Top Landscaping Tips To Hide Pool Equipment

pool equipmentSwimming pools have always played a large role in beautifying a property.  Having the sun shine off a body of clear blue water will brighten up anybody’s backyard – as well as attitude.  Infinity pools have since come along to maximize the view your property overlooks. But when it comes to the machinery that allows your pool to operate, beauty isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.  And although you can enclose this equipment in a shed or pool house, yet another backyard structure just takes away from any sense of natural charm. But there is another option. And that’s using a greener approach.  For some examples, here are some top landscaping tips to hide pool equipment.

Ornamental Grass

There are several types of ornamental grasses that grow tall enough and thick enough to provide both a visual and aural screen for your water pump and filtration system.  Combined with a small fence to separate the foliage from the machinery, ornamental grasses can provide a calming visual barrier while also cutting down on the amount of noise that reaches the rest of the property.  Maiden grasses, zebra grasses and switch grasses are all examples of species that grow tall, thick and quickly enough to provide a decent screen for your pool gear.

Shrubs And Bushes

Shrubs and bushes can create a low maintenance barrier that looks great while reducing visual and auditory pollution.  And although they might take too long to grow from scratch, installing full grown specimens will afford you an instant partition.  Evergreen species will ensure your pool equipment remains out of sight all year round while adding to the natural verdancy of your backyard.

Earthen Berms

Surrounding your pool equipment with an earthen embankment or creating or using a natural depression in the ground will not only hide the machinery from sight, but it will dampen the sound generated by the motors.  Constructing or using existing hills and valleys on your property can be a great way to create more pleasant lines that are as functional as they are visually appealing. Consider bringing in a load of dirt or sculpting the natural contours of your property to create an enclosure for your pool gear.

 

What is Urban Gardening?

fall shrubsWhen most people think of gardening and food production, they think of large farms with wide open fields.  However, a lot more food and greenery is now being grown in urban centres. And as more people move into cities, this practice is likely to increase.  So what is urban gardening? In this article we go over the definition of urban gardening, its history and the benefits that it creates.

 

What Is Urban Gardening?

 

Urban gardening is basically any type of tended plant growth that takes place in a city environment.  There’s no single approach that defines urban gardening, but rather there are a seemingly endless array of techniques that encourage the growth of plants, foliage and food in urban centres.  Urban gardening can be undertaken by individuals, communities, businesses or governments. It can take the form of backyard vegetable patches, rentable gardening allotments, planting on vacant land and roofs or community, business or government directed cultivation projects.  The common factor is that these activities take place within the urban environment.

 

Urban Gardening History

 

Urban gardening is, by no means, a modern phenomenon.  It was thought to be first practiced in Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago where small garden plots were kept inside the walls of the city.  The ancient Egyptians grew fruit and nut trees in urban environments for shade and the food they produced. The Aztecs were also known to create garden beds with irrigation systems within the urban environment.  Allotments, or community gardens became popular in late 19th century Germany as a place to introduce greenery into the city and benefit from the food that was grown. Similar types of rentable garden patches were introduced as an antidote to oppressive urban environments during the Industrial Revolution in England.  During the two world wars, many countries developed “war” or “Victory” gardens where citizens were encouraged to grow food to supplement the war effort.

 

Benefits Of Urban Gardening

 

One of the main benefits of urban gardening is the greening of the city and creating larger recreational areas.  Not only does the greenery create a more pleasing environment, it helps boost its quality by reducing water runoff, soil erosion and carbon dioxide levels while increasing oxygen production, cooling the air and filtering rainwater.  Urban gardening can provide easier access to quality produce for city dwellers while reducing the environmental costs of transporting food from farther away.  

 

Top Four Landscaping Tips to Avoid

landscaping mistakes Nobody said that landscaping is an easy job.  If they did, they were either lying or didn’t know what they were talking about.  That’s why there are so many professional companies that will take care of it for you.  But if you’re an adventurous DIY type, landscaping can be a very pleasurable and creative process.  To help you get the best results, we’ve come up with a list of the top four landscaping tips to avoid.

Cutting Your Lawn Too Short

Mowing the lawn is an ongoing task throughout the growing season.  To cut back on the amount of effort you might think it’s a good idea to cut it as short as possible.  But this can allow diseases to take over or kill the grass altogether. How short is too short will depend on the type of grass you have, so it makes good sense to put in a bit of research to find the ideal clearance for your lawn mower blades.

Not Understanding Your Plantings

Having a full understanding of the life cycles of the plants you introduce to your yard is incredibly important.  What might seem like a cute little tree could grow into a behemoth in a relatively short period of time. This could spell disaster for your house foundation, your neighbour’s property or the scenic view out back.  Knowing what to expect over the lifetime of your plantings will ensure your landscaping efforts don’t come back to cause you future grief.

Neglecting Your Hedges

Keeping your hedges neat and trimmed will ensure they look good while providing decent cover, shading and property delineation.  But neglecting them will lead to hedges that grow out of control, develop weakly and sparsely in the middle and become hard to get back into a proper shape.  Try to trim your hedges so they’re wider at the bottom and thinner at the top as this will allow sunlight to equally reach all the branches.

Allowing Your Trees To Become Girdled

Girdling of a tree is when something is wrapped tightly around the bark and cuts off the flow of nutrients.  That something could be a twist tie or cable that wasn’t removed when the tree was young, or it could be other plants, such as vines, that make their living by choking off trees.  Make sure to remove any inhibiting girdles or you may find your tree literally being choked to death.

 

The Pros and Cons of Concrete Pavers

Concrete pavers can be used in almost any area that requires a smooth, flat surface.  For this reason they’re often found in driveways, sidewalks, garden pathways, patios, around swimming pools and more.  But because there are more ways to create these kinds of surfaces than concrete pavers alone, there can be drawbacks to using them as well.  To help explain the pros and cons of concrete pavers, we’ve come up with this helpful article.

Pros

Strength

Concrete pavers can actually be stronger than poured concrete which can make them ideal for surfaces that have to bear a lot of weight, such as driveways.  Because the weight is distributed across several different sections at once, concrete pavers can withstand a greater load than a singular concrete pad.

Instantaneous Use

Poured concrete pads require curing before they can be used.  Depending on the size of the pad, this can take as long as a full month.  Concrete pavers, however, can bear a full load immediately after their installation.

Repair

If some of your concrete pavers crack or get damaged, it’s easy enough to simply replace the broken pieces.  If a concrete pad becomes cracked you’re going to need to replace the entire thing if you want it properly repaired.

Cons

Movement

Concrete pavers can be susceptible to movement.  Often this is caused by freezing water combined with alternating warm and cold temperatures, but it can also be due to growing tree roots or simple settling of the ground.  

Weed Growth

Without proper sealing, the cracks between concrete pavers can provide ideal spaces for weed growth.  These growing plants could even cause the pavers to move over time. To prevent this you’ll need to reapply the sealing regularly and keep an eye out for growing weeds.

Base Preparation

Installation of concrete pavers requires the proper preparation of a base beforehand.  After excavation of any grass and the top layer of soil, a gravel bed of four to six inches needs to be laid down and properly compacted.  The gravel needs to be topped with an inch or so of sand, into which the pavers are installed.  

What to Consider for Buying Artificial Turf

artificial grassThere are many different reasons for wanting to install artificial turf on your property.  Maybe your yard doesn’t actually get any sunlight. Maybe your locale doesn’t get enough moisture to easily grow a good looking lawn.  Or maybe you just like the idea of never having to run a lawnmower again. Whatever your reason for choosing artificial grass, you’ll need to educate yourself on a few of its lesser known characteristics.  Check out this article if you want to learn what to consider for buying artificial turf.

Maintenance 

It’s true you’ll never have to mow your artificial lawn, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually zero maintenance.  There are still some things you should do to keep it looking good. Although you’ll need to keep any lawn clean, you don’t have to do it on a daily basis.  With artificial turf, every week or two is fine – even less if you get a lot of rain. Just hose it down to get rid of any excess dirt You’ll also want to brush your turf every so often so that it doesn’t get beaten down and flattened out.  And although you won’t be fighting dandelions like you would with natural grass, you should keep an eye out for any weed growth to stop it before it gets out of hand.

Colour 

You may not have known it but artificial grasses come in a wide array of colours.  There are many different shades of green to choose from, but you can also make it look even more natural by mixing several different shades together.  This prevents your lawn from appearing too perfect and actually looking artificial. You can even include a bit of brown to closely mimic real grass. 

Pile Height

Artificial grasses come in many different heights.  The height that’s best for your needs depends on how you’ll be using it.  If you plan on having lawn furniture you might want to go for a shorter pile to prevent it from compressing the turf too much and leaving marks.  However, the taller the pile height, the more lush the lawn will look.

 

Top Pool Landscaping Trends

pool landscapingIt may be the dead of winter and your swimming pool is probably the last thing on your mind, but this is actually the perfect time to start thinking about getting your pool ready for the new year.  Not only does the down time allow you to concentrate on how you can improve your pool, most swimming pool practitioners are in the midst of their slow season and will have plenty of time to help you achieve your goals.  To give you a jump start we’ve created an article about today’s top pool landscaping trends.

Fire Features

The combination of fire and water seems to instill a sense of wonder and awe.  Perhaps it’s some innate or instinctual attraction to primal fundamentals. Or maybe it’s just because it looks cool.  No matter the reason that these two so-called elements combine so well, you can use them to great effect around your pool.  A firepit, gas-powered outdoor heater or even a barbecue can make a great addition to your swimming pool area.

Phone Apps

Of course there’s an app for everything these days and the swimming pool is no exception.  There are several apps on the market that allow you to monitor your water temperature, the number of calories you’re burning when swimming laps or even your water chemistry.  Take a look through your app store to find out how the internet can help with your swimming pool maintenance and enjoyment.

LED Lighting

LED lights are now the industry standard.  These highly efficient, environmentally friendly light sources are easy to install and provide both functional and fashionable benefits.  LED lights also last a lot longer which means replacing the underwater fixtures isn’t the huge hassle it used to be. You don’t have to worry about them containing nasty chemicals such as mercury and they don’t attract insects like most conventional light sources.  Upgrade your pool lighting with a wide range of LED colours.

Unique Hardscaping

Most pools are surrounded by concrete.  This doesn’t have to be the case. You can upgrade your pool surround with attractive materials such as porcelain, tiling or cedar.  Really, the possibilities are endless. And most of them will look much better than regular old concrete.

 

Snow Removal – Protect Your Landscaping

sod replacement bramptonFor those of us Canadians who don’t live on the West Coast, snow is a fact of life during the winter months.  And with snow comes the effort needed to get it off our sidewalks and driveways. But indiscriminate snow removal can cause damage to your plant beds, trees and other softscaped areas.  In this article we’ll go over some tips on snow removal while protecting your landscaping.

Protect Your Landscaping

The main snow removal factors that can damage your landscaping are the weight of the snow, salts and other chemical de-icers and physical damage caused by snow removal equipment.

Snow Dispersal

Although it’s not always possible, you should try to avoid piling snow onto your lawn or other places where plants will be growing in the spring.  Large piles of snow can damage grass and plant beds and prevent them from getting an early start in the following year. If you can’t help but create large piles of snow, once the weather starts warming up or the sun starts shining in earnest, it’s best to try and spread the snow around to allow it to melt rather than leaving an iceberg in the middle of your lawn until summer.

Salt And Chemical De-Icers

Salt and other de-icers have been proven to be bad for the environment, but sometimes they’re the only way to make sidewalks and walkways safe for passage.  If you can avoid using salt and chemical de-icers your lawn and plant beds will thank you for it. Try using sand, gravel or kitty litter instead. If you remove the snow as soon as it falls you’ll also reduce the chances for ice to accumulate in the first place.  To prevent damage to your landscaping, avoid planting sensitive plants near sidewalks, roads and driveways. And if you’re shoveling areas that have been salted try to avoid throwing the snow onto areas where plants will be growing.

Equipment Damage

A lot of damage to lawns and plant beds happens when snow removal equipment runs over these areas.  You can avoid this by creating borders or setting up markers to denote where the pavement ends and the garden begins.  Place your gardening beds far enough back from the pavement to reduce risk of damage. And avoid piling snow up onto areas where you want your plants to be growing come spring.

Top Winter Landscaping Tips

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your yard has to look boring and lifeless.  In fact, winter can be a season of great creativity when it comes to landscaping. To make the most of the colder months, we’ve come up with a list of top winter landscaping tips.

Consider Your Hardscaping

In a season when most of your plants have been trimmed down and cleared away, you’ll be able to get a good overview of what your space has to offer.  Sometimes some of the best landscaping ideas have nothing to do with plants at all. Hardscaping installations such as a trellis, a bench or a winter time sculpture might be all that your space needs to look great in the snow.

Take Advantage Of Evergreens

Although their name suggests they’ll give off colour all year round, evergreens aren’t necessarily green.  There are evergreens that are yellow, blue, red and a wide assortment of other colours as well. Take advantage of evergreens (even if they aren’t green) to give a sharp contrast to the white blankets of winter.

Rely On Berry Producing Plants

Plants and trees that produce berries during the winter can really make your space look attractive – even in the depths of winter.  Not only will the berries add some much appreciated colour, they can attract birds and other wildlife into your area. Look into holly, mountain ash and crabapple for some added colour during the winter.

Winterize Your Plant Containers

Plant containers such as window boxes, large pots and hanging baskets are a great way to display annuals throughout the summer.  But rather than let them go fallow once the snow flies, use them to display hardier plants during the winter. That said, you don’t even need living plants to maintain the image.  Simply adding some spruce bows, wreaths or branch arrangements can be quite effective in the winter.

Invest In Cold Weather Perennials

Adding some perennials that will continue growing throughout the winter will give your space the life it needs during the colder months.  There are many plants that will continue to produce foliage throughout the winter. Make sure to include some among your plant collection for year round charm.

Three Reasons to Hire a Snow Removal Company

snow removal Once the snow starts falling, one of the most important responsibilities for business and homeowners is to keep their sidewalks and driveways free of snow.  In many municipalities this is actually a legal requirement. That said, it’s not only polite to keep your sidewalks and drives clear, it can prevent injuries which could lead to legal action against you.  But keeping your walks clear of snow isn’t always easy. This could be because of the amount of snow that falls where you live, the size of the area you need to keep clear, time constraints or the physicality required by the job.  In this article we’ll go over three reasons to hire a snow removal company.

Prevent Injury

The incidences of heart attacks rise exponentially after large snowfalls.  Other injuries caused by slipping or overexertion are also very common among people who shovel snow.  If you’re getting older or your property is too large to easily clear of snow, hiring a snow removal company can be a very good investment.  You aren’t doing yourself any favours if you end up in the hospital because of trying to clear snow.

Use Your Time Better

Keeping your property free of snow can almost be a full time job in certain areas.  During heavy snow falls you might have to start shovelling again as soon as you thought you were finished.  And you know if you don’t keep on top of it, the job becomes exponentially harder. Life is busy enough as it is.  Why spend all your time shoveling snow when you can get someone else to do it for you? A professional snow removal company can free up your time and allow you to get on with living.

No Need For Fancy Equipment

After particularly heavy snowfalls, probably every Canadian has fantasized about having a snowblower do the job for them.  But the machines aren’t cheap and how often would they actually get used? If you hire a snow removal company you’ll have all the advantages of snow removal equipment without the downsides such as the upfront costs, maintenance and all the time they spend in storage not being used at all.

How to Prevent and Treat Common Landscaping Plant Diseases

We spend a lot of money and time to keep our yards looking good.  This is why it’s so disappointing when our plants succumb to discolouration and disease.  However, with a little bit of education you can learn how to prevent and treat common landscaping plant diseases.  In this article we’ll go over a few of these conditions and tell you how to take care of them.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is an affliction of a plant’s leaves, stems and other parts.  It’s caused by a fungus and appears as a white powder that covers the foliage and other parts of the plant.  It’s common among rose bushes, rhododendrons, blackcurrant bushes and many other types of plants. It can cause leaves to discolour and ultimately fall off.  To prevent powdery mildew from growing in the first place it’s best to promote air circulation around the plants and ensure proper drainage of the soil. A topical fungicide can be applied if you’re dealing with non-edible plants, although there are some fungicides that are non-toxic as well.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot can also caused by fungi, but also bacteria or plant viruses.  It causes brown spots or dead patches of varying sizes on the surface of the leaves and can result in the leaves falling off completely.  Non chemical treatments include avoiding watering the entire plant by sticking to the base and keeping the soil properly fertilized. Improving air circulation and reducing excess moisture will also lower the chances of leaf spot taking hold.  Try spraying the leaves with a solution of a half teaspoon of baking soda in four litres of water. If this doesn’t work you may need to use fungicides containing sulfur or copper octonate.

Root Rot

If your plants aren’t looking healthy above ground it may actually be what’s happening below the soil surface that’s causing the problems.  If your plants are grown in clay or other poorly draining soils root rot can definitely be a problem. Root rot is also caused by fungi that grows easily in moist conditions.  Ensuring the plants get proper drainage should clear up the problem. If this is easier said than done you might need to resort to a specifically chosen fungicide.