have an apartment balcony to work with.  Plus it is so much FUN to watch the pollinators and beautiful wildlife, such as the birds and bunnies that it will attract!

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Discovering the Rich Benefits of Plants In Our Lives

Discovering the Rich Benefits of Plants In Our Lives

After reading this, it will become clear that flowers, plants, trees, and quality landscaping are NECESSITIES... not luxuries.

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