Thursday, February 14, 2013

Landscaping In The Spring

Winter in Michigan is tricky; you never quite know when spring is around the corner.  We have seen snow in mid April.  Although uncommon it does happen.  We have been known to thaw and freeze again within the same week in March.  The weather is insane.  This is why Michigan landscapers prepare for spring by starting with cleaning up the landscape design and preparing gardens instead of jumping right in to planting.  Start your spring landscaping the way professionals do: start by cleaning up the existing landscape space.

The first step I take when preparing for spring is to cut back dead plants and shrubs while weeding out annuals from the previous season.  Also clean up weeds that have started to sprout.   Ornamental grasses can be cut down to around eight inches from the ground and trees and bushes should be trimmed back into their original shape.

This is a great time to turn the mulch.  Turning the mulch will help homeowners see where it is thinning and needs some freshening while also mixing the nutrients through.  Rotating the mulch allows some of the debris that has decomposed on the top layer to benefit the plants root system as well.  Spring time is great for adding mulch as well.  This gives the space a clean fresh feel when adding additional plants in late spring early summer.

Serious landscape design usually plans for an early burst of color amongst the green and brown tones left from the decay of fall leaves and plants. Adding in perennials does this for any homes landscape design.  Crocus, Iris, Daffodil and Tulip plants are terrific ways to accomplish this. When you start to see these pleasantries bloom you are also signaled that it is time to fertilize shrubs as well as bulbs.
Spring is also a great time for homeowners to test out their irrigation systems and once the last freeze has for sure occurred it is time to initiate turning the water back on to outdoor garden hooks ups and water features within the yard.

You have about a month before your garden senses start to tingle and you want to dive in to some outdoor work. Don’t get ahead of yourself.  Planting to early will prove to be a waste of money.  Remember to start with the theory of getting the canvas fresh during the spring and this will save you from early planting mistakes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tips On Hiring A Snow Removal Contractor

Brrr… If you are in any of the northeast states you realize that winter is upon us. With the cold weather comes snow fall. With snowfall comes slick ice and mounding snow.  Many people begin the snow season believing that they will continue to snow shovel every snow that falls however after about the eighth snow realize this is far to unrealistic and set out to find a company to handle the job for them.  Here are some last minute tips to help you in hiring a snow plowing contractor

1)      Have several snow removal companies out to survey your situation. The estimates given will vary a great deal.  You will want to define the area to be cleared before they can accurately set the price. If you will require some hand shoveling above and beyond the driveway clearing this will need to be worked into the estimate. 

2)      Make sure your expectations are in line with the contractor. How much snow warrants them to come out and plow.  Is it extra if the snow is more than a certain depth?  Contractors price out their services differently. Some offer a fixed price for the season while others use the depth of the snow to charge for their services.

3)      Another thing you will want to do is find out if the contractor uses salt or another chemical to melt the ice that accumulates.  Certain materials used on driveways can eat away at the cement or asphalt.  Be sure if you have a drive that is sensitive to salt that this is conveyed to the snow removal contractor that you hire. 

4)      Ask for and call references.  You will want to make sure other clients have been and continue to be satisfied by the snow removal job that the contractor does. 

5)      Finally ask for a written contractor.  Everything you discuss should be in writing. 

Keep your expectations realistic. Remember if snow is abundant many snow contractors will begin with the business lots before they move to residential lots.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

November Is Here: Tips To Prepare Yourself For The First Snow Fall

Snow removal is one of the most challenging aspects of cold weather climates.  Anyone who lives where snow is abundant knows the trials and tribulations that go along with large snow falls and efficiently removing the snow from walk ways and driveways.  If you are one of the lucky few you will have a professional at your beck and call to plow you out and ensure that you’re guaranteed accessibility to your home and main road ways.  However this is not always the case.  Some people prefer to save some money and go it themselves only resorting to a snowplowing service company for large snowfalls.  Here are some tips for those do it yourself types when shoveling snow.

1)      When snow shoveling be sure to only pick up a half scoop of snow each time.  This keeps you from burning out quickly and will allow you to stay injury free.

2)      When dealing with large chunks of snow and ice that are frozen together attempt to break the large piece into several pieces. Although this may be rough on your hands and arms it will save your back.

3)      Shovel the snow as it falls.  This will save you from the mass of snow that happens after the snow has fallen and become heavy through the night.  If it is allowed to become wet and harden it will be heavier to shovel.

When it comes to anything over three inches of snow and you have not been able to keep up as it has come down the best option is to look into your snow plowing options.  This is especially true when looking at longer driveway surfaces and private side streets.

Snow and Ice Removal Services Throughout Livingston County

Like it or now old man winter is right around the corner.  The leaves are falling and the air is getting crispy.  Every year before the season begins business and residential clients start asking about snow removal and snow plowing services that are offered throughout Livingston County.

For us here at Bladerunners we like our new and returning customers to know and understand the way we look at snow and ice throughout the winter. From the first snow fall to the last we are dedicated to ensuring the safety of your family or clients as we do our own.  Melting snow leads to ice quickly. This is why Bladerunners team of experts work quickly and throughout the night and day to offer initial services and then ice and snow removal and maintenance.

During the season we use a combination of tools and procedures to provide the best snow plowing at the time of need.  We use heavy duty trucks and skidsteers to clear parking lots.  We also provide services that allow us to clear walkways and courtyards.  Everyone knows that the snow melts and leads to ice buildup. At Bladerunners we use preventative measures as well as time effective ones to melt the snow and ice and prevent a refreeze from happening.  All of the chemicals that we use are safe for pets and are non-corrosive.

As a storm passes and lots are initially cleared our team will do a post-storm evaluation on your property to continue making sure your environment is free of residual hazards. We offer a variety of packages at all price levels.  Give us a call today and ensure Bladrunners will be able to service your needs this winter – (810) 923-5111.

Tending To Your Lawn In The Fall

When the air starts to cool down and you start to enjoy hot tea instead of ice tea you know it is time to start thinking about fall lawn care.  Fall lawn maintenance is important to keep your lawn growing healthy year round. When you properly mow, fertilize, water and seed in the fall your lawn will be a glowing indication in the spring when the air transitions from crisp back to balmy. This article will give you fall lawn care tips to take you through the season and prepare your lawn for the fall and winter seasons.

Mowing is essential to keeping the exterior of your home looking its best.  The curb appeal of your home is what sets your home apart from the rest of the homes in the area.  You want people to drive by and be inspired and in awe.  A healthy fall lawn needs to continue to be cut.  Just because the weather is chilly does not mean that you stop mowing the lawn.  You will however need to adjust the length in which you cut the lawn.

When the temperatures are hot we tend to leave our lawns a bit longer to avoid burning the grass and root with the heat of the sun’s rays.  Once summer comes to an end and the rays of the sun are farther away and less intense it is time to start mowing the lawn to about two inches.  Don’t go any shorter than this as you will run the risk of killing the grass.

The grass in the fall naturally stays greener in the fall then the summer even without constant water.  This however does not eliminate the need for watering your lawn throughout the fall season.  Normally the water levels are naturally higher when the weather turns colder.  If however the rainfall is less than an inch a week you will want to go back to watering your lawn with the sprinkler. Water is needed to keep your fall lawn lush and full.

The next area we will look at is fertilizing the lawn.  This process should be done in late fall perhaps the perfect time would be the end of September through the middle of October.  When you fertilize your lawn it is better suited to handle the harsh winter weather and become a healthy lawn quicker in the spring.  Fertilizer gives the lawn a high nitrogen content that will help achieve all of this for your lawn.

You will want to fill in any areas of grass that have thinned throughout the summer by adding seed that will help to fill in bare spots and make the lawn more lush in the spring.  The temperatures and rain fall levels in fall are usually ideal for the seeds to germinate.  There are two schools of thought with fall planting.  One is to plant the seed in September so that it is able to germinate for this year the other is to plant it in mid October when it will stay dormant and establish itself when the spring season comes around.  In late fall birds and seed eating critters are less likely to steal the seed allowing a greater chance for more seeds to become viable.

Fall lawn care involves a lot less maintenance than summer lawn care but is such a key element in keeping your landscape design fresh and appealing.  It is important when using products on your lawn that are new to you that you read all labels and don’t abuse products like fertilizer.  More fertilizer will not give you a healthier lawn. In fact the opposite affect can happen rather quickly if fertilization of your lawn is not done properly.  Contact local lawn care professionals who are available for hire to care for your lawn year round.

Some Things Are Better Left To The Professionals

It is one of the most daunting tasks homeowners must do to keep the homes aesthetic value as well as dollar value up.  Landscaping tends to leave many homeowners overwhelmed as it is often difficult to keep up with the growing list of ways to improve your home landscape.  It is so overwhelming that most of us hire professional landscape design companies to come in mow the lawn, prune the bushes, plant flowers and clean up yard waste.  Having a company handle your lawn care does not mean you can have total hands off approach.  Here are some tips to help guide you when you are out in your yard.

The first tip I give to anyone attempting a project on their own without the professionals is to purchase all the materials for the project at hand upfront.  This is something professional landscapers do also.  There is nothing worse than finding out you are missing a crucial part of the project mid way through.  Planning can also save you money as you tend to get better pricing from larger stores.  When you are missing something you tend to run to the local hardware where the markup is double.

As you work through each section and phase you purchase the goods needed to complete that section.  This can prove to also benefit you because you may find after the completion of one section that the yard is complete and not want to move on to another project within the original design.  For example, if you are planning for a rock garden with a natural pond flowing into and notice once the pond is complete that the rock garden would be overkill that you have not wasted time or resources on the second, unneeded phase.  It saves from the hassle of retuning extra supplies or worse cluttering your shed with leftover unused materials.

Landscaping with a water element is always appealing and a crowd pleaser.  These are not easy to manipulate on your own and often need the care of a professional to help with this landscape design arena.  If you are tempted to try and install a water feature within your own landscape start small.  Smaller pools, pumps and fountains are easier to handle and maneuver if mistakes are made in the original design.  It will be a smaller mistake to correct with smaller items.  Using water plants around the small pond space can make it appear larger and will allow for easier maintenance.

If you are attempting to add in plants, shrubs, flowers, trees or berries it is best to ask the professional that has worked within your space.  These options are often difficult to sustain if not properly planted and cared for.  It is a waste of money for you to add a plant into your landscape without knowing if the soil, sun and water requirements will be met.

Landscaping is not something all people are born to do or are even good at.  Some people enjoy tinkering about in the yard.  The curb appeal of your home is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the resale of your home.  Make sure your home is appealing.  Hire a professional landscape company to come in if not every week for regular lawn care than at least twice a year to help prepare the landscape for the summer and winter seasons.  Fall landscape maintenance and spring yard clean up are the most important times of the year for your yard.  Do everything you can to protect your investment going into the harsh winters and hot summers Mother Nature brings the North.

Tips On Creating A First Class Landscape

Having a landscape that speaks to visitors about who you are is important.  It is important that the landscape is in sync with the home’s exterior.  If you are an avid health nut and love the natural taste of foods think about adding a space to garden fresh vegetables.  However if flowers are more your style choose a space in the yard to set up a seating nook with native wild flowers flooding the space.  Landscaping is all about making the space personal, functional, maintainable and yours.

I love the idea of adding a garden to a home’s landscape.  It is a great way to produce your own source of foods and gives families a sense of pride.  Harvesting vegetables from your yard instead of running to the grocery store is a terrific moment.  I love running out to the yard and grabbing a ripe tomato when guests are filling our home.  Nothing makes a salad fresher than adding fresh veggies from your very own space.

When designing your homes landscaping another option to consider is the use of deciduous shrubs, vines and trees that don’t start peaking until the fall.  They transform the garden with the bright reds, glowing yellows and fiery oranges they bring to the landscape. The reason these plants will change colors is that they will stop producing chlorophyll in colder weather, and thus the pigments within the leaves begin to change. Ensure your plants receive plenty of sunshine to increase the display of fall colors. Boston ivy, burning bush, maple, chestnut and barberry are popular choices for those who want to enjoy a spectacular fall bloom.

Another reason to take care of your landscape is the return it brings on your investment.  It is hard to believe but the more trees and landscaping dollars that are present wisely in a space the more the value of the home rises to potential buyers.  If possible purchase plants and shrubs when they are small and inexpensive.  As they grow you will be amazed at how the landscape matures and the aesthetic beauty that comes with it.

To keep the landscape and gardens growing well and quickly use a fertilizer designed for your location.  Many brands of fertilizer come custom and give you detailed plans on when and what fertilizers need to be applied during the season.  It is amazing but fertilizer is something that can be used year round and will increase the appeal of your landscape.

You can add some color in the spring and summer with annuals however this can turn costly if care is not sought. They do fill the gaps between shrubs and perennials.  Using a variety of annuals that range in height, color and style will add variety just be sure to use your resources wisely.  It really does not increase the value of your home in any manner so purchase wisely.

Landscaping is a fun way to express yourself with the exterior elements of your home.  It is important to remind yourself that landscaping works best when it flows naturally with the home’s exterior.  Think about it this way if you have an incredibly modern home with lots of white clean lines you don’t want a jungle in the yard.  The same thing is true for the opposite.  If you have an incredibly eclectic exterior a boxy, planned exterior does not really flow.