How To Prep Your Lawn for Summertime

☐ Seed your yard. New grass will give your yard a robust, healthy look. Use this step-by-step guide to jumpstart new grass growth in your lawn:

Rake your yard. Rake up any sticks, leaves or other debris in your yard. Extra debris kills sprouting grass and results in bare spots. But, extra leaves and grass make great compost.
Add topsoil. Use topsoil to fill in low spots and prep for new seeding.
Seed your yard. Spread new seeds around thinning or bare spots in your yard. Make sure to use sun- or shade-friendly seeds where appropriate. Mixing both kinds of seeds can result in lackluster growth.
Spread fertilizer. Use a natural or slow-release fertilizer to help your seeds grow. Some fertilizers also kill broad leaf weeds like dandelions and sow thistle.
Sprinkle topsoil. Spread topsoil over your seeded area to hold your seeds in place and protect seedlings from birds.

☐ Test your soil. Use a soil test kit to detect mineral or nutrient deficiencies in your yard. Earthworms, cottonseed and compost are effective solutions to depleted soil.

☐ Aerate your yard. Soil aeration breaks up hard-packed soil and allows nutrients to sink into the ground. For the best results, hire a professional to aerate your yard.

☐ Exterminate pests. Hire a pest control pro to eliminate yard-damaging culprits. Japanese beetles, grubs and mole crickets can damage the look and health of your yard.

☐ Water regularly. Water your new grass daily for 10 to 14 days. Avoid overwatering and creating run off — especially if you’re using fertilizers. Excessive water can carry damaging chemicals into nearby bodies of water and harm wildlife.

Let’s Learn About Spring Gardening Tips

One day it’s a bleak winter, the next we wake to a warm breeze and blue skies. We’re sure that spring is upon us so we run eagerly into the yard with shovel, rake and seeds, intent upon transforming the landscape into a colorful paradise.

But wait! The end product will only be as good as the foundation it’s built on. If you prepare in early spring, you’ll be rewarded later in the season.

Sharpen Tools
Beat the rush to the hardware store and get shovels, hoes and pruners sharpened to a fine edge. Splurge and buy a second mower blade so you’ll have a new, sharp blade on the mower while the second is being sharpened. Turf mowed with a dull blade injures the grass and opens the door to disease and costly corrective action.

Order Soil Testing
If you’re putting in a new lawn or plant bed or had problems last year growing your favorite vegetables, soil testing provides the feedback to help you determine what fertilizers and soil conditioners are necessary for optimum results.

Contact Landscaping Pros Early
If you need them, contact landscape professionals early in the season to avoid the dreaded wait list.

When putting in a new lawn, make arrangements early for sod delivery or be prepared to buy sod as soon as it is delivered to garden centers. Accept only moist sod rolls, rejecting any that have yellowed turf or dry roots.

Keep a Garden Journal
Make a resolution to keep notes on the garden and plantings. A small pad of paper kept in a plastic bag with the hand tools is all that’s necessary to remember just which peony needed more sun and needs to be moved come autumn.

Try to jot down some of your successes and failures from last year. This information can be an invaluable guide to this year’s garden.

Throw Away Outdated Chemicals
One last chore before you’re ready: Sort garden chemicals and discard all of the outdated or unused chemicals according to label instructions. Check the lock on your chemical storage area to assure that kids or pets have no access.

Till the Soil
Hands-on gardening starts when the soil contains no ice crystals and a handful crumbles easily. No cheating here. Walking on or working in soil that is too wet causes compaction, driving the air out of the soil and bonding particles together.

When opening a new garden bed, dig it to about eight inches, removing clods and stones as you go. Add no more than 1-1/4 inches of organic matter (compost and/or aged barnyard manure) plus any other fertilizers or supplements that the soil analysis recommends, and dig in evenly.

Try hard to refrain from planting seeds or setting in early-spring vegetable or flower transplants for an additional week. Instead, lightly rake the soil each day to dislodge sprouting weeds.
Begin Planting
When is it the right time to plant? That depends on weather, soil conditions and what you’re planting.

Bare root shrubs, roses and trees can go in when the soil is workable. While the soil is cool, their roots begin to grow. These are generally less expensive than container grown plants. Buy top grade roses, trees and shrubs. They could be part of your landscape far after the mortgage is paid off.

Cold-weather loving plants, like spinach, peas (both the decorative and edible varieties) and ornamentals such as pansies, can withstand some frost.

But hold off on putting in peppers and tomatoes without protective devices around them until there isn’t a hint of frost on the horizon. Ask at the garden center when the last expected frost generally occurs in your area.

Remember to Prune
Plan to prune early-flowering shrubs, like forsythia and lilac, as soon as blooms fade. Next year’s flowers have set within 10 days of the end of the bloom, so timing is important.
Some flowers either die completely or lose their foliage when warm weather arrives.

The same thing happens in the kitchen garden. Spinach and lettuce make way for warm season crops like squash and corn. Set a plan early to incorporate changes, and your garden will be always useful and colorful.

Tips to Landscape Your Yard with Raised Bed Gardening

Few gardening practices offer you more benefits than choosing a raised garden bed as one of your primary landscaping techniques. From a practical standpoint, you’ll have healthier plants and easier landscaping to maintain. And from an aesthetic point of view, by being creative about the materials you build raised beds out of and where you put them, you’ll add beauty, form, and texture to your overall landscaping vision.

Raised Beds Mean Healthier Plants

Perhaps the biggest payoff of raised bed style gardens is the improved health of your plants. Because a raised garden bed drains better, is filled with better soil, is easier to maintain, and generally attracts fewer weeds and insects, you can be sure your plants will be healthier and more productive. It’s the reason raised beds are so popular when it comes to vegetable gardens. By simply switching to raised bed plots, a gardener can see veggie yields improve by twice as much. The good news is that those stats don’t just go for tomatoes and squash. Raised bed gardening in landscaping means you’ll have twice the flowers come spring and summer, and that other shrubs and landscaping plants will flourish as well.

Raised Beds Make for Easy Maintenance

A raised garden bed also make for easier landscaping maintenance. Because raised beds are more defined and set off from the rest of your landscaping, they have less trouble with weeds and insects. And because they are “raised” off the ground, dealing with the few weeds or bugs that do show up where they don’t belong is a lot easier. In fact, raised bed gardening can be a godsend to those with back trouble, physical disabilities, or those of us whose joints just aren’t as limber as they used to be. A raised garden bed can be built as high off the ground as you like, accommodating backyard gardeners who wouldn’t otherwise be able.

Raised Beds Everywhere!

If you’re like most homeowners, you might have some doubts about what a raised garden bed can offer when it comes to developing an attractive landscape design. After all, a raised bed garden usually means an ugly square veggie plot set off in the back corner of the lot, right? Wrong. Raised bed gardening makes for beautiful landscaping around the base of trees, around porches and decks, as terracing on slopes, and to add form and texture to otherwise featureless landscapes. In fact, a raised garden will look great just about anywhere you can think to put a traditional style garden bed.

Material Is Everything

When it comes to raised bed gardens, using the right material to build them can make or break the design. That square plot in the back corner of the yard looks so drab because it’s usually made out of old scrap lumber, or an equally unimpressive material. Fortunately raised landscaping can be built out of stone, decorative concrete blocks, brick, landscaping timbers (railroad ties), and just about anything else you can imagine. And by using materials consisting of multiple interlocking or stacked units (i.e. cut stone or concrete blocks), it means raised beds can circle around trees, curve along fence lines, and even rise and fall with the landscape. If you’ve got a vision, there’s a landscaper out there who can mold raised garden beds to match.

When it comes to landscape design, raised bed gardening is tough to rival. In order to make the most of these innovating landscaping solutions, talk to a landscaping professional about helping you put together and install your new landscape plan. From choosing building materials to picking and installing your plants, their expertise can help you get your raised bed garden landscaping project up and running.

Rain Barrel

From washing the dishes to using the shower, water consumption is a part of every household. Many of us will likely turn on a faucet today, without giving it a second thought. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American uses 320 gallons of water per day and out of that, 30% is used for the outdoors. That means there is almost 100 gallons being used to water lawns, gardens and other landscaping features.

For many, that number might be surprising. If your household is trying to reduce your environmental impact, there are plenty of ways you can reduce your water consumption, especially outdoors. Rain barrels have gained in popularity across the country. If you don’t have one, now is a great time to consider a rain barrel installation.

How Does A Rain Barrel Work?
Rain barrels are a great way to save money and the environment. This practice is not new; it actually dates back to ancient times when people would use wooden barrels to catch the water and use for various household purposes. Now, barrels come in plastic with many modern features, but stick to the same idea; collecting water from a natural source and use for landscaping.

Today, many rain barrels collect water with the help of a downspout coming from the roof or gutter, directed into the barrel with the help of a diverter. The water is filtered through a screen that covers the top, to catch any debris such as leaves and sticks. In simpler models, water flows simply with the help of gravity when you’re ready to water your lawn and garden.

Saving Money & the Earth
As previously mentioned, by utilizing a rain barrel to collect water, it helps cut down on water usage, saving you money on your water bill and reducing the amount of water used. But did you know that rainwater is actually the best water you can use for your plants? Treated water that flows from your hose has salts and chemicals that are tough on plants. Rainwater has nutrients and minerals that your garden will love.

It also helps improve erosion in your yard. Many times, the area near the roof will eventually erode, making it difficult to landscape in that specific area. With the help of a downspout, the water is directed into the rain barrel, helping your garden and protecting your lawn.

Additionally, if you live in an area where drought or water restrictions are frequent, rain barrels provide your own reserve during this time to keep your garden growing.

Rain Barrel Costs
The benefits of a rain barrel can be just what your lawn and garden needs. But what are the costs? A 55-gallon standard rain barrel kit can range from $100 to $150, depending on the style you choose. However, many cities have programs to assist with these costs, so be sure to research before you buy.

Some don’t include downspouts, diverters, stands or other amenities you may need for your set up.

DIY Rain Barrel Installation
When you’re ready to install your rain barrel, you can either install it yourself or call a pro, depending on how comfortable you are with DIY projects. There are two ways to install a rain barrel. For either method, you’ll want to place your barrel on a flat, raised surface. Many people use cement blocks or bricks to do so. One way is to simply position it under a downspout, that is if your downspout doesn’t reach the ground all the way. An elbow can help direct the flow of water if needed.

A more common and recommended way is to install a diverter in your downspout, to easily direct the flow of water from your roof and allow overflow to exit through the existing downspout. A diverter is easy to disconnect during winter months and allows for debris to flow away from the house as normal. A rain barrel kit typically comes with all the materials you need to start harvesting rainwater with the use of a diverter. It should also come with instructions that may vary by product. Outside of what the kit provides, you’ll likely need:

Hacksaw
Utility Knife
Screwdriver
Screws
Pencil
Measuring Tape
Gutter Bracket (optional)

Start by locating the place you wish to place your diverter. Measure and mark this section on the downspout. It’s best to keep it level with the top of the rain barrel for even flow of water. Safely saw off the portion of the downspout you wish to remove, from the highest point you marked with your pencil. If you’re able, take the downspout off the house to saw. Attach the diverter as instructed. Once installed, place the connecting tube to the port and attach to the rain barrel. You now have your own water storage system!

Rain Barrel Maintenance

Once you’ve installed your rain barrel, you’ll want to be sure you care for it properly. Always disconnect before the first freeze, if you live in a colder climate. As temperatures cool, the water can quickly become ice that could damage your barrel. It’s also recommended that when the barrel is disconnected for the season, it’s given a quick scrub with a water and vinegar solution to get rid of any residue from the summer season.

Landscape Plan

Landscaping plans are far more involved than just deciding which plants to purchase and where to plant them. It’s a holistic approach to landscape design, which entails utilizing a bevy of landscape ideas, including hardscape, decks, patios, walkways, swimming pools, and ponds, as well as plants and other gardening additions. If your goal is a beautiful landscape, then solid landscape plans, and the services of a designer, are definitely worth the investment and time they require.

Landscape Ideas

One of the most important reasons it’s important to develop landscaping plans before you visit the local nursery is that there are more aspects to landscape design than most homeowners realize. The possibilities are literally staggering. Gazebos, ponds, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, landscape lighting, decks, patios, retaining walls, pathways irrigation, swimming pools, spas, trellises, awnings, and fencing are just scraping the surface of what your options are.

An Extension of Your Home

It’s a long list, and hopefully it gives you a general idea of what goes into solid landscaping plans and the things you’ll want to consider incorporating into your general design. Remember, landscaping isn’t just trees and bushes. It’s an extension of your home. And if it’s done correctly, with the help of an experienced contractor to provide you with ideas and make sure they are implemented correctly, your outdoor landscape can be an area of your residence you’ll want to spend time in just as much, or more, than your indoors.

Hiring a Landscape Designer

Whether you hire a landscaping contractor to implement all your landscape plans for you, or are just looking for some consultation before you start a project yourself, talking to one of these professionals about landscaping plans is an absolute must. Not only can they provide you with valuable ideas, but they can offer you sound advice as to how to install, integrate, and design your landscape to enhance your enjoyment of it. Take irrigation, for instance. It might seem like a minor aspect, but installing an irrigation system that makes use of sprinkler systems, drip irrigation, automated timers, and incorporates all these into proper garden placement and design, can take the work and time out of maintaining your landscaping almost altogether.

That’s just an example of what landscape plans can do for you. From deck design, to lighting options, to attractive pathways and sitting areas, a landscape designer can transform your yard from a boring, laborious time drain, into an impressive and attractive addition to your home. To get the most of your plans, talk to a contractor about options for your property.

Know More About The Many Faces of Peat

Peat moss is made up of a host of sphagnum mosses which are cultivated and harvested in bogs for a number of uses. Landscaping is the most obvious application of peat, where it is usually incorporated as soil additive. Homeowners should be aware, however, that peat has other uses too. It’s an excellent material for soaking up spills, grease and oil in your workshop or garage, and has recently gained wide acclaim as a highly efficient, and environmentally friendly, filter material for septic systems as well.

You Can’t Beat Peat for Landscaping

Whether you’re sowing a veggie garden, seeding a new lawn, or bringing in a professional landscaper for a full landscape renovation, make sure plenty of peat moss is on your supply list. It serves as such a great soil additive for a number of reasons. For starters, it holds up to 20 times its weight in moisture and will actually cut down on the amount of watering you have to do. And because it’s so absorbent, it will prevent nutrients and fertilizers from leaching out of your soil. Add to that the fact that peat is an organic material that breaks down slowly over the course of several years, and you can see why many homeowners choose peat moss instead of other soil additives (like compost) that need to be re-applied annually.

Peat Moss Transforms Substandard Soil

While peat moss works well for improving good, quality soil, it works absolute wonders when it comes to substandard soils. Sandy soils and soils that compact to concrete like hardness can be transformed into productive, healthy soil when peat is tilled into the top several inches. Finally, since peat loosens up any soil it’s added to, it makes for healthier plants with better root systems. Talk to your landscaper or local nursery about what the best uses of peat moss are in your area.

All This Makes for Good Sewage Treatment as Well!

Just as peat’s naturally absorbent and organic nature make it perfect for landscaping, those same qualities have served it well in also filtering sewage. In fact, when it comes to septic systems, it is a tough material to top. It naturally contains a high amount of bacteria and other microbial agents that aid in the breakdown and purification of waste water. And because it is so efficient in cleaning your waste water, systems using peat filters can be installed onto your property almost without a trace (something traditional septic systems can’t boast). Your moss will need to be replaced about every 6 to 8 years, but when compared to the monthly cost of city sewer services, most people who install peat filtered septic systems actually save money in the long run. Talk to an installer who specializes in these environmentally friendly green septic tank filter systems if you’re ready to take advantage of the wonders of peat moss.

Last But Not Least

At the very least, every homeowner should keep a bag of peat in their garage or workshop. As we’ve mentioned several times here already, this is one of the most highly absorbent materials you can buy. That goes for sprinkler water, raw sewage, and oil and grease spills as well. Just shovel a little peat over the spill, work the peat into the oil or grease, and shovel it into the trashcan after you’ve let it soak up the mess. Wash, rinse, and repeat if necessary. It doesn’t matter what the material or how tough it looks to get out, peat moss will do the trick.

Know More About Tree Care and Tree Removal

While any tree is likely to improve the appearance of your property, few would deny that trees are one landscape feature that gets significantly better with age. Unfortunately, not all trees ever get the chance to reach maturity, and those that do are still vulnerable to issues that the average homeowner is simply not able to prevent. Though established trees might seem solid and stable, mature tree care is very important to keep up appearances, and even more important than immature tree care when it comes to safety.

Mature Tree Care: Checking Your Tree’s Health

Visual inspections done by the homeowner are one of the most beneficial practices in mature tree care. While professional examinations done by a certified arborist should also be performed every year or two, homeowners who inspect their trees regularly will be better aware of any abnormalities in their trees’ annual life cycle.

To tell if your tree is healthy, you should check four things: leaf size and appearance, the number of new buds and leaves, twig growth, and the appearance of the uppermost branches of the tree. If there seems to be a dramatic change in any of these from the previous year, it’s likely that the tree is having some health issues. While any tree can fall victim to disease, insect infestation, and fungal activity, these are of particular concern for a mature tree. Care is essential when any of these issues present themselves, and frequent homeowner inspections are an excellent way to identify such problems early.

Mature Tree Pruning

For trees of all ages, pruning is often necessary to remove dead or diseased branches, or to keep branches from becoming an obstruction. However, mature tree pruning is a far different task than trimming hedges and smaller fruit trees! Since pruning mature trees is often a job that takes place high up and involves some pretty dangerous equipment, this is typically not a do-it-yourself project. When mature tree trimming is necessary, it is in the best interest of everyone involved to hire a professional. Not only do professional tree trimmers understand which branches pose the most threat to person, property, and/or the rest of the tree, they are outfitted with the best equipment and armed with knowledge of the safest techniques.

When mature tree pruning is performed to remove diseased branches, you’ll also need to be careful what you do with the limbs you remove, as they could infect other trees in the area. Since the professionals generally have a set plan for disposing of diseased branches, they can save you a lot of hassle in this scenario. When mature tree pruning is performed because a branch is blocking a view, coming into contact with the house, or is posing a threat of property damage, you may opt to have the removed limb(s) turned into mulch that you can use in your garden and landscaping. Some tree service companies actually prefer to mulch large limbs onsite, as it saves them the trouble of loading the branch onto a truck for transport.

Mature Tree Care: Mulch and Fertilizer

If the well-established trees on your property are native to the area or are well suited to the local climate, there is very little weekly or monthly maintenance involved in keeping them healthy. However, the application of mulch and fertilizer can play a role in the health of a mature tree; sometimes, that effect is harmful rather than beneficial.
The placement of mulch at the base of a tree can be both beneficial and beautiful. Particularly when dealing with non-native trees and during seasons of abnormal weather activity, he addition of mulch keeps the ground around a tree’s roots wet for a longer period of time after water or rain, which promotes growth no matter how old the tree is. Mulch should not cover any part of the tree’s trunk, however, as excess moisture there could lead to decay. Though fertilizer may be a benefit to mature trees in specific circumstances, it is the application of lawn fertilizer that has the most dramatic effect on established trees. It is important to remember that a mature tree’s roots often extend much farther than its branches. Putting fertilizer on a lawn may affect the tree, even if it looks like there is enough distance between it and the point of application. If your tree is already growing well, the application of fertilizer might be detrimental.
Mature Tree Removal

Not every mature tree is destined to live for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, disease, insects, fungus, lightning, heavy snows, high winds, and several other factors can cause enough damage to necessitate removal. Mature trees are extremely difficult and dangerous to cut down, and the results of improper mature tree removal are not something you want to witness first hand.

One possible sore spot that comes with hiring a professional for mature tree removal is the stump that is left behind. Some companies include stump removal in the cost of removing the tree; others view tree stump removal as its own cost and task, charging a separate price. While homeowners might not bother removing the stumps of smaller trees (or even remove these smaller stumps by hand), when dealing with the stump left behind by a mature tree, removal is almost always going to have an effect on the overall landscape. If you plan to call in a company to remove an established tree, make sure you understand their policy on stump removal first. Since not all contractors include this service in the price, the quotes you get from different companies for mature tree removal can be misleading; by making sure you ask about stump removal, you’ll have a better idea of the real costs involved, and won’t be left with any surprises (or an unsightly stump in your front yard) when the job is finished!

Healthy Grass

No matter what kind of house you live in, a green, healthy lawn is always the perfect compliment. When it comes to curb appeal, your grass, plants, trees, and shrubs are more than half the battle. Pulling the hose out every time you need to water is a hassle that many homeowners would rather do without, especially after a long work day; lawn irrigation systems are just the thing to keep your front yard flora blooming and green without putting an unnecessary dent in your free time!

Lawn Irrigation Systems: Sprays, Rotors, and Drips

The most common type of lawn irrigation system is, of course, the sprinkler. Depending on the slope of your lawn, the type of plants in your yard, and your local climate, a series of sprinklers may truly be the only lawn irrigation equipment you need. Often set on a timer (to provide the correct amount of water at the best time of day), sprinkler systems are a convenient and effective way to water, but you must be sure to get the right kind of sprinkler heads.

Spray Sprinkler Systems A “spray” sprinkler is good for lawns that are relatively flat. They are stationary (though, some “pop up” out of the ground) and release a large amount of water directly around the area of the sprinkler head. Spray sprinkler systems are not ideal for sloped lawns because the large amounts of water don’t have time to be absorbed into the soil before sliding down a hillside. This results in less than adequate lawn irrigation at the top of the slope, and too much at the slope’s bottom.
Rotor Sprinkler Systems A “rotor” sprinkler shoots smaller amounts of water from a swiveling head. They are preferred for land that is not flat (easily illustrated by their extensive use on golf courses). Rotor sprinkler systems are designed so that water doesn’t build up in any one place, no matter its grade.
Drip Irrigation Systems Drip irrigation is well suited for flowerbeds and the like. Basically, a drip irrigation system is a long, perforated hose that allows water to escape in small quantities at specified points. The hose can be put on or in the ground to directly target a plant’s roots. Individual plants can be matched with where the holes are, making nearly every drop of water effective. Because little to no water is wasted, a drip system promotes water conservation and costs less than a sprinkler when used to irrigate individual plants. However, they are not the best lawn irrigation systems, as they are far less effective in large spaces than sprinklers.
Lawn Irrigation System Repair and Installation

In most cases, lawn irrigation systems are not good do-it-yourself projects. There are many factors that go into the installation of these systems; not only are factors like water pressure (and its reduction over distances) and property grading taken into account, you also need to have a good knowledge of flora, climate, and sprinkler zoning to do the job right. With many DIY lawn irrigation systems, repairs are often called for even before the project is completed! Though it is possible for individual homeowners to dig the holes, lay the pipes, install the heads, and do all the research necessary for successful operation, lawn irrigation system installation is one job that most (wisely) leave up to the pros!
While it is too difficult and time consuming for most homeowners to install their own lawn irrigation system, repair is something that many have tackled successfully. There are many things that can cause sprinklers to malfunction or perform poorly, but in many cases, lawn irrigation system repair is a matter of freeing obstructed sprinkler heads or replacing heads that are broken. While less frequent (and often caused by improper installation), more complex problems can occur with a lawn irrigation system; repairs that concern fluctuating water pressure, broken pipes, or soil erosion should, of course, be handled by a professional.
Lawn Irrigation System Costs

When it comes to installing a lawn irrigation system, costs are so highly dependent on so many different variables that it is near impossible to say what the installation will cost without first examining the space. Beware companies who are eager to give you an estimate without first checking out your lawn! Irrigation system costs are rarely prohibitive for the average budget, however, and when you consider the amount of time you’ll save each week, the increase you’ll see in your lawn’s appearance and health, and the fact that these systems can actually reduce your watering costs when planned properly, it’s easy to see why so many homeowners consider them worth the investment.

Information About Environmentally Wise Landscaping

Xeriscaping is a landscaping term that refers to the practice of planting native plants, shrubs, and trees to reduce maintenance, water usage, and upkeep. It is most popular in the Western United States, where recent drought and water shortages have highlighted how wasteful keeping non-native species alive can be when it comes to sucking up water resources. And while many homeowners assume it means drab and colorless landscape, xeriscaping is more often than not achieved with stunning and beautiful results.

Does It Really Make a Difference?

Absolutely. By some accounts, over fifty percent of the water resources in many municipalities goes towards keeping landscape alive and well. Xeriscaping, by utilizing smart choice of vegetation, water saving irrigation techniques, and other water conservation measures, can cut down the water use in your home by up to 60%! That means big savings on water bills, a clean conscience when it comes to environmental responsibility, and best of all, this style of landscaping means the amount of time you’ll have to waste on maintaining your landscape will be reduced accordingly as well.

Xeriscaping Improves the Value of Your Home

For all these reasons, this landscaping practice isn’t just a good decision from an environmental standpoint, it’s also a great investment from a financial standpoint. Because it drastically reduces water usage and yard maintenance, it is a big selling point to prospective homebuyers. Most new homeowners aren’t going to take shine to a garden filled landscape that they’ll have to spend hours each week to maintain. But if they can have a beautiful yard without doing much work, then it’s an easy sell. In fact, property value increases of up to 15% are not unheard when this landscaping strategy is utilized.

Go Native, Or at Least Think Climate When You Buy

Choosing the right vegetation is a big part of the equation with xeriscaping. When shopping for the plants to put in your yard, make sure they’re used to your native climate, or come from an area with similar demands. And be conscious of each plant’s needs when you plant. Hydrozoning refers to the practice of planting vegetation with similar water needs in the same area, making watering much more efficient in the end.

Xeriscaping Isn’t All about the Plants

Planting native species of plants isn’t the only strategy that makes this environmentally-friendly landscaping work. It’s actually a holistic philosophy that relies as much on irrigation practices, mulching, and smart landscaping layout as it does on low water vegetation. Drip irrigation is the irrigation of choice, mulching your flower and garden beds goes a long way towards conserving water (and reducing weeds), and layout can make a huge difference. That luscious green yard is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to wasting water, so reducing it as much as possible is a must. Keep it where you need it, such as areas where kids and pets play, but let rock gardens, flower beds, water wise shrubbery, and other less demanding landscaping dominate your yard. It will go a long way towards conserving water and saving you the money and time required to keep everything alive during the hot and dry season.

If you think saving water, saving money, increasing your home’s value, and getting a beautiful yard to boot sounds like a good idea, talk to a landscaper in your area about designing a landscape with xeriscaping in mind. It’s one of the best landscaping choices you’ll ever make.

All About Winter Yard Work

Landscape and yardwork are usually the last thing on the minds of most homeowners in the dead of winter. But this is actually the ideal time to renovate the lawn and eliminate the brown spots and crab grass left over from last summer.

Lawn renovation

A lawn renovation starts with a thorough raking to open the ground and expose the soil so new seeds can germinate. Next, level the lawn by covering the lowest areas with new soil. Then, reseed the entire lawn if necessary, or simply patch certain areas as required.

To ensure germination, add a good fertilizer and cover the seeds with humus to protect them from hungry birds. Then wait about three or four weeks for the seeds to pop.

An advantage to doing this in the winter is that nature provides enough water to germinate the seeds, whereas it is necessary to sprinkle the areas during other times of the year.

Crab grass

At this time of year your grass is full of millions of crab grass seeds waiting to sprout in the spring. Therefore, you want to be ready to spray with a pre-emergent about the last week of February, just before the temperature starts to warm up.

However, you don’t want to apply pre-emergent any earlier than February, as it would kill new seeds that you have planted. Also, the chemicals are not be as effective in the cold weather.

Also, remember that you cannot apply pre-emergent yourself because it is a hazardous chemical which by law must be applied by licensed professionals.

Pruning

Now is the time to begin pruning your trees, and don’t forget about your roses, too. In order to improve the production of both fruit trees and rose bushes, you must prune before they start to bud.

You should also cut back overgrown bushes and trim non-fruit trees before they start to grow again.

Professional pruning consists of:

Clean from the inside out, removing crossing branches.
Thin branches so they will not become too heavy with fruit. Quality is more important than quantity.
Don’t forget to spray your fruit trees with dormant oil. You should apply dormant spray three times: around Thanksgiving, around Christmas, and the third application should come after pruning.
Flower beds

Now is a great time to clean out the flower beds, removing the fallen leaves and blossoms to avoid potential fungus and molds from growing.

Planting

Plant bare-root trees and roses before spring arrives. Now is when you will get the very best prices possible on new trees and bushes for your landscape.

Contact landscape pros

Finally, winter is the ideal time to contact a landscape contractor about updating, remodeling, or totally reinstalling your yard.

Homeowners typically wait until spring to make their initial calls, only to find that most quality landscapers are busy and even scheduled ahead by March. Plan ahead to get your best service and prices of the year.