Posts Tagged Landscaper

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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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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Preparing for Rain

The Los Angeles area has many different microclimates.  There could be sunshine in Glendale, while it’s raining in Agoura Hills.  That’s exactly what is supposed to happen – just in time for all those Halloween ornaments to get drenched!
Here are some ideas for rain proofing your yard:

– Bring any lawn furniture that is out in the open either indoors or under cover.  My preference is underneath my covered patio so I can enjoy the rain and stay dry.

– If you have any paper or cardboard ornaments up, unfortunately you should take them down.  In future, try buying plastic ornaments.  Also, any ornaments you do have out, make sure they are anchored so that if the ground gets muddy they don’t fall down.

– Get a cover installed over your patio.  I’m a big fan of covers over patios and such – they shade you from the sun and protect you from the rain.  If you really want to get into it, try getting your patio enclosed and installing heat and a/c in there.  That way you can enjoy your outdoors while being comfy.

– Make sure to replace any outdoor lights or get some installed.  The nights are getting longer, and with the rain you need some extra lights.  Talk with your landscaper if you need to replace your lights, they may have some great, bright ideas.

Overall, no matter which microclimate you live in, whether your landscape is in Agoura Hills, Glendale, Ventura, Hollywood, or anywhere else, get prepared for rain.

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Enjoying the outdoors in unpleasant weather

The weather has been pretty crazy this almost-springtime, as it is every year.  It can be a little hard to figure out how to enjoy the outdoors all through the year.  Here are some ideas:

– Install a fully enclosed patio.  There are several ideas for this one.  You can install a completely enclosed patio with walls and all – or you can just include a roof and fans over the patio.

– Get a roofed gazebo installed into your yard.  To make it a convenient refuge in foul weather, install a path through your yard.

– Try putting a roof over your jacuzzi.  It may seem strange to sit in water when it’s wet out, but a hot jacuzzi in chilly weather is a staple in cold areas like Alaska.

– Do you like barbecue, even when it’s chilly?  Try installing a permanent outdoor kitchen space covered with a roof.

– Get a treehouse installed in your backyard.  It’ll keep you out of the elements, but in amongst nature.

– Plant shade trees or pine trees semi close together to protect you partially from the elements, rain or shine.

– Install a covered lounge space away from your home.  This way, you can enjoy your yard from a new perspective.

Here’s to the enjoyment of outdoors, rain or shine!

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Best time to landscape? Now!

Autumn is always the best time to transplant and plant new plants, as well as trim back your trees and shrubs.

Why is this the best time to landscape?

Well, right now is when your plants are moving slower, getting ready for winter.  As part of this, this is the time they expend most of their energy developing their root systems.  So, if you want to get your space redone, move your plants around, shape your bushes, etc, now is the time to do it.

What else is fall good for?  Here are some ideas:

– “Honey Do” lists.

– Getting your roof fixed.

– Getting lighting installed, either lamps, string lights, walkway lights, or others.

– Planting trees.

– Replanting and overseeding your lawn.

– Shaping your trees and shrubs, both for design purposes and for their health.

– Making sure your gutters are cleaned out.

– If you are going green, getting your gutters to empty into a rain barrel, and forming up your compost heap.

– Covering any bare ground with compost or cover crops.

– Dream and consult with your local landscaper.

Here’s to a gorgeous landscape, all prepared, and ready for next year.

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Landscaping for Hillside Homes

As we all know, Southern California is not Florida or Kansas – there are mountains and hills EVERYWHERE.  So, if you live in one of the many gorgeous hillside homes here in SoCal, how in the world do you both approach landscaping, comply with the safety regulations inherent in living on the side of a hill, and really get to enjoy your land?

1. Think of your neighbors. 

Before embarking upon any project to improve your hillside property, consider your neighbor’s needs as well as your own.  Will you need to ask their permission to create a fenced off area on your property line?  Are you considering any improvements which will block their view?  Will any work you do erode their property?  Check to make sure you won’t be hearing complaints from those you must live near; it will make your life much easier in the long run.

2. Examine how nature beautifies hills.

Natural hillsides can be a source of inspiration for your own hillside property.  Mother Nature uses deep-rooted plants, like our native California Oaks, along with well-placed rocks, various native grasses and sensible grading to create lovely, sustainable hillsides.  Your home, however, may be on the side of a hill which mankind has already graded in a sharper, less sustainable fashion, so terracing can help make it look more pleasing to the eye and help prevent landslides.  It’s best to consult a professional landscaper on these points, as they will have some idea of the safety measures which need to occur to make your hillside land both beautiful and safe.

3. Try for low-maintenance.

Unless you love hiking, try to make sure your hillside is as low maintenance as possible.  Add steps to easily access any decks, terraced gardens, etc, so you can access the parts of your property you may want to visit or give special attention.  On the portions of your property you’d rather keep “hands off”, plant indigenous plants which will thrive without much care.  Make sure to install a variety of plants – like shrubs, trees and ground cover.  This will help your hillside retain more soil during the rainy season.

You can also install a dry creek bed in the “hands off” portions, to help prevent erosion.  Also, if you have a rock outcropping with little to no soil, check with a landscaper.  It may not be plantable and may actually be aiding the stability of your land.

4. Enjoy the view.

Install easy-to-access look out points around your property.  Think about installing a bench alongside your steps, or a deck with a particularly pleasing view of the sunset to sit and get away from it all – besides, what’s the point of a hillside home if you don’t have a chance to enjoy the view?

5. Add hardscaping.

As mentioned above, easy to traverse steps to portions of your landscape which you want to access are a great idea, but why stop there?  Install a deck with a barbecue for friends and/or family to gather and enjoy.  Add a fire pit where you can roast marshmallows or enjoy fine company.  Install a terrace with a traditional zen garden, or a vegetable or flower garden.  Add a wooden patio under a sprawling oak.  Get the most out of your land. 

If you are a more adventurous sort, add rope ladder access to your deck or terrace, to give your home a tree house feel. 🙂  Just make sure a) it’s installed by a pro and b) there’s a soft spot below to land, in case of any missteps.

6. Consult a professional.

Hillside landscaping is not a “DIY” project.  Always consult a professional landscaper knowledgable in Southern California hillsides and the appropriate regulations before embarking on your project.  Hillsides are a very special beast and you do not want to start out terracing, adding decks and steps, building a retaining wall, etc, without professional assistance.

Here’s hoping you always get the most out of your landscape!

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Spring is Coming

The weather is warming up these days… spring’s acoming!  This means it’s a great time to actually start doing those home improvement projects you promised yourself you’d do this new year.

This might mean you are ready to do a little landscaping, so your yard fits your needs and personality.

I’m not going to make this a super long post, because it’s a nice day out and I’m sure you will want to enjoy it, but check out my previous posts on hiring a landscaper and creative landscaping for tips and ideas to help you get that landscape you want.

So, get out there, maybe visit a garden for inspiration, and enjoy the onset of spring.

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Accent your natural landscape

Not everyone has their dream house, in their dream location.  But, when deciding what kind of landscaping you want, plan to accent the bright points of your home or surrounding area – while still blocking out what you don’t like. 

For example, you may have an awesome home with potential for a fabulous patio area, a fire pit and a lovely lawn space.  The only catch is that vacant lot next door.  What to do?

A) Buy the lot and add a pool, yay! 🙂

B) If you can’t afford to buy the lot, consider adding a gorgeous stone or wood wall to your landscaping schemes, or plant a lovely vine or flowering bush that will block the ugly lot, but beautify your yard even more.  Additionally, concentrate on all the beauty and joy that can be found in your own yard.  Get the porch you’ve always dreamed of, add lighting that enhances the beauty of your yard and casts shadows on that lot.

C) Do what these homeowners in Thousand Oaks, CA did and get amazing, professional landscaping on your perfect home, which is located in your ideal location.

So here’s hoping your location, home and yard stay perfect and beautiful, for years to come.

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Why Hire a Landscaper?

Many people feel it’s smarter and cheaper to do as many things themselves as possible, especially when it’s a “honey-do” task like fixing a squeaky door or repainting a room.  This “do it yourself” attitude is often taken toward landscaping projects.

So why hire a professional landscaper?

1. Do you know how outdoor plumbing and drainage systems work?
Usually, sprinkler systems of some sort are needed when installing a landscape. Even if everything was pre-installed, the landscaper needs a good understanding of water drainage and what kind of plants will best benefit from the slope or grade of your land. If you don’t have an understanding of how water works with your land, it’s important to get a professional out to help you. Otherwise, some plants end up drowning while still others die due to lack of water, or harmful mold grows in your yard.

2. Do you understand plants, what kind of sun they need, how much water works for them, if they are natural to your area, etc?
Some landscaping is hardscaping , which does not require much, if anything, in the way of plant knowledge. But, if you are putting any greenery or flowers down, it’s important to know where they should go in relation to the sun, how much water they require, what kind of soil they should go in, etc.  If you do not have that knowledge, it’s important to consult a professional who does.  That way, things that are supposed to bloom will actually do so.  Also, an understanding of plants helps when some plants overcrowd others – like bamboo.  Your landscaper will have tips and suggestions on how to position these plants to best benefit your land. 

3. Does your vision seem too ambitious or overwhelming?
Your project might seem to you like you’re trying to rival the Gardens of Babylon, when in all likelihood you’re just trying to make your yard pretty.  A professional landscaper’s job is to make the crazy dream of yours a reality, even if it involves installing a koi pond and an English vegetable garden. 

4. How much work do you want to put in on your yard?
Obviously, if you’ve chosen a large landscaping project, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort.  Do you want to plan and install every aspect of this project?  Do you have the skills to do so?  If not, do you have the resources and understanding to hire a skilled worker who just does the specific thing you need and does it well?  Often, professional landscapers and landscaping companies do have these resources at their fingertips while the average homeowner does not.

5. Finally, do you understand how to maintain your gorgeous dream yard for years to come?
A real professional will answer all your aftercare maintainance questions so that you or your gardener can keep your peaceful patio, stunning swimming pool or glorious garden pristine and perfect for many years.  They can also help you out if something is not quite as you envisioned it and give it that final polish of professionalism.  This is their job, so you’re allowed to make sure it’s perfect.

I hope this helps you on your pursuit for the perfect yard.

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