The Suburban Jungle Landscaping in the Garden State

Many residents of New Jersey rightly believe that when it comes to climate, Jersey has it all. The compact, 8,800-square-mile state may only be 70 miles across at its widest point, but it is influenced by both wet and dry and hot and cold airstreams, producing a diverse pattern of climate variation from the mountains of the northwest to the shorelines of the east. New Jersey experiences all four seasons; spring and autumn shoulder in between the blizzards of winter, and the long hot days of summer.

Getting in the Zone

The state is divided into five distinct regions or zones: Northern, Central, the Pine Barrens, Southwest and Coastal. All zones experience seasonal high temperatures of 100 degrees or more, and lows of zero or below. Average rain fall varies between 40 to 51 inches, and freeze days vary between 163 to 217 statewide. Snow may fall as early as October or as late as April across the regions, with 25 to 30 thunderstorms, and up to five tornadoes annually. In October 2012, New Jersey also experienced the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy. The nickname “Garden State” refers to New Jersey’s history in agriculture and farming.

No matter which region you call home, residents appreciate that landscaping is key to a condo or HOA community’s appeal. Value—both in terms of actual dollars and in terms of community morale—is affected by the overall first impression a cultivated, colorful landscape can offer.

Professional Advice

While some minor maintenance tasks such as watering and hedge-trimming could be handled by in-house staff, establishing and maintaining an attractive design in the variable New Jersey climate is a challenge probably best left to the lawn and garden professionals. Besides choosing the correct plants, ongoing care and maintenance are an essential parts of the entire landscape package. In New Jersey, plants that can adapt to diverse weather changes are an obvious choice. The most common advice from landscaping veterans is to start with native plants, and then add seasonal and decorative plants, grasses and trees to achieve the desired effect.

Michael Branch, a horticulturist and executive with Basking Ridge-based NorthEast American Services, LLC points out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the country into nine different growing zones based on the hardiness of plants that can be grown in each zone. New Jersey has a zone six rating, which means most native plants can survive temperatures as low as -9 degrees. But temperature is not the only consideration; soil type is also important for plants to thrive. New Jersey has both clay and sandy soils. Branch has found Black-eyed Susan’s thrive in clay soil, quickly fill plant beds, and make excellent borders. Day lilies grow almost anywhere and bloom for several weeks. Yarrow is another favorite, best suited to dry, sunny areas. (It also has the additional benefit of being deer resistant—an important feature for New Jersey landscapes.)

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