Proper Planning of Your Landscape Lighting Design

Without a plan, landscape lighting designers are dead in the water. Even skilled landscapers understand the value of a detailed, well-thought out blueprint. Without a plan, mistakes are nearly guaranteed, and whenever time and money is wasted, another set of problems surface.

If you just moved in or you are getting ready to tackle your lighting project, you will be anxious and excited to install those lights and get your yard one step closer to your vision. Unfortunately, haste results in failure and it is not uncommon for homeowners to rush the process because they are too excited to wait and plan it out properly. Just remember that your excitement will turn to dread when a failure to plan turns into an emotional headache.

First Steps

The purpose of a plan is to avoid future mistakes. When you start the process, you will notice how everything fits and any potential inconsistencies will surface during this phase. For example, your vision may include a particular fixture next to a tree, but when you plot the dimensions on paper, you realize they are too close and do not blend well as it relates to the overall yard.

Draw your plan to scale with 1/8”=1” being appropriate for most properties. Use graph paper and add every feature of your yard with tracing paper. If you are technical, try one of the many computer software programs available. The programs make it easier to envision how changes would look in real time. Make sure to include every surface and feature such as walkways, driveways, porches and patios, borders and all gardens.

Measurements

Start by measuring your property line and recording the data into your program or on paper. To make the process easier, measure the distance from your property line to one corner of the house and use this as a reference to measure the remaining sides of the house.

Will you entertain in your yard? Live outdoors a lot? Think about how you will use your outdoor space. Contemplate the idea of terraces and patios, their location and proximity to the sun. Also consider the areas that will need more light at night for safety and entertaining purposes. Some areas will need basic functional lighting to provide illumination for guests and deter thieves from entering your property. Additional light will serve an aesthetic purpose and should be placed where you want the most emphasis.

Lighting

Decide which lights you will use for your design. There are many from which to choose including energy-efficient options as well. Pay attention to the installation of each type and choose based on your willingness and expertise. Think about maintenance and overall costs to run the lights on an ongoing basis. And remember—when designing lighting, less is more. Be aware of the natural tendency to go overboard.

If you stick with a plan, you will avoid most mistakes. A little time before the process will save you months of heartache and regret, and give you the exact design you envision for your landscape.

 

Tips for Summer Veggie Gardening

It doesn’t get much better than biting into a plump, juicy garden-fresh tomato or slicing a cool chunk from a freshly-picked cucumber. If you’ve always been interested in starting a vegetable garden, but are too apprehensive to give it a shot, then read on. Veggie gardening can be a fun and rewarding experience provided you do your homework and properly plan before you dive into the planting process.

If you follow a few simple guidelines, when fall arrives, you will have a bountiful autumn harvest you can pick, eat, store, and share all winter long.

Plan Your Garden in the Winter

The New Year is a great time to start planning your summer vegetable garden. Ask yourself a few key questions before you decide what to plant:

  • Is this veggie compatible with the weather in my region, or will it have trouble growing?
  • Do I have the space to grow vegetables that need more room, such as corn or potatoes?
  • Does the soil in my space have enough nutrients to support a vegetable garden?

Most U.S. states have government-run agricultural websites that offer detailed (and free) advice, guidance, and planting schedules you can use as your garden’s cheat sheet. Choose veggies that will thrive in your region during the summer months. Different climates have different humidity levels and the warm summer weather lasts much longer in some regions than it does in others.

Start Your Plants Indoors

Once you select what you want to grow, start your seeds indoors. Use rich potting soil and fertilizer and plant your seeds in small pots. Make sure to house them somewhere warm in your home with plenty of access to sunlight. The idea is to keep your plants warm, fed, and sunned until they sprout. Then, in April or May depending on your region, plant your seedlings outside.

The process of slowly transferring indoor seedlings outdoors to grow is called “hardening off” and it’s a gradual process. If you rapidly remove your seedlings from their pots and plant them in the ground exposed to the elements, they may die of shock – literally.

Instead, gradually introduce your seedlings to the outdoors little by little over the span of a week. Take them outside during the day at first, and then bring them in at night. Stretch out the time they are outdoors incrementally until they are ready to spend 24/7 exposed to the elements. That’s when it’s time to plant your seedlings in the ground.

Be Vigilant

Even one missed day of watering can lead to the death of your vegetable garden. Once you transfer your seedlings into the ground, check them every single day for signs of wilting or droopiness.  Ensure you are not over-watering your plants, and that your soil has enough nutrients to get the job done.

If you follow these simple tips for starting a summer vegetable garden, you will be harvesting your very own fresh produce in no time – and you will save money and trips to the grocery store in the process.