April showers, May flowers and June tomato towers

With water resources looking to be tight throughout much of northern Nevada, many of us are wondering what we should plant in our gardens this year – or should we plant at all.

If there are no April showers, should we scratch the May flowers?  Should we grow tomatoes or corn or petunias?  Mr. Vegetable, where are you?

Nasturtium

Nasturtium – colorful and edible.

First things first… get the garden off to a good and healthy start.  

  • Clean out the debris like leaves and dead plants that has collected over the winter.
  • Till the garden by double digging or even consider the new trend which is triple digging.  You have to dig down to the third shovel depth to till. This is done in Africa with amazing results in production.
  • Add compost.  Tilling plus adding compost will improve soil quality and help it hold more water.
  • Use mulch this season because it keeps more water in the soil and lowers evaporation.  Wood mulch, straw and even newspapers and grass clippings all do the job.

Be sustainable in your plant choices and practices.

Growing food is not a waste of water – it puts the most locally-grown food possible on your table.  Just do it wisely.

Here are some tips:

  • Grow more edibles than ornamentals.  Tomatoes have many uses on the menu and are easily consumed.  Pumpkins, on the other hand, are generally more ornamental and tend to overrun your garden if you’re not careful.  Scale back on the pumpkin patch and devote more resources to food crops.
  • Dress up your edible garden with companion flowers.  Nasturtium aren’t just pretty, they taste good in a salad.  Marigolds help deter pests.  Using dual purpose flowers like these in your garden gives more bang for your water buck.
  • Plant in blocks, rather than in rows.  Putting plants closer together creates shade that holds in moisture.
  • Control weeds.  They will suck up moisture your veggies need.
  • Use containers to grow some herbs, veggies and summer annual flowers.  Potted plants generally need less water than those planted in the soil.  Containers can also be watered efficiently with drip irrigation.
  • Recycle water from the kitchen.  After swishing a head of lettuce in a big bowl of water to clean it, pour the water on the pot of herbs outside.  It’s a few more steps, but the effort reminds us how precious our water is and that we need to use it wisely and even “twicely” whenever we can.

Productive landscapes add value to our lives and are a responsible use of resources.  This year, plan ahead and water wisely.

Revitalized Landscapes on Horizon for 2013

Recent research shows that at least 30% of homeowners nationwide have plans for a major landscape project sometime in the next two years. And that’s aside from many more of us who have lesser projects planned that will add to the ambiance and enjoyment of our outdoor spaces.

quotesLearn more about evaluating a landscape contractor

Brian, Signature Designer & ISA Certified Arborist

Brian, Signature Designer & ISA Certified Arborist

Interestingly, this research also showed that most of us turn to our family and friends to get referrals when looking for help with landscape projects. It’s easy to peek over the fence to see the neighbor’s new project and there’s a built-in trust factor in the recommendation.  That’s good info and it’s where Signature Landscapes gets a large number of new landscape construction customers!

But if you’re in that 30% with a major project on your agenda, it will be worth your time to do some homework and make the selection process thorough. Depending on your yard and your budget, a “major landscape project” can range from $10,000 to $150,000 or more. It’s an investment in your ongoing property value and personal enjoyment, so it pays to be a wise consumer.

Here are 4 tips to get started:

  • Identify your priorities, your “maybe” list and your problems. For example, you may know you want an outdoor kitchen, but aren’t sure about a fire pit. Or there may be an eyesore in the yard that needs a creative solution, but you’re not sure what it is. Laying out your priorities, maybes and problems will help you match your needs to the right expert.
  • Know your budget and be ready to discuss it. This will help you get the best value from your available resources.
  • Check out the company, even if you got the referral from a friend. Is it a member of the Nevada Landscape Association? Does the company have industry certified people on board? Are they aware of licenses and permits that may be required by your city? Do they offer to provide you with a certificate of insurance to show that they have the necessary liability and worker’s comp coverage?
  • Look for professionalism. Do they have everything in writing? A detailed landscape design, a well-written contract that protects the interests of both parties and a fair payment schedule are the marks of a pro. They should spell out exactly what you are buying and they are essential to doing good business. These documents will be critical should a dispute arise.

Tips for a Pet-Friendly yard

It will be easier to keep your dog out of the proverbial dog house if you do what it takes to make your yard pet-friendly.
Here are a few pet-wise accommodations to give your pet a safer place outdoors.

Deal with puddles that lead to muddy paw prints. Dogs don’t walk around puddles and sporting breeds instinctively dig when they see water. So if puddles are your problem, fill in low areas that collect water. If poor drainage is the cause, address the bigger issue. Quick and simple fixes are to place rocks, gravel or bricks in depressions to keep paws out of the mud.

Need help? Schedule a FREE Consultation with the pros in our Landscape Design Center to learn how to create a yard that both you and your pet enjoy. Simply call (775) 857-4333 or visit our only service request page to start today.


Wipe out well-worn paths across the yard. Dogs often have a favorite path across the yard that stamps out the lawn or the ground cover in beds. It’s unlikely you’ll get your dog to change its route, so place pave stones where he walks across the lawn or in the flower bed. This deals with the unsightliness, helps with mud and lets your pet to stay on its critical path.

Create shade. Female dogs in particular like to dig nests in the cool spaces next to foundations. In wet weather, these holes fill with water, make muddy paws and can lead to foundation problems. If there are no shade trees, make sure the dog has access to the patio or the north and east sides of the house. A dog will duck into the shade of the trampoline or other structures if you make the area accessible.

Don’t deck your dog! We love time out on the deck, but it’s not a safe place for dogs. Wood decks often have splinters if not sanded regularly. Dark woods absorb heat and can create conditions leading to heat stroke. If you’re building a deck, look at the lighter recycled products that are cooler and splinter free. They are also less maintenance for you and sustainable. Unless your deck is well shaded, put the dog under it rather than on it.

 

Renovating A Bland Yard Will Energize Your Outdoor Living

Backyard living spaces have seen increased popularity in the Truckee Meadows. Did you know we’ve been bringing imaginative outdoor rooms to locals like you for decades?

Our hands-on approach will help to identify the indoor functions you’d like to extend outdoors such as a fireplace, seating area, spa, living room or even the kitchen. We’ll develop a sense of your design priorities as ideas emerge for these outdoor options.

We suggest you consider the following:

  • Gathering areas for kids, pets and visitors
  • Health and relaxation objectives
  • Recreation and entertainment opportunities

As you prioritize your functions and separate “nice to do” from “must do” you’ll quickly establish a surprisingly comfortable outdoor room your entire family will enjoy for decades. Why not let us turn your design and budget into an beautiful opportunity to enhance your Reno lifestyle?

BACKYARD BASICS: WHAT’S HOT TODAY?

The projects coming across our drafting tables are excellent indicators of what’s on the minds of your neighbors~specific to backyard renovations. When it comes right down to it, there are some pretty basic “must haves” when prioritizing a backyard landscape:
1. make it livable
2. keep it green

So we wanted to give you some food for thought on the top two issues as you consider your yard makeover this summer.

LAWN RENOVATION

What is lawn renovation?
Lawn renovation involves killing existing turf and replacing it with new grass without tilling or changing the grade which is normally done during the establishment of a new lawn. Locals with older homes are finding they love grass, just not their old tired turf installed when the home was new.

Why renovate a lawn?
The lawn species/variety is frequently attacked by disease or insects causing the lawn to thin.
Your yard has become increasingly shady over time & the original lawn is thin and unhealthy.
The lawn was severely injured or totally killed by disease, insects, drought, or hit by winter.
You want to completely convert from one turf species to another.

(re) INSTALL SPRINKLERS

If you are going to install a sprinkler system, the best time to do it is before installing your new turf. It will be easier to install and be in place to help your new plants grow. This service goes hand in hand with service on the left. With our semi-arid climate, an efficient system has several benefits.

An efficient sprinkler system will:

  • Save more water than you might expect

  • Make it easier to water at the best times

  • Adjust flows with temperature and humidity

Typical issues in local households

  • Pop-up spray heads, impact sprinkler or rotor
  • sprinkler nozzles or sprinkler bodies are broken.
  • Sprinkler head above or below grade.
  • Spacing of sprinklers inappropriate for the head.

Award Winning Night Gives Signature Two Landscape Trophies

  • BEST RESIDENTIAL LANDSCAPE UNDER $1 MILLION
  • BEST OUTDOOR LIVING

Brian Dean, ISA, ASCA

Our design and installation team walked away with two huge awards for Residential Landscape Artistry at the 2011 BANNer Awards. Our resident Plant Guru, Brian Dean, was the fellow in charge of the evening as he picked up the two awards. That’s him in the snappy vest! Click the two links below to find out how we did it – and view some nice photos too!

Contact our Landscape Design Center to learn a little more about the award-winning Signature Landscapes design and consultation process. We’re so proud of these homes and we really want to thank the home owners for allowing us to spread our wings and design such beautiful work!

Best Residential Landscape 2011

Functional elegance forms this large landscape – White’s Creek Area

Bare dirt & boulders transformed into a beautiful family home

The Rowe’s residence is a large stucco Tanamera home built in the shadow of Mt. Rose/Galena area of South Reno. The bare-dirt footprint was almost one-half acre, surrounded by large scrub brush, randomly placed pines, and some cottonwood growing in a ditch behind the property. So overall, this was a blank canvas suitable for any design.

Our instructions were initially simple; use as much color as possible, create a unique landscape feature, and make sure a mountain theme rolls through the entire design.

Our team, lead by our designer, Brian Dean, broke the project down to three production pieces. In 2011, we have seen completion of the first two important phases and have turned this standard home into a showcase property for the owner as well as Tanamera Development.

Due to the large square footage of the driveway and entry walk, we chose an older-style of paver in a muted but colorful pattern to match the surrounding environment – the look was to mimic that of an older dirt/DG driveway.

PHASED DEVELOPMENT

Two first two phases have integrated color wherever and whenever possible. Flowering plants as well as foliage in greens and reds were used to accomplish this natural but vibrant palette – colors that will provide substance during the winter as well. Taking advantage of the property’s large boulders, and to continue the mountain theme, two aspen groves and Austrian pines were integrated into the front yard.

The backyard area was designed for entertaining and privacy. A functional vineyard on the east side gives a wine country feel to the viewer, as well as an untraditional whimsy not typically felt in a Truckee Meadows property. A third patio within the vineyard is designed for the phase three, slated to begin in early spring 2012.

Using natural boulders around the entire property helped to set the home within the Mt Rose scenery perfectly. Drip irrigation was key to keeping the water-usage numbers reasonable. Limited turf still allows cooling to the house in hot summer months, while keeping the largest water consumer at bay.

Overall, this landscape showcases how a colorful and complex outdoor environment can be attained without breaking the bank, can be simple to maintain for years following installation, and will deliver immediate satisfaction for the homeowner and guests for generations to come

REDUCE AND DIVERSIFY WITH X-E-R-I-S-C-A-P-E!

Reducing turf areas, lowering water costs and bringing a more organic look to the landscape was the big ‘to do’ for us in 2009. In other words, Xeriscaping was back into favor with homeowners, designers and contractors. I have a good feeling it’s going to top 2010 project list again.

Now, before you get the idea this translates to a few cacti, scotch broom and a cover of river-rock mulch, you just might want to take a new look at Xeriscaping. At its most basic, this is a practice designed to help make low-water-use landscaping an easily recognized concept. Here in the Truckee Meadows, water costs, mandatory watering schedules and plant deaths have demonstrated Xeriscaping is a smart choice and can look magnificent.

Xeriscaping represents a multi-step approach to incorporate soil amendments, compatible plant material and efficient irrigation into a well thought-out design. Try to look at your landscape in a simpler way and choose appropriate plants, native and naturalized, for our area. Use plantings that will survive and thrive Northern Nevada’s climate. And think organically at all times; part of your overall earth-wise gardening solution will conserve water with native and adapted plants and consume less synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, while reducing emissions from lawn equipment.

Planted veggies line a walkway

You don’ have to sacrifice style and grace to create a beautiful Xeriscaped garden. Instead of roses, peonies and Hydrangeas in flower beds, showcase the plants in a pot or urn that can be appreciated close up and maintained easier. For a green, clipped European-themed garden, you can spend a lot less effort, money and water using native plants to achieve the great designs and the first place to start is by asking questions of your landscaper or nursery. They have the professionals on staff with the native plant knowledge to steer you in the right direction.

 

 

 

Xeriscaping can reduce landscape water use by 60 percent or more and increase property values by as much as 15 percent, according to Colorado WaterWise – an agency focused on promoting water-efficient landscaping


Be Water Smart

Drip irrigation is gaining popularity in our state as we’ve begun to experience more drought and watering restrictions and should be part of our commitment to the intelligent use of water. Drip products are made of control zone components that control water flow (valves, filters and pressure regulators), distribution components that get water where it needs to go (blank tubing or dripline emitter tubing) and emission devices (drip emitters and low volume microsprays).
Drip systems are often the perfect solution for sparse planting schemes. Applying water directly to the plant roots without watering the areas in between, you not only cut down water use but also help prevent weed growth. It’s also ideal for plantings near buildings and paved areas, greatly reducing runoff and overspray that are wasteful and can ruin wooden structures – such as your fence or the side of your house.

Grass is still OK!

Xeriscape garden does not have to look dry and desolate, and it doesn’t require the absolute absence of turf grass. We loves turf and use it frequently in moderation as in a ‘turf medallion’ in an arid-type garden, or as a focal point, a destination or a way to set off the plantings that surround it. Your landscape will still benefit from turf’s summer cooling properties and even more exciting, the sizeable water expense savings.

Also, you might highlight interesting architecture and use brightly painted yard art, urns, stones and plants with colorful flowers, foliage, fruit and bark to lend year-round intrigue to a Xeriscape.

For any questions about how you can produce a wonderful Xeriscaped landscape, give your landscape professional or nursery a call. They’ll spend the time to provide you with smart, affordable ideas on how you can transition your old-school yard into a stylish, sturdy outdoor environment designed for Nevada.

Vista Blvd Completed

Signature Landscapes has completed the extensive landscape improvements for the $10 million Vista Boulevard widening project in North Sparks/Spanish Springs area. 3,500 trees, shrubs, grasses and 3.5 miles of irrigation deliver a beautiful commute for residents.

Summer specials guaranteed to beautify your yard

SUMMER FLAGSTONE SPECIAL – $799 Delivered and Installed

  • Beautiful 31/2 ’  Wide by 20‘
    long Flagstone Path
  • Stones set in any existing
    lawn  or landscape area
  • Fill materials such as DG or sand not needed
  • Set over native compacted earth to match
    existing area

ASK ABOUT OUR PAVER OPTION – $1,199

  • Includes excavation, sub-grade compaction, base compaction, sand bed, pavers, soldier course, metal edging & joint sand.

INSTALLATION SPECIAL – BUILD AND SAVE $200

  • Any project costing more than $1,500 will receive an instant $200 discount right off the top!
  • Put the money back in your pocket or put it toward additional features. It’s up to you.

Some additional changes and charges might apply depending on your yards layout and dimensions. We’ll go over details before purchase.

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