Spring 2014 Landscape Designer Color Combinations: 1

It may still feel like winter in the metro Atlanta area, but to landscape designers, it feels like a blank canvas ready for us to paint! Fresh color combinations can turn any area, whether home or business, into a showplace, creating a welcoming atmosphere and setting the stage for your visitors, family, customers, residents or employees to enjoy the outdoors.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some innovative and fresh spring color combinations that we can integrate into your home or business seasonal color beds. This week, feast your eyes on a color combination perfect for the Atlanta area because it’s suitable for sun and part shade, which is a common issue in our tree-heavy area. (Click on the image for a larger view of the custom PDF.)


Volcanoes are for mountains, not trees and shrubs! Don’t over mulch your landscape

Mulch 2 to 3 inches thick helps maintain moisture around the root zone.

Over-mulching your trees will cause them to decline long-term as the tree cannot breathe at the natural soil level. Also, mulch tends to knit together and can form a barrier keeping rain water from soaking in to the root zone.

This type of over-mulching problem is more prevalent when using hardwood mulch products as they do not decay as quickly as pinestraw. But even when using pinestraw, it may be helpful to remove some of the decaying matter before applying new material.

This problem can also be detrimental to your shrubs in the landscape. Over- mulching shrubs will cause them to surface root into the decaying mulch material and when we get our hot, dry summers, these plants tend to struggle and sometimes die. Again, this problem is more prevalent when using hardwood mulch, but pinestraw over time can build up an unnatural mulch layer that may need to be raked off before applying new material.

Christmas trees can go to good use after the holidays?

Here are some tips for re-purposing a de-decorated tree:

Re-decorate the tree with treats for wild birds. Leave the tree in its stand or stand it in a large planter with rocks or sand to steady it. Put it on a deck, porch or patio and decorate it with orange halves, pine cones slathered with peanut butter, suet cakes and small bird feeders.

The tree can also gives shelter to small birds on those cold winter evenings. Once the tree has dried up and turned copper, it makes great kindling for your outdoor fire pit.

Remember, it’s not recommended to use your cut up Christmas tree in the house fireplace, as the pine pitch can become a problem in the chimney long-term.

Washington Hawthorn Makes a Super Ornamental Tree Choice

A Washington Hawthorn is an excellent ornamental tree that will bring spring color and winter brilliance to your landscape. The Washington Hawthorn is a mid-size tree that bears white flowers in the spring and boasts beautiful red berries throughout the fall and early winter months. Unique Environmental Landscapes chooses this tree for many Atlanta landscapes. Our clients love it.

Washington Hawthorn in December

A Ginkgo Biloba Tree Is a Great Shade Tree and Fall Color Addition

Noted for it’s outstanding brilliant yellow fall color, the Gingko tree is very tolerant and can withstand some pretty harsh conditions. The one thing that must be considered is soil drainage. The Gingko does not like standing water, it prefers a loamy or somewhat sandy soil. It is okay with short droughts, but NOT flooding. It likes a few hours of bright sunlight each day, too much shade could slow the tree’s growth which can grow to enormous heights. At first it grows very slowly and maybe a little crooked, no worries though, it will straighten out and pick up growth after several years.

Low maintenance – The Gingko needs minimal basic fertilization, maybe two times per year. A light layer of mulch at the beginning of each season is adequate. It requires very little pruning unless you want to ‘shape’ the branches which is best done in the spring.

The Gingko plant is readily available at most garden shops. You should know the female variety is fruit producing and this fruit can have a pungent odor. Removing the fruit immediately after it falls helps minimize this problem. Fall is a good time to plant the Gingko or almost any landscape material so it has time to get established before the heat of summer.

Spectacular fall color on a mature Ginkgo Tree

Are Your Growing a New Crop of Fescue This Fall

Many property owners seeded Fescue this fall and should be well on their way to a beautiful, green lawn for the winter. However, it’s important to keep the leaf drop off that growing grass. Fescue prefers the light and not to be bogged down under other debris. It might be best to use a leaf blower if possible.

No watering needed. With the recent rainfall and cooler temperatures in the Atlanta area there is no need to irrigate the new turf. Happy growing! Fescue might be high maintenance, but surely makes a beautiful lawn for homeowners and commercial properties alike.

Fertilize those Fall Flowers

Like the landscape installation department at Unique Environmental, your fall seasonal color has probably been in the ground for about a month now. You’re thinking the recent rainfall was good and now the sunshine and average fall temperatures should make your cabbage, pansies, and violas happy right? Wrong! It’s time for a feeding. Take advantage of one of the warmer days when it comes along over the next week and fertilize with Peter’s liquid fertilizer. I recommend liquid over granulated now because it will work faster.

More Landscape Tips for your Atlanta Winter Landscape

If you follow our blog, you have noticed Unique is trying to encourage our readers to get moving on their landscape! If you’re not a do-it-yourself type, by all means call Unique Environmental Landscapes and allow our professional, experienced designer and crews do ALL the work for you. Here are three more of our suggestions for adding color to your winter landscape in the Atlanta/Georgia region.

  • Sasanqua camelia

    Sasanqua camelia in full bloom

    Sasanqua Camelia (blooms Oct- Dec) or Japonica Camellia (blooms Feb-Mar) are both a staple of southern gardens. Camellias (camellias) are evergreen shrubs and are available in a variety of ‘blooming’ colors including bright pinks, white as well as bicolor. They are happy in shady or filtered sun and prefer a well draining and rich soil.

  • Winter flowers of a Daphne odora

    Winter Daphne is also a winter blooming shrub and is available with choices of a variety of shades of pink flower that open to white. The foliage is edged with a thin strip of yellow, providing a nice contrast on the green leaf. They bloom through winter and into spring in the South – one of Unique Environmental’s favorites. Winter Daphne (Daphne odora ‘Marginata’) prefers full sun/part shade in a nutrient-rich and minimally acidic to alkaline soil.

  • Glacier Blue Euphorbia

    Close up of Glacier Blue Euphorbia

    An excellent evergreen perennial choice is Euphorbia. The ‘Glacier Blue’ variety blooms cream flowers Feb – May and the evergreen leaves of blue-grey with creamy white edges make it a garden standout. One of Unique’s favorite characteristics of Glacier Blue is that it’s deer & rabbit resistant, a feature many gardeners will appreciate. Careful though, it is toxic if eaten!! It’s also drought tolerant. Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is another variety with similar characteristics except these differences including foliage and blooms. The stems are reddish in color and the leaves are variegated colors of dusky sage and gold with cream and green flowers (tipped with deep red in fall.) The Ascot Rainbow prefers full to part shade.

Compost Your Leaves This Fall

Starting now and through January, the site of landscape companies using motorized leaf blowers or family and friends hand powering a leaf rake will be a common site all across Atlanta and North Georgia.  Leaf drop on properties depends on the varieties of trees within the community.
Before bagging or burning leaves, please keep in mind that allowing leaves to fall and decompose in natural areas or placing and spreading them there is beneficial to the trees for water retention along with nutrient replenishment. Leaves can also be used to cover bare soil in your vegetable garden during the winter to protect the cold-hardy vegetables (carrots, kale, leeks, etc.) When it’s time for spring gardening, just turn the leaves in but add a slow-release nitrogen before planting as the leaves will deplete soil nitrogen.
Burning is a bad option because the smoke contains dangerous compounds and it can irritate anyone’s lungs, especially children or elderly and anyone with respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
But before all the beautiful color falls to the ground, get out and enjoy it. There are many parks around Atlanta that exhibit beautiful fall color.

Fall Landscape Ideas from Unique

Fall is the perfect time to add plant material to your existing landscape or to plan a compete landscape makeover in your yard. Whichever the case may be, Unique Environmental Landscapes has a few plant suggestions for the Atlanta and Northern Georgia region. It just so happens that three of the plants Unique will be using this fall are also University of Georgia (UGA) Gold Medal Plant winners for 2012.

The first, and one of Unique’s favorite, is the Red Bark Coral Maple. One of it’s most outstanding characteristics is the vivid red-coral color the branches turn during the winter. Because it is a deciduous tree, the branches become a focal point in the winter garden, shine a little light on this beauty after dark and add drama to your nighttime landscape (see photo below.) In the spring, the new leaves don red edges adding another cool characteristic to the Coral Bark Maple. Then there is the fall splendor with yellow-gold and red colors.

Another one of Unique’s favorite is the Rabbiteye Blueberry (or Southern Highbush Blueberry.) You will notice this plant at this time of year for it’s beautiful fall foliage color, a deep red. Of course, the blueberries we harvested over the summer are a tasty reason to love this deciduous shrub, too. Next spring, this native blueberry bush won’t disappoint either with it’s incredible cream colored blooms almost like that of Lily of the Valley. Even though plant selection might be limited in the fall, it is the very best time of year to plant a blueberry shrub, it will love a rainy winter. Be sure to purchase at least three plants including two or more varieties for cross-pollination purposes.  If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, be sure to keep the soil moist. A good layer of mulch at the base always helps retain moisture…a must for best blooming and berry harvesting!

If your landscape project includes adding to your perennial garden, try Coral Bells (Heuchera) in a part-to full-shade garden. It looks best when planted next to the fine textures of plants such as bleeding hearts and ferns. It also looks great around smooth creek rock or garden statues. This perennial adds year round color, though older and tired leaves should be trimmed off before the new spring growth.

All three of the plants listed here tolerate drought conditions fairly well. Though it’s always important to remember, newly planted material requires sufficient watering for the first year especially. And of course, there aren’t really any plants in the south that don’t need a good drink of water occasionally!!

Drama in the landscape

Coral Bark Maple is a night time show piece!

Visit Unique Environmental’s Booth at the Upcoming CAI Tradeshow

Join us for a day dedicated to issues that affect Georgia Community Associations! Meet industry leaders and get your questions answered. This expo is FREE to HOA and Condominium Board Members, Homeowners and Community Association Managers.
Seminars include: Coping with Difficult People, Collections for your Community, Hot Legal Topics that Affect Today’s World, Social Networking and much more.
Keynote speaker is HGTV’s Vern Yip… this promises to be a good one!
August 25, 2012
Crowne Plaza Ravinia Hotel on 4355 Ashford Dunwoody Rd.
To Register, visit: www.theneighborhoodexpo.org
And please visit Unique Environmental’s booth!