Thank you for visiting our blog about enjoying your yard in northeastern North Carolina. We hope our posts about landscaping, lawn care and gardening encourage people to step outside and connect with nature.
Sixteen years ago, Sean Tunney named this business Lazy Weekends Yard Care Services because hiring someone to mow their lawns gave clients more free time on the weekends. As we grew, we tweaked our name to Lazy Weekends Landscaping because not only were we giving clients more free time, we were giving them reasons to spend it in their yards. (Calming views, lovely gardens, patios and fire pits, to name a few.)
Turns out, our business evolved along with nationwide attention to the health benefits of connecting with nature. So, in addition to expanding our services, we found ourselves supporting other efforts that can entice people outdoors. These include farmers markets, master gardener projects, Habitat for Humanity, the Boys & Girls Club, Easels in the Gardens, Music by the Bay, and the Edenton Steamers.
We plan to pursue more ways to help people connect with nature. One is to return to the topic occasionally through this new blog. Posts will appear about twice a month, mostly on Fridays. We’ll try to make them helpful and inspiring kick-starts for your lazy weekends.
Our crews wear shirts with the word “Enjoy” in large letters on the back. It refers to our mission statement: “We provide professional landscape services for our clients and team to enjoy.” Our slogan, “Where you get your good nature,” conveys a similar message.
We didn’t think up these words to sell our services. They came from reflecting on why we do the work we do, not how we can do more of it. We thought: We do the work we do because we enjoy the outdoors; we enjoy the outdoors because connecting with nature feels good; we want to help others connect with nature and feel good, too.
The health benefits of enjoying the outdoors range from getting regular exercise to improving mood, improving concentration, reducing stress, and eating more nutritious foods. Click on any link below for information and encouragement.
In future posts, we’ll tell you what connecting with nature means to some of our employees and clients.
One purpose of this blog is to address topics of common interest to our clients and make the information available for reference whenever needed. Scheduling is one of those topics. In fact, you could say it’s several topics: weekly lawn mowing and bed maintenance; seasonal lawn care services; one-time landscaping projects … and man plans, God laughs.
We organize lawn mowing and bed maintenance into routes by address. Each route is assigned to a day of the week. When rain interferes with the schedule, we try to catch up within two days after the rain stops.
We visit properties on a route once a week or once every other week. We avoid intervals such as every 10 days. However, when given at least 24 hours’ notice, we do try to honor occasional requests for service on a specific weekday.
Lawn mowing and bed maintenance crews generally don’t stop and do other tasks, such as planting flowers, because that could mean a yard at the end of a route isn’t mowed on the day the client expects us. We assign non-route work to different crews, on different timetables, which will be the topic of a future post.
We use the term “lawn care” when referring to turf grass services other than mowing. Examples are fertilizing, controlling weeds, aerating, seeding, and applying lime. Your soil and the type of grass you have affect if and when you need a certain service.
Most of our lawn care schedule is set up so that one employee works through lists of yards that need the same service at the same time of year. He has started applying pre-emergent herbicide and will work on that steadily until he's done every yard on the list. (Pre-emergent herbicide controls weeds by preventing seeds from germinating. Applied in the spring, it is especially useful against crabgrass. All types of turf grass can get this spring treatment.)
For convenience, our lawn care clients typically sign up for a year’s worth of services, which we schedule and perform at the appropriate times for their yards. They don’t have to request each service individually. Some lawn care clients pay for the year up front, some pay in monthly installments, and some pay after we do the work. We try to leave door hangers telling what we’ve done. In addition, we send itemized invoices or statements around the 25th of each month.
We do have clients who request individual lawn care services. Aeration is a good example. We tell them approximately when work will start on the yards signed up for the service they want and put their yard on the list that our lawn care employee will follow.
Because we like to help people enjoy their yards, we try to stay alert for features that can be enhanced and distractions that can be improved. We thought we’d post examples now and then to help you notice more ways to enjoy your yard.
We’re often asked to fix the appearance of a shrub that has seen better days. We may suggest replacing it instead because we observe a complication such as:
In each example above, possibly we could improve the look of the shrub, but not its long-term outlook. Despite continuing effort and expense, it’s unlikely to flourish.
As your plants start to perk up this spring, get some fresh air, stroll around your yard, and try to look at conditions with a fresh perspective. Let us know what you observe.
Several years ago, we started a successful word-of-mouth referral program. Now we’re keeping up with the times by adding a virtual word-of-mouth component.
To recap, we send you a gift certificate when a new client you’ve referred pays the first invoice. Or, we donate the value of your gift certificate(s) to a local non-profit that helps people connect with nature. Preferred recipients are: your town’s farmer’s market, your town’s Habitat for Humanity group, the Boys & Girls Club, or the Albemarle Master Gardeners’ scholarship fund.
At the end of the year, we have a grand prize drawing. We enter your name one time for each new client you referred. The winner may choose dinner for four at a local restaurant or an equal amount donated to one of our preferred recipients.
The virtual word-of-mouth component is for clients who review us online. Send us a link to the review and we’ll make a donation to the preferred non-profit you choose. At the end of the year, we’ll have a drawing for the chance to pick the winner of a sizable donation. Your name will be entered one time for each site/app where you’ve posted a review. You may use our Facebook page as well, www.facebook.com/LazyWeekendsLandscaping.YardCare/.
Naturally, we hope you’ll contact us directly if you have concerns about work we’ve done for you. No matter what you write, please send us a link so we can respond. Thank you for your business!
In observance of National Lawn Care Month in April, the National Association of Landscape Professionals offers the following tips:
1. Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass leaf at a time. The lawn will need less water and will be more resistant to weeds. Use a sharp mower blade to prevent tearing grass blades, which results in brown tips.
2. Many types of grasses survive drought by going dormant. The crown of the plant shuts off the grass blades, turning them brown. When heat and drought stresses end, the crown typically sends up new shoots (an exception is fescue grass). You can irrigate to avoid dormancy, but “embracing the brown” for a couple of weeks in the summer is fine, too.
3. If using irrigation, watering your lawn deeply every few days is better than watering daily. Watering in the early mornings or evenings after sunset minimizes evaporation and is the best time for water to penetrate deeply into the soil.
4. Irrigation systems with smart controllers can save 15–20 percent on water bills vs. hoses. Converting irrigation spray nozzles from sprinklers to rotating nozzles spreads heavy droplets of water at a slower pace, which makes them more targeted and effective.
5. Use the correct fertilizer, at the right rate and time, for your type of grass. A slow-release fertilizer allows for more even and consistent feeding over a longer period of time.
To learn more about caring for your lawn, visit http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/turfgrasses or call us at 482-7720.
According to an online survey commissioned by the National Association of Landscape Professionals and conducted by Harris Poll in May 2015, eighty-three percent of Americans think having a yard is important. Here are a few insights about the value of our lawns and backyards.
We want to enjoy our yards. Seventy-five percent of people feel that it is important to spend time outside in their yards.
People want help with their landscape. A large majority of Americans (67%) agree that professional landscape help would allow them to have a nicer yard.
Nice landscaping helps sell homes. Eighty-four percent say that the quality of a home’s landscaping would affect their decision about whether or not to buy.
A neighborhood’s landscaping is important. Americans (91%) want to live in an area where they can see or walk to nice landscaping.
Neighbors care what your yard looks like. Seventy-one percent think it is important that their neighbors have well-maintained yards.
Our name is Lazy Weekends. Our tagline is, "Where You Get Your Good Nature." And our mission is, "We provide professional landscape services for our client and team to enjoy." Who ya gonna call?
By Pam Lowney, Landscape Designer
Last week I attended the North Carolina Green Industry Council’s 7th annual Water Symposium in Raleigh. I also visited the J.C. Raulston Arboretum, a site for All-America Selections plant trials, http://all-americaselections.org/visit-an-aas-display-garden/.
I left the arboretum happy to have seen so many bees and butterflies going about their vital business. I left the symposium happy to be working among people mindful of our natural resources. However, I heard predictions about population growth and urban sprawl that are poking my happiness bubble. To keep that bubble intact, I compiled some empowering actions one person can take to protect the planet.
I also compiled these pollinator photos for some visual incentive. Enjoy.
Here's the first in a series on How I Got My Good Nature
By Pam Lowney, Landscape Designer
I’m a fan of glass artist Dale Chihuly (www.chihuly.com). He seems able to sculpt with color alone, as if he barely needs the medium of glass to contain it. His colors seem as if they’re about to make a joyous break for it, and I want to go where they’re going.
Viewing Chihuly’s exuberant sculptures, which he often exhibits in gardens, led me to notice the common thread in a career I once might have compared to a crazy quilt. The thread is that I strive to go where the color is – outside, in full-spectrum natural light.
As I stitched my seemingly willy-nilly job quilt, I also bedazzled it with nature photography, travel, floral design and gardening. When I discovered landscape design, I realized I had followed a pattern after all: finding joy in creativity, color and the outdoors.
Chihuly and landscape designers I admire seem to follow similar patterns. Joy breaks out of their chosen means of expression and invites me to escape with it. It doesn’t have to ask twice.
Our employees in the field work on mowing and maintenance crews or landscape crews. We discussed how we schedule mowing and maintenance in a previous post. Today we’ll explain how we schedule landscape installations.
The first step in scheduling a major landscaping project is to collect a deposit so we can order materials. Examples of major projects include sod and plants for entire yards, patios, outdoor kitchens or built-in grills, retaining walls, and outdoor lighting. We may or may not request a deposit for installations that require fewer materials, such as adding a flower bed or building a fire pit from a kit.
Once all materials are on hand, we put the job on our calendar. Our workload, the nature of the project, and nature itself affect our timetable. Sometimes we can start within a week of being hired; sometimes we’re booked for 3-4 weeks. Multi-day projects -- which typically require more materials and equipment -- have longer lead times then projects that take a day or less .
When a client hires us for a landscaping job, we give an approximate start date, then confirm it a day or two before beginning. If a project will take more than one work day, we strive to come on consecutive days until we finish.
Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend. The shortest day of the year will be here soon. Fend off evening gloom with custom landscape lighting, a multi-purpose, mood-lifting enhancement to property and property values.
Well-designed outdoor lighting lets you get a nature fix at night, creates pleasing effects to enjoy from indoors, and improves safety. Here are five ways to use landscape lighting to combat cooped-up couch-potato blues:
You’ll find examples of landscape lighting we’ve installed on our website, http://lazyweekendslandscaping.com/portfolio-landscape-lighting.php.
For more inspiration, see our Pinterest page, https://www.pinterest.com/lazyweekends/outdoor-lighting/
We’ve noticed that people new to northeast North Carolina tend to ask a handful of the same questions about their yards. Here are the most common, with brief answers:
Q. Can I have green grass in the winter?
A. Yes, some people plant rye grass or fescue grass for this purpose. The catch is there’s no single type of turf grass that stays green and robust throughout the year in the Albemarle region. Rye grass dies in the spring, and fescue may struggle in the summer. Grasses that are green from spring through fall – Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia -- turn tan in the winter. Call 252-482-7780 for help evaluating the best choices for your yard and budget.
Q. I’m used to white birches. What can I plant instead?
A. Beloved in northern states, white birches, also called paper birches, are known for their peeling white bark. In the south, river birches are a striking substitute.
Q. Will lilacs grow in northeast North Carolina?
A. Technically, the Albemarle region is in the southern end of the growing range for a few varieties. If you absolutely must have one, site it properly and care for it lovingly. These links offer more food for thought:
For flowers similar in appearance to lilacs, consider lavender crepe myrtles or chaste tree, below. Chaste tree is a large shrub or small tree that blooms all summer and attracts pollinators.
Autumn is a good time to think about what makes a plant beautiful or desirable in a landscape. For example, the maple tree below, glowing so appealingly from a distance, has browning and spotted leaves among the red ones. We accept them as part of the changing seasons. The wetland shrub, also below, probably goes unnoticed most of the year. But it adds brightness to the fall color show.
If a healthy tree, shrub or flower in your yard appears unsightly or boring, you might appreciate it more if you:
For a free consultation to help you with this process, call Lazy Weekends Landscaping at 252-482-7720. Or, fill out this form on our website, http://lazyweekendslandscaping.com/request-a-quote.php.
Because we like to help people enjoy their yards, we try to stay alert for features that can be enhanced and distractions that can be improved. Here’s an example that might help you notice more ways to enjoy your yard.
A client’s neighbor has hacked an overgrown hedge on his side of their property line. It’s unattractive, and it no longer screens the client’s pool. She asks us about a row of Leyland cypresses. We discuss their susceptibility to disease and bagworms. We also show her how much outdoor living space they’ll take up.
We suggest a two-tiered planting of Japanese cleyeras in back and Soft Caress mahonias in front. Both evergreens, they’re a better fit for the space and more visually appealing. (Plant geek timeout: There are two shrubs with the common name Japanese cleyera. For this example, we mean Ternstroemia gymnanthera.)
Japanese cleyera resembles red tip, but without red tip’s disease problems. Soft Caress mahonias, below, have both great-looking leaves and sunny yellow flowers that cheer up late fall to early winter landscapes.
For more about creative screening with plants, see this board on our Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/lazyweekends/evergreen-screens/.
By Pam Lowney, Landscape Designer
I’m enrolled in a workshop next week called Designing Ecological Plant Communities. The presenter will be Claudia West, co-author, with fellow landscape architect Thomas Rainer, of Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for a Resilient Landscape.
The book is described as “an inspiring call to action dedicated to the idea of a new nature—a hybrid of both the wild and the cultivated...” I got goosebumps reading the preface, in particular:
“Wild spaces may be shrinking, but nature still exists … The front lines of the battle for nature are not in the Amazon rain forest or the Alaskan wilderness. The front lines are our backyards, medians, parking lots, and elementary schools. The ecological warriors of the future won’t just be scientists and engineers, but gardeners, horticulturalists, land managers, landscape architects, transportation department staff, elementary school teachers, and community association board members. This book is dedicated to anyone who can influence a small patch of land.”
As someone hired to influence many small patches of land, I’m excited about the workshop, which will help me define and design for “new nature." Watch this space for a report on what I’m sure will be more goosebumpy moments. Meanwhile, here is some reading you might enjoy:
Do you influence a small patch of land? If so, what is your most inspiring book, blog or other resource? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of some of my favorites. Or, help start a discussion on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LazyWeekendsLandscaping.YardCare/
I was unable to attend due to poor weather. I re-visited my landscape book collection instead.
Q. The leaves on my evergreen shrubs are dead and dropping off. Will the whole plants die?
A. Not necessarily. Wait until spring and look for new growth. Also, some shrubs are actually semi-evergreen, depending on how severe the winter is. Abelias are an example.
Q. Snow weighed down branches and they’re still drooping. Will they return to the form they had before the snow?
A. We wouldn’t count on it. However, you may be able to prune the end of a droopy branch so the rest of it will be lighter and spring up. Try this with junipers and magnolias, for instance. If needed, cut off entire lower branches of spreading and weeping trees, such as dogwoods and Japanese maples.
Q. If I have to remove a shrub, should I replace it with the same kind of plant?
A. Some kinds of shrubs suffer more than others in harsh winters. Gardenias and oleanders are examples. So you might want to choose hardier plants.
Also, think back to the health of the shrub in the past one or two summers. Was it declining anyway, possibly diseased or stunted by deer feeding? You have the opportunity to choose a plant that will perform better and look more attractive.
If you have to remove a whole row of the same kind of plant, choose two or three different replacements, to avoid this type of loss in the future. Call 252-482-7720 for advice on what shrubs to choose and how to arrange them pleasingly.
As we write this, wind is gusting mightily, people are bracing for flooding, and questions about winter-damaged shrubs are pouring in. It's time to post our New Year's resolution that we won't try to follow the big box stores' plant replacement policies.
Folks, we're a small service business. We don't grow or stock plants. We bring them in from select growers for specific jobs. We take care of them for the short time they're on our lot, we install them carefully, and we check on them after planting when we're in the neighborhood or by request. We'll answer questions any time.
If a tree or shrub dies because we didn't plant it properly, we'll replace it. If bad weather kills it, we won't. An old commercial used to say, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." You might say our New Year's resolution is, "Quit fooling with Mother Nature."
WOODY PLANT WARRANTY
We offer a one-year limited warranty for all woody plants that we procure and install in the ground.
What are woody plants?
Trees and shrubs. They have trunks or permanent stems. Perennials, annuals, bulbs and groundcovers – including turfgrass -- are not woody plants.
What is not covered by our warranty?
1. Trees and shrubs that die due to conditions we can’t control, such as:
2. Trees and shrubs planted in containers.
An article on Houzz.com called “How to Design Your Garden for More Meaning and Connection” inspired our blog post today. In particular, the article refers to meaningful connection with nature. Since we also try to help people connect with nature, we decided to explore a few of author Lauren Dunec Hoang’s suggestions.
The first idea that caught our attention is to plant something from your childhood. We asked three northeast North Carolina clients to tell us about plants that remind them of when they were young.
Layne Jeter of Edenton grows a perennial called candytuft (below) because her late mother grew it. “I remember how much she loved hers … They bordered the front bed of our childhood home and were so beautiful when coming up the front walk … When they’re in bloom, they remind me she’s always with us.”
Diane Davis of Merry Hill has several plants her father passed along from his yard. They remind her of her youth because, “I spent a lot of time working in the yard with my father, helping with various projects: building walkways; patios; retaining walls; and finding the right plants and trees to accent all … When I had my own home, my Dad would visit and bring a piece of one plant or another from his yard to share.”
Nancy Doherty planted a ligustrum hedge when she moved to Hertford. “The smell of the blossoms in the spring takes me back to my childhood in Baton Rouge, LA. Fortunately, the scent no longer makes me sneeze as it did back then.”
Demonstrating the strength of our bonds with nature, Nancy grows her fragrant favorite even though “we also had terrible stinging caterpillars back then which came out at the same time as the ligustrum blooms. Thank goodness that is not a problem here!”
To tell us about a meaningful plant from your childhood, go to our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LazyWeekendsLandscaping.YardCare/.
We’ll look at two other suggestions from the article in future posts.
By Pam Lowney
In our last post, we started reflecting on a Houzz.com article called “How to Design Your Garden for More Meaning and Connection.” The article recommends 10 ways to get closer to nearby nature. Since that is something we encourage at Lazy Weekends, we chose to write about three of author Lauren Dunec Hoang’s suggestions.
The first idea we discussed is to plant something from your childhood. The next idea we like is to add a meaningful object. Some examples mentioned are a spiritual figure, an item passed down from a friend or family member, or something found on a trip.
At Jernigan House Bed & Breakfast in Ahoskie, http://www.jerniganhouse.com/, a cast iron bell hanging next to the deck comes from one of the owners’ former homes. Dee and John Fritz tell us it was made in the foundry in Mt. Joy, PA, where they once lived. They’ve moved one keepsake from each of their houses.
In the Lowney yard, I’m fond of our St. Francis sculpture, which represents four family dogs and many foster dogs. A concrete Buddha came to us via our daughter. Driftwood, shells and rocks that were happy discoveries on beaches make us happy again in the flowerbeds.
Repurposed and reclaimed objects often have sentimental value. Think of all the old farm implements you’ve seen in city gardens.
Sometimes a functional item adds to the spirit of a place when it looks appealing and thoughtfully placed. Examples include trellises, benches, and landscape lighting fixtures, http://lazyweekendslandscaping.com/portfolio-landscape-lighting.php. The new Lowney birdbath has a graceful appearance that makes watching and photographing birds more enjoyable. Now we have to do something about the fence…
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
— Warren Buffet