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Light Up the Outdoors


Light Up the Outdoors

You invest a good deal of time and money in your landscaping, so you should expect to enjoy it during the day and the night. With the right outdoor lighting, entertaining and just enjoying your outdoor areas can last well beyond sundown.

There’s a lot to consider before investing in outdoor lighting. What do you want the focus of your lighting to be? Highlighting? Up-lighting? Path lighting? Or maybe it’s a combination of these and other factors. Perhaps there are certain design elements that you wish to feature, like a fountain or an outdoor structure. Or maybe you need to address pockets of darkness in your landscape.

You’ll want to consider these questions and many others. A few additional issues to take into account include:

  • Views from indoors – What will your landscape look like from inside your home?
  • Focal points – Are there particular trees, water features, or a gazebo that you would like to highlight?
  • Sense of depth – Illuminating pathways, landscaped beds, and the house itself will lend a feeling of depth to the property.
  • Ambient light – Besides spotlighting features, you can create an atmospheric feel to your outdoor space with a general ambient lighting palette.

One of the leading providers of outdoor lighting fixtures is CAST®, and Knutsen Landscaping is proud to be CAST®-certified. Our installers will ensure that CAST® lighting fixtures will be best used to accent your property. The Classic, Impressionist, and Craftsmen series from CAST® offer a wide array of possibilities, and you can achieve the landscape illumination you desire.

Whatever your needs, Knutsen Landscaping is here to help. Our team of designers will assess your landscape and help you determine your goals for your lighting.

Recommended Indigenous Trees Feature: Swamp White Oak

When selecting trees for landscaping, many will choose the more popular varieties – dogwood, tulip trees, arborvitae, and others. It makes sense, people see these trees in landscaping and like the look of them, so they choose it too. One that is often overlooked is the swamp white oak.

The swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) has one great distinction in America: it is featured at the 911 Memorial in New York. They provide a stark and welcome contrast to the two wells of constantly cascading water that mark the footprint of the Twin Towers. One of the deciding factors in choosing this species is that they are native to all three locations where the planes crashed that fateful day – New York City, Arlington County in Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (Interesting note: the one tree at the memorial that is not a swamp white oak is the “survivor” tree, a callery pear tree that survived the attacks and was re-planted at the memorial. A true survivor!)

These trees adapt well to the challenges of an urban environment, tolerating dry, moist, or wet soils as well as salt and soil compaction. This adaptability makes them a great choice for almost any landscape.

Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor

  • Used as large shade trees in landscaping
  • Wood has been used in ship building throughout American history, but is used today in flooring, furniture, and whiskey/wine barrels.
  • Mature trees generally reach 80-100 feet, while some have reached 150. Trunk size can reach up to 4’ in diameter!
  • Acorns produced by white oaks are an important source of food for the ecosystem of the tree. All sorts of birds (including turkeys, quails, blue jays, and crows) and mammals (black bear, deer, squirrels, voles, mice) depend on them for nutrients in the fall. In some areas, the population of some species of critters fluctuate based on the supply of acorns!
  • In the summer, leaves are a blue-green on top and a whitish shade of green on the underside. In the fall, the colors can spread from orange, and brown to red and purple.
  • State tree of Illinois, Connecticut, and Maryland.
  • Very adaptable, tolerating dry, moist or wet soils.

Recommended Indigenous Trees Feature: Tulip Poplar

The next in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the towering Tulip Poplar!  The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.

Tulip Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera

  • Pioneers used tulip poplar to make houses, barns, and canoes
  • Most commonly used today in cabinet making
  • Also used for medicinal purposes—like teas and ointments
  • State tree of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana
  • Nicknamed the “fiddle tree” because of it’s peculiar shaped leaves that resemble small violins
  • It is actually a member of the magnolia family, not the poplar family
  • Won’t bloom tulips for the first 15 years of it’s life—the flowers are usually a light green or yellow color
  • Average lifespan:200-250, but can live much longer under the right conditions
  • Tallest of the North American hardwood trees…between 100 and 150 feet tall!
  • Trunks can grow 50 feet high without a single branch
  • Produces a honey used primarily by bakers

Recommended Indigenous Trees Feature: Serviceberry

The next in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the famous Serviceberry!  The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.

Serviceberry Amelanchier

  • George Washington’s favorite tree—he planted many of them around Mount Vernon
  • Usually the first to bloom every year—flowers are generally white or pale pink
  • Serviceberry trees produce berries that are safe for humans to eat, but often feed birds and mammals. The berries start out red and turn to a purple-black color; and will grow from early summer until August. These berries taste very similar to blueberries and can be eaten raw or put into pies and pastries.
  • The tree earned it’s name from the use of its flowers in religious services.
  • Has small, oval shaped leaves edged with small teeth—dark green in the summer and turning to red, orange, and yellow in the fall.
  • Grow to between 15-20 feet.

Recommended Indigenous Trees Feature: Sugar Maple

The next in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the fast-growing Sugar Maple!  The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.

Sugar Maple Acer saccharum

  • Primary maple tree in the production of maple syrup.
  • Fast-growing tree—can grow as much as 1 foot in a year’s time. Average between 40-60 feet tall with a 20-40 foot spread.
  • Root systems are shallow, causing them to not be good around compacted, marshy, thin, or dry sandy soils.
  • Great trees for urban parks and large landscapes.
  • Cultivars include: Flashfire, Green Mountain, Legacy

Recommended Indigenous Trees Feature: Red Maple

The third in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the versatile Red Maple!  The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.

Red Maple Acer rubrum

  • Earned its name from the brilliant, fiery color of it’s autumn foliage
  • Can reach 40-60 feet tall and 150 years old, trunks can be 30 inches in diameter
  • Provide color year-round—male trees have clusters of drooping, smoky-red flowers in the spring, reddish twigs and leaf stalks in the summer, and red buds in the winter. Female trees produce decorative seeds (called samaras) from April to June that many people know as whirlybirds or helicopters because of how the wings on one end cause them to spin in the wind.
  • While not as productive as the sugar maple, red maples can still be tapped (after reaching 40 years old) to make maple syrup. It takes around 40 gallons of red maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
  • Today, red maple wood is used primarily to make smaller items like musical instruments and clothespins and flooring. American pioneers used red maple bark to create black and brown dyes and ink!
  • Cultivars include: Bowhall (upright form, yellow-red fall color), October Glory (one of most popular cultivars—intense red foliage, vigorous growth), Red Sunset (also very popular—drought tolerance, vigorous growth, red-red fall color), Sun Valley, and Redpointe (upright, dense).


Recommended Indigenous Trees Feature: Eastern Redbud

The second in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the beautiful Eastern Redbud!  The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.

Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis

  • Appalachian redbud is a cultivar of eastern—have a darker pink color to flowers
  • In the summer, heart-shaped leaves stay green and won’t turn yellow until fall
  • Cultivar species do not produce seed pods—only wild species
  • Known as the ‘Harbinger of Spring’ as it’s bright colored blooms signal the start of the season.
  • 22 types of redbud species throughout the world
  • Some cultivars have different colored flowers (white, pinks, purples), while others have variated foliage colors (white variegated, green, yellow, orange, red, purple). The covey cultivar has weeping branches.
  • Cultivars include: Appalachian, Forest Pansy, Ruby Falls, Hearts of Gold.

Recommended Indigenous Trees Feature: Hemlock

The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania. Information, pictures, and recommendations for each species will be posted. Check back over the next few weeks to learn about trees we recommend for use in local landscaping!

Hemlock Tsuga canadensis

  • Has an irregular, conical shape
  • Evergreen tree—four species of hemlock native to America and six to Asia
  • Takes around 20 years for seed to develop. They are equipped with wings to allow wind to disperse them
  • Develops pinecones instead of flower
  • Black bears will sometimes use large, hollow hemlocks as shelters
  • Needles of hemlock trees contain Vitamin C and were often used to make tea by the Iroquois Indians
  • Oil extracted from hemlock needles are used in the perfume industry
  • Hemlock wood is used for many building projects
  • Native Americans used bark for weaving baskets—tannic acid extracted from the bark is used for tanning leather
  • Dyes extracted from the tree were used to color wool
  • Hemlocks can survive anywhere from 400 to 800 years in the wild!
  • State tree of PA (eastern hemlock)

Hardscaping with Natural Material

So many options for hardscaping are available today, and synthetic materials provide a customized look for almost any taste. However, natural materials are timeless as well as eco-friendly. They can present a beautiful option.

Flagstones are one of the more popular choices for flat surfaces like driveways, walkways, and patio floors. Of course, the large, irregular slabs are heavy and can be tricky to puzzle together, but they create a great look, especially with contrasting color stones. A sitting wall of found stone is another natural element that can add interest to an outdoor area, made even more distinctive with upright stones spaced periodically in the wall.

Natural stone steps, birdbaths, and fire pits are just three more options for natural hardscaping elements. The possibilities are limited only to the imagination. All of these decisions – and their execution – are best handled with the help of experts like Knutsen Landscaping. Let us help you with your design and execution, whether you prefer synthetic materials, natural options as mentioned above, or your own unique mix.