MURDER WE WROTE. First off; is it spelled Crape or Crepe?! Well people use both when talking about these beautiful ornamental trees that grace our landscapes. The scientific name is Lagerstroemia crape myrtle. The traditional Southern spelling is Crepe Myrtle (due to the delicate flowers which resemble crepe paper). However, across the US, it is more commonly “Crape Myrtle”.

Lagerstroemia ‘Arapaho’ has deep watermelon pink blooms to welcome guests and family

CARE OR LACK THERE OF Now let’s talk how these wonderful flowering trees are cared for in regards to pruning. I would say more than 60 % of the people out there are cutting the tops down and back, WAY back. Even stumping and butchering the trunks in half or worse! This brutal attack is what’s known as Crape Murder.

WHY THIS TREE? When we are called or take on new clients that have previous damage done to their crape trees, the majority of our clients tell us they thought it was a normal practice to cut them back. They think you need to severely cut them back in order for them to bloom next year. We let them know that this was an old practice back in the days of our ancestors when certain tree types needed to be cut down and rejuvenated. This practice never completely died, even with the developments of new and improved cultivar varieties which do not have to be cut back and require less care than the one before. Gorgeous varieties today such as “Tonto”, “Natchez” or “Muskogee” bloom every year without topping of any kind. Most crape myrtle cultivars sold today are repeat bloomers which naturally bloom year after year and do not require any cutting back.

Care and Where to Plant Crape Myrtles
Crapes do require maintenance, both pruning and insect/disease controls. Pruning consists of cleaning out any broken or dead branches. Removing any sucker growth from the base or along stems, and removing cross branches which can rub and bruise. Some people feel the need to remove the old spent blooms end of season, this is optional and for aesthetics only and is not a requirement.

All crape varieties require a good amount of direct sunlight. Crape myrtles are versatile and have several uses in the landscape. They come in shrub form as well as the most popular tree forms. Planted alone the upright tree forms are simply stunning and will bloom all Summer long. For a unique look, buy the single stem versions. Planted together, they make a large deciduous hedge or screen. Planting a pair will frame an entry or a front door nicely to greet visitors with a warm colorful welcome!

Be sure to choose the right size variety for your space and needs. The larger tree types such as “Muskogee” and “Miami” grow to 25′ tall and need room to grow without encroaching on rooftops.  Medium-size selections like “Tonto” and “Catawba” will grow from 12 to 15 feet tall and are perfect for a small courtyard or garden home. The dwarf selections like “Victor” look great in large containers, foundation plantings, and even incorporated into perennial beds.

HELP US PREVENT CRAPE MURDER So we hope you have learned a thing or two; hope you can help us educate others as you walk around your neighborhoods. Our Crape trees will be glad you did!  Watch and subscribe to our Youtube channel- as we help prevent Crape Murder & release other helpful landscape tips!

Lately it has not felt like a cold Winter here in NC; but looking at our plants outside you can clearly see a change has taken place. Leaves have fallen off our deciduous plants and some of our perennial foliage has withered. Not to worry, this is our plants way to survive Winter by going dormant. During dormancy, all plants will slow the growth process down and certain plants will shed its foliage. All of our plants and grass will store nutrients in their root systems and conserve energy needed for the upcoming warmer months ahead once growing season starts again.

During the month of January; Fontaine will be busy protecting our plants with selective pruning, applying a protective coating of mulch and pine straw and treating the soil pH level for our lawns with a lime application.

Mild Winters can allow for the eggs of problematic insect pests such aphids, scale and mites to over-Winter. Then once growing season starts these pests will damage and eat tissue of our plants which harm them. Following Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles; Fontaine will be protecting our plants with inspections and the use of organic horticultural oils to aid in smothering over-wintering pests and their eggs.

IPM is a highly regarded practice that takes into account common sense and scientific principles as part of being a licensed commercial pesticide applicator for the state of NC.

  • Routine Inspection and understanding weather patterns and its effects on plants
  • Knowing micro climates, soil compaction and how plant stress will increase the chances for pests for a particular plant
  • Using knowledge about the pest’s habits, life cycle, needs and dislikes
  • Using the least toxic methods first, up to and including pesticides
  • Monitoring the pest’s activity and adjusting methods over time
  • Tolerating harmless pests, and
  • Setting a threshold to decide when it’s time to act before harm can be a factor for  the plant

Beautiful plants and grass comes down to proper selection, placement and its care. At times it can be an easy fix by simply replacing the poor performing plants which are high prone to pests with a better cultivar or transplanting plants to a better spot in the yard to reduce stress. Using better plant varieties that are hardier

Fontaine is dedicated to sustaining and improving your exterior environments. If you would like more information regarding IPM, Lawn Care, Mulch or any other services please do not hesitate to call us (919) 380-8286 or


Pansy Basics

While many gardeners dislike the idea of splurging on flowers that may not last more than a month in the ground. Pansies, when planted in fall, can last up to eight months, ranging from September to April or May, providing color in both the Fall and Spring.

It’s true pansies may not be attractive in the middle of cold winters and you may wonder why you kept them around. Know this, they’re just biding their time until spring, when they hit their peak. The bonus for keeping them around is that the spring bloom is usually much more robust when the plants have been in the ground since fall.

Winter Flowerbed

Overwintering Pansies

  • Plant as early as possible. The more established the plants are, the better they’ll be able to withstand cold. The farther south you are, the wider your planting window, but don’t plant later than the second week in October for the best blooms.
  • Choose healthy plants. Healthy plants establish more quickly, rapidly growing the root system that’s so critical to winter hardiness.
  • Ensure good drainage. Pansies are susceptible to saturated soil. They have been known to overwinter successfully, only to excessive moisture as the winter’s snow and ice begin to melt. Be sure they’re growing in a well-drained location.  An excellent choice to help aide proper drainage is adding Perma-till to your soil. Find it locally at

Selecting Pansies

Pansies don’t have a long shelf life in packs. They stretch out quickly, and once they do, they’ll never do as well when planted.

Healthy pansies are compact, show minimal leaf yellowing, and probably show few blooms while in the packs because they’re younger plants. Though they lack of color at the time of purchase, these are the plants you want. When you find packs you like, pop a few plants out and look at the roots. They should be white, not brown.

How to Grow Pansies

Pansies are not difficult to grow. Good soil, steady moisture, and at least partial sun will provide the results you’re looking for. What they don’t tolerate is heat and humidity, which is why they thrive in spring and fall.

Plant pansies 6 to 8 inches apart. They can be used as borders, or in larger masses. Pansies require regular deadheading. As often as possible, every couple of days if you can, pinch off faded blooms and any fruit (small green seed capsules) that may be forming. This will encourage plants to continue blooming.

Heat causes pansies to lose most of their bloom. So when summer warmth begins, go ahead and remove pansies to make way for your summer annuals.



Most of us can use more space, whether it’s for working, storing or doing hobbies. But adding square footage to an existing home can be time consuming and costly. That’s why many homeowners are turning to backyard sheds.

These freestanding structures often don’t require permits and are quick and easy to set up; their basic construction means a short installation time. Meanwhile, advances in prefabrication methods have spawned numerous businesses that will ship semicustom designs right to your door that can be assembled in half a day. So what would you do with an extra room?

Here’s what you’ll want to know to get started.
Contemporary Shed by Princeton Design Collaborative
Princeton Design Collaborative
Project: Adding a backyard shed.

Why: To get extra space for storage or living.

First Steps

Consider size and function. First determine what size space you need and what it will be used for. Do you need just a storage shed for lawn equipment? Will you use it for a gardening and potting? Do you want a home office? A pool house? A greenhouse? A kids’ playroom? A guesthouse? This will help drive the design. For example, you’ll probably want more windows for natural light if it’ll be a home office. If it’ll just be a storage shed, like the custom one seen here, by John Conroy of Princeton Design Collective, you might not need or want windows.
Traditional Shed by Backyard Buildings
Backyard Buildings
Measure. Brennan Deitsch, the online marketing manager at Backyard Buildings, which makes various sheds (like the one seen here), suggests measuring all the items you plan to store in your shed, then accounting for storage growth over time. “I see people try to go the cheap, small route and come back later saying they wish they had gotten a bigger one because they ran out of space so fast,” he says.
Contemporary Shed by Studio Shed
Studio Shed
Check your local zoning ordinances. Every municipality has different restrictions when it comes to sheds and other accessory buildings. Many codes will dictate the size of your structure and how far it must be from your property line.

“The vast majority of counties across the [United States] allow up to 120 square feet without a permit,” says Jeremy Horgan-Kobleski, the founder of Studio Shed, which manufacturers prefab sheds like the home office seen here. “That’s why our 10-foot by 12-foot unit is the most popular and one of the reasons we’re seeing a surge in the popularity of these structures.”

He says typically these structures must be sited about 3 to 5 feet from the property line. (Even if your city doesn’t require a permit, it will still have general rules about where your structure can be sited on your lot, so always check first.)
Traditional Shed by O’Connor Brehm Design-Build
O’Connor Brehm Design-Build
Locate your plat of survey. If your city does require a permit for the structure you want, you’ll want to locate your plat of survey, which is a map that shows the layout of your lot and its property line. You’ll submit this to your local zoning department to help determine where your structure can be sited.

“You’ll probably have this in your closing documents from when you bought your home, even if you didn’t know it was there,” says Greg Brehm of O’Connor Brehm Design-Build, who custom designed and built the potting shed seen here.

If you don’t have a plat, you can hire a surveyor for about $300 to $600, Brehm says.

Find a design-build firm to handle the whole shed project
Contemporary Shed by Studio Shed
Studio Shed
3 Basic Shed Options

You can purchase off-the-shelf kits from big-box stores like The Home Depot and Lowe’s. You can order prefabricated, semicustom units from online retailers like Studio Shed, whose shed is shown here; Sett Studio; Modern-Shed; and countless others. Or you can go the 100 percent custom route and hire an architect to design something that blends seamlessly with your landscape and existing home structure.

Obviously, the pricing structure follows this hierarchy as well, but you typically get what you pay for, so consider all the options.

Off-the-shelf sheds. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to store some lawn equipment in a place that you rarely see, such as behind a garage or on the side of your house, an off-the-shelf product might be just fine for you.

Prefab sheds. If you’re looking for something that is more versatile and can be used differently over time, such as going from storage to a home office, and that offers semicustomizable options for color and windows, then an online prefab unit is a good bet.

Custom sheds. If you want to integrate your shed with your home and landscape, consider a custom shed designed by an architect.

Find shed manufacturers on Houzz
Contemporary Shed by Purple Fountain Tree
Purple Fountain Tree
Cost: You can find basic, off-the-shelf sheds made from plastic and resin at local big-box stores for about $600 for a 7-foot by 7-foot unit or around $1,700 for a 15-foot by 8-foot unit.

Online prefab companies like Studio Shed sell contemporary units made from cement-board siding and corrugated metal that start at $7,000 for an unfinished 8-foot by 10-foot unit. (The company also offers a lifestyle interior package that includes denim insulation, full electrical wiring and fixtures, seamless drywall cladding and various flooring options.) Larger prefab units can cost upward of $20,000.

A custom shed designed by a professional designer will likely start at $50 per square foot but can be as high as $200 per square foot, Conroy says.

Find architects and designers near you
Traditional Shed by Backyard Buildings
Backyard Buildings
How long will installation take? Big-box stores typically have people who can help install their off-the-shelf sheds in half a day.

Online prefabricated units come shipped on a truck and can generally be put together by a crew in half a day or a day. Studio Shed offers digital DIY tools that include a 3D video so you can tackle the project with some friends.

Custom units can take a week to a couple of months to build, depending on the size and complexity.

Except for the off-the-shelf models, you’ll also need to factor in shipping and design time.

More: 13 Inspiring Ideas for Backyard Sheds | See more inspiring backyard outbuildings

Show us your shed! We’d love to see how you set up your backyard getaway. Please post a photo in the Comments section below.

Choosing the right plant for an area can be tricky. One must take into account many aspects like exposure, water requirements, drainage, and oh yeah; how large will the plant grow at maturity. We have seen way too many plant choice mistakes in regards to not having the proper space available for the plant chosen. Crape myrtles and jap maples are popular plants often planted too close to homes.

Take the Weeping Willow for example, the Salix babylonica. Beautiful, majestic shape, likes alot of moisture, grows quickly and oh yeah it will grow to over 40′ wide and tall. You wouldnt want this tree up close to a home or in a tight spot right? Well apparently not all of us got the proper plant memo. Here are a couple of pics taken from areas while we were out and about this week. Scary just scary!

Mature weeping willow

Mature weeping willow

Where is the House?

Where is the House?

Landscape Architect Fail

Landscape Architect Fail

Get ready for Halloween in style! If you have considered having a low-voltage outdoor lighting system installed, we have a scary deal for you!

For the entire month of October; purchase any 10+ lighting ground system from Fontaine and receive a free 200w stainless steel led transformer- a $250 value!

Upon the initial consultation, we will talk a

bout the possibilities to design and choose from an elegant copper or brass fixture list. These long lasting products are made by the top manufacturers of upscale outdoor lighting; Coppermoon, Unique and Kichler. A typical 10 fixture Coppermoon system with led bulbs, wire, and fully installed will start from $2,500.

Already have a system, but using the old halogen bulbs? Have Fontaine retro-fit your exising system with super efficient and energy saving LED bulbs. Many of the older fixtures will accept the new led bulbs. Receive a free led bulb replacement for every 10+ replacements made. Depending on the bulb type, prices start from $65/bulb- we replace bulb, test voltage, and clean the fixture. If you have a fixture or wiring issue, we can quote a fast fix.

Fontaine provides full service Lightscaping! Design, Installation, Maintenance & Repair

We also provide routine grounds maintenance contracts and planting enhancementslogo-final


Call us today at (919) 380-8286 or email us

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So it’s a Saturday morning; the long work week has gotten you all twisted. Spilling the morning coffee; feeling frustrated, you have an urge to get outside and vent. You stumble out through the garage and haphazardly reach for those old loppers hanging amongst spider webs on the wall. You don’t know what your doing, you just know something needs to be hacked. Walking out in the yard with the loppers in hand, you scour over the plants and trees in the landscape with ill intent. Snipping, lunging, lopping without regard. You start talking to yourself, sweating.

You turn the corner; something touches your shoulder. Your taken off-guard. It’s your Crape Myrtle! It glistens in the sunlight, with its unmistakable smooth bark and arching branches.  smirk, your fingers tighten around the handles. Your hands are now sweating and you walk over, slowly towards that taunting evil branch. You anticipate; widening the loppers as you approach. Fellow greenery whispers in the wind… NOOOOOOO!

If this is you or someone you may know; this is a form of Crape MURDER.

Help is available. Fontaine Landscaping, in Holly Springs, NC has opened up a national help line on our YouTube channel for those affected that need help with their landscape.

Watch the Crape Murder trailer; with the full length DIY to follow this Fall 2016.