Privacy behind your plants instead of a fence!

Want privacy but don’t want a fence? Consider a living screen. There is a whole host of plant materials that can be used to create a living fence.
Most fences need upkeep and don’t last nearly as long as well-chosen plants. Also, typical fence materials are limited in height by municipal codes to heights of 6 feet (plus 2 feet of lattice on top) where plant materials aren’t restricted at all.

Now there’s just the decision of what type of look you want!

Decisions, decisions…

When creating a screen, decide whether you want a formal hedge that requires trimming or an informal, un-clipped one. Informal screens require much less work.

Another decision you’ll have to make is to choose evergreen plants, which keep their leaves year-round, or deciduous plants, which drop their leaves in the winter when you may not need as much privacy.

There is a whole host of Plant materials used for just this purpose. Most of which are fairly low maintenance.

Arborvitae is probably the most popular plant used for hedging or screening. Evergreen is readily available, inexpensive and doesn’t grow out of control. It’s also easy to trim and doesn’t require any special growing requirements or fertilizers.

Leyland Cypress is another popular choice. They are a little less tight and columnar but grows very quickly and very tall. They’re also inexpensive and readily available, don’t require any special care and are evergreen.

Annual trimming of formal hedges will keep them looking good. For the plant’s health, taper the sides so they are narrower at the top than at the bottom so that sun reaches all parts of the hedge.

Broad Leaf evergreens

Broad leaf evergreens are another popular choice for screening. They make a nice dense screen and if properly chosen using plants that naturally stop growing at the height you want they can a low maintenance choice as well! Here are a few of the more popular choices for our area.

Laurel has a large number of different cultivars and species and is as widely used as the ever-popular Arborvitae mentioned above. Laurel is a tough plant that is quite hardy and does well in shady situations. It is inexpensive and can be found at almost every nursery or home improvement store. It is the fastest
growing of the Broad Leaf evergreens. So if you’re looking for a quick solution to a screening problem, Laurel is definitely for you!

Glossy abelia grows 8 feet tall by 5 feet wide Escallonia is a large genus that has many species that carry pink, red or white flowers in summer and fall.  White escallonia can grow to 6 to 15 feet tall and has smaller growing cultivars such as ‘C. F. Ball.’

Ceanothus, often called California Liliac, is another genus with many species and cultivars, it is fast-growing with white or blue flowers. It’s very drought and pollution tolerant. It has been used with great success planted along highways and off ramps. It does best with little or no summer watering. Ceanothus ‘Victoria’ has dark green leaves and reaches 12 feet.

Of course, most any plant could be made into a hedge or a screen to create privacy. Consider planting a mixed screen of some your favorite plants.

Rhododendrons, Camellias, Euyonomous and Pieris. Add in some coniferous
plants for texture like Hinoki Cypress, Syrocket Juniper or Western Hemlock. Use your imagination and have fun with it!

Fire Pits & Fireplaces

The Pacific NW has really seen a boom in the sought-after fire pits and fire places trend in the last few years. Who doesn’t like the ambiance of a warm crackling fire, in your own back yard!

At Exstream Landscaping we offer the casual atmosphere of a fire pit; reminiscent of camp fires, roasted marshmallows and glowing faces or the more formal look and feel of a fire place.

Fire pits create a more social atmosphere allowing for seating around a full 360 degrees. Paired with a seating wall and pergola this would create the maximum allowable social atmosphere. Fire pits also typically cost significantly less money as they don’t have a need for additional structures like a chimney.

Fire places only face one way and aren’t portable so they offer a less social atmosphere but do offer a more cozy, intimate and romantic feel. When paired with an outdoor kitchen and housing a pizza oven, fireplaces can really add to both the look and functionality of your outdoor environment in a way that a fire pit cannot.

Here in the NW we have an abundance of natural raw materials from which to build. From indigenous slate and Flagstone to Basalt other local stones we can create a natural look for your outdoor oasis. If it’s a more formal look your heart desires you can choose from a plethora of man made materials. Belgard products as well as Western Interlock offer a whole host of beautiful products for you to choose from!

You can also choose wood burning or gas for your fire pit or fire place. Gas is easy, convenient and environmentally friendly. If available in your area. If you don’t have gas availability then log or wood burning will be a significantly less expensive option.

Whatever you choose, Exstream Landscaping can help create the landscape of your dreams just give us a call at 503-654- 1953 and let’s get starting on your outdoor environment TODAY!

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Pavers are the new driveway trend

Pavers have become popular for use in sidewalks, patios, walkway and pathways, but driveways are where they really shine! Made of concrete, pavers come in wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, patterns and textures giving you choices to create a unique driveway to compliment your home and landscape.

Pavers are manufactured to high standards, creating a strong product that can actually make a stronger driveway than poured concrete or even asphalt. And unlike concrete or asphalt when repairs are needed it’s as simple as removing a paver and replacing it with a fresh new one. When concrete or Asphalt crack or split it can be a costly and lengthy repair. In fact, most paver driveway repairs can be made by you, the home owner, in just a few minutes! No extra cost to hire someone for repairs.

The pavers that are used for driveways are usually interlocking, which both speeds installation and strengthens the surface. Additionally, Paver driveways do not require a curing time like concrete and Asphalt do. The rainy weather here in the Northwest won’t impede the installation of your new driveway nor will you have to wait to use it! Most pavers also offer more traction when wet than poured concrete, which is a big plus in our NW climate. Properly installed and maintained, a concrete paver driveway can be expected to last 25 to 50 years!

Finally, Concrete paver driveways require very little maintenance. An occasional sweeping or hose rinsing will keep them clean. If weeds find their way through the surface, just remove them as soon as they appear. If tree roots or settling damage a section of the driveway, it is easy to remove the affected pavers, fix the underlying problem, and put the driveway back together! Call Us for your FREE quote
at 503-654- 1953 and get the stylish new driveway of your dreams!

Outdoor Rooms, the latest trend in NW living

Covered outdoor living areas allow year-round usage of your outdoor environment. Here in the Pacific NW it rains, a lot… With the advent of outdoor rooms, we’ve really gained more time to enjoy the outdoors! Imagine a cookout with your friends and family or a neighborhood BBQ outdoors, watching the game, in November!

At Exstream landscaping we work with you to determine what type of covered structure works best for your personality, lifestyle and budget.

Patios and decks are a popular item for new home buyers and are almost expected in new or remodeled homes. Adding a covered structure to that outdoor area will help bring a higher price and add not only perceived value to your property but real livable square footage!

We will work with you to create your own unique covered outdoor oasis, whether it be a pergola, arbor, freestanding roof structure, attached deck and patio covers or an awning over an existing or new patio. We offer options such as recessed lighting, ceiling fans and skylights.

Additionally, we install outdoor kitchens, fire places & fire pits as well as water elements to really bring your outdoor surroundings into the everyday life of your home.

Call us today for your Complimentary quote 503-654-1953

New Lawn advice from the pros!

Water – Water – Water! Keep the lawn damp for 2 weeks. It is very important to water new lawns frequently enough to keep it moist at all times. This is especially important on hot and windy days. Apply a starter fertilizer on top of your sod prior to the first watering.

Once the sod has knit, it should be watered enough over the first few months to maintain a healthy growing condition. After the turf is well established it should be watered deeply once a week during periods of no rainfall. You should water during daylight hours, but not in the heat of the day! Late evening watering during hot weather may create fungus problems. The best ime to water are the early morning hours between 5-8 am. A Hose timer can be very handy to have if no irrigation system is installed.

Fall and early spring are the best time to plant sod, as the cooler weather and heavier rains help to keep the sod evenly moist and aid in the establishing process. Avoid heavy use of lawn for first 2 to 3 weeks. Mowing should only
be attempted once the sod is firmly rooted and secure in place. Usually around 7 to 10 days from time of installation.

For more information or to get a quote give us a call at 503-654- 1953.

Winter lawn Damage impact on Portland Landscapes

It's SPRINGI (well almost) Time to get that lawn ready for the new year of Cook outs and spring and summer time fun! Winter often takes a toll on your lawn. lt can look thin with muddy dead patches that look unsightly and prohibit use of the lawn.

What can be done to fix this issue?

First and foremost, the lawn area needs to be assessed for proper drainage. lf the lawn isn't draining properly then all the water we here in the NW via rain will soak in and make your yard a muddy mess. ldeally your lawn should be sloped for positive draining and the soil should be porous and able to drain the rain water way from itself. lf this is not the case then it's possible that your lawn was improperly installed and the company that installed it should be contacted to remedy the situation. However, sometimes even with proper slope that lawn still doesn't drain properly, in that case you may need to have your lawn evaluated by professionals and different solutions offered.

The following are some issues that you, as the home owner can address.

Soil compaction; This hinders root growth and traps water in the turf turning areas into dead spots filled with mud. The fix for this problem can be multi faceted, there's usually more than issue going on that needs to be addressed.

The first thing that you can do to help your lawn is; Aerating it to improve the root growth and help dry out the soil. Thatching will also improve aeration and keep dead grasses from choking out the new spring growth. Over seeding will provide new and improved grass varieties, increase the number of individual grass plants per unit of area and replace the grass plants that may have died over the winter. Lastly fertilization of the lawn is key in having a healthy, thick, green lawn. We recommend using a weed and feed product formulated for the NW. These can be easily picked up at any home improvement store or even some grocery stores. These fertilizers will nourish the turf grasses while eliminating the competing weed seeds allowing for a more luxurious lawn.

Remember that your lawn NEEDS sunlight, even the turf varieties that are formulated specifically for shaded areas need light. So trim and thin your trees and shrubs that could potentially shade your lawn areas giving them more light and better air circulation will also help eliminate the barren muddy areas.

Moss and disease are other issues that can cause a lawn to have dead patches and we'll cover that in our next segment.

More EXSTREAMLY Happy Customers

"Pat, Thanks so  much for the quick completion of the bark dusting job.  It's beautiful and I know our neighbors are THRILLED!"  Denise S.  NW Portland

 
"Pat, The pavers look WONDERFUL! Thank you for rearranging the plants and removing the bricks. My kids are having so much fun in the yard!" Thanks, Pam R.  Beaverton

Winter Pruning Tips

 
PRUNING

It’s winter and summer seems a long  long ways away.. But then again that’s what you thought about Christmas way back in June!  Time flies faster than you think.. So to get ready for the eventual summer growing season here’s a couple of tips to get you going in the right direction!

First of all winter is a great time to prune. The trees, shrubs and flowering plants like the rose pictured above are all dormant so prune them back hard is ideal right now.   Additionally since there are no leaves or blooms you can clearly see the branching structures.

Start by looking at the plant from a few feet away and envision how you see it fitting into the landscape. Is it too big or lanky? Is it growing in a direction you don’t like?  Is it encroaching on a structure or another bit of plant material? Now’s the time to cut it back into the shape and direction you want it to grow in and the direction you want it to take. 

Cut out all of the dead material first, all the way to quick as far back as you can until you’ve got live material. This will help to thin the plant in a natural way since you don’t want dead branches anyway. Next cut back the branches that growing either straight up  ( these are called water shoots)  or coming from the bottom of the plant before the graft (if it’s a grafted plant these shoots are root stock that you don’t want). If allowed these root stock shoots will take over the plant and the fancy pants grafted tree or shrub  that you’ve paid dearly for will return to its natural state and be a big disappointment.

Now cut back any of branches that are growing in a non desirable direction, this will help train the plant to grow in the shape and direction that you envisioned for your landscape! 

Try approaching the plant from different angles so as to see the whole plant and not miss any unwanted items. Even getting on your back under a shrub or a small tree can help you see it from a new perspective thus, making sure you’ve missing nothing and thinned it out appropriately.

Lastly, try not to do all of your plants all in one day. Take your time and stand back frequently to observe your progress from afar as well as up close.

Come spring you’ll see your efforts have paid off in healthier, shapelier plants and trees that fit better into your landscape!

Simple but beautiful front yard transformation!

 
     This yard underwent a metamorphosis when we replaced the existing sod, redefining the yards shape
and size. Installed a new stacked  rock wall, defining the garden area.  Put in fresh bark, removed old unruly plant material and replaced with sculpted flowering plant material.  As well as turning the overgrown door yard into a small, usable, flagstone patio for guests and relaxing!
     This project took a short amount of time and the cost was minimal when compared to the fresh new
look this home received and the added value of curb appeal! 
 
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