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.

Planting Knockouts and Other Varieties of Roses

We would all agree, a rose garden is a beautiful site. Indeed there is a great deal of maintenance and ‘know how’ to maintain a successful rose garden though. If you love roses, but don’t have the time (or maybe the patience) to work with more traditional varieties of roses, a Knockout Rose Bush. It’s an excellent alternative for the humid summers our Georgia landscapes tolerate and requires much less maintenance.

Planting Roses

Whichever variety you choose to plant, try to do it in November through February and if winter hangs around maybe even into March in the Southeastern United States. This will help establish the root system before the warm spring temperatures create new growth. However, fall & winter planting is NOT advisable where winters are harsh.

Choose a sunny location, especially good morning sun. Roses prefer well drained soil and be sure to add a good thick (3-5″) layer of organic matter such as leafy compost. Remember, I said last week to compost those leaves. Try mixing in a little bone meal. Roses are not particularly keen on our red clay around Atlanta!

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!

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!

Unique Environmental Displays Excellence At 2010 Flower Show


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     The 2010 Southeastern Flower Show has come and gone and we hope you were one of the attendees, because it was definitely worth the trip to the Cobb Galleria.  Unique Environmental built a beautiful 900 square foot garden with the theme “Come on over!!” calling out to all who strolled our way.

      There were a number of fine gardens on display, each with its own flavor and style.  Unique’s was designed to offer a feeling of comfort and casual elegance, with lushly planted backdrops framing a lower terrace, with boulder accents and specimen Japanese Black Pines.  Stone steps led to an upper seating area, which showcased a truly unique water feature, fire pit, and, of course, more lush, yet subtle plantings.  A privacy fence protected the rear of the garden and was adorned with window boxes overflowing with trailing nasturtiums, variegated ginger lilies, fleabane, Princess plant and glacier ivy.  This garden was a great example of the style of landscaping for which we are known- comfortable, colorful and, well, unique!

      Aside from inquiries about the garden itself, the most frequently asked question was “how long did it take you to put this together?”  Well, here are some figures on that:  actual production time at the show took approximately 400 hours, which accounts for set-up and break down.  Add to that the design process, the pre-construction time building stone columns, the privacy fence and so on, collecting the various components and plant materials, transportation, time in the garden during the show and finally, relocating the plants and materials back to our facilities and you can add another 200 hours or so.  Whew!!!  Quite an undertaking!

      Was it worth the time and effort?  Along with meeting thousands of very nice folks during the show, Unique also won a number of awards for their efforts, including the MALTA (Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association) Trophy, the Ann Lyon Crammond Trophy, the Georgia Lighting Company Trophy, the “Best Maintenance” award, and perhaps the most gratifying, The People’s Choice Award which was determined by the votes of the shows’ attendees.  Yes, a ton of time and effort but many fine memories and most importantly, a feeling of satisfaction knowing that we were able to showcase our style and flair and capability to produce a truly Unique landscape.