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Outdoor Kitchen Features to Consider Before You Build

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The weather is fantastic, the scenery is beautiful, and you want to spend as much time outside enjoying yourself with the ones you love as possible. Many landscape features are well suited for this scenario, and one of the most popular and versatile is the outdoor kitchen.

When designed and executed correctly, an outdoor kitchen can provide an area for entertaining guests that is hard to beat. They may provide an area for the preparation of food and refreshments, staging and storage areas for entertaining, and in some cases spaces for seating and socializing. When considering an outdoor kitchen, it’s helpful to consider what features you’d value in the space. Here are some of the common features to consider.

Grills, Griddles, Smokers, and Cooking Areas

Grills are the most requested and installed feature in outdoor kitchens. They are typically gas, but charcoal, electric, and even wood-fired grills are available. Grills offer the “Backyard BBQ” feel to entertaining with your outdoor kitchen.

Griddles, similarly to grills are typically gas but have similar alternative options to grills. Griddles offer the versatility of cooking options you usually cannot realize with just a grill. Those who opt for a griddle find they use it as frequently as they do the grill. It’s worth noting that many grill manufacturers offer griddle attachments or grill/griddle combination appliances.

Smokers are relatively new to the outdoor kitchen marketplace in New England. If you like traditional slow-cooked barbecue, a smoker cannot be beaten!

It’s important to not overlook the usefulness of other cooking areas. The addition of burners will allow you to cook nearly anything in your outdoor kitchen (like lobster for example) that you would on your indoor stovetop. Warming trays or drawers can also be a useful addition if you entertain frequently.

Pizza Ovens

Pizza ovens are a feature that works better outdoors than indoors in most cases. The best ovens allow the internal temperature to reach around 800 degrees, with wood being the most popular type of heating source, but charcoal and other heat sources are available.

Pizza ovens can also be designed for a dual-use as an outdoor fireplace. This makes them popular for utilitarian and social functions.

Drink Stations

There’s virtually no limit to what you can add to a drink station. Traditionally drink stations include a refrigerator to begin, but we’ve seen ice makers, beer taps, wine refrigerators, soda fountains, and even full bar setups.

Skinks

Often the unsung hero of an outdoor kitchen, clients who install sinks are surprised just how handy they found them! A sink makes an outdoor kitchen truly independent from your indoor kitchen, and will often save you from making trips back indoors.

Counter space

Counter space is the most overlooked, and most frequently missed feature of an outdoor kitchen. It gives you places to prepare meals, stage, or display food and is one of the easiest features to include and install. Just like an indoor kitchen, counter space should be a top consideration in your design. If you neglect it, you’ll miss it.

Cabinets and Storage

There’s no such thing as too much storage. Fortunately, many outdoor kitchen features like grills, griddles, counter space, and more require a base for installation. In the bases, cabinets can be installed to help facilitate storage items. Be cautious about storing food of any kind in your outdoor kitchen. It will likely attract pests like ants, mice, or even bears!

Seating

Seating at your indoor kitchen allows for comfort while cooking, or the ability to utilize the kitchen as an entertaining space. Seating can be accomplished in many ways very similar to that of eat-in kitchens in homes. This is especially important if you add features like a bar, or if you have limited space to have adjacent entertaining spaces.

Adjacent Entertaining Spaces

Having an outdoor kitchen is a wonderful addition to any property, but as a stand-alone, they are less functional without some manner of entertaining space. Some kitchens can include an entertaining space like a bar or seating area, but otherwise, it’s practical to consider the addition of a patio, deck, or seating area. This will allow you and your guests another space to enjoy the products of your kitchen while enjoying each other and your outdoor space.

Check out photos of some of our outdoor kitchen projects here.

In Case You Missed It: Here’s What We’ve Been Up To This Summer

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Its been a busy month at Belknap Landscape. We’ve worked on many great properties, and we’ve had the opportunity to partner with friends on some fun projects to help inform and educate on important topics for property owners. In case you missed them, check out some of the things we were up to below.

 

Helping Protect Our Lakes

Protecting the water quality of our lakes is important. Much of what property owners, and service providers do on waterfront and watershed landscapes can have a significant influence on water quality. That’s why we partnered with NH Lakes to cohost two webinars of their lake-friendly living webinar series.

NH Lakes is a statewide non-profit organization that is dedicated to keeping our lakes clean and healthy. As their partner in these webinars we discussed how to get the landscape you want, and how to maintain your landscape in ways that help protect our lakes.

In case you missed them, the webinars were recorded and can be viewed by clicking below.

How to Get the Lake-Friendly Landscape You’ll Love

Lake-Friendly Ways to Maintain Your Landscape

 

Working With Others to Give Advice

The summer is an excellent time to take on new projects and assure the health and viability of your landscape. The trees on your property especially benefit from a proactive care plan in the summer. That’s why we partnered with Redfin.com with several other experts around the country to provide a guide to caring for your trees this summer.

Click the link below to see what the industry experts have to say, or as always give us a call. Peter our ISA certified arborist is looking forward to assisting you with your tree care needs.

Expert Summer Tree Care Tips

 

Supporting a Lakes Region Gem

Help us support a Lakes Region Gem!

The annual plant sale is still underway at Kirkwood Gardens. Located on Route 3 in Holderness, Kirkwood Gardens is a part of the Squam Lake Natural Science Center. Proceeds from the plant sale benefitting the science center, and their educational purpose for residents and visitors of the Lakes Region.

Stop by Kirkwood Gardens to pick up a new plant, tour the gardens, or relax for a bit. Admission to the gardens is free and you won’t be sorry you discovered this gem off of Squam Lake.

Click Here To Learn More About Kirkwood Gardens

 

Expert Tips to Prepare Your Trees for Summer

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Summer is an important time regarding the health of your trees. With the help of Redfin.com and some of our friends around the country, here’s some tips for caring for your trees this season.

As we near the end of quarantine and the beginning of Summer many of us are eager to get outside and enjoy our favorite summer activities. Whether you plan to go somewhere or just spend more time utilizing your home’s outdoor space, one important thing to keep in mind is that while the idea of summer sounds sweet to us it isn’t always so sweet to your trees. A proper summer tree care plan is extremely important when trying to make sure your trees survive the harsh heat and droughts that are associated with the summer months. Whether it’s trimming, irrigation, pest control, or fertilization we’ve reached out to the experts in tree care from Miami to Sacramento to provide you with a full Summer Tree care checklist to ensure your treescape is ready for the season.

Photo Courtesy of Redfin.com

Proper irrigation is key

Dry hot summer weather can stress trees.  Now is the time to perform a seasonal automatic sprinkler controller adjustment.  In Southern California, that means increasing irrigation zone run times or frequency where trees are present. Additionally, do not fertilize or prune trees during the summer as that forces the tree to produce new foliage when it is trying to conserve energy during the summer heat.  Wait until the fall to fertilize and prune trees. – Rappoport Development

Established trees need infrequent, deep waterings. Even if you water your lawn or have short cloudbursts, make sure to give your trees a good, long drink once a month or so. If rain is scarce, or you use drip irrigation, overhead watering of smaller landscape trees removes dust and debris and improves their look and health. Summer heat is NOT the time for heavy pruning, planting, or relocating. It IS a good time to sit in the shade and sip a cool drink and decide where you want to plant a tree in the fall! – American Conifer Society

Every tree requires a different amount of water based on its age, species, planting site, and soil type.  When supplemental summer watering is needed, our arborists recommend watering trees deeply, infrequently, at a slow rate, and near the drip zone while avoiding wetting the bark and leaves.  Allow the top of the root zone to dry out between waterings.  Preventing drought stress in your trees will allow you to enjoy the cool of their shade for years to come. – For The Love Of Trees

Photo Courtesy of Redfin.com

The warmer months tend to bring tree-related problems with them. While you definitely need to keep an eye out for bugs and disease in your trees, making sure your tree doesn’t fall victim to drought can actually help combat other tree issues! Drought effects can be seen for months, and even years, after the first signs are noticed. So here are three quick tips to help your tree steer clear of water stress:

  • Help your tree by properly mulching around the base to conserve water under the soil
  • Use a root stimulator, like Aqua 3-IA for Arbor Care, with fertilizer to expand your root system and allow it to absorb more nutrients and water
  • Water your trees at the drip line (the area under the tips of the tree branches) – MitoGrow

Take roots into consideration

It’s important to be aware of tree roots, especially when trees are near hardscapes like sidewalks, patios and utilities. Root Barriers effectively manage root expansion without compromising tree health or growth and can be used both on new plantings and existing trees. Root Barriers are mechanical guides that were specifically designed to redirect tree roots down and away from hardscapes, preventing costly root damage while preserving the health and beauty of mature trees. – Deeproot

When planting a new tree, it’s important to consider its maximum mature size and the amount of soil necessary to support proper root growth. This consideration can save the expense of future tree removal or repairs to damaged hardscapes and infrastructure. As a general rule of thumb, and assuming a soil depth of 30 inches, for small mature species, such as most ornamental trees, 80 square feet or greater of growing area is adequate. For larger mature species, such as Douglas fir, western redcedar, or western hemlock, 300 square feet or greater is needed. – The Watershed Company

Be sure to inspect

Summer is a great time to inspect your trees for conditions that may influence their long-term viability and catch them early. Look for things like cracks and damage, missing bark or foliage, mold, discoloration, and pests. If you find anything concerning, consult a certified arborist to help you with a treatment plan. – Belknap Landscape Company

Proper pruning every 2-5 years, depending on the tree and its surroundings, is the most effective way to keep trees healthy and problem-free for generations.  Think grooming and hygiene for trees.  It is also the most overlooked because unfortunately most tree pruning is done improperly by poorly trained crews.  It is truly both an art and a science, and good decision-making is the most important part of the process. – Nova Arborist

The right mulch can go a long way

Now is the time to get your trees ready for what is potentially the most stressful event of their year, the summer drought. The water scarcity brought on by a long, hot summer is one of the most common reasons we see established trees struggling. These drought events have always been present in our region but have been increasing in duration and intensity in recent years as a result of climate change. What can you do to help your trees survive this stress? The answer may sound simple but can be incredibly effective. Put down a 3″ thick layer of wood chip mulch on the ground under your trees, ideally extending out as far as the edge of the branches. This mulch performs many functions, but most importantly it helps the soil retain water and moderate temperature. Mulch is available from commercial sources as well as many of your local tree care companies. As an added benefit the mulch will mask debris from your trees, that debris such as seeds and leaves can be left in place to break down into the soil along with the mulch. No more annoying cleanup! – Conservation Tree Care

Photo Courtesy of Redfin.com

Don’t forget to fertilize

The start of the Summer is the best time to fertilize and make sure your trees and plants are ready for the warmer weather. Our seasoned nursery pros recommend our line of custom fertilizers. Use our fertilizers to take care of the entire yard and be able to enjoy your yard all summer long! – Moon Valley Nurseries

Avoid using “Weed-N-Feed” lawn fertilizers under your trees. Lawn fertilizers in general are not suitable under trees, but products designed to kill weeds as well are very risky. Many trees, such as Live Oaks, grow shoots up in your lawn. These are connected to the root system of your tree, and weed control herbicides can poison your tree by affecting these sucker shoots. We have seen folks use Round-Up on these root sprigs and outright kill their tree! If you have weed issues under your canopies, consult an Arborist before treating the issue. – Good Guys Tree Service

Identify the specific needs of your treescape

Homeowners can create and maintain their ideal home treescape for summer by having a nonbiased ISA Certified Arborist consultation and not with a salesman, to walk with you to identify your trees’ needs. Remember that improper pruning trains your trees to fail. Homeowners may visit the International Society of Arboriculture’s website for more information. Lastly, structural supports can be installed to strengthen weak points within a tree. – Signature Tree Care

 

Originally published on Redfin

Lawns Vs. Lakes: 7 things to know if you want a lake-friendly lawn

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There are few landscape features as widely present and enjoyed in New Hampshire as lawns. Lawns are a beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Unfortunately, lawns can create conditions that are detrimental to water quality, especially along the lakefront. From unchecked runoff to fertilizers, herbicides, and other chemicals applied to them, lakefront and watershed property owners need to be mindful of the effect their lawns have on water quality. Here are seven things to know and do as a responsible property owner to make sure your green spaces and lake will have a happy coexistence.

Reduce and Eliminate Runoff

Runoff is by far the most significant negative influence your landscape can have on lake water quality. It is runoff that commonly carries chemicals and pollutants from your property into the lake. In nature, runoff is kept in check through natural means, which help slow, divert, and absorb water into the ground. Lawns, especially those that are not well planned or maintained, can be conduits for water into the lake.

The first step in reducing runoff is identifying how water is shed from your property. The best way to discover this is during a rainstorm. As rain accumulates and the ground on your property becomes saturated, excess water will collect and flow towards a low point. If you notice water flowing from your lawn directly into the lake, or easily overcoming drainage or existing barriers to make its way into the lake, you have a runoff concern. You should consider taking steps (some of which are listed below) to overcome this problem.

Size Matters

Lawns absorb water, especially when properly maintained. They are, however, not as effective at absorbing water as natural forests, gardens, or several other landscape features. As a result, when considering adding or renovating a green space on your property, consider the size of the yard you need. Limiting the square footage of turfgrass, especially in favor of forest or garden features, reduces runoff and the need for fertilizers or other chemical treatments.

We often find when property owners begin thinking about landscaping, they envision a “blank slate” to be a swath of lawn, and then consider adding features to that space. Instead, think of turfgrass as a feature. It should accent your landscape and add useable living space, not dominate the landscape. Install the amount of lawn you’ll use. In the long term, you’ll save time and expense as well as help mitigate any associated runoff.

It’s About Both Nature and Nurture

A well-maintained lawn will absorb nutrients and water more effectively than a neglected lawn. As a result, nutrients and water are less likely to make their way to the lake and cause pollution.

Lawns should be dethatched and aerated once a year. Dethatching removes the barrier of organic matter, which limits the absorption of water and nutrients. Aeration promotes absorption by creating voids in the soil and reducing soil compaction. These steps will enable your lawn to best combat runoff, require less fertilization, and allow the turfgrass to outgrow weeds, reducing the need for herbicides. Mowing more frequently, at a higher blade setting allows for healthier turf grass and can encourage deeper root growth.

Additionally, a healthy turfgrass maintenance program encourages these grasses to become more robust. Their roots will grow deeper, facilitating more absorption, reducing erosion, and reducing the need for frequent watering.

Water the Right Way

The idea behind watering your lawn is to ensure the turf receives the water it needs to be lush and viable. The amount of water you need to apply to your lawn varies based upon your specific property, the recent weather, the season, and the health of your turf, however overwatering is detrimental to the health of your lawn as well as the surrounding environment.

Consider a regimen that uses less volume, more frequently, and check the ground before watering. Watering at dawn will reduce the amount of water needed as the surface of your lawn cools, and the sun isn’t causing evaporation. Before you begin, check the soil to see if it’s already moist. If the soil is moist, watering isn’t necessary, and adding water may promote runoff, turf diseases and mold, as well as discourage deep root growth.

Good Barriers Make Good Neighbors

Lawns that parade right up to the lakefront is a common sight on most lakes, but usually this is not best for the lake or property. This type of lawn installation in many cases should be avoided.

First, the viability of a lawn near the water is challenging. The State of NH Department of Agriculture has strict setback laws for the application of fertilizers and chemicals near waterways and watersheds. This makes assuring the viability and attractive appearance of the lawn more challenging and labor-intensive.

Second, lawns immediately adjacent to the lake have a most significant runoff concern because there is nothing to slow, absorb, or prevent runoff from occurring other than the limits of the turfgrass itself.

For these reasons, a barrier of some sort separating the lawn from the lake is a good practice. Barriers may consist of a natural barrier, for example. These options include things such as a strip of natural forest land, installed organic barriers such as a garden or flowerbed, or a drainage solution like a dry riverbed to encourage water to flow to a place where it can be absorbed, such as a rain garden. The wider the barrier, the more effective it will be in protecting the lake from the effects of runoff. The more native species or low-water plants utilized, the more viable the organic border will be.

Apply Chemicals with Care

As runoff is the primary cause for concern regarding lawns and lake water quality, it is essential to know and understand a specific concern. Chemicals commonly applied to lawns are carried in runoff and can be particularly harmful to our lakes.

The best way to assure you are not introducing chemicals to the lake water is not to use them. With 30 years of landscape industry experience landscape, we know this isn’t going to happen universally. Instead, let’s focus on some things to be mindful of while applying chemicals.

A little goes a long way. When applying any sort of chemical to your lawn or gardens, it’s always possible to add more if you need to, but you cannot remove the substances if you over-apply. Carefully follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer and consider applying less. Chemicals that are over-applied may not be fully absorbed or adhere well, making them susceptible to runoff. Similar to the expressed method to prevent over-watering, consider applying chemicals in lesser volume more frequently to control their use and effectiveness better while reducing waste and pollution.

Be mindful of the weather. Do not apply chemicals on a windy day, or if rain is in the immediate forecast. This can cause the chemicals to be blown or washed away (often ending up in the lake), and they will not have remained in place long enough to be effective.

Follow the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture regulations, as mentioned previously. If you’re unfamiliar with these regulations, including volume and setback requirements, you must become familiar before applying chemicals yourself. These regulations are intended for the safety of you, your neighbors, and our lakes.

Do not do allow a contractor who is not licensed to apply chemicals to your property. Similarly, to a do-it-yourselfer, a contractor should know the Department of Agriculture regulations. The best way to know if they do is to ask if they are licensed. A contractor who is applying chemicals without a license is breaking the law and is more likely to do environmental damage purposefully or not.

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Trust the Pros, But Ask Questions

As landscape professionals, we have a bias toward encouraging lakefront and watershed property owners to hire a professional landscaper, and we believe there’s a good reason.

Owning property in an area adjacent to a waterway comes with a level of responsibility to be a good steward of your land and how it may affect water quality. Landscaping, in particular, can look deceptively straight-forward, and as a result, most property owners consider doing some of these tasks themselves. Unfortunately, many property owners lack knowledge of regulations and landscaping practices for water protection resulting in damage to the lake. Worse, there are landscaping contractors who are also unskilled and lack the experience and knowledge to protect lake water from landscaping activities adequately.

Property owners who want to protect the lake, regardless of if they have or want a lawn, would be well advised to seek a professional to install or service their properties. Furthermore, vetting a landscaper by asking questions about licenses, certifications, experience, and associations is a good practice. Both the New Hampshire Landscape Association and the National Association of Landscape Professionals offer professional memberships and certification requirements, and are a good place to start. A quality landscaper can demonstrate a track record of responsible behavior, in addition to satisfactorily answering any questions you have about their qualifications.

 

Being able to enjoy your outdoor spaces, including lawns or other features, is your right as a property owner. Protecting our lakes is the responsibility of property owners, service providers, and our community at large. Thoughtful execution and behaviors can help assure both.

In Landscape Design, Uniqueness Matters

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If you think back on some of your favorite films, art, or experiences, you’ll likely notice a common theme, uniqueness. The introduction of a new, uncommon experience etches a stronger response in our minds which may create a greater enjoyment. So, it stands to reason that in most cases a unique landscape is often received as more enjoyable.

At Belknap Landscape Company, we’ve been fortunate to design and install some of the most unique landscape features in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. We’ve received dozens of awards, and have had countless happy clients who enjoy the unique landscapes we created for them, and we’d like to share what we’ve learned.

In designing a landscape, the function should always be the primary consideration. What is the use of installing a landscape feature if it cannot be enjoyed for it’s intended purpose? Next, the form should also be given strong consideration. The most memorable and best-enjoyed landscapes are both functional and beautiful, yet the ones that truly stand heads and shoulders above the others uniquely deliver form and function.

Unique landscapes can be accomplished through the way a landscape features are designed, the construction methods, the materials used, and/or the details. There are methods for every budget and taste, but the common theme in execution is creativity.

In the example below, the unique attribute of this fire pit was achieved through creative design. The fire pit was installed below ground level, as a sunken feature with stone seating and the firebox in the center. It plays off of common themes and shapes of many fire pits, but the design is unique creating a point of interest for the rest of the outdoor space.

In the following example, construction methods played a role in creating a unique landscape feature. This project, currently still under construction, required a way of entering the home across a depression in the landscape. As is common, a bridge was determined to be the most logical conveyance. Bridges in residences are overwhelmingly constructed of wood, occasionally of metal, and sometimes of stone masonry. This bridge is unique because it was constructed of stone, utilizing one large slab as opposed to the more common methods expressed. This has given an unexpected and unique attribute to this feature, providing greater appeal to the bridge, surpassing its functional role.

This next example illustrates how creative materials choice can attribute a unique quality to a landscape. When it comes to construction of fire pits, stone masonry is a common choice. Stone is both functional and beautiful and can be installed in a variety of ways. While this fire pit is stone, a common material, the scale and method of material use is uncommon. In this instance, the firebox was chiseled out from the stone material instead of the firebox being built out of the stone material. This transitions a familiar material into a focal point because of the way the material is used creating a unique point of interest.

Finally, and often most affordable is the use of creative details in landscape features to create a unique experience. This is where creative use of plant life, accent pieces, or lighting can make a significant impact. In this stone stairway pictured below, the construction methods and materials are relatively common, but the introduction of plant life creates a natural, long-lived appearance that differentiates this install from similar properties. This gives the stairway a different feel to the viewer providing a different experience.

When creating a unique landscape, it’s important to think about what outcomes you’re looking for, and then seek inspiration on how to achieve those outcomes. Looking through landscape magazines, websites, and social media is a good place to start. Just remember being unique means finding inspiration from others, not copying them.

Another option is to seek help. Our designers have decades of experience finding unique and creative solutions, of which an exceedingly small representation is illustrated in the photos above. They specialize in helping you find, express, and realize your unique dream. Check out our gallery for more photographs of some of their work to help you find your inspiration here, or give us a call for a partner to help you in this process.

Caring for your Hardscapes-Cleaning and Sealing

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Many of our clients and property owners throughout the Lakes Region have chosen to install hardscape features as part of their landscape. Features like patios, walkways, driveways, walls, and firepits are wonderful additions to most outdoor spaces.  Typically, these features are constructed using concrete, pavers, brick, or natural stone providing them with both beauty and durability, but this durability does not mean they don’t require proactive maintenance.

All hardscape features, regardless of material are susceptible to mold growth, staining, and cracking if they not properly maintained. This is due to a few factors. First, all of these materials are to some degree porous. Water and contaminants can seep into the surface and create problems like cracking and staining. Next, the accumulation of organic materials like leaves or grass on the surfaces often encourages mold and moss growth. Finally, inorganic materials like oils and rubber will wear onto the surfaces and accumulate as grime while attracting other pollutants.

At Belknap Landscape we take pride in installing and maintaining these features, and as a result, we have adopted a hardscape care process that is designed to help reduce and eliminate these effects.

We start our process by inspecting and testing your hardscapes to see what types of materials were used in the construction, and what specific staining or problem areas may exist. We do this to create a treatment plan designed to remove any existing problems, while also taking care to not harm the materials used in the construction.

Once we have completed a plan of service, the next step is to thoroughly clean the hardscape feature. We do this using specially formulated cleansers applied a minimum of two times, pressure washed into the surface and rinsed off. They will remove staining and pollutants from hardscape surfaces and are specifically designed for use on materials including pavers, bluestone, granite, brick, and concrete masonry.

After cleaning, it is important to let the surface dry completely. Based on weather conditions this may be several hours, to over a day. This step helps ensure that when the sealer is applied it will adhere to the hardscape fully and create a lasting bond.

The final step is applying the sealer. Sealers are designed to both protect the hardscape surface as well as return the luster and color to the surface. We typically use a matte sealer for it’s more natural appearance, and we apply two coats to ensure coverage and thickness is adequate to protect the hardscape material for a minimum of 2-3 years. Once the sealer has been applied the hardscape surface may be walked or driven upon after 48 hours of curing time.

Clients who clean and protect their hardscapes enjoy many benefits. The removal of stains and contaminants restores the uniform, attractive look of the materials, giving them a fresh “just installed” look. The sealing process protects against future staining and water or material infiltration which will reduce the likelihood of cracking or damage in the winter. Finally, they receive the peace of mind knowing that the significant investment in this landscape feature is best protected against wear and tear, and mother nature.

We have invested significant time and resources into gaining the capability of providing hardscape cleaning and sealing services because we know it’s an important part of maintaining the features we install and the properties we maintain.  Our specially trained technicians look forward to answering any questions you have regarding hardscape care and making meaningful recommendations on if this service is right for you. Please give us a call to find out how to best care for your hardscapes.

Top 5 must-know things for caring for your trees

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When is the best time to prune your trees?

Most trees can be pruned anytime! There are exceptions of course and BLC’s certified arborist is happy to advise the best course of action. Generally, flowering trees should be pruned either right after flowering or during dormancy. Disease prone trees should not be pruned during disease activity. Just about all of our native shade trees and evergreens can be pruned at your convenience.

Do your trees need nutrients?

Yes! Most trees have evolved in a forest environment where organic matter falls and decomposes on the forest floor creating a nutrient-rich soil. On most properties, this organic material is removed before it decomposes. Also, trees on your property likely need to compete with grasses or plants which absorb nutrients quickly, often before they can reach a trees root system.

That’s why a slow-release fertilizer, sometimes applied in with deep-root delivery method is one of the best ways to assure the health of your trees.

When do trees need to be removed?

Dead or dying trees should be removed to prevent potential hazardous conditions on your property, to reduce habitat for pests, or curb the spread of diseases or insects which may infect other trees on your property.

Hazardous trees should also be removed. This can include unstable trees, leaning, too close to your home or other buildings, not structurally sound, or have significant unrepairable damage.

Trees may also need to be removed if their root systems are creating problems for your foundation, driveway, or other features of your property.

Finally, the strategic removal of select trees can reduce overcrowding and encourage the health of other trees on your property.

We strongly encourage property owners to enlist the help of a professional for the removal of trees. Tree removal is inherently dangerous, and should only be undertaken by someone with the training and equipment to do it safely.

Are my trees safe and healthy?

Checking on the health of your trees should occur every year. While some conditions which illustrate the health of a tree are easy to see and understand such as; missing foliage, cracks or damage to the trunk or limbs, missing bark, or some types of diseases, others may be subtle. Check out our tips here https://belknaplandscape.com/treetips/ for tips on checking on the health of your trees.

Why hire a certified arborist?

Trees are some of the largest, most complex, and potentially hazardous plants on our properties. They also provide significant benefits to the comfort, beauty, and ecosystem of our properties. They represent a significant asset, and in most cases investment which is best cared for with professional assistance.

A certified arborist is someone who is specifically trained in tree science, care, and health. Similarly to how a medical doctor received training to care for humans, or veterinarians receive training for animals, certified arborists are the best-equipped professionals to care for trees.

It is important to ensure the arborist you hire is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This is the best way to ensure they have received the appropriate training, and have a demonstrated knowledge of the science. It is not uncommon for individuals to claim they are arborists, yet not possess the training or skills to care for trees correctly. Hiring an ISA certified arborist is your best assurance of hiring an appropriately skilled professional.

Mulch Matters

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Once spring clean-ups are completed, one of the first things that occur on landscapes across the Lakes Region is the application of mulch. Red, black, brown, organic, inorganic, there’s a surprisingly wide variety of choices in mulch, and not all choices are right for every application. Here’s some must-knows about why mulch matters.

Mulch, in general, provides many benefits. Mulch is an excellent method of controlling weeds and containing moisture around trees, shrubs, and plant beds. It can add a finished look to a landscape and may provide color or accentuate points of interest. In some instances, mulch may also provide a protective barrier against fire dangers in high-risk areas.

Organic vs Inorganic

Organic mulch in New Hampshire is typically comprised primarily of wood, while other mulches contain grasses, straw, leaves, or other plant material. These mulches are typically dyed to provide a universal appearance, with the most common colors being red, black, or brown.

The primary benefit of organic mulch is that it will decompose into the ground providing nutrients, or if removed it is biodegradable.  In some instances can also be a disadvantage. Organic mulches need to be refreshed every year to maintain their appearance and benefits.

Inorganic mulch is relatively uncommon in our area. It is typically made of shredded or particle rubber, plastic, or textiles and may even be comprised of stone or other aggregates. It can come in a wide variety of colors and is installed similarly to organic mulch.

A benefit of inorganic mulch is its durability. Because it does not easily decompose, it may last several years without significant changes to its appearance, though it does require annual maintenance and some refreshing. It may begin to fade over time, and this may result in an unkempt appearance. In addition, as it begins to eventually degrade, inorganic mulch may introduce chemicals and unwanted particulates into the soil or water through runoff.

We typically stick to the installation of organic mulch in his area. Inorganic mulch can be significantly more expensive than organic mulch, and we’ve found our clients prefer the look and feel of organic mulch. This paired with the environmental considerations and plant life benefits provided by organic mulch make it the most popular choice.

What color to choose

We think every color of mulch looks great, but we also know not every color looks great everywhere. When choosing a mulch color, it’s important to consider the colors it will be adjacent to or complimenting.

Black Mulch works best in areas with a lot of green space and subdued colors. It’s ideal for mulching around evergreens, gray-colored homes, and in areas where there will not be a lot of flowering plants.

Brown Mulch is an excellent contrast to homes constructed of red bricks or have red brick contrast. Brown mulch does well with muted colored flowering plants or if you’re looking for a more natural appearance.

Red mulch works well as a complement to bold colors. It creates an eye-catching contrast against most lawns or green areas and if a great choice for areas that will have bright flower blooms or where you’d like to draw attention.

Stone mulches like pea gravel, river rocks, or bluestone add a variety of texture and color as well. When using stone pay close attention to the existing stonework on your property, and the color of your home. As stone tends to be a more permanent solution, we recommend utilizing samples of the stone to see how they look on site before ordering your stone delivery. For example, while a reddish stone may match a brick home, a bluestone may have a better complimentary appearance.

Installing Mulch

The installation of mulch may appear to be a straight forward and simple process, and in many cases it is, but we see some common mistakes all of the time.

To achieve the desired benefits of weed control and moisture retention, mulch needs to be 3-4 inches deep. While a nice appearance can be achieved with less mulch, the benefits will be short-lived. When purchasing mulch, determine the area that needs to be mulched in square feet, and multiply that by 0.3. This will give you a good approximation of how much cubic feet of mulch you need to purchase. Note: 1 cubic yard will typically cover 100 square feet t an acceptable depth.

Before installing mulch, remove all weeds or plant life that you do not want to continue to grow through the mulched area. At this point, many choose to install a weed barrier to further discourage weed growth. This is also the time to create or reestablish the edge of the mulched area. This can be accomplished with a shovel or manual edger. Create a crisp edge 2-3 inches deep and remove all plant material as previously mentioned. Do not reintroduce the used soil or organic matter into the area to be mulched as this can encourage weed growth.

Do not mulch too deep in areas around trees and plants. The base of trees and shrubs, in particular, need to have access to air. Piling mulch around the base and creating a “mulch volcano” will suffocate the plant. Instead, clear space around the base of the trunk allowing for 3-4 inches of exposed area completely around the circumference, creating a “mulch donut” which will allow the plant to breathe.

Keep organic mulch hydrated on dry summer days, especially if it’s old mulch. As mulch ages it will lose moisture in the event it has not rained or received moisture for a long time. As mulch becomes drier a reduction in its effectiveness in retaining moisture for our plants and discourage weed growth occurs, it is more likely you be blown out of place by the wind, or worse it becomes increasingly flammable. The best way to prevent these occurrences is to refresh your mulch annually or to water your existing mulch periodically during dry spells.

Mulch Isn’t Magic

While mulch is a valuable and appealing part of a good landscapers repertoire there are limits to what mulch can do and how it should be used.

Organic mulch should not be used in an area with drainage concerns. The most common type of mulch used is wood. Wood is easily washed away and it breaks down in water easily. Mulches made of rubber or plastic may be carried into waterways if used in drainage areas, polluting them. Peastone and other rock type mulch works well for drainage bust should be used in conjunction with a stone designed for the purpose in conjunction with a drainage program.

While mulch does an excellent job of discouraging weeds, it’s likely the occasional weed will poke its way through your mulched areas. This is normal and common. Weeding by hand, similarly to how a garden is weeded is the most effective and preferred way to manage weeds in a mulched area.

Finally, as mentioned in this blog, mulch does require maintenance. While mulch is durable, and low maintenance, all mulches need a rework or refresh annually. This is a common DIY project for many property owners, but most quality landscapers also provide a mulching service. Landscapers are often a better option for property owners who utilize a landscaper for total property care, the scope of work is particularly large, or they prefer to spend their time enjoying their property as opposed to working on it.

As always Belknap Landscape is available to provide a wide variety of landscape services, mulching included to property owners throughout the Lakes Region.

Survey Says: Americans Love their Yards and they are Important to a Home’s Resale Value

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April is National Lawn Care Month so it is a great time to think about what your lawn and landscape do for you. Even in the age of the smartphone and T.V. show binge-watching, the love affair with the American yard is not over.

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.

Your neighborhood’s landscaping is important. Americans (91%) want to live in an area where they can see or walk to nice landscaping. So if you want the best chance of increasing the home prices in your neighborhood, make sure the landscaping looks good.

Nice landscaping helps to sell your house. Eighty-four percent say that the quality of a home’s landscaping would affect their decision about whether or not to buy. Great neighborhood landscaping helps, but it isn’t enough; yours needs to look good too.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Novak and the National Association of Landscape Professionals

Your neighbors care what your yard looks like. Seventy-one percent think it is important that their neighbors have well-maintained yards. Perhaps “good landscaping makes good neighbors” should be the new adage.

We want to enjoy our yards. Seventy-five percent of people feel that it is important to spend time outside in their yards.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Novak and the National Association of Landscape Professionals

Despite common misperceptions, even Millennials want to spend time in their yards. Seventy-five percent of Millennials (18–34-year-olds) think spending time outside in their yards is important.

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.

So, this April, don’t take your yard for granted: make the most of it and it will return many financial and emotional benefits.

 

The information contained in this article is courtesy of https://www.thelawninstitute.org/ and The National Association of Landscape Professionals.

5 Ways a Landscaper can help Brick and Mortar Retailers

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The retail landscape is changing at a breakneck pace. Online retailers, safety concerns, and an ever-changing marketplace are some of the many challenges faced by brick and mortar retailers. Those who service these retailers must work toward helping overcome these challenges. Here are 5 ways a good landscaper can help the brick and mortar retailers they service.

Landscapers Can Design and Build Properties That Attract People

The addition of landscape features that allow people to congregate and socialize has long been a staple of restaurants, hospitality, and entertainment venues. These spaces encourage patrons to stay longer, which typically translates into more dollars spent at the business. Retailers, especially multi-unit brick and mortar are realizing similar successes when they develop these types of spaces. Common additions include seating areas, patios, playgrounds, and garden spaces.

Plantlife and color have also proven to be good investments for retailers. The addition of color is an especially powerful tool to bring attention to a property while also making the property more attractive. These enhancements create an environment that is appealing and eye-catching to shoppers. Utilitarian shopping areas can be transformed into places where people want to be, and as a result where they’d like to shop.

Lighting Matters

Landscape lighting serves both a safety and an aesthetic purpose. While it is common for a retailer to have overhead and pathway lighting, landscape lighting can help illuminate hazards on the property, and guide shoppers to follow a specific path, increasing safety. This type of lighting feature can also reduce the likelihood of crime and burglaries by eliminating dark places where crime may occur.

Lighting for aesthetics can create an atmosphere or make a statement, attracting attention to the property. Much like adding plant life and features, lighting can create dramatic shadows, appealing imagery, and accentuate an environment where people want to be, translating into more opportunities for sales.

Holiday Lighting and Décor

The holiday season is the most important time of year for retailers, and brick and mortar locations have a unique ability to differentiate themselves during this season. For many, an important part of enjoying the holidays is seeing, sharing, and enjoying the festive nature of the season. The addition of Christmas lights, wreaths, bows, garland, and other décor is a tradition for many businesses, and consumers enjoy the experience.

Many landscapers provide holiday décor services which range from designing, providing the decorations, to installation and storage.

The ability to decorate and attract customers based upon holiday atmosphere is an advantage brick and mortar retailers have over their online competition. The use of a landscaper to support these efforts allows the retailer to focus on their business and servicing their clients while reaping the benefits of the decorating services the landscaper provides.

Proactive property care

While traditionally a landscaper focuses on aspects that may be different from that of a property management company, a good landscape services provider will be able to assist in many maintenance and management issues.

Landscapers service a property regularly, and they frequently cover large swaths of the property. Additionally, they are often on-site more frequently than a property management service. As a result, landscapers will typically notice concerning situations sooner and can assist a client in awareness before a bigger problem is realized. Landscapers also frequently work alongside other service professionals and can help with recommendations for service providers should a concern be beyond their scope of practice.

If you have a landscaper who has failed to bring a problem to your attention that they were likely aware of, it’s a good idea to reexamine that relationship. While landscaping is a profession it is also a service, and service should include advocating for the best interests of the client.

Keep it crisp. Keep it clean

Finally, and perhaps most commonly, landscapers can help ensure your outdoor space retains its welcoming aesthetic. Overgrown plant life, damaged walkways, or a general lapse in maintenance will turn potential customers away. These conditions also can create safety hazards and should be proactively managed throughout the year.

Customers want to shop in areas where they feel comfortable. At a minimum, the retail space inside and out should feel well maintained and safe. Retailers sell goods and services, and they are most successful in focusing on their business, not maintaining their property. A good landscaper can allow a business to focus on what brings them income, by taking care of the property.

We’re here to help you succeed

At Belknap Landscape we understand that external appearance influences a shopper’s decision on where to shop. In supporting our retailer clientele we provide all of the services mentioned above. We are committed to the viability and success of our clients, and offer programs and approaches to meet the needs of most businesses.

Please call us at 603-528-2798 to see how we can help you focus on growing your business.