Monthly Archives: June 2015

Outdoor 4th of July Activities for a Backyard Spectacular

4th of JulyFor many, the 4th of July is an opportunity to involve family and friends in an outdoor brouhaha (or brew-haha). This year, avoid the crowds of public venues by bringing the festivities into your own backyard. Invite your friends and family over to use your swimming pool, patio, and/or outdoor kitchen.

 

8 Backyard Activity Ideas for this 4th of July

 To help get your creative juices flowing, we’ve come up with a number of ways that you can incorporate your yard into 4th of July festivities!

1. Pool Party

A swimming pool party is always a popular choice during the hot month of July. Combine this with a BBQ and you’ve got a family-friendly event fit for everyone. Be sure to carry out all of the necessary pool maintenance before (and after) the event though, as a chemically balanced and clean swimming pool is critical to a successful pool-oriented event. To go the extra mile, choose a theme like a luau or beach party.

2. Lighting Concept

Creating a lighting concept isn’t exactly an activity, but it will foster an environment that turns your 4th of July daytime event into a nighttime party. Keep the party going after dusk by adding path lighting, lanterns, and other outdoor lighting. If you’d like a more permanent solution, contact us for professional backyard lighting advice.

 3. Outdoor Forts

If your 4th of July will be a family event, consider turning your gazebo or pergola into an outdoor fort for the kids. Not only will it entertain them for hours (which most parents can vouch for!), but it will also provide the kids with much-needed shade and a space to rest between activities.

4. Yard Twister

Children and adults alike can have a ton of fun with the game Twister. It can, however, be more difficult to set up on a lawn than it is on a floor, so consider an outdoor version. With four shades of spray paint and the twister spinner you’ll have lawn twister! (Be prepared to have a painted lawn until the grass grows long enough for you to mow the color off, though.)

5. Giant Backyard Chess/Checkers

Giant lawn chess (or checkers for the kids) can be a fun activity piece for your backyard. All you need to do to create your outdoor chess or checkers board is order large chess/checker pieces and add giant square tiles to your lawn in a checkerboard pattern. Note that you’ll either have to remove the tiles after the event or make them a permanent piece, as they will kill the grass under them if left there for an extended period of time.

6. Glow-in-the-Dark Lawn Bowling

Many 4th of July activities extend well beyond dusk—which is critical if you want to observe area fireworks! To help keep people entertained during the dusk hours, consider easy-to-create glowing lawn bowling. Simply fill large empty plastic bottles (preferably all the same size), like Coke bottles, with water. Drop the fluid from a glow stick into the bottles (it’s perfectly safe, although it’s best to have one of the adults do this). This will create glowing bowling pins, which you can knock down with a lawn-bowling ball, or whatever ball you have around the house.

7. Swimming Pool Games

If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, add a few games to it to keep the kids entertained in the water for even longer (although keep extra sunscreen on hand). Volleyball nets are popular among many pool owners.

Your own backyard is a great venue for a 4th of July event. It’s intimate, budget-friendly, and can accommodate a large group of people. Adding a few activities can boost the fun, especially for kids.

Great Shrubs and Flowers to Plant this Summer

Flowers to plant this summerAnyone who’s tried their hand at garden design (and failed) knows that many flowers, plants, and shrubs can be surprisingly fickle. Some flowers need the heavy rains of spring to thrive, while others flourish even during Philly’s hot summers.

Anyone who’s tried their hand at garden design (and failed) knows that many flowers, plants, and shrubs can be surprisingly fickle. Some flowers need the heavy rains of spring to thrive, while others flourish even during Philly’s hot summers.

So, what flowers, plants, and shrubs should you plant this summer? Well, it of course depends mainly on your preferences. What colors appeal to you? How much shade do you have? How much after-care can you provide? How much time do you have to water? For a specific assessment, give us a call here at Blue Tree Landscaping.

In the meantime, here are some preliminary suggestions of plants, shrubs, and flowers that you can plant this summer:

Flowers

Flowers should be chosen selectively, based largely on how much sun they will receive.

Sunny Areas (all-day sun or mainly sun)

Bee balm, celosia, cleome, coleus, coreopsis, cosmos, gaillardia, gomphrena, hydrangeas, marigolds, zinnias, periwinkle, pentas, portulaca, purslane, salvia, scaevola, spider flower, sunflower, tithonia, and verbena.

Shady Areas (mainly shaded or fully shaded)

Fuschias, balsam, lobelias, impatiens, coleus, violas, geraniums, bleeding heart, lungwort (ugly name—but beautiful flower!), astilbe, lilyturf, monkshood, lily of the valley, forget me nots, and begonias.

Shrubs

Shrubs are generally a little heartier than flowers (though there are always exceptions to the rule), and can often sustain themselves in the summer heat, provided they are watered adequately.

Butterfly bush, hydrangeas, oleander, potentilla, caryopteris, smoke bush, roses (can be extremely fickle), spirea, and summersweet are all popular summer shrubs.

Vegetables and Herbs

Fresh veggies and herbs included in your garden design not only adds flavor to your palette, but also adds beauty to your yard. The colors that many veggies add can create a unique, home-style look. And herbs smell beautifully fragrant (and generally take up very little space as well!).

A few vegetables and herbs you can plant this summer include: beans, peppers, okra, tomatoes, peas, gourds, cucumber, basil, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. (Rosemary, sage, and thyme are most easily grown when transplanted as seedlings or full plants).

Need Help with your Garden Design?

Gardening and garden design truly is an art form. When someone has a ‘green thumb,’ it means they think deeply about sun and shade patterns, soil type, watering needs, weeding, and oh so much more. If you’re looking for a major garden design overhaul and this sounds like too much work and worry—give us a call at Blue Tree Landscaping. We help our clients in Montgomery, Buck, and Chester counties with everything from shrub and flower selection based on their needs, to pool design and hardscaping.

Pool Design Ideas for a Unique Yard

Pool DesignYour in ground pool design can be as unique as you are. It can have curves, depth, and so much more. In fact, many people think of just the standard rectangle or oval shape when it comes to pools—but these days the sky is the limit.

To help stimulate your creativity, let us share with you some of the unique design concepts that we’ve used (or dreamed of using!)…


Inground Pool Design Ideas for a Unique Yard

When it comes to a unique pool design, there are a number of creative elements to consider:

  •  Shape

Modern technology and design principles offer a number of exciting pool shapes that include Roman, lagoon, geometric, free form, Grecian, Infinity, lazy L, and more. Your pool shape will contribute greatly to its overall appearance, so choose carefully. If you’re curious about what our professional opinion is, simply give us a call…we can tell you the shapes that will work best in your yard.

  • Size

The size of your pool is often—unfortunately—constrained by the size of your yard. If you have a large yard, however, then consider the size of your pool in your concept. A larger pool can open up significant options in terms of shape, style, and added effects (although it will take more time to maintain).

  • Style

Pools can be styled in a variety of ways. For example, a modern-style pool will look significantly different than one that leverages a more traditional design, such as Roman and Grecian pools. Another increasingly popular style is the all-natural pool. These pools have a high-end ‘swimming hole’ vibe, and look more like a pristine pond or lake than a swimming pool.

  • Lighting

Adding a lighting concept to a new pool design, or to an existing pool, will change your experience for the better. Not only will it extend the use of your pool far beyond dusk, but it will also increase its aesthetics significantly. Pool lighting concepts often include in-pool lighting and landscape lighting, which work together to accomplish an overall look.

  • Added Effects

Some of the most unique pools around offer additional elements and effects. For example, a waterfall will give your pool a lagoon-like feel (and can be deceptively easy to create). Other elements include adjoining whirlpools, a walk-in area (that gives it a ‘beach’ vibe), and infinity edges for a super-modern design.

  • Pool Landscape

Your pool isn’t an island—it needs an overall aesthetic to surround it and improve its appearance. Stylish pool fences and surrounding landscaping and hardscaping can all improve the look and feel of your pool. For example, adding foliage around your pool can give it a ‘lagoon’ vibe. Adding vintage brick and aged shutters to pool sheds can give them a ‘French quarter’ appeal.

 

When it comes to creating a pool concept for your yard, or expanding on your current pool, the options are nearly endless. With options however, comes difficulty. When considering various styles, shapes, landscaping options, and lighting be sure to think about the initial construction costs and on-going maintenance.

For a unique analysis of your pool and yard, give us a call today. We can help you decide what fits well with your yard and price out what each style or feature will cost.

 

 

How to Keep your Lawn Healthy During the Summer

Lawn careThe challenges faced by lawn lovers can be intense. You have to manage your love of your lawn with your desire to use water wisely during dry months…and that’s only the beginning. Luckily, lawn care is a labor of love that many of us will gladly endure and conquer.

To help your eternal ‘green’ struggle, here are a few professional tips to help you keep your grass green during the hot summer months.

 1. Water

Watering your lawn sounds like a juvenile tip, but doing it correctly can be a true art form. Beyond the basic advice of watering during the right time of day (not at the sun’s peak, when you lose significant water to evaporation), you also need to pay attention to your water volume as it relates to the type of grass you’re watering. If you want to ‘water like a pro,’ know that most lawns need about an inch of water, four or five times per week if the temperature is under 80 degrees. A rain gauge can help you determine how much to water in addition to precipitation.

After the heavy Philly rains of springtime end, strongly consider watering a little more deeply (with less frequency). This encourages the roots to grow longer.

If there’s a significant heat wave (and you’re home) a quick watering midday can help keep the lawn cool. To help you with your watering, consider implementing an irrigation system with irrigation sprinklers.

 2. New Grass

Whether you’re starting from scratch or reseeding those rebels-without-a-cause patches, it can be hard to get new grass seeding to take hold. To help your grass grow roots, use a thin layer of mulch on your new lawn. One bale of straw will cover over 1,000 square feet of lawn, so scale accordingly. This incredibly cheap solution can be left on the lawn for a few weeks, and then removed after the grass seeds germinate. If hay isn’t ‘your thing’ you can also use grass clippings from an existing lawn (although make sure the lawn clippings are reasonably dry or they will form clumps and possibly spread grass ‘diseases’).

 3. Mow Like a Pro

Many grass owners have a tendency to ‘over mow’ and cut their grass too short. Simply put—it’s a time saver. Cutting your grass too short, however, makes it more vulnerable to heat waves, and can cause it to burn. The longer the grass, the longer the roots will be—and the safer it will be. Ideally, you don’t want to cut more than a third of the grass’ height.

In addition to keeping your grass longer, pay attention to the sharpness of your lawnmower blades and the height of the mower.

 4. Know your Grass

Grasses can be as unique as people. Some are more susceptible to disease, some need more water, and some need to be left longer and not cut short. By getting to know your grass type you can care for it significantly better. For example, cool-season grasses like Kentucky Blue, Bentgrass and Fescues can go dormant if not watered properly during the hot months. Warm-season grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia become stronger in the hot months but go dormant if the temperature drops below 70 degrees. Using this information, choose new grass seed accordingly.

 5. Fungus Among Us

There is fungus among us, including in our grass. Watering earlier on in the day will help prevent the spread of fungus, as it helps prevent the wet and humid environment that fungus thrives in.

 6. Time-Release Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a critical component to lawns, and a common element in fertilizer. This fickle component, however, can turn to lawn-killing ammonia if it gets too hot. Use fertilizer sparingly, especially midday, and based on the advice of a professional.

 

If all of this sounds overwhelming, perhaps leave the grass-oriented worrying to the pros here at Blue Tree Landscaping. Not only can we help improve the look and lifespan of your lawn, but we can also help you with other landscaping elements to improve your overall outdoor experience. For lawn care, irrigation systems and irrigation sprinklers, and overall landscaping advice, call the pros at Blue Tree Landscaping.