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What Animals Live In My Backyard (And What to Do About Them)?

            Your backyard and garden host a thriving ecosystem of creatures, this can be a small problem or can be larger than life. When we first come into the possession of a beautiful yard, it becomes easy to forget that it is not just our home. Due to them not always being visible, we can forget that wildlife exists in our backyard and surrounds our home. These animals can prove to be pests or be helpful to your garden. Being knowledgeable about what roams your shared space will allow you to stay safe and keep your garden healthy! Keep on reading if you’d like to answer the question, “What lives in my backyard?”

Foxes

            Foxes are sly animals commonly found in residential neighborhoods. They are often sighted near homes as they are attracted to sources such as garbage, pet food and other sustenance. These creatures can pose an issue if you own any pets. Typically, they will not engage with large, full-sized pets but can with smaller ones. In that case, loud noises tend to scare them off easily. Otherwise, they pose no threat to your backyard ecosystem.

Racoons

            Racoons are like foxes in their nocturnal hunt for food but have sticky fingers. These animals should usually be avoided due to the potential of carrying rabies or transmitting diseases through urine and fecal matter. They also will dig up any garbage or food that is left in your backyard. It’s best to avoid leaving food outside to stop this problem. Also, consider investing in humane repellents to make them flee without harming them.

Opossum

            Compared to their bad reputation, this marsupial is actually a lovely visitor! Though they may steal food that you leave out in your backyard, there is no risk of them digging up your garbage or garden. In fact, they are known for naturally promoting garden health as they consume insects and small rodents. They have also been known to eat snakes, which keeps your backyard safe.

Deer

            Deer are elegant creatures that you are guaranteed to spot when living near a wooded area. It is important to remember that they are wild animals and will not behave the same way your dog or cat would. They can be physically aggressive at times and often carry ticks. To keep them out of your garden, it is good to recognize the factors that are attracting them to your residence. For example, there are several trees, shrubs, and flowers that draw them into backyards. Additionally, water sources and the presence of lawn fungi will certainly make them gallop over to your place.

            To conclude, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the diverse set of critters that enter your natural abode. By answering the question, “What animals live in my backyard?” you will not only keep yourself secure but will preserve your backyard’s beauty. When it comes down to lawn care and landscaping services, it is best to contact a trained professional. With that being said, Giovine Landscaping is always happy to help. Feel free to reach us at 973-325-1758.

Do You Know These Common Landscaping Mistakes?

Decorating your yard is an exciting new feat in the home design process. The outdoor space surrounding your house is a completely blank canvas, and that can be overwhelming for both old and new homeowners. Most people aren’t taught the ins and outs of maintaining a garden, so many landscaping faux pas are committed (many of which go unnoticed). To have a beautiful, thriving outdoor ecosystem that will ornament your home wonderfully, it’s important to avoid these common landscaping mistakes.

Home and Plants Are Too Close Together

Plants need decent room to grow properly. Overgrown trees and shrubs located too close to the home might begin to disturb roofing and foundation material, damaging your property. In addition, the pests within these plants may be able to enter your home easier. 

Lawn Is Too Short

Another common landscaping mistake is keeping a nicely-trimmed lawn. Although it looks stunning and clean, it is actually extremely harmful to its health. If the grass of your lawn (keep in mind the various types of grass) is too short or you’re mowing it too often, it prevents the grass from performing photosynthesis adequately. Additionally, roots won’t grow properly, exposed soil will get damaged, and, your lawn will not be absorbing substantial nutrients. 

Overlooking the Seasons

People will often venture out to nursery or plant yards and buy what’s in season at the moment. Homeowners should keep in mind that various flowers bloom at different times throughout the year, so a proper selection must be made if year-round foliage is wanted. 

Fertilizing Wrong

Firstly, if you are not fertilizing at all, that is an issue. On the other hand, many homeowners fertilize too much or improperly. To avoid this common landscape mistake, one should fertilize twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. It should never be done in bright sun and always be followed by a good watering. Also, when planting new plants, fertilizer should be mixed in with the new soil. 

Planting Too Deeply

Many think that the more soil they can get around the base of the plant, the better off it will be. However, the root system needs air flow to it, otherwise this common landscaping mistake can choke the tree or shrub to death. Furthermore, planting too deeply may cause root rot. A good rule of thumb is to look at the main stem, the largest branch, and then where all the tentacles diverge from— the convergence point should be right at the surface. Otherwise, homeowners should plant their tree as deep as the pot it came in. 

Not Contacting Professional Landscapers

A plan for your yard can be hard to manage but trained experts will make the job so much easier. From lawn upkeep to keeping your plants properly fertilized, our team at Giovine Landscaping are the ones who will be able to assist you. They will be able to provide input on soil quality, pruning, and virtually everything you need to create and sustain a gorgeous outdoor space. With that being said, Giovine Landscaping provides all of the mentioned services at the utmost quality. Give them a call at (973) 325-1758 to avoid any of these common landscaping mistakes.

Top 5 End of Summer Landscaping Tips

End of summer landscaping tips will keep your lawn looking great!

It may still be scorching hot out, but in the next few weeks, that heat will begin to cool. As summer starts to wind down, you may be wondering how best to take care of your landscaping to prepare for the change in weather. No worries – we’ve got you covered. There are a number of easy things you can do to keep your yard healthy and prepare it for when the weather gets colder. Check out our favorite end of summer landscaping tips!

1. Harvest Your Vegetables

If you have a vegetable garden, you likely already have some crops growing, and you may have more come the fall. In order to make space and keep your plants healthy, make sure you harvest whatever vegetables have already grown. This will help new vegetables grow and receive a nice amount of nutrients. You can then add your harvested veggies into a delicious end-of-summer salad!

2. Deadhead and Cut Flowers

Believe it or not, it’s actually healthy for certain flower plants, like peonies, when you cut off the blooms, especially as they start to shrivel. This is called deadheading your plants. Deadheading is important both for the appearance of the plant and to encourage more buds to grow and bloom. The best part is you can then gather up your cut flowers and display them in your home!

3. Repair Your Lawn

If you have had a baby pool out all summer or any other kind of water play structure, you’ll notice that the grass underneath is probably not in the best condition—and is possibly even dead. The end of summer is a great time to reseed your lawn so that any bare patches or dead areas can have a chance to grow again.

4. Prepare for Fall Planting

Fall is a great time to plant bulbs that will bloom after the winter, and the end of summer is when you can start thinking about which bulbs to buy! There are also some seedlings that do well in the fall and that can be seeded towards the end of summer. Speak to your local gardening professional to get advice on which bulbs and seeds are best prepared this time of year.

5. Prevent Weed Growth

Weeds like to shoot up in your lawn during the fall months, and the best way to prevent weeds is to be proactive. Speak to your landscaper or do your own research on ways to treat your lawn to prevent weeds from growing. Depending on the kind of grass you have and your own personal preferences about chemicals, there are a variety of herbicide treatments you can choose from that will be effective in keeping weeds at bay.

If you keep these end of summer landscaping tips in mind, your property will stay healthy and looking its best! But you don’t have to do it alone. At Giovine Landscaping, our experts can prepare your landscaping to help you stay ahead of the game and keep your lawn healthy and beautiful throughout the fall. We’ll clean up any dead branches or blooms, seed grass where necessary, and treat your lawn to keep it in good shape.  No matter what your landscaping needs and goals are, we will work with you to care for your greenery every season!

Lawn Care: A Guide to Different Kinds of Grass

Kinds of grass

You may not think much about the grass growing on your lawn, but did you know that there are different grasses with different characteristics and care needs? The grass you have also affects what else grows on your lawn. The more you know about your grass, the better you’ll be able to understand and care for the greenery on your property. Here are just a few descriptions of the most common kinds of grass in the Northeast United States so you can get an idea of what kind of grass you have.

1. Kentucky Bluegrass

No, this grass is not technically from Kentucky, though Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass State! Bluegrass is actually believed to have been brought to the United States from European and Asian countries back in the early days of settlers. The grass blades are not blue, either, but the buds are a bluish color, giving this grass its name. Bluegrass is considered a cool-season grass, which means it thrives in the cooler seasons of spring and fall but doesn’t do as well in the Dog Days of summer. It is one the most popular grass varieties throughout the country.

2.  Fescue

Fescue is another cool-season grass but it also does well in warm weather. This hardy grass is low-maintenance, and its long roots do an efficient job on their own of soaking up nutrients, meaning it doesn’t need much fertilizer provided by outside sources (like from you or your landscaper). Fescue is prone to growing weeds in the summer, but looks full and perfect all winter!

3. Zoysia

Zoysia grass is less common but can still be found in the Northeast United States. It is a warm-season grass and looks its best during the hot summer months. It is considered hardy and low maintenance, but also turns brown or yellow for ¾ of the year when the weather is cooler. It is also an aggressive grass variety, and can encroach into your neighbors’ yards, or into your garden bed. That said, it typically remains thick and lush all year long, even if it doesn’t stay green!

4. Perennial Ryegrass

Ryegrass is a cool-season grass that grows quickly, making it perfect for filling in empty patches on your lawn, or for turf grass. It does need to be mowed frequently because of its quick growth. Ryegrass is excellent for public parks or other frequently-used lawns because it can withstand heavy foot traffic well and is not easily susceptible to disease or infestations.


If you are putting in new grass, it’s important to consider what grass grow best in your area and on your specific property. The amount of sun or shade that your property gets coupled with your area’s climate will help determine which grass is best for your lawn. If you already have grass on your lawn, it’s a good idea to identify which grass you have so you can know how to best care for it. The experts at Giovine Landscaping can help you decide which grass variety to put in, and we know how to cater lawn care to your specific kind of grass.

Which Plants Grow Best in the Summer? [A List for Beginner Gardeners]

Summer garden

Summer is here, and that means you are likely spending more time outdoors and in your garden. Though spring is generally thought of as the season for blooming flowers, there is some greenery that loves the hot months of summer! From flowers to vegetables, you can enjoy the bounty of a full garden in the months of June, July, and August. Read on to learn about a few of our favorite plants to go for when planning a summer garden!

Flowers

1. Black-Eyed Susans

These cheerful yellow flowers grow happily throughout the entire summer and add pops of sunny color to your garden. They also attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, making them a healthy addition to your yard. Black-eyed susans love basking in the sun, just like summer beachgoers, so they are perfect summer plants!

2. Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera Daisies come in a variety of vibrant colors that compliment the summer season perfectly. Like Black-eyed susans, these flowers love full sunlight, and they also do well when it gets a little shady. Not only are they low-maintenance in the summer months, but they exude the aesthetic of the season and would look excellent in a summer bouquet.

3. Sunflowers

As you may be able to tell by their name, sunflowers love the sun! When in full bloom, they actually resemble the look of the sun, and their buds tend to follow wherever the light of the sun is shining. Sunflowers are easy to care for and can manage just fine in drought weather, making them perfect flowers for the heat of the summer.

4. Zinnias

Zinnias can be planted as early as February, and they bloom throughout the summer and fall! They are easy to care for and grow under a variety of conditions, so they are excellent flowers for beginner gardeners. Zinnias also attract many different pollinators, making them beneficial for keeping pollinators healthy and populated. Considering there is a shortage of pollinators out there, zinnias are important to have around!

Vegetables

1. Tomatoes

There’s nothing like eating a fresh, warm tomato straight from the vine! Tomatoes are hardy plants that thrive in the summer and are an excellent addition to your vegetable garden. They do best if you plant them early in the spring season, as they take some time to grow. Once they do, however, you can enjoy them in your salad or on their own–delicious!

2. Summer Squash

Squash vegetables are not just for fall! Several varieties of squash grow in the summer, like zucchini and delicata. They look beautiful and taste scrumptious, and grow well among other plants like cucumbers. Squash needs lots of sun, deep watering, and regular harvesting, but the reward is worth the work!

3. Peas

Peas do well in the sun and can tolerate some shade, as well. They do not like the cold weather, so make sure not to plant them until you are sure the last frost has passed. They are a bit picky about growing in moist soil, so make sure to water them regularly, especially if you are experiencing a summer drought. That said, peas improve the quality of their soil and are excellent additions to your summer menu!

4. Amaranth

You can start planting amaranth indoors from a seed packet and then transfer these beautiful plants outdoors in the spring and even summer months. They tolerate the heat well and don’t require much maintenance. These plants attract pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies, and they are healthy for people to eat, too! Grains from the amaranth plant are gluten free and filled with nutrients like protein, fiber, and vitamin B6!


There are so many plants that thrive during the summer, whether you want flowers, vegetables, or both! At Giovine Landscaping, our experts can help you plan your garden so you can see the maximum amount of success based on how the sun hits your yard and what other plants you have growing there. As always, we are here for any of your landscaping needs!

How Do You Know When To Start Planting Your Garden?

How do you know when to start planting your garden?

As soon as the weather starts to warm up, those with a passion for gardening itch to get started. But the temperature can fluctuate vastly during the spring months, and you don’t want to risk planting too early. Your garden can freeze if you plant it while there is still a cold snap at night. So how do you know when you’ve reached a safe zone for planting a garden that will survive and thrive? How do you know when to start planting your garden?

1. Wait For Your Frost Date to Pass

Depending on where you live, there is actually a specific date on which the last frost is supposed to occur. You can find your location’s gardening zone on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Knowing your zone will help you know when is the best time to start planting! It’s a good idea to wait about two weeks after your last frost date so you’re on the safe side and can be sure your seeds and seedlings won’t be faced with a sudden freeze.

2. Check Your Soil

You want your soil to be the right consistency to be able to plant effectively. Right after the winter, the soil is usually too wet and soft from melting snow. If you till your soil too early, it will clump and harden, making it too difficult to plant into. It’s important to pay attention to your soil and wait for it to dry enough that it can be easily worked. 

You also want to pay attention to soil temperature. A good soil temperature for planting many kinds of seeds is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Some plants do well in colder temperatures, so it’s important to do your research when choosing what to plant!

3. Measure Sunlight Hours

Some kinds of plants require a certain amount of sunlight hours per day or per week. If you pay attention to the growing number of sunlight hours as early spring progresses to late spring and then summer, you’ll know when is the most appropriate time to start planting those particular plants. This is why you need to make sure to research all your plants and seedlings!

4. Your Seedlings Will Tell You

Some seedlings are best started indoors. If you do have indoor seedlings that you started earlier in the spring, wait for them to tell you when they’re ready to be moved outdoors. When you see two sets of leaves on your sprouted plants, that usually means they’re ready for outdoor planting.

Our Experts Can Help You Know When To Start Planting Your Garden

Planting a garden is rewarding, but it takes planning and know-how in order to accomplish successfully. At Giovine Landscaping, we can help advise you on when to start planting your garden, and we can help nurture your landscaping to make it garden-ready.

How To Choose A Landscaper

choose a landscaper

Spring is all about showing off your beautiful front lawn to passersby. Reaching that point requires an expert landscaper to whip your yard into shape; you don’t want to trust just anyone to do the work. You need a landscaper who is experienced and has an eye for detail, without being too pushy. If you’re stumped in your decision to choose a landscaper, here are a couple things to keep in mind.

Know What You Want

There are lots of landscapers who will try to sell all sorts of services you might not need. Even worse, some might try to upcharge you for way more than any service warrants. That’s why you should do your research before even reaching out to any prospective contractor. Only contact someone once you know what you want to do with your lawn and have a general idea of what everything should cost. Don’t let them sell you services you do not want or need!

Hire Someone Experienced

When you choose a landscaper to work on your property, you obviously want to select someone who has lots of experience under their belt. That goes without saying. What you’ll want to pay extra attention to is the landscaper’s input. We already told you to not let them oversell you for unnecessary services, but you should still honor their input. Oftentimes, they’ll know what kind of plants to add, where to plant bushes, etc. They are the experts, after all!

Seek Recommendations

You’re far from the only homeowner in your area who needs work on their front yard. Ask around the neighborhood! Polling nearby residents about who they let handle their lawn is probably the best way to know who to choose for your own property. Ask each person what went into their decision to choose a landscaper. You can also try looking up different businesses online and read their reviews. A decision like this can seem burdensome, but it’s actually never been easier!

Don’t Choose A Landscaper Willy-Nilly

More and more people are spending money on landscapers, so do not act hastily when making your decision. You’re entrusting a team with the integrity of your front lawn, and you won’t want to flush it all away. If you want to choose a team of experienced landscapers to beautify your lawn with care, call Giovine Landscaping today to get started!

How To Maintain A Healthy Lawn This Spring

healthy lawn

A blooming, colorful front yard is something that everyone aspires to have in the warmer months, but maintaining a beautiful property is a lot more work than you may think. There are ever-changing variables that can overwhelm and discourage landscaping/gardening newcomers. If you need some advice on how to keep a healthy lawn during the spring and summer, we’ve got you covered!

Fertilize

The importance of regularly fertilizing your lawn cannot be overstated. Fertilizer provides your soil and grass with the nutrients required for proper growth. All of the lawns made of tall, forest green grass you see are products of proper and consistent fertilization. How often you should fertilize will depend on which product you use, but generally speaking, you should wait at least four to six weeks between fertilizing periods. Additionally, avoid stepping on your lawn for one to three days after fertilizing. Proper fertilization is the key to a healthy lawn not just during the spring, but year-round!

Get Mowing

You don’t want your grass to overgrow! Regular lawn mowing is another imperative practice to follow this spring. Cutting your grass after letting it grow for too long can send your lawn into shock, which can stunt future growth and make it become weaker overall. A weaker lawn can house insects and diseases, which are the last things you want. Mowing your lawn every one to two weeks should do the trick. Thankfully, depending on your mower, mowing the lawn should only take you under an hour! Wait a couple of days after fertilizing to mow. Mowing can seem like a rather arduous task, but we promise it’s not as bad as it seems. It can be a fun way to pass the time all while improving your home’s curb appeal!

Call An Expert

Like we said, upkeeping a healthy lawn can be stressful and tiresome. Having a team of trained professionals do the work for you is the best way to optimize your lawn. Not to mention, having several people do the work instead of you alone will make upkeeping your lawn more time-efficient and will yield better results. If you need help in any step of the spring landscaping process, give the team at Giovine Landscaping a call to do everything for you the right way. People don’t call us the best team of landscaping professionals for nothing!

3 Spring Landscaping Tips

spring landscaping

We discussed winter landscaping tips two blog posts ago, but now spring is almost here, so it’s time to share another round of tips for the new season! Landscaping and gardening are tasks that require regular work based on the season, which is why we try to make it all easier for you as the weather changes. With that said, keep reading for some spring landscaping tips!

De-Mulch Your Garden

In November, we advised to put mulch down to stave off weeds, provide insulation for your plants, and just generally enrich your soil. With the temperatures and duration of sunlight increasing, you can begin to remove the mulch as you see fit. So long as the freezing temperatures are done for the time being, and there is no ice or frost beneath the mulch, then it is most likely safe to remove it. Your perennials should be just about ready to bloom and impress passersby once again!

Consider Hiring An Exterminator

Warmer weather will make people want to spend more time in their yards, but the same can be said for invasive species that would love nothing more than to eat your plants, crops, and grass. We’re talking raccoons, rats, and all sorts of insects. Hiring an exterminator is the most surefire bet to protect your lawn this spring, as they are certified experts who provide permanent solutions to these invasive animals. If you do not wish to hire an exterminator, there are alternative measures you can take. Call and ask us about steps you can take yourself!

Be Mindful of Pets

Spring is not just a wonderful season for people, but for your pets, too! It is up to us to make spring as enjoyable for our pets as possible, which is why it’s important to realize that there are certain landscaping practices that can be harmful towards our favorite critters. Fertilizers, insecticides, and other enhancements could damage your dog’s and/or outdoor cat’s paws while playing in the yard or letting them roam around. If you look on the labels for your garden-enhancing materials, there should be information about how long to keep pets off your lawn. These spring landscaping tips extend to the entire ecosystem!


Hopefully after reading this series of spring landscaping tips, you are now more equipped to tackle taking care of your lawn this season. Should you run into any issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to Giovine for all your lawn care solutions!

The Best Plants for Winter Landscaping

Turning Yards into Beautiful Winter Scenes

Once the weather turns cold and snowy, your home’s landscape can still look good and thrive through the season. Whether you live in an area with long, cold seasons or you just want to spruce up your outdoor space for the chillier months, there are plenty of winter plants that can beautify your home. Find the best plants for winter landscaping!

Conifer trees and evergreen shrubs can be particularly hardy during the colder months and add interest to your home. The best plants for winter landscaping should have certain characteristics, such as their height. Tall trees and shrubs are a good bet because they can be seen during an average snowfall for your area. It is also important that your picks will attract wildlife like birds to bring spirit to an otherwise bleak season.

Characteristics of the Best Plants 

The best plants for your winter landscape depend on the weather in your area and personal preferences. It’s best to choose a species that is hardy and can survive the winter, and be visually appealing to you. Here are a few characteristics to consider when deciding which varieties to plant at home:

  • Berries that attract birds
  • Height and width
  • Attractive bark
  • Evergreen foliage
  • Sturdy branches to withstand snow

Conifer species are always an excellent choice, but there are plenty of lesser-known plants for winter landscaping that can upgrade your outdoor space.

Winter Plant Picks

One of the best plants for winter landscaping is the Christmas Evergreen Holly (Ilex opaca) which is popular during the winter months because of its fast-growing foliage, glossy leaves, and bright berries that attract many birds. It also adds decorative value to your home during the Holidays. Two varieties like the China Holly (Ilex meserveae) and the Compact Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra ‘Compacta’) are hardy enough for snowy regions. The China Holly is rounded and can reach a height of eight feet tall and wide. This variety is a great pick for regions with dry winters. Compact Inkberry Holly has dark green foliage and its berries are black rather than red, and can reach a height of four to eight feet.


The beautiful and unique Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Allemans’) is another extremely hardy plant. The Red Osier yields white blooms that are followed by white fruit. This plant is an especially unique pick because of its bark, which ranges in color from red to burgundy. Red Osier Dogwoods typically reach heights of six to ten feet with a similar spread. A patch of fiery Red Osier Dogwood against a backdrop of fresh snow makes for an unforgettable winter scene.

Plume Grass (Erianthus ravennae) is also one of the best plants for winter landscaping. This tall perennial grass can create contrasting visual interest among other plants. The Plume Grass has a thin shaft and fluffy foliage that add elegance to a winter landscape. This plant grows quickly up to 11 feet tall and 4 feet wide,and is very hardy in cold and warmer climates.

The Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is a shrub with spreading growth that reaches 4 to 6 feet tall and equally wide (though they are slow to reach maturity). The Bayberry is glossy and aromatic with small gray berris. These unusual berries are widely used to scent candles and are a popular choice for holiday scents. The berries are also a big attraction for birds, but resistant to deer. The Bayberry is also a drought-tolerant shrub which makes it a popular choice.

The Compact American Cranberry Bush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum ‘Compactum’) is one of the best plants for winter landscaping. It yields large red berries that are a favorite for birds in winter landscapes. A rounded shrub, this species bears white flowers in May and June that are followed by red fruit. It also produces lovely foliage ranging from red to purple in the fall. Its color adds beauty to a snowy landscape. American Cranberry Bush Viburnum is hardy and reaches heights of 4 to 5 feet with a slightly smaller spread. 

The Birch Tree loses its leaves in winter, but is still a popular choice for landscaping in cold weather due to its beautiful and unique white bark. Birch trees are fast growers that typically add between 1 and 2 feet of height each year. Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) is known for its pale white bark that peels back to reveal darker sections underneath. It typically grows up to 2 feet each year and can reach 60 feet tall at maturity. 

Winter Landscapes 

Giovine Landscaping can help with choosing plants and once you have made your choices, your picks will require some care. Giovine Landscaping can help with this too. Applying mulch, pruning, and applying anti-tran spirants are some of the ways to care for your winter plants and maintain their health. Whichever plants you choose for your home, their beauty and vibrancy will make your landscape look magnificent through the otherwise gray months of winter.