Gardening for All Four Seasons

Landscape Design

When we think of our gardens, we think of colorful flowers blooming in the spring, growing at a prolific rate in the summer, gradually fading in the fall, and then in the winter, we nostalgically wait to see some pop of color again. But, with a little planning and perhaps some professional help, you can have a garden that showcases delightful swaths of color all year round.

Planting the Foundation

If flowers are the stars of gardens, trees and shrubs are the best supporting actors; they provide the structure necessary for the stars to shine. Trees and shrubs provide the shade necessary for your garden to thrive.

Trees like maple and red oak will provide beautiful foliage in the fall, and dogwood and the eastern redbud bloom in early spring, bringing your garden necessary color soon after winter. Evergreens do what they say they will do…they stay green all throughout the winter, reminding us that not everything is gray, brown, and white.

Shrubbery such as holly bushes will provide a nice pop of red color throughout the winter and provide perfect clippings for holiday décor. Most holly bushes need both a male and female bush planted near each other to be able to produce berries, so keep that in mind when purchasing this shrubbery; only the female will have berries.

Hellebore is a beautiful flowering shrub that is very cold tolerant and does not need to be deadheaded or pruned back when fall comes, and their flowers are some of the first to arrive in spring. During the winter months, don’t be alarmed if you see the shrubs lying flat! They are not dead; they are just trying to gather warmth from the ground. As the temperatures rise, so will they.

Hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons, and lilacs are popular shrubs in New England, and produce an abundance of blooms throughout the spring and summer. Lilacs are especially popular in New England, as they were traditionally planted near kitchen windows or doors to help with odor control. The oldest living lilacs in North America are here in New Hampshire, at the Governor Wentworth House in Portsmouth; they are thought to have been planted in 1750!

Creating a Colorful Palette

The next thing to think about in your garden plan is adding interest. Planting borders of mixed perennials are a great way to add long-lasting and stress-free color and interest to your landscaping. Plant once and forget about it, mostly, but it’s best to divide perennials every couple of years to stimulate blooming and growth. You’ll want to aim for a good mix of colors, textures, heights, bloom times, and blooming durations.

Irises, daffodils, tulips, and crocuses bloom quickly in the spring, giving us first glimpses of color. These are great for getting your garden started.

Allium will provide color and height along with visual interest in summer, as will poppies. Lavender keeps its purple color for a long time once it blooms. Sunflowers will add height and color in the summer to the fall, and zinnias are perfect for a wondrous splash of color closer to the ground. Perennials like mums and asters will provide color until frost and will come back year-after-year to provide color when the rest of the garden is dying off.

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - everything you need to know about mulch - landscape with mulch gardenAdding Layers

Ornamental grasses are perfect for filling in between the flower layer and the tree/shrubbery layers. These colorful grasses will add depth to your design, and visual interest to your four-season garden.

Grasses to consider include:

  • White sage: These fragrant, silvery white leaves will go well in any garden and are deer and rabbit resistant.
  • Elijah blue fescue: These stunning dwarf grasses add a delightful visual interest and a great bit of color to any garden.
  • Purple fountain grass: This grass is noted for their calming movements as much as their burgundy plumage.
  • Little Bluestem: This popular border grass is noted for growing straight up, and for its beautiful bronze color in the fall.

Ferns, hostas, and other foliage are a great addition to gardens as well. Hostas come in a variety of patterns, leaf sizes, and leaf shapes. There are many varieties of ferns, and each can bring something special to your garden:

  • Ostrich Fern is big and showy and can grow up to six feet tall.
  • American Royal Fern grows well next to hostas and will grow to about five feet in a shady garden.
  • Himalayan Maidenhair Fern is a great groundcover and is evergreen.

With a little forward planning, and some carefully chosen plants, your garden can be a showcase to be proud of throughout the year.

At Stephens Landscaping, we have the knowledge and the experience to help you make the most out of your four-season garden.  Contact us to discuss your ideas or give us a call at 603.707.0630 to discuss your fall planting project, and be sure to visit our Garden Center for all of your planting and holiday decorating needs. We’ve got new plants coming in weekly, all available for delivery.

Adding Natural Stone to Outdoor Spaces

Landscape Design

Adding natural stone to your landscape is a fool-proof and low-maintenance way to easily add visual interest to your property while also increasing your property’s value. Stone can add some nice extra touches or be the element that ties your entire landscape together. Because stone comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials, it’s best to come up with a plan of where you want to use stone, what you want the stone to do, and the look you’d like to achieve for the area.

Do you want the stone to serve a functional purpose, like crushed gravel in a driveway or flagstones in a pathway? Or are you looking to build a retaining wall or edge your lawn with pavers? Perhaps you are looking for artwork to define a corner of your property, like a fountain or a sculpture? To get the maximum benefit from natural stone, a great plan incorporates natural stonework in a variety of uses around the whole the property, using what best fits in to the environment. In this article, we’ll give you a variety of ideas for the use of natural stone on your own property.

Useful, Functional Stonework

Natural stone has been used in gardens and landscapes for centuries. In this application, stones provide visual interest to your property while serving a functional use.

  • Many lawns and flower beds are edged with stones. This type of edging provides a crisp, clean edge for your garden and lawn, and keeps mulch or gravel in place.
  • Since it doesn’t have to be replaced year after year, stones like white and tan beach pebbles, and river and lava rocks are used in the place of mulch around trees and shrubbery.
  • Crushed gravel and brick chips can be used for driveways, walkways, and directional pathways that wind through gardens and around properties.
  • If you have an area that’s prone to water pooling, you can use natural stone to create a dry creek bed. Any area that tends to hold water during heavy rains can be made into a visually appealing area with the addition of different sized natural stone rocks and the right plants, which will redirect the flow of water.

Adding a Bit More Interest

Stonework doesn’t have to be purely functional; by varying the natural stone you add to your outdoor space, you can add some beauty and visual interest as well.

  • Walkways and pathways can be made from differently shaped and colored flagstones. Light colored flagstones will brighten up a dark or shaded area, and by matching colors that already exist on your property, you can tie everything together for a cohesive look.
  • You can build stone walls to define different areas of your yard, or build a wall around your property’s perimeter, like the boundary lines of old New England homes.
  • A large accent rock or boulder in a corner of your yard, around which you plant a great variety flowers, is a wonderful way to add both color and visual interest to a spot that you may not know just what to do with otherwise.
  • A rock garden is a great way to add a good a section rocks and plantings to your landscape where you can feature some creativity. You can match the rest of your landscaping or do something totally different depending on your aesthetic.
  • Adding a stone bench to your yard is a great way to create seating and enjoy your outdoor space, especially if you position the bench where you can savor a great view.
  • If you have a shoreline, a beautiful stone retaining wall is a great way to stop erosion, and protect your shoreline and create lawn edging.
  • With some some grade variations on your property, you can use large slabs of natural stone to create beautiful staircases that make transitions easier from one area to another.

Bring Art Outdoors

Natural stone is a great way to add lasting, enduring art to your outdoor spaces. This is where you can go as wild as you dare. You can go with something as classic as a cairn, or more modern and abstract. Some ideas include:

  • A water feature or fountain. Many of these are either made from stone such as marble, or surrounded by natural stone.
  • A different type of water feature could be a waterfall or bridge, made entirely of natural stone, surrounded by lush landscaping.
  • For a more subtle water feature, stone rain chains and bubble rocks add a touch of serenity to outdoor spaces.

Extend your Living Space

Adding natural stone to your landscaping can be a big addition as well, such as adding stone elements that are extensions of your living space. Patios and pavilions predominantly feature terra cotta or flagstone floors, as do outdoor kitchens and entertainment areas. Fireplaces and firepits are all made of stone, both for beauty and for fire safety.

By making these areas out of natural, durable, and low maintenance stone, you’re sure to get years of use and enjoyment from these areas.

We have a full design and build team with extensive knowledge and experience working with natural stone for a wide variety of applications. We’d love to help you create the right design for your landscape and lifestyle. Contact us to discuss your ideas or give us a call at 603.707.0630 to get started today!

Come Join Our Team!

Company News

Do you have a knack for growing and caring for plants? Do you like helping people visualize what’s possible around their property and landscape? Is working outdoors a dream for you? Do you enjoy collaborating, creating and maintaining outdoor spaces that are aesthetically pleasing, socially impactful, and environmentally responsible? Here at Stephens Landscaping Professionals, we are always looking to grow our team of hardworking and talented individuals

Landscaping Year-Round

Working for a landscaping firm is so much more than going out on a sunny day to mow a lawn and trim some hedges. At Stephens Landscaping Professionals, we specialize in the design, permitting, construction, and maintenance of a number of exceptional residential and commercial landscapes in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and beyond.

This means we work with our clients from the very beginning to very end of their projects and are involved at every step. Clients come to us with their ideas, and work with our landscape architect and design team to put those ideas into a plan. Our staff gets the plans approved and permits pulled, and their dedicated project manager works with them through every construction phase.

We also work on projects like excavation and sitework, helping clients prepare properties for construction and major landscape renovations, or for the change of seasons. We’ve helped homeowners with septic work, carpentry projects, property maintenance, snow and ice management, property management, and of course, all kinds of landscaping including lawn, tree, shrub and flower planting and maintenance, outdoor living space installations, the building of lakeside beaches and docks and decks, and so much more.

What Does a Career Path at Stephens Landscaping Professionals Look Like?

We offer so many career options! If you don’t have much work experience, you can come to us with a high school education or GED and get trained on the job. Along the way, you’ll be able to get certifications for hardscaping, plant knowledge, or even to work with certain types of machinery, which will help you build a long-term career. You’ll have an opportunity to learn and advance depending on your interests across the variety of services we offer to our clients.

If you find landscaping to be your calling, you might want to consider furthering your education and pursuing a degree related to landscaping, such as horticulture, arboriculture, or landscape management, where you can use your degree to pursue jobs in project management, account management, or design.

Landscaping careers can include groundskeepers, account managers, landscape forepersons, carpenters, supervisors, architects, landscape designers, tree specialists, turf managers, and so much more. If you are interested in working outdoors, landscaping as a career is definitely worth checking out.

Why Work with Stephens Landscaping Professionals?

Stephens Landscaping Professionals was started in 2007 by brothers John and Mark Stephens. Now employing over 75 dedicated employees, Stephens Landscaping Professionals is one of the Lake Region’s most innovative and respected landscaping companies. We value each and every one of our employees, and we strive to maintain a work culture that is challenging, rewarding, and fun. In addition to competitive pay, we offer:

  • Company Paid Life Insurance
  • Paid Vacation + Sick Time
  • Company Paid Short Term Disability
  • Provided Uniform
  • Employee Development Opportunities
  • Boot Allowance
  • Health + Dental Insurance Programs
  • IRA Plan with Company Match

To find out more about our company culture, read what some team members have to say, and explore current job openings, please visit our Careers page.

Outwit Those Pesky Pests


Now that summer is well underway, your garden is probably looking pretty good by now. Your tomatoes are turning red, your cucumbers are beginning to proliferate, and your zucchini are almost big enough to harvest. You can see all the hard work you’ve put into your garden beginning to pay off. But so can the pests, who see a feast developing before them. How do you keep these nuisances away?

Cover It Up

If you’d like to protect your garden, a simple solution is to use a plant cover. Plant covers come in a variety of styles and shapes and will protect your gardens from pests and weather. Which you choose depends on what you want to protect, and what you want to protect it from:

  • Chicken wire protectors: These frame “houses” are built to protect multiple plants at once. They are easily lifted and used to protect berry bushes and plants like kale, lettuce, etc. from bunnies, deer, gophers, and other creatures that might want a nibble.
  • Row covers: These hoops are covered with some kind of fabric to protect plantings from insects and birds and can also be used with heavier material to protect plants from cold weather later in the year, if you wish to extend your growing season.
    • Thin fabric will allow for better light penetration, while heavier material will maintain a better temperature inside the hoops and protect your plants from cold weather; you can swap the material as the season progresses.
    • Insect mesh is a wonderful screen-like material that will keep insects from being able to munch on your veggies and stalks.
  • Shade cloth: This light-blocking, woven cloth is perfect to use in parts of your garden at this time of year. Many plants, like basil, lettuce, and even tomatoes will benefit from this cloth, which will provide shade so your plants don’t burn in the hot July sun. It’s strange to think of the sun as a “pest”, but sometimes your garden needs a break.

Consider a Natural Approach

If covers aren’t your thing, you might want to consider a more holistic approach to deterring pests in your garden. Options include companion gardening, organic and natural solutions, and even raiding your pantry!

Aphids and Slugs

These little creatures are the bane of every gardener’s existence. They are everywhere and eat everything. If you have a problem with aphids and slugs in your garden, you might want to try food grade diatomaceous earth, or DE for short. This off white, odor-free powder can be used in your garden on plants that show signs of damage (it will kill all insects with exoskeletons, even the good ones, so use only when needed. And since it’s a fine powder, it’s a good idea to wear a mask while applying, and reapply the DE after it rains.)

An old farmer’s tale for killing slugs involved burying an open can of beer three quarters of the way and letting the slugs crawl in and drown; there’s some validity to that, as slugs are attracted to the yeast in beer, but it seems a bit passive and inefficient. If you try it, let us know how it works!

Looper worms

These little inchworm-looking worms love to eat cole crops like cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, peas, and tomatoes. If you find them in your garden, you can get rid of them by mixing three teaspoons of cayenne pepper into one quart of water in a spray bottle. Apply to the leaves, stems, and the ground around each of your affected plants.

SL Garden Center-Moultonborough-Creative Resolutions for Your Garden in 2023-companion planting

Companion Planting

One tried and true method of keeping pests out of your garden is to plant companion plants, that is, planting plants near each other to benefit one plant or both. Common companion plantings include:

  • Planting petunias near potatoes and beans to keep potato beetles away.
  • Tansy, once an immensely popular New England flower, helps to keep aphids and ants at bay. Plant tansy near cucumbers and squash.
  • Catnip planted near zucchini and cucumbers will eliminate cucumber beetles and will make your garden a popular cat hangout!
  • Marigolds are a great addition to any garden and are great companion plants to any vegetable, most especially tomatoes. They repel the nematodes that attack tomato plant roots.
  • Chrysanthemums will keep out a variety of bugs and are a natural repellant of Japanese beetles and ticks.
  • Nasturtiums are a must in a garden, as aphids love them. Aphids will flock to nasturtiums and leave the other plants alone.
  • Zinnias are wonderful to plant in a vegetable garden, as they are favorites of ladybugs. Ladybugs love to eat pests like cabbage flies and aphids.
  • If you have fruit trees, it’s a good idea to plant alliums like onions or garlic around the base of it. This may prevent borers from drilling into the base of the tree, thereby destroying it.
  • Basil and tomatoes just don’t go together in a caprese salad. When planting next to each other in a garden, the basil will protect the tomato plant from whiteflies, aphids, and tomato hookworm. Basil will also help the flavor profile of tomatoes, and the tomato leaves help provide a great growing environment for basil by providing shade and moisture for its tender leaves. True companions for sure!

We’ve helped many gardeners keep their gardens healthy and thriving, and we’d love to help you with yours. Come visit us at our Garden Center, give us a call at at 603.707.0630 or email us and we’ll be happy to help you with garden issues or questions you may have.

Getting Your Gardens Started


Now that spring is in full swing and summer officially arrives at the end of the month, the time has come to get outside and plant our vegetable gardens. Here in New England, it’s customary to wait until after Memorial Day to plant anything outside, as it’s possible to get a killing frost until the end of May or the beginning of June. A frost is still remotely possible in very early June, but since your plants are so small at that point, it’s easy to cover them up for protection if needed.

Time to Transplant

If you have decided to plant a vegetable garden, chances are you planted seeds about eight to twelve weeks ago, and your seedlings are doing well indoors and are about five to six inches tall by now. Or maybe you decided to purchase a variety of seedlings from a professional garden center or greenhouse to give your garden an easier start. If you haven’t yet, stop by our Garden Center to see our wide selection of vegetable and herb starters, seeds, and supplies. However you choose to begin your garden, early June is the perfect time to transfer those seedlings outside and plant them in your prepared garden space.

Making your Choice

Vegetables that do well in our climate and that should be planted in early summer include:

  • Peppers: all varieties of bell peppers do well, as do spicier peppers like jalapeños, habanero, and cayenne peppers.
  • Tomatoes: it’s a good idea to plant a variety of tomatoes that will ripen throughout the season. Choose tomatoes that will give you an early harvest, some that will produce fruit mid-summer, and some that will hold out until late fall.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Plant these about a foot apart and fertilize them once a month. They should be ready to harvest by fall.
  • Eggplants: While we’re used to seeing dark purple eggplants, they actually come in a variety of colors, like pink, green, purple/white striped, or even black. Make sure to stake your plants, as the stalks will get weighed down as the eggplants grow.
  • Cucumbers: Since these are prolific producers, it’s best to stagger your plantings by a couple of weeks, to extend the production cycle long into the fall. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself picking a lot of cucumbers each and every week!
  • Cantaloupes and Watermelons: By selecting the right breeds for our cooler days and short growing season, you can grow sweet melons that will be ready to harvest by September.
  • Lettuce: A quick grower (you’ll be harvesting leaves in about a month), be sure to select lettuce that’s heat tolerant for our hottest days, and harvest in the early morning or in the cool of the evening.

Starting from Seed

If you didn’t start your seedlings weeks ago, and you haven’t bought propagated plants from a nursery, fear not! There are vegetables you can grow directly from seeds planted in your own garden in June that will have enough time to grow and give you a good summer and fall yield. These vegetables include:

  • Beans (both bush and pole beans).
  • Squash, including Winter Squash, Summer Squash, and Zucchini.
  • Chard.
  • Potatoes, including Sweet Potatoes.

These vegetables, when planted directly from seeds in your outdoor garden in June, will grow steadily throughout the summer, and give you a nice fall harvest.

  • Corn.
  • Green Beans.
  • Okra.
  • Parsnips.
  • Pumpkins.
  • Tomatillos.

Seasoning your Veggies

Of course, by growing all those great vegetables, you’ll want to grow herbs to accompany your fresh veggies in recipes and in your canning efforts. Great herbs to grow in your garden include:

  • Basil: An easy plant to grow, you’ll get a great harvest. Be sure to remove the flowers when they pop up.
  • Oregano: This is a perennial. Keep it trimmed or it can be invasive.
  • Sage: This soft-leaved plant will repel bugs.
  • Thyme: You’ll be able harvest thyme all summer, but bugs love it as much as you do; it’s best to protect your plants with netting.
  • Rosemary: A prolific producer, you’ll be able to harvest all summer. Plant rosemary next to beans, cabbage, and peppers for a larger harvest. Keep it well watered, as it dies in drought conditions. And watch out for beetles, who love it; it’s best to protect your plants with netting.
  • Lavender: A colorful scented favorite, this plant loves heat. Bugs won’t bother it. It’s a perennial but will die in cold weather.
  • Chamomile: With pretty flowers reminiscent of daisies, this has been used to make tea for ages. It’s a perennial but will die in cold weather. Bugs love it, too, so it’s best to protect your plants with netting.
  • Dill: Don’t allow dill to flower; pinch them off when you see the flowers forming. As a perennial, it’ll come up every year.
  • Cilantro: A staple of Mexican cuisine, cilantro likes to grow in big clumps, so do not thin it out. It’s an annual, so if you like it, you’ll have to plant it every year.

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center-Moultonborough-raised garden bed

Perfect Pairing: Benefits of Planting Edible Gardens Near Your Outdoor Kitchen

Planting a vegetable or herb garden near an outdoor kitchen offers numerous benefits that can enhance your culinary experiences and overall enjoyment of your outdoor living spaces. First and foremost, having fresh produce readily available allows you to incorporate the flavors of just-picked herbs and vegetables into your meals. The convenience of harvesting fresh ingredients adds a delightful element to cooking, promoting a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. Additionally, the proximity of a garden allows you to experiment with a wider variety of herbs and vegetables, including unique or rare varieties that may not be easily accessible in stores. This opens up a world of culinary possibilities and encourages creativity in your cooking. Tending to a garden can be a therapeutic and enjoyable activity, providing an opportunity to connect with nature and reduce stress. Ultimately, a vegetable or herb garden near your outdoor kitchen offers the satisfaction of self-sufficiency, the joy of flavorful and nutritious meals, and the pleasure of cultivating your own little patch of edible paradise.

The growing season in New England is short, so we need to make the most of it. With the right planning and the right vegetables, we can extend the season and have a great and bountiful summer. Happy planting!

We’ve helped homeowners prepare space for their gardens, including clearing, rototilling, fertilizing, installing irrigation systems, and mulching. We also love working with people to design and build outdoor kitchens, so if you’ve been dreaming of adding one to your property, let us help you make it a reality! Please call us at 603.707.0630 or email us to get started.