Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Renovating Your Garden: 7 Landscape Design Secrets for You

Are you one of those people looking for ways to add value to their property and improve the aesthetics at the same time? Are you planning to renovate your garden? Here are for you seven landscape design secrets that are extremely simple and effective to implement. 

  1. Architecture: According to landscaping experts, it is important that you keep the architecture of your house in mind when choosing the plants. Especially when the fa├žade of the house is plain, you need to mask it with show-stopper plants like Culver’s root, Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, Impatiens tinctoria and others.
  2. Paving: An outside seating area comes in very handy for those who entertain guests at dinner or lunch. Recycled pavers are an effective and cheap way of creating an attractive outdoor seating area, without spending too much. The paved area requires just enough space for chairs and tables.
  3. Turf lawn: Laying a turf lawn is comparatively a low-cost affair. Couch grass rolls can be bought at a cheap price from most landscaping yards. Kids and even adults do love a small lawn area, which is definitely a good element to add to your garden. Children will enjoy rolling around there, play outdoor games, or make fun under a sprinkler.
  4. Garden hedges: Hedging your garden area is a great way of making it look bigger while softening the outdoor space. The following plants will amply suit this purpose in most Californian conditions: Manzanitas, Service Berry, Carpenteria californica, Bush anemone, Buckbrush, Island Mountain mahogany, and the like. These hedges can be bought from your local nursery or with the help of a good landscaping expert.
  5. Garden plants: Garden plants for filling up the garden beds should be chosen for great looks and low maintenance costs. The following would be ideal: Santa Barbara Daisy, Mexican feather grass, Echinocactus grusoni, Sunset Strain, Nassella tenuissima, Cape Blanco, Voodoo, Angelina and the like. Also, to enhance the looks of the plants, make sure you place them in such a way that they offer contrasting textures, foliage, flowers and colors. These small details go a long way in embellishing the overall appearance of the garden.
  6. If you intend to sell your house in the near future, then it’s best to hire a landscaping expert to take over the garden and develop it for you. The expert can add shrubs and annuals that blossom with scented flowers. These touches will help in boosting not only the aesthetic appeal of your garden but also the price of your house.
  7. Mulch: A layer of mulch makes a garden bed look tidier and more appealing. You can obtain from local nurseries a variety of mulch readily available.
And therefore, with a little effort and some creativity, you can easily add plenty of value to your property; you can enhance the aesthetics of your house without much strain on your bank account. What do you wait for? Go ahead renovating your garden!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Outdoor Seating Made Simple for You

When you think about how the different areas of your garden and seating can be used, and how they can be furnished, you will be able to create a living space that works wonders for you. Whether you’re planning to re-do the outdoor seating area or starting from scratch, the end result will be a new space – useful and inviting – that will function as an outdoor extension of the house.

Define the seating area by setting boundaries

The extent of privacy available in an outdoor seating area signals how a space can be used ultimately: keep it intimate and small for a quiet retreat, or go open and make it large for social affairs. The boundaries you set establish the framework for the seating area.

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of setting the boundaries of the seating area is by taking advantage of existing structures, like your garage or home. You can also form boundaries by using the elements and plants, such as arbors, fences, screens or trellises, already present in your garden.

Especially for small seating, make use of trellises or freestanding screens that need little room. Boundaries are important not only for defining the purpose and size of the space but also for covering unwanted views, and adding a bit of character to a space.

Choose the right flooring to suit budget and space

Once you’ve decided on the boundaries and the size of the seating area, it’s time to plan landscaping including, flooring.

When choosing materials for flooring, you find there are several options such as brick, stone, pavers, gravel and concrete. Let your budget and intended use guide you to make the right choice among the many options.

Stone is one of the best choices because it looks and feels natural and, if installed in a proper way, offers a surface that is wobble proof. However, it is often a little expensive. If you have a tight budget, concrete makes a great alternative. It adapts to irregular shapes easily, and can be used creatively.

Gravel makes the cheapest flooring option. It might not look very appealing, but if used with crisp edges and plants, it can easily appear dressed up and classy. However, you must avoid the use of gravel right outside the entry points.

Soften the hard edges

Once you have set the boundaries and laid the flooring, you may feel the need to soften the built elements and lessen the contrast between garden surroundings and hardscaping. It’s extremely important, however, for you to just soften and not completely eliminate the boundary lines and flooring; their presence makes the seating area more organized.

Use the right plants

Finally, no seating arrangement is complete without the right flora. Make sure you use the right plants to enhance the look of the garden. Fragrant plants such as magnolla, paper bush and silk-road lily can be combined with eatable plants such as basil, aloe, strawberry, and the like.

Muse over these four ideas when planning the outdoor seating of your house; following them will ensure that the entire outdoor seating process is not only easy but also fun.  It would be even better to consult an experienced landscaping professional for an excellent use of an outdoor seating area.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

9 Budget-smart Backyard Decoration Ideas for You

Revamping your landscape to beautify your backyard does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Here are nine budget-smart ideas for you to help you make your backyard more loveable.

1.Think of leftover stones for hardscaping
 
Hardscaping is one of the most expensive elements in landscaping – retaining walls, walkways, edging. However, the stone leftovers at a nursery supply store or a local landscaping may be a less expensive option. Piled together in a stack, these stones offer a beautiful element that appears to be natural. Groundcovers can be used to soften the edges of the stones.
 
2.Make use of off-the-shelf items
 
Custom elements tend to increase the budget for landscaping, but artistic recasting can offer the same result at a more affordable price. Regular blocks increase lengths of decking. The same materials can also be used for creating a coffee table, dining table, or side table.
 
3.Go in for vertical gardening
 
Blank walls and urban spaces can greatly benefit from vertical gardens. You can use them for pretty succulents or for growing vegetables. Such simple boxes made of found wood hang from hooks, and are large enough to be used as a focal point.
 
4.Use reasonably priced paving materials
 
It’s best to examine all your options when it comes to hardscaping, including reasonable gravel and crushed rock. Such options supply a more casual surface for dining areas and seating nooks. If you use conventional pavers, think of unusual placement – big stones combined with big ribbons of grass.
 
5.Create low cost nooks
 
More often than not, the best backyard ideas are also the cheapest and simplest: create separate areas or zones with a few furniture shifts in order to mark out spaces for relaxing, eating, and cooking. This does not typically involve buying any extra furniture: make use of rugs or styles of chairs and lead guests into corners.
 
6.Buy from flea markets
 
There are several useful items you will find in the flea market. For instance, simple arbors or trellises can be found in the flea market, and can be used for defining traffic flow, adding height, or indicating movement from back to front.
 
7.Add color to the backyard
 
Perennials and shrubs tend to cost more than annuals, and they are great embellishments that add impact and color to a backyard, particularly when arranged in similar looking containers. Matching containers tend to help design cohesion.
 
8.Try out DIY seating idea
 
Furniture is a costly investment, but there are other options for you; for example, do-it-yourself chairs, benches, and tables. You can make use of reasonably priced concrete blocks, covered with foam padding. This offers enough seating in a high-traffic area outside the back door of the house.
 
9.Use handmade and vintage finds
 
Fabric shades created out of sheets, yardage or other material can help to add beauty and elegance to a patio. Also, they can be utilized for shielding friends and family from intense sunrays. Rather than using expensive light fixtures, turn vintage elements into decorative pieces. For instance, you can use nonworking chandeliers with trailing vines and candles.
 
By trying out these nine ideas, you can surely take your backyard landscaping decoration to another level, that too at a fraction of the usual price. For more useful ideas, consult a professional landscaping expert.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Accents that Help Beautify Your Garden

Skip the unthoughtful store-bought accents, and give a personalized spin to your garden with these creative ornaments, containers, fountains, and more. Here is a list of some of the most creative adornments for your garden.

Hanging wooden baskets

A colorful hanging basket can catch eyes from far away. This creative accent brings a touch of greenery to your patio, front porch, or deck, straight from the garden. You can either decide to use seasonal flowers, or can plant robust plants inside these containers. Moreover, to make the baskets attention-grabbing you can get them in bright colors such as yellow, green, red or blue.

Succulents

There is something stunning about succulents. Buy them in different shapes and put them in beautiful containers. One of the things that you can use is a bird bath, which can be turned into a beautiful succulent planter. Keep it near the seating area in your garden. It will enhance the beauty of the area.

Fountains  

Incorporate the splashy sounds of nature into your garden with a simple fountain. From classic urns to simple bubbling jars, wall fountain and cupids, these accents are available in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your needs and turn your otherwise boring garden into an exotic escape. It even attracts more birds, and is extremely soothing to the ears and eyes.

Tile-topped steppingstones

Add beauty to your garden by creating a path with handmade steppingstones adorned with pieces of ceramic plates or tiles. If you’re on a budget, you can look for cracked or chipped ceramic items at neighborhood sales or flea markets. These accents can easily be made at home by breaking up flea market tiles or plates for the mosaics of multi hued steppingstones.

Herbs

Herbs are the easiest plants to grow in a garden. However, a lot of them do better in a planter or a container, as their productive nature can be controlled. You can also decide to place the planters close to your kitchen for quick access during cooking. Here is a list of the must-have herbs:

  1. Rosemary
  2. Thyme
  3. Sage
  4. Lemon Balm
  5. Parsley
  6. Cilantro
  7. Mint
  8. Chives
  9. Tarragon
  10. Oregano
  11. Basil
Custom Concrete Pots

Pots can act as unique accents that add to the beauty of your garden. You can stir up some fun by adding colorful concrete into the area. Custom garden pots are available in a variety of sizes, and can be kept in balconies, rooftops, and terraces as well. If you have a particular color theme in mind, then you can either get these pots customized from a retailer or paint them on your own.

You can turn your boring garden to a sacred haven by a touch of creativity, and using these beautiful accents in the right manner. If you you’re short of ideas to landscape the entire area, its best to get in touch with professional landscaping experts. They can do the job for you or guide you through the entire process. Some of the companies even offer maintenance services after finishing up your garden.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Planning an Outdoor Kitchen Layout: 4 Tips for You to Remember

If you love to rustle up delicious meals, eat with your family or treat your guests’ palate, you should consider setting up an outdoor kitchen. Such a kitchen would expand your living space and let you entertain friends and family without the need of booking a reservation in an upscale restaurant. Though a majority of homeowners limits their outdoor kitchens to backyard grilling and BBQs in summer, you should think of one that serves you round the year. With the right design, you can enjoy cooking outside even beyond the summer months.


If you are ready to add some fun quotient, value and versatility to your abode with an outdoor kitchen, here are four tips for you to remember:
  • Choose a suitable site: According to some landscaping experts, there is no such thing as the "right" spot for an outdoor kitchen. While some may prefer a freestanding kitchen by the pool, some others may opt for a BBQ area just outside their home’s back door. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide what would suit your needs and style the best. Usually, most homeowners prefer a kitchen near the house as it offers several benefits. Firstly, the walls and the roof of the house offer protection to the culinary station and appliances from the sun and the wind. Secondly, running utility lines from the house to the nearby outdoor kitchen is usually cost-effective. However, you can opt for far-flung locations too, especially when you are looking for a fully outfitted space with adequate storage for your kitchen essentials like mixing bowls, dishes, condiments and tools. 
  • Select the layout: Straight-line kitchens, U-shaped kitchens and kitchen islands are some of the common layouts for you to consider. Straight-line kitchens are perfect for budget-friendly, smaller spaces. Such a kitchen can accommodate a solitary cook at a time. In case you plan your straight-line kitchen against the wall of the house, you should consult a landscaping professional to select non-combustible materials for protecting the siding. U-shaped kitchens are ideal when you have a large space and want to transform your outdoor kitchen into your backyard’s ultimate focal point. Such spacious, freestanding kitchens usually have a refrigerator, grill, sink, dishwasher and a bar area. The island layout, which groups all appliances and the grill together in one central unit, is the ideal choice for creating an entertaining hub.
  • Keep an eye on the measurements: Landscaping professionals advise you to keep adequate landing and storage areas in your outdoor kitchen, which many often tend to forget. For example, you should keep landing areas of 12" and 24" on the left and right of your pizza oven or grill respectively. The sinks should have landing areas of 18" on both the right and left sides, while 12" is the ideal landing area measurement for both sides of your burner/cook top. You shouldn’t forget to ensure adequate work space and storage in your outdoor kitchen as well.
  • Stick to your budget: Starting from picking up the right appliances to creating the right ambiance with specialty lighting, chairs, tables and other decorative objects, you have outdoor kitchens with a wide variety of style and functionality. However, you should have a predetermined budget in mind to avoid extravagance. After all, your ultimate aim should be to bring your indoor comfort and safety to your outside setting. 

Armed with these tips, you may get ready to have your own outdoor kitchen this season.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Why You Should Opt for Driveway Paving: 4 Reasons

Driveway pavers are an integral part of the hardscape of your landscape architecture. If you have driven up to a home featuring a chert or gravel driveway, you must have noticed how the bumpy ride often seems like a drive through the farmyard. It can go well if you are trying to give your property a rustic, countryside look and feel. But the trouble your visitors will have driving on it and the problems you will face maintaining it aren’t worth the effort. An easier, economically feasible way would be to opt for driveway paving. If you are in a dilemma whether to use it or not, here are four reasons that will help you decide in favor of driveway paving:


Improve your property’s aesthetic appeal

You can give your property an upscale and polished look by creating a driveway that complements both your house and the landscape. In the market, you can get several pavers in a variety of materials, styles, shapes, colors and patterns, from which you can take your pick. A driveway can also increase the value of your property. It will be useful if you plan to rent out or sell your property a few years down the line.  

Add character to your yard

If you want to avoid a path that leads directly to your door, you can create a turnaround driveway with a garden in the center. You may even use other unique driveway designs to frame your home and the landscape.It will take your abode from the usual to the extraordinary level.

Reduced maintenance cost

Unlike other sediment driveway paths, paved driveways are remarkably durable, designed to shed water, last for a long time and withstand a lot of environmental abuse. Thanks to these features, you can keep your property looking great for years to come, with little maintenance of the driveway. You can get a better idea of the reduced maintenance cost of your driveway by consulting your landscape experts. They will explain the value difference a paved driveway would make to your property, drawing on their personal experiences and their past projects with other clients.

Promote green properties

When going green is the buzzword all around these days, you too can play your part in bringing down the carbon footprints by opting for permeable pavers. Though many homeowners often use concrete pavers, you should avoid them. Their impermeability obstructs rainwater from being  absorbed by the ground beneath. This in turn can cause flooding and puddling, in addition to considerable soil erosion from the runoff.

You should use permeable pavers instead, which are environmental friendly. They are designed to let the rain and other types of precipitation get into the ground directly to refill groundwater supplies and nurture plants. Some studies also indicate that permeable pavers may trap oils and solvents before they hit the soil.Thus they may preventtheir ground penetration. But concrete pavers are known to let solvents being washed off and get into the storm drain system directly.

You can improve the functionality and beauty of your property significantly with driveway paving. So, go for it now to reap rich benefits.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Perfect Foundation Planting - 4 Useful Tips for You

Plants that are closest to your property’s walls and windows are called foundation plantings. Choosing the right plants along the perimeter of your property can make a big difference in your home life. They can provide shade and direct pleasant winds into your home in summer. They can create blockage in the path of cold winds in winter and keep your home less cold.  They also play a crucial role in improving your property’s architectural lines: they coverand soften utility fixtures; they give your landscape a gorgeous look. Aren’t these enough reasons for you to go in for perfect foundation planting by making wise, informed choices? 


Here are four useful tips that would help you in this pursuit.  

Right assortment

You should select plants that demand less maintenance but enhance the aesthetics of your landscape. For example, you can select flowering and deciduous shrubs (such as the Japanese Boxwood) to add texture to your garden. Evergreens (like the Dwarf Yaupon Holly) would be a good bet for creating a cool structural background. To bring some color and variety to the entire setting, you can take your pick from perennials (Catmint or Red Fountain Grass) of different colors and heights.

Right planting space: You may often come across foundation plantings that are too sparse for a particular area. For instance, a single row of shrubs won’t give your landscape the desired effect, if it is not extended beyond the perimeter of your property. So, you should expand the size of your planter to get a denser, greener look.

Right Location: Before planting your trees and shrubs, you should have a clear idea of their maturing size. You need to identify the right location that would give each adequate space to grow. If you don’t consider these factors now, you would be oppressed later  by unwieldy trees and shrubs or overgrown foliage. They would block the view of your windows, driveway or entrance. They might even be dangerous to the residents.

Therefore, if you are selecting plants for cramped areas, it’s best to opt for compact varieties. When fully grown, they will reach just beneath the windows and won’t grow beyond. This way, you would be able to minimize maintenance of your landscape while adding to its overall appeal.

Group planting: For perfect foundation planting, choosing the right combination of plants is important. An ideal combination should have the smallest plants with limited growth at the front; the bigger plants should give them company and form the background. The smaller plants at the front are often planted close to each other to give them a compact look when they mature. The plants in the background can be placed somewhat sparsely, depending on their height and maturity length; this would  give those at the front a perfect backdrop.

The real challenge of undertaking perfect foundation planting is deciding on the right balance of plants that can withstand the varying seasonal conditions. Another factor is to get a clear idea of your landscaping design and budget. So, it would be a good idea to consult a landscaping designer to make an informed choice. After all, your landscape’s beauty and utility depend on plants and foliage in line with the tips given above.

Did you find these ideas useful? Leave a comment. Tell us what you would like to read further.
More in our next post.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Santa Clara Nativescapes - Sustainable Native Landscaping

Creating a nativescape or native landscape design refers to a plan that works in harmony with your local climate and soils. By creating a sustainable Santa Clara landscape that’s adapted to your area’s rainfall and soil patterns, you can ensure that your greens flourish with nominal watering. Such a landscape would typically create minimal or no waste and won’t need fertilizers or pesticides. However, designing, implementing and maintaining an environmentally appropriate and sustainable native landscape needs a lot of planning, time, money and effort. So, you need to do your homework well before getting started.  

Here are some factors to remember while designing your Santa Clara nativescapes.


Begin with Healthy Soil

Healthy soil supports healthy plants. When your plants are robust, they are capable of resisting diseases, pests, drought and other stresses. Therefore, your first step is to create a healthy soil bed by applying mulch and compost and letting the soil organisms thrive. By breaking down the mulch, compost and plant clippings into vital nutrients, the soil organisms would ensure adequate nourishment of your plants and shrubs, once they are planted. Plants nourished this natural way would stay healthy and pest-resistant for a long time to come.

Plant the right plants

A crucial factor for planning a nativescape is selecting the right plants and the right location for them. You need to choose the plants that fit your landscape and then place them at the right position so that they get the right soil, adequate sunlight and space to grow and thrive in your yard. For example, if your landscape is flat and sunny with heavy or deep soil, you can opt for bunchgrasses, wildflowers and perennial plants such as Purple Needlegrass, Yarrow and Idaho Fescue respectively. 

In case you have a lawn with shade created by mature trees or a tall building, try using plants from the Oak Woodland community such as Coffeeberry, Hummingbird Sage and Pink-Flowering Current.

Water-wise landscaping

To conserve water, you should ideally group plants with similar watering needs. This way, you can provide them with the right amount of water. Also, use smart irrigation hardware such as flow sensors, landscape meters and hydrometers, which will help you water your plants efficiently apart from enjoying irrigation hardware rebates. 

Natural pest control

You can take several steps for natural weed and pest control. For example, planting native plants in a bunch that attract beneficial insects or make weed growth difficult will help combat invasion by weeds and pests. Again, you can use vinegars and herbicidal soaps, in addition to manually smothering weeds or removing them with tools, rather than using harmful chemicals and pesticides. 

Aren’t Santa Clara nativescapes expensive?

No, they aren’t. Though the installation costs of sustainable landscapes are similar to that of their conventional counterparts, they are less costly and easier to maintain in the long run. In case you have some budgetary constraints, you can always opt for installing the nativescape in phases rather than doing it for your entire yard at one go. 

You can do the job either on your own or hire landscaping services for fast, efficient and hassle-free results.  

If you are still debating whether you need a Santa Clara nativescape or not, we have just one thing to say: Nature has thrived with sustainable landscaping and so can you!

Monday, 20 April 2015

5 steps to bring down your Landscape water usage

Despite gardens and a well planned landscape adding a green cover to the home, many people shy away from having them, worried by the excessive water consumption required to maintain them. To bring down the increased usage of water for landscaping, especially during the recent drought situation that’s worsening, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has put to vote a proposal for 30% reduction in water usage for landscaping and gardening. In case it gets approved, it will surely lead to a tough situation, especially for those Santa Clara residents who are already having a tough time conserving water. According to this proposal, outdoor watering will be limited to just two days a week. Although there are some lawns which, according to the landscapers, will be able to survive through this situation, it's advisable to invest in drought resistant plants from now on to maintain the green cover. This will ensure that even if the reduced water usage policy comes into effect, landscape owners would be able to maintain their lawns without much difficulty. 


One of the most important concerns for many people right now is how they can reduce their landscape water usage. Here are five steps following which you will be able to do:-

  1. Use water efficiently – Even if you stick to drought resistant plants, you will need at least some amount of water to keep the landscape alive. Consider opting for drip irrigation systems that help you save water by applying it directly to the plants’ root zone. In case you are watering the plants manually, you should do it in the early morning hours.
  2. Use less number of plants – Since you have to cut the water usage, reducing plant density will obviously help. If your property is over planted, take the necessary steps immediately to do away with a few varieties (especially, the water guzzling ones) to reduce water usage. At times, mature plants may occupy a lot of space and even restrict the irrigation heads, thus causing water runoff and wastage. In this case too, you should remove some of these plants to make a significant difference to your water usage. 
  3. Consider using mulches – Mulches help reduce water evaporation and improve water infiltration, which in turn leads to water conservation. Consider placing mulches over the soil as it will help reduce weed seed germination by as much as 90%. Make sure you apply a 2-inch thick layer of mulch to get the desired results.
  4. Benefit from region-specific rebates – A Landscape Conversion Rebate is offered by Santa Clara Valley Water District for up to $2.00/square foot of converted high water using landscape to one with low water usage.  By using high efficiency irrigation equipment including Smart Weather based controllers and high efficiency sprinkler nozzles, along with qualifying irrigation hardware for your landscape situated within Santa Clara County, you can receive this and other applicable irrigation rebates.
  5. Ask for professional help – In case you find sticking to the reduced water usage policy an uphill task, consider contacting a commercial landscaping company. The professionals on board would have considerable knowledge of water management and help you maintain your landscape with less water.
The sooner you begin adopting these steps, the easier it will be to bring down your landscape water usage. So, start today to reduce your landscape’s water requirement.