I wanted to take a minute to wish all those moms out there a HAPPY, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! I hope you are surrounded in flowers, your beautiful children and a day full of joy, relaxation and sunshine!!
There are going to be a lot of sad gardeners who love to plant annual impatiens in their shade gardens. If you love to plant impatiens then you should know that they will be very hard to come by this season if you can find them at all. Even if you do find them you should beware of planting them in 2013.
A devastating downy mildew has been attacking Impatiens with no let up in sight. Most growers in the region have given up growing due to the mildew therefore impatiens will be in short supply this growing season. If you noticed last year your impatiens didn’t do so hot more than likely it was due to this outbreak of downy mildew. Experts are saying it could take 3 years to eradicate the mildew problem.
If you are looking for some substitutions the new guinea impatiens are not affected. So, they are OK to plant. It’s just the hybrid impatiens as per the picture above. Also, begonias and coleus are great shade loving plants that will also give you lots of color.
Happy Growing in 2013!!
Here in MA like other Northeast States most of us have been somewhat dormant for the winter. Outside of maybe our normal every day exercise routine that is. However, now that it is getting warmer outside and the landscape is coming back to life, it is time to get outside and get into our landscape and start our gardening chores. A Lot of the movements that you will be doing while gardening are probably not part of your normal everyday exercise routine or should I say the extended period that you will be in some positions is not done everyday. So, please read below to get some helpful gardening tips to help keep your back and the rest of your body free from injury. So, you can enjoy your landscape and all the benefits of your hard work instead of being laid up in bed with a bad back!
1. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!! I can’t emphasize this enough. Stretch before and after your gardening work. I have included some pictures above that have basic stretches if you are not familiar with regular stretching. Disclaimer, I am not a physical therapist or a personal trainer but these are some of the basic stretches that I do for myself before I work in my landscape. It makes a big difference in my life and for my back!
2. Plan ahead. Make some reasonable goals and don’t try to tackle it all at once. Say you have weeding, edging, trimming, etc.. Think about how long it will take you to do each task. Plan what the most important thing to do today is and set that as your goal. If you are really good at breaking things down, you really could spend a little time each day instead of doing it all at once.
3. Pace yourself. Do the hard stuff first before you’re exhausted and would tend to overexert. Leave more effortless work for the end of your day. For example, do your digging, trimming and weeding first then at the end of the day when things are cleaned up go around with your granular fertilizers to feed your plants.
4. Help to save your back by using a wheelbarrow or garden cart when moving heavy items. Try to avoid bending at the waist and lifting. Bend those knees, hold the item as close as you can and use your legs to do the lifting instead of your back.
3. Gardening tools can also be your best friend. Make sure the tools are ergonomic and comfortable to use. Use telescopic or extended handles to eliminate any strain from reaching. For example, watering wands are ideal for hanging baskets.
4. Keep digging and cutting tools sharp to cut down on the amount of effort you will have to put forth.
5. Use knee pads or a stool while weeding.
6. Wear gloves and long sleeves, if possible. Especially, if you have rose bushes or anything thorny to trim. Long sleeves can help save you from looking like you were in a bad animal attack afterwards. Gloves can help save your hands from getting hurt as well. These items will also give you extra protection if you don’t know what poison ivy, sumac or oak looks like and you pick it up.
7. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated. I know when I get zoned in a project, I s0metimes forget to eat and drink when I should. But, it is important to stay hydrated. Fill a water bottle before you go outside and keep it near you. That will make it easier instead of having to go in the house.
8. Put on sunscreen to protect your skin and if you are really sensitive to the sun, wear a hat and sunglasses.
9. Take breaks every so often. If you start feeling a muscle being strained, do something else for a while and then go back when you are not feeling the strain anymore.
10. When you are done, stretch, stretch, stretch!! Your body will thank you.
Here is a link to another site that also has some great stretches and tips to make gardening in your landscape much more enjoyable and to reduce your risk of injury: http://gardenmaking.com/stretch-for-gardeners/
In the wake of starting our first outdoor kitchen and patio job of the season, I thought I would share some important planning tips to think about, if you are planning your own outdoor kitchen project. If you are thinking of expanding your backyard living space and installing your own outdoor kitchen there really are a lot of finite details to think about to ensure your outdoor kitchen installation goes seamlessly. Here are some of those outdoor kitchen planning tips to help you on your way:
What features do you want in your kitchen? For example, grill, sink, cabinet or storage space, warmers, refrigerator, wine chiller, ice maker?
Do you want a bar to able to sit at? If you answer yes to this question, how high do you want the bar to be? Do you want it the same height as the other counters or do you want a higher bar level.
How many levels or design elements do you want?
What shape will it be? Straight, L shapes, curved, multiple extensions?
Do you have a focal point in your backyard living space? Is there a pool, lush landscape, space for a tv? Think about what you want to be looking at as your are cooking. What do you want your guests to be looking at if you have a bar area.
How much seating do you want to have at the bar space?
In planning where your outdoor kitchen is located, think of where your house kitchen is. Most likely you will be bringing items from your home’s kitchen. So, you will want to plan it in a somewhat close proximity.
What style of counter top do you want? Whether you want to pay more for a custom top or use stone pieces in smaller manageable sizes may weigh on the size or scale of your kitchen area.
How big is the grill that you want to install? Will it be freestanding in between stone or is it built in?
When planning where to place the grill, think of prevailing winds. Which direction will the wind be blowing when you are cooking? You probably don’t want to place a bar area in the downdraft of the prevailing wind or you will be smoking out your guests.
Just like in your home’s kitchen, think about the placement of elements. You want to make your outdoor kitchen as efficient as your home’s kitchen. So, you probably want to have your sink, grill and kitchen in a close by proximity to make your cooking experience a happy and productive one. You probably want the fridge to be close by for ice cold beverages too!
What are the lighting conditions in your backyard space. Do you want your kitchen in full sun, do you have a shady spot or do you want to add in a pergola of some type or roof structure overhead to shade you as you cook?
Have fun with the design and with a project this size you will probably want to get a contractor’s expertise. Make sure you are working with someone that will take all these finite details into consideration when helping you to plan your space. A photo image landscape design or 3d landscape design would also allow you to see the finished project before the installation even gets started.
As always, if you have any questions on this topic, please feel free to contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org
How does your front yard landscaping make you feel when you pull into the yard? Does your front yard enhance the appeal of your home design? Does your front yard landscape design portray the interior design of your home? How do your guests feel when they arrive at your house? Are you really making use of your front yard space and adding value to your home with your landscaping? If you want to find positive answers to all of these questions, read on for some front yard design tips to get you on your way.
1. What is your home’s style? This will be another blog article on it’s own. But, to get you started what is your design inspiration inside the home? Do you have a Modern Style, Country Rustic, Tuscan Villa, Eclectic, Traditional, Gothic, Tropical, Asian, Southwest, Minimalist? You may not fit into just one. You may have a mix of different styles. To get you thinking about what to do on the outside think of what you have on the inside and how can you portray that oustide. If you have absolutely no idea where to start, you may want to consult with a landscape designer that can help give you ideas on how to bring the inside out.
2. Unmask your home’s hidden beauty. Can you see your house from behind the shrubs? If you have overgrown shrubbery that’s the place to start. In some cases shrubs can be trimmed back but if it’s the case that you can’t see your windows anymore, there’s a good chance the shrubs need to come out. An experienced landscaper with heavy equipment can easily take care of this problem for you. Once the overgrown shrubs are gone, you have a clean palette to get started with and truly bringing your design style to life.
3. Use different types of shrubbery to bring that design style to life. For example, if you have a more formal landscape style you will want to use alot of evergreens to give that feel. If you have a more country or eclectic style you will want to use more flowering type of shrubbery. A good landscape designer can help guide you to the right plants for the right setting that you are looking to portray.
4. Use plant colors to compliment your home. Pull out the colors of your home or interior colors as well with plants and containers. For example, if you have a have a red or burgundy door plant a Japanese Maple Tree somewhere in the yard to pull out and compliment the red door. Have a blue door or shutters, plant a Blue Hydrangea that when it blooms will give the hues of colors you have on the house.
5. Use retainer or decorative walls to give another dimension and depth to your front yard. By adding retainer walls you may be able to add a useable space or control a slope area in your yard. If you have an unsightly slope by adding a wall and plantings you can transform the space into a focal point. By adding a wall to a planting bed in the front yard can add function and beauty.
6. Define pathways with walkways. By defining pathways in your yard you are telling guests where you want them to go. As well as it is a great opportunity to bring out your design style. Not only can you show your style through plants but you can also show it with your choice in hardscape material and design. With an infinite amount of paver styles today you can certainly bring out your interior design style by your choice in a walkway finish. For example, if you have a tuscan or mediterannean style you would want to use a paver that has a more old world feel like a cobblestone or a natural stone type of finish. If you have a country or cottagey style you may choose to use a natural stone laid in lawn in a random pattern to give a more gardeny feel. If you have a modern style you will want to use a stone that has sleek, clean lines and smooth or uncomplicated surfaces.
7. Add an edging to your landscape beds. Adding a stone edge to your landscape beds adds another whole element to your landscaping. It adds depth and dimension while defining lines not to mention you can use it to enhance the color of your home.
8. Create Focal Points in the yard. Draw the eye to where you want people to look. This may be as simple as your front door. Have a beautiful front door that you want to draw the eye to? Define it with plants directly to the side of the entry. Such as Cone shaped trees or topiary that will draw your eye up to the door. Add planting pots with beautiful seasonal color and arrangements that again will draw your eye. You may want to add a landscape bed in the front lawn with an ornamental tree to add more depth to the front yard.
9. Is your lawn green enough? You may have the most beautiful plants and well thought out landscape design but if your grass doesn’t look just as nice it will take away from the curb appeal? If your lawn isn’t up to par it will certainly take away from the curb appeal of any well laid out landscape design plan. If you don’t know how to green it up on your own, seek the help of a landscape professional.
If you are truly thinking of a front yard landscape makeover, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to get a landscape design plan in place. Whether you jot down on a piece of paper yourself or consult with a professional landscape designer a landscape design plan will be your roadmap to a succesful landscape. You need to know what to plant or add for elements, how to install them, when to install them, keeping in check with proper sequencing of installations and where to properly place elements. A well thought out design plan will answer all these questions for you and lead you on a path to success.
Thank you to all that came out to support us at the Bristol County Home and Garden Show this weekend. Great to see some old and new faces! Special thank you to some satisfied clients that came to the show excited to tell us what their next project will be this spring!
I enjoyed seeing so many faces at my seminar on creating a beautiful outdoor living space in your own backyard. I am posting the handout that I gave out below. It is basically a checklist for designing and planning your backyard living space. I will also be adding some photos from the presentations.
If you have any questions at all, about planning or designing your outdoor living space, by all means feel free to contact me. email@example.com
How to create a beautiful OUTDOOR LIVING SPACE in your own BACKYARD!
One of the hottest trends is transforming your outdoor space into an extension of your inside space. An outdoor living space can be anything from a tranquil corner of a garden or it can be a full blown patio area with outdoor kitchens, water features, planting beds, etc. Whatever you can dream up it can be installed in your own backyard!
How, What, Why, When, Where
1. How will you use your space?
- How much seating space will you need if any? (Patio)
- How will you get from place to place? (Walkways)
- Will you be cooking in this space? (Outdoor Kitchen)
- Will you need water, lighting, electric in the space?
- Will you be relaxing in a tranquil retreat?
- Will you be playing sports? (Volleyball, Bocce, Horseshoes)
2. How much space will you take up in the yard?
3. How much wind is in the space? Do you need a wind break?
4. How much sunlight is in the space? Do you need a Pergola or Shelter?
1. What will the space be used for?
A. Will you entertain in the space?
B. What features do you want in your space?
C. Will you have a softscape or plants in your space?
2. What is your style?
3. What is your color scheme?
4. What required features do I need due to the contours of the property?
5. What is your budget???
Why are you creating the space? Will help you answer the other questions.
When do you want to start your project?
1. The first step in deciding when you can start is first in coming up with a budget.
2. You may not be able to do everything on the plan at once but if you have the plan and know how much each element costs you can make an educated plan of whether to complete the whole project at once or work in stages.
3. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Know what elements need to come first.
Where in the yard will this space be located? Remember kitchen access is usually key along with access from the driveway or roadway.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to come up with a design plan that will be your road map whether you do the whole project at once or in stages over the years. The design plan can be as simple as your own hand drawing or a 3D photo image design to truly visualize your space.
How can I do it on a budget?
Decide on your must have feature that you will not compromise on. You have to come up with a bottom line that you can live with for now and for the future. Decide what elements need to come first such as hardscapes, etc.
Can you save on materials without saving on quality? To drill down further in this question, what is the absolute must have element without compromise & what are the lesser priority items that could maybe be substituted or less expensive products? For example want a patio with a firepit for now install the patio but use a store bought fire pit until you can afford to install the real deal.
Hire a contractor for the difficult elements that need to be installed correctly BUT is there part of the project that you can do yourself? If you can’t do it all at once make a 3 or 5 year plan and stick to it. Plan on what year you will add what new element.
Have fun with furniture, fabrics, accessories and plants to make the space your own just like you would inside the house.
I came across this interesting survey from this year, 2013, in regards to the top outdoor living trends for 2013. It is very interesting showing all the different elements of outdoor living and how they are rating amongst homeowner’s. Most elements are suitable for our backyards here in MA. Here is the article that I found from the American Society of Landscape Architects:
Survey Identifies Top Outdoor Living Trends for 2013
American homeowners increasingly are drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation on their properties, according to the 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The results also show demand for both sustainable and low-maintenance design.
Landscape architects who specialize in residential design across the country were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2013. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. It all but tied with gardens and landscaped spaces at 94.4 percent.
Across all categories, 97 percent of respondents rated fire pits and fireplaces as somewhat or very in-demand for 2013, followed by grills (96.3 percent), seating and dining areas (96.3 percent), and lighting (95.1 percent).
“In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards,” said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”
Decorative water elements—including waterfalls, ornamental pools, and splash pools—were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes (90.9 percent). Spas (81.5 percent) and pools (75.3 percent) are also expected to be popular.
Terraces, patios, and decks are high on people’s lists (97.6 percent), as are fencing (89.6 percent) and ornamental water features (84.2 percent).
Americans still prefer such practical yet striking design elements for their gardens as low-maintenance landscapes (93.9 percent) and native plants (86.6 percent), with organic slightly increasing in popularity (65.3 percent compared to 61.2 percent in 2011). In keeping with the local food movement, more people are opting for food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards (82.7 percent).
Besides planting locally and organically, other sustainable elements continue their popularity with homeowners. Native or drought-tolerant plants (83 percent), drip irrigation (82.5 percent), permeable paving (72.8 percent) and reduced lawns (72.6 percent) are making their way into outdoor living spaces across the country.
Additional information on residential landscape architecture can be found atwww.asla.org/residentialinfo.
Outdoor Design Elements (Overall rating for 2013)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:
Outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces) – 94.5% Gardens/landscaped spaces – 94.4% Outdoor recreation amenities (pools, spas, tennis courts) – 76.3% Sustainable design practices – 74.8% Vegetable/fruit gardens – 76.4% Turf lawns – 52.2%
Outdoor Living Features (Overall rating for 2013)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:
Fire pits/fireplace – 97.0% Grills – 96.3% Seating/dining areas – 96.3% Lighting – 95.1% Installed seating (benches, seat walls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 90.3% Weatherized outdoor furniture – 82.3% Counter space – 74.4% Utility storage – 64.4% Stereo systems – 58.5% Outdoor heaters – 50.6% Sinks – 49.1% Refrigerators – 48.7% Wireless/Internet connectivity – 47.8% Televisions/projection screens – 45.2% Showers/baths – 43.3% Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 31.1% Hammocks – 24.1% Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 8.0%
Outdoor Recreation Amenities (Overall rating for 2013)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:
Decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers – 90.9% Spa features (hot tub, Jacuzzi, whirlpool, indoor/outdoor sauna) – 81.5% Swimming pools – 75.3% Sports/recreational spaces (tennis courts, bocce ball, etc.)– 54.3% Movie/video/TV theatres – 34.4%
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:
Low maintenance landscapes – 93.9% Native plants – 86.6% Fountains/ornamental water features – 84.7% Food/Vegetable gardens (including orchards/vineyards etc.) –82.7% Organic gardens – 65.3% Xeriscaping or dry gardens – 63.8% Ponds/streams – 58.3% Rain gardens – 58.2% Rooftop gardens – 50.4% Plant walls/vertical gardens – 47.9%
Sustainable Design Elements (Overall rating for 2013)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:
Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants – 83.0% Drip/water-efficient irrigation – 82.5% Permeable paving – 72.8% Reduced lawn – 72.6% Recycled materials – 62.5% Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 59.1% Compost bins – 55.1% Solar-powered lights – 40.6% Geothermal-heated pools – 28.4%
Outdoor Structures (Overall rating for 2013)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:
Terraces/patios/decks – 97.6%
Landscape/Garden Elements (Overall rating for 2013)
Fencing (includes gates) – 89.6% Ornamental water features such as fountains or splash pools– 84.2% Arbors – 83.5% Pergolas – 81.6% Decks – 80.9% Steps – 80.6% Porches – 71.5% Kitchens/ovens – 67.1% Utility sheds (tool sheds, garden sheds, etc.) – 64.8% Art (sculptures, murals etc.) – 61.0% Play structures (tree houses, swing sets, etc.) – 56.3% Awnings, including retractable – 51.9% Pavilions – 47.8% Gazebos – 44.8% Columns – 44.5% ADA-accessible structures (ramps, bars, accessible shelving, etc.) – 22.1%
About the Survey
The survey asked residential landscape architecture professionals about the estimated popularity of various design elements for 2013. The survey was fielded January 28 through February 12, 2013, with 166 responding.
If your yard looks like the picture here or you have other drainage problems, you will want to read further.
There is good news and bad news associated with the rain that is upon us. The good news is most of the snow should melt. The bad news is there will be a lot of drainage problems in yards and basements with all this water, frozen ground and or ground that is already saturated. There are some quick fixes you can do immediately to help salvage your yard or basement. Then there are more permanent drainage solutions you should look into and plan on doing over the next few months when the ground is done thawing and easier excavating can be done.
Quick Fixes To Your Drainage Problems:
- Make sure the snow is away from your foundation.
- If you have a door that is at ground level and the ground outside is still frozen, you probably want to put some sand bags or something in front of the doorway to deter the water from traveling inside.
- If need be, you should dig a swale, a small trench, to divert the water away from the home. Make sure you dig the swale a bit off the house. Otherwise, you will actually be sending the water towards the foundation.
- Ensure that downspouts have an extension that will positively send water-flow away from the home if they are not already underground or at a safe distance away from the home.
- If you have a crack in your basement that leaks. Try patching with some hydraulic cement for a quick fix.
- If your yard is underwater, try to dig a small swale, small trench, even if it’s just a few inches deep to an area where there is lower ground to try and drain the water. Especially, if the pooling water is on an established lawn or planting bed. The lawn or plants could perish if the water sits for an extended period of time like in the photo above.
More Permanent Solutions to Yard Drainage Problems:
- Underground Downspout Drains- Each yard brings its own set of challenges and there are different solutions for different problems. A few solutions for troublesome downspout drains are either tying the drains into an underground storage tank, subterranean drainage pit or diverting the water through underground piping to a lower area outside the yard. A qualified contractor will be able to tell you which method is right for you or if you need a completely alternate plan. Also, make sure you specify to a contractor whether the area above the piping will be bearing a load. This will make a difference in the type of pipe that is used.
- Berm’s are an alternate way to divert or deter water from entering into a specific area. Say your home is at the bottom of a slope. You may want to strategically build some berms on the outskirts of the home or behind your immediate backyard patio area or living space to stop the water as it comes down the slope and send it in an alternate direction away from the home. You will notice in the picture below an example of this. A strategically placed berm with plantings to divert water from coming down a slope and directly into the home.
- A strategically placed swale, trench, can also aid in directing water where you want it to go versus the water controlling where it goes. Swale’s can be engineered in a way that they are so slight that with a lawn on top to the naked eye you won’t even see it. Plain natural looking swales and swales with stone are also options. However, they can be effective enough to move water where you want it to go.
- Dry River Beds are an attractive solution to many drainage problems. The dry bed can be installed with either a french drain beneath it, it can act as a holding zone for underground downspout drains in heavy rains or a multitude of drainage fixes. The end product after all the underneath drain work is done is an attractive added element to the landscape. Any decorative, preferably river, stone can be added on the top to suit the homeowner’s style. The base of the bed can be a typical 3/4″ stone to save on cost.
- Complete Yard Regrading- If you have a yard that looks like the picture at the top of the blog, in most circumstances, you will need to regrade your yard. You will most likely need to add some material to properly grade and pitch water appropriately off the yard. Again, each individual property poses its own issues. So, it’s best to get the opinion of a “qualified” professional. Any qualified professional will have technology such as a laser to shoot grades and will truly be able to technically ensure the yard is graded appropriately.
- Using crushed decorative stone instead of bark mulch around your home can lead to improved drainage. Also, drainage systems can be disguised under stone where it won’t work as well with bark mulch.
- Rainwater Harvesting and Rainwater Gardens- This new age way of saving and controlling rainwater is eco-friendly and the wave of the future. This topic is too detailed and will be a blog for another day. If you would like more information more quickly, please look at the page on my website dedicated to rainwater harvesting or contact me directly. http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-construction/rainwater-harvesting/
Some of the items I have mentioned above can certainly be attempted as DIY projects but keep in mind most of these tasks require an experienced professional with proper excavating equipment and laser technology to handle the task at hand. Laser or equivalent technology is a pertinent tool in ensuring grades, drains, pipe, etc. are located correctly in the ground at the correct depth or height. A trustworthy qualified professional can also tell you what the best and most cost effective drainage solutions are for your property . Make sure you are talking to a qualified professional, ask for credentials, that has a lot of experience with drainage and excavating. Otherwise, you could end up with more problems than you have now and we wouldn’t want that!
Come visit us Saturday March 16th @ Diman High School in Fall River for the 3rd annual Bristol County Home and Garden Show. Also, come and spend some time with me at 2pm for my landscape presentation on the latest trends and tips on creating beautiful backyard/outdoor living spaces. Even on a budget!
Please see the link here for further details on the show and my quotes in the Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette.