Spring Landscaping in Lincoln, NE – 2019
Keeping Your Yard Beautiful and Healthy this Spring
While there are many overlapping factors, landscaping and lawn care are distinct from one another. Landscaping includes both plant care and construction features such as fences, paths, and decks. In contrast, lawn care focuses on the planting, fertilization, and maintenance of the landscape’s turf. Both are affected by the weather, and both are taken into consideration when constructing a beautiful, functional outdoor space for any type of property.
As a designer for Eagle Nursery, Doug Miller is experienced with the visual aspect of designing a landscape. He explains that spring is the best time of the year to design a new landscape or redesign elements of an existing one. “This is the time of year when we would send someone from our team to analyze how we can revitalize your yard for you,” Doug noted. “It’s basically a matter of looking through your landscape and seeing what made it through the winter.”
Doug meets with clients to determine what their preferences and goals are. He explained that making a space beautiful involves a combination of hardscapes and softscapes. If you are looking for a deck or pergola, Eagle Nursery works with those elements as well. Retaining walls, pavement, patios, fire pits—they take all the materials into consideration in the design process to ensure all the colors and textures work together.
Doug mentioned that he has noticed outdoor fire features becoming increasingly popular as they allow for backyard barbeques and pleasant campfire experiences. He also recommended finding durable materials that can survive a dry summer. “I call it bulletproof grass,” Doug joked. “It’s the stuff that’s tried and true—drought tolerant plant material that will support the landscape and minimize the maintenance end of it, while also giving you more color throughout the year.”
Doug added that he is proud to work with Eagle Nursery because of their customer service reputation. “Our team really strives to help the customers the best we possibly can…I try and get the designs out in a timely fashion and we all try to accommodate special requests as quickly as possible,” Doug said.
For the better part of a decade, the trend has increasingly moved towards creating an outdoor family room with all the amenities of your indoor family room. Manufacturers of indoor furniture have been venturing into the outdoor furniture market more every year, which has made the more traditional outdoor manufactures step up their game. There are not only exciting new options for furniture, but also materials available for permanent outdoor features. Your outdoor living space can be enhanced with an outdoor fireplace, a decorative pond, colorful boulders, pottery and outdoor art, and grills and other built-in outdoor kitchen components! All these things and much more can be found at Outdoor Solutions, located near Saltillo Rd. and 14th St.
For those who are planning to be in their home long-term, it’s nice to have a great space outside to entertain and spend time with friends when the weather is nice. This space could be on a patio, a deck, or both! Decks, in particular, are fairly standard feature of newer homes, but as for older ones, it’s never late to add it on. If you are starting from scratch, you’ll want to be intentional with the material you select.
“I strongly recommend going with composite, especially if you’re planning on living in your house for longer than 10 years,” advises Dan Waters with Decks Unlimited. “Wood decks are beautiful, but maintenance to make a wood deck last 30 years will far outweigh the initial cost of a composite deck. Even if you’re planning on selling in the near future and need to replace your deck, composite is still the way to go. As a buyer, it is very comforting to know that the deck will not be an issue for a long time to come. There are many brands of composite out there and choosing a quality product is very important. I recommend TimberTech out of all the brands available; the 30-year warranty speaks pretty loudly. They are a very environmentally conscious company, and their product is made of 70% recycled materials. For railing, I have found powder-coated aluminum is the way to go. I prefer Westbury aluminum railings, as they provide an impressive lifetime warranty. Altogether, when thinking of adding or upgrading a deck, there are many options and colors. Pick what you love; it’s going to be there for a while. Using quality products and quality installers is very important. If you’re planning to build your own deck, Decks Unlimited is here to offer materials, and answer any questions you have throughout the installation process.”
Another yard consideration this spring is, of course, plants and flowers! There is nothing like beautiful flowers blooming in the spring time. Plus, as Jessica Jasnoch with Earl May told us, all the snow we had this winter is great for the plants in our landscapes. “The snow helped to keep them insulated over the winter and protect them from the cold,” explained Jessica. “It is important to wait to do any digging or tilling of the garden until the ground has dried out. Digging while the soil is still wet will result in the forming of clods of dirt that will take a long time to remove or break back down. Homeowners also should watch for where the water pools in the yard because after the water dries the soil will be compacted in those areas. It will be a good idea to have those areas aerated and to apply a soil conditioner to help loosen the soil. Earl May can help find the soil conditioner to work best for your area.”
Jessica also recommended adding perennial blooming plants with staggering bloom times so that there is color all season long. “It is important, when planning a landscape, to use a variety plants,” Jessica instructed. “This will increase diversity and prevent total loss in disease or insect issues. Earl May has introduced many new and interesting plants to encourage plant diversity.” She also pointed out that, though many families avoid planting “messy” plants, incorporating plants with berries and seeds encourages our children to appreciate nature. Inviting birds and pollinators to our backyards will improve the environment for generations to come.
Continuing on the topic of landscape esthetics, co-owners of Luxury Landscape, Ken Svoboda and Jackie Lienemann, talked to us about what kind of things need to be considered to properly enhance how a space looks overall. For example, the plants might be healthy, but are they neatly trimmed and arranged beautifully? Or is plant life growing all over the place randomly?
Jackie acknowledged that we all want our property’s landscape to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, not just for curb appeal but because it’s something we can be proud of. “Oftentimes, this can be done simply by trimming the shrubbery and pruning the trees giving the landscape a well maintained and manicured look,” explained Jackie Lienemann. “With an older landscape, you may need to safely trim the shrubbery deeper and thinning out the trees that might be hiding the front of the house. Of course, there’s also the option of bringing new life to a tired landscape by adding colorful perennials or blooming shrubbery. Regardless of what groundcover your landscape has, a simple and mostly inexpensive ‘freshening up’ would include spreading a dyed mulch or adding new rock. Luxury Landscape specializes in providing that personal touch to every landscape project.”
Ken and Jackie have experience working with families with children, dogs, cats, etc., and they have found that planning for the future can be a good way to protect your investment in a property. “Unlike most of the investments we make, landscaping shouldn’t be considered disposable,” Jackie stated. “When done properly by experts, a home’s landscape should grow with the family. For example, plan the backyard space while looking fifteen years to the future…maybe that means planning to have enough room for that spontaneous soccer or football game that breaks out during special occasions with friends and extended family. We also like the idea of planting a tree for each child so he or she can watch it grow just as they do.”
Even though Luxury Landscape only offers landscaping services, Ken Svoboda still took this chance to urge Nebraskans to prepare themselves for the likelihood of a drought in the upcoming seasons. “This spring is going to yield lawn care problems for landscapes that Lincoln property owners haven’t seen for over a decade,” warned Ken. “In the last several years, drought has been a very real problem. Aside from the occasional few inches of snowmelt, the landscape is starved for moisture as trees, shrubs, and perennials attempt their return from dormancy. This year, however, the snow melt could cause water to be trapped at the roots of these plants if planted in heavy clay soil or poor drainage areas. This excessive moisture may cause some root rot and damage, or eventually kill the plant. We suggest that property owners monitor the amount of moisture going to their plants, especially those who have an automatic drip irrigation system.”
As the founder of Hunt Irrigation, Jeremy Hunt recommends installing an automatic sprinkler system as an efficient and convenient method of lawn and garden watering in time for the summer. “Just a few simple steps will go a long way towards saving water, money and preventing a mid-summer landscape catastrophe at home,” Jeremy advised.
Jeremy shared the following seven personal checklist items to ensure you start the summer off right in regards to your yard:
- Inspect your backflow device for any possible damage, prior to pressurizing the system.
- Slowly begin to fill the system with water and make sure to never open the water too quickly as this may damage the mainline or valves.
- Turn each individual zone on and inspect for damage and normal wear and tear.
- Inspect each fixed spray nozzle for obstructions and clear with a small screwdriver or if obstruction is severe enough, replace the nozzle.
- Inspect each rotary head to make sure that they are not only oscillating, but that they are not over rotating or watering sidewalks and driveways.
- If you have a drip system be sure to clean the filter and inspect the landscape beds for leaks.
- Lastly, check the programming in the controller and make sure that you are watering at the proper times of the day and that the run times for each zone do not exceed the absorption rate of the soil.
For homeowners with less experience in irrigation, Hunt Irrigation offers trained technicians to perform these full services.
Jeremy also discussed recent technological improvements to irrigation systems. “Some of the upgrades that are available are mechanical and others are technological,” he noted. “For example, a mechanical upgrade includes reducing water waste through water pressure. The optimum water pressure for a fixed spray is 30psi. Once the pressure exceeds 30psi, the race to waste is on. A fixed spray at 30psi will consume on average about 1.5 gallons per minute and deliver about 1.75 inches of water per hour. A fixed spray operating a 70psi will consume approximately 3 gallons a minute, but only apply about .7 inches per hour. This is all due to the vaporization of the water and the water droplets become lighter than air, which in turn leads to greater evaporation. Upgrading to the pressure regulated fixed sprays will save approximately 20,000 to 50,000 gallons of water per year per residence. This equates to about $300 per year. On commercial properties, the savings could be in the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water saved. By upgrading, you can expect to see a ROI in just two years.”
Another mechanical option to consider is drip systems. “Drip is a point source irrigation and therefore is much more accurate than aerial deliveries,” Jeremy explained. “Installing drip in your landscape can reduce water use by 50% and also slow the growth of weeds within the landscaped areas. Drip irrigation can include sub-surface irrigation for turf. There are times when the name truly describes the concept. A 17mm pipe is installed approximately 5 inches deep and on one foot centers. This pipe then releases water underground at the depth of the turf’s root system. This eliminates both run-off and reduces evaporation. This form of irrigation is a great fit for the parkway area in residential applications and can be very cost effective if installed during new construction on both residential and commercial construction.”
Jeremy believes that some of the most interesting innovations in technology are the ones that rapidly reducing waste, which include sensors that account for weather and temperature. “Gone are the days of programming your sprinkler system to run three days a week, rain or shine…” Jeremy remarked. “People are now opting for a rain sensor system, which is very reliable and shuts off your irrigation system when it rains. However, the newest technology to hit the shelves are climate sensors, which are quickly replacing traditional rain sensors. A climate sensor uses evapotranspiration calculations to adjust the run time of each individual zone on a day-to-day basis.”
As president of TDK Lawn Care, Lee Schumacher is passionate about helping homeowners keep their lawn healthy and avoid common lawn care mistakes. “This spring, the biggest thing we have to worry about is snow mold because of the record-setting snowfall we had this winter,” Lee informed us. “Snow mold is when grass lays over itself and becomes gooey. This can be remedied by lightly raking the grass. The other issue with all the snow is the depletion of nutrients in the soil. This is why people need to speak with a lawn care professional to make sure they are applying the correct amount of nutrients in the spring to offset what was lost in winter.”
Here are five key steps anyone can take to maintain a healthy lawn:
- Water at the correct times with the correct amount of water for your grass type. (Bluegrass requires .25 inches every other day. Tall fine fescue requires about 1 inch per week.)
- Adjust the height of your mower to coincide with the variety of climates here in Nebraska. (During the warmest months, the mower height should be between 3 and 3.75 inches above the ground.)
- Aerate your lawn once to twice per year. (Aerating is usually done in the fall and spring when the grass is growing rapidly and repairs itself easily.)
- Overseeding should be done with drought and fungus resistant seed. (Tall fescue works well for this and it is usually done in the spring or mid-August to mid-September.)
- Keep a consistent fertilizing schedule. (Usually involves a six-step program for an average lawn, using pre-emergent, weed and grub control, along with a Winterizer.)
Lee emphasized that aerating is one of the most important steps to take in promoting a healthy, beautiful lawn. He explained that aerating helps loosen compacted soil and allows nutrients to reach the roots. This can also help plants survive more adverse weather conditions.
Between caring for the health and longevity of your lawn and designing beautiful outdoor spaces for entertaining guests, spring is the time of year to take on these lawn care and landscaping projects. If you don’t feel like you can do it yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts right here in Lincoln, especially the trusted ones we heard from above!