Archive for Lawns

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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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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10 Tips for Sharing your yard

Dogs are fun and fantastic companions.  They also need a bit of space to stretch their legs.  This is where your yard often A kid and his dogcomes into play.  If your dog is anything like mine, he or she is probably a little temperamental about what they love in your yard, and what they won’t go near.  Sometimes what they love is the exact item you don’t want them to get into.  Here are some fun ideas for sharing your yard with a canine companion, and for keeping them out of the portions of your yard you want to keep for yourself:

1. Use raised beds or low fences to delineate areas where you’d like to keep your dog away.  Many dogs are decent jumpers, but if they are trained not to get into your beds or to jump a low fence, you can probably keep the veggie garden safe.

2. Install low-impact hardscape.  You’ve seen a dog slide on a wood or linoleum floor.  You don’t want your backyard to be a place where he or she slips and slides, but you also don’t want your yard to be uncomfortable on their paws.  Try getting smooth flagstones set in pebbles or grass.

3. Use fine mulch that won’t stick in the paws or dig into the skin of your pet.

4. Be sure to plant dog-friendly plants.  Plants like grapes, lilies, sago palm, azalea,  and daffodils are poisonous to dogs.  So, if you have a dog that likes to gnaw on your plants, don’t put these in your yard.  Also avoid planting anything that might have a burr-type seed like foxtails.  These can get into the fur, paws, nose, and ears of your pup and might create an infection.

Some friendly plants that can usually stand up to bigger dogs are: African boxwood, artemisia, canna, ginger, lilac, osmanthus, pines, and more.Shady dog house

5. Give your dog a shady place to rest.  Whether you will be outdoors with your dog, you have a doggy door, or your dog loves to hang out outside, it’s always smart to give them a nice, cool place to rest.  It’s also a good idea to keep a filled bowl of water there as well, so they don’t get overheated.

6. Make a path.  Most dogs love to run and explore.  A path gives them a natural place to jog, patrol your property, and generally feel like they are in charge of things.  Give them a nice pathway of dirt or low-impact hardscaping for them to jog along and be your home’s security system.

7. Build a fence or a wall.  Some dogs love to dig underneath your wall or your fence.  You might need to get a landscaper to install extra protection – underground.

8. Give your dog a way to get wet.  While it’s cooling down now, it’s usually HOT in Southern California – especially if you’re wearing a fur coat 24/7.  If you have a pond or are installing a water feature, see if you can make it a dog-friendly cool-down zone for your four legged friend.

9.  Install a walk up area.  If you have a hillside home or really any home with an incline or with elevated areas you don’t mind your pet wandering into, give your dog some steps or an easy incline to walk up.  Remember, even if your dog is just a pup, keeping them from jumping up and down can save their joints later on.

10. Try to use fewer chemically-based fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.  If you do need to spray your yard or lawn, make sure it had dried at least 24 hours before you let your pet loose out there.

Here’s to healthy, safe, and happy pets!

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Fall Lawncare

This time of year is a great time to focus on your lawn.  So, here are some tips for your caring for your lawn, during this time of year: mowing lawn

1. Feed your lawn: The type of fertilizer might change depending on the type of grass, but pretty much any kind of grass can benefit from fertilizer this time of year.

2. Spread some seeds: Overseeding can give your lawn new life.  A general rule is to mow your grass very short, then apply seed generally.  After this, it’s a good idea to add mulch and let your grass grow.

3. Help out damaged sections: You can remove damaged sections of grass, work in compost, aerate, level the surface and plant new grass.

4. Get help with weeds: Weed and feed is one version of weed control.  You can also identify weeds and use good ol’ elbow grease, or you can rip up your old lawn complete, add compost and other soil amendments, and then replant from there.

5. Change up your grass type:  There are so many types of grass available nowadays.  Check out other options if you are sick of your lawn’s look or the maintenance it needs.

There are many other things you can do to improve your lawn.  Check out more tips here.

Here’s to a lawn that stays green all year long!

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Going Lawnless

Wide grass lawns aren’t really native to Southern California, and are often water suckers.  One way to solve water issues landscaped gardeninevitable to a lawn is to remove your lawn and do something else with the space.  Here are a variety of ideas and tips for “going lawnless:”

1.  Plant up with natives instead of grass.  Once your natives are established, you won’t have to water them nearly as much as you watered your lawn.  Some lovely natives are:  Lewisia, Penstemon, Thrift, Yarrow, Apricot mallow, Checkerbloom, Blue-eyed grass, Iris, Monkey flower, Lilac, Bearded tongue, Beach aster, Snowberry, and more.

2. Install and enjoy hardscaping.  Hardscapes can be filled with natural beauty by utilizing pots or borders, and it’s very easy to maintain.  Not only that, handscapes make great gathering places for friends, family, barbecues, and more.

3. Make your space a veggy patch or herb garden.  Growing your own food is rewarding and can be really fun for the young ones!

4. Install a waterscape.  Adding a pond or fountain can make your backyard feel like a haven of natural beauty instead of a flat, green, water-sucking expanse.  Water features can block traffic noise, and they can get you off the hook for getting your kid a pet (by filling a pond with fish or some such animal).

5. Plant an orchard.  You may not think you can make your yard into a shady haven of natural beauty, but you can.  Planting and establishing trees can take a lot of water, but they give a great reward and last for a very long time.Rake Chips

6. Take some time to repair your soil with mulch over winter, then try planting some of your favorites.  You can make your yard into a gorgeous place for butterflies, birds, and more by smothering your lawn over winter and planting something completely different in spring.

Here’s to the perfect yard for your needs!

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Landscape Maintenance for Fall

Fall is usually a great time to help your plants get ready for chilly weather.  Even though it’s not quite Fall yet, I wanted to start you off with a few maintenance ideas.

– Overseed your lawn: Adding extra seed to your lawn will help it recover from the summer heat.  Overseeding is described here and is best done in Fall and/or in Spring. iStock_000005983963XSmall

– Feed your roses: Fertilize your roses each time the blooms die off – and stop fertilizing about two months before the first frost.

– Clean up: Cut off anything that is dead, rake up dead leaves, trim down dead plants, and generally get your yard ship shape.

– Compost: This one has a double meaning.  You should both feed your plants with compost, and use your grass clippings, dead leaves, and yanked up plants create new compost. wooden compost bin

– Plant: Fall is always a good time to install trees and shrubs.  It might be better to wait until October/November, so the plants are more dormant, but check out plant sales and see if there’s anything you should get into the ground right away.

– Harvest: Take advantage of your Fall flowers, veggies, and fruits.  Either harvest plants in your own yard or have fun at a pumpkin patch or other pick-your-own farm.

– Pull up the weeds: Any weeds should be yanked out by the roots so they can’t establish their roots over the winter.Pulling Weeds

 

Here’s to a great Fall and a healthy yard!

 

 

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Weeding Made Easier

No one likes to weed.  It’s uncomfortable and strenuous work, and often can feel as if it is never ending.  However, there are ways you can make the weeding process a little easier.  Here are a few:

– Try using a weed and feed product.  There are many products that work to kill weeds while fertilizing your lawn or plants.  Take a look and see what is available in your garden store.Pulling Weeds

– Keep your plants and lawn healthy.  One great weed prevention method is keeping the plans you intend to live in a certain area healthy with fertilizer, mulch, and more.  Using mulch does double duty – it protects the plants you want while making the soil looser so you can yank out the weeds you don’t want.

– If your yard is really weed-choked, consider starting over.  Talk to your local landscaper about your options.

– Grow another aggressive plant.  There are many types of plants that might be able to out-grow your weeds.  Mint and grass are very aggressive plants, and there are many others that could out perform the weeds that are troubling you.

– Keep your yard aerated.  If your soil is solid, it may be hard for anything except weeds to grow in it.  Additionally, hard soil makes it difficult to yank out the weeds.  Try aerating or amending your soil as much as possible.

Here’s to a weed-free yard!

 

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Five Tips For Keeping your Lawn Green in Summer

We all want a luxurious, thick lawn this summer.  However, it can be really hard to keep your lawn green in a hot, Southern California summer.  Here are five tips for keeping your lawn green this summer:mowing lawn

Tip #1: If your lawn was just recently installed from sod, make sure to give it a little extra water to help it establish.  If you’ve had your lawn for a long time, set your sprinkler system on a regular schedule.  The best time to water your lawn and other plants is early in the morning.  This allows the water to soak down into the root system before it evaporates in the summer sun.

In summertime, your grass can become dormant and turn brown.  This doesn’t mean your grass is dead – and if you don’t mind a brown lawn, be sure to water your turf minimally once a week with about 2.5 cm of water if it hasn’t rained within that week.  This won’t keep your grass green – but it will prevent the majority of it from dying out.

Tip #2: Mow your lawn in the cooler hours – the morning and evening – to avoid heat stress.

Additional mowing tips are:

– Change up the pattern of your mowing – don’t just mow in the same direction every week.

– Consider adding a mulching blade to your mower.  This cuts the grass up into tiny pieces and allows the clippings to return back into your lawn as extra fertilizer.

– Try setting your mowing blade down to 2 inches to reduce the amount of water your grass needs in the summertime.

Tip #3: Check your soil.  If you have a “green space” that is really a brown space, check the soil.  It’s possible that it can use amendment or aeration.  Consult with a professional landscaper on how to get the most out of your Sprinkler System Installationyard space.

Tip #4: If you don’t have one, get a sprinkler system installed.  It can be very hard to ensure your grass receives regular, even watering.  If you are worried about water waste, try installing a drip water system.  This gets water straight to the soil, so it is more directly absorbed into the roots of your plants and grass.

Tip #5: Install walkways in heavily traveled areas.  If you don’t have a walkway up to your front door, chances are people will be trampling your lawn.  It is a smart idea to direct the flow of traffic than harm your entire lawn.

*Bonus tip: If you have a dog that uses your lawn as their restroom – be sure to spray the spots were your dog pees with water.  The reason  your grass turns yellow in these spots is that your dog’s urine contains too much nitrogen for the grass to handle.  When it is dispersed with water, your plants can actually utilize the nitrogen as fertilizer.

For more tips about lawns, plant care, and more – check out these helpful hints.

Here’s to a summer full of fun, sun, and greenery!

 

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Last Minute Mother’s Day Ideas

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day!  While I hope you thought of your mother early enough to get her a present, her are some last minute ideas that may be great for an entire gift, or just icing on the cake!Mother's Day Concept

Plant Flowers

Every year you buy your mother cut flowers or some other short-lived gift.  Why not buy your mother plants that will continue to remind her of your love for her?  Buy some flowers or flowering plants and either plant them around her yard, or put them in pretty pots and give them to her.

Favorite picks: Love-in-a-puff, Lilac, Lavender, Roses, Morning Glory, Sunflowers, Artichokes, Aster, Catmint, Forget-me-not, Coneflower, Salvia leucantha, Hyacinth, Bee Balm, and Zinnia.

If your mother is very particular, take her to the nursery with you on Mother’s Day and buy her the plant she’s been yearning for.

Help Her in the Yard

As we get older, yard work gets harder and harder.  Take the time to help your mother out in the garden this Mother’s Day. If she is an avid gardener, but her knees or back pain her, discuss installing raised beds and help her do it.

If you can’t help her on Mother’s Day, or have other plans with her, give her an IOU that she can cash in at any time for yard work.  This gives you and her future reasons to spend time together.

Get Her Yard Landscaped

If your mom doesn’t want to have to deal with her yard anymore, pitch in on getting her a professional landscaper.  This may mean she wants to hardscape over the back, or get sprinklers and sod installed for the grandkids.  Either way, it will make her time at home more enjoyable and create a place that you can visit and enjoy alongside her.

Fireproof Her Yard

With the recent fires alarming people all around Southern California, helping your mom create a fire-proof environment gives her the gift of a nicer yard and you the gift of peace of mind.  Some fire proofing actions are:

  • Pull dead leaves, weeds, and branches
  • Get her sprinkler schedule consistent
  • Turn her compost
  • Clean up the back area – especially around a firepit or barbecue
  • Clean out any ponds or water features

Pick a Bouquet from Your Own Yard

Explore your own yard for flowers that can be arranged into a gorgeous bouquet.  You might get a better group of flowers than you would have found in the store!

Here’s to mothers everywhere!

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Giving your Yard a Natural Feel

Whether your yard is hardscaped or grassy, is on a hillside or an irregular lot, creating a balance between nature and man-made is important.  Here are some ideas for keeping your yard feeling natural – no matter the soil or lot type.

  • Plant flowers and other pretty plants among “useful” plantsMeeting Place

Adding flowers into your vegetable bed attracts more bees and good insects.  Even if your yard is all trees, you can solve a “bare ground” problem by planting flowers along the drip line of your trees.  Additionally, if there is heavy shade that doesn’t let up, plants like ferns can thrive.

  • Use bright pots to decorate bare spaces

If you have a lot of hardscaping, or even just unworkable soil, try planting up colorful pots of flowers and herbs and placing them around your yard.  This softens up the landscape.

Another idea is to add a water feature to the area.  A fountain or pond cools down a hot yard, and can soften the most extreme hardscaping.

  • Plant a “green wall”

One of the “next big things” in the world of landscaping is a green wall.  This is a wall with plants installed within it so they grow off of it.  This is a beautiful statement – and a great sound barrier.

  • Utilize bordersGarden with stone landscaping

Planting up a small border garden with flowers, herbs, fruiting bushes or vegetables make a plain lawn look lush and gorgeous.  These border areas can also attract birds, butterflies and bumble bees to your yard.

  • Hang pots

Hanging pots full of fragrant herbs and flowers can make a stuffy back porch feel cool and beautiful.

Here’s to a great spring and summer, filled with bright blossoms and cool greenery!

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