Eupatorium purpureum

-Bob’s Blog: Go NATIVE; don’t lose out! (drought-tolerant perennials)

Gardens that look good in fall work well all year long, gardeners in-the-know often say.

Many native plants tend to be deep-rooted, strutting their stuff, their blooms, in late summer and fall. These include asters, coneflowers, sunflowers, sneezeweed, bergamot, milkweeds, blazing stars, goldenrods, culver’s root, turtleheads, Joe Pye weed, cup plant, compass plant, wild senna and grasses such as big and little bluestem.

Other deep-rooted perennials offering earlycolor and interest include false indigo, sweet flags, irises, penstemons, celandine poppies and meadowsweet.

Using native plants in rain gardens, bioswales, prairie and wildflower gardens maximizes sustainability because they are tough, hardy and reliable. The gardener using native plants lowers the risk of losing plant stock during drought. Because many of these plants are so adaptable, they often weather rainy springs and winters common in our part of the country.

Other drought-tolerant plants include dry denizens such as Russian sage and other sages, lamb’s ears, sedum, hens-and-chicks, daylilies, and the long line of clumping, spreading plants that work well in herb gardens: lavender, rosemary, yarrow, artemesia, hyssop, oregano, thyme, catmint and calamint. Fragrant plants also have an advantage; they’re not popular with deer, which can’t stand their smelly aroma.

Gardening doesn’t have to mean buying expensive, high-maintenance, exotic plants that last only aseason or two. Don’t lose out; choose proven, adaptable performers that spread and stand up to adverse conditions.

Whitetail Deer

-Bob’s Blog: Fence out four-legged intruders

The wail of homeowners discovering their yards prone to four-legged intruders is all too familiar: “We tried everything to deter deer:  repellents, soap hanging in trees, human hair, even urine. The deer would not leave our gardens alone.”

Experts agree that one of the surest ways to keep deer out is fencing. The type of fence is usually dictated by budget, aesthetics, site conditions and how many months of the year protection is needed.

Prefab deer netting, stretched between metal posts or trees, offers a flexible, lightweight, easy-to-install, less expensive method for low to moderate deer pressure. Netting works well in hilly areas where rigid wire fencing is more difficult to install, and offers temporary solutions, perhaps in spring and fall when deer are more troublesome.

Heavier-duty, ultraviolet light-resistant, polypropylene varieties, often 7 ½-8 feet tall, are available. Nylon cable run horizontally through the top of the netting and three feet above ground (considered deer’s highest impact area) further secures the netting. Stress points where gates are installed usually require larger posts, perhaps anchored in concrete.

More permanent and vulnerable garden settings, such as orchards, vegetable and rose gardens, may mandate sturdier, more expensive woven- , braided- and welded-wire fences, slanted fences, double-row fences or electric fences. Again, wire fences are recommended to be at least 8 feet tall with 12-foot-tall posts to enable them to be buried 3-4 feet.

Slanted fences with repeated parallel single strands of wire, extending outward at a 45-degree angle, need not be as tall as standard fences, requiring deer to clear both the height and width of the fence. Double-row fences 4-5 feet apart also need be only 4-5 feet tall, also playing on deer fears of jumping without landing safely.

While electric fences offer deterrence at generally lower cost than wire fences, their use mandates precautions. Chargers, either 110-volt or battery types, often must be protected from the elements. Desirable chargers emit higher voltage, lower-amperage current at short pulses to “teach deer a lesson.” Plastic polytape fence maximizes visibility and arrests deer curiosity. A type of copper and polyester braided wire, used on horse farms, also works well.

After installation, electric fences should be monitored regularly.

WRITTEN BY

Bob Baird
DHS Landscape Designer/Consultant
Garden Columnist
Swiss Family Robinson

-GET OUT! Outdoor Rooms

We all wish this was us… Living out our own real-life version of Swiss Family Robinson. Our “work-first” programming as a responsible adult tells us our inherent desire to live outdoors is childish.  Childish [adj.}=Suitable for a child.  This definition however gives no restrictions or state that it can not also be "Suitable for an ADULT".  Creating living spaces outside or outdoor living rooms (HOUZZ LINK) are a growing trend. "Staycations" are great for families and growing in popularity across the world.  Building outdoor living rooms can include a variety of elements and be as simple or complex as you like but once you get much further past a grill and lawn chairs consulting a professional will reward your efforts.  Even for DIYers a design and construction details can help sustain your investment.  Remember the greatest efforts are in the preparation...  Walking surfaces require proper base to provide pleasing aesthetics and safety for all walks of life (infant-elder).  Any natural elements such as firepits or water features need to be installed properly with grading and drainage in mind.  Remember you don't want exploding stone in your firepit or water from your bubbling rock running into your basement or crawlspace.

Take the time to do it right the first time. Wheither your "Father", Elizabeth, or Franz we all have dreams to be The Swiss Family (INSERT YOUR NAME HERE).

designscape, hardscaping, drainage solutions, private lake cabin, nashville, brown county, indiana

-Dry Creek Beds 4 Drainage Solutions

That are lots of variables that determine the quality of drainage around your home.  Often IMPROPER SLOPE (i.e. rise/run) is a commonly overlooked issue when installing a new landscape.  Proper drainage systems are a difficult for the home owner and contractor to come to terms on.  It’s a expense that can be quite costly and is usually all buried underground and gives no asetic benifit to the home.  Designscape’s favorite solution is to use the skill of grading to revert water to more ideal locations.  A great way is through a dry creek bed.  Installation methods vary but the best method is the look at one built by mother nature and try to recreate it.

designscape, landscaping, turf preperation, quality seed, compost tea, organic turf, bloomington, indiana, gramercy

-Seed and Bed Preparation

The soil you use to prepare beds and turf areas is more vaulable than a lifetime of fertilzer after the fact.  Mixing compost into your topsoil is the best way to add OM and encourage healthy root growth. The first and second week of September is ideal time for cool season grass like fescue.  Here’s a picture of a lawn in the spring that we aerated, overseeded, and spread 2-4-3 poultry castings.  All fertilization is 100% ORGANIC WITH DHS ENHANCED COMPOST TEA.

designscape, hardscaping, sandstone, natural stone steps, lake cabin, nashville indiana,

-Installing Sandstone Steps

The right equipment and meticulous base preparation make this job not only aestically pleasing but sustainable.  Lesson 1 on hardscaping… NEVER CUT CORNERS IN YOUR BASE PREP! This gallery give descriptions of the installation and shows a start to finish installation of Shoals Co. Sandstone Steps.