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    Tips for feeding your lawn nitrogen

     

    Nitrogen is vital to your lawn and is one of the most popular fertilizers. You need nitrogen because chlorophyll depends on it as do other proteins and amino acids. These in turn are what makes your lawn green and causes it to grow well. Some things to look for to see if your grass has a nitrogen deficiency are; if it turns yellow despite watering, the grass doesn't grow quickly, diseases are present in your lawn, or if the grass turf starts getting thinner. Depending on the time of year, your budget, and the climate there are three basic types of nitrogen used in fertilizers that are popular to apply. 1. You will find isobutyledenedinurea (IBDU) which decomposes slowly and will feed your grass over a longer period of time. It will often take a couple of weeks to decompose enough for you to see it's effects on your lawn. This is the most expensive form of nitrogen fertilizer because of the way it is manufactures and it's uniformity. It's uniformity also makes it very easy to apply. 2. There is also sulfur-coated urea. It depends on how thick the sulfur coating is to determine how quickly it will dissolve and feed your plants. S. C.U. will release quicker when the temperature is hotter, the lawn is wetter, or if the grass is healthier. 3. The last one I am going to mention is urea, a fairly inexpensive nitrogen. It is the cheapest nitrogen to produce as well as the fastest acting. You can often see results over night, it is that fast. But it gets depleted quickly and if you over apply it you can easily burn your yard up and kill your grass. So the next time you go shopping for fertilizers with nitrogen check the labels and ask lots of questions.

         
    Tips for preparing a planting bed

     

    If you are preparing beds for landscaping around your house this article should simplify the process for you. I say that because of everything that is written about this subject, some of it is accurate, some of it is just plain wrong, and much of it is much more complicated than it needs to be. I like to think of myself as Simple Simon. I find the easiest, yet most effective way to do things, and they work. Let’s assume that the area where you are planning your bed is now planted in grass. How do you get rid of the grass? Chemicals or no chemicals? Chemicals are easy, so we’ll look at the chemical method first. My favorite chemical for killing grass and weeds is RoundUp, and used properly it is effective. Rule number one: Read the label on the package, and mix the chemical exactly as recommended by the manufacturer. Rule number two: Assume that every plant that the RoundUp touches is going to die. It is a non-selective herbicide. The first thing you need to do is mark out where your planting bed is going to be. Spend some time on this step. If you are landscaping around your house, give careful consideration to what is going to be planted in the bed, and then decide how large each plant is going to be when fully mature. You can keep plants trimmed to a certain size, but be realistic when you make these estimates. Trust me when I tell you, this is the number one mistake made by Do-it-Yourself landscapers. People are just afraid to make those beds large enough. Typically, a bed should never be narrower than 42”, and corner beds should be 12’ in diameter. Islands. If you make those little tiny island beds that I see everywhere I am going to come over to your house and snap you with a wet towel! The island bed in your front yard should be 20’ to 40’ long, and a minimum of 12’ in diameter on at least one end. The easiest way to mark out your planting beds is to buy a can of marking paint at the hardware store. Unlike most spray paint, this only works when the can is inverted, and it is designed specifically for painting lines on the ground. They even have cans that spray chalk instead of paint. I’ve always used the paint, it holds up better if it gets wet. Once you have the outline of the bed established and marked, mix up some RoundUp and spray all the grass and weeds inside the bed area. Do not put RoundUp in a sprayer that you intend to use for other purposes. You need a sprayer that is dedicated for the use of herbicides. When applying the spray, be very careful not to let the spray drift onto the grass and other plants that you do not want to kill. To minimize spray drift, adjust the spray nozzle so the spray pattern is narrow and the droplets are larger. A wide, fine spray pattern is sure to drift outside of the intended area. Also keep the pressure in the sprayer quite low. Pump it just enough to deliver the spray. High pressure causes the spray to atomize and drift. Apply just enough spray to wet the foliage. If you have liquid dripping off the blades of grass, you are applying too much. More is not better. Once sprayed, be careful not to step in the area that has been sprayed. Many people have had golden footprints across their lawn because they forgot and walked through what had been sprayed. This is the difficult part, and the part that many people do not get, so pay close attention. The only way that the RoundUp can possibly work is if you leave it alone. Did you get that? Once you apply the RoundUp, don’t do another thing with that bed for 72 hours. That’s three very long days. I know you’re anxious, but this is the price you pay for not planning ahead. RoundUp is a systemic herbicide, which means that it has to be absorbed by the plant, then translocated throughout the plant. It takes three days for that to happen. If you go digging and chopping, you might just as well skip the spraying step. Go build a compost bin while you’re waiting. After three days the weeds and grass are going to look as healthy and happy as ever. Don’t let ’em fool ya. They’re as dead as dead can be. Providing the RoundUp didn’t get washed off by rain within the first 24 hours of the waiting period. Now you can dig and chop to your heart’s content. However, the only digging that I do is to go around the edge of the bed and strip the sod back about 15”. Just peel off about 1” and flip it into the center of the bed. This makes it easier to edge and mulch the bed if you get the sod out of the way. Now for the non - chemical method. Mark out the outline of the bed as described above. Strip the sod back 15”, just like above. Since you aren’t using any herbicides I would dig down about 1-1/2” when removing the sod from the edges. Take the sod you stripped back and lay it in the center of the bed upside down and pack it down firmly. Now take newspaper or brown paper grocery bags and cover the entire bed area. Use 9 layers of newspaper. No matter what method you used, chemical or non chemical, you are now ready to fill the planting bed with topsoil. Put 8 to 12” of good rich topsoil in the bed. Make sure the soil is higher in the back, closest to the wall, so the water drains away from the building. If you are creating an island planting make the center of the bed the highest point. Make sure the topsoil you buy is well drained and rich in organic matter. Buying topsoil is a tricky game, you’ve got to be careful and shop around. Topsoil is one item that you do not want to order over the phone, sight unseen. This is what you are looking for when buying topsoil: Topsoil that is rich in organic matter will be very dark in color. If the soil is light in color it is probably just fill sand. The other thing you’ve got to watch for is how well drained the soil is. Topsoil that has a clay base is poorly drained and sticky, and your plants will not be happy at all. They might even die if they are too wet. Once a clay based topsoil dries out it gets very hard. Today most topsoil is run through a screener to remove the clumps, rocks, roots, and sticks. There is nothing wrong with buying unscreened topsoil, especially if you’ve visually inspected it and have found it to be of good quality. Actually, really good topsoil shouldn’t have to be screened, but there is little of that quality topsoil to be had. When you visit the yard where the soil is stockpiled, scoop up a handful of the topsoil and run it through your fingers. If it seems to be grainy, it is probably good soil. But if it appears to be tiny round balls that can be smashed between your fingers, it is probably a clay based soil that will trap water during rainy seasons, and get as hard as a rock when it’s hot and dry. Pay attention to how the soil is screened. Some machines just shake the soil over a set of screens to separate the debris, and others actually shred the soil. If the soil needs to be shredded, you don’t want it. Look closely at the pile that the raw soil is coming from. If the soil in the raw pile is as hard as a rock, that’s what the screened soil is going be once you get it in your beds. If it appears to be fairly loose, it’s probably good soil. Put 6-8” of topsoil in your beds. You are now ready to plant. Did you notice that I didn’t get into rototilling and all kinds of extra work? Nor did I suggest that you add bone meal or any of those other goodies that the garden centers sell. I skipped the part about checking the pH too. pH is important, but I’ve found that good topsoil almost always has a suitable pH. I’ve got a confession to make. In almost 30 years of growing, planting, landscaping and the like, I’ve never tested the pH of the soil on any project that I was working on. Is that smart? I don’t know, but I’ve been successful in my efforts, and I have landscaped several hundred homes and grown tens of thousands of plants. It’s something to think about. What I’m really trying to say is don’t get caught up in too many details, and be careful who you take advice from at those garden stores. Many of those sales people were flipping burgers last week.

         
    Tips to keep teak furniture looking its best

     

    To survive rain, wind and sun outdoor furniture has to be tough--and no material is as prized for its rugged beauty and legendary durability as teak. Made to last for decades with absolutely no maintenance, upkeep is more a matter of personal preference than a requirement. While some people prefer the golden color of new teak, others prefer the distinguished silver-grey that teak becomes as it weathers. Regardless of your preference, just a few steps will make sure your teak furniture stays in tip-top shape for decades. Here are a few tips from Jeremy Smith, president of Wood Classics, a U. S.-based teak furniture manufacturer: • Make sure you have a top quality product to begin with. Pay attention to the wood quality and construction techniques used in the furniture, as this can affect furniture's longevity. • When looking at teak products, make sure they are really teak, not "teak-like" or "as good as teak." • Consider the grade of teak being used. First European Quality (FEQ) is the top grade without knots, cracks or pits. • If you prefer the natural look of weathered teak, you can look forward to virtually no maintenance. If your furniture is left outside, you will want to clean off mildew, sap and pollen annually with Olympic® Deck Wash. • If you prefer the original rich honey color of teak, there are several steps you can take to preserve this golden color. After thoroughly washing the teak you can treat it with specialized teak cleaners and restoration products. However, using these products is time-intensive. We usually recommend that our customers either allow the teak to age naturally, clean it with a deck wash or hire a professional teak maintenance service to apply the more specialized products. • If you're using the furniture indoors, consider finishing it to protect it from stains by sealing or varnishing it. Don't use teak oil, varnishes or sealers on furniture if you're using it outside, since this may cause it to turn black with mildew.

         
    Tools every do it yourself landscaper needs

     

    There is no doubt that choosing to do your own landscaping is the best way to go for many people. Not only do you save a lot of money by not hiring professionals to do the work, you also will get to enjoy a lot of time outside. Landscaping is good exercise and a great way to spend an afternoon. Any do-it-yourself landscapers will require a variety of tools, from basic to high tech, in order to get the job done right. Here are some of the tools that are essential for doing your own landscaping. Software: Yes, believe it or not, a good landscaping program can be essential when you are designing the layout of your lawn and garden. I use the Master Landscape & Home Design by Punch! Software. I bought this program for my wife back in 2003, and we have used it a lot ever since. The 3D Photoview technology allows us to put in digital pictures of our home and garden and then implement any changes on the screen before we put them into effect in our yard. The PlantFinder allows us to find plants that are the most appropriate to the soil and climate conditions where we live, and it even has a calculator to help us estimate the costs of the plants from different stores. This is about as high tech as I get when it comes to landscaping, though. Lawn mower: You might not realize it, but mowing the lawn is an essential part of any landscape. A lawn mower is therefore a critical part of doing your landscaping yourself. Buying a lawn mower can be a tricky business - you can get models with everything included but the kitchen sink. The fact is, a second hand lawn mower that works can be just as good as a brand new model straight from the catalogues. If you have a large area to mow, you will probably want to invest in a riding lawn mower to save time and aching muscles. Weed Whacker: There are points on your lawn that your mower just won’t reach, around fences and right beside patios, around any fruit trees or berry canes. For these, you will need a good weed whacker. The best models come with several attachments, appropriate to chopping down a variety of weeds - especially if you have slacked off and allowed some of the hardier varieties to grow up. These can be death for the average string-and-coil whacker, and you will need some good plastic to stand up to them. There are several other tools that every landscaper needs, most of them relatively low tech in comparison to those above. A variety of shovels, rakes, and pruning instruments are all essential, as are a good pair of gloves. All of these tools will be dependent on what you have planted in your landscaping, and more complicated designs may even require some basic knowledge of electricity, carpentry, and hydroponics.

         
    Ultimate deck and patio retreat for easy living

     

    You can create a stress-free outdoor space that is comfortable, convenient and low-maintenance. It's easier than you may think. TV home improvement expert Ron Hazelton, a regular correspondent on "Good Morning America" and host of his own syndicated series, "Ron Hazelton's HouseCalls," has several easy ideas to create a relaxing, luxurious get-away, right in your own backyard. Set the Stage Start with a focal point, such as a patio or deck, saving labor and time with a low-maintenance composite that looks like the real thing. Made with recycled plastic and reclaimed wood, it protects against splinters, moisture and insect damage. Decking and railing manufacturers such as Trex Co. ( trex) offer rich textures, colors and railing designs. Choose from realistic wood grain, smooth, or a rainforest-look surface, with the ability to curve the decking into unique shapes. For a lower-cost makeover, replace the wooden deck planks and railings with composite material, provided the deck's support is structurally sound. Now the stage is set. Entertain in Your Hot Tub Make your backyard one of the most comfortable and relaxing places in your home with the addition of some alfresco entertainment. Need to unwind? Try a therapeutic spa with a wave lounger that will massage your body in a wavelike motion from head to toe. Prefer the relaxation that only comes by watching your favorite show? For what many consider the ultimate luxury, ThermoSpas All Weather Entertainment Center features a no-glare, waterproof TV, a built-in stereo with surround sound, a radio/CD/DVD player, a bar top and stools, a minifridge or wine cooler and a cigar humidor ( thermospas). Effortless Awnings Motorized retractable awnings provide an elegant solution for enhancing backyard enjoyment and offer a number of benefits. In addition to coming in a wide variety of sizes and colors, awnings, like those from SunSetter powered by Somfy motors, can make any deck or patio cooler and more comfortable while increasing a home's energy efficiency. Awnings provide a protected outdoor living space that's comfortable and affordable. The awnings can reduce the temperature of decks or patios by up to 20 degrees, protect from harmful UV rays and expand your outdoor living area, all at the push of a button. ( sunsetter-- somfysystems. ) Stress-Free Garden Hose Your gardening and outdoor chores keep you active enough-why deal with the hassle of a tangled, heavy garden hose? One example of a device that makes this job much easier relies on water power, rather than electricity or batteries. ReelSmart, from Hydro Industries ( hydro - industries), is a water-powered, auto-rewind hose reel that automatically rewinds your garden hose with the flip of a lever. The company offers different models, including an outdoor sink and hose reel combo for watering, potting plants, BBQ food prep, and pet and car cleaning. There is a number of auto-rewind hose reel styles that will keep your garden hose organized and protected from the sun. Now you can enjoy the splinter-free, easy-care style of a beautiful composite deck, the relaxing jets of a soothing spa that truly entertains, the sun protection and ease of a motorized awning, and the simplicity of an auto-rewind hose reel. For more information, visit the Web sites.

         
    Unifying and separating landscaping planting beds

     

    There are thousands of plant combinations, companion plantings, and color combinations that will work well in landscaping and garden planting schemes. And form a beginner or do it yourselfer standpoint, simplicity and repitition in planting is a good starting point that can be added to later. I usually say to pick a color scheme of two or three colors and repeat it throughout the garden. For more curious, experimental, or advanced home landscapers there may be a feel for planting in masses or even random, assorted, and wildflower and ornamental grass beds. In any instance, there's always a chance that even the best of planting intentions can disrupt harmony, balance, and unity in the garden instead of creating it. Periodically adding a neutral colored plant throughout your landscape can help unify planting beds that differ in color, texture, and even height. Silver or gray plants such as Lambs Ears, Artemesia, Dusty Miller, Santolina, Sage, Horehound, and others are considered neutral colored. Using white flowers as a neutral also works very well. Anything white is a natural focal point and especially in the garden. In a mass of green foliage, orange flowers, mixed flowers, etc., white always draws our eyes to it. Using it throughout the garden will create a sense of unity. Use white sparingly. Too much of it tends to feel cluttered. Unifying a garden that's out of sorts is really quite simple. As well as moving and matching existing elements, try adding a neutral color plant to the different planting areas. Separating or "buffering" beds from each other can be as simple as adding a neutral or group of neutrals between colors or beds.

         
    Water features can transform your backyard

     

    : How do you take a boring backyard and transform it into something special? Add a water feature. Water features can transform the ordinary into something incredible as well as hide road noise creating a peaceful and tranquil environment. So all you have to decide is what kind of feature you want. Here are some of the options. Fountains Garden fountains are one of the easiest water features to add to your yard. Most home improvement stores and garden centers will carry do it yourself kits. Choose from a large variety including stand alone fountains and those that hang on your wall. All you have to do to install it is position the fountain, fill it with water and plug in the fountains pump. If you want to get creative, you could even make your own fountain out of new or old pots, a little bit of plastic tubing and a small water pump. Ponds Ponds involve a little more work but are still easy to do in the hands of a competent do it yourselfer. Once again, kits are readily available from your home improvement or garden center. To put in a pond you will have to first dig a hole in a suitable location. Ponds are normally only a few feet deep but it is still a lot of work to dig out all of that soil. Next you will either line the hole with a flexible pond liner or insert a formed hard plastic liner. Then add rocks and a pond filtration system. After treating the water, you can then add plant life and even fish if you so desire. Waterfalls If you want more than a basic pond, you could try installing a waterfall. This installation is a little more complicated and you might want to consult a professional landscaper. It does take some experience to plan out the flow of water on a waterfall. Waterfalls are also an excellent feature to add to an existing swimming pools landscaping. They will make an ordinary pool a sight to behold. With all of the options, it can be hard to decide what type of water feature to add to your yard. Go over your options and choose the type that best fits your budget and your do it yourself experience level.

         
    Water pond safety

     

    Who would have thought that a small water garden could be anything but safe? However, a couple of measures of precaution can help ensure that your magical water garden stays safe for everyone, including your goldfish! Remember, that if your water garden is deep enough for goldfish or koi, then its more than deep enough to be dangerous for toddlers. Here are a couple of things to consider: Depth of Your Pond: The ponds edges provide you an opportunity to increase safety around the water pond. Put a shelf or ledge around the sides of your pond that is at least 1 foot deep to provide an easier escape for a child that has fallen in. You may also want to consider placing boulders around the side, which will provide some added leverage for the child to pull themselves out. Watch Your Children: Just like you wouldnt let your children swim without a lifeguard or adult supervision, never leave young children unattended around your water garden pond. While the fish will provide enough curiosity, remember that same curiosity may tempt them to get too close to the edge to get a closer look, raising the risk of them falling in, hitting their heads on the edge of the pond, or even drown. A child can drown in less than 6inches of water. Reduce The Slippage Factor Just like your local pool takes preventative action (such as enforcing a no running rule), you can also take action to ensure pond safety. Consider using a slip resistant material to ensure that smooth edges around your water pond are not a hazzard. You may also want to look at creating railings along walk ways. Ask your local building authority on suggestions on how to lower the risk of someone slipping on the edge of your water garden. Local Building Codes During the planning stages of building your water pond, you should have contacted your municipal building authority to ensure that your plans abide by the local building codes. Do you have to build a fence around your water pond (ponds built with a certain depth require fences). How large of an area can your water garden pond be, and what other legal considerations should you make? Safety is something that normally doesn't immediately pop into your mind when building a water garden pond, however, it should. Its impossible to ensure that your water garden will be completely safe, however, will that be any consolation for your inaction if something were to happen? Plan ahead and you'll ensure that your water garden is accessible and a joy for friends and family alike.

         
    What is landscape architecture

     

    Many times I have been asked what is the difference between a landscape architect and a landscape designer. Hopefully the following will answer this question. The American Society of Landscape Architects, ASLA, provides the following: "Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environments. Landscape architectural projects include design of public parks, site planning for commercial and residential properties, land reclamation, urban and community design, and historic preservation. Examples of landscape architecture include Central Park in New York City, TRW’s headquarters outside Cleveland, the “Emerald Necklace” of green spaces and parks in Boston, Sursum Cordan Affordable Housing in Washington, D. C., preservation of Yosemite Park and Niagara Falls, and the landfill reclamation of Fresh Kills in New York. Landscape architects have advanced education, professional training, specialized skills, and are licensed in 47 states." What is the difference between a Landscape Designer and a Landscape Architect? The national professional association is the American Society of Landscape Architects, based in Washington. ASLA full members have graduated from an accredited landscape architecture program, have 7 years of education and/or professional experience and are state licensed. In Michigan, as well as all other States, a three (3) day LARE examination administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards is required to be passed for state licensure. Landscape designers do not have these professional credentials. Many state and local governments require designs to be stamped with a state registered Landscape Architect's seal. What can I expect the landscape architectural design process to be? Various architects may have different approaches, yet all are aimed at the same result. Make sure you're comfortable with the steps that the Landscape Architect defines. A typical process includes: · Pre-planning - As the client, you discuss your desires with the architect and provide background, priorities, and any basic design guidelines. You'll work together and define the overall scope and timeline. The result will be a proposed budget and statement of work. The landscape architect will then prepare a contract for you to sign. · Project Planning - Further preliminary details are developed with you about the site and its function and usage. The site is analyzed and the Landscape Architect creates a list of development priorities, which you'll approve. · Preliminary Design - A review of the site, usage requirements, and environmental conditions are undertaken to create preliminary drawings. The Landscape Architect will show you design and presentation drawings showing the overall site concept. Initial construction cost estimates are provided, which you review and approve. · Final design - Further detail is added to the concept. Material is selected and initial construction documentation is created. Where necessary, cost estimates are revised. · Documentation - Additional detailed specifications and drawings are developed and provided to you for approval. The Landscape Architect may give you construction documents to assist you in soliciting bids from contractors and may help you review bids. · Installation - Depending on your contract, the Landscape Architect may play an active role in representing you in your interaction with the contractor and provide on-site supervision. At the close of the project, the Landscape Architect will make a final inspection. How do I find a good landscape contractor? If you're going to need referrals to contractors and other service providers as part of your project, ask the Landscape Architect about these people. They will typically have an array of competent people in the industry for you to contact. What's included in the landscape architecture contract? Any reputable Landscape Architect will provide a written contract before beginning a project. This agreement will specify in detail the exact work to be done, the work schedule, the amount and payment terms of the landscape architect's fees, and the responsibilities of each party to the contract. As a registered landscape architect in the State of Michigan and principle architect with Sexton Ennett Design, LC, a landscape architectural firm in southeast Michigan, I am particularly aware of the professional responsibilities related to landscape design. See: sexton-ennett If there are nay questions please feel free to contact the ASLA or me.

         
    When to restore a tree after a hurricane

     

    It may not seem possible, but even after a major storm or hurricane with high winds, many trees can actually be restored. As long as the major limbs are still intact, as well as the trunk and roots, and there is no decaying wood, the tree has a high possibility of surviving. The strong winds that come with a hurricane often cause all the leaves on a tree to be blown off. This is referred to as defoliation of the canopy. However, this doesn't mean the tree has died. In fact, when a canopy is defoliated it is probably still rather healthy. In this case, all you have to do is wait and be patient. When spring rolls around the next year, new foliage will probably crop up. Another cause of leaf loss occurs when trees are flooded by salt water. Deal with this by irrigating the soil around the tree to get rid of any excess salt. If only small branches are broken or dead, you can usually fix this through some simple pruning. If you prune properly, the tree will have a high chance of recovery. In trees that are naturally resistant to decay, if only a few major limbs are broken, the tree may be recoverable. A good example of this is live oak. This is a species of tree that is very good at resisting decay. Even with major branch damage, restoration is usually possible. Of course, the younger the tree, the more likely it can be restored. In decay resistant trees, major canopy damage doesn't always pose a problem either. These trees naturally recover well after storms, even with up to 3/4 of their small branches broken or removed. Smaller trees that are leaning or have fallen are good candidates for recovery. But keep in mind that this only applies to trees that have been planted recently or have a trunk diameter smaller than 4in. These trees can be put back in place or replanted, depending on the situation. For larger trees that you want to recover, contact the professionals. A small tree, however, shouldn't be a problem for the homeowner to reestablish without any outside help. Here’s how to replant a small tree: Keep the roots moist at all times. Excavate the hole to fit the roots well and get rid of any jagged or torn roots. Make the tree as straight as possible and then back fill with soil from the site. Treat the tree as you would a newly planted one, by watering thoroughly. Three gallons per inch of trunk diameter three times a week should be fine. Lastly, stake the tree and adjust the stakes until the tree becomes stable again and can be removed. Cleaning up tree damage and recovering trees on your property doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Of course, the difficulty and duration of the job will depend on the severity of the storm damage, but in most cases a large number of trees are able to be recovered and restored to their former glory.

         
    Who knew home landscaping for energy conservation had this effect

     

    If you have been thinking about how you would like to cut your home energy costs, you might want to take a second look at your home landscaping. This is an area you may not have even thought of. Did you know energy-efficient home landscaping can reduce your household's energy consumption for heating and cooling by as much as 25 percent.!That's staggering, isn't it? Proper placement of trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and hedges lets you modify the microclimate around your home to maximize shade during the summer and reduce wind chill during the winter. Energy-efficient home landscaping is one of the best investments you can make, because aside from its potential to increase the resale value of your property, it can generate enough savings to return your initial investment in less than eight years. It is not surprising then that more homeowners than ever are implementing energy-conserving home landscaping ideas on their property. So where can we begin with this exciting new landscaping adventure? I hope the following information will be of help to you. Develop a Home Landscaping Plan for Energy Efficiency There are countless home landscaping strategies for energy conservation, but not all of them may be appropriate for your property and climate zone. Before you plant those evergreens in your backyard, make an assessment of the comfort and energy shortcomings of your current home landscaping. Things like the property's microclimate, house location, and the presence of surrounding structures will influence your energy-efficient home landscaping plan. Microclimate is the climate immediately surrounding your home, and along with the regional climate, it helps determine which plants and trees will thrive and provide the best energy-saving benefit to your home landscaping. Your home's location affects your dwelling's exposure to the sun, wind, and water, consequently shaping your home landscaping needs. Nearby buildings, walls, trees, and bodies of water can produce significant climatic effects that would impact your home landscaping strategies. A thorough analysis of your property's features enables you to devise an energy-efficient home landscaping scheme that addresses your needs and goals. Landscape to Maximize Shade Properly planned home landscaping can reduce your air-conditioning costs in the summer by providing shade from the hot morning and afternoon sun. Deciduous trees (trees that shed their leaves in winter) provide shade in the summer when its leaves are in full bloom and warm the home in winter by letting low-angle winter sun filter through its bare branches. Home landscaping that maximizes shade can reduce temperature inside the home by as much as 8 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Would you think of shading your air-conditioner through home landscaping because that increases the unit's efficiency. In addition, shading the ground and pavement with trees, shrubs, and groundcover plants reduces surrounding air temperatures. Other heat-reducing home landscaping ideas include building a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio and planting a row of shrubs to shade a driveway. Landscaspe for Wind Protection Home landscaping to divert the flow of cold winds helps cut down your home heating costs in the winter. Trees, shrubs, bushes, walls, and fences make effective windbreaks for winter-protected home landscaping. You can achieve adequate wind protection through home landscaping by planting evergreen trees and shrubs along the north and northwest areas of your property. Windbreaks can decrease wind speed for a distance as much as 30 times its height, although maximum wind protection occurs at a distance of two to five times the mature height of windbreaks. For optimal wind protection, make sure that the foliage density on the windward side of your property is 60 percent. A well-designed home landscaping provides energy savings year-round. Enjoy the warmth of the winter sun by not planting evergreens too close to the south side of your home. Shrubs, bushes and vines planted close to your house create dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer. I hope this article has been of help to you in creating landscaping for energy conservation. Reducing my household energy consumption by a possible 25% has motivated me to start looking around my yard.

         
    Wipe out those winter garden woes

     

    Do you look at your garden at this time of the year and wish it were more alive? Well, as those of us who have their homes on the market have found out - there are ways to make your front yard look attractive even in the dead of winter! One thing you don't want is murky green garden paths. Regularly power - hose your paths and decks so that the slimy green mold can't take hold! Also check for it at the base of your fences and house. If you live in a mild winter area, then you may need to keep cutting the lawn, but lift the mower slightly so that the grass is not cut so short in the winter.. If you are showing your home you will probably want to leave your potted plants in their ceramic containers on show. If this is the case, keep an eye on the weather forecasts and pop some bubble wrap over them if the weather is going to freeze. One non-gardening way to pretty up a front yard while the plants hibernate, is to invest a few dollars in some inexpensive path lighting. The push-in mushroom lamps look quite effective when turned on, and will give your front yard some definition. Hopefully, you have already invested in a supply of evergreens, if not, now is the time for you to examine your yard and decide where new trees should be placed. Remember to always include some of the blue fir, and there are bronze, yellow, silver and variegated evergreens to choose from. Many of us forget the brightness of berry evergreens like holly and rowan trees. (Sometimes referred to as mountain ash or Pyrus Americana) Winter flowers are scarce and are all the more appreciated because of it. Among the choice is pink viburnam as well as winter honeysuckle and winter jasmine - all have blooms (and the last two smell delightful). Bedding plants such as winter pansies and winter heather also add color. Apart from attractive tree bark, there is also a modern day fad for decorative cabbages in cream and purple, and these are a hardy decoration in the yard. If you feel you can't wait for your garden to wake up and come alive, then be sure to add some of the early bulbs into your planting plan. If your house is on the market, you can tell your prospective buyers that the new owner will be moving into a view of spring bulbs. If you are not planning a move yet, then snow drops, daffodils and crocuses all come out in bloom very early and can be your reminder that spring is just around the corner!

         
    With more options to choose from homeowners can decide on a roof color that complements their siding or other exterior accessories

     

    Things are looking up for homeowners who want to customize their curb appeal. Thanks to vibrant new colors now available in asphalt roofing, there are more choices than ever to boost a home's image. And that's good news since design experts say that 40 percent of a home's exterior is the roof. In recent years, asphalt has become the preferred roofing material over the more traditional wood or slate. Much of this is due to its higher fire resistance, durability and new shingle styles with authentic, classic appeal. Asphalt shingles can replicate the look of wood shakes, and some, such as Centennial Slate™ by CertainTeed, even simulate the natural beauty and color variations of blended slate at a fraction of the cost. The new color palettes go a long way to enhance designer or architectural roofing and complement the bolder curb appeal that is becoming so popular. The array of roofing on the market allows homeowners to coordinate roofing with siding, accessories such as shutters and trim, and even fencing for appealing and distinctive looks. Such advancements in building materials provide homeowners the same freedom to customize a home exterior and reflect individual preferences through interior design. In other words, don't get stuck in the brown and beige rut. Go for the bold new generation of asphalt roof styles and make your neighbors green with envy.

         
    Yard landscaping

     

    Rain and snow in your yard landscaping Rain and snow are going to play a huge part in your yard landscaping decisions. For example you will have to plan for your yard landscaping with care. You should go to the library and take out some books on the subject. These yard landscaping books will help you to learn all of the most important points of yard landscaping so that you do not ruin your yard for good. Your yard landscaping needs to be done with close attention being paid to rain and snow as well as proper drainage. If you find that your yard gets too muddy in the winter or you have large puddles all over then you most likely do not have the right kind of drainage going on. This is something that you may want to consider getting a professional in to take care of. If you still want to do the rest of your yard landscaping yourself then this is fine but some things are better left to the professionals. You need to have your yard landscaping done in such a way that the rain when it falls, will actually water your plants. You will be able to use all of the water that falls into your yard to feed the plants and the trees if you set up your yard landscaping the right way. Knowing the general rainfall levels and times of the year you will then be able to make up the water levels when they drop with other watering. This is important during times like summer when it gets hot and there is not much rain. Snow is another thing that is very important to your yard. Snow is just as vital to your entire yard landscaping project as rain is. Snow not only waters your yard as it melts but the snow, although cold, can actually help to keep your soil warmer. This will allow any plants that are sleeping under the snow to stay healthy and alive. Your bulbs will pop up in the spring in perfect form and color making your yard landscaping all the more beautiful When it rains you need to see just how the rain is transferred all over your yard. This is very important to the entire yard landscaping that you are planning to do. This is simple to do, all you need to do is take a walk around your yard the next time it starts to rain. Watch for where the rain puddles and where it drains to and you are well on your way to perfect yard landscaping. This kind of work is the easy part of the job and is the best way to start. Then you will know what needs to be done to get the right kind of drainage going with you yard landscaping.

         
     
         
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