Curb Appeal: Make Your Home Look Great By Concentrating On The Surroundings

When you want to improve the look on your home, there are a number of ways to boost your curb appeal. When you are working on a budget, you can start small and work your way up into bigger projects. Any way you can clean up the outside of your home, neaten up your landscaping, and add a bit of flair to your yard is going to make your home more visually appealing. If you are ready to make big changes to your yard, it’s time to meet with a professional landscaper and create the yard of your dreams.

Start by Cleaning Up Your Yard

The first step in improving the curb appeal of your home is to simply clean up any yard debris from the area. This includes piles of leaves, fallen branches, broken down benches, and anything that simply looks unkempt. You’d be surprised by how much better your yard can look when you decide to clean up and get organized.

Think About Your Plans

The best part about landscaping is the fun you can have making plans. Talk with your landscape architect about your wishes for your home, and don’t be afraid to dream. While you may be on a budget, it’s important to know what you want for your dream landscape, even if you can’t make everything happen. 

Remove Diseased Trees and Bushes

Another way to improve your curb appeal through landscaping is to remove any dead or diseased trees and shrubbery from your property. This will help clean up your yard, and give you a fresh slate to work with. To save money on your landscaping, this is job that you can do on your own.

Consider Your Walkway

Improving the entrance to your home is one of the best ways to make an impact. If the path up to your home is bleak, you aren’t going to create much interest in the home. Consider pathway lighting, various stones to create the walkway, and plantings that can go on either side to make your entrance more inviting. Whether you choose to use simple planters and annual plants, or you invest in hardier perennials is up to you.

When you want to create a better look for your home, it’s time to talk with a landscaper. Whether your plans are big or small, you will be able to make the changes you desire with some good planning.

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A Brief Guide To Retaining Wall Materials

Retaining walls perform an important function in your landscape, whether they are necessary due to the lay of your land or purely there to help add terraces or other dimensions to an otherwise flat landscape. Just because they are utilitarian doesn’t mean that their design doesn’t matter. The following guide can help you make a choice on the best retaining wall materials for you landscape.

Concrete block

Concrete block works well in nearly any type of retaining wall because it is durable. It can be used in both curved and straight applications, depending on the shape of the block that is chosen. Although gray blocks are common, you can also invest in concrete blocks that have been dyed different shades, such as terracotta, and that are cast in slightly different shapes, such as scallops. Block is one of the more inexpensive retaining wall choices.


Wood, usually in the form of railroad ties, is typically one of the least expensive options. The ties look good in more rustic landscape styles, where you prefer a more natural look in the yard. Wood retaining wall fences are also an option. Keep in mind that railroad ties and other woods are treated with chemicals to prevent rot, which can leach out into the soil. This can add toxicity to homegrown vegetables, so don’t use wood in the retaining wall if it will be fencing in a vegetable or herb bed.

Dry stone

A dry stone wall can use any type of natural stone or boulders, but it won’t contain mortar. These are not always as sturdy as concrete, so they are typically only used on decorative retaining walls where the soil behind won’t be putting a lot of pressure on the wall. Dry stone walls can be stacked out of any type of stone desired, allowing you top opt for either a rustic look or a more cottage-like feel.

Brick and mortar

This is one of the more expensive options, but the mortar helps provide additional durability to the wall. Brick is a great choice for more formal or traditional landscapes, especially if you want to tie the wall elements into other brickwork elements on the home. Brick and mortar retaining walls are often used to create uniform terracing in a yard or to retain raised beds in front of the home or along a drive or pathway.

For more help, contact a landscape company that specializes in retaining wall installations.

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Want To Have Color In Your Yard This Fall? A Tree And Flowers You Should Consider

Just because it is fall does not mean you cannot have color in your yard. There are trees you can plant that have colorful bark, as well as flowers that flourish in the cool fall weather. Below is information about one tree, as well as some flowers so you can decide what you would like best for your yard.

A Tree with Colorful Bark

The rainbow eucalyptus tree looks like a living rainbow with its beautiful, colorful bark. This tree cannot handle cold temperatures so it grows best in states like Florida, southern California, Hawaii, and Texas. You can find this tree in Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Philippines where it thrives in the warm weather and tropical forests that receive a lot of rain.

This tree can grow up to 250 feet tall in its native surroundings. In the United States it will grow approximately half this height. This tree loves water so if you do not get a lot of rainfall, make sure you water it yourself and do not let the soil dry out.

The bark on this tree will show vertical colors of gray, blue, green, and orange as it goes through its peeling process.

Colorful Flowers

There are also many colorful flowers that will give you color up until the first frost. The mum is a common flower you will see growing in the fall season. If you will be planting this flower near pumpkins for fall decoration choose colors like yellow, bronze, creamy white and orange. If not, you can choose colors of bright pink, lavender and red. You will see mums in beautiful containers in the fall, or you can plant them in the ground. No matter how they are planted, they need to be in full sun with well-drained soil. Mums love water so if you do not get enough rain, water them yourself. If you ever start to see the leaves wilt, water the plant quickly.

Pansies are another flower that will give you constant color in the fall. You will find them in a variety of colors from white to bright lavender. They grow low to the ground much like a petunia and work great in containers. These plants grow best in cooler temperatures with well-drained soil.  Keep the pansies watered at all times and use an all-purpose fertilizer when you first plant them.

Visit a garden center in your area to learn more about these flowers.  You may also want to consider hiring a tree service like Arborcare Tree Service to help you stay on top of caring for your tree.

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Top 3 Signs You Need to Remove a Tree

Have you recently acquired a property with a large tree upon it? Are you trying to decide whether to keep the tree or have it removed? Large trees can be beautiful, but they can also be hazardous. Even the most desirable trees can eventually become undesirable. Here are some of the most important signs that your tree needs to be removed:

Termites: If you have seen termites in your tree, that’s a sign that your tree may be unhealthy. Termites don’t eat healthy trees, so you should definitely be concerned if you find an active infestation in a tree that otherwise looks healthy. If it’s just one or two branches, you may be able to have those removed, and then the tree will be fine. However, there’s also a good chance that you’ll need to have a tree-removal service take out the entire tree. For a tree infested with termites, you will want the opinions of both your local pest-control expert and someone knowledgeable about trees. 

Hollows: During storms, branches may break off of the tree. This can be perfectly normal. But sometimes those breaking branches will reveal an empty hollow space within the tree. This can be a very bad sign. There may have been an active termite infestation that partially hollowed out the tree, or there may be other reasons why the tree started to rot on the inside. Whatever the case, a hollow tree can be a weakened tree. You’ll need the opinion of an expert to help you determine whether you’ll need to call a tree-removal service to handle the tree or can leave the tree standing for a while longer.

Closeness to house: People may sometimes plant trees next to a house without realizing exactly how big a particular species can grow. This may be fine for a decade or more, but the tree will slowly grow in size to where it begins to threaten part of the home. A tree that is extremely close to the house will be unable to fully spread its roots, potentially weakening the tree and causing it to topple during a heavy storm. If the tree is close, but not right up against the house, the tree’s branches may threaten windows, gutters, and shingles. If any of the tree’s branches look like they might rub against the house, they’ll need to be removed. If the tree is close enough to the house that you could stand inside and touch the tree if there was a window nearby, then you probably need to have a tree-removal service such as Treetime Inc cut the tree down before it causes any serious damage.

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3 Insects That Can Damage The Western Hemlock Tree

The western hemlock tree is a beautiful evergreen conifer that offers a slightly different look to the traditional, more popular conifers. The hemlock still has the dark green needles associated with conifers, and the brownish cones, but the undersides of the needles have a distinct white hue that can make the hemlock a beautiful shade tree for your yard.

Keep your hemlock free of pests by monitoring for signs of an insect infestation. Here are a few of the common insects that can target the tree, what to look for, and how a tree care service can help.

Hemlock Looper

The hemlock looper is a highly-destructive defoliating insect that can potentially kill your hemlock tree. Adult loopers are modest-sized brown moths, and the females lay small eggs throughout the hemlock tree in the fall months. The eggs hatch in spring and the emerging larvae are what can potentially destroy your tree.

Looper larvae are caterpillars that have yellowish, hairless bodies with dark markings. The larvae feed on the tree’s needles and travel in a looping pattern, thus the name, eating everything in their wake and dropping partially eaten and dying needles to the ground. A strong infestation can completely defoliate your hemlock tree and strip the tree of much-needed nutrients.

Call a tree care service as soon as you spot partially eaten needles collecting around the base of your tree. The service can use pheromone traps, insecticides, or both to help treat your looper infestation and potentially save your tree from a full defoliation – and possibly even tree death. 

Hemlock Sawfly

The hemlock sawfly lays small, yellowish eggs in the bark of the hemlock tree. These eggs hatch, and blackish-green, striped larvae emerge. The larvae feed on older foliage on the hemlock tree but will move on to the healthier, newer foliage when they grow larger and stronger. Eventually, the sawfly larvae can defoliate significant parts of the tree, with the crown showing the earliest signs of bald spots.

Harsh winter weather can often kill off the sawfly infestation, but it’s not guaranteed. If you try to let the problem fix itself, you do run the risk of the sawflies surviving for another year of infestation and defoliation. You should call a tree care service to try and control the sawfly problem now, with a combination of manual removal and insecticides.

You might also want a tree trimming service to prune away any branches severely affected by the defoliation process. This can help control the sawfly population and make your tree look healthier overall. 

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Hemlock woolly adelgids are tiny, aphid-like insects that create a wool-like substance as they lay eggs within the hemlock tree. All the adelgids are females due to asexual reproduction, which can cause the infestation to spread out of hand quickly. The laid eggs hatch into larvae that feed on younger bark tissue, such as that on smaller twigs. As the larvae age and grow, the feeding intensifies and moves onto the thicker wood such as the branches and the heartwood of the trunk. If larvae cause substantial damage to the heartwood, the hemlock tree will die, and you will need a tree removal service.

If you notice a woolly material on your tree and signs of healthy twigs dropping to the ground, call in a tree care service as soon as possible. The adelgid problem is controllable with carefully tailored and applied chemical controls.

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How To Keep Your Sprinkler Heads From Getting Destroyed

Once you have made the investment to have a sprinkler system in your yard, you will need to take some precautions regarding the sprinkler heads. They can break easily, either from too much pressure upon them, or from brute force when they are up and sprinkling water. While a sprinkler head will break every once in awhile, you can take some steps to avoid needing this repair on your system on a regular basis. 

Look Carefully at the Map Provided by Your Sprinkler Company

When your sprinklers are installed, the company will provide you with a map to indicate where all of your sprinkler heads are. You should look carefully at this map, especially for sprinkler heads near your driveway. If you have the need to turn around on your lawn from your driveway, you should know where any sprinkler heads are located to avoid driving over them.

Don’t Allow People to Drive on Your Lawn

While you may need to turn around once in awhile, remind guests that you have a sprinkler system and to avoid driving on the lawn at all times. This may seem basic, but you would be surprised how many sprinkler heads get destroyed from guests driving across the lawn.

Mow Your Lawn with Caution

If you use a riding lawn mower, once again you need to look at the map of sprinkler heads while mowing your lawn. Better yet, mow your lawn a few times with the sprinkler heads up so you know exactly where they are. Once you put the sprinkler heads back down, there will be areas of your lawn that are higher where you avoided the heads. Use a weed whacker on these areas until you learn where your sprinkler heads are.

Don’t Allow Children to Play in Your Engaged Sprinklers

While it might be fun to allow your children to run through your sprinklers on a hot day, you have to remember that children can easily break a sprinkler head. If it’s really hot out, you might want to take your chances but remind the children that they shouldn’t go anywhere near the sprinklers or they will break. A solid hit in the right place, and a sprinkler head can easily snap right off.

When you have invested in a quality sprinkler system for your yard, you want to make sure that you don’t have to deal with unnecessary repairs. Know where the sprinkler heads are and try to avoid running over them while mowing the lawn or turning around. Contact a business, such as USA Hoich Irrigation, for more information.   

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3 Solutions For Better Landscape Water Management That You Can Do At Your Home

Landscape water management is a problem in many communities, but there are solutions. Some of these solutions can begin right on your own property. Here is a brief explanation of the problem and three solutions that you can use to set an example for sound water management in your neighborhood.

The Problem

Besides the visual insult of gallons of water pouring down a storm drain, there are immediately damaging effects to natural water systems in your area. The quality of water in local lakes, streams, rivers and creeks is compromised by the level of contamination from rain runoff that is allowed to flow freely into these water supplies.

Trash, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, grease and unhealthy bacteria flow freely from rooftops, across parking lots, and down streets, where they are flushed down a storm drain. While it might be next to impossible to divert 100% of this runoff into useable retention systems, individual properties are the best place to start.


In an ideal situation, every home could be responsible, to some degree, for handling at least a portion of their property’s rainwater runoff. Waiting until a neighbor decides to do the right thing will make it difficult for positive results to be realized.

Even a simple rain garden in your own yard could be the impetus that triggers a more environmentally conscious water management model in your community. Rain chains, rain gardens and green roofs are three simple bio-retention systems that you can start with at your home.

  • Rain Chains

A simple starter project that handles water runoff from your house roof through your gutters and downspouts are rain chains. Rain chains are a decorative alternative to downspouts, with a portion of this water easily transferred along basic drip irrigation lines.

Rain chains are also decorative and slow the pouring of rainwater through your downspouts that can be responsible for soil erosion. Rain chains will deflect water from your gutters and allow it to trickle into planting areas, or be gently absorbed by your lawn.

  • Rain Gardens

A small rain garden can reclaim over a half a gallon of water per square foot. The design is relatively simple, with a flat bottom pond surrounded by native species of plant material that can handle consistently damp conditions. As you move farther away from the rain garden center, there can be a more diverse array of plants.

You have various choices for how the water is filtered back into the ground around the garden. Places along the sides can be designed to be porous, allowing the water, once it reaches a certain height, to bleed slowly into the surrounding soil, hydrating the plant material just outside the rain garden. You can also install a very basic filtration system with a small pump attached that feeds irrigation lines to other planted areas in your landscape.

  • Green Roofs

Green roofs are a little more involved than the two previous types of water retention systems, but are certainly a viable consideration for the future of water management. There are some structural considerations that need to be carefully inspected before you consider if any portion of your roof might make for a viable spot for a green roof.

Landscape designers who specialize in green roof options are skilled in knowing if there is a part of your home that might prove feasible. Even small corner planter boxes, fixed at places on your roof that already sufficiently supported points, can be a nice place to start.

Most often these can be filled with climate and water tolerant types of vines, or ground cover, that as it grows will add a majestic since of foliage to spots on your home. Since the green roof concept is a more involved water management system, a small project incorporated with either of the two previous solutions can boost the percentage of water reclamation you are personally responsible for.

No matter how large or small a piece of property you have, using a bio-retention system can be an excellent way to show your ecological awareness by helping to improve your community’s water management objectives. A landscape professional that specializes in water management services and irrigation can steer you in the right direction so you can be a role model in this environmentally conscious purpose.

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The Advantages of Rubber Pavers

Rubber pavers are an alternative outdoor hardscaping material that can be used in place of more traditional concrete and asphalt in order to create patios, walkways, and even driveways. Because of their unique material qualities, rubber pavers carry a distinctive set of advantages with them. Understanding what rubber pavers have to offer can help you decide if they are the right choice for your outdoor hardscaping needs.

Low Maintenance

Unlike stone and concrete, rubber pavers do not need to be sealed to ensure that they remain in good shape over time. This is because rubber is a non-absorbent material. Water will not seep into it and freeze, cause cracks, or promote mold growth. This also means that rubber pavers are much easier to clean then other types of materials, as they can simply be pressure washed or scrubbed down by hand to remove caked-on dirt and other debris. This ease of cleaning and lack of staining can help reduce your long-term costs and time commitments.

Environmentally Friendly

Rubber pavers can be made out of recycled materials. While not every brand or model of rubber pavers is recycled, you can easily find a variant that is. This helps reduce your environmental impact and make your yard or project greener. Furthermore, when it’s time to replace your pavers, you can simply recycle them instead of throwing them out as you would would with other materials.


Rubber pavers are an extremely safe building material. Not only is rubber slip resistant, helping to prevent unexpected falls, it is also softer than more traditional types of pavers, such as concrete or natural stone, which means that if you do end up falling on it, you are much less likely to actually injure yourself. This makes rubber pavers ideal for playground installation and other areas where small children engage in a great deal of activity. Additionally, their soft surface means that rubber pavers will not crack or split when heavy objects fall on them, as the shock will simply be absorbed.

Weather Resistance

Rubber pavers are highly resistant to the wear and tear associated with outdoor use. Their nonabsorbent quality means that they can withstand the springtime rains and snowmelts without cracking or eroding due to water exposure. Furthermore, rubber will not soften to the same extent that asphalt will in the summer months, and this reduces the likelihood of an uneven surface developing. 

Contact a hardscape-services company near you for more information. 

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Two Sneaky Reasons Your Home’s Landscaping Is Dehydrating Faster Than It Should

You spend a lot of time and money creating a landscape that is green, pristine, and healthy, but if you don’t have an adequate amount of moisture content in the soil surrounding your home, all your efforts will just be moot. While your first inclination as a homeowner who has dehydrated landscape will be just to contact the nearest residential irrigation expert you can find, it is always a good idea to understand why your landscape is dehydrating at an alarming rate. Here are a few sneaky reasons why the moisture content in your soil could be suffering. 

The makeup of your soil is lacking in absorbent properties. 

Imagine you have a flower pot filled with dirt from your landscape. You pour a glass of water over it and then use that same glass to capture the same amount of water from the drainage hole in the bottom. Your landscape and soil is comparable to a giant planting container with a drainage system in the lower layers. If your soil is not containing absorbent qualities, when it does rain, the biggest part of that moisture will just slip right through and drain away.

Soil conditioning products can help with this issue because they are essentially made up of compounds that retain water, such as ground pine mulch or compost. Soil conditioners are worked into the soil through a plugging process that usually involves drilling a series of holes along the surface of the ground with an aerator. By injecting the soil conditioners into your soil, you are giving it more absorbing power and it will retain moisture for far longer than usual. 

Your soil is receiving too much direct sunlight. 

Sunlight and heat play an important role in the moisture levels of your landscape, which is no big surprise. If you live in an area where temperatures tend to soar and the sun beaming down is hot enough to cause quick evaporation, you could definitely see issues with moisture content in your soil. You may not be able to completely shield your ground from the sun, but what you can do is use dense materials and plant life to keep the ground better shaded. For example, instead of just seeding your property with ordinary grass seed, go for a clover mix which will provide you with dense, shading plant life that grows close to the ground to keep the ground better shaded and protected from the sun. Contact a company like Ronco  Irrigation Inc for more information.

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Ideas For Improving The Look Of Your Patio Or Sidewalk Hardscapes

Are you looking for a way to make your paths and patios a more decorative part of your backyard design? These surfaces, collectively known as the hardscapes, are just as important as the plants and water features when it comes to your landscaping. The following are just a few ideas to take them from plain to amazing.

Idea #1: Skip the concrete

Concrete patio pads and sidewalks are the builder’s grade option for more homes. Consider replacing the old paved surfaces, especially if they are old and cracked, with new stone or brick pavers. You can get these in a variety of shapes, textures, and colors. Neat brick or cobblestone works well for a formal or cottage look, while a more rustic stone or flagstone surface gives a more natural flair to the space.

Idea #2: Try a dye job

If the patios and sidewalks are in good condition and you can’t justify a replacement, concrete acid dying can be just the thing. This process uses a special dye to tint the concrete a new color. You can have a mosaic tinted onto the concrete, or you can have it dyed to look like stone tiles. Once dyed, it is sealed and polished so that you can’t even tell that it used to be concrete.

Idea #3: Add some wood

Small foot paths and walkways in most yards are made of concrete or stone pavers. Why not get creative and try wood? You can use thick-cut rounds from a durable hardwood tree much the same way that you would use stepping stones or pavers to create a path. Just make sure the wood you choose is either naturally rot-resistant or treated to resist rot.

Idea #4: Get detailed

Small details can go a long way toward dressing up boring hardscapes. For example, use decorative rock, brick, or stone to create a decorative edge around paved surfaces. Not only will this add a pop of color, it will also give the pavement a more finished appearance. You can also add in some decorative touches, such as tiles or small stone mosaics, by sinking them into the concrete before it cures. There are even nighttime options, such as tiles treated to glow in the dark, or solar tiles that actually store energy and then produce a soft glow once the sun sets. The little splashes of color break up the expanse of concrete and make it more attractive.

Talk to a landscaper or hardscaping specialist for more ideas.

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Are there areas of your property that are simply unusable for one reason or another? Do you have a swampy yard that you cannot walk through or mow for days following a rainstorm? Are some areas more difficult to get grass to grow than others? You do not have to deal with these issues! I had both of these problems to address in my yard. The backyard was a swampy mess, and the front yard would not grow beautiful green grass. I hired a landscaper to make some improvements and now, I love the look of both yards and can use them as I like. Learn what my landscaper did by visiting my website.

February 2017
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