May 26, 2011

Outdoor Kitchens for New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design,Outdoor Lighting — admin @ 8:58 am

Finally, we now have some beautiful weather in our area and time to start grilling!  Summer is all about so many things but it is the outdoor dining that highlights our summer evenings.  And, at Live Oak Landscape Contractors, we have the right mix of landscape architects and landscape garden designers to make every outdoor meal extraordinary!

Outdoor kitchens can  be elaborate with every convenience known to man.  Smaller, intimate, outdoor kitchens work just as well!  The main purpose is to enjoy the evening with friends and family and dine on deliciously prepared bar-be-que. 

We are professionals who  have been designing outdoor kitchens for many years for every taste and budget.  April Showers L:ighting has the best outdoor lighting designers in the business and between Live Oak Landscape and April Showers Lighting we will design your outdoor kitchen to become the center of your summer dining experience!

May 19, 2011

Fountains In Your New Jersey Landscape

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 8:05 am

What a great sound a fountain gives! Today’s outdoor fountains are appearing in gardens and yards everywhere with styles ranging from simple to ornate.  If you are looking for a way to make a statement in your garden or kick up the look of your property, an outdoor fountain might be just the ticket for you.

When introducing a piece of furniture into a room or an ornamental feature into a garden, be sure to consider both the style and size of space.  With a traditional English garden, a very modern and sleek fountain made out of metal may look a little odd!  Also consider proportion and scale-you don’t want a park-sized monument centered in the middle of your landscape!

Ornamental landscape elements including outdoor fountains have seen a surge of interest in the past ten years.  One definite benefit of having an outdoor fountain is the background noise it provides which can muffle less pleasant sounds such as traffic or loud neighbors.

Whether it is noise reduction, the appeal of a vertical design element or the soothing sound of flowing water, an outdoor fountain is sure to add pleasure and style to any garden landscape.  Our garden designers and landscape architects at Live Oak Landscape Contractors  can offer a wide variety of fountain styles to complement your landscape.

May 16, 2011

Creating Privacy with Plants in New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 12:11 pm

Screens have two main uses in the garden:  to create a boundary on the property line and to separate areas with the garden landscape.  A mature hedge plant can vary in  height from one foot tall to as high as you can trim using a ladder!  Our garden designers at Live Oak Landscape can design a low hedge for a flower bed, a hedge about chest high to define an outdoor dining area or a tall hedge for maximum privacy.

Evergreen shrubs are the standard choice for hedges.  They make plain backdrops for the decorative elements of the garden and if you use the same plants for most of your screening, they will unify the garden and give it great structure.  Where privacy is not a particular concern during the winter months, you might decide on a deciduous hedge with fine flower or fall foliage as a garden accent.  We could even plant a double hedge with the decorative one backed by a taller, fine textured evergreen one.  The deciduous hedge’s flowers or fall foliage will stand out beautifully against it.  Hornbeam and beech hedges are popular deciduous hedges because they hold onto their dry russet leaves well into the winter.

A formal hedge presents itself as a single unit with a smooth, sheared top and sides.  It can be clipped so that it’s boxy, rounded or pointy topped.  In New Jersey’s climate where snow load can distort the shapes of hedges, a round or pointed top will help shed the snow.  The best plants for formal hedging are rugged small-leafed types such as boxwood, hemlock or arborvitae.

For an informal hedge, the shrubs assume their natural shape, treating them just like individual plants that happen to be growing in a row.  The informal style is the best choice for plants such as roses and cotoneaster that produce showy flowers or fruit.  Rather than making a plain green backdrop, an informal hedge is more likely to be a feature in its own right.  Again, our landscape architects and garden designers know which shrub will give you the  best look for your garden landscape.

May 14, 2011

Mulch in New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Maintenance — admin @ 9:22 am

In the war against weeds, organic mulch is a gardener’s best weapon. It prevents sunlight from baking bare soil and suffocates unwanted weed seedlings before they spring to life.  Besides repressing weeds, mulch also serves as a shady umbrella for soil, preventing it from overheating and trapping moisture under the surface. 

Shredded hardwood and pine bark are thick organic mulches that take a couple of years to completely break down.  This makes them perfect for mulching trees and shrubs where mulch is maintained over a long period.  Shredded leaves work best for perennials because they break down rapidly, offering easy access to beds for dividing, transplanting and adding new plants.  Hardwood mulches used on perennials beds must be scraped away before you can plant.

Used incorrectly, however, mulch can wreak havoc on the health of your plants!

Our maintenance crews at Live Oak Landscape Contractors know exactly how much mulch and what type of mulch to apply to your garden.

May 10, 2011

Annuals for New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 10:46 am

Nothing beats annuals when you want bold, colorful results in a hurry.  They are easy to come by, easy to plant and easy to grow.  They come in a huge variety of flower types, colors, textures and sizes to fit every garden.  Bedding plants start off looking great and their bright flowers keep on growing throughout the season. But annuals in the landscape  are much more than pretty flowers you can use to add a spot of color around  a flagpole or along the driveway.  Annuals can hide ugly views, revive old plantings, call attention to your home, battle weeds and even help you direct traffic.

Whether your  garden is new or well established, there comes a time when it needs a quick face-lift.   Dull, boring foundation plantings are a fact of life in many landscapes.  To cover up sparse areas and dead spots in foundation plantings, plant annuals.  Mix them among shrubs to fill in gaps, add bright accents and create an interesting mix of textures.  Or simply plant annuals in front of foundation plantings.

Well placed annual beds not only liven up plantings, they also define space and direct traffic in your landscape.  You can line a path or mark off a bed with a row of annuals, for example.  Or use plantings of brightly colored annuals to keep visitors from cutting through a bed or welcome them to the front door.

There is nothing attractive about leggy hedges or foundation plants. Bare stems, scraggly grass or weeds underneath are an eyesore!  Annuals can dress up leggy plantings in a hurry.  Annuals can surround and dress up any tree or shrub planting.

Our landscape maintenance crews at Live Oak Landscape understand the importance of how beautiful  annuals can impact your landscape.

May 6, 2011

Befriending Beneficial Insects in New Jersey Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Maintenance — admin @ 12:45 pm

Toads, ladybugs, lacewings, bees and other beneficial insects can save you from hand-to-hand combat with pests.  Here are some tips to make your garden a haven for these hardworking beneficial insects.

Birds consume an incredible amount of insects as part or all of their diet, depending on species.  Don’t just put out birdseed: Plant a diversity of plants in your landscape to provide fruits, seeds and nesting sites for birds.  Hang up nesting boxes and provide water.

Plant flowers for food.   A wide range of parasitic, predatory, and beneficial insects can be attracted to a border of flowers rich in nectar and pollen.  Mix plantings in throughout the garden such as small, shallow flowers, like sweet alyssum which provides insects an easy access to food.  Other choices include members of the parsley family such as angelica, anise, caraway, carrots, cilantro, cumin, dill and fennel.  Daisy family plants like asters, calendulas, cosmos, daisies, feverfew, goldenrod, marigolds, sunflowers, yarrow and zinnias are great choices. 

Just a word about spiders!  They are among the mose effective insect predators!  Ignore them and they will keep working hard  for you in your garden.

Even organically acceptable pesticides such as oil and soap sprays can harm some beneficial insects like lady beetles.  Instead of spraying for pests, provide beneficials with favorite flowers, water and shelter.  They will get  your pest problem under control and keep it that way!

Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers have a wealth of beneficial insect information at their finger tips!

May 2, 2011

Entrances for New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 6:22 am

Entrances to residences are the first impression a visitor will form so they should not only reflect the style of house or personality of the owners, they should say “Welcome”!  As well, garden entrances should also create this same good impression, hint at the style of the garden and again, make visitors feel welcome.

In addition to the door itself, the entrance to a residence can feature a number of embellishments; steps leading up to it, a pair of sentinels such as rose or hibiscus standards, an ornate door  and beautiful containers full of  beautiful flowers. For a garden entrance, it is generally enough to feature a distinctive gate or arbor.  A gate that a visitor can see through is much more welcoming than a solid gate which visually seems to say “stay out” or “private”. 

Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers have many great ways of saying “Welcome” to your friends!