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Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Great Barrier, Weeds!

Cheap! Cheap! Cheap! If the birds are singing out we love it; we also know it’s spelled cheep. Just being outside, working, we hear all sorts of cheeps. It’s invigorating. When we think about the other spelling – at the worst, a suggestion of inferior products or service, it’s infuriating.

Yet, time after time we run into cheap imitations, cheap options, aka “deals”. We can tell you: landscaping is hard work, whether you do it yourself or you have us do it. And because it is, you should not use or accept cheap products.
You read our blog article about “paper or plastic” already; it's an early posting. You know that plastic takes centuries to breakdown. Today, walking through the grocery store, with our reusable bags in our cart, it was astonishing how much of what is in the store, even what the store is constructed with, is plastic. Sometimes it seems a daunting task to tackle, protecting the earth. But each of us can avoid plastic in the garden. Plastic weed barrier keeps the water and oxygen out. First your soil is damage. Then your garden suffers. Leave the black plastic weed barrier on the shelf.

Instead, we use weed barrier fabric and gladly include it in our bids on your landscaping projects. We know it takes time to breakdown also – after all, it is a barrier. What it does allow is for the soil to breathe, to receive moisture and oxygen. There is less damage to the soil. Fabric is more earth-friendly, protecting your garden plants. We never put weed barrier under mulch, as mulch is organic and will decompose and would become soil on top of the weed barrier. We always use weed barrier under decorative rock. We use a pre-emergent weed control two or three times (spring-summer-fall) to help prevent weed seed germination, especially in mulch beds!

That said, keep in mind that weeds are plants also. Considering there are billions of weed seeds in the air at certain times of the year, no one can ever expect to install barrier and then never see a weed again. They will sprout up. What a great barrier, such as the Dewitt Pro 5 we use, does, is stop the seeds beneath it from emerging. Anyone who sits back and watches the mulch turn to soil will also be watching weeds sprout from seeds deposited above the barrier.

With the right barrier in place you will still be bending down or be on your knees to pluck the errant weed from your soil but you will do it less often. A good foundation is required in raising a house, raising a child, and raising a garden. Regardless, we all know that with each of these, tending needs to be done! We all roll up our sleeves and get on with it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Bring Your Own Bags

Life is full of choices, followed usually by decisions.

On a regular basis we face what we think is an ordinary decision, “Paper or plastic?”.

Depending upon what we might need bags or sacks for at home we choose. Or maybe it doesn’t matter at the time or we don’t get asked.

Now GREEN has returned. Once the color theme of choice when Earth Day was born and it is back in fashion. Everyone is more aware, smarter, paying attention. Like it or not, most of us realize what we do has an impact on the environment. Trash is trash and each of us generates a lot of it.

Facts: Plastic bags take as long as 1000 years to break down. They choke marine mammals which mistake them as food. They litter landscapes. A bit over 5% are recycled. Considering how long plastic has been around we can conclude that every piece of plastic ever produced is still here, somewhere. Each person accounts for 1200 plastic bags annually. In addition there are bottles, wrappers, anti-theft devices. We could go on but why? You know what is plastic.

Do not take this as an endorsement for paper though.

If the bags are not made from recycled paper more trees are cut down and there’s an impact. It also takes a long, long time to breakdown if it is goes to a landfill. If bags go back into a recycling program there are processes to return it to pulp and they include chemicals.

It seems to be a dilemma.

If you choose one or the other then try to have other uses for the bags. There’s the dog walking chore of “picking up” for which plastic bags are good. At the same time, paper bags can end up as book covers or can be ripped up and thrown into the compost pile.

You can go with one or the other but you can also help by going green with reusable shopping bags or sacks. They are easy to come by. Stores, catalogs, and online retailers offer them. If you’re concerned about fuel then decide whether you should buy when you are out and about or buy online with other items that are in an order, delivered in one stop.
If you attend trade shows or donate to some causes you can often get canvas bags as thank you offerings. Gather enough of them and you are able to avoid both paper and plastic. Responsible companies welcome the opportunity to help the environment while getting all of us to promote their businesses; it's a green marketing approach.

Plus you will recycle a memory or two about where you were or how it is you came to own the variety of reusable bags you carry proudly into the stores you frequent. Just remember to take your bags with you when you go!
Our Earth looks good in green.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

When we, as Designer Landscapes’ owners, loaded up a borrowed “Gentleman Jim’s Pick-up Truck”, the birthday gift wheelbarrow, a grandpa’s loaned tools, sketch paper that looked like ruled notebook paper, and coloring pencils/markers leftover from college courses, the world’s doors to the outside were wide open and each view was full of opportunities.

Luckily for all of us, success came, earned through hard work, innovative plans and options, and careful decision making. But while we were digging and hauling we did not dream others were developing programs and writing code. What? Yet, within a couple of years of our launching the business, something called the Internet was introduced.
We have had a web site on the Internet for a few years now. Recently we decided it needed updating. The doors are open and we invite you to view  now and come back soon to see the updates. 
A little touch up became a makeover and we are delighted to show it off to you. From our blog and web site to our shirts and trucks we are "coordinated".
But wait, there’s more! The letterhead and contracts will be the new logo. By now you may have even seen the juicy orange flap on our envelopes! And, we’re taking the plunge into a greater use of email. If we do not already have your email address, please provide it to us, clearly stated if you call us at 217.227.3256 or email us at Terry Dobbs, Business Manager, will include you in our emailings. Trust us, we will be busy outside and you will not be inundated with messages. When we have something of interest to share, every couple of weeks for now, we will let you know. We respect your privacy. Information you provide to us stays within our business.

Spring is a time to introduce new looks and new ideas. We are thrilled to offer you new ideas which lead to your yard's makeover and equally thrilled to show you our updates. That first Spring, the one when we colored with whatever we could grab and were down on our knees, up to our elbows in dirt, we wondered where we would be twenty-five years from then. Our look has changed, our dedication to you, to quality, service, and integrity has not.