When in doubt: plant a Lily

The Lily is a popular perennial for many landscapes in Zone 6.  From the Daylily to Lily turf, there are a multitude of species that will thrive in your Zone 6 landscape.  Monrovia has a fantastic selection of Lilies  in their landscaping plant catalog.


The Daylily is a low maintenance flowering plant which will add plenty of character to that area in your landscaping that is in need of a tune-up!  They come in various species which provide a variety of colors and sizes.  This perennial will certainly provide many years of beauty to your Zone 6 landscaping project.


Zone 6 Ornamental Grasses

As we approach the planting season, we will be featuring plants from Monrovia regularly on our blog.  Their online catalog is a fantastic resource for choosing landscaping plants. 

Click Zone 6 on the map above to check out an excellent variety of ornamental grasses for your landscape.


Blue Fescue ornamental grass is a which requires full sun.  The Blue Fescue is excellent for use on landscaping borders or can be used as ground cover.  This ornamental landscaping grass grows approximately 8"-12" high and wide.  


Hydraway French Drainage System

Hydraway Drain vs Traditional Perforated pipe

Notice the water run off from the neighboring property after a heavy rainfall....

Notice the water run off from the neighboring property after a heavy rainfall....

This property is in a home development that was new in 2005.  After we got to the root cause of the problem, we found that the original french drain that was installed in the property owners backyard was finish graded too deep below the ground, the perforated pipe was crushed, and their was not enough gravel around the pipe to allow it to work properly......so the water just found the path of least resistance with no french drain to direct the water.  This is a common problem in many new developments.  French drain installation was the ultimate end all to both neighbors water problem.  The Hydraway Drainage System has high flow capacity which makes it superior to traditional perforated pipe, especially during the rainy season when we can get heavy amounts of rain in short periods of time.

Flagstone Patio

For this portion of the project we used a 25 ton of Virginia Red Limestone boulders to create a border and retain the slope for 2 ton of Lilac Flagstone for the patio.  The polymeric sand mix was Gator Dust - Stone Grey.  All the materials were sourced through Federouch Landscape Supply Yard in Canonsburg, PA.

All the excavating and heaving duty work was completed with a Ditch Witch SK mini skid steer.  For such a small machine, it packs a ton of power.  Some of the boulders were so large that we had to strap them to the bucket of the machine and drag and push them into place but this machine never stopped.  We definitely would recommend this machine to anyone in need of a powerful machine for small area work where a large machine would be cumbersome.  The machine was sourced through Knickerbocker Russell Equipment in Robinson Township, PA


Mulching 101

As winter comes to an end, homeowners and businesses alike are getting ready to refresh the look of their properties. The most popular way to refresh the look of a property is by adding a layer of mulch to your landscape.  Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of an area of soil.  The purpose of mulch has more than just aesthetic value.  Mulch will hold necessary moisture in your landscaping beds.  As mulch breaks down, it will improve the quality and health of your soil and reduce weed growth.

Dyed Mulch

Undoubtedly the most popular type of mulch, dyed or colored mulches cover landscaping beds all across America and beyond.  Dyed mulches most popular colors are brown, black, and red in color and can be purchased in individual bags at big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart.  For larger applications, dyed mulch is purchased in bulk at your local landscaping supply center.  Most landscape supply centers deliver large quantities for a delivery fee.  If you are having a landscaping company install the mulch to your property, in most cases they will handle delivery.

For improved weed control in problematic landscapes, a landscaping fabric should be installed.  It is imperative that the landscaping fabric is installed over top of the soil and not over a layer of mulch.  All of the old much should be removed before installing the fabric.  Once the old mulch has been removed, the fabric can be installed and then the fresh mulch can be applied to the mulch beds.  The landscaping fabric will create a barrier for additional weed control and will allow water to seep through to provide necessary moisture that your landscape needs to thrive.

There are other types of mulch that can be used although the above named are the most popular in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.

How thick should I lay mulch?

2-3 inches is plenty.  Don't over due it. More isn't better when you are talking mulch.

How much does mulch cost?

When mulch is purchased in individual bags, it can normally be purchased for less than $4-$5 per bag.  At the beginning of the season, you will see everyone selling mulch from convenience stores to the Big Box Stores.  The deals range from 3-4 bags for $10 usually and would be perfect for small areas in your landscape for the DIY'er.  Individual bags are also handy for mulching on hillsides as they can be carried more easily than bulk products.

Bulk mulch will usually cost between $30-$35/cubic yard plus a delivery fee.  Bulk mulch is more often used for larger projects.

Please take caution when installing large quantities of mulch.  It is very labor intensive and backbreaking work.  Don't bite off more than your can chew.  You know your limits, if you feel the mulch job is more than you can handle, contact a professional.

Happy Mulching from American Groundskeeping!

Your mulch job will always look better with a nice clean edge on the mulch beds.

Your mulch job will always look better with a nice clean edge on the mulch beds.

French drains

French drain installation is necessary when excess water from a slope or improperly graded area on your property is collecting water.  Many times, in new construction, home sites are cut into hillsides and the ground is disturbed potentially disrupting a natural spring which was draining into the ground.  In most cases, these areas which are holding excess water is located behind the house, at the base of a slope, or between adjoining properties.  Ultimately, these wet, soggy areas on the lawn can be addressed by trenching the area and installing a french drain.  A french drain is installed below the ground the consists of drain pipe, gravel and filter fabric.


When we address the problematic area on your property, the first step is to determine where to drain this excess water to that will not disrupt a different part of your property.  In most cases we run the drain to the street and the excess water flows to the storm drain.  Occasionally the adjoining property has a drain which can be tied into and the water will drain to a culvert and then to a retention pond or storm drain.

If adjoining drains do not exist and running the excess water to the street isn't an option, the french drain can be tapped into a downspout.  We have seen cases where the downspout is the root cause of the water problem because the downspout is clogged.  If tapping into a downspout can be avoided, it will be avoided.  With that in mind, when a downspout is clogged, the water from the gutter system on your house can be channeled away with an french drain to carry the water to hillside or to the street to avoid foundation damage when water from your roof has nowhere to drain.

Before any digging can take place on a property, you must contact One Call by dialing 811.  Please review their website at www.pa1call.org to find more information.  Once you call 811, the utilities will come to your property and place a flag to mark the utilities. This usually takes 3-5 days.  Once the utilities are marked, the digging can begin.

Most french drains can be completed in 1 day and will typically cost between $10-$14/lineal foot if installed by American Groundskeeping

According to Costhelper.com, French drains can cost $10-$30 a linear foot but averages about $25/foot depending on depth and width (typically 12"-24" deep and 6"-18" wide), and local rates. A French drain 30'-50' long might cost $300-$1,500, with prices averaging about $750-$1,250.