Common Landscaping Tools For Every Landscaper
For the avid do-it-yourself landscaper, the right tools are important. After all, if one wishes to save money on the expenses associated with having a well cared for yard, it is best to make sure that he or she has all of the tools necessary to create an attractive landscape. By understanding some of the most common tools used for basic landscaping needs, you can ensure that you have everything you need to keep your lawn in the best possible shape, bringing delight and distinction to your grounds, be they large or small.
Shovels, rakes, trowels, and hand cultivators. These are the most basic of tools when it comes to landscaping. Every home should be supplied with these basic implements. They make just about every landscaping endeavor possible. Shovels to remove sod and turn soil, as well as dig the holes necessary for fixtures like trees and hardscapes, Rakes are essential to smooth out planting beds and prepare ground for things like sod without packing the dirt. Trowels and hand cultivators allow you to perform minute work that requires more attention to detail. All of these tools are necessary to the proper functioning and care of a landscape.
Pruners and shears. These tools are used to improve the appearance of woody plants and trees. They keep plants from encroaching in other areas, and they also promote the overall health of the plants. They help maintain a neat appearance, and if you have topiary concerns, they are indispensable in maintaining a set shape. There are hand pruners, tools that help with the smaller branches and are easier to use, loppers for getting thicker branches that are to large for pruners, and even pruning saws that can help you with the toughest of branches. Hedge shears provide a way for hedges to be trimmed more conscientiously than with electric or gas-run trimmers (although these are widely available and can make maintaining hedges much easier).
Lawnmower. This is perhaps one of the most common and most obvious of landscaping tools. It is meant to keep the grass at a reasonable level, and to keep the lawn neat and healthy. Related to lawnmowers in the trimming department are things like weed wackers, which are very useful in keeping edges that can't be cut by a mower nice and neat. Additionally, the use of some special machinery, designed to eliminate thick brush is useful to have on hand, even it is only in the form of a machine rented once a year.
Other tools of interest. Of course, there are specialty tools that may be needed depending upon on the features of your landscape. If you have a water fixture, it is important to make sure that you have the proper pumps and filters, and that you have little skimmers that can allow you to remove larger pieces of debris from the water. Automatic sprinklers can make watering the lawn and your other plants much easier, and you should have a garden hose for special watering needs. Regular household tools such as hammer and nails, levels, and drills can be helpful if you have built landscape features like patios, decks, pergolas, and trellises. They can also be useful in building things like containers and creating raised beds.
Wheelbarrow. A wheelbarrow will always be of infinite use for the avid landscaper and improver. Wheelbarrows are very useful for moving debris as well as bringing needed implements to their proper places. They haul dirt and bring in plants. They make it possible to for one person to carry a load that otherwise she or he would not be able to handle. For the serious landscaper, a wheelbarrow is indeed necessary.
When you have all of the tools necessary to take care of your landscape, then you are well rewarded for your hard work. Acquiring the more common tools can also save you money in the long run, as they can be used over and over again. Additionally, many of the more common landscape tools are fairly small in size and easy to store in a garage or a shed. As long as they are kept neatly arranged in place, they are easy to get to when needed, and not hard to find. Proper maintenance of you tools is important: keep them from becoming rusty, and make sure your lawnmower and other gas or electric implements are well oiled and always have plenty of gas. Proper care of your tools ensures that you will be able to properly care for your landscape.
Water Pond Safety
Who would have thought that a small water garden could be anything but safe? However, a couple of measures of precaution can help ensure that your magical water garden stays safe for everyone, including your goldfish! Remember, that if your water garden is deep enough for goldfish or koi, then its more than deep enough to be dangerous for toddlers.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
Depth of Your Pond:
The ponds edges provide you an opportunity to increase safety around the water pond. Put a shelf or ledge around the sides of your pond that is at least 1 foot deep to provide an easier escape for a child that has fallen in. You may also want to consider placing boulders around the side, which will provide some added leverage for the child to pull themselves out.
Watch Your Children:
Just like you wouldnt let your children swim without a lifeguard or adult supervision, never leave young children unattended around your water garden pond. While the fish will provide enough curiosity, remember that same curiosity may tempt them to get too close to the edge to get a closer look, raising the risk of them falling in, hitting their heads on the edge of the pond, or even drown. A child can drown in less than 6inches of water.
Reduce The Slippage Factor
Just like your local pool takes preventative action (such as enforcing a no running rule), you can also take action to ensure pond safety. Consider using a slip resistant material to ensure that smooth edges around your water pond are not a hazzard. You may also want to look at creating railings along walk ways. Ask your local building authority on suggestions on how to lower the risk of someone slipping on the edge of your water garden.
Local Building Codes
During the planning stages of building your water pond, you should have contacted your municipal building authority to ensure that your plans abide by the local building codes. Do you have to build a fence around your water pond (ponds built with a certain depth require fences). How large of an area can your water garden pond be, and what other legal considerations should you make?
Safety is something that normally doesn't immediately pop into your mind when building a water garden pond, however, it should. Its impossible to ensure that your water garden will be completely safe, however, will that be any consolation for your inaction if something were to happen? Plan ahead and you'll ensure that your water garden is accessible and a joy for friends and family alike.
Hillside Landscaping Proper Watering
Sloped and hillside lawns and landscapes tend to develop dry dead spots during the hot part of the season. This is primarily due to water run off before it has a chance to saturate into the soil. Deep saturation is a key to a healthy lawns and plants. Deep watering helps establish deeper roots that can handle Summer heat stress.
Water that runs off or just barely breaks the surface, obviously does the lawn or landscape very little good. So how do you give landscaping and lawn on a slope better saturation?
Split your water cycle duration into two or three short cycles. If your water cycle is 30 minutes, you might split the cycle into three 10 minute cycles. So on watering days, you'll run the system for the specified amount of time, let it soak for a few hours, then repeat this for the number of times needed.
To determine the exact amount of time needed, turn on the lawn sprinkler and watch for how long it takes for runoff to begin. This is the maximum of how long each cycle should be.
Don't just split your cycles into different days. You need deep saturation for healthier plants. Plants and lawns like infrequent deep waterings much more than frequent shallow waterings.
Landscaping and specimen plants on a hillside will also benefit from better saturation. Plants should be planted in larger holes filled with good soil that absorbs water easily. Also, dams and water wells should be built on the downhill side of the plant. This will help give the water time to soak straight down to the root zone before it runs off.
Finding The Right Landscaping Company
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.
Unifying And Separating Landscaping Planting Beds
There are thousands of plant combinations, companion plantings, and color combinations that will work well in landscaping and garden planting schemes.
And form a beginner or do it yourselfer standpoint, simplicity and repitition in planting is a good starting point that can be added to later. I usually say to pick a color scheme of two or three colors and repeat it throughout the garden.
For more curious, experimental, or advanced home landscapers there may be a feel for planting in masses or even random, assorted, and wildflower and ornamental grass beds.
In any instance, there's always a chance that even the best of planting intentions can disrupt harmony, balance, and unity in the garden instead of creating it.
Periodically adding a neutral colored plant throughout your landscape can help unify planting beds that differ in color, texture, and even height.
Silver or gray plants such as Lambs Ears, Artemesia, Dusty Miller, Santolina, Sage, Horehound, and others are considered neutral colored.
Using white flowers as a neutral also works very well. Anything white is a natural focal point and especially in the garden. In a mass of green foliage, orange flowers, mixed flowers, etc., white always draws our eyes to it. Using it throughout the garden will create a sense of unity.
Use white sparingly. Too much of it tends to feel cluttered.
Unifying a garden that's out of sorts is really quite simple. As well as moving and matching existing elements, try adding a neutral color plant to the different planting areas.
Separating or "buffering" beds from each other can be as simple as adding a neutral or group of neutrals between colors or beds.
Some Of The Most Common Landscape Design Features
If you want to build an attractive landscape, but do not where to begin, there are plenty of common landscape design ideas and features available for you to gain inspiration. You can use the ideas yourself or add a little twist to make the landscape design all your own. There are any number of conventional landscape ideas that can help you get started on your own projects and provide inspiration for future projects.
Some of the most common landscape design features are decks and patios. These can either be professionally installed or you can build one yourself. Patios and decks provide a great deal of enjoyment on many levels as part of the use of space in the landscape design. You can use decks and patios for family gatherings or for entertaining. They can also be used to great effect as places to just sit and relax and enjoy. While a basic square shape is the most common of these landscape features, it is also possible to get them in different shapes, depending on your preferences and your needs. However, if you care for your landscape yourself, the square is very convenient for other activities, such as mowing and trimming the lawn.
Rock gardens are features that are rising in popularity as well. These landscape features can provide a great deal of attractiveness, but make use of fewer plants. Landscapes that include rock gardens need less water and less attention. Additionally, the plants that often go with rock gardens are usually hardier and need a little less care. These are easy to care for, and can save money. Additionally, it is possible to build your own rock garden in the landscape, saving you even more money.
English cottage gardens are known for their lack of formality. There is no rigidity in their designs, and because they are more or less allowed to "just grow" require less maintenance than some other types of gardens. These are common gardens because they evoke a sense of charm. They are most common in backyard landscaping, for those who want to enjoy the garden and show an informal sense of elegance while entertaining. In the United States, of course, the lawn remains the most dominant landscape feature, especially in the front. But an English cottage garden can be very fine due its riot of flowering plants. Most landscape features of this sort include rose bushes, perennials and vines. Sometimes they are even allowed to go across pathways. Because perennials are so used, they grow back every year, without much effort.
An increasing trend in landscape design is incorporating elements of the Japanese garden. Of course, in Western circles, many of the times this is interpreted to mean showy flowers. These showy flowers grab attention, and many times landscapes will center around these plants. They can be difficult to take care of, as they are often non-native. They can also be expensive. However, some people are turning their backyard landscapes into gardens that are more in keeping with traditional Japanese garden principles of simplicity including more foliage and design structures. These types of gardens are less expensive and can be equally attractive.
And, of course, the most common landscape feature is the lawn. This is because the lawn allows a platform for family activities. Additionally, overall, it is also fairly easy to care for. It need only be mowed by machines that are relatively easy use, and it can be fertilized and watered fairly inexpensively, if one does so properly and with common sense. Different people do a variety of things with their lawns, and it has become increasing popular to add a small flowerbed in the middle of the lawn for decoration. Having trees on the lawn is also another popular way to adorn the lawn and make it more inviting and attractive.
Creating a beautiful landscape is a matter of enjoyment for many people. However, many of them find it difficult to know where to begin, and know what is possible. But it you are hesitant about where to begin or what to do, trying a tried and true landscape feature can help you succeed in your endeavors to beautify the home environment.
Backyard Landscaping Ideas
No matter where you live, there's nothing better than relaxing outdoors on a warm summer night watching your backyard landscaping ideas come to life.
Unfortunately, re-landscaping your entire backyard during the course of one growing season can be back breaking, expensive and requires major planning.
Here's a simple solution: Break up your backyard into "rooms" and remodel one room each year. This is especially helpful if you're on a budget. You're results will be much better if you spend as much time and money as you can on one project, rather than trying to revamp the entire backyard all at once for the same amount of money.
Although you're landscaping only one section of the yard at a time, you still need an overall plan. Using graph paper, sketch out the permanent structures on your property including the house, out buildings, deck and trees.
This is also a good time to consider which existing plants and shrubs won't be a part of the new landscape.
Make copies of your sketch and experiment with different designs. Incorporate ideas you like from magazines or gardens you've visited.
If you host frequent cook outs you'll probably want to keep the yard open and plant along the borders. If you don't need the space, you could create real drama with an island bed, walkways, solar lighting and cutouts for comfortable furniture to relax on.
Here are some ideas you'll dig:
Screening with Plants
If your yard doesn't have a fence, you might want to consider planting a row of hawthorn, juniper, arborvitae, or a combination of these bushes to create privacy and provide a backdrop for future flower beds. A strategically place evergreen screen will also provide a windbreak from winter winds and drifting snow.
Planning a Border Flower Bed
The hardest part of designing a border is choosing flowers that complement each other both in color and height. The list of perennials I suggest here is for a six foot wide bed in a mainly sunny situation. Wide, in this case, means outward from the plant screen or fence, not the length of the bed.
Use 3 or 5 plants for each kind of flower and allow 16?-18? between each plant. Allow 20?-22? between the different plant groups. Planting an odd number of plants is more visually appealing than an even number.
Allow sufficient space at the rear of the bed for access. This will also prevent choking off necessary air and light from the plants in back.
These are my suggestions for a perennial border. They were chosen to give a long display, with the first flowers appearing in April and the last in October.
Tall plants for the back row: SEDUM 'Autumn Joy'; RUDBECKIA Goldsturm; PHLOX White; IRIS light blue or yellow; VERONICA Blue; SOLIDAGO 'Golden Shower'; and HOSTA fortunei 'Picta'.
Shorter plants for the front row: GERANIUM grandiflorum; POTENTILLA 'Firedance'; HUECHERA Pink; ASTER Dwarf Blue; SEDUM Dragons Blood; ACHILLEA 'Moonshine'; and ERIGERON 'Prosperity'.
Obviously, these plants won't be the best choice for every climate. A worthwhile book to help you choose plants native to your climate zone is The Comfortable Lazy Garden. It's also an excellent reference for beginning gardeners.
An island bed, as the name implies, is planted in the middle of the yard surrounded by a sea of grass. It can vary in shape and size according to your imagination and available space. Scale the plants from tallest in the center to shortest at the edges.
I understand all of this Latin mumbo jumbo can be daunting for first time gardeners, it was for me. If you would like a ready made solution, Direct Gardening offers a wide selection of preplanned gardens designed to take all the guess work out of plant selection and placement.
Imagine the reflective beauty of a pond or the gentle splashing of a man made waterfall. How about a 100 foot high waterslide? Maybe next year.
Do Your Yard a Favor
Before you buy any vegetation, visit a real garden center for advice on drainage and soil preparation. Also, bring a copy of your plan; a soil sample and an extra credit card just in case you can't wait years to make your backyard landscaping ideas come true.
Tips To Keep Teak Furniture Looking Its Best
To survive rain, wind and sun outdoor furniture has to be tough-and no material is as prized for its rugged beauty and legendary durability as teak.
Made to last for decades with absolutely no maintenance, upkeep is more a matter of personal preference than a requirement. While some people prefer the golden color of new teak, others prefer the distinguished silver-grey that teak becomes as it weathers.
Regardless of your preference, just a few steps will make sure your teak furniture stays in tip-top shape for decades. Here are a few tips from Jeremy Smith, president of Wood Classics, a U.S.-based teak furniture manufacturer:
(*) Make sure you have a top quality product to begin with. Pay attention to the wood quality and construction techniques used in the furniture, as this can affect furniture's longevity.
(*) When looking at teak products, make sure they are really teak, not "teak-like" or "as good as teak."
(*) Consider the grade of teak being used. First European Quality (FEQ) is the top grade without knots, cracks or pits.
(*) If you prefer the natural look of weathered teak, you can look forward to virtually no maintenance. If your furniture is left outside, you will want to clean off mildew, sap and pollen annually with Olympic
How To Use Feng Shui Oustside Your Home
It is fun to decorate your own house but sometimes, simple decorating can even lead to a very bad Feng Shui. It is understandable that we like to decorate our house to reflect our mood and taste; however, we will like to let you know some of the basic points to cover when decorating your house. The suggestions below are not a complete list of Feng Shui in your home but merely some essential steps to improve the Feng Shui in your house.
First, go to your house's main entry and stand facing out from your house. Make sure that there is no Poison Arrow pointing to your main entrance. Poison Arrow can come in many forms. It could be a straight road heading straight to your house or a big tree directly outside your house. If you are facing this situation, you should relocate your main door away from this poison arrow or simply just plant a few trees to block this poising arrow.
From the back door, if the land at the back of your house is higher, that is good for you because you have the support of the "Black Turtle". If there is a hill behind your house, that is excellent. If the land behind your house is low, if you are on a hill top for example then you need to install a bright light and shine it upwards to lift the receding Chi energy. You should also place a tortoise at the back of your house if possible.
Looking out from your main door, the land on your left side garden should be higher then the right side. The left side symbolizes Dragon and the right side represents Tiger. You should not let the Tiger be stronger then the Dragon or it will create problems for you in your house like arguing, family disagreement and so on. To rectify this, try to plant tall trees on your left hand side of the garden so the Dragon energy can be stronger then the Tiger. You should also plant a lot of leafy trees on the left hand side of your garden. Try not to have a garden water feature on your right hand side of your garden especially if you are married. By having water fountain on your side of the garden, it may cause a lot of married issues like sex scandals and third party relationships.
When you are opening your house main entrance door, there should be no mirror facing the main door. This is to prevent good energy, luck and wealth from flowing out again. It is also not good when your back door is facing the main door in a straight-line method. This has the same effect as a mirror. Good energy will flow into your house and then flow out from your back door. You need to capture this good energy in your house and don't let them flow out from your house..
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