Birmingham, AL(205) 956-3030
Mobile Bay, AL(251) 533-6407
Tacoma, WA(253) 761-6437

Archive for the ‘Seasonal Advice’ Category

Your low maintenance landscape

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016







Nearly every client we meet asks for their landscape we are about to design to be “low maintenance.” This has been a theme for several years now, but recently seems to be really gaining some serious traction. So, what do we mean by a low maintenance landscape and how might it be different that what you currently have? Here are our insights into having your very own low maintenance landscape.

  1. It all begins with your soil, your living soil. Nutrient rich and living soils work for the plants, trees & grasses all the time. As time presses on they should require less input from you in the form of less fertilizers and moving to zero pesticides. This living soil also has the ability to hold greater amounts of water than a soil devoid of organic matter and “life.”
  2. Right plant, right place. Simple right? Might seem so but it is amazing how many times we are asked to plant something in the wrong light condition, or wrong soil condition or to close to a structure. The truth is that all the plantings in your garden will need some attention, this is because it is a cultivated space and not a naturally occurring space like in nature.
  3. A plants best food is its own foliage. What this means is that for deciduous shrubs & trees the best practice is to use their leaves as a natural mulch over the winter. This organic material can then be later cultivated into the soil or a decorative mulch layer can be placed lightly over the top.
  4. Fill up your beds! Add more plants to the open spaces to help choke out invasive weeds. Remember that in nature, weeds are there as a cover crop to go over an area that was recently disturbed or are barren. So, don’t give the weeds a place to grow.
  5. Consider removing some of your lawn and adding more planting bed space. Remember, lawns use much water and require a high level of input to maintain a thick, green appearance year round. Maybe you could increase your back yard patio size, add a seating wall to surround it and then finish with some beautiful low care native varieties.
    1. If you must keep your lawn use the simple tactic of mulch mowing or “grasscycling.” Turf grass research shows that by using proper mowers it is better to return clippings to the turf for nutritional replenishment. One side effect is a lower reliance upon fertilizers as you are now naturally fertilizing your lawn each time you grasscycle.


In your garden now…

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Now is the time in your garden to start some tasks to ensure the best possible Spring and Summer! Here are some “To-Do’s”


  • Tidy deciduous trees & shrubs while they are leafless to see the structure of the plants. Prune if needed to restore their natural shape.
  • Check out seed catalogs, garden books & go to seminars for inspiration, ideas and planning.
  • Schedule a garden coaching/consultation with one of our experts to get professional advice to help you create the garden of your dreams!
  • Keep storms debris like tree limbs and needles off lawns so they remain healthy.
  • Remove old, leftover perennial stems and leaves, be careful not to damage emerging leaves!
  • Bare root trees, berries and roses are arriving in garden stores. Plant them now!
  • Cut branches from forsythia, redbud, quince, flowering cherry, pussy willows and other spring blooming shrubs and trees.


  • Trim and clean ornamental grasses.
  • Treat for slugs around emerging bulb leaves and perennials. Look for a product safe to use around pets like the brand “sluggo.”
  • Divide crowded clumps of summer and fall blooming perennials like coneflowers, shasta daisies and asters.
  • As soil warms, mid to end of the month plant “starts” of cool weather crops like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.
  • Take a closer look at how the lawn grass made it through the winter. Consider the following for a green spring & summer lawn:
    • Moss killer application (Ferrous Sulfate) prior to other work.
    • Aeration – pokes holes in the lawn allowing water & nutrients to penetrate the “root zone.”
    • Thatching – think of this as a brush for the lawn. It removes all the old dead grass and any dead moss.
    • Fertilization – reinvigorates the lawn after the other treatments.
    • Over seed application – applying new grass seed to fill bare spots and give the lawn a head start.

Seasonal Color Reminders

Saturday, July 5th, 2014
Fatsia and Pansies

Fatsia and Pansies

Water Initially – Once they are planted, water every day for the first two weeks to help roots get established. Then water every other day for the next two weeks. Then incorporate the following.

Water Deeply – Give them a good, long drink – optimally, until water runs out the hole in the bottom of your container. Depending on the size of your pot, many of the roots will be towards the bottom and need water too. Watering deeply actually encourages roots to grow toward the bottom of the pot, which is better for plants.

Check Moisture Level – Before watering ensure the plants really need it. Oftentimes the top of the soil can appear dry even though just below the soil line it is still moist. Stick your finger into the soil all the way to the second knuckle. If it feels dry at your fingertip, your plants need water.

Know your Plants – Most plants prefer to live in moist soil – not wet, just damp. This is possible with modern potting mixes, which are designed for good drainage. However, different plants have very different moisture needs.

As a rule of thumb, flowering annuals don’t like to get too dry. Succulents like to be slightly dry. Vegetables – particularly those that are juicy (tomatoes, cucumbers, melons)  – like to be kept moist and need a great amount of water. Some herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, dill, oregano, cilantro like to be a bit dry between waterings. This will actually develop better flavors. Other herbs like parsley, sage, and chives, like more moisture.

Water in the morning – According to Horticulture Magazine, plant’ roots are most receptive to watering in the morning and never during midday sun. It is also better to avoid watering in the evening, but if you get home from work and your plants are thirsty indeed, give them a good drink.

Water the Soil, Not the Leaves – It turns out that some plants (especially those with hairy leaves) are susceptible to sunburn if planted in direct sunlight and left with water on their leaves. Water droplets can act like mini-magnifying glasses and burn the plant. Shade plants do not escape, either. Prolonged wetness on these leaves can lead to increased risk of fungus, mildew, and other diseases.

Don’t Rely on the Rain – Even if you think that a rain shower has sufficiently watered your plants, still check them. Sometimes a plant’s foliage and flowers can act like an umbrella, preventing water from getting into the soil and quenching the thirsty roots.

Don’t Let Soil Dry Out Completely – We have added fresh potting soil to each container and tilled completely. Over time many potting mixes become tough and won’t absorb water efficiently. Sometimes during the growing season your potting mix may get too dry and pull away from the sides of your containers. If this happens you’ll notice that water just flows over the soil, down the sides of the pot and out the bottom, leaving your plants gasping for a drink.

But don’t fret! If it’s a relatively small pot, simply submerge it in a large container of water, taking it out when it has stopped bubbling. For a larger pot, poke holes in the soil with a pencil or screwdriver and then give it a good drink, making sure the water is penetrating the soil and not just flowing down the sides.

Don’t Assume Once is Enough – Depending on elements such as heat, wind, and the size of the containers, you may need to water your plants more than once a day. Terra cotta pots, hanging baskets of coconut liners, and metal pots can dry out extremely f

ast on a hot, windy summer day. Over The season you will recognize which containers need to be checked more frequently.


Garden Talk: Rose Pruning

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Roses are a great addition to your landscapes garden and are enjoyed indoors and out. This time of year we have people ask us about pruning their Roses. Let me give you the Father Nature Landscapes way of taking care of your Roses. First, you’ll need a little bit of background on what you are dealing with. Note that this list is not in perfect detail of the in’s and out’s of how to be a Roses gardener, simply the quick, simplified version.

I.  Hybrid T:  Multi seasonal blooming Roses typically used for cuttings due to their long, straight and upright growth before its impressive bloom.

II.  Floribunda: Bush type Rose. Bunch type (3-15 blooms in a cluster) blooming Rose ranging from carpet, climbers and spilling Roses and all in the middle.

III.  Grandiflora Rose:  Bush style rose that is a cross between the hybrid T Rose and Floribunda Rose consisting of both single cutting type Roses and clustered Roses. Can    get as large as 6′ in height.

  1. Prune all of these in February when buds begin to swell.
  2. Think through your desired shape to encourage air flow, use and size.
  3. Cut out any dead canes.
  4. Cut any suckers that may be growing from root stock.
  5. Cut any remaining canes that are smaller than a pencil, or crossing or inward growing stems (These cause damage and allow for disease to enter the plant).
  6. Select 4-6 of the remaining canes, determine the shape desired and cut to height of 1-4′ depending on preference.

This should leave an open shrub with outward growing branch structure.

After first bloom, remove spent blooms to encourage more flowering throughout the summer. This process is known as ‘deadheading’. DSC_0070


Water Wise

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

In the modern landscape, being water wise is not just turning off the hose for the summer. Most people like the green, lush landscape through the summer, and it is obtainable if you plan ahead.

  1. Design for plants for your area. (Zone allocation, sun/shade, high and dry ground or low wetlands).
  2. When planting, water-in your plant material extremely well. Doing this will ensure that the root system can penetrate the native soil and tap into the natural soil moisture and nutrient nearby. We also like to use a type of mychrobial fungi during planting to ensure healthy soil culture.
  3. A healthy 2” layer of mulch around your plants will hold in moisture, protect your roots from heat/freeze and look good at the same time.
  4. Use your irrigation (or sprinkler) system with thoughtful planning. Plants need consistency in their watering schedule to help grow deep, healthy roots. Most importantly is a properly installed irrigation system, run times set for early in the morning and use of modern moisture control devices.  (Anything from a simple ‘Rain clik’ to the modern station monitoring sensors).
  5. Finally, yearly (at minimal) you should clean out the crown’s (the base of the plant where the stem meets the soil) of your plants. Excessive buildup of organic matter can actually hurt a plant by suffocation to the root system and giving an environment for fungi/insects to grow. Un-like the old wives’ tale, I don’t feel this helps with water conservation as much as one would think.

During this hot summer, most people are frantically trying to find ways to keep their landscapes looking their best. This water wise topic should not only be during the heat of the summer, but during all seasons in the landscape.

Realizing that several of these topics are a bit more involved than others, please feel free to contact us for products or advice.