Posts Tagged hardscaping

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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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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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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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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Fabulous Firepits

The yard can be a lot of things to different people.  In the summertime, it’s often used as a space to spend time with and entertain friends and family – especially in summer.  In order to have such a space, one has to consider the time of day when people will be over and what you like to do most.  This will lead you to the best changes to your landscaping in order to make it a space that works for everyone.iStock_000017779814XSmall

One great type of gathering space is a firepit.  It might seem a little counter-intuitive, since we live in sunny Southern California.  However, while it’s sunny during the day – it can get downright chilly at nighttime.  Also, you don’t have to keep a fire going in the pit at all times.  It is simply a great focal point for a gathering space, which is also useful and which can be really fun.   Here are some great firepit ideas to consider for your yard space:

  • Campfire style: A built-in, natural looking firepit might be the perfect space to gather in a hillside home or with a more rustic-style home.
  • A round firepit with circular seating: Allowing all of your guests to gather around the fire and converse is a past time that has carried on throughout the ages.  iStock_000017473871XSmall
  • Geometric-styled firepits: Playing with shapes can add character to your yard and make it a conversation piece – as well as a place to talk!
  • A sunken firepit: If your yard has a step-down space you aren’t sure what to do with, it might be just the space for a firepit.
  • Built-in fireplace: An outdoor fireplace can bring the gathering outdoors – even on dry winter nights.
  • A mock fireplace: Positioning a fireplace against a wall of brick or stone can make it feel as if you had an outdoor fireplace, when it’s just a firepit.
  • Artful firepits: You can do so much with firepits – setting up a gas flame that appears to be coming out of water or gravel can lend surprising elegance to a space – while making it a piece of art when the flame is turned off

There are plenty of fun styles for firepits – they don’t have to be portable metal tubs anymore.  So, here’s to a summer filled with light and laughter!

 

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Get your Yard Ready for Summer Entertaining

There’s nothing I like better than enjoying a summertime dinner outdoors with friends and family.  Here are some practical and fun ideas for prepping your yard for outdoor dining this summer.Table setting outside

– Brighten up your yard furniture.  Every year we often keep the same old yard furniture – only updating it when it gets old or shabby looking.  But, you can update your yard furniture by adding colorful cushions or buying fun chairs that feature colors which compliment each other, but don’t necessarily match.

– Conceal your old fence.  If you have a fence you aren’t fond of, try concealing it with various plant or – if there isn’t time for them to fill in – install art on your fence or wall.

– Brighten up your yard.  Get lighting installed strategically in your yard to warm up the space as the night gets dark.  Lighting can be used for both practical purposes and to add beauty to your yard – accenting your favorite trees or most beautiful plants.

– Install a beautiful dining table as a centerpiece to your dining space.  Recycled wood, picnic-style or concrete topped tables can all work depending on your yard and dining space.

– Gather around a fireplace for dessert or after-dinner drinks.  Our evenings can get chilly – even in the summer.  A comfortable gathering space around a firepit can be the perfect place to end the night.

– Use a pretty or distinctive patio covering.  There are some beautiful backyard umbrellas for smaller tables – and if you have a bigger space consider installing a shade trellis over the dining space.

– Install distinctive flooring.  There are so many options for your dining space.  You can get painted concrete, tile, natural stone, brick, and more.

– Decorate with bright pots and fun flowers.  Positioning your pots and flowers around the dining space for decoration is an easy way to brighten up your dining space with minimal effort.

Here’s to fun summer dining!

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