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Landscaping a Sloped Yard: 4 Tips and Tricks

If you have a slope on your property, you may think that it will be awkward or difficult or landscape it. While slopes do present some landscaping challenges, they should be viewed as an opportunity to do something different with your yard. Some would also argue that landscaping a sloped yard is easier than a flat one. So, if you have a sloped yard, here are some tips and tricks to help you turn it into a beauty.

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Getting Ideas

Before you can begin the transformation, you need an idea of what the yard will look like after you are done. Pictures work great and are a convenient option because there are lots of landscaping pictures online that can give you an idea of what to go for.

Once you have some idea of what you want the final result to look like, you should start planning. Issues like how to deal with underground lines and utilities, laying irrigation systems, working with existing levels, and ensuring proper drainage should be on your mind at this stage.

Retaining Walls Considerations

When landscaping a sloped yard, it might be necessary to use retaining walls. However, depending on where you live, you might need an engineer to approve the plan. Also, retaining walls over four feet tall need an engineer’s approval before you start construction.

Once you have checked with an engineer and your local laws, it is time to choose the materials for the retaining wall. The retaining wall should not only be functional but also beautiful, as it is part of your landscaping. For homeowners going for a modern look, using natural stone hardscapes is the best option. Natural stone hardscapes do not look out of place in your yard and are easy to install.

Consider Working With a Professional Landscaper

While you can transform your yard all by yourself if you have a gentle slope, steeper slopes require that you use the services of a qualified landscape contractor. A professional is likely to understand different forces that will act on your yard better than you. For example, both soil and water exert pressure on retaining walls and if they are not properly installed, they may fall. Also, heavy rainfall or improper irrigation can lead to landslides and erosion. You need a professional landscaper to take all of these into account and help ensure everything is done right.

Lean Towards Functionality

While you may want the yard to look beautiful, you should also make it functional too. For example, you can use retaining walls to create different levels and terraces. You can then build stairs to access each of the levels. You can then use these terraces to plant a garden or as erosion control structures.

Landscaping a sloped yard can seem daunting, but it does not have to be. Once you have an idea of what you would like to do with the yard as well as how to make it more functional, you can begin doing the work to turn it into a beautiful and functional part of your property.

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Pergola, Ramada Or Gazebo – What’s the Difference?

Pergola, Ramada Or Gazebo – What’s the Difference?

If you are in the process of designing your yard and landscaping, you are probably looking at outdoor structures. These options can provide shade, entertaining space and general ambiance to your property. However, if you have begun to look at your options, it’s likely that you are a bit confused. Should you chose a pergola, ramada or gazebo? What’s the difference between these choices and which will best meet your needs? There are some distinctions that you can recognize in order to help you make a more informed decision.

Ramadas

Traditionally, a ramada was a structure erected to provide shade, usually roofed over with brush or branches. An open walkway or porch was also known as a ramada. In modern construction, however, a ramada is a structure used to provide shade, with a fully covered roof. It usually matches they style and material of the home.

A ramada is ideal for an outdoor space that is designed to be an extension of the living environment. Because of the sturdy structure, it is easy to include details such as a fireplace or barbecue area. Some homeowners include an outdoor wet bar in their ramada and make it a full featured entertaining area. Brick and stone details are common in the design as well.

Pergolas

Throughout history, a classic pergola was designated as an outdoor structure with an open roof. It was usually supported by columns or similar architectural details. Pergolas are designed to accommodate creeping or vine like vegetation. Modern pergolas remain at much the same specifications. An open roof, often made with a wood trellis, is placed atop columns or posts.

Pergolas are ideal for homeowners who appreciate an open, airy feel and wish to incorporate vegetation in their entertaining area. Planting pots look lovely next to each column. Vine plants can grow up the sturdy poles and begin to make a home in the open trellis work of the roof structure. If you do intend to utilize your pergola in this classic setup, be sure that your contractor uses materials that are designed for the strain of plant growth. A pergola that won’t be used for planting can be made with less durable materials and still last. However, for supporting plant growth, go with the best quality possible.

Gazebos

The gazebo is probably the most recognized outdoor structure that is used in landscaping designs. Gazebos are usually built in more circular geometric shapes. In years past, the name of gazebo was given to an open building that took advantage of a view, or a summerhouse. For this reason, gazebos are often found on hills, wooded clearings, or next to a beach view. Today, any outdoor structure with at least five sides is designated as a gazebo. Most often, a hexagonal shape is used. The roof is most often fully covered and vaulted.

When selecting a gazebo, it’s still a good idea to take advantage of a lovely view. A gazebo sits well in a more traditional landscaping, with a lot of trees, gardens and vegetation. Gazebos compliment Victorian architecture, as well as other classic details. A gazebo is ideal next to water features, such as a pond, or a flower or vegetable garden. Also, if your property fronts woodland, a gazebo may be ideal to take advantage of that view.…

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Swimming Pools – Never Ending Pools

Swimming Pools – Never Ending Pools

Does your property sit on a hill where you can look out to the horizon, or maybe your view goes straight out to sea. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your back garden could flow right into the view? A popular new design in pools will bring the ocean to you. Infinity pools are mostly seen on more exclusive properties, but if your budget will allow it you can build a beautiful vanishing pool in your own back yard.

The Infinity pool usually has one or more disappearing edges. This gives the illusion that the pool has no borders, that the pool merges with the horizon or flows out to sea. It will give your property a most spectacular view. The pool system is designed to operate only when there are swimmers present. Basically, the way an Infinity pool works is the water will spill over the edge of the pool into a collection tank that is install underneath the pool and runs the length of the pool. It will then be circulated through a traditional filtration system and returned to the main pool. The Infinity pool does not use a skimmer, the water is sent to the pump through the drain system.

There are some costs associated with an infinity pool that do not occur with most traditional swimming pools. You will have to install the collection tank, more extensive waterproofing will be required, it will have to be fitted with a larger than normal pump and filter, and will need an auto fill sensor on the collection tank. A filling device is needed to compensate for water that is splashed out by bathers or by rain. A sufficient water level must be maintained for the pumps to operate properly. There will also be additional cost due to water loss from evaporation and splash out. Additional heating of replacement water will also add to operation costs.

Infinity pools add a breathtaking view to your property, but due to the way that the pool is designed to operate it is not very practical in Australia. Australians are under very strict water conservation restrictions, and are encouraged to reduce water waste in all aspects of their daily lives. These pool do not have the over hang pavers that are intended to restrict splash out when bathers are present. Evaporation in the Infinity pools is much more difficult on control so topping off has to be done more often. Rainwater collection tanks will provide the water necessary to maintain adequate water levels for proper operation and eliminate the need for mains water.

Other styles of designer pools are becoming more popular all of the time. One alternative to the Infinity pool is a mirror pool. These pools are a bit more expensive and there are fewer builders installing them.

The internet is an invaluable resource of information on the operation of Infinity pools and other available designer pools. As always consult with an approved pool builder for advice on choosing any non-traditional pools. Contact your local water authority for restrictions and requirements for Infinity pools.…

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The History of Landscaping

The History of Landscaping

The first instances of landscaping include the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, way back in 600 B.C. Considered one of the 7 wonders of the world, these gardens were created by King Nebuchadnezzar for his sickly wife, who missed the plants and flowers of her homeland in Persia.

Mayans lined walkways leading to their temples with intricate plants and flowers, the Romans created courtyard gardens within the boundaries of their properties for the enjoyment of their family and friends, and royalty would plant profuse amounts of flowers and trees as a symbol of their wealth. In the 17th century in Jamaica, slave plantation owners would line the walkways to their mansions with Royal Palms. Throughout history, landscaping was used as a sign of not only beauty, but also wealth, power and respect.

Hardscaping is the use of the terrain itself, or rocks and stones brought in from other places. Nowadays it’s mostly just rocks and stone walls for aesthetics, but hardscaping was also used for practical purposes. The most obvious example of this is the Great Wall of China. Qin Shi Huang unified all the states of China in 221 B.C. and to block invasions from the Xiongnu people in the north, ordered that the wall be built to help protect his new borders from enemies. Of course in this case hardscaping was completely utilitarian.

Another example of hardscaping is the mystical Stonehenge of England. The mystery of these rocks is that though they are in England now, they actually came from Whales, which means that the builders somehow transported these rocks over 200 miles. This has led to many theories of everything from aliens to astronomical miracles. Most likely these creators were just very dedicated (or well-paid) individuals committed to finishing the product.

Nowadays, from the San Joaquin Valley of California to New York’s Hudson Valley, landscaping and hardscaping are now used for personal homes and commercial businesses as a way to improve the quality of peoples’ physical surroundings and to give a sense of nature in an increasingly material world.…

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Landscaping Tips – 4 Great Ideas for a Beautiful Yard

Landscaping Tips – 4 Great Ideas for a Beautiful Yard

Did you know that how your yard looks can have a great impact on your home? A plain and unmaintained lot could really make your house seem much less than its actual value, but a well-decorated yard says otherwise. This is why landscaping is very popular nowadays because it can instantly transform your lot and give you a more positive impression.

So if you want to make your place visually appealing, go ahead and use the following landscaping ideas to help you build a beautiful yard with ease:

Following a Theme

First and foremost, decide on a theme that goes well with the overall appearance of your home. You have several options to choose from, such as oriental, classical or even casual designs. Whichever you pick, be sure to apply the design consistently so that your entire lot will look and work as one.

Keeping a Healthy Lawn

One of the best highlights of a landscape is the lawn. Since it serves as your yard’s flooring, it must be kept green and healthy at all times in order to complement the other elements in your landscaping. You can also add shrubs and flowerbeds to make the area more lively and attractive.

Creating Pathways and Play Areas

If you have kids at home, you could consider including a fun play area for them so they can better appreciate your yard landscaping. But make sure to choose play sets that match the design you’re using-wooden sets go well with oriental themes, stone sets look great with classical motifs, while plastic playgrounds does the trick for casual designs. You could also include a pathway for your kids to ride bikes in, as well as to keep people from stepping on the lawn.

Installing Water Features

Another great way to achieve a beautiful yard is to make use of water features such as birdbaths, ponds, fountains and falls. Not only do these additions make your landscaping incredibly interesting, but they also create a soothing ambiance because of the flowing water sounds. A yard with a water feature can serve as your sanctuary as well-you can simply lay back and relax there after a hard day’s work and forget all your worries away.…

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Enjoy Entertaining Guests With Outdoor Kitchen Islands

Enjoy Entertaining Guests With Outdoor Kitchen Islands

Many people enjoy entertaining their friends and family. They like having indoor dinners, but they know that the best get together are the ones that are in the backyard. It is a great time to have your friends with you as you cook on the grill and enjoy playing games and socializing with family that you may have not seen for a while. This is the reason why more and more people are adding Outdoor Kitchen Islands to their backyards.

Outdoor Kitchen Grills in Style

Some people struggle when they start planning for an outdoor barbecue. They get the grill out, and they take it to the patio. As they prepared the food, they spend a lot of their time traveling back and forth to and from the kitchen. Then they wish that they had room to bring the items that they need outside. Many times they will not have the room, and they will create a lot of clutter near the grill. The best option for them is to consider investing in Outdoor Kitchen Islands.

Space and Comfort

Outdoor Kitchen Islands give you the space that you need outside, and you will see the difference and the benefits when you start using one. Also, you can enhance it when you add additional items to your yard. The items that are also popular are plants, waterfalls and retaining walls. Once you visualize Outdoor Kitchen Islands in your backyard, you will see how you can add other items to make your outdoor events event more spectacular. Some people even invest in putting a solar garden in their backyard.

Cost and Installation

Before you decide to move on and install a kitchen island it is a good idea to get estimates from a reputable company. A reputable company will be insured and bonded for any mistakes and will have all contractors insured as well. Also, you may want to ask for 3-4 references before work ever begins. Ask these references how their experience went and what problems, if any, arose during the project. One last due diligence would be to contact the Better Business Bureau and see if any problems have been submitted to them as well.

Family and Friends

Consider a backyard cookout the next time you want to get together with your friends and family. Once you have the Outdoor Kitchen Islands installed in your backyard, you will see how easy it is when you are cooking the meal that you have planned. You will notice the convenience it brings when you have and prepare your next event. It will also impress your friends and family, and they will want to add the Island to their backyard. Your imagination will help you create the best backyard setting for you and your friends and family to enjoy.…

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Analyzing a Site for FireWise Landscaping

Analyzing a Site for FireWise Landscaping

Especially at this time of the year–late summer and early fall, as well as early spring, the ground tends to be a lot drier and wildland fires can start far more frequently than at any other time.

Landscaping for wildland fire prevention is a great deal more important in some areas than it is in others, but realistically, it is important no matter where you live. Every area has some kind of fire danger. Those homes which are in national forest areas, or lying in the desert areas can be prone to wildland fires that can do amazing damage to your home.

Be smart and check out firewise landscaping. If you don’t know a lot about the firewise landscaping tactics, hire a professional landscaper who can advise you best about what to plant and where to plant it. There is a specific method to the madness of firewise landscaping that makes analyzing a site for firewise landscaping the first thing to accomplish before you even begin a new landscaping job.

Wildland Fire Landscaping Principles

Wildfires can be remarkably destructive. The difference between a wildfire and other kinds of natural disasters is that with the right advice and good choices, you can easily lower the risk of home or property loss and minimize the damage that is done.

Some things that need to be taken into account for your firewise landscaping analysis are:

The kind of home that you have and the way in which it could ignite–many older homes are now being retrofitted to make them far more impervious to ignition from embers, since older homes which do not have this may be at high risk for ignition.

Basic structure and geography of the area in which you live–where the trees lie, how the home lies in contrast to other areas around it. This can’t be changed of course, so far as the area in which you live, but it can be taken into account when it comes to your landscaping and the placement of elements for your outdoor world.

Adjacent buildings and other items that are in close proximity. If your outbuildings and garage are relatively close together then those too need to be taken into account so that there is more green space in between them in order to prevent a fire in one structure from moving to another.

Trees and other items. Which need to be removed, which can be worked with, open areas that run out away from the home, as well as fitting your home with lattice work, fencing and other structures that will keep your home safer. Landscaping is so much more than just the plants and trees that are used near your home.

The lay of the land, making sure that plants are place correctly moving up to the house and other areas, as well as planning for open areas, pruning back trees, removing trees, and even getting gravel and fire resistant fencing are also a part of firewise landscaping. Every aspect of your home needs to be taken into account when analyzing for your firewise landscaping to make sure that you are as safe as possible, and your home is as secure as it can be from a wildland fire.…

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Balance Is the Key to a Happy Landscape

Balance Is the Key to a Happy Landscape

Balance is important in all types of art, architecture, decorating, and especially in landscaping. With balance all things become equal in a particular setting. It is not always as simple as I make it out to be, but I will put it into terms that simplify it a bit for the inexperienced and the do-it-yourself types among us.

To achieve a sense of balance gardens, landscapes, and other environments whether natural or unnatural, need to be equally proportioned, otherwise the natural look and feel of balance will not be obtained. The majority of landscapes lack symmetrical form. They are most often asymmetrical and lack the balance that would make them more inviting and comfortable. To landscape properly can many times depend on other aspects to bring balance and harmonize that particular environment by uniting the available elements.

Often, the shortage of balance is a result of a need for repetition, or patterns. A pattern of like elements whether it be shrubs, flowers, or stones throughout a particular landscape can bring together separate areas. It only takes a single repeated patterned plant type, hue, type of decor, or fence to make this happen.

A balance shortage is commonly made by putting too much or all elements that fail to match in a single landscape. This will lead to a mess by the time the plants are mature and make for an uncomfortable habitat. At the outset of your planning, less is more, put only a few matching plants about the landscape, and make sure any other matching is very little. You will always be able to add int the future as you see fit.

Most problems people have with landscaping choices are those of shape. Shape is different in every landscape and the shapes you decide on should fill your wants and desires. But, many shapes even overflowing with positives are still boring, empty, ugly, messy, and without balance. Balance sometimes depends on shape, but not in every situation. I wouldn’t dwell on trying to achieve balance through shape.

Landscaping is subject to all the influencing elements that all other types of art are influenced by. Pattern, togetherness, and balance are an important part of any landscape and work together to make it beautiful.

Building designers and interior decorators utilize pattern. They make entrances, colors, molding, overhangs, and such all similar in shape and size. If everything in your home was different it would look rather ugly. It would be a hard place to live and be happy. The same applies to landscapes and gardens.

To make a landscape appealing and inviting we need repeating patterns. Only one matching element in opposing ends of the landscape can bring it together.

The easiest way to achieve it is by using plants, shrubs and grasses. But paths, fences, and walls can also be used to reach the ultimate goal. Which is Balance. Visit for more great landscaping tips.…

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Boca Raton Brick Paver Walkways – Colors and Patterns Galore!

Boca Raton Brick Paver Walkways – Colors and Patterns Galore!

Where Does Your Garden Path Lead

Walkways and pathways in Boca Raton feature both in the front and back yards of many homes in the area. Walkways obviously have a purpose and will lead the walker to someplace; whether for a pleasant meander through the back garden via the patio and swimming pool, or from the driveway to the front door. Brick paver walkways may be built to provide follow through and consistency of design to compliment the home and other outdoor fixed or brick structures, or quite simply because the homeowner feels like installing a garden path during their landscaping exercise. A good landscaping company will not lead you up the garden path, but they certainly can guide you in the right direction.

The Three Basic Patterns

The same aspects of quality and elegance cannot be achieved by using asphalt or concrete and there is virtually no limit on the variation of patterns, colors, and laying techniques which may be used to create decorative and functional brick paver walkways. In the Boca Raton area, there are three basic patterns of brick laying for paths, driveways, patios, pool surrounds, etcetera, and from these basic three patterns it is possible to create small works of art. The cleverest, simplest and oldest designs are also often the most elegant. After-all the Romans were laying brick paver pathways the length and breadth of Europe, the Middle East and the British Isles, over 2,000 years ago.

Design and Pattern Alternatives Can Be Dizzying

Although the best brick paver designs are the classic designs there are still books with hundreds of pages filled with designs, you will find historic pattern styles such as those used during the colonial period in the USA; these include running bond, stacked, herringbone, basket weave, whirling, Spanish, diamond, and more. Your landscaper can obviously be of great help when it comes to making choices regarding design and color; don’t for a moment believe that brick pavers only arrive on your doorstep in a “brick” color. Colors and styles range from brick red, to grey, rose and purples and in antique, colonial, European and more styles.

Patterns are not only achieved by the placement of the bricks, they are also achieved by the use of alternative color and style of brick paver. They are chosen not only because they look good, and are functional they are also used to “lead” the visitor or home owner to a focal point in a garden. In the front yard the focal point could be as simple as the front door, in the back yard this could be something more, such as rose garden, swimming pool, patio, place of sanctuary or peace, water feature or even a piece of sculpture.

Various Boca Raton brick paver designs suit varying degrees of traffic, for example a herringbone pattern is ideal for vehicular traffic as loads are more evenly distributed. As far as other than vehicular purposes, virtually any other pattern may be used. The only thing to bear in mind is that the more elaborate the pattern; cuts and labor are more intensive so it will obviously be more expensive, but it will also be much more exclusive. Are you ready to let a professional landscaping company, lead you up the garden path?…

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The Advantages Of Hiring A Landscape Designer

The Advantages Of Hiring A Landscape Designer

For countless home owners, the yard that surrounds their home is a crucial element of decoration. The yard is often the first element of the home that is noticed from those visiting or simply driving by which often provides an indication of the design of the remainder of the property. As this is often a crucial element of home ownership, one should know the perks of hiring a landscape designer for this specific decorative need.

This field of design is actually very specific in regard to skill set and knowledge. When this professional is hired, they are usually very well versed in transforming any yard into a beautiful haven that is specifically geared toward providing a well planned and laid out piece of property. The perks this professional is able to provide often reach well beyond the aesthetics which should be understood and taken advantage of within landscape design.

Taking the general ideas and visions from the home owner and making them a reality is an immediately noticed perk of this professional. While listening and incorporating these ideas, they are often able to add an increased element of design and beauty. Thus, they are often quite effective in their services. Not only can they incorporate what the home owner is looking for right away, but they have the knowledge to design the property with plants that will last in the environment given. They know what plants need specific types of soil. They also know what plants need more sun and which ones need more shade. This way your home stays looking great every year to follow!

The entire yard design process can be very expensive when purchasing the materials required. In most cases, this professional often has specific discounts and wholesale pricing privileges with many retailers. With their discounts, they are often able to make the process much more affordable.

The weather conditions and overall topography of any yard is also pertinent in any decorative decision. While they are usually specific to each city and even each yard, there is a general knowledge that should be applied to these principles. Fortunately, this professional is usually well versed in them which help with the overall success of ideas that are implemented.

Finally, a landscape designer is also able to help coordinate and implement the necessary maintenance for the yard. Each item that is used in this process will require some type of maintenance and upkeep for longevity purposes. In many cases, they often perform the maintenance on their own.…