RAIN GARDENS- Design and Installation

DESIGN AND PLANT CHOICES

Sedge grasses are great for wet areas of the rain garden

Check with online resources or landscape professionals for guidance on size of garden needed as well as proper depth. They also can help you determine how the water will enter your garden through draintile surface run off or dry creek beds. Once you have those figured out and sketch a shape for your area the plant layout process can begin. Keep in mind light conditions of the garden throughout the day as well as bloom times so that the garden will have a long period of interest. Some people choose to go all native or pollinator plants, mixed shrubs and perennials or all grasses. There are many resource lists online to help narrow down plant choices. Most planting plans are divided into zones based on where the water will be the longest.

Popular Plant choices:

Grasses: Fox sedge, Blue Zinger sedge, Feather Reed Grass and Little Bluestem

Perennials: Blue Flag Iris, Coneflowers, Liatris and Lobelia

Shrubs: Red Twig Dogwood, Bush Honeysuckle and Spirea

INSTALLING YOUR CLEAN WATER PLANTING

Ok, now we’re ready to get out the shovels and do some digging! Draw out the outline of your planting space with spray paint or use a garden hose so you can move it around to get the shape just right. Also outline the area that will need to be the deepest part of your garden to hold the water. Decide if you are OK with herbicide to kill the grass and plan to do your spraying at least 3 days ahead of digging. If you would rather go a natural route strip the sod off and use elsewhere in yard or flip it over to create a small berm as designed in your new planting area. After surface material is removed continue to dig out the flat bottom bowl to the depth you need and size you’ve planned out.

Next bring in the compost material estimated to incorporate into the bottom of the bowl and use a garden fork to manually dig it in or employ a tiller for mechanical help. After the soil has all been raked out you are ready to place the plants using the design for proper placement. Or if you have a lot of small plants you may want to spread mulch first and then put in plants after to insure no plant gets buried in the mulching process.

Use root pruning techniques to prepare plants for proper root growth, dig your hole and plant! Mulch should be a good quality type that is fibrous and meshes well to get so as not to float and disturb the plants in a rain event. Plan for around 2” mulch depth.

As a final step thoroughly water each plant to settle it into the soil, removing air gaps and providing necessary moisture for needed root growth. Follow a landscape professional watering plan for ideal plant health and establishment.

Step back, take a look and enjoy your accomplishment. You are now benefitting the birds, bees, family, neighbors and most importantly the future of clean water.

3 month old planting

Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email amy@ateamlandscape.com

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LATE SPRING BLOOMERS for MN: Shrubs and Trees

As early spring bloomers begin to fade the prelude to summer begins with many fragrant flowering woody plants.

Photo courtesy of JFSchmidt- https://www.jfschmidt.com/royalraindrops/index.html

Royal raindrops crabapple – Disease resistant Height 20 ft. Spread 15 ft. Beautiful red-purple foliage, pink-red flowers, red sparkling fruit. Easy care, all-season color. Add a pop of color to your landscaping!

Greenspire Linden -Fragrant, creamy yellow flower Height: 40-50 ft. Spread: 30-35 ft. Symmetrical, pyramidal shape with a straight trunk. Bright yellow fall foliage; drought tolerant.

Japanese tree Lilac- Disease and pest resistant Height: 25-30 ft.  Spread: 20-25 ft. Fragrant, creamy white flower clusters bloom mid-June; brown fruit capsules follow. Textured, striped cherry tree-like bark adds interest in winter. Can be trained to be a multi-stemmed shrub-like tree, or a tall, single trunk tree.

Mandarin Lights Azalea- courtesy of U of MN research

Northern lights azalea grow from 3-7’ tall with flowers that bloom in spring, coming in a multitude of colors, so you would be sure to find one that would work in your landscape! These shrubs look especially lovely when planted alone or near conifers, but can work in just about any garden with partial to full sun and acidic soil! FUN FACT: Festivals celebrating the bloom of Azaleas are held around the world, including Japan, Korea, and the US

Prairie Petite Lilac

Lilac sp.  These white to deep purple flowers bloom in late spring and have perhaps one of the most easily recognizable fragrances to a Minnesota dweller. These shrubs grow best in full sun and can grow anywhere from 4-15’, depending on the variety! FUN FACT: Lilacs represent love! So, the next time you’re looking for something sweet for that special someone, skip the roses and try a Lilac bouquet!

Blizzard Mockorange – Abundant, fragrant blooms attract butterflies and birds Height: 4-5 ft.Spread: 3 ft. Very hardy shrub with deep green foliage and white blooms that last for 4 weeks in June. Orange-brown bark that exfoliates (similar to birch bark) as it ages. Tolerant to full sun.

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LATE SPRING BLOOMERS for MN: Perennials

Max Frei cranesbill  Geranium sanguineum ‘Max Frei’ Height: 8 inches Spread: 12 inches Flower Color and Season: Fuchsia late spring to early summer Foliage: dark green. Red in fall

Tiarella spring symphony Spring Symphony Tiarella Slightly fragranced, pink flowers Height: 6″ Spread: 8-10″ Dark green foliage, mounded shape with flowers that bloom in May-July. Shade-loving plant that is great as a groundcover or as a border/edger

Blue star amsonia  Amsonia tabernaemontana Height: 24 inches Spread: 36 inches Flower Color and Season: Blue late spring to early summer Foliage: light green. Yellow in fall

Gold Dicentra Bleeding Heart! Aren’t these flowers sweet?! These perennial shrubs generally grown 24-30” x 18-30”, depending on the variety, and bloom in the spring-early summer. This is a low-maintenance, partial sun or shade shrub that is considered a cottage garden classic! FUN FACT: Depending on where you’re from, this shrub known as either a Bleeding Heart or Lady in the Bath! Lady in the Bath?! Yes!! Because if you turn the flowers upside down, that’s just what they look like

Peony – These flowers are just breathtaking! Blooming in late spring to early summer, peonies have 6 flower types, 4 colors, and varying fragrance levels, so there is sure to be a variety that would work in your landscape! Peonies prefer a sunny spot with well-drained soil but are a perfect choice for a Minnesota garden because the cold winters are the perfect chill needed for bud formation. FUN FACT: In Greek mythology, Paeon, a student of the god of medicine and healing, was saved by Zeus from his mentor’s jealous wrath by being turned into a flower, the Peony!

[]Columbine  The resilient columbine grows best in full sun or light shade, with moist, fertile soil. The flower has a deep history in many cultures, and for many centuries, Christians believed that the columbine represented seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, including: wisdom, intellect, reverence or piety, strength, advise, knowledge and fear of God. FUN FACT: The root of the name columbine, columba, is Latin and means dove. But the columbine’s true Latin name is Aquilegia which translates to mean eagle. It was so named because the spurs of this flower reminded some observers of the the talons of an eagle. How neat is that? That’s pretty neat!

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Planting Harsh Sites- BLACK WALNUT TOXICITY

Living with Black Walnut Trees

When dealing with mature trees many times we just think about the shade factor and if the tree has dense or dappled areas under it. Also root competition comes to mind as well as dry ground from rain being caught in the canopy before it can get to the soil. But some trees emit substances that can negatively affect near by plants and Black Walnut is one of the most notorious for harming it’s neighbors.

As a popular choice for shade canopy, Black Walnut is also grown for its lumber production and dye properties in its ‘fruits’. The concern lies in the production of Juglone which is in the roots, leaves, nut husks and even carried by water dripping of its leaves during rain. Areas effected by a tree go well beyond the canopy through the root structure and may effect nearby roots as far as ½” away.

The only real solution to black walnut toxicity is to install tolerant plants. Fortunately there a few plants that show little or no effect in relation to Juglone toxins. Many symptoms are a mimic of diseases or physiological disorders so look up before diagnosing a plant. Even cutting the tree won’t solve the problem since the roots still contain the chemical.

Plants to steer clear of are: Nightshade (tomatoes, peppers etc), yews, Pines, Azalea, Potentilla, Hydrangeas and lilacs. Some resistant to Juglone include: Cherry, Crabapple, maples, dogwoods, carrots, onions, snap beans, arbor vitae and daylilies. Checkout the Morton Arboretum  for a comprehensive list of plants.

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Planting Harsh Sites- SALT TOLERANT

When designing street scapes, Boulevard plantings or landscapes that border driveways and sidewalks a consideration factor is snow/ice and the control method that will be used. Many of these areas will receive a dose of de-icing salts in the northern climates. Salt damage can show up through aerial spray or build up in the soil over time through direct contact or runoff.

Other then careful plant selection there are a few ways to control salt effects in the landscape including little to no use of de-icing salts, spread salt after shoveling, is salt with sand, alter drainage patterns and use temporary barriers to protect plants.

Some of the best plants with resistant characteristics include: Serviceberries, Honeylocust, white oaks, Japanese tree lilacs, Junipers, forsythias, hydrangeas and sumacs. Colorful perennials like daylilies, beebalms, sedums and Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass will add allseason interest to your mailbox planting. Be more careful with: maples, river birch, crabapples, arborvitae, boxwoods and viburnums.

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EARLY SPRING BLOOMERS for MN: Perennials

Lamium Purple Dragon- Long-lasting blooms Height: 6 in. Spread: 12 in. Dusty silver-white leaves that are outlined with blue-green. This groundcover perennial boasts purple snapdragon-like flowers that appear from April to June.

Winterglow Bergenia- H 12-15″ W 18″ Evergreen leaves are glossy green setting off the red flowers in April-June. Likes Partial Shade.

Bleeding Heart! -Aren’t these flowers sweet?! These perennials generally grown 24-30” x 18-30”, depending on the variety, and bloom in the spring-early summer. This is a low-maintenance, partial sun or shade shrub that is considered a cottage garden classic! FUN FACT: Depending on where you’re from, this shrub known as either a Bleeding Heart or Lady in the Bath! Lady in the Bath?! Yes!! Because if you turn the flowers upside down, that’s just what they look like

Bloodroot- These early spring bloomers cover the woodland floor with their shining white petals. The stems ‘bleed’ red when broken or crushed hence the name! Native to eastern united states and Canada they form large colonies with their spreading rhizomes. Ants, bees and deer are just a few benefited by this plant. Native Americans used it to induce vomiting so don’t try eating it!

Daffodils- You’ll have to plan ahead for these cheery flowers that require fall planting for spring blooms but they will provide years of enjoyment once you do. Deer and squirrel resistance are a bonus. These plants are perfect companions with summer blooming perennials and ornamental grasses.

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EARLY SPRING BLOOMERS for MN: Shrubs and Trees

After a long winter of grey days with piles of white snow our eyes long to see some signs of life in the bleak landscape. The following plants are some of the first to usher in Spring with glorious shades of pink, purple, yellow, orange and white.

Redbud Flower

MN Strain Redbud Tree- This lovely one is a Redbud Tree. The rose-pink flowers emerge in the spring and last for 2-3 weeks before the green leaves appear. Then in the fall, the leaves turn to yellow, making this a great tree choice for any area you’re looking to add a little color to!

FUN FACT: Those flowers aren’t only beautiful, but edible! They can be added to a salad for a burst of crisp sweetness! How sweet is that!

 ‘Leonard Messel’ Magnolia! Well-suited for colder climates, this stunning flowering tree adds an oriental flair to any landscape. It thrives in sunny areas with plenty of water.
8′-40″ x 10′-30″
FUN FACT: Magnolia flowers are typically pollinated by beetles, rather than bees or butterflies! Magnolias flowers do not produce nectar, but they do produce large quantities of high-protein pollen which the beetles use for food.

Royal Star Magnolia


‘Royal Star’ Magnolia H 8-10′ W 8-10′
Beautiful white double star shaped flowers appear in early spring before the strappy green leaves emerge. Protect from southern winds to prevent flower buds from freezing off.

‘Ann’ Magnolia Small upright-growing magnolia with red pink lily-shaped flowers in early May. H10’xW6’

First to flower- Forsythia

Show off Forsythia  First Bloomer in Spring Height 4-5 ft. Spread 4-5 ft. Golden flowers appear before the leaves emerge, and the green leaves turn burgundy in the Fall.

Northern lights azalea- These are Azaleas! Azaleas grow from 3-7’ tall with flowers that bloom in spring, coming in a multitude of colors, so you would be sure to find one that would work in your landscape! These shrubs look especially lovely when planted alone or near conifers, but can work in just about any garden with partial to full sun and acidic soil(ph4-5.5 ideal)! FUN FACT: Festivals celebrating the bloom of Azaleas are held around the world, including Japan, Korea, and the US

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Social Network Planting

 Our human social networks can complement our everyday lives by helping us achieve success, pushing us to go further, lifting us up in encouragement or just being a listening ear when we need to vent. Our chosen online platforms help us to mingle with others that have similar interests and invites them into our lives.

Plants do the same type of thing and harmony describes the plant world social network. When plants are thoughtfully chosen and planted, management becomes less stressful because the focus can be on the whole garden instead of individual plants. This concept of plant communities instead of individual elements creates sustainable gardens that use less water, are visually stimulating and require less maintenance overall once established.

The use of ‘green mulch’, which refers to groundcover plants, shades the soil and aids in preventing weeds and loss of water due to evaporation. Some of the great plants that fit the groundcover category are: low sedge grass such as Pensylvania Sedge, strawberries, self seeding columbines, woodland poppies and prairie dropseed grass.

Your garden can reflect your personality just like your profile and/or picture on your social network site does. Color choices, accent pieces, leaf shapes and more can all play a role in representing your creative self (or with the help of a landscape designer the creative you are deep down!).

“Garden plants evolved from diverse social networks.” Thomas Rainer, Landscape Architect

Plants have grown in their communities since the beginning of time and do many things in support of each other. Think of prairies and how grasses and wildflowers combine to create expanses of ‘groundcover’ in the heat of full sun and blowing wind. Prairies usually fade into woodland edges (often called savannahs) and different set of plants are present with the introduction of shade. Woodlands then rely on a high tree canopy that creates shade almost the entire day to the understory trees and shrubs, ferns, wildflowers and sedges at the forest floor. These inspirations in nature can be applied to our own urban plantings that surrounds our homes and businesses and through creative design and educated choices will be beautiful and sustainable.

As you think about your landscape and gardens this year find out how your current plants (or desired new ones) can benefit from giving them a ‘social network’ and implement the right community for the long term health of the environment. Also take time to sit and recharge, observe the ‘community’ in your own yard and learn from the interactions within nature that seem so simple yet can be highly complex but take place for the ultimate health of all its members. Create your landscape to give back!

Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email amy@ateamlandscape.com

SOCIAL NETWORK PLANTING-      by Amy Voight   Owner of A Team Landscaping Inc

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