Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 4/14/2017

Consider planting a living fence as an alternative to manufactured fences. There are benefits and disadvantages for both. Often vines, shrubs, small trees, and perennials are placed around manufactured fences anyway. So, why not go nature all the way! A living fence can give you privacy and security, as well as seasonal change. For example, a living fence made of shrubbery can bloom in the spring, be leafy lush in the summer, produce berries and hips in late summer, brilliant colors in the fall, and reveal pleasant branch structure in the winter. A living fence can be grown short (under 4-feet) or tall (30 feet or more) or any height in between. You can determine the width using your imagination or taste in plant material. You can tailor this living structure to your yard. Usually, a living fence needs no building permit as some manufactured fences do. You need not worry about height or width or color limits. Of course, a call to Dig Safe 811 is necessary. Digging into neighborhood power cables is a big no-no. You can plant shrubbery, small trees, ornamental grasses, perennials, and even vegetables and fruits or a combination of all to accomplish your desired effect. And you can do this with your neighbor, benefiting both sides of the fence! Robert Frost said it best with his Mending Wall. Living fences tend to outlive manufactured fences by decades. Of course, living fences need water until established, a bit of annual feeding, and the odd pruning depending on plant material selected. Europeans have been enjoying living fences for hundreds of years, calling them hedgerows. They have served as property line demarcations, windbreaks, shelter for birds and small animals for centuries. Establishing a living fence can be labor intensive, but need not be planted all at once. A slower pace would let the fence mature while the planter considers further options. Nursery plants can be used as well as seeds and root cuttings. The desired privacy would, of course, dictate the closeness of the plantings. There are multitude of plant choices to make a New England living fence, but the following are easy options:

  1. Pyramidal arborvitae are most often used in neighborhoods. They are hardy, can be pruned and sheared, and need very little maintenance. They can be grown as screens and windbreaks, but as evergreens they do not provide multi-season interest. They relatively inexpensive and can be planted in any configuration.
  2. Rugosa and Hansen roses have been used in beach plantings but will adapt very well to living fences. They are both extremely low maintenance and can be trimmed from a maximum height of 6 feet. They flower most of the summer, product red hips in the fall as well as yellow and red foliage. In the winter they are a thorney tangle of cover for birds. Depending on the species or cultivar, they bloom red, pink, yellow or white.
  3. Fragrant shrub honeysuckle is also easily maintained to a maximum of 10 feet and provides yellow and white spring flowers, then summer red berries cherished by birds, and yellow and red fall foliage. Winter shows interesting branch structure.
  4. Privet hedges are old standby's but easily maintained and sheered to your liking. Small white flowers and occasional purple berries.
  5. Russia olive trees with their strong late spring aroma and slender gray foliage are also easily sheered to any height or just allowed to grow to 25 feet.
  6. Rose of Sharon bloom in late summer in shades of purple and blue and are easily maintained to any height or width desired.
There are many more species of plants that can be used in your fence. You can certainly mix and match, but have fun with the process. You'll create something beautiful as well as practical.





Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 9/2/2016

At one time or another, everyone has postponed cutting their grass -- even if it's already overdue for a thorough mowing. Sometimes you have other plans: You're going away for the weekend, it's too hot, or maybe some friends just invited you over for a cold drink. There's no question that priorities often shift and more desirable choices present themselves. However, there are a handful of unexpected problems that could develop if you postpone lawn mowing for more than several additional days. Here are a few potential pitfalls to consider the next time you're thinking about waiting another week or so before tackling that jungle in your yard! Ground-nesting yellow jackets: There are a number of reasons that certain species of bees may decide that the soil in your backyard is a highly desirable place to build a nest, but uncut grass and a lack of human activity may make it even more inviting for them to set up shop. Although some ground-nesting bees are not always aggressive, yellow jackets are an exception. Mowing your lawn on a regular basis will not necessarily prevent bees from nesting in the ground, but short grass, regular human activity, and the noise of lawnmower may be somewhat of a deterrent. Keeping your grass well trimmed and your lawn maintained also makes it easier to spot bee activity in its early stages and take the appropriate action. In some cases, "appropriate action" is calling a professional exterminator and avoiding the infested area completely -- especially if you or anyone in your family is allergic to bee stings. Although your backyard should be a fun and carefree environment, it's a good idea to be observant and cautious when it comes to things like bee infestations. Other unwelcome visitors: If your yard is relatively quiet and undisturbed by lawn mowing and other activity for a few weeks, you may also discover large animal holes and burrows appearing. Not only does this damage your yard and create a tripping hazard, but there are a variety of undesirable animals -- including skunks -- that could be making their home on your property! Wear and tear on your lawnmower: Unless your lawnmower is new, exceptionally well maintained, and designed for rugged conditions, it probably does not do that well in long, thick grass. Forcing an older mower to work harder through heavy grass could cause it to overheat, shut down, or otherwise malfunction. Obvious drawbacks: Allowing your grass to grow beyond a couple inches can visibly detract from the appearance of your property. Even if you're not considering putting your house on the market in the near future, maintaining "curb appeal" will benefit neighbor relations and pride of home ownership. If vacations, physical limitations, or a busy social agenda keep you from mowing your lawn on a bi-weekly (or sometimes more frequent) basis, the solution may lie in using the services of an economical professional landscaping, mowing, or yard maintenance service. While it can be satisfying to have "hands on" involvement in keeping your property in tip top shape, sometimes there are other things you'd rather be doing!





Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 5/13/2016

Many people would be shocked to realize just how much money they can unlock from their homes by performing some simple landscaping tasks. Enhancing the curb appeal of your home will also help increase its resale value. This can be accomplished by simply getting your hands dirty planting a flower garden or by hiring a professional landscape contractor. The investment put into your yard will be reflected in your homes listing price. Landscaped yards with a well groomed appearance, tend to be more appealing to home seekers. Yards with gardens that are uncared for, or property that has been left un-landscaped, can really detract from the look of your home and cause your resale value to take a bit of a nosedive. Taking the time to care for your yard and gardens is indication that you care about your home inside and out. An obviously well maintained yard will most definitely attract potential buyers. In order to inspire a potential home buyer to make an appointment to view your home, you need to have them like what they see on the outside first. Working on the exterior of your home and making sure that your yard is well kept will only work to your advantage. Your home needs to stand out, especially if it's facing other competition in your neighborhood. With just a little weekly maintenance you can keep your property looking great. A professional landscape contractor can also be hired to regularly cut your lawn, trim your shrubbery, and tend to your flower gardens. When taking on a landscape project, you should consider how long before you plan to sell your home and recapture your investment. If you aren't planning on selling for five or more years, putting in a vegetable garden or planting your favorite perennials would be fine. These projects would benefit your family and make your yard more appealing and enjoyable. However, if you are landscaping your property close to the sale, you should just focus on projects that increase the aesthetic appeal of your home. Keep your choice of plants, flowers, and stone work very neutral to attract a wider range of potential buyers. Your main goal is to have your home not only be a house a buyer wants to live in, but also a home your neighbors want to live next to!