Category Archives: Landscaping Outdoor Decorating

A Home Garden

A Home GardenHome gardening is a wonderful pastime that the whole family can enjoy.  In addition, gardening has become an increasingly popular hobby for people of all ages.  Currently, studies show that in the United States, eight of ten households take part in some type of home gardening endeavor.  Based on these statistics, gardening is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the nation.

Typically, when people start planting their garden, they start with flowers.  In addition, most people will pursue planting roses.  The novice garden does not realize that roses usually take the most time and effort as compared to other flowers.  With such an enormous array of flowers to choose from, it is best for the novice to start of with easy care plants and flowers.

Vegetable gardens have become quite popular too.  A vegetable garden can bring a sense of pride and accomplishment when you place those fresh vegetables on your dinner table.  The list of vegetable plants is endless, therefore when planning your vegetable garden choose the right vegetable for your growing climate.  For instance, cool weather crops would be green beans, zucchini, and cucumbers.

Many gardeners will consider planting fruits as well.  In a warm climate, you could plant watermelons, and trees such as apricots and peaches.  A berry garden is also fun, planting strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  These types of berry gardens are easy to care for and take less space than a traditional vegetable garden.

Herbs are another favorite for the home garden.  If you have limited space, you can grow your herbs indoors in a sunny window.  The most often used herbs for cooking are basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, and cilantro.  These herbs are easy to grow too.

Landscaping your yard is another form of gardening.  There are different types of grasses and shrubbery to decorate your yard.  Decorative rocks, ponds, and statues are also included as a form of landscape gardening.  Landscaping your yard is not limited to plant life.  As with a garden, your lawn and shrubbery need upkeep.

As mentioned earlier, gardening can be fun and educational for the whole family.  In addition, what a delight to see the flowers bloom and harvest the vegetables.  However, as with anything else, to be a successful home gardener takes work.  Plants need to be weeded and watered.  Do not get discouraged if the flowers are not as brilliant as expected or the beans did not do so well.  Research the plant in question and then try again next planting season, eventually you will have a wonderful garden.

A beautiful garden is a work of heart

There is immense satisfaction in creating your own garden plan — the satisfaction derived from relaxing or entertaining in the garden as well as the satisfaction that comes from a job well done. The effort that you expend in planning and executing a design unique to you will add to the enjoyment your garden provides for years to come.

How do you begin to create a garden space that is unique to you? Here are ten simple steps that will help you move effortlessly through the process.

1. Identify WHY you want a garden.
How will you use it? Who else will enjoy the garden? Remember that you may not be the sole inhabitant, so get input from all family members on how your outdoor space will be used.

2. Do a little dreaming.
Now that you know why you want a garden and how you intend to use it, let your imagination play with all the possible features in your special space. A little dreaming will uncover those attributes that will put your personal imprint on the garden.

Also decide whether you want a formal or an informal garden. Formal gardens are highly structured, divided by a strong central axis and cross axes. Informal gardens have a more natural look with strong, flowing curves.

3. Make a list of “must haves”.
What items are essential? Listing your needs up front ensures that your final plan won’t be missing anything important. Do you need a retaining wall? A privacy fence? A path to the garage? More parking space? Do children need a place to play? What about pets?

Walk around your property and make note of everything that is essential. Your final design should balance dream features and “must haves” to create a satisfying and functional space.

4. Evaluate what you already have.
To get where you are going, it helps to know your starting point. Is your space large or small? Is the site flat or sloping? What is the climate? What type of soil do you have? How much water is available and from what sources? What are the predominate views?

5. Ballpark your budget.
Once you know what you want and what you need, it’s time to consider what you are willing to spend. This dollar figure will influence what features you include in the final garden plan — trees, plants, hardscape materials and architectural elements such as arbors, fountains, ponds and benches.

Remember that your “budget” comprises two elements: money and TIME. In terms of time, does the garden need to be finished by a certain date or can you create it over time? (Speed costs!) Also, how much time are you willing to budget to maintain your dream garden? Can you spare several hours a week or are you lucky enough to afford a caretaker?

As you develop and refine your plan, you may need to balance time and cash costs. Be flexible. You may need to spend more time if you can’t spend more money and vice versa.

6. Identify your garden’s focal points.
Every garden needs an eye-catching spot that causes you to pause a moment. When you choose a focal point, you are choosing the direction you want visitors to look when they enter your garden. Did your list of “wants” include a waterfall or fountain? An arbor retreat? A blossoming apple tree? If so, you are well on your way to identifying a focal point — or points — for your garden.

7. Create a rough design.
Take all the information that you’ve gathered and incorporate it into a workable design that balances the “wants” with the “must haves”. Your goal is to create a space that is both satisfying and functional.

Buy a pad of graph paper that contains 8 or 10 squares per inch and let each square equal one foot. (In other words, every inch on the paper will equate to 8 or 10 feet on your property.) Create a basic map with your property lines and house drawn to scale.

You will also need tracing paper, markers, a tape measure, a ruler, a pencil and a good eraser. Lay the tracing paper over your basic scaled map. Then refer back to your list of “must haves” and “wants” as you sketch the various areas of your garden. Show the approximate position of focal points, activity areas (“rooms”) and pathways. Use as many sheets of tracing paper as necessary until you find a layout that pleases you and meets the goal that you identified in Step 1.

8. Choose your plants and hardscape.
The colors and materials that you choose will create the character of your garden, adding interest, movement and visual appeal. Do you want harmonious colors or strong contrast? Warm hues or cool tones? Bold colors or soft hues? Mixing different colors and materials and textures will give your garden a strong sense of space.

Plants comprise a significant part of your garden. In addition to plants, hardscape materials contribute variety and texture — wood arbors, brick borders, gravel paths, bronze statuary, and wrought-iron benches.

As you review your preliminary layout, consider the best material for each of the hardscape elements. Keep in mind that each element needs to fit with and compliment the whole. For example, a terrace constructed of the same material as the house unifies while railroad ties around a formal garden create discord.

9. Make a scale drawing.
Thus far, you have created a basic map of property lines and your house as well as an overlay sheet that shows focal points, “rooms” and pathways. You also have a list of the trees, shrubs and plants for each area of your garden. Now you need to create a scale drawing that shows EXACTLY where each feature will go. You will use this blueprint to lay the walkways, set the arbors and trellises, and plant the trees, shrubs and flowers.

It is important that you have enough information to help you create in reality the garden that you just designed on paper. As long as your scale drawing or blueprint is in sufficient scale to accomplish that purpose, you will be successful.

10. Execute your plan.
Before you begin actual construction of the garden, check all local building codes and regulations to make sure that you will be in compliance. Structures such as decks, patios and retaining walls may require a permit from the local city government. Once all permits are in place, you can start to lay out the garden.

With your scale drawing as a blueprint, use a tape measure to position all structures, walkways and plants. Be sure to measure accurately so each element in your design fits its assigned space.

If designing a garden space sounds a bit intimidating, don’t panic. Just follow these steps one by one and let a space unfold that feels right to you. You CAN do it. After all, a successful garden is just another room of your house, which you’ve already successfully decorated!

Protecting Your Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture can be a great addition to any home, giving you the opportunity to enjoy your outdoor space as much as possible. Whether you have invested in a full dining set for all those al fresco meals that you enjoy in the summer, or instead just have a day bed to lounge upon on the weekend, keeping these items in top condition is very important.

Whether you buy the items offline or online, outdoor furniture can be a big investment of money. This is especially true if you decide to spend your money on higher quality items, as you will no doubt be paying for the benefits of having well constructed and long lasting materials and designs.

Despite the quality of the outdoor furniture you have bought, however, there are several things that you can do to ensure its longevity and get as much use out of it as possible. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this.

The first thing to do when looking to protect your furniture is consider your particular geographical location and the weather conditions that your items will likely be subjected to on a regular basis. Both sun and rain can cause problems over time, wearing down both natural and synthetic materials and leaving your furniture brittle and damaged.

The sun can also cause damage, but unfortunately no sun sealant exists on the market! One way to protect from sun damage is to paint your wooden furniture, as this will provide a barrier between the sun and the wood. The downside of this, of course, is that you will lose the natural wood look of your items. There are many attractive looks that you can achieve with paint, however.

There is another solution to protecting your furniture however that does not involve painting it. Wood stains are widely available both offline and online, and outdoor furniture is afforded a significant amount of both water and sun protection if you choose a high quality brand and reapply it regularly, around every two years.

To protect your outdoor furniture, you should also take steps to protect the fabric that covers it, including your cushions, sofa covers, outdoor carpets and any other fabric in your outdoor space. Saying this, there are many high quality retailers on the maker now selling tough, soft and extremely durable polyester covers which will stand up to water and sun damage for a long time.

There are still many things you can do to prolong the life of these fabrics, however, including applying a fabric protector that is especially designed to adding water proofing protection and fade resistant qualities. If you are unsure whether this will work with your particular fabric, check with the manufacturer what they recommended to ensure the longevity of your products.

Finally, the best way to ensure that your outdoor furniture is protected is by storing it correctly, especially when the weather is bad. If items stay outside all year round, despite the fact you use them infrequently, they are likely to experience a great deal more damage and therefore last for a shorter period of time.

With many tips for storing items available via guides online, your outdoor furniture has no reason not be protected through taking adequate precautions. Invest in treating your items with care and they will be sure to provide you with hours upon hours of use and last you for many long years to come.

Stainless Steel Fences

Stainless steel is a form of metal that is rust resistant and used for numerous products, especially outdoor ones. It carries great strength and stability to support just about anything and since it is rust resistant, it will not rust through the surface and weaken the stability of the fence. This is especially true for poles like the ones used in metal outdoor fencing and balustrades. Stainless steel fencing has the ability to look good for years and offers plenty of options to the consumer in relation to creativity.

Stainless Fences Are Customizable

Just like any type of metal fencing, stainless steel fences are capable of being painted. The only difference is that stainless will not allow rust to develop and expand. This prevents bleed through over the paint because of its rust-resistant properties.

Stainless steel fencing opens the door to custom colour options that can match your home, the landscape, a barn, your porch, and many other products. You can also be creative and use more than one colour.

Imagine painting every 5 balustrades one colour and the next five a different one. Or maybe imagine painting the top and bottom rails one colour and the balustrades another colour. In fact, you can even alternate colours on the balustrades or make them a two-colour design in which half of each one is one colour and the other half is another.

Bendable Properties

Since stainless steel is a form of metal, it can be bent and curved to make fashionable designs. This works great for patios, hills, stairs, and more. It can be bent to conform to the land or bent to enhance appeal. Many balustrades come preformed and ready to install, but the option to bend them manually is available when desired or when a unique look is wanted. Balustrades can have arched, bent, curved, and/or angled properties.

Enjoy a curved balustrade design with one or more curves. Go for the zig-zag look or choose a twisted design. The possibilities are endless when it comes to bendable properties that make a fence really stand out. Arches on the top rails are also common because it adds value and appeal.

Common Locations for Stainless Steel Fencing

Because stainless fencing is pretty universal and is also open to a variety of options, they are used for just about any need. Stairways and walkways are very common because the railing can be painted any colour and won’t rust. Patios also have a place for stainless fencing. They usually include artistic or designer fencing to effectively mesh with the area and blend with its tone. Aside from that, they are also common in local regions that allow it as pool fencing. But if the locality does not permit it as a pool fence, they are still used as accents to the area or get installed along a path that leads to the pool area.

Landscaping Ideas

Traditionally, you have you house, a small lawn by the street; that’s the picture most people depict of a home. But what people are realizing now is that they can make their house visually appealing in a far greater way. It doesn’t always have to a bland stereotypical design; you have several options in hand. Landscaping for instance, is an excellent way to escalate the aesthetic appeal of your house without spending a huge amount of money.

So what is landscaping?

Landscaping can be defined in several ways. In simple terms, you can also refer to a gardening whereby you can grow plants and vegetable with the aim of creating a soothing environment within a certain landscape. But it doesn’t end there. This process also includes change of terrain and construction of new infrastructure. It’s also not a modern concept as it’s been going on since the time of early Mayans.

Here are a few ideas which you can use to really elevate the look of your house

Plant lots of flowers at the front: If you want your guests to enter your house with a pleasant feeling, you might want to try growing some flowers right at the entrance. Also, if possible low fence your house. This will give you ample space for placing your flower pots

Decorate the driveway: If you have a long driveway that looks a bit out of sorts, you can cover them up with bushes. Don’t plant bushes of the same color and type. You should always use a variety of colors along with plants of medium sizes. This will act as a nice decoration in your driveway.

Use lilies: Whether its spring, summer or fall; lilies can grow in any climate which is why you should always use them in your gardens. Due to its fragrant smell, your house will always have that soothing aroma in the air.

Hide unnecessary places: If you have a garage or a tool shed which you don’t want others to take notice of due to its bland design, use it to display an exotic collection of plants. Use lighting to make it more attractive.

Cut the grass evenly: If you have a land adjacent to your house that has a lot of grass in it, get the mower and start chopping it down immediately until the grass length is even. This will give a carpet type feeling over the grass.

So these are a few suggestions which you can use to make your house worth noticing. Feel free to use your creative mind and churn out a few ideas of your own.

Outdoor Decorating Ideas

It takes a lot to impress me. I mean, I look at swimming pool ideas & products every day and, to be honest, most are very similar. They aren’t bad products, they just aren’t terribly special. That was until I saw this very cool product. Actually, it’s hot-in a cool way. Let me explain.

I was at the Maison & Objet Expo in Paris when I spotted an infrared heater by Phorma Lab. Infrared heaters aren’t usually attractive. They have great advantages, but their shape and look is a turn off.

Until now.

This one was gorgeous. Now, I, personally, have never seen a beautiful infrared heater before so this caught me off guard. I decided, right then and there, that I had to share this unique high performance Italian designed heater.

HotDoor is a high-style designed infrared lamp for external and internal heating to keep people warm. It joins technology and respect for the environment with the exclusive artistic, sophisticated creation of the designer. Designed to look like a floral element, the infrared lightly heats the skin, copying the same warmth as is found in rays of the sun.

HotDoor heaters are very economical, they are practical to use and easy to install. They do not require skilled maintenance and repair, and they have a long service life. Available in two different strengths, as either a free-standing or wall unit, the HotDoor comes in 120 different color combinations giving you a wide variety to choose from so you’re almost guaranteed to find the right infrared heater for your needs. It is easy to introduce into any design style from classic to modern. HotDoor is completely customizable, and it can be used in a variety of environments: patios, gardens, near your pool, on the terrace, and more!

The infrared heaters of the Phormalab HotDoor line optimize the angle of refraction of infrared shortwave rays by means of reflectors, which, in general, are of fundamental importance for the efficient operation of the infrared radiation heater. The infrared method of heat transfer assumes the heating of surfaces (floors, walls, furniture) in the heating zone instead of air, as in case of convection heating. It ensures the absence of air flow, eliminates the accumulation of dust, and preserves the warmth underneath, near surfaces, instead of heating the overhead ceiling space. The HotDoor heater does not dry the air or burn oxygen. It is quiet and its modern design allows it to fit into any decor.

So, now, when the weather is cooler, you won’t feel your pretty pool teasing you and reminding you of the fun you had in the summer. You won’t have to only wish you could have your friends over for a BBQ and drinks. With this outdoor decorating idea you can party outdoors all winter long! With the HotDoor infrared heater, you won’t have to worry about it being too cold to enjoy the outdoors.