The Delicate Balance Between Gardening and Landscaping

While many believe that a landscaper is nothing more than someone who comes in and mows, trims and weed eats the grass, then neatly blows everything away so no one will ever know it was there, is misinformed. People who do nothing but this are people who mow, trim and weed eat your lawn and blow the remains away.

A landscaper is someone who works with the lay of the land and the flowers of your choice to bring about a desired affect. While there is a good deal of “yard work” that is done within the realm of landscaping, there is also a great deal of gardening and hardscaping that is done as well.

The gardening part can be anything from planting flowers, trees and shrubs to pruning and replacing dead or no longer wanted plants. It can also encompass sprinkler and other types of watering systems, designing gardens out in the yard or container gardens on your patios and decks. All of these things will need to flow into an overall landscape design and can be addressed and needed and/or wanted.

People forget that your landscape might also include arbors and pergolas to driveways, irrigation issues, laying of new patios, building onto your home in the form of a deck or sunroom and numerous other ideas that can be incorporated into your overall outdoor design. These hardscape items encompass a wonderful part of you home and outdoor decor.

So the next time you think about doing something different with your yard from putting in water features such as a pond or fountain to filling in a swimming pool and turning it into an organic garden; building retaining walls to keep your yard in or another yard out to weeding and making sure your plants are healthy and happy, thank of your local landscaping company. You may be surprised at what they can do and do well!

Irrigation and Landscape Design

In designing your backyard landscape, you should think about the irrigation system that will be used to water your plants and trees. Will you be using hoses above the ground or will you want below ground water sprinklers installed. You have to also take into consideration the water bill and in that respect you should learn when and how to water.

Mow your grass at a higher length so that it is longer. There is some controversy about whether this is helpful in saving water but it is better for the health of the grass as longer grass has stronger roots and is then more drought resistant. The grass should be mowed to a length of three inches. Aerate your lawn regularly as this will help the water get through the compacted soil and it also provides air to the roots of the grass. How often you should aerate your lawn depends on the type of grass you have and whether or not you remove lawn clippings. Dry spots are an indication that your lawn needs aeration.

Do not use as much fertilizer, as fertilizers help the lawn to grow and there is more usage of water with higher growth. Apply only the minimum amount of fertilizer needed. You can also apply fertilizer in small doses more frequently. Use a fertilizer dispenser to distribute the fertilizer evenly and you will not waste any of the fertilizer. Avoid the chemicals used in toxic fertilizer injection methods as they may be blown into neighbor’s yards or children may play in the wet grass and be subjected to it. If you add about a two or three inches deep layer of mulch: wood chips, almond hulls, decorative rock, etc. you will reduce the amount of water you use and reduce the number of weed in your lawn.

You can save water by reshaping your backyard landscape. If you shrink the size of your lawn, you will save water since the lawn takes more water than plants or shrubs. If your irrigation system is close to the house of near fences, reduce the size of the lawn in those places as the irrigation water spraying the house or fence can cause problems. You can use low growing plants with drip irrigation between the fence and the house.

If you would like to have a small garden area with plants that use a lot of water, then set it in a shady area where the wind will not get at it. High water plants will use less water when planted in a shady area and where they are protected from high winds. Because of the emphasis on water conservation, many water providers in dry areas of the country are giving coupons, rebates and discounts to purchasers of irrigation equipment. Some will even provide the equipment free of charge to their local customers. You should ask you water provider about these discounts, etc. before you purchase any irrigation equipment and ask about freebies also.

Garden and Landscaping Design Tips

When you think designing our garden or landscape, the most important consideration is how you and your family use your outdoor area. Plants, trees, a lawn area – these are all part of the total landscape. But beyond that, there are other issues. Outdoor lighting will help you enjoy your garden in the evenings. Irrigation lines are the best way to get water to those thirsty plants. If you like privacy, fencing is essential. If you want shade, retractable awnings are a must. If you love entertaining, consider an outdoor kitchen barbeque area. If you are lucky enough to afford the cost of a pool and spa, make sure you incorporate these features into your design. And of course, you also must consider outdoor furniture placement.

Plants, Trees and Lawns

When you think of a garden landscape, you first picture lots of green, with wonderful splashes of color. But as water costs rise, that big lawn may be something you want to rethink. Many people are replacing lawns with more water-efficient areas, such as succulent gardens. This also applies to plants, whether they are in containers or planted in the ground. Besides their water needs, the types of plants you choose also depends on how much sun or shade you have naturally in your garden. When you design your layout, think about how the colors will go with each other, and try to incorporate different textures too. Consider your soil too. If you have very dense clay soil, you may want to avoid delicate plants or at least use a tiller to amend the soil before planting.

Irrigation

You certainly don’t want to spend all your time in the garden with a watering can, so irrigation is a must. Figure out where the lines can run from your original water source when you plan your landscape. When you layout your garden design, think in terms of irrigation zones, too, so you can water certain areas that need more water more frequently.

Outdoor Lighting

Once the sun goes down, you really need outdoor lighting. For most of us, lighting should blend in nicely with the overall landscape. There are different options. LED lighting is cost effective in the long run. Solar lighting is becoming more popular as energy costs go up. Lighting can also be used to illuminate specific parts of your garden, such as unusual trees, or an interesting collection of plants.

Fencing

They say good fences make for good neighbors. This is certainly true. Fencing is especially important if you have a pool or water area. Even if you don’t have children, your neighbors may, so you want to keep everyone safe. Wood fencing is often the least expensive option for privacy and security. Composite fencing can be less prone to termite and weather damage. Fences can also be decorative, for example wrought iron fencing can truly enhance a garden landscape.

Retractable Awnings

We’re all aware of the dangers of too much sun, so if you love the outdoors, you will want retractable awnings or some type of shaded area. The retractable awnings are great because they can roll back in when you don’t want shade, such as in the early morning or the evening. Electric awnings are easy to operate too. Just push a button for instant shade.

Outdoor Kitchen Barbeque

For the chef in the family, why stop at a barbeque, when you can have a whole outdoor kitchen center. These centers are built in, providing not only a BBQ grill, but counter space, running water and other features to make cooking a breeze.

Pool and Spa

If you can afford the cost of a pool and spa – or if you already have one – they can not only be something to entertain the family, they can also be a beautiful part of the landscape. One thing to consider in designing a pool is that unconventional shapes can make it more difficult to use a pool cover. When you figure the cost of a pool, don’t forget maintenance. You will need to keep the pool clean, you will have to maintain chemical levels correctly, and you will also need to redo the surface of the pool over time. A spa can be less work, although cleanliness is still essential for good health.

Outdoor Furniture

Finally, you need furniture to enjoy the outdoors. Before buying any outdoor furniture, consider how you and your family use the space. If you entertain a lot, you’ll need multiple seating areas, perhaps a larger table and chair set. You’ll want to place table and chairs close to the cooking area. You may also want to look into lounge chairs, gliders, outdoor swings or other types of seating.

There are many things to think about when designing a garden landscape. But when it all comes together, the result is a garden you and your family will enjoy for a long time.

For more information on garden and landscaping tips see your local home improvement or garden store.