Thursday, 18 December 2014

Energy-efficient Landscaping in California

Energy-efficient landscaping is used widely across the world to ensure that energy is conserved and people as well as landscaping industries reap benefits from this. It includes using confined materials, hand tools instead of materials powered by gasoline, and also involves anti-drought plantings in dry areas, buying stock from locals to enable saving of energy in transportation and on-site fertilizing.

Residential and commercial buildings use 10% of energy. As per the Architecture 2030, operations-related energy uses up almost 50 percent of total GHG emissions. McKinsey & Co, a HR and Manpower consulting firm, found that energy usage in the United State could be cut by 21% by the year 2020 by executing effortless energy efficiency measures. The house owners can take economical steps to make the interiors of their homes better insulated; however, the landscape isn’t frequently perceived as part of the quandary.

The state of California began using energy-efficient measures during the late 1960s, including the building conventions and machine principles with strict competence. As years have passed by, the state’s energy consumption had remained roughly even on a per capita basis while the national U.S. utilization has increased by two folds. Also as part of its policy, California executed a consigning order for innovative use of energy resources that gives more importance to energy efficiency, electricity which is renewable and fossil-based power plants.

It is feasible to accomplish as much as 35% diminution in heating and cooling expenses in the course of vigilant landscape development. Landscaping can lessen direct sun from heating up building exteriors. It can thwart reflected light hauling heat towards a house from the ground. By plummeting wind velocity, an energy saving landscape dwindles air seepage in California. Moreover, the shade formed by vegetation and the effect of green plants will reduce air pressure adjoining the building and offers cooling.

Quick growing green walls can also trim down energy consumption by providing padding in the wintry weather and restraining unswerving sunlight on walls in the summer. In searing months, they also reduce air temperature by 10 degrees. Also, well-planned residential green roofs, which are growing popular in some parts of the world, can decrease energy usage during all seasons. Fundamental green technologies like green roofs and smart tree placement can be used to dramatically reduce energy usage inside homes.

Financial support is largely focused on mobile source projects that eradicate pollution from cars, building equipment, steam engine trucks, nautical vessels, agricultural tools, and for projects that encourage the use of low emissions or zero emissions haulage such as ride sharing, bicycle paths, shuttles and walker alleyway.

California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA)’s goal is to supply local regimes and private firms access to low-charge, tax-free backing for ventures that offer substantial public assistance, contribute to communal and monetary escalation and advance the general eminence of life in local society throughout California. Resources help local governments to finance equipment and real estate, and assets improvements in water, wastewater, and sewer facilities.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Top 5 apps for landscape professionals

There are quite a lot of applications related to landscaping for the iPhone and iPad, but a few are better than the others, thereby enabling the user to have an enriching experience. So, why waste your time and money on a landscape app that is not so good? We are going to discuss about a few apps that make the cut as the 5 best apps for landscaping, hence making it easier for landscapers to choose what app to use.

Morpholio


Morpholio was founded in 2011 by a group of architects and specialists, to help utilize the device culture, the cloud and social media and to use these factors to aid the creative thinking of people part of the image driven culture. The platform of Morpholio allows for collaboration between designers from various professions. It also includes features that allow for uploaded work to be critiqued by the Morpholio community. It is a unique sketch utility that allows you to easily develop ideas in layers and connects fluently with your global network. It definitely is user friendly and gives wide range of options for landscape professionals.

Landscaper’s Companion

This is an app that includes information on 25,000 shrubs and trees. The search categories and features cover the United Kingdom, USA and Australia amongst various other countries.  This app helps advice architects and landscapers on the basis of USDA zone.  We can enter data about the spot’s attributes and features; desired flower color scheme, height and spread, etc. The app then gives a list of flora that can be used for the specific location. This can be extremely useful for those who need to retrieve quick information.

Planimeter

This app uses measurements from satellite maps to find a site’s perimeter, distance, and area.  It includes both imperial and metric measurements. It helps us to measure the surrounding area in context and elevates the quality of the app while using the features. Search for a location by address, or let your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad find your current location. This land and area calculator is used in industries for concrete, seal coating, and to measure distances for bike rides, golf courses or race tracks. Builders can also quickly measure sizes of buildings, flat roofs, and roads. This app is certainly one of the best apps available at the moment.

Dropbox

We are very much aware that landscaping is about portraying information in various ways. Dropbox was founded in the year 2007 by Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston. Dropbox provides client software for Mac OS XIOS, LinuxMicrosoft Windows, BlackBerry OS, Android and web browsers, and also unofficial ports to Windows Phone and Symbian. It enables us to share and collect information on the iPhone, iPad, or any computer. The information stored about a location can be accessed from anywhere using this app.

Leafsnap

This app was developed by Columbia University, University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution. Using visual recognition software, the software identifies trees from photographs of their leaves.  On placing the leaf from a tree at the location on a white background we can immediately start taking snaps.  Currently covering tree species of the Northeast United States, it will soon cover the entire USA as it is further being developed.  This app could soon become one of the most popular apps for landscape professionals primarily due to its uniqueness and quality.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

5 Tips to Choose Paver Patterns and Designs

Creating the perfect outdoor living space isn’t just about choosing the location and size of your walkways, patios, driveways and pool decks. Rather, it should involve careful consideration of colors, styles, patterns and shapes of pavers that showcase your artistic flair and give your space an unmatched oomph. Here are five tips to choose paver patterns and designs that go well with the overall setting:
  • Deciding your goal: By usingpavers of various sizes available in an array of colors, you can create amazing patterns in your outdoor space, which can either make a space look small or big, subtle or dynamic, traditional or contemporary. Therefore, deciding what end result you want to achieve is important before you start your search for the ideal paver patterns and designs.
  • Deciding paver shapes and materials: Round, square, rectangular and hexagonal are some of the most common paver shapes. At first, you need to decide which would be most suitable for your landscape. Instead of choosing any one shape, you may opt for a design that includes multiple shapes to create an intricate pattern that showcases the unique character of your home. Once you have decided upon the shape, pick your material of choice. You can find a variety of paving materials such as flagstone, brick, cobblestone, outdoor tile, gravel, etc. to choose from. In case you want to replenish the groundwater supply and prevent stormwater runoff, using permeable paving materials would be a good choice.
  • Consider the overall aesthetics: According to landscaping experts, laying brick-shaped pavers to repeat a form works well for rectangular, colonial style houses. However, for ornate Victorian-style houses with arched windows and doors, you can repeat curved shapes and edges to blend well with the structure. To make narrow paths appear wider, experts recommend laying the pavers in rows or on a diagonal that runs across the space. You can make rectangular pavers run the length of a wider space to make it look narrower. The key is to choose your paver patterns and designs to complement your home and its surroundings and not stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Picking the paver pattern: Apart from the common circular pattern, other paver patterns that you can consider are basket weave patterns, running bond patterns, herringbone patterns and the European fan pattern (the last one being often considered to be the most challenging pattern to lay).  While small areas can be made to appear bigger with the running bond pattern, the herringbone pattern that’s famous for its durability and strength is ideal for regions with heavy furniture or traffic. Other patterns like the basket weave or circular ones are perfect for almost every spot of your outdoor space. According to some paver installation pros, circular or curved designs work especially well around a fire pit or water fountain, while irregular or random patterns look great in landscapes with a Tuscan or Mediterranean touch. Therefore, depending on the effect you wish to create and your landscape’s existing conditions, you should choose your paver pattern.
  • Selecting within your budget: Setting a realistic budget for a landscape project is often one of the most difficult tasks and it’s no different for pavers. Still, you should compare prices online, talk to paver manufacturers and consult landscape designers to set your budget and find the right material that fits both your purpose and budget.
You can use these tips to choose the right paver patterns and designs that will help create a visually pleasing outdoor space, which enhances the appeal of your landscape and your home.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Water Saving Tips for Your Landscape

With a Mediterranean climate, the Bay Area enjoys cool, wet winters and suffers from summer droughts. Therefore, it’s important that people in this area use drought-tolerant plants in their landscape, in addition to employing efficient irrigation and water-saving methods. Here are some tips that will help you design a landscape that conserves water:
  • Plan it in advance and maintain it – The trick to save water in your landscape is not to skimp plantation, but to use native and drought-tolerant plants. Consider dividing the yard into several zones and put plants in each zone with similar water needs. Remember to consider both the regional climate and microclimate to ensure that the zoning of plants is done properly. This will help you to avoid water wastage, apart from ensuring that every plant gets the required sunlight. For instance, irrigation is required in the low water use zone only when you add a new plant there. Again, plants in the moderate water use zone need more water than what is naturally provided. Finally, consider adding the thirstiest plants in the high water use zone. You may consider cutting back on the size of such plants, if possible, as this will help reduce water use.
  • Keep a note of the soil in your landscape – Understanding the type of soil is important as this will help you to determine efficient watering practices. The three main particles that make up different combinations of soil are clay, sand and silt. Sand particles are the largest ones, while the clay particles are the smallest ones. Silt particles are of the medium size. Sandy soils get drained quicker and you need to water them more frequently. On the other hand, clay soils take more time to saturate and don't need frequent watering. Don't forget to enhance the soil quality at regular intervals as this will ensure better absorption of water and promote deeper roots.
  • Water the plants properly – While watering the plants, you need to keep certain factors in mind. Consider watering all the plants deeply as this leads to deeper roots and also helps create a larger soil reservoir from which the plants can draw moisture, whenever required. Generally, you should water a lawn to a depth of about six to eight inches. Perennials and annuals should be watered to a depth of about twelve to eighteen inches. Watering to a depth of 2 to 3 feet is advisable for trees, whereas shrubs require watering up to a depth of twelve to thirty inches.
  • Use mulches: By using mulches, you will prevent soil from crusting, ensure that the plant roots are cool, and let your landscape enjoy reduced evaporation and decreased weed growth.
  • Take the necessary measures – Although there are certain basic rules of watering to follow, you should make necessary changes in the watering regime, as and when needed. Consider checking the water penetration by probing the soil with a metal rod or a stiff wire. If the soil is adequately moist, you can easily move the stick. However, if it is dry, it will be difficult for you to move the stick. Also, make it a point to adjust the watering schedule according to the seasonal changes.
  • Maintain the landscape: You can conserve water when your plants and the turf are healthy. Therefore, opt for regular pruning, weeding, fertilizing and pest controlling measures to ensure that your landscape and the plants are healthy.
Use these water-conserving landscaping approaches to conserve energy as well as water.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

5 Tips for Smart Outdoor Landscape Design

Outdoor landscaping isn’t all about planting a bunch of randomly collected shrubs and flowering plants haphazardly. If you do this, the wrongly placed plants won’t enhance the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space. Rather, they would become a liability where you have to prune them frequently, apply expensive pest treatments, or even remove them entirely much earlier than their natural life spans. However, if you want to steer clear of such wastage of time, effort and money, you should design your landscape carefully. By keeping the following tips for outdoor landscaping in mind, you can create a landscape that doesn’t become a headache to maintain and gives your outdoor space an attractive look:
  1. Keep an eye, both on the present and the future: A basic step for outdoor landscaping is to assess your present and future needs and design accordingly. For instance, it’s important to decide what you want to do in the space. Whether it’s to enjoy a relaxing mood, entertain guests, cook a meal or prepare a barbeque, play with your dog, grow vegetables, run around with your kids, or hang the laundry out to dry, you need to ascertain the purpose of your outdoor space. It’s equally crucial to consider future access to various elements of the landscape. After all, you may need some repair or renovation in the future, which could demand access to your yard for big/small machines like stump grinders, mowers etc. Therefore, your landscape architect should design after considering all these aspects.
  2. Integrate some focal points: Your yard should have one or more focal points that attract the eye and engage the onlooker. Though the most common focal points used by landscape professionals are trees and statues, you can explore and use several other possibilities. Some of these include installing a bird bath, hanging flower baskets, using pebbles and stones of different sizes to demarcate a specific area, building a pool or water feature (pond/fountain), placing an ornate garden bench etc. You may even use a borrowed view or an architectural attribute of your house to create a focal point in your landscape that blends well with the overall style and theme of your outdoor space.  
  3. Bring in some movement: A stiff landscape without movement looks very dull. Therefore, plan to add movements, and thus life and interest to your yard. It could be a few ornamental grasses that dance when the breeze blows over them, or it could be the flowers and berry producers that attract the birds and the bees.
  4. Let your house blend in: Houses that are nothing short of architectural masterpieces can augment any landscape without much of an effort on the owner’s part. But if your home is a building with an average look and feel, you can choose some plants that will soften your home’s edges and let it blend with the setting. However, guard against planting with zest that makes your home hide behind an overgrown shrubbery. Remember – even the most ordinary homes have something interesting about them, which a thoughtful landscape architect can highlight and benefit from. 
  5. Plant right: Choosing the right plants for your landscape and planting them at the right places is very crucial to create the landscape of your dreams. For example, the ideal location for a rose bed or vegetable garden is a place that gets adequate sunlight. You should also consider the growth rate of plants. Many choose fast-growing plants for their landscape to get the space filled with large trees and shrubs quickly but the money and time they need to invest to prune and maintain them later often outweigh the initial savings. Ensuring proper spacing between the plants is yet another important fact. This will guarantee proper air circulation to avert insect and fungal problems.
Remember that you don’t need to burn a hole in your pocket to create a beautiful landscape. Simply use the tips above to design carefully and ensure that you select your plants accordingly and place them at the right locations. When done the right way, your outdoor space will continue to enthrall and mesmerize you for years to come. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

5 Urban Landscape Architecture Design Ideas

Whether it’s your home, an office, a shopping mall or a park, designing them requires a lot of planning and careful coordination among various elements. Some designs can focus on simple and modern forms while using environment-friendly elements, while some others can be grand in their scale and execution. However, it’s important for landscape architects to have deep understanding and responsiveness to client requirements, site conditions, and sensitivity towards the bond between natural and constructed surroundings. The goal for every urban landscape project is to balance design and pragmatism to get striking end results that engage the user.

Here are five contemporary design ideas for your home that give you an idea of what to look for when you take your pick:
  1. Rooftop decks: If your home enjoys the view of a lake or river, you can think of roof terraces to add charm to your space. If you want to create an oasis-style setting, you can use simple furniture and put greenery in planters to craft a relaxed, contemporary setting. This simple setting would go especially well if your river/lake views are flanked by an urban landscape. In case you have a limited space available to work with, opting for a crisp linear design will help you make the most of it.
  2. Backyard with open terrace: This space can be put to use in different ways. If you have a lot of space to play with, you can get a pool or some other water feature installed, along with some big trees and native garden plantings. If you decide to have a pool or pond, the reflection of the sky and the trees will provide you with a quiet, contemplative feel. In case your living rooms open up onto the terrace, you can use the backyard as an extension for your indoor and outdoor activities. Having an open seating arrangement with garden umbrellas, tables, etc. can help you create a lovely and functional dining terrace.
  3. Layered garden: People in the city often dream of having a green patch of their own but have to forego it due to space constraints. However, a layered garden can give the users a visibly sustainable and stylish garden to enjoy. If you too have always wanted a garden, albeit small in size, to relax and feel close to nature, you can ask your landscape professional to design one for your home. By layering elements, repeating materials and patterns, your landscape architect can create depth of field. This (the sculptural and constructed elements) can then be contrasted with planted elements to offer the onlooker a strong visual focus.
  4. Outdoor fireplace: Whether you want a cozy nook in your garden to enjoy a quiet meal with family and friends, read a book, or simply laze around, having a fireplace installed would be a good way to jazz up the place. It could be a lone focal feature or a part of your outdoor kitchen area. Depending on the overall theme of your place, you can ask your landscaping professional to design it so that it blends well with the entire setting.
  5. Party zone: Though you can always convert your backyard or patio to organize a party, it pays to have a dedicated party zone if you love to entertain often. You can use the rear of your property to welcome guests and put built-in benches, garden chairs, etc. to create a comfortable seating arrangement. If you have a fire-pit, the seating arrangement can be done around it. Having some plants and fences around the edges will also be a good idea to preserve the privacy of your guests while giving them a sense of spaciousness at the same time.
You can get these and many more ideas from your landscape architect as a professional would know what suits your space the best. So, give your landscape a makeover with these tips to enjoy your own personal space to the optimum.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Landscape Management Tips for the Rainy Season

Arrival of the rainy season marks many changes in your landscape. Apart from making the ground soft, the rains may also cause some shrubs and trees to lose their leaves or branches. Steady winds, which often accompany the rains, may cause havoc on your trees and shrubs by breaking some branches and making some others stoop or break. If you are worried about the impending rainy season, here are some landscape maintenance tips that will help you keep your turf safe and in good shape:
  • Support/straighten leaning plants: If some of your garden’sadolescent plants are leaning after a heavy shower, take steps to straighten them. Allowing these plants to mature crooked and leaning will adversely affect the aesthetic quotient of your landscape. Therefore, take advantage of the wet soil and put these leaning adolescents into proper posture by offering support or just pulling them in position. In case such an effort breaks the crooked branches, you would still succeed in improving your property’s curb appeal.
  • Remove the damaged/broken parts of plants: If your landscape is strewn with broken branches, hanging tree stakes, damaged plants that can’t be restored back to their healthy self, it’s important to remove them. You should have a systematic plan to take rounds of your turf during this season and spot such problem areas. Once you find them, get them removed and keep your landscape clean. 
  • Protection against fungus: Heavy rains often make your plants damp, especially those that grow in the shade and don’ get adequate sunlight to dry up fast.This triggers the onset of microscopic fungi that anchor themselves on the stems and branches, thus damaging the leaves and the plant. Ornamental plums, flowering cherries and quite a few other trees are prone to such fungi attacks. Therefore, you should treat your plants to kill these micro fungi. In case the DIY approach is too tough to handle, you can hire landscaping professionals to get the job done.
  • Ensure timely pruning and trimming: If your trees aren’t trimmed on time, they will become top-heavy and may end up going down in the rains and storms. In case these trees are close to a power line or your home, they can take the power line down while falling or cause serious damage to your property by crashing into the pool or roof or any other part of the home. With proper trimming and pruning, you can ensure structural strength and longer life for your foliage, in addition to increased safety. Regular trimming can also decrease the chances of losing branches/limbs or the entire trees to storm/rain damage. Though a good trimming can’t guarantee that you will not lose any trees, doing it would significantly alleviate the chance of such loss.
  • Set up a rain sensor: Installation of such a sensor will identify instances when nature brings the water that your turf needs, and shut off the automatic sprinklers. This will decrease your energy costs while ensuring that your turf isn’t overwatered.
  • Prevention against flooding: Heavy rains may often flood your turf. Preventing or limiting such flooding is a constant challenge for landscape owners. One way to combat this problem is to have proper drainage system in your garden. Another common practice is to use swales to clean out rain and storm water. A swale refers to a depression in your turf, whose depth can vary from 6 inches to a few feet. Swales can retain storm water runoff and treat it with a filter meant for pollutants and contaminants. Swales also facilitate drainage by letting water flow into canals/inlets or soak into the ground.
Use these tips to ensure that your landscape isn’t damaged by the rains.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

5 Maintenance Tips for Your Landscape

In today’s busy life, most homeowners forget about their landscape once they have got it professionally installed. A handful of those who are still optimistic beat a hasty retreat once they find it too tiring and time consuming to deal with the endless deadhead blooms or high-maintenance plants. If you too feel that you don’t have the time or energy to invest in your landscape, you can use these five basic landscaping maintenance tips to keep your patch of green healthy and attractive:
  1. Proper watering: In case your turf has newly planted species, remember that these plants will face a certain degree of transplant shock after their initial installation. It’s important that you water them properly to ensure good health. Since sprinklers and irrigation systems often fail to offer sufficient water to the roots, you should apply water directly to the roots. This will provide sufficient saturation and help the roots expand into the surrounding soil media. For turfs that are already established, you can set a watering schedule early in the morning. If you water your landscape sometime at noon, the water will evaporate too rapidly, while watering too late in the day may lead to humidity and growth of fungi. Also, you should avoid over watering as the turf roots need oxygen to survive. If you find standing water on your landscape or notice the turf to be soppy, you should reduce watering. In such cases, you may even consider topdressing or installing a drainage system.
  2. Mowing, pruning and edging: Most landscaping experts suggest mowing two strips around the perimeter of your patch and then mowing in straight lines at right angles to this. The most effective method is to alternate the pattern every other mow, if possible. Pruning your plants and trees, especially their lower limbs, should be done carefully to avoid a negative impact over the life of the plant/tree. Edging is equally important for your landscape’s maintenance as a good edge keeps your turf looking great and creates separation between the turf and bed areas. You can prevent the grass from growing into the beds by edging every other mow.
  3. Weed and moss control: Healthy landscapes haveno or minimal weeds.But when you notice a steady growth of weeds, you should remove them by hand or use a selective herbicide. Refrain from using a non-selective herbicide as it will kill both the weed and the grass. Moss control is another aspect of yard maintenance. Since moss is prone to occur in shady regions and in areas where the soil is not favorable for a healthy lawn, you can prune plants in such areas to bring in more sunlight. Opting for shade tolerant plants can also help control moss. If you spot moss in your garden, you can apply liquid iron to kill it within hours. Once the moss has died, scrape it out, either with a power rake or manually.  
  4. Fertilization: You can consult landscape professionals to select the right fertilizer for your turf. Apply them carefully, as per instructions, because over fertilization can burn your turf. You can even use topdressing and aeration to amend the soil, thus decreasing the amount of fertilizers required.
  5. Plan well: Analyze the life cycles and growth of your plants and plan their maintenance according to their requirements. Remember – good landscaping is all about maintaining a balance between how plants look when they are planted and how they will appear when they have become fully grown. Therefore, have patience, be ready to invest some time and have a maintenance plan handy.
If you feel that all these tasks require a lot of effort and time, and you are just not ready to sacrifice time for such tasks, it’s better to hire landscaping professionals to get the job done.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How to Invite Wildlife into Your Landscape?

The landscape can be turned into a smorgasbord of delight for your wildlife friends provided you know the right tricks. There are homeowners who prefer a meticulous touch in order to attract natural world into their garden spaces while many don’t mind an unkempt touch but in an orderly manner.

Start by taking a closer look at your yard

Is your landscape having the right ingredients to attract nature? Does your yard have right kinds of plants that attract native birds and creatures? Are you supplying them with adequate water, food and protection? If the answer to all these questions is a yes, then don’t worry! Butterflies and birds won’t be able to stay away from your charming garden.

What your yard should have to attract wildlife?

Your garden will turn into a riot of colors with lovely butterflies flying all around, provided there are ample plantings of lavender, butterfly bush or cinquefoil. To invite hummingbirds you can try plants like hollyhock, coral bells and currant. Yarrow, veronica and asters are great options for butterfly larvae.

Apart from these, there are other varieties of perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees that can lure hummingbirds and butterflies towards your back/ front yard. Finally there is no problem designing your entire yard with plants available locally, in order to attract native wild species.

Prepare a year round food source

There might be migratory birds that fly over the locality and decide to stop in your yard to relax. Take for instance the San Francisco Bay Area. Being the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast, it is an ideal refuge for wide variety of winged creatures that include songbirds, shorebirds and raptors.

Make sure your garden has steady source of clean water to quench their thirsts, be it in the form of bird bath, dripper or misters. To prepare a bird-friendly landscape that assures year-round food supply, concentrate on assortment of plants. Fruiting plant can be great food source as it supplies birds and butterflies with seeds, saps, flowers and fruits almost throughout the year.

Give protection to wildlife

Birds and butterflies look for protection when they flock your landscape. So to make them feel secure, create a protective habitat. Some trees like pine or junipers help create dense habitat thus offering perfect cover for birds. Nature lovers also try out dense leafed deciduous shrubs and trees as well as weed and debris to design protective homes for their winged friends. Some even try out different types of decorative pieces or simple birdhouses to create that peaceful abode. Such garden decoration further renders an artistic touch to the overall ambiance.

To conclude

If it remains your dream to design that lively landscape where birds chirp and butterflies fly regally then you need to take proper care of it. Keep in mind that excessive spraying of chemicals might drive away birds and creatures from your backyard. So minimize chemical application as much as possible. Clean the place daily and weed out creepers or unwanted plants.

Finally, you can always consult professional landscapers to know how to accurately design a wildlife-centric yard.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Landscape Makeover Tips for Older Homes

With time, your home ages and so does its surroundings. Often older homes acquire a deserted look with overgrown bushes, untrimmed plants and dry leaves strewn everywhere.

The trick lies in sprucing up the yard so as to render a fresh touch and eye-catching appeal to overall home appearance. Now the big question is how to correctly do landscape makeover so that your bland outdoor living space turns alluring and inviting!

Recreating home landscape is indeed an engaging mission more so when the outcome is so rewarding. A bright and contemporary garden style not only makes your abode more appealing but adds value and usability to it. When it comes to yard transformation of an aging home, certain measures prove to be quite fruitful.

Start with an outdoor remodel

Don’t initiate the project in an impulsive manner. Select the best style that you would like to portray in your front/back yard. You can even talk to any renowned landscaping company for precise visualization.  In case the home exterior needs remodeling too, then complete that project first, so that it doesn’t clash with your landscaping schedule.

Consider fire safety for your garden

This is one aspect which should be of primary concern while redesigning the yard. Many aging homes have junipers as foundation plants which are highly combustible. Then rubber mulch can easily catch fire too. While all plants burn, measures should be taken to reduce fire intensity as much as possible. You need to select plants even more carefully, if your home is located in a high wildfire zone.

Concentrate on water conservation

Think of installing well-designed and efficient irrigation system, if you want to conserve water and maintain plants in healthy condition. Some water features like ponds, cascades or waterfalls enhances your yard’s beauty, adds value to it and acts as a steady water source too. Make sure that the water feature is installed by a trained landscaper or irrigation specialist only. Do focus on proper cleaning and maintenance of the water body.

Think of a low maintenance landscape

Lifestyle has become hectic now. People don’t have time to take care of their gardens. However this shouldn’t deter your landscaping plan. The best way to come up with a low maintenance yard is by picking up native plants that match your region’s weather condition, e.g. if you are a California resident then beautify your garden with Hollyhock, Lilac, Fired-egg flower or California Poppy. This reduces maintenance time and cost.

To sum it up

You just can’t plan a totally maintenance free garden. However the entire process of remodeling, replanting and choosing new materials for your old garden can be fun indeed. Actually there is no problem doing all these on your own. The only problem is with an unorganized landscaping plan you might end up spending time and money but without satisfactory result. By opting for an expert guidance it becomes much easier to redesign your dream yard within budget.

Make sure to consult a licensed landscape professional who has expertise in handling gardening projects of older homes.

Friday, 27 June 2014

How to Choose the Right Irrigation System for Your Garden

According to the US Irrigation Association, around 30% of the water delivered by the most efficient automatic sprinkler systems is wasted. Most landscape owners think that their task is finished once they have installed a good irrigation system. However, landscaping experts warn that unless proper maintenance is done, even the most efficient irrigation system would stop performing or show signs of snags, over time. Most experts recommend hiring professionals for at least an annual inspection to ensure that your irrigation systems are working fine. It’s equally important to check that your system is supplying water where it’s needed (the root zone of plants), at times when it’s needed. Perhaps now you know why it’s important to select the right irrigation system and plan strategies for making smart use of water in your landscaping.

Listed below are some factors, which you should consider to choose the right irrigation system:

  • The Size and Complexity of the Garden: For a small garden with a few potted plants, you can water plants manually. Using a watering wand or a hose with a flow trigger fitting and spray head are also good choices. However, to water a large area, you will need to consider a drip irrigation system or permanent in-ground irrigation system fitted with timers. These days, you can also get smart irrigation solutions that incorporate sophisticated options like flow management, weather-based smart controls, and remote control options from a central computer. Such hi-tech features will be useful if you need to manage your irrigation requirements remotely.
  • Your Water Conservation Goals: If you live in a drought-prone area, water efficiency of your irrigation system is likely to be of high priority. In some other areas, water may be available for little or no cost, but electricity to run the irrigation system could be expensive. In such cases, you will need irrigation systems with controllers that can coordinate irrigation demands to make your pumps operate at peak efficiency. This will help you save money on electric bills rather than on water bills. Some people may also need systems that can adapt to changing water restrictions applicable in a particular region. Thus, your water conservation goals would be a key determining factor while selecting the right irrigation system.
  • Budget: You need to ascertain a budget and research online to shortlist the varieties of irrigation systems available within that range. You should also notice the ones that are more water-efficient than the others before taking your final pick.
  • Watering Window and Flexibility: Your watering window (the time and duration of watering your garden) can be affected by watering restrictions applicable in the area, sudden outdoor events and the varying levels of pedestrian traffic. Therefore, your system must be flexible to easily and quickly accommodate to scheduling changes, as and when the need arises.
  • Monitoring the System’s Water Flow:In case you need to generate water usage reports, your irrigation system should be fitted with flow sensors to record the actual flow of every valve in the system. Even when you don’t need to generate reports, using such flow sensors will alert you whenever there’s a deviation from the normal flow. Thus, a sprinkler head clogged with grass or mud will show an abnormally low flow. Again, if trespassers have kicked off the sprinkler heads, the flow sensors will display a much higher flow than what’s normal. Thus, you will be able to monitor your water flow closely and take corrective measures, where required.

The type of water (potable/non-potable)and water-pressure in your area, as well as the number of people managing the systems are other factors that should be taken into account while buying the most apt irrigation system for your garden. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

5 Tips to Selecting Bay-Friendly Plants

Did you know that choosing plants for your Bay Area landscape isn’t just about fragrance and beauty? If not, you need to note that considering a plant’s suitability for the environment where it will grow is equally important. In fact, this is one of the key aspects of Bay-friendly gardening today. If you want to make your yard more attractive, cut back on chores, effort, money and time spent on maintaining your yard and improve the surroundings; these 5 tips for selecting Bay-friendly plants will help:
  1. Test the Soil: This will help you in knowing the soil’s texture, fertility and structure. This in turn would let you determine the quality of the soil and kind of plants that can grow in it. Knowing the soil quality would also let you assess what kind of supplements, if any,the plants would need. For example, gardens with clay soil are well suited for trees like big leaf maple, hazelnut, white alder, red-twig dogwood etc. In case you have clay soil but wish to grow drought-tolerant bamboos, you will need to amend the soil to increase its nutrient uptake and improve drainage. Adding a suitable fertilizer around the roots when planting the bamboos is also crucial. All these steps can be done correctly when you know the type of soil that your landscape has.
  2. Choose Plants to Suit the Local Climate: In certain aspects, the climate of California is similar to the Mediterranean climate. With its dry, sunny summers and wet winters, you need to choose plants that can grow well in these special conditions. For example, with its annual six-month drought spell, drought-tolerant bamboos would be a good choice to consider. Many landscape experts also suggest growing plants native to the Mediterranean climate. These plants often adapt well to the Bay Area climate, require less water, fewer fertilizers and pesticides, and probably less pruning compared to a species that would have originated in a humid rainforest. 
  3. Know your Climate Zone: Knowing your particular climate zone is crucial for Bay-Friendly gardening. You can also check here with your zip code and find your specific climate zone. This will help you to shortlist the plants that will thrive in your landscape.
  4. Know your Microclimates: San Francisco is renowned for its diverse microclimates. From the Bay to the coast, you will notice a dramatic change in the weather. Even walking from one side of a hill with sunny skies to the other can make you encounter a damp fog. Therefore, it becomes important to study the climatic, soil and wind conditions of various areas of the landscape. Since different areas can have varying amounts of sun, wind, moisture and heat, they will affect the type of plants that can survive and thrive in your garden. For example, perennials like sea thrift, wild buckwheat, showy milkweed and lavender will thrive in an area with full sun and good drainage. However, for areas with clay soil and shade, native species like wood fern and western sword fern would be the ideal choice.
  5. Choose Local and Native Species: California native plants, most of which are drought-tolerant and naturally available in the State can be a good bet for your garden. Also, choosing native plants that grow or have evolved in the SF Bay Area is a good choice. These species (such as vine maple, Pacific acaena, California dandelion, white alder, columbine etc..,) are better adapted to life in the region and would additionally support the local wildlife too.
As a gardener, you have to exercise the power of Bay-friendly plant selection wisely to ensure that they work better–for both the environment and you.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Preparing your Garden for New Plants

With the onset of spring season, many Bay Area landscape owners have given their patch of greens a new look. Are you still on a look out on how to prepare your garden for new plants? If yes, this post is for you. Though most informed gardeners have already done their planting before the summer heat arrived, you still have a chance to make up for the lost time with a few tips:
  • Test your soil: You need to test your soil to know its type – it could be heavy clay soil, light and sandy soil, or moderate and productive soil. You can use a soil-testing kit for the purpose which comes equipped with a soil-collection bag and instructions. Follow the instructions keenly to get accurate results. Another way is to get professionals involved. You can also hire a landscape company to do your garden soil testing.
  • Have a plan: You should have a layout plan about what and where to plant. Whether you want to grow a vegetable garden or opt for ornamental plants/shrubs, make a well thought out plan. While planning the layout, ensure to keep adequate room for working on the plants and allowing them good growth.
  • Clear the rubbish, weeds and old plants: If you already have plants that you want to get rid of, pull those out and throw them away. You should also dig out weeds, vines, grasses as well as old, invasive shrubs. This especially applies to perennial and biennial weeds such as Bull Thistle, Fennel, Artichoke Thistle, Poison Hemlock and Perennial Pepperweed. Removing rubbish is yet another important task for preparing your garden for new plants.
  • Dig the soil: Dig the soil deep (as most plants need 6-8 inches of good ground to have room for their roots to grow in and get access to nutrients and moisture). While digging or tilling, you remove any large/loose rocks or stones, along with any debris or roots that you may encounter. In case your garden has an extremely compacted soil, you may need to use multiple attempts to break up the chunks and remove them.
  • Prepare the soil: Depending on the type of your soil, you should add soil amendments like compost, peat moss, decomposed leaves, dehydrated cow manure etc to improve its structure. Once these are applied, add a suitable fertilizer to make the soil ready for plantation. If you are not sure about the right soil fix or fertilizer, ask landscape experts to suggest some.
  • Choose your plants: Though it’s the best to plant seeds and see them grow, right before your eyes, not everyone may have the confidence or time to handle the task. Also, when you are starting a bit late and most of your neighbors’ landscapes are already sporting colorful gardens, it’s hard to toil. In such cases, you can opt for flower and vegetables starting kits that are easily available at your nearby retailers or local garden centers. You can also hire experts of a commercial landscape company who will help you choose the right plants for your garden. Experts say that it’s always a good idea to select plants with a variety (with respect to height and color) as this will keep your garden interesting and beautiful to look at and not make it monotonous.  
Now that you know about the fundamental steps of preparing your garden for new plants, work wisely to showcase your own patch of green dotted with beautiful colors.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Tips to Aerate your Lawn

Aerating your lawn, at least twice a year (during the fall and the spring), or whenever you find compacted soil is an important task. Lawn aeration will decrease soil compaction, and open the soil surface permitting water, air and nutrients to enter the root-zone. Here are some tips that will help you to aerate your lawn:
  • Assess the Need: If you find that your lawn has excess water runoff (a sign of compacted soil where water has difficulty penetrating through the soil surface) or your turf grass doesn’t look at its best, perhaps it’s time to aerate your lawn. You may even cut out a piece of lawn and examine the roots. A lawn with underdeveloped and shallow roots is likely to benefit from aeration. Lawns with heavy use (vehicle and foot traffic) often become compacted over time. In such instances, heavy trampling squeezes the air out of the soil and roots can no longer grow efficiently. Aerating such lawns can help restore the passageways for air, water and fertilizers to get closer to the roots. However, landscape experts often advise against aerating lawns that have been sodded or seeded within one year of planting.
  • Preparing the Lawn: Once the need for aeration is ascertained, your next step is to prepare your lawn. Landscape experts suggest watering the lawn thoroughly 1-2 days before you aerate your lawn. This will help the aerator penetrate the soil and pull out plugs of soil easily. If you have flag irrigation heads and other hidden objects in the lawn, ensure that you steer clear of them while operating the aerator. Those with an in-built sprinkler system should also mark the sprinkler lines so that they aren’t punctured accidentally when aerating the lawn. If you don’t have an irrigation system, you can use a garden hose and sprinkler for watering your lawn.
  • The Process of Aeration: Run the aerator over your lawn in a way that the device covers the area only once. Though some people use aerators with spikes, they may not work as well as their mechanical core counterparts. Some experts suggest removing aeration plugs, some others say that a better alternative would be to leave them on the turf and break them up with the mower the next time you cut the grass. This can promote the growth of microorganisms, which in turn can decrease thatch build up.
  • Post-aeration Tips: You can leave the soil chunks (pulled out by the aerator) on the ground to let them decompose. Alternately, you may collect them into piles and throw away in the compost bin. Your next step is to sprinkle compost over the lawn to plug the holes. Instead of compost, you can also use peat moss or sand. After aeration, you should apply fertilizer and grass seed to your lawn as aeration will help the nutrients move immediately into the root-zone of your lawn. This will significantly improve the density and color of your lawn grass.
Prevention is always better than cure—with timely aeration, you can ensure healthy stands of grass, which are the best defense against weeds. You can always hire professional landscape services for the job.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

What to Ask an Expert about Landscaping?

As one of the leading landscape companies in the Bay Area, we at Landscape Pros have often seen how people are at a loss when it comes to asking experts the right questions to get their dream landscape design done. Once we had a client who wanted us to do too many things - an open air sit-in, a pool, a trellis and a BBQ installation, in their small space, which was simply not feasible. On the other end of the spectrum was a couple who wanted to give their spacious backyard a makeover to include a pool area, a lawn, a fire pit and a patio, but didn’t know what they should ask us to get the work started. In both these cases, we had to handhold our clients, and organize several consultation sessions, before we finally arrived at a feasible plan. This experience set us thinking – What is it that our clients should ask the experts that would set the ball rolling?

So, here’s our take on some questions, which you should ask your Bay Area landscaping expert:
  • What’s the best utilization of my space? This question is especially important for owners of small spaces. If you own a small space, you should ask your landscape expert about the best way to utilize it and incorporate some of your dream elements (if not all) into the limited yards. Even owners of sprawling greens would do well to consult their landscape designers to ensure that every inch of space is utilized wisely. 
  • What landscape design should I choose? Mark Twain once spent a summer in San Francisco and said that it was the coldest winter he had ever spent. This refers to the greatest challenge of landscaping in SF Bay Area – modifying the climate through good design to create comfortable outdoor places. Therefore, starting from the right design for your landscape to choosing native plants and shrubs, you should ask your landscaping expert about everything. Deciding on the right placement of your landscape features, choosing the most fitting plant palette, the most ideal materials and d├ęcor items to use are other factors that these professionals can help you with. After all, creating a spectacular outdoor space is best done with the advice of experts.
  • Can you share some ideas about green landscaping? As people across the world are trying to go green to save water and conserve energy, it pays to opt for green landscaping. You should ask your landscape expert about tips and steps that can help you get started with green landscaping. Since a complete makeover may not be possible for all, the emphasis should be on asking about small steps that can help create an environment-friendly landscape. Be it installing turf grasses that need less water, using natural fertilizers and recycled items for landscaping, or opting for drip irrigation and microspray/rotor technologies, small steps advised by landscape experts can go a long way in helping you create a green landscape.
  • What would it cost me? Most people get carried away by the entire process and end up spending a lot more than what they might have planned initially. Therefore, it’s best to get a quote from your landscape company or ask the experts about a rough estimate for the entire job. You may also ask about the additional amount, if any, which may be incurred to include certain aspects that you wish to, in your landscape. We at Landscape Pros believe that our clients should have a budget before they get the work started and keep a close eye on the progress. This will ensure that the expenditure doesn’t overshoot their budget.
To make the most out of your landscape, make sure that you ask these and other relevant questions to your landscape expert.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Tips to Get Started with Edible Landscaping

Does the alarming effects of global warming scare you? Do you want to play your part in conserving the environment and negate the effects of global warming? If your answer is ‘Yes’ for these questions, you should consider edible landscaping.

Edible Landscaping – Way to Go Green

You can plant fruit trees, vegetables and berry bushes to create a balanced and aesthetic landscape that lets you enjoy a bountiful harvest. The design layouts for an edible landscape use common landscape design principles, while keeping the aesthetic standards of the particular residential neighborhood in mind. Edible landscapes conserve soil, energy, and water, thus helping you go green.

Getting Started

According to landscaping experts, several factors need to be considered to create edible landscapes successfully.
  • Examine the Landscape: The first step is to take stock of your landscape and decide which existing features would be done away with or preserved. For example, you can remove a decaying hedge while preserving a beautiful flagstone path or a shade tree. To determine the suitable location of edibles to grow, you should also note the areas receiving a shade or full/half day of sun.
  • Make a Blueprint: To assess different choices for your edible landscape design, you can draw a scaled map of your property. Usually, it’s advisable to plant annual vegetables closer to the house in areas that receive the maximum sunlight. Fruit trees should be planted where sunlight is available in plenty and should not get blocked by tall buildings or big trees. Areas receiving half day of sun can be used for herbs and berries, while shades can be earmarked for seating areas, ornamental plants and water features.
  • Choosing the Edibles: Peas, carrots, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, lettuce and carrots are ideal vegetables to plant for the cold season while tomatoes, cucumber, squash-pumpkins, beans, melons, sweet corn and peppers are fit for the warm season. For herbs and perennials, you can take your pick from oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary, chives, sage and artichokes – just to name a few. For vines and berries, you can choose from blueberries (Misty, Berkeley, Bluecrop etc), kiwi (Vincent Female, Tomuri Male), berries (raspberry, blackberry etc) and grapes (Delight Seedless, Black Monukka Seedless, Suffolk Red Seedless etc). You should choose the edibles based on how the specific climate of the region/different areas of the property affect their growing requirements. In case you plan to attend to your garden only on the weekends, it’s better to stay away from the annual vegetables that require daily attention.
  • Have an Aesthetic Plan: Edible landscapes need not be boring or sport a monotonous color palette. You can mix and match different elements to make it visually appealing. For example, you can use ornamental edibles in the foreground (such as the colored varieties of lettuce), while opting for tomatoes with a coarse look in the background. Planting annual flowers and annual vegetables with similar growth habits and a varied color palette, or using a row of perennial flowers as a border in the foreground of a row of fruit trees are other ideas worth considering.
Landscape experts suggest that for any edible landscape, the ideal way is to start small. If you opt for a small and simple edible landscape, you can easily maintain it. Once you are comfortable in maintaining and preserving this small patch of edible landscape, you can plan to extend it to other areas of your garden.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Some Recent Trends in Bay Area Landscape Architecture

Whether you want to create an elegant retreat on the patch of green that you own or plan to build a party zone in your backyard landscape experts can help. Even when you are not sure on how to increase the aesthetic appeal of your garden or make use of the available space, these professionals can come with a customized plan for you. If you are a resident in the Bay Area, knowing some recent landscape architecture trends will help you decide on what would be a good fit for your space. Here are some of these trends from which you can take your pick:
  • Terraced Gardens: Though a few houses in Bay Area still have boxwood hedges and rose gardens, they are increasingly given a miss in favor of more modern designs such as terraced gardens with less paving. If you have a forbidding slope of a backyard, you can ask your landscape expert to convert it into a functional terraced garden. Hillside sites too can benefit from such gardens.
  • Pools and Other Water Elements: While some prefer to have their pools rendered as ponds, some may like them to be relaxing spots. A pool could be constructed amongst native garden plantings that extend right to the water’s edge to give it a natural backdrop. You may even opt for a small pond with a water-catchment tower and a floating deck, aptly decorated with recycled fence boards and sculptural plantings to enhance the beauty of your landscape.
  • Lawns that Need Less Water: Homeowners in the region have become more conscious in their efforts to be conservative with water usage. That’s why instead of huge gardens and large lawns, more and more houses these days have lawns made of turf grasses or grasses that need less water.
  • Effective Irrigation System: With the improvement in irrigation methods and technology over the years, the landscaping scenario has changed drastically. Subterranean and drip irrigation as well as microspray and rotor technologies these days ensure a far more specialized mode of irrigation that distributes a specified amount of water more efficiently. In case you already have an existing sprinkler system, you can ask your landscaping professional to conduct irrigation audits to find out if any new installations or repairs are needed.
  • City Gardens: With limited space at their disposal, many homeowners are looking for a small yet relaxing patch of green where they can relax or host family parties/gatherings. Therefore, companies offering landscape services use layering elements to create depth of field, with sculptural elements and patterns to provide a visual treat. The objective in such cases is to design a stylish city garden.
People look for productive urban landscape designs that are tailor-made within their budget. What’s more, the emphasis is on conserving the environment while creating a space that has an unmatched aesthetic quotient to it. Thus, the job of a landscape architect is to strike a balance between colors, spaces and textures while creating an elegant green space for you. You can hire an experienced landscape professional right now to build your own getaway.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How will Climate Change Affect your Landscape

Plants and climate always go hand in hand. When an environment is green and clean, chances of erratic climate also becomes lesser. Ironically, the increased rate of natural disasters, the untimely occurrences of storms and rains – all point towards the overall climate change. This is not a positive sign for garden landscapes any time!

Change in Climate and Shifting Landscapes in the Bay area

As it has been found out in some studies, the Bay Area, along the coast of California, is likely to face a major impact of climate change. Researchers predicted that these changes might occur in terms of infrastructure flooding, ecological challenge, land use modification etc. With the climate getting warmer continuously, scientists are expecting that the microclimates of the Bay Area will shift and predict that the plant communities of the area could move with the changing conditions. But it is not known to the scientists how these changes in the climate might affect the region’s wildlife and parks and how rapidly the vegetation could migrate to the new areas. Presently, the Bay Area plays home to a number of microclimates, diverse in nature, and it is basically warmer around the inland and cooler on the coast. But with the rising temperature and changing rainfall patterns, scientists are assuming that many of these microclimates will shift either closer to the coast, or to higher elevations.

How to adapt these climate changes?

Since there are a number of significant changes in the climate around the Bay Area, it is of utmost importance to adapt strategies to deal with them. To begin with, climatic water deficit, which refers to the difference between the amount of water that a plant would use if it had it and the actual amount that’s available, is an aspect that is likely to affect Bay Area landscapes.

Landscape experts even emphasize on how warmer air temperature would increase evapotranspiration (water lost through evaporation from leaves of plats as well as the soil), which in turn would increase a plant’s demand for water. Therefore, the focus would increasingly be on using water-conserving plants such as Golden Yarrow, Tree Poppy, Santa Barbara Ceanothu etc. Planting a wide array of evergreen perennials, bulbs and shrubs, or ornamental grasses that need less water could be another option to create an eye-pleasing bright spot that won’t demand a lot of water for growth and maintenance. Western Blue Flax, Sulphur Buckwheat and Douglas Iris are some waterwise species that landscape experts recommend for barren spaces or those with inadequate water supply.

Many reputed companies offering custom landscape services are also considering developing certain planning tools for assessing the probable risks of flood. People who live in a flood prone area and are worried about erosion and runoff on their property should opt for some native plants to control erosion and stabilize the soils. According to experienced landscape professionals, cool and moist months are ideal to start these "soil keepers", which would also help in decreasing the future irrigation costs. California Fuschia, Blue-eyed Grass and California Redbud are some species that will help in slope stabilization.

The Mediterranean climate of Southern California is prone to fire, which makes it important to create firewise landscapes. The key to creating such spaces depend on the right plant selection and placement, along with proper maintenance. Landscape experts emphasize on using plants low in available fuel and high in water content, in addition to decreasing mass plantings by spacing large shrubs and trees apart to prevent "fuel ladders". Maintaining the landscape by removing dead wood, using proper trimming and providing appropriate irrigation are other crucial aspects to build a fire-safe space.

So, Bay Area landscape owners should keep these factors in mind to help their spaces adapt to the changing climate.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Factors to consider while creating your dream landscape

Designing a landscape, irrespective of whether it is for a residential or corporate setting, can be a bit hectic. You must have heard terms like ‘analysis and inventory’ from landscaping professionals, but you don’t need to worry if you are not so familiarized with these technical terms. Because ultimately all that matter is having a fair knowledge of what you have to work with and what you want to in terms of end results. In fact, there are a number of factors that you need to consider before you design the landscape if you want to do it the right way and create a mesmerizing space that wows the viewers and acts as your own private area to relax and have some quality time with your loved ones. Listed below are some of these factors–
  • Structure or lay of the land – The lay or structure of the land are the primary things that you have to consider before designing a landscape. Check out if the area is sloping and decide whether you would like to install a pool or a grove of trees in the region, after which you can choose the garden design ideas accordingly. Before you make any design plans, ensure that you have reviewed the area from every possible angle to judge what best fits the place and would accentuate its beauty. Sometimes, certain design plans, which are especially meant for difficult land areas, might require a few days more than is normal to complete. So, it’s important to plan your timeframe for the landscaping project and adhere to the schedule.
  • Size of the area – This is one of the major factors that influence the entire landscape designing plan. While you can try out a number of things and experiment to a great extent with a large area, a small area has certain limitations in terms of what can be added and what can’t be installed. It might be equally difficult to plan something innovative for a small as well as a large area, which is why you need to plan everything in great detail, keeping the size and area of the land in mind.
  • Utility and purpose of the area – While designing a landscape, you must determine how you want to use the space and for what purpose you are going to use it. Usually, the common uses for outdoor spaces include cooking and dining, entertaining, swimming, relaxing, playing, gardening etc. So, deciding what exactly you want to do in the landscape well in advance will help you assess different landscape design ideas and take your pick from them based on what fits your needs the best.
  • Environment and the climate – The climate and the environment of the region you live in influences the landscape design ideas to a great extent. The design idea, which will be suitable for a sunny area, can’t be installed in a shady area. Therefore, consider the climatic factors like that of wind direction, views, water flow and drainage, overall weather etc before crafting your landscaping plans.
  • Nutrients and soil type – This is one of the most important factors that play a key role in choosing the right landscape design idea. Make sure the soil has all the required nutrients and will support the types of plant that you are going to select. Figure out the type of soil at the very beginning of your landscaping project and then decide which plants you should grow. Consider running a soil test and amending the soil, if necessary.
Creating your dream landscape takes time and proper planning. Considering the factors as mentioned above will help you get the plans right and achieve the desired end results.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Understanding various aspects of walkway design

A beautifully designed landscape always adds an extra dash of elegance to your home and you may even elevate the overall beauty quotient by adding a walkway to it. Though some people consider walking on the grass to be a great option, at times, there are places in the garden where a walkway or a path adds both to the beauty and functionality of the space. One of the main advantages of installing a walkway in your garden is that you can walk through the landscape without disturbing the plants or flower beds. In fact walkways serve to be an integral part of your landscape design and can add another level of charm and appeal to the entire setting, when installed perfectly. Now, in order to ensure that a walkway is installed flawlessly, you need to do a lot of planning, observing and measuring before you actually start installing the walkway.

How to get started with the plan of installing a walkway in front of your house or in the landscape?
  • First of all, you need to take stock of the area where you plan to install the walkway and its surrounding settings to ensure that your walkway blends effortlessly. This becomes especially important if you already have an existing landscape and need your walkway to complement the elements that are a part of it.
  • Stand at one of the ends where the walkway would be placed and try to visualize where the people will walk, what would be the most convincing route between these two ends, what might come in their way while walking, when they might need to go around etc. While visualizing the path, also determine how many curves you will put in it. While adding a number of curves adds to the charm of the path, too many curves might prove to be annoying.
  • The next step while conceptualizing your walkway project is to draw a rough sketch of the existing plan on a paper. Consider using symbols like circles and squares to make the drawing accurate and use graph paper for perfection. Determine what materials you would like to use for building the walkway. One of the best ways to choose the material is to calculate the cost per square foot with different types of materials and take your pick from the one that suits your budget and taste. The most commonly used materials to build walkways include brick, paver blocks and concrete. You may even consider using durable and timeless porphyry granite to give your walkway a classic and one-of-its-kind look.
What you need to keep in mind while building a walkway?

The most important thing you need to keep in mind while planning the walkway design is that it must be in sync with the rest of the garden. You can either opt for a formal path with angles or an informal one with curves and meanders. Make sure the material you choose for the walkway matches the exterior of your home, and the width of the path suits the size as well as the layout of the garden. Design the walkway in such a way that the visitors are attracted to it. You can consider building a focal point along your walkway where they will pause for a moment. Also, consider installing appropriate lighting system so that you can use the garden comfortably at night and the appeal of the garden, too, is increased. You should make sure to you use the right plants to make a border to the path.

To get your dream walkway installed the right way, it’s best to hire a professional landscape company that has experts on board to handle the task efficiently.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Know how to acquire visually appealing driveway and pathway

Outdoor fireplaces can transform your landscape by creating a warm, comfortable ambiance where you can relax and enjoy with friends even when there’s a dip in the temperature. Garden fireplace designs are available in different finishes and styles. You should weigh various options in size, shape, and design to select the right one that’s fit for your space and matches your budget.

Factors to remember – as suggested by a landscape company

Front yard landscape design helps setting up a nice and inviting entrance. An elegantly designed entrance spruces up the curb appeal to a home thus making it aesthetically pleasing for visitors. Driveway or pathway is one significant part of the overall landscape which helps create a positive impression, depending on how well it is designed and maintained. An overgrown front yard with untrimmed bushes is surely not a welcome sign! 

While it is perfectly possible to design and maintain the front yard on your own, the place is often neglected simply because you can’t devote enough time. Then you might run out of creative ideas too. In such a scenario, a landscaping expert can be of great help. Only a professional touch can ensure that your front yard shapes up into a pleasing and inviting space. However, it is a good idea to remain aware of certain basic aspects related to landscaping of the driveway or pathway. This way you will know what to talk about while interacting with the expert.
    1. The kind of look you want
    2. A well designed driveway or pathway should take into account the surrounding landscape and the house’s architectural style. Different layout options are there to choose from, i.e. you can keep the driveway straight, curved, sweeping or sloped. If you decide to go for the straight type, then do concentrate on the sideways. Don’t make it too cumbersome by planting lots of trees in an unplanned manner. A sweeping driveway is an interesting idea if you want to provide a mystic charm to the place. The sweep keeps visitors guessing what is lying ahead! Whatever option you select, do make sure that it is durable, functional, easy to maintain and safe too.

    3. Concentrate on the material for paving purpose
    4. It is very important to select material which is durable enough to withstand regular wear and tear. Some common paving materials typically used for driveway/pathway are asphalt, concrete, pavers and gravel. If needed talk to an expert to know which one will best suit your purpose and budget.

    5. Hardscape is important too
    6. Hardscaping, i.e. adding hard elements to the landscape can contribute a lot in enhancing curb appeal of the place. At the same time an improperly designed hardscape can turn your property into a jumbled mess too. Thus it is very crucial to pick up matching rocks or materials that complement your home. Try to introduce varieties in color and texture but without overdoing it. Also, install the hardscape keeping in mind the drainage system. Some other interesting ideas to beautify the front yard is by adding decorative borders, fencing or lights that perfectly match the overall landscape.
Before hiring a landscaping company for designing the front yard, make sure to study its profile thoroughly. Take a look at the company website to know what kind of projects it has handled till date. Thus you will be sure if the company is indeed having expertise in driveway/pathway landscaping. Finalize only if you are completely satisfied with the landscape design idea provided by them.