Category Archives: Perennials

Planning for the Next Season’s Plantings: A Journey to Fall Colors

Although the weather is warm and we still have a couple months of summer left, it’s never too early to start planning ahead for the next season’s landscaping. 

Which brings up a past memory of a project we worked on with one of our most ambitious clients. They had a grand vision for their garden that required precision and a touch of artistry. They desired a landscape that was not only full but also diverse and dimensional, a true kaleidoscope of colors with varying heights and rows of defined plants. This was not just any garden; it was a masterpiece waiting to come to life. 

We listened intently, understanding their dreams and strict specifications. Through careful planning and dedicated execution, we turned their vision into a lasting landscape. The result was breathtaking—a vibrant and dynamic display that was a sight for sore eyes. 

 

 

As we reflect on this, it’s a reminder of how crucial planning is, especially when it comes to seasonal plantings. While the weather is still warm and summer is in full swing, now is the perfect time to start planning for your fall colors. It might seem like there’s plenty of time, but there are a couple steadfast truths:

  • There is a lot that goes into planning, from design to ordering to execution. Each of these steps takes time.
  • The days are long, but the weeks are short—time flies! And before we know it, it might be too late to take action on our ideas.

 

Why Planning Ahead Matters

Even though fall might seem far away, it’s essential to start planning now to ensure your garden is ready when the season changes. The best plants and materials are often in high demand, and waiting too long can mean missing out on the ideal selections for your space. By planning ahead, you can secure the plants and materials you need, allowing for a smoother transition when autumn arrives.

 

Steps to Start Planning Your Fall Space

To begin planning for your fall landscaping, consider the following steps:

  1. Evaluate Your Current Space: Take a look at your existing landscape and identify areas that could use a refresh or an injection of color. Think about how you want these spaces to look come fall.
  2. Choose Your Plants: Start selecting the plants you want to feature. Consider a mix of perennials and annuals to create a diverse and long-lasting display. Popular choices for fall include mums, pansies, and asters.
  3. Accent Plants: Don’t forget about the importance of accent plants. Kales and cabbages offer rich textures and hues, while coral bells add a splash of color. Ornamental peppers, which are edible but quite spicy, along with pumpkins and gourds, can add a unique element to your garden. 
  4. Design Your Layout: Plan the layout of your garden, thinking about the heights and spacing required for the chosen plants to thrive. A well-thought-out design can create a more visually appealing and cohesive look.
  5. Prepare Your Soil: Make sure your soil is ready for new plantings. Enrich it with compost or other organic materials to provide a healthy foundation for your plants.

 

 

Let Us Handle the Details

Planning and executing a seasonal garden can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be something you have to shoulder on your own. Our maintenance services are designed to take this off your plate, leaving the seasonal color turnovers to trusted industry experts. 

We stand out by listening closely to your unique vision and needs and taking the appropriate steps to ensure your space is stunning year-round. We also engage in regular check-ins and conversations to confirm your goals throughout the year, making sure outdoor space is everything you envisioned with each changing season.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can work together to create a stunning outdoor space that you can enjoy throughout the years!

 

Mastering Water Conservation: A Guide to Proper Landscape Irrigation Methods

We’ve always told customers that irrigation systems are a necessary evil. And we’ll be the first to tell you that most people don’t have the time to water using the old-school conventional methods, such as dragging around a hose or even the classic watering pail.

So what do people need to understand about irrigation systems so they can be used optimally?  

They’re actually quite convenient, especially with new landscape installations. They can help save water and money if set up correctly, and establishing new plants or turf grass is key to maintaining your landscape and properties during hot, dry summers. 

Yet irrigation systems also have a downside. “Overwatering.”  

We’ve encountered many customers who love to run their irrigation system outside of the recommended schedule, which can cause bigger issues down the road.

Plants growing in soil that is too wet suffer from a lack of oxygen, which leads to the death of roots and a loss of vigor in the plant, as well as stunted growth with yellowing leaves, which is a symptom of over-watering. 

 

 

Turf grass that is overwatered also becomes weak, which makes it susceptible to fungus and insect infestation. All of these problems result in costly treatments and even full replacements.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 50% of water used for outdoor purposes, such as irrigation, is wasted due to inefficient watering practices; up to 40% of water applied through inefficient irrigation methods, such as overhead sprinklers, is lost to evaporation before reaching plant roots. Furthermore, a leaky irrigation system can waste up to 10% of a household’s water usage annually.

So let’s talk about how to use your irrigation system optimally and avoid common mishaps!

 

Avoiding Overuse

Many of us tend to overwater our landscapes, thinking that more water equals healthier plants. 

However, excessive watering can lead to water waste, root rot, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases. Also, make sure to regularly check irrigation systems for leaks, malfunctions, or inefficiencies to prevent overuse of water.

By understanding the signs of overwatering and implementing mid-season inspections, you can take proactive steps towards efficient water management.

 

The Importance of Proper Timing and Measurement

When it comes to watering your plants, timing is everything. Watering early in the morning, between 3 a.m. and 10 a.m., allows for minimal evaporation and optimal water absorption. 

Avoid watering in the heat of the day or late in the evening, as this can lead to fungal infections, water loss, and ultimately an unhappy landscape or garden.

 

How to Manage Water Wisely

Contrary to popular belief, dry-looking soil doesn’t always indicate a need for water. Before watering, test the soil moisture and observe your plants for signs of stress. 

By taking a proactive approach to irrigation, you can avoid unnecessary water use and promote healthier plant growth. 

 

Spread the Word

Education is key to promoting water conservation and healthy irrigation practices. 

Share your knowledge and resources with others to empower them to become proactive stewards of water conservation within their communities.

 

 

If you’re unsure about optimizing your irrigation system, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. Our team at ILT Vignocchi is here to help you set up and maintain an efficient  system tailored to your landscape’s specific needs. 

When in doubt, call us out!

Contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your irrigation practices, as every drop counts in our journey towards a more sustainable future!

Unexpected Beauty: Managing Your Property’s Premature Awakening With Confidence

Spring has an elegant way of ushering in a season of renewal and awakening, often bursting with color and the sounds of new life.

A tale as old as time and as true as it ever was: “The early bird catches the worm.” However, this year, Mother Nature seems to have added a little pep to her step.

Perhaps lately you’ve found yourself saying, “Wow, my property is unseasonably colorful.”

Or maybe even “Look at how many trees and flowers have already bloomed, it’s like looking at a Bob Ross painting!”

As we take a moment and marvel at the beauty unfolding around us, the different scents and flavors dancing in the breeze, ILT Vignocchi wants to remind our fellow community members to be aware of the implications of “premature blossoming.” 

The early warm-up followed by the late frosts ahead poses unique challenges for property owners, so let’s dive in!

THE FASHIONABLY “LATE FROST”

A unique obstacle, commonly known as a “late frost,” occurs when temperatures drop below freezing after the growing season has already begun. This phenomenon happens during the transitional period, when plants start to emerge from dormancy and new growth has begun. “Late frosts” cause ground temperatures to plummet when cold air masses settle into the area as the heat radiates away from the ground. 

 

EARLY BULB VULNERABILITY

Rest assured that early-blooming bulbs are more robust than they appear. Tulips, daffodils, and other spring blooms are hardier than we give them credit for. Despite the threat of frost, these resilient plants are unlikely to suffer permanent damage. However, a layer of mulch or covering can provide added protection during sudden cold snaps, ensuring your foliage remains intact.

 

BROWNING TIPS, IS IT DYING?

While we’re on the topic of hardiness, frost may cause a slight browning of foliage tips, but it’s nothing to fret over. This natural process, known as “frost damage,” is temporary and poses no significant harm to the plants. So, if you wake up to a frost-covered garden, take a deep breath and trust in nature’s resilience.

 

SOME PLANTS WEAR ARMOR

The dance between winter and spring is epitomized by the magnolia tree. Its fuzzy flower bud covering acts as a protective shield, guarding the delicate petals. However, once this “blanket” falls away, the flowers on the magnolia tree become vulnerable to sudden changes in temperature. While some petals may be lost to a late frost, the magnolia as a whole endures.

 

COMPETITION IS THICK

Early warming temperatures can accelerate weed growth, competing with desirable plants for nutrients and space. Implementing weed control measures can suppress weed growth and preserve the aesthetic appeal of your property.

 

NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES

Early-blooming plants may exhibit signs of nutrient deficiencies due to imbalanced soil conditions or inadequate fertilization. This occurs because of the constant change in rapid heating and cooling of soil temperatures, which causes water to expand and contract. A targeted fertilization program can correct nutrient deficiencies and promote healthy plant growth.

 

While the early bloom may present challenges, we hope you feel assured about what lies ahead. 

If you are a current landscaping maintenance client, you already know that your team here at ILT Vignocchi is staying on top of this and will be implementing the measures necessary to safeguard your property.

And as you navigate the ebbs and flows of Mother Nature, remember that ILT Vignocchi is here to help guide and support you every step of the way. Our expertise in landscaping design, build, and maintenance ensures that your outdoor spaces remain vibrant and aesthetic year-round. 

You can embrace the early bloom and trust in the beauty of nature’s timing, knowing ILT Vignocchi is just a call away.

If you’re ready to uplevel your outdoor space or hand off the maintenance to a trusted industry expert, call us at 847.487.5200 (ext: 2220) for a consultation, or send a message our way to get started!

Old Concepts, New Technology, Sustainable Results

Growing plants on rooftops is not a new concept. Centuries ago northern Scandinavians harvested sod from their surrounding landscape and placed it upon structures to create effective insulating and water resistant roof systems.  The Vikings who explored the upper Atlantic built grass-covered homes where they settled and in Iceland sod roofs and walls have been used for hundreds of years.

Although the living roof or green roof has been in use for a long time, modern green roof technology has helped to elevate this building method from a crudely effective construction element to an aesthetically pleasing, ecologically responsible building solution for age-old building problems and current environmental concerns.

green roof or living roof is a roof of a building or other structure that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems.

Green roofs can be very basic, known as extensive green roofs that incorporate drought-tolerant, self-seeding native ground covers such as sedums, grasses, mosses and prairie flowers that require little or no irrigation, fertilization or maintenance. These green roofs are lightweight, inexpensive, and can be retrofitted onto existing buildings, often without significant alterations or additional structural support.

Intensive green roofs are more elaborate roof gardens designed for human interaction. They generally have a relatively flat roof surface or mild slope and allow for a larger selection of plants, including shrubs and trees and require specific engineering to be able to conform to the weight load requirements.

Today, the green roof is gaining in popularity as an environmentally conscious architectural expression that is a viable element of any sustainable landscape management plan; and here is why:

  • Storm-water runoff will be greatly decreased with the utilization of a living roof. The growing medium and the vegetation of a green roof retain large amounts of storm water and release it back into the environment. A typical green roof can absorb 30% of the rainwater that falls on it, reducing the amount of water that goes through our waste water systems.
  • It is a common misassumption that a green roof system will have a deleterious effect on the integrity of the roof system. Quite the opposite.  A well designed, correctly installed green roof will protect the waterproof membrane that lies beneath it and, in turn, will extend the overall life of a roof.  Recent studies indicate an increase in life span of almost double.
  • Green roofs absorb carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming; and the slow transpiration of water back into the air creates a cooling effect that helps reduce the heat retention and emanation in and around your building.
  • In addition to the energy saving features described above, the actual mass and density of a living roof will provide excellent sound insulation for a building as well.
  • And let’s not forget the aesthetic benefits of the rooftop garden. The roof garden intermingles the pre-construction environment with the built environment creating a sustainable cooperation between development and nature.  People love to interact in the relative secluded natural setting created by the intensive garden on a rooftop space.  Additionally, they benefit emotionally and psychologically from the ability to even look upon the greenery of an intensive or an extensive roof top garden.

Green roof technology was re-invented in Germany in the mid-20th century and quickly spread throughout Europe mainly due to its restorative environmental impact.

Today, Chicago has been a leader in green roof installations with up to 7 million square feet on approximately 500 rooftops; the most of any city in the United States.  The benefits of the green roof have not been ignored by suburban businesses and multi-family residential buildings either.

Green roofs add beauty, sustainability and longevity to buildings

Corporations, commercial building owners, and homeowners associations are looking for solutions to increase employee well-being, decrease their carbon footprints, increase their LEEDS scores, and differentiate their properties from their competition.  The rooftop garden has proven to be just such a solution.

Reach out to ILT Vignocchi today to inquire about the potential for your headquarters, office building, clubhouse, or other structure to benefit from a green roof installation.

Favorite plant series: Amsonia tabernaemontana ‘Blue Ice’

During a meeting discussing seasonal color displays, when phones were set on vibrate and the focus of our discussions was solely about plants, I was reminded how passionate and opinionated our staff is when it comes to what they love the most.

I decided it was important to celebrate that our employees each have their favorite species and that those favorites tend to change and evolve.  Hence our favorite plant series.  First up might as well be me, Donna Vignocchi Zych.

Easy and carefree, ‘Blue Star’ is an outstanding long blooming selection. I look forward to several weeks of deep, glacial blue blooms on this compact, shrubby-like plant. It forms a mound of green, willow-like leaves, bearing clusters of interesting dark blue buds that open into dainty, star-shaped, medium blue flowers from late spring into early summer. The dark green, compact foliage remains attractive all summer and forms the perfect backdrop, for colorful annuals and bold perennials. In fall, the willowy foliage turns a rich shade of yellow complementing my favorite fall blooming perennials: sedum, hardy mums and purpled-leaved heuchera, to name a few.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Well-Drained

Height: 12-18”

Spread: 12-18”

Growth Habit: Dense, Mound, Shrub-like

Uses: Specimen, edging, or massed in perennial or mixed shrub borders

Problems: No serious insect or disease problems.

Companion Plants: Sedum, Allium, Blue Hosta, Purple-leaved Heucheras

Dark blue buds open to ice blue blooms

Dark blue buds open to ice blue blooms

Amsonia spring blooms

Spring blooms and neat dark green foliage

Amsonia fall foliage

Dark green foliage turns to golden yellow in fall

 

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

Tried and Trouble-free!

Year-after-year, ‘Rozanne’ continues to be a “rock star” in my garden!

I highly recommended ‘Rozanne’ for larger flowers than others of its type along with an extended bloom period and vigorous, yet dense, habit. The lovely saucer-shaped flowers are deep violet-blue with a white throat and darker venation. Attractive, faintly marbled, deep green leaves change to a brownish red in late fall for added interest. With a semi-vining habit, ‘Rozanne’ weaves gracefully through my garden, filling in any gaps along the way, allowing for its companion plants (see below) to flow together in a stunning blend of colors and textures.The non-stop show begins in June and lasts till frost.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade

Soil: Well-Drained

Height: 1 to 3 ft.

Spread: 1 to 3 ft.

Growth Habit: Clumps, Spreads

Uses: Perennial beds, borders, also excellent for massing or in mixed containers.

Companion Plants: Coreopsis, Asclepias, Calamintha, Salvia, to name a few.  For more information about other fun geraniums, click here.

Semi-vining habit

Semi-vining habit

Close up of flower

Close up of flower

Fall color

Fall color