Cornus Borders for the Long Views

A recurring design problem is “what to do with the long views?” The question often arises when seeing a residential backyard for the first time. Most views from the patio and the rear windows fall upon a monotone of evergreens or fencing.

I propose a clockwise sequence of blooming dogwoods to sparkle the long views. The clockwise sequence is strictly to appease my sense of order; in other words, it is arbitrary or changeable according to the site. There may be local shade or soil conditions that can disrupt the sequence with some delayed blooms.

The timing of these blooms is based on my Zone 7 experiences in Monmouth County, New Jersey; and some “Doc” Hamilton lectures in Landscape Plants at Rutgers (I would expect the Atlanta Georgia experiences to be about 1 month earlier).

The first to bloom in early March is Cornus Mas (Cornelian cherry dogwood). According to Dirr, the cultivar “Spring Grove” is a yellow-blooming tree form that grows to 20 ft. by 25 ft. June and July bring a display of bright red berries for the birds or your preserves. The branches are close-knit, yielding long green leaves that hold late into fall, then display a brilliant purple-red fall color. The tree is tolerant of heavy clay and acidic soils, unlike most dogwoods.

The next bloomer is the standard Cornus florida or “flowering dogwood,” which blooms in late April and early May. The flowers are yellow but the dominant bracts surround the bloom to make a handsome 3-4 in flower. The bract colors can be white, pink or red; depending on the cultivar chosen. All have brilliant red berries and brilliant fall color as treats after the main show in spring.

The cultivar shown as a resource is the brilliant C. florida “Cherokee chief.” Dirr reports this cultivar to be disease-resistant and “garden-tested” against mildew and anthracnose. It will grow to 20 ft. by 20 ft., and will display the most pleasing tiered branching structure as an under-story tree. The branches will reach out and spread their show of brilliance in early May. The beauty of this tree is in its strong tiered branching structure, which is encouraged by planting in partial shade. The soil should be well-drained, moist and slightly acidic.

The branching is too tight for my tastes, probably due to a full-sun location.

The next bloom season was created by Dr. Elwin Orton of Rutgers University. He developed the Rutgers hybrids Cornus xrutgerensis (C. kousa x C. florida); giving us the cultivars Aurora, Celestial, Constellation, Ruth Ellen, Saturn, Star Dust and Stellar Pink (all trademarked). The result is an intermediate dogwood with intermediate characteristics and more resistance to dogwood anthracnose. The most notable here is the bloom time that follows C. florida by 2 – 3 weeks.

The net here is the bloom cycle that fills in the 3rd and 4th weeks of May, when most outdoor parties are scheduled. The stunning C. rutgerensis Stellar Pink is shown below. Notice that the branching structure and the bract sizes approach those of C. kousa.

The final dogwood bloom cycle can be the longest. Cornus kousa can produce a stunning show from June 1 to June 30. The creamy-white bracts can span from 2 to 4 inches in diameter while they are displayed on broad branches. The tree starts out vase-shaped and migrates to a round 20 ft. by 20 ft. form. It is about half a zone more cold-hardy than C. florida and has more tolerance for poor soils. C. kousa has more resistance to anthracnose and has the better fall display of deep red color.

The finale is the best! Ending the bloom sequence and this article with C. kousa saves the best dogwood for last. The July – October continuation of the bloom sequence is reserved for follow-on work.

# Dirr, Michael. “Dirr’s Encyclopedia of trees and shrubs”; First edition, Timber Press, 2011

Lawn Care Experts Cite The Pros And Cons Of Organic Lawn Treatment

When taking care of lawns, home owners as well as lawn care experts have numerous options. And, one of the best solutions in maintaining lush green lawns is to fertilize. However, the debate between organic and synthetic lawn treatments have been restricting individuals from making better decisions. So, to help you learn more, below are some of the pros and cons of making use of organic lawn treatment.

Pros of organic lawn treatment

Feed lawn slowly – First and foremost, lawn solutions that are organic feed lawn slowly. This is a good feature for plants since they have steady supply of nutrients most especially during cold season. Not to mention, slow feeding can also promote better health and appearance of lawns which can benefit homeowners.

Better water retention – When making use of organic solutions, homeowners can also help lawns retain water more efficiently. Of course, water is one of the major ingredients for plants in creating food.

Reduce soil compaction – organic lawn solutions also help reduce soil compaction. Compacted soil can restrict air from entering the soil. Because of this, there are cases when plant growth can be affected. Fortunately, when using organic treatments, homeowners can entice worms in the property which can help break down the soil to make it more porous and crumbly.

Low soil pollution – Finally, this lawn solution also helps reduce soil pollution. Of course, since all ingredients are natural, chemical compounds can be prevented from destroying your property.

On the contrary, there are also cases when organic lawn solution can be a huge problem for individuals. Below are some of the following problems individuals may encounter when making use of such treatment.

Cons of organic lawn treatment

Weed problem – Since organic lawn treatments provide substantial and steady nutrients for plants, it can also help promote weed growth. Plus, individuals are required to make use of synthetic weed killers since most natural treatments are insufficient.

Pest infestation – Another issue that individuals may encounter when making use of natural lawn solution is pest infestation. This is possible since natural ingredients can easily attract pests.

More tasks involved – Finally, when using natural lawn treatments, individuals also need to spend more time. As mentioned above, this lawn treatments feed lawns slowly. Therefore, it is important to apply it earlier. Plus, you also need to ensure that you have evenly applied the treatment on your lawn to gain the best benefits.

These are some of the things homeowners need to know when making use of organic lawn treatments to make properties appealing and healthier.

Christmas Lights Go Solar

For many around the country, putting up Christmas decorations is a cold and slippery job. Your fingers get cold trying to hang lights on brittle and cold hooks, and what if you put the string of lights on the roof the wrong way? You know, with the plug on the opposite side of the house to the socket.

Then there’s the problem about where to hide the extension cords. They are never the right colour for hiding, and so if you’re not lucky enough to have snow, there they are, hanging around willy nilly on the front lawn. Of course when you plug those lights in, you get a nice little surprise on your electricity bill as well, but if you have solar Christmas lights these problems could be a thing of the past.

Sorry, solar lights can’t do anything for cold fingers or brittle light hooks or even for the icy surfaces you need to try to be steady on, but they do help you save on electricity costs and they do allow you to do away with the unsightly extension cords. How you may ask? Well, Christmas solar lights work much the same way as regular solar lights do. They soak up the sun’s rays throughout the day and store the energy in their cells, then come night time they turn on and glow in all their beautiful colours.

You can use solar lights anywhere you’d use traditional plug in lights, so that means that your roof line, your trees and even your pathways can be lit for the season and no one will trip on that extension cord again.

Christmas solar lights are the way of the future. All you need to establish is a great place for their panel to sit so that it gets maximum sunlight throughout the days, don’t worry if the days are cloudy, those cells will still get and store that energy. They come in string form, in all different colours and also in spotlight form to shine a light on a special display or part of your landscaping. They also come in spotlights that shine colours and designs onto the side of your house or garage door. Even if you don’t have snow on the ground, you can have snowflakes on your house.

Be the envy of your neighbour and jump on board the new way of Christmas decorating. When you see your energy bill you’ll be glad you did!

Useful Tips And Ideas For Landscaping Along The Fence Line

Having a beautiful, manicured, and healthy lawn means not just working on certain areas of your yard. Your outdoor space will look more appealing and organized if every area looks designed, tidy, and nothing is barren or disregarded.

As such, if you want to have the perfect lawn, you also have to work on beautifying some areas that you normally wouldn’t pay attention to such as the fence line. Many property owners think that their fence would be enough as an additional enhancing outdoor feature. But with the right plants and some landscaping tips, you can have an even lovelier fence line.

Below are some landscaping tips and ideas you can consider for improving your fence line:

• Before starting to plant along fence the line, make sure you remove any brush and debris on the area. This means removing weeds growing along the privacy fence. You can use a weed trimmer to cut down weeds and grass next to the fence.

• Aside from planting ornamental plants, the area along the fence is the ideal location to grow long, narrow vegetable garden beds. The edible garden will decorate and improve the look of the area while making the space functional to produce your own food.

• If you want to cover some of the wooden fence’s parts (especially the old, rotten ones) plant vines, like bougainvillea or trumpet vine along the base of the fence. These vines will naturally grow up the fence to add color to your fence and at the same time, soften the look of the wood.

• If you want to grow plants along the fence line, grow tall ornamental grasses, such as cape thatching reed or muhly grass, along the area. When they grow, they will fill out to cover a large area of the fence while adding movement and texture to your outdoor space.

• To have blooming flowers near your fence, plant ornamental grasses with flowering perennials such as poppies or hydrangeas. You can also consider growing flowering herbs like chives and lavender since they work great for different types of border gardens.

• You can also consider planting pots. Place large, decorative pots along the fence line. Make sure you pace the pots evenly along the privacy structure. To add color and boost visual interest to the area, grow a variety of plants in one pot.

• Lastly, to improve the look of your fence and outdoor space, you can also hang decorative garden fixtures such as metal lanterns as accent pieces. However, make sure you choose only lightweight garden decorations that won’t cause the fence to sag or lean and screw the pieces into the wood securely.