Hot Summer = Cool Irrigation Tips

When Idaho heats up,  FarWest’s Landscaping team receives many phone calls about landscape watering and irrigation systems. 100 + degree summer days do require an adjustment to your irrigation system.  We suggest raising your lawn mower blade to 3″ to help keep moisture in and keep your lawn looking beautiful in the heat. During Idaho’s hot summers, we kick up the time and frequency of sprinkler zones for both lawn and planting beds for our landscape customers. Below are a few tips on irrigation and hot summer days from our Landscape team.

Idaho’s hot summers require that your  irrigation system is providing adequate coverage all season long.
  • It is important to visually see how your irrigation system is working.  We tell our landscape customers to periodically manually run each sprinkler zone during the day to make sure there is good pressure and there is adequate irrigation coverage. (Many sprinkler systems run at night, so you may not see what kind of coverage your lawn & beds receive until you manually run each zone during daytime hours.)
  • Low water pressure often means filters need to be cleaned, especially with pressurized irrigation.  Low pressure can also be a result of a underground leak or too many heads on a zone.  If you have believe you have low water pressure or flow, the first step is to inspect each sprinkler head’s filter & clean them of all debris.
Clogged sprinkler head filters, remove and clean for better water pressure
  • If you have drip irrigation, we manually turn on your system, pull mulch back to find each emitter and confirm that water is indeed coming out to each plant. If the drip emitter is not working, we replace it with the same gallon per hour emitter.  We replace the mulch over the emitter when finished. Remember, if your drip system is a 3-5 years old, it’s time to add more emitters to each plant that has grown larger, so that it gets adequate water in our warmer temperatures.
We use high quality emitters: 1,2,5 or 10 gallon/hr
Replace much over emitters after checking
  • Our technicians often see heads, both pop-ups and rotors that are out of alignment both in their position in the ground and direction of spray. Heads settle, especially if they are several years old, and need to be straightened or raised. Rotors often stop rotating and need to be replaced and pop-ups get clogged with sand and sediment. We re-level any low heads and adjust their spray range. Your sprinkler system may need one or two larger capacity heads to adequately water a few dry spots. Plants can block a spray head and the head may need to move or be replaced with a taller head to water the area adequately.

  • Hot Idaho weather, especially days over 100, mean your landscape will require more water. We increase watering time on your timer to compensate for Boise’s hot, dry heat . Recently planted trees and plants may require additional hand watering until they are established. Feel the dirt around the plant. It should be moist enough to create a dirt clod, but not muddy. Use a moisture meter to check soil moisture level 6-8” below the surface to tell if your soil is dry or moist. Remember to check all around the plant for moisture & wipe off the meter each time you remove it from the soil or you will get the same reading each time.
  • Irrigation Technology has changed and new systems are available to manage your irrigation system. New sprinkler components significantly reduce water use and save customers money (for those on city water). Taking advantage of these new systems will help you not only manage your system more easily, but also be more environmentally friendly through less water use.

FarWest Landscape offers irrigation upgrades and maintenance. If you are interested in upgrading your irrigation system or would like your system tuned up, please contact our Landscape team and ask about our water management programs. Call us: 208-853-4000 or email us: design@farwestlandscape.net

Edible Landscape in Idaho

Growing your own fruit is essential, according to my grandmother Brown. She had a huge garden in Filer, Idaho with fruit trees, cane berries and strawberries when I was a kid.  Most of us do not have huge yards and are actively trying to make our yards yield beauty and fruit. My own yard has grapes growing along a fence on the west side of my home. Raspberries are planted along a sunny south side yard of my yard that was just an unused gravel path. My family loves blueberries, so I  used four as shrubs in our backyard landscape, knowing they would cross pollinate and give us tons of blueberries.

It is very easy to use fruit trees, berries and grapes as part of your backyard landscape. If you have a smaller backyard or courtyard, you can easily grow  a few berry plants and a couple of  semi dwarf or espaliered fruit trees along a south or west exposure. It’s easy to include fruiting edibles in your landscape design; consider placing a wood or metal arbor along a pathway & plant grapevines to grow up the arbor, giving you fruit in late fall. Plant a raspberry patch along a sunny side yard with drip irrigation and you will have berries in the summer & fall. We plant espaliered fruit trees to make a beautiful statement along a blank sunny wall or fence and they yield fruit in the late summer.

All fruiting plants need full sun or 8+ hours of sunshine daily, amended, well draining soil and regular water to thrive in Idaho. The best fruit production comes with cross pollinating plants, even if the plant is labeled self-pollinating. Here are fruit varieties that do well in the Treasure Valley and my tips for growing them. Come visit us if you have fruit growing questions or need help designing your edible backyard, Monday through Sunday.   See you in the garden, Dennis Fix

 

Semi dwarf fruit trees are manageable when pruned and shaped to keep their smaller size in Idaho.

Espaliered fruit trees hug a wall or fence, using very little space in your landscape.

Prune once in late Feb. before buds emerge. Fertilize March or April-Organic Gardener & Bloome citrus & fruit. Thin your fruit in June to 1 fruit per cluster (apples) or one fruit every 3-4” for more delicious fruit.

Apples that do well in Boise:  Fuji, Gala, Gravenstein, Honey Crisp, Kinder Crisp, North Pole and Pink Lady.

Cherry varieties for southern Idaho- Bing, Carmine Jewel, Craig’s Crimson, Lapins, Montmorency, Rainier and Stella.

Figs to grow in Boise: Chicago Hardy & Violette de Bordeau.

Pear varieties to plant in the Treasure Valley: Anjou, Bartlett, Shinseiki Peach- Contender, Elberta, Pixie, Redhaven, Snow Beauty & Veteran.

Plum varieties for southern Idaho: Italian Prune, Santa Rosa, Satsuma & Stanley.

The nectarine variety we recommend for Boise is Fantasia.

Cane berries are perfect in an edible landscape, plant a few berries and you will have a berry patch in no time!

Amend your soil before planting with Gardner & Bloome Organic Soil Conditioner. Prune in February or March. Fertilize – March & Sept. fertilome Gardener’s Special.

Blackberry varieties for southern Idaho: Black Satin, Marion & Triple Crown. Currants for Boise:  Cherry Red and Crandall Black or White.

Raspberry plants for our area: Boyne, Canby, Heritage, Latham and Fall Gold.

 

Blueberries are a medium elegant shrub that produces well with a second plant and has a great fall color.

Amend soil with Sulfur and Organic Soil Conditioner. Fertilize- April 1 & Memorial Day. Pinch blossoms off the first year, pick berries the second year

Blueberries that grow well in the Treasure Valley: Berkely, Blue Crop, Chandler, Duke, Elliott, Earliblue, Toro & many more varieties.

Grapes are beautiful growing up an arbor in your yard or along a sunny fence line.

Prune back to main arms late February, leaving 8 buds per direction. Sturdy support system for heavy limbs

Cover mid summer with netting to keep birds out, harvest in the late fall after a hard frost.

Grapes you should plant for harvest in southern Idaho: Concord, Canadice Seedless, Glenora, Himrod, Suffolk Red, Lakemont and Vanessa.

 

Strawberries make a great ground cover, you can plant along the front of your perennial beds.

Plant in large decorative pots placed on a sunny patio or in your landscape beds for vertical interest

Fertilize- March or April fertilome Gardener’s Special. Grow in a large container or in the ground. Net to keep birds out of your fruit

Eversweet, Ft. Laramie, Honeoye, Hood, Rainer, Tristar & Quinalt strawberries grow well in the Treasure Valley.

Fall Pruning & Yard Clean Up, Why Do We Recommend It?

Why is late fall one of the best times to prune perennials, shrubs & trees? Is fall clean up in your landscape really necessary? Should I add plants to my yard in the fall? These are questions we hear our clients ask our Landscape Designers quite often at this time of year. 

 Late fall, after a hard freeze, most shrubs/trees will loose their leaves & become dormant for the winter in Idaho.  Pruning trees & shrubs while you can see their shape makes the job much more effective. Removing dead limbs and stems on plants keeps them clean and healthy for robust spring growth. When we get an odd, heavy, Idaho snowfall, having pruned the dead or diseased limbs away from your trees will prevent damage to your home & landscape. Remember, when pruning spring blooming perennials, hold off or you may not have spring blooms. Come down see us if you have questions on pruning.

Cleaning up leaf debris in your yard is an excellent way to keep disease from spreading (roses) and also keeps moist areas dry. Slugs, snails & many other creepy crawling insects love to make a home in wet or moist yard debris. 

Thinning & dividing perennials in the fall is an excellent way to expand your plant quantities or share with neighbors if you don’t have room in your landscape.  The month of October is THE time to plant spring blooming bulbs in Idaho. Tulips, crocus, hyacinths, fritillaries, daffodils, are best planted in large groupings with bone meal or bulb food right now, before the ground freezes.

Fertilizing & mowing your lawn one last time  a great way to get a green lawn first in the spring, while your neighbor’s lawn is still that gorgeous, still asleep, tan color!

 Blowing out your sprinkler/drip  system in Idaho is recommended, so that your back flow preventer does not freeze and need to be replaced in the spring. Be sure to give any new plantings a good long soak from your hose before shutting down your irrigation system for the rest of the year.

 FarWest Landscape Team can help you with these fall clean up tasks, giving you more time to do the things you love! Call us at: 853-4000 to get on our fall clean up & landscape schedule!

Choosing the Right Landscaping Company

Landscaping season is upon us and many homeowners are considering upgrading their outdoor living spaces. There really is nothing that improves a home more than having a functional landscape that you can enjoy with your family and friends.
If you are thinking about a landscape project, there are important things you need to consider when deciding on a design and a landscaping company.

A good landscaping company is able to design and build any size landscape and incorporate features the homeowner wants. Landscaping elements may include water features, outdoor kitchens and pergolas, fire pits or just great landscapes utilizing quality plants and materials. In the end, as a landscaping company, our job is to make sure the homeowner receives the landscape they have envisioned and fits their needs.

Many people think landscaping is easy and that anyone can perform the work. Many of our projects come about because we have to redo or fix poor landscapes installed by other “landscaping companies”. This saddens us because a homeowner will have spent thousands and received a poor landscape and then have to pay thousands more to have it fixed. Had they done some due diligence and followed the guidelines I list below, they would have saved themselves a lot of money and headaches.

Many companies are experts at maintenance (mowing and trimming) but have no idea what is involved in designing and building a landscape. If you are interviewing for landscape work, ask what the company’s primary business is. If they are a maintenance company that also does landscaping, tread cautiously. Just because they can mow and trim really well, it does not mean they can design and build landscapes. We replace a lot of landscapes installed by maintenance companies every year. Below are some guidelines for choosing a landscaping company.


Reliability – How long has the company been in the landscaping business? Do they offer a warranty? Are they a company with a good reputation or a sole proprietor?
Design quality – Is the landscaping design done by a professional landscape designer with the education and experience to create a design you want?
Landscaping crews – Experienced and professional crews. Have the crews been doing landscaping work for a long time?
Quality Plant Materials – plants, trees and shrubs. Not all plants are the same and quality does matter. Box store / park grade plants and trees are not the same as a nursery tree or plant. Where do they source their plants?
Landscaping materials – are soil, bark, sand, gravel, pavers, stone, concrete and other non-plant materials available to perform work successfully as part of the design? Good landscapers do not take short cuts.
Equipment and tools – all tools and equipment to perform work. Includes hand tools, power tools and heavier equipment like skid steers and dingo’s. If your landscaper only has a shovel and a wheelbarrow – beware!

Creating a long lasting, functional landscape is not inexpensive and it is important to have a realistic budget to have a quality design installed. A landscape design is an investment in your home that will provide years of enjoyment and should be viewed with that in mind. Beware of low bidders because in the end, you do not want to pay a second landscape company to fix the mistakes of the first.

About FarWest Landscaping and Garden Center:  FarWest Landscape and Garden Center is a full service garden center and landscaping company that has served the Boise area for over 40 years. FarWest Garden Center is one of the largest and best known nurseries in the Treasure Valley. Our Garden Center offers the highest quality and largest selections of plants in the area.

The FarWest team of Landscaping professionals is responsive and knowledgeable and are dedicated to providing our customers with landscape designs that fit the needs of our customers while providing the highest quality. We know our plants and we know landscaping. As we say at FarWest, if you hire FarWest Landscape, you will not need to hire a second landscaper to fix your landscaping!