Landscape Restoration

Does your landscape need some restoration?

Landscape restoration is the process of taking an existing component of your landscape and repairing it. Billings Landscaping regularly works with Billings Montana residents to restore their existing landscapes. And as a part of our mission to beautify Billings, we are offering some free landscaping tips to help you to identify if you need landscape maintenance services, and for the do it yourself-er: to help you restore your own landscape. In order to do this, we will start by identifying some common problems in Billings Landscapes.

Common Landscape problems

Here are some common problems that we find during landscape maintenance and restoration here in Billings Montana.

  1. Leaves, twigs, and debris in the gravel beds.
  2. Excessive weeds in beds.
  3. Weeds along edges of beds.
  4. Unhealthy or stunted plants.
  5. Gravel not staying in beds.
  6. Over-sized shrubs.
  7. Irrigation problems.

If you have any of these problems, then you probably need some landscape maintenance and restoration work done.

Landscape Maintenance, Problem #1: Leaves, twigs, and debris in beds

Organic matter in gravel beds quickly contributes to problems with weeds. This is due to the fact that leaves decompose very quickly. As the leaves and twigs break apart into smaller pieces, they get trapped in the gravel. Over time, this forms a layer of organic material in which weeds can grow. In a gravel bed, it only takes 1/8″ of dirt to fully support a weeds roots. This is because the feeder roots can grow on the surface of the landscape fabric, taking nutrients and moisture from the thin layer of dirt, while using the rocks to protect them from the sun.

Landscape Maintenance needed
Example of leaves around shrubs that need to be blown out.

Landscape Maintenance, Problem #2: Excessive Weeds in beds and along edges of beds

Wind blown dirt will enter the bed from adjacent fields and unfinished landscapes. The dirt settles on top of the fabric and will grow weeds if the gravel is not deep enough to make it too difficult for the weed to grow. Therefore, it is best to blow out your beds every year. Be sure to move the gravel around with your feet or a rake as you blow it out. It helps to have on person on the rake and another using the blower. This will help you clear out the air born sands and silts that settled into you beds and will get the leaves and debris out so they don’t decompose into dirt. We often use a combined solution of blowing out the dirt and adding more gravel to better prevent weeds from growing in the gravel beds.

Landscape Maintenance, Problem #3: Weeds growing around edges of beds

landscape repairs
Example of improper staking resulting in fabric pulling away from edge of bed.

If weeds are growing around the edges of the beds, this is usually the result of the landscape fabric being improperly installed. Often times, weed form around edges of beds because the landscape fabric was not properly stakes during installation. When landscape fabric is not properly staked, the weight of the gravel settling over the dirt will actually pull the fabric away from the edges of the beds, thus leaving bare dirt where weeds can grow.

Landscape Problem #4: Unhealthy or stunted plants

There are four main factors that contribute to unhealthy growth in plants.

  1. Improper watering.
  2. Wrong sun exposure for the type of plant.
  3. Planted too deep in the dirt.
  4. Landscape fabric and rock choke the plant.
  1. Different plants have different watering requirements. Some plants can handle full sun, other can’t. It depends on the species of plant. Furthermore, some plants need more acidic soils to do well. It is best to get this information from a nursery. Good Earth Works and Billings Nursery are good places here in Billings Montana to acquire this information, or you can find it many places online.
  2. There are shade plants, part sun plants, and full sun plants. When shade plants get too much sun, they burn. When full sun plants don’t get enough sun, they grow slowly and become leggy.
  3. When planted to deep in the ground, a plant will not do well. When properly planted, your perennials and shrubs should be slightly above grade. On trees, we usually plant 2″ above grade. The reason for this is because the main feeder roots that bring water and nutrients to the plant exist in the top 2″ of soil surrounding the plant. These feeder roots do best when growing with gravity. They also grow more quickly with less resistance and have access to more water when they can grow in the top inch or two of soil. If you plant too deep, then the feeder roots will be too deep. In deeper soil, they will have a harder time penetrating the firmer dirt, and they will be deprived of precious surface water.
  4. Rocks and fabric around the base of your landscape’s plants will stunt their growth. Plants are very aware of their surroundings. In nature, plants compete for space. When another plant is competing with them, they will not do as well. When a plant is restricted by landscape fabric, it also immediately doesn’t do as well. However, the plant will grow to fill the hole in the fabric. The common problem we find in landscape maintenance and restoration work is that the hole originally provided was often too small for the plant. A correct installation predicts the mature size of the plant and provides a hole in the fabric large enough to accommodate. On the other hand, you might want to control the size of a plant with the fabric. We often do this with ground covers.
landscape maintenance and restoration
This native grass was stunted by the landscape fabric and was planted too deep in the soil.

Landscape Problem #5: Gravel not staying in beds

This is a common problem for Billings and is usually the result of improper installation or age. Best practices are to dig down 3-4″ around the edges of the beds and then rake back, leaving a gradual mound towards the center of the bed. That way, when gravel is placed, it stays put.

Landscape Problem #6: Over-sized shrubs

Shrubs are great, but as a designer, I often recommend removing them when the get large enough to throw off the proportions in the house and landscape. It is often difficult for homeowners and business owners to visualize how removing an over-sized shrub can improve the look of the landscape and home, but it is often true that by removing it, you will do just that!

Landscape Problem #7: Irrigation problems

Sprinkler systems need yearly maintenance. This is because the components do not last forever. In particular, sprinkler heads and drip emitters are subject to damage from uv, roots, being stepped on, and a variety of other culprits. Give a plant too much water, and it will starve for oxygen and die from fungus. Starve a plant and it will won’t grow. When plants enter “survival” mode, they typically do not strive. The goal is to give you plants exactly what they need to thrive. This means proper watering for every plant.

landscape maintenance to help plants
Landscape fabric cut correctly around the shrub to allow for future growth.
landscape maintenance problems
Native grass roots constricted by landscape fabric. Fibers are from the fabric that was peeled away from the roots.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *