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Finding The Right Landscaping Company

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 429)
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Hiring a good landscaper will make completing your landscape a much simpler process. If you create goals and properly layout your plans for your landscaping you will be able to get specific pricing. Here are some tips on how to hire a landscaper the right way.

1. What do you really want or need?

Some landscapes are beautiful as they are, but the owners sometimes just want to add new appeal to their homes so they opt to have a landscape job done. Be sure that you have already identified what you want in the landscape design. This should be in your preparatory plan before you even speak to a professional contractor. Once you have your plans you can present them to the contractor to see if everything will work and is possible. The blog on paramountlawns.com is a great place to start for your landscaping ideas.

2. Set a firm budget.

Next you should prepare your budget. Will your dream garden be feasible? Is it practical or do you need to make some adjustments or compromises? The best thing is that you know what you want and you are able to identify alternatives if your budget fails to accommodate your vision. With the plans and budget in place things tend to be easier when negotiating with the contractor. The landscaper will ensure that this project will meet your budget and assure that it will look closely to what you are expecting. Be sure to get accurate measurements so that materials do not accidentally go over budget. Some contractors like to give you the best price in the estimate, but find out later that they can't provide all the material at the quote given. Which brings us to the next step, get references!

3. Get references.

Know the landscape companies that you are contacting and negotiate with them. Gauge their level of experience and the quality work by asking for photos or tours of their previous projects. You should also ask for references and their professional affiliations. Make sure the company is a legitimate company and that everything is written down. Without written proof of the agreed upon services it is difficult to prove if you are not happy in the end.

It all boils down to good planning and documentation. If you have a solid plan and ask the right questions you will end up with an exceptional landscape. In the Sacramento California valley, Paramount Properties is the premiere landscaping company. Visit the website for more information and for services.

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Japanese Gardens Basic Design Questions That Should Be Addressed

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 730)
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As westerners, we are often compelled to try to control and plan all design aspects of what we want when constructing something. We try to anticipate every little detail so we don't make a mistake. Although you will still need to organize and draw out your Japanese garden design, plus determine the shape of your landscape and what you desire for your garden, you should also allow yourself to "go with the flow" and let it "speak to you" as your garden takes shape. In other words, allow for improvisation and ideas to emerge rather than being rigid in sticking to your original design plan.

Before any work begins within the yard itself, a basic garden plan should be drawn up to help you formulate your ideas and the placement of elements. There are several questions you need to address to help with this process:

1) Do you already have an existing garden in the area where you wish to incorporate a Japanese garden style? If so, what type of garden is it (flower garden, English garden, rustic wildflower garden, etc.)?

2) Will you be able to integrate your current garden into the new Japanese garden plan? What aspects and features will remain and what will have to be moved, replaced or removed entirely?

3) What style of Japanese garden are you most interested in - tea garden, courtyard garden, stroll garden, pond and island garden, Zen rock garden or a combination of two or more? For very small areas, you will most likely stick to only one style. For those that have a large landscape, you can have your choice of any of the styles to suit your desires and landscape area.

4) How large is the area of the site that you are considering using? Does it have natural hills and valleys? Are there any elements, such a stream, already present? Take a good visual view of your selected site and note down all the details on paper. Take measurements as well, so you know the exact area size you will be working with.

5) What elements and features are important to you? For example, do you wish to add a waterfall, water basin, or a rock arrangement? Would you like one small area to feature a Zen garden? Is a stepping-stone pathway that leads to a gate appealing?

6) Will you be building this garden by yourself or will you have help? The size, design and amount of work to create your Japanese garden will affect this answer. Obviously, building a very large stroll garden by yourself would take forever and be impractical.

7) If you plan to use large boulders or plant more mature trees (rather than saplings), how will you get them into your garden? Is there room and access for large machinery to help with placement? Keep in mind boulders and large trees are extremely heavy.

8) Will your garden be formal, semi-formal, or informal (rustic)?

9) Many Japanese gardens are actually built around a theme. Do you have a theme in mind for your garden? An example of a theme would be a miniaturized version of "The Bridge To Heaven", which is a marble and stone bridge that spans the famous Dragon Beard Ditch in China. This bridge was built over 600 years ago to allow the Ming and Qing emperors to cross over on their way to the Temple of Heaven. Your theme could even revolve around a smaller replica or area of an original famous garden of Japan. Read books and view photographs of existing gardens to get some ideas.

10) What do you want to achieve with your garden? Will it be used primarily for meditation? Do you wish to incorporate a strolling pathway with new visual delights beyond each curve? Do you want the invigorating sounds of water, such as a waterfall or fast moving stream? Will it be a place to sit quietly and contemplate nature? Understanding the concept behind the garden design is important.

In conclusion, these types of questions should be contemplated carefully and answered thoroughly before you begin to put your design down on paper, otherwise you could end up with a garden that holds no meaning for you or your visitors. A Japanese garden should have a "reason for being." What are your reasons?

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A Mini Landscaping Lesson

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 411)
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Landscaping has often been likened to the painting of a picture. Your art-work teacher has doubtless told you that a good picture should have a point of chief interest, and the rest of the points simply go to make more beautiful the central idea, or to form a fine setting for it. So in landscaping there must be in the gardener's mind a picture of what he desires the whole to be when he completes his landscaping project.

Should you include lots of bare open lawn in your landscaping theme? A large extent of open lusious green lawn space is always beautiful. It is restful.

This type of open landscaping adds a feeling of space to even small grounds. If you cover your lawn space with many trees, with little flower beds here and there, the general effect is choppy and fussy. A bit like an over-dressed person. Not the most visual appealing result from your landscaping efforts.

When landscaping, a single tree or a small group is not a bad arrangement on the lawn. Do not centre the tree or trees. Let them drop a bit into the background. Make a pleasing side feature of them. In choosing trees for your landscaping project, keep in mind a number of things. You should not choose an overpowering tree. The tree should have a good shape, with something interesting about its bark, leaves, flowers or fruit.

For the beauty of landscaping, the catalpa is quite lovely by itself. Its leaves are broad, its flowers attractive, the seed pods which cling to the tree until way into the winter, add a bit of picturesqueness. The bright berries of the ash, the brilliant foliage of the sugar maple, the blossoms of the tulip tree, the bark of the white birch, and the leaves of the copper beech all these are beauty points to consider when planning your overall landscaping arrangement.

Landscaping may follow along very formal lines or along informal lines. The first would have straight paths, straight rows in stiff beds, everything, as the name tells, perfectly formal. The other method is, of course, the exact opposite. You should consider the advantages and danger points in each.

In conclusion, plan for open lawn spaces in your overall landscaping design and keep a visually appealing tree to blend in the background. Think balance and you will come up with a beautiful landscaping design for your yard.

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Backyard Landscaping An Important Area To Landscape

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 466)
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For homeowners around the world, a big part of owning a home is landscaping the yard. Front yard landscaping or backyard landscaping, the work must be done. While the front yard is important because it's more visible to neighbors and others who drive by, the backyard is no less important. The backyard is where families and friends gather for barbeques and birthday parties and where some families place their swimming pools. Most backyards are landscaped with careful thought and preparation. Special consideration is put into the positioning of every blade of grass, each decorative stone and all of the species of flowers that beautify a backyard.

Flowers, stones and grass are just some of the ways to landscape a backyard. Large shade trees, waterfalls and herbal gardens are some other ways. The theme of your landscape will depend on your hobbies, interests and goals for your backyard. Backyard landscaping can be a lot of fun, especially when you make it personal. Landscape your yard to reflect your personality and your homes personality. If you and your family like to entertain, add a bar to your back patio. Clean up the barbeque grill and don't forget the citronella candles to keep the bugs away. Maybe you'll want to build a croquet course, mini golf course, or put in a sand lot for some sand volleyball. Whatever your preference, make backyard landscaping fun for the whole family.

Keep your family in mind too, when it comes time to maintain the backyard landscaping. Large yards will require a lot more maintenance and grooming. Taking care of the yard can be a nice family activity. You can mow the lawn, pull the weeds and get the kids involved in watering the plants. If you have a fruit tree in your backyard, you'll probably be spending some time picking up the fallen apples or cherries. And of course, you'll also need to reserve time to tend to your herbal garden. It can be surprisingly rewarding to grow your own herbs and use them in special recipes that you cook when you're entertaining friends and neighbors.

If you are the type who would rather keep your backyard to yourself, then maybe you don't need to worry about the huge, green lawn. Perhaps you'd rather have a quaint yard with basic backyard landscaping. You can put in some grass, strategically place some shade trees and plant some of your favorite flowers. You may want to include some bigger bushes, if space allows as they will add some gorgeous green to your colorful backyard. This type of backyard may require the same maintenance as a large backyard, but not nearly the time commitment. No matter what your personality says about your backyard landscaping, one thing's for sure

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Landscaping Tips The Water Garden

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 409)
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There are a lot of new trends surfacing in gardening, and water gardening is one of the new interests. Water gardening can include waterfalls, ponds, streams and fountains, all of which can be combined with lighting, plants, and fish. Water gardening need not have a pond or natural water source moreover, it could be a plastic tub, plastic lined shallow in the back yard or, almost anything that will hold water.

An important consideration in planning a water garden is the choosing a location. Plants and fish both need plenty of sunlight, places in direct light away from trees and bushes are the top places. This will also help prevent leaves and debris from collecting in the water.

When planning for a water garden the next step is to choose the size you want. This depends of course on the resources you want to dedicate to it, how much money and time you are willing to spend. A water garden can be expensive if you go for a big garden filled with plants, rocks, fish, and lights. Also think about your property's size, which will also affect amount of time you'll spend maintaining your water garden.

Aquatic pond plants can be free floating, submerged, or marginal. What type you select is a matter of aesthetics and preference. Some plants are known for their scents, some for supplying oxygen keep the pool healthy, and some are just picturesque. Remember that the plants should only cover about half of the water, especially if you have fish. Fish are not only nice to look at; they're beneficial in that they help keep debris at a minimum and help in controlling larva and other insects.

One of the big challenges in water gardening is maintaining water free of algae. Algae problems are usually the result of nutrients in the water from feeding fish too often or over fertilizing plants. By cutting back on feeding and fertilizing, adding more plants, putting in a pond filtering system, or replacing the water with fresh water, algae is easily controlled. If a pond is constructed correctly and maintained properly algae problems can be kept at a minimum.

All garden pools, no matter the size, require some maintenance during the year. With proper planning you can create a healthy equilibrium between living and decorative features of a water garden that can almost care for itself with simple maintenance inputs from you.

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Make A Good First Impression Landscape Your Driveway

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 515)
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Is your driveway landscaped? It should be.

This includes the driveway itself, as well as the design elements on both sides. All sorts of materials from softscape options to hardscape are available to make your driveway attractive.

Make A Good Entrance

As the entrance to your home, the driveway should not be neglected. It can either be a scar on the other landscaping around the home or it can add depth to the entire look of your home. You don't need to spend a lot of money on it either. You can be creative and choose attractive features, and have a very low cost landscape that is welcoming.

Make sure that you take everything into account before choosing your elements. For example, if you are looking for minimal work, do not plant a flower bush at the end of your driveway where the plants can be ruined by those in your neighborhood. Instead, use an attractive fence or a rock garden.

Another important aspect is the footpath to the home. Do not use any design elements that will be in the way of the normal foot traffic. You don't want to visitors going out of their way, or worse, trampling your plants to reach your door.

Hardscape Choice

You have many options - common ones include walls and fences, which can add distinction and accent your driveway. A small fence can add character and color to the landscape. Use hanging baskets or lanterns on the fence for more charm.

A large rock can be especially interesting, particularly when it has multiple colors. You can plant grasses and small flowers in the cracks of stones to create even more decorative looks.

Softscape Choices

On a limited budget, just landscaping along the sides of the driveway is an excellent option. It will cost little, yet add lots of beauty to your landscape design.

As for softscape options appropriate to driveway areas, many things will work, such as a flower bed or groundcover along the driveway. This will create a border that is interesting and separates the lawn from the actual driveway.

Ornamental trees and shrubs can do the same thing along the edge of the driveway. Shrubs can be cut to become topiary, which will add even more design elements to the look of the driveway landscape.

Another thing to consider is the curved driveway. If your driveway has a curve in it, a great idea is to add a focal point - something to make a statement. For example, you can have a beautiful tree, a flower bed, or a rock garden there. Whatever it is it should be beautiful because the curve will focus attention at that point of your driveway. You can use water gardens, a wishing well, as well as many other types of elements to enhance this area and have it look amazing.

Doing these landscaping operations can completely transform the entrance to your home. In a simple, affordable way, you can add character and depth to your landscape design around your driveway.

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Landscape Design Well Balanced Home Landscaping

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 481)
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Balance is a principle of all art forms, design, and even landscape design. It implies a sense of equality. And while there may be just a little more to it, this is how I explain it to make it easier for first timers and do it yourselfers to understand.

A garden, landscape, or any form of equal proportions would naturally feel and look balanced. However, most gardens and landscapes are not exact or symmetrical in shape and form. They're asymmetrical and abstract in form and are often without any natural balance of their own. So landscaping often relies on other elements to create balance and harmony through unity.

Many times, a lack of balance is directly related to a lack of repetition. Repeating alike elements such as plants or rocks throughout the landscape will help unify different areas to each other. As little as one repeated matching plant group, color, piece of decor, or hardscape can accomplish this.

A lack of balance is also created by placing too many or all non matching elements throughout a landscape design. This can sometimes seem cluttered and unkept when it grows in. In the beginning of your design, plan for less, place just a few matching plant groups throughout the garden, and keep decor matching and to a minimum. You can add more later.

So many of the questions that I receive about landscape design deal with the shape of a design . Shape is unique to each design and will ultimately follow all necessary paths and your visions. However, any shape or form can be filled with elements and still be either dull, void, loud, cluttered, and unbalanced. Balance isn't necessarily dependant on shape. It can be but generally it's not. So don't get too hung up on trying to even things out entirely by shape.

Landscape design is an art form and so it deals with "all" the same principles that other art forms use. Repetition, unity, and balance are all principles of art that go hand in hand with each other.

Architects use repetition in design by making doors, windows, fixtures, trims, etc. the same sizes, shapes, and styles. Imagine how your home would feel if every door, door frame, window, and fixture were of different sizes, shapes, colors, and types. It would be uncomfortable and chaotic.

And so it's the same with landscape design.

In order to create balance, appeal, and even comfort in a landscape that is lacking, we need to create some form of consistent repetition. As little as one matching element placed on opposites can create a sense of unity and consistency.

It's easiest and most often created in the softscape (plants, ornaments, lawn, decor, etc.). However, it should be considered in the hardscape (walks, driveways, necessities, fences, walls, raised beds, boundaries, etc.) of your drawn design plan.

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Synthetic Grass An Increasingly Popular Alternative For The Yard

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 895)
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As Australia's severe drought has turned many green, lush gardens and yards into brown, lifeless dustbowls, an increasing number of Australian homeowners are turning to synthetic turf as a viable solution. Similarly, more home builders, landscapers, and sports and commercial facilities are actively investigating and promoting synthetic surfaces, causing a dramatic surge in synthetic turf demand here in Australia.

There are many benefits to installing synthetic grass versus natural grass, here are just a few:

The Benefits of Synthetic Grass versus Natural Grass

Watering

With increasing Stage 3, Stage 4 and Stage 5 water restrictions in place across most of the country, water conservation is now at a critical point, and many homeowners are finding that they are simply not allowed to water their lawns. While rainwater tanks can certainly alleviate the problem in the short term, they really only work if there is adequate rainfall to fill them up. Grey water systems can also address some of the problem, but the fact is that the chemicals and soaps in grey water collected from some of these systems can, if not treated properly, actually damage a lawn. Finally, for commercial applications, including football ovals, golf courses, retirement communities, property developments and sporting facilities, the cost and effort to transport water via a pipe system or truck can be prohibitive (and, as has been seen in the news, can anger a town's residents by using this precious resource for a non-vital purpose) .

Synthetic grass, on the other hand, requires no watering, thus helping Australians to conserve water. A synthetic lawn remains green, lush and soft regardless of climate changes, temperature or other environmental conditions, making it a logical and viable alternative for both home and business applications.

Maintenance

The hot and dry climates unique to Australia make natural grass very difficult (and costly) to maintain. Homeowners, councils, and property management companies spend large amounts of money on water, fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, mowing and general labour to keep their natural grass in good condition.

Synthetic grass, however, requires none of these costly items. Maintaining a synthetic lawn is as simple as raking the leaves when needed, and an occasional topdressing of sand or rubber. In addition, many synthetic turf manufacturers will apply a special UV coating to protect the lawn against the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun - ensuring that the synthetic grass will not fade or weaken with age.

Environment

As mentioned above, maintaining a natural grass lawn requires regular use of fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides. Apart from the inherent danger of exposure to children, pets and native animals in the neighbourhood, these products invariably migrate into the soil, groundwater, and eventually into lakes, streams or even the ocean. This can have significant long-term effects on the planet's plants, animals, the air we breathe and the food we eat.

Synthetic Grass, on the other hand, requires no chemicals or pesticides for maintenance, and provides a safe, healthy environment for families and the public.

Safety

Natural grass lawns and sports fields are rarely perfectly flat. With regular use, a grass lawn will develop dips, mounds, bumps, holes and other inconsistencies that can cause tripping, twisted ankles or other major injuries.

A properly-installed synthetic lawn, however, is most commonly built on top of flat, level ground (usually excavated and grated), which contains one or two layers of compacted, crushed base and a layer of foam padding. The lawn is then in-filled with a combination of either rolled sand or crushed rubber, and then raked or brushed to ensure a consistent, flat, soft surface. When done right, a synthetic lawn or sports field is much safe than natural grass, hence the reason why more major sports organisations and schools in the U.S. and Australia are replacing their sod and natural grass with synthetic surfaces.

Appearance

Technology has vastly improved synthetic turf in the past decade. Gone are the days of neon-green Astroturf or knee-burning plastic-fibre carpets. Today, synthetic turf comes in different fibre lengths, colours and weaves, and is manufactured to exactly replicate the look and feel of natural rye, bermuda, bluegrass, centipede or virtually any type of natural grass available. The new generation of synthetic turf also feels incredibly soft to the touch, which is a welcome addition for children and pets.

Cost

It is commonly believed that natural grass is much cheaper than synthetic grass - as grass seed or turf transplants are relatively inexpensive. So at $50 to $100 per square metre (installed), the bulky up-front investment for purchase and installation of synthetic turf may seem expensive. But in reality, the costs over the long term are actually lower than that of natural grass. When factoring in the 5- to 10-year cost of grass seed, water, fertilizers, lawnfeed and pesticides, as well as the labour and time to mow, trim, aerate, fill, mulch and maintain a natural grass lawn, it becomes clear that a synthetic lawn can pay for itself within a few years, depending on the size of the area and the quoted cost.

For the average homeowner, however, the most popular benefit of owning a synthetic lawn is "Time". Less time maintaining a lawn means more time enjoying it. More time for backyard cricket with the kids. More time for backyard footy. Or just simply "more time in the backyard".

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How To Make Your Own Moss Landscape Rock And Garden Statues

(category: Landscaping, Word count: 243)
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Moss can make some garden elements and even entire shady gardens look and feel aged and established. The trouble with garden moss though, is that sometimes it may not even grow at all on its own. And if it does, it could take a very long time to become established.

Here's a way you can accelerate and establish a beautiful green moss cover over your garden rocks and concrete features. This method doesn't work well on resin statues and artificial landscape rocks.

First stir a fist size clump of porcelain clay into 3 cups of water to form a thin paste. You can usually get porcelain clay from local hobby shops.

Then combine the clay mixture with one cup of undiluted fish emulsion and one cup of fresh, shredded moss. Fish emulsion is a plant fertilizer made from whole fish. It's usually available at retail nurseries and garden centers.

Mix everything together and paint it on your rocks and concrete objects with a paint brush. Keep things in the garden slightly moist by misting and taking care not to wash the mixture off.

Remember that moss grows naturally in patches, likes the North side of objects, and takes readily to cracks and crevices.

Use this formula in shady gardens and in moist locations and you can most probably have moss on your garden statues and landscape rocks in a few weeks.

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