Lighting the Way Around the Summer Pool

Aaaahhhh the pool. The lazy days of summer. The place where friends and family gather to enjoy a dip in a sparkling pool on a hot day.

But what about the evening?  The party has been a success! No one wants to leave, and sometimes a summer pool party will go way into the evening hours. What about the safety of its surroundings and your guests who have gathered around the pool?

Perhaps there is some lighting illuminating from a porch light. Maybe lights from the house filter illuminate outside, and a few citronella candles flicker, but the area around the pool may need more light for the protection and safety of your guests. It’s not uncommon for safety hazards to accompany late-night parties where guests are put in harm’s way because they cannot see their surroundings.

Solar Lighting

Normally, an underground pool will have some kind of underwater lighting, but in some cases, there may be no lighting in the actual pool or surrounding area. This can be a hazard. Solar lighting can be a huge asset to illuminating your pool area at night, and it is also energy-efficient.

Solar lamps have tiny panels that store energy from the sun, recharge during the day, and as the late afternoon turns to dusk, the solar light automatically turns on and continues to remain illuminated throughout the evening for 8 to 10 hours.

Garden solar lights are also decorative, and can be placed not only around the pool, but the deck, stairs and pathways to help light the surroundings. They come in a variety of designs and shapes and can even add to a theme of the party. Consider using solar light wherever a potential accident could occur such as in high-traffic areas.

Lanterns

In addition to using garden solar lighting, you may also consider the use of paper lanterns that can be hung around the area to give a festive atmosphere, while also providing protective lighting. Tea light candles are often used to light a paper lantern and battery-powered candles are available and are a safer choice.

Not only is garden solar lighting a safe alternative to lighting the area around your pool, but it can be used all over the landscape of your home. These decorative lamps act as inexpensive protection for your home, keeping secluded areas lit, while serving as a deterrent for thieves who look for dark places to perform their crimes. They are not only cost effective, but energy-efficient and there is no timer to worry about. The setting sun handles the timing for you.

Having family and friends over to your home for a pool party to celebrate various occasions can be a wonderful time. By taking the cost effective, energy-efficient steps to protect your guests during these events by using solar lighting, it will help to give you peace of mind and also add to the ambience of your outdoor festivities.

 

Composting: Fertilize Your Landscape for Free

Fertilizer is expensive. Maintaining a landscape takes an ample amount of money, planning, and upkeep, and most landscapers look for ways to cut costs wherever possible. That’s why many are switching from using traditional fertilizer to composting. Not only is it a way to trim the fat from your landscaping bill, it’s great for the environment as well.

Composting – What is it?

Before we can delve into how composting can save you money, it’s important to understand what exactly it is. Composting is the act of breaking down organic matter into a substance called “humus”. When you add humus to soil, it enriches and nourishes the dirt with a healthy mix of microorganisms and other organic matter. When soil is at its nutritional best, your plants will be more vibrant, healthy, and beautiful as a result.

When composting, the finished product should have an earthy aroma – never a trash-like smell. It should crumble and have a fine texture. Typical compost has all the “musts” for the landscaping in your yard – essential potassium, nitrogen, and other nutrients that plants need to thrive. You will know you’ve made a good batch of compost when it has a pH-neutral reading.

How to Compost

There is no simple way to explain how to compost completely in one simple article – entire books have been written about the subject. It’s a complex process with many variables, and if you’re serious about composting, it will take a bit of a learning curve and some trial and error to get it right.

For this article, however, let’s look at a basic overview of how to compost. To make compost, decide which area of your yard you are willing to dedicate to the process. Remember that you will be add to the pile everyday – sometimes even multiple times each day – so choose a space that’s out of the way but still within a reasonable distance of your kitchen.

In a nutshell, you will continuously add “green” and “brown” material to your compost pile and allow it to decompose for use in your garden. Green materials include organic matter such as scraps from your kitchen (never animal parts; think tea and coffee grinds or fruits and veggies), fresh lawn clippings, and weeds you pick from your yard. Brown organic matter includes things like sawdust, straw, and dried grass.

Benefits of Composting

First and most importantly, compost is free fertilizer for your landscaping – and nothing beats free! Second, composting is just about as green as it gets. You are truly sustaining your household full-circle when you compost.

For example, if you grow tomatoes, you harvest the tomatoes at the end of the summer, use them in your cooking, and give some away. Your leftover tomatoes, from meals and those extras that went unused, go into your compost pile. Those tomatoes decompose into nutrient-rich compost, which you can use to fertilize your garden veggies for the next season.

Nowhere in this scenario did you need outside help to make this happen, and you wasted nothing you took from the earth. What a way to take care of the planet and your pocketbook at the same time!

Composting is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Green living and sustainability are fantastic movements, and composting is a key practice that helps reduce dependence on chemicals and artificial fertilizers for your lawn.

 

Top 3 Myths That Can Lead to Landscaping Disasters

There is so much information on the internet about landscaping ‘ideas’ and ‘tips’ that it’s easy to get confused between what’s authoritative and what’s not.

Here are some common myths that can lead to expensive mistakes. These myth-debunkers are plain common sense, and you don’t need an astrophysicist to validate them.

Are you guilty of any of them? It may be time to break your habits before your habits break you – financially.

Landscaping Myth #1: “If I cut my grass really short, I won’t have to do it that often!”

A lot of people set their lawnmowers to a short-clip setting because they are under the assumption that – like hair – grass won’t need cutting as often if it’s cut really short. While this might seem like a good idea, what it actually does is expose the roots to more sunlight. This not only weakens the sensitive roots, but also gives more room for weeds to capture that extra sunlight and thrive away. It also cuts off the blades that are crucial to the grass’s survival through the process of photosynthesis, leaving brown patches that become worse over time. Gradually, you may find yourself having to re-invest in a new lawn altogether. Trim your lawn periodically so the clippings can be left as they are, enriching the soil as they biodegrade.

Landscaping Myth #2: “Who Needs a Professional?!”

Just because it seems easy to mow the lawn or put in a few shrubs and bushes, it doesn’t mean that landscaping is not a highly skilled job. Yes, you can do some of the things yourself, but unless you want to spend your valuable time on something that can be outsourced, don’t break your neck over what to plant and where to put it. A professional is trained to do this for you, so let him/her do their job so you can do yours. In the short run, you can certainly save some money with a DIY approach, but in the long-run, it could rob you from more productive work.

Landscaping Myth #3: “I Conserve; I Water My Lawn in the Evening”

This is one of the more expensive “mythstakes” you can make. The average lawn only needs less than an inch of water every week, and watering it in the day ensures it remains damp, but not soggy. This is a critical aspect because if you water it after the sun goes down, the water just sits there and makes it easier for fungus to grow. If you really want to save water, close the tap when you brush your teeth – that way you can save up to eight gallons per day! Don’t waste the dollar to save the penny by watering your lawn in the evening.

These myths have somehow become popular but they include a lot of misinformation. Think about these top three myths and stop yourself the next time you check the setting on your mower!