Harvesting Your Fall Vegetables

Fall is a wonderful time to reap the benefits of spring and summer planting.  Whether your vegetables are in container gardens, planting beds, or you incorporated edibles into flower beds, now is the time that many of these vegetables are ready to harvest.  Hopefully you have kept track of what you planted and when each is ready to be harvested.  If not, some simple examination of your plants is a good indicator of when they are ready for harvesting.

Early Fall Harvesting

October and early November are the prime time in the Washington D.C. area to harvest many root vegetables including beets, carrots, onions, radishes and sweet potatoes.  To check and see if they are ready, loosen the soil and gently pull one of them up.   Keep in mind that root vegetables are more tender when they are smaller.  As they grow large, they can become tougher and pungent.  Pick green beans just before they are full size to ensure that the seeds inside the pods are still tender.   To get the most out of your lettuce, cut the leaves while they are still tender and young and the same plant “come back” again typically three or four times.

Late Fall Harvesting

Fortunately, there are some vegetables that grow tastier after a few blasts of cooler weather. Heavy frosts can actually sweeten some crops such as Brussel sprouts.  Pick Brussel sprouts when they are approximately one inch in diameter.  The lower sprouts will be the first to mature followed by the upper ones a few days later.  Pick broccoli when the buds of the head appear firm and tight.  This is also the time to harvest greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard.

Local gardeners and landscapers can also provide tips and advice for fall and winter gardening. At Shorb Landscaping, our professional team is here to help with all your gardening questions.  You can call us at 301-897-3503.

Fast Growing Plants – Pros and Cons

There are times that you may want to fill your yard quickly with a landscape that looks like it has been there for years.  While adding fast growing plants can certainly provide instant gratification, they also bring on some challenges to consider.

The Upside to an Instant Garden

Whether you own a new-construction home that has minimal amounts of landscaping, or you are in an older home with a landscape in need of some TLC, fast growing plants and trees can add a much-needed dimension to your yard.  For homes in need of shade there are some trees that grow very rapidly such as Japanese Zelkova, Willow, and Birch.  Plants such as Hydrangeas, rambling roses, and gooseneck loosestrife also grow fast and spread quickly to fill empty spaces in a garden or landscape. So if you are in need of an instant full-grown look, these types of plants and trees can be of great benefit.  However, be aware of the compromises you may have to make in order to get this instant look.

The Downside to Fast Growing Plants

While your yard may look great quickly, be ready for ongoing maintenance and care for this type of yard.  Some fast growing trees such as the cottonwood has weak wood because of its rapid growth.  This can cause many broken limbs during a storm with heavy winds.  Other fast-growing trees can develop aggressive root structures that surface with age and cause damage to structures such as sidewalks.  Fast growing plants and bushes will require ongoing pruning.  This is because many of them self-seed and spread rapidly to potentially take over a landscape.

At Shorb Landscaping, our team of landscapers and designers can help you design a landscape that suits your style and preferences.  Call us at 301-897-3503.

Incorporating Privacy into Your Landscape Design

Your yard is an extension of your home.  It is a private space to retreat, relax, and escape the rest of the world.  However, unless you live on a sprawling parcel of land where neighbors are a far off distance away, privacy can be challenging.  There is good news, however.  You can create a private space in your yard using a combination of plants and materials that minimize both views and sounds from your surrounding neighbors.

Plants to Use as Privacy Screens

Many different plants can create privacy screens.  Climbing vines are great for shielding the view.  And if you choose blooming vines, you can enjoy the sight and smell of beautiful flowers each year in addition to privacy.  Clematis is a lovely spring-blooming vine that can also create privacy.  Ivy works well too because it grows very quickly.   It is a good choice if you want rapid results.

Aside from vines, there are also other plant choices for privacy such as boxwoods.  Boxwood plants are low maintenance and can be clipped to create a number of different shapes.  Bamboo hedges can create a “living wall” in your yard.  And some great evergreen plants to use for privacy are the Emerald Green arborvitae or the Italian Cypress.

Multi-Purpose Additions to Your Outdoor Space

Decorative pieces and other functional materials added to your yard can serve dual-purposes.  Place a water feature near a fence line to help block noise and sounds from neighboring yards.  Or top a small table with an umbrella to block sunlight and create a private and intimate sitting area.  An awning placed over a patio can shield your patio from rain and curious neighbors from your private space.

At Shorb Landscaping, our team of landscapers and designers can help you create a private outdoor space that you and your family can enjoy.  Call us at 301-897-3503.

Garden Design – Creating a Main Focus in a Garden

A focal point is what your eye sees first.  It catches your attention.  This could be the largest, brightest object in your yard, or it could even be something subtle.   Just remember, less is often more.  Don’t overcrowd an area with plants or objects you want to feature.  Choose one thing and make everything else the “supporting cast”.  The options for a focal point are endless.  However, remember that the purpose is the control the view and create a sense of order in your yard.  Garden design allows you to create specific focuses in your garden.

Object Focal Points

These can include structures, objects, or even pathways.  An architectural element such as a pergola, arch, or gateway can serve as a focal point.   A statue, garden art or a water feature also make effective focal points.  Just choose objects that are harmonious with the style and size of the garden.  Walkways can serve not only as a path of direction; they can draw attention to a focal point such as a resting spot or bench that marks the end of the path.

Plant Focal Points

To create a focal point using plants, add one dramatic plant or group of plants to the focal point area.  It is best to choose plants that look good throughout the season, or all year if possible.  Perennials and annuals grouped together can make a nice seasonal focal point, but a large, flowering tree in the center of a flower bed can provide visual interest all through the year.  In fact, a tall plant naturally draws the eye because of its size compared to the surrounding plants.

Keep in mind when creating a focal point that it should follow the natural lines in your yard.  At Shorb Landscaping, our professional landscapers and designers can help you with focal points or with any other garden design needs.  You can call us at 301-897-3503.

Vertical Garden Design

A vertical garden can be created in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes.  Perhaps you want to add greenery to a small space.  Or there is a wall or fence that you would like to hide.  Of course, you may just simply enjoy the look of a vertical garden.  Whatever the reason may be, here are some helpful tips to design one.

Decide What Type of Vertical Garden You Want

A vertical garden can be designed in a variety of ways.  You can use pots stacked and hung on the wall, or purchase a large plastic or wooden wall planter.  Or, you can re-purpose a wooden pallet or set of canvas pocket bags for your vertical garden.  For a one-of-a-kind vertical planter, you can hire someone to design it or build one yourself.  Make sure that the style you choose includes an irrigation system to keep the plants well-watered.

Determine Which Plants to Include

Where you plan to install the vertical garden should have an impact on the type of plants that you choose.  You will want to select plants that work best given the amount of sunlight they will receive.

It is also important to make sure that the plants all grow at a similar rate.  Otherwise, fast-growing plants may drown out the slower growing ones. Grow the plants horizontally for a few weeks first so that the roots have time to establish themselves. Choose flexible plants over rigid, woody ones.  Plants that do well on walls include hostas, phlox, and ferns.  You can also use succulents, herbs, vegetables and trailing plants in your garden.

The professional team of landscapers and designers at Shorb Landscaping can help you create a custom-designed vertical garden.  You can call us at 301-897-3503.

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen Tips and Suggestions

Tips for an Inviting Outdoor Kitchen

Whether it is for a big meal or simple conversation, the kitchen is a spot that everyone loves to gather. But why have only one kitchen space when you can have two? On those days when the weather is clear and crisp, who wants to stay indoors? Extend your hospitality outdoors by creating an inviting outdoor kitchen in your backyard.

Outdoor Kitchen

Kitchen designed and built to suit client needs

Amenities to Feature in an Outdoor Kitchen

The first thing that generally comes to mind with outdoor cooking is a grill. Grills are now available with many high-tech features such as multiple burners, rotisserie cooker, and even smoke trays that give barbecued meats their smoky flavor.

In addition to grill, you will want plenty of counter space for prep work and serving. And extra amenities such as a sink and refrigerator complete an outdoor kitchen both aesthetically and functionally.

Entertaining in Your Outdoor Kitchen

In addition to building a great area for cooking, make sure to have plenty of seating for family and friends. Create a casual spot for kids to gather with a counter top bar and stools. Add an outdoor dining table with comfortable cushioned chairs for large gatherings. And include decorative accessories and fresh flowers for an inviting space to entertain.

If you don’t want to miss the “big game” while grilling outdoors, make sure to include an outdoor entertainment system. There are televisions today designed specifically to withstand the elements outdoors. They not only protect against glare but are made to stand up to all kinds of weather including rain, snow and extreme temperatures. Creating an outdoor kitchen adds an inviting new place to cook and entertain.

At Shorb Landscaping, our professional team of landscapers and designers can assist you with designing your dream outdoor kitchen. Check out some of our past work at our project gallery.  You can call us at 301-897-3505 for a consultation.

Perennials

Perennials – Some Fun Facts!

Did you know that many of the plants in your yard are considered perennials? A perennial includes plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees that live for two years or longer. As you can imagine, perennials come in many shapes and sizes. Here are some fun facts about these plants.

Perennials

General Facts About Perennials:

  • These flowers don’t always bloom the first year that they are planted, but with proper care, they will bloom the next year and each year after that for the duration of their lifespan.
  • Since they live a long time, they do not need to produce many seeds to survive. In fact, once they are planted and well established, they will need minimal upkeep with watering and fertilizing.
  • They often have a rest period at some point in their life cycle where the plant will remain dormant.
  • These plants include a wide variety of flowers, fruits, herbs, and vegetables.

Gardening Facts:

  • To increase the number of perennials in your garden, take cuttings from existing ones and plant them in the ground.
  • Perennials bloom time is about 3-4 weeks, so fill beds with a variety of plants for continuous blooming throughout the season.
  • When they stop blooming, dig them up during the spring, divide them, and then replant them.
  • Remove dead flowers from the plants to increase blooming.
  • Herbaceous perennials die back during cold weather seasons but will return in the spring from the same roots whereas evergreen ones keep their leaves throughout the year.
  • Perennial flowers that are from a cooler region, such as asters, irises, wallflowers, and peonies, do best when they experience a cold winter.

There are many types of perennials to choose from when designing your home’s landscape. At Shorb Landscaping, our team of landscapers and designers can help you make the best choices of plants for your yard. Call us at 301-897-3503.

Annul Flowers

All About Annuals – Brightening Your Landscaping

Annual flowers add color to your yard, but need to be replanted each year. However, they are appealing because of their versatility. Annuals bloom in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes and are great to plant in the summer months because they love the heat.

Annuals

Ways to Incorporate Annuals

There are numerous types of annuals that can add color and dimension to a garden. And because they are so adaptable and bloom throughout the season, they are well-suited for a variety of purposes.

Vining Annuals: Morning glories, cardinal vines, and cypress vines are all fast growing flowers and vines that grow rapidly and can climb up to 15 feet. Plant them in a sunny spot and enjoy the purple, pink, red, white, and blue shades of flowers that bloom each morning.

Trailing Annuals: These flowers are great to use in window boxes, hanging baskets, and other containers. Mix up the flowers for a variety of colors. Some great choices for trailing include verbena, snapdragons, and petunias. Make sure the soil is well-drained and the flowers get plenty of sun.

Mounding and Upright Annuals: For instant “punch” to your flower beds during the summer months, group these together with contrasting colors and staggered heights. Zinnias, geraniums, sweet alyssum, and blue salvia all work well to create texture and color in your garden.

How to Plant Annuals

Typically, these flowers retail in packs of three to six small plants. Look for plants with healthy leaves and plant them soon after purchasing so that they don’t dry out. Prepare a flower bed or container with loose, well-drained soil and make sure to water them regularly.

At Shorb Landscaping, our team of landscapers and designers can help you incorporate colorful gardens in your landscape design. Call us at 301-897-3503 for a consultation, or visit our project gallery to see past work.

Outdoor bath for birds

How to Create a Welcoming Garden for Birds

Gardening for wildlife is an eco-friendly way to create an enjoyable space.  It also preserves the habitat of the creatures you share it with.  Why should you share your garden with our winged friends?   Not only is it a pleasure to watch and listen to them, birds keep the bug population under control – some species can consume over 100 bugs in a day!  In order to attract them to your yard, you need to create an environment that they can thrive in.

They Need a Year-Round Food Source

Different birds eat different things.  Some of the most common food sources include fruit, seeds, nuts, and insects.  Trees such as juneberry and wild cherry provide sweet fruit in summer. Dogwoods and magnolias produce fall fruits that contain crucial high-fat content. Birds eat these to store reserves for winter. Chokeberry and rose hips both provide winter and early spring fruits that can sustain birds.  They also rely on seeds, oak acorns, and nut-bearing trees as food sources.

They Need Water

In addition to food, birds need water for drinking and bathing.  If you do not already have a natural water source, consider adding a garden pond.  Include a few fish to the pond to eat mosquito larvae.  A bird bath is also an option.

They need Shelter

Birds need a place to build nests, rest from their journey, and hide from predators.  Mature trees, hedgerows, and landscape corridors are all suitable.  If you have brush piles, don’t discard them.  Birds can use the materials to build nests.  Just make sure you don’t leave the piles near damp spots or busy roads.

At Shorb Landscaping, our professional landscapers and designers can help you create a wildlife friendly garden.  You can review our previous projects and contact us online, or you can call us at 301-897-3503.

3 Simple Steps to Create a Yard that Reflects Your Personality

A yard is an extension of your home, and subsequently, yourself.  Do the objects and furniture inside your home reflect your unique style and personality?  Extend this same look to your property by following these simple steps:

Step 1: Have Fun with Yard Accents

Look for things to place outside your home that bring a smile to your face, whether it be immaculate and deliberate plant and flower selections, or even garden gnomes, bird houses, or a yard sign with a catchy phrase.  You can even create your own yard art.  Treat your yard as another “room” to decorate with your own unique style.

Step 2: Create a Comfortable Place to Hang Out

Extend the space of your home by creating a comfortable outdoor area that you want to spend time in. This space can be a place to sit and relax, or to dine al fresco.  Or, you may want to have both of these spaces outdoors. The key is to create an ambiance that is reflective of you and warm and inviting for your guests.  Take a look at some of our custom designed outdoor fire places, fire pits and grills and patio areas.

Step 3:  Bring in Plants that Suit Your Personality

What do your plants say about you?  Including plants that fit the personality of you and your home can add curb appeal.  Are you a person who likes a clean, modern yard?  Or do you prefer the look of a whimsical garden?  Perhaps country charm is more your speed.  Whatever your style may be, it is easy to bring it to life in your yard by adding the right plants.

At Shorb Landscaping, our professional landscapers and designers can help you create an outdoor space that reflects your personal taste and style.  You call us at 301-897-3503 for a consultation.