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Five Fall Tasks That Will Keep Your Landscape Looking Fabulous

autumn yard needs landscaping

As fall approaches, it’s tempting to spend time indoors next to a warm, crackling fire. However, there are still a few landscaping projects to complete before winter temperatures set in. These five projects will get your yard ready for winter and protect it until spring.

Aeration

Summer foot traffic can cause the soil to compress under the lawn. If rain water pools up instead of soaking in, it’s a sure sign of compression. When water pools, it doesn’t get down to the grass roots which need it to survive. An easy fix for compression is to aerate the lawn with an aerator. This metal roller with spikes in it creates tiny holes that allow water to drain down into the soil.

Fertilizing

The lawn also needs a final dose of fertilizer to strengthen grass roots before winter. Opt for a high-phosphorus, granular fertilizer such as 12-25-12. Apply it at the rate specified for your size lawn and water the lawn well afterward.

Mowing

There’s nothing more important to landscape maintenance than lawn mowing. The lawn needs to be mowed one last time before you stow the mower for good, because shorter grass blades have a lower occurrence of disease. Cut the grass to a height of 1 1/4 inches, which still leaves plenty of protection for the grass roots.

Leaves

Raking up leaves does more than just improve the yard’s appearance, it prevents disease too. Additionally, many grass varieties need sunlight in the fall to store energy for winter. The job is much easier if you rake the leaves onto a plastic tarp. This allows you to transport the leaves anywhere you want them to go, such as a compost bin.

Mulch

You’ll need to remove any mulch around plants or trees that suffered from diseases during the warm months. Disease spores can overwinter in mulch and show up again in the spring. Dispose of the mulch and then spread a fresh layer to protect plant roots. Mulch should be at least 2 to 4 inches thick to protect against winter cold damage. Landscaping your yard this spring? Read our guide Bark Mulch vs. Rock Mulch: Which Is Better? to educate yourselves on the benefits and types of mulch available!

If you have any other questions regarding fall landscaping, don’t hesitate to contact GT Design & Landscapes for all your autumn lawn care needs!

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Fun DIY Fall Landscaping Projects That Have Huge Impact

Autumn Landscape

As the hot sun begins to set when Summer comes to an end, fall enters and the thought of being outside in the garden is more realistic. The landscaping is a challenge during the summer because of the extreme heat – both plants tend to struggle and homeowners are less likely to manicure lawns in fear of melting. This is why the start of fall is the most exciting time for DIY landscaping projects, and some can make a huge impact too.

Time to clean up – This might sound simple, but it’s essential to your landscaping. This means getting out and cutting overgrown trees, plants and grass. Make sure all the leaves of racked and the yard is free from it’s overgrown wonder. Now, you’ll be able to see clearly and it will have a huge impact on your space.

Go gravel – If the constant growth of grass is the root of a troubled yard, how about trying gravel. Gravel is a fresh and easy way to breathe new life into your landscaping. This can be used in small areas to create a division, for a walkway, or literally across the entire landscaping. It’s a contemporary look and reduces maintenance.

Divide and Conquer – Doing the landscaping yourself is overwhelming; however, the when specific areas are the focus, progress can be made quickly. Here, it’s suggested to select an area that is most important visually and functionally. Often the choice is to focus on the walkway. The project of renovating the landscape for a walkway is easier than the entire area. Experiment with different methods of defining that space – adding stone, plants on the borderline, or just clearing the way.

Our goal is that you take one project on this coming fall and don’t look back. The key to a DIY project is to start and from there adjustments can be made. Have fun and good luck. If you ever need help with your landscaping project, feel free to contact GT Design & Landcapes, your premiere Minneapolis landscaper, serving the Twin Cities for more than half a decade!

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Transplanting Timeline For The Minnesota Climate

Tree Transplanting Minnesota

Fall landscaping is a great way to keep your yard healthy for next season. Autumn is one of the best times to transplant trees and shrubs, as the cooler air tends to be kinder to plants — particularly those that have lost significant amounts of root through the digging process. However, for Minnesota homeowners and landscaping enthusiasts, it may not be prudent to follow transplanting advice aimed at other regions. November, which may be a perfectly viable month for transplanting in the southern United States, is not advisable for Minnesota transplanting. Weather patterns will differ from one year to the next, but in general, it is best to stick to the following tips while transplanting in the fall:

Transplant Fir Trees In September

The best time to transplant fir trees is in September, when the weather is slightly cooler but not regularly below freezing. Work organic compost into the soil in the area you plan to place the transplanted tree; the nutrients will increase the tree’s chance of surviving. It is also important to water the tree when it is transplanted and then at least once a week until winter strikes.

Deciduous Trees And Shrubs

The window for planting deciduous trees and shrubs is typically open a bit longer than that for fir trees, although the appropriate timing may vary based on a particular year’s weather patterns. Although transplants can take place as late as early November, it is best to stick to September or October.

Hold Off On Pruning Until Winter

No matter the climate, it is usually best to wait to prune trees and shrubs until winter. Complete all transplanting in the fall, or, if need be, during the early spring and limit pruning any time when the temperature is below freezing. Pathogens will be dormant at this time, so you will not risk spreading disease. What’s more, the cold weather will make it easier to remove defective tree parts.

Minnesota’s unique climate patterns make it difficult to determine the best period for transplanting a particular tree or shrub. In general, September is advisable, although, for certain plants, a transplant can also take place in October. Use proper composting and watering techniques to ensure the tree or shrubs survival, no matter which season is selected for transplanting.

If you have any more questions about tree transplanting, contact GT Landscape, the Minneapolis landscape experts!

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Top 5 Reasons to Recyle Leaves This Fall

recycling autumn tree leafs
Is your lawn covered in fallen leaves? You might be tempted to collect and burn that leaf carpet. Or maybe you’d rather let the leaves lie where they fall until next year. We have a better option. Recycle the leaves. Since we started offering residential landscaping services , we’ve discovered five reasons why recycled leaves are a good idea, and we think you’ll agree that they’re great reasons to recycle your leaves this fall.

1. Healthier Landscaping

You want your neighbors to marvel at your beautiful landscaping, right? And it doesn’t hurt that you can look out your home’s windows and appreciate the colorful and healthy plants around your property. So, put your leaves to work creating the healthy landscaping you want when you recycle them into mulch.

Leaves that are collected and chopped into small bits make excellent mulch. Simply dump them in your flowerbeds, spread them into a thin layer and let them work their magic. All winter, they’ll prevent weed growth, insulate the ground and fertilize the soil. You’ll see the beautiful results next spring and will be glad you recycled your leaves.

2. Healthier Lawn

What happens when you let wet leaves sit on your lawn? Your grass turns moldy and dies. We know you don’t want that disaster, so recycle your leaves instead. Rake and remove all the fallen leaves regularly as you protect your grass now and into the winter.

3. Quality Compost

Did you know you can make your own compost? Turning your vegetable scraps, newspaper and recycled leaves into fresh fertilizer is easy. We will help you get started today. With your leaves and a little time, you’ll have compost that produces a thriving and healthy lawn, garden and landscaping in the spring.

4. Environmental Protection

Sitting around a campfire is fun, isn’t it? Resist the temptation to toss leaves into the fire, though. Wet leaves emit cancer-causing compounds when they’re lit on fire, and smoldering leaves create carbon monoxide emissions. You do your part to protect the environment when you recycle rather than burn the leaves in your yard. Your lungs will thank you, too.

5. Beautiful Lawn

After your fire pit installation, what to do want to see as you sit around and visit with your friends? We doubt you want to look at layers of leaves stuck to your lawn, clinging to your lawn furniture or strewn around your patio. Clean up the leaves and recycle them so that your lawn and outdoor living space look beautiful and welcoming. Then, prepare to host outdoor parties and invite all your friends over to see your beautiful leaf-free lawn.

Now that you know why recycling leaves is so important, give GT Design and Landscapes a call. We’ll handle all your leaf removal and recycling for you. You can simply focus on spending time with your family and enjoying your outdoor living space this fall.

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Great Ideas for Making Your Backyard an Outdoor Room

When it comes to landscaping the yard around your Minneapolis home, you may want to consider how you can maximize the usefulness of the space itself. While you can always plant bushes, trees and flower beds, finding a residential landscaping services company who can turn different areas of your yard into a literal outdoor room or series of rooms will make your home and property feel bigger and more dynamic. This is especially important in a place like Minnesota, as the winters are long and cold and going outside during that time is a luxury. Below are some of the best suggestions for landscaping in Minneapolis if you want to transform your property into more than just a yard.

Build an Outdoor Fireplace

Fireplace installation is one of the best additions for a yard in Minneapolis, as it will allow you to go outside for a lot more of the year, even when it becomes cold. Fire pits are relatively inexpensive to build or just to purchase and will allow you, your family and friends to spend some time outside as the weather starts to turn, around the fire telling stories or roasting smores. This is a great addition to a far corner of the yard which you wouldn’t otherwise spend too much time in. Consider digging a bigger hole on the ground and putting the fire pit in the middle, so it stays warmer for everyone sitting around it.

landscaping blog post

Construct a Patio

Invest in some patio construction & design which will allow you to really create an outdoor extension to your Minneapolis home. You can add a grill, as well as tables and chairs and benches for seating year-round. To deal with weather, a frame can be installed around the patio with a cover that will keep snow off of it, as well as heaters which can actually make it comfortable to sit on in the depths of winter.

Create Pathways With Seating

Depending on the size of your yard, pathways can be created through it, naturally creating beds to plant all types of plants, bushes and trees that can grow in the Minnesota climate. At certain points in these pathways, benches or stumps can be set up to creating a seating area within the yard itself, which can allow you to get away from everything in the comfort of your own back yard. These pathways can be made from pieces of stone or gravel and should curl through the yard, allowing you to discover different areas as you walk down them.

Consider Tiers In Your Yard

By creating tiers in the yard itself, or constructing different elevations, the yard will have a different look in each Minneapolis season. In the summer it will become a green jungle of varying heights, while in the winter it will be a mountainous winter wonderland. This will also naturally create different areas in the yard itself and almost give the back yard of the house it’s own unique landscape.

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How To Prepare Your Lawn For Autumn

Autumn lawn care leaf removal

The leaves will soon be turning, and the frigid Minnesota winter is closing in. Autumn, perhaps even more than spring, is the best time to tend to your lawn to ensure a healthy growth year after year. If you want the best lawn in the neighborhood next spring, then you need to know how to prepare your lawn for the upcoming fall and winter. Lets get into it.

General Fall Lawn Maintenance

With the mild summer we had this year, your lawn shouldn’t be in dire need of any tremendous work, but it never helps to do some general lawn maintenance. The trees will soon start sheding their leaves. Cleanup can be a nusance. If you have a large yard, you should think about investing in some helpful lawn maintenance tools. Tools like tow behind rakes attach to a tractor. This won’t just make your yard tidy and clean, but it will control thatch growth for the next season. If you have a lot of trees on your land, there’s undoubtedly snapped branches, tangled vines or even dead stumps. Grab your axe – or chainsaw – and head out to chop up some firewood. With temperatures at below freezing for about a month last winter, even if you don’t have a traditional fireplace, you may need it for an emergency.

If you’ve got a garden, don’t prune everything away! The purpose of pruning is to promote growth. You don’t want to prune your bushes and garden in the fall right before the plants are about to go into dormancy. Also, there are several fall crops that you can grow in your garden, so take the opportunity to try some new fall gardening techniques out.

Seed And Fertilize Your Lawn in Fall

Autumn, not spring, may be the best time to fertilize your lawn according to experts. Contrary to popular belief, in many parts of the country, there are what’s called cool-season grass. This is grass that only sprouts in the correct mild temperatures. During the autumn, if they’re given a little shot of fertilizer, you’ll see a lush green that you haven’t seen yet this year!

Do two applications for autumn fertilization. One fall fertilization application in mid to late September, with a high nitrogen fertilizer. And one fall fertilization application while the ground is still thaw, usually before the end of November. Make sure to stick to a strict water regimen as well. Just because the temperature dips a little bit in the early months of fall doesn’t mean your grass doesn’t need water anymore. Every two to three weeks, apply about an inch of water to your grass.

 

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Snow Removal Services: The Preparation

Snow Removal Services: The Preparation

When acquiring residential landscaping services, it’s important to understand the ins-and-outs of snow removal services and preparation. Often, homeowners fail to recognize required preparation tactics, and they fail to post-winterize their landscape

Snow removal preparation is as important as patio construction & design preparation, and every home remodeling project requires preemptive care to make way for professional service providers. If you’re gearing up for snow removal—keep your yard safe. Here’s how:

Clear Out the Yard

During snow removal, left objects can shear a landscape. It’s important to remove these obstacles, and it’s important to make way for a residential snow plowing/removal service in Minneapolis before unnecessary damages occur. Where residential construction services are concerned, moving specific items, lawn accessories and utility items is important:

  • Toolsets
  • Portable grills
  • Lawn servicing objects
  • Extended fence line

Additionally, patio furniture should be re-located, and exterior planters should be re-located into an interior area. When snow is removed, these areas commonly require pre-shoveling, and damages may occur due to misdirected snow and ice.

Install Markers in Important Areas

Before a service crew arrives, setting up place markers will define affected areas, and they will establish the work environment. If you’ve been working on fire pit installation or a pool installation, any work areas should be similarly marked off.

Walkways and driveways should be defined, too, and reflective markers work well during both daytime and nighttime hours. Hardscape edges should be re-defined, and snow removal contractors should be well-informed about entrance areas before service begins.

If areas aren’t marked, any snow removal, following basic do-it-yourself methods, may be dangerous. Additionally, unmarked areas can be treacherous for a soft lawn, as areas adjacent to concrete may experience tearing or displacement when improperly traversed.

Shoveling and Salting

Once service has been provided, and once you’ve re-balanced your landscaping in Minneapolis, a few preventative steps can be taken. These ensure a safe landscape during another storm, and they prevent additional, unneeded service calls.

Dig snow away from the mailbox, the walkway and door area. When these areas are ice-free, they’ll prevent lawn-damaging runoff. Remember the planter and patio areas from before? That’s right: Clear those out, too. This isn’t necessarily kitchen remodeling, but a slight rearrangement couldn’t hurt either. Furniture surrounding popular sleet and snow runoff areas can block a yard from harm.

Remember to sand and salt all walkways, and understand the importance of avoiding slips and falls. Winter often comes in waves—so it’s important to act quickly following a Minneapolis service provider’s footsteps.

Prepare for future snow removal by keeping important tools, like shovels, within easy-to-reach areas. Additionally, work on personal snow removal routinely, as these small steps can quell a “snowball” effect. A little prevention goes a long way. For many homeowners, troubles begin where consistency ends. Don’t forget to check the landscape weekly, and always remember to contact a professional when professional care is needed.

 

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2014’s Hottest Vacation Destinations

We pride ourselves on transforming our clients’ backyards into their favorite destination. It is hard to have that same sentiment when there have been 20+ days with below zero temperatures this month and snow keeps falling. Winter sifts the snowbirds from the general Minnesota population and many look to escape to a warm climate for a week or two for a spring break vacation.

The places listed below have been projected to be 2014’s hottest family destinations, click here for the top 10.

Trolltunga | www.visitnorway.com

Trolltunga | www.visitnorway.com

Norway

I don’t know that I’d get the travel agent on the horn to book a plane out tomorrow as Norway experiences snow and cold weather much like the Twin Cities. The climates may be similar but Norway has mountains, waterfalls and fjords.  The country has a huge fishing community which we suspect will resonate well with Minnesotans. Regardless, Norway seems like a beautiful safe destination to bring the family. Check out 11 most famous things about Norway here.

Aruba Carnival | www.aruba.com

Aruba Carnival | www.aruba.com

Aruba

We would definitely be willing to leave for Aruba at a minute’s notice. Bring your beach toys as your visit will be packed with a ton of family-friendly oceanside activities. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Aruba Carnival, the islands largest annual event.  The Aruba Carnival format/schedule is similar to St.Paul’s Winter Carnival and events are underway now!

Fantasyland Expansion | www.wdwnews.com

Fantasyland Expansion | www.wdwnews.com

Orlando

If you are more of a domestic traveler, check out what Orlando has to offer in 2014. Lots of expansion and new attractions including the opening of the luxury Four Seasons Resort Orlando, expansions to Universal Studio’s Harry Potter exhibit and Magic Kingdom’s largest expansion ever.

 

Where are you taking your family on vacation this year?

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Plants with Purpose | Mentha (Mint)

Welcome to a new series on GT Design & Landscapes Blog- Plants with Purpose. This is a place where we will introduce you to and share the advantages of different plant species that grown well in Minnesota. There are numerous reasons to incorporate plants into your landscape design, this series will help you be a bit more strategic in the selection process.

Mentha

Mentha

Mentha Spicata

Mentha Spicata

Mentha (Mint)

Mint is a great plant to incorporate into your herb garden, around your patio area in the soil or in a planter. Mint is a perennial and very resilient even after a cold Minnesota winter. This plant requires minimal care and will do best in a spot with plenty of sunlight. These plants have a tendency to take over, so be intentional about where and how you plant.

The plant has bright green toothed leaves that sometimes can be described as fuzzy and purple, pink or white flowers.  You can harvest the mint a couple times per season by cutting back stems to one to two inches from the ground right before flowering.

The plant has a pleasant aromatic property.  The beautiful smell of Peppermint is said to keep mice away. Spearmint is used in both the kitchen and for medicinal purposes. Harvest the leaves all at once or pluck as needed.

We’re looking forward to plucking a few spearmint leaves for a refreshing mojito on a hot summer’s day. Check out this recipe for a blueberry mojito:

GT_Blueberry Mojito

Photo Credit: Mentha Spicata Bad Alley via photopin cc
Photo Credit: Mentha agelakis via photopin cc

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Snow Mold Elimination & Prevention

Many Minnesotans are anxiously anticipating Spring, quicker commutes and warmer temperatures. Landscaping is our game. We can’t wait for the ground to thaw so that we can bring life to our clients’ plans that we’ve been working on this winter. Although, the thaw can sometimes be bittersweet if obnoxious gray circles appear on your lawn.

Snow Mold

Snow Mold

These gray circles can be attributed to snow mold. Snow mold loves compact snow for an extended period of time. The below zero temperatures are in the homeowners’ favor (if you want to pull something positive from the Polar Vortex) because snow mold is not fond of the extreme cold. Just hope that come spring the snow melts at a fast rate as snow mold thrives in 30-40 degree temperatures under snow cover.

Rake & Remove or Leaf it & Reap it.

Rake & Remove or Leaf it & Reap it.

Prevention

  • Continue to mow until the first snowfall. Long grasses are attractive breeding ground for mold. Keep your grass a little shorter than usual before you but your lawnmower away for the winter or say goodbye to your lawn crew for the season.
  • Don’t let leaves accumulate. Amass of leaves creates moisture and an excellent home for snow mold. Rake and remove or leaf it and reap it.
  • Till the snow to reduce compaction by making snow sculptures, play fetch with your Fido or let the kids build snow castles outside.
  • Applications of Nitrogen can encourage snow mold. Never apply nitrogen after the first frost and use a low-nitrogen, slow- release formula during the latter part of the year.

Elimination

  • Nature is amazing in how resilient it can be on its own. If the temperatures cooperate (>45 degrees) and snow melts, gray snow mold damage will likely recover on its own.
  • Encourage the recovery process after the snowmelt by lightly raking damaged areas to eliminate trapped moisture. If necessary reseed the area as conditions allow.
  • Look at a few of your winter maintenance routines if snow mold is a reoccurring nuisance to your landscape. Don’t pile or push snow to one area, spread it out to reduce the concentration of snow compaction. Does the snowmelt have somewhere to go? Ensure that your property allows for proper drainage to eliminate unnecessary moisture. Strategically incorporate natural wind barriers where snow accumulates to again reduce the concentration of the snow compaction.

More information about gray snow mold and different snow mold diseases can be found on UMassAmherst site.

Snow Mold, Photo Credit: noricum via photopin cc
Rake it or Remove it, Photo Credit: Ian Sane via photopincc

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