Archive for Landscaping Tips

Five Tips Water Saving Tips

This year we’ve had pretty bad drought conditions here in Southern California.  In fact, we’ve had drought conditions for a few years now.  This means we want to get the most out of every single drop of water we use. Here are five water saving tips for your yard:

Tip #1: Water your yard in the early morning – preferably right before the sun comes up and the heat of the day begins.  This will give the water a chance to sink into the ground and won’t flood your lawn all night long.  A great way to do this for any night owls out there – or just people who don’t want to wake up before dawn – is to set your sprinkler system on a timer.  Rich Soil

Tip #2: Keep composting.  There are a lot of great ways to compost.  You can use mulch from your compost pile, you can buy compost, and you can leave the grass on  your lawn as you mow.  These will all help the health of your soil and allow it to retain water better.

Tip #3: If you’re planting in a container, choose what you use carefully.  A metal container will heat up quickly and make water evaporate faster.  An unglazed clay pot is porous and will cause moisture loss through the clay itself.  One way to combat this problem in pots is to find a good, rich soil that will hold moisture.  Cactus Garden Window

Tip #4: Plant California natives, succulents, and cactus instead of their water-guzzling friends and neighbors.  I just wrote a recent blog post about designing a drought-tolerant yard.

Tip #5: Consult with a landscaper.  One of the best ways to utilize water properly in your yard is to design it in such a way that no water goes to waste.  Get in touch with your local landscaper about how to best design your space so it’s both water-efficient and your dream yard.  It can actually help you save money in the long run.

Here’s to some rain!!!

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Make your Home Unique

Many of us live on streets or in neighborhoods where one architect designed the whole block – so our houses are very similar.  There are some obvious ways to make a home stand out in these types of areas.  You can repaint your home, add shutters, changed the style of your door or even add on to the home.  But a great way to keep your home looking and feeling fresh is to do something unique with your yard.  Here are five ideas for doing just that: Front deck walkway

1. Get a front porch.  If you have some poor soil that you don’t want to work with or you simply like this look, you can try graduated decking from your front porch, all the way down to the sidewalk.  Another idea is to create a hardscaped front yard and set it up for guests, picnics, family, or simple relaxation.  This idea is a great one to consider in places prone to drought – like Southern California.

2. Add potted plants.  Whether you have a perfect green lawn or a hardscaped front yard, potted plants can give your yard a new look whenever you feel like changing it up.  During the winter holiday season you can plant red and white plants, in the summer you can go for a cactus look or do potted succulents. You can also experiment with color by adding pots that pop – along with vivid plants.

3. Go all out on the entrance.  There are so many great designs for entryways.  You can use different types of gates, a classic picket fence, or a gorgeous arbor.  You can also define your property line using stone or brick to set your yard apart from the sidewalk.

4. Make your front yard the place to be.  Don’t just design a great landscape, but provide the seating to enjoy it.  You can add the classic rocking chair to your front porch, hang a hammock, or set up a bench where guests can sit and chat – or where you can relax and enjoy.

5. Get exotic.  Southern California is the perfect place to get quirky with your yard.  There are already so many tropical plants, succulents, and cactus here in SoCal that adding something fun to your landscape just might set your home apart from the others.  This can be as subtle as installing lighting which makes your yard shine at night or you could add an art installation for some real eye candy.

No matter what you do, be sure your yard reflects both your personality and your needs.  Here’s to your home – may it be like no other home on the block!

 

 

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Designing a Drought Tolerant Yard

This time of year is usually filled with chilly weather and rainfall, but so far it has been dry and warm here in Southern California.  This may lead to some strict rules regarding watering ever-thirsty lawns.  So, instead of adding to the problem, here are some ideas for a drought tolerant and beautiful yard:

Go native:  Penstemon Husker's Red

We have so many wonderful native plants here in Southern California – and because they are native they are perfectly suited to our weather.   Some really wonderful plants are: Baby Blue Eyes, Black-Eyed Susan, Buckeye, California lilac, California poppy (our state flower), Calliopsis, Chaparral, Desert Evening Primrose, Fir, Fried-Egg Flower, Godetia, Hollyhock, Hummingbird Trumpet, Joshua Tree, Lavender, Penstemon, Ribbon bush, Sea Pink, and Sedum.

Plants that are used to our climate and the cyclic droughts we have can survive better with less water than plants from areas that get a lot of water.

Plant succulents: Stonecrop

Succulents and cactus are a natural fit for our desert-y climate. They hold in water for a long time and can survive in hot, dry weather.  Some great cactus plants and succulents for the yard are: Agave, Aloes, Bunny Ear Cactus, Campfire Crassula, Desert Rose, Golden Barrel Cactus, Hens-and-Chicks, Macho Moca Mangave, Star Cacti, and Zwartkop.

Utilize artistic arrangements: iStock_000010193902XSmall

Don’t just use plants to decorate your yard. Try out gorgeous rocks, arrange outdoor art pieces, or set up a dry fountain and plant it with succulents. There are such a huge variety of stone, brick, cement, and even metal materials you can use to make your yard look amazing without having to water it.

Even if you don’t go grass free, you can find many water saving tips and suggestions here.  Here’s to some rainfall this year!

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Planting Somethings Beautiful and Delicious

Usually this is the time of year when many start thinking about the shape of our yard and how they want it changed.  It’s always nice when plants serve a dual purpose and when you think about the shape you want your yard to take, consider planting something both pretty and edible.

“Kitchen gardens” and other terms often make one think of a traditional English garden or some kind of a garden patch, but that doesn’t need to be the case.  Check out these techniques for planting food that both look and taste great:

1. Use edibles for a border. Plants like cabbage, kale, chard, strawberries, mint, sage, or lavender all make a gorgeous edible border.

2. There is something romantic about a vine growing up a wall or around a fence.  Coax some edible vines up your garden wall.  There are plenty of great food plants that look nice and grow on a vine.  These include: eggplants, cucumbers, grapes, peppers, tomatoes, zucchinis and peas. Bright Veggie Garden

3. Enjoy something yummy and some shade from a fruit tree.  Great trees are: lemon, lime, orange, peach, apple, and many others.  There are many other trees with edible flowers or seed pods like redbud or bottlebrush.

4. Plant a ground cover of food plants or herbs.  Instead of growing grass around pavers, try something edible like strawberries, lingonberries, cranberries, wintergreen, thyme, mint, and prostrate rosemary.

5. Line your walk with edible bushes.  Plants like blueberries, Barbados cherry, loquat, elderberry, and hazelnut are all delicious and beautiful additions to a yard.

These are just a few of the ways you can rearrange your yard this year.  Here’s to a gorgeous and delicious front or backyard.

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Simple Landscaping Ideas

Sometimes the best looking landscape is the one with the simplest design.  When we look at magazines and see great landscapes, they are usually several simple ideas put together and made into a cohesive whole.  So, here are some simple ideas you should consider when taking a look at your own landscape:Trellis

– Think within a specific color scheme.  Whether you are looking at hardscaping or plants, you can consider basic color schemes.  For example, if you love red, you can work that in to your yard with bright zinnia, poppies, celosia, or an accent tile or stone.  Keeping the color consistent will help your yard look more pulled together and cohesive as a whole.

– Don’t fret about bare spots.  Instead of worrying about bare spots in your yard, utilize them by placing a piece of art, a water feature, or a bench over that spot.

– Don’t worry about mixing and matching.  Mother Nature mixes and matches all the time and comes up with meadows filled with flowers or mysterious forests.  Try it yourself by utilizing different types of plants and hardscaping materials.  Just try grouping like things together as much as possible.

–  Create private spaces.  If you have a bit of room in your yard, you can get a simple, private space designed for you- separated by a low wall or a hedge.

– Install islands of plants or hardscaping.  Reverse the usual borders by making your grass a boarder for a hardscaped retreat or colorful island of plants.

– Have fun with textures and geometry.  Exploring different types and sizes of plants, as well as a variety of hardscaping materials can lead to an organic and interesting look you can’t get with a plain grass lawn.

– When in doubt, try something traditional.  If you aren’t sure what to do with that wide open space, plant a lawn there.  You can mix and match type of grass, add in flowers, or create an island later on.  Sometimes keeping things traditional opens up the space to more fun ideas later on down the road.

These are just a few of the many simple and interesting techniques you can utilize for your yard.  Here’s to a gorgeous yard filled with fun and laughter!

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Landscaping by the Ocean

Here in Southern California, we have plenty of oceanfront homes, as well as homes that are right by the ocean.  Living by the ocean is awesome – and brings about a new set of challenges for your yard.  Here are a few ideas to best utilize your sandy soil and your beach views: iStock_000002365576XSmall

Think with privacy.  One of the great things about the beach is that everyone wants to be right where you are during certain times of year.  This is fabulous for you – because you’re already there.  But the negative effect is that there are a ton of people traversing paths all around your home.  Instead of being inundated by people and noise throughout the busy season, try designing your yard space for privacy.  This may mean planting salt tolerant trees or shrubs like oaks, sunburst honey locusts, Norway maples, hydrangea, beach rose, sumac, winterberry holly, yucca, and bayberry shrubs.  You could also try installing a wall with a water feature to cut off the chattering crowds.

You may not want to make your whole home private, however.  You bought the home to be close to the beach, hear the ocean rolling in, and see that rolling expanse of water.  One idea for both privacy and views is to install a deck and surround it by shrubs, trees, or a privacy wall.  This way, you can enjoy the beach the majority of the time and relax in your private retreat when you want to get away from the crowds.

Grow an edible garden.  Just because you are by the beach doesn’t mean you have to stop growing your own foods.  There are vegetables that are salt tolerant and you can fight sandy soil by adding in raised beds.  Here are some salt tolerant veggies you can try: vine tomatoes

(High Tolerance) Beets, Kale, Asparagus, and Spinach

(Medium Tolerance) Potatoes, Tomatoes, Peas, Lettuce, Broccoli, Cabbage, and some Squashes.

You can also try planting coast strawberry for fruit.  They aren’t as sweet as regular strawberries, but they are hardy and will survive in your sandy soil.

Monopolize your view.  A beachfront home with any kind of a view is something to be proud of and enjoy.  Be sure you monopolize on this by building a deck with an ocean-facing view.  You can get a retractable cover so you can sunbathe on your own property, right in view of the ocean.

Additionally, people coming over to your home will want to enjoy the view with you, so create a social area based around viewing the ocean.  Install a firepit or a barbecue so people can enjoy the space and the view – day or night.Succulent Plant

Fall in love with succulents.  Succulents, California natives, and beach grasses are perfect for your home.  Find great ways to feature these gorgeous plants in your landscaping.  Beachfront homes that really embrace location often have the nicest looking yards.

 

 

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Nine Ways to Update Your Front Yard

Is the walkway into your home boring?  Take a look at these nine ways to spice that front yard up:

1. Explore hardscaping options.  Just because everyone on your block has a front lawn they spend tons of money on each year to keep green doesn’t mean you have to.  Consider broadening your walkways, extending your front porch, paving the area over and adding in potted plants, or even creating a front yard firepit.  It’s perfectly possible for you to enclose your front yard and make it an extension of your backyard space.

2. Just add water.  Water features are beautiful, can add life to an area, and might even block out street noise.  Make your front yard into a watery paradise with a pond, fountain, art installation, or stream.Sage attracting a butterfly

3. Consider installing planters.  If your backyard is occupied with a pool, a deck, or a space for the kids, revamp your front yard into a traditional kitchen garden.  There’s no need to try to keep it all in the back.

4. Brighten up your day.  Not quite sure that you want a fully remodeled landscape?  Try planting naturally bright or light colored plants to greet you through the winter.  There are plenty of ornamental grasses, bright cabbages, and several flowers that will brighten up your mood as you approach your home this winter.

5. Start a vineyard.  You don’t have to love wine to love grapes, arbors, and other growing vines.  Install an arbor with climbing roses, wisteria, or grapes.  The plants won’t be ready to great you through the winter this year – but next year you may have a Secret Garden-like entryway.

6. Make your yard a private place.  Install a fence or hedge along the boarder of your front yard to create a feeling of privacy.  Perhaps your front yard will become the place to hang out!

7. Mulch away!  If you have a yard in which grass will not grow, or you just get patchy crab grass, stop fretting.  Plant some California natives in areas you might like to see some plants and cover the rest with bark chips.

Desert Landscaping8. Add a bench.  It may seem a little strange to set a bench into your front yard, but it might end up being the spot where you and your neighbors chat on a sunny winter’s day.

9. Go native.  Try designing your landscape with Southern California natives.  You might be surprised how easy they are to maintain and how beautiful they turn out to be.

Here’s to a bright and welcoming front yard!

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