Yearly Archives: 2014

A look ahead…

“2014 is all about balance.  People finally appreciate that being in nature and in the garden is pure bliss. But now they want the garden to do double duty: A Zen oasis and the social hub for entertaining.” –Katie Dubow, creative director of Garden Media.

At Van Zelst, Inc. these growing trends have always and will continue to be a part of our philosophy.

Year Round Outdoor Living
A fire feature is a great way to extend the season.  Fire pits have become quite popular in the landscape.

Van Zelst, Inc., fire pit

The Outdoor Kitchen
For the chef in the family this is a great amenity. Now the chef can be a part of the social gathering in your outdoor living space. These spaces can be as simple as a built in grill to a complete “kitchen” with sink, refrigerator, pizza oven, etc.

Van Zelst, Inc., outdoor kitchen

Outdoor Seating and Dining areas
Bringing the indoors out requires comfortable spaces for family and friends.  A table to gather round and break bread can create lasting memories.

Van Zelst, Inc., Glenview Residence

These are just a few of the trends of 2014, want to know more? Check us out at .

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Putting a little makeup on the landscape.

Mulch is any type of material that is spread or laid over the surface of the soil as a covering. It is used to retain moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, keep the soil cool and make the garden bed look more attractive. Organic mulches also help improve the soil’s fertility, as they decompose.

Organic mulch will decompose and have to be replaced more frequently, however in the process it will also improve your soil’s fertility and, of course, its organic content. Generally the dryer and woodier the mulch, the slower it will decompose and the less nutrients it will give to the soil.

We mulch our gardens in the spring to suppress weeds, retain moisture and feed and warm the soil. The mulch that we use is a blended mulch of 100% organic recycled material which includes recycled leaves, twigs and grass that is processed then screened into a fine dark leaf mulch.

Not only is mulch good for your soil it appeals to our aesthetics.

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How does your garden grow?


Well since it’s not quite warm enough to get your tomato’s going why not start with a cool season garden? There are lots of great veggies you can get started to brighten up your dinner plate.

Lettuce: All lettuces need loose, well-drained soil. Sow in open ground after frost; barely cover seeds. The best types to grow in our climate are: Butterhead or Boston, Looseleaf varieties and Romaine. The Looseleaf and Romaine varieties are the most heat tolerant.

Curly Leaf Kale: Sow seeds in place and thin to 1 1/2 to 3 ft. apart; or set out transplants at the same spacing. Grown for their leaves, which can be steamed, stir fried, sautéed, or added to soups. Curly-leafed kales form compact clusters of leaves that are tightly curled.

Swiss Chard: This is actually a form of beet grown for leaves and stalks instead of roots. It is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in home gardens. New leaves grow up from the center of the plant. Regular green and white chard looks presentable in flower garden, and multi-colored chard looks even better.

Broccoli: All types of broccoli are cool-season plants that tend to bolt into flower at high temperatures, so plant them to mature during cool weather. In cold-winter areas, set out young plants 2 to 4 weeks before last frost (young plants resist frost but not hard freezes). Space plants 1 1/2–2 ft. apart in rows and leave 3 ft. between rows. Harvest 50 to 100 days after setting out plants. Cut heads before clustered buds begin to open. Include 5–6 in. of edible stalk and leaves.

Cauliflower: Easiest to grow in cool, humid regions. Where summers are hot, grow it to harvest well before or well after midsummer, and select heat-tolerant varieties. Start with small plants. Space them 1 1/2–2 ft. apart in rows and leave 3 ft. between rows. When heads first appear, tie up the large leaves around them to keep them white.

Arugula: Arugula has a nice peppery mustard flavor, which goes well when mixed with other greens. It grows best in cool weather. Thin to about 6 in. apart. Harvest tender young leaves; older, larger ones usually taste too sharp.

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Brown is the new green…

Sadly as the days start to warm up we are seeing more and more how the polar vortex has affected the landscape. Most notably are yews and boxwood and other smaller evergreens. If you have these plants in your yard you may have noticed that they are currently brown. But all is not lost.

A few things can cause this type of winter injury. The combination of wind, sun and lack of available water in winter can cause foliage to turn brown, due to desiccation. Evergreens lose moisture on sunny winter days. If the soil doesn’t contain enough moisture to replace the loss, needles dry out and turn brown (starting form the outside and moving inward). Even if the soil is moist sometimes the roots cannot absorb water due to the ground being frozen or the roots are damaged.

If your evergreens are close to a roadway you can also be experiencing salt damage which only exacerbates desiccation.

The best solution is to trim back the dead growth (which is mostly the last push of new growth from the year before) to where it is green again. Your shrubs may look a little defeated but after the spring flush of growth they will look good as new!

Before After
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Extending your annuals season to season. We all get excited for summer and filling our planters with beautiful annuals. But why sell yourself short when you can have plants in all the seasons.

Start your spring off with a planter filled with tulips, daffodils and pansies. These are great early plants that will bring a bright spot to your entryway.

Here are a few more ideas to fill your planter!

  • Curly willow for height.
  • Beautiful hydrangea for a focal point.
  • Snapdragons, ranunculus and stock for a punch of color.
  • Ivy for added green.

Get more ideas here!

And when summers flowers fade don’t forget fall and winter annuals!

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Happy St Patrick’s Day!

We hope you have the luck of the Irish


and find your four leaf clover or shamrock or trefoil or oxalis!

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How’s your wormery?

Yeah I said wormery. It’s a word, here look it up -> wormery. Did you know worm castings (ok poop) are an ideal soil conditioner? Research proves that these high-performance products introduce important macro- and micro-nutrients into the soil, nourishing plants and fighting disease and pests. Worm castings, or Vermicompost, are the by-product of using various worm species to transform organic matter into a weed- and disease- free product.

What are its unique benefits? The worms do the work for you.

Vermicompost Benefits:

a. TURN: Like tiny plows, they work their way throughout the material.
b. AERATE: They add oxygen for all the beneficial microorganisms.
c. MIX: All kinds of organisms and nutrients throughout the pile adding lots of small aggregates.
d. SCREEN: They eat the bedding materials and the feed, ultimately turning it into a rich soil product.
e. PATHOGEN CONTROL: They ingest and render useless the “bad guys”.
f. FAST: They can eat one-half of their weight per day.

Also you can check out our website for more information as well! Get your vermicompost this spring and have the best lawn & garden on your block!

Click here to learn more…

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The fruits of our labor…

Dreaming of some color in the landscape so lets talk bulbs! If you are like me, last fall you planted a variety of bulbs that should perk up the landscape as soon as the snow starts to melt.

Some of the earliest to show up are winter aconite and snowdrops (appropriately named!). They are tiny little reminders that spring is coming! Then the real fun begins…hyacinths, daffodils, tulips oh my (just to name a few)! Those small bulbs of fall can bring so much color in a short time to the garden. Painting the landscape with drifts of tulips or a carpet of grape hyacinths.

So once the snow melts be on the look out for:




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