Preparing for a Landscape Renovation

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Photo by William Murphy.

Getting your yard ready for a landscaping renovation can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time working with a professional landscaper. When homeowners come to Roanoke Landscapes with their plans, they typically have a lot of questions: how long will it take? What kind of precautionary measures should I take beforehand? How will this affect my grass and soil? Getting these questions answered helps to relieve a lot of the anxiety that comes with making a major landscaping change. We are always striving to provide our customers with the most accurate, detailed information available so they can make all of their decisions with a sound, calm mind. Here’s what we think you should know *before* you begin your renovation:

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Can a Warm Winter Inhibit Spring Growth?

Winter Flower

Photo by Raymond Cocks.

So far, most of the United States has had an unusually mild winter. For some, this unseasonably warm weather means being able to spend more time out in the garden or working on landscaping projects. Others, however, worry about how bizarre temperature fluctuations might affect spring plant growth. As global temperature averages continue to rise, climate scientists have been compiling research on how these changes can help or hurt various ecosystems. Their findings show that warm winter weather may be a mixed bag for gardeners, benefiting some plants while harming others.

The success of spring growth depends on more than just temperature; plants are also effected by precipitation levels, soil chemistry, and other ecological factors. However, mild winters are often accompanied by dryness, and that, in turn, can effect soil chemistry. In the northeast, gardeners worry that dry, mild winters could endanger tulip bulbs and fruit tree productivity. In the south, gardeners worry that warm winters will hurt plants that need cold, dormant days to flower, such as peonies. Adversely, plants that do well in warm temperatures—such as magnolias—could thrive after warmer winters.

One big downside of a mild winter is an increase in pest populations come spring. Freezing temps push pests into hibernation or kill them off. When winters are mild, pests can multiply throughout the season, which can spell big trouble for gardeners. Just yesterday, I found a mosquito on the hood of my car. I don’t even want to imagine how many of them I’ll find in June.

Additionally, plants and animals that hibernate during the winter could become “tricked” by a couple weeks of mild temperatures and begin to grow or come out of hiding. Since winter temperatures often fluctuate, these plants and critters could be hit by a hard freeze or snow storm later in the season. Many plants and smaller animals—such as frogs or salamanders—can be killed by a bad freeze. An early winter mulching can help insulate plants against temperature fluctuations, insuring that their biological clocks won’t be stumped by unusual weather.

Enjoy the mild winter by spending more time outdoors, but don’t forget to check on your plants often. This year, you may have to take extra precaution to prevent against pest infiltration and late season freezes. If you stay ahead of the forecast, you should be able to stay in control of your garden.

Boosting Your Winter Mood

Boosting Your Winter Mood

In the depths of winter, many of us feel tempted to surrender to the blistering cold and scant sunlight by staying indoors, bundled up by our television sets. While there’s nothing wrong with allowing ourselves a few days of rest every now and again, an absolute drop in productivity can have a negative effect on our mental wellness. To fight lethargy, restlessness, and boredom, it’s important to stay active and involved during the winter months. Here’s a few ideas on how to begin:

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Winter Gardening: Cutting Back Perennials and Ornamental Grasses

It may be winter, but unseasonably warm days like this prove it’s never too late/early in the season to take care of some gardening chores! Many gardeners neglect their garden during January, but our horticulturist Mark Burton thinks January is the perfect time to cut back perennials and ornamental grasses. Cutting back plants during the winter reduces the chance of damaging new growth while pruning, and it prevents against pests over-wintering in dead plant debris. This is a small chore that will only take you a few hours, but a fastidious trimming is sure to promote fresh, hardy growth come spring. And, when it’s 60 degrees outside, spending some time in the garden doesn’t sound so bad!

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The Smart Way to Clear Snow and Ice

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Southwest Virginia experienced its first big snow of the season over the weekend and it was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, many of us got to spend a couple lazy days indoors, lounging around on our couches and enjoying the beauty of a fresh, unsoiled snowfall. On the other hand, frigid temperatures meant the snow wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, and, now or later, we’d all have to find some way to get it off our cars, driveways, and sidewalks. Shoveling snow has never been my favorite chore, especially in 15 degree weather. It can be backbreaking work, but there’s simply no way around it. As we plunge headfirst into the depths of winter, it’s best to keep these snow removal tips in mind. They’re guaranteed to save you a lot of time and energy that you could otherwise spend relaxing by the fire and drinking hot coco.

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Natural Remedies for Common Colds

I have yet to go an entire winter without falling victim to the common cold. There’s just something about the chilly weather and short, dreary days that seems to invite sickness. And while colds are generally innocuous, going to work with a runny nose, watering eyes, and itching sinuses is never fun. Generally, as soon as I start feeling a cold creeping on, I’m first in line at the drug store trying to stock up on under the counter remedies. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop a cold in its tracks altogether. Symptoms can be treated, but buying bottle after bottle of cough syrup is expensive (not to mention that gross artificial cherry flavor—yuck!). So this winter, I’ve been digging up some low-cost tried and true home remedies that can ease the symptoms of a common cold naturally. That means no more waiting in line at drug stores or gargling fake dies and artificial fruit flavoring. Cold season just got a lot more bearable!

Tip: These remedies work well for allergies too!

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