Monthly Archives: September 2013

Ten Common DIY Landscaping Mistakes

Nothing is more frustrating than spending long hours, days, or weeks on a landscaping project only to have it ruined by a simple planning mistake. Here are 10 of the most common DIY landscaping mistakes:

1. Underestimating your budget. The best plan and the most sumptuous vision can easily go awry if you run out of money! Be sure to take all costs into account before beginning the project. To ensure ample funding, you might wish to assemble all of your estimates and multiply them by 1.5. Not only does this ensure you have sufficient funds to cover the costs of your project as envisioned, but it can also give recourse in the event of an unexpected cost or accident.
Landscape Photo
2. Not planning for the future. When planning your project, whether it be a lawn, garden, or something even bigger, try to imagine how it will look in five or ten years. For example, young trees or shrubs planted closely might be pleasing to the eye at first, but will they begin to look crowded and overgrown with the passage of time? Will their roots tangle and cause resource conflicts, inevitably damaging the beauty of your lawn?

3. Forgetting the front. Planned gardens and lawns can be intensely private affairs. This often causes us to focus our planning on the backyard and other areas out of the public eye. Don’t neglect the front yard!

4. Forgetting the window-view. This is an easy mistake to make. We have a vision for how the project should look from the outside, but we forget that we’ll be seeing our garden from INSIDE as well! Be sure to include the window-view in your planning!

5. Excessive ornamentation. To ensure natural balance and harmony, allow the natural beauty of your settings to come forth by avoiding the overuse of statuary and other ornamentations.

6. Not choosing the right plants. You may love Chinese Redwood trees, and you may even have the space to plant them. But if you live in an arid climate, Colorado for instance, the trees won’t flourish and the beauty of your garden will suffer accordingly. Choose plants that are well-suited for your particular climate.

7. Planting on a hillside that’s prone to erosion. In your planning, ensure that the planting area(s) will support your design over the long-term. There’s nothing worse than watching your garden succumb to forces beyond your control!

8. Undersized planting beds. Again with the planning. Be sure to correctly estimate the amount of space you’ll need in any planting beds, whether raised or inset, to allow your plants ample space to flourish and thrive.

9. Trying to be perfect. All this emphasis on planning might make you a perfectionist! Resist it! Perfectionism leads to frustration, and frustration leads to errors. Plan your best, but be flexible too.

10. Failure to plan. Flying by the seat of your pants can be exhilarating, but when it comes to landscaping, the destination of your flight may well be disappointment! Planning is key to the success of your project.

Taking Your Garden Inside: Houseplants

While gardens are beautiful, and a Blue Tree Landscaping specialty, not everyone has the time or space for a full scale garden outside of their home. But you don’t want to miss out on the beauty and benefits that come with having plants around you. That’s where houseplants come in.

Photo of HouseplantsBesides adding a little life and greenery to your home, houseplants are actually linked to reducing stress. They also help purify your air, and some add a pretty, natural fragrance to your room.

So we get it—houseplants are pretty great. But there are so many kinds out there. Which ones are the best for you? How do you choose?

How to Choose Your Houseplant

The first step in choosing your plant is deciding where you want it to live. Once you have the spot picked out for your new plant, it’s time to figure out the environmental factors. There are three major factors you need to look out for.

Light:

  • High levels of light mean putting your plant on a window sill facing the South or West, which get a lot of hours of sunlight.
  • Medium levels mean putting a light curtain between your plant and the window, or placing it a couple of feet away from a window.
  • Low levels mean that the plant isn’t near a window and would only get indirect light. You wouldn’t want the light to be too bright, but it should be able to cast a shadow.

Temperature:

  • There is also a high, medium, and low temperature gauge. You just want to make sure that your plant is nowhere near the air conditioner if it needs high temperature. You would also want to consider getting a heater for some tropical plants.

Humidity:

  • An average home has low humidity at about 25 to 30 percent, but most plants need more than that. Unless you want desert plants, like some cool cacti, you may need to humidify your home for your plant to thrive.
  • If you want a plant that needs high humidity, you can get a terrarium to place around your plant and better control the humidity around it without affecting your living space as much.
  • You can also employ a couple other tricks. If you group your plants together, they absorb each other’s lost water, creating more humidity among them. You can place your plant near a humidifier, mist it, or place it in the kitchen or bathroom, which are two more naturally humid rooms.

Once you’ve understood where you would want to put your plant and what factors will affect its survival, you can look for plants in the store that need what you’re offering.

If you want a plant for your bathroom windowsill, a beautiful pot of African Violets might be for you. However, if you’re looking for a floor plant that wants dry air and low light, then a bamboo palm might be just what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve picked out the perfect plant, just make sure you water it correctly, and your home will be fresh and lively for a long time to come.

Flower Types: Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials

Beautiful blooming flowers are the key to a successful, head-turning garden. But for a gardener who’s new to the soil scene, it might be confusing knowing where to start and which flower types are best for his or her garden. Hopefully, this tutorial will help you understand the basics about each type of plant.

Annuals

Annuals are plants that go through their whole growing cycle in one season. That means they sprout, bloom, create seeds, and die in months. Because their seed-to-seed cycle is so short, you would have to replace these flowers each year.

Garden Flowers

The positive aspect of annuals is that their blooming period is long, lasting almost the whole warm season. They may only be around for one year, but in that time, you get a lot of time to see their pretty petals.

Some examples of these short-lived beauties are zinnias, marigolds, and begonias. There are multiple fruit and vegetable plants that are also considered annuals, such as watermelons, peas, and lettuce.

Biennials

These plants are like annuals, except they take two years to go through their seed-to-seed cycle. This means you get two seasons out of these types of plants. During the off-season months, the biennials, like the perennials, will stay dormant under the ground until it’s time for them to grow and bloom again.

Generally, these plants grow leaves during the first year, and their flowers bloom during the second year.

Perennials

Perennial plants live for a longer time, so when the weather gets cold, the flowering part of the plant may die, but the part under the ground survives until the next season when it can grow and bloom again. These plants live at least three years, but could live for much longer.

While it is definitely a benefit that the perennial flowers don’t have to be replaced every year, they don’t bloom as long as the annual plants do. That means you’ll only see these guys blooming during a small portion of the warm weather.

There are two ways to utilize these flowers while still getting season-long beauty in your garden. You can either plan which perennials you plant, so you’ll always have at least some that are in bloom. Or you can mix perennials with annuals or other types of plants, so you have a good mix of plants and blooming cycles.

Bulbs

Bulbs are actually a specialized type of perennial that are very easy to transplant, since the root is a large bulb shape compared to the vein-like roots that are easily broken. Daffodils are an example of pretty bulb plants.

Tender Perennials

These types of plants are perennials but can’t survive harsh winters. You can only really use these plants for more than a year if you live in the right climate. Often, people will use perennial or biennial plants as annuals if they want these plants in their gardens but live where the weather is too harsh to keep them for more than one season.

When you’re deciding which flowers to plant, pick ones that are right for your climate, and think about how your garden will look all season long. After that, just get creative and make your garden stunning!