Landscaping to do list: September

Bougainvillea

Cut back for more flowers!

 

September is upon us and, as the weather changes across the rest of the country, South Florida will see little change in temperature and a slight increase in precipitation. So, the following are ways to prepare your landscaping for the last few days of summer:

1. Trim your trees. Technically this is something to do at the start of hurricane season, but I include it here just in case you haven’t already done it.

2. Trim back your woody plants. Your poinsettias and your bougainvilleas. Cut them back, give them a low-nitrogen fertilizer and you should see regrowth of flowering branches shortly.

3. Start your veggie planting! Now is a good time for many of the greens: spinach, broccoli, and snap peas as well as tomatoes and onions.

4. Lay mulch around any plants that are bare. Not only will it clean up your yard, but it also holds the moisture so that your plants and trees stay hydrated.

5. If you have a Christmas Cactus, start pulling back on the water. Throughout the month of September, slowly pull back on watering and in the beginning of October, the longer nights will dry it out completely, which produces new buds in time for the holiday season!

If you want more tips or have a landscaping question, please leave us a comment. If you live in a development, and wish the landscaping was better, give us a call: (954) 938-1999

Disaster & Restoration Work: Hurricane Isaac 2012

PALM was called upon to clean up landscaping in a development today after damage was caused by Hurricane Isaac. PALM is a leader in disaster restoration in South Florida for residential developments and businesses.

  1. New trees delivered
  2. When working in a hurricane prone area, depth for planting is imperative
  3. When working in a hurricane prone area, depth for planting is imperativeWhen working in a hurricane prone area, depth for planting is imperative
  4. When working in a hurricane prone area, depth for planting is imperativeWhen working in a hurricane prone area, depth for planting is imperative
  5. Feed the treesFeed the trees
  6. Answering the customer\'s questionsAnswering the customer\'s questions
  7. BracesBraces
  8. Finished: from afarFinished: from afar
  9. The finished productThe finished product

5 ways to hurricane ready your yard

5 ways to prepare your yard for a hurricane // www.palmatlanticlandscape.com // #landscape

Hurricane season has been in full swing for a little while now, but as the ninth tropical depression heads our way, there is no more putting off your preparations. Here are five things you can do today to prepare your yard.

Downed tree after hurricane1. Trim your trees.

I can’t state this enough, it’s so important to prune your trees regularly. It not only promotes healthy growth, it can also protect your property, and your neighborhood from flying debris should a hurricane hit. Branches that touch or come close to power lines are especially dangerous and should be removed before the threat of a tropical depression becomes the reality of a hurricane.
Call PALM to make an appointment for tree trimming, as Certified International Arborists, we know the best way to trim the many different species of trees found in South Florida.

 

Courtesy of Flickr @BarkBud2. Remove all potential projectiles.

Birdhouses, kid’s toys, plant pots, and rocks are some ideas of projectiles. Little things like rocks can cause major damage if they break a window. Luckily most pots, toys, and things like bird houses can be left until the last minute when you can pull them inside, or even drop them in your pool during the storm. Rocks are more difficult and for this reason may not be the best choice for your landscaping, so if you’re looking for a redesign, now is the best time!
Call PALM for landscape design and installation services.

 

Courtesy of Flickr user @pyxopotamus3. Clear loose and damaged rain gutters.

Rain gutters will be put to the test during a hurricane, so you need to ensure they are clear and secure enough to withstand a deluge.

 

 

 

Storm Surge4. Understand your own storm surge risk.

Many people think they’re far enough from the beach to be safe, but you also need to consider levees, dams, and other water. Unfortunately, we are largely surrounded.

South Florida Water Management District’s site can provide you with more info.

 

 

Trees block road after storm5. Have the disaster recovery and restoration number handy.

Once the storm passes, there are often downed trees, sometimes laying in the way of you getting out. PALM is experienced in removing these trees and having the number on hand will put you at the front of the line. Keep our number handy: (954) 938-1999 and call as soon as you know you need help.

Pool Landscape Design Ideas

Pool Landscaping IdeasIn South Florida, swimming pools are part of the landscape. While many pools are attractive in their own right, beautifying your property if you’re a pool owner is about accenting your pool – the centerpiece of your hardscape – with well-designed landscape elements.

Few things enhance the beauty of a swimming pool like an innovative landscape design. The right plants, lighting, hardscape and other accessories around your pool can be the difference between a mere watering hole and a breathtaking oasis.

Use Landscaping to Set the Stage

The right landscaping design can provide the perfect backdrop for your swimming pool. Want a tropical setting? Choose brightly colored flowers with lush greenery for a distinctly Caribbean feel. Lush palms grow well in South Florida and enhance that tropical feel. Add natural or artificial rocks as accents and to give the impression your pool is part of the natural environment. Consider adding a waterfall to introduce soothing sound and movement to your pool.

Here’s a tip: Choose plants that deter pests. Nothing spoils sunbathing like mosquitoes. Consider mosquito-repelling plants like catnip, rosemary and lemon balm.

Add Lighting to Enjoy Your Pool Day and Night

Landscape lights can turn your back yard into a serene and romantic nighttime sanctuary. Pool lighting can give your swimming pool a mesmerizing twinkle, while spotlights accentuate eye-catching flowers and landscape features. Consider versatile options like fiber optic lighting for your lighting design.

Build an Outdoor Kitchen or Bar to Add Sizzle to Your Splash

A built-in bar is the perfect way to attract guests and entertain friends. Mojitos and margaritas by the pool? This is South Florida, after all. The best back yard cooking area combines style and function. Consider how you’ll use the space, how much room you need, aesthetics and more.

Give Your Pool Character with the Right Interior Pool Finish

Your pool’s finish sets the mood. Prefer a crystal blue sparkling water? Select a light-colored pool liner to create a turquoise appeal. Want a mellower look? A dark-colored finish will give your pool a cool, relaxing tint. Ask your pool builder which finish materials and brands they work with and choose a pool finish that suits your mood.

Enjoy the Night – Install an Outdoor Fireplace

Even in South Florida, a fireplace is a perfect way to imbue your outdoor oasis with a warm, inviting ambience. You and your guests will enjoy evenings by the pool amid the crackle of firewood and the soft glow of firelight. Choose a fireplace design that reflects your yard’s style and suits your family’s needs. Whether it’s for warmth, open-air cooking, or ambience, an outdoor fireplace is an addition that will enhance your outdoor enjoyment.

Use Fencing to Enhance Safety and Privacy

A fence can help reduce the risk of children, animals and uninvited guests wandering into your pool. A good fence also creates a buffer so you can enjoy your pool in privacy. A well-designed fence also serves as a canvas against which your landscaper can design your yard.

 This post is a guest post from our friends at Hohne Pools. Gary Hohne is president of Hohne Pools, a residential and commercial pool builder specializing in inground pool installation and pool repair.

The drought in the US: What it means to you

Where does US corn go? www.palmatlanticlandscape.com

Where does US corn go?

Last weekend I traveled to St Louis. It rained for about an hour and I swear you could see the grass dancing, at least what was left of the grass. This year’s drought is the worst in at least half a century. Crops of corn and soybeans are the worst hit, with predictions listing the worst crop in six years.

But that’s just corn, right? No big deal unless you love you some corn on the barbie, right? Wrong! Very, very wrong!
Only 12% of the corn produced ends up directly in food (corn in cans, flours, baked goods, etc.)

The US is by far the largest producer of corn in the world. 20% of the corn produced here gets exported, largely to China, so, as a nation, we stand to lose a LOT of money.

Corn also feeds our livestock, so as the cost of corn rises, so will the cost of chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and even farm raised fish. Right now we may see a drop in prices as farmers push their livestock to slaughter so they don’t have to feed any extra mouths, but soon there will be a shortage of meat and that means costs will rise.

And then there’s gas. The EPA requires that gasoline includes renewable energy in order to look after our precious earth. So, 40%, yes 40%, of all corn grown goes into gas… guess what? Gas prices will go up.

So, how can you and I help our earth and ourselves without going broke?

Here’s three quick ways:

1. Grow your own.

Prices will start to go up now, but next year is when we’ll see the largest hike as the shortage really hits home.

Start growing your own vegetables now for harvesting throughout the year. Read our blog for what to plant right now.

2. Install a rain barrel

To grow your own, you need water. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. To help keep the country’s water levels at a decent height, install a rain barrel. Read our blog for instructions.

3. Eat sustainable foods

Tilapia is a great example of a sustainable food. It can be farm raised safely and efficiently almost anywhere and it doesn’t require corn.

 

Have any ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them in our comments section.

 

Sources:
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/fds-feed-outlook/fds12f-01.aspx
http://bonfirehealth.com/fresh-fish-farm-raised-fish-overfishing/
http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/corn.aspx
http://www.4x4truckstrailers.com/choosing-between-synthetic-or-conventional-motor-oil

 

Landscaping to do list: August edition

Rum and coconut water could help to cool your lungs! Read on for recipes

August is around the corner and here in Zone 9-10 we’re gearing up for the dog days of summer, where the pool feels as warm as the air and hurricanes are the only thing that seem to move. But, the bougainvillea is flowering and the hibiscus is too, so we’ll enjoy the view as we follow these tips to get ready for August.

  • Wear your sunscreen, don’t leave your pets outside, and drink plenty!
  • Prune your trees. I know, we say it all the time, but it’s good for the trees, it’s good for your roof (flying debris is never good during hurricane season) and the neighbors will love you for it.
  • “Direct sow seeds of cucumber, onion, pepper, southern peas, pumpkin, turnips, and watermelon. Select varieties that mature early in order to produce before the temperature gets too cool. Watch for pests and provide water when needed.”¹
  • Check your citrus trees. Remove any ripe fruit and feed your trees with fertilizer (don’t let fallen fruit sit, you’ll encourage rats, raccoons and all kinds of other wildlife.)
  • Consider investing in a rain barrel. Rainy season is here and it will save you money in the long run.
  • Check your coconut trees. Remove any ripe ones. Ripe really depends on how you like them, but for the water, take one off and shake it. If there’s a sloshing, open it (slice the top with a machete). If it’s good, get the others down too. Stick a straw in them and enjoy or pour out the water for a rum concoction.

Our favorite recipe?

Coconut water, rum, and mint over crushed ice.

Other choices?

Coco water, rum, and lime over ice.

Coco water and rum over ice.

Coco water cialis prix and rum, lemon and fresh muddled basil over ice.

 

 

 

 

¹http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/garden-calendar/zones-9-10-garden-calendar?start=2

A moment of Zen

Lemon Tree

The Rugose Spiraling Whitefly (fka The Gumbo Limbo Spiraling Whitefly)

Spiraling Whitefly

Image courtesy of UF IFAS extension

Hold on to your hats Florida – we have another bug to fight: The Rugose Limbo Spiraling Whitefly!

Sadly, this is a new kind of whitefly and should not be confused with the Ficus Whitefly that has been causing havoc with ficus in South Florida. This new Spiraling Whitefly appears to be less particular, feasting on everything from palm trees to fruits. There has not been much biology collected on this little pest as it was seen for the first time in March 2009 (from gumbo limbo, hence its former name), but University of Florida’s IFAS Extension is monitoring the spread and will hopefully have more information as time goes by.

 

Identification
Larger than other whiteflies, this species is slower too. They congregate on the underside of leaves and lay eggs in spiral patterns. The whitefly leaves an “abundance of the white, waxy material covering the leaves and also excessive sooty mold. Like other similar insects, these whiteflies will produce honeydew, a sugary substance, which causes the growth of sooty mold.” (UF IFAS extension). PALM has seen this mold on palm leaves overhanging pools, and causing damage to the pool. UF mentions that it has also been seen to cause damage to cars should it fall on the roof.

Management

There are two ways to manage this pest: insecticides and biologically-based management, i.e. other bugs (parasitoid) that will attack the fly. It is important to balance both methods carefully as the parasitoid cannot attack the whitefly fast enough to save your plants, but insecticides could kill the parasitoid, which will make your life harder in the long run.

The first step is to monitor your plants. The fly will propagate quickly, so finding the symptoms before you have a full-blown infestation will help to overcome the issue. Nearby trees and plants should also be carefully assessed for damage and signs of the fly.

If you suspect the fly has found its way on to one of your plants, insecticidal soap can be enough to rid you of the fly. But you need to be sure to soak the plant well and wipe off all of the leaves. Obviously, this method is only effective before the fly has spread to more than one plant.

If you see the whitefly in more than one spot, use one of the insecticides listed below. We recommend a good dousing of the insecticide, but should you find it necessary to spray more than once, we recommend you switch to a different class of insecticide for the second spraying. Any kind of insecticide can be detrimental to your environment, as well as the environment at large, so hopefully one good spraying will be sufficient.

If you have the whitefly and can’t rid yourself of it, or don’t know where to start, you know who does? That’s right – Palm Atlantic Landscape Maintenance! Give us a call or drop us an email: (954) 938-1999 or
Admin@PalmAtlanticLandscape.com

Whitefly insecticides

Pretty Plants that will deter mosquitoes

Mosquito Season

It’s mosquito season and I for one hate rubbing DEET all over myself, not to mention my kids. And jumping in and out of the pool, the sprays can’t stay on anyway. The other common choice, Citronella in the form of candles, is a little less gruesome because it’s not all over me, but for that same reason, it’s not as effective. But there is a third solution that isn’t stinky or greasy and is even more effective because it deters the bugs for the season not just the day. What is it? Well, the best way to ramp up your repellent is to plant it, and just because the mosquitoes hate these plants, doesn’t make them repellent to humans. In fact, there are some beautiful and useful options.

Before I get into the list, it’s worth mentioning that any standing water areas (especially stagnant water, like old fountains, old planting pots, etc.) are like the Hilton of Mosquito World. Get rid of water as much as possible before starting your planting war against bugs.

For more info on catnip, visit catnipexpert.com

1. Catnip

Catnip has been found to be ten times more repellent to the bugs than DEET! The essential oil in the catnip is the same oil that attracts cats and drives them bonkers! Luckily it’s not so potent that you’ll end up with no mosquitoes, but the whole neighborhood’s cat population in your yard! To drive the cats crazy you need to smash the leaves (store bought catnip is dried leaves crushed). Strangely, catnip is a butterfly and bumble bee attractor, so you get the best of all worlds with this plant.

Catnip is good to grow in Zones 3 and 4, so for those of us in the south, catnip will only survive if we plant it in pots and keep it somewhat shaded and watered. If you are growing from seeds, keep cats away until it’s hardy enough to withstand being rubbed!

 

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

2. Rosemary

Rosemary can grow into massive bushes with pretty purple flowers. It’s hardy, but doesn’t like being in cold weather or inside, which makes it perfect for summer bug season. Keep it near the barbecue and it can work double duty by seasoning your meat (Lamb and rosemary skewers anyone?) and keeping you bug bite free too!

 

 

Lemon Balm - found at plantoftheweek.org

3. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is not quite as pretty as Rosemary (it looks kind of weedy, a little bit like mint), but it gives off a lemony scent (who’da thunk?) that is sweet and not too strong… and mosqitoes seem to hate it! There are a ton of different recipes using lemon balm so it’s just as useful as rosemary. This lavender lemonade recipe sounds so good after a day of lying in the sun or lazing by the pool.

 

Thyme - taken from home.howstuffworks.com

4. Thyme

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb, loved in Greek food and this idea alone conjurs up images of Santorini with cool breezes and tomatoes with feta cheese drenched in oil and vinegar. Nowhere in my imagining is there a mosquito biting my ankle.

Thyme does have a pretty scent which is a little stronger than the previous plants I mentioned, so you might want to use it sparingly, or plant it further away (think perimeter of your property) with the previous plants closer to your home. Yet again, thyme is a hardy plant. It likes warmer weather and full sun (all of these plants are perfect for summers, but may not last the winter in a colder climate.)

Thyme is pretty – it looks like lavender with little purple flowers.

Garlic plant. Image from thedailygreen.com

5. Garlic

Mosquitoes are vampires, vampires hate garlic therefore mosquitoes hate garlic. That’s logic right?

Garlic is not necessarily the prettiest of plants, and is probably the hardest to grow out of this list, but it has more health benefits and possibly more use than any of the others too.

 

 

Guest Post: 8 Beautiful Flowers That Can Kill You

Our good friend Isabell Davila from flowerdelivery.net wrote this great post about dangerous flowers and allowed us to repost it here. Please check out her flower delivery website for more posts and some beautiful flowers.

Many things in nature are beautiful, yet deadly. When it comes to flowers, this can be particularly true, as some species are poisonous and even fatal to humans. Since gardening is a favorite hobby of millions worldwide, we should be very careful in choosing which flowers to beautify our surroundings, as there may be much more than meets the eye. Here are some alluring flowers that just so happen to be poisonous and can actually kill you.

  1. Aconitum Napellus (Wolf’s Bane)

    This common garden plant contains a deadly cardiac poison that was once used on the tips of spears and arrows for hunting during ancient times. Ingestion of even small amounts of aconitine, the primary toxin in the flower, results in severe gastrointestinal upset. However, what kills you is the effect it has on the heart, slowing it down until it eventually stops.

  2. Echium plantagineum (Purple Viper’s Bugloss)

    This vibrant purple flower is grown around the world and belongs to the Echium family. Unfortunately, the plants contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are poisonous even to large animals. One teaspoon of honey from the plant is above the recommended weekly minimum intake of these chemicals in humans and can be highly toxic in high quantities.

  3. Nerium oleander

    One of the most toxic plants in the world just so happens to have an elegant, sweet scent and appearance. Nearly every part of the plant and flower, from its stem to its sap, is extremely poisonous if ingested. The blossom is so dangerous that even the honey gathered by bees using oleander nectar is poisonous. The toxins from the Oleander flower causes an irregular heart rate in humans – causing our hearts to race, then drop to a dangerous level, until the heart stops beating altogether. Campers should be cautious when roasting food over an open fire, as there have been reports of inadvertent poisonings that result from inhaling the smoke from a burning Oleander.

  4. Castor Oil Plant

    Named the most poisonous plant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, just one milligram of the plant’s poison can kill a healthy adult. Its flowering seeds contain alkaloid ricin, which is more toxic than common cyanides. What’s even scarier is that this toxin has the ability to accumulate in an organism until the lethal dose is reached. Symptoms first include nausea and vomiting, then bloody diarrhea, fever, seizures, and finally a collapse resulting in death. Its seed, which is the castor bean, is known to be lethal in adults, if consumed in quantities from four to eight seeds.

  5. Daphne mezereum

    Also called lady laurel or paradise plant, every part of this beautiful plant is poisonous. The pink or purple flowers bloom in early spring before it gains it woody deciduous appearance with bright red berries. The bark, sap, and berries hold the greatest toxic concentration, including Mexerine, an acrid resin resulting in intense skin irritations, and Daphnine, a bitter glycoside. Combined, these two toxins will cause convulsions, delirium, headaches, diarrhea, and other not-so-pleasant reactions. If you ingest a berry, you could fall into a deep coma and die.

  6. Latana camara

    Widely found in the summer landscape of the tropics, beautiful yellow, orange, and pink flowers often obscure its deathly properties found in its green berries. Triterpenes, the poison found in its berries, is a precursor to steroids, which may cause muscle weakness and lead to a circulatory collapse.

  7. Atropa belladonna (Deadly nightshade)

    Though the name of the species comes from Latin, meaning a “pretty woman,” its bell-shaped violet blossoms and cherry-like fruit make it an overall attractive plant. However, when ingested, it may cause delirium and hallucinations. Fatal amounts of 10 to 20 berries or a single leaf of the plant can be deadly. Your symptoms including blurred vision, rashes, and a fast or slowed pulse, all leading up to a fatal convulsion.

  8. Rhododendron (Azaleas)

    Almost anyone is familiar with an Azalea flower; it’s one of the most popular types of flowering shrubs in the entire world. However, the nectar produced by Azalea flowers contains a grayanotoxin, known as “mad honey,” which is lethal in humans but harmless to bees. As a rule of thumb, Azaleas are nice to look at, but it’s not a good idea to chew on an Azalea flower.

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