Top Money Saving Landscaping Tips

When some people think of landscaping they might be thinking of large scale operations that involve heavy machinery, tonnes of soil and thousands of dollars worth of plants and other materials.  But the fact is that landscaping doesn’t need to cost a whole lot of money to be effective. There are some simple tricks of the trade that offer big results for little money. In this article we’ll go over some top money saving landscaping tips.

Declutter

Decluttering isn’t necessarily limited to hoarders, obsessive collectors, attics and garages.  Decluttering your backyard can be a great way to improve its appearance without costing you any money whatsoever.  Take a walk around your yard and gather up any unnecessary equipment, dead foliage and worn out looking decorative pieces.  This quick and simple process can give your yard a whole new look without a whole lot of effort or the expenditure of a whole lot of hard earned dollars.  

Add Fencing

Although most fences are used to delineate your property from the surrounding areas, you can also use fencing within your yard as an attractive method of sectioning.  You obviously won’t want to be installing a five foot fence down the centre of your lawn, but adding small border fences to the garden, around flower beds and along any pathways is a cheap and easy way to create a sense of order while drawing the eye to the most attractive areas of your lawn.  

Add Lighting

Adding some simple lighting to your backyard will create a sense of ambience once the sun goes down.  You don’t necessarily need to put on your electrician’s work belt to install these elements either. There are plenty of inexpensive solar powered lanterns on the market that spend their days charging in the sunlight and their nights illuminating the surroundings.  

Create Pathways

Pathways are a good way to draw the eye to the more attractive parts of your yard.  They can also be very practical by giving you to access your flower beds and vegetables and allowing you to weed and tend to the soil without worrying about stepping on delicate plants.  The materials you choose to use to create the pathways will add to the aesthetics as well.

Top Low Maintenance Landscape Plants

Although many people find gardening a relaxing and meditative work, you also want to have some time to spend simply enjoying the fruits of your labour.  You don’t want to have to spend the entire season tending to your plants.  For this reason low maintenance plants are a great ally for giving you some spare time.  In this article we’ll go over some top low maintenance landscape plants that will almost take care of themselves.

Peonies

Peonies are perennials that exhibit large, brightly coloured flowers without requiring much work.  You can plant either in the spring or the fall in well-draining soil and let them do their magic.  They can withstand full sun, but also do well in morning sun and shadier afternoons.  When they die off come fall, simply remove the existing plant material and compost it for later use.  A bit of fertilizer and a yearly top dressing of compost is all that you really need.

Tulips

Tulips are another flowering perennial that once planted can give you years of enjoyment.  Plant tulip bulbs in the fall before the ground freezes.  You can use different varieties with different flowering cycles to enjoy their blooms throughout the spring.  You’ll only need to water them if you get unusually dry conditions.  Tulips do not like to be overwatered.  Once the petals have fallen off the flowers, remove the stems, but leave the leaves.  Add some compost to prepare them for the following year.

Barberry

Barberry is a thorny, deciduous shrub that can withstand drought.  You can get some fantastic colours out of the leaves as the weather changes.  When planted in sunny or partially sunny conditions you’ll get compact and dense growth and great colouring.  You’ll only need to fertilize in the spring and surround with mulch in the fall.

Ornamental Fescue

Fescue is a nice looking, flowering grass that works well at preventing erosion.  It’s a perennial that thrives in full sun and only needs watering in extreme heat.  You probably won’t need to fertilize, although mulching in the fall is recommended.  This clump growing grass is both hardy and attractive.

What Temperature Can Sod Be Laid?

If you’re looking to turn a patch of bare dirt into a lush green lawn, you can throw down some grass seed and wait for it to take hold.  Unfortunately it can take a couple of months before you have a fully developed lawn. If you don’t have that kind of timeline to work with, you might want to consider laying sod instead.  Sod will offer you a much quicker road to a full lawn, but you’ll need to take some precautions during installation. One of the most important questions that we’re often asked is “What temperature can sod be laid?”

Ideal Sod Laying Temperature

If it’s too hot or too cold you can have a hard time getting sod to take root.  The ideal temperature range for laying sod is between 12 and 18 degrees Celsius.  You don’t want it much colder or hotter than that. At the colder end of the scale you might still get an overnight frost which could kill off the root system.  If the ground freezes the roots won’t be able to completely establish themselves. At the higher end of the temperature spectrum the roots can dry out and die. If you can install sod in the spring or fall you’ll have a much greater chance of success.

Preparing The Soil

Just throwing some sod on a patch of dirt doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up with a lush lawn.  Preparing the soil for the sod is a necessary part of the process. Make sure to weed the area and get rid of as many rocks as possible.  Add a good layer of compost to help the sod root system get a good start. Add any soil amendments that are needed, mix it in and level the ground afterwards.  

Moisture Levels

Sod root systems quickly dry out and need to be protected from this scenario.  If you can lay the sod on a cool, rainy day you’ll be much better off than with a hot sunny one.  Give the soil a good soaking before installation and water again once the sod is laid down. Keep an eye on moisture levels for the next couple of weeks, especially if it’s hot and sunny.

 

How to Use Sod to Repair Your Lawn

artificial turf When it comes to bald patches in your lawn, not everyone has the patience to sow fresh grass seed and maintain it to the point that it looks like the rest of the grass.  It could take the entire season for the process to be completed – if it’s successful at all! An alternative to the slow growing method is to learn how to use sod to repair your lawn.  In this article we’ll go over the main tasks that will allow you to have an instantly better looking lawn.

Prep The Soil

First step to installing a patch of sod is to prepare the area where it’s going to be placed.  You’ll need to smooth the soil out and ensure that the sod roots will have maximum contact with the ground.  You might also consider testing the soil to make sure the right nutrient balance already exists in the soil. If the grass has already died in that spot once, it may be time to make some amendments.  You’ll also need to make sure the soil is levelled properly so that the sod patches lay level with the surrounding grass. Failure to do so will cause you problems when it comes time to mow the lawn.

Lay The Sod

You’ll want to lay the sod as soon as possible after receiving its delivery.  The longer that sod is left out, the more likely that it will become dry and the root system will have a tough time gaining a foothold.  If it’s possible to schedule the delivery for a day that’s not too hot and sunny your chances of it quickly taking root will be increased.  You’ll want the edges of the sod patch to fit into the surrounding grass as tightly as possible. If there are any spaces, they will promote drying around the edges and the sod patch will have a tendency to shrink.  Get a tight fit for the best results.

Maintain The Installation

Give the sod patch a good watering and prevent people from walking on it until you’re sure it’s taken root.  Keep an eye on the installation to ensure it’s kept watered and properly fertilized. Be careful when mowing the newly installed patch to make sure you don’t end up cutting the grass blades too short.

4 Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

landscaping mistakes to avoid In landscaping, just as in fashion, there are always trends and fads that come and go with the seasons.  Along with all the dos that are associated with a trend, there are a similar number of don’ts that are looked down upon by those who stay up to date with the current movements.  In this article we’ll go over four landscaping mistakes to avoid in today’s landscaping environment.

 

Heavy Chemical Use

The environment and our abuse of it are big news these days.  And using an unnecessary amount of chemicals as pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers is definitely frowned upon in the current landscaping world.  Organic and natural are big buzz words in several aspects of our lives and using a lot of chemicals is an anathema to good landscaping practices.  Finding other ways to deal with weeds, insects and slow growing plants is currently considered good landscaping.

 

Introducing Invasive Species

Bringing in foreign plants that reproduce expeditiously while rapidly take over the native species is a landscaping mistake that can actually result in a fine.  Contrary to popular belief, invasive species are not necessarily weeds, nor do they have to look ugly.  Some of the most successful invasive plants only got their start because of their beautiful flowers or interesting foliage.  And what might be considered invasive in a particular region may not be very successful at all in a different climate.  Make sure you know what you’re planting.

 

Depending On Too Much Plastic

Along with chemicals, plastics are another former miracle product that has been found to cause bigger problems over the long term.  And while many of the plastics that are used in the garden and yard may not end up in the water supply, they’ve become considered somewhat tacky.  Small plastic fences, plastic edging and even plastic watering cans aren’t looked upon with the same functional/fashionable eye that they used to be.  If you can easily substitute a more natural material for a plastic, why not try it?

 

Kitschy Design

Shaping your hedges into elephants or a popular cartoon character isn’t considered to be clever and skillful these days.  Trimming your hedges is still necessary, but keeping them looking somewhat natural will gain you more points in the gardening community.  Try and keep things looking natural to stay on point.

When is the Best Time to Lay Sod?

Compared to sowing seed, sod is a great way to end up with an instant patch of green grass.  That said there are some things that you’ll need to keep in mind when it comes to successfully laying down some sod.  It can take up to two years for sod to fully take root, so knowing the answers to questions such as “When is the best time to lay sod?” or “How do I prepare my dirt patch for sod installation?” will help ensure the success of your sod laying attempt.  We’ve come up with a few pointers to get you started.

Time Of Year

The best times of year to lay down sod are spring and fall when the temperatures are still cool and there’s a decent chance of rain.  This will allow the sod to root more easily without having to worry about it freezing, scorching or drying out too much.  That said, it’s still possible to lay sod in any season, but you’ll need to take extra care in the summer or be patient if you’re laying it down just before snow falls.

Prepwork

Sod won’t just grow anywhere you throw it down.  You’ll need to ensure the ground is levelled to avoid water pooling.  You’ll need to remove debris such as rocks and sticks and make sure the soil is as weed free as possible.  If your soil is unusually compressed you’ll want to work it over to allow for better aeration.  It’s also a good idea to do some soil nutrient tests to see if you’ll need to fertilize before installation.  It’s much easier to do this on bare soil than it is to try it once the sod is laid.

Delivery And Installation

Because sod is harvested as close to the delivery time as possible, you should be ready to lay it down as soon as you get it.  You don’t want to wait for more than 72 hours after it’s been harvested or you may find yourself laying down dead grass that never takes root.  The sod should arrive feeling cool to the touch and the grass should be dark green.  If at all possible, try and time your delivery to coincide with an overcast and cool day.  If it’s a hot day, spray some water onto the soil before laying down the sod.  Once laid, give it a good watering, but don’t drench it.  You’ll need to give it light waterings twice a day for at least two weeks after installation.

 

4 Easy Spring Landscaping Tips

With the changing of the seasons comes a new lease on life for your yard.  Once the snow has melted and night time frosts are a thing of the past, it’s time to get your property prepared for the warm weather.  In this article we’ve come up with four easy spring landscaping tips to make sure everything is ready for the summer.

Inspect Your Trees

Trees can incur a lot of damage over the winter.  Heavy snowfalls can break branches, cold weather can cause die offs and a lack of moisture can contribute to brittleness.  Visually inspect your trees for dead or broken branches and signs of rot. Removing any sickly limbs or dying trees before they come tumbling down by themselves can save you a lot of trouble.  If you’re unsure, speak to an arborist to get a professional opinion.

Condition Your Lawn

If your lawn has spent the whole winter covered in snow you’ll need to be on the lookout for molds and mildew growth.  The easy way to rectify this is to give it a good raking to allow it to dry out. If the lawn has become compacted due to snow or heavy footfall, use an aeration tool to allow water, nutrients and air to reach the root system.  If there’s any bare spots, now’s the time to sow some grass seed. Consider a light fertilizer to give it a boost. If your lawn is dry and no rain is forthcoming, ensure it gets about an inch of water per week.

Remulch

If you properly prepared your yard for the winter you’d have laid mulch over the flower beds and around the bases of any small trees and shrubs.  Ensuring the mulch is still in place will not only help the soil retain moisture, it also gives your yard a neat looking appearance. Rake any scattered mulch back into place and add more where necessary.

Get Ready To Plant

Spring is time to get the new plants in.  Ideally you’ve spent the winter months creating a planting schedule that you can now put into action.  Some plants and bulbs can be sown while there are still frosty nights whereas others will need to wait until it’s warm enough.  Keep a close eye on the temperatures and frost watches to get an idea of what should be planted and when.

How to Treat Snow Mold on Your Grass

snow mold Snow mold occurs when your lawn receives a heavy snowfall before the ground has had a chance to freeze.  This allows moisture to get trapped and provides the ideal environment for snow mold to grow. Of the two types of snow mold, pink and gray, pink is the more damaging and can kill the grass roots as well as its crown where the roots and shoots meet.  Gray mold, on the other hand, typically only damages the blades of the grass. In this article we’ll go over various ways of how to treat snow mold on your grass.

 

Treating Existing Snow Mold

 

If spring has sprung and you’ve found circular patches of snow mold on your grass, it’s obviously too late to employ preventative measures.  The best thing you can do is allow the area to dry out thoroughly. This can be done by removing any layers of ground cover such as decaying leaves or other debris.  Give the area a good raking to unsettle the mold and allow the area to dry as much as possible.

 

Preventing Snow Mold

 

Tackling snow mold is best done by taking preventative measures.  You can do this by making sure to mow your lawn before the first snow flies.  Trimming the length to about an inch in height will ensure the grass blades won’t get crushed by a snowfall and encourage moisture and snow mold growth.  

 

If you’re regularly finding snow mold each spring, you might consider applying a coating of fungicide in the fall to help prevent mold growth over the winter months.  You should also be careful about applying too much nitrogenous fertilizer as this will only help the mold to take root.

 

When the snow does fall, especially if it’s an early snowfall without much cold weather beforehand, don’t let it build up on your lawn.  When you’re shoveling snow off your sidewalks and driveway, try to avoid piling snow on to problem areas of your lawn. Once spring comes, consider spreading the snow around on your lawn to allow it to melt and soak away or evaporate quickly.

 

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.