Annapolis Landscape Design
24 Nutwell Rd, Lothian,
MD, 20711
Mon-Fri: 8am-4pm
19 Jul 2018

Three Tips for Proper Lawn Aeration

Aeration is an essential part of lawn care, recycling soil nutrients and removing dead plant materials from around the top of the ground. Improper turf management is one of the easiest sins to commit when it comes to tending your lawn, much unsure of where to begin with properly aerating the soil. Follow these three simple tips to get a better grasp on the process and help keep your plants alive and healthy.

Regularly Aerate for Best Results

For the best results, it is recommended to aerate your lawn at least once a year, preferably in the Fall. Aerating too regularly can damage your grass, meaning you should take care in how often you do it. Setting an annual date can be effective for getting the most out of aeration.

Map Out Your Lawn

Before you can start the process of aerating your lawn, you’ll first need to make a plan. Do this by plotting out the design of your lawn and marking where various subterranean fixtures of your home are located. The last thing you want to do is plunge into your yard and accidentally puncture a septic tank. When you can confirm the location of everything, mark the area with flags or other identifiers so you can take precaution when working in those places. It’s also important to map out the route you’ll take along the way (your mowing path will do in most cases).

Choose the Best Tool for the Job

The key for proper turf management comes in the form of what tools to use. Generally, you have the option of handling things manually or using an automated method. Both have their pros and cons and which you pick will depend heavily on your lawn care needs.

Manual machines come in several forms, from spikes jabbed into the ground to devices designed like non-electric lawn mowers, tearing up small soil plugs and tossing them across the surface of the ground. This method is usually best for smaller lawns, as trying to aerate a massive lawn by hand would be tiring and take quite a while to finish. Be wary, though, that simply making holes does not pull out soil plugs up as effectively as other devices. Automated machines may work as attachments on riding mowers or as their own devices. They use tines to pull soil plugs from deep underground, covering much larger areas quicker than manual versions.


Now that you’ve known the basics, try them out. Aerating your lawn is an essential part of maintaining its beauty and health. Experiment with these and other techniques and tips to find what has the best effect for your turf.

05 Jul 2018
summer lawn care tips

5 Essential Tips for Summer Landscaping

Yard work doesn’t stop just because it’s Summer. Whether the warm season in your area is arid or humid there are a few tricks to Summer landscaping that will keep your yard in tip-top shape. We’ll show you how to work smarter not harder to get the most out of your landscaping efforts.

  • Take it Easy on the Lawn Mower!

During the Summer months, you should do a high cut on lawns. This means taking off just the top third of the lawn’s current height. Bringing up the cutting height will prevent the grass from becoming scorched and browned by the heat. It will also provide more protection for roots and will reduce weeds. You can also save yourself some work by leaving behind clippings for nourishment.

  • When Planting Bulbs Think Tropical

Tropical plants flourish in the summer months. It is a great time to plant Crinum, Elephant Ears, Canna and Blood Lilies. The sun and heat will help these shoot up while other garden varieties experience delays.

  • Water Deep in the Morning Hours

Use the cool mornings to maximize water absorption and to stay out of the heat. Water plants generously so that several layers of soil remain wet. Pay attention to the root areas to promote healthy root growth. Watering in the afternoon is a waste since most of the H20 will evaporate.

  • Use the Right Kind of Vegetables

One of the best tips for summer landscaping is to swap out your cold-season veggies for their hot-season counterparts. It’s in your best interest to maximize your gardening efforts by planting vegetables that excel in the heat. Most Summer veggies are also drought tolerant. Consider planting the following: broccoli, eggplant, okra, chard, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and cabbage. There are much more that will work as well.

  • Warm-Season Grass Should be Fertilized

Lawns containing warm-season grasses can benefit from fertilization in Summer. Grasses such as St. Augustine, centipedegrass, zoysiagrass and bermudagrass fall into this category. However, you should avoid fertilizing if the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. Also, make sure you don’t fertilize too soon into the Summer season; warm-season grasses are just coming out of dormancy at this time. It is best to wait after the third mowing to ensure the fertilizer doesn’t damage the lawn.

  • A Final Tip

These Summer landscaping tips will help you have a flourishing garden during the driest months of the year. One final tip is to pay attention to weather forecasts and any changes in your yard. Summer gardening can be unpredictable. Make sure you give your garden the attention it deserves!



26 Oct 2016

6 Must-Dos in Your Garden this Fall

After a wonderful September, fall is finally in the air.  There is a chill at night, the sky looks different and the garden is coming to a halt for the season.  It is easy to begin to look towards other projects around the house, but do not neglect your prized outdoor space. Just as gardens are opened up for business in the spring, they need to be closed down in the fall.

The following 6 tips are must dos in your garden this fall:

  1. Cut Back, Divide, and Replant your Favorite Perennials.
    • Serious spring gardeners know this work done will pay high dividends in the spring. If you’re perennial garden has not been divided in the past 4-5 years or ever, now is the best time to maximize your investment after a high growing season due to all the rain.
  2. Take Soil Samples.
    • Is the color of your garden as rich and vibrant as you imagined? Your soil may be depleted of the essential nutrients that produce the color and growth you envision. Whether it is your vegetable, small fruit or flower garden, it is important to take the appropriate soil samples. One of our professionals can take a proper soil sample and have it analysed by a reputable lab that will provide a detailed analysis of what to do next.
  3. Fertilize.
    • Applications of slow release fertilizers will work into the soil profile. Here, the roots are growing and storing essential nutrients for early spring growth. An organic slow release nutrient will work with the natural soil biological organisms to enhance the growth potential in your favorite garden flower beds next year.
  4. Insecticide Applications.
    • Azalea, Rhododendron, Pieris, Cotoneaster, and Amelanchier are fantastic early spring bloomers that require special attention now. Susceptible to the Lacebug insect, this insect uses its piercing-sucking mouth to suck sugars throughout the summer leaving a whitish stippling cast to the leaves. Plants in full sun are prominently more affected than those in shaded areas. Treatment this fall can protect your investment for up to 2 years. Make applications that will result in enhanced color and performance on these favorite spring bloomers.
  5. Stop Overwintering.
    • Fall is a critical time to inspect small shrubs and trees for scale insects. Indian Wax Scale, Magnolia Scale and Hemispherical Scale are prevalent now. Mature females are protecting eggs underneath her coverings. Treatment now can interfere with overwintering of the young and allocate essential within the plant the systemic pesticide activity to protect growth next year.
  6. Boxwood Damage Control.
    • English Boxwood is a favorite among gardeners. Unfortunately, the insect Boxwood Leafminer Larvae has probably already infected your plant. Eggs laid in June are developing into larvae that are eating the interior layers of the plant leaf cells producing a blistering, off-yellow color look. Treatment this fall is critical in control to kill larvae that will feed through the winter into early spring. Adults hatch in May/June in the Maryland area, which can be reduced by a fall application of Imidacloprid soil insecticide now.

Still yearning to spend time outdoors?? If so, we would suggest the installation of a patio and fire pit. We believe there is no better way to spend cool fall evenings than beside a fire! So, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 410-956-1344! We would love to meet with you and discuss some great ideas for your outdoor living spaces!

By: Corey Childs, Business Development

28 Sep 2016

Fall Maintenance for Your Turf & Landscape

As the summer wraps up and fall begins, you may not be thinking spring flowers just yet. However, NOW is the time to prepare your turf and landscape for successful seasons next year. Many of the services we do during fall maintenance have a direct impact on how your landscape performs in the future.

One of the most common mistakes we see homeowners make is pruning their trees, shrubs, and perennials at the wrong time of year. If plants are pruned too late in the growing season, new growth does not have time harden off before the winter becoming susceptible to injury and dieback.

Landscape beds should be cleaned out and any tired perennials, flowers, or grasses should be cut back and removed. Existing mulch can be cultivated to allow for air and water movement during fall maintenance (see photo below). Additional mulch may be needed to properly insulate the roots and protect them during the cold winter months. New mulch adds color to your landscape and will look fresh for the winter.

Refreshed Bed after Cultivation

Throughout the fall and the winter, leaves need to be removed from the beds on a regular basis. Any leaves that are left in the beds create a breeding ground for disease and an excellent over-wintering location for insects. These leaves should be composted or chopped up and dispersed throughout the yard to provide vital nutrients. If you do have a lot of trees, we would suggest to remove and dispose of offsite.

Your turf needs special attention as well.  As discussed in my earlier post, now is the time to aerate and over-seed your lawn. Aerating will reduce compaction, help eliminate thatch, and allow for the proper exchange of water, nutrients, and air.

During the fall and early winter, your turf is working hard to rebuild its root system and stock pile energy for next year. Fall fertilizers provide nutrients to fuel this regrowth. It is also important to remove leaves and debris from the turf to help prevent disease.

With proper planning and maintenance during the fall, you lay the necessary building blocks to maintain a healthy and vibrant landscape all year long.

Contact the professionals at Exterior Image to step up a consultation and plan for your landscape this fall.

By: Corey Rill, Maintenance and Garden Manager

08 Sep 2016
Shade Garden Plant

So How Do You Garden in the Shade?

As you look around your landscape to decide which areas to focus on this fall, don’t neglect the shady spots.  Although planting in the shade can be challenging, shade gardens can add color, depth, and beauty to your landscape.

Shade gardening requires one to forgo some of the traditional garden elements, such as sun-loving perennial flowers, in favor of focusing on variations in texture, structure, and foliage color.  In addition, you must pick plants that can survive the conditions and use different planting techniques.  Fortunately, there are many options.  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you design:

Plant Layers:

A dynamic shade garden includes at least two—and usually more—layers of plants.  For example, a background layer may include 5 large Oak leaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea q.), a middle layer could consist of 9 Fothergilla shrubs, and a front layer may consist of 13 Japanese Fountain Grass (Hakone), 13 Hellebore, and 13 Coral Bells (Heuchera).










Dense Plant:

Use large quantities for the most part and plant them slightly closer than the tag directions call for.  Since plants in the shade tend to grow slowly, close planting will not only create a lush garden look, but also help to shade out weeds, cutting down on garden maintenance and competition.

Add Structure:

With all those plants and textures filling up your shade garden, it is wise to consider adding a structure to give the space a focus and allow the eye to rest.  This can be a large container, fountain, sculpture, or other man-made object, but it can also be a large shrub or small tree with good strong lines such as a Dogwood (Cornus fl.), Redbud (Cercis c.), or Witch Hazel (Hamamelis).










If you would like your shade gardens to be professionally designed by Exterior Image, contact us today for a free consultation!

Happy Gardening!!

21 Jul 2016

Try a Potager Garden

Do you love this?

Beautiful and ripe tomatoes

But hate this?

Tomatoe mess









What is a potager garden? It’s a French word for a kitchen garden and it looks as good as it tastes. Often perennial or ornamental plants are mixed into the beds or surrounding areas. Although the French layout was traditionally formal, it’s not required.

Exterior Potager Garden











Above is a formal potager garden designed by Exterior Image, Inc. many years ago that is in the process of being spruced up. This formal garden was fenced and included a sitting bench. The space was planted with traditional boxwoods, low shrubs, cutting flowers, herbs, and vegetables, to create a contrast of foliage texture and colors. Adding fencing to a formal layout, will help keep bunnies and deer away from your salad plate. Pathways can be lined with brick, crushed stone or traditional pavers. Fountains and sculptures can be easily incorporated as focal points or accents to the space.

You can have one of Exterior Image’s designers create a Potager garden for you.

Beginning stages of potager garden creation
Beginning stages of potager garden creation














Here raised beds were designed and installed, by Exterior Image, Inc. with stone pathways and stone steps leading to and from this formal garden layout. A Pennsylvania bluestone paving edge lined the entire perimeter of the garden to tie into the existing patio paving.


This client chose raised beds, which extend the growing season, create a neat appearance, and are easier to tend.

Beds can be constructed from stone, brick, metal or wood.

For ease of tending a bed should not exceed 4’ in width if it can be tended to from both sides or only 2’ feet if it can be accessed from one side.

These beds were filled onsite with a special mix of organic locally composted (Veteran Compost) material, peat moss, and vermiculite. The mixture is light and helps to create quick and strong root structure.

Native pollinator plants were placed nearby to help encourage beneficial and pollinating insects (see our other blog).

Aronia arbutifolia, Viburnum nudum, and Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberries).

If you’re limited on space and would like to have Exterior Image help maximize your garden potential in Annapolis or it’s surrounding areas, give us a call today!

29 Jun 2016

How is your Lawn Reacting to the Heat?

Summer heat and dry weather have arrived.  With the change in the weather we are seeing a lot of lawns suffer from the lack of moisture if there is no irrigation system in place.  In irrigated lawns, we are also seeing turf suffer from over-watering or improperly adjusted systems.  An irrigation system that is not set up properly will over water areas and/or not apply enough water in other areas.  Too much water is often times more harmful to turf than not enough water.  If you over water, you are not only wasting water, you are welcoming diseases that will kill your turf.  This damage is expensive to repair and may require a complete renovation.

Turf and all plants for that matter, need air space in the soil to breathe (exchange gases) and if these spaces are filled with an abundance of water (from over watering)  the plants suffocate and die.  One extremely important component of any irrigation system is the rain sensor.  This sensor will shut off the system during a rain event to help prevent over-watering.

How do you tell if you have problem with your system not watering enough or not working properly?

If you see small areas of your turf in circular patterns turning brown you may have a sprinkler that is out of adjustment or clogged.  If a large area is brown and the rest of the lawn is green you may have a problem with one of your valves.  If your entire lawn is brown you may have a problem with the controller or rain sensor.

Burn spot on grass from lack of watering
Burn spot on grass from lack of watering

How do you tell if your system is watering too much?

If after your irrigation system runs you have standing water or water comes up around your feet when you walk on the turf you are putting out too much water.  Your turf may also feel soft and spongey if it is too wet.  Areas of your lawn turning yellow or thinning out could be a result of too much water.  If areas of your lawn begin to rapidly decline and die it is most likely a disease that could be caused by too much water.

Over-saturated lawn due to an excess of watering
Over-saturated lawn due to an excess of watering

Spongy, wet turf due to leak in irrigation system

Spongy, wet turf due to leak in irrigation system

It is extremely important to properly maintain your system to promote and maintain a healthy landscape.  The experts at Exterior Image are equipped with the knowledge and tools to adjust and maintain your irrigation system at its optimum level. Contact us at 410-956-1344 to have your irrigation system check scheduled today.


09 Jun 2016

What’s a Rain Garden?

Wow! Exterior Image’s rain garden was certainly put to the test in May! Installed in 2008, our 800 square foot rain garden has grown to a mature state and is thriving in it’s environment. As the garden has matured, it continues to do it’s job time and time again. (See how it’s grown in the photos below).

DSCN2449    DSCN2453

What’s a rain garden? Well, a rain garden is a sunken garden that receives water runoff from a roof, driveway, walkways and other impervious areas. Instead of having all this water sent to the bay carrying all the pollutants, salts, waste, etc., have that water retained on your property and allow it to enter the groundwater system which naturally filters out the dangerous pollutants that infiltrate our bay and tributaries.

To see various garden designs, click here.


Exterior Image used a host of wetland edge vegetation for the job. Most of these plants are native because they generally don’t require fertilizer, and are tolerant of existing climate, soils, and water conditions. The plants will also help absorb excess moisture before returning into the soil.


If you would like to install a rain garden to help in the preservation of the Chesapeake Bay, and our environment, give us a call at 410-956-1344 to schedule a consultation and design. We will then price your job for a professional installation that will not fail in its task of preserving our natural resources.

Some plants we use in rain gardens:

Rain Garden Plant Selection

Perennials: Aster novae-angliae- New England Aster; Baptisa australis – False Indigo; Carex muskingunmensis – Palm Sedge; Eupatorium maculatum- Joe Pye Weed; Hibiscus moscheutos – Swamp Mallow (Hibiscus); Iris pseudacorus – Yellow Flag Iris; Iris ensata – Japanese Iris; Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida – Black Eyed Susan; Solidago rugosa

Shrubs: Itea virginica – Virginia Sweetspire; Cornus sericea –Redosier Dogwood

See more local natives on our Trent Hill Nursery website

23 May 2016

The Pros & Cons of the Crazy Weather

What effect does all the recent cool, wet and cloudy weather have on the landscape? How do plants react to that? In general, you would expect a slowing of growth and development. Flowers may be delayed. Size may be less than normal. The good news is that these effects will be mitigated by the abundance of rain. More good news is those plants and trees in flower have retained them much longer than normal. In the nursery our hybrid and Kousa dogwoods, as well as some viburnum, still are in bloom.

You can expect more fungal disease due to the cool and damp. We have seen cedar apple rust and cedar quince rust. Molds and mildew might also appear.

Insect development and activity is also retarded. You may have noticed the absence of gnats—a real treat. Insects that carry disease, like the ambrosia beetle, have been less actively flying and thereby not spreading disease. The same applies to lilac borers.

Seasonal affective disorder notwithstanding, be grateful for all the moisture and coolness. It will soon be hot and dry.

06 May 2016

Pollinator Paradise

Planting season is finally here! As you look at your gardens and make plans to add on or renovate, keep in mind that you can create a garden that is not only beautiful to look at, but also beneficial to pollinators and other wildlife.

These gardens don’t have to be large. Pick a sunny spot on the edge of your lawn that isn’t used or where the grass just doesn’t grow well. Dedicating even just a small portion or a few plants in each part of your landscape to bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects can make an impact.

In deciding on plants and layout for these or any garden area, keep in mind a few things:

• Mix trees, shrubs, and perennials to create a dynamic look
• Choose types of plants that bloom in different seasons to ensure something is always going on for you and the pollinators
• Mass perennials in large groups to make an impact
• Choose plants that don’t need a lot of help and can survive on their own once established

Here is an example of a small pollinator garden design for a sunny spot to get you started.


Garden Plan