Focal Points Made Easy

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Last time we discussed different styles of gardens, and mentioned details such as fountains, sculpture, and shrubbery. While these elements look great in the background, sometimes you want something special to catch the eye that ties all of your landscaping plans together. This is the focal point, and choosing one can be easy when you have an experienced landscaper like Algiere’s to help.

The important thing is to keep everything in perspective. What is your budget like? Is your priority something large, or do you want to spread the money around? Do you prefer a plant or architectural focal point? How much time do you have for maintenance, do you want something that requires a lot of work, or would you prefer something more low maintenance? Consider your style of house and any elements you already have. You don’t want to clash or have anything stick out inappropriately.

 

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It might seem overwhelming, but a good landscaper will sit you down and ask the right questions to get the answers. For example, we might ask if you prefer lilies or daisies. It might seem simple, but the answer tells us a lot about you and your sense of style. Lilies are a more formal flower, while daisies take center stage in a more cottage style of gardening. We will show you pictures of different kinds of plantings and styles of gardens. We can accommodate anyone, whether traditional or more eclectic and funky. Just give us a call!

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Pictures for this week’s blog were taken in the Abbey Gardens in Culross, Scotland. The modern sculptures are by the British artist Julia Francis. For more information on her work, you can email her at julia@themercatgallery.com or visit her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/JFSculptures. 

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What’s Your Gardening Style?

 

When planning a formal garden, it’s good to know what style suits both you and your landscape. You may have heard terms like English, Japanese, and Cottage gardens, but what do those terms really mean?

English Garden 2

 

An English garden features architectural touches, like fountains and statuary. You’ll also find in many traditional English gardens, (called landscape gardens in the UK), little grottoes made of shrubbery with benches to hide away in for an hour or two with a good book. Winding paths join grotto to bird bath to statuary. This romantic style works well in larger yards and features more greenery than flowering plants.

japanese-garden-design

A Japanese garden will typically have some sort of water feature as its focal point, typically a small pond or flowing stream. It will attempt to mimic the style of house or building it’s attached to a bit more than an English garden typically will. While a Japanese garden will feature stone work and paths like the English garden, you’ll see more flowering bushes and shrubs, like dogwood or cherry.

Cottage Garden

A Cottage garden will be much more dense and focus more on flowering and fruit plants than stonework or water features. It tends to layer fruit trees, climbing plants, and flowers, roses being a typical choice for this style.

While these three are typical styles, there are many others out there to explore. Get creative, do an internet search and jot down styles you like, or pick and choose elements from a few that you imagine would work well together. Then call use at Algiere’s, we can sit down with you and work out a plan that fits both your aesthetic and your square footage!

Spring into Landscape Overhaul!!!

Time to Overhaul!

Time to Overhaul!

 

Spring is the perfect season to take a critical eye to your landscaping. Is your yard looking sloppy? Outdated? Overworked? Maybe it’s time to contact a professional landscaper like Algiere’s and design a plan to clean up and update.

The first thing to think about for any large project is to set a realistic budget. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once. Curb appeal, the front yard, should be a priority, but make sure that you have established a relationship with your landscape artist; you don’t want to sign a contract with someone that in the end you can’t trust. Remember, it’s your yard and you shouldn’t have to pay more than you feel comfortable with, or purchase things you don’t like. Deal with someone who will sit down with you, take the time to ensure that there aren’t any underlying problems, like pest infestations or poor quality soil, that have to be dealt with first.

Think a professional like this is too good to be true? Check out Angie’s List for someone in your area. While you’re there, check out the reviews our clients have posted about Algiere’s. Then if you like what you see, give us a call first.

Retaining Walls, Not Just for Leveling Your Yard

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Need a retaining wall, but afraid you’ll end up with an ugly slab of concrete as a focal point? Not to worry, we’ve come a long way in materials and design when it comes to retaining walls. A retaining wall helps to hold back the laws of gravity, keeping the soil in your yard stable and preventing erosion. The material you chose to build your retaining wall from is very important. Different sizes may work on the same laws of physics, but precast concrete can come in many gorgeous colors and designs. No boring slabs here! Interlocking blocks of concrete can give you the beauty of natural stone with the affordability of concrete. A product we love to use is Bradstone by Nickelock, which looks and feels like real stone with the strength of a pre-engineered product.

So a retaining wall can be functional, but it can also be beautiful. In addition to creating a raised planting bed for you, it can also add value to your home by increasing curb appeal. Or, you can use the leveled area to create a patio space or expand your yard. Whatever you decide to do with your retaining wall, one thing is for sure. It’ll be a lot lovelier than a pile of dirt or a sink hole in your yard. Why wait? Call Algiere’s today to set up a design consultation.

Hello Helleborus!

Helleborus HelleborusOrientalis

 

Last time we talked a bit about perennials and how some of them might not make it through a rough winter. You might be wondering if there’s something new in the market. Something that’ll brighten up your garden all summer long and into the fall. Something not just pretty, but functional too.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the helleborus.

This gorgeous, water lily like shaped plant is both deer resistant and mole resistant. It’s toxicity means that it will repel pests from your whole garden, providing pretty protection. It comes in various shades of purple, which means not only is if functional, it’s fashion forward. Pantone’s color of the year is radiant orchid, a shade the lovely helleborus is happy to wear in the most stylish of landscaping.

Want to incorporate this excitingly different perennial to your existing landscape? Give Algiere’s a call, we’ll be happy to put a plan together just for you!

 

 

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Freezing: What to expect when the snow melts

hardiness map

It’s now mid-March, and maybe, perhaps, we’re done with the snowfall. We might get to actually see our yards and gardens, very soon. So what can we expect lying beneath the melting snow? Good things? Bad things? UGLY things?

 

The simple answer is a little bit of all of the above.

First, the good news. Extreme cold weather can kill off larvae and fungi. Remember our post last year about the Emerald Ash Borer? Those little guys might not be as much of a problem this summer, thanks to the polar vortex. Cold weather can lead to a better tomato growing season as well, keeping the ph in the soil low, eliminating Black Spot, and killing off aphids. Another neat trick winter can perform on your veggies? A process called cold-sweetening, where plants break down their energy resources as free sugars in order to stay warm and guard against frost damage. Just like salt spread on roads and sidewalks, these sugars protect the plant before it can freeze, with the added benefit of giving you a sweeter harvest.

The bad news? Ornamental trees are sensitive, they can get easily damaged by a harsh winter. Now is the time to prune, your Japanese Maples especially, to prevent further damage.  Planting zones can be thrown out of whack be extreme weather, a zone 6 could potentially go down as low as a zone 4. You might need to replace perennials sensitive to cold like Hosta and Japanese Anemone.

No one can predict what the weather will do. Educate yourself on the best plants for your temperate zone, keep sensitive plants covered, and stay alert to falling temperatures. Your landscaper can recommend the best plants for where you live, so call a professional when in doubt. Of course, the best way to protect your landscape is early prevention in the autumn, before temperatures drop. Last year we were forced to cancel five fall clean ups because of the early snow, book early!

Ben’s Beard 2014

Spring is only a week away, so they tell us, must be time to shave Ben’s beard!!

The even will occur on April 17th, and we’re just hoping the boys won’t need their beards by then. In addition to Ben and Jeremy, Patrick Bohan, who joined the Algiere’s team in May, has also put his razor aside all winter and is ready to get shorn for charity!

 

This year all proceeds will go to support St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich. Supporting those in need in Norwich, St Vincent de Paul provides meals on site, as well as a pantry for folks who need food at home. In this way, the organization can help the homeless and those on a limited income gain more independence. To give a donation, you can use the link below, putting Ben’s Beard in the gift section. This year you can also give a food donation as well, bringing canned and paper goods to their downtown Norwich location, at 120 Cliff Street, the old St. Joseph’s school. Paper and nonperishable food donations can also be dropped off at the Greater Norwich Chamber of Commerce, located at 112 Main St.  Currently they’re in need of tuna fish, pasta sauce, canned soup, pasta, oatmeal, butter/margarine, napkins, paper towels, and garbage bags.

So forget the groundhog and the snow still on the ground, Ben’s Beard is the TRUE sign of spring, make your donation today!

 

https://www.networkforgood.org/donation/MakeDonation.aspx?ORGID2=060687373

 

 

 

Time for a shave!

Time for a shave!

Composting, Good for You, Good for the Earth

English: Composting

English: Composting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

365/66 California Compost

365/66 California Compost (Photo credit: mjmonty)

 

 

 

So, Earth Day has come and gone. Over a month later, you’ve helped clean up the shore line, pulled invasive species at the local park, and attended a fundraiser for fracking awareness.

 

You’re feeling pretty good about things, and then you get home. The garbage is piled high, and you’ve got newspapers and scraps of old computer paper just lying around the office. You wonder, how can I clean up my mess, and help make Earth Day every day at the same time?

 

The answer, my friend, is composting.

 

Many people think compost is hard, but the key is to maintain a good mix of the green, (like grass), with the brown, (ashes, coffee grounds, etc.) Grass will provide the nitrogen, and the brown items will provide the carbon. A little of each, well mixed, will break down more quickly and provide the best blend of nutrients for your soil.

 

Anything that has been living is good to add to a compost pile, but avoid pet droppings or meat scraps, as these will attract unwanted pests. The great thing about this rule is, this includes paper products! Just be sure to shred any newspapers or junk mail up really well before you add them.

 

See? You get to clean up your house, AND provide a nutrient rich soil for your vegetables and flowers. Everyone wins!

 

Need help getting started? Not sure what to plant after you lay your compost, or how? Give Algiere’s a call, we are here to help with all of your spring gardening and landscaping needs!

 

Get Your Earth Day on With a Free Tree From Algiere’s Landscaping!

We are raffling off 5 Sugar Maples  on Earth Day as a way to say “thank you” for all the likes on Facebook. We can’t think of a better way to help the Earth soak up carbon and add beauty to your yard at the same time. Want one? Just like and share the Algiere’s Landscaping page on Facebook, it’s that easy!

Don’t live local? Don’t worry, we will ship one to you if you win! One lucky local winner will receive the grand prize of Big Al our mascot stopping by to plant an extra special tree.

Have fun and happy Earth Day!

Like and share to take me home!

Like and share to take me home!

Cold Crops, What to Plant When Spring is Late

Potatoes come to Europe.

Potatoes can be planted, even in the cold!

 

 

 

 

 

For springs like these, people come to us moaning about the short growing season. What can they do? What should they plant when a spring is this slow in showing up?

 

Let us introduce you to some great cold crops you can plant, even when the temperature is close to freezing. Think root vegetables, like onions and potatoes, though you should only use seed potatoes to get your plants started. Some leafy vegetables as well, like lettuce and arugula, can be planted in temperatures as low as 40 degrees.

 

Want to get started but fear the temperatures dropping even further, or a possible late season snow? No problem, cover your plants, making tents out of empty milk jugs, cut to accommodate your seedlings’ size. You can also attempt to raise the temperature of your soil using plastic covers.

 

Whatever the weather, you can enjoy gardening, and Algiere’s is available to you year round for all of your gardening and landscaping needs!