Monthly Archives: December 2015

Smaller Yard? Here’s How to Make the Most of Your Space.

Small yardsWho says the best yards have to be big? Sure, it’s easy to dazzle a crowd with a grand and spacious patio, but when you can wow your guests with a charming, one-of-a-kind yard, your creativity seriously shows. Here are some big tips on how to utilize the small space you have:

Get cozy with a firepit

Although it has been an unseasonably warm winter for Pennsylvania, you might consider installing a personal fire pit in the middle of your yard. This is the perfect accessory for all seasons. Imagine the first barbecue of spring, roasting marshmallows in the summer, or just warming up in the coziest way possible during the fall and winter time. Line the seclusive space with some lush foliage, and you’ve got yourself a particularly memorable haven.

Elevate your home with a patio

A thoughtful addition to a small space is an elevated patio. Nothing looks more enticing than some steps that invite people to new heights—even if these heights are just a foot off the ground. The best part is that the patio can be built to accommodate the rest of the yard. It can act as your personal outdoor dining area, while the rest of the yard can be whatever you want it to be: a play space for your kids, dogs, or impressed guests, perhaps.

Illuminate your sanctuary with landscape lighting

You might think lighting isn’t necessary for small yards (let’s be honest, the lights from the house can probably illuminate the whole yard at night), but you can create something truly magical when you highlight the right features. Set the mood with some hidden landscape lights within a bed of shrubs, or with the addition of a romantic lamppost. You can also enhance a part of the yard you’re proud of with lighting on the outer edge of, say, a garden, or a fire pit, or a patio.

 

As they say: big things come in small packages. You don’t have to sacrifice quality simply because of the size of your yard. Dream of big things for your small space with the help of the professionals at Blue Tree.

How to Landscape Your Yard to Increase the Value of Your Home

Add Ambiance and Enjoyment to Your PoolTo increase the value of your home, you have to focus on more than just the interior. In fact, curb appeal and a striking backyard are both important when it comes to attracting homebuyers and boosting your home’s list price.

If you’re ready to landscape your yard and transform it from a bland, uninviting space into one that would entice anyone to spend more time outside, continue reading for a few tips.   

Choose Plants Wisely for Color Throughout the Year

Perennials are a great way to add color throughout your yard, depending upon when they bloom, and you don’t have to worry about replanting them every spring. Instead, they’ll continue to grow larger with each passing year.

Don’t just focus on plants that bloom in the spring and early summer. To achieve color throughout the year, plant perennials that bloom in the middle to latter part of summer, as well as in the fall, such as Chrysanthemums.

Also, don’t forget to plant a variety of evergreens so you can have plenty of greenery even when the snow falls. These also work well if you want to create a natural privacy barrier between your yard and a neighbor’s yard, rather than installing a fence.

Add Majestic Trees

Trees are a beautiful way to provide habitat to local wildlife and create much-needed shade. You can even place trees in areas of your yard where they’ll help reduce the costs of cooling your home in the summer.

No matter where you decide to plant trees, though, you can rest assured that they’ll increase in value over time as they grow ever more tall and lovely, and this will translate to an increase in your property’s overall value.

Decorate Your Pool and Add Outdoor Lighting

If you have an in-ground pool, it’s already adding value to your home, but with the right pool landscape design, including pavers and plants, you can boost its appeal even further.

Combine this with outdoor lighting throughout your space and you’ll be able to create an inviting and calming area that’s perfect for spending nights entertaining friends and family.

For Attractive Landscape Designs, Hire the Pros

Hiring professional landscapers like those here at Blue Tree is the best way to achieve the highest quality landscape design that isn’t just affordable, but also customized to suit your particular backyard.

 

We provide everything from pool design and patios to garden design and pavers, throughout the many towns in Montgomery, Chester, and Bucks County, PA. You’ll be amazed by how much value professional landscaping will add to your home, and you won’t even have to lift a finger from start to finish.  

 

Gazebo or Pergola—Which One is Right for Your Landscape Design?

PergolaGazebos have long been a popular element in landscape design—but over the last few years pergolas have entered the limelight. Indeed, in just a few years pergolas have gone from unknown to highly coveted…but is this trending design element right for your yard? Or, should you go with the more classic gazebo?

To figure out which landscape design element is right for you, let’s take a look at what each one is…

 Gazebos

Gazebos can be quickly recognized for their iconic look—a generally round, octagonal, or hexagonal shape, conical roof, and wood/lattice exterior. While they vary greatly in size they often fit four or more people comfortably. As they fit so many people, they are popular for outdoor entertainers. Since they have a roof they provide protection from the elements, especially rain.

 Pergolas

Pergolas also have a ‘look’ that makes them immediately recognizable, with their beam-based roofing slats and thick wooden posts. Pergolas can also come in wrought iron, however thick wooden beams remain the more popular option. Another option, instead of wooden beams on top, is a lattice, which is used for pergolas that (will) have vines growing on them. As these structures have a partially uncovered top and fully uncovered sides they provide little to no protection from the elements, making them purely decorative architecturally.

Which One is Right for You?

Deciding between a gazebo and a pergola depends on what your goals are for your outdoor structure…

  • Price
    If cost is a large motivator, then a pergola will make your budget happier than the more costly gazebo. As they use less material and tend to be less intricate, they can be purchased and/or built for significantly less.
  • Protection from the Elements
    Hands down, if protection from rain and other elements is your primary goal then a gazebo makes sense. A pergola can provide some protection if it has an extremely thick vine on the top, but even then, rain will leak on you eventually.
  • Look
    Gazebos tend to have a more classic architectural look, which goes well with country and other classically styled yards. Yards with modern architecture will appreciate the styling that a pergola brings.

 

If you’re having trouble integrating a gazebo or pergola structure into your overall landscape design, then perhaps you should leave that decision to the professionals! With our keen architectural eye and landscape design experience we can match the right structure with your particular home and yard.

How to Avoid Yard Drainage Issues and Home Flooding

how to avoid yard drainageUnfortunately, a large number of yards and their landscape designs are victims of poor drainage and flooding. Standing water and house flooding isn’t inevitable though, with proper landscape and other planning.

How to Avoid Yard Drainage Issues and Home Flooding

There are a number of steps to pre-emptively attacking standing-water and flooding issues…

 Step 1: Find the Source

Before you put your entire landscape design on a grade (that floods the yard of that neighbor you don’t like), it’s very likely that there are only a few sources, or a single one, that is causing the water congregation. Finding it/them is usually pretty easy—just look for a depression or downward grade near the house, or a depression elsewhere in your landscape design.

Step 2: Extend your Gutters

If you find pooling around the edge of your house, you’ll want to extend your gutters and gutter drainage further away from the house. This solution will vastly improve the amount of water pooling and help save the foundation. However it won’t necessarily fix the problem, so it should be used in combination with other solutions.

Step 3: Build a Moat

We’re only half kidding when we say build a moat (to protect your castle). By angling the dirt/land around the house downwards (away from the foundations) you’ll help move water in the right direction. And by installing a small catch basin area, kind of like a moat, you’ll help keep it from reaching your foundation.

Step 4: Landscaping

If you’ve found depressed areas in your yard, you’ll need to change your landscape design strategy.

If the water pooling is around a driveway, then landscaping swales may help. These wider-than-they-are-deep depressions allow the water to seep into the ground…and away from your driveway and home.

For water-pooling areas away from the house, simple water-thirsty plants may solve the problem. These include purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and willow and cypress trees.

Should your yard have moderate pooling issues, curtain drains or elevation might be helpful, but yards with major drainage issues (that can’t be solved with plants and trees) may require dry wells to be installed. Dry wells will collect the water and then slowly release it into the surrounding dirt—at a rate that won’t cause pooling. Depending on how much water pools you may need tubing and piping to direct it.

Homes with a massive amount of pooled water in their landscape designs may require sump pumps. But this is generally a last resort (due to cost).

 Need Help?

Minor drainage and pooling issues may be (relatively) easily addressed yourself, but once you need landscaping to redirect the water it becomes more difficult. Digging while avoiding piping, well, and tubing installation should be done by a professional. If you require drainage-related landscaping—call the pros here at Blue Tree.

6 Landscaping Ideas for Your Commercial Property

Landscaping Ideas for Commericial PropertyCommercial landscaping might be subtle, but it still takes a surprising amount of planning. In fact, subtle landscape design can take as much concerted effort in the planning stages as more dramatic landscaping, as it involves trying to do more with less.

To help you find the balance between subtle and awe-inspiring features for your commercial property’s landscape design, we’ve put together six of our favorite, diverse ideas…

1. Entrance Focus

If your aim is for a professional, elegant landscape design, you’ll need minimal—but impactful—designs. Since elegance is generally simplistic in design, you’ll want to pick one, or a limited number, of focal points. One of those should be your entrance.

Think of your entrance as your welcoming area, and use pathways to highlight it. Consider opting for pathways with a distinctive material like interlocking brick or stamped concrete. Use statement greenery, like dynamic bushes, shrubs, and small trees—but stay away from too many plants or it will be a distraction from the design.

2. Fashion Meets Function

Design isn’t solely about looks—it is also about function! Make your landscape design as functional as it is fashionable by adding furniture. Pick a theme and stick with it, so choose either modern furniture (there are some stunning options available now), a more classic look like antique wrought iron, or stylized concrete. Use furniture sparingly so that the area doesn’t appear cluttered, but provide enough so that your commercial space offers an outdoor lounge area for staff and clients.

3. Shrub Signage

A clever way to introduce shrubbery or colorful plants is to create signage. Spell out the name of your company, or use plants in your company colors to make landscape-based branding.

4. Install a Water Feature

Water features are a great way to add more nature into your landscape design. Not only can they look extremely natural, but they can also give your property a more calming and down-to-earth look. Water features with more minimal water use will be more cost-effective over the long run.

5. Plan Your Watering

When you add multiple live elements (plants, shrubs, trees, etc.) to large commercial properties, you’re creating a difficult watering landscape. Keeping live elements in groupings, or ‘zones,’ will help keep your watering process easier and more effective. You’ll also use a lot less water.

6. Think Seasonally

Keep Philadelphia’s seasons in mind while you’re designing your commercial landscaping. Plan accordingly so that your landscaping looks beautiful year-round, and not just in the summer.

Keep Color in Your Garden During the Coldest Days of Winter

keep color in your gardeSeasons come and go, but when it comes to your overall garden and landscape design, your home doesn’t have to be colorless and devoid of healthy plant life during the winter. Keeping your garden full of color and looking good year-round, especially in comparison to some of your neighbors’ yards, isn’t as hard as it seems.

Whether you are looking for someone to come in and completely overhaul your garden, install an underground sprinkler system, or just provide tips on gardening and lawn care, Blue Tree Landscaping has got you covered. To give you a bit of a head start on what will survive, if not thrive, during a Pennsylvania winter, here are three plants that would look great in your garden.

Red Sprite Winterberry Holly

This type of Holly is native to the region and can grow to be 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. It’s a rounded shrub that produces bright red fruits (berries) in the winter, and it’s definitely eye-catching. The berries will attract a variety of birds, but are of no interest to deer during any season. You’ll want to plant this in full sun and slightly acidic, moist soil. Because of its hardiness, it won’t require constant pruning or care.

Winter Jasmine

This perennial will bloom with bright yellow flowers during January and February. It can grow up to 4 feet high and 4-7 feet wide, and can be somewhat difficult to contain because it tends to take root wherever it touches the ground. In fact, winter jasmine can act as a windy vine if supported, or as a shrub if not. If you decide to add this lively plant to your yard, be sure to prune it regularly. Or, if you’re looking to cover a large area in your yard, let it grow unhampered for a while!

Camelia

Arguably one of the most popular of winter plants, this evergreen will bloom from fall to early spring. It’s a bit of a show-off in how brightly colored its rose-like petals are, especially in contrast to other plants included in a winter garden, and it acts as a beautiful backdrop to a snowy yard. Plant it in a partially shaded area where there is protection from strong winds.

 

The 6 Benefits of Retaining Walls—and Fun Uses for Them!

6 benefits of retinaing wallsRetaining walls don’t often get the credit due to them. Not only do they provide for an aesthetically pleasing hardscape design, but they’re also highly functional! Here are 6 benefits of installing retaining walls in your yard.

1. They Control Erosion

Retaining walls control both weakened grass (often due to foot traffic) and water runoff. When these two elements get out of control—especially in yards with a lack of trees—they cause erosion that can disrupt your landscaping design… and be a royal pain to fix. The terracing effect of retaining walls prevents this erosion.

2. They Control Flooding Direction

If your home is near a body of water or experiences the heavy, wet snowfalls that often occur in the Philadelphia region, a retaining wall can help. By controlling where the water pools, rises, and drains to, retaining walls help prevent your home from flooding.

3. They Direct Traffic

Simply by being there, retaining walls will direct foot traffic around them. This means they’re the perfect protectors for gardens and weakened grassy areas. If you’re looking to spruce up your backyard, consider creating a multi-level garden with retaining walls. Each level can house different types of plants, creating an aesthetically pleasing design that also protects vulnerable plants from being stepped on.

4. They’re Easy to Install

Okay—this one might be a little deceiving. They’re relatively easy to install…but they’re still heavy. After all, they’re made of stone. But this highly beneficial hardscape design element can be installed quickly and relatively easily.

5. They Don’t Require Much Maintenance

A high-quality stone will last for decades…or longer. So they don’t require the maintenance that other landscape design elements do. Over the years a stone may crack and need replacing, but comparatively this is quite low maintenance for a yard feature.

 

Ready for a retaining wall? Great. To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few places you can install them:

  • Around stairs and steps
  • Around a patio area (or two separate patio areas)
  • Around a pool to provide a natural hardscaped fence
  • Around walkways to direct traffic
  • Around a garden
  • Around the base of a house to prevent flooding

For more ideas on how to incorporate a retaining wall into your landscape design, contact us here at Blue Tree—we’ll help you pick the perfect design for your yard.