Landscaping and Gardening Services in Pismo Beach and SLO County
264 Irish Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
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15 Nov 2017

How to Know When It’s Time to Give Up On a Plant

It’s frustrating to let go of a plant, but sometimes the money and time spent trying to keep it alive just isn’t worth it. How do you know when to give up on a plant?

Why is the Plant Important?

If you’re worrying over a plant or shrub, stop for a moment and think about why it’s so important to you. Some reasons people spend time and money trying to keep a plant alive are:

• They grew the plant from seed. It’s an accomplishment to nourish a plant from seedling to adult plant and very disappointing when the plant develops a disease or simply doesn’t thrive.
• It was a gift. The plant itself may not be unique, but it’s special because it was a gift.
• It’s an exotic plant. Some exotics can be quite pricey, and no one likes the idea of losing a substantial amount of money.
• The plant is integral to your landscaping. Losing it may make your design uneven, or it may be a centerpiece of your landscaping.
• It’s an old plant. It’s understandable to be attached to your grandmother’s azaleas or irises and to go above and beyond to save them when they start to wane.

How to Know When It's Time to Give Up On a Plant

What Can You Do to Save a Plant?

Identifying the cause of the plant’s decline is the first step. You may be able to see insects on the leaves or grayish spots indicative of a fungus. Older plants may start to fade or die off if they aren’t getting enough sunlight. If you live in an old house, the nutrients in your flowerbed soil may be exhausted.

If the plant is very important to you, call your landscaper. They may be able to eliminate insect pests, treat a plant disease or trim trees to let more sunlight reach your flowerbed. A landscaper can also recommend plant foods and supplements or aerate your flowerbed soil and add new, nutrient-rich soil. Shrubs may just require pruning. If wildlife is dining on your plants, your landscaper has various methods to deter them.

When Should You Give Up On a Plant?

Some plants just can’t be saved. It’s time to give up when:

• You’ve spent more money on a common plant than it’s worth.
• It’s too late in the season for a dying plant to recover.
• The plant has no sentimental value or can be replaced.
• The plant (usually a vegetable) has a disease that can spread throughout your garden.
• It’s a very old plant, like a blooming shrub or irises. Unfortunately, some plants are just too old to save.

If you have to remove old plants, you may want to replace them. You could also consider trying something new to change the look of your landscaping.

Things to Remember:
• No plant is irreplaceable
• Don’t overspend trying to save a plant
• Call your landscaper for help making a decision

We can diagnose what’s wrong with your plant, treat problems and replace plants. Call us today for assistance.

27 Oct 2017

10 Benefits of Aloe Plants [Infographic]

10 Benefits of Aloe Vera

You probably know that cutting a leaf from an aloe vera plant is the best treatment for mild burns.

However, aloe gel in stores usually isn’t pure and can contain chemicals and dyes that do the opposite of what you want.

Check out these other surprising benefits of aloe:

Treating minor burns is the main use for aloe plants. You only need to cut off the tip of a leaf to get enough juice for a burn.
• You’ll need more aloe juice for mild sunburn, but a little goes a long way.
• Aloe vera juice is frequently used as part of a regimen for revitalizing natural hair.
• Ashy elbows and knees will benefit from regular applications of aloe gel.
• Treating your heels and toes with aloe is like a daily mini pedicure.
• Smearing aloe on unpeeled fruits and veggies helps them stay fresh.
• Aloe can ease gum problems.
• Turn down the itch of mosquito bites with a fresh aloe application.
• Aloe is a great alternative to antibacterial creams if you have allergies to over the counter products.
• Aloe is a succulent. It requires little care, beautifies your decor and keeps skin and hair healthy.

Aloe plants make great housewarming gifts. Pick up one for yourself and a friend.

If you need help finding the right plants for your landscaping needs in the San Luis Obiso area, contact Evergreen Landscaping today.

12 Oct 2017

How to Preserve Your Herb Garden All Year Round

herb garden

It’s always depressing to say goodbye to your garden at summer’s end. The easiest way to have a year-round garden is to cultivate herbs in planters.

Starting a Year-Round Herb Garden

If you plan to start seedlings indoors and overwinter the plants, you need a large window that gets the sun most of the day, a Florida room or sun room. Your herbs need light, warmth and TLC to survive winter.

The easiest herb to start and grow is basil. Basil seeds germinate in about a week. The soil should be barely moist to the touch. Misting seedlings with water twice a day prevents over-watering.

You can also start basil from a cutting. After the original plant’s stem gets woody, it’s not likely to last much longer. Using clean scissors washed in soap and water, cut the healthy, green branches at an angle, above joints. Put them in water in your sunniest window. When the white roots start to crowd the bottom of the glass, transplant the new plant into dirt and water it a little every other day. Full-grown basil plants can tolerate three or four days with no water.

Containers

Most gardeners use seedling trays when starting herbs because it makes transplanting seedlings easier. Just scoop the dirt and baby plants out of each section with the tip of a sharp trowel. Clay pots are best for all plants, especially new ones. Clay keeps the roots from getting overheated and dying.

Herbs to Grow Outside and Indoors

In addition to basil, some of the best herbs to overwinter are:

• Oregano
• Rosemary
• Sage
• Thyme
• Chives
• Parsley

Oregano is easy to root in water. Rosemary, sage and thyme cuttings must be rooted in potting soil and require humidity. Divide new growth from chive and parsley plants and transplant.

Regularly harvesting your plant during summer will keep it flourishing until fall. If your basil starts to flower, pinch or snip off the flower. Always use clean scissors, and clean them before using them on a different plant to avoid spreading plant diseases.

Wait until chives are around six inches tall before cutting so that they stay lush.

Do you have an abundance of fresh herbs? Dry the extra in separate paper bags. Punch several holes through each side of the bag with a pencil, make sure the herbs are dry, tape down the top of the bag and hang it in a dry, warm place in your house. Chives are difficult to dry. They develop a musty gray growth and aren’t usable.

Some herbs are mild when fresh while others are strong when fresh and lose flavor when dried.

Overwintering Herbs

Start your cuttings or divide plants while the weather is still mild to avoid temperature shock. Your herbs will require nurturing during the winter, may not produce as much and some may go into hibernation. This is normal. Your goal is to have a growing garden ready for next spring.

Things to Remember:
• Some herbs root in soil and others in water
• Use clay pots
• Move herbs inside and outside during mild weather

To learn more about herb gardens and keeping herbs over the winter, contact us.

28 Sep 2017

5 Natural Fertilizers to Help Your Garden and Deter Unwanted Visitors

Natural FertilizersUsing chemicals on lawns and plants is a hot topic. There’s growing concern about the effects of herbicides and pesticides on bees. How do you add nutrients to your garden and control pests without resorting to chemicals?

Go Natural in the Garden

One of the advantages to using natural fertilizers and pest repellents is that you probably have them around the house. Other pluses are:

• A chemical-free lawn is safe for your family
• Natural insect repellents don’t kill bees and their main food sources, clover and dandelions
• You can keep wildlife out of your garden without harming them

Most of these methods of fertilizing and protecting your garden are so easy and safe that your children can help you.

Five Natural Fertilizers and Pest Repellents

• Used coffee grounds are a fertilizer and rodent repellent
• Crushed eggshells are a fertilizer
• Hot sauce sends wildlife running
• Onion peelings repel wildlife and enrich soil
• Used dishwater (from hand-washing dishes) keeps bugs off your plants

How to Use Natural Fertilizers in Your Garden

Before starting to use any fertilizer, it’s best to get a soil test. Your landscaper can assist you. Crushed eggshells add nitrogen to the soil. Your soil may not need that.

It’s easiest to save eggshells in the carton. Keep them in the fridge, or they’ll draw fruit flies. You should wear a filter mask when crushing eggshells. Some gardeners like to break up a few eggshells with a sharp trowel and work them into the soil. This works best for container gardening and potted plants.

Coffee grounds are one of a gardener’s best friends. Dump the filter and grounds into an empty coffee can. You can work the grounds into the soil or sprinkle them on top to keep squirrels from digging up seeds and bulbs.

If you have particularly determined squirrels, place the used coffee filters over newly planted seeds for a few days. Seedlings will sprout under the filters as long as the pot or area gets direct sunlight. Water after applying coffee grounds.

Toss your onion scraps right into pots or your garden. The smell deters pests, and the plant material enriches the soil as it decays.

Hot sauce shouldn’t be put directly on plants. Sprinkle it around the garden border and apply it to the rims and sides of planters to make rodents run. The hotter it is, the better.

Dishwater has long been the secret of a beautiful flowerbed and healthy vegetables. Different gardeners swear by different brands of detergent, but the older, basic versions are recommended. You can throw the water in the dishpan over your flowerbed, pour it on plants that have a fungus, or mix water and dish soap in a spray bottle so you can cover the undersides of leaves. Dish soap gets rid of aphids and other insects that eat your plants. Don’t use soap meant for dishwashers in the garden.

Things to Remember:
• Wear a mask when crushing eggshells
• Get a soil test
• Strongly scented natural materials keep rodents away

Contact us today for all your gardening needs.

13 Sep 2017

How Do You Properly Transplant Trees Without Hurting Them?

tree transplantingTransplanting both young and mature trees safely is possible. The ease of transplanting a tree depends on the type and size of tree, preparation and proper equipment.

Why Transplant a Tree?

Transplanting trees is a bigger project than moving plants, and it does carry risks. It’s best to have your tree moved by a licensed landscaper, especially larger and mature trees.

There are several reasons for moving a tree, including:

• You prefer another location
• The tree is sickly or just not thriving
• You’re redoing your landscaping
• The mature tree is shading plants that need sun
• You’re building onto your home and want to keep the tree

Young trees, or saplings, are the most frequently transplanted. This is usually because the property owner changes their mind about the location, or the tree appears limp, loses leaves or just doesn’t grow.

Tools for Transplanting Trees

• Shovels with sharp points (moving a tree requires multiple people)
• A post hole digger
• A ten gallon bucket for each tree
• Large containers for big trees
• A yard dolly/cart or large wheelbarrow

The best shovels to get a tree out of the ground without damage feature solid shank construction for strength and longer, narrower blades than a standard pointed irrigation shovel. A post hole digger makes digging a new hole for a young tree a breeze. You’ll need regular sharp-pointed shovels to dig large holes for mature trees.

Preparing to Transplant a Tree

Make sure that you know where utility lines are before doing any extensive digging in your yard.

Moving an established tree requires substantial preparation. Root pruning must be done the season before transplanting the tree. Root pruning should be done by an experienced landscaper. It diminishes transplant shock and is necessary to move mature trees with long-running roots.

Find a location as similar to the original for a mature tree. If you’re transplanting a young tree that isn’t doing well, ask your landscaper about a location with a better ratio of sun and shade and richer or better-draining soil.

Dig the new hole in advance. Depending on the size of the tree, just digging a new hole could take more than a day. It’s possible to move trees up to 50 feet tall, but that requires professional landscaping equipment.

Thoroughly water the tree’s new home the day before transplanting. If the hole is large enough for children or pets to fall into, cover it with a tarp held down by cinder blocks.

Dig around the tree about half a foot from the new root ball formed by root pruning. Any plant should be dug out from underneath, not pulled up by the stem or trunk. Wrap the root ball in burlap for moving the tree to the new location. Water the area again after replanting the tree.

Things to Remember:

• Transplanting trees must be planned in advance
• The right tools will make the job easier
• A landscaper should move a large tree

For the best results in moving your tree, contact us and let us do the job for you.

29 Aug 2017

10 Low Maintenance Plants

Low-Maintenance Plants for Easy LandscapingIf you don’t have a green thumb but you want decorative plants and some color in your yard, there are many low maintenance plants to suit your needs.

Not all of them are wild grasses and succulents. By their nature, drought resistant plants are usually low maintenance. They come in all varieties, sizes and colors.

Colorful Low Maintenance Plants

  • Purple Sabre is a perennial with long, spiky leaves. It grows to about three feet tall. Purple Sabres are actually more colorful and put new branches when rarely watered.
  • Most Irises need little care other than occasional summer water. Many Irises, including African Irises, are sun worshippers. African Irises have blue-white petals with splashes of yellow and purple centers. They’re perfect for banks of flowers in your flowerbeds or for edging sunny walkways.
  • Few flowers brighten up a yard like the Santa Barbara Daisy. Each flower has a profusion of long, slender pale purple flowers and a sunny yellow center. Masses of Santa Barbara Daisies are impressive and require almost no maintenance.
  • Sea Lavender has small, true purple flowers interspersed with a few white flowers here and there. It grows to around a foot tall and is perfect to plant in front of wild grasses. It’s ideal for small bouquets and for drying.

Beautiful Low Maintenance Shrubs

  • For something unusual and attractive, try Kangaroo Paw. It’s a large shrub reaching five feet in height. Its burgundy flowers appear in spring and add color to your yard through June.
  • California Fuchsia brings hot tropical color your yard. The neon pink blooms open to reveal a pinkish-white “underskirt” of petals and long stamens. California Fuchsia grows to a width and height of two feet.
  • Apricot Mallow, also known as Desert Mallow, is a shrub with small orange flowers. It likes sandy soil, clay and lots of sun. It grows one to two feet tall in the desert. In your yard, it can reach a height of five feet.

Succulents

  • California’s succulents are beautiful and interesting. Gardeners on the East Coast are usually frustrated in their attempts to grow succulents like Hens-and-Chicks, also called Chicks-and-Biddies. This is a popular succulent because the parent plant puts out small new plants with their own root system. Hens-and-Chicks is usually used as an easily transplantable groundcover.
  • For a colorful succulent, try Sedum Spurium. Sedum Spurium has little red flowers that form perfect rosettes and bloom in summer.

Wild Grasses

  • Ornamental grasses are a must as a backdrop for your drought resistant garden. One ornamental grass you’re sure to love is Little Bluestem. It’s native to the prairie. In autumn, each blade of grass changes from grayish-green to all the colors of a prairie sunset.

Things to Remember:

  • Your low maintenance garden should have a variety of plants for year-round interest
  • There are many plants available that aren’t grasses or succulents
  • Ornamental grasses and succulents form the basis of a low maintenance garden

To plan next year’s easy care garden, contact us today.

 

14 Aug 2017

Dangers of Keeping Food, Fruit, etc. on Trees or Vines Too Long

grape pickingDangers of Keeping Fruit and Berries on Trees or Vines Too Long

Leaving overripe fruit on trees and vines doesn’t seem like a big deal. Fruiting trees and vines grow in the wild without anyone picking their fruit, after all. There are big differences between wild fruit trees and vines and the ones growing on your property.

Reasons to Pick Ripe and Overripe Fruit

Besides the delicious pies, jellies and other foods you can make from your own fruit, there’s the simple enjoyment of eating fresh fruit off the tree or vine. (Always make sure that you know what that vine is before you eat the berries. Your landscaper can identify mystery vines and plants.) Fruit that’s a little overripe is perfect for baked desserts. Tree and vine health reasons to harvest on time are:

• Rotting fruit can sicken the tree or vine and reduce healthy production
• Tree disease caused by rotten fruit will spread through your orchard
• Fruit spoiling in the hot sun makes your yard unpleasant
• Leaving citrus fruit on the tree past ideal harvest time makes it vulnerable to an early freeze

Animals and insects pose dangers to trees, vines and your property. Common wildlife issues are:

Raccoons, opossums and rats are attracted to the strong smell of overripe fruit (yes, rats can climb)
• Wildlife can harm your trees or wreck vines trying to reach fruit
• Decaying fruit on the tree or vine can lead to insect infestations
• Fruit flies and wasps and are drawn to mandarin oranges, grapes, berries and anything else sweet
• Vermin in your yard is dangerous to your family and will almost certainly cause problems for close neighbors

Wildlife watchers often leave some fruit on the ground for deer, and birds and bees love berries. Birds can even get tipsy from eating fermented berries, but that isn’t good for them. It’s best to pick berries before they ferment.

Monitoring Fruit Trees and Vines on Your Property

If you only have a few trees or vines around your property, you might like keeping an eye on them yourself. Your landscaper can tell you when to start harvesting. Call your landscaper if you see evidence of insect infestation in fruits or berries or wildlife damage. Landscapers can deal with insect pests. There are various methods of protecting trees, including metal tree collars that deter climbing wildlife and wildlife-safe tree netting.

It’s best to leave installing tree netting to professionals so that you don’t end up accidentally catching birds and small wildlife.

When to Harvest to Avoid Overripe Fruit

Almost every fruit and berry flourishes in Southern California, and they all have a different harvest schedule. Familiarizing yourself with the trees and vines on your property will help you make the most of your harvest and avoid waste.

Things to Remember:
• Picking fruit on time keeps plants healthy
• Overripe fruit attracts vermin
• Every fruit has a different ideal harvest time

To have your edible fruit trees and vines evaluated by a landscaper or to add fruit trees to your property, contact us today.

04 Aug 2017

How to Choose Solar Pathway Lights

Solar Pathway LightsSolar pathway lights can be decorative or functional. They make driveways and walkways safe in the dark and add color and style to your yard or patio. 

The most important thing to remember about solar yard lights is that inexpensive isn’t always a bargain.

Reasons for Adding Solar Pathway Lights to Your Landscaping

When comparing styles of solar lights for your yard, choose the type that’s best for you by identifying your primary need for lighting.

  • You want lighting for safety purposes
  • You love the look of garden lights
  • You need outside lighting and want to keep it green

There’s a style of solar yard lighting to meet everyone’s needs. Now, let’s consider pricing.

How Much Does Solar Pathway Lighting Cost?

Professional installation varies depending on the type and amount of lighting and the terrain of your property.

We recommend consulting your landscaper regarding installing sunken lights and any other permanent lighting, including lights on steps.

You can find novelty lighting in most chain stores. They’re not made to last more than a season and often don’t make it to the end of summer.

They are popular because they are easy to install and kitschy. More than a couple of novelty lights tend to drag down your landscaping.

Novelty solar lights can turn out to be an annoyance because they function one night and won’t light up the next.

Some yard lighting available in stores are tasteful and mimic the look of professional lighting, but can have the same drawbacks as novelty lighting.

Most solar lights contain rechargeable batteries that may be dead out of the box.

It’s frustrating to line your pathway and discover you have one or two dim lights.

It’s not worth your time to pry open cheap battery compartments and find defective components.
Going with higher-end lighting will let you enjoy your yard instead of replacing batteries or returning defective lights.

Maintaining Solar Pathway Lights

Your landscaper will inspect professionally installed lighting and make any necessary repairs.

Seasonal stake-in-the-ground lighting should be stored at the end of summer. If not, they can be damaged by winter storms and ocean winds.

Painted lights may be so faded at the end of summer that they aren’t worth keeping.

When storing solar yard lights, remove the rechargeable batteries. They can leak over the winter.

Permanent lights installed for safety will require cleaning during the fall and winter so that the solar panel and battery can charge and again at the beginning of the season.

Landscaping with Solar Pathway Lights

Decorative lighting shows off your landscaping for after-dark entertaining.

From hanging lanterns to colorful globes, solar lights are the finishing touch for your landscaping.

Standard lights illuminate your colorful flowerbeds. Dual color solar lights cast rotating colored designs on your lawn. You can even choose solar bamboo-style lights.

Things to Remember:

  • Cheap lights are more of a hassle than a bargain
  • Safety lights should be professionally installed
  • Solar lights require maintenance

For solar pathway lighting selection, installation and maintenance, contact us by phone or email today.

 

 

25 Jul 2017

How to Keep Pets from Destroying Indoor Plants [Infographic]

how to keep pets from destroying indoor plants

Cats and dogs will make a mess of your houseplants if they can reach them. In addition to protecting your plants, it’s important to keep pets away from them because many common houseplants are toxic.

  • Hanging baskets in your windows are a good solution for trailing plants like philodendrons, and they’ll get plenty of sun.
  • Indoor plant stands work well if you have a small dog that can’t knock them over.
  • If you have cats, try a plant shelf located away from furniture and appliances.
  • Wall planters are a unique decorative choice. They work especially well for growing herbs in the kitchen.
  • Cats particularly dislike citrus scents. Some pet owners use essential oils to keep cats away from planters and off furniture.
  • To create an enclosed plant stand, paint a sturdy metal birdcage and stand to match your decor. Put small or medium plants inside. Make sure the stand is well braced.
  • Do you have built-in bookcases? Reserve the top shelf for plants.
  • “Cat grass” may satisfy a cat’s urge to chew on plants.
  • If all else fails, designate a “no pets” plant room. A sunny garden room will allow you to overwinter plants from your patio.
  • To keep your pets safe, ask your landscaper about non-toxic houseplants.

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12 Jul 2017

How to Keep Hardscapes Clean

clean hardscapesLike all landscaping and landscaping elements, hardscapes require maintenance. Hardscape maintenance is usually seasonal and consists of cleaning. Seasonal cleaning often reveals small repair issues that can be fixed immediately to save you hassle and money.

What is a Hardscape?

Hardscapes include:

• Patios
• Sidewalks
• Decorative walkways
• Retaining walls
• Driveways
• Dry creek beds
• Decorative fencing
• Pergolas
• Gazebos
• Raised garden beds

Ill-maintained hardscapes make your lawn look shabby and bring down your property’s curb appeal.

How Do Hardscapes Get Dirty?

Mud, salt, mildew and mold are the most common things that spoil the look of your pergola or retaining wall. You may not think of mold and mildew as a problem if you live in a drought-prone area, but if you have a swimming pool or sprinklers, you have dampness. That dampness can cause ugly, unhealthy mold and mildew.

If your yard is dry, summer winds can drive waves of dirt against your white retaining walls. Hard storms leave mud splashed on walls, patios and sidewalks. Storms off the oceans scour stain and paint off your wooden fencing or pergola. Salt is very damaging to some hardscapes.

No matter where you live, sidewalks deteriorate over time. Stone walkways also develop cracks. With regular hardscape cleaning, you can catch damage in the early stages, and repairs will be easier and less expensive.

Cleaning hardscapes is like seasonal yard cleaning. If you let it go, your enjoyment of your landscaping will suffer, and you may end up paying more to fix a big problem than you would have with seasonal cleaning.

How Do You Clean Hardscapes?

Cleaning hardscapes depends on the surface material and whether it’s painted or stained. Every cleaning is a multi-step process.

The first step is to evaluate the surface. Is it an older surface or relatively new? Is it just in need of cleaning, or does it require repair? Sometimes damage can’t be seen until the surface is cleaned.

If your sidewalk or stone pathway needs cleaning, a landscaper will remove weeds and look for cracks. Pressure washing will remove the roots of weeds and brighten the surface, making it look new again.

Pressure washing is the go-to cleaning method for retaining walls and patios. Depending on the structure, wood can be scrubbed with a brush designed for outdoor cleaning or pressure washed. If you want your wood fence to look new without the expense of replacing it, pressure washing and restaining is the ideal solution.

The above also applies to decks. For the best-looking deck in the neighborhood, have yours pressure washed at the end of winter, and restain it if necessary.

If your landscaper finds problems like cracks or mold growth with your hardscapes, ask about moving your sprinklers.

Things to Remember:
• Mold and mildew can grow in any environment
• Cleaning can reveal minor damage before it becomes serious
Seasonal cleaning makes wood last longer
• Your landscaper knows the best cleaning methods for different hardscapes

Contact us today to arrange seasonal cleaning for your property.