Category Archives: Watering

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!

Corporate Woods, Vernon Hills, IL

Benefits of a Spring Clean Up

A spring clean up for the inside of your home can mean different things to different people.  To some it is as light as cleaning off the patio and the grill and to those Martha Stewart enthusiasts it can be so so much more…washing curtains, emptying cabinets and giving them a thorough wash and possibly even power washing the roof.  Everyone’s need are different.

The same can be said for a landscape but there are some things that absolutely need to be accomplished.  First removing any branches, sticks and leaves from the property.  Doing a good fall clean up can help make this an easier task, but it still needs to be done.

You also want to cut back any Hydrangeas, grasses or perennials that were left in tact for winter interest to make room for new growth.

 

 

At this time we also like to cultivate, edge and fertilize the beds with a product that also contains pre-emergent (to help keep down those nasty weeds).  This function can prove difficult in Spring and sometimes needs to be chipped away it because of Spring’s wet conditions.

Next is turf.  It is important to be gentle with turf in Spring, again those wet conditions can make situations worse by tearing it.  That being said we rake wherever possible to pull up dead grass and snow mold, then topdress with a combination of grass seed and peat moss.

Activating your irrigation system is equally important, making any necessary adjustments.  But we tend to turn systems off when turned on in early Spring.  Running them only aggravates already wet conditions, which can encourage turf fungus and other problems.

Once all of that is complete and all your hardsurface areas are cleaned and tidy, your landscape is ready for the season.

Turf Management: Adjusting to Drought

If your property does not have an automated irrigation system and you have not watered your turf regularly this summer, you may have noticed it is turning brown, indicating it is reacting to the impact of the summer drought we are in the midst of here in the northern Chicagoland area.  Your grass has a natural drought defense system which shuts down the expendable parts of the plant in an effort to keep its roots alive, hence the brown coloration at the surface. The good news is, turf grasses are resilient plants and can survive a long time without water. The bad news is, not only does the brown grass not look good, the dormant grass will become more susceptible to invasive weeds and crabgrass which tend to find room to root and grow in the stressed turf.  Generally, though, once moisture returns, most grasses will recover without leaving permanent damage.  The weeds and crabgrass can be treated, and your once beautiful lawn should be restored.

The simplest and best practice that we have found for helping the turf survive and recover from the effects of a drought, if regular watering is not an option, is to make some simple adjustments to our mowing operations.  We raise our mower blades slightly, to 3″ – 3.5″, to minimize the heat/sun exposure of the root systems of the turf that results from mowing too low in these hot, dry conditions.  Additionally, you will find that we will forgo mowing whenever warranted, on a given visit, if the grass has gone dormant and has not grown sufficiently to necessitate a mowing.  This will prevent the potential damage that could be done to the dry, brittle grass blades as the heavy mower wheels roll over them.  The added benefit of not mowing is the extra time we can spend on your property detailing and performing more labor-intensive gardening operations.

Furthermore, the longer grass blades will shade the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and inhibiting water evaporation. The granular fertilizer we apply during your lawn care visits will stimulate new growth once rain returns or the lawn is watered. If you are going to water your lawn, you must be consistent. If you cannot deeply water your lawn one inch or more per week, it is better to let your lawn go into a state of dormancy.  Light, infrequent watering can do more harm than good as it encourages shallow root growth which then makes the turf even more susceptible to disease and insect infestations during periods of stress.  So, it is best to commit to keep up with the watering or let it go and wait out the drought.

When temperatures start to cool down and rainfall increases, your lawn should come out of dormancy and begin to recover. The turf plants will start growing new roots and new plants will germinate to replace those that were damaged or even killed during the summer. Core aeration and over seeding in the fall are two great ways to help your lawn recover from a tough drought season, like the one we are currently experiencing. Strengthening the roots is critical to maintaining healthy turf, and the core aeration process will open the lawn to provide more air, water and nutrients into the turf root zone.  Following up the coring operation immediately with over seeding will help to generate new seedlings to fill in sparse areas. Grass seed needs to come in contact with soil and receive adequate moisture to remain viable once the germination process begins. A good portion of the seed will end up in the core holes, which ends up being a great place for the seed to germinate. The soil in the core holes will remain moist and cool, and the seed will have a much better chance of germinating.

Kevin T Block

Watering guidelines – new and existing turf

Newly Seeded Turf

Seed just planted should be CONSISTENTLY moist until growth begins.  This means a daily light watering for 15 to 30 minutes.  DO NOT OVER WATER AND DO NOT USE A STRONG SPRAY. You don’t want to drown the seeds, nor do you want to wash them away.

Once seedlings have reasonable growth (½” to ¾”), reduce watering to twice weekly and apply ¼” to ½” per watering.  Once mowed, watering can be done as to accumulate 1 to 1 ½” of water once per week.  Again, be certain to take rainfall into consideration.

Please note that seed will not germinate without the execution of these watering guidelines.

 New Sod

Sod should be watered daily.  Its good health and development requires up to 2” to 4” of water per week for the first couple of weeks.  After the first week, start stretching out the time between watering so that the roots will grow downward toward the soil moisture.  When you do water, water deeply.  Keep up the frequent watering until about 20 to 30 days after planting.  Once firmly rooted you may reduce watering to once per week, applying 1” to 1 ½” per application.

Please note that sod will die without the execution of these watering guidelines.

Established Turf

Established turf grass requires infrequent but heavy watering.   Remember you are watering the soil, not the grass.  Generally established turf grass requires 1 inch to 1½ inches of water per week for optimum health.

Watering twice a week may be required during extreme conditions, such as temperatures of 90 degrees or higher for a prolonged period of time or extremely windy days.  Separate the watering to the early part of the week and the later part of the week with a minimum accumulation of 1 inch per watering.

For more information about your turf, check out the National Turfgrass Federation’s website.

Watering Guidelines – new trees and shrubs

During the spring we generally receive a sufficient amount of moisture.  Spring to summer is probably the most critical transitional period because moisture levels can drop quickly and soil moisture availability rapidly declines.  This situation can be exacerbated by overly hot and windy conditions.

When plants start to show signs of stress by wilting permanent damage to the vascular system may have already occurred.  Prevention is the key; therefore we have prepared the following guidelines on the basics of proper watering procedures.

Time of Day to Water

The BEST time to water is about 3 a.m. to 10 a.m.  At this time the air is cool and very little evaporation loss occurs before the water reaches the ground.  When the sun rises and the air warms, the liquid quickly evaporates from the leaves.  Watering early in the evening encourages fungal infection (fungal infections thrive in cool wet conditions); watering in the heat of day is bad because much of the water evaporates before reaching the ground.  This accelerates buildup of soluble minerals in the soil that over along time can be ruinous to soil health.

Accurate Measuring

When you water, water deeply.  This means water for a long time, allowing the water to soak into the ground.  Ideally, you should provide one inch of water with every soaking, but not more than once per week.

Remember to take rainfall into consideration when monitoring your watering. Use a rain gauge to monitor the amount of water your landscape receives from rainfall and your irrigation system (if applicable).

Be careful…you can over water your plants!  Roots need both water and oxygen to thrive.  Over watering can kill plants because constant moisture suffocates the roots, thereby causing them to die and rot.  Inspect the area BEFORE watering by tunneling with a deep root feeder or stake.  If the soil is dry on top, it might still be moist underground and not need water.

Newly Planted Trees

When watering newly planted trees, remove the nozzle from your hose, wrap the hose in an old bath towel  (so it will disperse the energy of the spray) and set the hose at the base of the tree.  Water the area at a low pressure every other day (45 to 60 minutes) for 3 to 4 weeks, based on your soil conditions.  Make certain to change the position of the hose to water evenly.

Newly Planted Shrubs

Shrubs can be watered similarly to trees except the time frame drops to 10 to 15 minutes each.  Avoid watering foliage, most plants DO NOT like being watered from above because moisture build up on leaves encourages fungal problems.

For more information there is a great article by the University of Illinois Extension.