How to Prepare Your Home for Spring Landscaping

As the winter carries on, most of us who are into gardening start to feel that yearning for being out in the yard and working the soil.  Even if it’s still too cold to get outside, there are still things you can do that will help you once spring arrives. In this article we’ll go over how to prepare your home for spring landscaping.

Seek Inspiration

Get some ideas of what you can do with your space by seeing what others are doing.  This may be as simple as looking through some magazines or watching some gardening shows on TV.  Visit your local gardening centre for ideas or consider taking in a gardening trade show. If you like to travel, keep an eye on how people organize their yards in different locales.

Understand Your Local Climate And Microclimate

Understanding how your local climate works will go a long way towards having a successful season.  There’s nothing worse than putting your plants out too early and having them killed off by a late frost.  Similarly you should also understand the microclimate of your own yard. Knowing which parts will get the most sun or shade, what parts are more susceptible to pooling water and where the hot spots in your garden are will allow you place your plants strategically.

Understand Your Adversaries

Knowing what kind of insects, animals and other pests you’ll be dealing with throughout the growing season can give you an advantage if you’re prepared for them.  You might be able to ward them off by planting certain types of plants together. You might be better off protecting certain plants with physical barriers such as burlap or chicken wire.  Knowing that certain species of birds pass through the area or you always deal with slugs at a specific time of year can influence your plantings and your protective efforts.

Create A Scheduled Map

Plotting out what you’re going to plant where and when will give you an overview of your entire growing season.  This will allow you to choose the right plants for the right locations at the right time of year. Not only will a scheduled map increase the likelihood of a full and lush garden throughout the growing season, you’ll also have fewer growing failures due to poor planning.  

 

What Makes Good Quality Sod?

For those who are looking to install a new lawn, they may have a tough time figuring out which sod is best for the job.  It’s not true that all sod is the same – there are certain things you should look for when choosing a sod to buy.  In this article we’ll try to answer the question of “What makes a good quality sod?”

The Grass

You want to buy sod where the grass has actually reached maturity.  Buying sod with grass that’s too young will result in a lawn that struggles to take root because it’s still too weak to recover from the shock of being harvested.  To tell if the grass has reached maturity before it was harvested, look for a strongly tangled web of roots on the underside.  You’ll also want the grass blades to be densely packed, about two inches tall and a consistent shade of deep green.  Beware of discoloured and thinly growing grass blades with undeveloped root systems.

The Soil

To be able to properly take root, a patch of sod needs the right type, consistency and depth of soil.  You’re looking for soil that’s rich and moist.  If it’s brittle and cracked it may have been harvested too long ago and will have a hard time transferring nutrients to the grass.  You also don’t want it too compacted as it will be tough for the roots to grow into the ground below.  The soil layer should be around one inch thick – not much more or much less than that. 

The Harvest Time

The closer to the harvest time that you obtain your sod, the more likely it’ll root successfully.  Ideally you’d get your sod within eight hours of it being harvested.  Any longer than that and it starts to dry out.  You want the roots and soil to still be moist when you take possession of it.  Beyond checking the soil moisture you can also look at the colour of the grass.  Look for a consistent deep green colour.  Also place your hand firmly on the grass blades.  They should be cool to the touch.  Warm or hot grass means that it’s probably been sitting in the sun too long and will have started breaking down.

4 Landscaping Ideas to Boost Curb Appeal

If you’re looking to make your house look better without undergoing a complete renovation, you can use a lot of simple tricks to freshen things up and make your house look better.  Not only will this create an overall better first impression of your house, a few minor landscaping maneuvers can even add to the value of your property. In this article we’ll go over four landscaping ideas to boost curb appeal.

Power Wash Your Driveway And Sidewalks

Because of the very nature of their use, your driveway and sidewalks will eventually accumulate dirt and stains.  You may not even find it noticeable as it occurs, but if you give these surfaces a power wash, you’ll notice the huge difference it makes.  You could rent machinery to get this done, but you could also simply invest in some outdoor cleaners and use your garden hose and a push broom to freshen things up.  

Manicure Your Lawn

Most people mow their lawns regularly and a freshly mown lawn makes the entire property look neater and tidier.  But if your lawn isn’t as green as it could get, even a fresh trim may not provide the results you hoped for. You may want to look into fertilizing brown spots or areas that aren’t growing properly.  It may create the need to mow the lawn even more often, but you’ll end up with a uniform green that’s pleasing to the eye.

Spruce Up Your Front Door

If your front door is looking tired it can have a knock-on effect over your whole house.  Consider adding a fresh coat of paint to your door to change the entire appearance of your property.  Using a colour on your door that contrasts with the rest of your house can add a visual appeal that’s hard to achieve in any other way.

Trim Your Trees

Overgrown trees and shrubs can make your property look messy.  Excess foliage can also hide aspects of your house that would normally be attractive to the eye.  Making sure your pathways and front door are easily accessible not only makes walking around easier, it’ll also make the entire house look better.

6 Benefits of Using Stonework in Landscaping

Stonework has been used in landscaping since time immemorial.  It was probably one of the first landscaping materials ever used by humans even if they didn’t realize that they were actually landscaping at the time.  Because the benefits are numerous, stonework is still one of the most popular landscaping materials available in the modern era.  In this article we’ll go over six benefits of using stonework in landscaping.

Versatility

Stonework is available in all sorts of colours, textures and styles.  It can be shaped to meet your needs or you can simply keep looking until you find something natural that works for your situation.   Stonework can be used in a wide variety of situations and is really only limited by your imagination.

Good Looks

Stonework has a natural rugged good look that isn’t found in a lot of manmade materials.  If you’re looking for curb appeal, stonework can be the focal point that works as a centrepiece while complementing its surroundings.  Give your property an added gleam by incorporating stonework into the scheme.

Low Maintenance

Stonework is easy to clean and maintain.  You won’t be constantly patching up cracks or worrying about the harsh effects of a sunny summer.  Because it’s naturally weather resistant you won’t run into many of the problems you find with other landscaping materials.

Affordability

Because stonework is so longlasting you won’t have to replace or repair it for years to come.  In the end, even if the initial costs seem somewhat high, you’ll end up playing much less in the long run. 

Stability

Stonework is much more stable than other solid landscaping materials such as concrete or asphalt.  Both concrete and asphalt are prone to expanding and contracting in extreme weather which will ultimately lead to cracking.  Although stonework isn’t completely unsusceptible to such movement, it is much more stable than the materials that need time to set.

Durability

You’re not going to find a much more durable material than stone.  Stonework can withstand all types of weather conditions and all types of uses.  Whether you live in an area of extreme weather changes or park heavy weights on top of your stonework you can be assured it’ll last for a long time.

What Irrigation System Works Best for Your Landscaping

Plants, grasses and shrubs are important parts of any landscaped area.  But you can’t take them for granted. You’ll need to make sure they have access to enough water to keep growing healthily and happily.  Irrigation systems are designed to keep you plants watered while saving you time, water and physical effort. To figure out what irrigation system works best for your landscaping, this article will describe four types of irrigation techniques.

Rotary Sprinklers

Asd their name suggests, rotary sprinklers work in a circular fashion by spraying water as they spin around.  If you have a decent amount of water pressure, rotary sprinklers can water quite large areas and work well for large lawns or swathes of turf. Some types of rotary sprinklers are easily moved around to different areas, whereas others are stationary.  Movable systems may require more maintenance than stationary systems.

Spray Irrigation

Spray irrigation systems are also good for covering large areas that need to be watered.  Spray irrigation systems are typically composed of sprinkler heads attached to a moveable framework that is attached to the main water source.  Spray irrigation systems can depend on the sprinkler heads for a certain amount of water coverage, but the fact that they move while still being attached to the water source gives this type of system its extended range.

Flood Systems

Flood systems typically dribble or bubble the water onto the ground surface rather than being sprayed or sprinkled.  This allows better saturation of the ground and decreases the evaporation associated with sprayers and sprinklers. Flood systems don’t work that well in hilly or graded areas, so having a flat surface is a prerequisite to this type of watering system.

Micro Irrigation

Micro irrigation systems are typically the most efficient way to water an area.  They are normally composed of a tube that carries the water to drippers placed along its length.  They are used to directly water plant roots at a consistent rate. Micro irrigation systems can also be attached to timers so you don’t need to continually turn the system on and off.

Top New Year’s Resolutions for Your Landscaping

The end of the year is nigh and that means people are finishing off their holiday shopping lists,  creating their Top 10 Of The Year lists and coming up with ideas for their New Year’s resolutions. And while most of these lists concentrate on the human aspects of the end of year, since we’re continually wrapped up in landscaping issues, we’ve come up with our own list: The top New Year’s resolutions for your landscaping.  Read this list over and figure out which of these tips might work for you.

Create A To Do List

The new year is a perfect time to create a landscaping to do list for the upcoming year.  You probably don’t have a lot growing right now and it’ll be too cold to get out there and work. So you might as well use your free time to come up with a list of the projects you’d really like to get done this year.  Once you have that list it’ll be a lot easier to create a schedule to ensure that everything is done at the appropriate time.

Spend More Time Enjoying Your Yard

Yards take a lot of work and a lot of time.  So much so, that many people never make the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour.  And sure, for many people, working on their yards is a form of enjoyment.  But give yourself a break this year and make sure you put down your tools for awhile and simply reflect upon all the work you’ve done.  You deserve it!

Try Composting

Everyone creates food waste.  Most everyone creates yard waste as well.  Rather than considering this material as waste, repurpose it into something useful by starting a compost pile.  You’ll need to learn a few basics beforehand, but once you start turning your waste into useful garden supplements it’ll become as automatic as throwing out the trash.

Conserve Water

Adequate fresh water is purported to become one of the biggest issues humankind will face in the coming years.  Doing your part to conserve this precious resource is where this crusade must begin. There are many ways to go about doing this, so you’ll have to consider your priorities.  You might think about swapping your lawn for something with lower water needs. Or it could be as simple as placing a rain barrel under your downspouts and using it on your plants.  Even smallest of efforts will make a difference.

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.