My guess is that many people don’t find dirt very interesting. But the truth is that people study it intensely. We actually employ someone who is a soils expert, Mike Curry!
So what exactly Is pulverized topsoil? Topsoil is the upper layer of the Earth’s crust, usually the top 2 to 8 inches. It has the highest concentration of microrganisms and organic matter and is where most of the soil’s biological activity occurs. Plants generally sink their roots into and obtain most of their nutrients from this rich layer.
This high concentration of organic matter is actually what turns soil black. So the darker it is, the more nutrients in the soil, the better your plants and turf will do. Ever notice “grey” colored dirt. It often occurs in areas where a lot of salt is applied during snow removal services. That’s because those microorganisms have been killed and the organic matter is leached out.
This is why it is so important to install mulch and compost in planting beds. It helps provide a protective layer and breaks down over time, reintroducing those beneficial nutrients back into that top layer of soil.
It’s also equally as important that you topdress your lawn with some kind of compost when core aerating and overseeding for the same reason.
Most people probably don’t know how topsoil is created. It’s a fairly simple process. Most often topsoil is taken from construction sites where there are large open spaces that need to be excavated anyway. That soil is then “pulverized” through a machine to remove any debris as well as giving it a more consistent texture that makes it easier to spread and fine grade.
And a special shout out to all the ADPis around the world
You hear it all the time. If you are gong to hire someone for a project in your place of business or you home…hire someone who knows what they are doing. Think about it, if you received the news that you required surgery, would you hire someone who had not been to medical school? Probably not.
The perception of the landscape industry has always been an uphill battle. Consumers often don’t consider the importance of professional degrees and certifications as a necessity. I assure you, I have heard enough horror stories to know that hiring an individual or organization with the correct qualifications will save you money and peace of mind in the long run.
We get at least two phone calls a year inquiring if we can fix something that a consumer has already paid for. Perfectly good money wasted for all sorts of reasons…drainage issues were never considered. Water can be one of the most quickly damaging elements to your property. There is always the frustrated person complaining about a walkway or patio that after one winter are failing, most probably because the base layer was improperly considered and installed. Oh and that one year warranty they told you about…good luck getting them to return the call.
Maintenance is a huge issue. If pruning isn’t correctly done it can and mostly likely KILL your plants. When you invest in a new garden and don’t cultivate and weed properly, the weeds WILL win. And believe it or not, there is a correct and incorrect way to mow grass.
I could go on and on, however I won’t. What I will do is let this wonderfully created and produced video do the talking. ILT Vignocchi and Montale Gardens are proudly featured in a branding video for our industry. It shows my fellow contractor’s pride in what they do, a down right love for their crafts. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO. I know you will enjoy it.
Boxwood are one of the most versatile and elegant of evergreen shrubs. They have very shallow roots, can tolerate most conditions and be used in both formal and informal settings. It are theses characteristics that make them so desirable today.
Their popularity is not new. Although grains for a species was found in England as far back as 7,000 B.C., they were destroyed during a Glacial epoch. They resurfaced around 4,000 B.C. in ancient Egyptian tombs. Their popularity surged at the height of the Roman Empire and throughout the Dark Ages, used as hedges and topiaries in Royal gardens.
One of the Boxwood’s most delightful and interesting facts is that it has historically been used to make boxes, chess pieces, printing using woodblocks, and musical instruments and parts, particularly form the strings and woodwind class and is still used for many of these purposes today.
It is a plant that seems almost too good to be true! Well almost. As of late our dear friend has had some issues, that many of you might have experienced. Several years ago we had an extremely cold Chicago winter with unusually light snow cover…and plants with shallow roots really rely on their winter blankets. As spring sprung, we noticed the loss of a lot of plant species…especially boxwood, yews, junipers and roses.
Boxwoods suffered another hit. Boxwood blight. It is a fungal disease that really has no treatment. The only course of action is to remove them from the nursery or landscape.
These plants of course need to be replaced, and replace them we are. Why is having to replace them so important to our tale? Well because Boxwoods are extremely slow growing, and as the demand increases due not only to popularity but a need to replace them, growers just cannot keep up. It is a difficult concept to explain to a property owner, but our current reality.
There are alternatives. They are not boxwoods, but they are options…”Green Mound’ Alpine Current, ‘Karen’s’ Azalea, Deutzia, and our owner’s favorite… Barberry. Peruse some of these favorites on our nursery’s website.
Many people say everything happens for a reason. Maybe this did. I like to think utilizing a different palette challenges our creativity and encourages diversifying our monoculture.
Turning 50 is such a milestone for any business. Dips in the economy, increasing regulations, labor issues and shortages. There are so many ways a company can get off track. As I contemplate where we have been, of course I think of our unwavering reputation for integrity, artistry and quality. You consider the massive golf courses, Chicago Botanic Garden installations, as well as corporate and municipal work. I regard those residential projects that not only won awards but gave our employees such satisfaction and our customers heartfelt joy.
But to me it is more than that.
I don’t know if I have a memory when ILT didn’t exist. You see, as ILT turns 50, I will be turning 47. The memories of our company are like fabric woven into my life.
When I watch the countless trucks and trailers roll out of the yard at sunrise each and every morning I indulge the nostalgia of our company’s youth.
I remember Sorney Leahy who let me sit inside his desk drawer when I was very small and let me play with his phone. Or going to a job site with my dad on a Saturday. He’d hoist me up on his shoulders and then put me down so I could hug my Nono who was working with our men. A favorite is my mother who would spend hours picking up sticks before the maintenance crew came to our house so they would not have to bother.
50 years ago there were no computers. Dad used to spend countless nights drawing plans, scrunching up vellum with discarded ideas and yes, taking calls from his customers on his home phone.
I think life is different when you are in a family business. Of course it is hard and there are arguments, lots. But there is a short cut with family that makes it easier, because you know in the end, you will always love one another.
- Donna Vignocchi Zych
As landscape architects and arborists we often find that plant material on our new residential, commercial and HOA sites have been left to get overgrown and mismanaged. The key to getting the plant material looking healthy, vibrant and growing properly again is of course dormant pruning.
Dormant pruning takes place during the winter months and this is valuable for many reasons. With the leaves absent precision pruning is much easier. Cutting the plant in the right spot helps the plant heal better and faster in the growing season. It also allows us to see the shape of the plant better and see limbs and stems that are either damaged, diseased or crossing. The colder months also mean less airborne diseases that could affect the fresh wounds of plants.
A sure sign that dormant pruning needs to be done is the evidence of witches broom which is a dense mass of shoots growing from a single point. This happens when the plant is perpetually pruned or sheared on the top and never in the middle or base of the plant. This type of pruning leads to a plant that is top heavy with leaves, but looks bare and leggy on the stems and base.
Dormant pruning removes the witches broom, allows us to remove overgrown stems at the base of the plant and makes it easier to remove unwanted growth. These fixes allow sunlight and air to get to the entire plant and not only to the top sections. Heights of plants are also much more easily controlled during dormant pruning allowing the plant to take on a natural shape during the growing season without blocking windows or doors.