Landscaping Mulch

Selecting the Right Landscaping Mulch

There is no one, universal landscaping mulch for everything. There are pros and cons to every mulching material. Whatever the material, mulch needs to stay put to be effective, but should also be easy to remove and apply.

Natural landscaping mulches are very common and are composed of plant matter. Examples include straw, shredded leaves, bark, pine needles or wood chips.

These mulches decompose over time which helps improve the soil but it also means they must be replaced once or twice a year.

Colored mulches are made by adding a dye to a natural mulch. They typically come in colors such as brown, black or red.

Whether you’re using rich black to make your perennial garden pop or soft red to accent your home, colored mulch gives you more flexibility and creativity in your garden.

Shredded or chipped hardwood or bark

Benefits: Effective; attractive; organic.
Drawbacks: Large wood chips may wash away; as the wood decomposes, it pulls nitrogen from the soil. Avoid bargain mulches, which may contain weed seeds.

Sawdust

Benefits: Acidifies the soil for rhododendrons and blueberries; organic.
Drawbacks: Weeds sprout easily. Nitrogen fertilizer may be needed to replace the nitrogen pulled out of the soil to decompose the sawdust. A crusty top forms so it is harder for water to penetrate. Check the sawdust source carefully because it shouldn’t be from treated wood.

Straw

Benefits: Inexpensive; suppresses weeds; good for winter vegetable garden insulation; organic.
Drawbacks: Unattractive; decomposes rapidly; flammable; may contain weed seeds.

Shredded Leaves

Benefits: Free from your own yard; organic.
Drawbacks: Decomposes rapidly; large-leaf species (oaks, maples, sycamores, etc.) need to be shredded first so they don’t form a mat.

Newspaper

Benefits: Inexpensive way to recycle newspapers (use three layers); suppresses weeds; organic.
Drawbacks: Must use another mulch to weigh newsprint down; cannot use slick inserts.

Manure

Benefits: Excellent source of soil nutrients; organic.
Drawbacks: Must be aged at least six months to avoid “burning” plants. Depending on the source, it may have an odor when wet and may harbor weed seeds.

Compost

Benefits: Excellent soil amendment; organic.
Drawbacks: May contain weed seeds.

Grass Clippings

Benefits: Free from your lawn; organic if you don’t use lawn chemicals.
Drawbacks: Best used on the lawn. Use only weed-free, chemically untreated, dry clippings (clippings must be dry because wet grass can form an impenetrable crust).

Pine Needles

Benefits: Inexpensive if you have pines on your property; organic.
Drawbacks: Best for acid-loving trees and shrubs.

Gravel, Crushed Rock, Pebbles, Volcanic Rock

Benefits: Available in wide array of sizes and colors; won’t blow away or decompose.
Drawbacks: Draws heat; difficult to keep clean; difficult to remove. Avoid alkaline limestone rocks near rhododendrons and other acid-loving plants. Must use landscape fabric below rocks so they don’t migrate into the soil. Loose stones may get thrown by lawnmowers; inorganic.

Plastic

Benefits: Effective weed control. Plastic absorbs heat, which raises soil temperature so may be useful in vegetable gardens where warm soil is desired.
Drawbacks: May tear; unattractive. Plastic must be tacked down or held with another mulch. Soil cannot “breathe.” Clear plastic allows weed growth. May retain too much moisture; inorganic.

Landscape Fabric (Geo-textiles)

Benefits: Allows water and air penetration; effective in weed control.
Drawbacks: Unattractive; must be tacked down or held with another mulch. Weeds may grow through fabric cuts and cracks; inorganic.

Shredded Rubber

Benefits: Available in a variety of colors; doesn’t decompose or blow away.
Drawbacks: May be difficult to remove; flammable; inorganic.

Landscaping mulch helps in the control of weeds by cutting off sunlight for weed growth and choking the weeds. However, care should be taken in the choice and application of mulch. Thick mulch may reduce air circulation, result in water-logging especially during rainy seasons, and provide shelter to hibernating insects during winter.

Living with Nature, not against Nature should be the goal of every homeowner. One can easily have a beautiful landscape by conserving water and using recyclable material from ones own yard as landscaping mulch.

There are options to consider, like whether organic or inorganic materials work best for you, and you should understand that poor technique can actually harm your trees, encouraging rot and harm from rodents and insects. Regardless if you are the Denver or Wauconda areas, it’s worth talking with a professional!

Rachio Irrigation – smart sprinklers and controllers

There are a number of companies offering smart sprinklers and irrigation controllers. Here we discuss more about Rachio Irrigation .

Smart sprinklers and irrigation controllers can simplify home lawn and garden care, reduce water consumption, and help farmers and home owners get the most out of their crops and gardens.

Instead of fixed timers, these systems draw on data from sensors, weather forecasts and plant-care databases to determine watering needs and deliver just enough moisture at just the right time. Lower your water bill, and check up on your plants from anywhere in the world using mobile and web apps.

Features

-Instantly take control from anywhere. Rachio Irrigation gives you complete access to adjust your sprinkler system from your Android, iOS and laptop devices.

-Schedules itself. Rachio accesses the latest local weather patterns through your Wi-Fi, and automatically optimizes a watering schedule to the specific needs of your yard.

-Saves you water and money. EPA WaterSense certified smart watering, including automatic rain delays, can save users over 50% of their outdoor water use. Plus, eligible for rebate options up to 100% of retail value.

-Keeps plants healthy. Rachio uses proven cycle-and-soak watering methods to promote healthier plants. A beautiful landscape and a lower water bill are no longer at odds.

-Plays well with others. Rachio integrates with most connected home platforms for greater visibility and control.

-Designed for the future. Cloud-based software allows for constant updates, expanded capabilities, and integration with new platforms.

The Hardware

Easy install and setup.

Under 30 minutes with no special tools or expertise required. Quickly connect to your home’s Wi-Fi.

Replaces almost any controller.

Works with your current sprinkler system, up to 16 zones.

Water directly from controller.

Run zones right from your controller. Manual access allows for local control.

Make it waterproof.

Our optional outdoor enclosure protects your controller in all-weather situations. Hardwire option included.

The App

Remote control.

Start, stop and change your sprinklers from your phone or computer.

Real-time notifications.

The Rachio app will let you know what’s happening with your yard, from rain delays to faulty valves.

Detailed water usage reporting.

Know how much water you’re using in your yard.

Share access with others.

Option to share full or limited access with your irrigation professional.

Scheduling

Customized for each zone.

Get a tailored schedule based on specific plant types, soil types, nozzles and sun exposure.

Any schedule you want.

Specify times and dates for when your schedules should run.

Eliminate runoff.

Smart Cycle breaks up your schedule into smaller periods to maximize soil absorption rate.

Certified and tested.

EPA WaterSense Certified and SWAT tested, Rachio is proven to save water while keeping your plants healthy.

Weather

Auto adjust with Weather Intelligence ™.

Waters automatically based on past, present and future weather, plus seasonal adjustments. No need to worry about updating schedules.

Never water in the rain.

Rachio connects to a network of thousands of weather stations to get the latest weather.

Proactive rain skipping.

Automatically skips watering due to forecasted rain, instead of just reacting to real-time rain.

Cold weather delays.

Automatically skips watering due to low temperatures.

Contact us for more information about Rachio Irrigation solutions in the Denver and Wauconda areas.

 

Pool Removal – The Real Estate Value

Whether or not to remove a pool is a very common question. In many instances, pool removal can in fact increase the value of one’s property.

Here is a list of factors that may have a negative effect on your home’s value that should lead you to consider pool removal.

  • If the pool takes up 30% or more of the backyard.
  • If the pool is over 30 years old and is in need of repair
  • If the pool does not have a safety gate around it.
  • If the pool is made from a vinyl liner.
  • If the geographic area the pool is in has less than 3 months of “swimming weather”
  • If the pool is the only one in the neighborhood.
  • If your area is currently experiencing a drought

Unless your geographic location allows for 6 or more solid months of swimming weather, your pool is less than 15 years old, and most of the neighborhood has a pool, you can expect your pool to decrease your property value.

Some of the exceptions to your pool decreasing your property value would be if your house is considered a luxury home, many of your neighbors have a pool, and the pool is completely enclosed, including a secure safety gate.

Many folks just don’t like the risks involved in owning a pool. Therefore trying to make your property more attractive to potential buyers, pool removal could be your best option.

Removing your pool also allows your property to have more outdoor green space. An uncluttered yard increases your property’s potential; thus increasing your property’s value.

Swimming pools are nice to enjoy at a friend’s or neighbor’s house, but can be a hassle to have at your own home. Many potential home buyers view swimming pools as dangerous, expensive to maintain and a lawsuit waiting to happen. Families with young children in particular may turn down an otherwise perfect house because of the pool (and the fear of a child going in the pool unsupervised). In fact, a would-be buyer’s offer may be contingent on the home seller dismantling an above ground pool or filling in an in-ground pool. The one exception could be if having a pool is standard in your neighborhood, as it can be in warm states such as California, Arizona, Florida and Hawaii.

An in-ground pool costs anywhere from $30,000 to more than $100,000, and additional yearly maintenance expenses are part of the package. That’s a significant amount of money that might never be recouped if and when the house is sold. Put one in for your own pleasure, perhaps, but know that it could cost you when you sell your home.

Personal Experience

Many pools that we remove in the Denver, CO and Wauconda, IL areas are related to real estate transactions.

  1. A home that was on the market for many months just could not attract any offers. The pool which was poorly placed was removed and the resulting area professionally landscaped. The house then went into escrow within weeks of being put back onto the market.
  2. Another home with a pool that needed to be rented out. In order to rent the home the insurance company wanted to increase the premium drastically and install a gate that was going to cost $3,500. In addition, several renters expressed hesitation due to the pool and the homeowners would be responsible for maintenance and repair. They decided the best course of action was pool removal.
  3. An older couple had lived in their home for many years. They were beginning to find that maintenance costs were getting too high. They were thinking of selling the house. They had never considered pool removal until they did the math and realized the cost to remove the pool would be far less than the cost relating to buying another home.

Here are just a few ideas what to do with all of the newly created space.

Install a smart irrigation system
Use a robotic mower to take of all the new lawn
Install  a garden train to keep the kids (old and young) occupied

Make sure to read our blog articles for many more idea.

Looking forward to hearing from you.