Tips for Making Your Backyard Party Ready

Planning an outdoor party can be fun yet stressful when you’re deciding on what to include and not to include. You want to make memories that will last a lifetime and shows the appreciation for the people in your life. By following these seven simple steps, you will be on the path towards having a successful outdoor party for all of your guests to enjoy.

Set the Scene

All outdoor spaces, no matter what they look like, give the first impression to people when they visit. Set your outdoor scene with paper lanterns, table linens, and fresh flowers. Place a beverage station so guests can help themselves along with adding cushions or pillows to make chairs comfy. By including these simple touches, your guests will happily stay around longer in conversation.

Pick a Palette

The same rule of three primary colors towards selecting an indoor color scheme outdoors as well. Pick three colors that you would think pair well with your surroundings and couple with accessories like napkins, place cards, paper pom-poms, and pennants or balloons.

Make a Splash

If you have a pool, then use it at your next outdoor party! It’s a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. Guests can tend to forget to bring pool necessities like sunscreen, goggles, towels, and ear plugs so it’s best to have several of these items on hand. It doesn’t hurt to throw in ice-cold beverages like lemonade (perhaps pink if you’re a daredevil) or water or both.

Have Enough Seats

First, assess your indoor furniture and decide which chairs you can bring outside if needed. The best chairs for the outdoors are wooden and metal chairs because they are more forgivable with weather circumstances.

Second, if you realize you don’t have enough chairs or the right type of furniture to bring outdoors, your next best option would be to rent chairs. It ’s more cost-efficient than buying chairs that you may never use again. Folding chairs start as low as $2 a piece, and many vendors will even drop off and pick up.

Build a DIY Buffet

Everyone loves buffets so why not have one at your next outdoor party? Buffets are an easy way to serve your guests’ food, and they can come and go as they please. The best part is your guests can help themselves. According to Brian Flynn, if your short on tabletops try this trick: lay a hollow-core door or thick piece of plywood over evenly-spaced sawhorses, cover with fabric and there you go! This one trick can be the building foundation towards creating a beautiful buffet table with plenty of space to serve guests.

Light Up Your Nights

Continue your party into the night with strings of light encircling an umbrella, wound around tree trunks or suspended over cables hanging over your guests’ heads. Candle-filled or solar lanterns can be alternative options if your home doesn’t have outdoor light sockets.

Creating a fun yet functioning outdoor scene for guests to gather can be time-consuming and stressful but in the end rewarding. Following these seven simple steps can lead to a successful outdoor party for everyone to enjoy and build meaningful memories to hold onto for years to come.

Early Summer Lawn Care Tips

 

Did you know that most people spend an average of 70 hours each year caring for their lawn? Have you found yourself stuck with not knowing what to do with your yard during the early months of summer? Well, look no further as we have some early summer lawn care tips that will help keep your lawn looking fresh and green!

Fertilizer is Your Lawns Friend

It’s essential to start fertilizing your lawn in May or June. Beginning this process of feeding your lawn will allow it to get lots of nutrients that it will need to stay healthy all summer long. Make sure you check your grass type to make sure that you are giving it the proper type of fertilizer as well as the correct amount. While you want to fertilize in the spring, it is also essential to fertilize your lawn in the fall as well to make sure it stays healthy throughout the winter months as well.

Mow High

A lot of people make the mistake of over-mowing their grass. It is important to only cut about ⅓ off the length of the blades of grass each time you mow. While this might require more frequent mowing, it will decrease the number of grass cuttings that will be lying on top of your newly cut grass. While excess clippings can be damaging to your lawn, it is beneficial to the health of your yard when the extra clippings are redistributed across your lawn. You should also sharpen your mower blades at the beginning of each season to allow for proper, clean cutting of your lawn.

Water Correctly

It’s important to make sure your lawn is getting the proper amount of water; which means not too little and not too much. The majority of people over-water their lawns and water them at the wrong time of day. You want to water your grass in the early morning to allow it time to dry so that it doesn’t sit overnight and risk the chance of developing a fungus. Make sure that your lawn is getting an inch of water in total each week.

We hope that these tips will help you get started on some early summer lawn care so you can keep your lawn looking beautiful all year long.

Why You Should Hire A Professional Landscaper

 

Gardening is one of America’s favorite past times, but even if you rival the green thumb of mother nature herself, there are a lot of advantages to hiring a professional landscaper for a big change. Perhaps you just moved into a new house and want to make the yard a reflection of your style or maybe you are ready for a revamp of the current layout. There are a lot of reasons to hire a professional landscaper for these projects.

Design

Think of a landscaper as an exterior designer. Their creativity and knowledge will show you possibilities beyond your DIY aspirations and result in a space the whole family can enjoy. Landscapers also work with contractors and builders to coordinate lawn and garden design with exterior home changes, remodels, and additions.

Inspections

No matter how you might want to redo your yard, a site inspection is key. A professional landscaper will evaluate the soils, drainage, existing tree placement, and other any special needs to ensure that your carefully placed bed of flowers won’t flood during the first rainstorm. Proper placement of yard features can increase efficiency and sustainability.

Local Knowledge

Your local landscaper knows exactly what works in your area. From which plants thrive in your zone to when to plant them to how to take care of them, a professional landscaper knows how to custom mold your garden to fit the local conditions.

Legal

If you’re doing anything more than weeding and planting, there’s a chance you will need a permit for your work. A professional landscaper can help you draw up and submit plans to the city or your homeowners association. You don’t want your DIY yard makeover to be halted by a lack of permission or a fine.

Process

There’s a lot to do when you take on a landscaping project. A pro will know what to do first, second, third… all the way up to the last detail. This ensures an efficient process that gets done faster with no chance that previous work will have to be redone due to poor planning.

Budget

There are a lot of things that can affect the budget for your landscaping project. A professional landscaper will keep you on track by planning within your budget. Their experience with common landscaping pitfalls and issues will help you avoid wasted time and money down the road.

Tools

Remodeling your yard could necessitate some heavy machinery. Change often requires removing trees or bushes, pulling up walkways and decks, or taking down garden walls and other existing features. A professional landscaper not only has the right tools for these jobs, but they also have the expertise to complete the job right.

Electrical

Lighting is a vital aspect of any landscape design, but it could mean some additional wiring. Even those with some DIY electrical experience will want to call in the professionals since outdoor wiring needs to resist the elements and stay safe from rodents and pests. A landscaper will bring your ideas to life with the proper lighting.

Plumbing

Pools, spas, ponds, and fountains will require extra planning, excavating, and materials to be properly installed. A professional landscaper will know how to deal with these additional considerations and make sure your water feature is a main focus of your yard, not the main pain. Landscapers are also great for helping with irrigation and watering systems to help conserve water and make lawn care a breeze.

Time

Tasks tend to go faster when you are confident in the skill you are performing. Professional landscapers save you the time and hassle of doing the job yourself in the only spare time you have between work, family, and friends. Their knowledge and experience will get you to your ideal yard faster than you can imagine.

While there are many reasons to hire a professional, only you can decide what your yard really needs. Think of what your outdoor oasis would look like if you had unlimited time, money, and skill then call your local landscapers to help bring your dream to reality!

The great outdoors doesn’t stop being great the moment the sun goes down, but if your landscape is lacking in lighting, you could be forced inside as night falls. Make your yard a 24-hour hotspot with the right mixture of functional and decorative lights.

HANGING LIGHTS

One of the most popular options for brightening an outdoor space is hanging lights. Strings of vintage bulbs featuring artistic bare filaments give a feeling of nostalgia for the good old days. Paper lanterns offer a more subdued brightness and come in many shapes, sizes, and colors to match your backyard theme. For lots of illumination, try rope lights. They come in rolls 100+ feet long so you can line the roof of your pergola or gazebo or gracefully drape them across open spaces. Yes, Christmas lights are included in this category, and it’s totally fine to leave them up all year long, but don’t be surprised if you get a couple of weird looks from your neighbors.

PATHWAYS

When it comes to functional lighting, it’s imperative that pathways, steps, and other hazards are well marked. Small solar powered lights take almost no installation and can be used to line front or back walkways. Many of these options aren’t bright enough to stand on their own, so use these in conjunction with brighter illumination such as front door sconces. Rope lights are another great option here too! They provide a continuous line of light for the full length of the pathway, the edges of your deck, and any steps or tripping hazards. Wrap them around patio railings to outline your party space and try them in different colors to set the mood.

CANDLES/OIL LAMPS

While candles and oil lamps are inefficient as primary light sources, they can add much-needed character and ambiance to your space. Place them on tables or in decorative hanging lanterns. Taller torches are perfect for further out in the yard, just be sure to keep any open flames away from plants, cushions, or anything else flammable. To eliminate this hazard, opt for battery powered candles.

SPECIAL FEATURES

You work hard to make sure your yard is the best on the block, maybe even the best in the world! So if there’s something that makes your landscape unique, draw focus to it with special accent lights. Bring attention to your pool with colored LED floating spheres. They even make moving light shows to project on the bottom of your pool. Hang softly glowing orbs from your favorite tree or pick some uplighting for your garden fountain. Whatever your favorite part of your yard is, be sure to highlight it.

Every landscape is different and choosing a lighting design that works for a particular homeowner means looking at all different aspects—from mood to brightness to access for electrical outlets. Call us today to help create a design that will make your backyard a nighttime paradise.

Why is Spring the Best Time to Redo Landscape

Spring has sprung! Or at least it will very soon, which is why you should have started thinking about your lawn and garden months ago. Don’t worry; it’s not too late. Spring is actually the perfect time to redo your landscape design, and there are a few reasons why.

Summer is Short

There can never be enough sunny days. For the ones you do have, you’ll want to enjoy them relaxing in your stunning new backyard, not pulling weeds when it’s 90 degrees out. Set your season off to a good start with a fresh design so you can sit back and put your feet up while taking in the scenery.

Check for Survivors

Winter is brutal and unpredictable. There’s a chance that the garden you’ve come to know and love didn’t pull through the harsh conditions the way you hoped. If there isn’t a speck of green in your flowerbeds, it’s definitely time to redecorate. This time around, pick plants hearty enough to survive the cold so in the future your garden will rise the moment spring arrives.

What Winter Taught You

Use what you learned about your yard during winter to fuel your plan for spring. Did you notice a spot where water wasn’t draining from your yard? Did your favorite garden decoration become an unwelcome interference to your snowball fight? Did your lack of evergreen trees leave your house exposed to the whole neighborhood? Now you know to address these concerns in your new design. A landscape should be planned for all seasons.

Supply & Demand

Summer is the busiest time for landscaping companies. Get your project started earlier in the spring to be first in line for all the newest design ideas. Plus, since you planned ahead, your yard takes priority and will be finished sooner than the neighbor who waited until June. Getting started earlier is also a good idea if your new project involves any large builds.

Slow Introductions

Plants love mild temperatures and must be slowly acclimatized to the blazing sun and humid air of summer. Planting your garden early allows your plants to root to your soil and be well adjusted by the time you are turning the A/C on inside. If you do plant when it’s hot, you’ll need to give some extra attention and lots of regular watering.

Little Changes = Big Difference

Even if you aren’t planning an entire landscape makeover, a spring cleanup is imperative to keep your yard green all summer long. Garden beds will need tending, edging, weeding, and mulching. Dead branches or plants will need to be cut away. Gutters should be cleaned and any leaves hiding under the melted snow should be raked away to give your grass room to breathe and soak up the sun. This can be a lot of work, but a landscape company can help with this too.

There has never been a better time to redo your landscape than right now. Spring brings the perfect conditions for planting, now let us bring the perfect landscape to go with it. Call our design team and schedule an appointment today to get started!

Growing Indoor Plants

The first thing you should know when considering bringing your potted plants indoors for winter is that not all plants can be grown indoors. When a plant goes from a warm, sunny, breezy environment to a dim, dry, stagnant one like the atmosphere inside your home, it can suffer from various forms of shock. This can quickly kill a healthy plant. Luckily there are some good tips for bringing plants indoors and keeping them healthy through winter.

To avoid the sudden shock of an environment change, you need to slowly acclimatize your plants to the house. Start by moving them to more shaded areas so they can get used to lower sunlight. Plants should generally be brought inside when the overnight temperature reaches 45 degrees or below. Some plants are hardy enough to survive a light frost, but it’s better to bring them in earlier.

Now comes the fun part; trying to keep them alive and flowering exactly as they were outside. You need to find ways of working within the space of your house and take advantage of the features it already has. Make room for plants on surfaces that get the most natural light through the windows. Speaking of windows—clean them! Believe it or not, they might be dirty, and every little ounce of sunlight counts when it comes to wintering plants indoors.

Before you bring them in, check for pests and disease. Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites love the indoor environment and will quickly spread from plant to plant in the confined space of your home. One popular home remedy is to dunk plants (pot and all) into a large bucket of soapy water, killing existing bugs and keeping plants protected. If a plant is infected, you may have to bite the bullet and let it die this year. Better to keep the plants who are doing well safe than risk one diseased plant amongst their midsts.

If you love all your plants, but some are too large to house indoors over the wintertime, consider taking cuttings from these plants and cultivating them inside. They take up less space this way and there’s no shock from moving indoors. With proper care, these plants can root well in winter and be ready for the patio come spring.

Two additional areas of consideration are humidity and watering. Inside it tends to be dry and the lack of humidity can lead to yellowing and wilting leaves. Add a humidifier to the space where most of your plants are or make your own humidifier trays with pebbles and water. Speaking of water, plants naturally need less of it in winter. Even if you bring them indoors. Many plants go into a sort of hibernation in the winter and overwatering them can throw off this natural cycle. Only add water when the top two inches of soil are dry and be sure to add it in moderate amounts.

Geraniums, fuchsia, begonias, and passion flower are the plants most likely to flourish indoors. Many vegetables and spices can transition indoors too. Tomato plants will keep producing if brought indoors and cared for over winter.

You don’t have to say goodbye to your plants when winter rolls around. Follow the proper guidelines and you can successfully enjoy your plants both indoors and outdoors for seasons to come.

Quick Steps to a Brighter Winter Landscape

The winter Blah’s are a real thing. The short hours of sunlight mean less vitamin D which can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder – basically, weather-related depression. Not only does the lack of sunshine add to this, but your snow-covered landscape doesn’t inspire much joy either. If you’re a dedicated gardener, you can keep your garden green all winter. Okay, not green exactly, but certainly a few shades of pink, red, purple, and white. Plants such as Helleborus orientalis (better known as Lenten Rose), winter pansies, and bushes such as holly and winterberry are all great cold-weather plants. The only downside to this plan is that these flowers need to be planted before wintertime in order to bloom. So let’s look at some things you can add right now to brighten the view from your window.

Art/Sculpture

Snowmen were so last year. If you want to decorate your winter landscape, you have plenty of other options. If there’s enough snow, pick a fun shape and go out and sculpt it! It’s a great way to spend time with family and friends, stay active when most people are cooped up in their houses, and it will give you something fun to see through your frost covered windows for a few days. If you want something more permanent, look into yard sculptures or tree art. Yard sculptures come in a wide variety, from welded metal animals to poured concrete gnomes. Pick one or create a whole menagerie! If you want something more subtle, look for some tree art. Think of a Mr. Potato Head kit, but the pieces stick into your trees instead of a potato. You can get happy faces, scary faces, even a Bigfoot peaking out from behind the tree. Use your imagination and find whatever makes you happy when you look at it.

Color

Everyone loves fall because of the beautiful colors of the changing leaves and everyone loves spring because of the beautiful colors of the flowers, but winter tends to be a stark white landscape that doesn’t inspire much joy. You can quickly change that with a few yard accessories. One of the easiest (and least expensive) ways to add color to your winter landscape is with homemade ice balls. Get some sturdy balloons and fill them with water. Now add a few drops of food coloring, tie the balloon, and shake gently. Now all you have to do is freeze them. If the temperature outside happens to be 32 degrees or less, just place them gently on your lawn and wait. If not, just put them in your freezer. Once they seem stable, pop the balloon and you’ve got large colorful marbles to place around the yard or your gardens. Bonus to this plan, when they melt, there’s no cleanup! Other options for adding color include painting murals on your fence, add some small colored solar lights, or just hang up some holiday lights and enjoy.

Sound

Brightening up a winter landscape involves appealing to ALL of our senses. If the deadening snow is just too peaceful for you, add a bit of ambiance with a wind chime. Chimes can be made of wood, metal, or anything in between. You can even buy them with specific tones if you prefer higher or lower pitches. Again, this is one of those things you can turn into a family activity. Go to the craft store and get some good reliable string, pick something for the center of your chime and find objects that make pleasant sounds when they strike it or each other. Try alternative items like metal spoons, shells, or glass beads. There’s no limit to what you can use as long as it sounds good and when you hear it chime you won’t only have a pleasant sound, you’ll also have a happy memory to think on.

There’s no reason to settle for a white winter wonderland if you don’t want to. Be the talk of the block and add some fun features to your garden this winter.

Prepare Your Flower Beds for Next Season

It may be tempting to start ignoring your garden in the fall while you get distracted with holiday shopping, relatives visiting, and everything else you have to deal with, but it’s vitally important that you prepare your flower beds for next season, otherwise you’ll have a big mess on your hands in the spring. First, it’s important to realize that there are three different types of flowers and they all need different levels of preparation for surviving the winter.

Annuals

Annual flowers are those that only grow for one season and must be replanted yearly from a new seed or plant in order to bloom. Common varieties include gardenias, verbena, geraniums, impatients, marigolds, pansies, petunias, periwinkle, salvia, sage, sunflowers, and begonias. If you leave dead annual plants in your garden over the winter, they won’t flower again in the spring. In fact, they will spell more of a mess than anything else. Some annuals do bloom during winter and these are important because they provide soil coverage that helps avoid erosion. These varieties include calendula, sweet pea, larkspur, snapdragon, lavender, and ornamental cabbage.

Perennials

Perennials are the opposite of annuals – you can plant them once and they will bloom for season after season (at least two years), but don’t think they will do this automatically. It takes work to be sure your perennials will come up flowering in the spring. Common garden perennials include aster, peonies, chrysanthemums, daffodils, and lilies.

First, remove any invasive plants from these flowerbeds. During autumn, weeds will draw nutrients deep into their roots to start storing for the winter. Thus, weed killer is drawn directly into the roots when applied to the plant in the fall. Ideally, after you pull, they won’t return in the spring. This also means that your perennials are drawing nutrients for storage so test your soil nutrients and spread a mulch or compost that will feed your perennials properly all winter long.

Bulbs

Flowers that sprout from bulbs will survive a winter in the ground only if the bulbs are hardy enough. You’ll want to look into your USDA Zone (link) to know the average temperatures, dates for first and last freezes, and get an idea of which bulbs can be left in the ground and which you will have to baby through the cold months indoors. Delicate bulbs, such as dahlias, begonias, gladiolus, canna and calla lilies must be dug up, dried, and wrapped for winter storage if you live in colder zones.

Hardier bulbs such as tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, and crocuses can be left in the ground in most zones, but some general rules still apply. Remove any dead plant matter or invasive species before retiring your garden beds. Add an extra layer of mulch, sometimes three to four inches, to flowerbeds with bulbs. If you use composted mulch for protection, make sure your mulch is healthy before spreading it. One diseased plant mulched into your compost pile can mean dead bulbs come springtime.

While you’re on the roof stringing up the holiday lights, don’t forget to look down at your garden and show it some attention too. A properly winterized flowerbed will be ready for planting come springtime or it may even sprout up some flowers without any help from you, but only if you take care of it first.

Winterizing Your Garden

You’ve finally got your garden looking exactly how you want it. The bushes are pruned, the flowers are blooming, and I know you’re trying to ignore the fact that winter is slowly creeping around the bend. After all the hard work you put into your garden, it’s important to protect it over the winter season so you can enjoy your bright flowers and fresh veggies the moment spring arrives instead of having to work on months of winter damage. Here are some simple tips for winterizing your garden.

Flowers
If you get something out to use it and then put it away nicely, it will already be clean and ready for you when you go to use that item again. The same goes for your garden. If we put our plants away neatly, they are willing for us the next time we need them and it saves us time down the road. Cut your perennials down to just a few inches before the first freeze hits. The roots will be protected underground through the winter, and they will flower again with no work in the spring. Annuals should be pulled up, roots and all, and tossed or composted as they will not flower again.

Vegetables
Keeping a vegetable bed healthy through the winter is all about the soil. Pull out weeds and invasive plants and make sure you get all the way down to their roots. Remove dead leaves, branches, stems, and other debris that may become a home for bugs or diseases. Next, you want to get a soil test. Different vegetables will pull different nutrients from the ground, which is why you should rotate your crops. Getting a soil test can help determine what you should plant next. Most gardens will benefit from a winter crop such as clover or garlic to keep a protective layer on your soil. Don’t feel like waiting all winter to garden again? No worries. Try a cold-frame to grow veggies all year round.

Bulbs
Some plants grow from seeds while others grow from bulbs. Most bulbs are very weather sensitive and need to be removed, dried, and stored indoors during winter months. Heartier bulbs you can leave in the ground, but make sure there is an extra protective layer of mulch on your flower beds if you do this. Four to five inches of mulch is a standard level to insulate bulbs from the cold.

Shrubs & Trees
Many small shrubs, bushes, and new trees need some extra love to survive the cold. Baby trees have sensitive bark that could dry and crack during the winter. Shrubs and bushes should have full foliage to protect against drying winds. Try a commercial tree wrap and fully enclose these trees and shrubs before the first frost hits.

Water Features
Unfortunately, winterizing a water feature isn’t as easy as turning it off when the first freeze hits. Pump parts could become frozen and break during the winter if water is left in the hoses and pipes. Some water features are designed to run all year round and have anti-freezing mechanisms built into the pump system. Check with your installer to see what exact directions are needed for you to winterize your water feature.

It’d be great if we could keep our gardens blooming all year, but winter is coming and we need to be prepared. If you want to keep your gardens healthy for years to come, make sure you winterize them. It could be the difference between a colorful flowerbed or a soggy mess in the spring.

Prepare Your Commercial and Residential Landscape for Snow and Cold Temperatures

It is important to prepare your commercial and residential landscape for cold temperatures. If you have a commercial landscape, then you know just how important landscaping is; your landscaping represents your business. It’s important to have a landscape that can be vibrant during the summer while also being able to support heavy loads of snow and freezing temperatures during the winter. This is a thin line to tread and preparing your landscape for cold weather while still making it look good during warm weather can be difficult. The most efficient strategy is to use plants that bloom in summer and die back or “hibernate” in winter, so the winter snow will not damage any sensitive branches that are trying to survive. Snow and extreme cold are the most threatening elements of winter for delicate landscapes. Heavy loads of snow that get plowed on top of landscaped areas can break branches.