Archive for Summertime

Ten Tips for Saving Water in your Yard

It’s easy to spend a ton of money on watering grass and other plants here in Southern California.  Places like Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Northridge can experience extreme heat that can turn your grass yellow and dormant.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, except that it looks bad.  If you dislike spending extreme amounts on water, or you just don’t like how your lawn looks in the summertime, consider these ten water saving tips:

1.  Try planting native grasses.  While these won’t look the same as your current lawn-type grass, they use up less water and can look really beautiful.

2. Install pavers with dymondia margaretae or some such grass growing between them.  This will give you the grassy look without the maintenance.

3. Considering changing your yard out to include California natives. Some great native ground covers are: Pacific Mist, Carmel Sur, Monterey Carpet, Ceanothus Gloriosus, California Lilac, Ceanothus Hearstiorum, Squaw Carpet, Silver Carpet, Tufted Hairgrass, Cape Sebastian, Wood Straberry, Mountain Strawberry, Penstemon Heterodoxus, Salvia,  Yerba Buena, and Gaultheria Shallon.

4. Instead of using flower borders, plant bright succulents.  These are beautiful and water resistant plants that don’t need much water.  Some lovely succulents are: Spiral aloe, Afterglow, a variety of Agaves, or Ice Plant, Stonecrop

5. If you don’t want to change your yard up at all, consider mulching your plants.  Mulch can help the soil retain water and provide nutrients to your plants.

6. Install sprinklers or a drip irrigation system.  It’s easy to accidentally water your sidewalk or miss spots when you are watering by hand.  Additionally, having a programmed system will help you water earlier in the morning – before the heat of the day.

7.  Make sure your plants have healthy soil.  Years and years of the same plant living in the same soil can cause the plant to die faster, as the nutrients are leached from the soil.  Get your soil tested to find out exactly want needs to be done to make it the optimal place for your plants to live.

8. Looking for a good garden accent that won’t take up too much water?  Consider planting a citrus tree or a deep rooted tree.  Such trees actually prefer to be watered only once a week or so once they are well-established.  Do consider, however, that you should generally wait until the weather gets cooler to make such an improvement to your yard – and it will take about a year for the tree to properly establish its root system.  This is a longer-term fix.

9. If you want a lawn that looks great year round and doesn’t need watering – consider installing a faux lawn.  Your grass will be green all the time.  The only downsides are that it’s a rather expensive fix and your grass will not get cool.

10. Consider watering less often, but more deeply. Running a sprinkler in the wee hours only a couple of days a week for a longer time period will tend to drive water deeply into the soil where it won’t evaporate easily.

There are a ton of fixes for your water bill.  Some may include changing your yard’s look – and this may be for the better.  If you want to go this route, consider talking to a professional landscaper for assistance.

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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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Summer lights

It’s officially summertime!  The time of year when you entertain friends and family, relax outside, or eat outdoors.  It’s lanterns hangingstaying light late at night, but with the warm nights, we tend to want to stay out past dark.  Instead of sitting on a bright porch looking at a pitch-black yard, think about the lighting you’d like to install in your yard.  Here are some ideas:

  • Float tea candles in a water-filled birdbath.
  • Hang Japanese lanterns from trees and trellises around your property.
  • Surround your eating area with pillar candles for a fine dining feel.
  • Go vintage with kerosene lanterns.
  •  String lights through trees and trellises.
  • Install LED lights that accent walks and beautiful flowers or trees.
  • Brighten your walk or your front porch with luminarias.
  • Install a lamppost a la The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • Brighten up an area with a firepit. This is a nice gathering space and a way to brighten up your yard.
  • If you have tables with table cloths, try putting a camping lantern under each table.  Try using LED lights.  If you use electric lights, keep the fabric 2 feet from the bulb.

These are just a few of our ideas to brighten up your yard.  It’s an important safety precaution to install some permanent lighting fixtures on pathways, around a pool or along steps.  Be sure to add these year-round fixtures to your lighting to-dos.

Here’s to a bright and fun summer!

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Planning for Drought

Southern California is known for its drought situations.  Often, we have to conserve our water usage and be frugal with our plants.  This can negatively affect your yard unless you prepare for it.  Here are some ideas which can give you a lovely yard, which will still be ok during a drought.

1. Plant ornamental grasses, succulents, and other plants which are drought tolerant.  This will reduce watering needs in the long run.

2. Choose native plants.  Natives are specifically designed to thrive in the Southern California environment – they are from there after all!

3. Put water trays under your potted plants.  Keeping a tray of water beneath your potted plants doesn’t detract from their looks – and it keeps the plant hydrated.

4. Put your plants on a schedule.  Keeping to a specific watering schedule will cause your plants to know how to react to drought situations.  If you’ve already trained them to dig deep for water, they won’t have as much trouble when it’s hot and dry out.

5. Utilize your hardscape.  If you like to have gatherings, consider hardscaping over that hard to maintain lawn.  You can add potted plants for greenery, and you won’t be damaging plants each time you meet with your friends and family.

Here’s to a green, hot summer!

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Unconventional Ways to Enjoy your Summer Yard

Sometimes I get into a rut when it comes to enjoying my yard.  The yard just seems like a pile of work, or something to enjoy from afar.  Here are some ideas that can make your yard a place to enjoy:

– Sunbathe in your yard.  I currently have a pool – so that’s not super unconventional, however, when all I had was a large patch of grass, I would sometimes go out with or without a towel and lay on the grass to enjoy the cool ground on my back and the hot sun on my face.  No matter what kind of yard you have, you can enjoy the sun.

– Take a stroll.  You toil in your yard, you plan your yard, but do you really enjoy your yard?  Take a little walk through your yard as if you were a visitor on a home and garden tour.  Admire the beauty of your space – no matter how big or small it is.

*Fun idea: Get misters installed on random trees, lamp posts, wall crevices, etc.  As you walk through you will feel cooler.

– Get your friends or family involved.  If you have kids, the yard is a great place to have them help you out.  They can see how a seed grows into a plant, which can grow into food or a pretty flower.  No kids?  You can still involve your apartment-bound friends.  Let them help you in the veggy or flower garden with the agreement to share the bounty of food or fresh-cut flowers.

– Have a treasure hunt.  No matter how old you are, a treasure hunt with a prize at the end is tons of fun.  Make the starting area a fun spot with food or barbecue and have friends or family spread out through the yard looking for clues or prizes.

– Serve a fancy dinner outdoors.  Light some candles, turn on the accent lighting in your yard (or serve dinner at sunset), and serve dinner to your loved one or friends.  If you don’t have a patio, put a table right on your lawn.

Remember, summer is about enjoying your landscape – not staying cooped up indoors and watching the grass grow!

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Keeping Your Yard Looking Nice

I just did a large project of cleaning up my yard.  I have the pool sparkling, all the weeds are pulled, the cement around the pool is cleaned and swept.  My yard looks awesome.  Yours can too!  Here are some simple actions you can do to your existing yard space which can get it looking great:

– Clean up.  This is a pretty simple one – but can be the hardest thing to do.  After all, the origin of dirt is the great outdoors – which is where your yard is.  But the simple action of pulling out weeds, pruning dead growth off your plants, keeping your grass mowed and bushes trimmed, getting your pool or water feature cleaned, and pressure washing or repainting your hardscape can really make your yard the place you want to be.

– Now that your yard is neat and clean, try brightening it up with simple things like new flowers and bright pots – or more complicated things like a water feature.

– Consider revamping or installing new light features.  Summer nights are perfect for outdoor gatherings, or just sitting and enjoying.  Make sure your favorite parts of your yard are well-lit so you can enjoy them at any time.

Put in a “relaxation station”.  This can be as simple as gathering some yard furniture around a table or putting out some lounging chairs – or can be more complicated like getting a firepit installed, or getting a permanent barbecue structure.

– No matter what kind of yard situation you have – all hardscape, all lawn, half and half, mostly garden space, etc – make sure to put bright clusters of flowers in various parts of your yard.  They add beauty to your outdoor space and – depending on the flower – can attract fun insects like butterflies and bumble bees, or pretty birds for you to enjoy.

Here’s to a bright yard and a brighter summer!

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Beat the Heat (and help your plants do the same)

It is hot out there!  With record highs throughout the US, it’s a good time to start considering ways to beat the heat – and help your plants do the same.

Here are some ideas which will help you and your plants cool down:

Idea 1: Run a sprinkler or mister by the area in which you are relaxing.  The water will help mist you and your plants – cooling you both in the process.  My favorite way to do this is to string a hammock between two trees – so you have a shady lounging area – and then put a portable sprinkler out to give your grass and trees a nice drink.

Hint – The best spot to put your sprinkler is in a spot where the wind is blowing toward you.

Idea 2: Hand water your plants.  This may seem counter-intuitive.  Hand watering requires work outdoors – which equals you being in the direct line of fire of the sun.

Here’s how I hand water: I turn on the water, then grab the top of the hose and pull.  This means that water will slosh on my legs and feet.  It’s inevitable and nice and cool.  When I get the hose to its destination, I use my thumb as a pressure valve.  This is extremely inefficient, I know.  But the point in this exercise is not to conserve water – it’s to cool you and your plants.  The spray will shoot off randomly, hitting you and plants you didn’t even intend to water.

Hint – Wear flip-flops and clothes you don’t mind getting wet.

Idea 3: Relive your childhood.  In my world, this means two things – running through sprinklers (always a great pastime) and slip ‘n slides.  You’re an adult – but why does that mean you can’t have fun sliding down a wet, plastic surface on your lawn?  It doesn’t.

Hint – Remove rocks and pebbles from your path.

Those are my favorite ways to cool my plants and I off during these crazy summer months.  Enjoy!

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