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Landscaping tips to enhance curb appeal and sell your home for more money!

c4_Residential_LandscapeI would like to thank everyone that took the time to stop by our booth at the Home and Garden Show in Fall River last weekend.  It was great to see so many people excited to get their yards in shape and landscape projects started this spring.  Never mind great to see some live flowers!  I would also like to congratulate Regina Gilbert for winning our Landscape Design Giveaway at the Show!

I also wanted to share a handout that I gave out during my seminar at the show on Saturday titled: How to enhance your curb appeal and sell your home for more money!  Please feel free to contact me anytime kgravel@decorativelandscapesinc.com, if you have any questions.  I am sharing the handout here below:

Are you thinking of selling your home?  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.  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 enhance curb appeal and 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”.

2.  Clean it up- Going back to that 1st impression.  People want to see a meticulous well-manicured landscape.

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.

4.  Another low cost enhancement is to use planters on front steps and even window boxes.

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 or water feature.

6.  Install a patio or outdoor entertaining area-  It’s a great return on investment!

7.  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.

8.  Year round visual 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.

9.  Appeal to the Masses

 10.  Don’t be extravagant in your choices!  Remember you won’t be living here.

For those of you that don’t know, I am also a successful Realtor with Jack Conway which truly makes me an expert on this topic.

 

Drainage Solutions after epic snowfall in Bristol County 2015

downspout water flowing

Now that we finally have some temperatures over 32 degrees here in Bristol County, I am sure there are going to be many homeowners in need of drainage solutions after the epic snowfall here in Bristol County the past few months.  We are all going to be seeing a lot of water pouring out of our downspouts and pooling around our foundations which on one hand is great for the mental factor, the snow melting, but not so great for basements.  One of the biggest things you can do to help yourself is to get the water AWAY from the house.  Please read below for some short and long term fixes for your basement flooding issues:

 SHORT TERM FIXES:

downpout extension1.  The quickest and easiest fix you can do is add a connector to your downspout drain to get the water away from the house.  If you have a natural slope near the house get a pipe long enough to take it out to that natural sloping area.  It will naturally shed the water away rather than back towards the house.  It may not be the prettiest thing in the world but as a short term fix it will help aid against your basement from flooding.

web small

2.  Get the snow away from the house.  Clear a path or an area away from the foundation.  Whether you have non pervious surface areas or turf right now the ground is frozen and water will just pool until it finds somewhere to go which will be your basement if you have any cracks.  So, don’t give the water any opportunity to seep in.

3.  Monitor your property as the snow melts to see if you have any pooling or ponding occurring near your home.  You may have to shovel another path to alleviate the water pooling to flow away from the home.

4.  If you have a door that is at ground level and while 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.

5.  As the spring progresses, if any part of your yard goes 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.

LONG TERM FIXES:

1.  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.

2. 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.                                                                  Work Complete: Berms, Regrading, Loam, Underground Drainage Work and Sod Installations

3.  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.

                                                                              Swale sample

4.  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.                                                                                                                   Drainage Solutions for wet areas5.  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.

6.  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.    Front yard landscape bed redesign, new plants Somerset, MA7.  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 like Decorative Landscapes Inc.  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!

New England Grows Landscape Trends 2015

I embarked on my annual trip to New England Grows in Boston yesterday and got to see all the new landscape trends in plants, hardscapes and anything else landscape for 2015.  It was so invigorating and uplifting to be amongst living, breathing plants and flowers for a few hours anyway given all the snow of late.  Even though there weren’t as many pretty flower displays as I’ve seen in the past, I was able to capture a few beauties that I will share below.  So, some of the highlights that I took away from the show are:

1.  “Bloomstruck”- Endless Summer Hydrangea.  I posted about this new variety last week but actually got to see it up close and personal.  What a beauty!  Has more of a purple hue if you will.  But, did share both the blue and pink values of the original Endless Summer hydrangea.

Bloomstruck

Bloomstruck Hydrangea

2.  “Jelly Bean”- Dwarf blueberry bush.  This little blueberry wonder is prolific – producing plentiful large, flavorful blueberries mid-summer with super sweet flavor like homemade blueberry jelly. Brilliant green new foliage emerges in spring which gives way to darker greens with red hues throughout the summer and fall.  This beauty only grows 1-2 ‘tall.

jelly_bean_blueberry bush

Jelly Bean

3.  “Peach Sorbet”- A 4 season compact Blueberry Bush.  A four-season showstopper, this compact blueberry is stunning with leaves ranging from peach to pink to orange to emerald green. Spring’s white, bell-shaped flowers will give way to an abundant summer crop of healthy, sweet blueberries mid-summer. In most climates, Peach Sorbet keeps her leaves through the winter when the foliage transitions to a rich eggplant purple.  Love that you get four seasons and so many different colors with this plant!

peach_sorbet-blueberry bush

Peach Sorbet

4.  “Raspberry Shortcake”- Dwarf Raspberry Bush perfect for containers.  This revolutionary, thornless raspberry is a little dwarf of a raspberry with an endearing compact growth habit that thrives in patio pots or in your landscape. This raspberry produces full-size, nutritious and super sweet raspberries mid-summer.

raspberry_shortcake_dwarf raspberry

Rasberry Shortcake

How about those beautiful shrubs to start your sustainable landscape?  How great are these shrubs to provide beauty in our landscape but to also feed us!  If you want to learn more about these beauties click on the link here: http://www.brazelberries.com/

4.  Another flower that caught my eye was this beautiful new variety of Hibiscus or Rose of Sharon!

Rose of Sharon Cmp

5.  Can’t wait to see this beautiful containers at our local garden centers this spring/summer.

flower cmp

6.  Of course I had to get a photo of one of my all time favorites the “Doube Knockout Rose”.

Double Knockout Rose

As far as the hardscape side goes the biggest trend that I see in new design is “the natural wood look” made out of stone.  Last year I saw a few companies come out with “wood looking” pavers going along with the trend that you see going on inside the home right now.  Walk into any flooring store these days and you will see “stone” tile made to look like wood planking.  The hardscape companies are following suit outside.

Techo-Bloc also came out with “wood planking” walls this year as well.  Here are a few photos of these new products.  They really have done a great job at mimicking real wood.  You have to touch it to make sure it’s not real wood!

Timber Pavers Timber Wall-TB

“Pourous Pave”- is one last innovation that is a fairly new innovation that I want to mention.  I am also proud to announce that we will be a certified installer for “Porous Pave” after March 3rd of this year.  This new paving product can be used for walkways, patios, driveway for permeable pavement applications and the list goes on.  To give you a little overview read below if you want more details click here: http://www.porouspaveinc.com/

porous pave

Porous Pave is a revolutionary paving product made from recycled tires, aggregate and urethane binder.

Some of the benefits of this product are:

  • Highly permeable – allows large amounts of rainwater to pass through into the ground while providing a hard surface
  • Flexible – 50% rubber content allows Porous Pave to remain flexible which eliminates cracking, especially in freezing climate freeze/thaw
  • Durable – Porous Pave can be used in parking lots, driveways and other high use applications.  Also resistant to snow plow damage!
  • Super strong – installed at 2″ thick Porous Pave can handle low speed vehicle traffic, installed at 1-1/2″ thick for pathways, patios, trails and other pedestrian applications.  Use at 1″ thick to over-pour existing concrete/asphalt areas.

If you’d like anymore information on new products and new design ideas for 2015, please feel free to contact me anytime at kg@decorativelandscapesinc.com or 508-822-3030.

 

New garden plants and trends for 2015

There are some exciting and beautiful new garden plants and trends for 2015.  After being stranded in my house today with a blizzard going on outside it has me desperately wanting for spring and to see beautiful gardens and plants again!  I am so excited to attend New England Grows next week and to see some real life blooming plants and new trends for 2015.  However, I decided to start doing some on line research to see what I could find for new plant additions for 2015 and I was pleasantly surprised to find this blog from HGTV.  Please visit here if you would like to see all 26 of the new plants that they are showcasing http://www.hgtvgardens.com/flowers-and-plants/garden-trends-for-2015

I am going to share a few of my favorites here with the reasons why they are my favorites:

LA Dreamin Hydrangea

1. ”L.A. Dreamin” Hydrangea

The lush blooms of hydrangea ‘L.A. Dreamin’ allow myriad shades of pink and blue to coexist on the same plant, whether you adjust the alkalinity of the soil or not.  I love the fact that you don’t have to change the alkalinity of the soil and they will bloom pink and blue!  May have to invest in one for my own yard this year!

Blue Eyed Beauty Osteopermum

2.  “Blue Eyed Beauty” Osteospermum

A stunning contrast of purple center and yellow petals distinguish this new BallFlora Plant introduction. Osteopermum ‘Blue Eyed Beauty’ blooms with early spring color and unlike many osteospermum, these blooms stay wide open.  I love the color on this beauty.  How cool is that purple center and with the yellow what beautiful contrasting colors!

Suncatcher Plum Blast Petunia

3.  “Suncatcher Plum Blast” Petunia

A new trailing petunia introduction from BallFlora Plants, the ‘Suncatcher Plum Blast’ petunia boasts obvious intense color, is fast-growing and early-flowering.  Love the beautiful Plum color this petunia has to offer.  Can’t wait to add some to my containers this summer.

Snapshot Sunset Snapdragon

4.  “Snapshot Sunset” Snapdragon

Loads of varied colors define this ‘Snapshot Sunset’ snapdragon from PanAmerican Seeds.  I love the rainbow of color in this snapdragon.  Sure to be an eye turner in the garden or containers.

Minifamous Double Purple CAlirachoa

5. ”Minifamous Double Purple” Calibrachoa

A 2015 calibrachoa introduction from Selecta, the profuse blooms on ‘Minifamous Double Purple’ speak to a customer desire for lush, rose-like blooms on plants without the rose-like high-maintenance.  What’s not to love with this brilliant color and the beautiful double bloom.

Starship Scarlet Lobelia

6.  “Starship Scarlet” Lobelia

Intense color distinguishes this new lobelia variety, ‘Starship Scarlet’, hardy in zones 6-10.  I love the maroon foliage on this plant.  Will make a great contrast in a typical “green” foliage landscape.

Blue Marvel Salvia

7. ”Blue Marvel” Salvia

Hardy in zones 4-9, ‘Blue Marvel’ salvia, from Darwin Perennials, is all about high-impact color and profuse blooms.  The mild purple color and profuse blooms are beautiful. 

Endless Summer Mixture Lettuce

8. ”Endless Summer Mixture” Lettuce

New lettuce combinations from PanAmerican Seed are tailor-made for containers, heat-tolerant and grow quickly. Even better, they allow small-space gardeners to grow curated salad mixes like ‘Endless Summer Mixture’ from one combination pellet.  I love the fact that this lettuce will last longer in the hot months and will grow well in a container. 

Patio Baby Eggplant

9.  “Patio Baby” Eggplant

What’s hot in containers in 2014 and into 2015? Edibles, and they’re not just for gardeners with sprawling backyard gardens anymore. Varieties like ‘Patio Baby’ eggplant are part of a new trend in mini-edibles that work beautifully in containers.  How cool would that be to grow little baby eggplants on your deck or patio.  Great color too! 

Inidigo Ruby Tomato

10.  “Indigo Ruby” Tomato

Easy to grow in containers, exotic varieties of edibles like these ‘Indigo Ruby’ tomatoes are trending in 2015 as more and more millennials embrace container gardening.  I love all the new edible varieties that are coming out and what great color this will add to your outdoor space.  Looks similar to the baby eggplant’s but are actually tomatoes.  Think about all the colors you could have on your patio this summer!

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of the beautiful new plants and trends for your garden or patio this year.  I for one can’t wait to get out into my garden this spring!  Need some help planning your new garden, I can help!  Visit my design page and see some samples of what I do and if I can help contact me today.  http://decorativelandscapesinc.com/landscape-design-ma/

 

 

Low Maintenance Landscape Ideas for Front Yards in MA

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.

 

 

 

Concrete Surfaces and Deicing Salts in New England

concrete surfaces

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!

Tips for Driving in MA Winter Weather

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.

  1. Ensure your car is road-ready; check the tires, brakes, lights, and windshield wipers.
  2. 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.
  3. Before hitting the road, clear the car’s hood, roof, and all windows and lights of frost and snow.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. If possible, postpone travel until roads have been plowed, treated, and cleared.
  7. 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.
  8. Always wear a seat belt.
  9. In wintry conditions, motorists should always drive with their headlights on for maximum visibility.
  10. 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.

http://blog.mass.gov/blog/living-in-massachusetts/10-tips-for-driving-in-winter-weather/

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
  • Shovel
  • 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!

Outdoor Fire Pit or Fireplace?

Fireplace

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. What is your budget?  Keep in mind the fireplace structure will be about 10-15 times more expensive than a built in fire pit.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.

Creative decorating ideas for your Halloween landscape

landscape design ideas

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!

glowing eye directions glowing eyes in landscape

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

chick wire hall decoration

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:

skeleton scrcrwscarecrow motorcyclefun scrarecrow landscapefisherman_scarecrowscarecrowVillage scarecrow witch

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.

Glying ghost in a treeghosts in treesGhost in trees

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.

Circle ghost Cicle of ghosts

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.

colored lightbulbs

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!

spdr webhalloween spider webGraveyard halloween

 

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!!

Fall landscaping tips for MA landscapes: to prepare your landscaping for next spring

fall landscaping tips

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Deadhead any perennial blooms.  Cut back any perennials that are done for the season.
  4. Remove any annual flowers from planting beds and dispose of now instead of waiting til spring.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.