Saturday, October 13, 2012

Top 5 Perennial Plants for Shade

Top Five Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens


It is difficult to find good plants for shade areas. In the inner loop or areas in Houston where there are many trees surrounding your are some good suggestions! If you ever have any questions feel free to contact us at 281-914-7788!

1.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Sweet Woodruff
Also called bedstraw, this plant is a perfect groundcover. It will spread to fill any space with its delicate green leaves and bright white flowers. It gets its second name from the smell released when the plants is crushed.
2.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Hosta
One of the most popular shade perennial plants, hostas are large-leaved plant that grow spires of purple or white flowers in the late summer. There are over three hundred varieties of hosta.
3.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Liriope
This plant is known for its green or variegated foliage that grows in a grass-like clump. Lirope also has short spires of purple flowers in the summer that peek out from under the leaves.
4.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Bleeding Heart
The bleeding heart plant is an early spring favorite. The delicate green leaves and unusual heart-shaped flowers grow well in the shade. The whole plant dies back by mid to late summer.
5.Perennial Plants for Shade Gardens - Lenten Rose
While this is not a showy plant, it is perfect for a natural shade garden. It does have attractive green foliage and stalks of cup-shaped flowers. The blossoms can be white, pink, or green.

Ask us  about substitute plants also that would work. Sometimes growers do not produce enough volume.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mulching in Autumn

Benefits of Proper Mulching

· Helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and the need for watering can be minimized.
· Helps control weeds. A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch will reduce the germination and growth of weeds.
· Mulch serves as nature’s insulating blanket. Mulch keeps soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
· Many types of mulch can improve soil aeration, structure (aggregation of soil particles), and drainage over time.
· Some mulches can improve soil fertility.
· A layer of mulch can inhibit certain plant diseases.
· Mulching around trees helps facilitate maintenance and can reduce the likelihood of damage from “weed whackers” or the dreaded “lawn mower blight.”
· Mulch can give planting beds a uniform, well-cared-for look.
Trees growing in a natural forest environment have their roots anchored in a rich, well-aerated soil full of essential nutrients. The soil is blanketed by leaves and organic materials that replenish nutrients and provide an optimal environment for root growth and mineral uptake. Urban landscapes, however, are typically a much harsher environment with poor soils, little organic matter, and large fluctuations in temperature and moisture. Applying a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch can mimic a more natural environment and improve plant health.

The root system of a tree is not a mirror image of the top. The roots of most trees can extend out a significant distance from the tree trunk. Although the guideline for many maintenance practices is the drip line—the outermost extension of the canopy—the roots can grow many times that distance. In addition, most of the fine, absorbing roots are located within inches of the soil surface. These roots, which are essential for taking up water and minerals, require oxygen to survive. A thin layer of mulch, applied as broadly as practical, can improve the soil structure, oxygen levels, temperature, and moisture availability where these roots grow.

If you need mulch or soil enhancement call us at 281-914-7788.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cleaning Gutters in the Fall!

 Cleaning Gutters! 

The first thing you need to decide is how you're going to collect the leaves and other matter you remove from the gutters. When gutter contents are a bit damp, you can either use what I call the "scoop and drop" method or the "gutter bucket" method. For the gutter bucket method damp leaves allow a more dense packing of the bucket, and for the scoop and drop method, it stops the leaves from fluttering all over when you drop them. (The least messy way to clean gutters is when the gutter contents are dry and that method is discussed in the next section).
The scoop and drop method is when you scoop out the gutter and drop the contents to the ground onto a plastic tarp or drop cloth. This method is fastest and all you have to do is move the plastic tarp along with you as you move the ladder. When it gets full, just dump the leaves into your compost or trash bag.
The gutter bucket method is fairly common and involves taking a plastic bucket with a metal handle, cutting the handle in two at the center. Then bend the ends of the handle halves into hook shapes that you then hook onto the edge of the gutter. You simply scoop out the gutter and empty it into the bucket. Be ready to do a lot of up and down on the ladder though with this method since that bucket gets filled up quickly.

When you have dry gutter contents a better way to clean out and collect the dried leaves and sticks is what I call the "gutter bag" method.
With the gutter bag method you take a plastic bucket and fasten the handles similar to what we did in the gutter bucket method in the previous section. But here, you will cut off the bottom of the bucket creating a bottomless bucket.
Now, take a trash bag and fasten it around the bucket just under the metal handle. You can fasten it tightly with a large rubber band, or duct tape or a large Velcro strap. Now you can easily empty the dry contents into the plastic bag with the bucket serving as a form and throat for the bag. The reason this works well is that the leaves are dry so they are light, but bulky.
Make sure you don't fill the bag too full (heavy). Use your judgment with safety in mind when on the ladder.
With your method of leaf collection established from the previous two sections, it's now time for the fun part. Cleaning the gutters!
You can use any number of things to scoop the contents out of a gutter. You can fabricate your own scooper from a plastic jug with a handle but assuming you're not into making your own tools, you can just use a trowel or garden spade. You can even use old kitchen tools like a spatula.
  If you need our services contact us at

Thursday, September 27, 2012


First step needed to install pavers: Choose a paver. There are many from which to choose. There is one out there that's right for every project. If you'll be using brick, make sure you use paving bricks, rather than the type that is made for walls and outdoor fireplaces.

Mark the outside dimensions. If your project is square or rectangular, drive a spike into each corner and spray paint the lines between the spikes to mark where you will be digging. For an irregularly shaped project, simply mark the edges with spray paint. Call the Call Before You Dig phone number before you begin.

Get your shovel ready. It's time to dig. You need to remove about 8 1/2; inches of earth to install pavers and a base for them. This will allow for 5 inches of crushed stone, 1 inch of sand, and the thickness of the paver, which is generally about 2 1/2; inches. If your pavers are thicker or thinner, change your excavation depth accordingly. It may seem like there's a lot of digging required to install pavers properly, but it's worth the hard work. As you dig, periodically place a straight edge across the edges of the patio and measure down to check the depth of your hole. It is better to dig a little too deep than a little too shallow.

Fill it back in. Now that you've done all that hard work digging that hole, you're going to fill it back in. This may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but it's the proper way to install pavers. First, install a layer of landscape fabric in the hole. Now add 5 inches of crushed stone. This will give your pavers a strong base yet allow them to remain flexible. This is especially important if you live in an area exposed to the freeze/thaw cycle. As you add crushed stone, periodically check for depth by laying a straight edge across and measuring down as you did before. Use a hand tamper or rent a compactor to compact the crushed stone.

Install another layer of landscape fabric. This serves two purposes. Like the first layer of fabric, it helps deter the growth of weeds. It will also prevent the layer of sand you are about to add from mixing with the crushed stone you just installed, while at the same time allowing water to drain through.

Install 1 inch of sand. This will be the setting bed that your pavers will rest in. The more time you spend getting this close to perfect, the easier the rest of the project will be.

To assist with installing the sand, we'll use 2x4s as our guides (you can also use long pieces of pipe for your guides). Sprinkle some sand along the perimeter of your project. Place the 2x4s along the edge. Using a level and tape measure, add or take away sand as needed to make the 2x4s flat and 2 1/2 inches (the thickness of your paver) below the top of your new walkway or patio. Once your guides are at the proper pitch and height, fill the rest of the space with sand, using a rake and trusting your eyes to make it as flat as possible.

Use a long 2x4 as a screed. Place each end of the long 2x4 on a guide. Slide the 2x4 across the guides, leveling the sand in the process. Go across the area three or four times, adding or taking away sand as necessary.

Compact. Using a hand tamper or compactor, compact the sand. This is a very important step. If you don't compact it, the sand will settle over time, which will cause the pavers to settle too, leaving you with dips and valleys in your project area.

Re-apply sand. Add a little more sand and repeat the screeding process. This should leave you with a nice flat surface for the pavers to be set in. After screeding, avoid walking on the sand.

Straight edge. Before you start to install pavers (called "setting the pavers"), you need a straight line to work off. You can use a long 2x4 as a straight edge, or, you can drive two spikes and hang a string line between them to serve as your straight edge. If you don't start straight, your pavers won't line-up properly.

Set the brick pavers. Finally, all the prep work is done. Like most construction projects, most of the work is in the preparation. Start placing your pavers in the sand, using your straight edge as a guide. Butt the pavers close together. There should still be a thin joint line between the pavers that will be filled with sand later. Use a level to check for flatness. Use a rubber mallet to knock down any high pavers. Add more sand and reset any low pavers. If you were careful leveling the sand with your screed, you shouldn't have to do much leveling now.

Cutting pavers. You may need to cut pavers along the edges of your project. Read this article to learn how to cut pavers.

Edging. The perimeter of your project will most likely need an edging to keep the pavers in place.

Polymeric sand. Now that all your pavers are set, it's time to fill in the spaces between them. You'll use special sand: polymeric sand. It's fine sand with additives that react with water to create a strong bond between the pavers. Using a large broom, sweep the sand between the joints of the pavers.

Clean. Using a broom or a leaf blower (it's easier) remove all the polymeric sand that is on the surface of the pavers. Really, all of it. In the next step we're going to add water to the equation and any sand that's left on the surface will stick to the pavers.

Last step needed to install pavers: Turn on the hose. Set your hose setting to a light mist and gently water all the pavers. The idea here is to get the polymers in the sand to activate. You don't want to flood the joints or the sand will wash out. A light mist will work well. Allow the sand to dry for 10 to 15 minutes and then wet it down again.
Contact us for more questions:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Disappearing Fountains

How–to Disappearing Fountain Installation

A Disappearing Fountain is a great way to add the sound and movement of water to your garden. Water is pumped from a hidden reservoir buried in the ground through the fountain piece and then seemingly disappears into the ground.
Using a pre-molded Reservoir, (our NWG unit is shown – installation may vary depending on the reservoir you use; check the manufactures instructions), installing a Disappearing Fountain is easier than ever. Disappearing Fountains are safe for young children because there is no open water. They provide water to pets and wildlife. Birds often visit Disappearing Fountains for a drink of water; and the millstone fountain makes a great birdbath.

Disappearing Fountains can be created from nearly anything. Traditional choices are decorative pots, statues, fountains or waterfalls. We even created a Disappearing Fountain from a trashcan just to prove our point.
Pot or Piece Choices
Granite and Basalt pieces will last forever. Mexican Urns are unglazed, come in earth tones, and have a 1-5 year life expectancy. Glazed Pots and Cast Stone Statuary come in numerous sizes and shapes, in a wide range of colors and have a 20+ year life expectancy.
Installation Directions:
1.Dig your hole about 14? deep, (or the depth recommended by the basin manufacturer you choose) and fill the bottom with 1? of sand. Note - Before you start digging check for buried utilities, cables, and sprinkler systems.
2.Place the reservoir in the excavation and level.
3.Backfill soil around the box packing in firmly.
4.Cut a 1 ½´ x 2´ piece from the corner of one of the grates. This becomes the trapdoor for pump maintenance.
5.Place the cinder blocks in the box; one in each corner and one bridging the adjoining pieces of grating (including the trap door).
6.Place 2-3 cinder blocks (depending on the piece) in the middle. For light pieces place the grating on top of the cinder blocks. Heavy pieces require several cinder blocks and must sit directly on the blocks with the grate cut away to go around the piece.
7.Place the mesh over the grating; cut a hole in the mesh for the tubing.
8.Connect the tubing to the piece (leave a fairly long piece of tubing exiting the fountain).
9.Pots that hold a large volume of water will need a check valve or stand pipe connected to the tubing inside the piece to prevent the water from flowing out when the pump is turned off.
10.Place the pump inside the box. We recommend using a Cal Screen on the intake of the pump to protect the intake of the pump.
11.Thread the tubing through the cracks of the grating and slowly lower the piece into place. Once in place, level the pot using shims.
12.Connect the tubing to the pump and clamp.
13.Put the decorative topping around the piece on top of the grating and mesh.
14.Turn on pump and enjoy.
Choose the Right Reservoir
Although you may be tempted to opt for a smaller reservoir due to space, labor and cost considerations there are some good reasons to go with a larger reservoir.
1. The larger the reservoir the greater volume of water it can hold and the less often you need to re-fill it.
2. Tall pieces 4´ or higher need a bigger box, water droplets have farther to fall and thus tend to splash out of the reservoir boundaries.
3. Larger reservoirs give you the opportunity to add additional pieces to your fountain display.
4. Larger reservoirs allow for a greater water flow creating more water "music."
Instillation Tip
We've learned this the hard way; always connect the tubing to the piece and then to the pump not the other way around. We also recommend installing a valve on all pumps to control the flow of water coming out of the piece to match your expectations.
Care of Your Disappearing Fountain
The reservoir must be kept filled with water and can be accomplished in several ways:
1. Fill the fountain as needed with a garden hose.
2. Site the fountain near an irrigation head, so the sprinkler keeps the reservoir filled. Nelson's does not recommend using automatic fill devices because they frequently "stick" and don't shut off.
The fountain piece will need to be scrubbed occasionally to remove algae and scale. Fountec (safe for birds and pets) can be used to control algae growth but must be added every week. Use Protec to minimize hard water stains (especially on dark fountains or fountains close to windows) on a monthly basis. Note: Some folks prefer the natural patina of algae on the pieces, in which case no scrubbing, or Fountec, is necessary.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good Autumn Plants to Plant!

 Here are some good choices for your Autumn Planting:



A wonderful cut flower, asters make any garden explode with color at the end of the growing season. From miniature alpine plants to giants up to 6 feet tall, there are over 250 asters, with plenty of colors to choose from. Asters are a great way to brighten up the fall landscape in your backyard.
  • Common Names: Aster, Michaelmas daisy.
  • Botanical Name: Aster.
  • Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8.
  • Bloom Time: Late summer through fall.
  • Size: 3 to 6 feet high (dwarf varieties are shorter).
  • Flowers: Purple, white, pink, blue, and red daisy-like flowers.
  • Light Needs: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Growing Advice: Can be planted any time during growing season, preferably early in northern states, so cultivars can get established before winter. Plant at least 2 feet apart with the crown even with the soil surface.
  • Prize Picks: For the ultimate in low-maintenance gardening, choose Purple Dome asters, which form a small, tight mass of blooms that require no pinching or staking. Alma Potschke can reach heights of 4 feet and usually need staking; its flowers are vivid pink.

2.Burning bush

One of the most common landscape plants in North America, this shrub is prized for its hardy constitution and brilliant fall foliage. It's one of the first shrubs to change color in autumn, when its dark-green leaves become blazing red. After the leaves drop, burning bush offers another season of interest. The stems have twisted and corky ridges that are especially pretty when covered with snow.
Burning bush has a dense growth habit and is easily pruned for use as a hedge. It thrives almost anywhere, tolerating a wide range of soil types and light conditions.
  • Common Name: Burning bush, winged euonymus, winged spindle tree.
  • Botanical Name: Euonymus alatus.
  • Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8 or 9.
  • Bloom Time: Inconspicuous, late spring.
  • Foliage: Toothed leaves are dark-green in spring and summer, and turn bright red in autumn.
  • Light needs: Full sun to light shade.
  • Growing Advice: Plant in a hole that's as deep as, but wider than, the root ball. For shrub borders, space plants 4 to 6 feet apart. Remove any twine or burlap after plants are in place.
  • Prize Picks: Compactus is more dense and compact than its full-sized relative.


These showy flowers quickly gained popularity after Spanish explorers discovered them in Central American gardens. The kings of Spain named them in honor of Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, who created many hybrids.
  • Common Names: Dahlia.
  • Botanical Name: Dahlia.
  • Hardiness: Zones 8 to 11.
  • Bloom Time: Midsummer to first frost.
  • Size: 2 to 8 feet high, 1 to 3 feet wide.
  • Flowers: Every color but blue and green; shape varies from pompon to daisy-like shapes.
  • Light needs: Full sun.
  • Growing Advice: Plant tuberous roots in spring after last frost, placing them 4 inches deep with "eye" pointing up. Stake taller varieties.
  • Prize Picks: 'Show 'N' Tell's' twisted red petals give this semi-cactus cultivar a tousled look. Ball dahlias - like the small white-tipped crimson bloom 'Kenora's Fireball' - offer a full pompom of inwardly-curved florets.

4.Japanese maple

The unique form, delicate and often colorful leaves and smooth gray bark give Japanese maples year-round appeal. These graceful trees work in traditional landscapes as well as theme gardens. There are more than 300 cultivars. With so many options, it's easy to picture one of these serene beauties in your landscape.
  • Common Names: Japanese maple.
  • Botanical Name: Acer palmatum.
  • Hardiness: Zones 5 or 6 to 8, depending on cultivar.
  • Bloom Time: May or June.
  • Size: 15 to 25 feet high, 15 to 25 feet wide.
  • Flower/Foliage: Small red to purple flower clusters; deeply lobed leaves with five to 11 "fingers." Summer colors range from green to red and purples, with autumn hues of various reds and golds.
  • Light Needs: Prefers dappled shade, but will tolerate full sun.
  • Growing Advice: Plant balled-and-burlapped or container-grown trees in late winter or early spring. This gives the trees a chance to establish themselves before the stress of summer's heat or winter's cold.
  • Prize Picks: Waterfall is considered the best of the green cutleaf forms and tolerates the heat found in Zone 8. If you're looking for season-long color, try the deep reddish-purple leaves of Bloodgood.


Have a burning desire for an easy-care plant that provides a lot of drama? A smoketree might be just the ticket. These deciduous trees and shrubs guarantee a stunning display in summer, when clouds of downy plume-shaped panicles seem to envelop the foliage in a smoky haze. As the weather cools and the panicles disappear, the leaves become bold shades of orange, red or yellow. Best of all, this unusual show will unfold with virtually no effort on your part.
  • Common Names: Smoketree, smokebush, Venetian sumac, chittamwood.
  • Botanical Name: Cotinus coggygria.
  • Hardiness: Zones 5 to 8.
  • Bloom Time: Insignificant flowers appear in June and July, followed by showy panicles through September.
  • Size: Most are 14 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide.
  • Foliage: Oval green or purple leaves that become yellow, orange, scarlet, or purplish-red in fall.
  • Light Needs: Full sun to partial shade. Purple-leafed varieties produce the best color in full sun.
  • Growing Advice: Plant container-grown trees anytime during the growing season.
  • Prize Picks: One of the showiest varieties is Daydream smokebush, which produces heavy drifts of fluffy brownish-pink panicles and has a dense growth habit.

6.Indian grass

Indian grass will add stunning greens, golden bronzes and warm blues to your garden throughout the year with little work on your part in return. Its natural look lends itself as a transition from more formal spaces, though it looks great among wildflower gardens as well.
  • Common Names: Indian grass.
  • Botanical Name: Sorghastrum.
  • Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8.
  • Size: Up to 8 feet high and 2 feet wide.
  • Foliage: Blue-green leaves which turn purplish-blue in fall.
  • Flowers: Golden- or red-brown flowerheads.
  • Light Needs: Full sun.
  • Growing Advice: Avoid wet soil in winter. Divide in mid-spring or early summer.
  • Prize Picks: Sioux Blue has bright blue foliage and attains 4 to 6 feet.

7.Ornamental cabbage

Vegetables generally aren't grown for their beauty. Ornamental cabbage is definitely an exception. With vivid colors and showy rosettes of fall foliage, you wouldn't dare planting ornamental cabbage among its more edible counterparts. Instead, use as a colorful border or groundcover.
  • Common Names: Ornamental cabbage.
  • Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea var. capitata.
  • Hardiness: Annual.
  • Bloom Time: Grown for foliage.
  • Size: 10 to 18 inches high, 12 to 18 inches wide.
  • Foliage: Colorful green, lavender-blue, purple, red, pink, or white foliage intensifies in fall and early winter.
  • Light Needs: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Growing Advice: Seed directly in garden or small indoor containers 6 to 8 weeks before first predicted frost.
  • Prize Picks: For big drama, seek out Flamingo Plumes, which is purple with hot pink interior. Rose Bouquet and Frizzy White are superb examples of those colors. 

Please contact us if you need help with your landscaping at:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Great Autumn Trees to Plant in Houston

Here are some great additions to your Garden that look great in the Fall!

Green Ash(is native Texas tree) is very hardy and has a brilliant yellow fall foliage. These are hard to find but ask us at 281-914-7788 or email us at :

Black Gum(non native tree)A native to the eastern U.S., Black Gum is noted for its outstanding and consistent fall red color. Its wood, which is very strong, was used in colonial times for water pipes.
red leavesFollowing pollination, greenish flowers appearing in late spring develop into purple berries. It prefers moist soils and is
one of the most elegant trees of the North American lowlands. Like its name, nymph of the woods, the black gum or tupelo grows more graceful as the lives of those who fall in love with it move on from generation to generation. Its fall color comes early and is unmatched.
Swamp Chestnut-The leaves are simple, alternately arranged, 4" to 9" long, and 2 ½" to 5" wide. They are ob-ovate, broadest in the middle and above. The leaf base tapers to the petiole and the leaf tip is rounded. The upper leaf surface is lustrous, dark green and smooth while the underside is duller and fuzzy. Leaf margins are coarsely wavy-toothed. Leaves turn crimson in the fall.
Texas Pistache-(native tree)
This rare, evergreen tree from the Southwestern part of the state is an ideal choice for quickly screening out noise and poor views. Mature Texas pistache is a striking specimen tree, with its delicate foliage and attractive white, peeling bark. Trees are sexed, with female trees predominating. The small forming fruit is red, turning black as it dries. It is a favorite treat of songbirds and other wildlife. Foliage turns bronze/purple in the Fall and leaves regrow in late Winter.
Texas pistache is generally deer-resistant but tips will be nipped back when plants are small. We recommend only the most well drained locations for the plant, as it is susceptible to damage from prolonged contact with soggy soil.(look below at picture)
 Sassafras Tree is often grown as an ornamental tree for its unusual leaves and aromatic scent. Outside of its native area, it is occasionally cultivated in Europe.  Sassafras oil, is distilled from the root bark or the fruit. It was used as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food (sassafras tea and candy flavoring) and for aromatherapy. The smell of sassafras oil is said to make an excellent repellent for mosquitoes and other insects, which makes it a nice garden plant(which is good thing in Texas) Look below for tree picture! 

If you have any further questions about these trees or any other plants feel free to email us at :

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flagstone and Rock Edging

It is important when designing a new flowerbed or a new design to have proper landscape edging to hold soil, mulch, and moisture for the flowerbeds. Depending on the house backdrop or the surrounding areas with theme.

Here is a site that shows different types of flagstone, brick, and pavers for a good edging look!
Apex Stone

Check out our site if you need anymore additional information on materials or to contact us!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer coming to an End, Autumn Near!

An Open Letter to Arbor Life customers

Summer is Nearing End, and Autumn is Close!
The worst of the Houston heat and humidity will have subsided soon. Here are some tips on helping your lawn,trees, and plants with the seasonal composed of a warm season turf grass or a cool season turf grass.
Fall Lawn Care Tip: Find Out Your Grass Type
These turfs are the common warm season turf that we use in our region:

These are the Tasks for Turfs this Season:
     Apply herbicides to broadleaf weeds
     Correct soil PH: if your lawn is not performing well, have your soil tested. If the soil test should show a need to reduce acidity, apply lime now. If alkalinity needs to be reduced, apply sulfur.
     Aeration/Thatch removal: detach your lawn, by raking; for bad cases of soil compaction, you may have to employ the technique known as core aeration, for which lawn equipment known as "aerators" can be bought or rented
     Rake leaves, or use a leaf vacuum, lest the leaves smother your grass over the winter
     Less watering in Autumn: set your schedule back to 60-70% budget and gradually this rate should be 10%-0% by winter time.
     Fertilization: apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 per square foot of lawn.(32-0-10 is a sufficient fertilizer for this season).
     Overseed with Rye Grass: this helps keep your lawn green and tightens up turf core to keep invading weeds from creeping in. 

Arbor Life services

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 Great Shade Trees for Planting in the Urban Forest

Here are some good ideas for some great shade trees! 

1. European white birch(shown in picture)-loved for its paper white bark and multiple trunks! It has a brilliant yellow autumn color. Hardy to Zone 3 but not good for dry summers or to ares where birch borers are prevalent.

2.Red horse chestnut-large roundish leaves and huge spikes of pink to reddish flower spikes top this bold textured tree.
Grows up to 50 ft. high and about 35 ft. wide, casting dense shade!

3.Russian Olive-Tough trees with narrow, silvery leaves. Fragrance is nice but not too showy.  Grows 30-35 ft. Hardy to Zone 2.

4.Ash-This an obvious choice. Many Houstonians hate this tree cause it grows very fast and need a lot maintenance. They can also thrive under many conditions!

5.Thorn less honey locust-Finely cut foliage casts a wonderful shade from this adaptable tree. Leaves turn yellow before dropping in autumn; leave little mess. Grows 40-60 feet high with a spreading habit. Sunburst or Ruby lace are two types.

Ask us about other trees for your area! Call us at 281-914-7788!
Or go to our contact page at:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Installing Lighting!

Some important key facts when doing outdoor lighting!

1.Light your yard, not your neighborhood! Avoid lights that are not directed to the features or plants of choice.

2.Purpose Lighting! What are you doing it for? Walkways, more security, or more accent of plants while enjoying at home.

3.Hide Ugly Features! Make sure you really think about how you want to light and hide light from some areas because they are not esthetically pleasing when light is displayed on it!

4.Avoid Under lighting! A common mistake when designing. Trees and entry ways should be first stops for lighting.

If you have any questions or need a bid from us feel free to go to our site: and fill out the email submit form on the top right page.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Drawing Your Design for Installation!

It is important in landscaping to get a physical idea of how you want to construct your landscaping ideas! Remember if you dont put it down there is not changing or re-examining because you did not have a plan to start with.

Here is a good start on drawing 1:

 This is a good start for taking exact measurements of entire property and making sure you did not miss any existing structures that would change planting or hardscape design.

Next step after this is to start researching plant material for your area. If you area is more sun than shade or a little of both that will depend what material you can plant. Remember Purpose Planting!!!! This is sooo important!

Second drawing with areas filled in more detail!

This shows a more descriptive expression of design! Remember folks get creative please and have fun with it. It is your backyard remember!!!

If you have any further question on things like lanscaping or tree issues feel free to go on our site: and fill out the email submit form! Thank you and have a great day outside!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Think Like a Landscaper!

There are some good points of reference when trying to design and create a project!
Here they go!

Make sure all your ideas tie together so that the eyes and feet of others can flow one part to the other.  Make sure pathways are 3-5' in width and they go to an overall center point.
Make sure you link greenery to any expression you design or if something needs to be removed due to not the style you are going with. You do not want to have a palm tree in a place where you are creating a Formal or Zen design in the area. Keep your style consistent.

2.Repetition! Manage plant material and hardscape material! Make sure you use the same material after you have established a plan and do not go cheap on material if you have already established the primary materials. Also make sure you purpose plant so that down the road it will not be an eye sore later. Curves and Circles are important and giving the eye a creative touch!

3.Play with color! Cool colors such as blues, purples, deep reds, and pastels. Hot colors such as white, bright pink, yellow, orange, and orange-yellow.  If you want a small place look bigger plant hot colors at the entryway and cool colors across the garden at the far end where they look like a distant water color of delight!

4.Rhythm like a Drum! Whether its leaf shape, color, plant forms, curved, or striaght lines make sure there is balance and a method to your "madness". Jazz it up and experiment with different ideas by staging them first before planting. Sometimes I would recommend starting in sections so that you have freedom to add or subtract material with whatever theme that you are presenting.

These are my tips for today! If you have any other questions or concerns feel free to contact us at 281-914-7788 or email us at:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Learning about Trees!

ISA-International Society of Arboriculture: Is a great organization that educates and helps keep trees healthy. If you want to learn more about trees and how to take care of them please visit this site.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why Soil is soo important for life!

In doing landscape maintenance in the last 15 years I have noticed how many installers do not use new soil when preparing new beds and existing beds. Many people think that mulch takes care of the plants nutrients. This is not true. Mulch is good for absorbing water,deterring weeds, and helping prevent erosion of soil. Remember to make sure the soil is not a topsoil when dealing with flower beds. Ask the vendor what is best for landscaping material or just for grading. If you further questions about this topic feel free to contact us at: 281-914-7788

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Preparing for Hurricane Season

It is important to take care of your trees during hurricane season. I would recommend looking around your property and making sure there are no broken limbs, deadwood, or canopies that need to be pruned due to balance and access growth. Pruning out your trees greatly reduces all your chances of possible damage. Here is a link that I found that makes good points for taking care of trees:

You can give us a call at 281-914-7788 if you need further questions on your trees.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Your Lawn

  1. Pick Up a Rake and Make Those Dead Leaves Covering Your Lawn Disappear. Leaves left on your lawn will lock out the light and air. A thick layer of leaves can actually smother your lawn.
  2. Give Your Lawn a Good Last Mow. Once your grass becomes dormant, you can lower your cutting height to one inch for warm-season grasses and two inches for cool-season grasses. Leaving your lawn longer than two inches may trap moisture, setting the stage for diseases to develop in the spring.
  3. For Your Final Mowing of the Season, It's Okay to Leave a Little Mulch. Leave clippings and leaves on your lawn; not a blanket, just a sprinkling. Mulch can return nitrogen back into the soil over the winter and spring.
  4. Give Your Lawn Some Breathing Room. Your lawn may have become impacted over the summer with heavy use. This can restrict movement of air and water, and any lawn fertilizer you apply won't be able to penetrate the soil if it's compacted. Aerating your lawn in late fall will give it a chance to breathe. You can rent a good aerating tool for about $100.00, or you can pay a lawn maintenance service to do it for you for about the same price, without the hard work (still hard work, but for someone else).
  5. If You Still Have Sparse Patches by Winter, Seed Bare Areas. Cooler weather will allow the seeds to germinate without weeds encroaching. Aeration will improve germination. Your lawn should fill in before the ground freezes.
  6. Your Lawn Has Had a Summer and Fall to Accumulate Dead Grass, Roots, and Other Debris Known As Thatch. This stuff usually accumulates between the blades and sod, and can keep air and water from reaching the soil. There are good de- thatching tools available for this task, or you can have a lawn maintenance service do this for you, as well.
  7. To Strengthen Your Lawn and Prepare it for its Debut in Spring, Apply a Sustained-Release Nitrogen Lawn Fertilizer by Mid-to-late November. Just because your lawn is asleep, doesn't mean it should be starved. With cooler soil, nutrients break down slower. You want to use a sustained-release product to be sure your lawn gets the nitrogen it needs as well as the phosphorous, potassium, and partially blended sulfate required for quicker green-up in the spring. There is a Scotts fertilizer made especially for winterizing. Use a fertilizer spreader for even results.
  8. Give Your Lawn One Last Good Dose of Water. This will help activate the lawn fertilizer.
  9. Drain Your Sprinkler Lines and Close Down Your System. This will avoid the heartache of a frozen, and therefore broken, water pipe. In the event of a dry winter, use your garden hose to give a light sprinkling to your lawn every three weeks or so, just enough to keep it moist.
  10. While Your Lawn Becomes Dormant, Weeds Still Have a Funny Way of Cropping Up. If this is a problem, apply a broad leaf weed control product to your lawn. Grab weeds as they crop up whenever possible throughout the winter.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Fastest Growing Trees!

The Fastest Growing Trees to Plant! 

The popular trees are today's fastest growing trees! Fast growing trees give homeowners the opportunity to realize the benefits of a mature tree sooner. Individuals seem to especially focus on using fast growing shade trees to help energy for homes and reap the benefits of a bigger design quicker.  Here are some trees that will grow several feet per year.

In no particular order these are some of the fastest growing trees available.  Please note that with proper tree care you can accelerate the growth of these trees even more.  A solid root system will go a long way in helping trees to grow faster and good pruning and fertilization plan will help maximize the potential of your tree.

1.Hybrid Popular:  A very fast-growing tree, up to 5 to 8 feet per year.  A versatile tree that can be used as a deciduous screen, shade tree to reduce energy costs, and often planted in rows for firewood.  Below is a picture from an Arbor Day Foundation member’s Hybrid Poplar purchased from the Tree Store a few months after planting and a year later.  

Hybrid Poplar July 2008

August 2009 same Hybrid Poplar

2.Weeping Willow: Depending on the cultivar weeping willow trees can grow from 3 to 8 feet per year, making it one of the fastest of the fast growing trees.   Salix babylonica will grow 3 feet per year.

Weeping Willow

3.Quaking Aspen: This speedy growing tree is a member of the same family as Hybrid Poplar.  It averages 2 to 3 of growth per year and adds value to any landscape because of tremendous fall color.

4..October Glory Red Maple:  The fast growing red maple cultivar has been bred for brilliant fall foliage.  See Julie Walton Shaver growth rate chart and pictures of her October Glory Red Maple tree from 1999 to 2006.

5.Arborvitae Green Giant: Growing up to 3 feet a year this hybrid is an exceptional landscape tree for use as a screen, hedge, windbreak, or single specimen.

6.River Birch: Known for its unique bark, fall color, and bird habitat the River Birch is also one of the fastest growing Birches.  Betula nigra can grow up to 1.5 to 2 feet per year in ideal conditions.

Dawn Redwood: On good sites, its growth is rapid, with a tree in Virginia reaching 120 feet in 30 years or an average of 4 feet per year. 
Leyland Cypress: This rapidly growing evergreen can easily grow 3 feet per year and has a great column shape making it an extremely popular tree in home landscape design.
Paper Birch: This extremely popular fast growing tree has been known to grow at 1.5 to 2 feet per year.

This should give you a good start to some options for fast growing trees!
If you have any questions feel free to contact us @ 281-914-7788

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Misting Systems are perfect for the Summertime!

Misting Systems and how they benefit outdoor living!

The misting system begins with water.  Water pressure is generated to reach a rating of 250-1500PSI (pounds per square inch) by using special high pressure pumps and nozzels. The water is spurted out through extreme fine nozzle openings in the pump. These water droplets are micron sized owing to the nozzle size. As a result of this, a thin mist is created around the system. This mist would evaporate immediately as it comes into contact with warm ambient air and heat. As the micron sized droplets take in heat energy along with them, the air temperature is dropped drastically. The fan in front of the system would blow the cooled air and mist for a very long distance.  These systems are used for backyard patio arbors,pool areas, stables,barn areas, or private events that require some cool off for events outside in the heat.

The misting system also can introduce a misting fan that can help encourage more immediate mist cooling. These fans are special fans that can be used with water(special patent).  The misting fans are highly hygienic as the water that comes out of the fans is filtered for impurities before entering the nozzles. The total amount of water used would be a maximum of about 3.8 to 7.6 liters per hour. The misting fans that come in smaller units are also available for household uses. Those who are interested in working in backyards and garages find the fans are most useful during hot summer days. Moreover they won’t need extra requirements for functioning for they are already equipped with water pumps and nozzles.

I would recommend installing these systems in the hot months of the summer so that you can still enjoy your outdoor patios and garden areas. 
Let us know how we can help you on this! 
Feel free to contact us @ 281-914-7788 on installing these systems. 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Rescue Grass!!!! How to treat it! 
 The other day my buddy had me over for a quick cook session and his neighbor showed me an interesting weed that grows in his Augustine! It had almost a wheat looking tail and stood very proud about 12 inches high. This weed of course looks similiar to another weed called Plantain! Well so I did some research on this weed and found some interesting info on it!!
"Rescue grass (B. catharticus), a winter annual introduced from South America into the United States as a forage and pasture grass, and smooth brome (B. inermis), a perennial native to Eurasia and introduced into the northern United States as a forage plant and soil binder, are the economically important bromegrasses"

Treatment for this weed is using a product called Olympus herbicide or ask your fertilizer rep what is an alternative since we now know the idenification of it! :)

Feel free to contact us for more information on trees,plants, and other outdoor projects!    

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Its January!!!! Check Your Trees and Plants!!!!

Since we have had this horrible summer of drought(2011), we need to do some maintenance on trees and shrubs. This a good time to do as follows:

1.Fertilization on Trees and Shrubs!---I feel it is important especially to fertilize trees during this time since sap goes dormant in the winter time. Special fertilizers are used to help our trees transition during the past drought and to get ready for future harsh weather. Aeration on tree are important at least every two years to help give oxygen,water, and fertilization down to the core of the feeder roots. Shrubs need a quick spread of triple 14. Ask us about applying these chemicals @ or 281-914-7788.

2.Pruning Deadwood and Looking for dead trees-It is important to be aware of dead limbs or dead trees for they can be a liability on your property and could harm you.

3.Wrap Back flows and other outdoor pipes for possible freeze! Since our cold season has started a little late this year that would be advised to be done since we might have a couple of freezes coming up.

4.Drainage-Look at possible issues in your drainage that could be affecting your sod and plants!

All these steps are important to get us ready for the spring coming up! Hope all had a great break!

Arbor Life