4 Simple Holiday Landscaping Tips

One of the grand traditions of the holiday season is festive decorating.  This is the time of year that people put in extra effort into creating an environment that speaks to the holidays and creates a cheerful atmosphere.  And although you can limit your decorating to the inside of your house, putting in some work to do some holiday landscaping can spread the cheer to the surrounding neighbourhood.  But it doesn’t have to hard work either. Adding a few touches to your house and yard can have a great effect. This article will go over four simple holiday landscaping tips.

Hang Some Wreaths

Wreaths are typically circles made of evergreen boughs.  They are traditionally used to signify growth, eternity and the continuity of everlasting life.  You can make your own wreaths or purchase them, but the fact is that they’re really easy to display.  Simply hang them on your door, mailbox, or in your windows. They’ll instantly add to the holiday spirit of your property.

Put Up Some Garland

Garland is similar to wreaths, but it can also come in a cord shape rather than the circles that wreaths are known for.  Garland was traditionally made of flowers or leaves, but there are a lot of artificial materials used to make them these days.  The fact is that garland is very versatile and easily hung. Consider wrapping it around your stair rails, lining your windows with it or festooning your front door with it.  

Utilize Plant Pots

Use plant pots as stands for small evergreens, tree boughs or willow branches.  You can line them up the sides of your stairs and sidewalk or place them around your yard to create a bit more holiday ambience.  You can benefit from the fact that they’re not permanent which means you won’t have seasonal trees and ornaments surrounding your house throughout the year.

Decorate Your Window Boxes

If you already have window boxes, consider adding some evergreen boughs, holly plants or other holiday related plant materials to add to the flavour of all your other decorating.  Window boxes are also a good place to add strings of lights without having to pull out a ladder.

Grass Seed vs Sod : What You Should Know

sod seedWhether you already have an existing lawn or you’re starting from scratch, there might be a need for you to reseed or lay some sod.  Maybe your lawn is full of weeds that are starting to outcompete the grass.  Or it’s possible that you have dead patches that have been worn down to bare dirt.  Or maybe you don’t have a lawn at all, but you envision a great swath of green grass where there currently sits a chunk of black soil.  When you’re ready to tackle whatever lawn situation you’re in, this article will compare grass seed vs sod:  what you should know.

Cost

Using grass seed is definitely a cheaper way to get some grass growing.  It’s going to take more continuous effort and a longer stretch of time to take root than simply laying down some sod, but it will be cheaper on the pocketbook.

Labour

Laying down sod takes quite a bit of physical labour.  A slab of sod can weigh up to 30 pounds if the moisture content is high.  Sodding an entire lawn will definitely require some muscle work.  On the other hand, planting grass seed takes a lot less physical work.  Depending on the type of seed you’re using, a single pound might be all you need for growing a 1000 square foot patch of lawn.

Varieties

You’ll likely have less choice of grass varieties when using sod.  Most sod farmers specialize in one or a few types of grasses and you’ll be limited to those.  If you’re using seed you’ll probably have access to many more varieties of grasses.  As such, you’ll be able to choose a variety that works best for the conditions you’re working with.

Results

When you lay down sod, you’ll end up with an instant lawn.  You might not be able to tread upon it until it takes root, but it will definitely look like a lawn immediately after installation.  With grass seed you’ll be waiting some time before your patch of dirt looks anything remotely like a lawn.  If you’re hoping for instant results, sod will be your best choice.

 

How to Choose a Water Feature For Your Landscaping

water featureMany people choose to include a water feature as part of their landscaping to bring a bit more nature into their life, add a visual element to their backyard and create an aural component to their property.  For whatever reason you decide to install a water feature as part of your landscape, you’ll need to choose one that works best for the space you have. This article will go over four points to consider when contemplating how to choose a water feature for your landscaping.

Space

Your space limitation will play a large role in the type of water feature you choose.  Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean that you can’t have a water feature. There are plenty of small table fountains that work perfectly well on balconies or in small backyards.  Keep in mind the space you have to work with when choosing your water feature.

Purpose

What do you want your feature for?  Are you looking to drown out traffic noise by your bedroom window?  Are you looking for something to look at while sitting in your backyard?  Or do you want to have a place to keep your fish during the summer? Water features can fit many different scenarios.  The scenario you have in your mind will play a role in the type of water feature you get.

Topography

Knowing the lay of your land will play a part in the kind of water feature that will work well for you.  If your landscape is completely flat, installing a bubbling brook may take a lot more landscaping work than if your property already has a bit of a rise.  Already having a natural depression in your ground surface may be conducive to installing a pond, whereas a vertical wall may make you more inclined to install a waterfall.  Work with your property’s natural topography to come up with an easier decision.

Children

If you have small children in your family or neighbourhood, it may influence the type of water feature that will work best.  Deep ponds may not be the smartest idea when there are small children around. You may find that a small fountain or pondless waterfall is a safer alternative while being just as pleasing.

 

Three Ways To Transform Your Lawn For Halloween

lawn halloweenAn easy way to transform your lawn for Halloween is to use lighting to create a spooky effect.  Effective use of lights can make even a barren yard look haunted. In this article we’ll go over three ways to transform your lawn for Halloween.

Seasonal Colour

Using coloured lights can change the entire feel of your front yard.  Black lights can be used on your porch to give everything an ethereal glow while making certain colours stand out.  Darker coloured blue lights work well to create an eerie ambience that’s fitting for the season. Filmmakers and special effects professionals often use dark blue lights in darker indoor shots or to mimic the moonlight when shooting outdoors.  You can either use your porchfront light fitting or you can arrange some floodlights along the stairwell and sidewalk leading up to your door to add a seasonal hue to your yard.

Fog

For a truly spooky feel, get a fog machine running.  Used in combination with a variety of lights, a fog machine can highlight other decorations or create an haunted atmosphere all on its own.  Lights that work well with fog machines can range from strobe or other flashing lights to track lighting laid on the ground and reflect against the fog.  A fog machine will embellish whatever lighting system you’re using to great effect. Adding colours to the fog can evoke visions of blood, jack o’ lanterns or green slime.  The possibilities are endless.

Fire

Fire not only gives a sense of danger, the flaming colours of orange, yellow and red fit in perfectly with the Halloween season.  That said, you don’t need to use actual fire. You can create the illusion of fire with some trick lighting and a few other materials.  Some compressed air and a few sheets of coloured sheer fabric lit up with a lighting apparatus can create dancing flames on your front lawn with no fire hazard whatsoever.  If you want to use the real thing, lining the sidewalk leading to your front door with torches will definitely add to the Halloween feel. Or add tea light candles to the inside of carved pumpkins to create traditional jack ‘o lanterns.

 

Fall Landscape Checklist

Fall is the last chance to get any serious landscaping done before the snow falls.  Taking care of this list of chores before winter hits will keep your yard clean and give it the advantage it needs to have a strong spring in the following year.  Read over this fall landscape checklist to organize your own autumn landscaping duties.

Mow The Lawn

As long as your lawn is still growing you should still be mowing it.  Failure to do so will allow it to get too long and stunt its growth now and next spring.  If long grass gets covered by snow it’ll also be more susceptible to molds and funguses. Make sure to get a mowing done before it’s too late.

Reseed The Lawn

If parts of your lawn have been damaged over the summer – it might have been overzealous young sportsters or similarly overzealous older barbecuers – you’ll want to reseed it in the fall.  This will ensure it comes in strong in the spring and starts your next season off with a good base.

Make Mulch

You can use your lawn clippings, fallen leaves or dead annuals to make a healthy mulch for your flower beds and tree bases.  Use your lawn mower to break down the pieces somewhat before spreading it around. This extra organic matter will help your soil weather the winter and be ready to come back to life quickly in the spring.

Turn The Mulch

Turning any mulch that you already have on your flower beds or around the bases of trees will ensure that molds, plant diseases or insects don’t get a chance to take hold.  Make sure mulch is less than three inches thick or you might end up drying out the ground.

Repair Concrete

If you have cracks in your sidewalks or driveways, now is the time to fill them.  Allowing them to sit over winter will result in larger cracks. Moisture will seep in, freeze, expand and break down the concrete even more.  Fill in the cracks and cover with sealant before it gets too cold.

3 Tips For Planting Sod In The Fall

laying sodLaying sod in the fall is an effective way of allowing it to take root with reduced temptation for children, pets or yourself to walk over it and ruin the installation.  Also, by laying down the sod before the real cold weather arrives you’ll ensure that the root systems will experience some warmth and have an ample chance of growth before slowing down during the winter.  In this article we’ll go over three tips for planting sod in the fall.

Prepare The Area

You’ll want to go over the area you’re planning to sod and clear it of any debris, large rocks and other foreign materials.  It’s best to do this before the sod arrives so you can get down to the business of laying it rather than having to walk around and clean up the area first.  If you have tree stumps or large boulders to contend with, it may take some time for their removal, so give yourself enough leeway to make this happen before you plan on laying the sod.

Level The Soil

You’ll want to ensure the area you’re planting the sod on is as level as possible.  If you have depressions in the land or slopes leading towards any buildings you may end up with runoff problems.  You don’t want water to be pooling in areas or draining into your basement. Depending on the size of the area you’re sodding you may be able to do the grading with hand tools.  If you’re working with a larger space, you might need to employ larger machinery.

Prepare The Soil

If you needed to add any soil to get rid of unwanted depressions in the landscape you may need to add more once it’s settled.  If you do add extra filler, give it a dose of water to help it settle properly before planting the sod. You’ll also want to make sure the pH of the soil is at a proper level to allow the rooting systems to grow.  Soil that’s too acidic or too basic will need to be treated to bring the pH closer to neutral. Although there are kits that allow you to measure and remediate this yourself, if the pH levels are extremely unbalanced you might want to look into hiring a professional to help.

Why Choose Interlocking Pavers?

paversWhen deciding to lay a new driveway or sidewalk, one of the first considerations is the type of material you’ll be using.  Something that’s been used since the time of the ancient Romans and has seen a comeback of late is the interlocking paver. There are several benefits to using these interlocking stones and this article will demonstrate their superiority over materials such as concrete or asphalt.

What Are Interlocking Pavers?

Interlocking paving stones are simply a series of stones that are set in paver jointing sand which locks the stones in place.  Friction caused by the sand between the joints allow the stones to disperse weight over a large area. This weight dispersal allows the pavers to withstand the heavy loads, such as vehicles, without cracking or breaking.  

Durability

With the spaces between the stones allowing for weight dispersal and the ability to shift slightly, interlocking pavers resist cracks and buckles which are so common with concrete and asphalt pads.  This property is especially useful in climates featuring temperature extremes or significant quantities of precipitation. Spaces between interlocking pavers allow them to withstand expansion and contraction caused by heavy moisture levels or freezing and heating which are typically damaging to concrete and asphalt.  

Easy Repair

In the rare event that a paving stone becomes cracked, chipped or otherwise damaged, it’s an easy process to remove the broken stone and replace it.  When concrete or asphalt becomes cracked and buckled, repairs are a labour intensive procedure and replacing the entire pad is often the only practical solution.  Interlocking paver stone repairs cost much less in time, money and labour compared to concrete or asphalt.

Aesthetics

Interlocking paver stones can be laid out in an endless variety of patterns and colours which can make your driveway or sidewalk look like a true piece of art.  Contrasted against monotone slabs of concrete or asphalt, if aesthetics play any role in your planning, interlocking paver stones are an easy choice. Rather than being limited to a uninteresting block of concrete or asphalt, paver stones allow your artistic side to shine.

 

5 Ways To Landscape With Stone

Working with stone in your landscaping not only creates solid, definitive lines, but it also creates a contrast with planted areas making them stand out and become noticeable.  Stone has a natural look that can’t be matched by materials such as concrete or asphalt.  The variable shapes of stones create a warmer feel than the uniform appearance given off by bricks.  Stone also doesn’t require maintenance the way that other hardscaping materials often do.  Keeping these advantages in mind, this article will go over five ways to landscape with stone.

Stone Steps

Building a set of terraced steps out of stone allows a mixing and matching of sizes and shapes that creates an interesting visual pattern with a mixture of textures and colours.  Mixed with a variety of surrounding plants and grasses, a stone stairway establishes a visual focus that can be softened by the vegetation.

Mortared Stones

Building a patio out of stones can create a striking look, but you’ll probably need to set the stones in mortar to prevent movement and tripping hazards.  However, mortar can be used to great effect by employing a contrasting colour.  Interesting patterns can result with the use of various sizes, shapes and types of stone.

Stone Planters

Stone works well as a construction material when making planters.  Using large stones can delineate the planting area, whereas smaller stones can be used to keep the dirt in place.  It’s easy to raise the planting beds by stacking rocks as well.  Using similar types of stones for planters throughout the property can tie things together quite nicely.

Drought Tolerance

By replacing your lawn with a bed of stones you’ll reduce the need for watering while still providing a natural base for water filtration and absorption of runoff.  Add in some native plant species and you’ll have an environmentally friendly yard that never needs mowing and still looks really good!

Gravel Pathways

Rather than installing a concrete or asphalt sidewalk, consider creating a pathway to your front door using gravel.  The large number of tiny stones gives the pathway a visual appeal that you wouldn’t get with a traditional sidewalk.  Add in the crunch of the gravel underfoot and you end up with with a functional addition that fashionably tickles several senses at once.

 

Today’s Top Backyard Landscaping Ideas

landscapingLandscaping your backyard can be an easy way to upgrade the look of your entire property.  Backyard landscaping doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive or completely overwhelming.  You can make simple changes with enormous results.  This article will over some of today’s top backyard landscaping ideas.

Include A Water Feature

Water features can be as simple as installing a mini fountain on the edge of your patio or deck.  Or it can be as all consuming as creating a stream that runs the length of your property and beyond.  A water feature can be especially helpful if you already have a problem with soil erosion caused by water runoff.  Turn lemons into lemonade by converting the water problem into a water feature.

Camouflage Unsightly Structures

If you have a raised patio or deck, there’s probably a large, gloomy space underneath it.  You can easily camouflage the space by adding plants and ornamental stones to hide the unsightly area.  Similarly, other structures that aren’t so nice to look at such as sheds, garages or storage spaces can be beautified with some creative landscaping.  The addition of some plants and appropriate weatherproof furniture can change the focal point and enhance the area.

Create A Multi-Layer Yard

If your backyard is all on one level, it may seem kind of bland and boring.  By adding a few layers, you can spice up its look and change its functionality.  You can use natural materials such as soil or rocks or you can add in decking for some elevation changes in different areas of the yard.  Adding a level or two to your backyard can result in a dramatic effect.

Create A New Entrance

The entrance to your backyard is the first impression visitors will get, so you might as well try and make it a good one.  By adding a decorative gate, flowering trellis or plant adorned arbor, you can add some pizzazz to what might currently be a simple opening between your house and the garage.  Create an inviting pathway linked to a nice landing area.  Separate them with a fancy gateway and your backyard is off to a great start.

The Best 2018 Landscape Design Trends

landscapeWhen creating an outdoor space, design inevitably plays a large role.  Landscaping is much more than just throwing down some dirt, adding some plants and letting nature do its thing.  Design, planning, and forethought are just as important in landscaping as they are in any other artistic endeavour.  This article will go over the best landscape design trends for 2018.

Mixed Colours

Past seasons have seen the use of monochrome colour schemes.  2018 is showing that adding a wide variety of colours can create a landscape that’s alluring and captivating to the eye.  Whether you use a variety of colours to contrast with or complement each other doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that the array of colours are used to create an effect of visual appeal and eye popping beauty.

Multi Purpose Plantings

Certain plants can achieve a variety of uses while still being visually appealing.  Consider plantings that are drought resistant yet feature colourful blooms that attract pollinating insects.  There are plenty of food bearing plants, like potatoes, that can add large swaths of greenery to your landscape while providing you with edible food at the end of the season.  You might also consider large trees not only for their good looks, but for their ability to provide privacy and protection from the wind. Multi purpose plants can give you the best of both fashion and function.

Responsible Land Use

With the world’s growing concern over the environment, your landscaping decisions can play a large role in responsible land use.  By capturing and reusing rainwater you can cut down on the water coming from your garden hose while keeping your property nice and green.  Consider rain barrels under your downspouts to capture runoff from your house. Cutting back on the amount of concrete and asphalt used will also allow water to be captured by the greenery and reduce the amount of runoff reaching the storm sewers.  Responsible land use will cut down on the amount of energy needed to maintain your landscaping projects and make better use of plants that are native to your area.