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).


December 15, 2010

House Plants Help Clean Indoor Air

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 2:27 pm

Live Oak Landscape Contractors want to keep our clients informed on many subjects.  We thought you might be interested in this timely topic: NASA research has consistently shown that living, green and flowering plants can remove several toxic chemicals from the air in building interiors. You can use plants in your home or office to improve the quality of the air to make it a more pleasant place to live and work – where people feel better, perform better, any enjoy life more.

Based on preliminary evaluations of the use of common indoor plants for indoor air purification and revitalization a study using about a dozen popular varieties of houseplants was done to determine their effectiveness in removing several key pollutants associated with indoor air pollution. 

NASA research on indoor plants found that living plants are so efficient at absorbing contaminants in the air that some will be launched into space as part of the biological life support system aboard future orbiting space stations. 

english ivyEnglish Ivy- this hearty climbing vine thrives in small spaces.  It also fares well in rooms with little sun.  Its dense foliage excels at absorbing formaldehyde, the most prevalent indoor pollutant which shows up in wood floorboard resins and synthetic carpet dyes.

Peace Lily- Among the few air purifers that flowers, peace lilies adapt well to low light but need weekly watering.  This year around bloomer rids the air of the VOC benzene, a carcinogen found in paints, furniture wax and polishers.  It also sucks up acetone, which is emitted by electronic, adhesives and certain cleaners.peace lily

lady palmLady Palm -this simple to grow tree like species, lady palms feature oversize fan-like leaves.   Easy on the eyes, this plant targets ammonia, an enemy of the respiratory system and a major ingredient in some cleaners, textiles and dyes.

Please read Dr. Bill Wolverton’s book How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants to Purify Your Home or Office


December 12, 2010

Poisonous Holiday Plants and Pets

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 2:25 pm

Bright ornamental plants are a great way to dress up the house during the holidays and a dreary winter.Live Oak Landscape Contractors want to make  pet owners be aware, however, that many of these common plants are poisonous to pets.

Toxicity  ranges from mild to severe and the amount of the plant consumed determines how sick a pet may become.  In general, gastrointestinal upset is the most common finding but if enough plant material is ingested, seizures, coma or death is possible.  Below is a quick tip to familiarize yourself with holiday poisonous plants.

Puppies and kittens, naturally curious, may want to sample some of the new-in-the-house greens.  Dose is size-dependent, so puppies and kittens are most often at greatest risk for plant poisoning.

pointsettiaPoinsettias- Most people associate this beautiful holiday plant with extreme toxicity, but this is not entirely true.  The sap of poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic/irritating and will probably cause nausea or vomiting, but not death.  It  is better to err on the side of caution, though, and keep pets away from this plant.

hollymistletoeMistletoe and Holly – A couple of holiday plants are considered to be moderately to severely toxic and you should call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately for specific advice.

amaryllisLilies and Daffodils- Additionally, plant bulb kits featuring amaryllis and other plant family in the lily family, narcissus and other plants in the daffodil family are popular gift items at this time of year.  Pet owners should be aware that these plants are toxic to pets, sometimes with severe symptoms of gastrointestinal signs, cardiac arrhythmia and tremors and convulsions.

christmas treesChristmas Tree – Christmas trees are considered to be mildly toxic.  The fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting.  The tree needles are not easily digested either; probably causing GI irritation, vomiting, obstruction or puncture.  As noted earlier, the amount of trouble depends on how much is consumed.

Stay Safe – Watch your plants and your pets.  Monitor your pet’s interest in the plants.  To be 100% safe, do not bring toxic live plants into your home.  Place plants out of reach.  Check the plants for any signs of chewing or missing leaves.  www.humanesociety.org has a complete list of plants that should be avoided by your pets.


November 29, 2010

Ferns, Overlooked and Underutilized!

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 4:56 am

fiddlehead fernFerns have been with us for over 300 million years!  There are amazing fossil impressions of fern or fernlike foliage, especially from the Coal Age, also referred to as the Age of Ferns, that  were a dominant part of the vegetation at that time.  Today, there are over twelve thousand species of ferns in the world, the vast majority inhabiting wet tropical forests.

oestrich fern It is not complicated to develop a fern garden, but there are three main requirements that must be met:  1. Shade, 2. loose, rich soil and 3.  moisture.  Most ferns grow well in a soil with good drainage, rich in organic matter and slightly on the acid side.  Few ferns prefer some lime in the soil or grow on limestone rocks.

fern walkIn landscape design there are many ways ferns can be used in the garden, either in small groupings or larger plantings.  While some ferns are lacy and soft, others are leathery and glossy.  Some ferns remain evergreen in winter, frost sparkling on their fronds; other go dormant.  But nearly all have unusual forms that make them intriguing statements in the garden.

Their elegant grace alone is enough to make ferns gardenworthy.  But there are other good reasons to plant ferns in your garden; they need remarkably little attention once established, thrive in low light and are distasteful to deer and rabbits.

japanese painted fernA few favorites:  Hart”s Tongue Fern, Japenese Painted Fern, Tassel Fern, Ostrich Fern, American Maidenhair Fern,  and Sensitive Fern…just a few of the twelve thousand!   Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers will be happy to recommend some of these beautiful plants to create your own Eden!


November 19, 2010

Native Plants and Winter Birds

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 12:11 pm

American Beauty BushOur gardens need native plants to support a diverse and balanced food web essential to all sustainable ecosystems. Native plants have always had symbiotic relationships with birds by providing food and shelter.  In  addition to using fall grasses for a beautiful winter landscape, grasses are invaluable for winter birds.   In New Jersey,  many birds do not migrate  during the winter months including:

black capped chicadeeBlack-capped Chickadees  eat half seeds, berries and other plant matter along with half animal food such as insects and spiders.  Cardinals eat mainly seeds and fruit, supplemented  with insects.  Common fruits and seeds include dogwood, wild grape, buckwheat, mulberry, blackberry, sumac, tulip tree, and corn.  House Finches eat almost exclusively plant materials including seeds, buds and fruits.  Wild foods include seeds of wild mustard, knotweed, thistle and many other grasses. 

Tufted TitmouseTufted Titmice eat mainly insects during the summer but in the winter rely on seeds, nuts and berries including acorns and beech nuts.  White-throated Sparrows  eat seeds of grasses and weeds including ragweed and buckwheat as well as fruits of sumac, grape, cranberry, mountain ash, rose, blueberry, blackberry and dogwood.  Mourning Doves- 99 percent of their diet includes cultivated grains  as well as grasses, weeds, herbs, berries and occasionally, snails.  And the list can go on and on.

 Live Oak Landscape Maintenance staff are concerned about our ecosystem and would be happy to give you knowledgeable advice on  the list of recommended plants, shrubs and trees that provide important food and shelter for these wonderful birds…..birds that can cheer you during some pretty dismal winter months.


November 11, 2010

Fall Grasses Provide Winter Interest

Filed under: Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 10:42 am

grassRavennaOrnamental grasses surpass all other garden plants in their luminous qualities.  The flowers and foliage are highly translucent and are often most dramatic when back-lit or side-lit by the sun.  The low angle of sunlight in late autumn and winter accentuates this radiant effect, bringing a welcome vibrancy to the landscape at times when typical flowering plant are at their lowest point.

miscanthusRich autumn foliage tones of grasses parallel those of eastern deciduous forests.  The green summer leaves of Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’ become a kaleidoscope of deep salmon, orange and red.

snow on grass leavesSnow cover reveals the grasses  to be the most colorful aspect of a winter landscape that is otherwise a study in browns, grays and black.

Live Oak Landscape Architects and Garden Designers know the mriad possibilities in plant selection for  what would make the perfect plant for your fall and winter garden.


November 7, 2010

Planting Bulbs for Spring Flowers

Filed under: Landscape Design,Trees, Shrubs & Plants — admin @ 8:17 am

red, yellow,blue bulb borderIt is still not too late to create a beautiful spring garden .  Hardy spring-blooming bulbs require a chilling period and should be planted in early fall.This gives them time to develop a good root system before the ground freezes. 

 Bulbs in massed plantings make a spectacular formal design.  Try, for example a spring bed of clusters of pink, red, and yellow tulips, surrounded by an edging of vivid blue grape hyacinths.  You might want to experiment with a single color theme.  For an all-white spring garden, plant Crocus vernus “Snowstorm’, Narcissus ‘Thalia” and ‘Mount Hood’, Hyacinthus orientalis ‘L’innocence’, Anemone blanda ‘White Splendor’, leucojum aestivum, and Tulipa ‘Ivory Floridale’, and ‘White Dream’.

For informal design, you might consider creating dramatic pairings of bulbs with trees and shrubs.  Blue flowered bulbs such as scilla, muscari and chionodoxa can create a beautiful effect when bunched in a ring around the base of a white bark birch or small flowering cherry.  They also combine well with spring blooming shrubs such as witch hazel and forsythia.

Live Oak Landscape Maintenance is now planting these spectacular bulbs.

formal mass bulb plantingssnowdropsdaffodil,muscari border