Ways to Save Money on Your Landscape Design

Landscaping can become a big expense for homeowners. With the recent economic downturn, homeowners need all the help they can get to lower costs and stay on budget.

Here are some money-saving landscaping tips:

Avoid Wasting Money – If you ever tackled a home improvement project, you know that the budget always expands as unexpected issues arise. A lack of planning can result in the identical scenario with your landscape design. Sketch your landscape design with as much detail as possible. Label exactly what you will need down to the last wire and screw. This step may take you a little time but it will save you money and stress in the long run.

Avoid Mistakes – Part of the planning process is to ensure your design is cohesive with your yard and no unexpected events occur. Though you may not have the budget to hire a landscape designer for the whole project, it may be in your best interest to consult with one on an hourly basis. Just a few hours talking to a professional and going over your design plans can signal you to potential pitfalls that could cost you more money down the road. Before you consult with a professional, make sure you have your landscape plan already in place.

One Step at a Time – Once you devise a budget, you may discover that you do not have the money to complete the entire project. Instead of settling for lower quality plants and materials, divide the project into phases and complete it over time. In the end you will be happier that you did not use cheaper materials even though the landscape took you a longer time to complete.

Bargains – You can find low-cost plants and materials at home improvement stores. These locations offer the basics in terms of what you will need to start your design such as mulch, annuals, pavers and common tools. For more specialized plants, consider a local specialty store. There you will find more knowledgeable sales people who will know exactly what you are looking for and lead you in the right direction.

You can snag some online discounts by searching the web. Research coupons by performing a search for the store name along with the word “discount code” or “coupon code”. A number of sites will come up with links to special savings. Compare prices and don’t forget to include shipping in your budget.

Check with your city about any initiatives that provide residents with free mulch. Also, arboretums or related public places may hold plant sales.

Are you friendly with your neighbor? Ask to borrow some tools and share the costs. If any of the neighbors are in the midst of a landscaping design, consider sharing the costs of expensive equipment. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.

Landscape design doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little ingenuity and a good dose of patience, you can have the landscape of your dreams on the budget you desire.

10 Lighting Technique Ideas for Your Landscape

Wondering which lighting technique to use for your landscape design? It’s a tough, but fulfilling road for homeowners who desire to transform the look of their landscape with lighting. With hundreds of techniques from which to choose, designing can turn into an arduous task instead of a rewarding experience.

To make your process a little easier, we outlined some of the top lighting techniques below. They are commonly used in all types of landscape designs and styles. From zen gardens to elaborate Tuscan features, each technique has its place in form and function.

Uplighting – The technique of uplighting involves placing a fixture close to the trunk of a tree and directing the light upward. This effect emits a soft moon-like glow to the tree.

Downlighting – Downlighting is similar to uplighting but the fixture is placed elevated above the object. The smaller trees would benefit from this technique since it casts light through the tree below.

Silhouetting – This technique lights a vertical surface behind an object resulting in a dark outline of the object. This technique is effective for shining light on an object, like a tree or plant located close to a wall.

Grazing – Grazing involves placing a fixture against a textural wall about 6” away from it to intensify its texture. The beam is directed up or down and often used along brick or stone walls.

Shadowing – If you place a fixture in front of an object it will cast a shadow on the surface behind it. This technique is known as shadowing. Play around with the size of the shadow by adjusting the distance of the fixture in relation to the object. The further away the fixture, the smaller the shadow.

Lighting Water – Fountains should be featured in landscape designs with lighting adding a special effect when fixtures are placed under the water. Fountain lighting contributes to a warmer ambience and a reflective water surface. Add colored lenses for a creative and dramatic look.  The same effects can be applied to ponds or any other water feature.

Moonlighting – Moonlighting is evident when a fixture is hidden inside a tree and positioned downward to dance through the branches. The more elevated the fixture, the greater the tranquil effect on the object.

Walkway/Pathway Lighting – This technique is helpful when lighting paths and walkways for security purposes. The paths should be completely visible but not too bright to cause glare or pollution. Consider illuminating any dark areas so intruders are not tempted to approach your property. Low-level lighting will deter criminals and illuminate dark areas while preventing a severe glare.

Spread Lighting – Spread lighting is the perfect accompaniment to greenery or flowers that are low to the ground. The fixtures evenly disperse the light throughout the area of focus. Fully-shielded fixtures are best for the absence of glare, but a partial shield will be the best choice to illuminate larger areas with deeper foliage.

Deck Lighting – Design and safety go hand in hand with deck lighting. Add a beautiful design fixture while illuminating steps, deck edges and changes in elevation for safety.

Any one of these techniques will enhance and provide a safer environment for all who live in your home.

Landscaping Protection Tips for the Winter

Do you slave away in your front yard during the summer, pruning every bush and painstakingly manicuring every blade of grass three times a week? If you are deeply in love with your landscaping, then you are probably a little dismayed when winter rolls around.

Winter officially begins on December 21, but it’s best to begin planning for the cold weather while it’s still warm outside. If you take the proper measures, you can protect your lawn from the elements and shield your plants until the spring.

Salts and Oil Sprays

Salt is a common remedy for melting ice on driveways and sidewalks after a hard freeze. However, if salt falls anywhere near plants and shrubs, it can seriously damage the roots.

When you’re applying salt to your walkways and driveway, use it carefully and stay away from nearby plants and shrubs. If your plants exhibit yellow or brownish tones come spring, salt may be the culprit. Opt for sawdust or sand to melt ice instead to sidestep this potential catastrophe.

Deciduous shrubs and trees are susceptible to mites and other overwintering critters. Using a miscible oil spray during the colder months is a great way to protect your plants from such insects. Only apply miscible oil spray when temperatures are over 40 degrees F., and never spray the oil within a 24-hour window of a deep freeze.

Pruning during the Winter Months

Many people believe that plants don’t need pruning during the winter, but this is not entirely true. Some plants must be pruned during the colder months so they bloom when spring arrives. If you have summer-flowering bushes such as hydrangeas or hibiscus flowers, they still need intermittent pruning during the winter.

Leave deciduous trees alone for the majority of the winter months, but remember they will need a little TLC as the seasons change. Remove deadwood from the trunks to encourage growth and protect your trees against deadly fungal diseases.

Protecting New Plant Growth

Late winter is the best time to plant new flowers and add to your existing landscaping. In most areas, the month is mild enough to support plant growth. Take care to select the right flowers, however. Good choices are snapdragons, petunias, or other flowers called “annuals” that start their life cycle in cooler months.

The trick is to plant the annuals in highly enriched soil. Ensure there is adequate room for drainage to keep the flowers protected from overwatering. Also, pat on an extra layer of mulch to protect your flowers from the elements until spring arrives, and stake new plants to keep them shielded from wind damage.

It’s also wise to check your sprinkler system often during the winter season. Cold weather can wreak havoc on water lines, so it is vital to run your sprinklers and check each sprinkler head for proper water output.

If you take a few simple steps to protect your landscaping during the winter, your yard will be healthy, happy, and ready to bloom when spring finally rolls around.