Grading and Soil – A fresh start

grading soilObtaining your finish grade

Clear and grub: This also could be thought of as demolition, which it is. But

clearing and grubbing is a more refined process giving us the nice blank slate for

installing the infrastructure.

Cut and Fill: This refers to soil. To be cost effective as well as environmentally

friendly it is a good idea to balance the removal of soil onsite (cut) and the areas in

the yard that need soil (fill). Unless your soil is unsuitable for fill new soil and

amendments should be brought in.

Soil: Your soil is one of the most important pieces of a successful project and

healthy yard.

So let’s discuss soils

First off Soil is not dirt. Soil is a living organic structure built from different soil types

with their own mineral types and properties. Along with bacteria, insects and worms

feeding off of different soil types and each other. And not to mention all the stuff that

falls on the ground (organic material like leaf litter). Lets back up for a minute, soil

structure is made up of three core types of material:

Clay: Tight, flat, very small particles, high in minerals, high water retention.

Silt: Irregular shape, small size, general mineral composition, low to moderate water

retention.

Sand: Round, large to small size, rock fragments, low water retention.

Loam is in the center of the triangle and that is your ideal soil type. It has the

perfect combination of clay, silt and sand. This is ideal because you want your soil to

retain moisture but also drain.

These core soil types form what is known as the soil triangle. There is much more

involved in soil classification then what is discussed here but this will give you an

understanding of soil structure. There are many different types of classifications

within ( see

http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/soils/survey/?cid=nrcs142p2_05

4167 )

The soils in most yards in our region are a silty clay with a low permeability rate

which causes all sorts of trouble. As you know from going outside and your feet leave

an exact boot print in the ground or the ground just sticks to your feet or maybe a

combination of the two. Then in the summer when the ground dries out the soil is

hard as a rock and it is no fun to dig in.

Because your soil at home is not going to be loam we need to amend the soil to get

closer to that ideal mix. Amendments are the next item we will discuss.

Thinking of New Landscape?

Well the most important requirement is to contact a proven professional. You can contact a Designer or a Contractor. A Design/Build Firm is the best and that is exactly what All Oregon is. Once you have a professional you should outline an overall master plan. This way no matter what your budget is you can add on and stay on track instead of having a piecemeal yard. So contact us and we can get you on the right path.

 

Custom Landscape Design

 

What to do With all Those Apples: Make Homemade Cider!

800px-Apple_orchardLong before the pumpkin spiced latte became the fall drink of choice, the beverage that signified the start of autumn was apple cider. It dates back to at least 55 BC when the Romans first arrived in England and discovered the people there enjoying a drink made form the apples that grew plentiful in the region. This beverage is made from the juice of apples that have been crushed in a cider or fruit press, a machine that is rarely seen today but was once commonplace. While it’s certainly easier to head down to the local market and pick up a jug of cider, there is something satisfying about homemade cider and if you happen to have an apple tree, it’s a great way to use those apples before they go to waste. Best of all, you don’t need to track down a cider press to do it. Here is an easy and fun way to make your own, with equipment you already have or is easy to find.

Easy Homemade Cider with Spices


The best cider comes from a mix of tart and sweet apples. If you don’t have a variety in your yard don’t worry, you can supplement with some from the local supermarket or farmstand. Ultimately, it’s up to your personal taste, if you like sweet cider, use all sweet apples or if you have only tart
apples and don’t want to buy extra, you can always add sugar.

What you’ll need for 1 gallon of homemade cider:

  • 18 – 20 appleshomemade cider
  • 1-2 Cups of sugar (optional)
  • 4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 30 Allspice Berries
  • a large stock pot
  • spice bag
  • big spoon
  • potato masher
  • strainer
  • cheesecloth

Instructions for Making Homemade Cider

  • Wash the apples, quarter them, place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Be sure your pot is big enough to hold everything with about three to four inches of space at the top. If you don’t have a pot big enough, you can cut the recipe in half or do it in two batches.
  • Tie the cinnamon and allspice in a spice bag and place in the pot.
  • Boil for an hour, be sure to check often and gently stir each time.
  • After and hour, taste a little to see if it’s sweet enough. If not, add the sugar and stir.
  • Cover, turn the heat to low and let simmer for two more hours.
  • Remove spice bag and mash the apples with a potato masher and let cool. You can speed up the process by placing the pot in an ice bath if you are impatient.
  • Line a strainer with doubled up cheesecloth and pour the mixture through it into a large bowl. Use the cheesecloth to wrap the pulp and squeeze out any remaining cider.

You now have homemade cider! To store, simply keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week and enjoy hot or cold.

What is your favorite thing to do with the apples from your yard? Do you have a different, or superior apple cider recipe? Feel free to share with us in the comments or on Facebook.

Ways to Reuse Fall Leaves

20131024_145636_Boones Ferry RdIt’s that time of year, the temperature is dropping and the sunshine is beginning to be replaced with endless rain showers. Soon, the leaves will begin to turn, offering a colorful palette of autumn hues for us to enjoy. That is until they start to fall. Those who have mature trees on their property understand that the novelty of falling leaves is short lived when it’s time to start the cleanup process. The trees that provided cooling shade only weeks before now shed a seemingly endless torrent of yard work. Soggy piles of leaves begin to dot the neighborhood, debris bags become lawn decor and the once beautiful yard becomes a storage space as they wait for yard bins to be emptied. But it doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore, here in the Northwest we are masters of recycling and reusing and there are some fantastic uses for those colorful fall leaves.

3 Ways to Reuse Fall Leaves

  1. Mulch – When most people think of mulch the first thing that comes to mind is bark chips but the original mulch just so happens to be fallen leaves. Using leaves as mulch around the garden help keeps moisture around the roots of your plants and returns nutrients to the soil. Additionally, leaves help insulate the ground and offer an effective weed block.
  2. Compost – Brown leaves make an excellent addition to a compost pile especially when combined with grass clippings and other green waste. Earthworms absolutely love eating leaves and their casings help create a rich compost perfect for soil amendment. Chopping the leaves with a mower or yard vacuum will speed up the decomposing process and save a tremendous amount of space.
  3. Leaf Mold – Leaf mold is another type of amendment that can be added to soil and supplies nutrients and moisture. To create your own leave mold simply pile the leaves up and let them decompose on their own similar to a compost pile. Unlike typical compost, leaf mold is low in nitrogen, but because it can hold up to 500 percent in it’s weight in water it truly shines as a moisture retainer. It can take up to a year to fully decompose, but chopping the leaves can help speed the process.

Hopefully this bit of information has inspired your Northwest recycling spirit but if not, All Oregon Landscaping can help.  We provide many services to get you through the season including regular maintenance or one time clean up and are committed to providing you with the best options for your space and budget.  Give us a call for a free consultation

Get a Head Start on Next Year’s Outdoor Living Space

The Summer of 2015 came fast and doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. Even though BBQ season seems destined to linger, the kids will be back in school very soon and autumn will officially begin in less than a month – can you believe it? Though the warm weather will probably continue into October, the trees will eventually change color, the winds will pick up and the leaves will begin falling in what may seem like a never ending torrent of yard work. The time that was spent enjoying the sun turns into cleanup and summer fun will officially be over.  For many, this means unfinished projects and plans are shelved until next season. Thoughts will turn indoors to upcoming holidays and the outside space will be forgotten until next year. If you are one of the people who find the summers to be too short to bring to life your outdoor living dream, All Oregon Landscaping believes that you don’t have to wait to start the work on next years project. Fall is the perfect time to begin the process. Here’s why.

3 Reasons to Start a 2016 Outdoor Living Space Now

  1. You’ll get extra attention from landscape designers – Spring and summer is the busiest time of year for landscape companies with multiple projects happening and a lot to coordinate. Fall is the time when we can provide a little extra attention to planning a project for the next year since there isn’t as much going on outside of the office.
  2. This is when the summer clearance sales are happening – Saving money is always nice and if you are a savvy shopper you can pick up some brand new items at significant savings compared to what you’ll pay at the beginning of next season. Additionally, you’ll save time next spring and be better prepared to start your project.
  3. Planning is the longest part of the process – Whether you have a specific idea in mind or are still trying to figure out what you want, the fall and winter months give you plenty of time to get all of the details just right. When you work with All Oregon Landscaping, a landscape design expert visits the property and finds out what you are looking for and helps create a plan that works best for the layout and budget. If you want an outdoor living space designed for entertaining, a relaxing retreat or an urban farm we can come up with the most feasible options and start getting ready to make your dream a reality. When the time comes to break ground, everything will be in place to quickly get your outdoor living space ready to enjoy.

Here are a few selected pictures of some of our favorite outdoor living space designs.

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All Oregon Landscaping works in Portland and all of the surrounding areas including Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Oregon City, Sherwood, Tualatin, West Linn, and more. Give us a call to get your 2016 outdoor living space project started this fall.

conserve water

Conserve Water and Keep the Garden Green in Portland

800px-Garden_hose_pistolWith the temperature hitting the triple digits in Portland early this year, keeping your outdoor space looking its best can be a challenge – especially when you are also trying to conserve water. If you planned ahead and worked in a drought resistant landscape this year, congratulations! You will certainly be ahead of the game. For the rest of us, the hot, dry weather will require a little extra irrigation. Creating a well-thought-out watering plan can keep your plants green while also keeping your water bill down.

Ways to Conserve Water, Money, and Your Plants by Watering Smart

  1. Mulch Organic-based mulches such as tree bark offer many benefits to plants, when applied properly. Among other things, mulch helps to retain water in the soil surrounding the plants. A good mulch helps conserve water by keeping it from evaporating out of the soil, which allows you to water less frequently.
  2. Moisture Gauges – If it’s moist don’t water it. Moisture gauges are very useful during hot, dry periods because they can tell you if the ground is moist below the surface. They are very easy to read and a quick test in the areas that were last watered can tell you if more is needed. Moisture gauges can also tell you if you’ve watered enough.
  3. Timing – Watering in the morning when it’s cool is the best time to conserve water, especially when it’s going to be hot. This helps keep the water from evaporating before soaking into the soil. Early watering also makes it easier for the plant to take up the water throughout the day. Watering in the evening or at dusk increases the risk of fungus forming during the night when the warm, wet environment is ideal for its growth.
  4. Choose Your System Wisely – The wrong watering setup can make it or break it. A broadcast sprinkler is the best way to waste water and drive up your utility bill. Much of what is sprayed is evaporated before it soaks into the ground or carried off as mist, watering areas that don’t need it. A hose and nozzle is a better option, since specific areas can be targeted, but it takes a lot of time to make sure each plant receives enough moisture and it has to be done manually. A drip system or a set of soaker hoses are the most efficient, delivering water where it’s needed at a speed that can be easily absorbed into the soil.
  5. Don’t Over Water – Most plants only need approximately 1 – 2 inches of water a week. Of course this all depends on the plant, but that information can be found on the plant tag that came with the plant or online. Too much water can cause root rot and soil compacting which is just as bad as under-watering. If you are worried about your lawn turning brown, just remember that most grass is quite drought tolerant. Brown grass is most likely dormant so don’t panic and water like crazy. Combining a soaker system with an irrigation timer is the most efficient way to ensure that your plants get just enough water, at just the right time. For lawns, half an inch, twice per week is all that’s needed.

Do you need help creating a plan to keep your outdoor space green while conserving water? All Oregon Landscaping not only designs beautiful outdoor spaces but offers a regular maintenance service that can get you and your plants through the hot summer. We can also help you install irrigation systems and show you how to program your timers to keep the yard beautiful while still ensuring that you are doing your part to conserve water. If you have any water saving tips we’d love to hear them! Feel free to share with us on Facebook or in the comments section below.

2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show

All Oregon Landscaping 2014 In Review – Looking Forward to 2015

2014 was a great year for All Oregon Landscaping.What a rush! We started the year by planning our best display ever for the 2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show – and then spent the rest of the year so buried in projects we had little time to share them with all of you. Today’s blog is dedicated to our 2014 highlights, and what is to come in 2015.

2014 – A Year in Review at All Oregon Landscaping

The start of 2014 was all about planning and executing our intricate landscape design for the 2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show and we had several goals in mind. Not only did we want to win some awards, but we wanted to attract attention of homeowners and businesses in the Portland area to show off just how talented our designers and landscapers are. We were thrilled when our first goal came to fruition winning Best in Show and Best Use of Space at the 2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show. Read all about our show design in the following posts:

After, work started flooding in and it was clear our efforts in the elaborate show design had paid off. We spent the summer just trying to catch our breath. As summer turned to fall and as we work our way into winter, the work has slowed, but not by much. Just enough for us to catch up on blogging and send out our new proposals and designs for the next round of clients. We’ve always firmly believed the best time to start planning a big landscape overhaul is the fall, and this year we’ve got a fresh roster of landscape designs we are getting ready to tackle with the first signs of spring. We can’t wait to share all of them with you! But first, a photo reel of the 2014 Yard. Garden, and Patio Show design and other notable projects.

2014 Photo Review

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What to Expect in 2015

Considering how little we got to share with you in 2014, expect lots of posts entirely dedicated to case studies in 2015. A lot like our Sherwood Residence post, we’ll share our experience from start to finish on some of our favorite landscape designs; big and small. You should check back frequently to see lots of eye candy with photos, descriptions, and more. If you want regular updates, you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, and YouTube to get the latest news.

What do you want to see us post about in 2015? Share your ideas in the comments and we’ll turn it into a blog post next year!

Teodoro, Conejo, Chewbacca and Grandpa – An Irrigation Expert

Just in time for #TBT (Throwback Thursday for those not in the hashtag loop), we’ve got an All Oregon Landscaping throwback all the way to 1994. His name is Teo, and that is when he began working with us.  Since he began in 1994, hes become our go-to “sprinkler-man” , irrigation expert as well as a lot of other things that come with a lot of names. He is fondly referred to as any or all of the following: Teodoro, Conejo, Chewbacca and even Grandpa. Choose your favorite.

Teo’s Photo Spread

Teo next to the All Oregon landscaping van. Matching shirt and all.
Teo next to the All Oregon landscaping van. Matching shirt and all.
Teo on the job.
Teo on the job.

What Does Teo Do at All Oregon Landscaping?

Teo has worked pretty much everyday with us since 1994, and we couldn’t be happier. Teo is our Senior (not señor) Irrigation Expert and Lighting Technician. He is responsible for almost all of our service calls, and any work order or warranty issues. When he isn’t too busy with service calls he will also occasionally help out by running a construction crew for smaller landscaping projects. No matter what job he is on, we’ve learned we can rely on Teo to fix the problem and get it done right, and that is invaluable. We hope to keep Teo as long as we can have him and appreciate his dedication and hard work immensely. Now, a special note from Teo on irrigation systems just in time for winter.

A Word from Teo on the Dangers of Failing to Blow Out Your Irrigation System for Winter

We often get questions about whether winterizing your irrigation system in the Portland area is really necessary. Take some advice from Teo, and just do it already! And, make sure you know what you are doing or hire someone (like us) who does. Why should you do it? Well, most homeowners put a significant investment into installing an irrigation system. By risking not winterizing, you risk losing your investment with cracked pipes, tubes, or pieces. There is no real science to determining how deep a frost can go, but rather a lot of moving variables. Micro-climates, vegetation, concrete retaining walls, and more can alter how deep a freeze can go. It is simply best not to risk it, and have your system blown out before winter.  Repairs can be far more costly.

So What Does Teo Do When He is Not Working?

In his free time he enjoys his 7 children, camping, church activities, and even gardening at his own home. It takes a real green thumb to want to garden at work and at home!

What is your favorite name for our “sprinkler-man” Teo? Chewbacca? Grandpa? Do you have any employees you could never replace? Who and why? Tell us on Facebook or in the comments.

Gear Up For Next Summer: Plan Your Outdoor Oasis This Fall

Contrary to popular belief, yard renovations don’t have to happen in the spring or summer. Fall is a fantastic time to get started on your new yard, and here are a slew of reasons why you should consider planning your outdoor oasis now.

outdoor oasis in Oregon
Does your outdoor oasis include a fire pit?

Reasons To Design Your Outdoor Kitchen in the Fall

  • Landscape Designers Are Twiddling Their Thumbs – Not really, but almost. As the summer wears off, landscape designers find they have a lot more free time than they did in May. Use it to your advantage to feel confident they’ve put their full attention into designing your perfect outdoor oasis.
  • You Won’t Feel Rushed – You know all those couples who plan their weddings at the last minute and it just never quite comes together? The same COULD happen if you rush into designing the perfect yard, but just don’t quite have enough time to really think everything through. Take your time to decide whether you really want the amazing stone pizza oven or sweet outdoor audio system, or both!
  • Save Money on Materials – Get the best deals on materials that may be discontinued next year. Also, by not rushing into it, your landscaping company should be able to order all materials with plenty of time to spare, saving on extra expediting costs if things are needed with a quick turn around.
  • You Have Copious Time To Brag – By getting started early, you’ll have time to make sure all of your friends are jealous, or just excited. Everyone wants to hang out at the house with the best yard in the summer, so if yours is about to take the cake – make sure everyone knows it.

Bottom Line: Great Outdoor Kitchens, Living Rooms, and Gardens Take Time

We’ve mastered the art of great design and installation and would love to start talking with you right away about what you need to make your outdoor oasis an oasis. We’ll send one of our expert landscape designers out to your home to discuss all of your needs and wants, as well as take some measurements and detailed notes. They’ll come back to our offices and compile everything into a landscape design encompassing as much as they can within your budget.

outdoor oasis with beer tap
A double beer tap for one of latest customers.

Some of our favorite designs showcase outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, audio systems, lighting, pools, potted plants, patios, decks, heaters, and anything else you might think of. Our landscape experts work in Portland and all of the surrounding areas including Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Oregon City, Sherwood, Tualatin, West Linn, and more. Give us a call to get started.

What To Know About Container Plants Part 3

800px-Garden_hose_pistolNow that you’ve read Part One and Part Two in our container plant series, Part Three is here to help readers understand how to care for container plants in an ongoing fashion. Growing plants in containers can be tricky, so here’s our best ideas on how to keep them healthy and thriving in the Oregon area.

How To Care for Container Plants

Fertilizer

Watering container plants has a tendency to flush out fertilizer and nutrients. It is important to add a slow release fertilizer when you plant the container plants, and then to also apply a water soluble fertilizer every two or three weeks during the growing season.

Container Size

By their very nature, containers limit how expansive that the root system can grow. Generally, the bigger the pot you can give a plant, the larger it will allow the roots to expand, producing a healthier, fuller plant.

Sunlight Needs

While you want to follow the best sunlight instructions for each plant individually, avoid placing a container plant in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can “cook” the root ball with too much heat and kill the entire plant.

Pruning

Take extra care to continually prune container plants. Deadhead and trim as often as possible to promote the growth of new flowers or fruits.

Watering

Container plants need extra water and fertilizer because their roots are limited in space. Most containers need water every day, and in particularly warm weather, twice daily.

Repottingi-jbCFBt8

Long-term plants like shrubs and trees will need repotting every 2-3 years. There are two methods you can use to repot a tree or shrub. The first method is to remove the plant, cut away several inches of roots from the root ball and then return it to the original container. The second method is to replant the tree or shrub into a container that is a few inches larger than the original. Either way, the plant needs extra space to develop new roots.

Well, we are wrapping up this series on container plants, and hopefully we’ve given you all the information you need to keep your container garden bountiful this summer. If you have more questions, you can find other resources on our blog, or by giving us a ring. We provide landscaping design and installation for any intimate space  or other specialty landscape designs in Portland and the surrounding suburbs.