King Garden Designs,Inc. can be reached at 914-907-0246 and Connect@KingGardenDesigns.com
King Garden Designs, Inc. is a boutique landscape design company located in New York. Charles King Sadler, King Garden Designs founder, enjoys creating and enhancing the beauty and vitality of landscapes through thoughtful design, professional implementation and ongoing care.
Member American Society of Landscape Architects & ISA Certified Arborist TRAQ
King Garden Designs offers garden design services for residential and estate commissions. We are based in the Hudson Valley.
We personally meet to discuss your goals, timing and budget during your landscape consultation.
Master Plan, Garden Design, Garden Care, Expert Pruning
Building A New Home
Full Landscape Design and Installation Services
ISA Certified Arborist Tree Work, Pruning, Hedge Trimming and Consultations
Landscape and Garden Design for Westchester County, NY; Putnam County, NY, Dutchess County, NY; Fairfield County, CT; Bergen County, NJ
Best Landscaping Based In Westchester county, Bergen county, NJ; Fairfield county, Dutchess county, Putnam county, Litchfield county, New Haven county, Berkshire county, Hampden county, Hampshire county, Franklin county and beyond including:
Amagansett, Ardsley, Ardsley Park, Armonk, Atlanta, Barney Park, Bar Harbor, Bedford, Bedminster Township, Bellaire TX, Block Island, Briarcliff Manor, Bridgehampton, Bronxville, Charleston, Chappaqua, Cold Spring, Cornwall-on-Hudson, Croton Falls, Croton-on-Hudson, East Hampton, East Northport, East Quogue, Fairfield, Fishers Island, Garrison, Glen Cove, Great Barrington, Galleria TX, Greatneck, Greenburgh, Greenwich, Harrison, Heights TX, Hudson, Huntington, Irvington, Katonah, Kent, Larchmont, Locust Valley, Litchfield, Matthiessen Park, Martha's Vineyard Island, Mamaroneck, Montauk, Millbrook, Mount Desert, Mount Desert Island, Mount Kisco, Nantucket Island, Nanuet, New Canaan, New Paltz, North Salem, North White Plains, Northport, Norwalk, Nyack, Oakland, Old Greenwich, Oyster Bay, Piermont, Pittsford, Philipse Manor, Pleasantville, Port Washington, Pound Ridge, Purchase, Purdys, River Oaks TX, Quiogue, Ouogue, Ramsey, Red Hook, Redding, Rhinebeck, Ridgefield, Ridgewood, Riverhead, Rowayton, Rye, Rye Brook, Sag Harbor, Savannah, Scarsdale, Sharon, Shelter Island, Shinnecock Hills, Smithtown, Somers, South Salem, Southampton, Water Mill, West Harrison, West University TX, Westhampton, Westhampton Beach, White Plains, Wilton, Wyckoff, Yorktown Heights
9/20/2017 ASLA Launches Home Design Guides
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is introducing a series of free online sustainable design guides that highlight cutting-edge ways for residential landscapes to support the environment—no matter the location or property size.
The ASLA sustainable residential design guides center around increasing energy efficiency, improving water management, applying ecological design and using low-impact materials. Developed for homeowners and landscape architects and designers alike, the guides are designed to help spread more sustainable and resilient practices.
The four guides fit into a larger trend about the growing preparedness of homeowners to make changes to their landscapes in response to climate change. The ASLA 2017 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey results showed that consumers prefer sustainable design elements for their outdoor living spaces.
Through integrated site design, a comprehensive approach to sustainable building and site design, sustainable residential landscape architecture practices can not only improve the environment, but also result in net-zero or even climate positive homes.
ASLA’s guides offer a wide selection of tips, research, and best practices, including The Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES®), a system for developing sustainable landscapes.
Here are some best practices from the guides:
Plant pollinator gardens. Bees, bats, and a number of other animals, including birds, beetles, and butterflies, play an important role in keeping ecosystems functioning, and provide vital services such as pollination. Homeowners can support pollinator population growth through such simple and cost-effective ways as growing pollinator-friendly plants, creating urban and residential beekeeping systems, and building bat houses.
Practice Ecological Gardening
Edible gardens enable homeowners to grow their own food. However, fertilizers used in home gardens can pollute local watersheds through runoff. To avoid contaminating watersheds and damaging local ecosystems, homeowners growing productive landscapes should practice ecological gardening by using productive plants native to their environment and limit the use of chemicals.
Install Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation systems provide water through slow application directly at plants’ root zones, avoiding excess watering while keeping the roots at optimum moisture level. These systems reduce over-watering, evaporation, runoff and deep percolation of water. Drip irrigation is a cost-efficient means of improving water efficiency. It is adaptable to any landscape and requires minimal maintenance.
Reuse And Recycle
Instead of using increasingly-scarce virgin woods, particularly from tropical hardwoods, homeowners can use reclaimed wood from existing structures and avoid sending that material to the landfill. Recycled wood can be salvaged from places like old buildings and shipping materials, and restored for a variety of residential uses, including decking, seating, and fences.
Go solar. Landscape architects can work with homeowners to develop an integrated site design to incorporate solar power systems into structures or leverage other energy-efficient technologies. Solar arrays can be placed in optimal locations to achieve the most solar gain with the least visual impact, and co-joining solar and green roof systems can further further improve energy efficiency, extend the value of solar systems, and provide more biodiversity on the roof.
Founded in 1899, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the professional association for landscape architects in the United States, representing more than 15,000 members. The Society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship. Sustainability has been part of ASLA’s mission since its founding and is an overarching value that informs all of the Society’s programs and operations. ASLA has been a leader in demonstrating the benefits of green infrastructure and resilient development practices through the creation of its own green roof, co-development of the SITES® Rating System and the creation of publicly accessible sustainable design resources.
4/19/17 Grow The Best Lawn - More Beautiful And More Ecologically Friendly!
Source: Ecological Landscape Alliance, Ecological Lawn Care
by Nick Novick
A bizarre and wasteful fetish to some, a proud achievement of a caring property owner for others, our modern “boring carpet of green” has become ubiquitous, accepted, and in some circles has even achieved status as an object of envy and desire. How we have come to this point is a long and curious tale of primal urges; 19th-century, English land-use practices; and aggressive marketing from the emerging Lawn Industrial Complex after World War II. But, that’s another story.
As landscaping/land-care/horticulure professionals of one stripe or other, we are often working on, near, or with some amount of turf. We may have to specify it, install it, or care for it. Those of us who like to think we’re plying our trade in a way that embodies caring for the environment have to come to terms with the puzzling set of contradictions that a lawn encompasses. And we have to do it in a market dominated by large, franchised companies; with customer preferences that make it challenging to “do the right thing;” and governed by shifting laws that increasingly regulate certain lawn-care materials.
So, what’s an ecologically inclined lawn-care guy or gal to do?
I often agree with former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower’s observation that, “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos,” but in this case, steering a middle path seems the reasonable option. Clearly, heavy use of toxic chemicals with environmental and health issues are not only not necessary, but, irresponsible. Yes, we can encourage clients to reduce, or even eliminate lawn area where conditions aren’t optimum for turf or where it’s not functionally useful and we can urge them to consider other options. But people are not going to suddenly forego their lawns next week or next year, so it appears that, for the foreseeable future, there will be grass that requires care.
Encourage a trend toward limiting lawn area
Like a little pregnant, honest politician, and safe nuclear power, an ecological lawn is, in essence, unavoidably oxymoronic. Yes, turfgrasses are green plants growing in soil, but beyond that, it’s easy to argue that there’s nothing “natural” about a lawn, or that caring for one could possibly have anything to do with ecology. A lawn is a completely human invention – a tightly packed collection of just one kind of plant, relentlessly pruned to minimal proportions, never allowed to progress to seasonal maturity, able to be installed almost anywhere regardless of site conditions. Oh, and by the way, we expect it to remain a radiant green any time it’s not covered with snow.
Given the unnatural nature of the lawn construct, there are going to be clear and unavoidable limits to what “ecological” management schemes can accomplish. So-called “natural” and “organic” products have some environmental impacts, and even under the best conditions, lawns still require a higher level of inputs – time, energy, money, materials – than some alternatives. But these can be minimized, and we can avoid the worst problems of standard lawn-care schemes and give clients a pretty good lawn.
Fundamental of eco-Friendly lawn care
Entire books are written on the specifics of environmentally friendly lawn care, so it’s impossible to cover all the specifics in one article, but here are some key components for cool-season-turf care.
Start with good soil. What’s good? Large rocks removed, decent drainage, adequate organic matter, diverse community of microbes, balanced mineral nutrients, pH within the optimal range, etc. Correcting soil issues is best done by incorporating needed amendments prior to installing the lawn, but that may not always be possible. When dealing with an existing lawn growing on miserable soil, the options are either reconstruction or years of applying amendments to the surface. Reconstruction is expensive, but will save money in the long run. Convincing the customer of this can be a challenge.
Base fertility programs on soil test results. Understanding cation exchange capacity, base saturation, buffer pH, etc., is essential. Soil testing labs often provide basic information, and there are many books and online sources that go into detail.
Use naturally derived soil amendments and fertilizers. Unlike synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers, soil amendments and fertilizers derived plant materials, animal manures, mined materials, rocks dusts, etc. help build the long-term quality of the soil; create a supportive environment for essential, beneficial soil microbes; and generally avoid the problems of nutrient runoff pollution of water-soluble synthetics. Even with those advantages, using “natural” or “organic” fertilizers still carries environmental consequences. Mining, processing, and shipping of ingredients all have associated energy and carbon costs.
Limit nitrogen applications to two to four pounds per thousand square feet per year. Clippings left on the lawn can provide almost two pounds, so adjust fertilization accordingly.
Leave lawn clippings to decompose back into the soil. They add organic matter, nitrogen, and other nutrients, and – some studies show – may have a suppressive effect on crabgrass germination. Special mulching blades for mowers ensure that clippings are thoroughly chopped, but these usually aren’t necessary.
Mow at around three inches. This is higher than what is common and results in a number of benefits. Taller grass more thoroughly shades the soil which limits loss of water through evaporation and inhibits germination of weed seeds. And, more blade area means more photosynthesis which, in turn, allows for more root growth.
Look for power alternatives. Although engine technology continues to improve, cumulative emissions from power equipment are a concern. Alternatives to standard, two-cycle, gasoline engines – such as commercial-scale mowers, propane trimmers, etc. – are becoming available, but so far appear to be in limited use. For logistical reasons, mowing services are often set on a weekly schedule, but in the summer months when grass is growing more slowing, it may be possible to lengthen the mowing interval to save fuel.
Match grass species and types to site conditions, and provide diversity. Typical turf blends include different types of fescues, ryes, and bluegrasses. Each of these has different characteristics in terms of shade and drought tolerance, fertility needs, wear tolerance, recovery from stress, etc. More diversity means more stability; if something happens to compromise one of the grass types, there are others there to take up the slack. In general, fescues have lower fertility requirements, so if existing soils are particularly poor, these might be a good choice. Recent selection and breeding efforts have produced fescues that also grow more slowly than normal. There are now various “slow grow” and “low mow” blends of these fescues on the market. These need less frequent mowing; however, they are not as competitive with weeds or even other grasses, and they can eventually become overwhelmed by more competitive plants. Pre-planting weed control is essential.
Set irrigation systems properly and keep in good repair. Sadly, it seems not all irrigation companies do this. I’ve seen many systems that have malfunctioning components, or are set with run times that are far too short and too frequent. During most of the growing season, lawns need at least an inch of water per week, more in the heat of summer. Run times need to be calibrated by how much water is delivered and adjusted for soil type, sun/shade conditions, etc.
Try to live with the “weeds.” Weed control lies in the heart of the middle ground between so-called, scheduled applications of pesticides and a “no-chemical” approach. Despite sometimes relentless efforts toward attitude adjustment, some “fussier” customers will still not find a place in their hearts for ground ivy or plantain. Since there are no “organic” herbicides that translocate in the plant, the only practicable solution is spot treatment with an appropriate, selective, synthetic herbicide. Adequate control can often be achieved with one or two applications per year. To ensure any residues are washed off the lawn and away from possible contact with people or pets, spray applications can be scheduled ahead of a predicted rainfall, or briefly run irrigation, if available, after the material has absorbed into the plant.
Use supplemental applications of micronutrients, bio-stimulants, and soil conditioners, all of which play an important role in a biologically-based care program. A wide range of products are now available. Seaweed extracts have been shown to stimulate root growth, enhance resistance to and recovery from various stresses, and provide micronutrients. Fish hydrolysates contain a wide range of vitamins, amino acids and essential plant micronutrients. Humic acids play a number of subtle, but important roles in soil processes. Humectants can help make moisture available to plant roots at times when water in the soil is scarce. Wetting agents can provide important benefits, including better moisture retention in the soil and boosting nutrient uptake.
One option for applying compost: a rotary, motorized spreader
Add good-quality compost to lawns. It’s almost always a good idea. Existing lawns can be top dressed with 1/4–1/2 inch of compost once or more a year. Compost suppresses diseases, boosts soil organic matter, and provides a source of slow-release nutrients. Applied after over seeding, it enhances germination and gets seedling off to a good start. Additions of compost can complement or even replace some or all fertilizer applications – a definite benefit. Additionally, locally produced compost makes use of recycled materials and probably required less energy for production than other fertilizer options. Impediments to wider use of compost can include lack of local sources for quality material and the expense involved in applying it.
Use corn gluten meal (a byproduct of corn milling) to reduce weed seed growth, especially crabgrass. Protein fractions in the corn gluten are released as the gluten decomposes on the soil surface, and these compounds inhibit the growth of the newly emerging root radical. Timing is critical, as it has to be applied a number of weeks prior to anticipated germination of the targeted weed. It can also complicate over seeding, since it will inhibit any seedling growth. At best it will control about 50% of the seeds that germinate, so, by itself, it can’t be expected to control a heavily infested lawn. Efficacy increases with the amount used, but the rate needs to take into consideration that gluten is nine to ten percent nitrogen.
Consider compost tea – an interesting, but controversial technique. Enthusiastic advocates of aerated, compost tea (ACT) claim a number of benefits, but there remains a dearth of controlled studies evaluating the efficacy of tea in many settings. I brewed and used ACT on lawns for a number of years, and did not notice any change in the response of the lawn. For now, my own view is that it wasn’t worth the effort, and that any influence from the tea was inconsequential compared to what the rest of the program provided. Of course, “Your mileage may vary.”
- See more at: http://www.ecolandscaping.org/04/lawn-care/ecological-lawn-care-2/#sthash.HWFk7NQO.dpuf
3/7/17 Winter Hazel - Splendor
Winter Hazels - are pleasing year 'round - but pure delight in late winter! Toward the end of February, the bare branches of Winter Hazel hang with half inch-long clusters of pastel yellow flowers that glow like little lanterns. As the flowers fade in April, the pretty leaves unfurl to 3 inches long, bright green and blushed with bronze. Autumn color is straw yellow.
9/28/16 Native Plants of New York
See New Natives Web Page and Resources Listings
8/30/16 KGD Office Garden Development
King Garden Designs new home office garden in progress.
5/24/16 Renovation Boxwood Pruning
Boxwoods continue to be a staple in private and estate gardens. Proper pruning promotes their health, beauty and encourages a long lifespan. Shearing is a legitimate pruning option but alone leads to very dense unsustainable growth, which in-turn stresses the plant; welcoming disease and insect problems.
The solution is renovation pruning or thinning of boxwoods, holly's and other popular ornamental evergreen shrubs used in residential and estate garden plantings.
Hand pruners and loppers are used for this renovation pruning project. Disinfectant is used regularly to clean tools reducing chances of contamination between shrubs.
The Boxwoods and Hollies pictured were all thinning, some where further shaped with hand shears to reduce their size. A mild organic granular fertilizer was applied to all ornamental shrubs and trees to encourage new growth.
Boxwoods and Hollies will be allowed to rest and produce regenerative new growth this season, foregoing any shearing this season. Additional renovation pruning and thinning may take place next year with some shearing and shaping.
Shade tree thinning is suggested to allow more sunlight for extensive evergreen shrubs to remain full and dense for privacy screening.
The addition of perennial ground covers will reduce and then eliminate the need for mulching, creating a verdant carpet and more native habitat.
Full lush lawn in the shade is achieved with selection of Fescue seed mix for shade. In addition mowing less frequently and at taller height further encourages a vigorous lawn in the shade.
Additional information: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/BoxwoodThinning.html
5/11/16 Hydrangea Pruning and Hard Frost
Home gardeners continue to ask about Hydrangeas which appear dead, even in May, here in the Northeastern U.S. The hard frost we had this spring appears to have caused die-back of branches on big-leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) to the ground in some cases. New growth ought to emerge, but it will likely be from the ground not the dead stems. So patience is the best practice, wait and see where and when new growth emerges. Below articles addresses specifics.
Source: by Patricia H. Reed, Demand Media
Hydrangeas are victims of their own eagerness -- pushing out new growth at the first sign of warm weather in early spring. When temperatures dip again, big-leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), in particular, suffer serious damage and often bloom lightly if at all that season. While these pink or blue garden favorites are suitable from U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 or 6 through 9, depending on cultivar, the timing of the first warm days of spring can determine whether your hydrangeas are capped with blooms this summer or just provide a green backdrop while they recover from pruning after a hard frost.
Pruning Old-Wood Hydrangeas
Big-leaf hydrangeas as well as oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) - hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9 - bloom on old wood, meaning stems that have been on the plant from at least the summer before. These hydrangea are commonly pruned immediately after they flower in the summer to avoid cutting off next year's flower buds, which are dormant below the surface of the stems. Remove crossing branches and damaged stems at any time. Cut back one-third of the oldest stems to the ground each year to keep the plant blooming abundantly in ideal weather conditions.
Pruning New Wood Hydrangeas
Peegee and Annabelle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea arborescence, respectively) bloom on current-season growth. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, these hydrangea are typically white or whitish green to dark rose, depending on variety. Prune these plants in the late fall or winter while they are dormant. Stems can be cut to the base or knee-height or so for stronger stems that won't flop under the weight of the large blooms. Cutting to the ground repeatedly leads to spindly stems.
Identifying Frost and Freeze Damage
Frost damage occurs when nights are clear and cold - at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit -- and plants lose more heat through their leaves than they receive and the plant becomes colder than the surrounding air. Water inside the plant freezes, causing cells to burst inside the plant. Plants with minor cold damage or chilling, turn reddish. More serious frost damage turns the leaves and emerging buds dark brown to black and wilted. Hydrangeas that haven't put on any new growth are likely to be fine, even after a frost or freeze. Big-leaf hydrangeas have a weak dormancy and tend to put out leaves and flower buds quickly in the first warm weather of the season, so they are the hydrangea variety that sees the most damage.
Pruning After Freeze Damage
Frost damage is not always immediate. Wait at least a week to see how damage develops on your hydrangea. Wait even longer if your area could experience another cold snap. The damaged material can insulate tissue that is still viable farther down the stem. Examine stems with frost damage looking for green wood and swelling buds. When your stem is mature enough for bark, scrape the bark below the frost damage with your fingernail, cutting the stem down to healthy wood with a green cambium layer under the bark. Buds below the cut that weren't damaged will still bloom.
5/3/16 Home Orchard Fun - Pruning Guidelines
Fruit trees in your garden are Fun! Design and plant a new orchard with your favorite varieties. We can restore neglected orchards miraculously with renovation pruning, care and attention. We draw on our network of specialty fruit tree/espalier growers, offering many heirloom and rare varieties.
Learn when and how to prune your fruiting trees (Crab Apple, Apple, Pear, Cherry, Peach, Apricot, Plum and others) including espalier for optimal fruit production, beauty and plant health.
Source: McShane’s Nursery & Landscape Supply, http://www.mcshanesnursery.com/
4/4/16 Garden Trends for 2016
Farm to table in your own backyard
Home food production continues to grow in awareness and popularity with families. This means more raised beds and container gardening. Fruit trees and berries also grow in popularity. Specifically dwarf fruit trees and espaliered fruit trees create fruit in small areas and can be quite ornamental in shape even in winter.
This type of “matrix” planting uses more than 50% filler plants such as ornamental grasses or ground covers, inserted in this “matrix” are seasonal display plants (15-20%) such as coneflowers and Liatris. Strategically planted within this framework are also architectural plants (5-10%); taller perennials such as Joe Pye weed and ornamental shrubs and trees such as: Hydrangeas, re-blooming roses, Cotinus (smoke bush) and Sumac. Generally plantings in this “meadow” family of plants are native, drought tolerant and quite disease resistant.
3/23/16 Renovation pruning of overgrown boxwood after initial thinning, pruning and shaping. Dead branches removed, some large branches cut back to allow for air circulation and to encourage new interior growth. Organic fertilzer applied to Box and Holly trees. Follow up shaping in June after spring growth hardens off.
3/21/16 Fruit Trees In Your Garden Are Fun!
Enjoy the thrill of harvesting your own delicious fresh fruit.
Spring is a perfect time to select and plant fruit trees, start a berry patch or plant espalier fruiting trees along your walls and fences. Espalier adds year round architectural interest to your garden rooms and views from your home.
From Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co.
By growing your own fruit tree, you can enjoy easy access to fresh produce, save money, add beauty to your yard, and develop eco-friendly gardening habits. Any of the varieties in our selection will produce a convenient supply of delicious fruit — nutritious, healthy snacks available just outside your door! Over the lifetime of one of these affordable trees, you can save thousands of dollars you would have spent at the grocery store on fruit picked outside of its prime and fruit trees are a great way to add beauty to your outdoor space with lovely flowers in spring and cooling shade in the hot summer months. Plus, growing your own fruit trees has environmental benefits; they filter the air, reduce soil erosion, and attract pollination helpers like bees for other trees and plants. Choose from our wide selection for the perfect addition to your fruit garden.
- Heirloom Fruit Trees
- Indoor Fruit Trees
- Multi-Grafted Fruit Trees
3/16/16 Spring has sprung in New York! Renovation pruning of overgrown estate boxwood walk and holly hedges this week; thinning old growth, shaping and fertilizing.
Frequently asked Boxwood questions with answers:
The best way to control these diseases is to improve air circulation within the plant by thinning the branches. Cut some of the small branches back by about six inches. Thin the plant enough so you can begin to see the overall branch structure of the shrub. Avoid shearing since it promotes compact, twiggy growth and injures leaves, making them unsightly.
How do I thin my boxwood plants?
Check out our Thin Boxwood for Improved Plant Health page.
I want to buy some specific cultivars of boxwood. Where can I find them?
Check the Plant Sources Page for tips on finding a nursery that sells specific boxwood varieties that you want.