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!

Atlanta Fall Seasonal Color Isn’t Just Pansies Any More

While Pansies are a great choice for fall seasonal color here in Atlanta GA, Unique Environmental Landscapes expands the options and chooses from a larger plant pallet when it comes to creating those big, beautiful flower beds we all enjoy throughout the otherwise dormant months.

One of our first choices is the Red Bore Kale. This plant is not only ornamental but it is also edible. We like to use it as an accent plant with other flowers such as pansies, etc. As it grows, it turns a beautiful dark, deep purple and the leaves are very curly almost resembling clouds. If you want to eat it, pull the leaves from the bottom of the plant where other flowers will cover this area. Kale likes the sun and well drained, moist soil.

Ornamental cabbages and kales are prized for their brightly colored foliage.  Ornamental cabbage is another great choice. It comes in many varieties and colors so choose one that works best with your other plants. Or create a beautiful collage of color by using a variety of cabbage colors. This too, is edible, but probably not as tasty as the cabbage you purchase from your local farmer’s market. Cabbage prefers full sun to partial shade.

Snapdragons offer a splash of bright color and it’s blooms are especially profuse in cooler weather. Winters in the Atlanta area are quite often mild enough that Snapdragons will excel. They are bushy plants with tall spikes of flower buds and offer a good focal point in the garden.

Choose these varieties as good focal points

  • Kale Coral Prince
  • Cabbage Osaka Pink
  • Kale Redbor
  • Kale Red Russian

Choose these as good accents:

  • Mustard Red
  • Giant Swiss Chard “Bright Lights”
  • Cardoon (hardy with Atlanta mild winters)
  • Euphorbia “Glacier Blue”
  • Yucca
  • Rosemary
  • Dwarf Conifers
  • Be sure to use appropriate plants for the size of your bed

So, what are you waiting for. Go out and create a fall color bed for a colorful winter!

It’s Aerating and Overseeding Time in Atlanta

After our hot, dry weather most of this summer in Atlanta, mature plants begin to slow down their reproduction rate. Since a blade of grass lives only an average of 45 to 60 days, production of new growth must continually outpace the dieback of older leaves. Young grass will produce new growth faster than older grass. Therefore, one of the most important secrets to maintaining a healthy, thick lawn is to make sure your grass is young. Georgia’s hot, dry summers put additional stress on fescue turf areas so the annual aeration and overseeding of the turf area is very important to establish a healthy stand of grass for 2012.

Unique Environmental Landscapes starts overseeding of fescue lawns in late summer or early fall. We recommend September 15 through October 15. There are many reasons for this. With fall germination, the young grass will have two or three months to become better established before temperatures drop too low and growth stops. The roots will be established before winter, which greatly reduces crop loss should you have a hot, dry spring.

Maintenance that Follows Overseeding ~ Keeping the Seeds Moist

After the aeration & overseeding is done, the seeds will need moisture to germinate. Keep the soil moist (but not overly wet) by lightly sprinkling two times a day throughout the required germination period. After germination, gradually reduce the frequency and increase the time of irrigation watering until a normal irrigation program can be established. Unique will monitor (our landscape maintenance clients) and adjust your irrigation system during this critical period of seed germination.

Install a New Zoysia Lawn Before September 30th

If you are thinking about installing a zoysia lawn, keep in mind that it’s best to have it installed by September 30. It does not do well if you install it after that date as it doesn’t establish a good root system over a cold winter. You can still install Bermuda sod year around.

Irrigating for Fall

It’s time to start thinking about adjusting your irrigation system by reducing the watering schedule for turf zones. Typically, the number of days and time allotted per zone can be reduced this time of year. If the turf zone is currently running 20 to 30 minutes at a time, it can be reduced to about 15 minutes and at least one less watering per week…..saving on the water bill isn’t a bad thing either!

Additionally, when you aerate and over seed, these turf zones may need to be adjusted appropriately as well for the Fescue seeding.

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:
And please visit Unique Environmental’s booth!

Time for Preemergence Application

Preemergence is effective in controlling summer annual weeds and certain annual broadleaf weeds. The length of control depends on the specific product being used, soil, physical and chemical properties, soil moisture levels, and soil temperatures. Preemergence can be most effective on Crabgrass if it is applied before the seed germination process. Crabgrass initiates spring germination when soil temperatures at a 4-inch depth reach 53 to 58 degrees F. This can occur from mid-February to April in most areas of the southeastern United States. Unique Environmental Landscape’s rule of thumb is to start application of the preemergence herbicide in late January through February. Unique then applies a combination of preemergence and postemergence in late March through early April to catch in weed seeds that may have germinated.

Warning: If you sodded in late fall or winter with Bermuda or Zoysia, do not apply a preemergence until after ‘green up’ of the turf. The grass should be actively growing so the the root is not damaged by the preemergence.

Summer tips for keeping your lawn healthy

Everyone enjoys a nice residential lawn, it’s not hard to have a beautiful lawn, just follow a few simple landscape maintenance guidelines. This is the first of a series of ‘landscape tips’ to be provided on Unique’s blog, please check back often:

  • Your lawn is a garden of grass plants, not a rug, and it needs nutrients to grow. Grass clippings that are properly mulched and left on the lawn will eventually decompose and recycle nutrients back into the soil. Mulching the grass clippings and letting them naturally
    decompose on the lawn for a whole year is equal to about one annual fertilizer application. In addition, leaving the grass clippings on the lawn also helps shade the soil, keeping the roots cooler and reducing moisture loss.
  • Mowing heights are different for Fescue and your warm season grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia. Keep mowing height high-3 inches or more, especially in hot, dry weather is important on your fescue lawns. Bermuda and Zoysia can be slowly brought up in mowing height when we get to the hot time of year. Low mowing heights stresses out grass and requires more water for it to properly grow and survive in temperatures at or above 95°.

Tips on watering properly:

  • Lawns need a total of one inch of water per week- this includes rainfall. Set out an empty tuna fish or cat food can to gauge. When the can is full, this is one inch of rain water. If temperatures stay in the 90° F for more than three days, lawns need 2 inches of water per week. Apply a half inch every other day.
  • For best results, water early in the morning- before 9 a.m., watering in the midday may cause up to a 30% loss due to evaporation.
  • Follow drought-watering guidelines if restrictions are in effect Here is the link:

Tips for the landscape and the hot dry weather

  • Mulching is critically important for plant health in the summer season. It is recommended using two to 4 inches of mulch to reduce soil temperature and improve water retention.

Atlanta Habitat for Humanity & Unique Environmental Landscapes

Unique Environmental Landscapes and MALTA are coordinating efforts with Habitat for Humanity for their third year in a row next Saturday March 13th.

Unique Environmental Landscapes will have staff volunteers helping to assign tasks for the event and working with the materials available to create new living spaces for families on Pryor Road and Bagwell Drive.

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Habitat for Humanity. You can also show up at 2488 Lakewood Avenue, Atlanta, Ga. at 7am. The event lasts until 1pm, so come out and help when you can!

Unique Environmental Landscapes and MALTA enjoy giving back to the community! We hope you can help!