Smart Irrigation Month Part 3: Recycling and Harvesting Water

800px-Decorative_Watering_Can_(6320014343)The most efficient way to conserve water is to harvest or recycle it, which entails capturing rainwater or reusing water for the purpose of irrigating a lawn and/or garden. One inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof can collect approximately 600 gallons. Harvesting systems can be complex or simple depending on how much water is desired and what sort of investment the homeowner is willing to make. Fortunately, harvesting and recycling water is a very simple concept and anyone can start doing it with little or no investment at all.

Ways to Recycle and Harvest Water

The easiest way to recycle water is to reuse water that you would normally dump down the drain. Any water that you cook with, such as pasta water or water to blanch veggies can be used in the garden or in potted plants once it has cooled. If you turn on hot water and wait for it to heat up, save the cooler water that comes out first in a pitcher or receptacle. It can even be as simple as watering plants with glasses or bottles of water left out.

A greywater system captures water that is used in the home from sinks and showers to be used later in irrigation. These systems can be expensive depending on their size and how complex the filtration system is. Greywater systems also require only certain types of soaps and cleaners be used in the home, so are usually best left to the most serious water conservationists.

Harvesting water from rainfall is another way to use what is available. These systems can be as simple as a barrel at the base of the gutter spout or a complex series of holding vessels, filters and pumps. It all depends on what the water will be used for. If it is to be used for irrigating a garden, a covered can or barrel will suffice. There are ready made containers or you can easily build one yourself.

Make the Choice to Save Water

Whether you go for a complex rain harvesting and irrigation system or simply use the spaghetti water to feed the window herb garden, being conscious of water usage can go a long way in helping to save money and resources. If you would like to chat about water saving ideas for your home and are curious about how All Oregon Landscaping can help, feel free to send us an email. For other water-saving ideas see our previous Smart Irrigation Month posts:

Smart Irrigation Month Part 2: Irrigation Systems

In celebration of Smart Irrigation Month, today we’ll talk about installing irrigation systems. Installing an irrigation system is a great way to save money, conserve natural resources and ensure that your yard and garden are adequately watered, whether you’re there or not. An irrigation system also adds to and helps maintain value of a home by keeping the exterior appealing and fresh. It can be a big undertaking, but the benefits are long-lasting and satisfying for those who wish to keep their yard and garden healthy and yet still do their part for the environment.

Types of Irrigation Systems

"Sprinkler04". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sprinkler04.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Sprinkler04.jpg
“Sprinkler04”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sprinkler04.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Sprinkler04.jpg

There are two primary types of irrigation systems used for landscaping: drip and sprinkler.

  • A drip system delivers water directly to the base of the plant in a slow, steady trickle. These systems are great for beds and vegetation with established root systems and vegetable gardens. Different emitters offer different rates of flow for different plants.
  • A sprinkler system simulates rain and spreads water over a large area. This type is necessary for lawns but is not ideal for flower beds where extra water can evaporate or not reach the plants.

Depending on what kind of vegetation is present, one type of irrigation system may be more useful than the other. Often a combination of the two is the most efficient.

To DIY or Not to DIY?

Installing an irrigation system is no small task and will likely take several days from planning to execution. If you are considering doing it yourself, be sure you take plenty of time to prepare for the project.

Check with your local municipal and be sure to research any watering ordinances and building codes in your area. Call 811 to find out where pipes, lines and cables are located underground on your property. Find out what your home’s water pressure, GPM (gallons per minute), water meter size, and service line size is and draw up a detailed and to-scale map of the area to be irrigated. A layout of pipes and sprinklers is also necessary to determine what components are needed for the system. Once the design is finished, the location of the lines and sprinklers will need to be laid out with stakes and string, trenches will need to be dug, components assembled, the system tested and trenches filled again. If this sounds overwhelming, well, it often is.

Irrigation Systems by All Oregon Landscaping

If you don’t feel up to the task or don’t have the time to install your own irrigation system, the All Oregon Landscaping team are experts in everything landscaping. We will design the perfect irrigation system for your landscape and are happy to provide a free quote anytime. We work with other irrigation experts like Rain Bird, to be sure to provide top-notch systems for our customers. This month we’ve dedicated our blog to Smart Irrigation Month, so for other tips and tricks, check out our past posts:

Smart Irrigation Month Part 1: Save Water and Money

800px-Garden_hose_pistolJuly is Smart Irrigation Month, and whether the motivation is to help the environment or the pocket book, both will benefit from using less water in a smart way. If you are looking to save water but don’t have the time or budget to install an irrigation system, here are five easy tricks you can do to start conserving now.

Five Simple Ways to Conserve Water

  1. Rise and Shine Watering – The best time to water, especially on hot days, is in the early morning. Watering in the afternoon requires more water because much of it can evaporate before it reaches the roots. Watering plants in the evening can promote fungus and mildew growth.
  2. Mulch is Your Friend – The benefits of mulch are three-fold: it helps water retention, helps control weeds, and as it breaks down adds nutrients to the soil. Mulch comes in many forms, the most recognizable is bark dust or wood chips. Other forms of mulch include; nut shells, straw, pine needles as well as some non-organic materials such as lava rock and rubber mulch. In Oregon, we have plenty of options when it comes to mulch, so let us know if you need help determining the best type for your landscape.
  3. Over-Watering is the Enemy – Watering in the morning and mulching helps but a lot of water is wasted by just letting the sprinkler run. A programmable timer that hooks up to a hose is an easy and effective way to water just enough at the right time without having to think about it. Be sure to shut it off if the weather report predicts some summer rain.
  4. Native Plants Need Less – When choosing plants, look for drought-tolerant species that can survive with minimal watering. Native plants are a good choice since they have had ages to become accustomed to the natural weather cycle in your area. If you like native plants, we’ve also published a past post about attracting hummingbirds to your landscape.
  5. Weeds are the Worst – Weeds are certainly undesirable for aesthetic reasons but they also use up the valuable resources in the soil, especially water. Mulch does help but it will still take a bit of elbow grease to keep weeds from invading the space and drinking the water that is intended for your plants.

Other Ways to Conserve Water

Just doing these simple things will help save water with minimal investment and are a great start. If you are looking for a more comprehensive way to conserve water, consider an irrigation and or a water-harvesting system. All Oregon Landscaping has experts in landscape design and implementation. We are happy to answer any questions you have and help you determine what the best options are for you. We work with only the best in irrigation and are happy to provide customers with customized irrigation plans fit for their landscape. Smart Irrigation Month is the perfect opportunity to start saving water and money. We work anywhere in the Portland area including; Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Hillsboro, West Linn, Oregon City, Gresham, Vancouver, Sherwood, and more.

If you’ve got questions on irrigation, feel free to give us a ring or shoot us an email.

How to Protect Patio Furniture from Sun Damage

1960016_750624268289163_429737739_nPatio furniture is meant to be in the sun. Most individuals who have patio furniture understand the importance of protecting it from rain and inclement weather in order to keep it in great shape for many seasons. Though often the very thing that the furniture helps us enjoy, the sun, can cause as much damage to the furniture as moisture. Protecting your favorite outdoor furnishings from the sun is important to keep the items looking and feeling new for many years.

Types of Patio furniture and Ways to Protect Them

Although it does take a little time and effort when properly protecting patio furniture, the results can add life and beauty to your outdoor living space. How long it takes to prep the items and how labor intensive it is depends on a few factors including the current condition of the furniture and what type of material it is. Start by making sure it is sound and worth protecting, then thoroughly clean each piece.

Fabric –  If your furniture has outdoor upholstery components, follow the instructions for washing and make sure it dries completely to prevent mold and mildew. Once it is dry, apply an outdoor fabric protector that will keep it safe from fading, spills, spotting and general weathering.

Wood – Clean any wooden sections with an appropriate wood cleaner, a bucket and rag. Avoid soaking the furniture with a hose and allowing it to become overly wet, especially if it hasn’t been properly sealed. If it’s untreated or hasn’t been in some time, too much water can draw out the natural oils and cause splitting when it does dry. The best way to protect wood is with paint, which acts as a barrier to moisture and light. If you prefer the natural wood look, find a waterproof sealer that has UV protection to give you all-weather protection and won’t discolor or crack with sun exposure.

Metal – Aluminium and steel furniture provide a durable and easy to clean surface for outdoor use. They can be hosed off and are easy to paint and retouch when the color chips or fades. If your furniture is made from steel, it will be prone to rust where the protective coating comes off, requiring sanding prior to a touch up. A fantastic and long-lasting option for metal furniture and frames is powder coating. While this is not usually a DIY project, the benefits come in the form of durability and longevity and can last years, so pick a color you will be sure to like for a long time.

Prevention is Key to Protecting Patio Furniture

No matter what materials you have in your outdoor living space, the best way to protect patio furniture from the sun is to store or cover it when it’s not in use. Many retailers offer covers designed for general shapes or for specific sets. If you can’t find the cover for your set, the manufacturer should be able to point you in the right direction. One of our partners, Outdoor Kitchens NW, also carries a full line of outdoor coverings and furniture to enhance your outdoor living space.

All Oregon specializes in landscape design, installation and we love finding solutions for outdoor living. Take a look at our posts 2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show Photo Review and The 2014 Yard, Garden, and Patio Show is Here!  to see how we’ve been inspired this year. If you have any questions feel free to give us a ring or visit us on Facebook.

Growing Tomatoes in Oregon: Varieties that Work

Cherry tomatoes in Oregon grow really well.
Cherry Tomatoes are the easiest to grow.

Tomatoes belong in vegetable gardens. Regardless of what else is planted, the gardens here in the Willamette Valley almost always have some type of tomato. In spite of this fruit’s popularity, the Northwest doesn’t really have the best climate for growing them. We have a relatively short growing season for tomatoes with moderate temperatures, which isn’t exactly ideal. This is why you want to get your tomato starts in the ground no later than early June. Whether you’re just getting started in the world of tomatoes or are looking to try out some new varieties, 2014 may prove to be a good year due to the early start in warm weather and the predictions for a hot summer. All Oregon Landscaping is an award-winning landscape design and installation team working throughout the Portland Metro Area and today, we are happy to provide advice for growing the best tomatoes in Oregon.

Choosing the Best Tomatoes for Your Garden

For Beginners

If you are just getting started, cherry tomatoes are a great way to test the waters. They come in different colors and sizes, bear early, and are a good choice if you have limited sun exposure. This doesn’t mean to plant them in the shade, they still need at least six hours of sunlight, but if you have limited space, you still have options. The yellow varieties like Golden Cherry and Sun Gold are well suited for the climate and are a little sweeter than their red counterparts, but if you want a good red try Oregon Red or Sweet Baby Girl.

For Slicers

For tomatoes that you wish to slice and eat fresh, try heirloom varieties for superior texture and flavor, such as Cherokee Purple. Heirlooms generally take longer to mature and ripen so choose ones with fewer days to maturity and get them in the ground as soon as possible. OSU (Oregon State University) has also developed several great varieties bred specifically for our climate that have great texture and flavor. Legend and Oregon Spring are two early producer hybrids that are fantastic eating tomatoes.

For Preservers

If you are looking to process/preserve tomatoes this year, be sure you have enough space with lots of sun for 5-10 plants. Look for tomatoes marked “determinate” because the fruit ripens during a short window, then stops producing. This gives you a larger harvest in a shorter time which is best for canning. Roma tomatoes are most often used for sauces, but if you want something a little easier to grow and maintain, Oregon Star and Oroma are two varieties that are excellent for sauces and pastes.

Other Varieties of Tomatoes Well-Suited For the Willamette Valley

Heirloom tomatoes in Oregon are great for just slicing up and eating out of the garden.
Heirloom tomatoes.

Cherry

  • Super Sweet 100
  • Yellow Pear
  • Sweet Million
  • Black Cherry
  • Gold Nugget

Slicers

  • Early Girl
  • Beefsteak
  • Willamette
  • Stupice
  • Santiam

Canning/Processing

  • Andes
  • Amish Paste
  • San Marzano
  • Viva Italia

While you can be successful with many types of tomatoes, certain varieties require less attention than others. It all depends on if you plan to preserve them, or just have some to eat fresh, how long they take to mature and how much sunlight they will get. Fortunately, because there are so many, it’s easy to find one or three that will suit your needs.

Do you have a favorite tomato variety that you like to grow? Feel free to share your success stories with us in the comments or on Facebook. You can find other gardening advice on our blog.

 

Heirloom Tomatoes by Monitorpop at English Wikipedia [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Cherry Tomatoes by Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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.

What to Know About Container Plants Part 2

Welcome to the second post in our 3 part series on container plants. Container plants are stylish, and sometimes necessary in smaller, intimate outdoor spaces and today we’ll cover what container plants are most likely to thrive in the Portland, Oregon area.

Some Notes on Soil for Container Plants

It turns out there is a lot of myth surrounding the soil you should use in containers. Research proves that potting soil or planter mix is the best option, despite other theories. Potting soil is designed to be very course as opposed to gardening mix which is very fine. The coarse texture of potting soil provides the best drainage to your potted plants, while too fine of particles can clog up drainage paths, killing roots, and ultimately resulting in insufficient air, AKA: dead plants. Don’t go overboard with coarse materials either, it is ill-advised to add a layer of rocks or pebbles to the bottom of planters. This practice in facts inhibits drainage, not supports it. When it comes to soil, using a potting mix is best practice for potted plants.

Best Plants to Grow in Containers

The following is a recommended list of container plants from the Oregon State University Extension Service. Almost anything can be grown in a container, but if you are a beginner, any of the following are great place to start.

peppers are a great choice for container plants in Oregon
Black Pearl Peppers

Veggies 

  • Bush cucumbers
  • Chard
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

Annuals

  • Alyssum
  • Begonia
  • Dianthus
  • Dwarf Zinnia
  • Fuchsia
  • Lobelia
  • Marigold
  • Nicotiana
  • Pansy and viola
  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Verbena

Perennials

  • Aster
  • Bulbs
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coreopsis
  • Dahlia
  • Fern
  • Geranium
  • Herbs

    Dahlia make great flowers for container gardens in Portland, Oregon
    Dahlia
  • Lamium
  • Sedum
  • Sweet William

Shrubs and Small Trees

  • Acuba
  • Barberry
  • Boxwood
  • Conifers
  • Fatsia
  • Grecian Bay Tree
  • Hebe
  • Hydrangea
  • Rose
  • Skimmia

All Oregon Designs Intimate Space in Portland

Have some ideas on what you might grow in your containers? Need to know about picking the best pots? read our previous post, What to Know About Container Plants Part 1. If you think you need help choosing the right pots or plants for your container garden, give us a ring and let our landscape designers Carl and Elida “wow” you with their colorful and creative intimate space designs.

What to Know About Container Plants Part 1

container plants by All Oregon LandscapingWith yards getting smaller and smaller in bigger cities, and even here in Portland, containers have become a way to add color, scent, and liveliness to a small yard or what we like to call an intimate space. Just because you’ve got limited outdoor space doesn’t mean it has to be void of all plant life. Container plants are a great way to boost the fun in any space, large or small, and today we’ll talk over the basics of choosing containers in part 1 of a 3 part series on container plants. Look for more on the All Oregon Landscaping blog over the next few weeks to learn all about container plants.

Choosing the Best Container

There are all sorts of containers available, and here’s the rundown on what makes the perfect container.

Clay pots: Mostly inexpensive, but can dry out quickly.
Terracotta: More expensive than clay, but usually last longer and dry out slower.
Ceramic containers: Can come in any design, but have a tendency to be fragile and break easily.
Plastic pots: Lightweight and cheap. With too much light they can quickly become brittle. TIP: Make plastic containers last longer by placing them inside of a clay or ceramic container.  
Wood containers: Will ultimately rot. The time it takes to rot depends on the type of wood, and the level of moisture. TIP: Cedar and Redwood are the most resistant to rotting. 
Tin containers: Will rust over time. But that can be an appealing look for some.
Whiskey barrel: A good size for shrubs and small trees, but get heavy and difficult to move.

Choosing the best container for you plants and yard is about both style and functionality. If you are the type to spend quality time caring for your plants and their container homes, any of the above will probably suit you. If you are more of a “plant them and forget them, except to water them” type, try a low-maintenance container like plastic. You can always spruce up the appearance by putting plastic containers inside something more fashionable.

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If you need help designing a garden or your container plants for the year, just give us a ring. Container plants and intimate spaces are one of our specialties. Check out our photo gallery to see some of our work in smaller spaces. We work throughout the Portland Metro area including Tigard, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Sherwood, Wilsonville, Tualatin, Hillsboro, Gresham, Oregon City, and more – just ask.

Have any great photos of your container plants? We’d love to see your designs, so share them in the comments or on Facebook.

All Oregon Landscaping Appears in Lake Oswego Living

Guess what? We were featured in the latest print addition of Lake Oswego Living. This write up details the humble beginnings of All Oregon Landscaping. Our leader, Craig Prunty, began landscaping in high school as a way to earn extra cash. His parents owned an apartment complex and taking over the landscaping duties seemed like a natural fit. Soon, another apartment complex across the street also sought out Craig’s landscaping services. With the addition of a few buddies and then his younger brother, Tony, as the “little weed puller”, All Oregon Landscaping soon became a rapidly growing business.

Craig is the first to admit that two things have gotten All Oregon Landscaping to where it is today. The first is amazing customers who are willing to share their great experiences with their friends. Just outside Portland in the smaller surrounding areas like Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Wilsonville, Sherwood, Tualatin, Hillsboro, and more, word of mouth is more important than anything. All Oregon Landscaping has consistently worked to exceed the expectations of their clients so that they will want to share their experiences with their friends. The second is having a qualified, professional, and experienced team to carry out every aspect of a landscape design, big or small. The team at All Oregon Landscaping still includes the “little weed puller”, Tony Prunty, who now manages the operations and the design team. He has implemented both dramatic and small landscape designs with precision and expertise. Our design team, comprised of Carl Liebhardt and Elida Rivera, use their skill, creativity and detailed eye to design many award-winning landscape designs.

If you’d like to read more from the Lake Oswego Living article, open the PDF.

AllOregonLandscaping_article-page-001

Both our top-notch team and our customers have made our best landscape designs possible, and here are some links to a few of our favorite recent projects.

If you think we can help you create the landscape you’ve always wanted, feel free to give us a ring. We always provide free quotes, and we love talking with customers about their landscape ideas.

landscape zones in Oregon explained

What is the Deal With Landscaping Zones?

Every spring when it is time to start planting, the questions come out about what landscaping zones mean exactly. Today, we’ll explain what landscaping zones mean, particularly to those of us here in the Pacific Northwest.  Plant Hardiness Zone Maps were made by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to help growers determine what plants will flourish in their area. Here is what the map of the entire United States looks like.

USDA hardiness map for landscaping zonesTechnically speaking, the map maps out zones based on average temperatures for the area. All landscaping zones are divided by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The zones are based on average temperatures over the past 30 years and do not reflect the coldest temperatures ever recorded or account for the coldest possible temperature in the future. It is important for growers to keep that in mind when considering planting plants that are not rated specifically for their landscaping zone. If you are a new gardener, we always recommend staying with plants recommended for your landscape zone. Here’s what the map for our state of Oregon looks like. For those of us situated around the Portland area, we fall within the 8B landscape zone, or plant hardiness zone.

hardinessmaporegon

A Word About Microclimates

Microclimates are small areas that have fine-scale climate variations. Good examples are areas around blacktop, concrete, or small hills that can cause cool spots in your garden. Every yard or landscape is different, and it is important to note any microclimates you may have on your property. In addition, it is possible that your entire yard could be part of a microclimate. This happens most often when a yard is sheltered or very exposed. There are a few other factors that can change a gardener’s idea of what they should or should not plant.

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Plants

  • Light – Plants always need to be sure to receive the proper amount of sun and the amount of sun a place in your yard receives can vary greatly between summer and winter depending on your area and the amount of shade. Consider what temperature variances can happen in both the summer and winter in accordance with the possible amount of sun before choosing to plant something on the fringe of your hardiness zone.
  • Soil moisture – This is usually not a problem in Oregon, but occasionally soil with too little moisture can affect how well a plant does in a particular zone.
  • Temperature – Pay attention to the optimal temperature range for a specific plant. While some plants can handle varying temperatures, others cannot. Be aware before you plant what temperatures a specific plant can handle.
  • Humidity – High relative humidity limits cold damage by limiting moisture loss from sensitive parts of the plant (leaves, branches, and buds). Cold injury can be more severe if the humidity is low, especially for popular in Oregon, evergreens.

To make the best choices about plants in your landscape, use your knowledge of landscaping zones, microclimates, and the other factors listed above.  Or, if you ever feel that you are in over your head, always feel free to ask a  professional. If that is already the case, you are in the right place! All Oregon Landscaping is full of landscape experts who can help you determine the best plants for your yard, microclimates and all. Don’t hesitate to shoot us an email or give us a ring!