Archive for the ‘landscaping’ Category

The driveway has always been a functional feature in your home. But should it stay drab just because it’s only for stowing away your car? It should not stay unimpressive. It should reflect your sense of style and be an extension of your home and your beautifully manicured lawns.

The key to creating a driveway that impresses people is to concentrate on design elements on both sides of the driveway. You can use all types of materials from softscape options to hardscape. With enough creativity and a touch of daring, you will be able to make your driveway attractive.

Make A Good Entrance

Because it serves as the entry way to your home, the driveway should not look neglected. With good landscaping the driveway can add depth to the entire look of your home. There’s no need to spend a fortune either. Just choose which attractive features you can afford and install them with a good design concept in mind.

If your imagination won’t let you see beyond the fact that a driveway is only a spot to park your car, look at your driveway from another perspective. It’s the entrance to a well-designed home, and it should be something you would be proud off. Your guests must come in and marvel at how well-designed your driveway is, like they’re parking the car in a five star hotel’s entrance.

Choosing Your Elements

When looking for minimal work, do not set up plants that could get wilted or damaged with frequent foot traffic. Instead, use attractive fences or rocks. The floor of your driveway can be spruced up using brick tiles in a color that complements your home.  Do not use elements that may be in the way of foot and automobile traffic.

Another important aspect of the driveway is the footpath. Should it be covered? You can decide to cover it if your location is prone to rains. The flooring must be level and devoid of anything that could trip you or your guests.

Hardscape Choices

You can choose a good design for your walls. The walls can be colored to match the landscape. They can also be installed with colored bricks to act as a contrast to the flooring. Try using hanging baskets or lanterns for added charm. A large rock or a stone statue can be interesting, especially if a spotlight is set on it. You can choose hedges instead of fence, especially living hedges made of climbing vines. plant grasses and small flowers in the cracks of stones to create even more decorative looks.

Softscape Choices

Softscapes can be used if you only have budget to design the sides of your driveway. A raised flowerbed looks great especially if the box containing the plants is a nice piece. You can also add groundcover along the driveway. This will be a natural border between your driveway and other parts of your lawn. You can also trim the shrubs lining your driveway to become topiaries. Small ornamental trees that are neatly trimmed will also work.

The ambiance of your home is highly dependent on your lawn. Why? It’s the first thing that people see. More so if you have a commercial place where potential customers go to browse your products. If your lawn can impress people, you won’t have to worry about putting them in a good mood when they reach your doorway. Your landscape creates the ambiance and can tell a lot about your personality.

Use your beautiful lawn or garden as a place for relaxing when you’re not working. A lovely and healthy garden can make you feel right when you’re stressed. What you need to do is find out more about gardening and landscaping so that you won’t have to hire professionals to maintain and build your landscape for you. A garden is really the best gift you can give your home and yourself.

A delightful garden must be built from the ground up with careful planning. Here are some tips to doing just that…

1. Fertile Soil

One of the main factors to having a great garden is your soil quality. Developing fertile soil is no easy task, especially if you live in a naturally arid environment. But it can be done. You just have to make sure that you keep the acidity-alkalinity balance, and supply enough nutrients to grow a truly lush garden where vegetation and beneficial animals can coexist.

Your soil must also be the appropriate texture for the plants you will be using. One thing you have to focus on is your soil’s compatibility with the grass species and variety you will be using. Those who live in dry, hot climate should get the summer-hardy plants that don’t require too much water to flourish. If you live in cold climate, use winter-hardy plants that can handle cold weather.

2. Grass Type

The types of grass that suit the growing conditions in your place of residence are the same ones that your lawn shop will be selling at a low price. You see, rare plants in a vicinity are those that are imported. While these plants can become a status symbol among land owners, they can be quite expensive to maintain. To be safe and practical, use the plants that are known to be endemic to your location so you won’t need to look for special fertilizers. For rainy places, use grasses that can tolerate floods and long periods of wetness. A resilient plant can out-compete the weeds so if you choose your grasses right, you might not even need to buy herbicides to control invasive plants.

3. Watering Schedules

When you know what types of grasses and plants you have in your garden, you can create a good watering schedule. Longer grass has tough roots and can hold the water better, so you need to water these only twice or thrice a week. Frequent watering will make roots shorter, and thus render the plants helpless when there’s a drought. Medium length roots will need to be watered every other day. If you have to choose the time of day to water your plants, choose early morning. Watering the plants during this time will ensure that the sun is still not powerful enough to make the water evaporate.

Have you ever looked around a middle-class neighborhood and noticed that most of the lawn designs around the area look the same. Now, if you’re wondering if all these families hired the same landscaper, think again. It has become an accepted fact that beautifully manicured lawns should always comprise of well-manicured green grass, trees and flowers. If you’re individualistic and you want your garden to look unique, you should try rock gardening.

Installing landscaping rocks will give your yard the pizzazz it needs. A homeowner’s style is only visible through his garden if he can add personality to his landscape. Remove some of the grass, break up the endless sea of green and install decorative rocks!

One more reason why you should consider rock gardening is the ease of maintenance. Grass needs fertilizers and sunlight, and tend to die when the weather is too extreme. Rocks of various shapes and sizes don’t need these things. They are simply there, giving your garden the unique beauty you want without costing you.

Scout for the best rocks for landscaping in your local lawn shop. Some of the best rocks are found in nature, but if you don’t have the time to go out there in the wilderness to look for your garden rocks, you can simply buy some.

Use a shovel or a tiller to create breaks in the landscape. You need to mark the spots where you will install your rocks. Take this opportunity to assess your garden’s drainage system. The positioning of your rocks might disturb the already established water system in your yard. This is particularly true if you’re using automatic sprinklers. If, while planning your rock garden, you discover that your irrigation system is faulty, now’s the perfect time to correct that.

A walkway flanked by decorative rocks or stone statues is attractive. You can even use rocks and cement fixtures to house your lighting implements. Add a walkway so that your guests can walk around your garden comfortably without having to step on the grass. If your guests will be coming in and out of the house, the walkway will ensure that they don’t drag dirt and garden litter into the house.

Some more concepts you can use is the rock ladder, which isn’t actually a ladder but a positioning strategy for rocks of different sizes. You can position rocks according to size all along the walkway to your door. It is recommended that you refrain from fixing a rock on a permanent location. You never know when the trends will change again and you feel like revamping your yard another time.

There are trends in gardening that are so new and innovative, everyone who has a garden is eager to install them. One such trend is called water gardening. As the term implies, you’re going to build a garden with a lot of water features, such as ponds, waterfalls, streams and fountains. Water gardening has a lot of potential as far as aesthetic gardening goes. You can include stone statues, build rock gardens along the banks of your ponds. You can even add lights to fountains to make them stand out all the more. A tasteful combination of water features, lighting, plants, and fish will make your lawn the most talked about one in your area.

Water gardening does not require a natural water source. In fact, if you cannot afford any of the structures I mentioned, you can simply install a tarp inside a dug hole and call it a pond after you’ve added all the trimmings. Water gardening can be very inexpensive, if you can use your imagination more.

Location is important when trying to install a pond or a fountain. Choosing a location means you have to plan your garden well, from the positioning of tree seedlings to the installation of lighting. Plants and fish both need plenty of sunlight, so shaded places are out. One more reason why you shouldn’t build fountains or ponds under trees is long term maintenance. Your trees will grow more roots and some of these roots move in a horizontal manner rather than vertical. You don’t need the root of your trees to puncture a hole in your pond lining.

A water garden will require space, lots of it. If you don’t have much space to spare, I suggest choosing one water feature and being happy with it. Everyone wants a pond and a water fountain but you may be forced to choose between them if your garden is too small to accommodate both.

How much money and time you are willing to spend on your water garden? A professional landscaper can help you with pond decorations and installation, but a professional service does not come cheap. Besides the decorating service, you may need to shoulder the expense of the materials. Also, if you’re importing fishes, they will cost a lot, especially if you have to purchase fish food.

Aquatic pond plants are either free floating or submerged. They can also be terrestrial plants that you plant only on the margins around your pond. Choose plants according to their contribution to the pond ecosystem. Some plants are great as decorative items on ponds and waterfalls, while some actually function in symbiosis with other water organisms like fishes. Speaking of fish, you absolutely must keep fish around. Fish are not only great aesthetically, they can also help you prevent mosquito larvae accumulation in your pond.

One of the most difficult things about maintaining a water garden is taking care of algae. Algal blooms usually happen in open water, but with enough algae in your pond, you may have to deal with water poisoning. Algae also deplete the nutrients in water. Putting in a pond filtering system and replacing the water once in a while can control the growth of algae.

There’s more to building a garden pond than digging a hole, lining it with plastic and filling it with water.  You must also consider some important things like whether the pond should contain a school of fish or just plants. You should also determine how big or small the pond should be, and how much space you want the pond to occupy in your garden. Be prepared to dig a deep hole and spend many hours preparing the soil for pond installation. The trouble is worth it. I can guarantee that by the time you finish, you will be patting yourself on the back, beer in hand, and dreaming of more landscaping projects now that you have a pond.

Here are Some Steps to Building a Garden Pond

Step 1 – The area of installation

Choose a relatively level spot in your garden to build your pond. This is less expensive than leveling the ground yourself. Choose an area that is a bit far from overhanging branches so that you won’t have to deal with a pile of leaves floating on your pond when autumn comes. Also, the roots of the adjacent tree may just grow into your pond, which forces you into a sudden decision. Should the tree go, or shoud you dismantle your pond setup? The shade is also counterproductive because sunlight is essential for your pond ecosystem to thrive.

Step 2 – Liner Options

You have to choose between prefabricated or do-it-yourself when it comes to the liner you will use for your pond. Prefabricated liners are more expensive, but they are durable and require very little maintenance. You can also use any impermeable material as liner. If you have an old tarp that you’re not using, you can use that to line your pond. However, you must make sure that the material doesn’t have any major slits or damages where soil and water can seep through.

Step 3 – Installation

A pre-fabricated pond can be turned upside down on the area. This is to determine the size of the hole you’re digging. Mark it out with 6 to 8 inches extra around the outside of the liner. Always bear in mind the size of the liner you are using when digging your pond.

In order to build a garden pond that will last for many years, remove all the debris that may puncture the bottom of your pond. Once the preparations are done, you can line the inside of your pond, or install the prefabricated liner. Fill the pond with water up to about one quarter capacity. This will keep the pond in place as you refill the gaps with soil.

Step 4 – Decorate Your Pond

After you install the pond liner and add water, you can now transfer any fish you want to raise, add plants and stones around the pond. Add aquatic plants where your fishes can hide when the sun is high. Plenty of plant life should also be installed to help with algae problems. Don’t forget to install a pump and a filter for your pond before you consider the job done.

It is not impossible to have a unique and gorgeous garden without shelling out thousands on landscaping work. The secret of establishing and maintaining a beautiful lawn is to learn how to do the things that landscapers do yourself. There are some basic conservation and maintenance principles you can follow if you’d rather spend your money on your basic necessities but still want a well-maintained yard.

One great technique you can try is xeriscaping. This is a term reserved for gardening practices that focus on conserving resources such as water. As water becomes even more expensive, a lot of homeowners are turning to conservation practices that will help them maintain their gardens without the hidden costs such as water bills. You can start by choosing plants that do not need much water to thrive. You can also choose the season-hardy varieties of your favorite plant species.

It is recommended to choose plants that are available in many different varieties. Talk to a horticulturist or a plant breeder to find out which plants are attractive enough to deserve a spot in your garden, but economical enough to use only the minimal amount of water to live. Some plants that use a lot of water include cedar hedges. Maintaining this type of plant will mean you have to spend a fortune on water costs. Find out what you like most about these plants and let that criteria be the basis for searching more economical varieties.

Good water retention qualities are a must if you’re choosing the fertilizers to use for your garden. For instance, peat moss is very cheap and can be mixed with dirt and bone meal. When you plant your new flowers or hedges with peat moss as a fertilizer, the water that you use on the plants will be retained longer. Your soil will not always soak up all the water on its own so it’s better to use some materials that have better water retention than soil.

Landscaping means being committed to doing everything from picking your plants to weeding and pruning. Speaking of weeding, weeds may be your nastiest enemy. There are some weeds that are so resilient, they won’t go away even after a session of tilling and hand weeding. You might be tempted to leave these weeds alone, but you will soon realize that you’re wasting money on fertilizers for your plants when all these weeds steal the nutrients you’re paying for to grow even faster than your regular plants.

However, there are some unexpected weeds that can turn out to be beneficial for your garden. One example of this is clover. When clovers crop up alongside your grass, you can mow them together with the grass and let the clippings stay as mulches. Some “weeds” are also able to synthesize nitrogen from the soil with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria.

Finally, keep your garden small if you want to save money. Flowers and other plants need a lot of fertilizers and watering. Just pick out a few species and be contented with having these in your garden.

There’s more to landscaping and landscape design than meets the eye. It’s about creating beautiful designs, and also an enduring vision of every possibility of growth in your garden. This means allowing for improvements and not incorporating fixtures that you intend to take out in the future.

Planting seedlings without considering the space that mature full grown trees will occupy can become expensive. For example, you build a cemented walkway too close to the place where you planted a tree seedling. In a few years, you will start to see cracks in the cement where the roots of the tree are struggling to expand. You won’t have any choice but to get rid of the walkway. I’m pretty sure you won’t choose the walkway over the tree; I sure wouldn’t.

While most elements you will establish now will probably remain what they are for years to come, the one thing that you could be missing is the space allowance for small trees that may grow in your garden at any time. When bushes grow, their root systems enlarge. You can decide to transfer them somewhere else if they interfere with the growth of your other trees. All your plants will soon become mature plants and trees, but do you have the space for all these mature plants?

Trees are essential garden elements that won’t be there when you start your garden. If you start from scratch, it may take a few years before you can enjoy the shaded garden of your dreams. Trees create shade, block wind and even reduce noise. They are also natural boundaries, and focal points that you and your family can build your dreams around.

Some trees in my land have been there since my grandfather bought the land decades ago. Preparing for the growth of the trees now that you’re just starting with your garden is a way of showing that you are optimistic about the future, and that you know your trees will always have a place where they can grow stronger. Once you establish where your trees will grow, you can go ahead and make modifications in the design.

You can plant a tree around a play area. The implements found in a play area like sand boxes and playpens can be removed and moved when the tree grows. By then you can decide to trade out the playpens for picnic groves because the kids have all grown up. One good way to get the shaded garden you have always dreamed of is to plant large shade trees a distance from the area in line with the travel of the sun.

You may want to avoid planting large trees around pools or ponds. Keeping a pool clean is difficult and leaves from shade trees may make it even harder to clean up the pond. So, plant a tree seedling a distance that is not too far from the pool area, but far enough for the leaves not to fall directly on the water.

If you want a Japanese garden, you must plan all design aspects according to the principles of zen. You must also understand the concept behind the design of an authentic Japanese garden. Your goal is to create a landscape that reflects symmetry combined with the beauty of simplicity. It’s a place where you can relax, dwell in the serenity that order gives.

Organization is one of the main focuses of a Japanese garden design. This means you have to base the design on the shape of your landscape, and what you desire to see in your garden. Go for the most basic design and allow for improvisation in the future. Don’t put into play more than one focal point. In fact, it’s better if you start with a well-trimmed, clean landscape with the most basic elements.

Do you want your whole garden to be designed in the oriental way, or do you simply want a Zen area where you can meditate?

A garden that incorporates Japanese traditional design can be the best addition to an existing garden. It could also be the basic theme for your whole garden. If you have an existing garden, it may be a good idea to clear an area  to incorporate a Japanese garden style. The trick to building a Japanese garden inside an already established garden design has a lot to do with integration. You can frame the Japanese garden with bushes and determine the elements that need to remain.

What style of Japanese garden are you most interested in?

There are many types of gardens that incorporate the Japanese principle of orderliness. It can be a tea garden, courtyard garden, stroll garden, pond and island garden. Admittedly, a lot of westerners are interested in the Zen rock garden or a combination of two or more garden types.  For very small lots, you should just stick to one style. A larger landscape demands a more complicated design to interest your visitors.

Does your garden have natural slopes and valleys? Are there any streams, a small natural pond or well-established trees that provide shade? One aspect you need to consider is the natural landscape. Drainage plans, plant types, the positioning of rocks and lights are dependent on the natural landscape. It is recommended that you don’t go beyond the limits of your natural geography. This means leave the natural streams, falls, slopes and valleys alone. Simply designing around these elements is the easy and less expensive way to go anyway.

Which elements and features can’t you compromise? Let’s be honest. We all have something we want to incorporate in a garden no matter what. If you must have that feature in your Japanese garden, you must be prepared to let go of other features to avoid overloading your garden in terms of design.

Any Japanese garden you see has a theme. The gardens themselves tell a story. Usually, there is a historical basis for each garden, but yours can simply be “a place where I can meditate and have my tea in peace”. It doesn’t hurt to incorporate miniature Japanese house designs, a small enclosed gazebo with tatami mats, and small plants or bonsai to complete the landscape.

Standing water is the term used for unsightly and often dangerous puddles that form in your garden after rain. If you have one or more areas in your yard that hold water long after the rain has gone, you know you have a problem. Sometimes, it’s difficult to solve this problem because it would mean installing a better drainage system. You may even be tempted to simply let the water evaporate under the sun, but standing water can create more problems for you.

There is no tree or shrub that will grow in flooded soil. Unfortunately, standing water doesn’t just occupy one area. It can seep into cracks and reach the soil. Although watering plants daily can lead to better growth, there are a lot of plants that cannot live in a too-wet area. Standing water will make your soil soggy for extended periods. The roots of your plants, in particular your grasses, won’t be able to breathe.

One common solution to the standing water dilemma is the use of topsoil. Dry topsoil can absorb the water for the meantime while you figure out how to drain the rest of it. However, there are instances when the standing water gets displaced rather than soaked up by the layer of topsoil you install.

Ask your city engineer for advice if you plan on renovating your underground drainage system. You may be at risk of troubling your neighbours if you start digging and you hit a major gas pipe or a water pipe that supplies water to the rest of your community. Look for a nearby drainage ditch and use this fact as a possible part of the solution when you’re stating your case. A storm drain is easy to set up as long as you have the local officials’ go signal.

When you’re ready, you can buy some 4” perforated plastic drain pipes. Get the flexible kind that comes in 100’ rolls. The drain pipe has small slits that water can enter. Just create a trench from the center of the flooded area to the drainage point. Using a simple line you can set up a string over top of the trench to ensure that your pipe runs downhill towards the drainage ditch. You should have 6” fall for every 100’ of pipe.

The highest point must be the flooded area, which means you only want your pipe deep enough at this point so it can be covered with soil. Once the trench is there, you can simply install the pipe. Insert a strainer into the end of the pipe to prevent soil debris from entering the pipe and clogging it. Cover the pipe with washed stone to hide it, and then fill the trench with soil. The washed stone creates a void around the pipe allowing water to enter into the pipe. The lower part of the pipe that needs to be exposed is the low end, because this is where the water exits the pipe. You shouldn’t install a strainer at the lower end of the pipe so that water can flow freely.

The technique we described is usually applicable if the topsoil of your garden is sandy or loamy. However, a more specialized technique can be used if you have heavy clay soil.

If you’re like other do it yourself landscapers, you have probably experienced struggling with a concept or two. You might have also felt the need to start from scratch after you’re done over-thinking your initial design idea. But here’s the thing. Once you have established a framework of necessary design elements, things are bound to flow smoother.

First things first, have a vision for your design. This is one way of saying you should know exactly what you want. If you want to know where you should begin working, you must have a firm grasp of the design you want. You can have someone create a blueprint of your concept for you or you can simply sketch out your concept on a piece of paper. Whatever you do, make sure you have a vision, and you know what your garden should look like when you’re done working on it.

How do you start your landscape or garden design?

Most do-it-yourselfers start with a few structures. Lay down plans for pathways, driveways, access routes, or covered walk areas. Never mind the materials you are going to need, for now. Just make sure there is ample space for these fixtures before you plan the location of ponds, waterfalls, rock gardens and of course trees. This type of planning will help you establish a framework.

Of course, this framework won’t always be applicable all the time. If your garden is small, you have to make do with one structure. You may not need any pathways. However, a simple plan like this will help you determine which structures you can realistically fit inside your garden space.

Paths and walkways can serve as dividers. On one side, you can have your cooking area for parties and barbecues. On the other side of the pathway, you can have your plants and rocks. A designated space for people to walk on or run to when there’s rain is necessary. Structures are a great way to break up a vast expanse of lawn, meadow, or bed area.

Walkways also lead the guests deeper into your garden. Your pathway can lead to a specific place like a gazebo, or it can be a continuous loop around your garden. Walkways can be made of refined (brick, flagstone, etc.) or primitive (gravel, mulch, etc.). Maybe you want a walkway that goes from the back door to the pool area. Or from the pool area to the mini-picnic grove. Pay attention to the lines that your pathways create. Curves and winding paths can create the illusion of a bigger garden space. This is a technique made especially for small gardens and landscapes.

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