With the recent wild fires that have devastated many homes and lives here in Northern and Southern California, I thought it would be a great idea to pass along some basic landscaping rules for helping reduce fire damage at your home or business from a landscaping prospective.
Firescaping is very important for all homes that border any open space,including houses built along canyons, and this landscaping involves designing landscaping plant materials to help in protection from wildfires. A successful design plan for choosing 'Fire-resistant' plant materials involves breaking down the property in four zones.
Zone 1 ( 50 ft. closest to the home ) Moist & trim. Turf,ground covers,small perennials,and annual color. Water these plant regularly and avoid using plants with high resin content such as pines,junipers,cedars,eucalyptus,etc...
Zone 2. ( 51-100 feet ) Low & sparse. Slow growing,drought-tolerant shrubs and ground covers can be used to keep the fire at ground level. Use plant material with a naturally high moisture content such as succulents, and aloes.
Zone 3 (101-150 ft. ) High & clean. Trees can be installed inn this zone making sure their branches are at least 10 ft. away from the nearest tree and they should have no branches that are closer than 15 ft. from the ground.
Zone 4 ( 150 ft. and beyond ) Natural area. This area may not be landscaped but, it still should be well maintained maintenance wise with the trees thinned twice a year and all low branches, leaf litter. and dead plants & branches removed.
On slopes or windswept areas,increase the spacing of the plant materials,use colored rocks or stones for a mulch and avoid using bark or shredded dry mulch.
Use materials that is inorganic or inflammable such as flagstone,decomposed granite ( Very popular ) rocks & pebbles, artificial wood for decks and fences.
* There is a fire safe mulch that is available that includes an additional process with a fire resistant additive that we have available if you still plan to use shredded mulch. Contact me at our website comment section for more information on this product.
By taking into consideration the four firescaping zone suggestions, it is my hope this will help reduce the threat of fire devastation to your home or business.
' The most significant change to sprinkler system in 50 years claims Valvette Systems owner and inventor Ted Serkin. (www.valvettesystems.com )
By using Ted's ISFR ( IN-Stem Flow Regulated ) sprinklers in our projects we are able to reduce and in most cases eliminate water over spraying on fences, buildings, sidewalks, and street medians plus, reduce water use on our landscape by 30%
We are also able to stock and use only 15 foot spray nozzles which we can bring down to almost two feet sprinkler throw radius with perfect water distribution uniformity.
It is simple and easy to flush out the dirt and debris during our 'nozzle up ' of our project's which was one of the main reasons why Ted invented the ISFR popup. " I just hated getting drenched by all the popup spray heads I installed that had the generic manufacturer supplied flush caps on top of all those popups.'
When the irrigation zone is activated all our ISFR'S popup sprinkler heads rise to the up position and can be individually flushed out individually thus reducing water wastage and we are able also to not get drenched.
The stems and popups have been trail tested by an independent irrigation efficiency testing lab Frersno, California so they ate proven efficient and with water saving and drought conditions worldwide, it is wise to look into trying out and retro-fitting your irrigation popup sprinklers and sprinkler nozzle stems with the amazing Valvette Systems 'Little Tuffy' line of In-Stem Flow Regulated components.
BTW, Ted also has a full line of shrub head adaptors that work with the same principle as his popups so you can achieve the same watering efficiency and water savings in your shrub bed areas too !
Normally you would tend to avoid planting shrubs and other 'Water Thrifty' landscaping plant materials in the hotter season's of the year. June, July, August are not your prime planting months especially for plant materials which normally in their native growing habit, hardly ever get supplemental watering during these hot months. Here in Southern California, we get most of our rains in the winter months of October,November, December up through hopefully March and April of the following year. Most water conserving/thrifty plants,trees, and shrubs drink up during those months and create a sort of reserve for the hotter months to come. Succulents like Agave,Cactus, and Aloes have a much better survival rate than their less fleshly cousins and the survival rate is much higher when planting these varieties during the warmer months.
There are still many landscape rebate programs going on here in Southern California and with that there are 'Deadlines' to get the make overs completed. This leads to customers needing to finish their projects as soon as possible even if it means planting in the warmer months of summer.
One of the best tip I can pass on to you is to be sure when you do plant your trees and shrubs, make sure you hydrate the hole for the plant with water and if possible mix within that backfill water some Moisture Manager water management product ( Check out the link on my website) which will help your plantings through the normal stress of being transplanted from a container where it has called home for many months and also help keep those water friendly plant materials properly hydrated by supplying available water vapor from the pore spaces within the soil at the root zone. The application will last up to 90 days so this is a real big plus as most newly planted shrubs,trees, etc... will take at least 60-90 days to grow out their root systems to properly anchor and stabilize the plant or tree before it actually starts to grow out in leaves,branches, flowering, etc.. ( I am writing a book which one of my chapter's' will cover the concept of root growth before a plant grows to it's maturity ).
Plant the shrub or tree a inch or so above the planting hole, be sure to create a nice water basin around the base of the tree or shrub and mulch within 3 to 40 inches of the trunk of stalk of the tree or shrub planted to help contain water when you do water your plants.( You can possibly get away with watering your new plants /trees 1-2 times per week especially after using the Moisture Manager in your water back fill when you first installed the plants.
Do your planting if possible early in the morning to help reduce the heat stress level or, in the early evening but, avoid excessive evening watering of your new plant materials as you do not want to welcome the opportunity for fungus of other diseases to have an opportunity to settle in especially if you live in humid zones of the state or country.
By being patient to when you do your planting, choosing the correct plants for the correct zones and utilizing the cutting edge products out there that can reduce planting stress levels and increase the moisture availability level for your landscape team, success during the hot summer month is within reach.
* Be sure to link to the "AS SEEN ON TV LINK" on my web site to be able to go directly to the 'Moisture Manager' website and receive a great discount on the product just by entering the discount code provided.
Outdoor art is an incredible, inexpensive way to add life, intrigue, and character to a landscape. With the use of various metal art pieces, you can create interesting outdoor living spaces. The more unusual and unique, the more that living space takes on it's own chacter and deminsion. To create visual pleasure and a feeling of being at home. My team of artist and curio specialist work at creating a flow from inside the house or business to the outside environment with art pieces, Vase or pottery, metal crafts and much more. We try to capture a scene, a memory, a feeling that can be expanded and duplicated to an outdoor setting.
To create fantasy, create an attitude, and create a zone where your imagination can develop various moods , is what outdoor art pieces are all about. Wrought iron planters, tin / glass blow fish,artistic ceramics with plenty of color, give life to the landscape project. The more natural the element of the art piece ( wood, stone, metals ) the better the long term effects of that natural product will take on in my opinion ( natural rusting, patina, moss growth )
Invest some time to take a long hard look at your outdoor living space and go
shop the local thrift stores, country stores, antique stores and be sure to stay tuned and check out our 'MicroEnvironments ' line of outdoor accents as I re-vamp the link and add new 'Accents' to the MicroEnvironments line on this website for unique and one of a kind products.
Who says, " you cannot garden in the winter because you live in an apartment in New Jersey and it's winter time dummy "
Well if you are thinking of the old fashion conventional way of gardening for fresh veggies outside in the dirt you could be absolutely right my friend. But, with the advances in Aeroponic technology, you can grow fresh basil and tomatoes for your pasta,lettuce and arugula for your Caesar salads, and fresh strawberries to top off that nice dish of vanilla ice cream for your dessert.
The use of 'Aeroponic Vertical Growing Systems' is catching on all over the U.S. and is providing thousands of avid gardeners an opportunity to grow fresh food daily in their own homes throughout the winter months with the aid of low voltage energy efficient grow lights and tank water warmers for those really cold spaces in your basements or garages. Their are many types of gardens one can grow with a quality Aeroponic Growing System.
Here are a few:
* Asian Green Gardens that consists of Asian basil, Chinese cabbage, Pak Choi, Komatsuna, and Red shiso.
* Herb Gardens that consist of Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Thyme, and Dandelion.
* Juicing Gardens ( Extremely popular ) that consist of celery, Cress, Kale, Parsley, Spinach, Swiss Chard, and watercress.
* Salad Gardens that consists of Arugula, Celery, Escarole, Kale, Lettuces, Mustard, Radicchio, Spinach, and Frisee.
Each of these unique gardens can be grown INDOORS with the aid of a quality indoor lighting system that generate little heat and consume as little energy as possible.
By growing your food and vegetables yourself from non GMO seed stock, protects you and your family from unwanted and dangerous pesticides and herbicides that are used on a lot of veggies and food items now-a-days. By growing your own food and vegetables you save hundreds of dollars monthly on expensive 'out-of-season favorites' like tomatoes and cucumbers that are usually greenhouse grown anyway so why not support your own family 'Green House' ?
The joy of harvesting daily from your Aeroponic Growing System is a feeling you will come to expect as you discover new and tasty vegetables to try out in your kitchen while it's cold outside and blustery.
Throwing in some freshly harvested chives and other herbs for that hearty potato soup you put together for the family or just for yourself and that special guest, will put you in a zone of your own when it comes to chefs bragging rights for your dish.
Check out my link ( www.urbanfarmer.towergarden.com ) and learn move from the great informational videos and take advantage of the low monthly investment to enjoy fresh food and vegetables from "INSIDE" your home this winter and save some $$$ in the process from buying those same veggies and food at your local grocery store.
* As an added bonus, I will throw in a personal stash of speciality veggies seeds for any new Aeroponic Garden order from the rest of January 2017 through the end of March 2017. ( Estimated value $25.00 )
Winter in Southern California typically brings us rain and that valuable resource is at a lot of times wasted by allowing that water to run off our roofs, down the rain gutter, out to the sewer system or most times draining out into the street where it collects excessive oils,fluids,and other toxic crap that ends up in the street gutter and then eventually that water ends up in our ocean.
By incorporating rain water catchment systems like rain barrels, and water bladders, you can save some of that water for future use.
Rain barrels: They come in various sizes with 55 gallon and 110 gallon barrels most often used. The rain barrel is normally made of a heavy duty plastic,and is available in various colors like Grey/granite, red, and green. They have a port on top where the water drains into the barrel, and a bottom spout to add a water hose to dispense the water. The water is normally diverted into the barrel with the help of a rain water diverted device. This device mounts in between the rain barrel and drain pipe and works by either diverting water into the barrel or diverting that water to flow as normal through the drain pipe.
The next storage catchment system is a storge bladder which is widely used back in the eastern and southern states to store free rain water. The bladder consist of a heavy duty flexible rubber bladder that comes in 500,1000, or 2000 gallon storage capacities. The bladder is plumbed to catch rain water from the rain gutters and store that water until needed to water the garden or other landscape plant materials. The bladder can be retro-fitted with a small pump to dispense the water for use also, Another bonus of using the bladder is being able to hide it under a porch,deck.or a number of other available unused space areas.
Another more natural rain water reuse system is installing a dry stream bed from the rain gutter. By designing and installing a natural flowing stream bed type of drainage system you can capture some of that rain water that may end up in the street gutters. This water can help recharge your local underground water table supply and also supply needed water for your landscape plant materials that you can design in to accent your stream bed and water garden to enhance the overall look of your landscape.
Take advantage of free rain water and do your part to help conserve and use it more prudently.
* Be sure to check with your local water supplier as a number of agencies provide rebates for rain barrel purchases.
Many consumers and professional landscapers are installing various landscape projects that require or may I say 'Suggest" utilizing various types of landscape fabrics ,mesh tarps, pond liners and yes even frost protection fabrics to reduce weed growth,help protect wind sensitive plant materials plus, create safe puncture proof 'buffer zones' when building pondless and other water features plus protect against extreme weather and climatic conditions.
Every home gardener and landscape pro has purchased and installed landscape fabric or as it is commonly called 'Weed Block' down before putting down mulch in planter beds, or in areas where you do not want weeds to rear their heads. There are various types of landscape fabric and I will give you a quick refresher course on some of those fabrics and also give you some of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly when installing some of barrier materials.
Your local home store probably carries a inexpensive brand of landscape fabric that normally comes in 3- 5 ft. to 50 to 100 ft. rolls. A lot of times this fabric is made out of some inexpensive rubbery/plastic like material made with a series of small holes in it throughout the square footage of the roll to allow air & water to penetrate through but, it is also designed to not allow weeds to grow up and through the fabric . This fabric is okay but really does not hold up well in the long run due to the thickness of the fabric and the quality of the material it is made from. You know this stuff, you can almost tear it apart with your hands ! May I suggest you steer clear of these types of fabrics as it will just break down through time and activity within the areas it has been installed and just give you weeds and frustration.
Spend the extra money and shop for some quality landscape fabric. What I mean by quality fabric is normally one made from NEEDLE WOVEN or NEEDLE PUNCHED FABRIC materials. The strength of these fabris far out weigh the inferiour 'homeowner brand' of fabric and it will last longer and provide more weed blocking power than the the later.
Speaking of weeds, please keep in mind that weeds are pretty flexible in where and how they grow. They seem to come up any and everywhere you do not want them but more importantly, thy are either wide bladed weeds or grassy bladed type weeds. Some examples of wide bladed weeds would be clover,dandelions,splurge and your grassy type weeds would be bermuda grasses,crabgrass, etc... The grassy weeds will still from time to time come through the weave of some of the woven fabric as when the grassy weed blade germinates and grows, it is almost like a sewing needle with is point that goes right through the weave seaking out sunlight. Just apply some horticultural grade vinagar to the grassy weed or a shot of glyphospate if your not to concerned about contaminating the world with weed killer and go about your business gardening.
When installing the fabric, make sure your area where you are installing is as clear and level of rocks and soil clumps so that you can get a nice level installation and when installing the fabric, I always use a strong steel fabric pins to help hold the fabric down and secure it to my project area. Search out the 'SQUARE TOPPED STAPLES' as they finish flush to the ground and the ' HOOP SHAPED STAPLE' is really ment to secure down drip tubing when installing drip irrigation.
Over-lap say 1/2 inch to 1 inch of the landscape fabric over each other when laying out your fabric in the project area and I usally install the pins with a rubber mallet every 5 feet or so along the overlap seam and in various areas on the fabric where it seemed loose..
Follow-up with your mulch if you are mulching and enjoy the beauty of your newly install landscape.
I will share other the uses of other types of landscape fabric I mentioned earilier in future blogs so come back soon.
* Blog Bonus ! Send me back your comment on this months blog and recieve back a really cool gift.
* Offer expires 12-31-17
Managing our natural resources during drought conditions takes mental observation of our situation, educating ourselves on what the causes and effects of drought are, and taking positive actions to provide the best remedies to reduce or at best eliminate the negative effects of drought conditions.
Managing soil organics and learning how to effectively improve your soil is one of the biggest steps you can take in your quest to deal with drought conditions in your landscape. By providing healthy, vibrant, microbe rich nutrients to our soil matrix, you can improve the overall growing conditions and health of all plant and tree materials on site. Biostimulants like CytoGro ( www.cytogro.com ) can provide special extracts and natural ingredients to improve the biological activity levels in a safe and organic way. The primary ingredients are cytokins & auxins that are combined with natural extracts of amino acids,vitamins, and nutrients derived from sea vegetables. This combination promotes deep, dense root development which strengthens plants and increases tolerance to stress by disease damage, insect infestation,lack of moisture,poor water quality, and other environmental factors
Another one of the best 'Ole Skool' methods of optimizing your soil is by utilizing organic compost and mulches to help retain vital minerals and nutrients in the soil and help create a living soil web environments for earth worms and other microscopic insects that create food and life for our plant and tree roots. As a bonus, this same mulch helps retain precious water so that our landscapes can survive under today's extremely hot weather conditions.
Proper water management through the use of 'Smart Irrigation' technologies and innovative approaches to saving and applying water to our landscapes is vital.
We are currently using one of the latest WiFi enabled controller that our clients and I can control water use on-site from anywhere in the world ! ( Contact me at this website under our contact form )
There are many water provider/supplier programs available now for you to learn more about what is available to help you conserve and use water wisely. Check with your water provider or online under "Landscape water conservation " and I am sure you will come across many websites that can help you learn more and apply proven techniques.
By educating yourself on the basics of proper resource management at your home or business you will be well on the way to saving your landscape investment, your precious time, and most of all our limited natural resources.
Pocket gophers and ground squirrels are pest and create serious problems in the landscape. Managing them is an art all into itself. There are traps,cages,pesticides,polymers, and various other 'control' methods that are being used to control and/or eliminate the furry visitors on a long term basis.
I have found a couple control methods that have proved quite effective and human friendly.
The first control product I highly recommend is a food grade polymer called 'Gopher Goo' that when poured into a gopher or squirrel hole and hydrated with water, will in turn swell up to at least 4 times it's size inside the hole and fill the opening and create a long term ' barrier plug' that seems to force the gophers to move on from our job sites. The polymer also contains a small addition of organic compost that helps in the rebuilding process of the damaged roots. The polymer will last up to 2-3 years in the soil before it breaks down naturally ,
There is no toxic ingredients inside this product so it is extremely safe to use around children and pets. The polymer creates a sticky goo all over the pelt of the pest and this creates a big problem for them as the pelt needs to be smooth so that they can move through the holes and tunnels in the ground. The pest are forced to move on from the site since they despise getting the goo on their pelts and we end up managing the pest off our job sites. You can learn more about Gopher Goo at www.gophergoo.com.
The next pest management product that I have had really great success with is a cage device called a squirrllnator.
This cage has two openings on two sides of the cage and a cage door on top to take out dead squirrels or release them elsewhere if you choose to do so. I have found the best 'Bait' for the squirrel is orange pieces,sunflower seed, and mixed nuts. This mixture of goodies seem to attract the squirrels into the cage and once they are in there the door they entered is a one way access. they cannot get out once they enter. This cage is a lot better than using poison baits and seems to work fast and efficiently and by using one or both of these management tools in your quest to rid your site of pocket gophers and squirrels, I am sure you will have great success.
There is a new kid in town that is becoming a valuable addition in the search for a low water use ground cover,alternative to a grass substitute that has beauty,function and versatility.
That new kid's name is Lippia nodiflora L. 'Kurapia'. Kurapia comes to the USA via the shores of Japan and has been tested for its unique characteristics at UC Davis and UC Riverside.
Kurapia was bred from the native plant Lippa nodiflora found in the coastal regions of Japan and is found to be highly tolerant of saline,acidic,and basic soils. Kurapia grows close to the ground and rarely exceeds one inch high. Most of the year, the plant is covered with small, white flowers that are sterile, which means it is unable to reproduce itself by seed.
It is a perennial,full sun to part shade utility ground cover that will spread up to 6 feet and to the depth of up to 5 feet under ideal irrigation conditions.
Kurapia's sturdy structure makes it ideal for many uses such as rooftops,public utility areas,slope areas,commercial properties and more .Kurapia can tolerate light foot traffic but is not recommended for heavy foot traffic areas like playgrounds or sports fields.
Kurapia has the ability also to survive in temperatures from 13-120 degrees Fahrenheit. Drought tolerant: Eto 20% by drip irrigation and Eto 40% by sprinkler irrigation make kurapia and great choice to help reduce watering requirements without giving up the green so many people love.
From my experience using kurapia the past 3 years I have been surprised,enlightened and excited to see the uses were we can incorporate kurapia into or project designs and also the benefits of using kurapia as a new innovative ground cover is unlimited.
* INQUIRE TODAY TO DETERMINE IF KURAPIA CAN SOLVE ANY LANDSCAPING CHALLENGES AT YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS,