Monthly Archives: October 2014

Planning a Water Feature for Your Yard

Add a Water Feature to Your LandscapeWater is known for its soothing effects, so adding a classic pond or fountain to your yard could provide the comfort your family needs after a long day at school or work. However, different types of water features are right for different yards — personal preference, yard shape, size, and structure can all influence which type of water feature is right for you. Here are three common water features that you may want to consider.

Ponds

If you’re aiming for a serene outdoor oasis, then adding a pond to your yard could be an excellent decision. Aside from providing a space to relax in an environment surrounded by nature, ponds also encourage flourishing wildlife and plantlife. Your pond will attract unique aquatic insects like beetles and dragonflies, and you can place goldfish, Koi, and other pond fish in the water. And, don’t worry, mosquitoes won’t be one of the species that frequent your pond if you take the right precautions — like adding small fish that prey on mosquito larvae, or including a filter to keep water moving.

Find a fairly open space in your yard (falling debris from trees will mean more time spent cleaning), and determine the size, shape, and depth that you’d most prefer. Certain fish, like Koi, only thrive in larger pools with waters a few feet deep, so be sure to check that your desired pond features fit the aquatic life that you plan to keep. Then, begin building, taking care to install the appropriate pond underlay, liner, and filters!

Water fountains

Water fountains are also a great option to add tranquility to your yard, but they’re easier to install and simpler to maintain than ponds. Additionally, fountains offer birds a place to bathe, encouraging them to enter your yard, carrying pollen that benefits your flowering plants. When deciding where to place your water fountain, you will need to take proximity to an electricity source that will power it into account. You may also want to consider factors such as surrounding trees and features. As they often do with ponds, falling leaves and twigs will add more work to the upkeep of your fountain.

After choosing a location, you’ll need to choose a design that you like and buy the fountain from a local retailer (or, if you’re up for it, build your own!), and find a fountain pump. Then, you’ll be ready to dig a few inches into your soil and install your fountain!

Waterfalls

If you already have a pond or are thinking of adding one, a waterfall could be a beautiful and rewarding addition. If you don’t have a pond, or your yard is too small for one, you can also construct a waterfall in a distinct area on the property with a separate, much smaller and shallower basin for water to flow into. Pre-made basins are available to purchase if you’d rather skip the hassle of building one. If your yard has a naturally sloped area, this is the perfect place for a waterfall! Dig into the slope, and use large rocks or small boulders to create nooks and crannies for the water to pour through. Find the perfect pump, accounting for the size of your waterfall and its water pressure, and you’ll be good to go!

 

Fall Tips for Routine Outdoor Landscaping

Freshen Up with a New Coat of PaintAutumn is the perfect time to complete standard outdoor tasks that you’d prefer not to take on during the sweltering summer or freezing winter. Furthermore, by completing some small outdoor jobs during the fall, you’ll prepare your home and its exterior for the months of snowfall ahead. Here are some routine projects you can take on, along with tips on how to best carry them out.

Clean your gutters

With autumn in full swing, it’s important to make sure you clean fallen leaves and other debris out of your gutter. If left clogged, water can easily escape down the sides of your house, potentially causing flooding or damage to your home’s foundation. To begin cleaning out your gutter, prop a ladder up against the downspout and use a trowel or small shovel to clear out leaves, twigs, and any other large debris. Keep the space that immediately surrounds the downspout clear, as it must be completely unobstructed in order to function properly. Moving your ladder as needed, shovel all unwanted materials out of your gutter. When you’re done, you can use a hose to get rid of smaller or less visible objects and to check for any holes or leaky areas that need repair.

Maintain your window wells

If your home has windows that are below ground level, you probably benefit from window wells that let in sunlight while also acting as a barrier to water that could flood your basement. However, as with your gutters, it is important to keep unwanted debris out of window wells to prevent water damage. Be sure to regularly clean out leaves, twigs, and insects, and to check for cracks and fissures that could let water into your home.

Touch up old paint jobs

Exterior paint jobs can easily wear down during the winter or summer months. If you see an area on the outside of your house that needs touching up and you aren’t sure exactly what paint color you need, try taking a chip off to bring with you to the store. Then, remove any hanging or loose scraps of paint and sand the area thoroughly. Apply two coats of primer, and paint the entirety of each board that needs touch-ups.

Apply mulch

Mulch has a variety of functions, including keeping your plants hydrated by preserving moisture in the soil, acting as a preventative measure against weed growth, and keeping plants warm during cooler weather. Buy mulch at your local garden store, or use shredded leaves (perhaps even the ones you scrape out of your gutter) or blades of grass. Apply the mulch to your garden and spread it around the bottoms of trees and shrubs.

Summer’s Over; Time to Start Planning Your Pool

Inground Swimming Pool Skippack PAAutumn has officially arrived. Another summer has passed, and with cooler temperatures and fall foliage comes the time to…start planning your future pool? That’s right! Don’t let another summer pass you by without the luxury of your very own in ground pool. Never again suffer through the inescapable heat and humidity of July and August. No longer will you have to pay steep swim club fees or fight crowds of fellow overheated swimmers at large public pools. Privacy, convenience, and the pleasure of a cool dip will finally be at your finger tips.

Now is the perfect time to begin planning a new addition to your yard. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but fall is the ideal time to begin construction of a new pool. Most people assume that spring or summer is best, but the number one factor that hinders pool construction is rain. Spring and early summer are often the wettest times of the year, and rainwater could delay the completion of your pool for weeks. By the time it’s done, summer may be almost over. Not only is fall drier, but there are typically fewer building projects during the season, which will free up local inspectors to promptly check each phase of the construction process, thus ensuring a timely schedule.

Planning months in advance will also give you ample time to consult with a landscape designer on the best ways to incorporate shrubbery, trees, and other plants to create the personal sanctuary you desire. Proper landscape design will also provide much needed privacy and reduce noise. Furthermore, you can plan masonry walkways and patio seating around the pool for lounging and entertaining. Depending on where you live, you might also be required to fence in the immediate area surrounding the pool. Laws vary by municipality, but fences are intended to protect small children from accidentally falling into the pool.

Pools are definitely a major investment for homeowners, but they are also one of the few home improvements that adds substantial equity to a home and rarely depreciates. The added value of a pool makes it a risk worth taking. Proper planning will ensure that your pool is crafted to the highest standards and will be ready in time for summer. In addition to providing financial benefits, a pool will make your once bare and empty yard look complete, and will surely become the focal point for family and friends to gather.

 

 

 

 

A Bright Idea: Gardening with Bulbs!

Fall Bulbs for Spring BloomsYes, we just wrote a piece on how mums tell us that Autumn has arrived.  While the bright yellow daffodils pictured here might make it seem like we got our seasons confused, you need to pay attention if you want beautiful Spring flowers to appear in your garden!  Read on…

Each year, as the ground slowly thaws from the freeze of a long and cold winter, we notice the sudden shoots of green stems nudging themselves free of the soil. There’s no surer sign that spring has officially arrived than when the first perennials sprout and begin to bloom. But, how do these flowers instinctively grow out of the ground each spring? Most spring perennial flowers, like daffodils, are planted from bulbs, not from seeds like other flowering plants, and remain dormant throughout the year until it’s once again time to grow.

The most common bulbs that we encounter are onions and garlic bunches found at any supermarket. Most flower bulbs are roughly the same size and shape, but unlike store bought garlic, bulbs purchased for planting have not been dried and processed, and have a browner, more earthy color. When selecting bulbs, you should avoid those that feel soft, bruised, or show other signs of damage. With bulbs, size matters, too. The bigger the bulb, the more likely it will produce larger bunches of flowers.

It’s important to remember that not all bulb flowers grow in the spring. Gladiolas and dahlias, for example, flower in the summer months. Different types of bulbs, depending on the season they flower, should be planted in the correct season. For instance, spring flowers should be planted in the early fall before the first frost, while summer flowering bulbs should be planted in early spring after the threat of frost.

When planting, it’s a general rule that you should dig a hole three times deeper than the height of the bulb, meaning if you have a bulb three inches tall you should plant it in a 9-inch deep hole. Certain bulbs require more specific conditions, so check with a gardening center expert before planting. When placing a bulb in a hole, make sure the flowering end is pointed upwards. Usually this is the “pointy” end of the bulb, but if the bulb you are planting does not have a point, place the roots side down. You should also plant bulbs in bunches, leaving adequate space in between each bulb, for a dramatic grouping when they flower.

These are just a few basic tips to planting bulbs in your garden. Bulbs are an easy way to add seasonal beauty to your landscape design, and planting correctly will ensure seasons of flowers to enjoy without any further work. To get the most out of your garden, consult with a gardening center to find out what bulbs are best for your environment, and how best to care for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

’Tis the Season of Mums

Close Up of MumsFew things are as symbolic of autumn’s arrival as colorful, blooming bushes of chrysanthemums. Commonly referred to as mums, these plants are in season beginning in August, and flower in a variety of bright harvest colors. Take advantage of seasonal offerings like mums to give your garden or yard a timely accent. Mums are hardy and do not require a great deal of attention, but they still need to be cared for.

Here are a few tips on how to plant and care for mums.

Always mulch

Though mums thrive in the fall, it is important to mulch around the plantbase once you have planted it to prevent damage from frost. As morning temperatures get colder and colder, it is vital that a nice mulch bedding is laid to keep the mum’s roots from freezing and killing the plant.

Plant mums in the spring

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you want to take advantage of annual mums blooming each fall in your garden, it is advised that you plant the flowers in the spring. Planting in the fall is risky since the roots of the plant will most likely not take a strong enough hold to stave off the cold and snow of winter. Planting in the spring allows the mums to firmly set their roots, thereby ensuring annual growth and blooms. If you decide to try your luck and plant in the fall, make sure you plant BEFORE the first frost.

Be wary of wildlife

While we find mums beautiful and ornament our yards with them, wildlife like deer and groundhogs are attracted to them for another reason: to eat the flowers! If you live in an area that has large deer or other wildlife populations that want your mums as a snack, take precaution by spraying the immediate area around your flowers with a repellant spray. These sprays are NOT pesticides, nor are they harmful to wildlife. The sprays are a combination of organic and natural ingredients that are formulated to keep nosey and destructive animals away from your garden. Consult your local gardening center for the best method before taking action to preserve your mums.

Of course, it is essential to regularly water your mums, and to make sure they are planted in moderate to sunny light. By following these tips, your garden will burst with the colors of autumn.

 

 

A Quick Guide to Indoor Plants

Indoor House Plant TipsIf you’re used to maintaining a lawn and yard, keeping up with your houseplants will be no trouble at all. Indoor plants are the ultimate functional decor, not only brightening the room, but purifying the air and creating a calming, low-stress ambiance. Like outdoor plants, houseplants come in a myriad of varieties: some require more care than others, some offer more health benefits, and some are just especially pleasing to the eye. Here are a few of our favorite indoor plants and how to care for them. Consider adding one (or a few) to your den or living room for a relaxed, natural environment that everyone will love.

Aloe Plant

Aloe plants are both lovely to look at and extremely healing. The juice from the leaves of an aloe plant will relieve pain from minor scrapes and burns. You can also rub aloe on your scalp if you’re affected by dandruff. Additionally, the plant can monitor your home’s air quality by helping clear pollutants, and acquiring brown spots if the air quality is subpar.

Aloe plants require full sun, meaning 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. Their offsets can be cleanly cut off and repotted to produce a new plant in just weeks. Try keeping one in a pot in your kitchen, in front of a south-facing window. Lace aloe and tiger aloe plants are especially unique and attractive varieties!

Spider Plant

Spider plants are one of the more common houseplants because they are easy to care for, decorative, and air-purifying. They come in pure green, and the more common green-and-white striped variety. Spider plants prefer bright, sunny rooms, but will survive in less than perfect conditions. Try to place them in a spot that receives at least partial direct sun, and water them liberally during the warm summer months. Spider plants do not require repotting, as most of their energy goes towards producing offsets, but you may want to repot after one year if the bulb becomes visible.

Snake Plant

Snake plants are another favorite indoor plant. They don’t require much light or oxygen: in fact, they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen during the night instead of the day, making them an ideal plant to decorate a bedroom with. While they can withstand pretty much any amount of light and care, snake plants prefer bright light and should be watered whenever the soil is dry. With this plant, it’s better to underwater than to overwater. Repot with fresh potting soil in the springtime.

Start with these easy to care for, decorative indoor plants before exploring more exotic varieties like the beautiful orchid cactus or the Hawaiian ti plant.