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DIY Tips for 

Landscape Improvement

"Don't learn the tricks of the trade, just learn the trade" (Joe Calloway)




  • Mulching: Avoid mulch accumulation around plant & tree stems. Remove all but about ½” of the mulch. That will keep your microbial levels high.  Also, try mixing in a 50/ 50 mix ration of compost & mulch. 

  • Pruning: Remember, pruning is actually an injury to the plant. That is why it is best to do this when they are dormant and not actively growing. Prune older deciduous shrubs hard when dormant to rejuvenate the plant.

  • Seasonal color & texture : Pockets of tropical plants make a huge big impact. Place them in areas that accent focal points and along walkways. Don’t be afraid to use containers (varying shapes and sizes to accent each other), garden art, and other fixtures to unleash your creativeness. Remember textures don’t stop blooming!

  • Weeding: Keep up on them and they wont get bad! Also try using horticulture vinegar (not table grade vinegar). This environment friendly acid soaks into the mulch and burns little weeds as they germinate..

  • Planting trees: Smaller trees (size at planting) will outgrow larger trees within a few years and will be stronger (less likely to get diseased/ stressed). Also prepare the area around the hole in advance with 10-20% compost.  This is a definite way to  get a tree (or shall I say your investment) off and growing! 

  • Grass seeding: Sow the type of grass seed that will thrive with the care you plan to give it. Not all grass seed is equal. A blanket of straw will improve growth rate and increase the likelihood of a fuller turf area.

  • Mowing: Mow only 1/3 of grass height and as needed. Mulching the grass clippings will return moisture & nitrogen back to the turf.  Alternate mowing direction with each cutting.

  • Fertilizing: Not every yard needs the 4 step program or same amount of fertilizer.  A simple soil test will give you the prescription needed for a healthy yard eliminating unnecessary work & cost.

  • Rejuvenation:  Bottom line- core aeration will reap you long lasting benefits. Apply a  topdressing of organic matter and watch your lawn thrive for years to come!

Brick Paver Patios
Stone Walls
  • Foundation! Foundation! Foundation!  This is the most complicated, yet most important step and one that cannot be overemphasized.  Prepare your base construction by:

STEP 1: Excavate down to the sub soil approx. 12 “ below the desired patio height. Make sure the bottom of the excavated site is flat with-out divots. You want it to freeze and thaw evenly to help against the heave.

STEP 2: Compact all base material in approx.. 3” lifts. The bigger the compactor the better. Its critical to achieve 100% compaction. That can be tested by a density compaction meter or by trying to drive a 10” ½ metal spike through the base material. The top bedding layer in which you level your paver on should be a clean (dirt free) gravel (like kitty litter) NOT SAND. Sand is easier to level but will produce more weeds and is more likely to shift around on you.

STEP 3: Drainage- Make sure you have a 1” fall at the first 10’ from the structure and 11/2” per 15-20’. You may have to install a drain if the areas are too large. Water is your biggest problem no matter the patio material (concrete, brick or stone), so make sure it drains properly.

  • Paver selection: Don’t be afraid of using clay pavers, they have already passed the test of time of about 100-150 years. Concrete pavers (limestone & granite produced pavers) are durable as well, but using a finer grained paver will hold color much better than the standard paver.  In most cases, you get what you pay for.

  • Maintenance: Power wash regularly and keep the joints in between the pavers filled with poly-sand. There is a joint stabilizer solution to add to your sand ifyour not using a polymeric sand. A must for paver patios, especially in the beginning.

  • Stone selection: Natural stone is and old, time-tested materials that weathers the best with less maintenance. On the other hand, pre-cast blocks are easy to use but require sealing over time because they are porous.  Whatever type of material you choose, not all material is suited for every job.  Evaluate to see which type of material is the right type for your job.  For example, the bigger the wall, the more it is retaining and thus the heavier the stone type and setbacks will be needed.

  • Foundation: This is the key to the longevity of the structure.

    • Base construction: Use the 6-6-6 rule- 6” of gravel underneath, 6" in front of the wall (the toe) & 6” behind the wall (the heel). Always use clean gravel that has a 97% compaction rate just by shoveling in the trench. Compact the other 3% with a hand or plate compactor always leaving an access for water to drain away

  • Drainage:  This step is key to the life and the intergrity of the wall. To insure proper drainage all for at least of one foot of clean (dirt free) gravel behind the wall up unto 10-12” from top of wall. Behind the top of the wall area, form a swell to carry water away or create a base that will drain all water so none is collected behind the structure

  • Construction: Avoid point loading (when then is a gap beneath course layers). This will lead to wall failure.  Avoid stacking joints over top of each other. Allow equal distantance on both sides of the joint (joint is where two stone pieces come together) and always set each layer back a minuim of 3/4”.


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