May 2016

Welcome to our May edition. Spring is such a beautiful time of year. I encourage everyone to take time and enjoy the wide variety of blooms and color. As the saying goes, “Take Time to Smell the Roses,” unless of course you have allergies, then it is tough. Enjoy from a distance then, darn. We featured this yard last spring and it was one of the first ones where we used Kurapia as a lawn alternative. The yard itself is quite large and is situated on a corner lot in a mature neighborhood in Folsom. And though we have discussed this yard before, I want to point out some aspects of landscaping that I can only do with a more mature landscape. I have taken several photos of the yard that I want to share, so I will limit my words(really). On a personal note, it is always a pleasure for me to come back a year later and view a landscape we have completed. It takes about three years for a landscape to reach its full potential with the trees needing about eight years, but with each year plant structure, texture and bloom increase all the more. I would like to begin this month’s article by asking a question: What is the difference between a new landscape and the same landscape a year later, other than size? Good question. One major difference is that when the landscape is new many of the plants look relatively the same. The habit of growth for each specific variety is not truly seen. It takes time and growth for each variety to distinguish itself from the other varieties, which is a big deal. In designing a yard so as to give it dimension and depth we not only do specific grading, but we also use a variety of shapes and sizes of plants, which takes time to appreciate. The next point worthy to note is that with our new landscapes the bark almost appears overdone. Yet as the plants grow, this impression changes and the bark no longer is the main focus. The same thing is true of boulders and dry stream beds. They often look out of proportion compared to the plants. This is also true with path lights. When we install path lights they stand about 20 inches, which is tall. Yet as the plants grow the path lights’ height begins to make sense. You’ve probably seen mature landscapes where a portion of the plant has been pruned away creating a half circle in order for the the path lights to be effective. I so dislike having to prune the plant in this fashion since with a bit of forethought it is not necessary. It is also important to note that path lights are installed for safety reasons, normally along steps, therefore proper height and positioning is very important. When we first finish a landscape the temptation might be to say we designed a dryscape and added a few plants, especially with this yard. Everything we did was extra big. The boulders were between 800 to 1,200 pounds, the dry stream bed at four feet is super wide and if you walk the yard at night you will probably bruise your knee by hitting a boulder, we used so many of them. However, looking at it now, everything fits nicely and the plants’ habit of growth can readily be seen. Last year I explained that the Kurapia was going to be a viable lawn alternative for us, yet without the ability to mow it low enough (it needs a mower that can cut to 1”) the reality was that the Kurapia looked way too wiry to be soothing to the eye. However, looking at the Kurapia after a year of growth it is lush and green, and the new growth is growing up and covering the runners. It really looks awesome. (For a complete review of this landscape and a better look at the Kurapia please view the video that is referenced below.)  Gardeners, your garden should be happily growing by now. Remember with a young garden you need to water more frequently, but be mindful to let it dry out between watering. We need to make the roots search deep for moisture so as to establish deep roots prior to summer. Also, make sure the vegetables that require training cages, e.g. tomatoes and beans, are placed prior to the plants getting too big. If they get too big it is difficult to get the cage over the tomatoes and beans without damaging them.

Until next time – Good Gardening.