Looking to Save Energy? Plant the Right Trees

trees and birdsLandscaping can certainly make your yard beautiful, but it can also provide shade, save energy and reduce utility bills.AdobeStock_67542068

We know how landscaping can transform non-descript lawns into tranquil outdoor living spaces – after all, that’s what we do. But we also know that by planting the right trees in strategic areas around your home or business, you can save energy and reduce your utility bills all year around.

Specifically, as described by Purdue Extension urban forestry specialists, trees create a cooling effect during the hot summer months and allow for passive solar gain – heat directly from the sun after leaves have fallen – during winter months. But this will only happen if you plant the right trees and place them in the right place. In fact, improperly planted trees can actually cause damage to your infrastructure or fail to provide any sort of shade at all.

Here are our top tips when choosing and planting trees for optimum energy-efficiency.

Choose high-quality trees. This means they are suitable for your location, region and climate. There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting money, time and energy on trees that are doomed to thrive in the first place. We can help ensure you select the best ones for your needs.

 Go big for shade. If you’re looking for shade and solar gain, choose larger, deciduous-canopy trees primarily for the south-facing side of the house, followed by the west and east. When the sun is high during the summer months, the leaves will provide shade and help cool the house. In the winter, the bare limbs will allow sun to provide direct heating.

 Include evergreens. In order to minimize wind exposure during the winter, plant evergreen trees on the north side of the house. But avoid positioning them too close to the house, especially on the southern side, because during winter months they can block out the sun.

 Do your research. Make sure you are well-educated about the types of trees you choose to plant, as their height and spread as they mature should fit the location and positioning from the beginning. The more naturally the tree fits your design space, the less pruning and maintaining you’ll have to do later on as it grows.

 Ask for help. We are often called in to correct homeowners’ well-intentioned DIY landscaping projects, simply because they weren’t familiar enough with how certain trees form and grow. Trees intended for energy-efficiency must be close enough to the house for the canopy to provide shade, but far enough away from the house to fit the design space and maturing process.

Add hardscapes. While trees are wonderful additions to any energy-efficient landscape, there are plenty of other options that can provide shade and wind protection while also enhancing your outdoor environment. Pergolas, for example, can be positioned in ways to provide wind breaks and shade, while also serving as the perfect backdrop for other foliage that can help cool the area surrounding the home.

If you are looking for ways to not only improve your outdoor living space, but also save energy and reduce your utility bills for years to come, give us a call. We will be happy to assess your needs and give you the landscape of your dreams.


Perfect Perennials for Indiana Landscapes

For a colorful springtime in Indiana, look to these lovely perennials that are perfect for for brightening up your landscape and flower beds.

If you’re looking for perfect perennials that can thrive in the Midwest – no matter what the weather brings – we’ve got some great suggestions. These gorgeous blooms can spice up any landscape, and best of all, they keep coming back year after year.

Ready to get your hands dirty? Here’s our list of awesome perennials to brighten up your springtime in Indiana.


Aster is native to dry upland prairies, and is particularly fragrant and showy when it full bloom. It prospers in dry, clay or rocky soil, and has a full display of flowers in the fall (make sure to pinch in early summer to prevent flopping).

Black-eyed Susans

These bright-gold flowers are often a staple in Hoosier gardens, as they stay in bloom for more than a month, beginning in August. The most popular varieties include Indian Summer and Goldstrum. These no-maintenance beauties love full sun, and can reach 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Butterfly Weed

In spite of the name (it’s also called milkweed), this easy-to-grow plant produces clusters of orange, yellow, pink or vermillion. Appearing in mid- to late summer, they also attract hummingbirds and butterflies.


Midwest native coneflowers produce blooms all summer long, ranging in height from 16 inches to 4 feet, depending on the variety. Traditional colors are pink-purple and white, but you can also find them in a flashy red, yellow and other bright hues.

Hardy geraniums

Geranium x cantabrigiense are larger than other hardy geraniums, with scalloped leaves and pale-pink flowers. Known for its density and apple-scented, spicy perfume, these plants begin flowering in June and grow about 6 inches high and 14 inches wide. They flourish in full sun and need little water. In the autumn, the foliage turns a dramatic burgundy.

Lenten Rose

This shade-lover is evergreen, and a hardy plant that frequently blooms while snow is still on the ground. They are great compliments to sidewalks or walkways, and grow a 12-18 inches tall. Flowers come in shades of red, white, purple, pink, green and near-black.


Sedums are popular because they are easy to grow, stingy with water, and rich in texture and shape. With its masses of flowers and light gray-green foliage it produces green broccoli-like buds by summer, which open into large pink flower heads that deepen to rusty red by fall. Other favorite sedums include Purple Emperor, Vera Jameson and Meteor.

Virginia Bluebells

Pink buds turn into pink-purple blooms in this spring flower that thrive in sun or shade. Virginia bluebells easily reseed, and each plant grows up to 2 feet high and wide (but be aware, its bloom time is brief).

If you’re looking for deer-resistant blooms, try these:

  • Salvia
  • Catmint
  • Sweet Woodruff (this groundcover releases its scent when walked on)
  • Coreopsis

If you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, consider:

  • Clematis (this is more of a vine, but is still a perennial)
  • Coreopsis
  • Daylily
  • Lavender
  • Bee Balm
  • Catmint

For fragrant foliage or flowers, try these:

  • Salvia
  • Lavender
  • Bee Balm
  • Clematis (Hosta)
  • Catmint

Not sure which flowers or plants will work best in your yard? We can help. If you’re ready to take your landscape up a notch, we can help with that too. Whether it’s a landscaping or flower bed makeover, a new hardscape feature, or a unique and tranquil water element, we can turn an ordinary yard into the outdoor living space you’ve always dreamed of. Call us now to schedule a consultation.



Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas: Plants That Say ‘I Love You’

Pink bleeding heart flower, close up photo, vintage background.

Sure, a dozen red roses are awesome for your honey on Valentine’s Day, but then again, they’re also rather traditional. If your special someone loves plants, these unexpected options will say I love you symbolically. And the bonus? They won’t immediately wilt and die.

Hottie Houseplants

Anthurium – These exotic flowering houseplants have shiny leaves topped with showy, heart-shaped pink, red, or white blooms. They bloom almost all year long if they get enough light, fertilizer, and moisture.

Bridal veil – This perennial takes its name from its tiny, cascading white flowers (which resembles a bridal veil), and are often displayed as a hanging plant. The leaves add a special touch, as they are olive green on top and purple underneath. It can be kept indoors in winter, and then moved outdoors through the summer.

Heartleaf philodendron – This fool-proof house plant thrives with indirect light and very little maintenance. They are often grown in hanging baskets, which allow the thin stems and heart-shaped leaves to beautifully spill out of over the edges.

String of hearts – Also known as Rosary vine, this funky plant is full of personality. A native of Africa, it grows a string of heart-shaped leaves and makes an excellent houseplant, requiring minimal care.

Purple heart – This cheery splash of purple foliage can be used outdoors during the growing season, but also makes an easy houseplant any time of the year.

Passionate Perennials and Annuals

If your true love can’t wait to get their hands in the dirt this spring, consider gifting an IOU that can be redeemed for a gorgeous plant once the weather warms up. Here are some ideas that are sure to spark some romance simply from their names. Let’s start with perennials:

Bleeding hearts – This beauty features arching stems of delicate, heart-shaped flowers in the spring. It thrives in moist woodland gardens, along with ferns and other shade-lovers.

Cupids’ dart – An easy to grow plant, these perky blue daisies are great splashes of color in any flowerbed, offering contrast and unexpected interest.

Passion flowers – A generous vine, you’ll enjoy daily blooms over a long season, and many make great houseplants.

Hosta ‘Love Pat’ – One of the best blue hostas, this vigorous plant has puckered blue leaves that will perform well in shade to almost three quarters sun in the garden.

If you prefer annuals, take a look at these aptly-named lovelies:

Heartsease – This particular European wild flower has lots of names, including: Viola, heartsease; heart’s ease; heart’s delight; tickle-my-fancy; Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me; come-and-cuddle-me; three faces in a hood; or love-in-idleness. Whew! Its three-colored faces are closely related to pansies and violets.

Love-lies-bleeding – These striking plants are covered with very long, rope-like flowers that are a deep, brilliant red color. A good seed producer, too, it’s a very old heirloom (a pre-1700 variety) that was and continues to be very popular.

Love-in-a-mist – Finely cut divided threadlike bracts form the “mist” surrounding these jewel-like flowers. The blooms typically range from a bright blue to a very pale blue, but sometimes may be white, pink, or lavender.

Love-in-a-puff – This tropical to sub-tropical vine has tiny white flowers and green papery fruits that are similar to tomatillos. The vine is a heat lover, and is often seen over a fence or trellis.

Love apple – The French called the tomato the pomme d’amour, or The Love Apple, for their belief that the exotic tomato had aphrodisiac powers. Tomatoes might not be responsible for romance in people, but eating tomatoes does seem to spark a lust for more tomatoes.

While these plants can serve as a creative Valentine’s Day gift, if you want to really impress your love, consider new landscaping. This could include everything from a rock garden or patio, to a water element or all of the above. Give us a call – we can help you create an outdoor space that will keep on giving for years to come.

Great Garden and Landscaping Escapes, Even in Winter



Getting excited about landscaping, gardening and outdoor living doesn’t have to take a back seat to winter, snow, and frigid temperatures. There’s plenty of inspiration and beauty just waiting for, whether it’s a botanical garden or home and garden event.

Take a look at some top area destinations that will keep you connected to plants and landscaping until you can get your hands nice and dirty this spring:

Garfield Park Conservatory & Sunken Garden – Home to hundreds of different plants from the world’s tropics, the conservatory is 10,000 square feet of beauty. Even on the coldest winter days, you can warm up in the conservatory, see what’s blooming, and enjoy various educational displays and special events throughout the year.

White River Gardens – The Hilbert Conservatory is the focal point of White River Gardens in downtown Indianapolis. Named in honor of Stephen and Tomisue Hilbert, the towering glass enclosure is climate controlled and hosts multiple seasonal shows each year. Offering 5,000 square feet of lush, tropical greenery, the Conservatory is host to exotic palm trees and flowering plantscapes throughout a warm tropical environment.

Indianapolis Home Show – Jan. 22-31, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis. Don’t miss this year’s centerpiece home and designer gardens as well as celebrity guests John Gidding of HGTV’s Curb Appeal: The Block, Matt Blashaw of HGTV’s Yard Crashers, and more.

The Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show – Feb. 25-28, War Memorial Coliseum. See the latest in contemporary home and garden products and services. You’ll find all the inspiration and help you need to start your next home project, plus interactive and educational displays the whole family can enjoy. With a petting zoo, adoptable pets, martial arts demonstrations, and balloon and face-artists around.

Indiana Flower & Patio Show – March 12-20, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis. Flowers and patios are at the core of this show, but you will also find hot tubs, grills, decks, water features, potted plants, experts, tools, outdoor furniture, pools, pavers, ‘green’ products, outdoor kitchens, yard art and more.

Indiana has a number of additional public gardens where you can see and experience new plants and learn how to grow them. As the Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture explains, botanical gardens and arboreta (which are essentially living museums with plants as the exhibits) are abundant in our state. Public gardens (during warmer weather, of course) are also wonderful sources of information about plants that can be grown in your area. Take advantage of the lecture series, tours or other special events offered at such locations. Take a look at a larger list of selected gardens in the state here.

Seven Landscaping Tips for Curing the Winter Blues

winter yard - CopyFor plant and garden lovers, the cold winter months can bring on a bad case of the blues. With no lawn to manicure, and no warm, soft soil to spread or till, there’s nothing left to do but quietly stare out the window and count the days until spring, right?
Well, not exactly. Even though most of your outdoor plants are at rest and their cheery colors have gone into hiding, winter is a perfect time to plunge into landscape planning mode. So get excited and take out your notebook or sketch pad, because we haveour top winter landscaping tips for creating an outdoor environment you’re sure to love year-round.

Inspect your view. Property owners usually don’t pay that much attention to their landscape during the winter. That’s normal. But winter serves as a great opportunity to get a good look at what you have (or don’t have). So make notes of what you see, paying special attention to dead space or unremarkable shapes. Draw diagrams or a rough sketch of current beds, and what you’d like to see next winter (in terms of new colors, textures or shapes) in order to improve your off-season view.

Think berries. If you don’t have any berry-producing trees or shrubs, add them to your wish list. Berries add splashes of color during the fall and winter, and provide food for birds. Holly, in particular, provides texture and color that helps create a warm and festive atmosphere, and brightens up an otherwise lackluster area.

Consider evergreens. Sure, we know that evergreens provide color all year, but you might not know how varied those colors can be. Ranging from deep gold to calming blue, evergreens add texture and soothing pops of color while also serving as focal points year-round. Generally, each bed or landscaped section of your lawn could benefit from at least one evergreen.

What about bark? While at first glance, those deciduous trees that have lost their leaves might seem forlorn. But in wintertime, your branches and trunks can actually become an interesting focus. Ornamental trees with distinctive bark can be beautiful elements no matter the temperature or time of year. Some to consider include dogwoods and birch trees, both of which add nice texture and color.

Remember the hardscape. Don’t limit yourself to just plants as you assess your surroundings and future outdoor atmosphere. Hardscape additions, like a fire pit, trellis, bench, larger seating area or pergola could be the missing link to your ideal yard. Winter is the perfect time to identify these options and explore prices, styles and options.

 Fill up your containers. Traditional summer containers like window boxes, hanging baskets or large pots can be transformed into winter landscapes with little effort. Try filling them up with things like miniature dwarf Alberta spruce and broadleaf evergreens, holly or rhododendron, adding ribbons or other decorative touches for the holidays. You can also fill containers with evergreen boughs of different textures and colors, adding interesting twigs or natural elements for variety.

Stock up. Keep your eye on pre- and post-holiday sales, and stock up on all those non-plant items you need for spring. Bargain shop for anything garden related, and check out your local nurseries or big-box stores for specials on close-out items. It’s also a good time to research any plants you might want to add to your landscape, and start a file for pictures, descriptions and possible landscape or hardscape plans.

If you need help when it comes to your landscape or hardscape wishes for next year, give us a call at (317) 259-9222. We can help you create the kind of outdoor space you dream about.

 What do you think?

These are just seven of our top winter landscaping tips, but we know there’s plenty more. What kind of landscape-related things do you like to do during winter? Do you have any additional tips or helpful ideas? Please tell us about them, and leave your comments below.