Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sample Landscape Design - Entertaining

Do you love to entertain guests? Do you have the backyard for it? Try this sample landscape design for a fun, functional, entertainment-friendly landscape. With a deck, arbors, fire pit and beautiful plantings, your evening parties are going to be more fun than ever. Just be sure to invite your friends over to help with the installation.
- Linda

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Courtney's Tool Box

Tree Rings - Not Just for Looks

Tree rings in this article are not the ones inside the tree that you count to determine how old the tree is, but rather the maintenance practice of removing the lawn away from the trunk of a tree which has been planted in a lawn area.

First of all, planting trees in lawn areas is not advisable because trees and turf have drastically different watering needs. But if you do have a tree growing in a lawn area, it is a good idea to make a "tree ring" by removing the grass from around the trunk of the tree. This can be done for any tree, regardless of age. The size of the ring should be determined by how large the tree is. It looks good to keep the tree ring roughly as big as the tree's canopy - up to a point - eventually there may not be any grass left if the tree is a large mature specimen. For a newly planted tree, a three-foot diameter ring is generally a good starting point. Expand the diameter of the ring as the trees grows, until it gets to be 15 to 20 feet, or until it interferes with some other boundary in the landscape.

Start by using a tape measure to measure an equal distance all the way around the tree. Mark the ground as you measure around the tree until you have a circle. Use a sharp shovel or spade to cut straight down into the grass about four inches all the way around the circle, then remove the grass inside the ring with a flat shovel or mattock, being careful not to damage the tree trunk in the process. Add a 3 - 4 inch layer of mulch on top of the exposed soil to shade the tree roots and help retain moisture in the soil. Maintain this mulch layer by occasionally adding more as necessary, but never pile it up around the trunk. "Mulch volcanoes" if left too long, can actually kill the tree. Maintain the ring edge by whichever method you prefer - curbing, plastic or metal edging, or by simply cutting it like a planter bed.

Not only are tree rings more aesthetically pleasing, but they are good for the tree. When the tree is young there is less competition with turf for water. Tree rings also reduce the chance for mechanical damage to the tree from lawn maintenance equipment ("weed-eater blight" and lawn mower hits).

- Courtney

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Plant of the Month: May

There are so many plants to potentially highlight during the month of May. In our Garden, there are many that bloom during this period—including trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials. Within this large group of plants, my favorite is determined by my mood at the given time. I therefore randomly chose one using a method similar to pulling a name out of a hat. And the plant of the month is…Firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii).

Firecracker penstemon is a great waterwise plant with a very low water requirement. In fact, it is currently growing in our High Mountain Desert Landscape which we have not irrigated for the last few years! This penstemon is native to our region and has been found in various plant communities. It has striking red blossoms from April-July which will likely catch any visitor’s attention. In fact, this is a great plant choice if you love hummingbirds, as hummingbirds love this penstemon. Just be aware that, although this species is widely adaptable, it does not tolerate poorly drained soils.

Turf Tips: May

It is that time of year again: irrigation season. I hope that you have tried to avoid irrigating (or at least limit the number of times you irrigated) your lawn thus far this year. In early spring, there is still ample moisture in the soil and there is also a potential for a few spring showers. Now that the temperature is starting to climb and more plants are coming to life, your lawn may require an occasional drink (if you don’t mind my anthropomorphizing your turf). I would try to limit the frequency of your irrigations, however, to once (not to exceed two) times a week during May. If you want additional lawn tips, simply click on the publications link below and then click on “Creating a Waterwise Landscape.”

Publications link:

Also, free water checks are available throughout the Wasatch Front. During this check, a Utah State University intern evaluates your soil type, sprinkler output, and lawn rooting depth. Using this information, the intern will provide you with a custom schedule which, if you follow the recommendations, will help you irrigate your lawn efficiently. And this can result in not only water savings, but healthier plants!

If you want additional water check info, click on the following link:


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grand Opening a Smashing Success

On May 9, we opened the 2.5-acre expansion of the Conservation Garden Park. It was by far our most popular Garden Fair to date. Photos of the event (and our VIP ribbon cutting) are shown at right in the slide show. Thanks to all of the staff, vendors, contributors, media and VIPs who helped make both events so successful.

Next phases: new parking and entrance drive and the education building. Keep watching for more news!