Monday, 26 December 2016

Harvesting Rainwater for your Gardens and Yards

We have all heard about the prolonged drought in California. While some places experience low stream flows, others suffer seasonal dryness.

Even if you live in a state that is safe from elevated drought levels, your city or state may require you to restrict use of water as a precautionary measure. One major method of preservation of natural resources is rainwater harvesting.

Benefits rainwater harvesting

There is no wealth to match the bounty of the rain god. After an inch of rainfall, you gain almost 900 gallons of water from your barn or house if the structure is 30 x 50 feet.

Rainwater is healthier as it has no trace of any of the chemicals that you normally find in tap water. You can collect it very easily and use it to water your indoor plants, and garden, and do anything else that is beyond the essential needs.

One of the simplest ways to harvest rainwater is to install a water diverter on the current downspout of the gutters, and keep there a container for water storage beneath the downspout. You can easily do this for your house.

Different ways of rainwater harvesting

Surface runoff harvesting

Local authorities can construct a well-planned network to save every drop of runoff water and utilize it for recharging aquifers for the entire city.

Rooftop harvesting

This is a system of saving rainwater from where it falls first on a city: the roof is the catchment area here. The water thus collected can either be stored in a tank or sent to an artificial recharge system. The method is a lot less expensive and extremely effective; if implemented properly it helps augmenting the ground water level.

Rainwater collected from the rooftop should be directed down via water pipes or drains to the harvesting/storage system. The pipes must be UV-resistant. Water from roofs can also be channelized through down take or gutter pipes. The mouth of every drain on the terrace should have wire mesh to filter floating material.

First flush is an instrument that serves to get rid of the water collected during the first shower. It is necessary to do this in order to avoid any form of contamination of rechargeable/storable water due to possible atmospheric contaminants.

This helps as well to clean silt and other forms of dirty material deposited on the roof over a period. Provisions for a first flush rain separator must be made at the mouth of every drainpipe.

Harvesting through percolation tanks

Percolation tanks are surface water bodies created artificially, immersing a land area with acceptable permeability; this provision enables sufficient percolation for recharging the ground water. Such tanks are created in big campuses where plenty of land is available and the geography is suitable.

Most of us take water for granted and overuse it without any thought of a terrible water crisis that is slowly building up. A day might come sooner than later when life on earth may face a serious threat in the form of unprecedented water scarcity.

Rainwater harvesting is one of the most cost-effective and necessary steps to ward of this situation, and try to maintain water availability at normal levels.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Killing Weeds in your Garden : 11 Natural Ways

Weeds are inevitable nuisance almost in every garden. They play havoc with your plants starving them of the nutrients and water that you supply. Weed killing chemicals are harsh and expensive; there are, however, eleven natural ways listed below through which you can effectively get rid of the weeds – saving thus your time and money!

1. Starve them of sunlight

Plants require sunlight to produce their own food and this process is known as photosynthesis. You can get rid of weeds in just a matter of a few days by covering them with newspapers and literally starving them of the essential sunlight.

2. Use boiling water

Boiling water tends to kill weeds by burning them. Use the water leftover from cooking to get rid of all the garden weeds.

3. Use alcohol

Spraying weeds with 4 cups of water mixed with 5 tablespoons of alcohol will poison to death the weeds. However, take care not to spray the mixture on other plants.

4. Salt

The same salt used on sidewalks and driveways during the winters can also help kill weeds. However, carry out the exercise with caution since it will annihilate as well anything else around exposed. Sprinkle carefully salt into gaps that have no other plant in them.

5. Baking soda

In case you have crevices that you do not wish to fill, but have weeds you wish to get rid of, you can make use of baking soda. Apply baking soda the same way. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the ingredient on wet weeds and make sure you cover the entire plant that you grow.

6. Vinegar

Mix vinegar and water in equal proportions and spray the mixture on weeds for a few days.

7. Dish soap

If the smell of vinegar makes you feel nauseous, make use of dish soap in the same way you would use vinegar.

8. Other plants

Plants tend to compete with one another for nutrients and water. By filling up any empty space with more plants, there will not be enough nutrients or space for the weeds to grow.

9. Corn meal gluten

This is a great technique to prevent weeds from growing but may not work in killing current weeds. Sprinkle corn meal throughout your garden; as it starts to break down, it becomes nitrogen and fertilizes the soil, and at the same time, it prevents the germination of weed seeds.

10. Burning

Another simple way of killing weeds is to burn them. It is dangerous to set weeds on fire especially when surrounded by dry grass; instead, you can use a weed scorcher available at garden stores. The burnt weeds will die for sure in a few days.

11. Weeding

One of the most effective and fastest ways of getting rid of weeds is to take them out by hand. Dampen the whole ground and start pulling them one at a time with all the roots. In case you need help, make use of a trowel for best results.

If weed growth in your garden is getting out of hand, do not postpone seeking expert help. Call up your landscaping expert to help you fix the issue.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Landscaping with Gravel: Great Ideas for you

Gravel is durable enough to cover terraces, paths, and driveways. It helps create a softer mood and a feel more organic than those of pavers or bricks do. Gravel works very well in every climate. In regions that are arid, it makes a great ground cover for garden areas that resist irrigation and planting.

3 Ways you can use gravel

To blur the boundaries


You can let your plants spill onto the gravel to soften the edges of the path. A perfect plant to use is 'Tom Thumb.' It spreads its delicate branches on the path. The branches turn red during fall.

To combine with larger stones

Mix rocks with gravel to add an interesting look. This technique may also solve the drainage problem. Gravel path, bordered on the right with maidenhair ferns and 'Libelle' hydrangea, and straddled with a bunch of flat, large stones creates a bridge over a runoff channel.

To add a rock border

When the adjacent planting beds and the gravel path are new, the transformation from plain soil to gravel can make a garden look unfinished. A good solution is to define the edges of the path with bigger stones. As plants begin to grow, they will automatically tumble on and hide the bigger stones.

Basics of gravel

Gravel comes in a range of different sizes from ⅛- to 1½-inch. They are available in two forms: natural river rocks (also called natural pebbles) or man made crushed rock with irregular edges.

Choosing the right kind

It is best to consult a landscaping expert or visit a local landscape supply yard for experiencing the feel and look of different kinds of gravel. Consider the ideas given below for choosing the right kind for your garden.


  • For areas that are high in traffic, such as patios and paths, use manmade crushed rock. The pieces bind together and create a more stable walking surface. One of the most popular sizes is ⅜ inch. It is all-purpose gravel, serving indeed any purpose you can imagine. To create a softer surface under feet, make use of finer natural pebbles.
  • For areas that are low in traffic, an attractive choice is river rock. Its smoother, larger pieces are less stable underfoot in comparison to crushed rock. However, they have a better presence.

Laying the groundwork

Several people suggest excavating six to eight inches for creating a gravel path and layering sand, crushed rock, and gravel; however, most landscaping designers do not recommend this method. This is because the smaller pieces start to make their way up, spoiling the look of the gravel. It is best to lay a two- to three-inch thick gravel layer right on the weed-free, bare soil that has been compacted with a roller or tamper.

Make sure to rare the gravel regularly and keep it tidy. This will ensure that the path remains beautiful all year long.  Several people may suggest several landscaping ideas, besides your own. You would do well to consult an experienced landscaping expert before you launch your project.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Great Ideas for Drought-tolerant Landscaping

There are so many ways you can ditch thirsty turf grass in favor of easy-care, beautiful gardens. Here are a few ideas for drought-tolerant landscaping you may find exciting.

A Zen retreat

Create tranquility in a yard that remains beautiful year round. Line the drive with asparagus ferns. Use dogwoods and Japanese maples to provide shade, softness, and color. The planting beds can be covered with tumbled glass in different shades of green and blue.

A birding paradise

Lay a sheet of decomposed granite. Plant pink-blooming Cistus, purple Ceanothus, and orange Leucospermum. Shrubs can offer privacy from the street, while shorter ground covers and perennial plants can make the space feel lusher. You can use toyon and ribes to provide berries for the birds.

Desert front yard

Replace your lawn with grasses that are drought-tolerant; add young trees beside your front door.

A yard full of succulents

You can use a variety of succulents to add color and texture to your yard. Use different varieties of aloes, aeonium, Agave attenuata, Bulbine frutescens, and blue Senecio mandraliscae.

Low maintenance yard

Easy-care materials and plants tend to create a low-maintenance garden that does not require care. Use durable furnishings, no-fuss flooring, bulletproof plants, and other details to create an easy-to-care yard.

An eco-conscious landscape

Permeable paving helps rainwater to percolate into the soil easily. Paths should be covered with gravel, while patio should be made of decomposed granite.

Extend the season by adding butterfly weed, Mexican lobelia and coral fountain with California natives for summer color.

‘No mow’ grasses

Some grasses have the ability to live on rainfall alone and need to be mowed just once twice a year to keep clean and tidy.

‘All natural’ yard

Plant many natives to attract birds. Install a winding path bordered by beautiful wild lilacs, 'Bee's Bliss' salvia, and purple tree mallow. All these plants are low-water plants.

Best drought tolerant plants

1. Sunset Strain

This bloomer boasts of evergreen foliage and is around ten inches wide. It looks great in rock gardens.

2. Cape Blanco

Small blue-green leaves create tight rosettes on stems. This beauty from California makes a great cover for ground.

3. Lavandula multifida

It offers felty silver foliage that reaches three feet wide. Violet blooms sprout from spring to fall.

4. Libertia peregrinans

Stiff, thin orangey blades of this plant grow two feet tall. Clusters of white flowers sprout during summer and spring.

5. Angelina

Tiny chartreuse leaves bloom on stems that are approximately six inches tall. This succulent spreads freely and is a fluffy filler in-between other flora. It also makes a great groundcover.

6. Voodoo

Rounded, small burgundy leaves cover the quick-spreading, low-​growing succulent from the Caucasus. Red colored flowers sprout during summers.

There are so many ways to make a yard look beautiful while ensuring less water for its maintenance. Use these ideas without hesitation: you can surely create a drought-tolerant and yet a beautiful landscape.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Hiring a Landscaping Expert: 7 Questions you must ask

It can be stressful to design your outdoor space yourself; however, selecting a landscaping expert who would do that for you need not be so hard. Here are seven essential questions you need to ask before you embark on the project. You get convincing answers, and you are done with it.

1. What can we achieve with this vacant space?

This question should lead to the following: the landscaping expert visits first your site; examines its complexity; notes where the sun falls; studies soil quality, existing features and the boundaries; proposes an attractive design that satisfies your needs and dreams.

2. How do you go about a project proposal?

Different landscaping experts have different styles of work. Some experts click snapshots of the entire site, and take a day or two before coming up with a design on paper; some others propose a rough concept on the spot and initiate a discussion with you.

A few others interview you first, understand your ideas and requirements, inspect the site and then come up with a proposal. It is important that the style of work is impressive and convincing enough for you to make a choice.

3. What are the components of your project proposal?

You ask this question in order to get an idea of the project components such as the following: 

  • Initial discussion
  • Landscaping plan: includes two or three options to help arrive at the final plan
  • Planting options
  • Options of additional landscaping features
  • Construction assistance

4. What would be the duration and deadlines?

Time estimation of the project depends on its scope and size and your budget. You need to indicate a period by which you require the completion of the project. In consultation with the expert you should provide for unforeseen glitches and project delays due to supplies and weather. 

5. What will be the cost?

It is important to discuss costs before signing the contract. Different experts quote different charges.  Ask for an approximate cost for a thousand square foot patio plus, if you desire, installation of paving and high-end fountains. You can compare quotes in the context of the reputation, experience and quality of work of the expert to make a decision.

6. Is there any room to save costs?

There are numerous ways to save money. Discuss with the professional about the different options available to save costs in respect of materials, plants, containers, and so on. Make choices that would fit your budget.

7. How much maintenance will the yard need?

Many outdoor plants require little maintenance. Others require more attention, such as regular feeding or pruning to look their best. This may not be a problem if you keep a gardener, but it can be a hassle if you have to do the work yourself. Better to get an idea of yard maintenance cost, before you finalize your project.

Designing a yard probably is not your niche; you would do well to hire a landscape designing expert, who can offer a range of different cost saving options  to match your vision, tastes and needs.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Yard Maintenance through seasons : Useful Tips for you

Yard maintenance tips given below for your benefit span all four seasons. You can read through separate sections for winter, spring, summer and fall, and get ideas to make your yard blossom the entire year!

Winter

Winter can be harsh on your plants; here are a few ways for you to reduce the extent of ruination.

Fertilizing

Early winter or late fall are the best times for fertilizing the soil. Give the lawn a good feeding of fertilizers to enrich the soil, and make up the depletion caused during hot summer months the previous year. Once you hit the winter months, the fertilizer will persist in the soil and offer nutrition to the roots of the lawn during the entire season.

Mowing

As winter approaches, make sure you lower gradually the cutting base of the lawn mower, every time you are on your lawn mowing routine. Lawn grass can face winter well, if you can cut it shorter and shorter in stages, and not in one go.

Prevent lawn traffic

It is easy to forget and fail to prevent foot traffic on the short brown grass. Although grass is extremely resilient, it can have a tough time recovering during winter, if the foot traffic is rather heavy.

Spring

Spring yard maintenance helps in setting the tone for the rest of the year. If you do not pay attention during spring, you will have to pay the price through the other seasons. Important tasks you must perform in spring include:
  • Preparing flower beds
  • Pest control
  • Planting
  • Plant care
  • Weed control
Summer

Summer is the busiest time for homeowners who love to landscape their yards. One of the biggest jobs of summer yard care is keeping the lawn and plants watered. Fighting diseases and pests is another important job.

Mole control

Moles and voles can ruin the lawn completely. Hence, it is important to get rid of them. They can be poisoned, trapped, or discouraged using repellents.

Tuning up the mower

Lawn maintenance can be a huge problem if your lawn mower does not run properly. A lawn mower needs regular tuning, which consists primarily of three tasks:
  • Changing the oil
  • Changing the spark plug
  • Cleaning or changing the air filter
Irrigation

One of the biggest nemeses of plants is drought. It is important therefore to water the lawn and plants regularly and on time to keep them in good health. The job can be made easier by installing a sprinkler irrigation system.

Fall

Proper maintenance of the yard during fall lowers the possibility of plant diseases during spring. By raking the lawn, you need to ensure that the burden of fallen leaves does not smother the grass underneath.

Make compost

Do not dispose of the raked leaves. Instead, make compost with them so that they serve your fertilizing needs the next year.

Make shrub shelters

Fall is the time to prepare for the approaching harsh weather. The best way to protect flowering shrubs from the harsh winter is by making A-frames out of plywood to cover the plants.

It is a good idea to work with the seasonal perspective when you consider landscaping maintenance. This will ensure that your yard looks healthy and beautiful all year round!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Outdoor Kitchen: Design Factors you should Consider

Any outdoor area can be transformed easily into a beautifully landscaped zone. Outdoor kitchens are great examples of what you can call ‘chic outdoor living spaces.’ These open-air cooking areas offer the same kind of functionality as their indoor counterparts. Given below is an overview of design factors you should consider for an outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor appliances

When thinking about cooking areas of the yard, the first factor that probably demands your attention would be the outdoor kitchen appliances. However, there is a lot more that should be considered for creating spaces that are truly livable. Accents and accessories and lighting can help enhance your grilling experience, and they can be used for tailoring your space to your needs.

Grill is the soul of any barbecue or cookout. A great idea is to place it as the center piece, and build the rest of the area around it. Stainless steel makes the best metal for grills, because it has the ability to last longer. Moreover, maintenance is easy, and it can fit to your budget.

Another essential appliance to consider for your outdoor kitchen is the sink, and one more ‘must have’ is a refrigerator for storing perishables and chilling the beer.

Stone kitchens

Planning an outdoor kitchen area includes a decision on building materials too.  Stone is one of best and the most popular of building materials. It’s both beautiful and durable. Its strength makes it suitable for outdoor bars, islands, storage, fire

Stone kitchens can serve you in any weather condition, which you can’t vouch for other kinds of building materials.

Also, stone can offer you a great choice of textures and colors. It is extremely common for stone to incorporate accents, brick inlays and medallions that can offer visual appeal. Stone kitchens assure longevity and permanence.

Outdoor fireplaces

Outdoor fire pits or fireplaces add to the functionality of your kitchen. Whichever style you choose, you’ll have to make certain decisions regarding the following.

Fuel options

Building materials

The size of the outdoor fireplace or fire pit

You have a choice of different types of rustic and man-made materials with which you can build your fire pit or fire place. Once the structure has been created with the help of fireproof materials, you can complete the exterior with practically any material that is heat-resistant.

For fuel, you can choose a propane starter or natural wood with no gas. Your decisions on requirements should of course be tempered by the funds available. Make sure you build a fireplace to your budget.

Brick ovens

A brick oven will make a fantastic choice, if it is usual for you to host a lot of parties. You can make it the focal point of the outdoor living space. Guests can make their own food. Nothing can beat the authentic taste of food that is cooked in a brick oven.

Hams, roasts, pizzas, breads, etc. are cooked on such occasions. Pizza is the most popular and entertaining cooking item.

Well-planned outdoor kitchen designs can be an advantage to homeowners for whom al fresco dining and entertaining are important. If you are considering renovation of your outdoor spaces, it is best to hire a landscaping expert to get the worth of your money and a style which you would love.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

10 Ways to enhance your outdoor decor

A beautiful outdoor space to relax and unwind can be a big asset to your house. Besides facilities of lounging, entertaining, and pampering taste buds, the pleasant setting would be another factor that would add to the market price of your house. 

Listed below are a few home decor ideas that can help transform any outdoor area into a scenic treat. Also, do not feel overwhelmed by the size of the area: you can easily beautify your backyard on a budget.

Choose a palette

It is always a good idea to start by picking out a color palette to incorporate into your new outdoor decor. It would be great for you to lean toward neutral sand tones or bright whites, as they contribute to an overall tranquil feeling. 

Add a tropical touch

If you love the beach, you can add a dash of tropical style to the backyard. There are so many things that you can do. You can pot a tropical plant or integrate a little palm tree decal close to your lounge chair and have tropical print cushions. The ambiance will translate into relaxation. Also, do not forget to add a pink flamingo!

Put up a fence

Putting up a fence will not only create privacy from neighbors, it will also help protect other parts of the house. A fence is a great add-on for urban spaces to create a sense of comfortable quarters, while entertaining guests.

Daybed

Lounging is top priority in an outdoor space. Apart from a hammock, you can buy or build a lush day bed to spend your time relaxing in fresh air. Decorate it with floral prints and have plush pillows and cushions for greater comfort. Also, have a side table with interesting coffee table books to browse.

Dining alfresco

It is best to choose weather-resistant furniture for dining alfresco. Make sure you choose a solid base for the table, and buy good quality coverings to protect your furniture. There are a myriad of showpieces that you can have in the area, to give it a more decorative look.

Floor pillows

Poufs and floor pillows can help create extra seating in a lounge area. It will also add a Bohemian feel to the outdoor space. Floor pillows make a great add-on for both country and urban homes. Poufs can also serve as great serving spaces. 

Mix and match chairs

You can add personality and creativity to your outdoor space by mixing benches with mix and match chairs. In fact, the chairs can also be of different colors. 

Rugs

Whether you use them inside or outside, rugs do look beautiful. You can buy a range of shades and textures online, or by visiting a decor store. However, just remember to take the rugs inside home, if there are any chances of rain.

There is so much you can do to add personality and beauty to your outdoor space. If you find it hard to choose an appropriate design, it is best to leave the job to a professional. Hire a landscaping expert of repute to do the designing for you.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Keeping Your Garden Green in Colder Regions: Great Ideas for You

It might always be a little chilly outdoors, but that occasional dose of sunshine should bring out the gardener in you!  With just a little preparation on your part, Mother Nature can transform your garden into an enchanting, flowery tapestry. Isn’t it time you started on those pet garden projects, rather than wait for a perfect day?

Leafing out

Your choice of crops that can survive in colder regions should depend not only on cold tolerance, but also on their growth habit and schedule. Spinach, for instance, is a hardy winter plant that puts out new leaves persistently. You can see it bloom all winter. 

Vegetable and fruit gardening

A large variety of crops can grow in areas known to stay cold year-around. Veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peas, collards, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and several types of lettuce prefer cooler temperatures.

Apart from these, other choices you can consider for your cold weather garden are root vegetables such as beets, turnips, radishes, and baby carrots. 

Continue feeding birds, if you’d like them to stick around for helping you in insect control, once the weather starts to warm up again.

Buy garden tools

Do not wait until spring time to get your mower repaired! In case of snow, make sure to brush or shake off the snow from the branches of your shrubs and evergreens. Buy all the garden tools you require.

Top four tips for crop growing in colder regions

  1. Make use of low tunnels created out of plastic pipes that are covered with plastic sheeting.
  2. Use a greenhouse, if possible.
  3. Cover the crops with leaf mulch or straw.
  4. Cover the plants with blankets, row cover or old sheets.
Gardening in colder regions is surprisingly easy. The pace is slow, but the low light levels tend to cut down on water evaporation. Sometimes it eliminates the need to water in many areas of the country.

It is a good idea to experiment with different kinds of crops to identify the plants that can grow best in your garden. Test every plant for the extent of protection it needs. Check for the timing of planting and a rhythm that will work. Plant new crops any time you see an empty space.

Use lots of compost to offer extra boost to your crops. Remember! You must fear heat more than the chill. Vent quick hoops, cold frames, and greenhouses during sunny days: that might trap hot air inside, which would ‘cook’ your greens prematurely.

There’s sufficient daylight to grow a range of different crops at any latitude or altitude in the US. With just a little preparation and caution, you can enjoy for sure a green garden all year round.

Friday, 25 March 2016

How you can Clean and Refinish a Wooden Deck

A beautifully refinished wooden deck is a valuable part of your outdoor landscape. It does not just look good; it extends and protects the life of the wood and enhances the resale value of your house as well. Refinishing the deck involves the following basic steps.

  1. Deck inspection
  2. Cleaning
  3. Sanding of the deck
  4. Staining and sealing
  5. Stain application
Each step is described below  in some detail for your benefit.

Deck inspection

Deck inspection is the first step in wooden deck refinishing. Look for structural problems like severely split or rotting wood, and mend them first.  If the deck paint or varnish looks old and faded, strip the varnish or paint off the surface of the deck, using a paint stripper. If you wish to repaint it, just sand it.

If you locate a wood stain or clear finish, you should clean it with the help of a wood deck cleaner. Experts recommend oxygen-based wood cleaner for removing graying caused due to ultraviolet sun exposure and mildew stains. It works great in cleaning the wood of any deposits and dirt.

Deck cleaning

Power washing the deck can either deep clean the deck quickly, or ruin the wooden deck boards. With too much pressure from the water jet, you end up etching the wood and ruining deck boards. With too little pressure, you end up getting the deck wet and no deep cleaning at all.

Power washers can be used for stripping paint or etching bricks. They are available in a range of different styles and powers. Experts recommend the following selections for cleaning the wood: pressure on soft wood such as pine or cedar must be around 500 to 600 PSI, while harder woods can stand up to 1200-1500 PSI.

Sanding

After power washing the wooden deck, it is extremely likely that the fibers of the wood will rise, as they start to expand with water. Even after drying, wooden fibers may remain raised and cause splinters.

It is important to sand the wooden deck before starting the process of staining. Sanding will ensure that the final look is professional.

You should be careful about the grit of sandpaper for use. Using a very fine grit will limit the stain from soaking in into the wood.

Staining and sealing

An important decision you will have to make is choosing the right stain. Application of the stain is easy. However, choosing an ineffective or cheap staining material will only be a waste of money and labor you have to put in to the project; furthermore, it will warrant additional rework sooner than later.

Experts recommend the use of quality oil-based stain. You will find the best products at professional paint stores.

Stain application                                  

For applying the oil-based stain, use a natural bristle brush.

With proper techniques of preparation and application along with good quality materials you will surely have a beautiful and durable end product. The final outcome of your hard work will be a beautiful wooden deck, probably the pride of your outdoor landscape!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Backyard Design Guide for You

Love to add practical and stylish touches to your outdoors? Listed here are for you great designs involving patios, paths, showers, fire pits, and more.

Space to unwind

Use a sleek stone fireplace and large pavers, and turn a small lawn between garage and house into a "decompression chamber". You will find it ideal for unwinding after a long day of work or during your weekends. If you have a reasonable extent of outside space, you can try out this idea.

Striking steps

Lay, in a mix-and-match pattern, stone steps to create a very strong focal point. Plants with different colors and characters can help you create magical visual interest. To beautify the terraced stoned steps, use flora such as rusty-hued Carex testacea, plum Heuchera, green kniphofia, ‘Karl Foerster’ grass, and the like.

Transforming a driveway

Transform the unused area of a driveway into a beautiful, curved path of concrete pavers. Leave enough space for a lush green garden bed on the side.

Gravel path

Use both desert rose and coarser gray-colored gravel to make a path stand out: it would be inviting enough for visitors to just follow its course. To add to the beauty, install small wooden bridges across the gravel course.

A walk of meditation

You can create a sacred haven for meditation, by laying a winding path encircling a central planting island. Use crunchy pea gravel to offer texture to the path, while plants can be used to add beauty and color.

Drainage solutions in style

Mix different-sized rocks with gravel to add character to large areas. This method solves problems related to drainage as well. Create a wonderful gravel path, bordered on the right with a variety of flowering plants and ferns.

Let it overlap a constellation of flat, large stones that create a passage over a seasonal stream flow. Let water run from a pipe hidden under the river rocks of the channel to a catchment pond close by.

Old-world kitchen garden

Turn a dull outside space into a kitchen garden. Use antique showpieces and surround them with pots of herbs and vegetables. Create a gravel path with an attractive circular stone border to add to that old-world look.

Pond-side retreat

Cover the upper patio and the main walkway with dry-laid flagstones. Let it lead to a path of natural steppingstones connecting the upper patio to a smaller one. Let it be closer to the house that oversees a pond.

Gravel path and modern fountain

Surround beautifully a modern fountain with gravel; it is extremely versatile and works perfectly well. You can try out this idea in larger spaces too.

There is no reason why you should keep your outdoor spaces dull and boring. There are several ideas for you try out, and add to those spaces character, texture and beauty. You can and should definitely create a more enticing space for you and your family.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

New Trends in Landscaping: A few Ideas for You to Consider

Evolving trends in design and architecture keep changing the way homes are built. Your home can be designed the way you want it to be – from the traditional to the avant garde.

The same thing applies to the landscape of your home: it is limited only by your imagination and the abilities of the landscaper. Like architecture, landscaping trends are constantly changing.

Here are a few of the new trends in landscaping you need to know in order to help you create the exterior that is just right for your home and your family.

Lawns are not essential

There was a time when a well-manicured lawn was the foundation of a landscape. Not anymore. Lawns present many problems. They use a huge amount of water which is a major problem in regions, where water shortages are a way of everyday life. They demand the use of chemicals and fertilizers. They require a great deal of maintenance. And, ultimately, you may wonder whether one well-maintained lawn is very different from another?

There is a growing trend to replace lawns with cacti, grasses, succulents, pathways, rocks and a variety of other features. These substitutes provide an interesting and attractive alternative and are usually easier to maintain. They are eco-friendly and more importantly wallet-friendly.

Plants and animals

The use of insecticides to remove creatures from the exterior of a home is becoming more refined and focused. Insects that damage plants need to be kept away; but bees, butterflies and others are part of the environment; they add to the natural aura of the landscape. In addition they help in pollination and promotion of plant growth. The new trend is to welcome them, not drive them away.

Designing a canine-friendly landscape is another new trend, if you keep dogs in your house.

Artful landscaping

Landscaping is not all about grass, plants, shrubs, flower and trees: it is an art form, and often, with a few add-on features, can elevate its overall ambience and aesthetic impact.

For example, a piece of sculpture, whether traditional or ultra-modern, in stone, metal or even plastic, can change the complete focus, and give the landscape a totally different look.

The same applies to lighting. The right lighting can sustain the appeal forward into the darkness or give it a completely different feel, enhancing the evening or night magic.

The beauty of imperfection

A landscape is an environment to be enjoyed, not a picture to be admired from a distance. The modern trend is to focus on combining beauty with practicality. In other words, forget about perfection, if it reduces the pleasure element. The Japanese call this Wabi Sabi ‘The beauty of imperfection.’

These are just a few ideas for you to consider. There is always a gap between concept and reality. What you want for your landscape may not be viable due to climatic, soil or other constraints. It could be very costly, and there may be other equally, if not more attractive, options available. And the maintenance may be far more challenging than what you are ready for.

Working with a landscaping professional to create the best looking and most suitable landscape for your home is a safe bet for you: it ensures what is really right for you, fits your budget rightly, and does not demand your time and attention more than you can possibly afford.