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Archives for June 6, 2016

See the mind-blowing backyards of Leslie Jacobs, Sharon Moss

Summer is calling, and so are the great outdoors. For many, this is the time for  a backyard re-do. A time for taking the dust covers off the patio furniture and sprucing things up for outdoor gatherings. Or, just adding something extra to a backyard space that can enhance your enjoyment is enough.

With that in mind, we set out to find some of Lafayette’s most fabulous backyard spaces and share some ideas that might inspire you to get out there and create your own piece of paradise.

Local pediatric dentist Leslie Jacobs created a backyard paradise like no other from what used to be just a two-level grass yard overlooking the Vermilion River.  Jacobs said she put in a pool and extensive landscaping  to create the perfect space for her and her two daughters, ages 10 and 13.

“I must have looked at 2,000 pictures of pools, ” she recalled. “I put them all together and I drew what I wanted. I wanted it to flow with a view of the river so we did the infinity edge. But I also want a lot of green spaces. I have two dogs I rescued form the pound and they are really big so they need lots of room to run around.”

The fabulous pool Jacobs created features an outdoor bar and kitchen area under a rock formation cave, a tanning deck with views of the Vermilion River and a tiled slide that is just above the bar and entertainment area.  Plus, there is a lush walkway that leads down to a deck on the river. Jacobs said the entire project took about one-and-a-half years from start to finish but was worth every minute.

“We entertain a lot,” Jacobs said. “So we want our friends to come over and enjoy themselves. My favorite spot is the infinity edge.  I like to sit on a floatie and hang out with my daughter and watch the boats go by on the river.”

For a more modernistic take, look no further than the aqua and lime green infused space of Sharon Moss and Curtis Roy. Moss said she recently updated the clean, white spaces with color and plants that she hand picked herself.

“Years ago we had a party, and we rented this white furniture,” Moss recalled. “Curtis just loved it, and so we kept it.”

Moss said she updated that by recently getting new rugs and pillows in some of her favorite colors: aqua, turquoise and lime green. She also has new landscaping, done by Glenn Gautreaux,  which brings even more color.

I used to have leopard print and I had a lot of beige and white and taupes out here,” she added. “But now it’s mostly aqua, which I love’ and lime greens.

From minimal to maximum foliage, backyard styles can vary. Some older homes take advantage of more yard, land and older growth for a more mature and verdant look.

When The Daily Advertiser visited Carolyn French and her husband Mike Huber last year, they showed us what a yard that has been growing and maturing  for years looks like.

The couple divided the backyard into small specialty gardens, including a “Louisiana Garden,” with a sugar kettle fountain underneath a magnolia tree, native Louisiana irises, Tabasco peppers and banana trees in a pot.  The tropical garden features a large fountain and several different species of ginger, bromeliads, a bird of paradise, and orchids

“The most interesting aspects of our backyard would be the oriental  garden stools, porcelain pots, and cobalt blue and white color scheme, which is an extension of our interior décor,” French told us at the time.

Inspired yet? No matter what your style, you can reinvigorate your backyard space with a few simple tips we picked up while touring some fabulous spaces.

1. Add a water feature. It creates a relaxing ambiance.

2. Add color. Whatever the latest shades are, you can get just a few items that will make your space seem new again.

3. Clean up the clutter. Get rid of older furniture or paint it white to make it look and feel new again.

4. Invest in some really good, long-lasting plants that will add greenery.

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Gardening in June may include visit to plant clinic – Lifestyle – Northwest Florida Daily News – Fort Walton Beach, FL

Posted Jun. 5, 2016 at 11:58 AM
Updated Jun 5, 2016 at 11:59 AM

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Hiring a landscaper may be a good investment

Homeowners with green thumbs may embrace the challenge of revitalizing their lawns and gardens, but many, especially those pressed for time, can benefit greatly from working with professional landscapers.

TEMECULA – The majority of homeowners want their properties to appear as appealing as possible. While many homeowners want to be proud of their properties and come home to a welcoming home each night, the benefits to maintaining landscaping go beyond the notion that well-manicured lawns make for more comforting retreats.

Because numerous variables, including landscaping, influence property values, it’s difficult to assess just how much the property values of homes with impressive landscapes are influenced by those very landscapes. Indeed, studies have produced varying results regarding the effect of well-landscaped homes on property values. But what many studies have shown and what many realtors indicate is that impressive landscaping adds a significant amount to property values, with estimates suggesting landscaping increases home values by anywhere from five to 20 percent.

Such estimates are good news for homeowners, and they also highlight the stakes involved when making landscaping decisions. Home owners with green thumbs may embrace the challenge of revitalizing their lawns and gardens, but many, especially those pressed for time, can benefit greatly from working with professional landscapers.


Why hire a professional landscaper?

Maintaining a property requires more than just mowing the lawn every couple of weeks. Even homeowners committed to making their properties as pristine as possible can run into problems when adverse weather conditions pose a threat to lawns and gardens. The following are just a handful of reasons why homeowners may find working with landscaping professionals is the best thing for their properties and their bank accounts.

Experienced professional landscapers will understand the local climate and the challenges it presents to your lawn. Experience can prove invaluable as lawns battle adverse conditions that threaten its survival. While homeowners going it alone may struggle through a trial and error period as they try to address problems threatening their lawns, experienced professionals are more likely to identify the problem immediately, providing a ready solution that can prevent potentially costly repairs down the road.

Professionals can provide inspiration. In addition to maintaining properties, many landscaping professionals have vast experience improving properties through landscape design. Professional landscapers may have a host of ideas for your property that you would never think of. Homeowners with little to no lawn and garden experience may not realize all the things they can do with their properties, and those who go it alone may end up with unappealing landscapes that do not attract buyers’ attention when the home hits the market. Professionals typically have a wealth of ideas and, perhaps more importantly, they understand which ideas will and won’t work on a given property.

Professionals can remove some of the stress of managing landscaping projects. Homeowners know that home improvement projects, whether they are addressing home interiors or exteriors, can be stressful. Professional landscapers typically have a network of professionals, including contractors, who they have worked with in the past. Such connections can ensure more complex projects that require both landscapers and construction contractors go as smoothly as possible. In addition, homeowners who receive contractor recommendations from their experienced landscapers tend to rest easier knowing the people working on their properties have already developed a rapport and established a successful track record working together.

Professional landscapers can be just what homeowners need to turn their properties into appealing oases no buyer can resist. 

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9 plants that bug bugs — including mosquitoes

Summer is almost here, and you’ll want to spend more time in your backyards and gardens.

Unfortunately, so will the bugs.  And because of viruses such as Zika and West Nile, mosquitoes are a big concern.

You can plant herbs and flowers that repel those bugs, including mosquitoes, and add a touch of beauty to your backyard.

One sure sign of summer is bugs.

Some critters eat at your fruits and vegetables while others, such as flies and mosquitoes, eat at your patience. Some plants have strong scents that bugs don’t like, making them good insect repellents.

Photos: 9 plants that bug bugs — including mosquitoes

At the same time, they make attractive additions to home landscapes. Here are nine favorite plants that bug the bugs:

1. Marigolds. These flowers are colorful additions to landscaping, but they have a distinctive smell that repels mosquitoes and other garden pests, including squash bugs and tomato worms. Marigolds contain a natural compound used in many insect repellents.

Plant some marigolds in the garden among your squash, melons and tomatoes or near open windows and doorways where mosquitoes might be tempted to enter.

2. Lavender. About the only insects you see around lavender are bees. They love the flowers, but other bugs stay away.

Lavender has a pleasant scent that comes from the essential oils in the leaves of the plant, but the bugs hate it. Hang some dried lavender in your closet and you won’t have to worry about moths eating your clothes.

The herb is a perennial and is drought resistant once it’s established, a bonus for areas that are watching their water consumption.

3. Lemon grass. Lemon grass can grow up to 4 feet tall, but the best thing about this decorative grass is that it contains citronella, a common natural ingredient in many mosquito repellents.

You’ve probably heard of citronella candles and torches. The plant itself does even better at deterring mosquitoes because it has a stronger smell.

Lemon grass tolerates heat and drought but not frost. So in most areas, it’s best planted in a pot that can be moved indoors in winter.

4. Garlic. This herb has long been regarded as a deterrent to blood-sucking vampires and werewolves, but it really deters buzzing blood-sucking mosquitoes.

Planting garlic around the garden also will ward off other insects and creepy crawlers. Garlic extract sprayed in your garden is harmless to plants, but bugs don’t like that garlic odor.

5. Rosemary. Though you’ll want to plant an herb garden for cooking, rosemary repels flies and mosquitoes.

It also has a pungent scent that drives away other bugs, including cabbage moths. It does well in hot dry weather, and thrives in containers, so you can set it in various places around the garden.

6. Basil. This herb also tastes great in your favorite dishes but doubles as a bug repellent.

Basil’s strong smell keeps mosquitoes away. And if you put a potted basil plant near your picnic table, you won’t have to worry as much about flies either.

7. Catnip. Many cats love catnip, but mosquitoes won’t come near it.

In fact, some studies show that catnip is 10 times more effective than DEET, the chemical formally known as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide and found in most commercial insect repellents.

Roll up a few catnip leaves and rub them on your skin. The bugs won’t bother you, but the neighbor’s cat might.

Catnip grows almost anywhere, and it will spread in your garden. So growing it in pots is best.

8. Petunias. These annuals add a bright splash of color to any landscape, but the funnel-shaped blossoms also have a licorice-like scent that repels many insect pests, including aphids, tomato hornworms and squash bugs.

But do keep an eye on these flowers because other crawly garden pests are attracted to petunias, including slugs and caterpillars.

9. Mint. Who doesn’t like the taste of mint?

It’s a beautiful plant that smells and tastes great to people, but ants and mice absolutely hate it. It can spread quickly in the garden and is hard to remove, so you might want to keep it in a pot.

Put some containers of mint around your patio or in your garden, and it will ward off other insects, including mosquitoes.

These are just a few of the many plants that bugs find distasteful. Surrounding yourself and your patio with a few them will keep the bugs away from you, too.

Some of the plants are perennials, which will come back from year to year while others need to replanted annually. You can find all of these plants at most nurseries and garden centers.

Can’t see the video? Click here. 

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Garden designer Carloftis will bring ‘farm chic’ to Summit shopping center

Celebrated Kentucky garden designer Jon Carloftis wants people who shop, eat, live or work at The Summit at Fritz Farm to remember the site’s agricultural legacy.

With the face of retail changing, it is important to attract both the right mix of retailers and the right foot traffic, developer Bayer Properties said in announcing his hiring.

“Developers are going beyond just building mixed-use developments. With today’s emphasis on place-making, authenticity is key to success, and every detail becomes purposeful, right down to creating a unique environment.”

Carloftis has been hired to work with landscape architects Nimrod Long and Associates on the 60-acre, $156 million mixed-use project, which will include 75 restaurants and stores, a boutique hotel, grocery store, condos and offices.

“Fritz Farm dates back to the Revolutionary War and includes many beautiful artifacts on the property,” said Lindsay Bayer-Shipp, retail brand strategist for Bayer Properties. “We feel responsible for honoring the heritage of this property and telling its story to a new generation of visitors and residents.”

Carloftis, whose work has been featured in magazines including Garden Gun, Southern Living, Garden Design, Better Homes Gardens and Country Living, will bring the kind of charm and easy elegance that has made his work as popular in New York and Hollywood as Kentucky.

“We’re the style people,” Carloftis said. “We’re doing farm chic.”

His goal is to highlight something in the design that will resonate with Kentuckians. And for the former Alpha Gamma Rho social secretary, that means heavy on the farm.

“Farm-to-table may come in and out of fashion, but in Lexington and Kentucky, the farm will never lose its reverence,” Carloftis said. “Everyone comes here because of the farms.”

So Carloftis put out a call through his former AGR frat brothers: anybody have any old farm implements? Tractors that don’t have engines? Useless machinery?

“We’ve luckily found it all in one-stop shopping, from an 85-year-old fraternity brother. I went on his farm, and he had all these beautiful, but obsolete, farm implements,” Carloftis said. “I bought three empty tractors from him, a combine, a tobacco setter. It’s gorgeous stuff. It’s just great pieces of art.”

And that’s exactly what he plans to do with them: turn them into art. He is having them sandblasted, painted high-gloss silver and and will put them on limestone pedestals as sculpture around the development.

But the nod to agriculture won’t be just ornamental. Carloftis wants people at the development to keep the former farm going, in a sense.

He will use his signature galvanized steel water troughs as raised-bed vegetable and herb gardens that restaurants and people living on the site could eat from. And as the development grows, the garden beds can be picked up and moved. Around the site will be plantings of his favorite native plants, including a water drainage basin with willows and water irises to help purify the parking lot runoff.

He hopes to work with incoming pledge classes of his fraternity house at the University of Kentucky to keep the garden in shape.

The development will have “pocket parks” throughout to provide shoppers, workers and residents places to enjoy the outdoors and even dine, Bayer-Shipp said.

“It is important to us that The Summit at Fritz Farm is purposeful in its design. The retailers that are coming to the property expect a sense of place. In fact, the innovative brands we are attracting such as Bonobos, Cos Bar, Shake Shack and James Beard nominee Chef Ouita Michel have all selected The Summit at Fritz Farm because of our commitment to offering an experience that complements their brand image,” said Bayer-Shipp.

The first phase of The Summit at Fritz Farm is scheduled to open March 29. Other restaurants and stores include Whole Foods, Pottery Barn, Babalu, Lily Rain, Brooks Brothers, Water + Oak, J. McLaughlin, Kendra Scott, Orvis, Steel City Pops, J. Alexander’s and Ted’s Montana Grill.

There also will be a food hall, now to be called The Barn, with six local restaurateurs including Crank Boom and Athenian Grill.

Carloftis said he wants them to remember that this shopping center isn’t The Summit, it’s The Summit at Fritz Farm.

“The farm is part of our culture,” Carloftis said.

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It wasn’t the college classroom work that launched these brothers on their careers

I worked construction during my college summers, which helped pay the tuition and room and board. After graduation, I gave it up to pursue a career in journalism — although to this day I appreciate the life-forming lessons (showing up, taking orders) that my summer job imparted.

Brothers Mark and Paul Rasevic turned their summer, weekend and night jobs into successful careers.

Mark gave up a Catholic University teaching position in philosophy to build his landscaping business into one of the Washington area’s largest. He and Paul, who runs a tidy construction business, manage employees across dozens of projects. They also run one of the area’s largest snow-removal businesses.

Together, the Rasevic family of companies employs 32 workers and grosses close to $15 million a year, turning a nice profit for each brother. They also parcel work out to hundreds of subcontractors.

The brothers are the sons of Serbian immigrants who came to the United States after World War II. The middle-class family grew up in the District’s Tenleytown neighborhood. Their father worked for Voice of America.

The synergy between the brothers is a natural evolution from their days as youngsters.

“Mark and I worked together as children and then young adults,” said Paul, 44. “We cut grass, raked leaves and shoveled snow for neighbors. We have essentially worked together all of our lives.”

The Rasevics’ not-so-small group of family enterprises are known as Rasevic Landscape, Rasevic Construction, Rasevic Snow Services. They even have a separate company that sells road salt and winter-weather chemicals.

Their four companies are headquartered in a industrial area along River Road in Bethesda. But they cover a lot of territory. They have two equipment yards in Silver Spring and one on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Mark’s landscaping firm designs gardens and handles maintenance for the residences of some of the areas wealthiest and most prominent individuals. It also serves the U.S. Botanic Garden at the foot of the Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery and Tudor Place, the historic residence in Georgetown.

Paul develops land and renovates, expands and builds multimillion-dollar homes, primarily in lucrative lower Montgomery County and Northwest Washington.

At 47, Mark has the more unconventional résumé. Starting in 1987, he attended Duke University, where he studied biology and philosophy. A friend introduced him to a weekend job working for a landscaper, where Mark earned about $10 an hour to help pay his expenses.

He fell in love.

The landscaper “had these elaborate projects that would take months,” Mark said.

He learned about plants, and the chemistry and biology behind them. He also learned how to execute an idea and turn it into a pond, waterfall or path. He learned how to use equipment, grade dirt with a Bobcat, plant flowers and trees, seed lawns.

After graduating from Duke in 1991, Mark did graduate work in philosophy at Catholic University, eventually teaching courses at $2,000 a pop.

For most of the 1990s, Mark split his time between Plato and petunias. He built his business organically, through word of mouth, then dove full-time into the business in the late ’90s.

Rasevic Landscape Co. grosses $1.2 million to $2.5 million a year. The size of the jobs vary from $5,000 to more than $1 million. He has about 15 full-timers, and three-quarters of the business is maintaining and building gardens for private residences. Some have been clients for 20 years.

“One of the keys to being a good landscape contractor is to have a Type A personality, but with an asterisk; you need to be detail-oriented but have broader bandwidth,” Mark said.

In other words, the best landscape architects are meticulous with their designs, but they also bring a creative eye toward adapting and improvising their plans during installation.

Paul, a carpenter by trade, was a business major at the University of Maryland with a knack for fixing and building things.

“I started painting houses in 1990 as a sole proprietor to pay for school,” he said. That evolved into residential renovations to kitchens and bathrooms, home additions and then light commercial work.

Rasevic Construction Co., incorporated in 1996, built its first home from scratch in 2003, replacing a weekend house that had burned down near Solomon’s Island. Around 20 more homes have followed, mostly high-end structures priced between $2 million and $5 million. Paul said he does interior work for medical offices and restaurants as well.

One of the best things about the Rasevics’ various businesses is the synergy.

Mark can send his landscapers to do work around Paul’s construction projects, handling drainage and landscaping. Paul’s construction laborers can help on Mark’s landscaping jobs. Both businesses can supply supervision to the snow-removal business. Removal is the big revenue driver, delivering more than $10 million a year, on average.

“Diversity helps,” Mark said. “It’s not having all your eggs in one basket. When the housing market crashed in late 2008, people stopped building big gardens. Then you had to change gears a bit.”

The brothers had always made extra money shoveling snow, so it was a natural evolution to start their snow services arm in the mid-1990s.

“We had some equipment and thought this was a way to keep the equipment moving in winter,” Mark said.

The snow business took off, giving the construction and landscaping employees from summertime real employment during the winter. It helps retain employees, who might move elsewhere during the slowdowns.

Rasevic Snow Services keeps 136 sites clear for its 53 clients. It employs a pretty scientific operation, with its own customized software system to direct all hands on deck for big operations.

The company needs the sophistication. Some of the clients are “high-priority” government agencies that cannot afford to have icy parking lots or entrances.

“If you can provide a comprehensive, detail-oriented, zero-tolerant snow-removal service, then you can fill a unique niche,” Mark said.

The Rasevic strategy is to blanket parking lots and public spaces with chemicals before the storm arrives. If chemicals don’t do the trick and the company “needs to push” snow, the Rasevics go with their four-wheel-drive pickup trucks with plows and salt spreaders.

“We are known in the industry as a zero-tolerance company,” Mark said. “You don’t wait for ice or any snow.”

Paul said the family of companies gives the Rasevics and their employees plenty to do.

“It’s a game of singles, occasionally a double,” said Paul, who builds between two and four homes a year. “No home runs. Lots of strikeouts. You try to win more than you lose so you can keep the doors open and support 30 families.”

I admit that some days, I think about what would have become of me if I had stayed in the construction business.

I might have done well, but I would definitely not have had as much fun as I have had in journalism.

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Garden Tips: What’s that beetle eating leaves on my plants? – Tri

We can consider ourselves lucky in this area because we have not had to deal with the voracious Japanese beetle. This leaf-feeding beetle is the scourge of gardeners in the eastern part of the U.S., where it chows down on hundreds of species of plants. This includes vegetable and fruit crops, flowers, trees and shrubs. The adult beetles skeletonize leaves by feeding on their upper surface and leaving only veins behind.

So far, the Japanese beetle has not become a problem in Washington, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture is trying to keep it that way. First, there is a quarantine on plant materials coming into Washington from infested parts of the country. WSDA requires that nursery stock and sod from these areas be inspected and certified to be free of Japanese beetle larvae or adults. That is why gardeners sometimes encounter a mail-order nursery that will not ship plants into our state. These nurseries do not want to take on the expense of getting their plants inspected for selling and shipping to Washington. To ensure that the quarantine is working, each year WSDA monitors areas of the state using Japanese beetle traps.

The rapacious Japanese beetle may not be a problem here, but there are other leaf-feeding beetles that can be troublesome in our yards and gardens. The Colorado potato beetle attacks potatoes and its close relatives, including peppers, tomatoes and petunias. When this beetle is present, there is no mistaking it. It is almost a half-inch-long and a quarter-inch-wide with a reddish head and a tannish-yellow and black-striped body. It damages potatoes by eating holes of varying sizes in the leaves, as well as feeding on leaf edges. Severe infestations can cause significant damage.

Those gardeners not wanting to use chemicals for control can try the hands-on approach by looking for and squishing any clusters of bright yellow eggs found on the undersurface of the leaves and any adults and orange-red larvae found on the top of the leaves. Remove weeds in and around the garden because they may be serving as alternative food sources.

That is why gardeners sometimes encounter a mail-order nursery that will not ship plants into our state because the Washington State Department of Agriculture

There are chemicals available for Colorado potato beetle management. These are most effective when applied as soon as the beetles are first discovered and again if needed. Be sure to treat the bases of the vine stems along with the leaves. For chemical options, go to Washington State University’s Hortsense website at

Yet another leaf-feeding beetle can be a problem for area gardeners. Elm leaf beetles are only about a quarter-inch-long with yellow-green and olive-green striped bodies. These guys and their yellow to green larvae feed on the undersurface of elm leaves, leaving the veins and the waxy upper surface of the leaves behind. In certain years, these beetles are numerous and can effectively defoliate a tree. If this happens early in the season for several consecutive years, it will stress and weaken a tree and possibly lead to its death. Luckily, the elm leaf beetle population goes in cycles with high numbers some years and lower numbers other years.

It is difficult to control this beetle because its damage is often not noticed until after it has occurred. While there are chemicals available for management, a commercial pesticide applicator should be hired if the tree is above 10 feet tall. There are also systemic insecticide drenches that can be applied to the base of the trunk, but they should be applied prior to the appearance of the beetle damage.

Next week: Why are so many evergreen trees dying?

Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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