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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.

Fun Ways to Create Focal Points in Your Garden Area

Fun Ways to Create Focal Points in Your Garden AreaAnyone who ventures into your garden should instantly feel that they are in a tranquil place of beauty, calm and enjoyment. One way to make sure that this is the case is to make sure that the visual aspects of your garden are attractive in all the right ways. What this means is that your eye should be drawn to one place as you enter the garden. Your eyes should also be drawn in a certain way in different directions within the garden. As you enter the garden, your focal point should be somewhere in your field of view. It should not be straight ahead of the entrance to the garden, but it should be that it is off either to the right or to the left side as you enter the garden. This is important because as you enter the garden this feeling of tranquility should be immediate.

There are many ways to create eye-catching points in your garden: some of which include color, and others of which include shapes. The key is to use a distinct variety of either color or shape, and eyes will naturally be drawn to the area where the scheme creates a focus. This could be done without the help of a professional designer. What you first need to do is decide which types of flowers and plants, as well as which types of furniture (if any) you would like to include in your garden. Once these basic questions are answered, you’re ready to start planning your garden with gusto.

A good place to start is with furniture since plants and flowers can be arranged around the bigger items such as benches and arches. Benches are ideal furniture for a garden; benches can help make a garden into a haven for relaxation. A bench can be white in stark contrast to the greenery around it; white benches evoke a Victorian or English garden environment. More rustic gardens can have benches of unfinished wood that blend more into the surroundings. As a focal point, a white bench pops out against the background much more clearly, so if you want a really distinct focal point in your garden, a white bench or white Adirondack chairs might just be the way to go. For a less obvious focal point that guests don’t even consciously recognize as a focal point, a bench that blends into the scenery is a good option.

Other fixtures that can serve as focal points in a garden are bird feeders, arches and fountains. All of these can be made as ornate and obviously focal points as you wish them to be, or they can be downplayed and integrated into the landscape so as to create an effortless focal point.

Another great way to make focal points in your gardening area is to use color. How this is done is by creating a color palette which you have many shades of one family of color and then you introduce a focal point that is of a complementing color but that is in an entirely different color family. For example, if you like blues and purples, you can use different shades of blue and purple and the colors in between, and then introduce, in the center of a large area of blue/purple, a cluster of vibrant yellow flowers. Since yellow will complement all of the shades of blue and purple, it will seem at home among the blues and purples, but it will visually pop out of the blue/purple background. This sort of focal point can be used in gardens with lots of flowering plant activity; in gardens without lots of flowers, it’s best to stick to the above idea with furniture creating visual interest.

How To Make The Best Out Of Your Lawn And Landscape

Looking for a peaceful place at home to retreat after a long day at work? More than just a property-enhancing feature, your lawn could be the perfect place to relax and relieve your stress. In fact, this green space at home can take on multiple functions depending on the lifestyle of the homeowners.

Transforming your whole yard into a functional and beautiful living space needs your attention and resources. If you want to create something which makes you excited and anxious to share with your family and friends, consider these tips below:

Tip #1: Figure out what you want out of your lawn.

Whether you are starting from scratch or redesigning your existing lawn, think about what you want your lawn to do for you. Would you like to have water elements installed to keep energy flowing in your yard? Would you like to have a porch where you can view the beauty of your yard? How about flower beds, vegetable beds, or plant containers for aromatic herbs? Design it the way it is meant to be. Make sure though that you are willing to implement every details of your plan. A garden might be appealing but if you do not have the time to take care of your plants then it is better not to include this feature in your plan.

Tip #2: Consider the maintenance you will do.

Your job does not end after you have all the elements put together. For a vibrant and healthy lawn, maintenance is needed. So before you build your yard, you need to think about the right plants and the right spots where you would put them. Know the areas where there is enough sunlight and put some trees or shrubs there. For your lawn, get the right type of turf that can best grow in the type of soil that you have in your yard.

Tip #3: Know the right elements to add.

Keep your lawn as lovely as possible by adding some elements like lighting and furniture. For evenings with family or friends, bring out that comfortable outdoor furniture and install the right kind of lighting. You can also have a fire pit built or a top notch grill ready for barbecue dining.

Tip #4: Prepare to invest in lawn care services.

There are some tasks in your yard which you might not be able to accomplish. Soil testing for example is an important process. Before you start planting, have your soil tested by experts in lawn care and landscaping. Professionals will tell you what you need to buy should you need some fertilizers to boost the health of the soil. This means that you will be able to spare your money from buying the wrong type of fertilizer to use. With the right lawn care company, you are sure that specialized work in your yard is done right.

Grass Reinforcement Tips

Are you wondering how you can effectively reinforce your grassed car park or any other grassed surface that is regularly used by heavy traffic? It is important that you use grass reinforcement on such surfaces to minimize damage to the grass and the ground itself. To protect grass, you may either use ground reinforcement grids or ground protection panels. These two not only stabilize the grass, but also strengthen the ground for more demanding tasks to be carried out on the surface. If the compound in your home or your business is used by heavy machinery or vehicles, you should consider using grass reinforcement solutions to prevent damage to the grass and the soil.

These reinforcement techniques are also beneficial over the long term in that they prevent you from having to restore the entire grass lawn every time it gets damaged, especially during the rainy season. There are various grass reinforcement solutions in use today, other than paving. However, the main part of reinforcing your grassed surfaces is to choose high quality and durable reinforcement products from the best and reputable suppliers in the country. The following are some of the essential tips, regarding grass reinforcement options available.

Grassy Reinforcements

If you are a property owner looking for a way to increasing the parking area without interfering with the integrity and beauty of the lawn or the landscape, you may opt to reinforce the grass lawn. Reinforcing the lawn will allow it to take up extra weight and serve as the extra parking lot you need. This will stabilize the ground and create a sturdy ground for the equipment and vehicles. Additionally, the various reinforcement options are hardly noticeable. As such, they will not interfere with the beauty of the lawn in any way. This is a cost effective means of increasing the parking area on your property rather than undertaking costly space conversions.

How grass reinforcement Work

These magnificent products are designed to work in harmony with the natural forces of destruction, including water run-off, rain and sedimentation. While reinforcing the grassed surfaces for extra strength, these products do not interfere with the ecosystem and the environment. Additionally, they do not affect the flow of water on the surface. Instead, they allow the grass to grow normally and remain healthy, even when destructive forces are applied.

Common Uses

Grass reinforcing techniques are used for an array of purposes. Companies and business owners may use them to convert their lawns into parking lots. At home, you may use these techniques to strengthen the grass lawns so that you can easily hold parties, concerts or even meetings on the grass without causing any damage to the grass and the soil. In the construction industry, the ground is normally reinforced to prevent damage by the heavy machinery or sinking of the machinery. This is particularly useful during the rainy season, when the machinery and equipment can easily sink into the wet surface.

Why to Consider Marble for Outdoor Renovations

When making a renovation to your yard, a lot of choices can affect the aesthetics and resale value of your home. Unlike indoor renovations, which are only visible to family and close associates, your outdoor patio and lawn make an impression on your neighborhood and community. That’s why it’s so important to be sure that your yard properly represents you. While the market is filled with many options for tiling and outdoor furniture, none offer the same tastefulness that marble brings to the outdoors. Marble is a great choice to consider because it raises a home’s value while also looking gorgeous.

One of the biggest advantages of marble is that it is extremely durable and stands up well to the elements. While other materials may eventually decay or shatter under heavy weather, marble still looks good even decades after its installation with appropriate maintenance. Due to it being a naturally occurring mineral, marble inherently is meant to survive the conditions and actually gains a unique look after being installed. Your tiles will develop a patina, a thin oxidized layer, due to their exposure to the air, which adds a unique vintage look to any yard. Not only does this add to your home’s aesthetics, a patina also helps to prevent older marble from damage. This makes it able to last much longer than its alternatives.

The unique and stylish natural pigmentation of marble also makes it a great choice for a customized look. Since each slab of marble is uniquely designed by its natural creation process, it can add its own personality to any yard. Since it comes in a variety of hues and patterns, marble can also be easily integrated into nearly any home’s aesthetic to create a more sophisticated look to both new and old houses. The timeless look of marble is created without the usage of harmful dyes or chemicals, so it can be a great addition to any yard and is an environmentally sound investment.

While most people often only think of marble for the tiling of their patio and walkways, it can actually be much more versatile in a yard. One of the most common uses of marble in a yard is to create beautiful durable benches and tables. By choosing yard furniture made out of marble instead of other materials, it can add a unique character to a normally mundane thing and make it last longer. You can also use marble for your home’s wall claddings to create a harmonious natural design that is both beautiful but also practical. For people looking to improve their home’s resale value or just make their yard look more refined, marble can be a great material to consider.

Explore Playground Mulch Materials and Benefits

Kids climbing on outdoor structures need protection from possible falls and injuries. The materials on the surface under the equipment play an important role in keeping children safe. As you construct a play area, explore the different options in playground mulch to learn about the benefits of each one.

Natural Loose Fill

Loose fill may consist of a variety of materials, including wood chips, sand, and pea gravel. As long as the depth conforms to equipment specifications, loose fill can be an effective and economic playground mulch surface. Pea gravel is inexpensive and simple to maintain. This material does not attract animals, and it drains effectively.

However, pea gravel is not recommended for equipment that involves fall heights of more than five feet. Sand is also inexpensive and easy to maintain. Placing sand under a structure also provides children with additional play options. Sand is not recommended for equipment involving fall heights of more than four feet. Wood chips are affordable and readily available. Wood chips are suitable for equipment involving fall heights of up to 10 feet. Any loose fiber materials will need regular upkeep to ensure maintenance of the proper depth. Loose fill can blow away or kids could track it out of the play area.

Engineered Fill

Engineered fill consists of either shredded rubber or synthetic wood fibers. These materials have been approved for effective impact protection. These materials will not decompose the way natural fill may over time. Depth may need occasional replenishing due to kids tracking it out of the area. If debris such as twigs or glass fall on this surface, it remains at the top. This enables maintenance workers to rake it off easily to keep children safe from injury. Insects will not nest in engineered fill, which helps make it last longer than some natural materials. Rubber mulch comes in a variety of colors to facilitate interesting outdoor designs. Rubber and wood mulch are also wheel-chair accessible.

Poured-in-Place Surface

A pour-in-place system involves the installation of a sub-base with a cushioned layer over the top. This cushioned layer is typically made out of recycled tire rubber, ground into fine granules and held together with a special binding agent. After mixing the liquid, installers pour it in place and trowel it smooth by hand. After waiting for the first layer to dry, installers pour another layer.

A pour-in-place system is wheel-chair accessible, and it comes in a variety of vibrant colors. Maintenance involves periodic cleaning to remove dirt and debris. Use a blower or a vacuum system every two to three weeks to clean the surface. With correct maintenance, this surface should last for many years, although harsh weather conditions can shorten its life significantly. This surface is suitable under equipment with fall heights of up to 12 feet.

Explore your options to determine which playground mulch fits your needs and budget. By installing the best material possible, you can ensure that the kids playing in this area will be safe at play.

How to Install Fencing Around Your Pool

Thinking about protecting your swimming pool with a fence? Instead of spending plenty on hiring a professional why not install it yourself!

Fencing is the best way to maintain privacy and peace within your property. Also, it helps in increasing the value of your property. Installing a fence around your pool involves proper planning and consideration. There is no need to hire a professional for carrying out this task. All you need to do is, to stay focused and grab as much info you can about the process. As a rightful owner of a backyard swimming pool, you must feel concerned about your pool safety and cleanliness. Aside from that, it is important that you purchase some useful products to make your pool look good such as filters, chemicals, pumps and heaters.

Nevertheless, there are some measures to take before starting-up with fencing.

• It’s better to check neighborhood rules before building your fence – it is important that you make sure whether you are allowed to build a fence or not. If you build one without considering the rules, government or legal firms will tear the whole thing down. If in case you are told that you do need a permit for it, it’s better to get one before starting-up with the construction process.

• Pick your materials – there are many types of material used for building fences, so the first thing you need to do is to decide what kind of fence you want.

Types of Fences

a) Wooden – this is the most common type of fencing and lasts between 5-20 years depending upon the type of wood used. Furthermore, they are relatively economical as compared to other fences.

b) Aluminium – these are long-lasting and highly durable fences. Aluminium in general is lightweight, durable and versatile material because of which these barriers are less susceptible to corrosion. Also, aluminium is less expensive as compared to other fencing materials like steel, iron, vinyl etc.

c) Vinyl – they come in a variety of colours and can be easily cleaned as compared to wood and aluminium fences. No doubt they are considered as a better option, but they are slightly expensive.

• Prepare your tools and start-up with the installation – Once you’ve decided what type of fence you’ll be using, now is the time to bring together all the necessary tools and equipments for carrying out the process.

Steps involved:

a) Measuring the area that needs to be fenced
b) Preparing holes and posts
c) Setting posts
d) Attaching the rails to the fence posts
e) Installing fence boards

How to Create a Medieval Garden

Before beginning any home improvement project, you must be aware of site preparation work that will need to be completed prior to laying the first stones or paving tiles. Creating a medieval garden needs meticulous planning.

Locating the perfect location in any landscape:

In order to determine the perfect location for any home improvement project first one needs to determine the purpose of their medieval garden. Will it be a focal area for entertaining, as an outdoor living and walk area, or will it be a memorial garden for a beloved pet. By determining the main purpose of your stone work garden prior to laying a single stone or the first paving tiles, will save yourself headaches in the long run which will result in a long life to any building project. Determining the ultimate use for your garden will impact what will be required as your first step.

Step 1:

When creating a medieval garden, the foundation, or site preparation work will be required for different projects. Proper site location and preparation means the difference between years of enjoyment out of your new home improvement project, and an unsightly mess in your landscape that haunts you in your dreams. Whether you will be paving with natural stone for a walkway through your newest building project, or using manufactured paving tiles, preparation of your site will insure that it will remain as beautiful today as will be for years to come, however it requires advance thought and planning.

• Is the site location level or will it need to levelled?

• How will water drain off the paving stones or tiles once they are laid?

Step 2:

Once you have establish the required foundation, next you will need to determine what size and shape stones and tiles that will be required for your building project. You don’t want to have your stonework dwarfed by your chosen location or over-sized for the completed landscape project. Will you be incorporating greenery? You want to make sure your medieval garden looks appealing to the eye as well as functional for your intended purpose for years to come.

So that is how you can plan your medieval garden are. Get your planning booklet out and start with your garden design. I’m sure that you will have a lot of fun drawing up concepts and visualising what your garden area will look like when it is completed.

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