Landscape and Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is most effective when used sparingly and in specific spots. Your garden is the transition space between the outside world and your own home. The right lighting can make your garden into another room of your house as well as providing an attractive outlook from inside. And your garden can look surprisingly different at night-time. Just a few lights in appropriate places will create interesting pools of light and shadow. Directional lighting will highlight features that may go unnoticed during the day, like the bark of a silver birch or a eucalypt, or a tinkling fountain. Even sheets of falling rain and swirling shrouds of mist can become dramatic features of your landscape with the right lighting.

Do check that your directional lighting shines onto the feature you intend it to and not into your neighbour’s bedroom window. And consider that a tree you want to highlight may be home to birds and other wild-life. You can minimize disruption to their habitat by using an automatic time-clock on your lighting.

For driveways, paths and steps, use lights that are directed to your feet to create pools of light to guide you. A light that is too high will shine into your face and leave the path and steps in shadow. A lamp next to your front door may look attractive, but a pool of light directed onto the door knocker, the keyhole and the step will provide a safer and warmer welcome for you and your visitors.

Choose colour temperatures to suit what you are trying to light and the mood you are trying to create. The colour temperature of a light is measured in Kelvins (K). The higher the colour temperature, the cooler the light will look. For example, metal halide lamps have a high, cool colour temperature that makes the greens and blues of the foliage in your garden look fresh and bright. Lamps with low, warm colour temperatures bring out the warmth of reds and oranges, like candlelight. An example of cool and warm colour temperature lighting complementing each other in your garden design would be to create a cool, fresh garden with warm pools of light around the paved areas where people gather and sit or linger over a candle-lit dinner.

The Colour Rendering Index(CRI) indicates how a light reacts under different parts of the colour spectrum. This applies particularly to metal halide and fluorescent lights, affecting the appearance of flowers and shrubs and also skin tones. And low-pressure sodium lights give out a huge amount of light but suppress both greens and reds, so that everything looks yellow and grey. Which brings us back to that traffic intersection.

Plants for a Small Garden

All plants have specific needs for sun, shade, water etc. but small gardens, because of the restricted design of their layout, will exacerbate these needs. If you place the wrong plant in the wrong environment or simply buy a plant without doing your homework, you are setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary heartache.

When I think of some examples of small gardens, I envision the front and rear yards in a Townhouse community. Planting are usually crammed together in very small beds, the back yard is usually enclosed by a fence allowing for a small lawn, and the soil is usually very poor and void of organic matter, because it was pulled from below ground during construction.

Since the houses are also crammed together, the roof drains, along with every neighbors roof drain, empties directly into the yard. With each yard having a fence or a neighbors fence and so on, airflow into these areas is extremely limited, allowing for the moisture to persist and cause not only major problems for the plants but also the siding on the home. Sound familiar?

Because of the potential problems mentioned above, it is imperative that you take some time to observe your garden at different times of the day and read up on the plants you like.

It’s important to know;

  • when your plants will be in the sun or shade during the day; morning sun is a cooler sun and a great spot for partial shade to shade loving plants; afternoon sun is a hot sun and plants here must be able to withstand intense heat
  • what your soil is made of- clay, loam (good organic mix) or sand – Clay soil stays wet longer and requires much less watering. Clay soil is the main culprit in the sickly, yellow leafed plantings that you see in the many commercial landscapes, the plants are simply drowning – Loam or Sandy soils, drain quicker and require more water and weekly monitoring
  • if you have wet areas or any drainage issues- where do your roof gutters drain; shady areas will remain wet longer and require less watering
  • if you have large trees shading beds, they will block rain from reaching the ground; plants here will need more water.
  • plants installed under a tree, in the root zone, will need more water and fertilizer as the tree will absorb most of it.
  • if you have wind issues… fences can decrease or increase wind and possibly dry out plants

Once you understand the different situations your garden may present over time, you can begin choosing the plants that will flourish with you over the years. Strive for a low maintenance gardening experience by installing plants that mature slow and fill in over time.

Adding shrubs like a Butterfly Bush, Spirea or Knock Out Rose not only increase seasonal color but also help keep your landscape manageable because you cut back or rejuvenate these shrubs every spring, reducing their size. Many perennials and ornamental grasses will have the same effect

By choosing plants that are low maintenance (slow growers, require less water and fertilizer, little to no disease or insect problems, rejuvenate or cut back every year), 95% of your yearly gardening is completed during your spring cleanup.

With that thought in mind, I recommend shrubs and perennials not to exceed 4-5 feet tall/ 3-4 feet wide and trees no taller than 15 feet. I also like to avoid any quick growing plants that involve maintenance pruning during the season.

The plantings below are mostly insect and disease free, require very little moisture once established and need very little maintenance during the year. All will bring years of enjoyment to you and your garden when placed in the environment mentioned.

Landscaping In Arid Conditions

Coming Up With A Scheme

Firstly you should look around for photographs to inspire you. Settling on the overall design scheme is possibly the most demanding part of the process. For success you not only need to have an idea about what you want but also how it can be adapted to work with your resources and actual space you are working with.

Designing The Desert

Even a décor of rocks and stones can be jazzed up by bringing in boulders of different shapes, color and sizes. Don’t forget to mix them up with native desert planting for a softer look.

Desert Garden

The key to a successful desert garden is to select planting that is adapted to the local growing conditions, even flowers. Use a variety of plants to add texture to create your scheme, keeping the taller ones towards the back.

A Room With A View

When designing your outdoor space, keep in mind how the backyard will look from inside your home. The view can inspire you and your guests to step out and enjoy its beautiful setting.

Water Features In The Desert

Whether you are thinking small pond or large swimming pool, a water feature will bring relief from the hot and dry weather: this can not only bring your design scheme together and add a sense of fun to the result, but will also act as a people magnet when you entertain.

Put A Pond in Back Yard

Landscaping your pond starts at the pond itself. Create a border by adding stones, plants and statuary that will create a great view. You should also create a walkway from your pond to your house. Access is important and easily accomplished by using stepping stones, etc.Trees are both beneficial and harmful to your pond. Trees provide shade that will be good for your pond but they will also add to debris such as branches and leaves or fallen fruit The key is to strike a balance between the two. Shrubs will also play a role in maintaining unity between the tall trees and the low pond. They will create continuity from your pond to the trees. You may also add some flowers to provide some color. Be sure to cut the off the old blossoms to prevent debris that can make your area unsightly.Water plants are a must for ponds and should be added immediately after your pond has been finished. Use similar colored plants as their surroundings to create some balance and harmony between the two. Be creative and do some research on different kinds of water plants to use.A finishing touch for a pond is adding some fish. Add them after everything else has been finished. Always select appropriate species of fish that will not out-grow the size of your pond.Creating a pond for your yard will both be tiring, but the fun of creating it will be rewarding. Be sure that do regular maintenance to so it will always be free from debris. After all of your work is finished, enjoy your pond and marvel the harmony you have created in your yard.

Sessile Oak Tree

Identifying a Sessile Oak Tree

It is a huge deciduous tree and can grow up to a height of 40m. Unlike English and pedunculate oak, the acorns are stalkless. The trunk sits more upright and the branches are also straighter with longer leaf stalks than those of the English oak.

As oak’s age they form a wide crown that spreads right around and develops thick branches on the lower parts of the trunk. Since the tree has a light or open canopy, it allows wild flowers such as primroses and bluebells to grow on the woodland floor below. Before they mature the bark is very smooth with a greyish brown colour, once matured it becomes rough with deep fissures.

They have a monoecious reproductive system, meaning both male and female parts are located on the same tree. The green male flowers are catkins, while the female flowers (bracts) are red buds and hang in bunches. Once pollinated by wind, the red female buds turn into a large glistening seed with a wooden shell at the base. A young acorn is green but turns brown before falling.

The reason it is called sessile oak is because the acorns are not produced on stalks like English and pedunculate oak (peduncles), and instead grow on the outer twigs (sessile).

Significance to Wildlife

It does not particularly matter which oak animals and insects inhabit as they all support an abundance of wildlife. More than 280 insects inhabit the tree which also attracts many of their predators such as birds. You will often find lichens, mosses and liverworts growing on the bark of the tree and deadwood cracks provide a perfect habit for roosting bats and nesting birds. Small mammals such as red squirrels, badgers and jays also eat the acorns.

As the fallen leaves decompose during autumn, they develop into a thick mould on the woodland floor and in turn provide a good habitat for beetles and fungi.

How We Use Oak

One the toughest and most hard-wearing timbers known to man, it was used for many years, primarily for ship building until the mid-19 century and still remains a great choice for structural beams. Historically, all the main elements (leaves, acorns and bark) of the tree were thought to cure lots of medical problems such as inflammation, kidney stones and diarrhoea. Today we use it for things like wine barrels, firewood and flooring.

A long time ago, acorns were collected by humans and turned into flour to make bread. It is a technique that died out 10,000 years ago, mainly because of domestic wheat production. Now we just leave the acorns for mammals and birds.

Threats, Pests and Diseases

There are a high number of oak trees in Britain and they are protected from over harvest. However, there are still numerous pests and diseases that are affecting them. The foliage can be severely damaged by the oak Processionary moth which increases the changes of infection from yet more diseases. The moth is also a hazard to human health and can cause problems with breathing as well as itchy skin from the tiny hairs on its body.

Other diseases affecting the tree include chronic oak decline and acute oak decline. These conditions are serious threats to the trees health and can be caused by a number of factors. It was first brought to attention back in the 1920s that a large number of mature oaks were declining. The most affected are today are central and southern parts of England. You can usually spot this by a thin canopy and broken branches as well bleeding cankers on the trunk.

Grow a Bonsai From Seed

Purchasing the seeds

When purchasing a seed that you intend to train for bonsai, it is important to note the name of the seeds. Many sellers attempt to sell special bonsai tree seeds for a significantly higher than normal price. Don’t fall for this trick; remember that bonsai are grown from normal seeds that should not cost more than usual. We buy our seeds from Bonsaiofnewyork.com, where they are listed as bonsai tree seeds but are not overpriced.

Get ready to plant

While you are waiting to receive your seeds, you can gather your seed starting materials. These materials can vary greatly depending on how many seeds you intend to grow, and what your expectations are.

Soil

The first thing you will need is the most important ingredient to grow a plant: dirt. This can be obtained by going out behind your house with a shovel. If you are looking for better results, picking up some seed starting soil from your local gardening store will increase success. Seeds are susceptible to diseases that are found regularly in outdoor soil. Seed starting soil has been baked at a high temperature to become a sterile soil, without the added bacteria. If you are growing a small amount of seeds, backyard dirt is fine. A few of the seeds are likely to survive regardless of what soil you use.

Tray

Next, you will need somewhere to put that soil. Depending on the amount of seeds you intend to grow, you can use anything from a generic plastic cup with holes poked in the bottom to a divided seed tray. Anything that will hold the soil in place and allow excess water to escape will do the trick. Use of a humidity dome is recommended if you use a seedling tray; this will help the seedlings absorb water, since their root systems have not fully developed.

Location

After you have the supplies ready, you will need to pick a good location to plant your seeds. Whether you are growing an indoor or outdoor tree, we recommend that you plant the seeds indoors. This will let you fully control the environment while the trees are still developing. Make sure this location gets a good amount of sunlight.

Planting the seeds

Once you have your soil in a tray or pot, you can plant your seeds in the soil. Plant your seeds at the recommended depth on the package. Each tree variety does best if grown at a different depth, so ensure that you pay attention to the package. After you have placed the seeds in the dirt and covered them up, water the seeds and place them in the location your choice.

Water and wait…

Keep an eye on your seeds to ensure that the soil does not dry out. When you see the top of the soil start to look dry, it’s time to water. Depending on the species you chose, it could take days or weeks for the seeds to sprout. After they sprout, keep watering as normal until you see the first set of true leaves. The first leaves that seedlings produce are not “true leaves.” These are just leaves that are in the shape of the seed that held nutrients for the tree to begin its life. The true leaves will be the first set of leaves that are the correct shape for the species. After you see these, transplant the plant into a pot or cup if they are not already in one. Continue to water the trees and fertilize in accordance with species recommendations until winter.

First winter (if outside)

Your seedlings should be overwintered for the first winter. Overwintering is the process of protecting the tree from its first winter. This will give it a better chance to survive without any issues. Bury your pot into the soil, with mulch up to the first branch. This will give your tree the best chance of survival by keeping the roots warm. You should never leave your bonsai tree outdoors during the winter without the bottom of the pot in the ground, as this will allow the roots to freeze and kill the tree. If possible, protect the tree from the cold wind as well. Another possibility is to keep your tree in an unheated shed or garage.

Teak Chair

Teak, a hard strong durable yellowish-brown wood, grows in the region of Southeast Asia, mainly in Java, Indonesia, and is harvested from the surrounding forests and teak plantations by the locals and the Indonesian government. The wood of the teak tree is naturally resistant to insects, warping, splintering and the elements, which makes it an ideal wood for creating chairs and other outdoor furnishings.

Many people choose teak over other natural materials because it requires no sealing, varnishing or finishing, and it only gets better as it weathers. A teak chair is able to withstand the elements for decades; retain its beauty, durability and smooth texture; and, over the course of time, weather to a gorgeous silvery color.

Not only are teak chairs durable, they come in a vast array of styles and designs to complement your individual personality and space. You can make your selection from numerous different pieces of teak furniture including teak Adirondack chairs, teak dining chairs, teak rocking chairs, teak swings, and teak folding chairs, just to name a few.

There are also a large number of teak chair styles to choose from. No matter whether you prefer the intricately carved designs often associated with country French designs or the sleek lines of the teak Adirondack chair, you will not be disappointed when you shop for teak chairs. Some of the styles available include Nantucket, Derby, Normandy, Mandalay and many, many more.

If you find that you are in the mood for a little color, you can add your own stylish flair with a couple of throw pillows or teak chair cushions. There are over 40 colors available, and you can choose from both solid colored fabrics and patterns.

And teak chairs are affordable. While you may find that you spend a fraction more on teak chairs than chairs made with other materials, you will be more than compensated by this furniture’s beauty, comfort and durability. To help put it into perspective, think of how often you have to purchase outdoor furniture because it has succumbed to the elements and is not attractive anymore. Wouldn’t it be worth it to spend a little more, but enjoy that furniture for decades? Not only that, but there is very little maintenance required for teak furniture. How much more will you spend staining and finishing weathered outdoor furniture made out of other kinds of materials? After you take all of this into consideration, you would agree that teak furniture is the better buy.

Landscape Rock

Landscape rock doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to maneuver with any backyard project ever again. Now there is a great new method of creating the size, the shape, and the color of your landscape rocks and stones to fit perfectly into your landscaping design. Everyone loves the peaceful serenity of a waterfall, now you can create your own quiet and tranquil setting at home.

CaveRock Design has copyrighted the first residential backyard do-it-yourself artificial rocks, boulders, and waterfall formula that literally anyone can afford and apply. The method is simple, yet very versatile and durable. They have already established customers around the globe using this ideal process of making the landscape rocks and boulders for many personal projects.

Artificial rock is now curbing the rock and stone business to accommodate the weekend warriors, who just want to spice up their landscape and not spend a fortune on the materials.

Landscape rock has always involved heavy lifting and difficult placement. Most of the time a landscaper has to work around the rock work that’s in place or settle for what they can manage to do with large landscape rock. This is remarkably easy to do and the build time is virtually a couple of days for a large project. The time savings alone is priceless.

A new application has been made to create a cave-like project for the kids or grandkids and show off your new found skills. This will surely impress the family, once you tell them you are a cave builder.

Doubling as a kid’s cave, CaveRock Design’s process also allows the victory gardener to create a place to store the daily gardening tools or a place to put your tools away from the elements and keep them handy as well.

Prior to CaveRock Design’s formula, the only place you would find this type of artificial rock formations would be at miniature golf course or a theme-park. Now when you see those picture perfect artificial rocks, and waterfalls, you can say, I can create my own artificial rocks, boulders, or stones, to make the perfect landscape design and create my very own backyard waterfall.

Rearranging Garden

First, take a look at a plan of your yard. This plan should incorporate the current look of the garden and the future look of the garden. In your scale plan you should leave some space for the notes, abrupt ideas, plants’ names, and a lot of more. Do not forget to note how the light shifts in your area. Light is dramatically important for the plants and the need of the light for individual plants differ considerably. Later, decide where do you want to build your garden buildings. These buildings can be built in a sunny or shady area.

Moreover, carefully select the plants for your garden. And remember that not every plant in your yard must be moved or removed. You definitely have some great and beautiful plants. Let them grow in your yard. Gardeners think of the plants and trees throughout the year. Do not forget to pick the plants which will grow well in your climate. If you are not sure that your selected plants will grow well in your climate, you can always ask nurseries, country agriculture extension agents, and other institutions. They will recommend you suitable plants by climate zone. Pick proper trees, bushes and fences in order to form the structure for your yard.

You should think about the vertical landscape. It is recommended to choose tall plants and flowing vines in the garden because these plants can hide the walls and fences. What is more, these plants create a great atmosphere. Include big trees, plants, and walls as a background in your yard’s plan. Outline the items you want to add on tracing paper and lay the sketch over main drawings to see how the items look together. If you decided to try gardening, you may think about an area in your garden with as much sun as possible, because fruits and vegetables will not grow in a heavy shade. Be sure to grow recommended varieties of vegetables for your area. You can ask for help at the local garden store for varieties available. Usually it is better to buy high quality seeds and plant them not too deep.

If you want to have more space for unused garden tools and other equipment, it is important to decide which garden building you need in your garden area. There are several options for garden buildings. You can build a log cabin, wooden gazebo, garden shed, wooden garage or other building. Keeping gardening tools somewhere in a corner of your garage is not bad, but a lot of people want something more than this. For example, a beautiful garden shed or a log cabin where the garden tools, mower and other equipment have their place.

Of course, most of the gardeners can do a lot of work without an expensive garden shed, but when the gardener’s garage is full of gardening tools, a great garden shed no longer seems a ridiculous idea. It is said that a garden shed for the gardener is like a kitchen for a cook.

If you want to have a small garden and grow vegetables for your family, you need a place to keep all your gardening tools and equipment. There are different garden buildings because everybody has different needs. There are a lot of advantages of owning a garden building. Some garden sheds are used as gardeners’ offices with the space for tools, and a desk for writing gardening notes.

Spring, Time to Plan Landscaping

Say Hello with Flowers this Spring

Simply put, flowers are an invitation to enter. Flowers always make a home seem more welcoming. Prettify your entrance with an assortment of annuals and perennials to keep the colors going all year long. Pansy, Day Lily and Russian Sage are great additions to set the stage.

If you have a small space between your house and the street, try putting a low fence in front. It gives the illusion that your house is farther from the street than it really is, and it also makes for a great space for planting flowers and vines.

Landscaping with Vines-Let the Romance Begin

There’s nothing more quixotic than lush green tendrils meandering around fences and retaining walls. Your landscaper can guide you to the all-important non-invasive varieties-Trumpet Honeysuckle, Clematis, and Morning Glory. All vines can be trained to grow on a fence or in a container, if that’s the preference.

Don’t Forget to Include the Driveway in Your Landscaping Project

By carefully sculpting the landscape and choosing the right plants and materials, you can hide an unattractive driveway. Or, you can consider if the time is right to replace that broken cement with beautiful new pavers. Many landscape portfolios show how the combination of landscape and hardscape can transform your property into the Garden of Eden. A low hedge with create an elegant look that can be combined with annuals and perennials. Depending on the look and feel of your home, this landscaping can be trim and stylish or a bit wild.

Blooms, Blooms…It’s Spring We Presume

Ask anyone who knows-the easiest way to make over the look of your home landscape is blooms. Blossoming trees, shrubs, and flowers provide maximum impact. And you can change color quick as a wink! Ask your landscaper for recommendations; Chinese Snowballs, Flowering Plum, Crepe Myrtle, Magnolia are just a few northeast favorites.

Factor in the Unexpected for a Spectacular Landscape

Even the smallest space can house a surprise. A fountain, statue, bench or a special flower display atop a breathtaking stone wall can provide your guests with a “wow” factor that makes your home both a neighborhood showplace and a portfolio entry . In a trim and elegant yardscape, an area of wildflowers can take a visitor’s breath away!

Choosing the right landscaping organization is a must for creating a garden wonderland that offers an oasis from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Do your research-get referrals and references- to locate a knowledgeable, experienced and cooperative professional partner. Homeowners are a fortunate group; the portfolio for spring landscaping ideas is varied and vast.