With the news of yet another snowstorm heading our way in MA; I want to think thoughts of spring and summer. So, one of my favorite things to do in the late spring is to plant my planters to not only bring color but also a tropical feel to my poolside. So, I made up a video showing how I make my tropical planters. The items that I used in this tropical planter design were:
- Plastic Planters Potting Soil with moisture control pellets and fertilizer
- Majesty Palms (in pots) Colorful annuals (your lighting conditions will warrant what type of flowers you choose)
- I chose Wave Petunias for this planter as it is in full sun.
- Vinca Vine for a trailing effect
Click on the link here to watch the video and happy planting:
There really is no such thing as a maintenance-free landscape. However, it is possible to have an attractive low maintenance landscape that is easy to care for. If you utilize a good landscape design, proper planning, low maintenance plant selections and you adhere to timely maintenance you can achieve a low maintenance landscape in your front yard.
1. Landscape Design- If you have a plot plan of your front yard, this will be of great help to you. Get an extra copy of the plan and this can be your starting base to layout your landscape design. Add any hardscape features such as a walkway or landing at the base of the stairs, planting beds and approximate sizes. Do you want any island beds that will cut down on lawn but also add to mulch and weeding? Can you add any natural areas such as a groundcover area under the canopy of a large tree that would not need mowing or care after the fact.
2. Keep it simple- Don’t get too elaborate with your plantings or you will quickly turn your landscape into high maintenance. Think of groupings of like plants that will require less maintenance. Decide on just a few plant species to keep things simple. The more hardscape features you have, the less mowing and weeding will be required.
3. Planning- Determine what your needs are for the front yard. For example, Do you have children that will need lots of green grass to play on or do you prefer less lawn to mow? Do you have pets that will destroy the lawn or plants? What are the light conditions of your yard? Do you need shade or sun plants? How is the drainage in the yard? If it is poor, you may need to regrade in order to have a thriving lawn or plants that will survive extremely wet conditions. Make a list of the problems that you want to solve. Make a list of your yards assets and what items you can reuse or that you may want to keep.
4. Plant Selections- Try to use at least some native plants. They will tend to need less fertilizer, water, pesticide and overall care than plants that originated in other regions or climates. There are many plants native to MA and the Northeast such as some varieties of Holly, Rhododendron, Dogwood, Viburnum, Junipers and the list goes on. If you are not familiar then you will want to speak to a landscaper or your local garden center. Depending on your style, don’t be afraid to mix some evergreen and deciduous plants. Even some perennials can add color to your landscape without a lot of care. Perennials such as Daylily, Catmint and Sedum can spread, without being overly invasive, and reduce weeding time while adding extended color during the growing season.
5. Plant dwarf species of plants to reduce the amount of trimming time or maybe cut out trimming all together. You may be able to strategically place proper upright evergreen shrubs at the corners of the home or where they won’t intrude in front of windows.
6. Edging- A nice stone edge whether its Cobblestone or a precast edging unit, will add some great curb appeal and also make your planting beds more low maintenance. By adding this permanent edge, you will not have to “hand” edge anymore and it will automatically separate the grass and mulch bed areas. It will also keep the mulch in the beds if you are on any type of slope.
7. Mulch Materials- Your planting bed does not have to have a ”wood based” mulch to be functional and add curb appeal. You can also use a decorative stone. For example, you can use a River Stone. Pick a stone that matches or will enhance the color of your home. Stone is a little more expensive up front but it is much more low maintenance in the fact that you don’t have to replace it every year like you do a wood mulch. There is also a rubber mulch available that like the stone does not need to be replaced. Maybe a little refresher over the years but nothing like with wood mulches. Lastly, don’t be afraid to use groundcovers such as Pachysandra, Perriwinkle, Ivy, etc. It will take a little time for them to grow in together but once they do the rhizomatous root system will help deter weeds and no mulch will be necessary.
Get some ideas here for your landscape design http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-design-ma/front-yard-landscape-designs-m/ or look here for some completed front yard landscape ideas http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-construction-ma/completed-front-yard-landscape-construction-projects/
If you are experiencing any difficulty in the planning process yourself, you will truly save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation by speaking with a landscape designer or someone that specializes in landscape construction. In the long run, you may spend a little more up front but it will pay for itself 10 fold when you truly have that low maintenance landscape with the right plants, features and materials in the right place without making all the mistakes.
Are you thinking of selling your home or real estate this spring? Would you like to sell your home for more money? Then you may want to wow potential home buyers with their first impression by implementing some of these landscaping tips to sell your home for more money. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. So make it a memorable one!
Various studies have shown over the years, an attractive and well-maintained landscape can add as much as 10 to 15 percent to the value of your home. For ex. if you have a home worth $200,000 and update your landscape with a 15% return you just made $30,000. Also, if turnaround time in selling your home is a factor, curb appeal is important to 71 percent of homebuyers when choosing their home, according to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey.
Landscaping tips to sell your home for more money:
1. Keep it Simple- As a professional landscape designer, the number 1 priority that I hear from clients is “low maintenance”. Homeowners want a low maintenance landscape. So, if you are thinking about renovating your landscape make sure you are installing low maintenance plants and are making the landscape low maintenance in general. This may also include adding more hardscapes, less to maintain, or more lawn which is easier to mow than to weed or mulch.
2. Clean it up- Going back to that 1st impression. People want to see a meticulous well manicured landscape. That will also give them the impression that the home’s interior is also well maintained. Get out your trimmers, trim those shrubs, edge the beds, mow the lawn, fertilize the lawn with nitrogen to green it up.
3. Think Color- Add some annual plants to your landscape beds if you are planning to sell your home in MA during the spring, summer or fall. It will give an added pop of color at a low cost. If you have colored doors or shutters on your home try to use annual colors that will accent and bring out those colors not deter from them.
4. Another low cost enhancement is to use planters on front steps and even window boxes. Again, if it is during the spring summer or fall in MA, you can easily enhance the color and make your home warm, cheery and inviting by just adding this pop of color. Use spikey plants in the center of the planters and trailing vines along the edges to create dramatic effects and uniqueness in your displays. If it’s the winter months
5. Focal Point- Every yard needs some sort of focal point to create that extra impact in your curb appeal. Whether it’s a beautiful tree, island landscape bed, water feature. Some place to again bring in a dramatic effect that will pull a potential buyers eye and reel them into the beauty of your home.
6. Year round visual interest- If you are thinking of enhancing or completely redoing your landscape to sell your home for more money then you want to invest in some items that will give you year round interest. An easy way to do this is to add some evergreen plants and to also add some plants that will produce berries. These are great effects for the winter months. One of my favorite plants to use for the dramatic winter months, also beautiful variegated foliage when leaves are out, is the Red Twig Dogwood. The bark turns bright red in the winter months and really stands out in the landscape. Other items to consider are adding hardscape items such as walkways, to clearly define paths, retainer walls to add another dimension to your landscape.
7. Appeal to the Masses- Just as a realtor will advise you to make the interior “neutral”, you want to adhere to the same concept outside. While planning your landscape design or renovation make sure you are going to appeal to a majority of people not a select few. For example if you love perennial gardening, don’t install a gigantic perennial garden in the front yard that will take hours upon hours weekly to maintain. While it may be a visual enhancement to your curb appeal, you may turn off buyers that want a “low maintenance” yard.
8. Install a patio or outdoor entertaining area- This is an investment that you can’t go wrong with. Ultimately you are creating more living space for the potential buyer. It doesn’t have to be overly costly or extravagant. Just create a space where people can visualize themselves enjoying the outdoors as much as the indoors. Without a lot of cost once the surface, patio, is created you can bring warmth and really dress it up at a low cost with accessory items and planters with beautiful displays of plants.
9. Don’t be extravagant in your choices- If this is a home you were going to spend the rest of your life in then you may choose to spend on the “extras” but if you are trying to make more money to keep in your pocket again make choices that will appeal to the masses without going overboard. Determine a budget then make a punch list of where you want to spend that money. Lastly, determine what items will give you the best bang for your buck. There are some items that you may want to spend a little more money on and areas you can spend a little less. If you work or at least consult with a professional landscape designer they can steer you in the right direction.
10. Landscape Lighting- If you think your house may be shown at night what more dramatic 1st impression can you make than a beautiful showing of your landscape lit up at night. Again, don’t go overboard or over budget but just by adding a few “focal point” lights or lighting a walkway can make a very dramatic presentation.
I wanted to share a helpful tip with the impending snowfall coming this weekend. If you have a poured concrete or stamped concrete surfaces or interlocking pavers that are not high density, BEWARE of deicing salts. They will eventually eat away at your concrete and leave it crumbling and in need of replacement. You do not want your concrete to look like the picture here! So, just beware.
Sand is always an option that will not necessarily melt the snow but will provide better traction on unsealed concrete surfaces. If you have a sealed concrete area it will help protect against deicing salts but it’s not a guarantee.
If you have an interlocking pavement surface, such as a walkway, driveway or patio, installed by our company you are all set. We only recommend high density pavers with lifetime warranties. The only time we would install lower density pavers is, if it was a special request by the property owner and we would have provided disclaimers against the deicing salts prior to the product purchase.
Another little tip is “PRETREAT” your surfaces. If you have driveway and walkway surfaces that will not breakdown by deicing salts pretreat before the snow flies and it will help the melting process and thus less shoveling and snow removal!
Happy Snow Removal!
After waking up to a morning like today with a dusting of snow and ice covered roadways here in MA, it’s nice to refresh your memory on some tips for driving in winter weather. There’s nothing like getting out and driving on the first day of icy roads and winter weather here in MA and finding accidents on every street corner filled with people who have forgotten how to drive in winter weather. With that said, you may want to share these tips to help reach some of those people that may need their memories refreshed.
I came across these tips right from the mass.gov/blog and thought I would share the wealth of information.
10 Tips for Driving in Winter Weather
Winter in Massachusetts can deliver beautiful, crisp, fresh-air days to enjoy, but it can also distribute heavy amounts of snow via powerful Nor’easters that make driving dangerous. While it’s impossible to expect ideal road conditions year-round, there are safety measures drivers can take to make winter road trips less problematic.
- Ensure your car is road-ready; check the tires, brakes, lights, and windshield wipers.
- Keep the gas tank at least half-full. In extremely cold temperatures, condensation can build up in an empty tank which can cause the fuel line to freeze.
- Before hitting the road, clear the car’s hood, roof, and all windows and lights of frost and snow.
- Pack an emergency road kit in case of a breakdown or accident. It should include an ice scraper, shovel, flashlight, jumper cables, flares, blankets, and a first-aid kit.
- Check road conditions before travelling by calling 5-1-1 or by visiting the MassDOT traffic page, which provides real-time views of roads across the Commonwealth.
- If possible, postpone travel until roads have been plowed, treated, and cleared.
- A highway speed of 65 miles per hour may be safe in dry weather, but can be an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Speed limits are set for optimal conditions, so adjust your speed to the weather outside.
- Always wear a seat belt.
- In wintry conditions, motorists should always drive with their headlights on for maximum visibility.
- On slippery roads, a vehicle will not be able to stop or turn as quickly as it would on dry pavement, so allow greater distance than usual between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you.
As an added bonus here is a complete list for your Winter Emergency Kit:
WINTER EMERGENCY CAR KIT
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Charged cell phone/automobile charger
- Basic first-aid kit
- Necessary medications
- Pocket knife
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Extra clothes (include rain gear, boots, mittens, socks)
- High-calorie, non-perishable foods (dried fruits, nuts, canned food)
- Manual can opener
- Container of water
- Windshield scraper & brush
- Fire extinguisher
- Sand/road salt/cat litter for generating traction
- Tire chains or traction mats
- Basic tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
- Tow rope
- Battery jumper cables
- Road flares/reflectors
- Brightly colored cloth to utilize as a flag
- Road maps
Happy Safe Driving!
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!