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!