What is ecological landscaping? What’s the best time of year to get started with your garden? Which types of grass and plants grow best in our area? Is there an organic way to deal with issues like pollen, flooding and insect problems? What kinds of edible plants grow best in our gardens? What tips do you have for growing house plants?
These and other questions were posed to Jay Archer, owner of Green Jay Landscaping in May of 2015 by Maura Carlin and Mike Witsch of “Local Live”, a talk show program created for Rye NY, Mamaroneck NY, Harrison NY, Larchmont NY and the surrounding communities. Here’s a quick summary of the questions and answers in this video interview. It’s not meant as a substitute for viewing the interview, but just as a summary.
Q: WHAT IS ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPING?
A: Landscaping that embraces nature. Landscaping in which we participate with nature instead of being separate from or opposing to nature. For example, instead of removing leaves, compost them back into your lawn and garden. This puts back into the soil the organic matter we’ve been removing over the last 50 years. This is organic, natural fertilizer. On the other hand, when we use blowers to remove leaves, we also blow away the garden’s top soil over time.
Q: WHAT’S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET STARTED WITH YOUR GARDEN?
A: 5:00 this evening. Start to change your life today. Begin organic gardening. Reduce the size of your lawn. Stop applying pesticides and toxic chemicals to your lawn and garden.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TYPES OF GRASS THAT DO WELL IN RYE NY, MAMARONECK NY, HARRISON NY, LARCHMONT NY AND THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES?
A: The most productive grass seed (Improved Perennial Ryegrass) is grown in Oregon, which has a climate similar to ours in New York and Connecticut. When it comes to plants, the best thing you can do is create bio-diversity (plant various species). You’ll end up attracting butterflies and birds. Bring in more native plants.
Q: WHAT ARE NATIVE PLANTS TO THIS AREA?
A: One example is milkweed (butterfly weed). This plant provides food for butterflies.
Q: HOW DO YOU REDUCE POLLEN?
A: Irritation to pollen is an indicator our immune systems are not what they should be. Pollen didn’t bother the Native Americans. Reducing chemicals and pesticides supports healthy immune systems.
Q: HOW CAN WE DEAL WITH WATER PROBLEMS AND FLOODING?
A: Plant rain gardens instead of the great American lawn. For example, French lilac helps absorb water.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME EASY EXAMPLES OF VEGETABLES YOU CAN GROW IN YOUR GARDEN?
A: Blueberries and raspberries are easy to grow. Go to “Gardens Alive” and purchase a little hoop that will screen your berries from deer during the 2 weeks the plants are producing.
Q: PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE TROUBLE WITH TOMATOES. WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST?
A: A lot of sunlight, good soil. Stone Barns in Westchester is the greatest source of soil on the East Coast.
Q: HOW DO YOU TELL GOOD SOIL SUPPLEMENTS FROM BAD?
A: Guaranteed analysis. Consult Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Q: HOW CAN YOU TELL A PLANT FROM A WEED?
A: It’s in the eye of the beholder. We have clients who want us to leave weeds in their lawn. These bloom, add to the natural look.
Q: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PLANTS INSIDE THE HOME?
A: We created a vertical “living wall” in our home. 1 square foot of plants will clean 100 square feet of air in the home. We also built an eco-terrium with living plants and frogs. This both helps clean the air humidifies the home.
Q: WHAT ABOUT BUGS THAT IRRITATE PEOPLE?
A: Bio-diversity is the answer. Because of the diversity of song birds, damsel flies…etc. in the wet lands adjacent to our home, the mosquito population is naturally controlled. Unhealthy deer spread tics and Lyme disease. A good coyote population, returning to our area, helps control this problem.
Q: HOW DO YOU PROPERLY TRIM HYDRANGEAS?
A: Hydrangeas are woody shrubs. Don’t trim them too low. Get professional advice.
Q: HOW DO YOU TRIM RHODODENDRONS?
A: Don’t cut the buds. Water properly based on the climate conditions. Last year rhododendrons got too much water. This year we’re in drought and they’re not getting enough.
Jay Archer, President