Choose Patio Installer For Your Needs

  • Products – Ask what materials are offered for a patio. A pro will provide concrete, brick, stone, and pavers. If you choose pavers, make sure your contractor purchases them from a reputable manufacturer, as inferior pavers will fade and often are not as durable.
  • Warranties & Guarantees – Ask if the contractor guarantee their work, and if there are warranties on the products (usually pavers) discuss the specifics until you understand them and have both the guarantee and warranty spelled out in writing.
  • Websites with Portfolios – Top pros have websites that help educate the public about hardscaping issues such as the pros and cons of various materials used for patios. The consummate professionals will as have portfolios for you to peruse to see their work and what different elements look like so that you can make an educated decision regarding your patio.
  • Professional Organizations & Continued Education – Look for a contractor who belongs to professional organizations such as New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA) that promote professionalism, safety, environmental protection, and education.
  • Local Knowledge – Many communities have specific codes and restrictions for patio additions-choose a contractor experienced in navigating these restrictions and regulations to create the sort of patio that fulfills your needs and wants.

When choosing a professional to lay your patio, you should take a practical approach before making your decision. Ask straightforward questions and look for some basic support. Here are some helpful hints on what you should ask before your dream garden project begins:

  • Get some different quotes for your project, checking that they include all the products and services you will need. Make sure there are no hidden extras such as soil removal. TIP: Ask how long the project will last.
  • Check how long the company has been laying paving products.
  • Ask for some recent references of completed patio installation and read their online reviews. A reputable contractor will be enthusiastic about showing off recent work. Expect to see photographs and details of recent, similar work that you can visit for a reference. This is usually part of any professional presentation.
  • Ask questions such as if the cost of a dumpster and jointing sand is included?
  • Check if the contractor has the appropriate liability insurance.
  • Ask for a final written quotation from your chosen contractor.
  • A reputable patio installer will not cut corners but work to the highest standard to build a patio that is beautiful and will remain that way for years to come. A true professional will have no problem guaranteeing their work.

Organic Lawn Care

Mow your Lawn Higher

There are many of us who think that the lower we mow the lawn at one go, the less we will have to mow over a period of time. But what happens is exactly the opposite thing. As we mow lower, there is increasing chance that the grass will be covered by weeds, thus making it increasingly difficult for the green blades to reach the sunlight and prepare food. What is triggered is an increased rate of growth so that the blades can get over the weeds and prepare the food. This also leads the plants to use up more of its resources than it should and hence be weakened. On the other hand mowing higher allows the blades to stay higher and carry on photosynthesis. So growth of the blades is normal and plant stays healthier.

Don’t be too Frequent with Your Watering

All of us know that water is crucial to life and even more so for plants. But you must know how much you should water so that the grass on the lawn is at its best of health. Watering too frequently can actually not be so good for the lawn. What it leads to is that the grass gets water too easily and hence its roots don’t go deep enough. Instead the weeds make stronger roots and grow healthy. Infrequent watering would mean that the grass roots go deep into the soil and make the plant healthier.

So when is it right for you to water?

The best time would be to water when the heads of the blades curl a little inwards. That is the ideal time before the grass starts turning brown. However, even if you are a bit late, things can still be rescued. All that is needed is extra care. Yu might have to water twice. Place a cup at the centre of the lawn and sprinkle water. When the cup is half-an-inch full leave the soil to soak in the water for about thirty minutes. Next spray water till the water level inside the cup reaches 1 inch.

Spring Care For Koi Pond

If you pulled your pumps in the fall, you will want to clean out the skimmer and either clean or replace the filter pads and leaf basket before reinstalling the pumps. I personally leave my pumps running throughout the winter, and pull the pumps in the spring and clean them. It is best to start the pumps in the morning on a day that you are home all day to monitor the water level to be sure there are no leaks. The last thing you want is to burn a pump up because it ran dry.

Usually spring time brings a lot of rain and many ponds get a lot of runoff that clouds or muddies the water. This can result in a sludge build up that can cause problems with hair algae all summer. In this case you may want to consider installing a pressure filter. These filters do a great job of mechanically cleaning the water and have a back wash feature for self cleaning.

Don’t get discouraged by hair algae in the spring, this is a normal cycle. If you have a good bed of gravel in the bottom the algae will go away as the plants grow and the water temperature warms up. Don’t run out and get a UV clarifier to get rid of hair algae because it will have no affect. UV clarifiers only kill free floating algae that gives the water a pea soup look. I would not recommend algaecides either. Plants like water hyacinths, marsh betony, and watercress make very good water filters and grow quickly. Make sure you wait until the last frost to plant the water hyacinths.

Rough Terrain Landscaping

Preparation

The first thing that you need to do in your hillside landscaping adventure is prepare the area. Remove and clear any growth or debris to make sure that you have the room and space for your landscaping design and ideas.

The Problem of Erosion

To help reduce the erosion of your hillside, you want to cover your ground using heavy mulch and plant shrubs. Mulch can insulate your plants during the cold weather and it can help keep them from sprouting too quickly when the warm air comes in.

Keeping a good moisture level is also a priority in making your landscaping area flourish. This is especially a problem with a hillside garden, because the ground has a hard time retaining water on the steep slope.

Making a Beautiful Entrance

Color is the key to making your hillside into a masterpiece. Make sure that your hill is visually appealing and noticeable even from a distance. This will give the people passing by your area a beautiful area to look at and dream about.

A Touch of Creativity

An easy way to get your friends and family members attention is to bring a touch of your personality and interests to your landscaping design. Try to bring a touch of fun to your landscaping area by adding your personality and items that you love.

Retaining Walls

If your landscaping area is mostly hillside, then you may want to consider building a retaining wall. This will add a stylish area for you to use different kinds of materials. You need to make sure that you get the right materials and ask for help if you need it to install the retaining wall. With some effort and time, you can make a retaining wall to give your hillside added style and attractiveness.

Ways to Use Concrete in Yard

  • The most common use is concrete block designs for walkways and paths through a garden. This is usually seen in larger yards but even if your yard is small it can accommodate concrete landscaping. It could be a small patio built from concrete blocks for you and your family to sit in the sun on. It could be a simple concrete planter or two for a small container garden. Or simply a concrete sundial in a flower bed.
  • Stone walls are another form of concrete landscaping that has really caught on. Walls frame the whole home like a frame to a prized painting. There are many reasons to have concrete walls. These walls work well for keeping small pets in the yard, and good for keeping intruders out. The harder your home is to get into the less likely burglars will be to bother trying.
  • You can also use concrete landscaping to keep your soil in place. If there is a part of your yard that on an incline then you can build a retaining wall expressly for this purpose. Concrete blocks come in many shapes and textures and you are sure to find a style you like.

Another thing about concrete that makes it so suited to landscaping is that while it can be quite functional and rugged it also can give the appearance of being purely decorative. There is so much that you can do with concrete in landscaping because it is so easy to work with.

You can use concrete landscaping bricks, blocks or whole solid slabs. Now you can even get custom made concrete landscaping stones that are unique in color, shape and pattern. Take some time to visit your local nursery or landscaping supply stores and have a look at the concrete landscaping materials, you will definitely get some ideas for your next backyard project.

Creative Landscaping With Plants

However, for many gardeners and landscapers in their quest for the perfect color combinations, there is another side to plants that is often overlooked. And that would be the contrast of the many wonderful and varied textures of plants. Specifically and for the sake of this article, green plants. And yes, green is a color.

Green plants not only serve as a color element just as any other color, but can also be used as a neutral transitional color that ties other elements and colors together. Or in other words, as a filler or where one area of the garden transitions to the next. Natural transition is very important in garden design.

I was reminded the other day as I spoke with a client of how so many people actually overlook green as actually being a color design element in garden and landscape design.

As we talked about her project I pointed out that we now had four colors in her plan and that we needed to repeat them throughout the design to create some balance. Remember, balance and repetition are principles of landscaping. She questionably stated that we only had three colors in her design.

At first I was puzzled but soon understood what she meant. Green isn’t really a color. It’s just the medium that holds the real colored parts in place.

Now if we looked at green as just being a neutral medium, I might be able to go along with this. However, as a designer, I see it in a much different way. There are many shades of green that hold many different textures that can create such wonderful contrasts that can de designed with.

Some of the most vibrant and lush gardens I’ve ever seen have simply displayed this one color in many variations. Light greens, dark greens, yellow greens, etc. And I haven’t even touched on texture here. Even the same shade of green in different textures creates a wonderful contrast for designing purposes.

Try and picture the lushness and beauty of a dark jungle. Their beauty and contrast are generally created by the variations of shade and texture and not bright colors. Shady gardens that resemble a deep forest or jungle are absolutely beautiful in their own right.

Keep this in mind when planning your next garden. Just as one example, a mixture of Hostas, Ferns, and Ornamental Grasses can create a very memorable and eye catching display using the color green.

Summer Gardening Color

  • Lantana – These plants come in numerous colors. The creeping yellow lantana is very hardy in the southwest it stays low and can be used as a ground cover. The new gold is upright and also does well in a desert environment, however they do get much taller. The multi colored orange, red type of lantanas do require more attention but provide excellent darker richer color. Excellent prennial but does need to be trimmed down during the winter season.
  • Verbena – These are very easy care type of a plant. They will bloom from spring till fall here in the southwest. Try deadheading the expired blooms for more southwestern color. Their are lots of varieties purple, dark purple, pink and even dark red. Verbena will come back year after year by re-seeding itself. Be sure to plant in full sun.
  • Coreopsis – The coreopsis plant provides gorgeous dark yellow color all summer long. They will go dormant during the southwestern winter season but will come back with a more lucious larger plant. Just cut back during the winter season for a more vibrant plant during the summer season.
  • The Chitalpa Tree – This tree is a cross between a desert willow and a catalpa tree. They have white or light pink blooms all summer long. Not a very large tree about 20ft. tall with lots of filtered light and drought tolerant once established.
  • Texas sage – A whole slew of varieties to chose from and all require little water once established. Beautiful profuse purple blooms during mid summer and into early fall. The sage will thrive in almost any type of soil. There is also a dwarf variety called the “compacta sage” stays about 3ft. tall and 4ft. wide.

Plastic Adirondack Chairs

One of the most popular material used now days to manufacture patio chairs is Polymer. Polymer is prepared from a variety of polyethylene having very high density; a resin that is strong and heavy as well as sanitized to protect it from ultra-violet rays. While some other manufacturers make use of Environ Wood (A substitute of the wood made of cent percent-recycled containers and plastic bottles). Whichever choice, both make a wonderful statement and are long lasting.

Want to choose your own style? No problem, plastic Adirondack chairs are easily available in various colors like weathered wood, hunter green, arctic white and cedar. These colors are pigmented all over for an everlasting quality look. Slight variation in tint is possible with the change of raw material. But these variations are within the overall limits of the quality spectrum and UV stabilized coloring is used in this plastic which does not fade.

These chairs have been designed with an objective of affording comfort and convenience to users. Pool patio garden or by the firepit, these chairs are a perfect addition to any scene.The vagaries of the nature like the sun, rain, snow, does not affect them. Thus one is free from all the hassles of necessary treatments due to change of seasons needed by furniture. These chairs do not become rancid, cracked or splintered with the passage of time. Consumers are also loving the fact that it is very easy to clean these chairs with home made simple solutions. And due to special treatment given for the durability of their color, you can leave them even outside say in your garden, without any fear of their color fading.

With such lasting features, it is not surprising to find people opting for Plastic Adirondack chairs. Most of the manufacturers liberally make use of stainless steel in the manufacture of plastic Adirondack chairs. They have a high level of resistance to corrosion which makes it even more durable. The average weight of plastic Adirondack chair is between 45 to 50 lbs. Plastic Adirondack chairs are durable and non-toxic, which makes them environmental friendly.

As a matter of fact, the Adirondack is a famous version of resin furniture. There are a large variety to choose from whether it be a classic, curved back or shellback style with any of these chairs, or benches and swings. No matter what you are looking for, you can certainly get it from the enormous range of plastic Adirondack chairs and furniture on the market.

Build Pondless Waterfall

The key to making your waterfall look natural, is to be sure to remove plenty of dirt and recessing the waterfall into the ground. Many people make the mistake of constructing it above the natural grade level of the original grade. Rocks do not look natural sticking above the surface of the ground. This is especially true if the waterfall rocks are the only ones visible on the bank, hill or grade where the waterfall is located. The rocks of the waterfall should give the appearance that, over the years, water has washed down the hill or bank, eroding away the original surface soil and exposing the rocks hidden beneath.

Rebar

The next step is to apply the 3/8″ rebar 8 to 10 inches on center, criss-crossing each other, and fastening them together in a grid using a tie wire to fasten them together. Small 2″ x 2″ blocks called dobies are then placed under the grid to hold above the dirt. When concrete is applied, it must completely surround all the rebar. No rebar can be touching the soil or it will rust. And rust, like cancer, will spread and follow the rebar into the concrete structure. As the rebar rusts it swells, much like would when it gets moisture in it. The swollen rebar hydrologically causes the concrete to crack.

Plumbing

Use flexible PVC pipe, not rigid pipe, because it is easy to manipulate around the corners and over uneven ground. But most of all, by using flex you will eliminate the need for fittings such as elbows and couplings under ground, thus eliminating possible future sources of leaks.

You can install the flex under the rebar or alongside it, down the waterfall’s course. One of the major flaws with liner constructed pondless waterfalls is that they use sump pumps which suck energy (60% more than centrifugal pumps). They then fill the cistern containing the pump with gravel, reducing the available water space. Consequently, when the waterfall is started up, most of the catch basin or cistern is drained of water before the previously pumped water can return to the basin. This makes it necessary to regularly add water to the basin or the pump will run dry and burn up. It is very important to add a reliable water leveler to a pondless waterfall since you are not able to see the level of water in the catch basin.

Concrete Construction

In concrete construction, anti-vortex suction drains (just like what is used in swimming pools) can be installed in the bottom of the basin. Galvanized grating can then be spanned across the basin and rock placed on top of the grating to hide it.

Now the basin is empty and free of gravel to allow plenty of room for water storage. An out-of-pond, high-efficiency centrifugal pump can be used to circulate the water. Unlike sump pumps that are used in liner construction, a centrifugal pump uses 60% less energy, is easy to maintain, carries three times the warranty, has four to five times the life expectancy, and there is no need ever to access the basin or remove stinky, filthy gravel to get to the pump.

Concrete Application

Most concrete pumpers know how to apply concrete to waterfall rebar, and they only charge a couple of hundred dollars. Troweling is easy; anyone can do it because it does not need to be smooth. Just knock down the rough edges and smooth with a sponge.

The concrete itself only costs $100-$125 a yard with most pondless waterfalls requiring only 2 to 3 yards. Check out the cost of a liner kit alone (without any labor)! and search the internet under “Pond liners vs. concrete.”

Don’t waste your money on a temporary solution. Reinforced concrete actually cost less and will last decades longer.

Lawn Sprinkler Heads

Having the best sprinkler system doesn’t mean you must dig up your yard and install sprinkler equipment. It can be as simple as using a tripod sprinkler with a good quality sprinkler head.

Your main goal is to be able to water your garden as thoroughly and easily as possible. So your best sprinkler system may be either an above ground or in ground system.

In finding the best sprinkler head for your particular needs I would take a look at Rainbird or Orbit first. You can easily go online and get to their websites.

Orbit is first class all the way. Their sprinkler heads are a professional grade quality that will give you years of trouble free use.

Orbit also offers every type of sprinkler in use today including tripod sprinkler heads and popup sprinkler heads.

Finding the right equipment for your watering needs will allow you to spend more time in your garden growing more plants, rather than having to try and fight to keep them alive.