Thursday, 22 June 2017

8 Great Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Thoughtful outdoor lighting can be a treat for your eyes. You will have passersby coming back to take a second look because of the interest these lights can create. Here are eight great outdoor lighting ideas to make your landscape stand out.

1. Solar lanterns

If you wish to create a festive mood in the garden, especially in the evening, then colorful solar lanterns make a great addition. These lanterns come with small photovoltaic panels, LED light bulbs and a rechargeable battery. As it gets dark, a sensor turns the lights on, which start to glow for several hours.

2. Path lights

You can make use of different styles of lamps to add a creative touch to path lights in your garden. Path lighting can get a bit tricky: whether you choose pricier fixtures or inexpensive stakes, placement can be critical. Let them offer subtle hints of where to go next, instead of outlining completely the pathway. Less is always better!

3. String lights

Draping string lights across a wall or some plants can add a lovely but soft background touch to the outdoor greenery. You can also pile them into a glass vase to make them a pretty centerpiece.

String lights also make an affordable and easy way to turn a dull porch into a charming oasis. Let the lights drape from the railing or the ceiling, or let them hang from a wall.

4. Chandelier

If you have a small outdoor dining area, then add class to the space by hanging a chandelier from above. There are varieties of chandeliers to choose from. Opt for the one that goes with the d├ęcor.

5. Pool lights

Nothing adds glamour and brilliance to a pool like pool lights. A well-lit pool can offer visual pleasure when seen from inside the house. The same pool may seem dull without proper lighting. It is best to consult a landscaping expert before getting the pool lit.

6. Choose warm lights

Make sure you choose warm lights. While it is possible to use too much color, most landscaping experts use warm white lights to showcase the landscape and the house instead of creating a light show. 

7. Tiki torches

You can opt from a range of Tiki torches, such as gaslit or solar-powered ones. However, the most common and affordable ones are oil light torches. Apart from providing beautiful lighting, Tiki torches help in keeping mosquitoes away. However, avoid placing the tiki torches under a tree. Also, make sure they are kept away from flammable materials.

8. Entrance lights

Entrance lights can help define the very charm of your landscape. There are wide varieties of entrance lights that suit every budget.

With just a bit of creativity and maintenance you can make your landscape stand out. Although you can always choose outdoor lighting on your own, it is best to contact an experienced landscaping expert to do the job for you. Since they have the expertise, they will help you make informed decisions and best buys.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Growing a Vertical Garden

You can consider creating a vertical garden when you have a very small yard and the plants you want to grow spread out usually. A fence gate or a bare wall makes the best blank canvas for annuals, edibles, succulents and perennials.

The concept of vertical gardening takes landscaping to a new level. Even if you live in a house with no bare wall, there are still ways of planting foliage upright.

Creative ideas for design

1. Pocket Pouches: There are different containers that can be attached to a wall or can be hung by the fence. They usually have their own hangers and comprise of a watering well; once filled, it can keep plants watered for approximately two weeks.
 

2. A chest of drawers: In case you have a dresser you plan to dispose of, you can find good use for it by creating a vertical garden. Drill drainage holes at the bottom surface of the drawers, and then add bricks as dividers so that you’re not required to fill the whole drawer with soil. Take the drawers out as much as you can in order that they start to cascade. Plant what will survive best in that area.
 

3. A ladder: Place plants in pots on the ladder’s rungs and incorporate hooks for the hanging planters.
 

4. Mason jars: These jars have made a comeback today, and they are used for a variety of purposes. Line up the bottom of your mason jar with pebbles, followed by soil. Plant different herbs and keep the jars in the kitchen or in your balcony.

Creating your own vertical garden from scratch against a bare wall is an accomplished DIY project. Here are a few easy steps that can help you handle this project with ease:

1. As your plants start to grow vertically, they block sunrays from reaching the plants beneath. A great solution is to plant veggies such as lettuce and spinach below. These veggies are shade loving.
 

2. When you grow foliage along a trellis, plan carefully how high you wish it to go. You will have to water the plant and perhaps even trim it. Therefore, make sure you keep it within reach.
 

3. Gather information to be fully aware of how tall the plants will be when they are fully mature. Then opt for a garden structure accordingly.
 

4. Consider the probable weight of the fully-grown plant to provide structural support. Heavy crops such as melons do need a prop underneath, like a small cloth hammock.
 

5. Vegetables and flowers not planted on the ground require a lot more water. Give the plants more mulch so that they can quench their thirst.
 

6. Use ties or clips to train your plants to grow up.

With so many advanced technologies on hand, the small space you have can be exploited to achieve a lot more than what you do. It is best to seek guidance from a landscaping expert with rich experience to get the best out of your vertical garden.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Super Foods You Can Grow in Your Garden

If you have a garden, there is nothing that should stop you from growing your own super foods. These pristine gifts of Nature, straight from your garden to your dining table in a jiffy, offer your family the purest foods available that assure the best health benefits. No middlemen, super market counters, preservatives, exorbitant prices and doctor visits!

Kale

Bake kale into chips, make smoothies or put in salads and soups. This ingredient is full of antioxidants and fiber; it absorbs free radicals and fights cancer.

Micro-greens

These are normally seeds, which are a combination of herbs and greens that you harvest in fifteen days. They have a dense concentration of minerals and vitamins, almost six times the nutrients as found in the full-grown variety.

Blueberries

Types of blueberries include small, tall, semi-green, deciduous and the like. Said to reduce risks of cancer and heart disease because of their phytoflavinoids and antioxidants, blueberries help keep your mental sharpness too.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potato outranks all other veggies as the most healthy and nutritious. It is full of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Pumpkins

From a three-pound pumpkin to a hundred-pound one, you can grow this veggie as big as you want. Both the seeds and the flesh have amazing nutritional value. It is believed that two cups of pumpkin serving gives you more than the daily need of alpha-carotene. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, which assists the immune system in defending against viruses.

Beetroot

Another veggie that is considered a super food is beet. Although beets are known for their high sugar content, you can afford to consume them a couple of times a week. They tend to lower blood pressure, ward off inflammation, increase stamina, and the greens contain phosphorus, protein, zinc, vitamin B6, fiber, and several other nutrients.

Cabbage

Use cabbage in slaw, stir fries, ferment or soup. Cabbage contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer, offer an energy pack and avoid premature aging of your skin.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds germinate after two to three weeks of planting. Dry the pods and separate the seeds. Being a part of the mint family, chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids that lower cholesterol and stabilize your blood sugar.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower is extremely resilient and drought-tolerant. The seeds contain great amounts of vitamin E and magnesium, making them excellent for your bones, skin and heart.

Peppermint

Use it in tea, blend it into a smoothie or add to the casseroles for a little flavor and boost your overall health. In addition, being rich in chlorophyll, peppermint ensures smooth functioning of the endocrine system.

Parsley

There are varieties of ways you can use parsley in your food. Make pesto with it, use it in hot tea or add it to green salads. It is rich in vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin A and K. Parsley assists in building strong bones, healing the nervous system and relieving you from joint pains.

So why wait? Take your seeds today and get started on the road to perfect health by eating foods straight from your yard! You will do well to consult a reputed landscape service company in creating a yard you would love all your life!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Adding Curb Appeal : Do’s and Don’ts

Curb appeal is the visual charm of a house when observed from the road. It is the lure of the exterior of a property. Start making your landscape and exterior enticing, not only to add to the beauty of the house but also to increase its property value.

Things you should do

1. Enhance the look of the front door

Painting a door afresh in green, red, blue or any favorite color adds a distinctive vibe to the ambience of the house. A generic wreath can embellish its look in contrast with the lackluster appearance of many a front door. Polish the metal knockers, doorknobs, or bells.

2. Shape the front yard

Trim bushes, hedges, and any grass that has developed over the paths or sidewalks. Fill containers with colorful, bright, blooming flowers.

3. Add mulch

Decorate the flowerbeds with protective covering and beauty barks.

4. Add lights

Prospective buyers and visitors like a well-lit path. Choose solar lights to add to the appeal of the house.

5. Change numbers

It is best to install numbers that are big and pretty enough for making a good impression on responders in terms of visibility and appeal.

6. Driveway

Upgrade the concrete if the old floor is cracked, and apply a new load of gravel to get a fresh look.

7. Install a new mailbox

It is time to get rid of the old mailbox if it’s chipped, dented or doesn’t close correctly. Try to get one that locks so that the mail stays safe.

8. Installing art

Add objects such as wind chimes, water feature, birdbaths, or sculptures that fit well into your garden. Make sure you add weather-resistant pieces.

Remember, not everything you do enhances the appeal of your curb. Therefore, make sure you plan your strategy for avoiding distracters.

Things you should not do

1. Providing a confusing entrance

You do not want visitors or potential buyers to get confused about which door is the front door. It is important that you provide an entrance, which is warm, obvious, and inviting.

2. Planting Annuals

Make sure you do not plant annuals that bloom just once. Plant instead a mix of perennials for evergreen foliage and blooms that can beautify and power up your landscape all year round.

3. Following bizarre trends

Hardscaping the whole yard, using mulch and trimming the hedges into weird shapes are all turnoffs for potential buyers.

4. Deviating from the neighborhood style

Do not deviate too much from the neighborhood style: it is good to build something that harmonizes with the rest of the surroundings. You do not want to be the odd one out.

5. Planting too close to the house or walkways

Hedges that hang over walkways or paths look messy. Trees that appear small when planted can grow large and may disturb the foundation.

Adding some appeal to your curb should not mean breaking up the ground. With the tips given above, you can add to the beauty of your yard without literally breaking the ground. Do you need assistance with a curb appeal project? Consult a reputed landscaping expert for professional help in embellishing your yard.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Repelling Bugs the Natural Way : 10 Herbs for Planting in Your Garden

Do bugs and insects get on your nerves and play havoc with your plants? Rather than reaching for an insecticide or a bug repellent, plant these herbs as natural fixes in your garden or yard, or in containers so that you can move them wherever you need them.

1. Mint

Mint repels effectively fleas, ants, moths, aphids, beetles, and mice; it can help you keep your pets healthy, too. Once you plant mint, it will automatically grow every season. Apart from repelling bugs, mint leaves can be used for preparing tea, cooking Moroccan-inspired dishes, and making mint juleps or mojitos.

2. Basil

Basil helps in keeping away flies and mosquitoes. By planting basil, you can rest assured that you won’t have annoying bugs around you when you hang out in the garden. You can also use basil as a topping with some fresh cheese.

3. Bay leaves

You can drive away roaches with bay leaves. Moreover, you can use the dried bay leaves in stock for stews and soups, or find use for them in an herb wreath.

4. Catnip

A mixture of rosemary and catnip oil can act as an amazing mosquito repellant. You can also mix in some lemon balm for boosting potency.

5. Dill

Dill is more than just an ingredient for preparing pickles; it can scare off squash bugs, aphids, and spider mites. You can also use it on salmon while grilling or baking, or in dips.

6. Lavender

Lavender not only adds to the beauty and nice fragrance of a yard, but also helps to repel fleas, moths, and flies. You can dry it and utilize it as well in little bags made of cloth as sachets inside your drawers.

7. Rosemary

Rosemary is a hardy herb, and once it’s planted, it will grow all year round in milder climates. You can use it to keep off carrot flies, cabbage loopers, slugs, Mexican bean beetle and snails. Apart from this, you can use the hardy stalks on the grill as skewers, in meat dishes (especially lamb) for flavor, and even put some on hot coals for a sweet-smelling grill.

8. Thyme

Get rid of cabbage maggot, cabbage looper, corn earworm, tomato hornworm and whiteflies with this herb. Use it in seafood or poultry dishes when you wish to take them in an Italian or Greek direction. Thyme is also a great idea when creating Provencal dishes such as ratatouille.

9. Garlic

When you grow garlic, you can ward off a host of different pests including carrot flies, aphids, rabbits, codling moths, root maggots, snails, Mexican bean beetle, cabbage loopers and peach tree borers. Utilize fresh garlic to add flavor and depth to just about any dish: sauces, soup stocks, crushed fresh for marinades and bruschetta.

10. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm can be added to make a natural mosquito repellent. Apart from this, you can brew tea with this ingredient to relieve stress.

So, why use harmful chemical repellants when natural herbs can do all the tricks for you? If you need exciting ideas of growing these herbs, it is best to get in touch with a landscaping expert for advice.

Monday, 23 January 2017

10 Easy Steps for You to Clean Rain Gutter

It can be a tedious chore for you to clean out your rain gutters, but it is important and necessary that you keep them free of debris. Your entire house, walls and foundation may suffer serious water damage and flooding because of dirty and clogged downspouts and gutters.

Here are 10 easy steps for you to keep clean the rain gutters:

1. Wear protective equipment

There can be invisible hazards or harmful bacteria lurking in the gutters. Therefore, make sure you protect yourself by wearing safety goggles, thick gloves, and a dust mask.

2. Begin near a downspout

Make use of a stepladder for safety and place yourself by the downspout. Use a garbage bag or a bucket to collect debris.

3. Remove debris

Using a plastic scoop or a trowel, shove debris into the refuse container, working your hands down the gutter.

4. Flush with the help of a hose

There can be dry and sandy coating of materials, or exceptionally sticky gunk still left behind; in such a case, flush your gutter by using a pressurized hose.

If you are unable to clear out everything, scrub the hard spots with a stiff brush and flush the gutter again. If water backs up, it could be due to clogging.

5. Detach the pipe

When you clean the downspout, detach the pipe running underground to prevent the pushing of the clog even further down.

6. Get rid of the clog

Begin by loosening the blockage by running a hose up the downspout. If this technique does not work, call a plumber to get rid of the clog.

7.Reattach the pipe

Make sure you prevent leaks by reattaching the pipe securely.

8. Rinse the downspout

For cleaning, run water out of the downspout from the top of the gutter. This way you can make sure that the clog is removed.

9. Install or clean strainers

If you have strainers, it would be better to clean them to prevent future clogging. In case you don’t have any strainers already installed, do so now to stop large fragments from blocking your pipe.

10. Follow a regular maintenance schedule

Clean the gutters at regular intervals, and check the flow of water. If you observe still water, or if it is not draining properly, it could be because the slope is off. The gutter must drop one-fourth an inch every ten feet.

If there are no missing parts or visible damage, detach hangers and work section by section; rectify the slope to proper draining and reattach. Make sure that you look for leaks with every storm. Gutters may also form rust. If you observe leaks or paint chipping through the metal, substitute the defective section with a new one.

It is important to take seriously regular gutter cleaning. The longer you ignore it, the more likely you are to make matters worse.

You can call your landscaping expert for getting the gutters fixed, if things are beyond your control. That would protect your precious landscape and plantings, and prevent hundreds of dollars of harm to the foundation of your house.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Harvesting Rainwater for your Gardens and Yards

We have all heard about the prolonged drought in California. While some places experience low stream flows, others suffer seasonal dryness.

Even if you live in a state that is safe from elevated drought levels, your city or state may require you to restrict use of water as a precautionary measure. One major method of preservation of natural resources is rainwater harvesting.

Benefits rainwater harvesting

There is no wealth to match the bounty of the rain god. After an inch of rainfall, you gain almost 900 gallons of water from your barn or house if the structure is 30 x 50 feet.

Rainwater is healthier as it has no trace of any of the chemicals that you normally find in tap water. You can collect it very easily and use it to water your indoor plants, and garden, and do anything else that is beyond the essential needs.

One of the simplest ways to harvest rainwater is to install a water diverter on the current downspout of the gutters, and keep there a container for water storage beneath the downspout. You can easily do this for your house.

Different ways of rainwater harvesting

Surface runoff harvesting

Local authorities can construct a well-planned network to save every drop of runoff water and utilize it for recharging aquifers for the entire city.

Rooftop harvesting

This is a system of saving rainwater from where it falls first on a city: the roof is the catchment area here. The water thus collected can either be stored in a tank or sent to an artificial recharge system. The method is a lot less expensive and extremely effective; if implemented properly it helps augmenting the ground water level.

Rainwater collected from the rooftop should be directed down via water pipes or drains to the harvesting/storage system. The pipes must be UV-resistant. Water from roofs can also be channelized through down take or gutter pipes. The mouth of every drain on the terrace should have wire mesh to filter floating material.

First flush is an instrument that serves to get rid of the water collected during the first shower. It is necessary to do this in order to avoid any form of contamination of rechargeable/storable water due to possible atmospheric contaminants.

This helps as well to clean silt and other forms of dirty material deposited on the roof over a period. Provisions for a first flush rain separator must be made at the mouth of every drainpipe.

Harvesting through percolation tanks

Percolation tanks are surface water bodies created artificially, immersing a land area with acceptable permeability; this provision enables sufficient percolation for recharging the ground water. Such tanks are created in big campuses where plenty of land is available and the geography is suitable.

Most of us take water for granted and overuse it without any thought of a terrible water crisis that is slowly building up. A day might come sooner than later when life on earth may face a serious threat in the form of unprecedented water scarcity.

Rainwater harvesting is one of the most cost-effective and necessary steps to ward of this situation, and try to maintain water availability at normal levels.