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.