June 28, 2011

Combining Colors for New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 11:11 am

Many gardeners in our area use any color in their gardens which can become chaotic.  A successful garden uses a combination of colors that take a little more thought.  Our garden designers at Live Oak Landscape uses a very handy tool – the color wheel.  Each color on the wheel is flanked by two other colors called analogous colors.  When two analogous colors are used together, such as blue and violet, the effect is considered soothing and pleasing to the eye.  Colors directly across from each other on the wheel, like red and green, are called complementary colors and when used together, are so contrasting that they really stand out creating a feeling of excitement.

For a peaceful mood or for a meditation garden, analogous colors are for you.  Complementary colors are stimulating and ideal for gardens where you want to create a feeling of vibrancy.  Add white and silver shades to tone down excessive intensity.

June 22, 2011

White Color for New Jersey Landscapes

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 8:06 am

All gardeners have their favorite colors.  Some love yellow, some hate it.  Some crave orange, others avoid it.  Some have a passion for red flowers, but find them impossible to fit into a planting scheme.  Offered a choice, many will choose the white flowered plant.  Those that avoid white do not think of it as a color,  but merely cold and lifeless. Those who love white consider it sophisticated, elegant, ethereal, calming and cooling and in the New Jersey landscape design, all of these elements create a beautiful, relaxing garden.

Whatever your preference, gardens planted with white flowers, in association with silver, green or white and green variegated leaves can have real impact.  The white gardens created by Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst  fulfilled  a similar role:  cool rooms that contrast with  surroundings filled with color.

The impact of white is dependent on light.  In full sun, white flowers glare; they are tricky to photograph appearing as white blobs.  In early morning or evening light, or in shade, they come into their own, reflecting low rays, shining against a darker background.

Our garden designers at Live Oak Landscape Contractors have a complete list of those enchanting white plants for your New Jersey landscape design.

June 20, 2011

Creating Height for Gardens in New Jersey

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 10:16 am

Trees, vine supports and other tall garden elements add a third dimension of space that is especially valuable in a small garden.  The vertical lines lift the eye up, away from the small garden floor and if some plants are grown up off the ground, additional plants under them will make the garden lush.

Trees expand the garden dramatically; their tops reach far over our heads and touch the sky.  To avoid creating too much shade in a small space, Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers can choose tall, skinny trees or small trees with delicate branching such as a Japanese maple which lets light filter through the leaves.  We would then plant a diminutive ground cover beneath the tree making  it look taller.

Introducing a few vertical plants in a shrub or perennial border will  direct the eye upward.  Good choices include foxglove, delphiniums, hollyhocks and ornamental grasses with graceful seed heads.

June 16, 2011

Windy Solutions for New Jersey Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 6:12 am

When wind seems like your garden’s enemy, sucking moisture from leaves and roots, breaking branches and knocking down flowers, block it with a windbreak.  Live Oak Landscape Garden Designers know exactly what would do best for your situation; building a fence, planting living barricades of perennials, grasses, trees or shrubs.  When you use windbreaks to protect plantings near your house, you will notice an added benefit, –lower heating and cooling bills!  But if a windbreak is not your style, we can create planting areas that will tolerate drought and high winds.

June 14, 2011

Garden Paths, an Important Element of New Jersey Garden Design

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 11:25 am

A small garden can seem larger when there is a journey through it.  Even in a small urban yard, the journey can feel like an outing into the natural world, away from the sounds and stresses of the city.

To announce that there is something worth seeing on the journey through your garden and to invite people to take the path, mark the path entrance boldly.  Flank it with containers, highlight it with a boulder or piece of sculpture, or provide an enticing clue as to what lies down the path.  The path should take people somewhere special such as a view out of the garden or to a sitting area in the sun or shade.  You can hide the destination from the beginning of the path so that there is a sense of adventure as people begin their journey.  If the space is so small that the destination cannot be hidden, provide some surprise there such as a bubbling fountain or container of bright flowers.  Always provide a comfortable bench or a couple of unique chairs along the path for people to pause and look at a view across the garden, reflections on a pond or beautiful focal point such as an arbor of graceful roses.

A path that borders or crosses water is especially beautiful.  A broad path is more inviting than a narrow path and in a garden without formally marked rooms, create distinct spaces by taking a path into a shady area under a tree and back out into the sun.  The contrast of light and shade enriches a small garden.  We at Live Oak Landscape have been designing intriguing gardens for years and would like to help you build that path for an incredible journey.

June 6, 2011

Invasive Plants vs. Native Plants in New Jersey Woodland Gardens

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 4:08 am

The first challenge for gardeners who want to grow woodland wildflowers is to learn how to identify invasive plants.  Invasive plants (which are almost always non-native) crowd out native species and disrupt the natural balance in the environment.  Rutgers Master Gardeners, located in almost every county in New Jersey, have publications about invasives that are a problem in our area.  This service is free and the extensions can be found on the Rutgers website www.njaes.rutgers.edu/county. At Live Oak Landscape, our Landscape Architects and Garden Designers and Rutgers trained Master Gardeners will be happy to answer questions you might have.

Among the most troublesome invasives in this region are japanese barberry (Berbis thunbergii), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) and Norway maple (Acer platanoides).

June 3, 2011

Ephemerals for Spring Gardens in New Jersey

Filed under: Deer-resistant Plants,Landscape Design — admin @ 6:16 am

The delicate blooms of spring ephemerals bring a fleeting  but breathtaking beauty to your garden.  These plants emerge early and come into bloom before most of the garden has started its show, then disappear altogether in early summer shortly after their flowers fade.  They are wonderful woodland flowers and here are some favorites: 

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) has pink buds and soft green foliage that stands 1 foot tall.  The flowers are a wonderful sky blue.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginiana) will spread to form a carpet of sparkling white flowers flushed with pink. You can plant spring beauty in  a woodland garden or in a lawn underneath a shade of high trees but if you do plant in the lawn, mow after the blooms have faded and the foliage dies back.

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) sends up pairs of strappy green leaves sploched with brown in the early spring followed by festive  yellow flowers with swept-backed petals. Flower stems are about 6 inches high.

Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) forms colonies of delicate ferny blue-green foliage. The creamy white or pink flowers dangle from arching stems about 5 inches from the ground.

Eastern shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) sends up 10 inch tall flowers stalks from a tidy rosette of leaves.  Clusters of blooms with swept-back petals top the stems.  Plants are slow to establish but worth the wait.

June 1, 2011

Shade Structures for New Jersey Gardens

Filed under: Landscape Design — admin @ 9:09 am

With our hot weather now and more to come in the summer months, the sun’s rays can bake your soil dry and suck up all of the moisture.  Planting trees provides a long term solution for a too-sunny site.  But if you want immediate relief, Live Oak Landscape Contractors can create a shelter to keep your plants, and you, from turning crispy.  A shady shelter will keep the soil and your plants cooler and moister so you’ll have fewer watering chores.  A layer of mulch on the soil will provide added protection and help retain even more water in the soil and blocking those annoying weeds. And, at night, voila, instant romantic dining spot!

Planting with vigorous climbing vines such as virginia creeper, trumpet vine or five-leaf akebia will provide a quick cover of shade.

Live Oak Landscape Designers have a multitude of plans to select when thinking of “cool and green and shady” structures to add that special place in your garden.