Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fun Tree Patio!

I found this fun patio design on Pinterest!  Usually you think of having your patio off the back of your house, very traditional and useful.  I like this design idea because it breaks the "mold" a bit.  Not only could this be an extra functional patio for laying out, additional seating, etc, but it is very appealing to the eye.
     I also like this design because it one, brings these trees together nicely, reduces the need to trim and mow grass around tight tree plantings, as well as the functional use.  Absolutely love this design!
cool idea ;)
Fun Patio!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

When designing your landscape, keep 5 things in mind for good results:
1. Contrast: Our eyes love contrast. Make sure to use differing plant, and structural colored items throughout your design.
2. Repetition: To avoid a "hodge podge" landscape make sure to repeat certain key elements throughout your landscape. This brings the whole landscape together and is pleasing to the eye.
3. Balance: Make sure to have either symmetry, or asymmetry in your design. We are trained subconsciously to look for balance in everything! We can tell when it's not there without being able to explain it in words most times. If balance doesn't exist in your landscape, it will be ugly to the eye.
4. Proportion: keep the elements of your design in proportion to your home, and property size. Besides, who wants a 120 ft. tree next to their 30 ft. tall home during a windstorm. Yikes!
5. Less is more! Very few people have the ability to have more than 10 elements in their design without the landscape losing harmony, and looking cluttered. Keep to 10 design materials ie, plants, boulders, lighting, etc. or less for a nice clean and beautiful landscape.
Keep these 5 things in mind as well as keeping your design simple, and you will have a beautiful landscape!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Evergreens a Must for Good Design!

For all of us that live in a four season climate...evergreen plants are a must for good Landscape Design!  In Utah, where my family lives, we have a good 5 months where deciduous plants are leafless.  For me as an landscape lover it is hard to drive through neighborhoods and see residential landscapes that had such beauty, only to disappear for half of the year.  I am guilty of not having enough evergreen plants in my landscape, so come fall - your beautiful landscape is gone! 
     Back in the day...the 70's and 80's people planted a lot of different types of evergreens - Yews, Junipers, Tams, and huge pine trees. This has since gone out of style, mainly because they require extensive trimming and hedging.  Another reason is because these plants are extremely vigorous.  You plant a small Juniper for example, and 10 years later you have a monster bush overtaking your landscape.  People just don't have the time it takes to prune and hedge consistently to keep these plants under control.  Fortunately, there are a lot of evergreen plants out there that are a lot easier to control and have nice natural form (less hedging).  As far as pine trees, there are a lot of dwarf varieties now available.  So instead of planting a Blue Spruce, which grows to over 80 feet tall - you can now plant a dwarf variety that only grows to 15 feet tall!
       In my next post I will go over my list of favorite evergreens, and why.  Do you have any favorite evergreen plants?  Follow me and I will help you find some!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Super Boost Your Soils Nutrient Levels!

My wife and I moved into our second home 2 years ago.  Love the lawn was hanging on for dear life!  3/4ths of the grass looked like it was dead and the other fourth was some sort of yellow-green, more yellow than green.
        I love a green, lush lawn so I set out to work to try to do a drastic intervention with our lawn.  I first aerated it to break up the hard compacted clay soil.  Then I applied a nice Spring fertilizer blend with pre-emergent.  It was Spring, so it was getting natural water...then I waited.  It greened up a bit, but was still looking pretty bad.  Was I going to have to re-seed?  Or just start over? 
       Then I remembered a product that I had used on our former lawn.  It was a Water soluble Fertilizer that contained Humic Acid.  Sounds dangerous doesn't it.  I assure you it is not, if you read the product application labels.  Basically they are small granuals like you see in the picture above.   So what exactly is Humus, and what does this product do?

Humic acid is a natural trace mineral, carbon, and humic acid based granular soil conditioner that acts as an organic chelator and microbial stimulator

It has a high concentration of trace minerals and organic acids, specifically humic acid, which improves the plant's ability to take in nutrients
Can be blended with fertilizers or used alone

Self incorporates with irrigation or rainfall

Product Benefits

Improves the plant's ability to take in nutrients

Increases soil carbon

Increases plant health

Improves seed germination

Chelates nutrients making elements available for a longer period of time

Improves aeration and water movement
       All of these are great benefits!  You see, normal fertilizer is great, but it is kind of like a band aid.  It provides a big boost of nutrients to your lawn for a month.  You see it start to green up, grow twice as fast, and then what happens...the nutrients are gone, and your lawn goes back to normal. 
        What this product does has LONG LASTING RESULTS!  The reason is because it actually goes into the soil and just to re mention a few benefits above:  Acts as an organic chelator...say what?  Chelating is the process of breaking up nutrients that are bound to soil particles.  The fact that they are bound means even though the nutrients exist, they won't release to your lawn, or garden plants and are thus useless.   This is the case with a lot of soils, especially clay soils.  You already have tons of nutrients in your soil, but they are bound up.  This product is priceless in that it opens up a gold mine of nutrients you already have, but have been bound up for so long!
      Second, It has a high concentration of trace minerals and organic acids, specifically humic acid, which improves the plant's ability to take in nutrients.  Now that the nutrients are free, you get an added bonus of trace minerals, organic acids, and humus that helps your plants feed on this new wealth of food.
      As you can see, this product is great!  Now back to my lawn crisis...I went and go this product applied it, and literally within 2 weeks our front lawn that was the worst in the block was now a dark lush green, not real full yet, but it was working!   Within another month it was dark green, lush, and full!  We got a few nice compliments from our neighbors, and our next door neighbor even asked me to get his lawn as green as ours!
       The backyard, was almost completely dead, but within 3 months, it was lush and green!  It was as though we had laid down sod over the existing grass.
       Last year, I had another success story with another neighbor.  Their lawn was almost as bad as mine was.  I quickly aerated it, applied a fertilizer, and then applied this humus granule, and then advised them to water a little more, as it was the Summer.   Within, 3 weeks their lawn was greener than both of their neighbors.  Not that this was the goal, they just wanted green grass!  Now that it was growing, they also asked me to begin mowing it bi-monthly.  Whenever I drove past their house, I had to take a semi-narcissistic look at their lawn.  It went from eyesore to eye candy! 
       This product will need to be applied twice a year, whereas fertilizers are often applied every month.  Please try this out and let me know what your results are.  I promise you won't be disappointed.  

P.s.  as you can see this product is Chinese.  Here is a link to a product page of local products.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Landscape Design...Less is More!

Have you ever driven through a residential neighborhood and wondered why some landscapes are really appealing and why others confuse you?  One reason might be that people are trying to do too much with their design.  I used to be into complex designs, but it was so hard even having had 3 years of College education in this field.  I remember designing our first homes front yard design.  I wanted it to be a big showcase for what I could do.  I bought tons of different plants, literally took out half of the existing grass, and started what would become a very "high maintenance" garden. 
        The fact was, our front yard already looked quite nice.  The grass was nice and green, we had two nice flowerbeds, and a nice beautiful Honey locust tree as the focal point.  Looking back, I really didn't need to add much to the existing design except for beefing up the existing flowerbeds a little.
This is really key with front yard landscapes.
        Going with the "form follows function" rule of thumb, front yard design is really more about creating a nice simple landscape that accentuates your home.  The backyard is where you will end up having more "outdoor rooms."  This is where you will have more elements in your design.  For the front yard, just keep it simple.  Keep your flowerbeds around the foundation of your home.  Add another small flowerbed with a nice tree that is in proportion with your house.  You don't want a Poplar in front of a 1 story home, or a huge Maple.  Stick to a 25' or smaller tree. 
       Make sure you don't choose too many plants.  Too many plants will only confuse things.  I prefer to stick to no more than 7 different plants for the front yard design.  One to three trees at most
,  a couple of your favorite bushes, a few different type of flowers, and then a nice focal piece. 
         I promise if you do this, your landscape will look nice and clean, won't be confusing, will be easy to maintain, and most importantly will add to the appeal of your home!  Keep it Simple!