Archives for October 2016

Berries For Your Birds

Adding berry producing trees and shrubs to your yard can expand your bird-viewing pleasure. Since fall is the best time for planting, consider adding a few of these “feeders” this time of year. Not only will they offer nutrition to your backyard birds, they will be lovely additions to your landscape. Our year-round resident birds that eat bugs summer, spring, and fall are forced to switch to berries in the winter. Robins, bluebirds, and mockingbirds, for instance, don’t have bill structures to hull the seeds that you would add to your bird feeders, so they’re dependent almost entirely on berries.20160121_081635-1

Fall and winter berries tend to be high in fat and carbs that birds need for energy.   The nutrition in these berries also help them replace all those worn feathers, bulk-up for migration or ready themselves for winter.

Most of the berry producing plants also provide shelter. Birds will choose safety over food so choose areas where your birds will feel safe.  Consider planting in clusters and near other vegetation to create natural protection against predators. If you plant your berry producing plants with limited cover or protection, you will think your birds are ignoring your offering of wonderful berries.

  • Autumn berries: Dogwoods, cotoneasters, Dwarf Burford Holly, Nellie R Stevens Holly, and Beautyberry provide food for migratory birds, both to build up fat reserves before migration and to sustain them along their journey. Non-migratory birds also fatten up on these so they can enter the winter season in good physical condition.waxwing-fruit-tree
  • Winter berries: Crabapple, Sumacs, Cranberry Viburnum, Virginia Creeper, and Winterberry (holly) are all valuable to birds for both food and shelter. These plants hold their berries for a long time so that resident birds and early returning migrants can feed. Robins, Bluejays, Finches, and Mockingbirds are among the birds drawn to these plants in winter.
  • Nuts and acorns: Oaks and hickories, provide food for titmice, jays, and some woodpeckers. Insects drawn to their spring flowers provide food for spring-migrating birds. These trees also provide nesting habitat for many species.

Planting trees and shrubs that birds love will not only increase your bird viewing pleasure but will also enhance the beauty and texture of your landscape.

Feel free to ask any of our associates to help you plan your bird sanctuary or check out our FREE Quick Sketch service here.

Top Three Landscape Design Elements

When asked to drill it down to the top three most important things to think about when designing a landscape, our landscape designer has this to say:

Think about:
Spacing
Mature structure (size) of the plant
Texture

landscape-front-afterDesigning a landscape can be a monster if you don’t think about the end product. You can choose what you see and like in other landscapes and garden centers and just hope for the best. But if you can look into the future and design accordingly, you will enjoy your yard for years to come.  Garden centers carry plants from small 4 inch pots to large 15 gallon pots.  These plants are not fully grown.  When you start your landscape, they may seem puny at first.  Don’t make the mistake of planting them too close together.  It may look sparse right now, but your plants need room to grow their roots and branches.  If they are too close together, their leaves and roots will not be able to get the nutrition and sunlight they need.  Check with a professional and make sure you are spacing for proper mature growth.

Mature structure (size) is very important. You don’t want plants to cover your windows, sidewalks, driveway. If you don’t like endless yard work pruning and trimming, large plants in front of your windows would not do.  Pay close attention to the tags and signs on the plants you are choosing. commercial-plant-health-care-tree-services-public-gardens-3 Measure your area or take pictures and ask an expert if the plants you are considering will work.

Last but not least is texture. We like to think of varieties of plants as having their own personalities. Leaves and bark have distinct size, shape, and color according to their variety. Combining textures is as important as color in your landscape. Textures offer year round interest when applied correctly.

Check out The Family Tree Garden Center’s FREE Quick Sketch design service. We care about your landscape!

Fall Leaves Are Turning-Keep A Journal

In one of my classes at UGA, we had to keep a fall leaf journal. It was a big grade at the end of the semester but I have to admit, it might have taken the back burner. Why would I care about when and what color the leaves turned other than WHY they turned for a test question? (Oh, that would be because as the weather gets cooler, production of chlorophyll (which is the key component in a plants ability to turn sunlight into the glucose that feeds the trees) is slowed so that the true colors of the leaves are visible.
• Orange leaves contain Beta-Carotene img04
• Red leaves have Anthocyanins img05
• Yellow leaves have Flavonol – cool, huh?!) img06
At the time I was more concerned with chemistry, plant physiology, football, and bonfires with friends. But I did pay some attention and in the end it did create an appreciation for fall color. I love anticipating the fire of Maple leaves, the burgundy clouds of the dogwoods, and of course the electric yellow of the Ginko.

fall-color-easternredbud-02According to the Farmer’s Almanac for this year, it looks like the best leaf watching for our area will be October 21-November 7. Take a look outside or go for a drive, you will see the Maples and Dogwoods are already starting to turn. It’s actually fun to keep a journal of the leaf changes. Each variety has its own personality concerning color, time of change, and how they drop their leaves. If you don’t know what the tree is that you are looking at, take pictures and ask us! We’re glad to help with this adventure!

Falling leaves So leaves falling in your yard can be a bit annoying but there is a bit of science behind it. Trees are smarter than you think. In order to cope with the winter temperatures that could damage the leaves and possibly kill the tree, trees slowly close off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from the leaves protecting the limbs and body of the tree. Once the veins are closed off and new cells between the stem and leaf are created, water and nutrients no longer flow to and from the leaf – this enables the leaf to die and weaken at the stem, eventually falling gracefully to the ground.

Concerning the carpet of leaves in your yard and the bother of raking them up; Consider adding them to your beds, woods, or compost piles. When leaves fall to the ground, they begin to break down and eventually create a rich humus. Humus is nutrient rich and acts as a continual source of nutrition and water for trees and plants, helping to promote life and plant health in the next spring season.