Monthly Archives: January 2017

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.

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.