We love tree rings and chocolate gravel. But these tree rings are our new favorite at 2 J’s & Sons.
Cut border stone works great for edging walkways, garden beds and as tree rings. It is a more pricey option than metal edging, but the after effect is great.
It also helps to prevent erosion better than the metal edging. As well as allowing us to put the chocolate gravel around the tree in thicker. The thicker layer of gravel helps hold in more water for the tree to drink and helps keep more weeds out.
We would like to help everyone get their yards ready for this coming Spring time. After sitting in the house and looking out the window I’m sure that a lot of you have started planning for improvements to your yards.
I want to help as many people as I can to get ready for the new season so now through Feb 20th we are offering 20% off all labor over $200 when you mention you saw this promotion. It will be posted on all of my media outlets to help as many people as we can.
From us to you, we wish you a great spring and summer to come.
I honestly did not know that the yucca was native to NWA. That could in part be that I didn’t know it’s real name was Yucca Arkansana, or it could just because I don’t really care for them. Maybe knowing that this cactus, succulent actually belongs here will help me like them a little bit more.
The Smallest Yucca
The Yucca arkansana is the smallest of the yucca family aparacarceae. It only grows in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Out of the 40 species in its family the arkansana is truly tiny especially compared to the monstrous Joshua Trees of California that can grow 40 feet tall. The arkansana on the other hand only grows stalks up to about 30 inches tall.
What it Looks Like
The tall stalks that boast the gorgeous white flowers grow out of a base of blue green leaves with sharp tips (be careful this is part of the reason I don’t like them, the tips are very dangerous). The flowers have 3 whitish green petals and 3 sepals on each flower. Sepals are found under the bloom, they protect the bud as it grows and later provide support for the flower once it blooms (on a rose the sepal would be the green section between the stem and petals). The yucca stalk can have many blooms all the up it, the flowers are gorgeous when they bloom between April and June.
Where it Likes to Grow
Like most yucca this one likes to grow in rocky well drained soil. It can be found on rocky hillsides or dry prairies. It likes full or partial sun but may grow in the shade too. Soil content is not really a big factor for the yucca.
The yucca arkansana’s indifference to where it grows makes it great to landscape with. It’s roots are great at stabilizing rocky slopes where erosion is an issue. Being a perennial and an evergreen are also big marks in it’s favor. The arkansana will thrive in the coldest weather it’s native environment can throw at it, as long as it is in well drained soil so that the roots stay dry. It will stay in place forever to provide a stabilizing force where it is needed. This plant is nearly impossible to kill.
How it Reproduces
Fallen seeds will germinate themselves when temperatures reach between 60 and 70 degrees. It will also reproduce with rhizomes, stem cuttings or by transplanting offsets from the side of an existing mature plant. I am telling you the yucca just keeps coming back it is a very hardy and self sufficient plant.
The Yucca Moth is one of the most amazing things about the yucca family. For millions of years these two species have had a symbiotic relationship. These two species cannot survive without each other. The moth population varies from region to region depending on the yucca population. Without the yucca seeds for the moth larvae to feed on their species would become extinct. In turn the moth is the only insect that can pollinate the yucca.
In the central U.S. the yucca moth is species that pollinates the yucca arkansana is the Tegeticulla yuccasella it only comes out at night. When the female is ready to lay a clutch she collects pollen from the yucca flowers with two short tentacles near her mouth. She rolled the pollen into a ball and sticks it to her head. She takes her ball of pollen to a yucca flower and opens a hole in the flowers ovary and lays her clutch there. She then packs her pollen ball into the flowers stamen and markes the flower with her sent to alert other moths that the flower has been used. This allows the moths to control how many eggs have been laid in each plant so that the plant does not abort the eggs. When the eggs hatch they eat the seeds inside the the yucca plant fruit until the burrow their way out.The scent pheromone the mother laid to alert other moths of her clutch not only keeps the plant from aborting the eggs but also helps control the population of both species. To many moths would eat too many yucca seeds and to many yucca seeds would create too many plants. Nature is an amazing thing.
American Indians made use of almost every part of their native yucca. The flowers of most yucca are edible raw, boiled and even pickled. The stem of some is also edible and the roots can be used to make soap. I was unable to find anything specific on the uses of the arkasana as far as recipes and such but most sources seem to think that it is no different from most of its cousins along this line.
The Amazing Yucca
A perennial and evergreen with an amazing symbiotic moth relationship in our backyards.
Love or hate them the yucca arkansana that cover the hillside on my property aren’t going anywhere. Even the few that I have tried to remove have spited me by growing more. I think we will add some native grasses to add contrast amongst them and leave them to continue doing their job of keeping the hill intact. We will now also be watching more closely at nighttime for the yucca moths.
Some of our past blog articles have talked about native plants like Butterfly Milkweed. A couple of them have talked about invasive species that are found all over our area and have been here for a very long time like Queen Anne’s Lace. But we haven’t talked about why native plants are important. So why plant native?
Natives as a general rule of thumb are adapted to their environment. This makes them more hardy to their particular climate conditions.
More tolerant to drought (if the area frequently has them)
Provide homes and food for native insects and animals
Don’t require as much fertilizer
Don’t require as many pesticides
Root systems are designed for the area’s geography, stabilizing rocky terrain or river banks for example.
Native plants have also developed to withstand their regions climate like wind and sun.
How Invasive Species Affect the Environment
Invasive plants have not had the time to adapt to their new conditions in some cases. In other situations non-native plants compete with the native plants and even effect the animals and insects.
Need more water
Need more fertilizer
Take over native species, in essence choking them out
Take away nutrients from natives
Take sunlight from natives
Don’t provide sufficient food or shelter for native insects and animals
Do not have natural controls in place to control their expansion
Run rampant on uninhabited property
Yard Scenario 1
In a yard that just consists of a grass lawn and all non-native plants on average there maybe about a dozen native insects present.
Yard Scenario 2
In a yard with a grass lawn and all native tree, shrubs and flowers there should be hundreds of mostly all native insects.
Why Insects are Important
It is estimated that 97% of native insects are beneficial. They provide food for birds , bats , fish and other native animals. Spiders and other predatory insects keep fly and mosquito populations under control, along with a horde of other nuisance pests.
Native Plants and Animals Create a Sustainable Ecosystem
Incorporating just 20% – 30% of natives into your homes landscaping will encourage more native insects and birds to take up residency.
A single pair of chickadees need up to 9,000 caterpillars to produce a clutch of eggs.
One native oak tree supports the caterpillars of 500 native moth and butterfly species.
If we stop planting and encouraging native trees to grow on our property the caterpillars won’t be present for the chickadees to feed on in the quantity they need to breed.
We have turned 54% of the continental U.S. into a mixture of suburban and urban development, another 41% is being used for some sort of agricultural pursuit. This leaves only about 5% undeveloped and still wild. With numbers like that our individual yards and landscaping choices can make a big difference to the environment and ecosystem as a whole.
To be honest I grew up in a family that loved to garden but in reality this doesn’t mean that I know a whole lot about native plants. My family loves plants like elephant ears and banana trees, these are both far from native and are no use to our visiting wild rabbits.
We try now to incorporate as many natives into our personal yard as we can along with companion gardening. But…. the elephant ears and banana tree are both fond childhood memories that I still continue to plant every year. Native or not I feel close to my grandpa ever year when we plant them.
Planting native is a choice that is beginning to give a whole new meaning to the term “Victory Garden”.
2 J’s & Sons is happy to announce that we will now be accepting payments via credit card. This service will be powered by Yardbook. A $3 convenience fee will charged for this service and at this time we are only able to process cards online. Hopefully in the future we will be able to process cards in person, but for now our invoices will come with a link for those that would like to pay this way. An additional link may be found at the bottom of our website.
We are proud to cut down on our carbon foot print be using emailed invoices.
We love our dogs. They are caring and loyal, I can’t imagine my household without a dog. But some days they try my patience, especially when it comes to my yard and garden beds. We’ve jumped through some pretty major hoops and tried some really odd things to make our yard more dog friendly. I know we aren’t alone; about 35% of American households have at least one dog.
Keeping our dogs happy and entertained does help make a huge difference in the amount of destruction they cause. So keeping food, water and toys out for them is pretty easy. Unfortunately we are very busy people and I am sure you are too. Walking our dogs a few miles a day or every other day made the biggest difference for us. Now we are back to that big BUT. Life is busy and as much as I love to walk my dogs I just don’t have the time do it consistently anymore. So when they are left outside unattended they have
Food and water
Plenty of toys, bones and other treats
For a few weeks heck even a couple of months this worked out great minus maybe the strip of grass that no longer exists where they are constantly walking. Then we come home to the new garden hose shredded. So we bought a garden hose reel and make sure that all the outdoor tools and kids toys are always put away.
A few days later the trash cans are turned over the day before garbage day. Uhhh we never had this problem with our old dog, actually when he was on a chain for awhile we left him in reach of the trash cans to keep other animals out of them. So we bungie corded the trash cans to our porch railing. It worked but was an eye sore. Enter weekend project to build a shed to keep the trash cans in.
For the Destructive Bored Chewer
Keep everything put away
Hose reels are life and money saver
Keep the trash cans secured
At this point the grass looks terrible. What grass we have left anyway and what is left has brown spots. Now we are watering the grass more, especially the brown spots caused from the dogs doing their business. Watering these spots help dilute the nitrogen that is being added into the soil. After some research we used a mixture of perennial rye grass and turf fescue. The rye is great for high traffic areas and recovers quickly from the damage caused from urination. The fescue is drought tolerant which is great here in Northwest Arkansas and doesn’t have a problem growing in our poor soil.
We considered artificial turf. There is a great option that was designed specifically with dogs in mind. It is very durable and washes off easily with a garden hose or power washer. But we didn’t think our chickens would approve of this option. So we built a stone path that goes almost all the way around our house in the spot that the dogs like to run the most. For a little more pizzaz we planted some walkable ground cover between the stones. We used golden sedum, it is gorgeous and doing great with all the traffic.
Shrubs and ornamental grasses are a great and hardy choice. Shrubs and tall grasses are much more dog friendly then a lot of the pretty and dainty flowers that I love. Please check to make sure that any plants you choose are safe for your dog first.
For the horrible grass damage
Walkable Ground Cover Plants
Shrubs and Ornamental Grasses
Pathways and other Hardscapes
Water those brown spots where your pets like to do their business
After all of this and building fences around the gardens (one of our dogs really likes broccoli). We Finally invested in a kennel. As much as I hate having to put my dogs in it, the kennel we bought is a life saver. We used cement pavers in bottom of it for easy clean up and so they can’t dig out. Honestly this isn’t the first kennel we purchased. The original chain link one didn’t stand up to the abuse from our large dogs and they were hurting their paws and nails on it. After a lot of research we bought a very expensive heavy duty version that is constructed from steel tubing. No more sore paws or stretched out the chain link.
Ultimate dog proofing
Fence off garden areas
With either a solid floor or artificial turf for easy clean up
A dog friendly landscape can be a chore and take some ingenuity to create. The overall effort is worth it to keep both ourselves, families and dogs safe and happy. Studies show that about 30% of dogs that end up in animal shelters are given up because of destructive behavior.
Give us a call if you need help creating a dogscape.
This is a great little transitional piece connecting the driveway to a sidewalk near the house. Cement pavers make a wonderful easy to clean area that cuts out yard work. Rings were added to the trees with chocolate gravel to cut out weed eating and add to the aesthetic appeal. This area will provide a shady place to sit and grill for guests.