All About Greenhouse Essentials

For many homeowners, spring means it’s time to lace up the garden gloves and get to planting. For a select few, however, gardening is a year round endeavor. For these avid plant enthusiasts, a greenhouse is an absolute must. The addition of one of these structures is a relatively easy and straightforward home improvement project, and the hours of enjoyment you’ll experience throughout the year make it one investment that is well worth the money.

Location, Location, Location

If you’re entertaining how to build a greenhouse on your property, the first thing you need to evaluate is where you’re going to put it. Because a greenhouse is reliant on getting a steady stream of direct sunlight throughout the day, and year round, it pays to take the time to make sure you put it in the optimal spot on your property. As mentioned, direct sunlight, day in and day out, from January to December, is by far the most important factor. Don’t forget that the sun’s position in the sky changes season to season, so make sure you put your green house in a place where it will receive an equal amount of sunlight at Christmas as it does in the middle of July. Once you’ve pinned down the sunny spots in your yard, think practically. Since gardening is the goal, the closer you can get to your outdoor gardens, the better.

Types of Greenhouses

A greenhouse is not one of the structures where every one looks the same. In fact, there are so many design possibilities that it can be overwhelming at times deciding which is best for you. Talk to a landscaper or nursery about designs that they’ve seen work well over time, and educate yourself as to the optimal designs for our particular landscape. Here’s just a few of the most popular green house plans to help get you going.

Attached models are built using your home as the supporting back wall. They are usually lean-to type structures whose ceilings sometimes rise at a straight angle up to the eaves, and that can also be built with a curved eave that angles in and attaches to the side of the home (especially suited to multi-story homes). Attached houses are really only effective when installed on the south side of a structure because of light considerations.

Even span models are built off of the end of a structure. They have a gable on one end, then are attached to the supporting home, or outbuilding, on the other side. This greenhouse design offers a little more light than attached versions, but does require a lot of space to have installed.
Window mounted units are perfect for town homes, apartments, and other residences with limited space. In short, the “greenhouse” is built as an extension of a window opening, making it much smaller in size than other models, but perfect for that weekend greenhouse enthusiast.
Freestanding models encompass the many designs of stand alone green houses on the market. They can be small and cozy, or take up your entire yard. And they can be built as A-frames, domes, barn-style, or just about anything else you can imagine. The only qualifications here are getting electricity to the structure to run heaters and fans, and if you plan to use it in the winter months you need to remember that it can be a cold trek across the yard in chilly weather to check on your babies.
Materials

Once you’ve decided on style, you’re going to have to think about materials. Again, there are so many products to choose from that it can be overwhelming. Glass is by far the classiest, but it can break or shatter easily and requires a sturdier frame and structure because of its weight. Fiberglass is about the perfect fit, but make sure you buy top-grade glass since lower qualities will deteriorate quickly and need to be replaced often.

Plastic coverings come in two varieties. Double wall plastic is tough, durable, and usually guaranteed for 10 years or more, making it a good solution. Film plastic is by far the cheapest alternative, but unless you live in a climate that experiences little or no extreme weather, you can count on having to patch and replace it regularly due to incurred damage.

If gardening is your thing, deciding how to build a greenhouse is one of the most pleasurable and satisfying projects you can undertake. There are contractors who specialize in building these garden havens, and it’s always a good idea to track one down for no other reason than to get a good idea of what styles, materials, and designs are going to be best for your home.

How To Make Portable and Mini Greenhouses

Many gardeners feel the subtle pings of disappointment when winter comes around. They put away shovel and spade and wait, as patiently as possible, for the ground to thaw. There are a hardy few, however, that manage to maintain at least a small garden all year round in their greenhouses.

A greenhouse will certainly allow folks in even the more harsh climates to practice their trade despite the chill of winter. Unfortunately, greenhouses cost money to build and to maintain; and even small greenhouses require at least a plot of land. Or do they?

The Mini Greenhouse

That modern marvel, the mini greenhouse, may be the answer you’ve been searching for! Mini greenhouses are designed to hold just a few plants and can be put almost anywhere. Space is no longer an issue for people who want to have at least a couple of plants growing throughout the year.Mini greenhouses are as diverse in style and design as their larger counterparts. The smallest ones look like umbrellas, though taller and more conical. They are perfect for covering single plants and are very easy to use and put up. If you want to keep just a couple of single plants growing outside all year, these umbrella type mini greenhouses are for you.A cold frame mini greenhouse is a small box made of the same material that a normal greenhouse is composed of. They will house several young or small plants and are great for starting seedlings while the weather is still cold. These models can easily fit on a balcony with room to spare.If you’ve got a bit more space, a mini lean-to or larger cold frame greenhouse will provide significantly more room to grow on. An excellent choice for the avid gardener with an itch for more than a few winter crops.

Prices for these little beauties range from around $20 for a simple umbrella design, to around $300 for a larger mini model.

The Portable Greenhouse

Another option for a gardener wishing to dabble in year round growing is the portable greenhouse. Simple to erect and take down, the portable greenhouse is easy to store in the garage or basement when not in use. Though often not sturdy enough to be a permanent fixture, it’ll do the job of keeping your plants safe and warm between regular growing seasons.Portable greenhouses are much less expensive than a conventional greenhouse of the same size. This makes them a great choice for beginners looking to try their hand at greenhouse gardening without a large initial investment. Prices range from $30 to the mid $100’s. Since they can also be used as a temporary tool shed, a portable greenhouse can still be a sound investment if and when you decide to install a permanent one!

Know More About Xeriscaping Conserves Your Energy

When people hear the words “desert landscaping” they immediately imagine cacti, driftwood, tumbleweeds, and a bunch of concrete. This is called zero-scaping, and though it is certainly an option that requires no maintenance, it is also a bit of a downer because there’s no personality to it. Just because you live in a dry climate and want to conserve water doesn’t mean your yard can’t be full of life. You want to embrace your natural setting while still retaining some color and foliage along the way.

Therefore, xeriscaping has become a very popular choice among homeowners. It literally translates from Greek as “dry scene” (xeriscape), and it helps to conserve water and energy by allowing a yard to match its natural landscape and climate. Why live in the desert and try to make your lawn look like a forest? Instead, embrace and showcase the setting.

Less Maintenance, More Savings

Though water conservation is one of the main benefits of xeriscaping, a lot of financial advantages can be reaped from this landscape as well. One of the biggest reasons to invest in “dry design” is not only because it is environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing, but it also brings you big savings. You no longer have to fight the climate and force your lawn to act unnaturally. By giving into the landscape itself, you’re on the winning side of a losing battle. Preserving water isn’t just a smart thing to do; it saves you money on bills. You also don’t have to fertilize as much. There is less of a need for pest control and expensive chemicals. There will be less maintenance, less pruning, and no more wasteful trimmings. All of this will help save the environment while saving you time, effort, and money.

Preplanning

But, in order for it to be successful, there are certain preparations that need to be made. You’ll probably need to work with a professional landscaper to get it done right the first time, but here are some things to always keep in mind.
Appropriate Planting

First, any quality xeriscaping will need the right kinds of plants. Typically, these are native species that require less water and can withstand the heat. Although you want drought-tolerant plants, it doesn’t mean they all have to be cactus and yucca. In fact, there are many types of tough desert lawns, turfs, and flowers that grow bright and colorful. Buy plants that can be deeply rooted and are bred to endure harsh climates. Also, as you install your vegetation, make sure that you plant in groupings for better water efficiency.

Water Conservation

Conserving water is important, whether it’s your choice or the government’s. Buying plants that require less moisture will help, but there are other ways to preserve as well. First, try to invest in a drip-irrigation system. This sprinkler system runs along pipes throughout your lawn and slowly drips water directly onto the vegetation. It acts as a gentle rainfall or a dewy morning. This not only cuts down on wasteful inaccuracy (no need to water your home’s siding and driveway) and over-watering, it also prevents immediate evaporation into the air by high winds. But if you do use traditional sprinklers, make sure to water in the mornings or evenings when the soil is more primed to soak up moisture.

Soil Conservation

Desert soil is naturally impervious to water conservation. It quickly soaks it up, dries it out, and lifts if back into the atmosphere. An easy solution is mulching as much as possible. It cools off the ground, holds water, and cuts down on energy bills and maintenance costs. But you can also plan bigger projects, such as re-structuring your soil so that plants can retain any moisture for a longer period of time. It’s not easy, nor cheap, but once you’ve put time and energy into the initial investment, you’ll get a return on your money in no time.

One Last Tip

Though xeriscaping is a very popular trend in dry climates (such as the West and Southwest) it may not be as common or successful in other areas of the country. Therefore, check with your neighbors and homeowner’s association to see if this re-design is allowed. But even if desert landscaping itself isn’t permitted, the philosophy behind the design is still applicable. If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, match your yard to fit your region’s natural landscape and climate. Succumbing to the natural world, no matter where you live, will lead to less work and bigger savings.

Easy Steps To Create A Gutter Garden

Creating your own gutter garden is a great way to re-purpose worn out gutters to create a beautiful garden within a limited amount of space. Gutter gardens have been growing in popularity as city dwellers search for new ways to bring plants into their backyard. The best news is that this DIY project won’t cost you a ton of money and it’s a great way to take advantage of vertical spaces by securing your gutters vertically on a trellis or fence.

Whether you choose to fill your gutters with flowers, or edibles like strawberries and herbs, a gutter garden is sure to be a great addition to your patio, deck or backyard. Let’s get started!
Materials You’ll Need:

Gutters cut into equal sections
Gutter end caps (both right and left end caps!)
PVC glue
Mounting brackets and screws
Handsaw
Electric drill and drill bit, screw
Potting soil, flowers, and edibles of your choice.
Steps to Take:
Clean out your gutters and clear them of any grime, dirt and flaking shingles. If you think that your gutters were painted with lead paint, do not use them as a planter for any edibles.
Cut your gutters into equal sections using a handsaw.
Glue your end caps on the right and left sides of your gutter.
Drill a series of small holes down the length of the gutter. This will allow water to drain.

Repaint the gutters. If you prefer the weathered look, feel free to skip this step. We think that adding a fresh coat of paint adds character to your project. If you are painting your gutter, apply a plastic primer beforehand. This will help the paint stick to the PVC gutter. You may need to give your gutters two coats of paint in order to really seal the deal.

Select a suitable hanging spot (see below).
Wherever you choose to put your gutter garden, make sure there is ample sunlight!
Mark space for your brackets. We suggest using two brackets per channel. If you are arranging your gutters vertically, leave at least a foot between each row to allow your gardens to grow and to ensure that there is ample sunlight hitting your flowers or edibles.
Fasten the gutter garden to your selected area with mounting brackets and screws.
For a suitable hanging spot, consider:

Mounting the gutter garden to the side of your deck.
Hanging gutters vertically on a fence or trellis.
Using your gutter garden as a window planter.
Attaching the gutters to the side of your home.

The Finishing Touches on Your Gutter Garden
Fill your gutters with potting mix just below the lip. We suggest filling your gutter with the lightest soil you can find. If you are concerned about moisture retention, add a bit of peat moss too.

Consider adding plants that give a burst of color to your backyard. If you can grow it in a 4” pot, you are most likely able to plant it in your gutter garden since it’s a shallow area. Here are some plants to consider:

Lettuce, salad greens and spinach
Radish and other small root vegetables
Strawberries and other small fruit
A variety of cacti
Herbs like mint, thyme, parsley and chives
Marigolds, violas and pansies
Your new gutter garden is sure to add charm to an otherwise uninteresting area! Thanks to their elevated existence, rabbits, bugs and other pests will stay out of your garden. And, remember to water your gutter garden regularly at the soil level!

Avoiding Unwanted Gardens in Your Gutters
Repurposing your gutters with a small garden is a great idea when your gutters are unattached from your home. But, if you have looked at your gutters lately, you may have noticed that they have been sprouting roots, due to neglect. You may not realize it, but your clogged gutter problem can cause serious and costly foundation and structural damage to your home.
Your gutters have one purpose and one purpose only: to divert rainwater away from your home. When your gutters become filled with unwanted debris like leaves, twigs and shingle grit, the flow of water will be interrupted, and water can spill over your gutters, damaging your soffit and fascia board. This will also cause water to pool around the base of your home, seeping into your foundation, causing cracks, mildew or mold.

For these reasons, it’s important to regularly maintain your gutters by properly cleaning them about three times a year. When cleaning your gutters, be sure to have someone at the base of your ladder that can keep it steady to prevent any accidents. As an alternative, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaner to complete the job for you.

Gutter cleaning is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. If you are looking for a more permanent solution to your clogged gutter problem, a gutter protection system, like LeafFilter, may be a viable option for you. Gutter guards keep debris out of your gutters, allowing water to flow freely and divert properly away from your home. However, not all gutter guards are created equal and you should conduct your own research before making the investment.

How To Preparing Your Yard For A Cold Winter

As summer comes to a close, many homeowners begin to look ahead to the colder months. Unpacking sweaters they may have stored and bringing out their coat racks to fill with scarves and mittens. For many of us, winter presents blustery cold conditions, keeping us inside our cozy homes for the next few months.

But before you get ready to hibernate indoors, take care of what’s outside first. You’ve likely put a lot of time and thought into your landscaping around the home. If not prepared, the frosty temperatures can destroy the spring blooms you anticipate every year. So take advantage of a sunny fall day and prepare your yard for a cold winter with these tips.

If you’re ready to get started on your lawn care, contact a pro today for up to four free quotes from landscaping contractors in your area.

Clean Up
Fall is a beautiful time of year when you’re able to see leaves in a variety of warm hues. As beautiful as it is, eventually, those leaves will end up in your lawn. At first, it’s fine to continue mowing over them, as it turns to mulch and provides added nutrients to your lawn. But, once the leaves become too much to mow over, you must rake them up.

Another thing you should clean and store for the winter months is any lawn furniture you’ve enjoyed in the summer. Leaving them out in the winter elements can change their appearance and ruin any finishes on them. This is especially true for wood furniture. Store away in a shed or garage until you’re ready to use again next year.

Prep Your Water System
Winter weather can have a terrible effect on your outdoor water systems and features. Make sure all the water is shut off, hoses unattached and put away. If you have a rain barrel, you’ll want to drain that for the winter as water can freeze and damage the barrel.

This is also a great time to clean out your gutters. It’s recommended that gutters are cleaned at least twice a year and it’s important to go into the winter months with a clean gutter to prevent any damage.

Mowing
The last day you mow for the year depends on the climate you live in. Ideally, you’ll want to stop mowing after the first fall frost. You can look up the prediction for your area using the Farmer’s Almanac to better plan your last mow. Use the lowest setting on your lawn mower the last few times you cut the grass.

You also may want to consider applying a winter fertilizer to your grass to give it an extra boost for the spring.

Aeration
An important, but often forgotten aspect about lawn care task is aeration. This creates small holes in your lawn to allow nutrients to get into the ground and refresh your grass. Fall is an ideal time to do this task, because your lawn needs time to soak in the nutrients and regrow without disturbance. To aerate your yard, you can do this yourself by renting a machine or purchasing special shoes that allow you to do this task while walking around your lawn. For larger lawns, it’s best to contact a pro who has the right tools to help.
Protect Your Perennials
Your beautiful flowers that were a delight this summer now need proper care to bloom again next year. First, you should know what flowers are perennials and annuals. Annuals, unless they are self-seeding, need to be pulled up as they will not come back the next year.

However, perennial flowers should be expected to return the next year, if you have cared for them properly during the season. But to ensure they bloom the next year, you’ll want to protect them from the snow and cold. Add extra mulch around them after the first frost and cut them back to allow for new flowers to bloom in the spring.

Garden Prep
If you have a fruit and vegetable garden, winterizing it gives you a start to the best produce the following year. As wonderful as your garden has been this year, it’s now time to remove any plants that are done growing. Pests can inhabit old plants during the late-fall months and potentially ruin your garden the following year. Remove any weeds you see as well.

Now that the season has ended, consider having your soil tested. This way, you’ll know the pH levels and nutrients that are in your soil to determine what plants will thrive next year.

Plan Ahead
Now that your yard is winterized, you have a few months to consider how you want your landscaping to look next season. Plan out any major projects you’d like to complete like installing a water feature or flowerbed. If you have a garden or intend to plant new flowers, this is an important step because many need to be planted at a specific time of year. Be aware so you don’t plant a late-summer flower in early spring!

Plant For Spring
You may be surprised to hear that there actually is some planting to be done in the fall months. Spring bulbs and shrubs are best planted in the fall, before the first frost. This will give them time to grow and flowers ready to bloom as the weather begins to change in the spring.

Information About Greenhouse Design

Greenhouse design is dependent on how you intend to use your greenhouse and your budget. There is a wide range of materials and equipment available to choose from, with an equally wide range of costs and uses. That being said, it’s important to educate yourself on what’s out there before you shop, so that you get what you need and stay under cost.

Greenhouse Covers

Installing the right greenhouse cover is perhaps the most important part of greenhouse construction. It determines how much light gets through, how much heat gets trapped in, and it can play a large role in determining the life span of your greenhouse. When it comes to greenhouse design, the cover is not a place where you want to pinch pennies.

Glass—While traditional greenhouses were covered with glass, this is one of the least efficient, heat-retaining materials, and one of the most fragile. Unless you purchase specialty reinforced glass, this is a cover you should stay away from.
Fiberglass—Fiberglass is an excellent choice for greenhouse construction, since it scatters light to create a virtually shadowless greenhouse. Fiberglass usually comes in corrugated form and is translucent rather than transparent. It also retains heat much more efficiently than glass. The only downside: fiberglass will deteriorate from sun exposure over time if it isn’t regularly treated with a protective gel.
Polycarbonate—UV-treated polycarbonate provides much of the clarity of glass, yet is stronger and more resistant to impact than other greenhouse glazings. It also diffuses light well to minimize shadows in the greenhouse.
Polyethylene Film—Polyethylene film covers about 90 percent of all greenhouse square footage in the U.S. Its popularity with commercial growers is due to its low cost and simple maintenance. Unfortunately, it rarely lasts more than two to five years, which turns off many homeowners.

Greenhouse Frames

Once you’ve settled on a cover, you’re ready to move on to the next step in greenhouse design and choose the material for your frame. Your choice of framing is going to depend in a large extent on the cover, since different covers require differing levels of support.

Galvanized Steel Frames—Galvanized steel is used in most commercial greenhouses because it is long lasting and inexpensive. It also requires less framework than other options, due to its strength, which means more light in the greenhouse. It is usually covered in polyethylene film.
Aluminum Frames—Aluminum frames are usually used with glass or rigid coverings such as polycarbonate. It can be anodized in many colors and has low-maintenance requirements. It is not as strong as steel, so it will require more extensive framing and cause more shadow, but it’s still considered an excellent framing material.
PVC Pipe—PVC pipe has become increasingly popular as a frame for greenhouses over the last five to ten years because of its rock bottom cost, portability, and ease of installation. This is the most economical option when covered with polyethylene film, though it won’t hold up to severe weather or harsh winters nearly as well as other materials.

Other Greenhouse Equipment

Though the frame and cover are the most important aspects of your greenhouse design, there are many other options to consider. Installing lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems are all critical if you hope to have a successful, year round greenhouse. This is where your budget really comes into play. If you don’t have any limitations when it comes to cost, you can build your own botanical garden right in your own backyard. If the final price is an issue, then you’ll want to evaluate your greenhouse design carefully to see which extras you can do without. A contractor experienced in greenhouse construction and greenhouse design is a great resource when it comes to designing, and putting up, a greenhouse that both fits your budget and meets your needs.

Should You Know Winter Landscape Tips

While most landscaping tips are concerned with tending plants during the growing season, winter landscaping is every bit as important if you want to have a great-looking lawn and healthy, vibrant plants. With the arrival of fall and cold weather, it is essential to complete a few projects to keep your landscaping protected during the dormant months. Prepare shrubs, trees and grass now, and they will return healthy in the spring and leave you with a neat, well-tended winter landscape.

Winter Landscapes: Preparing Your Lawn

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. Feeding the lawn early in autumn will give the roots a boost before winter arrives. A second feeding in late October will keep it winterized and strong in the freezing weather.

If your lawn has some bare patches, early autumn is a perfect time to install sod or reseed. Adding sod gives you an instantly perfect lawn that will be a pleasure when the warm weather returns. To firmly establish new sod, keep it moist for the first week after it is laid. After the first week, it can be watered as needed. Avoid having sod laid in hot, dry weather, as it will be hard for the roots to establish.

Be sure the sod contains varieties of grass that are indigenous to your region. The sod should not look dry and should be sitting on a pallet no longer than two days. It should not be warm to the touch. You can eliminate a lot of uncertainty by buying sod from a reputable grower. For types and average pricing, see our sod price guide.

Winter Landscaping Tips for Pruning Shrubs and Hedges

Pruning is very important to encourage healthy growth in spring. Most pruning should be done after the leaves turn, indicating that the plant is dormant. A good rule of thumb is to prune spring blooming shrubs immediately after flowering and to prune summer blooming shrubs in the dormant season. Pruning late in the growing season will encourage new growth that will be damaged by frost.

When pruning, use caution to make a good cut at a slight angle about 1/4 inch from the branch. You may want to hire a professional gardener to help with this delicate task.

Some shrubs need to be wrapped with burlap to protect them from frost. If you have experienced frost damage in the past, make sure to protect these plants before the temperature dips down. Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plants to provide insulation for the winter. Wait until spring to fertilize shrubs and trees.

Landscaping Tips for Trees

Like most of the plants in your yard, trees need special care. It is important to keep tree limbs away from power lines and away from the roof of your house. Branches can easily pull down gutters or cause other costly damage if they are hanging over your house.

When planning to prune trees, consult with a professional arborist. He or she will know the best method for your species of trees and the correct time of year for pruning. A professional arborist will also know how to safely remove any troublesome branches without causing damage to the tree. Typically, tree pruning should be done in early autumn or late spring.

Preparing Landscape Fixtures for Winter

Winter landscapes are made up not only of plant-life, but of many other objects, as well. Just like the plants, however, these fixtures often require special care to weather the cold. Walkways and patios can take a beating in cold weather. Shifts in temperature and humidity can cause concrete and brick to heave and settle unevenly. Keeping them free of water build up and debris will reduce the chances of winter damage. If you noticed water or ice accumulation last winter, take steps now to provide proper drainage. This can be as simple as adding a small gravel drainage channel next to a walkway or fixing a gutter that drips onto steps.

Having a professional pool cleaning company winterize your swimming pool is essential. Drain the water and cover the pool to keep out leaves and animals. In winter, it is not uncommon for deer or other wildlife to walk over pool covers, so choose the strongest cover you can afford.

Hot tubs and spas will be a welcome treat in the cool weather. Make sure the heater and pump are functioning properly. If not handled correctly, water could freeze in the pump, pipes, or the hot tub itself, causing irreparable damage.

Create a Small Garden with Difficult Soil

Don’t blame yourself if you’re having trouble sustaining your yard. It doesn’t mean you lack a green thumb or can’t keep the simplest of species alive. The number one problem in any kind of landscaping is soil. Unless you live in a fertile part of the country, there’s a good chance you’ll run into difficult soil that will hinder you in growing even the most maintenance-free flowers or plants. There are several reasons why plants have a hard time growing, but when nature seems to be stacked against you, these soil solutions can make the difference between a garden that’s great, and one that’s nearly non-existent.

Causes of Difficult Soil

All yards run into difficulties at some point and a lot of it has to do with the ground it’s growing in. So the first line of attack is a good defense: identifying the setback.

pH Balance: the most troublesome dilemma is your yard’s chemical composition. Dirt has a pH level which is measured using a scale ranging from 0-14. Since plants need a nice balance of several chemical elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.) in order to effectively grow, you need to make sure its pH level is balanced as well. It should always stay somewhere between 5 and 7. Below that it’s too acidic, and above that it’s too alkaline; too much in either direction and you have a problem.
Salty Soil: If your plant leaves are discolored, if brown crust is surfacing, or if a powdery material is dusting the top of your small garden, then you may have saline or sodic soil. In other words, sodium levels are high and it’s stressing your yard.
Soil Species: Soil structure could also be causing some obstacles. Clay can hold too much water at times and then suddenly dry out and get hard (hardpan). Sandy dirt can’t hold water at all, and therefore nutrients simply slide away with the irrigation.
Lucky for us, the modern gardener has the benefit of decades of science and research that can be used to modify whatever dirt we’re dealing with. Contemporary garden planning and soil additives are the key elements in keeping our plants healthy, and easy to manage.

Common Soil Additives

Before you can find a suitable soil solution, you must understand your specific soil problem. Therefore, it’s a good idea to hire a professional to test it. Take a dirt sample from the plot and a water sample from the irrigation source, and give it to a testing facility who’ll quickly diagnose the difficulty.

Once you know what your dirt is lacking, you can improve its structure with soil additives like organic compost, top soil, and activation products that can help to thicken sand, calm down clay, and dilute salt. Soil additives are often a necessity when balancing pH levels. If you want to keep it organic, however, make sure to read labels carefully. You may even want to consult a gardening specialist in your area for suggestions on what soil additives will work best.

Drainage Solutions

Soil additives are only one element in making your garden grow. When it comes to small gardens, raised garden beds, or entire lawns, another common predicament is drainage. Soil could be draining too fast, which washes away vital nutrients and creates puddles (causing root destruction and rotting). But if it’s not getting enough irrigation, it could become hardpan and barren. There are different solutions to improper drainage (some that you can to do on your own and some larger projects which may take the hand of a professional), but there’s only one overriding philosophy: moderation and proportion.

Compost: Once again, soil structure is essential. Add compost to thicken sandy dirt, but beware of overfilling: it causes settling and the compost could waterlog.
Dry Dirt: Adding dry dirt, such as limestone and silica sand, could help soak up the moisture from clay, but watch out for overdoing it because it alters pH levels as well.
No Tilling: We love to feel like we’re doing something, so sometimes gardeners over-till the earth, which only aggravates the soil and upsets natural drainage systems.
Grading: It’s crucial to have proper surface drainage, which means your yard must be appropriately sloped so water doesn’t collect. Underground tile and subsurface pipes can’t do it alone: you have to actually move around and correctly grade the topsoil.
Low spots: Backfilling low spots help to avoid water buildup, but you’ll have to get a backhoe, dig up the ground, and add new dirt (of the same species) until it is leveled.
Irrigation: To make sure the yard is getting just the right amount of water, you may want to hire a landscape contractor to install a sprinkler system for $1,800 to $2,500 to control the exact amount of irrigation your lawn receives.

Information About Landscape Curbing

You’ve most likely seen landscape curbing but didn’t know its industry name. Landscape curbing is exactly what it looks like: a curb around your landscape. Just like curbs around streets, landscape curbing is made of concrete and poured in forms that match the curved lines you would like around your landscaping. But don’t think that the only kind of landscape curbing you can get is what you’ve already seen; there are several ideas that haven’t even been discovered yet.

Concrete Lawn Edging

Special machines, aptly named concrete curbing machines, can lay the edging you desire wherever you want. If you want gorgeous rounded curves or sharp straight lines, professional landscapers can make your lawn look perfect in your vision. But the versatility of concrete lawn edging does not end with shapes and lines; landscapers can also style and stain your landscape curbing for the exact look that will work best with your landscape design.

Concrete Staining & Concrete Stamping

Your concrete lawn edging does not have to have the appearance of actual street curbing. Many lawns look perfect with that whitish-grey concrete look because the color complements the surrounding streets and nearby sidewalks. But this landscape curbing look is not for every yard and nor should it be. Concrete can be stained, the same as wood, to look nearly any color. Certainly, earthy tones like reds and browns work best to complement your landscaping, but if you want something more bold, then you can have it. No more do you have to rely on those black or green lawn edgings that never last.

Beyond that, if you don’t like the look of a typical landscape curb, you can have your landscape curbing styled into whatever form you like by way of concrete stamping. Concrete stamping is a technique to form concrete to look like bricks or stones or pavers, or even dolphins if that’s what you want. Concrete stamping has become a popular way to turn boring sidewalks and patios into the look of real brick or stone, without all the cost. This same treatment can be applied to your landscape curbing, and in combination with concrete staining, your landscape curbs can look the exact way you want them to.

Benefits of Landscape Curbing

Not only is landscape curbing a popular and versatile design choice, it is also the best functional choice to contain your landscaping or better yet, to keep weeds and grass out of your landscaping. Think about how often mowers, edgers, and weed eaters run into that plastic lawn edging, and how durable it is. The plastic stuff cracks, rips, and gets pulled out of the ground, plus you still have to do all that weeding.

With landscape curbing, the concrete is heavy enough that it won’t allow those pesky weeds to creep into your mulch and landscaping. This right here prevents you from having to work so much to maintain that beautiful lawn. Further than that, concrete is a million times more durable than those plastic spools of lawn edging. You can run mowers, weed eaters, and anything else into this concrete lawn edging and it’s not going anywhere. If you concrete stain your curbs, there is even less worry because the stain goes all the way through, and a little chip from a mower blade will disappear. If it doesn’t, it will give a nice weathered look to those bricks you had stamped into the concrete.

Concrete Landscape Curbing

Whatever you are considering for your landscape design, make sure it includes landscape curbing. You need some lawn edging no matter what your design, and if you don’t want this smooth accent to outline your lawn, it can be stained to disappear while still doing the hard work that concrete edging does.

All About Backyard Landscaping

Much like a living room is for public entertaining and a bedroom is your quiet and private domain, your front yard and backyard will often serve different purposes of outdoor landscaping. The front of your house is more public. You want passers-by to stop, roll down their windows, and say to themselves, “That’s the house I want.” Your backyard is your personal outdoor oasis.

Backyard Landscaping Installations

You may hear about backyard installations that have better or worse value return. A costly gazebo or storage shed may not have the same installation cost-to-property value ratio as a moderately priced pond or swimming pool. Your first question when deciding what backyard landscaping project to undertake should always be your lifestyle.

If you long for afternoon barbecues, a deck is probably where you should start. If you prefer quiet, evening dining, a patio is probably the better bet. If you’re an avid reader who finds the outdoors relaxing, a pond/waterfall combination may be ideal. A swimming pool can be a good installation that both you and your children can enjoy. Don’t go for projects that seem trendy, unless you’re sure it fits your lifestyle and/or you plan on selling your home in the next few years.

Planning for the future can mean more than just spending more on your installation project or getting the most bang for your buck. A common example of this is an above ground swimming pool installation. If you have children, they may bug you to put in a swimming pool. Spending more on this swimming pool may increase its lifetime by an extra ten years. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but once the kids leave the nest, your priorities may change.

You could invest that extra money and in ten years use that money to replace the swimming pool. An above ground swimming pool is one of the easiest installations to replace. Digging the foundation for the swimming pool is also natural ground preparation for a garden or patio.

Backyard Landscaping Care and Maintenance

General landscaping care and maintenance can be more about getting the most for your money. Planting or removing trees or other plants can provide many options and several of them can save you money and still achieve similar effects. Existing topsoil can often be revitalized in a relatively short amount of time at a significantly cheaper price. The most important thing is to ask a lot of questions before you make any actual plans. Talking to a landscaping professional about what you want for your backyard landscaping can be invaluable for both quality and cost. Be sure to ask what your options are and make sure you can justify each decision to yourself.

When hiring a lawn service company, it’s important to find a reputable company, but it’s also a good idea to get quotes from several companies. To save on operating costs, these companies tend to bundle their services into packages. Different companies may have different packages. Finding the right fit for your specific lawn needs can help you make the best choice.