June 30, 2010

Vegetable Garden Design in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Part II

Filed under: Landscape Design,Vegetable Gardening — admin @ 1:23 pm

IMG_5396XHerbs were used to create patterns of circles and triangles in the garden. Live Oak Landscape Designers researched numerous herbs and consulted with the client to find out what  he would be most interested in growing:

Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The plant tastes somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, sweet smell.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs.

Oregano is a perennial herb, sometimes called Wild Marjoram, and its close relative O. majoramum is then known as “Sweet Marjoram”.

Thyme is a good source of iron and is widely used in cooking.Thyme is often used flavor meats, soups and stews.  It has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavor with lamb, tomatoes and eggs.

Parsley (Petroselinum) is a bright green biennial herb, often used as spice. In modern cooking, parsley is used for its leaf in much the same way as coriander (which is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro), although parsley is perceived to have a milder flavor.

Lemon grass is native to India. It is widely used as a herb in Asian cuisine. It has a citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh.

Lemon grass is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for poultry, fish, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African and Latin American countries

garden pyramid trellisThe focal point of the garden will be a garden obelisk with purple Clematis,  The President” and the Red Malabar Spinach.

Live Oak Landscape designers will revisit this special garden next month and will post new pictures showing the changing landscape.

Live Oak Landscape Vegetable Garden in Allentown, Pennsylvania

Filed under: Landscape Design Process,Vegetable Gardening — admin @ 1:22 pm

IMG_5005XOur Architects and Designers at Live Oak Landscape Contractors  have been designing and planting  a wonderful garden for a client in  Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Because his  garden is a formal garden, Live Oak Landscape Architects used the French potager style to be decorative as well as functional as a basis for his vegetable garden.  This client wanted a productive garden with a lot of unusual vegetables and herbs.  We searched many resources in New Jersey to find his requests;  Fraises des Bois -strawberries  that do not send out runners, Red Malabar Spinach, special heirloom tomatoes that came from the Rutgers Hunterdon Somerset Master Gardens plant sale.  Ichiban eggplant, lemongrass, baby Bok Choy were also planted  along with the standard fare of lettuce.

The garden was also designed to produce vegetables  from late spring into autumn.  For example, lettuce and spinach were planted in close proximity to summer / fall producing vegetables like basil and kale so that  when you harvested the lettuce and spinach by mid-late June,  kale and basil would start to spread into that empty space.

 Planning and designing the vegetable garden started in the winter, 2009.  Planting started early spring, 2010.  The picture was photographed when the garden was first planted in early April.

IMG_5013XXOur next blog will talk about the herbs that were planted and new pictures will show the garden approximately 3 weeks after this picture was taken

June 28, 2010

Drip Irrigation for Vegetable Gardens

Filed under: Vegetable Gardening — admin @ 1:22 pm

vegetable drip irrigationThe most important cultural practice for a healthy and productive  vegetable garden is irrigation.  Without a doubt, the best investment you can make after buying quality seeds is to have Live Oak Landscape Contractors and April Showers install a drip irrigation system that releases your garden from any dependence on natural rainfall and puts the water exactly where it’s needed – directly at the roots.

Once the growing season is underway, vary the amount and frequency of irrigation according to the rooting depths of the vegetables you grow. Shallow-rooted crops, including lettuce, sweet corn and radish, have most of their roots in the top 12 inches or so of soil. Moderately deep-rooted crops are those that have most of their roots in the top 24 inches of soil, and include snap bean, carrot, cucumber, eggplant, pepper and squash. Deep-rooted crops are those where the main root system is in the top 36 inches of soil, and include cantaloupe, pumpkin, tomato and watermelon.

You will probably need to water your vegetable garden one or two times a week in summer, depending on crop, soil type and the temperature. Drip irrigation, also known as trickle irrigation or microirrigation, is an irrigation method which saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters.

Drip irrigation offers several advantages to home gardeners. You can place water more slowly and accurately in the root zone, with little or no water waste. Also, the furrows remain dry, so you can work in the garden while irrigation is in progress; dry furrows also means less weed growth.   A drip irrigation system, when correctly installed and maintained, can be used very efficiently.

As members of the Irrigation Association of New Jersey,  Professional Landscape Alliance of New Jersey and American Landscape Contractors Association, our staff at Live Oak Landscape Contractors will be happy to answer any questions you might have.  Please contact us at 732-752-8030 to schedule an appointment.

June 22, 2010

Live Oak Landscape Designs Vegetable & Herb Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Design,Vegetable Gardening — admin @ 1:29 pm

Vegetable garden parterreVegetable and Herb Gardens need not be work!  They can provide lots of design and color to your garden and yet be practical too.  And of course, the harvest to your table is just incredible – nothing beats the taste of home grown lettuce, radishes and tomatoes!Another important benefit is that you know where your vegetables come from —your own yard!  We at Live Oak Landscape Contractors are now designing and planting a garden in Allentown, Pennsylvania…..we will show you start to finish what we can do for you as the garden grows.

DSCN1157A vegetable garden is a garden that exists to grow vegetables and other plants useful for human consumption.  However, many vegetable gardens also include flowers for a great cottage look. It is a small-scale form of vegetable growing. A vegetable garden typically includes a compost heap, and several plots or divided areas of land, intended to grow one or two types of plant in each plot. It is usually located to the rear of a property in the back garden or back yard. Many families have home kitchen and vegetable gardens that they use to produce food. In World War II, many people had a garden called a ‘victory garden‘ which provided food to families.

Organic horticulture, or organic gardening, has become increasingly popular for the modern home gardener and at Live Oak Landscape Contractors we have great designers on staff who can help you with organic gardening.

June 17, 2010

Live Oak Landscape Contractor Family Pictures at The Valerie Fund Walk

Filed under: Live Oak Employees — admin @ 4:42 am

Family is all important to Live Oak Landscape Contractors.  Many of “our family” have been with us for over 15 years and we would not be the success we are without them.

The Valerie Fund’s mission is to provide support for the comprehensive health care of children with cancer and blood disorders.

The Valerie Fund is a not-for-profit organization established in 1976 in memory of nine-year-old Valerie Goldstein by her parents, Ed and Sue.

Families turn to The Valerie Fund because of the unique combination of medical care, counseling, and other services it provides. The Valerie Fund Children’s Centers comprise the largest network of healthcare facilities for children with cancer and blood disorders in New Jersey, and one of the largest in the nation. We host over 25,000 patient visits each year.

Today there are seven Valerie Fund Children’s Centers for Cancer and Blood Disorders located in major hospitals in New Jersey, New York, and the Philadelphia area providing caring, comprehensive, state-of-the-art outpatient health care to more than 5,000 children and their families each year. This network means that sick children are able to receive care close to their homes. Before The Valerie Fund, many children—such as Valerie Goldstein—had to travel long distances because the treatment they needed was available only at major medical facilities located in large cities.


June 14, 2010

Live Oak Maintenance Crews Volunteer at The Valerie Fund

Filed under: Live Oak Employees — admin @ 4:55 pm

DSCN3814Live Oak Landscape Contractors want to congratulate all of our team members who volunteered their time on Saturday, June 12th for The Valerie Fund Walk-A-Thon at Verona Park, Verona, New Jersey. The Valerie Fund is for kids with cancer and rare blood disorders.  This day was a success because of all of your hard work. Again, THANK YOU for a job well done!

June 8, 2010

Maintaining Your Seasonal Flowers

Filed under: Landscape Maintenance — admin @ 11:04 am

DSCN1111Annuals are easy to grow, produce instant color, and most important, they bloom for most of the growing season. Live Oak Maintenance provides Seasonal Flower Installation twice a year which is  done once at the end of the spring season and once in the fall and  will add to the beauty and enjoyment of your landscape.

Annuals offer you a chance to experiment with color, height, texture and form.  Annuals add splashes of bold color and many bloom from several months, even up to the first frost.  Our landscape services involves removing existing seasonal plants at the end of their season, tilling the soil mechanically, and then installing the new selected plant material.  This process provides ideal soil and nutrient conditions for the healthy plants.

Live Oak Maintenance also provides installation of fall bulb planting.

June 4, 2010

Pruning Made Easy!

Filed under: Landscape Maintenance — admin @ 12:56 pm

pruningPruning is an horticultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. Selective pruning takes into account the natural shape and size of the tree or shrub and does not turn plants into lollipops, table tops or exclamation points. Sometimes the improvement produced is immediately apparent as in the removal of a competing leading shoot from a young tree.  In other cases we prune with a more distant end in view, for example when pruning wisteria in early summer to stimulate the production of flowers the following spring.

In order to maintain plant health and shape, hedging and pruning should take place regularly and this is where Live Oak Maintenance steps in.  If most plants are left to grow on their own, they will eventually outgrow their space and begin to look unnatural in the confines of your yard.  By caring for your plants properly, their life in your yard will be extended and your landscape will look as it was originally intended.

Live Oak Landscape Maintenance Spring Service occurs after shrubs have completed their blooming and spring growth cycle.  Hedgerows and bushes are shaped and all the shrubs are looked over for needed pruning.  Plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons and andromeda are pruned carefully by hand to maintain a natural and full look.

Our Fall Service generally includes care for slower growing plants and trimming of more aggressive  shrubs and trees with leaders that have grown out of place.

Pruning can be intimidating so let our professionals at Live Oak Maintenance take the worry out of pruning!

Thanks to Wikipedia for picture and some content

Benefits of Mulching

Filed under: Landscape Maintenance — admin @ 12:41 pm

180px-Mulch_shredded_yard_wasteIn agriculture and gardening, mulch is a protective cover placed over the soil, to retain moisture, reduce erosion, suppress weed growth and seed germination, and provide nutrients as they decay. Mulching in gardens and landscapes mimics leaf cover on forest floors.  Live Oak Landscape Contractors have the right people on staff to make sure that your landscape mulching is done correctly because mulch…..

  • Helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and the need for watering can be minimized.
  • Helps control weeds. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch will reduce the germination and growth of weeds.
  • Mulch serves as nature’s insulating blanket. Mulch keeps soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • Many types of mulch can improve soil aeration, structure (aggregation of soil particles), and drainage over time.
  • Some mulches can improve soil fertility.
  • A layer of mulch can inhibit certain plant diseases.
  • Mulching around trees helps facilitate maintenance and can reduce the likelihood of damage from “weed whackers” or the dreaded “lawn mower blight.”
  • Mulch can give planting beds a uniform, well-cared-for look.

Organic mulches include wood chips, pine needles, hardwood and softwood bark, cocoa hulls, leaves, compost mixes, and a variety of other products usually derived from plants. Organic mulches decompose in the landscape at different rates depending on the material and climate. Those that decompose faster must be replenished more often. Because the decomposition process improves soil quality and fertility, Live Oak Landscape Maintenance consider that characteristic a positive one, despite the added maintenance.

Mulch Volcanoes

Filed under: Landscape Maintenance — admin @ 9:24 am

tree volcanoe 1A new term, “mulch volcano,” has emerged to describe mulch that has been piled up around the base of trees. Most organic mulches must be replenished, but the rate of decomposition varies. Some mulches, such as cypress mulch, remain intact for many years. Top dressing with new mulch annually (often for the sake of refreshing the color) creates a buildup to depths that can be unhealthy. Deep mulch can be effective in suppressing weeds and reducing maintenance, but it often causes additional problems.

Problems Associated with Improper Mulching

  • Deep mulch can lead to excess moisture in the root zone, which can stress the plant and cause root rot.
  • Piling mulch against the trunk or stems of plants can stress stem tissues and may lead to insect and disease problems.
  • Some mulches, especially those containing cut grass, can affect soil pH. Continued use of certain mulches over long periods can lead to micronutrient deficiencies or toxicities.
  • Mulch piled high against the trunks of young trees may create habitats for rodents that chew the bark and can girdle the trees.
  • Thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and may prevent the penetration of water and air. In addition, a thick layer of fine mulch can become like potting soil and may support weed growth.
  • Anaerobic “sour” mulch may give off pungent odors, and the alcohols and organic acids that build up may be toxic to young plants.

Many landscapers use volcano mulch just to add another  expense to their customers.  We at Live Oak Landscape Maintenance are professionals and are proud of what we do….just another difference between “other landscapers” and us!