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6 Outdoor Features That Will Take Your Backyard to the Next Level

Having a backyard can be like having a little piece of heaven all to yourself. It’s your little corner of nature that you can cultivate however you please. Odds are you’ve been spending more time in your backyard lately, especially with the current pandemic situation. If all that time has you thinking your yard could use an upgrade and you’re interested in taking your small slice of paradise to the next level, consider adding some awesome outdoor features that will make it really stand out.

An Outdoor Koi Pond

Koi ponds are beautiful additions to a backyard. Essentially a swimming pool for fish, the traditional koi pond lacks the slope or steps common to a regular swimming pool or water garden. This helps keep the fish safe from predators. Regular koi pond maintenance promotes the health of the fish and the cleanliness of the pond. Many people find that having a koi pond in their backyard brings an added sense of peace and tranquility. The brightly colored fish often become beloved, low maintenance pets that can be mesmerizing to watch. Adding a koi pond to your home can also have a positive impact on your home’s market value. Many times people are willing to pay more for a home that has a koi pond than they would for the same home without one.

A Fire Pit

Summertime is often associated with camping and campfires. If the pandemic has you uneasy about camping, you can bring the camping experience to your own backyard by adding a fire pit. Having a fire pit in your own backyard can be great for rustic outdoor cooking. It can also make your yard more cozy all year long, even if you live in an area that gets snow in the winter. Fire pits can improve the ambience of your yard too. Few things are as mesmerizing as staring into open flames. If you choose this backyard addition, make sure you are familiar with proper safety protocol. Prioritizing safety is what lays the foundation for having fun.

A Deck

Decks are great spaces to host parties in your backyard. If you were into party hosting before the pandemic hit, but didn’t have a deck to host them on, adding one now might be the perfect way to prepare for your next one. If you have extra time on your hands, building a deck might be a good way to use some of it up. Otherwise, there are plenty of professionals who can do it for you. Once you have your deck built, add some outdoor furniture and decorations to make the space comfortable for yourself and others. You can make this as simple or as intricate as you want. It all depends on the look and feel you’re going for. Take the climate in which you live into consideration when choosing deck furnishings. It won’t do to spend all that time, money, and effort only to have it all ruined by the weather.

An Outdoor Kitchen

If you’ve picked up cooking or baking as a hobby, adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard can be a fun option. An outdoor kitchen can be placed on a patio or a new deck and can be a great addition that brings family and friends together. While the cost to add an outdoor kitchen can fluctuate depending on how elaborate it is, it can add significant value to your home and be worth the cost. When designing your kitchen, keep functionality in mind. You should have adequate counter space, the appliances you are likely to use, and good lighting that will keep your food preparation area well lit whether you are cooking during the day or at night.

A Putting Green

If you love golf, a putting green might be the perfect addition to your backyard. This can be a great option if you aren’t able to visit your favorite golf course or just need to practice to improve your short game. If you have a smaller yard, don’t worry. You can still have a putting green. It might not be as extensive as one in a larger yard, and you may have to limit the features and obstacles you add, but you can still design a green that will allow you to have a good time. There are multiple benefits to adding a putting green. Like many other awesome features, it can improve the value of your home. It will also make your home stand out from others in your neighborhood, elevating it and giving it more of a luxury feel. And, of course, it gives you a chance to get out, get some sun and fresh air, and practice a bit of golf whenever you like.

A Gazebo

If you want to give your backyard a timeless, elegant feel, consider adding a gazebo. Gazebos can be a great place from which to enjoy the outdoors and nature. The roof provides shelter from excessive sun and precipitation, while it’s open structure creates an open, breezy, light environment that is perfect for relaxing outside. If you are an avid reader, this might be an ideal addition that allows you to read your favorite books outside in a comfortable setting. If you’re a fan of movies, you can try hanging a screen from the gazebo to create an outdoor theater setting, or you can convert the gazebo into a theater for a home theater outside of your home. If gardening is your hobby, you can use it as a greenhouse, a place to hang or set various planters, or use it as a structure for plants to grow up on. You might also consider using it as a source of income by renting it out for events.

There are lots of outdoor features you can add to your backyard. Doing so will give your yard personality, and many will increase the value of your home and property. Whatever option you choose, consider the cost and maintenance, as well as the impact it will have on your yard’s aesthetic. Your backyard is your space. You should make it your own.

Want to make your backyard look extra special? Let us landscape it for you!

What Beginners Should Know Before Starting Their Garden

Many people think that skill in gardening is an inherent biological trait, but this is just a silly myth. The art and science of gardening can be learned, practiced, and developed over time. You can start a garden without years of expertise. With a little consistent effort over time, you can maintain a thriving garden. Here are some tips for starting a garden as a beginner.

Start with the Right Plants

Not all plants are created equal. Some plants will require more intensive and delicate care than others. Some plants will be more suited for your particular climate than others. You can increase your chances of gardening success by starting with the right plants.

Most beginning gardeners have great success with planting pansies and marigolds. Both these flowers are hardy, easy to grow, and thrive in the hot sun. If you’re more interested in growing an herb garden, you could try basil and mint. Mint grows especially quickly. It requires damp soil with good drainage and a moderate amount of shade. This herb is great for beginners because it is versatile and tastes great in many recipes. Hardy vegetable plants include tomatoes, radishes, potatoes, and spinach.

Understand Hardiness Zones

Hardiness zones—also known as gardening or planting zones—are geographical zones that are best suited for certain plants that thrive in that specific climate. Understanding these hardiness zones will help beginning gardeners find the best places to plant their desired plants. There several hardiness zone maps available online, and many local nurseries or home improvement stores sell plants labeled with hardiness zone suggestions based on these maps.

These hardiness zone maps are a good place to start, but it’s important to also recognize that there will always be inconsistencies and exceptions, especially in highly variable climates. You should do your best to understand and be aware of your own garden’s orientation to the sun and shade. This knowledge in conjunction with your understanding of hardiness zones will help you make the best choices for your plants.

Use Quality Soil

One of the most important elements in the success of a garden is quality soil. Your plants need the nutrients within their soil. Without quality soil, your plants will be smaller, weaker, and more likely to be misshapen or discolored. You can confirm that your soil is of good quality by first identifying your soil type, and then mixing it with the appropriate fertilizer and compost. Adding fertilizer and compost will ensure your soil has enough nutrients to keep your plants healthy.

Watering

The amount of water your plants will need will vary depending on your plants’ species, location, and size. Each plant will have a different tolerance to heat and water. When you water your plants, you should completely wet their entire root zone. A large tree will have a larger root zone than a small groundcover or flower patch. You can use the 1-2-3 rule to know how deep to water your plants. Small plants less than one foot high should be watered up to a depth of one foot. Medium size plants should be watered up to two feet, and large plants like trees can be watered up to a depth of three feet.

Sunlight

Plants need sunlight to fully thrive and complete the process of photosynthesis. As a beginning gardener, you might consider starting a garden journal. Observe your garden throughout the day, and take note of times when it is in full sun, partial shade/partial sun, and full shade. This information can help you know which plants to buy and where to plant them. A full sun plant needs six hours of sunlight every day. Other plants will need less sun. Your local nursery can help you find plants that would be best suited for the growing conditions of your yard.

Pests

Pests are one of the biggest dangers to gardens. There are different pests which hurt different types of plants. Aphids are among the worst (and most common) plant pests. These are tiny, pear-shaped insects. They can be green, yellow, brown, red, grey, or black. Depending on their species and life-stage, they can have wings.

Aphids feed on many vegetable plants including tomatoes, lettuce, kale and cabbage. They suck on plant juices and will deform your plants’ growth. You can remove aphids by spraying them with a sharp stream of water from a hose, squishing them by hand, or covering your plants. You could also use a variety of organic products like insecticidal soap to get rid of an aphid infestation.

Weeds

Many beginning gardeners are tempted to solve their weed problems with weed spray or weed killer. While these can be effective in removing some weeds, it’s also important to know how to properly remove weeds by hand. You can weed your garden more effectively by: 1) never leaving the root of the weed, 2) weeding when your soil is dry, 3), mulching immediately after you weed, 4) pulling weeds before they go to seed, and 5) understanding the rooting problems of your most common weeds.

Try Raised Beds

Many beginning gardeners find success with raised beds or planter boxes. Starting a garden in raised beds will allow you to control your soil quality better, as well as give you more control over weeds and pests. Building or buying raised beds may present you with extra work and investment up front, but in the long run, using raised beds is a great way to set yourself up for success.

Control What You Can

Even if you plant the right plants in the correct zones with quality soil, even if you water them correctly and give them the right amount of sunlight, there will always be things you cannot control in terms of your garden. It’s important to recognize this fact and just do your best to control what you can. Keeping a garden log will help you collect the necessary information about your plants and be aware of their needs every day. Arming yourself with this knowledge will help you can adapt to inclement weather and keep your plants safe and healthy.

Keeping a garden can be incredibly therapeutic. It will make your yard look beautiful and provide you with delicious fresh food. It’s okay if your garden isn’t perfect—just do your best, and be ready to learn and improve every day.

 

If you need help maintaining your yard once you start your garden, contact us to get a quote!

How to Kill Weeds Without Chemicals

Unbeknownst to many people, certain weed killers such as Roundup contain very harsh chemicals. These chemicals may not only be harmful to the environment but they could also have adverse effects on your health as well. Some of the side effects of these chemicals can be temporary while others can be permanent and even life-threatening.

Why Stop Using Roundup?

Several studies have linked long-term exposure to Roundup weedkiller to the development of cancer. Roundup chemicals end up in the water and in the air and therefore have a better chance of ending up inside of your body. People who have used the product have complained of becoming sick from the high levels of glyphosate inside of their bodies. Studies have also found correlations between Roundup and ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s, birth defects and more.

Natural Weedkiller Recipe

There are natural options for eliminating weeds. You don’t have to use harsh chemicals and risk your health. With only a few mild ingredients, salt, dish detergent, vinegar, and arthritis rub, you can kill weeds without killing yourself.

Why Work to Kill Weeds

Weeds absorb the sun, water, and nutrients, meaning that your plants will not receive as much and making it difficult for them to grow properly. Weeds can also develop root networks that crowd out the plants in your garden and prevent them from growing as planned. If your weeds seem to be getting out of control, you might consider hiring us to take care of them for you.

Nip Weeds in the Bud

The best cure is prevention when it comes to most things. The best way to eliminate a weed problem is to not have one in the first place. There are lots of different tactics and items you can use in order to prevent weeds from growing in your garden. By laying down landscape fabric and topping it with mulch or straw, you can discourage the spread of weeds. The mulch itself can block the sunlight weeds need. Even a newspaper can be used to much the same effect for an easily accessible solution. Of course, gardening by hand and pulling weeds by the roots when they show up can help eliminate those ones poking through.

Whether you choose the old fashioned method of pulling weeds out or you prefer to spray a solution, there are many natural ways to get rid of weeds. Making a spray solution for killing weeds is easy to do and many of the ingredients may be right in your cupboard.

Why Keep My Yard in Good Shape?

A well-tended yard has many benefits. Not only does it give you peace of mind to take care of your space and make it look beautiful, but taking good care of your lawn also has other advantages. The following are some reasons to maintain your yard and keep it looking great throughout the year.

Improved Peace of Mind

When you consider the work involved in maintaining your yard, it can often seem overwhelming, especially if you have a large outdoor space. But most homeowners appreciate and enjoy a beautiful yard. It can be helpful to have professional landscapers do some of the up-front work. Then you can do basic maintenance to keep it looking nice throughout the seasons. It’s important to remember that yard work isn’t limited to spring and summer. There are many things you can do during the fall and winter to keep your yard looking nice and so that you can have peace of mind that your outdoor space will be in the best shape possible for warm-weather fun with the family.

Creating a Safe Environment

Keeping your yard in good condition helps create a safer environment for your entire family. Pruning trees and bushes help ensure that branches don’t fall and injure someone or damage your property. Be cautious of the appearance of any holes in your space as this can indicate insects or rodents are nesting in your yard. States have different laws regarding a property owner’s responsibility towards those on their property, but typically, a guest’s safety is the property owner’s responsibility.

Increase Your Property Value

Even if you’re not in the market to sell your home, it’s still beneficial to keep your yard well maintained to increase the value of your property. A well-groomed yard also increases curb appeal and just makes your home look more appealing. A nice yard also makes it easier for you to get outdoors and spend quality time with your family. Landscaping in the form of trees, shrubs and flower gardens are all great ways to add to your property value and the level of enjoyment you get from your yard.

Keeping your yard in good shape takes time and effort, but most homeowners feel that it’s worth it. A well-maintained yard increases your property value and adds curb appeal. It also keeps your yard safer and gives you more enjoyment when you spend time outdoors.

Gardening Can Relieve Your Arthritis Pain

Gardening is a physical and mental way to keep you moving and thinking. Stress is very high among arthritis sufferers, so gardening can help get your mind off of your pain. Following the listed tips and advice can make gardening a great experience for years to come. 

Light Physical Activity Reduces Pain

When you have arthritis, moving can feel like a nightmare, but that is exactly what you should do. Exercise is the best thing you can do for your body. Without light exercise, your joints and muscles may become stiff and your bones can become brittle. Regular, light physical activities like gardening can reduce arthritis pain and keep inflammation in check. Gardening includes movements such as walking, reaching, light stretching, and pushing and pulling. All of these activities are perfect to ease joint pain; just make sure to use good posture when doing them. Whether you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, the gentle but persistent movements of gardening can help. 

Gardening Reduces Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are common among people with arthritis.  It’s very disheartening when someone can’t move or do the things they used to do. Gardening is a very good tool to combat stress. Working in a garden is calming, relaxing and engaging. A person must plan when they will plant and harvest their crops, this may involve someone to think technically about their garden, which can help a person not think about the pain they’re having.  At the same time, gardening is very gratifying for most people, so they may enjoy being outside in the open air and feeling the breeze while tilling the dirt and caring for their plants.

Ways to Make Gardening More Comfortable

Some ways that people with arthritis can adapt their gardening approach to reduce strain on their body and further reduce arthritis symptoms are using a bulb planter when digging small holes, raising planting beds and using sprinkler systems to water the garden. If you choose not to use a sprinkler system, then a water hose with a soaker handle is the next best option; this will reduce strain versus using a watering can. Scattering mulch around the base of shrubs, bushes and other areas of the garden is a great way to reduce strain on your back when trying to clear weeds

It’s important to get at least twenty minutes of physical activity a day to keep your body physically fit, your health good, your mental agility strong, and your stress low. Try to make gardening as pain and stress-free as possible, that way it will continue to be a joyful experience for you. 

Even if you enjoy gardening personally, sometimes it is useful to have help to maintain your yard and your gardens. If you find that you need an extra hand for law maintenance, spring cleaning, attending flower beds, and more, GreenWise Grounds Care can assist you!

3 Bonuses of Proper Yard Maintenance

One of the easiest ways to improve your residence is by properly maintaining your yard. No matter how beautifully appointed your home may be on the inside, if the yard is unkempt and uncared for, the overall value and appeal of your residence will suffer. Taking care to maintain your yard will provide benefits to you and to your neighbors.

Improved Curb Appeal

A beautifully landscaped home catches everyone’s eye. When the yard is neatly and attractively maintained, the residence also looks appealing. Your home’s value is increased, and the entire neighborhood benefits. Once the landscaping is planned and put into place, you should maintain the yard in a consistent manner. Keep the grass mowed and the plants and trees trimmed. Edge and trim the perimeters, especially alongside the streets. Keep yard ornamentation in good repair and do not neglect the mailbox. Invest in perennial plants that will return year after year.

Decreased Risk of Pests

An overgrown jungle in your yard can increase the presence of pests. It’s not just mosquitoes you have to worry about. Snakes, mice and other unwelcome creatures could take up residence in the undergrowth. Trimming overgrown trees or bushes may discourage ants and other pests from invading your home. Rodents and other small animals can harbor fleas and parasites, and you do not want them to enter your house. Pets can also be affected by exposure to pests. Trimming trees and other types of foliage is an easy and effective way to keep pests at a minimum.

Increased Resale Value

A first impression is a lasting impression. When it is time to resell your home or refinance it, you’ll want to have it appraised at the highest price possible. The first thing a potential buyer will see upon approaching your property is how it looks from the outside. Having a well-kept and attractive yard is the first step in positioning your home for a successful and timely sale. By investing in your yard, you will reap the benefits of a better home evaluation.

Yard maintenance does not have to be hard or onerous. Once the landscaping is established, keeping it trimmed and neat will not take up much time if it is done on a regular schedule. For those times when you aren’t able to perform the chores yourself, you may want to consider hiring out your yard work. Regardless of how you plan your landscaping maintenance, the results will be pleasing and beneficial.

4 Summer Landscaping Trends for 2019

Once the summer season arrives, more people head outdoors to enjoy the warm weather and get more use out of their exterior property. The summer season is also when more people begin improving their landscaping to show it off to the neighbors, as well as guests that they host. If you want to give your property a facelift, there are a few landscaping trends to consider for 2019.

Create a Private, Secluded Area

More people are looking to create an outdoor escape in their backyard where they can enjoy plenty of privacy. You can plant a garden that allows you to feel relaxed and able to unwind after a busy day. Consider using large hedges for added privacy and to prevent onlookers from getting a view of the area. The area can include a water feature or an arbor to enhance the style and beauty of the environment.

Patio Dining

During the summer, more people head outdoors to enjoy their meals and take in the beautiful views and weather. Consider installing new patio dining furniture, which will allow you to accommodate many people and feel comfortable while eating in the backyard. Look for furniture that contributes to the style of the backyard. Just make sure to cover it when not in use, especially on sunny days. It is important to cover furniture when not in use to protect the materials and increase its lifespan.

Asymmetrical Designs

More people are incorporating asymmetrical designs into their backyard, which has a natural feel and is also easier to maintain. The look complements the newer housing designs and is less fussy and predictable. Trying something new can have amazing results.

Outdoor Kitchen

When it comes to hosting your family members or friends, it is easier to spend time outside cooking and preparing the meal once the weather clears up. Building an outdoor kitchen can allow you to grill and prepare drinks in the backyard where there is plenty of room, and you won’t have to worry about your home becoming a mess with people coming in and out. You can even install a mini fridge and a bar.

Knowing the top landscaping features for 2019 will allow you to get ideas on how you want to redesign your outdoor space and create an environment that looks beautiful but is also functional. With the right features added, you will be more inclined to enjoy time outside.

Improve the Privacy of Your Backyard

If you live in an area with a lot of neighbors around, you may be considering ways to add privacy to your backyard for parties, for family celebrations, or just for relaxing. There are several options when it comes to making your outdoor space more private. These ideas not only allow you to better enjoy your backyard, but they may also increase your property value.

 

Add a Pergola

While a pergola doesn’t offer complete privacy, it can add a feeling of peaceful seclusion to your space. You can customize the size and the style for your pergola based on your space size and budget. Plus, you can add climbing plants or a roof on your pergola for extra privacy or for protection from the elements.

 

Opaque Fencing

There are several types of opaque fencing that can provide plenty of privacy in your yard. For example, vinyl fences do a surprisingly good job of soundproofing, keeping your noise in your yard and your neighbors’ noise in theirs. Some people prefer the look of wood fencing, which can also create a quieter and more private space. Plus, a solid fence keeps children and pets safe and secure within the yard.

 

Plant Natural Barriers

There are many plants that work well as natural barriers to give you some privacy in your backyard. Bamboo is a quick-growing barrier that grows tall. It is considered an invasive plant, and it should be used in areas with strong borders to prevent it from spreading to undesired areas. Hedges can also be used as a privacy screen, but they do take longer to establish themselves.

 

Create a Private Corner

If you have a large backyard, or a limited budget, one of the best options for more privacy in your space is to create a private corner to relax in. Use an outdoor screen, or plant some large shrubs to create an intimate space where you can relax. Add a table and chairs or comfortable lawn furniture to complete the space.

If your outdoor space doesn’t offer you much privacy for celebrations or parties, there are several ways to create a more secluded backyard. Installing a fence or natural barrier is one of the best ways to increase the privacy of your backyard. You can also add a pergola to give you a shady spot to sit and to enjoy your friends and family in the privacy of your own property.

For all of your residential yard maintenance and landscaping, let GreenWise Grounds Care help!

3 Things to Do After Landscaping

Landscaping is a great way to make a first impression. When a lawn is well-tended, it makes the entire home look welcoming and beautiful. However, there are things that you need to be aware of when landscaping and there are things that you need to do immediately after you finish your landscaping project. Here are three things that will help make sure all the work you put into your landscape does not go unnoticed.

Put Your Yard Back Together

When landscaping, there are a lot of things that you have to move out of the way to be able to landscape properly. For instance, you should move all fixtures, hoses, and other things in your yard out of the way, so they do not hinder your landscaping results. Therefore, after you finish your landscaping project, you need to put everything back together. For example, you need to make sure that all of your hose connections still work, everything should be plugged back in, and you should check everything to make sure that nothing was damaged during the landscaping process.

Clean Like Crazy

Landscaping is a messy endeavor, and you should make sure you do not neglect cleaning up after you are done. Between trimming bushes, cutting grass, planting flowers, and various other activities, there is bound to be things that need to be cleaned up after you are done. Pay special attention to your driveway, as dirty pavement can lead to cracks, and you do not want to have cracks in your driveway due to negligence after landscaping and working so hard to make your yard beautiful.

Check for Issues

Designing landscapes is an art form, but sometimes there are things that do not look the way you thought they would once they are done. Therefore, after you are done with your landscaping project, you should step back away from the area and take in the entire picture to make sure that everything falls into place like you envisioned. It is a lot easier to fix small things right after finishing your project than realizing it a week later once you have replaced everything and gotten it ready.

Overall, landscaping can be an excellent job or hobby, and although it is fun to do, it causes a lot of mess. Therefore, you need to make sure that you check everything after finishing your project and put everything back where it goes. Cleaning up after you finish landscaping is important, and it is important to make sure that your final project fits the design that you had in your mind, which you can judge by stepping back and looking at the finished landscaped area.

4 Organic Gardening Techniques to Try

More and more people have become interested in organic gardening. The organic gardener works with nature to create a healthy garden. It takes time and patience to do this, but the rewards of being a good steward of the garden is worth it. Here are four organic gardening techniques:

Make Your Own Compost

Compost is organic matter that has been broken down to be useful to the soil and the plants and so is an important component of any organic garden. Planet Natural explains that there are many ways to make a good compost pile, but it should have a good amount of dry and green plant material to create a carbon/nitrogen ratio of about 30 to 1. The pile should not be exposed to direct sunlight, which kills the bacteria that break down the material.

After the ingredients have been added, the compost should be kept moist, but never soggy. Turn it every two to seven days to make sure it’s well aerated. Things not to put into a compost pile include the manure of meat-eating animals, wood ash, meat, fat, soil or plants that are diseased or infested.

Scare Away Pests Naturally

An organic gardener might feel a bit sorry for the predators and pests that are an inevitable part of gardening. They too need to make a living. But another role of the gardener is to make sure that they make a living elsewhere, but naturally. You can introduce a predator to control the population of a certain pest, such as introducing ladybugs to feast upon aphids or attracting birds to eat caterpillars. doTERRA recommends, you can also use certain essential oils to create natural and effective pest-control sprays.

Encourage Earthworms

Encouraging earthworms to populate your garden is one of the best things you can do to keep it healthy. Earthworms aerate the soil, help it retain water and keep it friable. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm suggests that you make sure you are adding the right type of worms to your garden. Super Red Night Crawlers are best for aerating and fertilizing gardens. They also break up hard soils and balance soil that is too acidic or alkaline. They add natural compost to the soil through their droppings.

Plant the Right Plants Together

Pots 2 Plots reports that many plants have allies, companions, and incompatibles, and it is important to know which is which. Allies repel insects or support the growth of another plant. Companions can live together even though they don’t particularly help each other, and incompatibles should not be planted together. Sometimes, there are added benefits. Planting basil near cherry tomatoes can act as a flavor additive.

Despite its reputation, organic gardening is neither more expensive nor more difficult than other types of gardening. At the end of the growing season, you and your family can enjoy healthy produce that you know was grown in concert with nature.

For help in taming your garden or yard, redesigning trouble areas, or just maintaining the level of beauty you desire, let GreenWise Grounds Care help!