The Benefits of Native Plants

Landscape Design

Pictured: Blue Flag Iris, Hay Scented Fern Sod, and Birch.

Native plants occur naturally in this area. They are adapted to our climate and range of soils and also provide food for our native wildlife. They are low-maintenance, require fewer fertilizers and pesticides, and are not considered invasive.

We have chosen these natives for their multi-season beauty and interest, wildlife value and their adaptability to a variety of garden conditions found in the Lakes Region of NH. Other than irrigation in the first year or two, and annual weeding, once established these plants require little else to thrive in our landscapes. Here are our top picks for native plants:

Best shade perennial: Foamflower – Tiarella cordifolia. Foamflower is a beautiful semi-evergreen ground-cover that has pink and white flowers in spring. Fairly deer resistant – not a deer’s first choice – it is perfect for growing in shady areas underneath trees. In rich soil, foamflower can spread annually a few feet in each direction, but it is never invasive. Choose spreading varieties such as ‘Oakleaf’ or ‘Running Tapestry’ if you are looking for a ground-cover effect.

Most fragrant shrub: Sweet Pepperbush – Clethra alnifolia. This medium sized shrub attracts butterflies and grows in forested wetlands, lakeshores or on stream banks in full – part shade or full sun. Although late to leaf out in spring, they have abundant, extremely fragrant, candle-like flower spikes which usually bloom in July-August. Choose Clethra alnifolia ‘Compacta’ for a compact and heavier branched shrub with white flowers or ‘Ruby Spice’ for deep pink flowers. Clethra spreads by rhizomes so give this plant extra space in the garden.

Most adaptable flowering shrub or small tree: Serviceberry – Amelanchier spp. Some species, such as Amelanchier canadensis are native to low woods and swamps, while others such as Amelanchier laevis ‘Spring Flurry’ are adapted to high and dry exposed areas. Serviceberry is a beautiful, multi stemmed, shrub or small tree that grows in full sun or in the understory of larger trees. White flowers cover the tree in April, and they are a bird’s favorite in June as they like to feed on the pink and purple edible berries. The fall foliage can be orange, red and/or yellow, especially when grown in the sun. Two of our favorite Amelanchier’s are ‘Robin Hill’ and ‘Autumn Brilliance.’

Best edible plant: Highbush Blueberry/Lowbush Blueberry – Vaccinium corymbosum/Vaccinium angustifolium. Blueberry is an essential Northern garden plant because of its delicious berries, fiery fall foliage, and depending on the species, ability to grow just about anywhere with some sun.  The blueberry is a great plant to place along an eroding shoreline. Our choice for the best Highbush blueberry is ‘Patriot’. It grows 3 – 4′ tall and produces early season fruit.  For heavier berry production, plant two different varieties near each other.

Most adaptable large tree: Red Maple – Acer rubrum. Native to swamps, forests, fields, and river and wetland edges. For small spaces choose the improved native ‘Bowhall’ red maple, which is a great shade tree where space is limited.  Its maximum height is 40 – 60′ tall and only 10 – 15′ wide, and has a gorgeous yellow to red fall color. ‘Redpointe’ has a great pyramidal form and is a good choice for street plantings.

Best Winter Berries: Winterberry – Ilex verticillata. Known for its heavy crop of red berries in the fall and winter, winterberry is a great plant to add color and interest to the winter landscape. The berries are useful for incorporating into fall and winter planters and arrangements. This medium sized shrub attracts birds and is great for wetland applications since it likes moist, acidic soil. ‘Berry Heavy’ is a prolific female red berry producer which needs a male pollinator, such as ‘Mr. Poppins’ to produce the attractive red berries.

Best Ground Cover: Hay Scented Fern – Dennstaedtia punctilobula. A tough ground cover with a soft, light green texture that does well in sun or full shade. Aggressive, creeps very quickly and is great for locations where you need to cover large areas quickly with something deer resistant, attractive and undemanding. They add fabulous texture to woodlands and landscape plantings.

Best plant for poor soils: Sweet Fern – Comptonia peregrina. Sweet fern is a native shrub with a unique scent. It is a great plant to control erosion and it grows in the poorest, dry soil. If you are interested in attracting birds and butterflies this is a must have plant.

Other great native plants to consider are Blue Flag Iris, Witch Hazel, Red Osier Dogwood, Viburnum, White Birch and Sugar Maples. To learn more about native plants or help in selecting the right plant for the right location stop by Stephens Landscaping Garden Center at 63 Whittier Highway, Moultonborough, NH, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

 

The Benefits of Working with a Design | Build Firm like SLP

Landscape Design

Thinking about updating outdoor spaces at your home or business? Whether it’s plantings, adding a small patio, or a complete transformation of your property, there are many benefits to using a professional design service rather than doing it yourself.

Expertise. Depending on where your property sits, there can be a lot of rules and regulations related to what can be built, if trees can be taken down, what can be planted, and so on. This is especially true for waterfront properties which have specific setbacks and required permits. At Stephens Landscaping, we’ve worked throughout the Lakes Region and surrounding areas and know the New Hampshire state and local regulations. We complete the design and permitting process in-house, saving you time and frustration.

Vision. With years of experience behind us, we know what is possible and what amazing features we can incorporate into a space. During the Schematic Design Process, we talk with you about your wants and needs for your landscape, and propose new ideas. From there, we will work together to create the project of your dreams using creative and cohesive design solutions to achieve project goals and objectives.

Budget. While some may have an idea of budget for their landscape renovations, others may not know the costs that come with extensive enhancements to any outdoor space. By using a design | build firm like SLP, we provide you with a rough cost budget from the beginning of the design process to help you prioritize what landscape enhancements might be most important to you. Since we are your one point contact, our design | build team is able to value engineer your project and offer material options to balance your budget with design goals.

Problem Solving. If you’ve had issues with run-off, wind damage, or finding the right plants to survive in your yard, we can help. We have many years of experience analyzing and solving problems that are unique to every property. We can help create solutions to the issues that have been plaguing your landscape.

Quality. The quality of our work speaks for itself — browse our Portfolio to see recent projects brought to life. We use quality natural and manmade materials as well as the best plants from the SL Garden Center to make sure that everything will thrive. Our staff are committed to providing you with quality craftsmanship on every project. A landscape by Stephens Landscaping is built to last.

Reliability. We come highly recommended and have a full and professional staff with many years of experience. Our team includes designated account managers, full-time landscape architect & permitter, design | build project managers, administrative staff, and uniformed field staff. We pride ourselves on our professionally maintained equipment, proactive communication, weekly project updates, scheduled property inspections, monthly invoicing, and 24-hour phone service. You can depend on us to always be professional and communicative.

Speed. Since our work is managed in-house, there is minimal wait time for coordination between different companies or contractors. Our dedicated team is efficient and will get your project done in a timely manner so you have more time to enjoy your property.

Less Stress. By working with Stephens Landscaping, we will coordinate everything for you. We manage the work in-house, including design, permitting, site work, hardscape planning, carpentry, irrigation, lighting, planting, and maintenance. We’re a one-stop shop to take care of all your landscape needs so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy.

Increase Property Value. Having a cohesive, well executed design for your yard can increase your property value and curb appeal. Invest in your landscape and it will add to your assets. Curious about the value of your property? Reach out to the professionals at Lake Life Realty for a competitive market analysis (CMA) and guidance on what improvements to your property will result in the biggest return on your investment.

Whether you’re thinking about updating your home or business landscaping, Stephens Landscaping would love to help. First impressions are lasting ones — let us help you make an amazing and impressive first impression with your landscaping by contacting us today.

Prepping Your Lake House Lawn for Summer

Landscape Maintenance

Mid to late April is the perfect time in the Lakes Region to begin prepping your lake house lawn for spring.  During the summer months, lakefront lawns take a lot of abuse, especially during busy holiday weekends, like the 4th of July.  In addition to increasing temperatures, lawns can suffer due to drought, lack of nutrients and increased foot traffic.  Beginning your lawn preparation in the early spring when the weather and ground conditions allow it is essential to making sure your lawn is prepared for the rigors of summer at the lake.

Spring Clean-up of Your Lake Winnipesaukee Lawn

  • A thorough spring clean-up of your entire property is the first step in preparing your lawn.  This includes picking up any sticks, branches and leaves that may have been missed during the fall-clean up.  It is very important that the entire property be cleaned and a buffer be created between your manicured landscape and any woodland area.  Unkept, less manicured areas are more likely to harbor pests and insects that can be harmful to your landscape.
  • Scout your entire property for any bugs, insects or pests that can pose a threat to your lawn.  This includes visible mole, vole or chipmunk damage.  If you encounter any of these threats, it is best to contact a professional.
  • Prune trees and shrubs that were not part of your fall or winter pruning schedule.  Unkept trees and shrubs can shade out turf areas or lead to future debris that can be harmful to your turf.  If you are unsure of the pruning requirements or timing of certain trees or shrubs, there are plenty of resources available to you, or you can hire a professional.
  • Perform a soil test.  Knowing your soil pH and macro and micro nutrient levels will help you to determine exactly what your lawn needs.

Lawn Care for Your Lake Winnipesaukee Lawn

  • Repairing winter damage with a good loam and compost soil mix and a grass seed mix of Fescues and Kentucky Blue Grass is an important step to getting your lawn on its way to mid-summer form.  It is important that you wait until the ground is warm enough to support the seed, but before consistent hot weather arrives.  The month of May is usually a safe bet in New Hampshire.
  • Dethatch your lawn to remove dead grass roots and stems to ensure that nutrients, water and sunlight can penetrate the soil.  If your lawn was installed late in the previous season it is likely that it is too tender for this service and it should be delayed for at least another season.
  • Aeration is typically performed in the fall, but if you notice dead spots or water logged spots, where compaction may be the cause, aeration is a great way to break up the soil and prepare it for seed.
  • Mulch garden beds to help suppress weeds.  Open soil areas are hotspots for weeds that can easily spread into your lawn area.
  • Put down a good pre-emergent to slow the growth of crab grass and weeds.  It is important to do this as early in the spring as possible before crabgrass and weeds are present.  If you are going to try and grow new grass it is important that you time this properly.
  • Get a regularly scheduled fertilization plan.   It is important to remember the 25′ setback line when applying fertilizer around the lake.  A green lawn is important, but not as important to the value of your property as clear, clean water.
  • Making sure your lawn is properly hydrated, mowed at the proper height and routinely fertilized are the best ways to make sure that your lawn is healthy and free of weeds.

Lawn Irrigation For Your Lake Winnipesaukee Lawn

  • Start and test your irrigation system once your lawn is dry.  Make sure that all your sprinkler heads are operating properly with the correct coverage and watering schedule for early season watering.  If you do not have a smart irrigation controller, and mother nature is providing plenty of April showers, you should leave your irrigation controller in the off position until supplemental water is needed.  Your irrigation schedule will need to be adjusted throughout the summer season to meet current watering demands.
  • Most lakefront landscapes use a shallow well pump or a jet pump to draw water off of the lake.  It is important to make sure that your suction line is equipped with a micron filter.  When drawing off of the lake, the chances of pulling in debris that can clog the pump, valves and sprinkler heads is likely.
  • Sign up for an irrigation plan that includes ongoing monitoring.  Two check-ups during the summer should be sufficient.  This is important because watering needs change, landscapes change and maintenance to the system may be required.

Be Sure to Consider Time and Budget

As with anything, when determining your landscape maintenance needs, you must consider the time and budget that you have available.  For many second homeowners the benefit of hiring a landscape contractor to perform maintenance services outweighs the financial investment and the time spent doing it themselves.  This is because time at the lake is precious and many homeowners prefer to spend this time relaxing, enjoying water sports, and with family.  It is important that any service agreement for maintenance services be detailed and that there is a clear expectation for work to be performed.