kelley, Author at Knutsen Landscaping

Author: kelley

Winter Planning

As we gear up for winter weather, many with gardening in their souls assume that there is nothing to do but wait until the buds begin to pop and that first robin announces the end of the long, bleak season. But as author and naturalist Hal Borland said, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

Even though the calendar page has turned, there is plenty that we can do to prepare for the coming of spring. In fact, winter is the perfect time to start planning your spring projects. You will find, especially if you have any ambitious projects in mind, that there are municipal hurdles to jump through before making those modifications. You will probably find better pricing during the colder months, and scheduling your spring projects now will offer a much wider window of choices. In addition, you will likely discover a wider selection of materials before the spring scheduling rush begins. Of course, a key benefit to planning projects now is the time to determine your budget and to marshal your resources, just like a squirrel gathering nuts—just don’t forget where they are!

Usually we have more time for sitting down and planning in the winter, so take advantage of that. Settle down with some hot cocoa and visualize your spring projects! And if you need incentive for this forward-thinking, keep in mind that waiting until later may mean waiting until March or April to schedule the project, and the implementation of it might have to wait until summer or fall.

In the meantime, here are just a few winter maintenance chores that you can tackle now for your trees and shrubs:

  • Apply mulch
  • Prune while plants are dormant
  • Apply wire mesh at the base of young trees to protect against gnawing wildlife
  • Tie branches together and remove limbs likely to break in order to safeguard against ice and snow.

So there’s plenty of gardening to do, even in the bleak midwinter!

Your First Choice for Fire Pits

Although there are many aspects of your outdoor living space that is simply unusable in the winter, there is one thing that may be even more enjoyable during the cold weather – your fire pit! If you don’t yet have one, the first choice you will need to make is whether you want a wood-burning or gas-burning model.

Neither is better than the other; they each have pros and cons. So let’s take a look at six factors, and you can decide which works better for you.

  1. Fuel availability. If you live in rural area with plenty of firewood nearby, wood is obviously an easy option. Or if you are in a suburban home, there may already be a gas line in place. If you already have natural gas or propane appliances, it could be a very practical expense to add an outdoor fire feature as you wouldn’t have to worry about running service from the road or purchasing a tank for propane.
  2. Installation price and time. Wood is certainly less expensive than gas. Also, wood-burning fire pits are less costly to install and can typically be built in 50 – 75 percent of the time needed to install a gas-burning unit.
  3. Fuel storage. A propane-burning fire pit will require a storage tank that would hold from 15 to 100 gallons, depending on how often you use it. Firewood also requires storage space, so you’d need to consider where to stack it without detracting from the appearance of your home. Don’t stack it against the house, however, as firewood may harbor termites.
  4. Convenience. Gas is the hands-down winner here. It’s obviously easier to push a button and have an instant fire. You also would not have to deal with the mess of the firewood and ash cleanup.
  5. Safety. There is always a danger of leaks with gas. But if the fire pit is professionally installed, these are rare. With wood, there are of course dangers inherent in cutting the wood, stacking it properly, and dealing with the fire when you are finished. In either case, understanding the risks and knowing how to handle fire responsibly are very important to your enjoyment of an outdoor fire feature. If you have children around the fire, make sure to teach them fire responsibility as well.
  6. Primary use. If you just want the ambience and heat of a fire, gas is certainly an easy option. But if you want to cook on the fire, you need to go with wood. Knutsen Landscaping offers the Zentro smokeless fire pit from Breeo, with a special design to keep the smoke to a barely noticeable trace. And a special swing-away grilling rack works wonderfully with these fire pits.

With all these considerations, the choice is up to you. And the professionals at Knutsen Landscaping will be happy to assist you no matter which one you choose. Either way, a fire pit is a great way to enjoy the outdoors even in the coldest weather. You can have your own winter wonderland for many years to come!

Future Proofing Your Landscaping

For many people, working in the yard is an enjoyable and relaxing way to make the most of your property and lovely weather. But there comes a point – especially as we grow older – where lawn maintenance becomes too much. You won’t always be able or willing to spend an entire Saturday weeding your property, for example! Here are five tips for reducing or eliminating some of the basic lawn work:

Set your mower blade to the right height.

Many people cut their grass too short, which weakens it and allows more weeds to grow. It also means you’re mowing more than you have to. Each type of grass has an ideal mowing height, so call Knutsen Landscaping to inquire about your specific grass. Generally, it ranges from 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches.

Mulch trees

Trimming around trees it not only time consuming, but you can also easily nick the bark, which can fatally damage young trees. You can avoid trimming around your trees by applying a 2- to 4-inch deep ring of mulch around trees and shrubs. (If your soil doesn’t drain well, you probably want it no more than 2 inches deep.) Be careful to keep the mulch about 3 inches away from the trunk itself to prevent disease, root suffocation and other problems.

Fertilize just in the fall

Skip spring fertilizing and do it only in the fall. It will provide nutrients for fall root growth and a shot of energy the following spring. Knutsen Landscaping can recommend the best fertilizer for your type of grass and soil conditions. Apply the fertilizer about three weeks before the last mowing of the season. This provides energy and nutrients for the grass roots as they multiply in the cooler fall weather while also giving them a head start the following spring.

Build paths that you can mow over

Stone or paver paths that follow the topography of your yard can let you mow without additional trimming. Paths conforming to your landscape require less upkeep than the more formal paths that include steps, walls and curbs. The key is to set the stones or pavers no higher than an inch above ground level. Then you can mow right over them and skip the extra trimming. Not only are these easy to maintain, they are can also be very affordable paths.

Install mowing borders

Keep grass from growing along flower beds, walls, fences and other obstacles where your mower can’t easily reach by installing a mowing border. This will allow you to run your mowers over them to cut your grass without the need for separate trimming. If you set the border an inch above the ground and make it 4 inches deep, you will prevent grass from creeping over and through it.

 

These are just a few tips that can relieve the amount of work required to maintain your yard. Contact Knutsen Landscaping for more ways to cut down on the work and free yourself up for a simpler maintenance routine of your property!

Hardscape Impact

Whether you are preparing your home for the market or seeking to increase your personal enjoyment, hardscaping is one of the best ways to add value. “Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features,” by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) confirms that investing in hardscaping is in a homeowner’s best interest. Missy Henriksen, NALP vice president of public affairs, states, “Homeowners working with a landscape professional to embark on renovations whether that means enhancing their turf and growing a lush lawn, overhauling their entire landscape, or incorporating new features like patios or exterior fireplaces can rest assured that they are making a smart, worthwhile investment.”

There are four basic benefits that hardscaping brings to your home:

Safety and Privacy

Seat walls provide privacy and protection against the elements, and landscape lighting along paver walkways and patios, or under retaining wall caps, offers night time ambiance and functionality.

Preventing Erosion

Retaining wall systems are essential in preventing the damage to your property as well as the major headaches caused by erosion. In some cases, these can escalate to damaging your home. For instance, a yard that slopes steeply toward your home’s foundation is an easy way for water damage to become an issue. A well-designed and installed retaining wall system can create a positive flow away from the foundation, while also creating usable steps or space for flower beds and seating.

Making Unusable Space Usable

Depending where your home is situated, you may have sloping hills that are difficult to maintain and that offer no usable space. These areas are prime candidates for retaining walls, seat walls, flower beds, or foundations that could accommodate a pergola or other structure. Why not optimize the usefulness of every area of your property?

Curb Appeal

Most real estate agents will agree that your home’s first impression is paramount when preparing it for sale. Retaining walls and paver stone edging around gardens are simple updates that dramatically add value and curb appeal. For even greater impact, consider more ambitious projects like a front paver stone entrance with a patio and a seat wall or two.

For most homeowners, there is immediate and lasting value to be gained from adding hardscaping to your outdoor living space. Contact the design professionals at Knutsen Landscaping to determine the best options for your property, and see the impact for yourself!

Winner of Unilock Award of Excellence

We are honored to receive Unilock’s Award of Excellence for the best Before & After for this project in Lancaster. Chris Wilkens from Unilock said, “Our contractors are truly modern day Romans.” (more…)

New Video Released!

Knutsen Landscaping is pleased to announce the release of a new video that describes and details our work and services. Hear an interview with our founder and president, Andy Knutsen, and see beautiful footage of some of our latest work: beautiful pool decks, stunning firepits and fireplaces, and outdoor living spaces that dreams are made of!

Overwhelming Options

Have you ever looked in virtual horror at the endless choices in your grocer’s cereal aisle? Or how about your pharmacy’s selection of cold medication? Healthy or sweet cereal? Oats or almonds? Fast-acting relief or long lasting? Decongestant or antihistamine? The vast array of possibilities in either case is enough to make one’s head spin!

These days, facing the almost endless options for landscaping materials and plants is very much like making those decisions at the grocery or pharmacy. Shrubs or flowers? Annuals or perennials? Deck or patio? Wood or stone? Fortunately, Knutsen Landscaping is here to save you from this dilemma! By speaking with our design team, you can determine what you want in your outdoor design and where to begin. What is the overall feeling you wish to achieve? What is the property like now? And how much do you want to change it? Are you looking to add a patio, deck, or other architecture? Or do you just want to redo the plants and softscaping?

These and many other questions are ones that you will have to consider, and the Knutsen team can guide you through them all. One of the biggest benefits of working with our design team is that we can together create a sense of consistency in your outdoor design, rather than the chaos that the inexperienced landscape “newbie” often ends up with. Your outdoor living space should have a unified, harmonious feel that fits well with your home, the contours of the property, the neighboring homes, and–most of all–you. We’ll start with an initial meeting, held at your home. There we’ll get an idea of the inspiration of your initial thoughts and discuss budget and material options. We will even start sketching out a rough draft of the project! Next, our landscape designer will set to work creating a specific design for your project. And we strive to keep the process open and interactive with photos and links to similar projects so you can see what we’re planning. Finally, once the proposal is approved and signed, we’ll order the materials and begin the installation.

Don’t go crazy trying to take in all these options and make sense of them! Contact Knutsen Landscaping for professional help in determining the best choices for your outdoor living space.

Fall Flowers and Colors

For many people, spring and summer are the banner months for landscaping. After all, who can deny the bright, beautiful explosion of colors available in the warmer seasons? Of course, the calendar turns, however, and fall is inevitable. But don’t despair! The array of autumn colors goes well beyond brown.

Stellar Pink

Add color to your property by planting the right tree.  Fall is a great time to plant trees, and there are many ways to “decorate” your property naturally through tree plantings!  There are many tree varieties with beautiful fall foilage to choose from, such as the Pacific Sunset Maple or a Stellar Pink Dogwood.

For flower bed options, here are some of our favorite fall beauties:
  • Chrysanthemums are perhaps the go-to flowers for fall, and with good reason. Shades of red, yellow, orange, peach, and white provide a good beginning for your autumn palette. And don’t forget the pink–and especially purple–contrasts to round out your mums. Most of us are familiar with the seasonal varieties sold at florists and garden centers in the fall, but if you find plants labeled as “garden mums,” they can last for years.
  • Versatile and heavy blooming pansies are available in just about every color in the rainbow, so can provide any splash of color you need for your autumn palette. What’s more, if planted in the fall and covered carefully in the winter, pansies have a chance to come back in the spring.
  • Celosia is a natural for fall because of the traditional fall colors available: bright yellow, warm orange, scarlet red, and deep burgundy purple. Additionally, the plumes of their blooms add vertical texture to other fall flowers.
  • Fall-blooming varieties of dianthus, especially in the darker purple hues, will offer beautiful mum-like blooms to your fall garden. And be sure to plant them where you can enjoy their great scent!
  • Pacific Sunset

    Sweet alyssum also gives you a great scent, while also a carpet of color to enhance your autumn landscape. It can also be used in container gardens to cascade over the edge.

  • The bold, dramatic Black-eyed Susan offers golden daisy-like flowers to brighten any landscape or container garden. And if left to form seeds, the Black-eyed Susan will attract finches and other birds as well.
  • Please don’t overlook the ornamental pepper to add a pop of texture to your fall landscape. The colorful fruits of these plants come in festive shades of red, yellow, orange, and purple. And they’re available in different shapes and sizes, from the round Black Pearl to the elongated Chilly Chili.

As fall settles in, you have a wide array of colors and plants with which to paint your autumn landscape. So grab a pumpkin spiced latte and contact Knutsen Landscaping today to further explore the possibilities.

Smokeless Firepits in Time for Fall

Outdoor living spaces—patios, decks, and more—offer many different elements to enhance your outdoor experience. After all, the whole purpose of landscaping and hardscaping is to increase the enjoyment of your home and property! One of the most popular features is a fire pit. Everyone seems to love gathering around the fire pit, just like they may have done with campfires in the past.

However, one thing can quickly put a damper on everyone’s good time—smoke! In a turn on the old saying, where there’s fire there’s smoke. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize that problem. One excellent product that Knutsen uses is the Zentro Fire Pit Insert by Breeo. The Zentro is designed to fit into most standard fire pit structures; it’s available in 24-, 28-, and 32-inch sizes, both circular and square. Steel and stainless steel options are available in all sizes. (In addition to the inserts, they also offer standalone firepit models.)

You may be thinking, “Smokeless fire? How is that possible?” Good question! And honestly, no fire can be 100 percent smoke-free; but there is a way to greatly minimize that smoke to the point where it’s barely noticeable. The key to creating a smoke-less fire is a double-wall design. Small holes in the bottom of the inner chamber coax hot air between the walls. This hot air rises between the walls, heating more as it does, until another series of holes at the top carry it back into the fire. This hotter air creates a secondary combustion, burning the smoke created from the fire until it’s almost undetectable.

You’ll no longer have to worry about who will be sitting in the trail of drifting smoke coming off your fire pit, moving chairs around and disrupting your good time. What’s more, the secondary combustion makes for a hotter, more even flame giving you have a better cooking source for grilling. Things like steaks, chops, and burgers never tasted better! And there’s a griddle accessory available for eggs, bacon, and pancakes, as well as a chicken rotisserie and swing-away grill. There’s even a kettle winch and cast iron kettles for soups and stews!

The great news is that all of this will fit right into your new or existing fire pit design; the Zentro is made specifically for that purpose. Furthermore, Breeo is a local company, formed and functioning in Kinzers, PA.

So when it’s time to consider creating or upgrading a fire pit for your outdoor living space, Knutsen Landscaping is your source. And with Zentro Fire Pit Inserts, we won’t blow smoke in your face!

Landscape Lighting

You’ve invested considerable time and resources to making your home and outdoor living space look just the way you want it. But what happens when the sun goes down? You certainly don’t want to lose all that beauty and curb appeal! Proper lighting will not only carry your design beyond the daylight hours, but it will allow you to create a new and exciting nighttime landscape.

Be sure to take the right approach in designing the lighting for your landscape. It may seem, for instance, that a trade electrician is the best place to start. But this decision may not afford you all the expertise you need for your outdoor lighting project! Trade electricians can certainly get the job done, but landscape lighting is not usually their wheelhouse. For the best results, a landscape designer is a much better choice.

In particular, there are three advantages to choosing a professional landscape designer for your outdoor lighting design:

  1. Although a trade electrician can certainly install your lighting, a designer brings a trained, professional, artistic eye to your design. Coming to a landscape designing like the professionals at Knusten is like asking a fine artist to paint your mural—rather than a house painter. You’ll get a much more aesthetically pleasing result. You and the designer can determine just what effect you want to achieve with your lighting, whether it’s a romantic, dramatic, mysterious, or other type of atmosphere you wish to create.
  2. Lighting designers like the team at Knutsen is knowledgeable about the growth of trees, shrubs, and other softscaping elements on your property. Such expertise can ensure that the design you create will evolve with the desired effect as years go by and your foliage changes. You don’t want to be disappointed when your landscape grows over the years! A landscaper will take these natural changes into account in the design.
  3. Landscape lighting typically relies on stepped-down power from your house, reducing 120-volt household current to a safer 12 volts. Because of this you do not need to trench the wire at 18” deep like you would with 120 volt. The wire just sits below your mulch or decorative stone in your beds. Running all the wire through the beds and out of beds is a landscaper’s specialty. They will have a much better understanding of how the system functions in and through your beautifully landscaped beds and how to restore to perfection after the job is complete!

It is definitely in your best interest as a homeowner to select a trained landscape professional to bring the right light design to your landscaping. Contact Knutsen Landscaping to speak with a lighting designer, and discuss the possibilities for showcasing your front yard and lighting up your entire outdoor living space.