Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Transplanting BIG Trees

Anyone can transplant a tree, right? Just dig it up, drag it where you want it, and re-plant it. But beyond the size and weight of the large material we deal in at our Nursery, which requires heavy machinery, these simple steps will usually result in a tree that is suitable only for some vigorous fireplace work.

Here are two large Oak trees at our Nursery, both upwards of 20 + feet tall. How do we manage to transplant successfully such large material?

It begins with the root system - surviveability of the trees is dependent on digging  a large percentage of the roots. To do so requires a tree spade - a tractor with blades that can dig down and capture as much as a 48" wide swath of earth and roots at the base of the tree.

These root balls can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds!
Our guys then wrap the root ball in burlap and strap it all up tight in a wire basket. This 'ball & burlap' method protects the root system during transport.

All trussed up, these trees are then loaded onto a flatbed trailer for transport to their new home.

As are these Natchez crape myrtles.

At the destination, our guys lower this crape into a pre-dug hole. Notice how we plant the tree with the burlap and wire basket still on. This protects the integrity of the root system, allowing it time to adapt to its new surroundings and grow healthy roots into the surrounding soil.

These newly installed Hollies will do just fine - with the help of plenty of water!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Poolside Patio

Most things are not better than a poolside patio. But contrary to our wishes and dreams, poolside patios do not build themselves. In fact, it takes remarkable skill and perseverance to build one. It is work that literally proceeds from the ground up.

Meaning, before the patio, you must first clear the ground - in this case, of a large poolside crape myrtle. A crape myrtle this size has a very large root system, all of which needs to be removed before the patio work can begin.

Here our guys are demonstrating the traditional pick and shovel technique which, combined with appropriate muscle, has been in use for this type of work since well before the 19th century :)


The ground cleared, the patio work proper begins. Here are pictures of our men Amando and Chuy cutting and placing stone, and at times, kicking up a cloud of dust in the process!

 A bit of clean-up on the finished product ....

and ... c'est fini!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Garden Tips

Tip for December: stay inside and thumb through your stacks of unread garden catalogs for December garden tips that permit you to stay inside by a cozy fire. Then extend your research to include tips that permit you to stay by the fire with a hot buttered rum. Then take a nap.

But if you insist on actually doing something outside in December, here are some links to some timely articles, with some highlights and our own comments in [blocks]:

From About.com
Keep an eye out for bark damage from ice & deer

Spray broadleaf evergreens with anti-desiccant, to prevent dehydration

Use the branches from your Christmas tree as protective mulch
[Post December 25th, of course!]

Keep watering newly planted trees and shrubs
[Especially if you have recently invested in Ben's Creek Nursery's Installation Services; hint, hint]
and specific to the Southeast region, they tell us:
Be prepared for sudden swings in temperature and protect tender plants with row covers, newspaper or blankets

Prepare your planting beds now, with compost and manure, for planting in early spring

You should still be able to plant trees and shrubs
[Especially by investing in Ben's Creek Nursery's Installation Services; double hint, hint]

Start pruning your wisteria by removing the longer canes
[For those of you with wisteria; for those without, use this time to toast yourself with another hot buttered rum].
Then there is this article from the venerable Southern Living:
Grow some Amaryllis
[An indoor activity; I like it]

Display some Hollies - '... hollies are ideal living Christmas trees. ‘Oakland’ and ‘Robin’ hollies are outstanding evergreens both as specimens and for large hedges.'
[Not sure about 'Oakland'; we used to have some Oakleaf Hollies, and currently have some nice specimens of the Robins. Both are Red Holly cultivars and very popular, although we don't usually sell them as Christmas trees]

Feed the birds
[and watch them eat]

Add mulch
[As we have oft advised, e.g. here, 'mulch in the summer, mulch in the winter, it doesn't matter, keep mulching', it is an all year round, all season, all climate benefit to your yard and garden]
Click the links to read the full text of the articles and/or to avoid our commentary.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Time to Take Leave of your Leaves

Fall brings many things, but one of the most vivid memories from our childhood days are those terrible moments when we were told to get up from a comfy couch on a Saturday and rake up the leaves.

In earlier, simpler times, all the hard work was concentrated in raking the leaves into giant piles, where they were soon to be disposed of by burning. But before the burn, the neighborhood children jumped and frolicked in the leaves, enjoying a kind of reward for their labors.

As usual, however, the adults could not abide all the fun, so they publicly banned the burning of leaves (they said it had something to do with air pollution, but we knew different), and from then on the current practice began of bagging the leaves - which quadrupled the onerousness of an already onerous job.

But - to get serious - leaf raking can be onerous, but it is also necessary. Leaves left on your turf block out the sunlight and fresh air needed by your fresh, growing grass.

And as the grass goes dormant, even darker things begin to happen under those leaves: trapped water and leaf mulch become a perfect breeding ground for molds and other plant diseases.

Incipient mold under leaves
As the weather gets colder, the leaf layer becomes a strong attractant for varmints of all types, who use the leaves for nests and a relative warmth, like this meadow vole:

This meadow vole might come foraging for your unraked leaves,
and stay to cause great damage to fruit trees and garden plants.
Worms too like beds of moist leaves during the cold months. Worms themselves are altogether not bad for a lawn, but worms attract moles, and moles ... well, we all know what moles can do to our turf.

As part of our winter preparation services (see also our irrigation winterization post, below), Ben's Creek Nursery offers leaf-removal, either as a one-time job or as part of an annual maintenance contract. We can take the onerous out of raking leaves! And leave you to your comfy couch on Saturday.

Call us for a free assessment and quote today!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A True Fact: Autumn Won't Last Forever

Don't let the cool autumn weather fool you - winter's cold will be here soon enough. I know, because the same thing happened last year. And winter's cold will bring freezing - and certain danger for any systems containing water, like your irrigation system.

Which means ... it's time to winterize your systems.

Photo courtesy Ed Roberts, CC BY-SA 2.0
Winterizing an irrigation system is not as simple as shutting off the water. An irrigation system is a complex thing, and depending on how yours was installed, there are different collection points for water, odd 'nooks' and 'crannies' in your system, all of which must be completely drained to insure your system will be safe from winter damage.

Ben's Creek Nursery installs, services, repairs,
and winterizes all manner of irrigation systems.
To give you an idea about the complexity involved, consider the following. Many systems may have automatic drain valves installed.  It may seem, then, that these valves will do the work you need in clearing your lines. However, assuming proper installation, automatic drain valves are not installed on your mainline - which must be manually drained as well. And your lines could have other low points collecting water that neither of these methods will reach. So for many systems, compressed air should be used to blow out the lines - but with caution, always with caution, or else the blow out will be to your irrigation system.

Ben's Creek Nursery provides winterization services, but more important, we provide the experience and professional expertise to do the job comprehensively and well.

Protect your investment! Call us for a FREE assessment and quote.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Maintain verb : to keep in an existing state (as of repair, efficiency, or validity) : preserve from failure or decline.

So says the redoubtable Websters about that most inconspicuous aspect of landscape services: maintenance work.

The singular thing about maintenance work is that it is at its best when it goes unnoticed. A cleaned up yard looks the way it is supposed to and therefore belies the effort that was invested to make it that way.

But maintenance work poorly done is more than noticeable, it stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. The lawn that is not mowed, the messy pile of leaves that are not removed, or the plant bedding with played out mulch, will overshadow and obscure an otherwise beautiful yardscape.

That is why Ben's Creek Nursery takes its maintenance work so seriously, and why we are so happy when no one notices our work. Not to mention the fact that our customers have usually put their trust in us with long term annual contracts.

Herewith some photos of some current maintenance work by our crews.

 Click 'More' for More!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Waters of Life

Photo courtesy of Animaldetector, CC BY-SA 3.0
Adequate water is necessary to maintain healthy yards and gardens, a truism bordering on cliche, but important nonetheless. As is another old maxim, which almost says: Too much of a good thing is not .... a good thing.

That is, overwatering can be as much a danger to plants and grasses as underwatering. And the difficulty becomes a conundrum when you consider that differing plants and grasses require different amounts of water at different times.

That is why a good irrigation system, properly installed, can be such an efficient tool for maintaining healthy yards and gardens. With timers and differing zones of coverage, you the homeowner can give the individual attention that your plant material needs - without leaving the luxury of your living room!

Ben's Creek Nursery installs irrigation systems - and here are some pictures of a recent project.

The Virginia - North Carolina line runs right through the front yard of this property!
Here we are working in Virginia....
...but turn around and you look right back into North Carolina!
Hank, our in-house cable guy, insuring the safety of our customer's TV connections.
Keith, helpfully explaining which way is down.
Some shovel work ...
The Lakeside pattern of the irrigation system is taking shape!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Old Media comes to New Media

We found this information one day on the usefulness of Hollies the old fashioned way: perusing our daily newspaper, somewhere around the second cup of coffee. It contained much good information on the uses of Hollies, and particularly one of our favorites, Nellie R. Stevens, all of which we (and our customers) have long known. In sum, Nellies are extremely durable and will thrive in our particular climate. Being non-deciduous they make excellent screens, but owing to the contrast between the deep green leaves and a rich mix of red berries, they can be used as a specimen plant, bringing excellent color to any yardscape.

Here is a picture of some of our Nellies, close to 5 feet tall, which we have pruned and fertilized for upwards of 4 years or more:

And here is a picture of those berries I mentioned:

And here are some larger Nellies, about 10 feet tall:

One of the nice things about being a grower of material as well as a landscaping company is that we can offer our customers something special. With most landscaping companies, if you want to install some full grown plant material (instead of those little potted things you can pick up at Lowes), you might be able to look at a picture before they plant it in your yard. However, with Ben's Creek Nursery, prior to installing something like a Nellie R. Stevens, you can walk our nursery, view the material you want, and choose the particular specimen you like - and we will tag it for you, right there on the spot!

So come walk amongst our Nellies and find that perfect addition to your yard and garden!