Monthly Archives: February 2016

How to Ensure your Front Steps and Walkway are Safe this Winter

house-snowWhether you’re a commercial facility looking to safeguard its assets and insurance premiums, or a parent who wants to keep her family safe through landscape design and maintenance, the tips below can help you keep your front steps, and walkway safe this winter:

  • Understand the Science of Melting Ice

    When you first go to buy ice melting material, you will likely be taken aback by the endless myriad of options. As it turns out, there is a science to melting dangerous ice patches, and it’s all about keeping them from thawing, refreezing, and forming black ice across your landscape design elements. Black ice is a very slippery, barely visible winter by-product, and it’s extremely dangerous. You can counteract any black ice formation on your landscape design by using an ice melting substance that helps prevent thawing, and refreezing. Such substances include rock salt, potassium chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, a more environmentally-friendly option. Avoid substances like calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, ammonium chloride, and aluminum chloride, which tend to refreeze more quickly.

    A point to keep in mind with rock salt is that while it works for temperatures above 12 degrees (Fahrenheit), it can potentially damage nearby plants, trees, and shrubs.
  • Sand

    Contrary to popular belief, sand is not an ice melting substance. It simply provides an abrasive grip for your landscape design elements, and greatly improves traction. As such, it should not be used to melt ice, but rather, to provide basic traction that can help prevent slips and falls. However, before you coat your property with sand, know that it isn’t water soluble. If you use too much, it won’t drain properly, and you’ll have to clear it out after the spring thaw.
  • Landscape Lighting

    Landscape lighting is an often overlooked solution to the winter weather, but when you consider the reduced number of daylight hours, and the reduced visibility, it makes a lot of sense. Solar lights, or lights hard-wired into a larger system can help illuminate walkways safely. Each landscape lighting system has its own benefits, and detractions. Solar, for example, doesn’t last as long, but has a cheaper setup cost.
  • Elbow Grease

    There’s simply no getting around shovelling your walkway (other than paying a company to do it). A well-maintained winter walkway needs to have snow removed from it regularly, in order to decrease the amount of compacted snow that may create slippery ice patches.
  • Downspouts

    Downspouts are critical to funnelling water off your roof, but they can also wreak havoc on your walkways. If you have a downspout that expels even a small amount of water, it can create dangerous ice spots beneath it. Be sure to angle them away from walkways, and steps.

For more winter safety, and winter landscape design tips, contact us.

8 Design Ideas for your New In Ground Pool

pool with lightsIn ground pools have come a long way baby! No longer are they rectangular swimming holes—they are design concepts that can (and should!) be incorporated into stylish outdoor living environments.

To help turn your pool into an outdoor living experience, consider the following ideas:

1. Waterfall
A great way to turn an average in ground swimming pool into a statement piece is with a waterfall. There are ample options to match the style of your pool (if you already have one or have already chosen the design/style), ranging from modern to tropical to classic…so don’t be afraid it won’t match your design.

2. Jacuzzi
While the word ‘jacuzzi’ or ‘hot tub’ might stir up some images of the 70s, modern-style jacuzzis are an exciting addition to a pool. Not only do they provide an interesting visual addition to your pool landscaping—they also add a functional element.

3. Outdoor Furniture
Picking a pool shape, the right tiling, and the surrounding patio is a start—but while you’re planning your in ground pool think of an entire entertainment concept. By adding outdoor furniture (and no, not the white plastic loungers that many of us grew up with), you can turn the ‘pool area’ into an entire outdoor entertaining area. Add an outdoor kitchen and you may never go inside again!

4. Outdoor Beds
Kick your outdoor-furniture game up a notch with outdoor beds. Outdoor beds provide the ultimate in beauty, but—thanks to modern design principles—also offer the ultimate in comfort (for next-level lazy-poolside game).

5. Fencing
Adding a fence might be the most boring element on this list…but, safety first. Far too many children drown in pools every year, which is why fencing should be your number one priority if you have children in your life. For ideas on how to make your fencing look stylish, contact us.

6. (Beach-Like) Walk-In
In ground swimming pool ladders are soooo last century. The new craze in pool designs are gradual, natural-looking walk-in areas, designed to be more like a beach than a typical pool entryway. Not only is this stylish, but it also creates a super practical, shallow end for toddlers and small children.

7. Plants
Swimming pools surrounded by nothing but concrete are a bore. Add a little life to your pool area by planting plants, trees, and bushes around the pool. This works especially well if you have a more tropical-looking pool (although it livens up any pool area).

8. Lighting
No in ground pool design is complete without a lighting concept. A beautiful pool lighting concept will not only extend the amount of hours you can entertain in and around your pool—it will change the evening look entirely.

For help executing any of the above ideas—contact us here at Blue Tree Landscaping.

How to Create More Privacy in your Yard

pool-03

We all love our neighbors, but that doesn’t mean we want our lawn in their full view. If your yard didn’t come with any barriers, there are a number of stylish elements you can choose from.

Here are 5 great ways to give your yard a little more privacy:

1. Fences

Installing a fence between you and your neighbors isn’t the most creative solution, but it is certainly the most traditional. It’s relatively cost effective, and provides the ultimate barrier for any yard. When purchasing a fence, be sure to consider the height carefully. A 6-foot fence often provides ample privacy, but some homeowners opt for greater heights.

2. A Living Barrier

A living barrier uses plants, flowers, vines, or trees to create a visual privacy barrier. These can easily fit any landscape design, provided you choose the right type of plant. If you opt for a living barrier, there’s a number of things to consider beyond a plant’s style. You also need to decide how thick or dense you want the barrier to be. For example, a dense barrier may provide more privacy, but it also reduces lighting. Another element to consider is how the living barrier will grow. A lattice is a great start for vines, but bushes need to either be installed fully-grown, or chosen based on their future height.

3. Overhead Privacy

Sometimes the privacy you want isn’t for the entire yard. Maybe you just want a portion of your lawn closed-off, so you can entertain in peace. For those who want ‘overhead’ privacy, shade, sails, or pergolas can offer excellent privacy options. They’re especially helpful if your property is at a lower level than your neighbors.

4. A Private Area

Setting up a fence or living barrier can be cumbersome, which is why a single private area, like a patio, can be a great option. Creating a single, secluded space, with a lattice or tall plant, can create the single private area you need, without isolating your neighbors.

5. Patio Screens

Another option for creating an isolated area on your lawn is to screen in a patio. By adding privacy screens, you can create a private space without the ongoing maintenance of plants, or the expense of tall fences.  

Need Help?

Figuring out how to best create a private space for your yard can be tough, especially when fitting it into your existing landscape design. If you need help choosing a yard privacy option that suits your current property, contact us at Blue Tree Landscaping. With 30 years of experience, we’re more than ready to give you the guidance you need.

How to Keep Pets Safe When Fertilizing Your Lawn

How to Keep Pets Safe When Fertilizing Your LawnCaring for your lawn should not come at the cost of endangering your pets. You’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your pets safe when tending to your yard. Here are just a few ways to make sure your pets face minimal risk when it comes to your lawn care:  

  • Follow the Instructions

    Most lawn fertilizers contain some natural, non-toxic elements, but they also contain harmful pesticides that work to kill your garden’s unwanted insects. If your dog eats a recently fertilized plant too soon after application, the consequences are typically mild. However, if your pet ingests the fertilizer directly, it can lead to gastrointestinal issues, tremors, and seizures. In order to avoid the risk of poisoning your pet, make sure to follow your fertilizer’s instructions carefully. Specialists recommend keeping pets off treated grass for at least 24 hours, and locking them away during the application process. This is the best way to avoid airborne or skin contact. As long as you apply and dilute the chemicals properly, they should eventually wash into the soil, keeping your pet safe and sound.
  • Know What to Do in an Emergency

    All fertilizers vary, but some contain more potent chemicals than others. If you find your pet has been in contact with a toxic fertilizer, and is having difficulty breathing, experiencing abdominal pain, or vomiting, you should contact a vet immediately. Although a small ingestion of the fertilizer can result in minor stomachaches, large ingestions can result in bowel obstruction, or severe pancreatic inflammation.
  • Look for Safer Options

    Some fertilizers are especially made with your pet’s safety in mind, but there are still many other options out there. By using seaweed, grass clippings, compost, or bone meal, you can keep your pet safe with natural products. Grass clippings can nourish your lawn without any chemical additives, and bone meal can provide long-term nutrients for your lawn, without harming your pet if ingested. As an additional safety measure, you should break up any fertilizer clumps you leave behind. Pets are often attracted to new objects, and may confuse these clods for a treat.

 

Blue Tree Landscaping wants to help you achieve an optimal, high-quality lawn, at no-risk to your beloved pets. With 30 years of experience, Blue Tree Landscaping provides a ‘one-stop shop’ for its customers, in which we take full responsibility for all of our clients’ landscaping needs. Give us a call today to learn more about what we can do for your home.

 

How to Create an Inspiring View from Your Kitchen Window

How to Create an Inspiring View from Your Kitchen WindowIf you’re an always-in-the-kitchen chef, a fan of garden design, or anyone who appreciates a picturesque view of a beautiful yard—this post is for you.

Creating an inspirational view from your kitchen window (or any window in your home that you’ll spend a significant amount of time looking out!) is all about planning. Planning—and visual lines.

How to Create a Stunning View

Creating a great view of your garden design, with a specific window in mind, involves keeping a number of elements in mind…

1. Don’t Block Your View

While the ‘don’t block your view’ advice may seem more than obvious, when it comes to your garden design it requires planning ahead. Be cautious not to plant any tall-growing plants or trees in front of the window—or in front of any garden elements that you’d like to keep in your view.

2. Sight Lines

When you’re planning a view from a specific window you need to keep your sight lines in mind. So, stand by the window and look out at your current garden design. What are the major elements that your eyes focus on? Where are your eyes naturally drawn? These will guide your natural sight lines from your window—and you’ll want to build your garden design around these accordingly.

3. Color

Part of a beautiful view of your yard, lawn, and garden design is color. Use color where possible, but keep in mind whether you’d like heaps of color or patches of color that highlight the natural green hues.

4. Frame Your Window

Part of your view will be your window frame—so pick something that matches your view outdoors. Highlight your garden design with a window frame, curtain, or other accent. For example, if you have an English-style garden look for classic English-style valances. For a country-style garden, frame your window with country-inspired curtains or shutters.

5. Think: Hardscape

A hardscape design is often thought of as a landscaping element that frames specific areas with the purpose of adding function. Hardscaping, however, can be extremely beautiful, and can provide your view with great hardscape sight lines.

6. Bring it Outdoors

A great view from the kitchen is nice…after all, what else are you going to focus on while chopping carrots? But, instead of staring out a window at your beautiful yard—wishing you were out there—consider adding an outdoor living space that includes an outdoor kitchen (or outdoor food-prep area).

 

Need Help?

Designing a beautiful yard—and an inspiring view—sounds simple enough…but landscaping is never simple. Instead of going it alone, consider getting some guidance from the pros here at Blue Tree landscaping. Not only can we help you plan your view, but we can improve your yard’s overall functionality…and of course, beauty.