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New Year, New You: Landscape Edition

DSC_3545We originally wrote this article for Fine Homes and Design magazine, which you can find around the Asheville and Western North Carolina area.

With the days becoming subtly longer and the energy of the holiday season fading down, we now have time to focus on the newest addition to our daily routine – 2017.  For many home owners, the colder air offers a feeling of relief. Less time doing outdoor projects means more time spent on the indoor ones that were set aside during the warmer weather.  The winter months are the ideal time to spend reflecting and planning for a landscape that brings you joy – long before the planting, maintaining and hard work begins.

In our personal lives, many of us also view the end of the year is a time for self reflection and planning for the year to come. We see the fresh calendar as another opportunity to reach new and exciting goals. Here at Snow Creek Landscaping, we always encourage our clients, friends and family to include your own personal development with the planning of your landscape. We firmly believe that the outside of a home can greatly affect one’s happiness.

Have you ever felt unattached when you pull up to your house? Too often people unconsciously feel agitated or disconnected because their landscape doesn’t fit what they internally envision their home to be like. Whether it was designed for previous owners, unkept because of a busy work schedule, or it just doesn’t match the person you have become throughout the years – all of those can affect your personal life.

Steps to a job in the Asheville area.
What Makes You Truly Happy?

As we focus our attention in the outside of the house, it is extremely important to understand what makes you happy. So many people focus solely on creating a personalized space on the inside of their walls. For us, the outside of one’s house is just as important as the inside. Then, if the outside of our home is truly an extension of who we are as a
person, surely it should include things that give us joy.

To start off, we suggest writing down characteristics of what your ideal yard is. What is it that makes you stop and stare in appreciation at other homes? Is it a clean cut and simplistic design that just makes you feel comfortable, or are you drawn to a more organic and natural looking yard? For some, functionality and maintenance plays a big role, while others may be initially drawn to certain smells, colors and textures of specific plant species.

Creating a list doesn’t mean that everything on there has to be completed, so think of it more as a brainstorming session. Some yards wouldn’t be complete without statues, stepping stones and waterfalls – extras that are tailored specifically for the owner. Get creative and follow your instinct. A container garden on the rooftop of a building in downtown Asheville

Imagine your ideal outdoor environment and put it into a list. Again, write down what makes you happy. You know what brings you joy better than anyone.

Once your characteristic list is complete, compare it to what you already have. If your perfect yard is well trimmed with not a weed in sight, but your current situation is the opposite, that could potentially be a source of frustration for you.  For those who are in the process of building – knowing what will make you feel satisfied is a crucial part of the planning process.

Priority Work

While the overall goal of owning a home is to create a place that makes you happy, there are unfortunately going to be certain ’unflattering’ aspects. If with each storm you are worried about a seemingly dead tree falling over or water flooding into the driveway and neighborhood, those should be a priority for the new year. Take time to make a list of all the things that need to be fixed around your yard before taking on new projects.

Examples of priority items on your property:

Unhealthy or dead trees
Incorrect drainage of water
Obstacles in the way or unsafe pathways
Dim lighting making it hard to see
Anything that could promote structural
damage

As a company, we value our clients. We want the natural environment around you to be thriving and healthy, while at the same time creating a safe place for you to live. Our arborists, production and maintenance crews are trained to make sure both plants and clients are happy. When you make your plans for the next year, we ask that you please take the time to look at your property and identify the landscape jobs that need to get done to ensure your safety and well-being. We also offer environmental assessments in our packages. Are your trees on your property safe to be around?

Making a Plan

Obtaining the perfect yard, most of the time, can’t be achieved overnight. Nature needs time to grow and settle into it’s place. Like our personal goals, preparing and planning can lead to those successes. Consider the following when tackling projects in the new year.

What is your budget for the next couple of years? Investing in landscape projects often is multi year project that increases property value and overall happiness. Start with priority items, then move towards the preferred projects. If contacting us for our tree service to remove a dead tree is an urgent need, budget that as soon as possible. After those are done, figure out what is left for those extra projects that you been wanting to have around the home.

How is your landscape going to be maintained? Creating your backyard oasis is just the first step.Watering and general upkeep is key to having a flourishing yard. If currently you cannot maintain your yard, then let’s work out a plan with our maintenance and gardening crew before new projects are installed. Remember, if you know that a clean and healthy yard is what makes you happy – let’s work on getting that for you!

What is your timeline? Sometimes giving yourself a deadline to get things accomplished by is a great way to take that first step. Using an upcoming family reunion or graduation party as a deadline is a great way to start the design and installation process. We often have clients come to us with a specific date they would like the job to be completed by. This helps us make suggestions and create the best timeline for completion.

A landscape that brings you joy and happiness each time you come home is something that we want all of our clients to experience. As a local landscaping company in Western North Carolina, we strive to promote beautiful and healthy habitats that are both native and environmentally friendly. Give us a call and let’s see how we can help you grow in 2017.

 

Fall Landscaping – Reflection, Planning and Preparation.

The summer has come and gone, leaving many of us questioning why we live in a state with four distinct seasons. With fall, comes colder weather, pumpkin spice everything, and the annual fall foliage production that some of our trees put on for us. While we are checking out the local fall activities and trying to figure out when to turn the time back (the answer is at the bottom), let’s not forget about our personal favorite thing to do – fall landscaping needs!

A fern during the month of October in Western North Carolina, as the weather gets colder.Once a yard starts to loose color, production or overall aesthetics, a lot of people’s interest in maintaining their landscape starts to dwindle. We get it – it makes sense.

What if we told you, however, that fall is actually the most important part of having a successful, and potentially stress free, year-round landscape?

To make this easier, let’s break it down into three areas to work on in the next few months –  reflection, planning, and preparation.

Bonus: You can also apply this plan to your personal life goals. :)

Alright, let’s go!

Reflection:

Fall is the best time to reflect on what worked and didn’t work. Did your dream of a lush backyard oasis turn more into an inner city sidewalk with a few plants – a forgotten one at that – or did your DIY patio project turn more into an abstract art piece on the side of your house? On the other hand, maybe you had one of the most successful summers, which has earned you a green thumb title among your family and friends.

You have had months to get comfortable with your landscape. You have had time to see the growth, colors and movement of your yard with this years weather. Now it’s time to ask the questions to help solidify your needs and wants for next year.

  • What worked and what didn’t?  Be specific. Think about plant location, productivity, colors, personal preference, plant type, and functionality of every aspect of your landscape. Did your okra not grow in the back right hand side of your garden?  Did you find out halfway through summer that you have severe drainage issues near the driveway? Maybe your grass wasn’t as vibrant as you hoped, but the hydrangeas were absolutely fantastic. Write. It. Down.  Make a detailed list, check it twice, then do another walk through outside.
  • Did you get everything done you wanted? We all have those projects!
  • What did you see elsewhere, that you really liked? Did your best friend have a flower garden that brought all the bees to the yard? Or did you become slightly obsessed with rain gardens at the beginning of summer but never had a chance to pursue it any further? For some, this is where pinterest comes in handy.
  • How much time did you spend in your yard? While this may seem irrelevant at first, it is actually one of the most important parts of having a successful landscape. Be honest. Be realistic. It will help you during the next step of planning.

Take your time answering these questions and researching solutions to your problems. For example, if you could not get this one section of ferns to grow, do some research on what allows success with that particular species.

A native plan of the Asheville area during the fall months.

Planning:

Now is the time to take those detailed answers to the above questions and figure out a plan of action. This is your massive plan towards having the best looking yard on the block, a garden that could feed a family of 10, and/or that backyard oasis that gets you out of the house and in touch with nature.

Try setting SMART goals to help make sure your plan is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. This is really where our reflection questions come into play. Especially that last one.

Here are some key pointers that can help the planning process.

  • Personal commitment and abilities – How much time can you legitimately spend on the upkeep and success of your landscape? Do you need to bring in help for projects outside of your knowledge, abilities or time commitment? Look at what you completed this year and compare that with the time you spent doing it.  If you were on track and crossing of your to-do’s – perfect! If not, can that realistically change next year and if so, what are you going to do differently?
  • Budget – How much can you put aside for yard accessories, additional plants, or projects that you want to get done.  If you can invest in landscaping, now is a great time to make commitments.
  • What do you need to do now? – While you check out our preparation section below, make notes as to what applies to you. This will help you with the chores you need to do this fall, to ensure a healthy and successful spring. Waiting until right before spring can sometimes delay your spring goals, and create more obstacles for your yard.
  • Creating a timeline – Once you have your master plan, make different tasks for each month. Yes – even in December you can do something. Whether that is buying clearance yard tools, outside furniture or setting up an appointment with our sales team during the winter months to help achieve your needs – it all can be done!

Plan now and be ahead of the game when spring comes. Don’t wait for a New Year’s Resolution project. Start now and help avoid the winter blues and distractions.

Preparation:

During the fall, you need to continue doing maintenance on your landscape, even if you are personally feeling over it. If you decide to press pause now until the beginning of March or April, then you aren’t preparing your landscape to be the best it can be during the winter, spring, and following summer. In fact, it could all go to waste – creating more work for you!

Sometimes looking at a task from a different perspective can help bring new life or spark a new interest.  Instead of looking at all of this as fall maintenance, think of it more as a preparing for the future. We can’t run a marathon without training (ask our supervisor Michael Poole about that one), so don’t expect to have an award winning backyard without preparing during the less “fun” seasons in some way or another.

Fall in Western North CarolinaDo you now see how all of this can relate to your life goals? 

Here are our main suggestions for preparing your landscape for next spring. Combine the relevant ones into your plan of action. Simple, right?

  • Understand your soil, then aerate, seed, and fertilize as needed. This is a great time to determine pH and nutrient availability in your soil. Healthy soil plays such an important part in the success of your landscape. Once you have tested your soil, now is the time to aerate and seed your lawn, especially the areas that have been overly used and/or struggling.
  • Keep track of the rain and your watering. If it isn’t raining, don’t forget to water your plants. Keep making sure your plant life gets regular water until the ground freezes and the trees have lost their leaves. You want strong hydrated roots during the winter months, not dry and weak ones.
  • Mulching. Check your mulch out. See if you need to add additional mulch or pine needles, while at the same time turning – fluffing it up – the already present mulch. This will help with water absorption, as well bring to light any diseases that may have developed over time.
  • Tree, Shrub, Bulb, Perennial Planting. This goes along with your overall plan of your yard. If you need to purchase new plants to help reach your landscaping goals, this is definitely a time when you can do that. Make sure to research what you want, find the correct times to plant, and follow the rules.
  • Leaf control – There are a lot of options with handling your fallen leaves. If it easier focus on leaf Leaf foliage turning different beautiful colors during fall. removal, then you will want to work in a plan on how that is going to get done and when. Many people, however, utilize their leaves to put nutrients back into their garden bed soil. Leaves are nutrient dense organic matter that, if used properly, can help fertilize your garden soil for the next year. You can either get a leaf chopper, or pile up your leaves and run them over with a lawn mover (things can be fun!), then disperse into your garden. Plan accordingly, as leaving them all until the end can really take away from one of your fall activities.
  • Irrigation Winterization. With fall and then winter, comes freezing weather. You will want to make sure that you understand the irrigation system that you have, and find out the proper way to winterize it. Check out these detailed instructions at over at Hunter Industries.
  • Container Maintenance. We all love how container gardens look during the spring and summer. What we don’t typically like are dead plants during the winter. It’s like emphasizing sadness in those containers! Remember to take in your container plants that can’t survive outside during the change of seasons, especially the plants not native to this area. Again, this is a time to plan on what you may want to plant next year in those containers.
  • Divide Perennials. Do you have those large, well established perennials? Take the time to really look at what has grown throughout the years, and divide the overgrown and clumped. If not taken care of, they can die out in the middle, produce smaller flowers, and/or become more susceptible to diseases. This also becomes a chance to share with friends or to make additions to other areas.
  • Dead removal.  Getting read of the dead matter will help everything flourish during the spring time. Those that are dead limbs or plants can be used as compost, firewood, or simply discarded. Ask yourself whether it is dead, dying, diseased or damaged. Remember, diseased plants such as tomatoes affected by the blight will need to be removed completely off premises – don’t set yourself up for failure next year!
  • Tree and Shrub pruning. You will want to do this lightly, but it can be done during the later fall for trees and shrubs. Understandably, larger trees can be intimidating, especially if near your house – or neighbors house – so make sure to reach out to us if you have any concerns beyond your capabilities. Our master arborist with his team can give you the information you need to help preserve your trees, as well as keep you and your property safe.
  • Put away your tools and equipment. This is a great time to put all of your yard equipment away, and even doing a little organization. It is much easier to start spring off on a good note, instead of having to pick up after last seasons forgotten items.

Let us know if we can be of assistance with any of the projects you decide on, or if you realize you need help maintaining your landscape’s needs. By the way, if you didn’t know when to turn the time back, it’s Sunday, November 6!

Cheers,

Team Snow Creek

 

 

Gardening Supervisor, Amanda Sabo

A sit down with our Gardening Supervisor, Amanda Sabo.

GardeningSupervisor

With all ecosystems, there are multiple variables and moving parts that work together in making a sustainable and successful environment. For our little environment at Snow Creek Landscaping, Amanda Sabo is a key player in making sure the gardening department of Snow Creek is running at it’s fullest potential.

On Thursday, September 22nd, Amanda joined several other professionals for the 6th annual Integrated Pest Management Symposium. Produced and hosted by the North Carolina Arboretum in conjunction with The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, the day was filled with speakers and discussions around the topic of pest management. As a panel member on the topic, IPM Practices in the Nursery and Landscape, she was able to bring to the table her perspective and knowledge of pest management from the viewpoint of a local landscaping company Asheville, NC.Gardening Supervisor at Snow Creek Landscaping, Amanda Sabo

In preparation for her participation, we sat down to learn a little bit more about Amanda and what led up to her position at Snow Creek as Gardening Supervisor.

Originally from Athens, Illinois, she grew up around both vegetable and flower gardens with her family. This influence at an early age is what seemingly projected her education path towards more of an environmental focus. While studying at at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Amanda deciding to focus on a degree in plant and soil science, with an emphasis on horticulture, specifically green houses. This path is what helped push her towards discovering every aspect of nursery life.

After a working briefly at nurseries in both North and South Carolina, she found herself progressing through the ranks at Snow Creek Landscaping. Here she can be found both in the office and out in the field, working with a team of gardeners and helping build our client relationship. Her knowledge and inviting presence allows her to really push Snow Creek to a high standard.dsc_7666

When asked what keeps the job interesting – she says that unpredictable nature of the job is what keeps her looking forward to each day, season and year. Being comfortable outside, through all different types of weather, is what helps a person last in this industry. For her, being outside is part of the job and makes the desk work easier. Being able to work with new species of plants adds an additional excitement to the job!

We hope that many of you will get the chance to connect with Amanda as you work with our team in making your landscaping needs a reality. Not sure about what you can do with your property? Fill out a contact sheet or give us a call to set up an appointment with one of our sales team members.

Team Snow Creek.

2016 Asheville area summer hydrangea freebie!

Do you live in the Asheville area? We have two hydrangea plants that we are giving away for free to a resident within Western North Carolina. The winner will be able to pick up at our Arden location or be able to meet in the Asheville or Hendersonville city limits.

 

Photograph of hydrangea flower

hydrangeas from the nursery that we are giving away.

 

How to get involved?

Go to our facebook contest post and do one or both of the following:

1 like equals 1 entry into the contest.

1 photograph of where you would place the hydrangeas will get you 3 entries into the contest.

Both options = 4 times your name will go into the raffle

 

Wednesday, July 13th at 12:00 PM, we will choose the winner by randomly picking a name from entries.

 

What exactly does this mean?

We have two hydrangea plants that we are giving to you for you to plant at your house. Our hopes is that they will grow and flourish in your environment. This is a plant based giveaway and not an installation – so we can’t guarantee there success like we normally do with our construction jobs. If you need advice on planting them, we are more than willing to lend our knowledge and resources. Once the winner takes them, they are in their care!

 

two white, pink and purple hydrangea shrubs

hydrangea shrubs for our giveaway

 

When does it end?

Winner will be announced Wednesday, July 13th via Snow Creek’s facebook. We can hold the plants by end of the week – or make arrangements to meet.

 

Fun facts about hydrangeas.

Did you know that there are about 70 to 75 species of flowering hydrangeas that are native to Asia and the Americas?

The flowers are produced from early spring into late autumn.

It is considered a deer and drought resistant plant that also attracts most pollinators.

Most species are white, however some are able to present blue, red, pink, and light or dark purple depending on the presence of aluminum ions in the soil’s pH.

There is an American Hydrangea Society that you can become a member of!

They can range in height from around two feet to ten feet tall, but some species can grow significantly bigger.

We think they look great!

 

We love to hear from friends, family, customers and the general community. Yes – this probably means you! Join us on social media where we display our passion for the natural environment and everything related. Occasionally, you will even see updates of our nursery cat!

 

 

Questions to ask when choosing plants.

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Choosing plants that need less support over time create a wonderful look.

 

We have all been there, 20 minutes deep into deciding between two plants – neither of which you have any experience with. Seeing any outdoor or indoor plant flourish in your care is a great accomplishment. The flip side, however, is when you realize your lack of knowledge left it silently screaming for the right caretaker. It’s okay. It happens. Follow these simple guidelines and let’s see if choosing plants can become a little easier and more successful.

 

Some of our selected plants for projects getting ready in the nursery at Snow Creek Landscaping

After choosing plants, they wait for their home at the Snow Creek Landscaping nursery.

 

Location, Location, Location!

The location of any plant is incredibly important for multiple reasons. If it aesthetically looks great positioned next to the open and sunny walkway, but it is a plant that survives only in shady areas – it isn’t going to last or reach it’s full potential. Let’s break it down into three areas of location.

Geographical location:

While indoor plants have the capability to live in the environment you create for them, outdoor plants often are stuck with what mother nature provides them. Tropical plants inside? Yes. Tropical plants at your lake house on the border of Canada? Not so much. We can learn from our mistakes, but some things just aren’t meant to be!

Choosing plants for your home or office must be based on whether or not you can provide the right habitat that they were meant to live in. For us, the winters and climate of Asheville, NC aren’t habitable to many plants that people associate with the south.  Get native, get results.

Property placement:

You found it, the perfect bush that both attracts your eye AND thrives in your area. These days, we relatively can alter the soil and environment that will welcome the success of specific plant species.  If changing your environment isn’t an option, however, you must take into account the needs of the plant.

Learn the environmental needs of a plant and compare them to what your space can offer. Will it be able to breathe or does it need direct sunlight? If your backyard is heavily clay based, will you need to add additional soil and nutrients to allow it to flourish? Is it accessible to your cat who ultimately loves to break potted plants? Hey – it’s a thing!

Ask yourself these questions to help find the perfect environment within your home.

Aesthetics:

This is a big deal for both the look and feel of either your home or place of business. Though, at the end of the day this is ultimately your decision. In your environment, you are the decision maker.

Note: you still can’t change the biological needs of a plant.

Take time researching the thousands upon thousands of examples on the internet. Get a feel for what makes you feel good at the time, but also what will grow into it’s environment. Most importantly, have fun with it!

Choosing plants based on your commitment.

Maintaining happy plants means working with their needs. There is no simple way around that.

Personal Commitment

If you want your office to be tropical oasis, but you have historically never watered your plants – start small. Learn to create systems that will help you remember to take care of your new green friends, then progressively add additional ones as you become comfortable. Set reminders, create visuals, or download an app. Yes, it is a thing.

Don’t put yourself in a situation where you invest in greening up your environment, then see it wither away. Write down a list of your previous strengths and struggles as a plant or yard owner, and start there. It all starts with what you can provide.

Additional support

We have helped many clients in the Asheville area create the perfect landscape to emphasize their surroundings. Hand selected plant species are tailored to work with their specific location. For many, they already know that they cannot provide the maintenance to keep it thriving and looking great. Others can upkeep the occasional needs, but may need a larger upkeep during the year.

 

If you are in the greater Asheville, Western North Carolina area and looking to expand your yard into a personalized oasis, reach out to our team and see how we can assist your needs. We have a staff of highly qualified naturalists, arborists, botanists, and horticulturists on our natural resource management (NRM) team to work with our designers and clients.