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Landscape Articles

Judith Lipson- Rubin


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.

Redoing Your Lawn for Fall in Massachusetts

In the fall, changing leaves bring the year’s last few splashes of color as flowers, shrubs, and other plants start to become dormant for winter. Even though spring and summer are the main bloom times, there are many maintenance tasks to do in your yard during the fall. The cooler weather in Massachusetts provides great opportunity to work on the foundation of your lawn.

Planting Grasses in the Fall for Year-Round Interest

One of our favorite things about landscape design is the amount of personal expression it allows. Most people associate landscape with flowers and shrubs, but there are many different styles of plants that can thrive in your garden, depending on your tastes.


People sometimes forget about ornamental grasses. They often don’t take as central of a role in your garden as flowers and vegetables, but these grasses can still add a nice touch to your yard. Grasses are also great because many of them bloom in colder weather, which can help your yard look attractive even in the offseason.


Here’s what you need to know about planting ornamental grasses in the fall.

3 Vegetable Garden Tips for Fall in Massachusetts

Growing vegetables and other edible plants is one of the most rewarding forms of gardening. You get to enjoy the fruits of your labor - literally - with fresh food, spices, and herbs that can be used in delicious meals.


As the calendar gets closer to the cool fall season, it is time to harvest many popular fruits and vegetables. But harvesting isn’t the only fall activity you should be doing to maximize your garden’s return and ensure it is a healthy, vibrant part of your yard all year.


Here are three lesser-known yet important tips to improve your vegetable garden as the weather cools down:

Extending Your Fall Bloom Time for An Attractive Yard - Even in Cold Weather

Now is the time of year when cold weather approaches and spring blooms are mostly gone. But just because it’s not the beginning of the season doesn’t mean you have no interest in your yard to look forward to. With some thoughtful planning and selection of the right plants, you can maintain a vibrant garden with great aesthetics all year.

3 Tips for Fall Season Planting in Massachusetts

With Labor Day now behind us, it’s time to wrap up summer and start preparing for autumn. Though the hot weather is still hanging around right now, before you know it the temperatures will drop and you’ll need a jacket to go outside.


Many homeowners and even some landscape professionals believe that once the warm weather is over, life in your yard will cease until the next bloom season. While it’s true that your yard probably won’t be as active in the fall as it is in the spring and summer, that doesn’t mean it will be completely desolate of plant and insect life. There are still ways you can maintain a healthy, vibrant yard well into October and November.

Reducing Waste and Harm to the Environment Part 2

In our previous blog post, we touched on methods to choose, arrange, and support healthy shrubs and trees in your yard. For this post, we will be talking about ways to maintain your yard over the long run. We’ll also address how you can use vegetation to make your home more energy efficient, thereby reducing your overall environmental footprint.

Top Tips for Landscape Design on a Sloped Yard

People with sloped yards often feel like they are unable to get a yard to look as good as a more level outdoor space. This isn’t the case - while a sloped yard does require some specific care and may not be best for all types of plants, there’s still a lot that you can do to create a relaxing environment.


Here’s what to know to design a peaceful, inspiring outdoor space - even if your yard is at an angle.  

Best Fall Colors in New England

Before the wind and early snow take away the rest of our fall foliage, make some time to appreciate the variety of color New England has this time of year. Plants that have phenomenal fall foliage colors are important to consider when designing landscapes. A few of our favorite fall beauties are: Diane Witch Hazel Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane', Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire Itea virginica 'Sprich' and Paperbark Maple Acer griseum.

Reducing Waste and Harm to the Environment from Landscaping in Massachusetts (part 1)

In recent years, there’s been a large push to educate homeowners and commercial landscapers on how to conserve the environment. More and more home and business owners are realizing that poor landscaping practices will not only hurt their plant life, but also negatively impact the greater environment.


In this blog series, we will discuss everything you can do to mitigate harm to the environment through your landscaping practices. The first installment will cover how to choose, arrange, and take care of plants in a way that reduces negative effects on the natural world.

How To: Gardening Tips- Garden Advice For Everyone!

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