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.

Five Advantages of Sod Replacement

sodMany North Americans take great pride in their expanses of green lawn.  However, what happens when you’re starting anew and have no lawn to begin with?  You can either grow a lawn from scratch using seed or you can install sod – which are precut sections of dirt that already have grass growing on them.  This article will go over five advantages of using sod when starting a new lawn.

Instant Results

Because the grass is already healthily growing on strips of sod, once they’re installed you’ll have what appears to be a fully functioning lawn.  You’ll need to be careful about walking on the lawn until the sod digs its roots into the soil, but as opposed to growing from seed, you won’t be staring at a bald patch of dirt for months before a lawn finally begins to appear.

Cost

The fact is that installing a sod lawn costs less than trying to grow from seed.  The initial costs may seem like sod costs more, but the nurturing needed to grow a lawn from seed will ultimately increase its prices.  The time and money spent weeding, watering, fertilizing and reseeding a lawn grown from seed will be much greater than the installation costs of sod.

Grass Health

When installing a sod lawn, you’ll know that the grass has been grown professional and under optimal conditions.  Sod will be grown in top quality soil while being carefully watered and fertilized to create a healthy foundation for your lawn.  Compared to the variable conditions of the dirt patch surrounding your house, the controlled conditions of a sod farm will produce higher quality grass almost every time.

No Need To Reseed

Sod will have already been grown to an optimal density before it gets laid out around your yard.  As opposed to growing from seed, this means you won’t need to reseed the bald patches every year until you finally get a decent looking lawn.  Not only that, but a sod lawn will start off weed free. In the case of a lawn grown from seed you’ll need to spend significant time and energy making sure the weeds don’t outcompete your grass.

Erosion Prevention

While waiting for your lawn to grow from seed, there’s always the possibility that a rainstorm could strip your yard of its valuable topsoil.  This could be devastating to your lawn growing hopes. Installing a sod lawn immediately protects the topsoil and ensures it doesn’t get washed away in the rain.

4 Eco-Friendly Landscaping Trends

4 eco-friendly landscaping trendsGardening and being eco-friendly should go hand in hand. That’s why eco-friendly landscaping trends are popping up more and more. Read on to see how you can make your garden a better place for the environment.

Use native plants

There are so many different types of plants and flowers that choosing the right ones can be overwhelming. We often go with flowers that we think look pretty, rather than ones that will thrive in a specific climate. Too often a flower is planted only to then realize that it needs quite a bit of water to survive.

To combat this, look for plants that are native to your area. This is especially important if you live in a drier climate. These plants will be used to the amount of natural rain water and therefore won’t need as much additional watering as other species.

To go one step further, look for plants that are drought-resistant. Plants like succulents need far less water than other species. As a result, you can conserve water and still have a nice-looking garden.

Collect Water

Further on the topic of water, it’s always best to try to catch water than simply turn on the hose. You can invest in special rain catchers that are basically large buckets with a wide lip that catches the most amount of rain possible. If you don’t want to purchase these, regular buckets will suffice. Simply remember to put out buckets when it rains. Then, use that water for your garden to capitalize on one of the most efficient landscaping trends.

Another way to reuse water is from inside the house. Plants are fine if there is a bit of soap in the water. In fact, this can actually help with small bug infestations. Before you drain the sink or bathtub, collect that water to use in the garden.

Be friendly to bees

If you’ve followed the news, you’ll be aware that there is a large threat to bees. What exactly is causing it still remains unknown, though many are pointing the blame at pesticides. You can do your part by both not using pesticides and also providing a nurturing place for bees to thrive. Plant bright-colored flowers that will attract bees.

You can go a step further and even purchase your own bee home or even a large-scale bee hive. Bees have an unfair reputation of harming people. But the truth is, as long as they are left alone, they will leave you alone. Be friendly to bees; after all, if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have any yummy produce.

Upcycle

While plants, trees, and shrubs make up a large part of any garden, it’s the little touches that make it truly personal. Things like birdfeeders or signs are cute additions to any garden. When finding these items, try to upcycle. That is, take older items and repurpose them. Build a birdhouse out of found wood pieces. Find used plant pots and give them a good cleaning. Instead of buying new, get used and make it your own to be a part of all the landscaping trends.