The crisp fall air sets a perfect scenario to sit back and relax by an outside fire here in MA and RI. So, the question is Outdoor Fire Pit or Fireplace? Which one is right for you?
Both a Fire Pit and Fireplace would extend the enjoyment of an outdoor living space by providing a relaxing atmosphere, warmth and light. However, there are a few key elements and important differences to consider when making the decision to install an outdoor Fire Pit or Fireplace. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What is my ultimate goal for the space? Do you want a big focal point in your outdoor living space or are you looking for a conversation surround for entertaining?
- How many people are you looking to entertain? If your answer is 1-4 then a fireplace would be ideal. If the answer is 5 or more you probably want to go the Fire Pit route. You can fit more people in a circular fashion around a Fire Pit and it creates a campfire type atmosphere.
- Speaking of atmosphere, What type of mood are you trying to set? A Fireplace will convey a much more romantic, quiet and relaxing spot for intimate conversation where a Fire Pit promotes more of a larger group entertaining spot for storytelling and laughter.
- Do you have wind issues on your property? If so then a fireplace would be more ideal. The fireplace will act as a windscreen and will be much easier to light than an open Fire Pit.
- Does smoke make it hard for you to enjoy a fire? If you’re afraid of a windy space swirling fire in the face of you and your guests then a fireplace would be more ideal for you. Again, it will act as a windscreen and will divert most of the smoke up the chimney and allow you to enjoy the warm toastiness without smoke in your face.
- What is your budget? Keep in mind the fireplace structure will be about 10-15 times more expensive than a built in fire pit.
- Do you have a privacy issue? If so a large fireplace structure could add as a focal point to your outdoor living space as well as act as a privacy screen if placed strategically.
- Do you have a view that you don’t want to block? If so then you will want to go the route of a Fire Pit. The fireplace would add an extra focal point to your space that would take away from your view.
- How much space do you have? Do you have the space necessary to add a fireplace and maybe wood boxes or other accessory items to finish off the space?
- Are you looking for wood burning, gas or a propane fire? New innovations in Fire Pit kits allow you to choose between different types of burning elements. A fireplace could also be built using gas or wood. Today, there are many decorative rocks and glass that you could use to “decorate” your outdoor living space with a Fire Pit and give it a splash of color and uniqueness.
Well, there you have the major factors to consider when designing your outdoor living space with a fire feature. If you need more information, check 0ut our website: http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-construction-ma/outdoor-living-rooms-backyard-landscaping-ma/or feel free to contact me anytime.
How did Halloween creep up so quickly this year? If you are in need of some creative decorating ideas for your landscape or you want to have the coolest and most unique Halloween decorations on the street look at the 10 ideas with pictures below. From spiders and bats to ghosts and zombies, the possibilities are endless when it comes to decorating your landscape for Halloween.
10 Creative Decorating Ideas for your Halloween Landscape:
1. Someone is looking at you. Want to creep someone out and make them feel like someone in the dark is watching them? It’s easy to do! Take a paper towel or toilet paper roll and cut eye shapes into it. On Halloween night place glow sticks inside the tube and place them in the bushes or trees around your house. The area should be dark enough where you can’t see the tube, but just the light it is giving off. How cool is that!
2. Human Size Ghosts- How cool is this idea. Check out the attached link to find out how to make: http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/halloween-decoration-how-to-make-human-size-ghosts/index.html
3. Scarecrow- An array of decorating possibilities resides under the deceivingly simple banner, “scarecrow.” You can create Halloween scarecrows to convey a range of emotions, from scary themes to the downright funny. The trick often lies in how they’re displayed and how creative you are! Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
4. Ghosts in Trees- Use your trees as easy props to add some height in decorating and spookiness around your yard. These are easy to make. Use a plastic shopping bag, sheet, trash bag, stuff with newspaper, tie with twine or ribbon leaving some material to dangle. Use marker, preferably permanent, to decorate faces on your ghost. Punch a hole at the top run some string through and hang wherever you would like in the yard.
5. Circle of Ghosts- Use either 1 or multiple white sheets to create a circle design and tie together to help them from blowing away and for a cool effect. Use stakes or existing shrubs, upside down pots, whatever you can get your hands on to drape some sheets, use paper or plastic bags to make some heads and tie them off with string. Use markers to have some fun decorating faces.
6. Use Nighttime Color- Change out your lightbulbs to some fun colors. Use your shrubs and trees to hang lights like you would for the Christmas Holiday. Just use colors like orange, purple, lime green.
7. Embrace the spider webs. At your local craft store, big box stores, in the craft section, it is easy enough to find batting or it is even sold in the Halloween sections as spider webbing. It’s cheap and easy to use. The best places to use these webs are often close to your front door where there is light. With the lighting shining through them, they’ll be able to be appreciated all times of the day. Go crazy and web up all your shrubs!
8. Yard Cemetary- With the use of some tombstone decorations, skeleton parts, body parts, and a fog machine, you can transform your yard into a cemetery for Halloween. Placing some RIP gravestones in a focal point in the yard along with some skeleton parts that appear to be escaping from the ground will create a ghoulish display. A fog machine would add some cool effects too! See the picture above for an example.
9. Boo-ti-ful Bushes- An easy family fun way to decorate your yard without causing damage to the grass or shrubs. Use a solid white sheet to drape on top of the bushes. Then, have black craft paint ready so that you can trace the design. Choose a figure such as a ghost, a witch, or pumpkins, draw it onto the sheet, then trace it with the paint. Once the sheet has dried, place it over the bushes and secure it with clothes pins.
10. Leaf Bags. Another easy and practical decorating idea is to use leaf bags. Raking the leaves can now be some decorating fun. Buy some Halloween-themed bags fill with leaves and place them around your “focal point” display. Just don’t leave them on the grass for too long a time frame or it could damage the lawn.
I hope you have fun with some of the landscape decorating ideas that I’ve given you today. Happy Halloween!!
That crisp fall air is upon us and it’s a perfect time to give some fall landscaping tips for MA landscapes out there. You can help yourself to get a jump on next springtime by getting out and enjoying some of that energizing cool, crisp air and getting down with your landscape a few more times before we see those first snowflakes. So, put on your work clothes, pull on those gloves and boots or sneakers and find your tools and if you have any little helpers grab them too! What child doesn’t love to jump in a pile of leaves!
- Speaking of piles of leaves that will be your #1 chore on the list. Rake those leaves. Your lawn needs to breathe! A lawn can be smothered if a thick layer of leaves is left on top of it over the winter which can lead to problems such as snow mold. The other reason is if sunlight can’t get through, the grass won’t grow and thrive.
- Remove any dead or dying branches from shrubs and trees now. You won’t have to look at the deadness over the winter and it’s one less thing you’ll have to do in the spring.
- Deadhead any perennial blooms. Cut back any perennials that are done for the season.
- Remove any annual flowers from planting beds and dispose of now instead of waiting til spring.
- To cut or not to cut Ornamental Grasses? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Personally, I leave my grasses up over the winter. I think it adds interest to the winter landscape. However, others’ have the opinion that they look unattractive and dead. So, depending on your taste either cut them back, roughly 1′ from the ground, or wait until the spring to trim and enjoy them over the winter.
- Heavy snow, ice, and high winds that we so enjoy here in MA over the winter months, a little sarcasm, can dry and split your delicate shrubs. A few things you can do to protect your landscaping from the winter elements are to wrap shrubs and small trees in burlap, stake your trees and use mulch or shredded leaves around the base of tender trees for extra warmth and water retention over the frozen months.
- Clean out planting pots from the current season. Wash the pots and put them away for safe keeping over the winter. You will be happy in the spring when your pots are clean and ready to go for the new season.
- Plant spring bulbs before the ground freezes for that shot of beautiful spring color! You will be patting yourself on the back when you see those hues of pink, purple, yellow, orange and red after the dark and gloomy winter landscape.
The cool crisp fall air has decided to show itself here in MA and it’s a perfect time to ensure you have that fall color incorporated in your landscape by using flowers, trees and shrubs. Fall is a perfect time for planting. The warm days and cool nights set the perfect growing conditions for lots of flowers, shrubs and trees. If you don’t have any fall color in your landscape now would be the perfect time to make up a design plan and plant away. As an extra bonus, you may even find some sales at the nursery with inventory levels needing to be depleted before the winter season.
Some great shrubs to consider planting for your fall color palette would be:
- Viburnum- There are many different varieties to choose from. Typically, this shrub offers beautiful white flowers in spring, then bright foliage in warm shades of red come autumn. The leaves are accented by ruby-red fruits.
- Oakleaf Hydrangea- has beautiful clusters of white blooms in summer and eye-catching burgundy foliage in the fall.
- Fothergilla- A shade-loving shrub that offers blue-green foliage in spring and summer. It has honey-scented springtime flowers and its leaves are warm shades of gold and orange in the fall.
- Spirea- There are many different varieties and sizes of Spirea shrubs. They offer great color during the growing season with pink flowers and then in the fall they give a beautiful display of orange, yellow and red.
Some great trees to consider planting for your fall color palette would be:
- Sugar Maples- These trees lead the pack when it comes to fall color. Maples offer brilliant hues from yellows to oranges to reds. They also make great shade trees, if that’s what you need in your landscape.
- Japanese Maple- One of my all time favorite trees to begin with. Their beautiful red foliage makes them stand out in any landscape. In the fall they show off glowing shades of red, orange, or yellow again standing out in the landscape.
- Dogwood- Dogwood’s are admired anytime of the season. They have beautiful white or pink flowers in the early summer and offer magnificent purply-red tones in the autumn. As an extra bonus these trees offer pretty red fruit going into the winter months offering an extended attraction time.
- Eastern Redbud- This small tree offers us some of the first color in the spring with its beautiful pinky, purple flowers. Depending on the variety of Redbud their autumn display can range from hues of yellows to reds.
Some great flowers to consider planting for your fall color palette would be:
- Mums- Of course the traditional mum is probably the most popular annual flower to add color to your fall landscape. With a little luck, good planting and getting a hardy variety, you may even get your mums to become perennials. Mums are a quick addition to any planting area to add hues from reds to oranges and yellows.
- Asters- Also a fall favorite around New England. These daisy looking flowers offer you hues from purples to pinks and whites.
- Ornamental Cabbage and Kale- Offer unique foliage colors and texture to your garden. Often bluish to purple accents make these plants so attractive.
- If you’re looking for a few perennial choices, so you don’t have to replant every year, here are a few great selections to give you that autumn color in your landscape: Montauk Daisies, Sedum from yellows to reds, Bloody Geranium for great red colors, Helenium and Russian Sage which maintains its bluish gray foliage with purple flowers in the fall.
- Of course you can’t forget the pumpkins, haybales, scarecrows and other accessory items that can also enhance your landscape.
We are quickly approaching the best time of the year for a new lawn installation or to perform a lawn repair in MA. Whether you have a new home, had construction done that destroyed your yard, have grub damage, need a simple lawn repair or you need a total lawn rejuvenation, now is your optimum time to get that thick and lush new lawn. From mid to late August into mid September, given the temperature conditions for the given year, is really prime planting time for a new lawn in MA.
There are multiple reasons why this small window of opportunity in late summer to early fall is optimum for a new lawn. See below for the top reasons:
1. The first being, most weeds are done germinating by late August to early September. So, the seed won’t have to fight as hard against invasive weeds.
2. Temperatures are cooler than mid summer but soil temperatures are warm. The warm, but usually not oppressive, sunny days and cool nights provide a perfect environment for the new seed to thrive. Optimum temperatures for a new lawn are 70-75 degrees.
3. There typically is ample rainfall during this time to aid in the growth of the new seed. While you will need to supplement mother nature with your own watering there is nothing like a fresh rainfall minus chlorine and other chemicals to watch that new lawn flourish.
4. By late October the new lawn will have had enough time to develop root systems strong enough to withstand the heavy frost and impending winter conditions in MA.
Given the weather conditions for the year it is still possible for a new lawn installation later than mid September in MA. The major drawback is the later you get into fall the less time the new seed has to establish a root system before it gets hit with frost and freezing temperatures. So, again this is why that window between mid August to mid September is the best time of year for a new lawn installation whether you are in Raynham, Easton, Attleboro, Lakeville, Dighton, Mansfield, Rehoboth, Taunton or any other MA town. Don’t miss out on your small window of opportunity for that thick lush lawn!
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.