12 Aug 2020
Red Mulch

5 Tips for Working with Mulch

So, you want to add mulch to your landscape… But, how do you use it? #TeamSerene is here to help! Our trusted professionals are bringing you five tried and true tips when working with mulch.

1. A little goes a long way

Yes, you can overuse mulch and the resulting consequence? Killing your plants! A layer of mulch should not exceed three inches as it can cause roots to grow shallow and leave your roots exposed during dry periods.

2. Mulch in the fall

Mulching is not only for the spring and summer! Adding a layer of mulch in the fall before winter sets in will allow it to act as an insulator for your plants when the temperature drops.

3. Don’t remove mulch

Once you’ve started mulching, you have to stay with it. Removing mulch can cause the soil to dry out and leave your plant’s roots injured.

4. Don’t mound mulch around trees

This is easily the most common mistake many first-time mulch users make. Mounding, or creating a volcano shape, around the trunk of a tree will ultimately lead to many problems like bark rot, disease, and insect problems. You can create a deeper layer, about four inches, around the tree, but make sure to bring the edges higher, creating a saucer like shape. This will keep the mulch away from the trunk, and help hold and distribute water to the tree’s root system!

5. Use heavier mulch materials in areas you won’t be digging much

Woody or bark mulches are perfect for areas where you don’t be doing a lot of digging, like in flower beds. Lighter mulch materials such as straw, is easily worked into the soil, making it better for areas like vegetable gardens where digging and replanting is common.

In search of the perfect mulch for your home? Serene Landscape Group offers bulk landscape material delivery! We offer a variety of materials including mulch, soil, decorative stone, and more. We’ll do the heavy lifting and bring the materials directly to your site. Contact us today to get started!

27 Jun 2020

8 Summer Blooms You’ll Spot in Michigan

We are so happy to have sunshine, blue skies, and higher temps here in Michigan. Now that summer is in full season, you will see landscaping come back to life with new blooms and vivid colors. So, we’re sharing eight blooms to inspire your summer landscape projects!

 

Cardinal Flower

The Cardinal Flower is a wildflower plant native to much of the Midwest including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These tall perennials bloom in late summer, can reach 1.5’ to 2’ tall, and can tolerate full sun to full shade.

 

‘Bright Eyes’ Garden Phlox

This perennial is special due to its high resistance to mildew and ability to bloom for weeks. ‘Bright Eyes’ blooms in mid-summer, reaches 1’ to 2’ tall, and does best in full sun.

 

‘Tomato Soup’ Coneflower

Echinacea plants, otherwise known as Coneflower, are a clump-forming perennial that offers large, showy flowers. Once established, these flowers can be drought resistant. They bloom all throughout summer, reach 2’ to 3’ tall, and do best in full sun.

 

‘Bubblegum Blast’ Monarda

This perennial grows in clumps of upright stems and are best known for their gorgeous, vibrant pink color. Otherwise known as Bee Balm, they are great for attracting little friends like bumble bees and hummingbirds. Monarda flowers throughout the summer, grows 1’ to 2’ tall, and does best in full sun.

 

‘Elsa Spath’ Clematis

These flowery climbers are a multi-stemmed, deciduous, woody vine. They bloom in early summer with possible reblooms in late summer/early fall and need full to partial sun.

 

Orange Garden Lily

Lilies are a common summer flower, with large, showy blooms bringing a bit of elegance to any landscape. These bloom early to mid-summer, reach 3’ tall, and do best in full sun.

 

‘Snow Lady’ Leucanthemum

These perennials are most effective when planted in groupings and are excellent for cutting. Commonly known as daisies, these bloom throughout the summer, reach under 1’ tall, and do best in full sun.

 

‘Superba’ Astilbe

‘Superba’ is known to grow very tall with stunning, lavender-pink blooms. These bloom in late summer, reach 2’ to 4’ tall, and do best planted in partial shade.

 

Feeling inspired but not sure where to start? Contact #teamserene for all your landscaping needs!

15 May 2020

Spring 2020 Landscaping Trends

At Serene Landscape Group, our team works hard to stay up on current landscaping trends, which are changing constantly. Through the National Associate of Landscape Professionals, we’re sharing their top trends for the 2020 season. Check them out below:

SHADES OF BLUE
Yep, you read that correctly, shades of blue have become amongst the most popular colors for the 2020 season. This is in part thanks to Pantone naming blue its color of the year. Whether it’s in accent pieces or water features, you will likely spot a variation of blue shades incorporated.

ORNATE, GEOMETRIC HARDSCAPING
Waves, lattice, chevron, basket weave; these are some popular interior patterns making the jump into hardscaping. Thanks to Unilock’s modern technology, we can incorporate it into your patio, walkway, retaining walls, and more!

CONTEMPORARY AND TRANSITIONAL LANDSCAPE DESIGN
Modern, sleek, and simple are key words all generations use to describe their dream landscape. Incorporating both function and flair will be a big theme in 2020.

INCORPORATING YOU INTO YOUR DESIGN
People are incorporating their personal, unique style into their landscaping. Big into growing your own produce? Install plenty of raised beds and garden space. Do you love cooking for your family? Design a built-in cooking area and wood-fire pizza oven. The possibilities are endless for how you can create your outdoor space to reflect you!

REMOTE-CONTROLLED IRRIGATION
Smart technology has taken over this year and it’s made its way into landscaping. Instead of manually watering your lawn, you can get it done with the click of a button through a website or phone app.

Looking to invest in one of these trends and incorporate it into your landscape design? Contact #teamserene today to get started!

26 Apr 2020

Properly Mulching your Landscape Bed

By Daphney McCristal, Landscape Designer

This week we’re discussing mulch and the role it plays in your landscape beds!

Using mulch in your landscape beds is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also very beneficial to your landscape plants as well. Some of these benefits include feeding the soil, conserving water, and smothering weeds.

Using a non-dyed, natural wood mulch is recommended for adding essential nutrients to the soil. Some types of natural mulch include Cedar, Pine Bark, and natural hardwood.

Cover your landscape beds in a thick 3 to 4” layer of mulch to help smother/suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Less than 2” of mulch will let in enough light through to allow weed seeds to germinate.

Once you’ve added mulch to your landscape beds, you should only need to topdress with 1 to 2” of mulch yearly to replenish it. Not only does mulch make a landscape look great after it’s installed, your plants and soil will appreciate it too.

Still lost or anxious about doing this yourself? Contact Serene Landscape Group! While we can’t be there to perform our jobs on site right now, we are still operating remotely to get ready for business’ to be open once again! Call us today or visit our contact page to get started.

28 Feb 2020

Revamp your Landscape this Spring!

Spring is our favorite time of year at Serene Landscape Group. As the snow thaws and greenery returns to Michigan, we are working hard on designing projects for clients so we can hit the ground running once the season begins. Are you looking for some inspiration on ways to revamp your landscape this spring? Here are a few favorites from #teamserene:

  • A Built-In Fire Pit: This is the perfect way to not only give your home a modern look and increase its value but bring your family together. This addition will allow you to enjoy nights outside by the fire well through the fall.
  • A Seated Wall: For those who might be short on space in their yard or are looking to add other amenities other than chairs, the addition of a seated wall is the perfect way to add elevation to your landscape and increase seating. Our trusted professionals can help you design this build using Unilock, our paver manufacturer, to give you a clean, unique look.
  • An Outdoor Kitchen: This is the ultimate amenity for frequent entertainers. A big trend that will continue into 2020 is bringing the indoors, outdoors, and this is the perfect way to do just that.
  • Plants, Plants, and More Plants: Great landscaping will always increase the value of your home, and plants are the easiest way to do so. Our expert designers will work closely with you to help choose the right plants that not only match the style of your home but your personality.
  • A Unilock Driveway: We utilize Unilock in all of our paver projects. Their pavers are beautiful, but most importantly, they are durable and will extend the life of your driveway.

If you’re interested in adding any of these amenities to your home, contact Serene Landscape Group today to make your home dreams a reality!

19 Dec 2019

Trends to Take Your Landscaping into the New Decade

The winter is prime time for Serene Landscape Group to start planning landscaping projects and renovations for the spring/summer. Planning is essential to any successful installation, but doing so can be difficult if you’re not on top of the upcoming trends for this season.

Thanks to Mom’s Design Build Blog, we can stay ahead of the game and help you design your landscape accordingly. Here are just four predicted landscaping trends for 2020:

  1. The intersection of indoor and outdoor living: A cool trend in 2020 will be all about combining the elements and bringing indoor living to the outdoors. Sofas, comfortable chairs, and throw cushions, in turn, will live outdoors on patios – making lounging outside a comfort fest.
  2. Smart technology: We live in the age of advanced technology and smart features are enhancing home design everywhere. A perfect example of smart technology is phantom screens, which are retractable screen doors that can be used in outdoor spaces.
  3. Unique outdoor lighting: Sleek, minimalist, linear lighting will be all the rage in 2020. The addition of outdoor lighting illuminates your landscape and softens the design elements all-around your home. LED light channels hiding under sidewalks and patio spaces make for a soothing feel. Essentially, the lighting enhances the curves and texture of the design, boosting the look and creating safety and visibility for guests and family.
  4. Modern Patio Flooring: This year, a more modernized look with patio flooring will be on the rise. We can create unique designs for all of our clients using Unilock, which can be utilized not only on patios, but for walkways, driveways, and more. You can learn more about our paver manufacturer and what we can do using their products here.

Are you looking to update your landscaping this spring/summer? #TeamSerene is here to help! Contact us and our designers will help make your landscape dreams a reality.

This post originally appeared on Mom’s Design Blog and was written by Brittany Chaffee. You can view the original here: http://bit.ly/34FfQWl

18 Sep 2019

Fall Maintenance Guarantees Healthy Spring Lawns

What’s the key to a healthy lawn in the spring when the ground thaws and landscape comes back to life? It’s continued maintenance in the fall! While many homeowners focus on the leaves during the season change, it’s important to prep your lawn for Michigan’s notorious winter. Here are some tips on getting ahead and achieving a beautiful lawn come spring-time:

  • Pull weeds: This is not exclusive to fall and important all year round, but it can lead to less weeds in the spring when growth begins again.
  • Overseed and fertilize: Seed dead or bare spots and overseed your entire lawn to get dense, plush grass that is vibrant in color. Additionally, fertilizer should be laid mid-September for cold-winter climates and mid-October for mild-winter climates.
  • Continue Cutting Your Grass: It’s important to keep it at 2 to 2.5 inches tall, as more than 3 inches will cause it to mat, and lead to winter lawn disease problems such as snow mold. If you cut shorter than 2 inches, you’ll limit the ability to make and store food for growth in the spring and encourage weed growth.
  • Rake and Remove Debris: Raking and removing your leaves in the yard may seem like common sense, but it’s important to understand the damage it can cause to your yard. Aside from a healthier lawn, built up leaves that are left to freeze and unfreeze can leave room for bacteria to grow and release forms of phosphate and nitrates.
  • Prune Plants: Cut most perennials back close to the ground.

While this won’t guarantee a lush, green lawn when winter ends, following this guide will help you achieve the best lawn on the block and save time, money, and energy come spring. Of course, you can always contact Serene Landscape Group and take part in one of our lawncare programs. We are here to help!

These tips originally appeared in “A Seasonal Guide: Fall Lawn and Landscape Care” on www.loveyourlandscape.org. You can read the full article here.

02 Dec 2018

Winter Landscaping

Ah, Winter. It is that time of year that we see our beautiful landscape transformed by the snow and ice, leaving a sense of longing for the Spring when we can start the planting season again. Despite the season, there are a number of things we can do to stem the “Winter Blues” and keep our landscaping looking top-shelf. Barbara Pierson, nursery manager at White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut offers a few tips to “make you love your yard in every season!”

Originally Posted in Home and Gardens: By Kelly Roberson, https://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscaping-projects/landscape-basics/winter-landscaping-tips/

1. Focus on bark. Sure, deciduous trees lose their leaves in wintertime, leaving their branches and trunks in focus. But that can be a good thing, Pierson says, “if you have any interesting ornamental trees that have really visually distinctive bark, which will end up adding winter interest.” Many of those trees and some shrubs are smaller, meaning they’re easier to find spots for in the winter landscape. A few of Pierson’s favorites include dogwoods and birch trees, great for both texture and color.

2. Include berries. Many trees and shrubs have berries they hold onto during fall and winter, and those can provide food for birds overwintering in your area. “Crabapples hold their little fruit,” Pierson says, and they make a great addition to the winter landscape. “A holly with berries is really beautiful,” she says.

3. Remember evergreens. Evergreens are great in the winter landscape for many reasons. First, there’s color: Evergreens are not just green; they’re available in yellow, such as Gold Thread false cypress, and blues, including dwarf blue spruce, and all colors in between. And evergreens just make good design sense, Pierson says. “They are really important for a winter landscape, but they make good focal points all year-round,” she says. “I always like to have at least one or two evergreens and work a border around those. When you are planting a new bed, you always want to have at least one evergreen.”

4. Rely on your hardscape. Winter is a good time to critically assess your landscape, figuring out where it’s missing focal points. The solution to enhancing your winter landscaping might not be a plant at all. “Winter is the best time to consider hardscape,” Pierson says. “A trellis, a bench, an arbor, even a garden sculpture are really essential.”

5. Adorn your summertime containers. Window boxes, hanging baskets, winter-hardy containers: All are indispensable for winter landscaping. Miniature dwarf Alberta spruce and broadleaf evergreens, such as Japanese Andromeda, holly and rhododendron, are perfect for wintertime, but they all have to be watered during dry periods. You don’t have to spend money on plants, Pierson says. “Fill containers with evergreen boughs of different textures and colors and interesting twigs,” she says, “anything with color in it.”

6. Stick with four-season perennials. Some perennials have evergreen foliage — ornamental grasses, hellebores, even dianthus with its beautiful low-creeping foliage — making them great for winter landscaping, Pierson says. “Make sure to read the plant label and find out if the plant has foliage in the winter, so you can see it year-round,” she says.

So, no need to dread the Winter season. We can enjoy the change of scenery and find ways to keep our landscaping love alive and well.

Also, you can schedule your Spring appointment with Serene Surroundings today, giving you something to look forward to in 2019!

Call today – (734) 416-9062

09 Nov 2018

Nature Can Improve Moods

We love sharing articles with our readers that demonstrate the positive effects of nature on people. Nature can improve moods and it nurtures our mental well-being. Many of our clients express that their own yards and landscapes are natural getaways from their daily stresses and anxieties. We love to provide serene surroundings to our clients; it’s not just a clever name!

Mood Enhancers: An excerpt from Landscape Architecture Magazine, June 2018

Byline: Joann Plockova

A Cross-Disciplinary Team Examines the Effects of Nature on the Urban Mind in Real Time.

According to the results of the pilot phase of a project called Urban Mind, nature does indeed nurture. Urban Mind uses smartphone technology to assess the impact of nature on mental well-being in cities, merging the immediacy of real-time data collection with a growing body of evidence about environments and mental health.

Developed in response to an open call put out by the Van Alen Institute, the research project and open source app were created by a cross-disciplinary team including the neuroscientist Andrea Mechelli of King’s College London, the artist and researcher Michael Smythe of Nomad Projects, and the landscape architects Johanna Gibbons and Neil Davidson of J & L Gibbons. It’s one of several smartphone-based studies, including LondonMood and Mappiness, that explore the effects of the environment on mental well-being, but Urban Mind is distinguished by its cross-disciplinary team and the inclusion of specific types and amounts of nature—sky, trees, birdsong, and so forth. “We’ve had a long-standing interest in how nature and landscapes influence our health,”

Davidson, a partner at the London-based firm, says. “In regard to mental health, we always had a sort of instinct of how important it might be, but there’s been a lack of robust scientific data to support that hypothesis.” As a member of the mixed team of academics and practitioners, “we saw some benefits in the different disciplines challenging each other’s preconceptions,” Davidson says. J & L Gibbons brought a knowledge of city planning, a strong interest in research, and a decade of experience working with the mayor of London on a policy framework project focused on the city’s green infrastructure plans. “We think landscape architects are quite well placed across a lot of disciplines to see where there might be opportunities to connect the dots,” Davidson says.

A serene patio by Serene Landscape Group

Preceded by a baseline assessment that included demographics and trait impulsivity (an indicator of those at greater risk of mental health issues), the app poses a series of questions that asks participants about their current environment (Can you see trees? Can you hear birds singing?) and mental well-being in the moment. Prompts were sent to participants seven times per day over a period of one week. Data was collected in real time using a technique called ecological momentary assessment. “So as you’re walking around the city or in your office, the questions you’re asked require a response within a fairly limited time frame,” Davidson says. “What that means is that the responses you are getting are without bias.”

Results, published in January in BioScience, showed that exposure to natural elements such as trees, sky, and birdsong positively affect mental well-being in the moment, but also that those effects linger beyond the moment. And for people with more potential to develop mental health issues, those benefits were even greater. “In real terms,” Davidson says, “this might inform the work of landscape architects to inform a frequency and a distribution of urban nature interventions that can lead to the improved long-term well-being for urban communities.”

20 Oct 2018

How Trees Can Improve Quality of Life

We found this article while reading through a recent issue of one of our trade magazines and wanted to share it with our readers. We are sharing it as a demonstration of how a well thought out landscape design and specific placements of trees can improve quality of life, as well as positively impact your neighborhood and the local community. We hope you enjoy!

A Cooler Canopy: An excerpt from Landscape Architecture Magazine, June 2018

Byline: Gweneth Leigh, ASLA

In Suburban Sydney, A Landscape Architect Quantifies the Variable Effects of Street Trees.

Libby Gallagher spent two years collecting data as a PhD student at the University of Sydney on how the different forms, species, and age ranges of street trees affect their ability to lower temperatures, sequester carbon, and reduce household energy costs. “It was an onerous process, to be honest,” says Gallagher, a landscape architect and the director of Gallagher Studio in Surry Hills, New South Wales.

Now, however, that hard-earned data is the backbone of Cool Streets, an initiative Gallagher created with community planners Cred Consulting. Gallagher’s modeling revealed that nontraditional street planting designs —such as using asymmetrical layouts and a mixture of species—helped keep neighborhoods cooler. However, maximizing benefits relied on trees’ reaching maturity, and survival can be tough for juvenile tree stock. Cool Streets wants to improve their chances by helping residents become better tree stewards.

The program measures the potential impacts of different street planting strategies. For instance, a young, 16-foot-high tree can save up to AU$100 on a household’s annual electricity bill. Within a few decades, the annual savings can grow to AU$400. The Cool Streets team uses this information in neighborhood workshops as a way to help residents determine planting designs for their streets.

For example, Boonderoo Avenue in suburban Glenwood, New South Wales, is just under a decade old; street trees had never been incorporated. The Cool Streets team shared multiple canopy options with street residents, each accompanied by data quantifying impacts of CO2 emissions and household power bills. Desiring the appearance of neatness and order, residents opted for a symmetrical design using small, compact trees. The option delivered few benefits in terms of cooling. So the Cool Streets team devised ways of maintaining a “neat” appearance using bigger trees that were four times more effective at cooling temperatures and reducing energy bills. The majority of residents were swayed by the data and decided to implement the alternative design.

Cool Streets has caught the attention not only of local city councils but also of residents who are keen to implement similar street planting strategies in their neighborhoods. A methodology is being developed in hopes of replicating it across the country. “Climate change can feel so overwhelming,” Gallagher says. “Being able to empower people to do something from their street and in their neighborhood opens up a dialogue to new possibilities.”