What is Functional Landscaping?

Functional Landscaping is key in transforming your outdoor space. Landscaping projects are exciting for homeowners— you get the chance to craft a vision for your place and elevate its beauty. Transforming your outdoor space is usually motivated by a desire to improve its aesthetics, but beyond that, landscaping changes can also serve functional purposes. This includes any backyard improvement that is not only visually appealing but also makes your life as a garden owner much easier. Giovine Landscaping has compiled a list of several functional landscaping techniques that you can implement in your own outdoor building process!

Utilizing Trees For Shade

Trees not only fill up your outdoor space with stunning greenery and other colors throughout the seasons, but they also provide shade. Planting trees can help reduce air conditioning costs, so cleverly incorporating them into your backyard layout can serve you greatly. For instance, using deciduous trees will block large amounts of solar heat in the summer, but allow it to enter in the winter. 

Living Fences

Planting a line of trees at the perimeter of your yard creates a barrier of privacy for your home, called a living fence. Evergreens are the optimal choice for year-round protection. It is important to consider how tall and wide certain varieties grow to determine if it will be an adequate fit for the job. Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) is an excellent selection, growing 10 to 15 feet tall and four to five feet wide. However, different homes may have different privacy screening needs, which could also be dependent on the season. Shrubs like azaleas, forsythia, and lilac can make your living fence a more vibrant spectacle. At the same time that these natural barriers increase a home’s privacy, they can also block prevailing wind by either slowing it down or changing its course. 

Pathways

The value of pathways is often underestimated, but their design plays an integral role in the overall functionality of your garden. Pathways are an important piece of infrastructure that let you traverse your outdoor space. Homeowners must think about the exact location, material, and shape of their pathway so that it can aid them most in their daily routine. This means there is much room for creativity when making your selection, and your backyard paths can look visually stunning while still being practical. Maintaining the practicality of your pathway also involves making sure water does not pile up around it when it rains. As such, consulting a landscaping contractor to help you set up a proper drainage system is in your best interest.  

Mulch

Mulch will be your best friend when it comes to keeping your plants and trees healthy. It is multifunctional, being useful for moderating soil temperatures, reducing heavy raindrop impact on soil, and suppressing plant diseases and weed growth. Mulch is any material that is placed atop soil to act as a covering. There are several organic and inorganic choices of mulch, but the former can break down and provide the soil structure and nutrients in the process. Some types of organic mulches include chipped wood, shredded leaves, and pine needles. These are applied two to three inches deep around the plant or tree, and with time, will contribute to a more beautiful garden.

Rain Barrels

As you sustain your backyard plant life, harvesting rainwater can be the best way to save resources. Many gallons of usable water fall during a rainstorm, so obtaining infrastructure that can collect this untapped resource is highly beneficial. Rain barrels come in varying materials and sizes, per the homeowner’s needs, and they are always placed beneath a downspout closest to where they will be most useful in the garden. Be mindful— the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states to be cautious if you plan on using rain barrel water on edible plantings as collected rainwater may pick up pollutants as it travels from the roof. Nonetheless, it can be a great addition to your home landscape that only makes backyard upkeep easier.

Now that you’ve learned several functional landscaping ideas, you can begin planning how these techniques can be implemented in your own space to ensure it is both attractive and efficient. It is never too late to incorporate any of these strategies into your gardening practices, and luckily, there are experts at your disposal to help guide you with any decisions you are considering. From mulching to pathway-building, the contractors at Giovine Landscaping have you covered. Call us today!

How to Maintain Your Yard in the Spring

As the vibrant colors of spring bloom, it’s time to maintain your yard and breathe new life into your outdoor space. A well-maintained yard not only enhances your home’s aesthetic appeal, but also provides a welcoming environment for outdoor activities. In this blog post, we’ll explore essential spring yard maintenance tips that will surely benefit your garden. 

Lawn Resurrection

Kickstart the season by raking away debris and dead grass. You will do yourself a big favor by making sure your lawn can foster new growth. Additionally, springtime is certainly when homeowners should consider aerating their lawns as it will improve water and nutrient absorption. Don’t forget to seed and fertilize bare patches as well— this will ensure you maintain a lush, green carpet-like lawn.

Pruning Your Plants

Pruning is not exclusive to the spring season, but it is a crucial task to complete regardless. Trimming overgrown branches and deadwood encourages healthy growth and establishes a good foundation for long-term health. Also, pruning flowering plants stimulates blooming and shapes shrubs for a clean appearance. At the same time, it will attract some of the helpful critters we like to see in our gardens, more of which you can read about in one of our previous blog posts. Just remember to be cautious when pruning— different plant species have different pruning needs and times. 

Deal with the Weeds

Preventing the intrusion of weeds will promote a flourishing outdoor haven for you to enjoy. To curb weed growth effectively during this season, implement these strategic practices for optimal garden maintenance: 

  1. Cultivate the soil to disrupt weed germination. 
  2. Apply a layer of organic mulch to suppress weed emergence but also retain soil moisture
  3. Embrace eco-friendly herbicides or vinegar solutions to target persistent weeds while minimizing environmental impact. 
  4. Regularly inspect your garden beds, promptly removing any emerging weeds before they can establish a foothold. 

Implementing these proactive measures not only ensures a weed-free spring garden but also enhances its overall health and vitality.

Water Wisdom

With the changing weather patterns, it’s essential to adopt a strategic approach to ensure optimal hydration for your plants. Begin by establishing a consistent watering schedule, preferably in the early morning, to minimize evaporation and fungal risks. Adjust the frequency based on the specific water needs of your plants, considering factors such as soil type and weather conditions. Invest in efficient irrigation systems, like drip irrigation or soaker hoses, to deliver water directly to the root zone, minimizing water wastage. 

Furniture Freshening

The maintenance of your outdoor furniture is as necessary for lasting comfort and visual appeal as is the maintenance of the natural aspects of your garden. Begin by thoroughly cleaning each piece, using a mild soap and water solution to remove accumulated dirt and grime. Inspect for any signs of wear, addressing issues promptly to prevent further damage. Consider applying protective coatings or sealants, particularly for wooden furniture, to shield against the elements and prolong their lifespan. Regularly check and tighten bolts, screws, or hinges to guarantee structural integrity. Given the rainfall associated with this season, it is important to store cushions and textiles on rainy days to prevent mold and mildew growth. Embracing these outdoor furniture maintenance practices not only enhances their longevity but also ensures a welcoming and stylish outdoor retreat. 

With these spring yard maintenance tips, your outdoor space will flourish in all the ways you desire. Embrace the season of renewal by implementing these strategies, and watch your garden thrive. For any further questions on how your garden can improved, call Giovine Landscaping at (724) 316-3064. Spring into action and achieve all your yard needs!

Guide to Rain Gardens

Giovine Landscaping has compiled this guide to rain gardens to educate homeowners about this eco-friendly and beautiful landscape feature.

Most people do not give much thought to how their landscaping decisions impact the environment, but this is a mistake. There are many ways your landscaping can positively impact the environment. Your landscaping decisions can have a large impact on local ecosystems, wildlife, and even water quality. Household runoff-related pollution plays a major role in polluting New Jersey rivers, lakes, streams, beaches, and drinking water. Thankfully, there is a way for homeowners to help fight against flooding and water pollution, while simultaneously adding a beautiful new feature to their landscape design: installing a rain garden. Our landscaping experts at Giovine Landscaping have compiled this guide for rain gardens, to help educate homeowners about this versatile, helpful, environmentally friendly, and beautiful landscape feature. 

What are rain gardens?

Rain gardens are plantings installed in shallow depressions, filled with native plants selected for their ability to capture, temporarily hold, and filter water back into the ground. They can be installed in both natural depressions and purpose-built human-made indentations. Rain gardens are useful for fighting flooding on your property because they collect water that flows from impervious surfaces like your roof, driveway, patio, paths, or waterlogged yard. These gardens are also beneficial for the environment because they can trap any pollutants on your property. Pollutants like pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste, motor oil, gasoline, automotive chemicals, household cleaners, and more, are held back from entering waterways by rain gardens. Rain gardens are also a beautiful and interesting landscaping feature that can be used to display numerous types of plants.

6 Rain Garden Design and Management Tips

1. Rain gardens should always be placed at least 10 feet away from your house. 

If your rain garden is installed less than 10 feet away from your home, you will risk water seeping into your basement or foundation. You should not place your garden above a septic tank or near any underground utility lines. It is best to select a spot that receives a decent amount of water and is located between two impervious surfaces, like your roof and the street, to maximize the rain garden’s effectiveness at catching water.

2. Test your selected rain garden spot to ensure proper drainage. 

A rain garden is not a pond. It is important to design your rain garden so that water drains within 12-48 hours after a typical rainstorm, to prevent mosquito breeding and other issues. Before you add any plants, you should conduct a water-absorption test. You can dig a hole in your proposed rain garden installation area that is 12 inches deep and 6 inches wide, and fill it with water and a ruler. Observing this area over a four-hour period will allow you to calculate the rate of absorption in inches per hour, to ensure the site is suitable for a rain garden. If the soil is not draining fast enough, you may need to amend the soil and/or focus more on selecting plants that will aid in absorption. For instance, adding more sandy soil to your rain garden will help it drain more quickly.

3. Your rain garden should be at least 7 to 20% the size of the impervious surface creating the runoff.  

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recommends that rain gardens should be between 7 and 20% the size of whatever impervious surface is creating the runoff that the garden is collecting. Typically, the largest impervious surface on your property will be your roof, so your rain garden should be 7 to 20% of your roof’s size to unlock its full environmental benefit. Still, even a smaller rain garden can be a beautiful landscape feature that reduces flooding and water pollution, while also benefiting wildlife through its native plantings. A rain garden that is 30% smaller than the ideal size for your property’s impervious surface area, will still be able to handle almost 75 percent of the storm watershed from a house.

4. Pick the right plant species

It may seem intuitive to select only water-loving or even aquatic plants for a rain garden, but this is not the right strategy. Your rain garden will be dry a lot of the time, especially around the edges, so you need plants that can tolerate both very wet soil and dry soil. You will need to plant species that require different moisture levels in different sections of your rain garden. You will also need to plant species that will be able to tolerate dry soil around the edges, species able to thrive in dry or wet conditions on the slopes, and moisture-tolerant species in the center.

All of the plants you select should be native perennials because these plants generally have deep root systems that will aid in water absorption. Plant species like black-eyed Susan, false indigo, coneflower, sedge, aster, daylily, iris, sedum, and native grasses thrive inside rain gardens. Plants like butterfly weed, gaura, coral bells, yarrow, and catmint make great plants for the edges of your rain garden. You can even plant a small tree or shrub species in a rain garden, like river birch, pawpaw, or oakleaf hydrangea. Whatever species you select, be sure to select a mix of plants with varied foliage, bark texture, and blooming periods so that your rain garden is interesting and beautiful all year long! 

5. Integrate your rain garden with the rest of your landscaping.

Your rain garden will be part of your overall landscape design, so it makes sense to integrate it with the rest of your landscaping. For instance, if you have a very orderly, manicured landscape, you may want your rain garden to be planted in this way as well, so it all matches. You can also line the outside of your rain garden with other decorative plants to further integrate it. Consider using the same kinds of decorative rocks both inside and outside of your rain garden. You can also consult with our landscape design experts at Giovine Landscaping, for other ideas for integrating your rain garden into your property’s overall landscape. 

6. Make sure your rain garden gets enough water during dry periods and maintenance in general. 

A new rain garden should be watered about an inch per week during any dry spells the year following installation, to allow your plants to establish themselves. After the first year, watering your rain garden deeply, but infrequently during times of drought, is best to encourage healthy root development. You should also prune your rain garden plants according to the needs of your specific species, and take care to remove weeds and debris that threaten to disrupt your garden. You can also further suppress weed growth by adding a 3-inch layer of fine hardwood mulch. It is important to use hardwood mulch, specifically, for this task because pine bark and wood chips will be washed out of your rain garden.

Contact Giovine Landscaping

If you want to install a rain garden or make any other changes to your landscape design, please contact Giovine Landscaping so that we can help you build the yard of your dreams!

Winter Landscaping Design Tips

Winter landscaping design is an overlooked but important part of building a beautiful yard. Giovine Landscaping is here to help with this guide.

Many backyards look dull, dead, and even downright ugly during winter despite looking beautiful during spring, summer, and fall. Unfortunately, the designs of many yards fail to stay aesthetically pleasing during the cold time of the year when most plants are dormant, but this failure is not inevitable. The landscape design experts here at Giovine Landscaping are sharing nine tips to build a beautiful winter landscape for your home.

Getting Started With Winter Landscaping Design

Every homeowner landscape design journey has to start with figuring out what exactly you want to change about your property and our first tip reflects that reality.

  1. Evaluate your current winter landscaping design: The first step to improving your winter landscape is to explore it in its current state. Go take a walk around your property and examine your plantings, hardscaping, wildlife presence, and other aspects of your yard. Take note of what aspects are already beautiful and what needs improvement. 
  2. Focus on your hardscapes: Winter is a good time of year to assess your hardscape (ie your patio, outdoor furniture, sculptures, and other non-plant-based landscape features). Look at your winter yard and decide if you need more or better hardscape features. Perhaps a new fire pit, barbecue area, path, or bench will really tie your yard together. Winter brings your yard back to basics so it is a good time to consider these questions.

Winter Landscaping Design Plant Selection

Plants are the backbone of any good backyard landscape design and this fact does not change during winter. Selecting plants that will keep your backyard beautiful even during the winter months is one of the most important aspects of designing a beautiful winter landscape.

  1. Consider adding evergreen trees and shrubs to your yard: Evergreen trees and shrubs do not lose their leaves during winter so utilizing these species in your yard is a great way to maintain color and texture in your winter landscaping design plan. Contrary to popular belief, evergreen trees and shrubs come in both needled and broadleaf varieties, giving homeowners more aesthetic choices in the plants they want to use.
  2. Utilize trees and shrubs with beautiful bark: While deciduous trees and shrubs lose their leaves in winter, they do not lose their bark, and landscape designers can use this to beautify winter landscapes. Tree and shrub species with particularly colorful or distinctive bark, like dogwood shrubs and birch trees, can be even more beautiful after they have lost their leaves. 
  3. Introduce plants that flower during winter: It may be surprising to learn that not all plants flower during the spring and summer, but it’s true some plants bloom during winter. Utilizing winter flowering plants, obviously makes any winter backyard more beautiful. Homeowners who do the proper planning and research can enjoy something in their yard that will bloom for most of the winter, since some plants bloom during early winter and others during late winter. Witch hazel is a particularly beautiful genus of winter-flowing plant with several species native to North America.
  4. Utilize winter berry and fruit-bearing plants: Incorporating plants that produce berries and other fruits during winter makes your yard more beautiful for two reasons. First of all these fruits provide a pop of bright color that will contrast with white snow, grey skies, and brown dormant plants that dominate winter landscapes. Secondly, these fruits provide food that attracts birds and other wildlife bringing beautiful and interesting life to your winter yard.

Winter Landscaping Design For Wildlife

Attracting wildlife to your yard is one of the best ways to maintain its beauty through winter. Wildlife-friendly yards allow us to stay connected with nature even when it is too cold to venture outside by allowing you and your family to watch birds and other wildlife through your windows. Building wildlife-friendly winter landscaping designs on your property also helps animals survive during the winter when food, water, and shelter are scarce, this is especially important in our current age of habitat loss and mass extinction. 

  1. Provide a food source for wildlife: Wild animals often struggle to find food during the lean months of winter. Creating food sources in your yard will both help wildlife and bring beauty to your yard through the presence of that wildlife. The exact sort of food sources you should add to your yard depends on the type of animals you wish to attract, but birdfeeders and fruit/berry-bearing plants are the best way to feed wildlife. If you do install a birdfeeder, be sure to clean it weekly to prevent the spread of diseases. You should also avoid hand-feeding wild animals because this can lead them to associate humans with food which can put both wildlife and people at risk. Let your landscape do the feeding.
  2. Provide a water source for wildlife: Water, like food, is harder for wildlife to find during winter so providing water sources for wildlife in your yard will attract animals. Water sources like bird baths, ponds, and fountains can also double as beautifying water features in their own right. Water sources do not need to be that complicated to attract wildlife through a shallow bucket, plate saucer, or even a trash can lid can also be good winter water sources for backyard wildlife. 
  3. Provide shelter for wildlife: Wild animals need shelter from the cold weather just like people so providing shelter is a great way to attract them to your property. Different types of shelter will benefit/attract different types of animals. Some bird species will happily move into nestboxes while other species may need specific plants or brush piles. Research the types of birds and animals you want to see on your property so you can create the right types of winter shelter for those species. 

Giovine Landscaping Can Help

Giovine Landscaping can help you design a yard that will be beautiful during winter and all year round. Call us today so we can help redesign your yard!

Winter Yard Maintenance Tips

Soon your backyard will be covered with snow like this one. Thankfully, Giovine Landscaping has compiled this guide of winter yard maintenance tips to help homeowners maintain their property this winter.

Winter has finally arrived. Many people tend to forget about their yard maintenance duties during the winter months, but there are still important steps homeowners should take to maintain their landscapes during this season. Giovine Landscaping has compiled this guide of winter yard maintenance tips to help homeowners maintain their property this winter.

Preparing Your Lawn For Winter

Protecting your lawn is important all year round, but winter presents unique challenges. Here are a few tips that every homeowner should know so that they can get their lawn ready for the frosty conditions of winter:

  1. Rake leaves and remove garden debris from your lawn. Leaving leaves, branches, and other debris on your lawn over the winter can smother your grass, stunting its growth, or even killing it. It is important to remove any debris from your lawn before the first snowfall of the season.
  2. Aerate your lawn before the first frost. You should give your grassroots extra air over the winter by aerating your lawn before the first frost. You can use a spade to take out spikes of soil across your yard or you can rent a larger manual or motorized aerator.
  3. Fertilize your lawn with winter fertilizer. The idea that your lawn should not be fertilized during winter is a misconception. There are specific formulations of fertilizer designed to help strengthen your lawn during fall and winter. You should also be sure to apply some fertilizer before the first frost.
  4. Cut your grass shorter and stop cutting it once the temperature drops below 50°F. Lawns should be cut between 3 inches to 3.5 inches during the growing season. However, for your last final lawn mowing session, you should cut your grass to between 2 inches to 2.5 inches. It is important to keep grass short during winter to protect new growth. You should do your last grass-cutting of the year before the temperature in your area consistently drops below 50°F.

Managing Trees and Shrubs

Winter presents unique challenges for protecting your trees and shrubs, but it also offers unique management opportunities. Here are some tips for managing your trees and shrubs over the winter:

  1. Place mulch around your trees shrubs, and other woody plants. Ideally, you should mulch your plants before the first frost of the season but it is better late than never. A two-inch application of mulch provides an extra layer of protection for your plants allowing for better management of root system temperature and moisture. It is also important to not apply mulch directly to your plane’s truck or step because this can promote rot and pests.
  2. Prepare the branches of your trees for snow. Heavy snow can damage the branches of your trees. Falling branches weighed down by snow or ice can even cause injuries if they fall and hit cars or people. You should consider removing vulnerable tree limbs ahead of major snow storms as a precaution. You should also tie vulnerable tree branches together to increase their strength.
  3. Apply wire mesh to the base of small and young trees. Winter is a lean time for animals like deer. The winter-browsing of these animals can harm small trees but wire mesh can protect against the teeth of hungry winter herbivores. 
  4. Apply anti-transpirants to the leaves of shrubs and trees. It is important to help your plants maintain their water levels during winter. This is especially important for evergreen trees and shrubs that do not lose their leaves. Alternatively, burlap- wrapping can also be used to protect your plants and help them hold in their moisture. 
  5. Late winter is the best time to prune your trees and shrubs. It is best to prune most trees and plants during winter while they are dormant. Specifically, you should prune most tree and shrub species during late winter, so the wounds will only be exposed to the elements for a short time before new growth begins.

Bonus Winter Yard Maintenance Tips

Finally, here are a few more miscellaneous yard maintenance tips to protect all of your backyard plants:

  1. Take in potted plants that are vulnerable to cold weather. Not all plant species have adaptions for dealing with cold weather. If you have any potted plants that are members of non-cold tolerant species and you want them to live through winter you should move these plants indoors.
  2. Be mindful of backyard traffic. When the first blizzard of the year arrives it can be easy for people to forge paths through the snow without thinking much about the ground they are trampling. Be mindful of where people are walking in your yard and avoid trampling flowerbeds, gardens, and vulnerable sections of your lawn. A heavily trampled path will compact the soil and be slower to regrow in the spring.
  3. Avoid salt damage. Road salt is important for preventing slip-and-fall accidents on your pathways during frosty conditions, but this same salt can damage your plants by drawing water away from their roots. Utilize salt sparingly and remove extra salt by flushing out your soil with lots of water.

Giovine Landscaping Can Help

The most important thing to remember out of all our winter yard maintenance tips is that Giovine Landscaping offers lawn care and landscape design services during winter and all year long. If you are in need of lawn care or landscape design assistance please contact us.

Choosing the Right Plants For Your Yard

It can be hard choosing the right plants for your yard but it can be easier with this guide.

Whether you are beginning the task of landscaping your property from scratch, or are modifying an already landscaped property, choosing the right plants for your yard can be daunting. Many considerations need to be taken into account, in plant selection, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the decision-making process. Thankfully, our Giovine Landscaping design experts are here to explain everything, and they will always help you select the best plants for your property. 

Choosing the Right Plants For Your Property’s Conditions

First, you need to consider the unique conditions of your property, to help you figure out what plant species will grow best in your yard. You should then consider the yard size, soil type, geographic orientation, micro-climate, balance of shade and sun, water availability, USDA plant hardiness zone, wind exposure, pests, local wildlife, and other conditions to which your plants will be exposed. 

Some of these factors are more easily ascertained than others, but all of them are necessary in deciding which plants will thrive in your yard. Considering the type of soil to use on your property can be confusing, for example. There are numerous types of garden soil with different physical compositions, chemical makeups, and levels of nutrients. Tulips grow very well in sandy soils while rhododendrons grow best in peaty soils. You should figure out which type of soil is present on your property so that you will be able to more effectively choose the plants that will thrive in that soil. Knowing all of the other conditions of your property’s chemical and physical makeup will also be very helpful in choosing what will work best for planning out any new landscaping project.   

Plant Selection Mistakes

If a mistake is made and a particular plant does not thrive on your property, it can always be replaced, with the exception of large trees. Large trees grow slowly and can even present a danger to your property if they are weakened. Planting a large tree in the wrong environment can present a potentially dangerous situation for you and your home, so it is important to work with a professional in choosing the right place for a large tree. The tree experts at Giovine Landscaping are available to help you make the right and the BEST decisions when it comes to selecting the right landscaping for your particular environment.

Reflect On Your Needs and Aesthetic Preferences

Once you have determined the conditions of your property, you should consider the types of plants you want and need on your property. Yard plants can be split into six groups: trees, garden shrubs, vines, ground covers, perennials (flowers that come back on their own every year), and annuals (flowers that need to be replaced every year).

As a property owner, you need to figure out what you need and want from each of these categories, so that you can select the proper plants. How much maintenance will your new landscaping require? What will your yard be used for most of the time? Perhaps you have children, and you would like to utilize a turf lawn for your primary ground cover, to give them a place to play sports.  Lifestyle needs vary from person to person and family to family. Knowing what your options are, will help make your final decisions in designing your outdoor spaces.

There are many possible considerations for each of these categories. You may also have a landscape design aesthetic in mind, that involves utilizing many different plant species. If you love bright colors, you can obtain colorful annuals and flowering shrubs, or if you want more of a traditional green look, you can choose plain green varieties. If you have any family pets that will be spending time outdoors on your property,  it is essential to avoid using any plants that are poisonous to animals, to avoid any tragic accidents. 

Find Native Plants

Finally, when selecting plants for your yard, it is important to consider utilizing native species. Native species are plants that occur naturally and have evolved in a specific ecosystem over a long time. These plants have adapted to the climate, soil conditions, and wildlife in a specific environment and have helped them acclimate based on all of these factors. Native plants provide many ecological benefits. Earth is currently in the midst of an extinction crisis, so utilizing native plants can help provide resources to local species and prevent the expansion of invasive foreign species that are hurting local ecosystems. Native plants are also often easier to maintain and often require less fertilizer, pesticides, and water than foreign plant species. If you choose native plants for your property, you can save money AND the environment at the same time. 

 In order to gain the benefits of hosting native plants on your property, you first have to identify what species are native to your area and find out where you can purchase them. It is not always easy to find native plants, but you can do some research and you can try using the Homegrown National Park’s native plant finder.  This is a great resource to assist you in your search.

Giovine Landscaping

If you require assistance choosing the right plants for your property, designing your landscape, or installing your landscape design, do not hesitate to reach out to Giovine Landscaping. We can handle all of your landscape design, installation, and maintenance needs. Call today!

Helpful Animals You Should Want in Your Yard

Hummingbirds are one of several helpful animals for your yard.

Your yard is more than just a bunch of plants and patio furniture. It is a living ecosystem in which numerous plants and animals interact in order to create a dynamic atmosphere for them all to thrive. As the homeowner, you are the steward of this little ecosystem and you can take actions to make your yard a better place to live for helpful species while warding off destructive pests. Here are four helpful animals you want living in your yard or garden.

Birds 

Bird song is the pleasant background noise found in most New Jersey backyards, but it is easy to overlook just how helpful our avian friends really are. Birds provide natural pest control by eating numerous insects, including those that can harm your backyard garden or even your family, like aphids and mosquitos. Larger birds, like owls and hawks, can even take a bite out of any rodent problems persisting in your neighborhood. Other birds, like hummingbirds, can benefit your garden by pollinating your plants. 

On top of all of this, birds bring beauty to your yard and can provide entertainment through the fulfilling hobby of bird watching. You can attract more birds to your yard for pest control, pollination, and entertainment purposes by putting out a bird feeder, installing a birdbath, hanging bird houses or nest boxes, and by planting native plants. For questions on your native landscaping options, contact Giovine Landscaping.

Bees and Butterflies 

Hummingbirds are not the only beneficial pollinators you want flying around your yard; bees and butterflies are essential for any successful garden. Bees, in particular, pollinate numerous human food crops that you may have in your backyard garden, including many fruit and vegetable plants. Butterflies are also very important pollinators, essential to helping flowering plants reproduce. In order to attract these two helpful insects, plant a diverse mix of flowering plants (especially native plants) and avoid the use of pesticides. If you want to attract a specific butterfly species, such as the iconic and endangered monarch butterfly, look into what flowers that specific species enjoys. Monarch butterflies, for instance, rely on a plant called milkweed for breeding and gathering nectar.

Bats

Bats are highly misunderstood animals that have been unfairly villainized for millennia. They are often associated with vampires, but the bat species present in New Jersey does not drink blood. They do eat the real vampires, though: mosquitoes. One bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. Attracting bats to your backyard reduces the number of harmful mosquitoes and other biting insects in the vicinity. 

Bats are not aggressive and do not pose a serious health risk to humans unless they roost inside your house and their droppings are allowed to accumulate. It should also be noted that less than one percent of bats contract rabies, which is much lower than other mammals. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, regularly spread disease through their bites and kill more people than any other species on the planet. To attract these nocturnal exterminators, consider installing a bat box on your property 15 feet off the ground, near water, and in a location where the box will receive sunlight.

Worms

Worms certainly are not the most cuddly critters on the planet, but they are very important for the health of your garden. Worms perform two essential functions in your backyard: they break down organic matter into compost and they aerate the soil. Worms process organic material and turn it into nutrients that your lawn and other backyard plantings rely upon. Worms improve soil by creating tunnel systems that help air and water flow more easily. This process is called aeration. Aeration helps your plants get the nutrients they need to survive and thrive. In order to attract worms to your yard, set up a compost pile and compost your plants regularly.  

Giovine Landscaping Can Help You Attract Helpful Animals to Your Garden

If you are interested in attracting these and other helpful animals to your garden, we can help! The experts at Giovine Landscaping will work closely with you to help you develop every aspect of your garden. Reach out for all your landscaping needs!

Best Flowers To Grow On The East Coast

Do you love seeing birds and butterflies in your garden? Want to help wildlife and the natural environment? Wondering how to grow beautiful plants that cost less time and money to maintain? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider adding native flowers to your yard! 

What Is A Native Plant?

When a plant is “native” to New Jersey or the United States that means its species evolved and adapted to our local ecosystem and environment. Native species evolved over millions of years to the specific weather conditions of our area.

Many common garden plants are “aliens” imported from Asia and Europe. These foreign plants may look pretty but they are often useless and sometimes require more watering and fertilizer than native species. Sometimes these foreign plants spread into the wild and outcompete native plants. Unfortunately, this can harm wildlife and upset the ecological balance; these plants are called “invasive species.”  

Luckily, you can reduce the spread of invasive species by talking to one of our experts at Giovine Landscaping. They will help you design your backyard landscape while incorporating native New Jersey species. By growing native species, you increase the lifespan of your plants, while helping other plants grow naturally around them. Here are the best flowers to grow in New Jersey! 

Amazing Plants For Your Garden

  • Butterfly Weed: This plant gets its name from the fact that butterflies love it! This flower is useful for pollinating your garden, aiding in fertilizing surrounding greenery. It is best to plant it in late spring, with loads of sunlight, while the soil is warm. It prospers in sandy dry-soil and can survive drought-like conditions! This flower is bright and colorful and very low maintenance, meaning it can be a wonderful addition for your garden! 
  • Wood Anemone: Wild wood anemones bloom in woodlands on the edge of New Jersey forests from April to June. The species survives best in gardens that are partly, if not fully shaded. They also thrive in damp, rich, mucky soil. The wood anemone is a delicate plant with a stalked white or pink flower.
  • Great Blue Lobelia: The deep blue flowers of this plant grow on an upright spike. This native plant blooms in late summer to early fall. The great blue lobelia thrives in moist soil and can live in full sun or partial shade. The plant can grow 1 to 4 feet tall, and you should plant each one about 1 foot apart. The plant attracts pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds! 
  • Northern Red Oak: The northern red oak is a native east coast tree that can grow up to 80 feet tall! It thrives in full sun and in partial shade environments. It thrives in normal or moist soils, in early to mid fall. This species is unusually tolerant of polluted environments, making it a hardy tree that can be a welcome addition to any yard. It also attracts birds and mammals such as squirrels and deer.
  • Black-Eyed Susan: This flower blooms bright yellow, with a black center “eye”. It can grow 1 to 2 feet tall and blooms best from June to October. They thrive in an environment with tons of sun and well-draining soil. This flower also attracts multiple insects and pollinators due to its sweet nectar.
  • Northern Bayberry: This is a tough shrub that thrives in all types of soil. However, it prefers partial shade in your garden. It can grow 5 to 8 feet tall and grows very rapidly. Due to its toughness the northern bayberry is greatly beneficial to winter birds and butterflies. It blooms from March to June and can benefit your yard!  
  • Purple Coneflower: This vibrant purple flower blooms for two months in mid to late summer. It prefers partial to full sun exposure and is the perfect resource for wildlife. Its pale purple or pink flowers attract a variety of animals ranging from insects to Goldfinches and Hummingbirds! Growing up to three feet tall, this beautiful flower is easy to maintain and is beneficial for your garden.  

Update Your Garden Today! 

For all of your landscaping and plant needs, please contact Giovine Landscaping. Our professional team can help build and maintain the yard or garden of your dreams! Whether you want to remove ticks, fertilize plants or control unruly weeds, Giovine Landscaping is here to help! Don’t hesitate to contact us at (973) 325-1758 for some help in designing your perfect backyard! 

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