If you want a gorgeous lawn but you don’t have the time to design it yourself, hiring a good landscaper is the best decision you can make. Completing your landscape will be a much simpler process if you have someone who will brainstorm with you about the design and the implementation of the design. You can simply sit back and watch your lawn come to life every week. Here are some tips on how to hire a good landscaper.

How to Find a Good Landscaper:

1. Specific Needs

If you have specific needs like a gazebo, a rock garden or a fishpond, you want to hire someone who specializes in that area. Some landscapes are beautiful because they have been under the care of a specialist. There are some landscapers that are talented in some areas, but not in others.

A good way to find out what a landscaper is good at is to look at the portfolio of previous projects. Find out which element is outstanding in all the previous works they did for other clients.

2. References

Most of the time, you see a garden that blows your mind. It may be a neighbor’s garden or the lawns of your favourite hotel. You may want to research who the landscaper is. If it’s your neighbor’s garden, you can simply ask who the designer was. Word of mouth references are the best. You get advice from home owners like yourself who experienced working with a professional landscaper.

3. Budget

Know the landscape companies that do quality work at a reasonable price. You may want to avoid going for the ones with big advertisements for now, and simply refer to a list at your community center. This is because the advertisements may mean the price for the service is higher than the competition. However, you also cannot disregard the fact that there may be a promotion (like a huge discount) and that’s why they’re advertising.

Whatever you do, set a good budget so that you don’t go overboard. Once you have an amount in mind, look for landscapers who can work with that amount. Negotiations should not take too long if your price is reasonable and the landscaper is amenable to your price range.

4. Listen to Design Ideas

Like with anything else, you know you’re going to hit it off with a landscaper if his design ideas are similar to yours. Discuss your plans with one landscaper to know what they think. Listen as they describe what they could do with your concept, and make sure you observe how much the price increases and decreases with every change they propose.

If you’re on the same page with a landscaper, it’s safe to hire him. This way, you won’t be reeling in shock if you come home one day and find out that the design you asked for was not executed well. Moreover, you must hire someone who completely understands your budget worries. Your ideal landscaper should also be considerate enough to tell you whether your budget is feasible for the design you have in mind.

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A cheap but amazing way to bring your garden to life is by building a rock garden. When we talk about rock gardens, images of homes in the British Isles come to mind. Rock gardens bring out the best in your plants, accentuating each one and bringing the focus to the sparse greenery without expending too much cash.

It is all in the arrangement of the rocks in your garden. When done properly, the can complement the overall look of your garden. Your job is to coordinate the colors, the layers and the spacing between rocks and plants. Rocks are truly a low-maintenance landscape feature that should enhance and beautify without interfering with your lawn-mowing practices. A rock garden can even reduce the space that requires maintenance.

Visualize the rock garden inside your mind. You must make a decision on which plants should stay and which ones should go. You cannot keep everything. You must clear unwanted plants or those that do not fit in with your concept. Take this chance to clear the plants with fungal infections or pests as these can contaminate the other healthy plants in your garden.

You may need to do some re-planting so make sure you test the soil for extreme conditions like being too acidic or basic. It is recommended that you wait for a good season to start remodelling and putting in the rocks. This way, you can go all out with your designing as well as your natural pest control.

Soil improvement is necessary before you place the rocks. Remember, you may not be able to do the same thing for a time when your rocks are in place. Choose rocks according to your aesthetic tastes. Rocks of the same size and shape can be ordered together, and sorted accordingly.

Vary the sizes, colors and shapes of your rocks, but make sure the arrangement is tasteful and stable. Don’t mix in big rocks with very small plants unless the plants are attractive enough to never get overshadowed by the rocks. If you have many plants, rocks should be spaced further apart to give more room for the vegetation. If you have a few plants, you can use the rocks to frame the plants, while providing enough room for the plants to grow.

Pay attention to the natural form of your garden. If the area is flat, you can work from the inside going out. This is particularly true if you are planning on designing a circular rock garden.

If your garden is on a hill, you can start designing the bottom part and work your way up. Try to arrange the rocks and plants in such a way that the water from sprinklers reaches all of them. Remember to provide a way for the water to exit, so that no unnecessary puddles of water are formed. You can always use soil to provide continuity between rocks if you think cracks and gaps are too aesthetically difficult to deal with.

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Deck railings are glamorous and trendy, but only if you choose a great design and a reliable contractor. If you’re someone with carpentry skills, however, you will be able to install the most fascinating deck railings in no time. So, where do you start?

You can start by learning about the different types of railings. You see, these are not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for safety. Here are some tips for picking out a design that will fit your lifestyle.

Top Rails are usually wood, and are made up of (usually 2×4 or 2×6 lumber). These can be installed flat or on the edge. Top rails installed over top of the vertical posts can create a sturdy railing. The posts must be able to support the whole structure. What’s important to know is that a smooth top rail over the post tops can define the perimeter of your deck.

You can mount the posts on the outside of the rim joist (posts will protrude above the top rail). You can also mount them inside the rim joist. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a rim joist is the 2 x 8 lumber on the sides and ends of a deck.

The aesthetics of posts can be defined with the addition of a cap or with variation in the post dimensions. What are post caps? Post caps can improve the look of posts that protrude about the top rail. Some post caps are more ornate than others, and it’s really up to you to choose a style that fits your personality. You can add lights to post caps so that you can light up your porch during the night.

Balusters are also called pickets or spindles. These are vertical fittings between the top and bottom rails. How wide or narrow a baluster is depends on what kind of look you’re aiming for. Wide ones create a more confined space. This is for when you want to conceal a view. Thin balusters make your deck more open, and can be used if you want to accentuate a view. Balusters of alternating widths can be used for aesthetic purposes.

Materials for balusters may vary, from aluminum and steel, to wrought iron balusters. These materials allow for thinner baluster designs. Spacing between balusters must not exceed 4” from the inside edge, but this could vary depending on the rules and regulations of your locality. Panels can be made of glass or semi-transparent material. As for colors, paint the top rail for additional aesthetic value.

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If you live in an urban area and you have a business, you might as well invest in a good design for your outdoor lights. Commercial outdoor lighting is much in demand. As soon as the sun sets, the city is alight with luminous billboards, trendy shop signs and twinkling lights. You can create the same ambiance for your shop and burn your brand in the mind of passers-by and motorists. If you operate a shop that’s open during the night, a great outdoor lighting design is one of the things that could lure in customers.

Any metropolitan area would look like Vegas with glitzy neon signs in all shapes and sizes. Your outdoor lights serve as a beacon for those who want to try your products and your services.

If you’re set on contacting an artist to create a design for you, choose contemporary designs and weather-resistant materials. Bronze fixtures mounted on matching fiberglass poles are great for parking lots. Recreational areas can be installed with cobra head lighting fixtures, like those found on city streets.

Your design must be tasteful and pleasing to the eye. An ordinary person should be able to stare at your design for a long period without getting blinded by the glare or annoyed at the rapid twinkling. In addition, you should pay attention to the colors you choose. It’s great to pick out bright colors, but if the design is too gaudy, people will get turned off instead of mesmerized by your store’s lights.

If you want a good outdoor design but you’re hesitating because of electricity charges, you can request for bulbs and lighting devices that will help you save on electricity. It helps if you have solar panels and energy storage batteries so you can power your outdoor lights using the free electricity you harvest during the day. One more way of using cost-effective lighting designs is installing new LED or light-emitting-diode technology to create brighter lights. Lights that use LED technology are inexpensive and can be used effectively in commercial areas.

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Contrary to what others may have told you, installing a pond in your backyard is easy! You don’t have to look for contractors to build a concrete pond. You can install an artificial, preformed and flexible garden pond yourself. This is an inexpensive and easy alternative that all home owners should know about.

Preformed ponds are available in various shapes and sizes. Any amateur gardener can install a pond in a day using this.

Choosing a garden pond design depends on your budget and your yard’s overall look. If you’re on a tight budget, you can go for a small water garden that can hold less than 1500 gallons of water. This type is less than 10” X 13” X 19” deep. Get a rigid preformed pond liner rigid or a flexible one. All in all, you will spend around a thousand dollars for a basic 10 X 16ft pond with a good-quality liner.

A simple pond design you might want to try is the above ground preformed pond. A box without a bottom seal can be placed over a flat surface. You will need cushioning material for the bottom part. Then, set up the pond liner can be laid around the bottom and spread around the pond surface. Trim off the extra liner, pour in the water and you’re done!

Another good idea for you is an in-ground pond design. A flexible liner is recommended for this project so that you can be versatile as far as the shape, size and depth of your pond is concerned. Use a plastic hose to determine the shape of the pond, then commence digging. Install the pond liner using stones and bricks. You must take care not to damage the liner during installation.

Flexible rubber liners have the same longevity as preformed fiber glass. The only difference is that flexible rubber liners are less costly. The standard 45 mm EPDM-2 is durable and easy to use. Why rubber? Rubber is better than PVC as a pond liner material because rubber is less prone to damage by sun exposure.

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If you’ve been dreaming of improving your lawn so that you can relax in it when you’re free, a gazebo might just be the right project for you. Even the most attractive gazebos around your neighborhood may have been built from scratch by the owners themselves. If you want to try building a gazebo on your own, there are plenty of gazebo plans available free in libraries and online. There may also be blueprints you can purchase for a few dollars.

Architectural blueprints for gazebos are also available if you want a more complicated design. You can ask a contractor to look at the blueprint you purchased and work out the details together. A talented home improvement enthusiast can also use these blueprints. Some of the most exciting free gazebo plans are available from the Build Eazy website. You will be able to download complete plants for building five basic gazebo styles.

Is a Gazebo for You?

Before you start building a gazebo, ask yourself if you have the space for it and if you have enough time to continue working on the project. Even if you’re hiring a contractor, you must have basic carpentry skills so that you can check if your gazebo is being built right. If you’re doing a DIY, you will be needing tools such as a lever and a screw gun. You will also need a compound miter saw or sliding compound miter saw. This equipment will let you make angular cut to create the gazebo style you want. The sliding version is best for larger pieces of wood.

Gazebo Structure

For flooring, you have a few options. You can bolt the gazebo to a concrete slab, build it on wooden floorboards, or install the flooring on the gazebo. If you’re installing the floor, you will have to pour one concrete pier for each post. Get in touch with your city engineer to find out about underground cables you will have to avoid when building your gazebo, and the recommended depth for your concrete piers.

Next is the material for your gazebo. Wooden gazebos are best built with pine wood, cedar wood, and redwood. Each of these options have pros and cons. Pine is soft and is recommended for those who don’t want to work too hard cutting planks of wood. However pine wood can easily be damaged by the natural elements. Cedar and redwood are more hardy, but they are more expensive than pine.

If you don’t want a wooden gazebo, you can go for metal or vinyl ones. But for this project, you will have to use a gazebo kit. You can order a gazebo kit and check a manual for assembly instructions. You will be needing a screw gun, and an extra pair of hands to create this type of gazebo

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A landscaping contractor can help you with ideas for yard design and other outdoor projects. If you want your lawn to look like the success that you are but you simply don’t have the time to work on it, a landscaping contractor can handle it for you.

Aesthetic value is something that you can obtain if you hire the right person. The landscaping contractor can design your driveways, patios and decks. They can help with grading the yard, building garden ponds (complete with a bridge), playground design and landscape design.

Tips for Hiring a Landscaping Contractor

Before you settle for one landscape contractor, ask about specific areas of experience and expertise. Your choice must revolve around the main aspect of the design you had in mind. If you want a yard where you can entertain guests during night time, hire a contractor that specializes in lighting and outdoor fireplaces. You can install some semi-permanent benches if your kids love parties. You can also hire someone with a background in Japanese art if you want to build a Zen garden.

One of the most important things you should do if you’re hiring a contractor is to make sure you clarify what you want at the onset of the project. It’s difficult to change directions when construction is underway. Also, indicate that you want an easy-care landscape so you won’t have any trouble fixing, mending and mowing your lawn after the construction is done.

You can also ask for recommendations if you want plants to thrive in your newly designed backyard. Landscape contractors know about drought-tolerant plants and ground cover. They also know how to structure your land and your plants in a way that your garden will look larger. You can simply describe your concept to them, ask for suggestions, pitch in your ideas before construction starts, and sit back while your new landscape is created.

You can easily correct landscape problems and increase the value of your real estate considerably if you hire the right contractor. Some contractors are experts at correcting landscape flaws so that your yard flows the way you’ve always envisioned.

If you want the focus of your landscape on architecture, a construction contractor can do the job. Building a raised deck needs an expert at construction.

You can ask your neighbors about the best local contractors, or you can find one from community lists.

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A backpack blower is what you need if you are serious about caring for your lawn or garden. This is what a professional would use. These contraptions are mostly powered by 2-stroke gasoline engines. There are a lot of backpack blower designs on sale nowadays, so you’d better pay attention to the different features so that you know which type you’re getting.

Backpack blowers with more than 40cc engines are bestsellers because they are designed to work without unnecessary noise. The typical blowing power is 400 cfm  (cubic feet per minute) of volume at 190 mph (meter per hour). If you live in a neighborhood where no one wants to be disturbed, these units are the best choice.

High performance backpack blowers commonly have a blowing power of more than 450 cfm of volume at 195 mph. These are noisier than other blowers but they’re more fuel efficient and you can finish the job rapidly. Commercial users use this type not only for the efficiency but also because it has optional accessories like breathable nylon back pads and padded, adjustable harnesses.

The larger types of backpack blowers include Big-bore Backpacks, which have a minimum engine power of 50cc. These are very efficient and may cut down your cleaning time in half. These are for use on larger areas. It is recommended to get this type if you have to deal with wet matted leaves.

What other selection criteria are there for choosing backpack blowers? Before you pay for a unit, make sure you try out the blower. Harness quality and comfort differ. The harness, which has a blower fit into it, is worn on the operator’s back. It should be sturdy and easy to use. The engine and fan are also fitted into the backpack frame with a hand-held hose and spout.

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If you have a nice looking yard right now, you probably know that it’s pretty difficult to maintain. If you’ve ever thought about sleeping in without worrying about how messy your yard would look if you don’t mow it this week, a robotic lawn mower may be the best backyard gadget for you.

Robotic lawn mowers can do the job, charge itself and do it all over again without fail. It’s battery operated so you don’t have to worry about paying for gas or oil to keep it going. You can pretty much install it then leave it alone, except for the times when you have to replace the blades or the batteries. They can work in any weather because of the water-proof feature.

One thing you have to take care of, however, is the perimeter wire. This can be installed by a professional, or you can install it yourself. The wire has to be buried into the ground, around two inches deep. This wire will tell the robotic lawn mower the boundary of the lot it should mow.

When the robotic mower senses the wire, it will immediately turn around to avoid crossing the invisible line. But, accidents happen and sometimes the signal from the wire gets “ignored” by your automatic mower. Don’t worry when this happens because the mower will instantly shut down when it accidentally crosses the perimeter wire.

The best thing about it is that you can set a routine for mowing. The mower doesn’t emit annoying sounds, so you can set the mower to do the job during night time. This is perfect if you have kids that love to play in the yard during the day.

When the appointed time comes, the mower will move away from the charger and start mowing. There are some mowers that go back and forth, while there are some that move randomly. When the battery reaches a critical level, the mower automatically moves towards the charger.

You can choose from a variety of designs. All robotic lawn mowers nowadays have features that are meant to attract customers. Some designs are aesthetically pleasing, while some are rather plain.

When you buy your robotic mower, you should ask about auto-charging. Not all robotic lawnmowers go back to the charger automatically. A sensor for rain or puddle should also be present. It’s annoying if you have to “rescue your mower” from a soft spot on your lawn because there’s no sensor for wet or soft soil patches.

Robotic lawn mowers are practical, but not everyone has a unit yet. That’s why it’s not surprising if the neighbors stand around to watch it work if you schedule the mowing during daytime.

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Everyone wants thick lawns teeming with greenery and life. But what if you find yourself with a lawn with compacted soil that won’t accept any seeds much less nourish them? Short of interrogating your customers about watering practices and fertilizer treatments, you can simply consider the basics. It may be time to do some soil aeration.

First, ask yourself the following questions. Does the lawn look like machines or cars have been on it? If there are tire tracks in the lawn, the soil may be more compact in a lot of spots. Are there weeds despite the fact that the owner uses only fertilizer with weed prevention features? The fertilizers and the weed prevention agents may not be reaching some areas in the soil. The same situation may be the cause for the presence of pests despite that the customers told you they use pest control.

You should do some tests before going for the option of aeration. If you spray the lawn with water and puddles form on the lawn, you may need to aerate. The same is true when water pools are present in the lawn after a downpour. There may also be bare spots amidst the grass, despite that the seeds were distributed uniformly. The soil might have compacted, and you need to aerate to make the soil more habitable to seeds. If you want to test the lawn soil quickly, you can simply try using a stick to penetrate the soil. If the soil won’t budge under the pressure, you need to loosen it up.

Wet days are terrible for aeration. You will also be messing up the lawn without going anywhere near improving it. However, you also don’t want the lawn to be too dry, or else you won’t be able to aerate properly. Observe the weather and choose a good week to aerate.

You will need an aerator attachment for your mowers. If you don’t have one, you can rent one. In fact, it is recommended to rent first before buying your own so you can determine what features you really want.
Aerators with spreaders will let you spread out the plugs or cores easily. If the soil is mostly clay, you will need longer spokes. With spikes, you can penetrate the soil, even when it’s rather dry or hard. If the soil is too dry, you can sprinkle water first. The objective is to create a good soil environment for aeration. If you plan on mowing the soil, attach the aerator.

Aeration will help with the flow of air, water and minerals to the roots of the plants. It also helps the earthworms, which in turn help with keeping pests off and add to natural fertilization. Your efforts will also lead to a decrease in weed number.

You can overseed right after you aerate the soil. Do this if you want to fill the bare spots during autumn, for a better looking lawn during winter. Core aerating the lawn will help you prepare the soil for seeding. That’s why seeding must be done right after aeration to maximize the effects of aeration on seeds. Lawns meant for cool weather grasses must be aerated during fall because of the grass’ delicate nature.

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