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Landscape Articles

Judith Lipson- Rubin


Working with the Land: Sustainable Landscaping and the Natural World

Truly successful landscaping starts with sustainability, which is built on a foundation of ecology -- really just a fancy word for the relationship of all organisms to each other and their surroundings. By understanding how each element of an environment is in balance with all the others, we can learn how to create beautiful and harmonious landscape designs that can thrive with minimal interference. That’s sustainable landscaping in a nutshell. 

The Difference between Traditional and Ecological Fall Cleanup Part 3

In part one of our series comparing ecological cleanups with traditional ones, we discussed the differences between ecological and conventional landscaping. In the second part, we reviewed some of the specific processes of ecological landscaping.

For the final installment in the series, we’ll take a closer look at the overall benefits of ecological fall cleanups and the cost considerations of embracing a more environmentally-friendly strategy. At first blush, this approach may seem counterproductive and “messy” – a lazy person’s excuse for avoiding more aggressive and vigorous traditional cleanup tasks. Also, many people believe that preserving nature through organic landscape techniques is more costly than conventional methods. Neither of these are true.

How to Pick the Best Foundation Plants for Great Curb Appeal

Nothing improves the beauty of a yard and the curb appeal of a home more than the right plantings. Color, texture, size, and shape combine to create a unique and attractive environment that adds value as well as beauty to your property. 

Unfortunately, many homes suffer from less-than-stellar plantings as the result of neglect, disinterest, and just plain old lack of imagination. You can spot some of these homes from a mile away by their plop-and-drop, contractor-special shrubs scattered around the house in cookie-cutter beds. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If your yard is suffering from poor plantings, this post will provide you with what you need to know to quickly upgrade your beds.

Personal and Environmental Benefits of Outdoor Living Spaces

It seems intuitive that we like to spend time outdoors -- we’ve all craved nature at one time or another -- but science has now identified some of the reasons we actually need to spend time in a more natural setting. In fact, there is a term for this, Ecotherapy, that refers to the various physical and psychological benefits of being outside.

The DIYer’s Guide to Garden Landscaping

Gardening and garden landscaping to many people invokes images of beautiful flowers or rows of healthy fruits and vegetables. But gardening is so much more than that. Modern garden design encompasses a wide range of landscapes and locations – from sunny, open areas to shaded woodlands, from residential patios to commercial courtyards – filled with plants and features not even dreamed of just a few years ago.

Many garden landscape designers today, including Moodscapes, have embraced a modern, sustainable, and environmentally-based approach – ecological gardening. Instead of relying upon manmade solutions without regard to their environmental impact, ecological gardening emulates nature’s processes and promotes biodiversity, sustainability, soil health, and plant health. It’s gardening designed to restore and enhance both the environment and your wellbeing.

Combating Coronavirus: The Surprising Benefits of Landscaping

As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, we’re hearing a lot about test kits, treatments, vaccines, and ventilators. And while all of these are crucial to the COVID-19 fight, many people don’t realize that there’s a lot of help to be found in a surprising place: nature.

The restorative benefits of nature, many health experts believe, can lower blood pressure, boost immune function, and reduce stress. Communing with nature is a full mind-body experience that is good for your well being and soul. There are no special requirements, just a willingness to spend some time outdoors, ideally doing something physical, such as gardening, mowing, trimming, or other landscaping tasks.

5 Ways Climate Change Impacts the Landscape and Growing

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects climate change is rapidly growing as a significant factor in landscape design. Raising temperatures, more frequent and severe droughts, and increasing damage from bigger storms are all taking their toll on both the natural and built environment.

If you’re a property owner considering a new landscape project it’s important to be aware of the following five major factors that can have a significant effect on your landscaping plans:

4 Important Characteristics of an Organic Landscape Company

Organic landscaping is both a process and a strategy for creating a beautiful, dynamic landscape while supporting a low-environmental-impact installation and maintenance approach. And while organic landscaping may not be the least expensive or  fastest method in the short-term, over time it will prove less expensive, healthier and more sustainable than more traditional techniques that depend on manufactured fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. 

What's the difference between an ecological fall cleanup and a traditional one? (part 2)

In our previous blog post, we discussed some of the problems with the traditional lawn cleanup methods that involve raking, bagging, and trashing or recycling leaves. Even when it’s cold outside, the leaves that fall on your lawn play an important role in sustaining life for the upcoming bloom season.

As we begin to transition into colder temperatures and areas of the state reach peak foliage, it’s important to know how to get your yard ready for winter. Now that you’ve learned more about why lawns are so important in fall, here are a few ecological tips to incorporate into your fall cleanup checklist:

What's the difference between an ecological fall cleanup and a traditional one? (part 1)

When most people think of a “fall cleanup,” they envision transforming their yard into a spotless lawn and garden beds full of perfectly manicured grass, without a single leaf in sight.

This may be a nice image for a postcard or television set, but it’s not what a yard tended to organically should look like. If you’re looking to have a yard that facilitates healthy plant and animal life, preserves the natural environment, and still looks great, consider the differences between a traditional fall cleanup and an ecological one.

For the first post in this series, we’ll examine the differences between a traditional cleanup and an ecological one as it relates to your lawn.

How toxic are lawn care chemicals and what are some alternatives?

Lawn care chemicals have been around for decades. But only in recent years have we started to become aware of some of the damage that can be caused by these compounds. There is a lot of hype and misinformation out there about certain products and whether they are safe to be used on your yard. Understanding the toxicity of popular lawn care chemicals is an important first step in choosing the right products for your yard.

4 Guiding Principles: Organic Gardening for a Healthier Landscape

In recent blog posts, we have been discussing the key differences between organic and conventional landscaping. While conventional gardening tactics may be more prominent, we believe that organic methods are better for the environment, more cost-effective in the long run, and safer for humans and animals.


To close out our series on organic gardening, we’re offering four guiding principles of organic gardening that we believe will make any landscape healthier. At Moodscapes, we strive to follow these guidelines on every landscape maintenance project we take on.

What's the difference between conventional and organic landscaping? (Part 2)

In our previous blog post, we provided an overview of the difference between conventional and organic landscaping. We explained the ultimate goal of organic landscaping: to use gardening and lawn care methods that create an outdoor environment in harmony with the natural world. Organic landscapers focus first on building the soil to nurture plants to ensure that they thrive.

Now that we’ve explained what organic landscaping is, in this post we will elaborate on a few benefits of choosing organic techniques instead of traditional methods.

What's the difference between organic and conventional landscaping?

We live in a time when humans have a tremendous impact on the environment with agriculture and industry. This is especially true in developed countries – according to research by the University of Michigan, we would need 5 planets to support the Earth’s current population if everyone had the environmental footprint of the average American citizen.

At Moodscapes, we believe in designing the landscapes we install and maintain to emulate the processes of nature instead of interfering with them. We refer to this as organic and sustainable gardening. The creation and nurturing of an outdoor space that fits seamlessly with nature will enhance the environment around your home as well as your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Our approach to organic gardening relies on a few guiding principles:

How to Prune Plants so They Thrive

Pruning is one of those gardening techniques that many people overcomplicate. While pruning does help a plant grow strong, healthy, and in the proper direction, that doesn’t mean it has to be a complex undertaking that requires a lot of skill and years spent gardening. With that said, pruning mature plants and trees effectively and consistently does require skills developed over time.

 

The most important thing you need to prune successfully is an understanding of the natural form of the plants you’re working on. Below is our advice on how to learn enough to be able to prune your garden so that the plants in it grow as healthy as possible.

Expert Advice for Creating an Easy & Enjoyable Landscape

A common misconception we see among homeowners is that it takes tons of time and effort to build and then maintain a yard that provides enjoyment. Many people mistakenly believe that they don’t have enough spare time to make their landscape into a relaxing sanctuary.

While it will take some effort to create and then keep up this kind of natural landscape, it’s not as challenging as you might think. With the following tips, you can make your yard a low-maintenance space to unwind around nature and keep it in great condition all year.

3 Rules for Beautiful Landscape Blooms All Year Long

While we may be firmly in summer’s grasp here in Massachusetts, as locals know, this weather won’t last forever. Although we are now seeing more extended runs of high temperature thanks to climate change, our area has traditionally had distinct cold and hot seasons.

But that doesn’t mean you only have to enjoy healthy blooms in your yard for a few months out of the year. Not much will grow in the bitter cold of the New England winter, but with some planning and careful selection of the right species, you can have a garden with color and blooms for nearly the entire year. 

Here are our three best tips to extend your yard’s bloom time:  

6 Fun, Creative Ways to Make Your Landscape Beautiful

One of the nice things about maintaining a healthy landscape is the aesthetic appeal. We believe that fewer things are more beautiful than an environmentally-friendly yard that forms a natural part of the local ecosystem.

Beyond that, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to colors, types of plants, and arrangements, but some techniques have broad appeal. Here are 6 of the most popular ways to make your yard more beautiful:

5 Super Easy Ways to Fix a Bad Home Builder Landscape Job

A skilled builder can add features like decks, hardscaping, and other attractive structures that make your home better both aesthetically and functionally. Ideally, you want your home’s construction features to complement a healthy, natural garden. However, there may be times when the work of a builder or contractor interferes with your yard.

Poor landscaping techniques can have a negative effect, but landscapers will often unintentionally damage the health of your yard as well. Here are five simple steps to overcome the problem:

Common Pruning Mistakes & How to Fix Them

With the warmer weather of summer now here to stay in Massachusetts, homeowners will soon start seeing sprouts and seedlings from their early season plantings, if they haven’t already. As your yard grows, it’s important to maintain it properly so that plants can stay healthy and provide beautiful blooms for as long as possible.

Pruning, or trimming certain parts of a plant, can help make it last longer and increase its blooms. But we see some good-intentioned gardeners making pruning mistakes that can actually damage the health of the yard.

Here are some of the most common mistakes we see homeowners making when pruning their yards, and how to overcome them:

The 4 Best Organic Weed Control Tips Gardeners Love

Everyone loves having a healthy yard that is capable of growing many types of interesting, vibrant shrubs and trees. Unfortunately, the presence of unsightly weeds is one of the drawbacks of having a yard that can sustain plant life.

A lot of homeowners feel that their otherwise-attractive yards are ruined by stringy, snaking weeds that tend to pop up this time of year. In some cases, weeds can actually be harmful for your yard, draining it of valuable nutrients that could be going to the plants you actually want to grow.

But most of the time, weeds are a relatively minor issue. Following these four tips will help you free your landscape of weeds:

Why Won't My Garden Grow? 3 Mistakes According to Mary

Now that we’re into June and the summer solstice is only a few weeks away, it’s time for the Earth to show us its natural beauty in the form of colorful, vibrant shrubs and trees.

Yet we’ve found that this is also a time of year when many homeowners in the greater Boston area are most frustrated with their yard. They expect a lush garden and get disappointed when plants don’t grow the way they want.

Luckily, most of the mistakes we see being made in yards around Massachusetts are relatively easy to fix. Here are the top three reasons we see plants failing to grow, and some quick tips to correct them:

The Top 3 Summer Flowers to Beautify Your Landscape

After battling the forces of winter into the early part of May, it appears to finally be time for consistent warm weather here in Massachusetts! We’ve been dealing with the cold longer than normal this year, which can make it challenging to get your garden ready before the bloom season hits full swing.

The Monsanto Lawsuit - Is Roundup (glyphosate) Safe to Use in Your Yard?

Using organic methods to take care of your lawn isn’t just better for the environment - it may also be safer for human health. This past summer, a terminally ill former groundskeeper in San Francisco was awarded a $250 million settlement from Monsanto, the company that produces the Roundup brand of weed control products.


These lawn treatments use glyphosate, a chemical herbicide that has been linked to cancer by multiple studies, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. Dewayne Johnson said he was instructed to use Roundup 20 to 30 times a day working as a school groundskeeper in a San Francisco suburb. He blames the weed killer for the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma he was diagnosed with in 2014, which has made him terminally ill and left lesions on 80% of his body.


Let’s look at some of the data on glyphosate and the latest developments in the Johnson vs. Monsanto case.

Choosing Hardy Biennials for Your Yard in Massachusetts

As the name suggests, biennials are plants that take at least two years to go through their entire lifecycle. With multicolor bloom phases and interesting shapes, these plants make an ideal addition to any yard. Some of the best biennials in Massachusetts are hardy, growing best when they can set roots early in more mild fall or winter seasons.


Below are some of our favorite biennials suitable for the New England climate. Remember that some plants classified as biennials can last longer than two years.

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