Browse Month

June 2018

I Want To Change My Garden

All of us have ideas on how to change our garden, but few of us know where to start. Most of us ‘pick’ at the problem, ‘attacking’ one area in isolation.The male of the species is particularly prone to this affliction, especially if there is construction involved. There is no coherent narrative, no sense of planning.

Look on making changes to your garden as a play in two acts. Act 1, which we shall look at here, is the design stage. Understand what you already have in your garden and decide what you want to change. Act 2, which we will look at another time, is the landscaping, the implementation of all those ideas.

Understand what you already have in your garden

Firstly, get the title deeds to your property. This is your blueprint of what you already have, showing the property, boundaries and relevant dimensions. Overlay a piece of tracing paper. Sketch in, as accurately as possible, man-made features not already recorded: any paths, water features and outlying buildings. Don’t ignore the mundane: the manhole covers and washing line; record the visual distractions including overhead power cables, telegraph poles and water tower; note the main trees and shrubs.

Track the sun round your garden on paper, sketching in areas of shade. Use the senses to record wind direction, audible irritations and aromas, pleasant and unwelcome. Your eyes will become attuned to every detail: the changing levels, the patches of erosion.

Remember also that your corner of Eden does not stand alone. It is one piece in a much larger jigsaw. Record some of those other pieces: properties that overlook your garden, local shops and roads, perhaps a nearby water-treatment plant. The list is endless.

The final stage in the understanding process is to go round the house and from every room look out of the window: record, on paper or with camera, what you see, in the garden and beyond. Remember to include views from upstairs if you are on more than one level.

Decide what you want change in your garden

Involve the whole family because you can be sure there will be a wide range of preferences and opinions. Sit down at the kitchen table and hammer out a list of collective wishes. This is how they might look:

His: Barbecue, lots of parking space (speedboat, two vehicles, visiting friends), workshop, low maintenance.

Hers: informal, wildlife, shade, sensory (e.g. scent, colour), indigenous, ‘veggies’.

The kids: play areas and sport.

The average garden will struggle to accommodate all these divergent wishes and there will have to be compromises. It is better to compromise at the planning stage than to make changes during construction. Landscape changes arising at this late stage invariably bring cost implications.

So, as a family you have reached a peace accord. Now Act 2, actually changing your garden, can begin.

Charles Waters is the owner of Charles Waters Landscapes.

Tips for Protecting Your Outdoor Furniture From Harsh Weather Conditions

Outdoor furniture can be a great addition to any home, giving you the opportunity to enjoy your outdoor space as much as possible. Whether you have invested in a full dining set for all those al fresco meals that you enjoy in the summer, or instead just have a day bed to lounge upon on the weekend, keeping these items in top condition is very important.

Whether you buy the items offline or online, outdoor furniture can be a big investment of money. This is especially true if you decide to spend your money on higher quality items, as you will no doubt be paying for the benefits of having well constructed and long lasting materials and designs.

Despite the quality of the outdoor furniture you have bought, however, there are several things that you can do to ensure its longevity and get as much use out of it as possible. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this.

The first thing to do when looking to protect your furniture is consider your particular geographical location and the weather conditions that your items will likely be subjected to on a regular basis. Both sun and rain can cause problems over time, wearing down both natural and synthetic materials and leaving your furniture brittle and damaged.

If you live in a rainy area, consider using a water sealant on your wooden furniture to protect it from moisture. This can still preserve the look of the wood, and is available from many local hardware stores, wherever you are in the world.

The sun can also cause damage, but unfortunately no sun sealant exists on the market! One way to protect from sun damage is to paint your wooden furniture, as this will provide a barrier between the sun and the wood. The downside of this, of course, is that you will lose the natural wood look of your items. There are many attractive looks that you can achieve with paint, however.

There is another solution to protecting your furniture however that does not involve painting it. Wood stains are widely available both offline and online, and outdoor furniture is afforded a significant amount of both water and sun protection if you choose a high quality brand and reapply it regularly, around every two years.

To protect your outdoor furniture, you should also take steps to protect the fabric that covers it, including your cushions, sofa covers, outdoor carpets and any other fabric in your outdoor space. Saying this, there are many high quality retailers on the maker now selling tough, soft and extremely durable polyester covers which will stand up to water and sun damage for a long time.

There are still many things you can do to prolong the life of these fabrics, however, including applying a fabric protector that is especially designed to adding water proofing protection and fade resistant qualities. If you are unsure whether this will work with your particular fabric, check with the manufacturer what they recommended to ensure the longevity of your products.

Finally, the best way to ensure that your outdoor furniture is protected is by storing it correctly, especially when the weather is bad. If items stay outside all year round, despite the fact you use them infrequently, they are likely to experience a great deal more damage and therefore last for a shorter period of time.

With many tips for storing items available via guides online, your outdoor furniture has no reason not be protected through taking adequate precautions. Invest in treating your items with care and they will be sure to provide you with hours upon hours of use and last you for many long years to come.

Tips on Landscaping With Trees

Trees are often an important part of a landscape design. Special, unusual trees used in landscaping are often referred to as ornamental. They are planted to enhance the appearance of the design. Many flowering trees are considered ornamental, as well as those with interesting bark, leaves, structure and smell. Many tree varieties are also used in landscaping for shade, privacy or as backdrops.

Before you purchase a tree, take some time to map out your overall landscape design. This will help you decide what types you need and where you are going to plant them.

Remember that trees are an investment. Talking to a big trees arborist is the best way to get the information needed to choose the ideal trees for a particular landscape. Tree suppliers or nurserys will know which will grow best, based on need and location. Consulting an expert can save one money by helping to avoid costly mistakes.

Here are some more tips on purchasing trees for your landscape.

To start with, create your landscape plan. Any landscaping project comes with expenses, big and small. Developing a long term landscape plan will enable you to achieve your overall goals while minimizing the financial impact. You will also be able to make any necessary changes before you move on to a new purchasing and planting phase. Avoid back tracking and getting stuck in a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ situation by having a good landscape plan.

When developing your plan, make sure you know what type of soil you have on your property. Many tree species have their own soil requirements. Planting in soil best suited for the tree will help maintain its vigor and health. Most native soils types include sand, loam, silt and clay. Some soils will have a better ability to retain water than others. Soil type can also impact the availability of nutrients, which the tree will need for growth. Drainage and depth of the soil are other factors that need to be taken into consideration when purchasing a tree.

Your planting plan should also be based on the size of tree, both height and diameter, that will work best for each planting location. Pruning a tree can help maintain height and width, but may eventually alter the natural shape of the tree. If the planting location is near a driveway, you will want to avoid trees with low branches. Trees that drop fruit can be a problem if they are planted near pools or water features. And don’t forget potential interference with power lines if your tree is a tall-growing tree. The kind of tree you plant near utilities should be well thought and researched to avoid disappointment in the future if the two ever tangle.

If you’re not sure what trees to plant or want to get an idea of how certain trees will grow in your area, take a walk around your neighborhood at various times of the year. Look for trees that are thriving regardless of the season, as well as any seasonal tree changes that might make you want to reconsider your plan.

When shopping for a tree, pay close attention to the tree’s health. Signs of poor health include wilting foliage, poor foliage color, dead branches, insect infestation and any other noticeable damage. Indicators of a healthy tree are root growth for bare root trees and a firm, soil ball for balled or burlapped trees. If you are buying a balled or burlapped tree, consider if the root ball is the proper size for the tree. Potted trees should not have any large, circling roots or be too large for their container. Good bark, firm but pliable leaves, a straight trunk, proper spacing between branches and well-distributed branches are also signs of a healthy tree.

If you are buying a deciduous tree during the early part of spring, it will most likely be dormant. One way to check a dormant tree’s health is to look for green tissue by scratching an outer branch segment with your fingernail.

Talk to a big trees professional to get answers to all your questions about landscaping with trees before you begin. Make sure your plan will work and your trees will thrive.