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Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Tips

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Tips

With the evolution of lighting technology over the years, the low voltage lighting technology has come to enjoy excellent regards and popularity when it comes to aspects of outdoor lighting. One reason is because of its unmatched decorative enhancement for all types and forms of landscapes. Additionally, it is cost-effective when compared to the high-voltage types; so many people are enjoying its high potential for reducing money allotment for its installation and maintenance. More than this, one reason why the low voltage landscape lights is the choice of many is because it is much safer for homes that have small children and pets, since it delivers a charge insufficient to cause lethal shock and serious injury.

Tungsten filament lamps were the traditional materials for the making of standard landscape lights. The colors they give off are perfect for bringing out and enhancing the rich tones of wood, stucco, masonry, and other home architectural keynotes. In the vast world of landscape lightning, the types that are still highly valued would be the incandescent lamps. This is because of their ability to be dimmed to create ambience, mood and several lightning effects. However, these lights burn out very quickly. Even though they are considered the cheapest lighting fixtures with regards to the front-end costs, their lamp lives are short such that they need to be replaced annually. This is what makes them expensive to operate and replace.

Low voltage landscape lights, on the other hand, offer a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative to illuminate the landscape. Most of these fixtures would only need 12 volts, which presents a marginal power cost. This is what makes them ideal light fixtures to maintain and illuminate landscaping features that would need continuous illumination to magnify their aesthetics. The landscape lights are cheaper than the high voltage incandescent lights when it comes to initial installation, as they would not require certain conduit just to house their wirings. However, since the low voltage wires are buried in the ground without protective covering, they can be easily cut and damaged with a shovel by people who are tending to the lawns and gardens. It is best, then, to have a professional install these low voltage landscape lights to minimize the risk of physical equipment damage.

One popular and ideal place to install these landscape lights would be a part of the garden that is characterized by subdued conversation and intimate gatherings. Low voltage landscape lights would normally be used to illuminate the surroundings of outdoor fireplaces, inducing a certain sense of warmth. Outdoor kitchens and arbors are also ideal places to install these lights, as the wires and fixtures can be hidden effectively in the structure themselves. This would make the structure appear magically luminous, which adds attraction and brightens the mood of people in gatherings and various events.

Low voltage landscape lights are the ideal alternatives to other landscape lighting. Not only are they the cheapest form of lighting, they are also the safest for everyone to use. Just remember to look for the reliable manufacturers in order to maximize the benefits of the low voltage landscape lights.…

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Gazebo Canopies – Common Sense

Gazebo Canopies – Common Sense

Gazebo canopies can be a great addition to your backyard. There are many different styles to choose from. However, when it comes to caring for your canopy, you need to use some common sense. This article will be about the few little things you can do that will help your gazebo last a lot longer as well as save you some money in the process. When you are done reading this article, you should be able to take these common sense tips and use them when the time comes.

One of the main cause of damage to gazebo canopies that most owners have to deal with is the weather. Depending on where you live, this can be a minor issue or a huge challenge. Putting up a canopy is quite simple and takes very little time. Taking them down is quite simple as well but it may be seen as more of an inconvenience. The reason for this is that when you are putting them up, you are doing it with a mindset of trying to add some shading to your backyard. When taking them down however, people tend to do it with the mindset that it’s a chore and therefore, a hassle. This can cost you money.

Over time, the combination of rain, heat, and wind, will start to wear down the canopy top and cause it to fade in color and tear. When this happens, you are normally left with something that is a bit of a pain to look at. The point in putting one of these canopies up is to provide shading as well as enhancing the look of your backyard. When you leave it up too long without caring for it, it will start to do the opposite of what you want.

So the common sense solution to this is to simply take your gazebo canopy down when the weather gets bad. During the winter time, you’re most likely not going to use it. For this reason, it only makes sense to take it down and store it away. This may be a hassle, but it will also save you money. The canopy tops will need to be replaced every now and then and they cost money. The better you are able to care for them, the less money you will have to spend.

Using this common sense tip, fight the feeling of procrastination and just take your canopy down when it’s time to do so. Otherwise, it will cost you.…

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Garden Gnomes For Sale

Garden Gnomes For Sale

So said the sign I passed on my way to a business meeting. For some reason, when I got home, I decided to read about garden gnomes and found there was a fascinating history!

Early in the 19th century the first garden gnomes appeared, in Germany. In around 1840, the idea spread to England. Having a gnome on the garden was generally thought to bring good luck, as well as a bountiful harvest.

Apparently Sir Charles Isham, the 10th Baronet of Lamport Hall, brought around 20 garden gnomes from Germany – the first to arrive in England. He proudly set them up in the rockery in his garden. Unfortunately only one remains – “Lampy” – and it’s a sad sign of the times that he has to be insured against theft – for a million pounds.

The original statues were hand crafted from terracotta, which remained the material of choice right up until the 1960s. These clay garden gnomes were often cherished, collectible ornaments that stayed in the family and were passed down through the generations.

Philip Griebel and August Heissner started mass producing garden gnomes in around 1872. Within a short time Heissner Gnomes became famous around the world. Far from the tacky image of today’s gnomes, these were considered to be works of art which brought luck to the owners.

A huge amount of work was often put into these early statues and some of them were quite big – as much as a meter tall. Although made for the garden, they were meticulously crafted. Having said that, many of the more beautiful examples ended up in the homes of wealthy people, as house ornaments (although I rather think that the gnomes preferred to be where they belonged – in the garden).

Gnomes actually go back a looooooooooooong way – hundreds of years ago they were generally portrayed as short, very old men with wrinkles and white beards, wearing red conical hats and brown trousers.

Early gnomes were somewhat serious fellows, and remained so right up until Walt Disneys Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs gave us a glimpse of what was to come.

Ironically the new versions only had a run of a couple of years, since World War II came along and stopped production in all of Europe.

It wasn’t until the 60’s that the advent of cheap plastics kick-started mass production again. and millions of brightly colored gnomes started invading gardens again.

Today, there are few remaining ceramic gnome manufacturers, with most being made from plastic in Eastern Europe and the Far East.

Modern suburban gardeners seem to like gnome statues. They think (and I agree) that they make for interesting, humorous gardens!

Problem is, many gnomes are stolen (or “liberated”), which is a shame. Maybe because of the recession they turn up on Ebay?!

So, Love em or hate em, garden gnomes have been around for about 150 years and they look like theyre going to be around for another 150.

Last points:

*Gnomes are banned from the Chelsea Flower Show because the organizers claim they detract from garden designs.

*Garden gnomes have been banned from cemeteries by the Diocese of Bath and Wells (in England ” where else?) because leaders say they are “unnatural creatures”. Along with plastic flowers and other decorations such as teddy bears, they have been called “inappropriate and tacky!

*In France there is even a French Liberation Front of Garden Gnomes

*sigh*…

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Landscaping Swimming Pools

Landscaping Swimming Pools

So what if it’s winter? You can still enjoy plunging in a heated pool. It’s not long before summer arrives and then you will have a good reason to dive into the blues and cool yourself off. A swimming pool is a great place for the whole family to gather, relax and have fun! Swimming is one of the best recreational activities and exercises one can have. To enhance your experience and the aesthetics of your pool, what would work better than some beautiful landscaping? So why not landscape the area around the swimming pool. Even though pools may be hard to maintain and may cost a lot of money to build, they can still become a great asset to you if you have a beautifully landscaped poolside.

To landscape the pool area you would first need to hire a good landscaping company that is expert in providing the renovation in accordance to exactly what you want. When you are thinking of hiring landscapers there are some considerations which you can make. This will benefit you in the long run. Let’s check them out –

The style of landscaping depends on the type of pool that you have – The landscaping would depend upon the type of pool that the owner has. An in-ground pool can have stones and plants to enhance the look. There are above ground pools too, these can be surrounded with small trees and flowers. Whatever style is applied it has to be unique and innovative.

In-ground pool oasis – To bring that natural look to your pool and make it look like an oasis, nothing can work better than rocks, boulders, flowers and sprouts. By applying this style you will be able to bring out the effect of a natural water source. Flagstaff and mounted flat stones work well here. Such sources from nature helps give a fuller look to a pool.

Swimming pools are incomplete without furnishing – A swimming pool looks so incomplete without the area modeled and furnished. You can make arrangements so that you can have a relaxation even after you cool yourself off. Landscape it in such a way that your family can even enjoy a pool side party on and off. Lounge chairs and potted trees will add to the beauty. Keep it as natural as possible. It all again depends upon the type of area. For example you can have your pool in a patio or backyard. Different areas will demand different styles.

Pools can form an integral part of your home. Why not landscape it perfectly? Rely on Yard Works for a wonderful landscaping of swimming pools, Rhode Island home owners!…

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Considerations in Home Landscape Design You Should Know

Considerations in Home Landscape Design You Should Know

Why do home owners spend thousands of dollars in perfecting their landscape design? Simple, because they know that the first thing that people see in in their house is the facade lawns or front gardens that can tell clues as to how kept the house really is inside. Getting a new lawn look can even make other think you have overhauled the total look in your house and garden.

Many landscape designers are employed by millions of homes every once in a while because of the main reason of getting their house renovation jump started. Many residents believe that the lawns or gardens they have in the front or back yard are essential for starting the new look all over the house. Or for most cases, they are the last projects as well so as to keep the house looking in a distinct manner. But before you dial the services of professionals, take some considerations in mind first so you can be assured what you want your landscape to look like after all the work.

Think of the landscape design as an enhancement. Not all designs are good for your home no matter how good they look on those glossy home and garden magazines. Your design should be able to retain the personal signature of your house. Colors, texture, details should make the easy transition to the eye.

Physical dimensions can be determining factors in designing your landscape. Make sure that the height, width, and perimeter restrictions are considered. You cannot place trees or bushes that can hinder view in the driveway. Management and placement of elements in your landscape design is very crucial for it to become functional and not only for display.

Speaking of flora, you must also consider the watering and drainage of your gardening system once incorporated with your landscape design. Do not forget to plan the proper plants to be placed in the local soil you have. This is because some plants are quite picky with their roots and do not grow where a particular type of soil is not available.

Decoration is not entirely the main focus of modern landscaping designers today. Most of them would like to have sustainability incorporated in their proposed design because these experts know that it would take time to have another re-design of the area.

Focal point or the center feature of attention for your landscaping design is very essential to keep a theme in place. Some designs end up looking unorganized or worse mismatched among the elements they have. Having a centerpiece so to speak, holds the elements together to look like a whole.

Do consider putting some curves in your perimeter. Most manicured lawns are more inviting when they have curves rather than straight lines in their plots or formations. Curb side appeals more to friendlier curve designs compared to the straighter ones.

Functional usage of the garden by family members should be considered as well. Having kids around can mean the landscaping design should be children friendly with necessary guards installed to keep the kids playing out in the streets. Or you can put a cot or hooded swing for your reading time or a place where you can get away all to yourself.

Lighting also play a good part in all the elements of landscape designing. Natural and artificial lighting can focus the attention to the worthy and diffuse the not so pretty parts. Ask your designer to keep as little artificial lighting as they can to minimize energy consumption as well. Solar paneled artificial lighting are one of the eco-friendly alternatives of today.

Keep these all in mind and you can be assured of the right kind of landscape design in your homes all worthy of the planning and resources you invested.…

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What Do I Plant Around My Pond?

What Do I Plant Around My Pond?

You’ve decided you want to add some color and definition around your pond. You also know that creating a vegetative buffer around your precious water resource is vital on many levels. Attracting a variety of waterfowl and other wildlife is desirable also. There are so many advantages to having vegetation, but the question do you plant?

Selecting plants is a lot more difficult when a body of water is involved. There are additional considerations that have to be taken. Erosion control has to be of utmost importance.

Nutrient and pollutant filtering should also be of a high priority, considering it is one of the major causes of poor water quality and algae growth. Plants native to your area should always take precedence. Woody plants and shrubs too close to the bank can destabilize the compaction of the slope and speed up the erosion process; but, if they are planted far enough away from the slope, they can be highly beneficial. They can soak up a lot of the nutrients and filter contaminates before they ever reach the bank, and can also slow down the speed at which water runoff travels and suspends particles. Canopy interception of rainfall can also be helpful.

In the upland areas around the edge of a pond, you should select plants that can survive and adapt to occasional mild flooding during storm events. If the soil around the pond is particularly acidic, sandy, or of a compacted clay or rock, this might limit your options. Some suggestions of hardy plant types that fair well in a variety of applications that I’ve chosen are Red Maple, Bald Cypress, Black Willow, Elderberry, Black Cherry, Silky Dogwood, and Buttonbush. If you know for certain that the area never gets flooded, you can probably choose just about any tree or shrub that would typically thrive in that soil condition.

As you get closer to the water, you have to select plants that are more accustomed to flooding. They should be able to withstand some exposure, and also be able to survive mowing. You would preferably want something with minimal maintenance. A couple of my picks would be Switchgrass, various varieties of turf type grasses, and a variety of sedges.

One of the most critical vegetative areas in the overall pond’s ecosystem starts in the shallow water and extends up into the bank. Choosing native plants for this area is highly recommended. An exotic species can completely overcrowd all other plants quickly, reducing the bio-diversity, and leading to numerous problems. These native wetland plants protect the shoreline, which is highly susceptible to erosion, and keep bottom sediments from re-suspending into the water, keeping it clear. They also provide habitats for a variety of insects that keep mosquitoes at bay. This buffer is also the last check on nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous before they become available in the open water.

Plants located around the pond need to be highly adaptive to constant changes in the water level. Here are a few I recommend based on their hardiness and ability to provide food for waterfowl: Pickerelweed, Arrow Arum, Wild Rice, Broomsedge, Soft-stem Bulrush, Common Three Square, Lizard’s Tail, Marsh Hibiscus, and Rice Cutgrass.

There are many plants that are suited for a variety of water related environments. If you are unsure which is appropriate for your area, you can contact your State’s Department of Conservation and Recreation or Natural Reserve. Additionally, you can always contact your lake and pond management professional who is typically an expert in native pond plants.…

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The Great Thing About Having an Outdoor Fire Pit

The Great Thing About Having an Outdoor Fire Pit

Regardless of where you live in the world or what type of climate you are accustomed to, the thought of winter brings certain pictures to your mind. Steaming cups of hot chocolate, winter ski slopes, friends and family gathered in front of a crackling fire are just a few of the images we draw from during this season. The wonderful thing about winter is all the sights and colors associated with this time of year. More than that are the sounds that winter produces. The crack of branches as they fall under the weight of the ice, the crunch of the snow when shoppers in furry boots walk from one store to another and of coarse, the crackle of a fire. Whether the fire is from a nice warm fireplace in the den, a campfire surrounded by sledders trying to keep warm or an outdoor fire pit adding ambiance to an outdoor assembly of co-workers, fire not only gives out physical heat, but also gives a feeling that everything is alright with the world.

Once unheard of, the backyard yard fire pit is fast becoming a place to entertain. Bonding with friends and family while enjoying the warmth of the fire pit has become a place where memories are made. The great thing about having a fire pit is that it can enlarge your entertainment area. Having your party both in the house as well as the backyard patio, lends itself to a variety of entertainment possibilities. Some guests can gather around the fire pit while the steaks are cooking, while others congregate inside catching up on the latest office news or playing the Wii.

Speaking of steaks, another great thing about having an outdoor fire pit is the way attachments allow you to cook almost anything. A simple metal grate will create a cooking surface much like the barbecue stored in garage. Place your favorite choice of meat on the grate over a low fire. Add sides like vegetables or fruits if you like. In fact, the fire pit can even boil water. Cooking outside always makes food taste better. There is something about the smell of meat cooking outside that revs up the appetite and invites the neighbors to look over the fence to see what’s’ cooking.

Probably the best great thing about having a fire pit is the way it makes you feel. Watching the colors of a blazing fire in the cool darkness of the evening, makes you feel like a kid again. As friends gather around the dancing flames, huddled together in the warmth of the fire and allow the crackling flames to lull their inhibitions, camaraderie is peaked. Memories of ghost stories created on a whim as dark shadows skirt around the edges of the fire, will again send shivers down your spine. On the other hand, looking at the wide eyes of your children as they listen to the scary stories created minute by minute renew these memories for the next generation. All because of an outdoor fire pit.…

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Estimating Your Landscape Design Cost – Discover The Hidden Costs Of Landscaping

Estimating Your Landscape Design Cost – Discover The Hidden Costs Of Landscaping

Living in a stressful society, where you are all the time surrounded by horns, traffic jams, disturbing noises, demanding jobs you have to find the best way in providing yourself a piece of heaven. People are starting to pay more and more for all this ways of relaxing from a spa to a nice vacation. But most of the luckiest ones can have this piece of heaven at their fingertips whenever they need it such as a beautiful garden which confers the best moments of comfort.

Estimating your landscape design cost can be a little difficult but if you have already set your budget you just have to be careful to stay within it. Landscape design can be different from project to project, in function of its details. There are some free design plans that you can opt for or if you want to cut a conspicuous figure about it you can turn to a designer who can create the plan for you. To create an outdoor space you need a professional design in order to render the perfect garden. You can choose from a wide pallet of options and you can select the designer you need, but first you have to understand that turning to the services of a designer can cost more than your budget was planned. So, please take into consideration that this is an essential part of budget organization.

There are many elements that can determine the actual price of the landscape design, but three elements are essential. The first one is your property’s overall size which has the biggest influence on your landscape design cost. Design packages are adjusted with every type of property, big or small.

Second of all, you have the area that needs to be landscaped. A complete design for the entire garden will cost a lot more than a plan for your house front. Another determiner of your costs is the characteristics and the options you desire. Many design services give a wide pallet of packages so it is not hard to calculate the estimated value of your project.

Estimating your landscape design cost will not include the materials or the cost of work to install your design. These enter in the installation cost. Whether you want to renovate your garden, or plant a set of trees you might need the touch of a professional design which will give an overall beauty to your house.…

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Retaining Walls: What They Do, and Why You Might Need One

Retaining Walls: What They Do, and Why You Might Need One

In the course of home ownership, many people may find they need to add a retaining wall to their properties. These are more than just a cosmetic improvement; they serve an important function in house landscaping by minimizing soil erosion. The following is a look at the major functions of a retaining wall, clues that you might need to add one to your property, and design options to compliment your house landscaping.

Retaining Wall Functions

Especially in wet areas of the country, it’s important to consider drainage techniques in your yard and lawn care. Retaining walls, for example, can be designed to direct rainwater away from the home. they can also:

Increase usability. A retaining wall can create a flat area by holding back the soil on a slope. If the land slopes around your house, they can make your whole yard much easier to use.

Hold slopes in place. Slopes are great for views but challenging for your home’s stability. These walls battle gravity by keeping the soil on a slope in place.

Boost built-in seating. One of the unanticipated services landscaping retaining walls can provide is additional seating. The top of the wall is a nice place to sit and chat.

Signs You Might Need a Retaining Wall

Soil fault lines are uphill from your property. During earthquakes, land often slides away from fault lines. Does a fault line run above your property? If so, a landscaping contractor might recommend adding one of these walls for increased stability.

Downhill erosion is impacting your property. Are you battling mountains of soil and debris deposited on your property via erosion? If so, a wall can help redirect or absorb rainwater and slow the rate of erosion.

A sliding hill is threatening your home’s foundation. On the downhill slide of a slope, erosion can wear away and weaken a home’s foundation. In contrast, the uphill side of a foundation may be compacted by erosion. In both cases, a retaining wall can help provide helpful services; landscaping architects can design walls to stabilize homes on sloped properties.

Design Options

A retaining wall is a practical and functional landscape feature, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful, as well. Common materials for these walls include:

Natural stone. Natural stone is the most expensive (and, many say, the most attractive) option.

Interlocking blocks or poured concrete. Interlocking blocks or poured concrete retaining walls are less expensive than their natural stone counterparts. A modern-style home design pairs well with these types of walls.

Timber walls. Because timber walls often do not last as long as other options, timber is usually the least expensive choice.

Whichever material you choose, it’s smart to incorporate drainage in your design – otherwise, your wall could eventually crack or buckle. This may be a way to help you choose among service providers; Landscaping companies that can’t design one with built-in drainage should be removed from your list of potential contractors.

Retaining walls create flat planting areas while providing slope stabilization. When considering adding one, don’t automatically assume that the job can be done by the same outfit that provides your lawn care; landscaping gurus know that building a one requires engineering prowess.…

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Composting in Your Landscape

Composting in Your Landscape

Composting landscape and kitchen scraps is beneficial for reducing garbage waste and practicing recycling throughout your landscape maintenance routine. You do not need a green thumb to begin composting. Here are a few basic principles to get you started with composting: materials you can compost, ratio and composition of kitchen and yard waste, pile configuration, maintenance, and composting cycle.

What can you compost? Most materials may be composted. There are a few things you should avoid composting: cut grass where chemical herbicides have been applied, weeds (they may re-seed and continue returning to your landscape), synthetic chemicals, pet waste, inorganic materials (pressure treated lumber, plastics, metals, glass, etc.), plants with diseases, coal ash, paper with color ink (newspapers, magazines, etc.), as well as anything consisting of dairy, meat, bones, fish and fats.

Getting started. One rule to remember is: stick to the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C:N) of 25-30:1. Materials with high carbon (dry material, a.k.a. brown waste) concentration include: ashes (25:1), cardboard (350:1), fruit waste (35:1), pine needles (80:1), sawdust (325:1), wood chips (400:1), etc. High nitrogen (wet material, a.k.a. green waste) concentration include: alfalfa (12:1), clover (23:1), coffee grounds (20:1), food waste (20:1), garden waste (30:1), grass clippings (20:1) (herbicide free), hay (25:1), manures (15:1), seaweed (19:1), etc. If your compost is too carbon-rich you may add grass clippings or manure to lower the ratio. Adding paper or dry leaves will raise C:N levels if it is too low. Make sure the materials added are shredded or diced to a manageable size.

Pile configuration. Pick a sunny spot in your landscape for the compost pile. You should choose an area with plenty of room to pile additional scraps and adequate space for turning compost barrels or piles. Make sure the area has some screening or consider purchasing a small indoor compost bin for your basement or garage (i.e. Planet Natural Indoor Composter). Your compost bin dimensions should also be at least 3 x 3 x 3.

Maintenance and preservation. Most of your time will be spent turning the compost pile. If you want a lower maintenance pile, consider adding worms to your compost. Vermicompost is “the process by which earthworms digest organic matter.” Starting your own vermicompost consists of a bin, bedding, earthworms, and worm food. Most earthworm bins are smaller scale compared to compost piles, but you can add the same type of kitchen waste to your collection. Mixing your compost weekly will maintain even decomposition. Compost also needs a balanced mixture of moisture. Testing the compost consistency is the best way to determine whether any additional material needs to be added. Take a handful of compost and squeeze it; there shouldn’t be any water dripping out of your hands or crumbling of compost material. The best consistency to look for is the compost taking the form of your fist. Good compost should also smell earthy and look like soil.

Compost cycle: from table to outdoors and back again. Once your compost pile is started you can add your nutrient rich mixture to new plantings, mulching areas, and upkeep for more compost.

Regulations regarding composting. Contact your local city government regarding any regulations for compost piles. Most restrictions will consist of compost height, obstruction of drainage areas, and pest control. You may also check any homeowner association guidelines.…