Tips and Tricks

How to Protect Your Lawn From Heatwaves

One of the biggest challenges to keeping a lush, healthy lawn is the dreaded summer heat wave. A prolonged heat wave is not only a concern to the health of your family but also your lawn. While it may seem daunting, with the right techniques your lawn will remain lush and green no matter the weather. Here are a few tips to keep your lawn healthy through a heat wave!

Don’t Cut Your Grass Too Short

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One of the best ways to combat a heat wave is keeping your grass cut high. This technique benefits your garden in several ways. First, by keeping your grass cut high, your grass will develop stronger roots. This will keep your plants stronger and will help them deal with harsh conditions easier. In addition, keeping your lawn longer will help it retain moisture and keep cooler during hot summer months.

Water With Care

When the weather turns hot, many people further damage their lawns by watering them incorrectly. Many people will water their lawns lightly and frequently throughout the entire day and even during the night. However, it is best to water your lawn in the mornings between 6 AM and 10 AM each day. This will allow your lawn to soak up as much water as possible and prevent water waste. Make sure that your lawn is completely dry before you water

Consult a Professional

If these tips do not work, call one of our professionals for an estimate today at (585) 381-9000 or request a free estimate at tedcollinst-l.com.

Composting: The Secret to a Beautiful Garden

Are plants in your garden having a difficult time, and aren’t thriving like you hope they would? The cause of many problems for plants is in the soil. Depending on the composition of your soil, it may be making it more difficult for your plants to grow well. Not all hope is lost though! There is a way for you to alter the composition of your soil and make it easier for your plants to grow and thrive. Adding compost, or organic material, to your soil can have a dramatic effect on your plant’s health, and better yet, you can do it all yourself! Here are a few tips and tricks that will help both veterans and novices get the best results.

Choosing a Compost Bin

While you can pile your compost, it is much more effective and safe to compost in a bin. There are many shapes, sizes, and variations of bins that you can purchase on the market, all with their strengths and weaknesses. We recommend a closed bin that can rotate on an axis. By rotating your compost, you will ensure that all materials intermix and decompose evenly. However, you don’t need anything fancy to start composting! To see how to make your own DIY compost bin for under $10, click here.

You Can Compost More than You Think

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Most composters know that you can compost most food, you can compost a lot more than scraps of food. Composting green matter, such as lawn clippings, leaves, and other plant materials is extremely beneficial. It is best to maintain a 1 to 1 ratio of brown to green matter, alternating layers of the two to ensure best results. Just make sure that none of the plant matter has been sprayed with chemicals!

Maintain the Right Moisture

One of the ways to ensure your compost’s success is by maintaining the right amount of moisture. To make sure your materials decompose at a good rate, you must strike a balance of how moist the compost pile is. If your compost is too dry, it will not be able to support the worms and bacteria that break down material. If it is too wet, some of the most industrious bacteria will not be able to do their jobs. Make sure to water your compost moderately to ensure the best results.

With these tips, you are sure to produce fantastic compost to better your garden! For more information on composting, check out the Cornell Cooperative Extension website.

The 3 Best Exotic Plants for Your Garden

Looking for something to help your yard stand out from your neighbors? Exotic plants can give a unique, explosive pop to your garden or landscape installation. While it may not seem like it, many tropical plants are hardy enough to be grown right here in Rochester! Here a few of our favorite tropical plants that will give your garden the pop it needs:

Hardy Hibiscus

The Hardy Hibuscus is a showy perennial found throughout many tropical climates. Hardy Hibiscuses come in a range of different cultivars and colors, most of which are suitable to our climate. The Hardy Hibiscus is surprisingly easy to grow, but do best in well drained, acidic soil. To increase the acidity of your soil, try adding peat moss or potting soil to your garden. In climates with harsh winters like Rochester, it is best to cover the plant in the winter.

Elephant Ear

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Colocasia, more commonly known as elephant ear plant, are best known for their huge tropical leaves. Much like the Hardy Hibiscus, there are a range of cultivars of  Elephant Ear, each with varying different shapes and color. Also like Hibiscus, the Elephant Ear is incredibly easy growing. The Elephant Ear has many uses: background plants, edging, or ground covers. No matter what you use it for, is sure to bring a tropical flair to your garden!

Angel's Trumpet

Angel's Trumpet refers to a number of tropical plants native to South America in the genus Brugmansia. These large shrubs are best known for their large, fragrant, downward hanging flowers. The plant is incredibly dangerous if eaten, so make sure your kids and pets stay away! Otherwise, the plant is a wonderful centerpiece shrub that will make your garden smell and look lovely!

If you want any of these plants included in your landscape installation today, give us a call today at (585) 381-9000 or request an estimate at tedcollinst-l.com!

Top Plants for Your Indoor Garden

Want to start a garden but don’t have the money or space to plant outside? Houseplants are the perfect alternative! Buying and taking care of houseplants is the perfect way to bring a bit of outside indoors and give your living space a splash of green. While being cheaper and easier to take care of than an outdoor garden, you will also be able to enjoy plants throughout Rochester’s cold winters.

Here are a few of our favorite houseplants to get your indoor garden started!

Aloe

You might know Aloe from curing your sunburns, Aloe is a wonderful addition to any home garden. The succulent grows up to 3 feet high and wide, making it a great mid-sized plant to brighten up your home.

Christmas Cactus

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The Christmas Cactus is a beautiful, arching cactus usually planted best in a pot. Don’t worry about poking yourself with needles, the Christmas Cactus’s leaves won’t hurt if you touch them. The Cactus is filled with beautiful red blooms around Christmastime, giving your garden a needed pop during the winter. The Cactus is also well known for its ability to propagate by cutting, meaning you can fill your house with Christmas Cacti!

Spider Plant

The Spider Plant is a sprawling green and white leafed plant, most striking in a big pot or in a hanging basket. While it looks great, the Spider Plant is very sensitive to contaminated water, low humidity, dry soil conditions, and over fertilization. If your water is fluoridated, be sure to water your Spider Plant with distilled water or rainwater.

3 Tree Planting Tips

In the Rochester area, we’re approaching the best time of year for planting trees and shrubs. Here are a few tips to make sure your trees flourish!

Pick the Right Trees

Probably the most important step of the tree planting process is picking the right tree! It is necessary to pick trees that will thrive in your USDA climate zone. Here are some of our favorite trees and shrubs to plant this summer:

Juniper

While there are many species of juniper, all of them serve as a great addition to your yard. Junipers are hearty deer resistant plants that can serve as a great screens to place along property lines. You can’t go wrong with a juniper for your yard!

Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple, best known for its spectacular dark red and purple color, can grow up to 30 feet tall. The tree’s foliage puts on a spectacular show, especially in the fall months.

Green Mountain Boxwood

The Boxwood is another plant that stands up to the test of the elements. The plant performs well in both sunlight and partial shade, will survive in a drought, and is deer resistant. The Green Mountain Boxwood is wonderful for an accent plant to your garden.

Call Before Digging

Because of the depth required to plant trees, it is important to check your property for any existing utility pipes or lines. Striking utility lines can knock out service to entire areas, make you liable for huge service fees, and may even cause significant bodily injury. Before starting any project make sure to call 811 to have your utility lines marked for free. Avoid planting your tree in any area near utility lines.

Protect Your Tree

Once your tree is planted, it is extremely important that you protect it. When mowing, be sure to steer clear from the tree. It may be beneficial to construct a buffer area to make it easier to avoid. In addition, you may want to purchase a plastic tube wrap to protect the tree’s stem.

If you would like us to assist you with planting or selecting your tree, give us a call today at (585) 381-9000.

How to Make a Hummingbird Sanctuary

One of the best parts of summer is the possibility of seeing a hummingbird flying around your garden. However, because of climate change, hummingbirds may become a rarer sight. The changing environment has altered what plants grow on migration routes, eliminating food resources. Help keep hummingbirds thriving by making your own hummingbird sanctuary! Here are a couple of tips for how to attract hummingbirds to your garden.

Select the Right Plants

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One of the best ways to attract hummingbirds is to plant the right plants in your garden. There are several things to keep in mind when selecting plants that will attract hummingbirds. First, hummingbirds are especially attracted to the color red, so be sure to include red tubular flowers in your garden. Also, hummingbirds are especially attracted to native plants, such as honeysuckle and bee balm. These plants produce more nectar than exotics. In addition, make sure to plant several different kinds of flowers with different blooming periods to attract hummingbirds throughout the year.

In addition to flowers, hummingbirds also love deciduous trees and shrubs close to nectar sources. These plants give hummingbirds cover and a place to nest.

Put Up Feeders

While hummingbirds love nectar rich tubular flowers, they also love hummingbird feeders. You can buy these feeders at your local hardware or garden store. It is best to fill your feeder with your own mix of one part sugar and four parts water. Be sure not to include any artificial dye or sweeteners. Make sure to hang it in a shady place to avoid fermentation and change the feed regularily.

Include a Water Source

Hummingbirds love to bathe in water and love water drip sources or a misting device. Hummingbirds will flock to your garden to bathe!


Importance of Tree Maintenance

Keeping your yard beautiful and healthy takes time and dedication. One important aspect of yard care is caring for your trees. At Ted Collins, we have solutions for every problem that may arise. Here are a few common tactics that we use to care for trees.

Pruning

Tree pruning is a key component of keeping your tree healthy. In many cases, certain branches of your tree may cause harm to your tree if not pruned. Some branches may be diseased, dead, or otherwise structurally unsound. By pruning your trees, you can keep diseases spreading to the rest of your tree, avoid storm damage from falling trees, and keep the structural shape of your tree intact.

Cabling

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Tree cabling is a process by which high strength steel cables and bolts are attached to tree branches in the upper crown of a tree canopy. This is done to support trees with splitting v-crotches. A v-crotch is an area of a tree where it diverges in such a way that the trunk begins to split. By bolting a cable between two larger branches in the canopy, it helps to bind the tree together as branches twist and turn in storms. If your tree has a v-crotch, it is important to address so your tree does not become harmed in the next storm.

Removal

Obviously the most permanent of the three options, removal eliminates any tree problems altogether by removing the said tree from the property. Removal may be necessary if a particular tree is affected by certain diseases or infestations. Removal should only be done at the recommendation of an arborist when absolutely necessary.

All of these solutions should only be recommended and implemented by a licensed arborist. If you are interested in keeping your trees as healthy as possible, Ted Collins is here to help! For more information, please call us at (585) 381-9000.

Deerproofing Your Garden

While they are beautiful creatures of nature, in Upstate New York Deer are often a nuisance. With no natural predators, deer are often left unchecked, causing problems for many homeowners. There isn’t a homeowner who hasn’t had a problem with deer eating their carefully tended plants. There are several basic steps that you can take to deerproof your property.

Pick the right plants

There are a number of popular flowers and plants found in many people’s gardens that deer are extremely drawn to. Plants such as azaleas, yews, and and Rhododendrons should be avoided. However, there are plenty of plants that deer will steer clear from that still look great. Here are a few of our favorites:

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Juniper (Juniperus spp.)

Junipers(on left) are coniferous trees widely distributed across the world. They are wonderfully versatile plants, being able to act as everything from groundcovers to privacy screens. Not only are they deerproof due to the oils in their needles, they are also immensely drought resistant and resilient. No matter what

variant, the juniper is an attractive deer resistant option.

Butterfly Bush (Buddlei spp.)

Butterfly bush (on right) is a perfect candidate for a beautiful plant that deer won’t eat. Growing up to 10 feet high with a spread of 15 feet, the bush is covered with long, bright blooms in the summer. Butterfly bushes come in a variety of different varieties, each with their own unique colors of blooms. On top of being deer resistant, the honey scented blooms attract a plethora of butterfly species to your garden.

Perennial Herbs

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While they may not seem to be effective, planting perennial herbs in your garden can be effective in deterring deer. Deer hate the scents of herbs such as mint, thyme, lavender, and chives. Planting these herbs can be a cheap and effective way to keep your yard or garden free of deer.

Fences

One of the most logical ways to keep deer out of your yard or lawn is to fence it in. There are several different kinds of fences that can be effective for keeping deer out. The most logical and straightforward is a wooden stockade style fence, as deer don’t jump over a fence unless if they can see what is on the other side. Double fences also tend to work, as deer do not like being trapped in small spaces. While it may seem unorthodox, patches of rock can also work as a “fence”, as deer don’t like to walk on rough surfaces. Like a lot with deer prevention, it can take time and experimentation to find the best solution for your yard.

Repellents

While planting the right plants and installing fences can go a long way to keeping deer out of your space, sometimes extra measures need to be taken. A powerful tool in your arsenal is applying a deer repellent to your plants. Many repellents use coyote urine, garlic, soaps, or other natural products to deter deer from entering an area. Most of these repellents come in spray bottles, but there are also hanging versions that can be purchased. Again, it will take time and experimentation to find the best repellent for you. No matter what kind of repellent, the key to their success is  consistency. For these repellents to work, they must be sprayed daily.

By taking all of these steps into account, you will be able to protect your garden and yard from deer.


Planting a Garden

Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. For many gardening enthusiasts, this weekend is the best weekend for getting their garden planted and ready for the summer. For new gardeners, it is also the best weekend to start up your new garden. No matter what your skill level and experience, there are a few simple things to keep in mind to make your garden as best as it can be.

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Soil climate zones

An important thing to keep in mind when picking plants to add to your garden is the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. The Hardiness Zone Map sets the standard of what plants will survive and thrive in different areas of the country. A plant that is rated for a different climate zone will ultimately not be successful and may die.

Before you buy a plant to install in your garden, check to see if the plant’s climate zone matches with your own climate zone. Most of the Rochester area lies within zones 6a and 6b. These temperate climate zones are hospitable to many popular and beautiful plants.

Building soil

One of the key components of a successful garden is healthy soil. While it may sound simple, healthy soil takes time and skill to develop.

If you are starting in an area covered by sod or grass, it is best to cut it up into chunks or till the soil. If you’ve already started a garden, mix in a variety of different kinds of organic matter to help the soil become lush and fertile. This organic matter can include compost, worm casings, or mulch.

Keep Plant tags

While it may seem like it is OK to throw away plant tags once your plants are in the ground, keeping plant tags is very useful. This way, if problems arise with your plants or you want to buy more for the next year, you will have a permanent record. 

Tick Prevention Alert (May 2019)

Every year as it becomes warmer and the winter comes to a close, a new problem emerges: ticks. While previously a manageable problem, the tick population in Upstate New York, especially Rochester, has skyrocketed over the last few years. This has led to a spread in Lyme disease and other pathogens that ticks transmit. While it is a serious problem, there are plenty of precautions that you can take to protect you and your family.

Ticks are arachnids, belonging to the same family as spiders. These arachnids feed on blood, specifically of mammals,

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by biting and attaching themselves to their victims. Ticks feed on mammals of all sizes: deer, dogs, even humans.

The real danger of these pests comes from the role that they play as disease carriers. Ticks are the primary carriers for a number of diseases, most notably Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a disease that negatively impacts the human nervous system, leading to symptoms from swelling of the joints to degeneration of the nervous system to loss of memory. While Lyme disease is the most well-known disease transmitted by ticks, ticks can also transmit other pathogens such as Anaplasmosis to Babeosis. When you or someone in your family suffers a tick bite, they become at risk for any of these diseases.

There are a number of precautions to be taken that reduce the likelihood of tick bites. Ticks reside most in areas with long and thick grass. Therefore, when entering these areas, make sure to wear pants and shirts with long sleeves to protect your skin. When going outside into any wooded areas, make sure to apply bug spray to you and your loved ones. If you have a tick problem that persists in your own yard, Ted Collins offers customizable Tick Management Programs to keep you and your family safe. For more information, please call us at (585) 381 – 9000.

For more information about ticks and tick prevention, visit Cornell’s Integrated Pest Management website.