Five Last Minute Tips to Spruce up your Yard

With holiday season in full force, you may have been concentrating completely on decorating your interior, getting menus together, and wrapping presents.  If you take a moment to look at your yard, it might need a little pick-me-up.  Short of calling your local landscaper, how can you make it look more welcoming?  Here are five easy, quick tips for you to do before your guests begin to arrive:

Tip #1: Clean up.  This may seem obvious, but give your yard a quick once over.  Rake up any leaves, pick up any garbage that has blown on to your lawn, and trim off anything dead in your yard. Pink-white senecio cineraria

Tip #2: Plant something bright.  Are there some spots that are tough to look at in your yard?  Distract attention by bringing color to your borders and popping some pretty flowers into those empty beds.  Some good plants for cool-season color in Southern California are: cineraria, pansies, candytuft, heath, primrose, snapdragons, English daisies, calendula, cyclamen, hellebores, cool-season poppies, ornamental kale, ornamental cabbage, and more.

Tip #3: Decorate with potted plants.  Don’t have time to get on those hands and knees and plant some flowers?  Try decorating with lovely pots and pretty plants.  You can add any of the above flowers to draw the eye to your front porch, line your walkway with potted plants, or prop them in an empty flower bed to bring it a little cheer.

Tip #4: Cover bald spots.  Warm up chilly ground with some pretty mulch – bark mulch can often dress up some bare ground and make the ground healthier for next year!Light wrapped tree at Twilight

Tip #5: Bring your tree outside.  You may have a gorgeous, dressed-up tree indoors.  Celebrate the theme by dressing up a tree or two that is sitting outdoors.  There are fun, outdoor bulbs you can use, outdoor string lights and so much more.  Additionally, you can add some pretty boughs and wreathes around your yard, along handrails, or even on dividing walls or your fence.  Don’t limit the festivity to the indoors.

Here’s to a wonderful – stress free holiday season!

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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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13 Ways to Get your Yard Ready for Winter

The weather is becoming more chilly!  So, before winter weather really sets in, here are 13 tips for getting your yard ready for the colder weather:

#1. Aerate, overseed, and fertilize your lawn.

#2. Remove any dead tree limbs or plants.

#3. Use that compost pile by mulching your yard.0rainbarrell

#4. Plant a “cover crop” like clover on bare areas or over a garden that won’t be used.

#5. Cut back on your watering, but don’t cut it off.  It sure isn’t raining every day just yet!

#6. Transplant anything you want to move and plant anything else you want in the ground.  Remember, if you have particularly hard soil, be sure to dig a larger hole than the area of the plant – and be sure to loosen plenty of soil all around the planting area.

#7. Add winter flowers to your border.

#8. Clean out your pond, stream, fountain, or other water feature.  Also, take a look at your water feature equipment and see if anything needs to be replaced.

#9. Add any fallen leaves and chipped branches to your compost pile.  iStock_000009122825XSmall

#10. Move any outdoor furniture into your covered porch or into its winter storage area.

#11. Clean out your gutters and make sure they are directed properly.

#12.  Consider getting a rain barrel for your gutter system.

#13. Keep that bird feeder and bird bath stocked.

Here’s to a beautiful yard – all prepared for winter!

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Fun Ideas for Enjoying Your Backyard in the Colder Months

Even though we are approaching the cooler months, we can still take advantage of our backyard spaces.  Here are some fun and creative ideas for making your yard the go-to place over the winter and spring:

  • Keep it shady.  It seems counter intuitive to utilize your trees when it’s not hot, but when it’s threatening rain, setting up a little conversation area beneath a tree might be just the right spot.  You can use a fun colored Backyard pavilionbackyard umbrella or pull down the patio covering to achieve a similar affect.
  • Cook outside.  Just because it’s fall or winter doesn’t mean you have to abandon the barbecue.  Set up an outdoor kitchen and enjoy the food from your enclosed patio, dining room, gazebo, or firepit.
  • Plant a variety.  The holidays don’t have to leave your yard barren.  You can plant new bushes, trees, and seasonal flowers.  These plants will not only look great, you will get birds and other animals visiting over the winter and give them a place to hang out when other homes may have a little less variety for them to enjoy.
  • Build an outdoor space you can enjoy all year round.  If you don’t have a patio, deck, pavilion or other place you can enjoy throughout the year, it may be time to build one.  One thing to think about is whether you want an outdoor fireplace, firepit, or kitchen area.  Also, consider if you want want the option to remove the roof covering or if you want something permanent.iStock_000016466276XSmall
  • Revamp that tool shed.  We all have seen an old, dilapidated tool shed in someone’s backyard.  If that someone is you, consider making that old structure into a space you, your family, and your guests can enjoy.  You can tear it down completely and create a hardscaped area to enjoy or you can revamp it into a fun hang out.
  • Place covered spots along your walkways.  If you have benches along your walkways or paths, put a cover above them so you can sit snug, even if it’s raining, and enjoy the outdoors

All in all, you aren’t banned from the backyard just because of some chilly weather.  Make your own space that you can enjoy all-year-round.  Here’s to a fun and creative holiday season!

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8 Ways to Dress Up Your Yard This Season

This time of year is full of wacky weather in Southern California.  The plants in your yard don’t know whether they should die off and get ready for winter, or stay alive and keep on reaching for the sun.  Either way, it’s a good time to inject a little fun into your yard.  Here are eight ways to make your yard the place to be over fall and winter:

1. Surround your firepit, fountain, or other hardscaping feature with seasonal color by placing miniature conifers in a burgundy bowl or pot and placing them in likely spots around your yard.  You can always plant them in your yard next year, or keep them as bonsai-type trees for next year’s holiday season.

2. Welcome company with bright lighting along each pathway.  If you don’t have lights installed, try a temporary fix by placing tea candles in glass holders along your walkways.christmas decorations

3. Add a potted boarder to your existing border.  You can place poinsettias, cyclamen, and other bright plants along your boarder in seasonally colored pots.

4. Don’t settle for just one potted flower at your entryway, group pots with a variety of flowers to welcome friends and family for the holidays.

5. Mulch up any bare spots in your yard.

6. Take cuttings and create your own garden wreath.  Or, if you aren’t particularly fond of arts and crafts, use existing plants in arrangements throughout the house and on your outdoor furniture.

7. Use cushions in seasonal colors to accent your outdoor furniture.  It’s still warm enough to enjoy your yard with friends and family, so keep your outdoors decorated with seasonal items.

Here’s to a healthy, bright yard over the holidays!

 

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