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.

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.

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!

Top 5 Reasons You Should Hire a Landscape Contractor Right Now!

Sometimes, we’ve got projects in our landscape that we can handle. A small firepit, laying some new patio stones, or maybe mulching. But when it comes to a landscape overhaul, we feel it is best to hire a landscape contractor, and it isn’t just because we want your business. It really is mostly beneficial to you, and here are the top 5 reasons why.

all-oregon-landscaping-2

5 Reasons To Hire a Landscape Contractor

  1. It could save you money. Let me rephrase that, you will most likely save money. Often, contractors get deals with suppliers for large pieces like firplaces or pools, as well as special deals on small things like pavers and more. In addition, we see it more often than not DIYers starting a landscape project that gets away from them, and the repair costs can be more than it owuld have to complete the project correctly on its own. If you are planning a major landscaping change, hiring a landscape contractor will save you money 90% of the time.
  2. It will be done quicker. Instead of wasting the entire summer working on your yard, it will eb done before we even start busting out the BBQs. Enjoy your yard instead of sacrificing the entire sunny season, we don’t get enough sun as it is here in Oregon!
  3. You will get what you want – no settling. When you get in a pickle on your DIY landscape project we often start cutting corners and settling for things we don’t really want. Different colors, or doing something the cheap way. By hiring a landscape contractor, there are rarely surprises. Contractors know what things cost and are really good at informing clients upfront about any potential surprises that may occur. In the end, clients get exactly what they wanted with little room for settling.
  4. Your brain and body will thank you. Sometimes, doing your own landscape overhaul can be like a chef trying to perform brain surgery. We all have different skills and talents, and landscaping is not everyone’s – and that is okay. The more bogged down your brain gets thinking about your landscaping, and the more your body is exhausted fromt eh physical labor, the more apt you are to not be performing at your best. Leaving it to those who’ve put in the time to become experts in their field does have its advantages – and you will sleep far better at night not worrying if you installed that irrigation system correctly or if you water bill will be through the roof next month.
  5. They are experts and have a lot more experience than you. There are reasons they do what they do. If you’ve done your due diligence and are pleased with their past work, there is good reason to trust your landscape contractor. They will be more efficient and cost effective than you. A good landscape contractor will also tell you when you are out of your mind. If there is no way to install an inground pool, your contractor should tell you that upfront. Let’s face it, you’d probably try to do it and fail miserably.awards1

Bottom line – don’t fail miserably. Call us now to help you get your landscape overhaul done before your ready to hop into the pool. To get a better idea of our work check out our picture galleries.

We always provide a free quote, so give as a ring and let’s discuss your dream landscape.

Plant Onions Now for the Biggest Bulbs

Throughout the food world, Oregonians are known as what are called “localvores”. The term “localvore” refers to a people who prefer to eat locally sourced foods as opposed to seeking out labels like “all natural” or “organic”. It explains why our Oregon Farmer’s Markets are so popular and why a lot of Oregonians have produce gardens in their yards. All Oregon Landscaping clients often want vegetable gardens or herb gardens to coincide with their fabulously designed outdoor kitchens and cooking areas. We do our best to meet every need, including helping to jump start the perfect vegetable garden for a client. Now that it is spring, there is a lot of hub bub going around about what to plant and when to plant it. The bottom line when it comes to the best onions in Oregon? Plant them now for the best results.

Plant Onions in April for the Biggest Bulbs

growing onions in oregonAlright, here is your plant word of the day, “photoperiodic”. Photoperiodic refers to plants that have lifecycles that are sensitive to day length. Onions are photoperiodic and usually begin bulbing when the amount of sunlight per day reaches around 14 hours. By planting your onions in April, the plants will be fairly large by the time the days reach 14 hours of sunlight, resulting in larger onions. Onions can be grown in almost any type of soil. Just make sure it has good fertility, drainage and tilth. Onions respond well to both compost and commercial fertilizers. Plant onion seeds a half inch deep at a rate of one to five seeds per inch. Thin seedlings after they are established. For large dry onions, thin seedlings to two to three inches apart, and for boilers and green onions, plant about a half-inch to an inch. The key to getting good seed establishment is to keep soil moist so it doesn’t form a hard crust over the top.

Best Varietals to grow In Oregon

The following are the best onion varietals to grow in Oregon according to the Oregon State University Extension Center.

  • Yellow: Copra, Prince, First Edition, Millennium, Fiesta, Frontier, New York Early
  • Overwintering: Buffalo, Walla Walla Sweet
  • Red: Red Wing, Benny’s Red
  • White: White Sweet Spanish, Superstar, Blanco Duro
  • Green bunching: Ishikura, Tokyo Long White, Hishiko

Other Landscaping Questions?

Have landscaping questions that are about more than growing the best onions? We can help. We’ve got landscape inspiration on our blog, tips, advice and more. We are gearing up for a big season this year and are happy to meet with you to discuss your biggest or smallest landscaping needs. Contact us about your garden, pool, water feature, custom outdoor kitchens, pergola, or patio ideas anytime. We work throughout the Portland area including Beaverton, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Hillsboro, Tualatin, Sherwood, West Linn, Oregon City, and more.

Landscape Lighting for Winter

As the winter approaches, you will notice that it begins to get darker much earlier, and that days are shortened. To keep things bright and to remind yourself of warmth, it is a good idea to add some landscape lighting for the winter to your landscape. This can be done in the form of LED lighting, or decorative lights to add to the atmosphere of the holiday season. In the Northwest, in places like Portland, West Linn and Lake Oswego, the temperatures can get especially cold during the fall and winter months, and people need reminders of the warmth that is to come soon while they endure the biting cold. There are many ways to add lighting to your landscape during the winter for both practical reasons and aesthetic reasons. The new landscape lights will brighten and enhance the look of your landscape, giving it a bright glow. In addition, it will make is safer, as anyone walking through will be able to see their way, and the lights will deter any potential wrong doers.

When deciding where to place your landscape lighting, take a walk around your landscape and figure out which parts of the landscape you wish to enhance with lighting. There are of course, the necessary places, such as the walkways and the stairwells. You will want these places visible to avoid injury and to make walking up to the door when coming home after dark much easier. And of course, you want to make the decorative aspects of your landscape more conspicuous even during the night. For walkways, try smaller landscape lights that line the walkway, making the walkway illuminated during the night. You can make these protruding lights, or smaller lights that are embedded into the walkway itself. There are lights that are activated once someone steps foot onto the walkway. Motion censor lights are a great idea for walkways and stairways. They will make seeing your way while taking your dog for a late night walk much easier, and they save energy because they do not have to be on all the time.

You may also have certain aspects of your landscape that you wish to highlight during the night hours. Those are also great places to put landscape lighting. If there is a plant or a decorative aspect of your aspect that can be highlighting, do so with alluring landscape lights. They will make your landscape appealing even during the dark hours. Some plants look their best under bright lights during the night. If the tree, plant or flower is particularly unique, you will of course want to highlight it. Try getting landscape lights that match the theme of your landscape, so that they blend in during the day when they are not in use. You do not want the lights to be unsightly and stand out in a bad way during the daytime hours. You have many choices for landscape lights, so choose the one that not only fits in with the landscape, but can do the job in lighting the area for when it needs to be illuminated.

If you have questions call or email us at All Oregon Landscaping, located in Sherwood, Oregon and serving the metro Portland Oregon market.

Fall Pruning in Portland Oregon

Fall pruning in Portland Oregon is an oftentimes heated debate among the landscaping and gardening community as the question of whether or not to prune plants and trees in the Fall comes up. When the Summer begins to wane and the hot days turn into the balmy Fall days, the drive to have scrubs, flowers and trees pruned seems to overtake many homeowners and property holders. Whether you’ve got a small plot of land with a sparse garden and a few trees or a veritable enchanted garden teaming with every kind of plant that met with your design style, fall pruning is probably on your mind. So should you have your plants pruned? If so, what should you have pruned and what shouldn’t you have pruned? To help clear up the confusion, below you’ll find a handy little guide to help you know when, if and what needs Fall pruning this year.

What Shouldn’t You Prune?

When considering having Fall pruning done on the landscaping of your home or business, there usually is a general rule of thumb: leave everything but the deciduous plants alone. Pruning is an excellent way to instigate growth in your plants and is vital to their overall continued health, but when done at the wrong time and on the wrong type of plants, pruning can have a detrimental effect on their health. After the Summer has ended there usually is only a few weeks of mild temperatures before Winter begins to set in, bringing the chill of ice and snow with it, and if your evergreen plants have been recently pruned they are weakened and susceptible to the bitter cold. Deciduous plants are hardier and able to withstand more, but evergreen plants are left to the elements when pruned in the Fall and you might find that come spring your evergreen plants look worse for the wear.

What Should You Prune?

Fall is a perfect time to prune deciduous plants such as scrubs and trees as the loss of the leaves allows you to see points in the scrubs or trees that are hindering the overall growth and health of the plant. With a bare tree it is easy to spot trouble areas where a branch might be dead, diseased or that is growing irregularly and crouching in on other branches. You will be able to find branches of trees that are a safety hazard as well, which can leave you with property damage or injury if a storm or other event weakens the branch even more than it already is. Sticking to Fall pruning for deciduous plants only will help to keep evergreen plants healthy during the long Winter months and give deciduous plants the chance to have any problems rectified before spring sets in and the leaves begin to bloom once again.

When Should You do a Fall Pruning?

If you are going to be pruning  evergreen plants it is best to give them at least about two months to become hearty again after a pruning before the cold of Winter sets in, so try to limit evergreen pruning to no later than mid-Summer. For deciduous plants Fall pruning can be done at any time, but it is best to wait until the leaves have all fallen as the trees or scrubs limbs are unobstructed. If you are unfamiliar with the various types of plants in your garden or landscaping it is best to turn to an experienced landscaper to have your Fall pruning done so that come Spring your home or business looks as beautiful as ever surrounded by healthy trees, scrubs, flowers and more.

Four varieties of plants for Fall color

At the end of the summer, color in your garden begins to fade. Some homeowners will accept the encroaching winter and others will take the opportunity to utilize colorful late summer plantings. Not sure what to pick? One of the best techniques to see what looks eye catching is to take a drive. Spend an afternoon driving thru West Linn, Lake Oswego or different neighborhoods in Portland. If you are having a tough time envisioning where color should go, do this, pour a cup of coffee put on your slippers and walk around your yard, the vision is that easy. If you are still stumped about color and selection, call or email All Oregon Landscaping, it’s what we do. The following are some of the best plants every gardener should have in their fall or autumn garden.

Echinacea

This is a specific type of flowering plant belonging to the daisy family known as Asteraceae. It contains nine species and they are collectively known as coneflowers. Generally, they are endemic to most parts of the eastern and northern Americas. These plants are found growing in dry prairies and moist areas and even in the open wood areas. They often show up as huge and show heads exhibiting their composite flowers. Generically, the name Echinacea is derived from the Greek word “echino” which means sea urchin. This plant is called as such simply because of its spiny center disk. They are commonly cultivated in many home gardens especially at the end of the summer wherein its showy flowers are effective in adding color and vibrancy to the surrounding preparing for the coming of autumn or fall.

Black Eyed Susan

Another kind of plant which is excellent to plant in your fall garden is known as the Black Eyed Susan or scientifically known as Tetratheca Hirsuta. It’s a climbing type of plant which usually grows between 0.1m and 0.9m high. It comes with a woody rootstock where multiple stems arise and exude roughness and hairy texture at their ends. It also comes with leaves alternately arranges at its stems in whorls or oppositely. Pink, deep pink and purple-tinted flowers go blooming from the months of July until December specifically the native species. This makes it a perfect choice for months where autumn and fall are starting to take over.

Itea

Itea is considered as a genus of ten species of small trees and shrubs. Leaves form alternately and bear flowers that are small. Each flower contains five sepals and five petals, usually borne in spikes or racemes. This plant is usually found native in the eastern parts of Asia and deciduous species in the eastern part of North America. Some of the species of Itea are propagated for ornamental purposes and planted in gardens because of their long pendant-like and fragrant flowers. Such species include the I. yunnanensis and evergreen I. ilicifolia from western and central China.

Crape Myrtle

This pant is chiefly known for its long-lasting and colorful flowers. It has barks that shed all throughout the year. Some species are woody in nature while most come with fluted and sinewy stems and opposite leaves that look simple and usually vary in sizes. It’s vibrantly colored and long-lasting flowers make this plant a perfect choice for your autumn garden.

Excelerite-Mother Nature’s balancer

For people having a difficult time getting their plants and gardens to grow, they may be confused as to what could be wrong and what they can do about it. Quite often, the problem is nothing more than a lack of necessary nutrients in the soil. Over time, nutrients and minerals necessary for healthy plant growth have been depleted.  A proper pH balance in the soil is necessary for lawns and plants.  These needed minerals must be restored somehow.  Excelerite is a natural occurring element that helps promote a balanced pH level in the soil.

A great product that replenishes minerals to the soil is Excelerite, which is available in powdered form. This substance is completely natural and non-toxic, and has been proven to increase farm crop yields in different climates. Ready to spread right out of the package, this dry powder will restore the lost minerals and nutrients that the soil must have before healthy plants can grow.

With Excelerite, there has been no crushing, enhancing, or modification as is the case with artificial soil enhancers. It is ready to use in its original natural form, just as potent as Mother Nature made it. Maximizing the health of the soil will assure that plants will remain healthy for years, while being better able to resist extreme temperatures.   The Northwest is famous for its streaks of weather.  Hot spells, cold snaps, dry season and the most famous of them all rainy season, Excelerite can provide a buffer to these extreme swings from the environment.

Increasing the fertility of the soil by adding Excelerite will promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms, which will do their part to keep plants healthy. A re-mineralized lawn will also produce plants that need less irrigation. This nutrient enrichment will also make plants more resistant to drought and diseases.  Excelerite helps keep the balance of soil to a pH level between 6.7-7.3

Farmers who have made a long-term investment in soil replenishment using Excelerite have found it to be an affordable way to increase crop yields while reducing the cost of irrigation and pesticides. Many have been amazed at how they have been able to improve their yield in less than a year. This great product will work well in lawns and gardens, enhancing the growth of bright beautiful plants.

This mineral has many benefits, talk to All Oregon Landscaping to see if this product is something your yard would benefit from.