Friday, 23 September 2016

Great Ideas for Drought-tolerant Landscaping

There are so many ways you can ditch thirsty turf grass in favor of easy-care, beautiful gardens. Here are a few ideas for drought-tolerant landscaping you may find exciting.

A Zen retreat

Create tranquility in a yard that remains beautiful year round. Line the drive with asparagus ferns. Use dogwoods and Japanese maples to provide shade, softness, and color. The planting beds can be covered with tumbled glass in different shades of green and blue.

A birding paradise

Lay a sheet of decomposed granite. Plant pink-blooming Cistus, purple Ceanothus, and orange Leucospermum. Shrubs can offer privacy from the street, while shorter ground covers and perennial plants can make the space feel lusher. You can use toyon and ribes to provide berries for the birds.

Desert front yard

Replace your lawn with grasses that are drought-tolerant; add young trees beside your front door.

A yard full of succulents

You can use a variety of succulents to add color and texture to your yard. Use different varieties of aloes, aeonium, Agave attenuata, Bulbine frutescens, and blue Senecio mandraliscae.

Low maintenance yard

Easy-care materials and plants tend to create a low-maintenance garden that does not require care. Use durable furnishings, no-fuss flooring, bulletproof plants, and other details to create an easy-to-care yard.

An eco-conscious landscape

Permeable paving helps rainwater to percolate into the soil easily. Paths should be covered with gravel, while patio should be made of decomposed granite.

Extend the season by adding butterfly weed, Mexican lobelia and coral fountain with California natives for summer color.

‘No mow’ grasses

Some grasses have the ability to live on rainfall alone and need to be mowed just once twice a year to keep clean and tidy.

‘All natural’ yard

Plant many natives to attract birds. Install a winding path bordered by beautiful wild lilacs, 'Bee's Bliss' salvia, and purple tree mallow. All these plants are low-water plants.

Best drought tolerant plants

1. Sunset Strain

This bloomer boasts of evergreen foliage and is around ten inches wide. It looks great in rock gardens.

2. Cape Blanco

Small blue-green leaves create tight rosettes on stems. This beauty from California makes a great cover for ground.

3. Lavandula multifida

It offers felty silver foliage that reaches three feet wide. Violet blooms sprout from spring to fall.

4. Libertia peregrinans

Stiff, thin orangey blades of this plant grow two feet tall. Clusters of white flowers sprout during summer and spring.

5. Angelina

Tiny chartreuse leaves bloom on stems that are approximately six inches tall. This succulent spreads freely and is a fluffy filler in-between other flora. It also makes a great groundcover.

6. Voodoo

Rounded, small burgundy leaves cover the quick-spreading, low-​growing succulent from the Caucasus. Red colored flowers sprout during summers.

There are so many ways to make a yard look beautiful while ensuring less water for its maintenance. Use these ideas without hesitation: you can surely create a drought-tolerant and yet a beautiful landscape.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Hiring a Landscaping Expert: 7 Questions you must ask

It can be stressful to design your outdoor space yourself; however, selecting a landscaping expert who would do that for you need not be so hard. Here are seven essential questions you need to ask before you embark on the project. You get convincing answers, and you are done with it.

1. What can we achieve with this vacant space?

This question should lead to the following: the landscaping expert visits first your site; examines its complexity; notes where the sun falls; studies soil quality, existing features and the boundaries; proposes an attractive design that satisfies your needs and dreams.

2. How do you go about a project proposal?

Different landscaping experts have different styles of work. Some experts click snapshots of the entire site, and take a day or two before coming up with a design on paper; some others propose a rough concept on the spot and initiate a discussion with you.

A few others interview you first, understand your ideas and requirements, inspect the site and then come up with a proposal. It is important that the style of work is impressive and convincing enough for you to make a choice.

3. What are the components of your project proposal?

You ask this question in order to get an idea of the project components such as the following: 

  • Initial discussion
  • Landscaping plan: includes two or three options to help arrive at the final plan
  • Planting options
  • Options of additional landscaping features
  • Construction assistance

4. What would be the duration and deadlines?

Time estimation of the project depends on its scope and size and your budget. You need to indicate a period by which you require the completion of the project. In consultation with the expert you should provide for unforeseen glitches and project delays due to supplies and weather. 

5. What will be the cost?

It is important to discuss costs before signing the contract. Different experts quote different charges.  Ask for an approximate cost for a thousand square foot patio plus, if you desire, installation of paving and high-end fountains. You can compare quotes in the context of the reputation, experience and quality of work of the expert to make a decision.

6. Is there any room to save costs?

There are numerous ways to save money. Discuss with the professional about the different options available to save costs in respect of materials, plants, containers, and so on. Make choices that would fit your budget.

7. How much maintenance will the yard need?

Many outdoor plants require little maintenance. Others require more attention, such as regular feeding or pruning to look their best. This may not be a problem if you keep a gardener, but it can be a hassle if you have to do the work yourself. Better to get an idea of yard maintenance cost, before you finalize your project.

Designing a yard probably is not your niche; you would do well to hire a landscape designing expert, who can offer a range of different cost saving options  to match your vision, tastes and needs.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Yard Maintenance through seasons : Useful Tips for you

Yard maintenance tips given below for your benefit span all four seasons. You can read through separate sections for winter, spring, summer and fall, and get ideas to make your yard blossom the entire year!

Winter

Winter can be harsh on your plants; here are a few ways for you to reduce the extent of ruination.

Fertilizing

Early winter or late fall are the best times for fertilizing the soil. Give the lawn a good feeding of fertilizers to enrich the soil, and make up the depletion caused during hot summer months the previous year. Once you hit the winter months, the fertilizer will persist in the soil and offer nutrition to the roots of the lawn during the entire season.

Mowing

As winter approaches, make sure you lower gradually the cutting base of the lawn mower, every time you are on your lawn mowing routine. Lawn grass can face winter well, if you can cut it shorter and shorter in stages, and not in one go.

Prevent lawn traffic

It is easy to forget and fail to prevent foot traffic on the short brown grass. Although grass is extremely resilient, it can have a tough time recovering during winter, if the foot traffic is rather heavy.

Spring

Spring yard maintenance helps in setting the tone for the rest of the year. If you do not pay attention during spring, you will have to pay the price through the other seasons. Important tasks you must perform in spring include:
  • Preparing flower beds
  • Pest control
  • Planting
  • Plant care
  • Weed control
Summer

Summer is the busiest time for homeowners who love to landscape their yards. One of the biggest jobs of summer yard care is keeping the lawn and plants watered. Fighting diseases and pests is another important job.

Mole control

Moles and voles can ruin the lawn completely. Hence, it is important to get rid of them. They can be poisoned, trapped, or discouraged using repellents.

Tuning up the mower

Lawn maintenance can be a huge problem if your lawn mower does not run properly. A lawn mower needs regular tuning, which consists primarily of three tasks:
  • Changing the oil
  • Changing the spark plug
  • Cleaning or changing the air filter
Irrigation

One of the biggest nemeses of plants is drought. It is important therefore to water the lawn and plants regularly and on time to keep them in good health. The job can be made easier by installing a sprinkler irrigation system.

Fall

Proper maintenance of the yard during fall lowers the possibility of plant diseases during spring. By raking the lawn, you need to ensure that the burden of fallen leaves does not smother the grass underneath.

Make compost

Do not dispose of the raked leaves. Instead, make compost with them so that they serve your fertilizing needs the next year.

Make shrub shelters

Fall is the time to prepare for the approaching harsh weather. The best way to protect flowering shrubs from the harsh winter is by making A-frames out of plywood to cover the plants.

It is a good idea to work with the seasonal perspective when you consider landscaping maintenance. This will ensure that your yard looks healthy and beautiful all year round!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Outdoor Kitchen: Design Factors you should Consider

Any outdoor area can be transformed easily into a beautifully landscaped zone. Outdoor kitchens are great examples of what you can call ‘chic outdoor living spaces.’ These open-air cooking areas offer the same kind of functionality as their indoor counterparts. Given below is an overview of design factors you should consider for an outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor appliances

When thinking about cooking areas of the yard, the first factor that probably demands your attention would be the outdoor kitchen appliances. However, there is a lot more that should be considered for creating spaces that are truly livable. Accents and accessories and lighting can help enhance your grilling experience, and they can be used for tailoring your space to your needs.

Grill is the soul of any barbecue or cookout. A great idea is to place it as the center piece, and build the rest of the area around it. Stainless steel makes the best metal for grills, because it has the ability to last longer. Moreover, maintenance is easy, and it can fit to your budget.

Another essential appliance to consider for your outdoor kitchen is the sink, and one more ‘must have’ is a refrigerator for storing perishables and chilling the beer.

Stone kitchens

Planning an outdoor kitchen area includes a decision on building materials too.  Stone is one of best and the most popular of building materials. It’s both beautiful and durable. Its strength makes it suitable for outdoor bars, islands, storage, fire

Stone kitchens can serve you in any weather condition, which you can’t vouch for other kinds of building materials.

Also, stone can offer you a great choice of textures and colors. It is extremely common for stone to incorporate accents, brick inlays and medallions that can offer visual appeal. Stone kitchens assure longevity and permanence.

Outdoor fireplaces

Outdoor fire pits or fireplaces add to the functionality of your kitchen. Whichever style you choose, you’ll have to make certain decisions regarding the following.

Fuel options

Building materials

The size of the outdoor fireplace or fire pit

You have a choice of different types of rustic and man-made materials with which you can build your fire pit or fire place. Once the structure has been created with the help of fireproof materials, you can complete the exterior with practically any material that is heat-resistant.

For fuel, you can choose a propane starter or natural wood with no gas. Your decisions on requirements should of course be tempered by the funds available. Make sure you build a fireplace to your budget.

Brick ovens

A brick oven will make a fantastic choice, if it is usual for you to host a lot of parties. You can make it the focal point of the outdoor living space. Guests can make their own food. Nothing can beat the authentic taste of food that is cooked in a brick oven.

Hams, roasts, pizzas, breads, etc. are cooked on such occasions. Pizza is the most popular and entertaining cooking item.

Well-planned outdoor kitchen designs can be an advantage to homeowners for whom al fresco dining and entertaining are important. If you are considering renovation of your outdoor spaces, it is best to hire a landscaping expert to get the worth of your money and a style which you would love.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

10 Ways to enhance your outdoor decor

A beautiful outdoor space to relax and unwind can be a big asset to your house. Besides facilities of lounging, entertaining, and pampering taste buds, the pleasant setting would be another factor that would add to the market price of your house. 

Listed below are a few home decor ideas that can help transform any outdoor area into a scenic treat. Also, do not feel overwhelmed by the size of the area: you can easily beautify your backyard on a budget.

Choose a palette

It is always a good idea to start by picking out a color palette to incorporate into your new outdoor decor. It would be great for you to lean toward neutral sand tones or bright whites, as they contribute to an overall tranquil feeling. 

Add a tropical touch

If you love the beach, you can add a dash of tropical style to the backyard. There are so many things that you can do. You can pot a tropical plant or integrate a little palm tree decal close to your lounge chair and have tropical print cushions. The ambiance will translate into relaxation. Also, do not forget to add a pink flamingo!

Put up a fence

Putting up a fence will not only create privacy from neighbors, it will also help protect other parts of the house. A fence is a great add-on for urban spaces to create a sense of comfortable quarters, while entertaining guests.

Daybed

Lounging is top priority in an outdoor space. Apart from a hammock, you can buy or build a lush day bed to spend your time relaxing in fresh air. Decorate it with floral prints and have plush pillows and cushions for greater comfort. Also, have a side table with interesting coffee table books to browse.

Dining alfresco

It is best to choose weather-resistant furniture for dining alfresco. Make sure you choose a solid base for the table, and buy good quality coverings to protect your furniture. There are a myriad of showpieces that you can have in the area, to give it a more decorative look.

Floor pillows

Poufs and floor pillows can help create extra seating in a lounge area. It will also add a Bohemian feel to the outdoor space. Floor pillows make a great add-on for both country and urban homes. Poufs can also serve as great serving spaces. 

Mix and match chairs

You can add personality and creativity to your outdoor space by mixing benches with mix and match chairs. In fact, the chairs can also be of different colors. 

Rugs

Whether you use them inside or outside, rugs do look beautiful. You can buy a range of shades and textures online, or by visiting a decor store. However, just remember to take the rugs inside home, if there are any chances of rain.

There is so much you can do to add personality and beauty to your outdoor space. If you find it hard to choose an appropriate design, it is best to leave the job to a professional. Hire a landscaping expert of repute to do the designing for you.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Keeping Your Garden Green in Colder Regions: Great Ideas for You

It might always be a little chilly outdoors, but that occasional dose of sunshine should bring out the gardener in you!  With just a little preparation on your part, Mother Nature can transform your garden into an enchanting, flowery tapestry. Isn’t it time you started on those pet garden projects, rather than wait for a perfect day?

Leafing out

Your choice of crops that can survive in colder regions should depend not only on cold tolerance, but also on their growth habit and schedule. Spinach, for instance, is a hardy winter plant that puts out new leaves persistently. You can see it bloom all winter. 

Vegetable and fruit gardening

A large variety of crops can grow in areas known to stay cold year-around. Veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peas, collards, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and several types of lettuce prefer cooler temperatures.

Apart from these, other choices you can consider for your cold weather garden are root vegetables such as beets, turnips, radishes, and baby carrots. 

Continue feeding birds, if you’d like them to stick around for helping you in insect control, once the weather starts to warm up again.

Buy garden tools

Do not wait until spring time to get your mower repaired! In case of snow, make sure to brush or shake off the snow from the branches of your shrubs and evergreens. Buy all the garden tools you require.

Top four tips for crop growing in colder regions

  1. Make use of low tunnels created out of plastic pipes that are covered with plastic sheeting.
  2. Use a greenhouse, if possible.
  3. Cover the crops with leaf mulch or straw.
  4. Cover the plants with blankets, row cover or old sheets.
Gardening in colder regions is surprisingly easy. The pace is slow, but the low light levels tend to cut down on water evaporation. Sometimes it eliminates the need to water in many areas of the country.

It is a good idea to experiment with different kinds of crops to identify the plants that can grow best in your garden. Test every plant for the extent of protection it needs. Check for the timing of planting and a rhythm that will work. Plant new crops any time you see an empty space.

Use lots of compost to offer extra boost to your crops. Remember! You must fear heat more than the chill. Vent quick hoops, cold frames, and greenhouses during sunny days: that might trap hot air inside, which would ‘cook’ your greens prematurely.

There’s sufficient daylight to grow a range of different crops at any latitude or altitude in the US. With just a little preparation and caution, you can enjoy for sure a green garden all year round.

Friday, 25 March 2016

How you can Clean and Refinish a Wooden Deck

A beautifully refinished wooden deck is a valuable part of your outdoor landscape. It does not just look good; it extends and protects the life of the wood and enhances the resale value of your house as well. Refinishing the deck involves the following basic steps.

  1. Deck inspection
  2. Cleaning
  3. Sanding of the deck
  4. Staining and sealing
  5. Stain application
Each step is described below  in some detail for your benefit.

Deck inspection

Deck inspection is the first step in wooden deck refinishing. Look for structural problems like severely split or rotting wood, and mend them first.  If the deck paint or varnish looks old and faded, strip the varnish or paint off the surface of the deck, using a paint stripper. If you wish to repaint it, just sand it.

If you locate a wood stain or clear finish, you should clean it with the help of a wood deck cleaner. Experts recommend oxygen-based wood cleaner for removing graying caused due to ultraviolet sun exposure and mildew stains. It works great in cleaning the wood of any deposits and dirt.

Deck cleaning

Power washing the deck can either deep clean the deck quickly, or ruin the wooden deck boards. With too much pressure from the water jet, you end up etching the wood and ruining deck boards. With too little pressure, you end up getting the deck wet and no deep cleaning at all.

Power washers can be used for stripping paint or etching bricks. They are available in a range of different styles and powers. Experts recommend the following selections for cleaning the wood: pressure on soft wood such as pine or cedar must be around 500 to 600 PSI, while harder woods can stand up to 1200-1500 PSI.

Sanding

After power washing the wooden deck, it is extremely likely that the fibers of the wood will rise, as they start to expand with water. Even after drying, wooden fibers may remain raised and cause splinters.

It is important to sand the wooden deck before starting the process of staining. Sanding will ensure that the final look is professional.

You should be careful about the grit of sandpaper for use. Using a very fine grit will limit the stain from soaking in into the wood.

Staining and sealing

An important decision you will have to make is choosing the right stain. Application of the stain is easy. However, choosing an ineffective or cheap staining material will only be a waste of money and labor you have to put in to the project; furthermore, it will warrant additional rework sooner than later.

Experts recommend the use of quality oil-based stain. You will find the best products at professional paint stores.

Stain application                                  

For applying the oil-based stain, use a natural bristle brush.

With proper techniques of preparation and application along with good quality materials you will surely have a beautiful and durable end product. The final outcome of your hard work will be a beautiful wooden deck, probably the pride of your outdoor landscape!