Category Archives: Landscaping

Backyard Landscape Design

Backyard landscaping does not have to be a lot of hard work. There are many ideas for a low maintenance backyard. There are options that can give privacy to a portion of the yard while you enjoy some cozy moments with friends and family. The backyard can have many uses and you can use different landscaping ideas to create a low maintenance, multipurpose yard. In this article, we have listed some tips on creating a versatile, relaxing, and absolutely stunning landscape for your backyard.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas
Your neighborhood codes may dictate certain formal prerequisites for front yard landscaping. As a result, all the houses in a neighborhood look more or less the same. However, no such codes exist for landscaping backyard, meaning, you can implement some unique and personal landscaping ideas to your backyard. It can be your haven for unwinding after a busy day at work or your holiday home, in your own backyard.

There is really no dearth of good backyard landscaping ideas that can appeal to people of different personal tastes.

Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Animal Paradise
If you are an animal or bird lover, then you can create a backyard that can attract many species of birds and wildlife. Plant plenty of tall trees, bushes in your backyard. Place bird feeds at strategic locations in a backyard. Build a small pond from where birds can drink water and play. Have a grassy patch in your backyard to attract wild animals such as hares, rabbits, deer, etc. However, if you choose to have animals in your backyard, it wouldn’t be a very wise idea to grow flowerbeds or vegetables patches in your backyard.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Koi Ponds
Build a small pond from where birds can drink water and play. Have a grassy patch in your backyard to attract wild animals such as hares, rabbits, deer, etc. However, if you choose to have animals in your backyard, it wouldn’t be a very wise idea to grow flowerbeds or vegetables patches in your backyard.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Caribbean Oasis
You can transform your backyard to resemble a Caribbean retreat. Turn your backyard into a resort by placing some bamboo umbrella shades, beach recliners, and sand. You can choose to have builder’s sand or sharp sand, or even river sand if you can manage. You can also build a hammock and plant some tall trees around to shield your Caribbean oasis from prying eyes in the neighborhood.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Rock Garden
Rock garden is yet another interesting option for you to design your backyard. You can use nice, colorful stones and pebbles of different sizes to decorate your garden. A stone based fountain can be quite an addition to a rock garden. Xerophytes such as cactus look apt in a rock garden. You can plant tall, evergreen trees at the perimeter of your backyard to break the monotonous look of rocks and add some greenery. Placing rocks around the plants can also add up to the beauty of your backyard garden.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Pools and Ponds
This is a popular landscaping idea for backyard, albeit a little pricey one. A swimming pool in a backyard provides a great ambiance for summer parties. You can have deck or pool parties around a swimming pool. Besides, you may also have a couple of small ponds where you can breed colorful varieties of fish and plant water lilies. Adding lights in and around the pond would make it an eye-catching masterpiece in the night. You can also create a fish pond!
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Formal Backyard
If you intend to go for a very neat and clean look, then an English-style backyard landscape can be ideal for you. Plant some bushes and shrubs around the edge of the yard and maintain a monotonous look of a lawn. Prune the hedges in a pyramid shape or the classic round one.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Formal Backyard
While pruning, maintain a bottom heavy shape, so that sunlight can reach the new growth. You can add a fun element to your backyard by pruning the hedges in unusual shape such as elephant, dinosaurs, etc. However, you will need regular maintenance to keep up the look.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Deck Planters
If you do not have too much of space in your backyard to implement any of the above themes, you can opt for a simple landscape with numerous deck planters.
Unique Backyard Landscape Design Ideas – Backyard Lounge
Place attractive pots or planters around the deck and grow colorful flowers. While going for huge planters, cover the bottom half of the planter with plastic bottles or tins, to avoid using so much of potting soil.
If privacy is a concern then solve it with backyard landscaping as an alternative to fencing. Some possibilities are taller formal or informal hedges and vine filled lattice work. However, fencing would be a good idea to give swimming pool area a great deal of privacy and thus some safety for those using it. It is also a great idea to set off sections in order to use for different purposes, such as a section for sports and games that is fenced off for safety and protection of the garden areas. Another section might be a circular section for meditation that is walled off with latticework and filled with cool colored flowers that promote peaceful thoughts. A nice bench to provide a sitting area for reading is also a good idea.
Thus, you can implement any landscaping idea for backyard as per your budget and personal taste. While there is always an option of hiring a professional, you can refer to some self-help books on landscaping and create your own backyard landscape.a

Unique Ways to Use Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape

Ornamental grasses, with their diversity and durability, add an edge and volume to the landscape. When the air blows through them, they wave gently and create sounds that make the landscape all the more lively. This adds dimensions of motion and sound to the landscape. With the changing seasons and the consequently changing hues and colors, the landscape appears new and fresh every season. Here are few ways and ideas on how to use ornamental grasses in your landscape.
Garden centerpiece
Well, your garden too would require a cynosure, right? Instead of an expensive and high maintenance water fountain, try grasses. Fast growing Sudan grass or Pampas grass can be ideal choices to grow in the center of your garden.
Natural Fencing
If you want to compartmentalize your garden or backyard, grasses can be a great option. Some varieties of Miscanthus or Mexican feather grass provide a border effect. You can either plant them around your flower beds, or you can add them as fence around sections of your garden.
Define the edges
With a little bit of effort and time your walkways, garden paths, or landscape steps can steal all the limelight. Grasses like dwarf mondo can be either used alone along the paths, or they can be used in complement with golden sedge, thus adding a contrast.
Add privacy
If you have a swimming pool or an open bathroom, you would definitely want some privacy, won’t you? Tall species of grass such as big bluestem, moor grass, or ravenna grass planted close to each other can work as natural walls, and hence, provide personal space in your open garden.
Perennial gardens
Choosing the right variety of grass is really important if you want your garden to be live all year. Grasses can be classified into two groups based on the seasons they grow – cool season grass and warm season grass. It is advisable to use a combination of cool and warm season grasses to extend the time span of your garden throughout as much of the year as possible.
Grasses and containers
Planting tall colorful species of grasses in containers (preferably in contrast colors) give a formal look to your landscape – porch, patio, and decks. Feather red grass, big bluestem, or purple fountain grass adds an added height and chic edge to the landscape. This will certainly steal everyone’s attention.
Ground covers
Grasses that are short and low growing can be used to cover grounds. These grasses prevent the growth of weeds and provide a thematic texture to the landscape. Mounding grass and similarly other types of small dense habitual grasses are ideal choices for ground covers.
Flora and Fauna
Grasses can take your lively garden experience to all new level. Birds and small rodents like squirrels and chipmunks will get attracted to the garden – for food and shelter. Try using native grasses to attract more birds. Sometimes, those clucks and chirps add a new meaning to the usual serene landscape.
Accentuate hardscapes
This can really be of great use in an upscale urban backdrop where there’s dearth of space. These days floriferous hardscapes like balconies, terraces, and walls are in high demand. Grasses along with ferns and ivy can add new life to your plain walls. They can be used in both interior and exterior walls.
Garden Art
For art lovers, grasses can be a great option to play with colors, textures, and space in your garden. From pathways to corners, one can adorn them with grasses of different sizes and colors, and thus make the garden landscape all the more eye catchy.

Landscaping Rocks

Landscaping aims at modifying or enhancing the looks of a particular area or a piece of land with various features like walls, fountains, fence, lights, ponds, and plants. A wide range of landscaping materials are available in the market and rocks are among the popular ones. Such rocks are available in different types, colors, sizes, and shapes, and can be used as per your choice. As far as landscaping is concerned, rocks are commonly used for paving pathways, bordering trees and plants, as accent boulders, etc. However, it is your creativity that works best. The following are some rock landscaping ideas.
Ideas to Use Rocks for Landscaping
Rocks can redefine the looks of your landscape, provided, you know the right method of using them. Landscape design is one of the vital factors, as far as use of rocks is concerned. Get the right type of rock for the particular design you choose. River rock landscaping is very popular as these rocks can be used for various purposes like, decorating ponds, for diverting water, or for defining the edges in walkways.
While gravel can be spread on the walkways, large pieces of rocks can be used as accent boulders. You can also use rocks to highlight some interesting spots or special plants in your landscape. These rocks can also be used to hide any flaw in the landscape.
Accent Boulders
A large boulder can be used as a focal point in your garden. You may choose one with an unusual shape or color. Instead on placing it on the ground, bury the bottom of the rock for a natural effect. It will be a good idea to grow some plants around the base of the rock, as an added attraction. You may also use pebbles or gravel to soften the looks of the boulder.
Ground Cover
Landscaping rocks are among the best options, as far as ground cover is concerned. You may use such rocks to cover the open areas of your garden or as a base for plants and accent boulders. Ground cover rocks too are available in different colors, from which you must choose the type that is best suited for your use.
ground covers-using rocks pebbles and flowers
Rocks can also be a cheaper and durable alternative to mulch. Though they require very little maintenance, rocks do not offer any nutrients to the plants. Small-sized rocks (bigger than pea gravel) are best as ground cover.

Flower Bed Border
If you want a natural edging material for your garden or flower bed, rocks can be a good option. There are different types of rocks that can be used for this purpose. Medium-sized boulders can be arranged in a winding pattern for a natural look. Another alternative is stacking flagstones. When it comes to the use of thin flagstones with flat surfaces, vertical arrangement can also be done. River rocks with smoother surfaces are also ideal for edging.

Walkways
When it comes to garden walkways, gravel is one of the commonly-used materials. You may spread newspapers (beneath the gravel) to prevent the growth of weeds. Other options include pebbles, small-sized rocks and large rocks with flat surfaces.

In case of large rocks, you may use small rocks or gravel to fill in the spaces. Irish moss or lawn grass can also be used as fillers. While soft, porous stones are ideal for locations with warm climates, go for sturdy ones, if you are living in places with extreme cold conditions.

Pond Border
Rocks are excellent as an edging material for your garden pond. Apart from offering a natural look, rocks can hide the edges of the pond liner. River rocks and boulders are ideal for pond borders. It is always better to avoid use of soft rocks. In case of a pond with very few visitors, you can use stacked rocks as borders.

However, if the pond is located in an area that is frequented by kids and pets, you must not have any loose edging materials. In that case, make sure that the rocks are fixed well. You may use mortar to hold the rocks in place.

Waterfalls
A water feature in the garden is very common nowadays. Be it a pond or a waterfall, rocks are usually used for that natural feel. You may combine a pond with a waterfall as well. Apart from some flat rocks for the spillway, you must also collect stones of different shapes and sizes. Flat rocks in the spillway will create a cascading effect.

If possible, incorporate some twists and turns, so that the flow of the water looks natural. If required, secure the rocks with cement, or else bury them halfway. As in case of pond borders, use sturdy rocks for waterfalls too.

Types of Landscaping Rocks
Landscaping rocks can either be natural or artificial. Natural stones (which are less expensive) are preferred to artificial ones, due to their durability and low maintenance. Among the natural stones, the colorful and bigger ones may cost you more, when compared to small-sized ordinary rocks/stones. The most commonly-used and popular landscaping rocks are flagstone, limestone, Pennsylvania blue stone, buckshot, cobble stone, granite, veneers, quarry stone, pink quartz, and purple quartz.

As flagstones are colorful and flat, they are usually used for walkways, edging, walls, and patio floors. It is very easy to cut these stones after scouring, and they really enhance the landscape design. Flagstone is one of the most preferred stones for walls and walkways. Another popular landscaping rock is Pennsylvania blue stone, which is mainly quarried from Pennsylvania. Its predominant color is blue and is used in patios, walkways, and stair treads. Buckshot gravel and river rocks come in various sizes. While river rocks are very versatile for landscaping, buckshot is also good, but check for those small pebbles that can get into your shoes. Landscaping rocks can be bought from nurseries, rock quarries and companies that deal with the sale of rocks.
Some of the landscaping companies may also sell such rocks. However, you must have a basic understanding about the rocks you intend to purchase. Otherwise consult a landscaping expert, who can guide you regarding the design and the right types of rocks required. In short, landscaping rocks are perfect for decorating your yard. You may use it as per the landscape design or as per your imagination. So splurge your creativity and come out with unique landscaping ideas using these rocks and stones. This article will provide you with a brief overview about some of the common uses of rocks in landscaping.

Hiring a Landscape Contractor

Landscape ContractorThere are a number of reasons why hiring a landscape contractor to do up your front/backyard is a good idea. It provides a superior aesthetic appeal to the exterior of your home, it increases its resale value, and it can be eco-friendly. It also ensures that the work has been done professionally, and will be maintained well. However, all this is subject to finding the right person to do the job. So, where do you begin, and how do you shortlist the perfect person for the job? Here’s a checklist to hire a landscape contractor.

How to Begin

Remember that landscape contractors are professionals who execute landscape designs. However, some of them have their own design teams and carry out design and execution themselves. In other cases, you may have to get designs from a landscape architect, which a landscape contractor will then execute.

References from family and friends can be a good start to finding a landscaping contractor. Local directories and landscaping associations that have a strong online presence can help you find credible contractors with the necessary licenses and certification. While these associations don’t guarantee the efficiency of the contractor, they do have certain criteria without which he/she cannot make it into the association. This is enough to certify his credentials. The remainder, you can find out by following the checklist below.

Checklist

License
The licensing process may vary from state to state, but all landscape contractors must possess a license by the respective state’s license board to provide landscaping and related services.

Certification
A professional contractor will not only have certification himself, but will also have a team of certified professionals/contractors working with him. Your contractor should ideally be a Landscape Industry Certified Technician (earlier known as CLT).

Manpower
How many people does he have in his team? Is he going to further outsource the work to another agency for execution? If so, is he going to be liable for their work?

Business Liability Insurance and Workers’ Compensation Coverage
It is mandatory for a contractor to have both these so that any damage to your property will be insured. Workers’ compensation coverage covers any injury to workers during site work. These are important to protect you from extensive expenses in case of such situations.

Experience and Portfolio
As a potential client, you must learn about the contractor’s experience, number of years in the business, and request pictures of his previous work. This will help you judge whether his type of work is suitable to your requirements and tastes.

Client References
Ask for client references to get a clear idea about his work, professionalism, and maintenance services. You may even visit a site in progress to see his manner of working.

Cleanup During Work
A professional will ensure that when he leaves the site at the end of the day, it is clear of unnecessary material. It is imperative that contractors do this to ensure smooth work flow daily.

Warranty and Maintenance
What is the duration of warranty he is providing? Will he provide maintenance services after the completion of the contract? These are very important because landscaping is not a one-time job. Some parts of it require regular care and maintenance at the hands of the professional who helped you create it.

Material Procurement
Find out where he buys supplies from, and whether these agencies are reliable. This may be confirmed by speaking to previous clients. Further, there may be certain bits that you may want to contribute to on your own. For instance, you could purchase the trees and shrubs yourself. Ask if he can provide this flexibility.

Price and Estimate
Some contractors charge by the hour, while others may charge a lump sum. Either way, get a written estimate from them after the scope of work has been defined. In some cases, providing an estimate will require them to create preliminary designs for your space. This work may be chargeable. When you ask for bids from different contractors, ensure that the scope of work is the same. You may see someone charging a lower price, but you may not notice that certain aspects of the project have not been included. So, simply because someone is offering to do the work at a lower price, it may not be a better option. You must take into account all the things mentioned in this checklist, compare them across different contractors, and then make an informed decision.

Project Duration
While this will depend on the amount and complexity of the work, a professional will be able to give you a suitable time frame within which the job will be completed. Knowing this is important for you to prepare yourself for the days/weeks/months of ongoing work.

Contract and Payment Terms
The contract should enlist the entire scope of work and payment terms of the project. It should also highlight the method of payment and the stages in which it is to be processed. Read the contract thoroughly, and understand all its clauses clearly. When you do finalize upon a contractor, ensure that you question things about the contract that you don’t understand. Do not sign it without understanding the nitty-gritty of the process.

Attitude and Communication
The biggest deciding factor, in my opinion, is the attitude of the contractor.

Does he clearly understand your requirements?
Does he ask questions beyond the obvious, to genuinely understand what you are expecting from the landscaped space―just utility or more?
Does he offer valid solutions for your requirements, or alternatives if certain things are not possible?
Does he communicate professionally?
Do you think you will be comfortable working with him for a long time?

Before You Make the Final Decision

To summarize the decision-making process, here’s a short checklist you should follow when you do make the big decision.

Factor in all the aforementioned points and compare them with others.
Take written estimates from each contractor and compare.
Read through the contract details thoroughly, and clarify things that you don’t understand.
Choose a contractor who shows openness to incorporating your choices and opinions in the final project.

Some experts argue that by posing so many questions, you are questioning the ability of the contractor. However, landscaping is not an inexpensive process, neither is it a short one. It requires so many questions to be asked, and no contractor worth his salt is going to have a problem answering them. In fact, a genuine landscape contractor will prove his worth to you even without you having to ask so much.