Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Shrub Blog Series - Part Two - Foundation Plantings

If you want a stunning presentation, you need a solid foundation! Welcome to part three of our shrub series: Foundation Plantings! We go over how to design your perfect New England landscape in a previous blog entry. With foundation plantings, you want to be thinking about the structure of your home. Is there anything you want to cover up? Does a corner look too harsh? Think of the big picture in terms of what you want to accomplish with your yard. Here are some of our top picks, chosen for interest and hardiness during the four dramatic seasons of New England weather.

1. The Boxwood 
A versatile plant with a number of variations (over 200, to be precise), this is a top pick for many landscapers as a foundation planting, and can function for multiple purposes around your yard. Each variety boasts a different height and spread, so be mindful of what you are looking for in terms of dimension. One of our favorites is the “Winter Gem” variety, which grows up to six feet tall and six feet wide. Not only is it one of the hardiest options, which makes it ideal for New England’s wild seasons, but it can gain a bronze hue during the winter and is the first to change green again in spring. Does well in partial to full sun and requires regular watering.

2. The Holly
There are between 400 and 600 species of holly to choose from. For our purposes, we really like the “Carissa” variety for its dark and dense glossy green leaves. This is a low-maintenance shrub which will tolerate drought, extreme heat, and extreme cold. It grows up to three feet high and spreads up to four. Once established, it will not require any pruning. Carissa is a great foundation planting because of how lush and green it stays year-round, offering a wonderful backdrop to any planted perennials and in the winter tipped with snow.

3. Knock Out Roses
Knock Out Roses started trending in the year 2000 and remain a staple amongst landscapers for foundation plantings. Roses are notoriously difficult to grow and high maintenance at that. Luckily, these shrub roses were created so you can have low-maintenance roses from the first thaw to the first frost. There are over 10 varieties to choose from, so be thinking about what colors compliment your home and what types of flowers you would like to see. At maturity, these rose bushes can grow up to four feet high and four feet deep. With dark foliage, the blooms stand out quite nicely in any landscape. They will need full sun with fertile, well-drained soil. Fertilize every so often to keep the blooms cycling throughout the growing season. (Featured Right: Sunny Knock Out Roses).

4. Rhododendrons and Azaleas
There are over 1,024 species of Rhododendrons and over 20,000 named hybrids of Rhododendrons and Azaleas worldwide. Visit to see some of the best choices for your New England landscape. One of our favorites is the “Gibraltar” variety. This mid-sized deciduous azalea is award-winning for its stunning display of orange funnel-shaped blooms which light up the landscape in trusses of 10-12 flowers over dark green foliage. Growing up to five feet high and five feet wide, these are an exceptional and bold choice for a foundation planting. Requires full or partial sun and good drainage.

5. Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses will offer a nice texture to supplement your palette of deciduous and evergreen selections. Popular for New England is the “Karl Foerster” Feather Reed Grass. We recommend reading our article on winter care to prepare yourself for proper maintenance of ornamental grasses. The Karl Foerster variety is a cool season grass which grows rapidly in the spring. It is highly tolerant of partial shade, salt, and humidity which makes it a low-maintenance addition to your landscape. It grows up to five feet tall and three feet in spread, boasting feathery plumes of a shifting bronze color throughout the growing seasons.

6. The Dwarf Spruce
There are many evergreens and especially spruce varieties to pick from when selecting foundation plantings. We like the Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce for its unusual shape and color. It is flat-topped unlike many other spruce plants and densely branched, but bright silver-blue in color. This spruce will grow up to five feet tall and six feet wide. Needs full to partial sun and an even watering schedule, especially in extreme heat, but is extremely hardy during the winter months.

Stay tuned! In part three, we will talk about our favorite privacy plantings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Shrub Blog Series - Part One - Introduction

Why plant shrubs? Aside from the obvious answer, which is to improve the aesthetic of your property, there are plenty of functional reasons to establish plantings in your yard. They can assist with erosion-control, improve the amount of oxygen around your residence, and help your local ecosystem thrive. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for King Arthur and his team to get the ball rolling like the fellow above. With the help of your local nursery, you can start planning a multi-dimensional landscape that will wow your friends and family!

Shrub/Planting Types:
  1. Foundation Plantings: These types of plantings hug your house, both enhancing your home and complementing your landscape. This can visually link your house to the surrounding landscape, hide any unsightly fa├žade areas, and help prevent flooding!
  2. Privacy Plantings/Screening: These are [usually] tall shrubs to block out unwanted views and act as a natural fence. They will cost you less than a fence installation in most cases, but come with more maintenance than a fence.
  3. Border Plantings/Edging: These plantings are used to outline and distinguish sections of your yard and/or flower beds and will establish wonderful dimension in your landscape. Primarily aesthetic in purpose, but they can also help prevent your beds from washing out during heavy rain.
  4. Ground Cover: These low-growing shrubs usually have a spreading habit and are perfect for large beds or landscapes. They can also reduce the amount of turf you have to mow, and may thrive better in harsh soil or environments where you may have difficulty growing grass.
  5. Specimen or Accent Plants: These are the plants to liven up your landscape! They are often chosen for interesting appearance or fragrance, but may serve an additional purpose such as framing a walkway. Usually showy in appearance, they are placed within your landscape strategically as focal points.
  6. Specialty Plantings: The “miscellaneous” category, these plants may vary in appearance and function and include: (1) Salt-tolerant plants for street-side plantings; (2) Container shrubs for apartment living or decks; (3) Shrubs for full shade; (4) Shrubs for full sun.

General Shrub/Planting Tips:
  1. Choose shrubs which have seasonal interest across four seasons, or rotating seasonal interest. See our article on creating seasonal interest.
  2. Leave space for the plants to mature so they don’t overcrowd one another and be aware of how tall they will be at maturity (be prepared to prune!)
  3. Be mindful of growth rates and maintain shrubs which may have invasive qualities.
  4. Plant shrubs in the fall or early spring to ensure proper root establishment.
  5. Choose native shrubs for maximum growth and lowest maintenance.
  6. Be aware of what maintenance is required of your plantings to ensure they survive all four seasons and any extreme weather conditions which might occur. See our article on winterizing your yard.
  7. Talk to a local nursery! They can give expert advice tailored to the conditions of your yard and desired maintenance level.

In part two, we will go over more specifics of Foundation Plantings, including some recommendations of our top choices!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When to Plant a New Lawn

We live in New England, which creates some interesting challenges when it comes to landscaping. So when is the best time to plant a new lawn? The short answer is: mid-April to May, or mid-September to early October. Ultimately, fall is the best time to seed a new lawn. And here’s why!

The ideal soil temperature for grass seed to germinate is around 65°F. This temperature is typically reached in mid-spring and early fall. However, crabgrass starts to germinate around 55°F which means even if you seed in the spring, your lawn may compete with crabgrass without targeted treatment from the very beginning. Weeds start to germinate between 55°F and 60°F and they flourish when temps start to exceed 80°F. This becomes even more apparent as grass growth slows down when the soil temps rise above 80°F. Conditions which also contribute to rapid weed growth include thin grass, over-watering, frequent and light watering, mower blades set too low, or overly compacted soil.

So, why is fall best? Summer tends to be hot and dry. Once that period ends, the weeds (and insects) become less prevalent. The morning dew keeps seed beds moist, and the rate of evaporation is slowed thanks to the less intense rays of the sun. The combination of warm soil temperatures and cool rains create conditions which would please even Goldilocks—in other words, “just right!” We see similar conditions in spring but remember, crabgrass and weeds have begun to germinate before grass can even get going.

There are plenty of other factors you should consider which will contribute to your lawn results. Soil with a low pH, for example, will not help you grow a lawn effectively. Inconsistent watering will contribute to weed growth. This is one of the reasons why we recommend installing an in-ground sprinkler system which can easily be adjusted for optimal, seasonal watering schedules.

When in doubt, hire out! We can help you create the perfect lawn. Check out our services at!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Like & Share Giveaway!! - CLOSED

Congrats to Joey!!

We are so darn tired of this stinkin' winter!! We know you are, too. 

To give the warm weather a celebratory and long-overdue welcome, we are giving away a sweet Pro-Turf Prize Pack!

Here's what's in the Prize Pack:
  • $25 Visa Gift Card
  • 1 New Pro-Turf Athletic Tee (Choose size adult size S-XXL)
  • Stickers, Magnets, & Letter Openers
Here's the scoop... we have spent the winter building up our online presence and social media accounts, and all we want you to do is like them & share them! That's it!

TO ENTER: Use the entry widget on this page (or also on our Facebook profile) and enter as many categories as you want. Like us, share us, follow us, comment, subscribe...! Each action earns you points.You can also enter once a day for extra chances to win!

  • We will verify all entries and Rafflecopter will choose 1 random winner. 
  • Winner MUST be a follower on Facebook. 
  • Winner must contact us within 48 hours and provide shirt size, and address (or confirm pick-up).
  • We will mail the Prize Pack to anyone in the lower 48 states!
  • Contest starts 12:00am Monday 4/23/18 and ends 11:59 Sunday 4/29/18.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Rain Bird App Update Gives Alexa Users Voice-Activated Irrigation System Control

Exciting news from Rain Bird! An update to the Rain Bird App, which enables the "Rain Bird" Skill by Amazon is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play! What does that mean? Well, with this Skill, you can link your ESP-TM2 or ESP-Me controller using the LNK WiFi Module to their Amazon Alexa account.

With 130 different commands, Rain Bird offers unique features incorporating custom program and zone names while enabling inquiries into irrigation time remaining, rain sensor status, and seasonal adjustment values. Just ask Alexa! (Available in the US and Canada only).

See it in action!

To begin, you need to make sure you have installed the Rain Bird and Amazon Alexa apps on your mobile device. Make sure both apps are up-to-date! First, click the "Settings" icon in your Rain Bird app, then click "Connected Home." After entering your password, enter the e-mail address associated to your Alexa (Amazon) account and toggle the Amazon Alexa switch to enable. Click "OK" and "Done." Next, go to the Amazon Alexa app and select the menu icon. Then, select "Skills." Search for "rain bird" in the text box and select "Enable." Enter your controller login information once more, and you are ready to go! Still unsure? Check out Rain Bird's full video instructions here!

Don't have the WiFi Module installed in your controller? Contact Pro-Turf to get upgraded this Spring!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Landscape Design for Four Seasons

Winter is a great time to start thinking about what landscaping projects you want to tackle in the spring. Taking a look at your current snow-covered yard may also give you some ideas for plantings and hardscaping that will enhance your winter views next season!

If your current landscape is an expanse of white, you might consider some plantings which offer interesting lines, forms, textures, or colors. To create depth, use a variety of shrubs and evergreens. As a general rule, the darker and more solid the geometric shape, the more weight the planting appears to have, whereas lighter and abstruse shrubs appear to have lift. Plant your largest pieces first, and then pepper in other plantings based on your determined landscape horizon.

Good landscaping is like art. The eye of the observer should be drawn from one focal point to another. Varying heights are usually more interesting than a straight line. When planning for a landscape that looks great throughout all four seasons, you want to think about what each plant looks like with and without its blossoms and leaves. Certain shrubs change color in the winter, and some even bloom, so it can be useful to research what thrives in your area. Here is a good place to start.

Your yard is your paradise; pick colors and textures that are pleasing to you. Fences and stone walls can create a beautiful rustic environment especially when dusted with snow. Plants with berries can offer a pop of color to break up your snowy canvas. Trees with spindly branches look visually interesting when covered in snow. If you enjoy wildlife, research what plants can draw certain animals to your yard. Birdhouses are easy ways to do this. Just be aware of pests that could damage your plantings and plan accordingly!

Think about what work you might like to do on your own, and what you might want to hire a professional for. Talk to landscaping companies and garden nurseries to get an idea of costs. Prioritize your design ideas to figure out a budget range. Stumped for inspiration? Head on over to a site like Pinterest to see what other DIYers have done to spruce up their yards. 

Always consider the long-term and keep in mind that some plantings require more maintenance than others. Certain plants cannot thrive in winter and must be taken indoors. There are plenty of resources at your fingertips, but it can never hurt to consult a professional. Happy planning!

Resources to Get You Started:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winter Landscaping Ideas

Don't let the cold and snow get you down. We know that spring and summer are a sure thing, and now that it's almost February we are just that much closer to seeing green when we look outside. 

Aside from gearing up for Valentine's Day and Easter, there's actual things you can do for your landscape to be ready to rock once the warm weather is here. has some great tips for doing more than just sitting around all winter: 
  • Repot houseplants as they outgrow current pots. If you see roots when you look at the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, chances are it’s time to transplant.
  • Sketch garden plans, including what to grow, spacing, arrangement and number of plants needed.
  • Order seeds and plants from mail order catalogs or online retailers as early as possible for best selection.
  • Use your hand or a broom to gently brush away any heavy snow that may accumulate on shrubs before it freezes. Heavy snow can weigh down branches, causing them to break or become misshapen.
  • Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs as they break ground. Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer according to label directions, or apply a light dusting of compost.