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Patios: 5 Practical Steps For Designing

Patios: 5 Practical Steps For Designing

The flux of innovations and technologies that have broken backyard barriers has brought about an onslaught of patio ideas from creative visionaries. The white picket fences and identical driveways of before have become dull and nightmarish. As homeowners aim for an increase in property value, they push for individuality in elegant yet practical patio designs.

The patios of today have diversified exponentially and choosing a design to fit your home can be overwhelming. The good news is almost anything goes and the sky is the limit when it comes to patio design.

Here are five practical steps to help you design your patio.

1. Set a budget and keep it in mind. Before starting on the design, set a limit. That way, you can let your imagination run wild while keeping your feet on the ground. Regardless of which detail in the patio design you are contemplating on, never lose sight of your budget. If money is tight, remember that an increase in one design aspect will mean a decrease in another. For example, going for the more expensive floor tiles might mean a roofless patio instead.

2. Pick a purpose and theme that complements your house. First, ask yourself what would be the main function of your patio. Accordingly, pick a theme to go with it. Make sure the patio you envisioned would blend in with everything else in the house. You might also want to think of a way to transition from the inside of the house to the patio.

3. Enumerate the parts of your patio. A patio has five main parts: the floor, roof, wall, furniture, and landscape. You don’t have to incorporate all of them into your design though. In fact, a minimalistic look would not only be economical, but elegant as well. Also think about having a centerpiece or highlight to accentuate your patio.

4. Go over the specifics of each part. Go into your local home improvement store and see what is available for each part of your patio design. Don’t forget to check the price range. Also explore swap meets and garage sales for design ideas and good finds for patio furniture. When making decisions, bear in mind the purpose and theme you had chosen for your patio.

5. Draw up the blueprints and plan the construction of your patio. Now that your design is more specific, put your vision onto paper. Start planning your patio’s assembly time frame. If you mean to put the patio together yourself, make sure to get the proper permits from your local building authority before starting. Otherwise, let the contractor handle that as well.

There isn’t really a cut and dry structure for patios and this is the best part about designing it. The most important thing is that you are happy with the outcome and are able to relax and enjoy your patio afterward.…

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Six Basics to Keep in Mind When Planning a Landscape Design

Six Basics to Keep in Mind When Planning a Landscape Design

Are you trying to find a way to make your yard more beautiful? While mastering the art of landscape design can take several years to complete, there are some basic elements that virtually anyone can implement. Therefore, if you are planning to take on a landscaping project at your home, be sure to keep these simple things in mind.

Create Year-Round Interest

It is easy to get carried away with all of the beautiful flowers that can be grown in the spring and the summer, but you want to be sure to create year-round interest when designing your landscape layout. Remember, your goal is to have perennials as well as flowering shrubs and trees through the spring and summer, but your focus in the fall should be on foliage and your goal in the winter is to provide interest with good structure. One easy way to make certain there is something to see in your garden throughout the year is to include evergreens in your landscape design.

Add Color with Annuals

While perennials are great for providing beauty year after year, the drawback is that they only bloom for a short period of time. Therefore, you should be sure to include annuals in your landscape design in order to ensure bountiful colors throughout the entire blooming season.

Include Hardscape Features

Sure, your flowers, trees and shrubs are the central focus of your garden, but you can add interest while creating a more complete look with the help of a few hardscape featurers as well. Patios and decks, for example, help provide a smooth transition from the indoors to the outdoors. Similarly, fences help provide definition to the landscape.

Install a Water Feature

Water features help create a focal point to your landscape and they aren’t as difficult to install as you might think. In fact, all you need is a plastic liner, a pump, a fountain and some tubing. All of these items can be purchased from a home improvement store and are easier to install than you might think.

Use Layers

Layering your garden will help create interest while also allowing you to enjoy all of the beauty that each of your plants provides. When layering, your goal should be to have your tallest flowers in the back, with the next tallest in the middle and your shortest in the front.

Consider Upkeep

No matter how beautiful your garden is, you may grow to resent it if it requires too much upkeep. Therefore, when planning your design, you should try to select plants that require as little upkeep as possible. The simplest way to do this is to select plants that are native to your area. You might also want to select plants that are drought-tolerant, as they will be much easier to take care of in the summertime when the spring showers cease.

If you keep these basics in mind, you will be sure to create a landscape design that you can easily maintain and that you will be able to enjoy for years to come.…

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Residential Landscape Design

Residential Landscape Design

Residential landscape designs can give maximum enjoyment when proper planning goes into the design. The outcome will be an increase in your property value and a pleasing livable space. Excellent design combines harmony, aesthetics, functionality, merging symmetry, and unity in the design process.

Proportion is one of the important elements for a good design. This portion takes into consideration the relationship between elements within the landscape. It involves proper planning for the future as elements like plants will grow over time.

Another important aspect is color. It is the life of the entire landscape design. The colors you select decide the mood and feel of the outdoor space. Colors like yellow, red and orange stand out more give off warmth, while colors such as blue, green, and purple go well with the background and they make the ambiance cooler. You can make a combination of colors by mixing different colors and textures. Bright and bold colors in some areas can also help emphasize areas you may want to showcase. Design software is very helpful in this process, as it gives us a virtual carbon copy of your home. You can build up an appealing design to check if that will fit your taste and prominently your house.

Residential landscape design is the practice of making the outdoor area of a home beautiful. Normally, people have landscaping done in order to sell their home at a high value and simply make the outside more attractive. In the front side of the home, this can involve the removal of plants or the planting of trees. Shrubs, hedges, bushes and grasses are another significant part of our designing. Adding botanicals can attract wildlife, give visual interest, provide privacy, and much more.

However, if you don’t know how to make a residential landscape design, you should consider the services of a professional. It is a good idea to hire a landscape designer or architect to plan your designs and come up with a budget that fits your needs. Hiring a landscape architect or designer is the best way to get good results. If you want to lower your cost, you can make your own landscaping plan. You can use smaller plants or make a flower bed. You might want to consider doing the lighting on your own.

Residential landscape design is an art where we can design our ideal place of tranquility and peace. While different people may have differing ideas for their landscape, every one of us wants to see a warm welcoming home front after a tiring day of school, work, or play. There is nothing like coming home to a calm landscape that will place your mind at rest and facilitate you to relax from the tension of the day. So, take the time to create the ideal landscape design that goes well with you and your home. The time and assets you put into it will be well worth the effort when you consider the value of your new outdoor living space.…

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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.…