Archive for March, 2014

March Mulch Madness Sale

Our Annual Mulch Event and ONCE-A-YEAR big discount!

Thur – Sat, March 27-29, 2014

Hours: Thursday-Friday 8AM-6PM
Saturday 8AM-3PM

$3.00 off per yard!

Yes, even after quantity discounts!

Check out the mulch page to see the variety of colors we offer.

Can’t pick up, no problem! We deliver!

Seminars to attend this weekend

• Big Green Egg Demo on Friday
 Why Mulch on Saturday

Click Here for more information!

Posted on: March 25th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off

Aquascape’s Mail in Rebate

Aquascape Logo.jpg

Get up to 100$ back on select Aquascape Pumps, Ion Gens, and Pond Lighting.  

March 15th – May 31st, 2014

Click Here for more info. 

Posted on: March 25th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off

The Building Blocks of a Good Landscape Lighting Design

By: CAST Lighting

depth with landscape lighting
Moonlighting, a highly effective way to create depth in a scene.
For this effect use CAST Tree Lights (CCTL1C), mounted 25′ to 30′ above ground.

Part 1: Depth

Creating a Dynamic Scene with Visual Interest Near and Far

Lighting design, whether it be for a stage or a landscape, is the process of directing the visual experience. The designer controls the viewers gaze, setting focal points, transition areas and visual destinations.

The principle of “Depth” refers to the distance the viewer’s gaze travels as he or she views the scene. In the photo on the left, moonlighting creates a subtle yet fascinating foreground focal area that acts as a starting point for the viewers experience. The gaze naturally travels down the driveway finally ending at the visual destination of the house. The overall experience is far richer than if the moonlighting were not present.

In addition, as the viewer walks or drives down the driveway, he or she experiences entering the scene, becoming a participant – heightening the emotional impact.

A lighting design with “Depth” can turn a viewer into a participant – the difference between good lighting and great lighting.


different lighting perspectives
Strategically placed bullets (CBL1CB) uplight architectural features to highlight a dramatic perspective.

Part 2: Perspective

Creating Visual Interest from all Possible Perspectives

The landscape of an homeowners property is a three dimensional canvas for the lighting designer. The viewer experiences this from outside the property, at its boundary and in many locations within. With this in mind, the designer needs to consider all points-of-view (perspectives) and create a continuous rich and effective experience.

Cinematographers are acutely aware of perspective. When they map out a scene, they meticulously light all foreground and background elements ensuring that from each camera’s perspective, the effect supports the desired visual impact. With the homeowners as our actors, we light the landscape with the knowledge that they will move from place to place.

One of our most difficult transitions is when our actors enter the house. When they pause to look out the living room window will they see their beautifully illuminated landscape? Or will it be in darkness? Will the lighting be unobtrusive? Or will they be blinded by a poorly aimed spot light? The lighting designer needs to assess the inside lighting as it affects the viewers outdoor gazing. Ideally, inside lights will be on dimmers and indoor lamps will not cause reflections on windows or in any other way obstruct outdoor viewing.


focal points with landscape lighting
Specimen trees are ideal focal points and can be uplighted by bullets (CBL1CB).

Part 3: Focal Points

Establishing Visual Destinations in the Gazing Experience

Try to slowly and smoothly sweep your gaze across the far side of the room. You’ll notice it’s nearly impossible to do. Instead, your eyes move from one point to another, stopping briefly each time. The brain forces this stop and go action because it can not process a moving image. As lighting designers, we use this knowledge to create an overall design consisting of visual destinations (focal points) and the illuminated spaces between them.

We need focal points in the landscape to act as stepping stones for the eyes. A good design will take the viewer through the landscape, directing the visual experience to take in the statuary, the specimen trees, the water features or whatever combination of elements elicit the desired experience. Just as with real stepping stones, focal points should not be too far apart and there should not be complete darkness between them.

A careful selection of focal points and the appropriate lighting of them allows us to guide the viewers experience and meet the goals of the lighting design.


painting with outdoor lighting
Uplighting with a single bullet (CBL1CB) reveals the foreground in this dramatic and welcoming Fall scene.

Part 4: Quality and Direction

Painting with Light

Just as a painter carefully selects brush type, size and shape, the lighting designer selects fixtures that paint light broadly or narrowly, with soft or hard edges, with elliptical or round beams. The painter also applies brush strokes in well defined directions; in the same way, the lighting designer directs light from upward or downward, from behind, or in front, or from the side. All these decisions are inspired by the artistic sense of the lighting designer and used to achieve the goals of the design.

In lighting, ‘Quality’ is a subjective term that refers to a combination of factors, such as beam spread and shape, level of diffusion and the overall appearance of lights relative to each other. This term should not be confused with ‘quality’ as it is used to refer to ‘value’. Lighting ‘Quality’ is what primarily sets the mood. Typical ‘Quality’ terms might be, ‘dramatic’, ‘natural’, ‘inviting’, ‘romantic’, ‘subdued’ and so on. If a homeowner asks for ‘Romantic’ lighting, it is the quality of lighting she is specifying. The designer learns with experience how to achieve various ‘Qualities’ using the right tools and techniques.

Direction simply refers to the direction that fixtures project their light. ‘Direction’ is combined with ‘Quality’ because it is the most important factor that defines ‘Quality’ of landscape lighting. Here are the various lighting directions and some qualities they can elicit:

  • Down lighting: natural, subdued, romantic, mellow
  • Up lighting: dramatic, uplifting, grand, spooky
  • Side lighting: textural, defining, dramatic
  • Back lighting: ethereal, understated, defining, mysterious
  • Front lighting: revealing, dramatic, flattening

Some other tools and techniques that affect ‘Quality” are:

  • Using narrower beams to uplight a structure is more dramatic than using a wall wash.
  • Using a diffusion lens with an MR-16 fixture softens the edges of the light beam making it less dramatic and more subdued and natural.
  • Using tree lights to spread a low level of light across unlit areas, creates a moonlit effect, making the scene more natural, romantic and welcoming.

By skillfully controlling ‘Quality and Direction’, the landscape lighting designer paints one masterpiece after another, building a reputation as an artist of light.


landscape lighting symmetry
Equidistant well lights (CWLWFLLEAD) highlight the symmetry of the front retaining wall.

Part 5: Symmetry and Balance

Highlighting the Structures and Forms that have Intrinsic Beauty

Symmetry is defined as an exact correspondence of form on opposite sides of a dividing line, a plane or an axis. Symmetry abounds in the natural world; animals have symmetrical limbs, eyes and ears; plants have symmetrical branches and leaves; while the inorganic world gives us symmetrical snowflakes and other crystals. Humans find symmetry beautiful and landscape designers use symmetry to evoke a positive emotional response.

Lighting designers look for any symmetry that may be present in the landscape or in the structures. If they find symmetry, they illuminate it so that it becomes recognizable to the nighttime viewer.

In the landscape, typical symmetrical components may be bushes that flank either end of a wall, stones that border the edges of a walkway, or posts that frame an entrance to the property. On the structure, we find symmetrical columns, windows or other architectural features.

The designer needs to carefully select fixtures that cast equal illumination on the symmetrical features. If one side is lit more brightly than the other, a disquieting feeling could result. Also, the designer should favor spotlighting rather than flooding (washing) symmetrical features – this will increase the dramatic effect.

There is also room for a creative lighting treatment of symmetrical elements. If, for example, there are sets of symmetrically placed windows on the face of a building, simple spotlighting may be uninteresting. Instead, the designer can place fixtures so they project through plant material and cast shadows on the building. The symmetry will still be recognized, but the shadows will add visual interest.

Symmetry is recognized and enjoyed by the viewer. The designer uses this knowledge to create designs that viewers instinctively enjoy.


landscape lighting cohesion
Cohesion is achieved in this design by lighting the structure, the foreground trees and bordering fence, then tying it all together with moonlighting.

Part 6. Cohesion

Connecting Focal Points to Create a Unified Design

Homeowners cherish the land they live on and the houses they live in. These private properties and homes are not mere collections of trees, bushes, stones and wood; they are miniature worlds acting as stages for the myriad plays that comprise each of our home life experiences. For this reason, when tasked to illuminate a property, we first look at the land and the house as one cohesive whole. Then we design the lighting so the nighttime experience presents an impression of wholeness rather than a scattering of unrelated elements. By lighting in this way, we set the stage for a richer experience as the viewer enters into the homeowner’s world.

Cohesion in landscape lighting speaks to this concept of wholeness. It refers to the connection between the various visual elements. It is not that we want to shed light everywhere; there is great beauty and mystery in the interplay between dark and light. Instead we want to selectively illuminate pathways between the visual destinations, and illuminate areas in the scene that contribute towards a good overall composition. We do this in a way that the experience is one of continuous enjoyment as the viewer sweeps his or her gaze from one visual destination to another.

To create a cohesive design, we keep in mind the desired overall look and feel, the focal points, and the safety and security needs. We then look at how we can tie together visual destinations to achieve cohesion between the separate elements. Here are some of the techniques we use to tie elements together.

  • Moonlighting. This is, by far, the best technique to illuminate wide expanses of lawn or driveways. Tree lights are used for this purpose and mounted 20 to 30 feet above the ground. Ideally, they project through branches for a dappled effect.
  • Lighting the Periphery. If you have a situation where moonlighting is not possible, then consider lighting elements that are in the background of the scene. These may be bushes, fences or trees. You will need to light them at a low enough level so they do not distract from more important focal points.
  • Area/Path Lights. If there are garden beds or other landscape features that can serve as cohesive elements, these can be illuminated by MR-16 area lights, bullets or one of the path lights.

It can be a challenge in a large property to provide cohesion between all focal points. In such a case, you might consider dropping the light level of these elements so the difference in luminance between them and the surrounding area is less.

Sometimes, due to budget restrictions, it is just not possible to connect the various elements with light and you are presented with focal points separated by “black holes”. In a case like this, you may want to propose a phased approach to the homeowner; fully lighting one area of the property with good cohesion and then lighting the other areas as funds become available.

A landscape lighting design without cohesion can interfere with the nighttime enjoyment of the scene. With cohesion, the experience is smooth, pleasing and reflects the richness of the homeowners world.

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off

Calling all Garden Enthusiasts – Daylight Savings Time is Here!

by: EP Henry

The time has finally come. We turned our clocks back at 2:00 AM Sunday, March 9, signaling daylight savings time, which is also a harbinger of the spring season (and the warm weather that comes with it). While it may irk some folks to lose an hour of sleep, others rejoice in the extra daylight we gain and the chance to resume their favorite outdoor activities, like cleaning up and redesigning their landscapes.

There are tons of ways to rework your existing gardens and yards, and the trends are running towards creating an outdoor living space that is as unique and comfortable as your living room. Check out some of the landscaping trends we think will be prevalent for 2014:

Trendsetters

While some homeowners clean out flowerbeds and prune trees and shrubs, some plan to repurpose high-maintenance/low return lawn and garden areas into private outdoor entertainment spaces. Homeowners with large and small properties alike have taken to adding decorative pavers that define and beautify gardens. Adding walkways or apatio increases home value and function by expanding family living space.

While utilitarian in nature, new colors, patterns and finishes in pavers are being used to create scaled -down “at home” getaways all over America. Creative dwellers are transforming drab and unused yards into romantic getaways and private VIP party spots.

Please Be Seated

Remember those ugly, uncomfortable webbed lawn chairs? Those days are over. Furniture designs for outdoor entertaining rival indoor lines, and allow consumers to decorate their space and continue to maintain consistency with their home’s style and quality. Nowadays, patios sport teak, intricate cast aluminum, and all weather wicker sofas, loveseats and chairs.  Finishing touches using accent pillows in lush fabrics cozy up a cold corner and add personality and panache.

outdoor entertainment

Al Fresco Dining

A meal outdoors on a beautiful evening with good food and friends is one of life’s best simple pleasures. There’s something about it that encourages us to kick back and unwind.

While grills still reign supreme in outdoor cooking plans, seasoned cooks are now bringing it all outside. Landscapes are fit with modular kitchen kits that can be custom ordered to fit your particular lifestyle needs. Indoor appliances such as sinks, refrigerators and bars are now being duplicated outdoors. For those who entertain frequently, wine coolers, warming drawers and pizza ovens are now making the scene.

Gather Round the Fire

Not only to keep you warm in the fall and winter months when you venture outdoors, a cozy fire pit or outdoor fireplace provides a rustic gathering spot amidst your gardens. Kits are fully customizable in size and shape and homeowners can choose stone veneers such as ledgestone, river rock and brick.

Gazebo drapes, (patio curtains) offer privacy and shade and help to insulate the space around your fire on breezy evenings. These can be hung using hooks, rods or even Velcro for easy on/off installation.

Mood Lighting

To get the most out of your new outdoor entertainment space and enjoy your landscape into the night hours, outdoor lighting is both mood enhancing as well as functional. This finishing touch can really wow your party goers. Hurricane lamps or tiki lights along a path offer safety and draw guests into the space.  Adding string lights overhead invoke a Mediterranean courtyard while “washing” a wall in light or up-lighting trees adds interest and drama.  Try adding unexpected standing lamp fixtures to really bring the cozy feeling of the inside out.

So, don’t forget to spring forward in the wee hours of Sunday morning and get your extra hour of sun. However you choose to take advantage of the extra time, you’ll be sure to feel energized and invigorated after the extreme winter we’ve had this year.

Stop in and visit us here at Tussey Mountain Mulch Landscape Center for more ideas!!

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off

Spring Pond Awakening

by: Aquascape Inc.

Frog in Spring PondNow that spring is here, you’re probably noticing some changes in your pond – your fish are coming back to life and you may even be able to see some plant growth.  Some changes that are taking place, however, aren’t so desirable, like that excess algae growth that you’re noticing. Understanding the transition that your pond makes from winter into spring and summer is essential in maintaining a healthy pond ecosystem.

You may have just spent your weekend cleaning your pond – or having your pond contractor do it for you.  A couple of days … weeks pass, and you notice an incredible growth of string algae.  “Not again,” you screech to yourself.  “I thought my pond was clean!”  Cleanliness does not necessarily mean algae-free, especially in the cool water of the early spring.

Some simple, important steps can be the difference between a balanced pond with minimal maintenance and a pond that requires unnecessary maintenance. Although bacteria and plants don’t start growing properly until water temperature reaches 55°F, there are still some simple steps you can take to maintain a crystal clear, trouble-free pond.

Aquascape SAB™ Stream and Pond Clean contains bacteria along with a powerful phosphate binder that will help prevent unsightly water conditions. This is extremely important when plants are not growing and utilizing phosphate. Excess phosphate is one of the leading causes of unsightly water conditions.

Fertilizing pond plants is also an important step toward balancing your pond. Strong healthy plants quickly utilize excess nutrients. Aquascape has two fertilizers, one short-term and one long-term. For optimal results use both fertilizers. The short-term fertilizer will jumpstart your plants in the spring and the long-term fertilizer will continue to feed your plants for one full year. Not only will you have beautiful vibrant lush plants, you will also have crystal clear water quality without the need to use potentially harmful algaecides that will not only disrupt the balance of your pond, but can also have harmful effects on fish, plants, and invertebrates. This short-term gain certainly comes with long-term pain.

Algae don’t mind cool water, but for the rest of your pond’s ecosystem, 55 °F is kind of the magic number. The plants and bacteria don’t jump into action, in the battle of the green monster, until the water temperature reaches, and consistently stays around 50° to 55°F.  At this time they start growing and are then able to use up the excess nutrients that the algae would otherwise be feasting on. This is the reason for the feared spring algae bloom.

The Plants

While growing, aquatic plants absorb a lot of the nutrients in the water, and this helps combat algae growth.  Until they are actively growing, they have no use for the natural fertilizer lurking in the pond.  But as they begin growing, they will naturally start to out-compete the algae for nutrients, the algae will be starved, and the pond water will become clearer.  Another benefit that plants provide, particularly water lilies, is that they shade the surface of the water helping to keep the water cool all while cutting down on the growth of string algae as well as green water.

The Bacteria

Bacteria also need warmer water to begin growing and colonizing, helping to provide crystal clear water quality as well as reducing maintenance.  You can help jumpstart the pond in the spring by adding supplemental bacteria such as Aquascape Beneficial Bacteriafor Ponds, and providing it with a place to colonize.  Since bacteria like lots of nooks and crannies, having rocks and gravel in the bottom of your pond will help provide surface area for bacteria to grow.  If you can’t, or don’t want to add rocks and gravel to the bottom of your pond, you’ll have less surface area for bacteria to colonize.

A biological filter containing a filtration media like Aquascape BioBalls® with lots of surface area, provides optimum conditions for biological filtration in the smallest space possible. The more surface area available for bacteria to grow, the more efficient your biological filter. Providing crystal clear water quality creates less problems, thereby lessening maintenance, which leaves more time to enjoy the pond and less time spent maintaining it.

The Fish

Fish are also sensitive to water temperature, and as it warms up, you will see more activity, and be tempted to feed them.  You’ve missed your fish all winter, but until the water temperature is consistently at 55° F, don’t feed them.  Their metabolism is still in slow motion and they are unable to digest the food properly. If you do feed them and food cannot be digested, this can result in food starting to decay in the body of the fish causing fish to become sick and possibly resulting in their death.  When you do start feeding them, begin with small amounts of a quality fish food formulated for colder water temperature, such as Aquascape Premium Coldwater Fish Food Pellets for all pond fish.

Patience Please…

You gotta have patience.  If you’ve stocked your pond with plenty of plants, the temperature’s just right, and you’ve started supplementing with Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds, your pond will quickly balance. Beneficial bacteria need to be added to a consistent maintenance routine to obtain optimal results. Resist the urge to add traditional algaecides as your pond will never become truly balanced, and often ponds become dependent on their use. Help support Mother Nature with use of natural products from Aquascape, your pond and the environment will thank you!

If you have any questions or need anything we will be glad to help!! Most of the products listed above can be purchased right here at Tussey Mountain Mulch Landscape Center!

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off

Give Your Pond a Spring Cleaning

by: Aquascape Inc.

Spring is simply the most exciting time of year. As things slowly awaken from their winter hibernation, there are some things that you can do to make sure your water feature gets off to a good start this spring.

Does your water feature need a full clean-out this season or does it just need to be tidied up a little? There are a couple of things that you can look for to help you decide. First, if there is a layer of “crud” at the bottom of the pond and the water is dark in color, it would be a good idea to do a full clean-out.Cleanout

On the other hand, if there is just a small amount of debris that you can stir up and capture with a net and the water looks clear, a little tidying up is all that’s in order. Plan on spending a half to a full day to complete a pond clean-out. A Pondless® Waterfall will take considerably less time.

The best time to perform a pond clean-out is the early spring, before your water garden completely awakens from its winter dormancy – ideally before the water temperature in the pond creeps above 55º F. If a clean-out is performed when the water is warmer, after bacteria colonies form, the balance of the ecosystem will again be thrown off and your pond will go through another “green phase” before the bacteria colonies re-establish themselves again.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

- A clean-out pump with approximately 25 ft. of discharge hose
- A high-pressure nozzle for your garden hose, or a power washer
- Garden shears for trimming plants
- A child’s swimming pool or a similar sized container to hold fish and any other critters you find during the clean-out
- A net or something similar to place over the fish container to keep them from jumping out
- Two five-gallon buckets to collect leaves and debris
- A fish net
Aquascape Pond Detoxifier to remove chorine and chloramines prior to putting fish back
Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria

Drain the Pond / Pondless® Waterfall

1.  Place the clean-out pump in the deepest point of the pond (or in the Pondless® Waterfalls Snorkel™) in order to remove the water.
2.  Drain the water into the surrounding landscape. Be sure to relocate the pipe two or three times to allow the water to seep into the ground and not flood the yard.
3.  If you have fish, use some of this pond water to fill up the holding pool. The fish can be removed from the pond using a net once the water is low enough so you can easily catch them.
4.  Don’t keep the fish in the holding pool for more than several hours. Keep them in a shady spot with a net over the top of the pool to prevent them from jumping out.

Don’t Overdo the Cleaning

   1.  Rinse the inside of the pond. You can also use a pressure washer to help remove debris from the rocks and gravel.
2.  Don’t try to scrub all of the algae away. Some algae on the rocks will prove beneficial in developing your ecosystem. For an average size pond (11′ x 16′) this should take around 15 minutes.
3.  Use the gentle stream from a garden hose to rinse the rocks and gravel. Start at the top and work your way down to the bottom. Periodically turn the clean-out pump on to remove the dirty water. You can discontinue the periodic pumping once the water rinsing down to the bottom begins to look clear. Remove the pump and begin filling the pond.

Cleaning the Filters

1.  Remove any debris from the bottom of the skimmer and Snorkel™ Vault. This can be done by hand or by using the cleanout pump.
2.  Remove the media nets and filter pads from the BioFalls® Filter. (Not included with the Pondless® Waterfall). If you have the optional drain kit attached to your Signature Series™ BioFalls® Filter, you can open up the valve and rinse the media and filters. Once the filters have been removed rinse them free of accumulated debris.
3.  The filter media and mats can be put back into place and the waterfalls pump can be reattached in the skimmer or Snorkel™ Vault.

Putting Your Fish Back into their Clean Home

    1.  If you’re on city water, it’s imperative that you add a Aquascape Pond Detoxifierto the water so it is safe for fish.
2.  Dip a five-gallon bucket, or similar sized container, in the holding tank and fill it with water.
3. After you’ve caught a fish, place it in the bucket and set the buckets in the clean water.
4. After about 15 minutes, periodically begin splashing some pond water into the bucket.
5. By now, the temperature of the pond and the bucket water should be close to the same. You are ready to spill the fish into their spring-cleaned home.

If you have any questions or need anything we will be glad to help!! Most of the products listed above can be purchased right here at Tussey Mountain Mulch Landscape Center!

For additional spring maintenance tips, watch our video with helpful tips to get your pond off to a good start:

 

 

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On Youtube