Tag Archives: landscape design

Fall Bulbs: Preparing Now for Spring’s Blooms

Fall is officially here and many of us couldn’t be more excited about mums, kale, pumpkins, and fall decor. Thinking of spring blooms is probably far from your mind! However, fall bulb care and planting is a small, but important, task on your fall landscaping “to-do” list that can make a beautiful impact statement for your home. So, what do you need to consider when planting fall bulbs and how do you go about it? Read on to learn more!

What are bulbs, and why should we plant them in the fall?

Simply put, a bulb essentially stores and feeds a developing flower as it grows to maturity. They have the capability to store food and nurture themselves through adverse conditions, like cold winters, and require a restful dormant period to develop. Planting bulbs at the right time in the fall will ensure that they’re settled in for that dormant period, will establish roots, and will sustain themselves until spring growth begins. Common bulbs for our area are tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, allium, and iris.

When should we plant fall bulbs?

Fall bulbs should be planted when the ground temperature is 55 degrees or cooler. Typically, here in Wisconsin, that means starting in late September or early October. Waiting until its cool enough is very important; planting when the soil is too warm can encourage your bulbs to produce tender top growth. Plant anytime through early-mid November, as long as the soil can be worked.

Where should bulbs be planted?

Bulbs will thrive best in a sunny space, allowing them to soak up as much of the warm spring rays as possible. Make sure the location gets 4 hours or more of light per day, and plant in an area that has good drainage.

What is the best way to plant bulbs?

Plant your bulbs pointed side up (when in doubt, plant the bulb on its side… it will find its way up!). As a rule of thumb, plant about 3x as deep as the height of your bulb. This can give you the opportunity to plant many bulbs in one area. For example: you can layer a small bulb like hyacinth on top of daffodils… you could even plant allium below the daffodils, ensuring a long season of spring/early summer blooms. In fact, planting multiple bulbs in a large hole creates a beautiful mass of flowers come spring.

Ongoing Care

Fertilize your bulbs at the time of planting, and again when growth emerges in the spring.

After the blooms are finished, don’t cut back the plant’s foliage until it becomes yellow and wilted. The plant will take energy from its healthy foliage to help nourish the bulb for future blooms!

As always, reach out to our talented and knowledgeable team members with any questions! We’re always here to help you dream, build, and nurture your outdoor haven!

What’s the Deal with Poly Furniture? Top 8 Things to Consider when Buying!

Polyethylene furniture (or “poly” as it is more often called) has quickly taken the outdoor furniture market by storm. Adirondack chairs, dining sets, lounge chairs, and even fire tables are now being made with the stuff. Why? Because it’s awesome.

What is polyethylene?

Polyethylene is a man-made plastic usually made from recycled materials. It is used in a variety of different items such as tubes, plastic parts, laminates and even furniture!

What are the benefits of poly furniture?

Poly furniture comes in a huge range of colors and is colored all the way through. This means that (with the exception of a few colors) there will be very minimal fading and any nicks or scratches will barely show! Depending on the manufacturer it is typically very heavy, so you do not have to worry about it blowing across your patio when the wind picks up. Lastly, it can be left outside year-round (even in Wisconsin snow), so you do not have to worry about dragging it inside at the end of the year. All in all, poly furniture is incredibly low maintenance, long-lasting, and a great addition to your outdoor space.

What should you pay attention to when buying poly furniture?

  1. Comfort. When buying poly furniture, you definitely want to sit in the exact chair or one very similar because each style and manufacturer will have slightly different designs. If you want to enjoy your furniture in your backyard, do not buy it without test driving it!
  2. Structure. Better quality poly furniture will be shaped for comfort and have more boards. The frame will also vary between manufacturers. Some, such as Berlin Gardens, will have fully welded aluminum frames while others will have cheaper and lighter frames that are not fully welded.
  3. Density. In addition to the structure, stronger and heavier boards are less likely to warp. A classic Adirondack chair from Berlin Gardens weighs 65 pounds and is composed primarily of recycled milk jugs. There are 10 milk jugs per pound of product, so one Adirondack chair is made up of about 650 milk jugs.
  4. Hardware. Is the hardware clearly visible or is it primarily tucked in places that are not visible? What type of hardware do the chairs use? Berlin Gardens uses marine grade alloy chrome plated stainless steel.
  5. Finish. Some poly companies will offer different finishes such as standard and natural. Standard finish is going to be smooth and a little bit glossier. If this is the look you’d prefer, you definitely should pay attention to how smooth it feels when comparing manufacturers! On the other hand, many companies offer a natural finish option. This is going to look more like wood and have a much richer appearance.
  6. Color. In the hot summer sun, poly furniture can get warm. If you have a patio that you know will be right in the hot sun, you may want to consider a lighter color that will stay cooler throughout the summer!
  7. Warranty. Good products have good companies that stand behind their products. Buying furniture is an investment and you want it to last! For example, Berlin Gardens poly comes with a 20-year warranty and they have outstanding customer service.
  8. Manufacturer. Where is the furniture produced? The manufacturer has a lot to do with the smoothness, construction, and overall quality of the product. Berlin Gardens is proud to be made by an Amish workforce in Berlin, Ohio.

If you want low maintenance furniture that is built to endure Wisconsin weather and last you a very long time, poly furniture could be the perfect solution. Stop by Vande Hey Company today or check out Berlin Gardens and our other furniture lines here.

Buying a Fire Table? Consider These 8 Things!

The demand for fire tables has escalated greatly in recent years due to their function as a patio centerpiece that creates both ambiance and warmth. They are quickly becoming the next “must have” for anyone with a backyard patio. Yet, there are many different price points, styles, and options. How do you choose? Here are our top 8 things you should consider.

  1. Location. With any fire feature you will want to start by considering the location. Is it a straight-lined patio or free-flowing? How much space do you have? Will you move the table? If it is something that will move around, you may also want to consider a lighter material. A table too large for your space may result in guests falling off the patio while a table too small will leave an awkward amount of open space. You should also consider how many people will typically be sitting around the table. Are you sitting on one side overlooking your backyard or are you looking to wrap people around a circular table?
  2. Functionality. How are you going to use the table? Most fire tables will include or have an optional burner cover. Do you plan to dine on the table or use it to play cards? If you are looking to dine, you could even get a dining table with a fire feature. If you are looking to have people stand around and chat, you may want to consider a higher fire table that people could comfortably place drinks on or lean up against. If you are looking for a cozy atmosphere, you may instead want to consider a fireplace. A fireplace can cozy up a patio while also providing more height and possible protection from wind.
  3. Material and Style. Fire tables come in a huge variety of materials such as polyethylene, aluminum, granite, stone, and wicker. Consider the durability of the material, whether or not it will fade, and the atmosphere you are striving to create. For example, a wicker table will often create a more tropical feel while a sleek glass or granite top will appear much more modern. When buying you should also pay attention to little details such as what type of stainless steel is used for the burner. 
  4. Fuel Source. The most common fuel sources are wood, propane, and natural gas. While the natural crackle and smell of wood is awesome, it is also messier. Natural gas removes the burden of replacing a propane tank, but it requires a gas line and removes mobility. Propane is the most popular fuel providing mobility and also a clean burn.
  5. BTU Output. British Thermal Output refers to the heat that the flame will provide. Higher BTU means more heat. Many tables allow for flame (and thus temperature) adjustment. While varying levels of adjustability exist, having the ability to create ambiance without too much heat on a warmer night or large flames on a cool night is worth the cost of an upper-end fire table.
  6. “Fire Media.” Fire media refers to what is inside the burner. Most fire tables come with clear tempered glass stones, but you could also add lava rock, gas logs, and different colored gems or crushed glass. Utilizing different fire media can create a more unique feel and provide another opportunity to tie the fire table into your existing landscaping.
  7. Safety and Durability. While safety restrictions are increasing, it is a good idea to consider the safety standards of the tables that interest you. Look for tables that are safety tested and listed by UL LLC. This will ensure the table has safety features such as shutting off when the flame is put out by extreme wind. Many tables made overseas are less likely to follow these safety precautions. Another element of safety is durability. Look for companies that offer a warranty and stand behind their products.
  8. Price. Whenever you make a purchase, you should consider the price and have an idea of your budget. While a fire table can be a large investment, spending a little bit more up front will provide much greater quality, longevity, and overall satisfaction. Budget wisely, but make sure you know what you are buying when you make an investment!

Whether you know exactly what style you want or you need to explore the options, our knowledgeable staff is here to help you bring home the perfect fire feature for your patio. Stop in to our showroom, take a look at our website (https://www.vandeheys.com/services/retail/fire-tables/) or give us a call to take the next step in perfecting your backyard haven.

Backyard, Now What? Part 2: Top 5 Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself to Create the Backyard of Your Dreams.

If you read “Backyard, Now What? Part 1,” you are already on your way to turning your backyard “blank page” into a beautiful masterpiece for you and your family to enjoy.  However, like a good student, you should also make sure you are asking the right questions. Asking the right questions will not only help you increase your own understanding, but also make sure you get exactly what you want with top notch quality. Here’s the Top 5 Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself to Create the Backyard of Your Dreams.

#1 How do I want to use the space?

This is arguably the most important question you will ask yourself throughout the entire design process. Are you looking to entertain groups of people? Are they large groups or small groups? Do you want a more intimate space for relaxing with just your family? What about your kids? How old are they now and how will their needs change as they get older? Do you want a pool, playset, basketball court, etc., that encourages an active lifestyle? What about grilling or other forms of outdoor cooking? What about privacy, protection from the elements, and light for enjoying your space at night? We know there are a TON of factors! That is why our team of experts recommends you “start with the end in mind” and then fill in the little details.

#2 Are there plants or features that I know I want?

What are your “must haves”? Is it a shade structure, the sound of water trickling for relaxation, or maybe a favorite plant? If you are not sure what you want, brainstorm! Check out our Garden Trends of 2020, research online, ask us for resources, and bring everything you collect with you when you meet with a Vande Hey representative. You do not need to make every decision right away, but get some ideas and we can help fill in the gaps!

#3 What is my budget?

Be realistic with your budget, but also remember to keep the end in mind—there are many adjustments that can be made to meet your budget, while not sacrificing your dreams.  For many people this means landscaping in phases; our team can help recommend steps so adding additional features like lighting, grills, or pergolas is not as costly in the future due to having to remove or relay pavers in order to run conduit or pergola posts. It could mean selecting younger plants that are much more economic than larger sizes of the same plant. Or you may want to DIY part or all of the installation; for example, Vande Hey Company could install the beds and you could install the plants with special instruction from us! These are just a few options to consider before settling for lower quality materials or installation.

#4 How do I choose a landscape designer?

A good landscape design and a great landscape design are two different things with differing aesthetic and functional results. You should consider factors such as reputation, services offered, cost, and their design process (see question 5). How many years has the company existed, and what examples of work can they show you? Are the designers degreed/licensed? Do they provide both design and build or do you need to hire install separately? Do they install all the elements of your design: plants, pavers, pools, structures, lighting, athletics, etc.? What about providing maintenance after the project is finished? Asking these questions will help ensure beautiful quality and longevity for all of your landscaping.

#5 What is my time frame?

When do you want the project completed by and what does the process look like? For spring install, it is best to start the process in the fall; and for fall install, it is best to start the process in the spring. It is also important to understand that weather such as rainy seasons or extended snow could also impact the scheduling of your project. In addition to scheduling, each landscape company will have their own unique process. It is important to ask about the process and understand the expectations. You can learn more about Vande Hey Company’s interactive analysis, design, and install process here.

Don’t flunk on your landscaping since you were not paying attention during class. Be part of the process, participate, and ask these questions to ensure that your yard becomes everything you want and more.

Vande Hey Company has been creating a legacy of landscape excellence since 1950. Call or stop by today to learn more about our process and how we can help you answer these 5 questions!

Why the Lawn Face? Fun Facts and Lawn Care Tips

April is National Lawn Care Month and we want to share 10 fun facts and 10 fun tips about lawns and caring for them. With these facts you will not only appreciate your lawn more, but also learn how to take your lawn game to the next level. No more lawn face, it is time for your lawn to show that fresh cut, pearly green smile. 

Fun Facts About Your Lawn

  1. A 50×50 foot area of healthy lawn generates enough oxygen to supply a family of four.
  2. Lawns are 3x more productive at producing oxygen than trees. 
  3. 1 acre of grass produces more oxygen than 1 acre of rainforest.
  4. Using turf instead of concrete on road embankments reduces traffic noise by 200%.
  5. Eight healthy lawns have a cooling effect similar to air conditioning needed to cool 16 homes.
  6. There are about 10,000 different species of grass worldwide.
  7. Lawns trap about 12 million tons of dust annually.
  8. Lawns reduce runoff, the average golf course receiving one inch of rain absorbs 4 million gallons of water.
  9. Well maintained turf grass can increase the property value of a home by 15-20%.
  10. Various species of grass are found in bread, whiskey, and beer, some of our favorite things!

Lawn Care Tips

  1. Make sure your mower blades are sharp. Sharp blades prevent the grass from tearing which can result in brown tips 
  2. Aerate! Compacted grass does not grow well. You can even use a garden fork by pushing it into the grass about 3-4 inches and gently rocking it back and forth. 
  3. Smart irrigation saves about 15-20% on your water bill and has sensors that determine how much water your lawn actually needs.
  4. Water in the morning or later in the evening. This helps prevent large amounts of water from evaporating.
  5. Different species of grass have different needs. Talk to a professional to ensure you are using the right fertilizer, at the right time, in the right amounts. Do not over apply fertilizer and pesticides!
  6. Leave your lawn longer in the summer (~3.5 inches when cut) to help prevent drought. 
  7. Cut your lawn short before the winter to prevent vole/mice damage (~2 inches).
  8. Fertilize when rain is in the forecast or water in your fertilizer so it gets down to the roots.
  9. Thatching your lawn pulls out valuable organic matter and is not recommended except for in extreme cases.
  10. The best time to sow grass seed is late summer to early fall when the temperature is more consistent and many competitive weeds are at the end of their life cycle.

 Give Vande Hey Company a call today to set up your lawn care package! With our help there will be no more lawn faces, only pearly green smiles you can show off to your neighbors.

Sources: Vande Hey Company Professionals, National Association of Landscape Professionals, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, International Society of Agriculture

Get Outside! 33 Outdoor Activities You Can Do Right Now!

33 ideas for you, your family, and even your kids that will help you get outside, transform your yard, and have fun while doing it!

  1. Create some “Patio Playlists” for your upcoming summer events.
  2. Clean your grill.
  3. Learn about the trees in your backyard. Can you identify them based on the bark? The leaves?
  4. Start slow-growing annuals indoors. PRO TIP: download a light meter app on your phone to ensure your plants will get plenty of sun!
  5. Make a flower press. You can even do this with just cardboard and rubber bands at home. They make beautiful additions to cards, bookmarks, resin paperweights, pictures, and more!
  6. Start your spring cleanup—pick up sticks and leaves, cut back plants, and begin to prepare your beds for spring!
  7. Build a plant inventory list of all the plants in your yard.
  8. Create a plant wish list for plants you want to add this year. Check out our Plant Finder for lots of resources!
  9. Research new grill recipes for your next family cookout.
  10. Research recipes with fresh garden vegetables and herbs to step up your game this summer.
  11. Plant an indoor herb garden.
  12. Begin planting seeds for your vegetable garden indoors.
  13. Build a homemade bird bath.
  14. Enjoy some quality time in your backyard hot tub or learn about the health benefits here.
  15. Prune! The end of the dormant season is the best time to prune almost all trees and shrubs.
  16. Pick out some new houseplants to bring new life to your home.
  17. Take your outdoor furniture out of storage and clean it up.
  18. Start a rock garden with hand-painted rocks.
  19. Start your own DIY landscaping project. Check out our DIY kit here!
  20. Oil up or WD40 your adjustable basketball hoop.
  21. Make a homemade bird feeder.
  22. Go green! Pick out a few pollinator-friendly plants to create a little “buzz” about your landscaping.
  23. Rake your lawn when weather conditions permit
  24. Order a succulent arrangement from Vande Hey Company to bring low-maintenance, sun-loving succulents into your home.
  25. Have a picnic outside when it warms up.
  26. Mulch your yard to freshen it up and prepare ahead of time for your summer events.
  27. For a more detailed list of landscape management things to do check out our March Landscape Management 101 blog post.
  28. Keep an eye out for our April Landscape Management 101 blog post coming soon!
  29. Build and paint fairy houses for your garden.
  30. Get the outdoor firepit going and make s’mores or some other fire treat. PRO TIPs: Try adding peanut butter cups to your s’more or roast Peeps for Easter.
  31. Challenge your family to see who will be the first one in the swimming pool or pond.
  32. Listen to a podcast on gardening or landscaping.
  33. Accessorize your outdoor living space with outdoor furniture, firetables, grills, and more!

Backyard, Now What? Part 1: The Top 6 Benefits of Great Landscape Design

Sometimes staring out your window can seem like staring at a blinking cursor at the top of a blank page. You want to make something happen, but have no idea where to begin. Or maybe you feel like an HGTV guru with a thousand ideas, but not one idea that helps you make it happen. In this week’s blog we are going to talk about why design is important and The Top 6 Benefits of Great Landscape Design. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we discuss the top 6 questions you should be asking to create the backyard of your dreams.

Why is Design Important?

Grab some plant names from an HGTV show, order them online, and put them in the dirt. Easy right? WRONG. At Vande Hey Company we have degreed horticulturists who think about the size, spacing, and location of plants to maximize the health of the plant as well as visual appeal. We also think about factors such as the blooming season for each plant, grading and drainage, and even the amount of maintenance plants require. We make sure all the elements of your design, both softscape and hardscape, create a backyard that maximizes flow and function.

Top 6 Benefits of Great Landscape Design

#1 Year-Round Usage

A great landscape design provides a yard for you to enjoy all year. Whether it is seasonal blooming plants to provide color, shade structures to keep things cool, lighting to keep the party going, or bug prevention, a great design can greatly expand your backyard capabilities.

#2 Enhanced Curb Appeal and Property Value

If you ever decide to sell your gorgeously designed piece of property, great design means selling faster for higher dollar amounts. Not to mention you will be “that neighbor” with the beautiful yard everyone else is secretly jealous of.

#3 Save Time and Money

Small things make big differences in the long run. Simple design tweaks such as shading your AC can increase AC efficiency up to 10% while shading your house can save even more. Choosing native or other low maintenance plants requires less water, fertilizer, and pruning, saving you both time and money.

#4 Protection

Tired of your neighbors checking you out? Privacy screens and other strategically placed plants not only keep the neighbors out, but also act as wind shields protecting you from the elements.

#5 Environment Friendly

Good plant choices result in more nutrient-dense soil and cleaner air. Great design also increases biodiversity, attracting birds and pollinators to your. Added elements such as no mow areas, or rain gardens can also decrease maintenance and help filter water.

#6 Good Drainage, Longevity, and Quality

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Protect your property from water and ensure beautiful landscaping that lasts. Great design will take into account how you plan to use the space over time and account for how plants and trees will evolve into the space as they grow.

At Vande Hey Company, you will receive a great design from a degreed professional, that is unique to you—catered toward your needs, your wants, and your budget. Our team of professionals will work closely with you from start to finish to ensure absolute quality and satisfaction.

Boom. Your blank page is now a dissertation on outdoor living instead of a sad face drawn in crayon. That’s the benefit of great landscape design, plain and simple!

Cheers to Summer

As we near the changing of the leaves and the school year starts up again to include the crisp bite of a temperature change, we prepare to leave behind a time of warmth, of green grass, and a little bit of fun in the sun.

We choose to celebrate this last little slice of summer with an outdoor experience that will leave you savoring its last farewell.  It’s not too late to put that grill into work, firing up the heat for that juicy burger or tender steak.  Gather friends and family, hit the pool and create a splash of memories.

It’s time for one last round folks.  Get the menu started, and the food on the table.  Round up the patio chairs, grab your glass of wine, and ignite your fire table for an extra sense of warmth when the day dies down into the night.

It’s not too late to enjoy the last bits of the season, to say, “Cheers” and raise a glass. For your next summer needs, let’s get a jump start on projects with stopping in to speak with an expert today.  Visit https://www.vandeheys.com/ to get started.