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Protect Your Yard For Fall

Although on the milder side, fall weather can lead to the damage of outdoor surfaces just like any other season. Most of the time, the summer runoff leaves areas hot, dry and faded. To adequately protect your more fragile backyard surfaces, follow these steps before the snow and sleet roll in this winter.

Clean the Surfaces

Remove any leaves, dirt, and debris that accumulated over the summer. If the surface has cracks or grout, take a power washer to them to erase any unsightly remains before the season begins. This will also clear the way for any treatments you want to perform on the yard, and regardless, having a clean yard throughout the winter is a great advantage.

Cleaning off your surfaces additionally means taking care of what resides on them. Put away children’s toys and smaller decorative pieces that may sustain damage throughout the season. Outdoor furniture should be covered or removed entirely, and plants with delicate pots would best be maintained under the cover of an overhang or well-covered table for the duration of the season.

Treat Vulnerable Spots

Keeping outdoor surfaces as fresh looking as possible is crucial for their long-term success. Weather protective coating and sealants for any surface, including even outdoor furniture, will come in handy, especially when rain and snow hit the yard.

For lawns and turf, clearing any dry and yellowed sod will not only treat the whole area, but it will prevent the rest of the vicinity from drying out and suffering from damage. Plants that line a walkway or patio might need pruning or grooming to preserve their health.

Protect Everything

If an area is too big to treat, invest in sturdy tarps to drape over the appropriate walkways. They can be rolled up and stored during the off-season, and the protection they provide will save on repairs and touch-ups for next year’s warmer months. Those tarps can also extend to furniture too big to move, such as a pool table or in-ground fire pit, and any plants that need a bit more protection, such as a garden.

Call Blue Tree

Need advice on the best way to protect your yard against the elements? Blue Tree Landscaping can help! Our team of professionals has experience working with outdoor surfaces and yards of all types and can assist in keeping yours in pristine condition year round. Contact us for a quote today!

Landscaping for Modern vs. Traditionally Styled Homes

Decorate Your PatioYou want a landscaping design that compliments the style of your home and makes it a more inviting place for your family and guests — but you don’t want your design to be so “busy” or minimal that it’s distracting. The following are some ideas to consider when choosing a design for your yard, no matter what your home’s style is.

Landscaping for a Modern Home

With a modern home design — think informal with mixed materials, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an eye-catching shape — you can get away with more unique flowers, shrubs, and trees for your yard. You’ll also be able to use certain hardscaping materials, such as concrete or certain rock tiles that might not look as appealing when paired with a more traditional home.

Depending on your home’s materials and color scheme (inside and outside), you might choose a more minimal landscaping design, or else one that’s as quirky and vibrant as your home is. Nonetheless, when it comes to landscaping designs for modern homes, less is usually more. Don’t overload the yard with exotic or unique plants, or too many focal points. Have the backyard, for example, be focused around an outdoor living space.

Landscaping for a Traditional Home

A more traditional home — think of a formal design that may be more symmetrical and rectangular, made of brick or stone, with a gable roof or a front porch — will call for a more uniform design that is neither minimalist nor maximalist, but somewhere in between. You’ll want to stick with hardscaping materials (for walkways and patios) that are similar to the house’s materials (if only in color), and plants that are more common to your home’s region.

For your backyard, a traditional home usually calls for a more “traditional” pool shape, such as Grecian or Roman, but you could also do an oval or kidney shape. You could also add a waterfall or decorative rocks and plants to frame the pool. However, like with a modern home, you’ll want to make your outdoor living space your main focal point.

It’s Time to Take the Next Step

Choosing the right landscaping design for your yard doesn’t have to be difficult. Whether you have some landscaping ideas in mind already, or are looking for someone to help you brainstorm, contact Blue Tree Landscaping to get started on your landscaping project today. Blue Tree will help you with all of your landscaping, hardscaping, and lawn care needs. They’ll help you to realize your vision for your yard, and maintain it all year round, too.

How Outdoor Landscaping Can Add Value to Your Home

How Outdoor Landscaping Can Add Value to Your HomeExperts agree that landscaping not only adds instant curb appeal to your home, but also increases the value of your property by a whopping 20%. If your home’s outdoor landscape is typically more of an afterthought, consider making a change. Whipping your yard into shape now can help you achieve maximum benefits later.

How Outdoor Landscaping Adds Value

The Outdoor Advantage

By adding outdoor rooms, you can merge the functionality of the indoors with the natural beauty of the outdoors, significantly doubling your living space in the process. Use like materials to help capture that home feeling. Hardscaping elements can help establish an easy flow, and increase the value of your home to future buyers.

Shady Spaces

If you aren’t planning to sell your home in the near future, planting a shade tree now will help you reap the benefits in more ways than one later on. Not only can a perfectly placed tree add that special something to your yard, but it can also reduce your cooling costs by 40%.

Native Plants

Which plants and flowers are indigenous to the Philly area? Consider these plant types first. The general rule is that plants that are particular to the area will require less maintenance, and be better able to resist the weather conditions and local pests of the Philly region. Furthermore, these plants will add value to your home without draining your budget or requiring constant care.

Shed a Little Light

Lighting will not only provide future home buyers with a feeling of security and safety, but when lights are placed just right, it will also create a welcoming ambience. Highlight the key features of your yard and garden with well-placed lighting structures. Install light fixtures that shine right to your front door. Potential buyers won’t be able to resist.

Good Fences, Great Neighbors

Sturdy, well-maintained fences can increase your property value. Skip the chain link fence and do something a little different. Opt for a fence that’s different from the rest of the homes on your block, while still being tasteful. It will make even a small yard seem more spacious, while providing some needed privacy.

Form and Function

Backyard construction projects are a great way to begin adding value to your home. If these projects seem too overwhelming, turn to the experienced professionals at Blue Tree Landscaping.

 

Blue Tree Landscaping is your one-stop-shop for everything lawn, from planning to design to maintenance. Call Blue Tree Landscaping and add value to your home today!

Happy Halloween from Blue Tree Landscaping!

Happy Halloween!

Wishing all of our customers, friends and families a Happy Halloween!  Keep your children safe this Halloween by following these helpful tips from the CDC:

 http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/

Composting 101: Turning Your Trash into Fertilizer GOLD

compostingComposting. You’ve probably heard this buzzword a million times before, and you know it’s supposed to reduce waste and improve your yard, but how does it all actually work? Composting may sound like a lot of effort, but the rewards for your garden will be well worth the energy you put into it. Plus, you’ll know that what you’re using is natural, not to mention quite cost-effective. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how to get in on composting and create a healthier garden.

Start Small: The best way to begin composting is to start small. There are two types of composting bins: stationary and rotating. For ongoing composting, stationary bins are the best option, but if you’re looking to create and decompose a pile within a certain time frame, rotating bins are your best choice. Regardless, make sure your compost pile takes up at least one cubic foot of space. This will ensure it has a high enough mass to heat up sufficiently, which is critical to allowing essential microbes a hospitable environment for survival .

Keep a mix of brown and green matter:  You’ll want your compost pile to be a good mix of brown and green matter, along with some moisture to keep the material bacteria-rich. Start out by using shredded newspaper, wood chips, and dry leaves as the brown element, and use kitchen scraps like fruit skin and egg shells as well as grass clippings as the green component. Generally, you want to have more brown matter than green matter in your pile. Try a ratio of three fourths brown matter to one fourth green matter, or increase the amount of brown matter even further. If your bin will be outside, avoid adding fish, meat, or dairy that can attract pests.

Compost Needs Oxygen:  Once you’ve got a great compost pile in the works, make sure it gets enough oxygen by turning it somewhat regularly (the timing for this can vary based on how quickly you’d like your compost to decompose). Use an ordinary gardening tool like a fork or shovel, or purchase a compost aerator for the absolute best results. If you’re using a stationary bin, you’ll also want to consistently add scraps and materials to your pile, as this keeps new nutrients available to the bacteria that carry out the decomposition process.

Plants Thrive with Compost:  Composting, once it starts to run smoothly, ultimately provides the best environment for plants to thrive. Among other things, it allows plants to absorb a balanced diet of nutrients, and prevents certain harmful pathogens from reaching them. So, get started today!

Seven Plant Ideas for Shady Spots

 

Finding plants that will thrive in shady areas can be tricky. However, it’s certainly more than feasible if you know what to look for. Take a look below for an assortment of different plants that will flourish in the less sunny areas of your yard.

Try These Flowers in the Shade

    • Make your garden pop with astilbes, which are among the most popular flowers to grow in moist, shady sites. These bright pink flowers can grow in direct sunlight too, so if if it’s an area that’s only shady for part of the day you’re still in luck. Be sure the soil drains well so water doesn’t pool.
    • Impatiens make for gorgeous summer bedding plants. It’s important that you keep them moist to prevent them from drying out, making them a good plant for shade. Your impatiens will grow taller the closer you space them together, so plan out your flower bed accordingly.
    • If you’ve got some extra space to fill up and you’re going for a whimsical look, creeping Jenny is a great option. True to its name, creeping Jenny is low-growing and spreads outwards among surrounding areas. The plant and its enchanting bright green leaves thrive in both sun and shade, so if you plant it in a shady area and then want to make a change, you’ll have no problem doing so.
    • Fringe trees have especially abundant foliage when grown in shady spots. Since they grow so well in all kinds of shade, they’re a good option for commercial spaces that may receive limited sunlight due to tall buildings.
    • If you’re looking to create a colorful atmosphere throughout the sunny or shady areas of your yard, consider planting some Lungwort. Its flowers bloom in shades of pink, white, and blue, generating a serene glow that will add charm to your outdoor space. And, as an added bonus, Lungwort is deer-resistant and inhibits weed growth.
    • New to gardening, or just want a plant that’s low maintenance? Begonias are a great option. These gorgeous, bright flowers grow well in rich soil when receiving filtered shade. Keep their soil moist but not too soggy, and mist them regularly.
    • Finally, Japanese forest grass is an excellent choice for shady areas. The plant does well in mild to moderate shade, as too little exposure to light can cause its golden coloring to fade. Too much sunlight can cause the ends of its leaves to dry up, though, so striking a balance with thin shade is essential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Blue Tree!

Your Thanksgiving TableFrom our family to yours…

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Think about using some of your beautiful fall foliage to decorate your holiday table.  Get some great ideas here.

Creating the Right Pool For You

Pool Diving BoardDuring hot, humid summers like these you might feel like every time you go outside to absorb some vitamin D you end up drenched in your own sweat. An inground pool might be just what you need to create a yard that’s aesthetically appealing and entertaining for children and party guests. Before you get too excited and order a moat around your house with a wave pool in the back, though, there are a few things you ought to mull over.

 

Know the pros and cons of your material.

There are three types of materials used for building inground pools: concrete, vinyl and fiberglass. Concrete is the most durable of the three and has the most shape customization options, but it takes longer to install. It’s also the only type of material that allows you to alter your pool later on. Vinyl, on the other hand, is quick to install and has more color options. Fiberglass is more resistant to algae, and, like vinyl, may require less pool maintenance than concrete does if you’re building the pool somewhere with a lot of temperature variation.

Location can make or break your pool.

Wherever you decide to put an inground swimming pool is probably where it will stay. When you think you’ve found a good location for it, look for a better one. It’s definitely a plus if you’re able to see your pool from inside your house. Also, do your best to protect swimmers from unwanted debris like fallen leaves and mud by keeping flora away from the poolside and building the pool on high ground.

More customization options than you can shake a stick at.

No pool is an island. Lighting, steps, diving boards, slides, and a scale model of the Colossus of Rhodes in the deep end are a few ways to make the pool more fun for the family and make your friends jealous. Remember that fencing is required for safety and legal reasons, but it also protects your pool from winds that cause evaporation and teeth chattering.

Even with a team of experienced pool builders like us to guide you, designing a pool can seem like a daunting task. The more you understand the choices that go into the design process, the more confident you’ll be about conveying to us the pool of your imagination.

 

How to Build a Fire Pit

FirepitThere’s nothing better than spending a cool autumn evening relaxing outdoors around an open fire. You might be a bit intimidated at the thought of building your own open fire pit, but it’s really not as hard as you might think!

Two Types of Fire Pits

Essentially, there are two types of fire pits available to you. You can either buy a pre-made fire-pit at Lowe’s or Home Depot, or you can assemble your own with the use of simple, readily-available materials.

Pre-made fire-pits are convenient and long-lasting, and they are available in stone or metal designs. Typically installed by a professional, they have a sense of permanency but can be somewhat expensive. They can range in price anywhere from $1500 to $10,000!

Assembled or homemade fire-pits are much simpler, far less expensive constructions. Here’s what you will need to create your own:

  • Typically installed by a professional, they have a sense of permanency but can be somewhat expensive. Stone can either be sourced from your lawn or garden or purchased at one of any number of places that sell home improvement supplies. Whatever the source, make sure it’s a stone that can handle the high temperatures of the pit fire.
  • Wood for fuel. See below for a list of good fuel choices.

See?  Very simple indeed!

How to Build a Fire Pit

Now that you’ve got your materials, you can follow these steps to build your fire-pit:

  • Identify the area where you’ll dig the pit, and clear away any debris you might find. Rake the debris to the side, and make sure to remove it from the area. Pay special attention to twigs or leaves as these are flammable.
  • Dig a circular pit. Measurements may vary according to your design and wishes, but depth is an important consideration. If it’s too shallow, the fire-pit may allow flames to escape too easily. If it’s too deep, heat won’t radiate well. Try to take these considerations in mind when digging the pit.
  • Line the pit. The liner can be made of smaller stone and rock, but paving brick or even sand can be used. Just be sure that the liner material doesn’t contain any harmful chemical treatments that would release toxins when exposed to the high temperatures of your fire.
  • Construct the wall by ringing the pit with some of the larger stones, placing these closely together where possible. The height of the wall is up to you, but be mindful of safety concerns as you build. If it’s too high, an unreinforced stone wall could crumble unexpectedly. If it’s too low, a wall might let flames escape and, among other things, really ruin your party!
  • Add some firewood. Hardwoods are best. Ash, white oak, beech, red oak, dogwood, and apple make excellent fuel for your fire-pit, but hardwood is dense and may be difficult to light. Softwoods, like spruce and fir, are easier to light but give less heat and burn more quickly. You might try using a combination of the two.
  • Draw up some chairs, bring over some friends, and break out a good bottle of your favorite wine. The last step in building your open fire-pit? Enjoy!

Keep in mind that these steps are just the basics.  Before you take on this project as a “do it yourself” endeavor, fully research how to install the fire pit correctly and safely.  If you decide you need some help, call us at 610-222-0590.  We’ll be happy to lend a hand!