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Frequently Asked Questions

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Landscaping can reduce air conditioning by up to 50% by shading the windows and walls of a home, according to the American Public Power Association.

A single urban tree can provide up to $273 a year in air conditioning, pollution fighting, erosion and storm water control, and wildlife shelter benefits. Trees can reduce temperatures by as much as nine degrees Fahrenheit, as stated in American Forests.

Planting under evergreen trees is challenging due to soil acidity and competition for water; add shade into the equation and you're looking at a real battle! It's difficult to find plants that will grow under evergreen trees, but it can be even more difficult to grow grass under large evergreen trees. We think you're right to give up on planting grass; instead, we would seek ground cover alternatives. Try these plants, sweet woodruff, Vinca vine & Hostas & Liriope.

It is very important that you always follow label guidelines with whatever product you choose to apply, including when you apply grub killers to new lawns. Label guidelines will tell you all of the information that you need to know relative to rates, timing, target species, etc. Also, be sure to follow all of the safety requirements and precautions noted on the label. In general, most insecticides will not harm new grass, given that their chemistry is designed to target insects and not plants. New grass, though, should be treated carefully to ensure proper establishment and some maintenance practices that will be needed for proper establishment of grass may conflict with the label guidelines for an insecticide (e.g. irrigation timing). 

So, it is very important to ensure that label guidelines are followed. Since most plant protectants require proper application at a specific time relative to the lifecycle of the target species, consider this timing and how it relates to the development of your new grass. If it is possible to wait with your application until after the new grass is established, then that may be the best route to follow.

Some plants tolerate clayey soils better than others. Nonetheless, the best approach with clayey soils is to amend them with organic matter to improve drainage. If you can't aerate your clayey soil by adding compost, etc., the following are examples of plants that tolerate clayey soil: Bee Balm, Butterfly weed, Coreopsis, Autumn Joy Sedum.

Arborvitae is sometimes pruned so as to grow with a single leader, in which case extraneous leaders are pruned off entirely (right back to the trunk). If your arborvitae is young, it may not be too late to train it in this fashion. The ice or snow damage that caused leader branches to become "bent from the top," would provide you with just the excuse to perform this pruning. But if the arborvitae shrubs are already several years old (or if all the potential leaders have already become bent due to shouldering excessive snow and ice), it's too late for such pruning. 

You could, however, try to straighten them out by tying branches together with strips of cotton fabric (perhaps in conjunction with staking). When pruning lower branches, don't prune back further than where you see stems with green foliage (unless you can live with not having a branch there at all, in which case you would prune right back to the trunk). Bare arborvitae branches won't sprout new growth. As for the "ones that took a beating overall," we'd remove them and start with fresh, appropriately-sized arborvitae stock. Yes, we have heard of rejuvenation pruning, whereby arborvitae shrubs pruned almost to the ground do come back. However, your planting will be out of balance for years if you take this tack, with relatively tall arborvitae shrubs (the ones you left alone, more or less) intermixed with the ones drastically hacked back.

It will depend on your preferences. If you wish to stay organic then the "best" way for you to get rid of invasive plants will probably entail more work than it would for those willing to use chemical herbicides. For many people, remaining true to their organic landscaping principles is more important than getting rid of invasive plants quickly, and they will gladly take on the extra work. 

If you opt to go the chemical herbicide route, read what's written on their packages before buying. Some will say that they're specifically for "woody" plants (e.g., Ortho's Brush-B-Gon). Glyphosate is a very popular chemical herbicide (sold under the brand name, Roundup). It is non-selective, meaning it will kill just about anything -- including your ornamental plants (so be careful!). Because products such as Roundup are non-selective, the "best" way to get rid of an invasive plant sometimes comes down to circumstances. For example, if you wish to use Roundup on Japanese knotweed poking through your lawn, you may wish to use the herbicide injection method. That way, you can control the Roundup so that it doesn't end up on your grass, killing it. If you'd rather stay organic, try using vinegar as an herbicide. Vinegar won't work on everything. If vinegar doesn't work on a particular plant, try another method to get rid of it. Staying organic is all about experimenting.

Fertilizing is generally not recommended for injured trees. Fertilizer is most productive when a tree is healthy enough to absorb it properly; i.e., fertilization is more about “feeding” (or helping a tree take up nutrients more effectively) than “healing.” You need to allow this tree some time to heal. Wait until you see the injured tree leafing out (signifying a return to health) before fertilizing. In the meantime, check the wounds to make sure no fungi, etc. are exploiting it in its weakened condition.

Money Magazine wrote that landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100 to 200 percent at selling time. By comparison, kitchen remodeling brings a 75 to 125 percent recovery rate, bathroom remodeling a 20 to 120 percent recovery rate, and the addition of a swimming pool a 20 to 50 percent recovery rate.

According to a Clemson University study, homes with "excellent" landscaping can generate a sale price about six to seven percent higher than equivalent houses with "good" landscaping, while improving a landscape from "average" to "good" can result in a four-to-five percent increase.