Thursday, 26 December 2013

Outdoor holiday lighting - Christmas Light Displays

There is nothing as enjoyable as hanging up intricate Christmas lights in your yard and watching them light up the cold winter night. You can walk or drive through your neighborhood just to see what everyone else has put up for their outdoor decorations. This can give you some basic ideas on what you would like to personally do for your home. After all, Christmas comes only once a year so it will definitely be the best part of the holiday season. To give your own burst of creativity, there are some basic design ideas you can try for your outdoor holiday lighting. Browse through the list as it will jump start your imagination!

Ø  Big/Small Christmas light bulbs – If you would like to go all out and do things the big way, you can hang some jumbo light bulbs or string together small but impressive bunches of small lights. Giant bulbs stand over 16 inches high and can be used to light up driveways, walkways or lawn stakes. Small bulbs may not make much of a statement of their own. But when used in masses, they can be installed atop bedding plants in the landscape.

Ø  Angel Lights – God’s messengers are of course Angels and what better way to light up your home than installing a few Angels at strategic spots in the garden. They can also be used to illuminate Nativity scenes outdoors, which present a nice touch to the holiday spirit.

Ø  Spinning Tops – A decade or so earlier, kids used to receive spinning tops as Christmas gifts. It’s so hard to believe that everything has changed in all these years. But you can still bring back the days of old but using a lighted top as a lawn ornament. This is one way to enjoy the kid in you.

Ø  Cute Teddy Bears – Teddy bears and the holidays are like chocolates and coffee. They are used as traditional gifts for children but they truly exemplify their persona when used with Christmas light displays. You can add a family of bears like a Daddy bear, Mommy bear and Baby bear.

Ø  The Nutcracker – The Tin Soldier is another holiday gift staple like the teddy bear. You can use the Nutcracker balled characters or just the main character as a centrepiece for the yard complemented by lighting.

Ø  Gingerbread Man, Gingerbread House – The lovable gingerbread man is also a popular item all year round. Besides being a favorite holiday dessert, you can use it like a bulb ensemble for your outdoors with the addition of the gingerbread house.
Ø  Santa's Helper – The elves with their lantern and shiny outline are perfect decorative items to illuminate the way to your home on any windy, stormy night during the holiday season. So who needs Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the job?
Ø  Deck Out the Deck – A famous injunction that lights up the Christmas spirit in anyone would be "Deck the halls with boughs of holly”. This proverbially means that people need to pay attention to decorating their decks with beautiful Christmas lights. Apart from providing an accessible, sturdy base for outdoor decorations, deck light displays which features a "Happy Holidays" welcome and some flowers with intricate lights will give a whole new meaning to the season.  
o   Decorating Arches – Add some additional décor to your outdoor space if you have arches to welcome guests. You would have finished decorating the tree, rooms in the house and also the yard, but will add a wonderful final touch by lighting up the arch situated in the driveway. Wooden fences and pergolas can be brought to life by using Christmas light displays. And you can use flower garlands for vinyl fences which make it look more amendable.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Winter Garden delights

The snow, cold temperatures and gusty winter winds can put a full stop to your gardening endeavors. However the landscape unfolds a beautiful scene outdoors with a snow filled yard or garden. You can add beauty to your winter landscape with these gardening delights mentioned below.
Wonderland of Snow and Plants – Take containers and fill them with dried perennials, colorful twigs and evergreen sprigs, to create a focal point in your very own winter wonderland. The container can be filled with two thirds of sand to support the plants during winter. Collect dried branches, coneflowers and perennial stems by walking through your garden. Even evergreens like ornamental grass provide a striking centrepiece for your garden. You can plant them into your containers and the garden will be ready for the cold months. Watering is also not necessary.

Berry Beautiful – A treat for the eyes and senses can be none other than natural jewels from your garden which are of course berries of various types and colors. They are a delight to us and to the wildlife outside. Some shrubs and trees produce fruits that are consumed as soon as they ripen like sweet cherries. Other plants that produce persistent and long lasting berries include dogwood, viburnums and highbush cranberries. Berries may not be the first choice as a food source for the wildlife but when other forage is scarce, they may rely on it for survival through the winter months.

Feathered Friends – Even when the cold increases, songbirds forage around the landscape looking for food to survive. You can enjoy their antics, help them get food and make their life easier by installing a bird feeder in your landscape. For many birds that visit feeders, black oil sunflower seeds are their very best choice for winter sustenance. However make sure you avoid mixing a high percentage of oats and millets with the seeds.

Pretty Pedestals – Birdbaths are not maintained in the cold months as not many homeowners have heaters to melt the water. You can transform the look of your birdbath by creating it as a wintertime focal point in your landscape. This can be done by installing massive red ornaments and evergreen bows to make it come to life.

Evergreen Foliages of Joy – The belles of your winter landscape that can be added in your garden are trees and shrubs with evergreen foliage. Add valuable texture and color to your garden by planting evergreen ivy trees with their leathery leaves and shrubs of white pine with their soft needles.

Window into Winter – Nothing beats outdoor scenery like a pleasing winter scene outside your window. A standout in the landscape includes colorful twigs like red twig dogwood with its sparkling red bark and texture rich evergreen branches. Stop by your local florist if they are not readily available.

Standing Tall and Proud - An element of your garden that adds interest and delight to your winter landscape are tall plants like vines and perennial flowers. They may have lost their color and can no longer scramble up the garden towers but they are a source of food and shelter for the wildlife. These upright elements can be allowed to stand in the garden throughout the winter.

Let there be Light – Snow and light always makes a winning combination every time. Exterior lighting is always enjoyed during shortened winter days. Twinkling lights provide a contrasting effect by illuminating shrubs, trees, twigs and container gardens.

Watch out for Signs of Spring – After experiencing bone chilling temperatures and a sombre looking gray and brown landscape, spring is definitely a welcome sight. Stroll through your garden to watch out for signs of spring. To celebrate the arrival of a new season, you can spot growth of grape hyacinths and crocus as they poke through the snow. There are also many other signs of spring to watch out for in your landscape.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

How to Winterize Your Lawn and Garden

Preparing your lawn or garden during the beginning of fall is important as it gives time for your outdoor space to welcome the cold weather. It may be a time when the leaves change color and the air is crisp, clean and refreshing but it is the right time to restore your lawn as damage may have occurred during the summer months. The heat and harsh rays of the sun causes damage to your garden and fall is the ideal time of the year to restore your outdoor space as they tend to go dormant in winter. Below are 10 tips on winterizing your lawn or garden

1. Start early by planning in advance – The countdown begins when the lawn starts to revitalize after summer’s soaring hot temperatures have started to cool and mellow down. To make the soil absorb more nutrients and prepare for spring with all its endeavors, early winterization is crucial. Waiting till fall is over will cause all the nutrients to wash away from the soil and the lawn will also start becoming dormant for the winter.
2. Undertake a PH diagnostic – There’s nothing quite frustrating than doing all the work in your lawn with no positive end result. Before you start treating your garden with chemicals or fertilizers, make sure you check the PH levels of the soil. This will help in determining the acidity level of the soil and also help in revealing area that needs special treatment and care. Hire a professional to do the work for you or purchase a kit from your local store to do the test on your own.

3. Don’t prune – Anything done in excess will not give good results, so it is best if you avoid pruning your plants in the cold months. Giving full attention to your outdoor space during the start of fall is a great practice but contrary to popular belief, excessive pruning can be harmful to your plants. It is best to prevent the cultivation of new growth as it will get destroyed during the winter months, which in turn causes additional work and labor during spring.

4. Aerate the garden/lawn – To allow for air and water to have direct access to your plant’s roots, aerate your lawn and garden. Aerating your outdoor space brings about healthier looking plants as it opens up the soil in your lawn and garden, allowing for air and water to have firsthand access to the soil where there is proper flow of nutrients. If the lawn has received high traffic during summer, then it can get compressed. So consider aerating the garden/lawn for best results.

5. Find a good winterizer – To maintain a healthy and beautiful looking outdoor area, try acquiring good quality winterizers. It is highly unlikely that a lawn or garden will survive the cold months without a winterizer. They usually contain similar type of ingredients as lawn food. Before using it, consider the ingredients ratio compared to lawn food as there is a noticeable difference. To strengthen roots during winter, use quality winterizers that posses more potassium and phosphorous and less nitrogen levels.

6. Remove debris and rake leaves – Make it a habit to clean up fallen leaves on a regular basis. Why? Mainly because when leaves are left on the lawn or garden during winter, they can cause dead and dry spots. In addition to this task, remove dead plants and branches from the outdoor space to ensure even growth of new blossoms on the spring.

7. Keep an eye out for weeds – The one plant that has a bad reputation for birthing seeds in the fall are weeds. Pull out weeds from the outdoor space before the weather gets too. This also prevents additional work and unhealthy looking lawns and gardens.

8. Cover flower beds – Some garden plants may need to be planted in the fall before beginning your prep work for winter. To provide extra protection to chilly weather conditions, cover the garden or lawn with burlap.

9. Check working condition of all water systems – The cold weather can have a serious even damaging effect on many things and this includes your water pipes. To prevent pipes from bursting and costing you a small fortune in repairs, it’s better to take necessary steps beforehand. Shut off the water supply and allow the pipes to drain out completely so that there is no water left to freeze. Consult a professional for help and review all your water system’s manuals before winter comes.

10. Relocate small plants indoors – Garden herbs, small plants and tender bulbs cannot outlast the winter season as they will not have the strength to survive the cold weather outdoors. To keep them healthy, fresh and alive, you need to relocate them indoors and plant them in small pots for them to thrive and grow.  

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Front Yard Landscape Planting Tips

An attractive front yard is a direct reflection of the homeowner’s aesthetic sense. While visiting a place for the first time, if an unkempt front yard with thick shrubs welcomes you, then that doesn’t really project a positive image about the owner of the house. Front yard landscaping not only enhances overall appearance of the place but also adds value to your home. Many have this idea that designing front yard is all about investing money and time. Again, some have this opinion that nature is the best designer; so why not let the garden blossom in its own way! None of these notions are actually right. The fact is landscape architecture, if done properly, can help provide a wonderful background and texture based on which you can paint the remaining canvas of your home. And yes, all these can be achieved without spending a fortune. Discussed below are few helpful planting tips for the front yard.

Assess your front yard landscaping requirement and investment capacity

Are you interested in a total overhaul of the front yard or planning to do the transformation in bits and pieces? Do you want your garden to bloom throughout the year or wish to give an exclusive touch to the front yard for the festive months only? There are homeowners who prefer to complete the entire landscaping in one season while many plan to spread the job over several seasons because of investment limitations. Accordingly the plan of action should be charted out. As a homeowner, if you are not very confident about the entire project then consultation with a reputed landscape service provider is advised. This will help in a methodical planning of the entire work. 
Pick out plants matching the overall home ambiance

This is an important part. Random selection of trees, shrubs or flowers may result in a messy look and maintenance becomes tough too. With excessive planting you might end up having several small sized gardens dotting the yard! Thus in order to have a compact and organized landscape, it is very necessary to limit the planting pattern. Talk to an expert to know what kinds and how many numbers of shrubs, flowering plants and trees will best add vibrant colors to your front yard.

Preparing the soil

Now that you are ready with appropriate species of plants, be sure of the garden soil too. Soil preparation is an integral part of landscaping. By opening up the soil and adding proper nourishments, the soil is prepared such that it can support your garden for long term. Again this is a meticulous step which should be conducted under expert supervision.

Ensure your front yard garden’s proper upkeep

One mistake often committed by homeowners is that they spend all the time, energy and money for planting but tend to forget its upkeep. The end result is some overgrown bushes at one end while some dried out flower plants at the other corner! Remember your front yard landscape is precious and demands regular maintenance. So, if you are not very sure about devoting own time then engage an expert to ensure a blooming landscape.