Tag Archives: outdoor living

Planting in the Fall Makes Cents!

6 Sep

by Linda Kay Harrison

At the garden centers, we are often asked, “Is fall REALLY a good time to plant?”
The answer is… “Actually… yes!”

In the Pacific Northwest almost anytime is a good time to plant; but there really ARE some very good reasons to do it in the fall.

When new plants are installed in the spring or summer they have to go through the stressful heat of the summer with a small root system.  They are often expected to bloom and sometimes even produce fruit under these stressful conditions. That can take a lot out of a young plant.

By filling your beds in the fall, your plants miss out on most of that stress. With the days being shorter, photosynthesis slows and stops, so plants aren’t actively growing. They go dormant and often don’t even know they’ve been moved.  Even though the air is cooler, the ground is still warm, so the roots keep growing for weeks or even months without having to produce nutrition for growth or blooming. By the time your plants ‘wake up’ in the spring, their roots are strong and pretty well established in their new home.

You’ll also want to plant with plenty of Black Forest compost to break up that nasty clay soil, and give the roots something to work with over the winter.


One more great reason to plant in the fall… BARGAINS!  Even though the selection may be smaller, the sales and specials are fantastic!  You can save a lot of dollars, and that makes a lot of ‘cents’.

So when you tuck those plants into their beds for the winter, you can feel confident knowing that you saved a bundle, and your new plants will ‘wake up’ happy and ready to grow in spring.

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Breathtaking Water Features

20 Aug

By Drew Snodgrass – Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees & one of the original Dees                                                                                                                                                                Ready to tackle a most rewarding landscape improvement? Water features are a breathtaking addition to the landscape but please consider avoiding the pitfalls that create high maintenance and a less than attractive final result.

Designed by Drew Snodgrass of Dennis’ 7 Dees

  1. Plan for success, determine the look you want whether simple or small, such as a column spoutingwater or a waterfall as large and elaborate as you want and have room for.
  2. Verify pump and electrical needs and where best to place and draw power.
  3. Locate the feature and orient it for maximum viewing appeal. My very strong recommendation is to make it safe and easy to maintain.
  4. You should not have to empty your water feature for cleaning. A skimmer vault, bottom drain and bio falls will make maintenance as easy as dumping out a collection bag on a regular basis. Water is drawn to the pump through a recessed collection bag and filter plate where surface debris is collected before it has a chance to settle to the bottom of your pond and decompose. The bottom drain circulates the water, also drawing it through the collection and filter plate in the vault. Algae will still grow on rocks but the water will be clear.
  5. For safety, fence out unwanted visitors as necessary or you can have a very shallow water feature with 1-4” of water while kids are small, but dig the pond as deep as you will ultimately like. Fill with river rock and surface the river rock with pea gravel to the desired depth. Later you can remove rock to the new desired depth as time goes on.
  6. If you want fish, (they’ll feed on the algae),you should allow for 3’ of water depth plus 6” of pea gravel covering the floor. Bridge in hiding places above the pond floor.
  7. Vertical sides will deter raccoons and shelving the sides of the pond makes it easier to stack rock to hide the liner. Keep the look as natural as possible and remember you must hide the liner completely.
  8. If you want water plants plan for them as you build your pond. Buy a pot the size of the plants you want. Research the ideal depth of water for the plant. Set the empty pot where you want the plant and hide all but the top as you rock in the liner.
  9. After cleaning the pond thoroughly, fill it, add de-chlorinator and then add the plants when water PH is ready. Cover the roots with the pea gravel.
  10. Once the water feature is complete you should consider adding lighting. Lighting spillways with underwater lights from the base of falls or from the sides, pointing toward spillways and away from views is important, (See the effect, not the fixture or source).

Although this sounds like a fun DIY project it really is lots of work and the easiest way to do any or all I’ve suggested is call Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping, (503)777-7777, get a great design, free estimate and have us install a beautiful and low maintenance end result.

The photos included in this article are of some of my water feature installations. . Water features are one of my favorite elements to incorporate into the landscape.

Drew Snodgrass, CLP, Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping

When the ‘Dark Knight’ rises – it’s not always Batman

13 Aug

By Linda Kay Harrison

Whether you are in Gotham, or the Portland area, late summer is a difficult time of year for the garden.  Many perennials and shrubs are done blooming.  It’s hot and difficult to keep things watered.  So what can you put in the yard that can handle the heat and lack of water?  As long as we’re at it, is there something that will bloom in this heat?  How about fragrant blooms? Oh, and nothing too big, please.  Actually, low maintenance would be great too,…

Wow, that’s a lot to ask for from one plant!  Sounds like a job for a “super hero”.  And here it is!  The ‘Dark Knight’  Caryopteris!

Often called bluebeard or blue mist, Caryopteris is one of the few shrubs that bloom in late summer.  It blooms a lovely rich blue that completely covers the shrub in sweetly scented flowers.  The soft silvery green leaves are fragrant too when brushed against.  Blooms begin in early August and continue well into fall.  They are attractive to butterflies, bumblebees and other beneficial insects which makes it a friendly side kick to any landscape.

Caryopteris likes well drained soil and is drought tolerant. It rarely has any insect or fungus problems.   Caryopteris is as close to a maintenance free plant as you’ll ever find.  It maintains a nice mound or globe shape at about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.   It can benefit from being cut back to a foot or 18” every few years, but that is just about the only maintenance ever needed.  ‘Super’ simple.

You might also check out the ‘Sunshine Blue’ caryopteris.  Same ‘tough guy’ aspects as the ‘Dark Knight’, but with lemon/lime colored leaves and paler blue flowers.

You don’t have to go batty trying to figure out how to keep your yard looking amazing. Let the heroes at Dennis 7 Dees help with ideas for all your landscape needs.

Unique Landscape Design Challenge Results in a Beautiful Outdoor Space

31 Jul

By Jonah Bishop – Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees

When I first arrived on this property, I was immediately struck by its unique design challenges. First, the primary view of this yard was from the upper story deck, so I knew it needed to have some elements that would create lots of visual interest from above. Second, I had a homeowner who did not currently spend much time outside in the yard, but wanted to. I knew I was going to have to create some functional space to draw them outdoors. What made this second challenge unique was that almost the entire backyard was sloped away from the house. Now how to tie the two challenges together and come up with a beautiful cohesive design?  I was going to have to get creative!

First, the yard needed some level spaces in which to create usable space. To do this, we needed terraces. However, with this much space the linear footage was going to get boring really fast.  Taking into consideration that we needed an interesting view from above as well, I needed to take a look at the walls and start making them interesting! I got rid of all the straight lines and merged curves and corners to break up long runs of stone. Adding in some planting spaces at half height between the main levels, I was able to use the construction of these to further break up the long runs of stone with different shapes and plants. We now had our level spaces!

Before

Now that we had our level spaces, we needed to make them useable. First we needed steps so that it could be accessible. With the idea already in place of the curving walls, I simply tied in the stairs to flow with the curves of the walls. Now we had access, but to where? We needed a space to draw the homeowner to.

We needed a reason to be outdoors in the new landscape. We needed a functional, livable space. A fireplace was a great element to draw people outdoors, but we needed somewhere to put it. With the way the idea for the walls was flowing, it provided the perfect opportunity to add patio space.

With the terraces, steps, and patios in place all that was left was the plants! Being able to bring in some fun flowering plants was truly the ‘icing’ on the cake for this yard! Now we had a yard that was visually interesting from all perspectives, and functional! Best of all, we created a landscape that the homeowner WANTED to be outdoors in and use!

Making Wishes a Reality

30 Jul

By Spencer Anderson – Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees

Have you ever been fed up with your soggy, squishy, muddy lawn and wished that it would just go away?  Have you ever wished that your patio was a little bigger?  Have you ever wished you had a fire pit or a water feature?  These are some of the wishes that the owners of this property had in mind as we went through the design process to change their backyard.  Their landscaping needs changed as their children got older.  Instead of a play structure and swing set they were now looking at having a fire pit and water feature.  Through the design-build process this outgrown landscape was soon transformed into a beautiful outdoor living space by the design-build team here at Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping.  Please take a walk through the new landscape starting from the back door just off of the dining room…

Step out onto a roomy paver patio underneath a tall airy cover with skylights that allow the natural light to filter through.  Straight ahead there is a rustic stone fire pit nestled into a stone sitting wall flanked by large sitting boulders creating a perfect place to gather and roast marshmallows on a cool evening.   The sitting wall is also the face of a raised planting bed with trees and shrubs to soften the stone wall and wooden fence.  To the right and across the pavers there is easy access to the side yard and utility area with a wooden gate hide the tools and toys when it’s time to sit back and relax.  To the left the patio extends out from under the cover where one can soak up the sun on a bright day.  Extending the length of the patio is the stone sitting wall that defines the curvilinear patio edge and provides a comfortable enclosure and lots of places to sit.  The sitting wall runs into a three column water feature with water bubbling from all three columns and splashing down on boulders and into the shallow water below creating a soothing sound and a refreshing view from the kitchen window.  Directly below the kitchen window are colorful and fragrant plants.  The patio steps down onto a stone walkway that divides the water feature from a cedar chip play area. A block retaining wall was constructed along the property line to level the play area making it a great place for the family trampoline.  The cedar chip play area exits to a meandering crushed gravel path bordered with rubble rock and lined with plantings full of color and texture.  The path conveniently connects to the front yard through a gate with a decorative arbor overhead.

With the finishing touch of LED landscape lighting to illuminate the key features this backyard landscape was transformed into a beautiful and functional outdoor living environment where wishes were made a reality.  A place where Family and friends will gather often and many fond memories will be made.

Meet the designer – Spencer Anderson

I love the outdoors!  Some of my most memorable outdoor experiences came from my childhood as a boy scout in Eastern Oregon.  I recall one such experience where our scout troop hiked 30 miles along the Big Creek Trail near McCall, Idaho.  This was my first long hike so it was a big deal to me.  We camped along the way so I had a pack with all of my provisions that seemed like it was as big and heavy as I was.  The trail was rough and some of the hills were quite steep and challenging, but with every step the beauty of the natural landscape seemed to get more and more breathtaking.  It was this natural beauty and wonder that would push my tired legs to climb the next hill just to catch a glimpse of what was on the other side.  The night we reached our destination I remember sitting around the campfire looking up at the starry night sky wishing that I could always be surrounded by such beauty.  The next morning we were flown out of the forest and back to where we started by a small aviation company.  Looking down from the plane I noticed that the details of the beautiful landscape that I had just seen on my hike were hidden by the tall thick trees.  This experience and many others throughout my life have encouraged me to pursue a career as a landscape designer where I can be an instrument in bringing natural beauty into personal landscapes.  My desire to be a landscape designer combined with a hard work ethic stemming from my experiences working long hours alongside my dedicated father who is a carpenter gave me a great start.  Later I went to school at Brigham Young University-Idaho where I earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture with an emphasis in landscape design.  Shortly after graduating I started a career with Dennis’ 7 Dees landscaping as a project foreman and quickly transitioned into landscape design.  I love the outdoors and I love being a landscape designer.

Anti-Mosquito Tips For Your Yard

13 Jul

By Linda Kay Harrison

There are few things in life that are as enjoyable and memorable as a warm summer evening out in the backyard,… and there is nothing that can ruin one as quickly as mosquitoes. Nothing sends us running indoors quite like that annoying little buzz in our ears that we know will turn into itchy welts later.

The reality is that mosquitoes are more than just annoying.  Mosquitoes carry many diseases that can cause serious health issues.  So how do you go about driving away these tiny pests once they’ve made their appearance?

Here are some great ‘environmentally low-impact’ tips:

  • Start by checking your yard for any sources standing water.  Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time, and do so in multiple water filled locations.  Sources of standing water can be ponds, birdbaths, flower pots and sauces, kiddie pools, the dog’s water dish, even low spots in your lawn
    • For ponds that you can’t drain weekly use mosquito dunks that are safe for fish and plants.  You can also use a product that contains Bacillus Thuringiensis, BT, which is a bacteria that kills mosquito larvae, but will not do harm to animals or humans.  Dennis’ 7 Dees has both of these products.
    • You might also add a spitter or fountain head to create movement in the water.  Mosquitoes use standing water to incubate eggs.
    • Stock your pond with fish that eat mosquito larvae like Shubunkins, Koi and Sarasa Comets.  These fish can eat up to 500 mosquito larvae a day.
    • Attract birds to your yard. A good bird population can make a huge difference in mosquito population. Many common backyard birds eat mosquitoes, so try putting out a bird feeder and a bird house. Don’t forget the hummingbird feeder. Over 10% of a hummingbird’s diet is small insects like mosquitoes.
  • Although some might say they’d rather have the mosquitoes, attracting bats to your yard is an excellent way to get rid of mosquitoes.  One bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour! That’s a good reason to consider putting a bat house in your yard!
  • There are several plants you can use in your landscape and patio pots that will help you get rid of  mosquitoes naturally.  And most are beautiful and low maintenance.
  • Try planting crocosmia, monarda, fuchsia, honeysuckle and trumpet vine to attract hummingbirds.
  • Echinacea, coreopsis, and sunflowers attract finches and other insect-eating birds to your yard.
  • Some plants repel mosquitoes with their scent. Sassafras and sweet basil repel mosquitoes for short distances, so these are good choices for the pots in and around seating areas, decks and patios.
  • Other plants you might use for their repellant qualities are:
    • Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus)
    • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
    • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
    • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
    • Marigolds (Tagetes spp.)
    • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
    • Garlic (Allium sativum)
    • Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
    • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.)
    • Lavendar (Lavandula angustifolia )

If you’re just itching to get outside, don’t let mosquitoes spoil the fun! Instead, let the knowledgeable staff at Dennis’ 7 Dees help you find everything you need to take back your yard this summer!

Let’s Talk Succulents!

6 Jul

Aloe

Oregon seems to have two types of environments, moist shade, and dry sun, with very little in between.  I’ve written previous post about plants for shade, but what about those hot dry areas?  Well,… let’s talk succulents!

‘Succulent’, literally means ‘juicy’, and is a term used for many types of plants like sedums and sempervivums that have a wonderful ability to hold moisture in their thick, fleshy leaves and stems.  This ability to retain moisture enables them to grow in hot, dry conditions with a lot of sun and very little water. Most are hardy to zone 3 or 4, and some are even evergreen. Succulents are perfect for rock gardens, xeriscapes and other dry areas with poor soil. However, they do not like clay soil, so be sure amend clay for better drainage. (Note: never mix sand with clay soil. Sand + clay = concrete.)

Cobweb Sempervirens

Ogon Sedum

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of species of sedums, and many cultivars within each species.  They come in an amazing variety of textures and colors and usually have lovely, delicate blooms during different parts of the summer.

In addition to rock gardens and dry soil areas, succulents are fantastic for planters.  They look great in an old tin bucket or glass milk jug.  I’ve even seen them spilling out the top of an old boot.  They make great wreaths and topiaries, too.  With succulents, you are limited only by your imagination.  Just make sure they have plenty of sun, good drainage, and take care not to over water them.

Living Roof

 

Chicks & Hens

Succulents are also used for ‘living roofs’ which are becoming more and more common every year.  Living roofs on buildings have several benefits. They remove pollutants from the air and replace it with oxygen.  They use the rain rather than have it become a bothersome run-off.  And succulents are perfect for living roofs because they can withstand long periods without water, and have shallow roots, so it doesn’t take a lot of soil to grow them, keeping the weight on the roof to a minimum

Oh, and two more words on why succulents are so wonderful,… DEER RESISTANT!

Join us for a hands-on succulent container gardening workshop on the following dates: Saturday, July 14th – 10am @ Lake Oswego – Register Now! Saturday, July 14th – 10am @ Seaside – Register Now! Saturday, July 28th – 10am @ Cedar Hills – Register Now!

 

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