Putting the Right Plant in the Right Place

Whether you do it yourself or hire a company like ours, landscaping design and installation is an investment of your time and money into your property. Done well it can be a wise investment – with the payout being increased beauty and higher property values. Read on to learn about common landscaping mistakes and how to avoid them.

Put the Right Plant…

Landscaping Advice

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Checking in on the 3 New Cultivars I Added to my Garden in 2017

Last summer some large Leyland Cypress trees came down on my neighbor’s property resulting in a lot more light in my front yard, as well as some additional space to fill with plants! As 2017 comes to a close, I’m revisiting some of the plants I decided to add to this space – Teddy Bear Magnolia, Magic Carpet Spirea, and Ruby Slippers Hydrangea.

The Teddy Bear Magnolia was the definite winner for me. This is a plant that I’ve been aware of for several years but for some reason had never used. Little Gem is another dwarf Magnolia cultivar, and for whatever reason it seems to be more readily available in the nursery trade. In any case, I’m now a Teddy Bear fan! In addition to large glossy leaves with velvety undersides this dwarf tree surprised me with its relatively quick growth rate. Typically when you pick a dwarf cultivar for smaller size, you also get a very slow growth rate, so I was pleasantly surprised when this tree put on over a 1.5 feet of growth in 1 year.

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Teddy Bear’ – Teddy Bear Magnolia in my yard

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What Is That Plant Taking Over My Yard? Microstegium And How To Manage It

Summer is a great time for gardens in North Carolina, but unfortunately it is also the time for Microstegium.  If you’ve noticed a grassy plant invading your garden in the last several weeks it could be Microstegium, commonly known as Japanese Stiltgrass.  Read on to learn more about this problematic plant.
Microstegium Growing in the Woods
Microstegium is a warm weather annual that shows up once the heat of summer has kicked in.  Growing quickly and spreading especially in unmaintained areas, this is a plant that can take over your yard. Hand weeding can help control Microstegium in small areas, and it is a fairly easy plant to pull.  I have also had some success in planting other aggressive plants (such as the native Ostrich Fern) in areas prone to Microstegium on my property.  While the Ostrich Fern doesn’t eradicate the Microstegium, it does provide some competition against this exotic invasive.

Check out the links below for advice from NC State on the management of this challenging weed:

https://weeds.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/05/what-is-that-weed/?src=rss
http://www4.ncsu.edu/~jcneal/documents/judge-stiltgrass-05.pdf
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/japanese-stiltgrass-identification-and-management

Need help managing the spread of Microstegium on your property?  Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-619-4460 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!

My Favorite Dwarf Shrubs to Use in Durham Gardens

If you asked me what types of plants are most commonly used in my landscape designs, the answer would be dwarf shrubs.  The reason is simple – they will fit almost anywhere!  Most clients have at least one area of their property that is constrained – the distance between the front of the house and the walkway is a common example.  A mixed bed of dwarf shrubs tends to be the perfect solution – the plants are small enough that I can use multiple varieties for interest without creating a bed that will be overgrown in the future.  Read on to learn about some of my favorite varities.

Ilex crenata ‘Soft Touch’ – Soft Touch Japanese Holly
Ilex crenata ‘Soft Touch’ – Soft Touch Japanese Holly

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Low Maintenance Landscaping – Does it Really Exist and How to Design for it?

One thing I’ve learned over my 7 years of working as a landscape designer is that no one is looking for a high maintenance garden.  Another thing I’ve learned is that every garden requires maintenance and you should plan for it as part of an effective landscape design.  Read on to learn more about my tips for planning for and managing garden maintenance.

A Gardeners Biggest Challenge – Weeds

Ostrich Fern
A Dense Planting of Ostrich Fern

Managing weeds is the most important component of maintaining any garden because once a garden is overgrown with weeds it takes a lot of work to get it looking maintained again.  There are multiple approaches to managing weeds – you can pull them (lots of work) or spray them (effective but undesirable to some people).  Another approach is to use plants that can compete with weeds in your most challenging areas.  I’ve done this successfully on my property by using an aggressive native plant – ostrich fern.  I put it in shady areas prone to weeds, and it has definitely cut down on the amount of weed pulling I have to do.

Managing Leaf Removal

Bag of Leaves
Bagging Leaves is a Lot of Work in the Fall

Leaf removal is another big maintenance issue for my clients, and while fall is a great time to be outside, raking leaves is not a fun project for most people.  While I can’t cut down on the amount of leaves that fall, I can help my clients with a better way of managing their leaves.  One option is to add a dense evergreen planting at the edge of the woods.  In addition to defining the separation between a more maintained lawn area and a less maintained woodland, the evergreens can also create a barrier to blow leaves behind, giving them a place to be composted on site.

Need help designing a beautiful garden that is also low maintenance? Landscape design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects! Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-619-4460 or fill out our online contact form.

Colorful Fruit for Every Season

Landscape Design Can Include Colorful Fruit for Every Season
One of my favorite ways to add seasonal color to a landscape is to incorporate fruit bearing plants. This is also a great way to invite wildlife, such as birds. One consideration is proper placement of fruiting trees. You want to avoid planting near walkways, patios, or parking areas to prevent messy litter. Read on to see which plants I suggest for the seasons.

Ilex verticillata ‘Sparkleberry’ Keeps Birds Fed in the Winter
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