September 21, 2011 Off

Love the Yard; Hate the Lawn Maintenance

By in Lawn Care

Mowing, raking, weeding, trimming, edging…sounds like a list of punishments for an unruly teenager. But this is your yard we’re talking about here! Your pride and joy, your haven and showplace! However, unless you’re prepared to spend hours maintaining it month after month, year after year, all the great landscaping you planned so carefully can start to look a little…feral.

Do you drive past a neighbor’s yard every morning and wonder how they keep it so perfect all the time? Chances are, they have called in the professionals. And this may be the answer for you too. True lawn and landscape maintenance requires doing more than the bare minimum. Mowing grass and trimming the hedges will not keep your landscape looking its best. If you are clueless when it comes to spreading lime, aerating fescue, fertilizing, insecticides, and fungus, you may need some help. Even if you do know the when’s and how’s of good lawn maintenance, you may be more likely to pull out your hair than pull up a weed.

An experienced lawn service loves keeping your lawn and landscape looking like a postcard, which may be the opposite of how you feel. Let the experts use their equipment and supplies and save yourself from having to store more stuff in your outbuilding. They have the tools, time, and know-how to keep your lawn looking great year-round. For a flat monthly rate, in most cases, they will descend on your lawn like an army and take care of every weed, fallen leaf, and detrimental fungus that deigns to show up in your yard. A lawn service may save you some money in the long run, but they will definitely save you time, energy, and headaches.

Written by Rich Regan - Blue Dot Landscaping - Visit Website

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September 20, 2011 Off

Enjoy Outdoor Living Year-Round

By in Landscape Design

Outdoor living spaces are growing in popularity as folks realize how relaxing being outside can be. If you love the way your landscape and hardscape work together to bring balance and beauty to your yard, why not spend more time out there? And why not show it all off to friends, family, and neighbors? Creative design makes it possible for you to entertain in your outdoor space throughout the year.

What does having an outdoor living room or kitchen entail? In short, anything you want. Essentially, you bring the indoors to the outside. You can divide your outdoor areas into “rooms” and have them differentiated with hardscape designs, such as patios, walkways, decks, and terraces, as well as with outdoor decor and color schemes. There is no right or wrong way to bring your style outside. A professional landscape designer can discuss all your options, including features such as waterfalls, kitchen islands, even a bar to put the perfect touch on an outdoor lounge.

Think comfort and beauty all through the year. Outdoor fire places and fire pits not only keep you warm on chilly days, they create a cozy ambiance for guests to mingle. On warm, sunny days, a gazebo or pergola is a great place to gather and enjoy the shade. Consider having native plants incorporated into your landscape to provide interest, match your decor, and accent your outdoor room. Having plants that provide seasonal beauty offers an ever changing backdrop to your outdoor space with leaves that turn brilliant shades in the fall, such as Japanese maple, and plants that break out with bright winter berries.

With some planning and creative landscape design, you can turn your great outdoors into a space as comfortable, stylish and functional as your great indoors.

Written by Rich Regan - Blue Dot Landscaping - Visit Website

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September 18, 2011 Off

What Would You Do with More Space?

By in Barns & Outbuildings

Outbuildings, garages, and pole barns are a great way to free up some room in your house and landscape. And they can be as lovely and unique as your home. An outside building creates so much additional storage space, you will wonder how you ever survived without it. Where is your golf cart right now? What about your ATV, lawn mower — even your rakes and tools? If that classic car you tinker on had its own garage, how much more room would you have? Reduce your clutter and increase your home’s value by adding an outbuilding or garden shed to your property. These structures can be custom-built to your specifications and tailored to fit your needs. They can include electricity or even an upstairs area with a bathroom and shower, perfect for rinsing off after spending a hot day working in the yard.

All outdoor buildings should be erected to code and experts can help you determine the best location for them based on your soil type and the slope of your property. The construction is built to withstanding the elements, such as sun, wind, rain, and even the occasional snow flurry that sometimes wanders into the Upstate. Structural integrity is a must for your outbuilding, garage, or barn. Designers and builders pay close attention to the foundation of your structure. As an investment in your property, you want your outbuilding to be as soundly built as your home.

The pros take your landscape into consideration to design an aesthetically pleasing structure. Personalize your building with flooring options — dirt floors and concrete slabs are only a couple of choices available. You may want the siding to mirror your house or perhaps you have always dreamed of having a big, red barn. The size and look of your outbuilding is up to your imagination, but professional builders deliver on durability. And, of course, don’t forget about all the extra space your building will provide you.

 

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September 18, 2011 Off

Save Time and Hassle with Irrigation System

By in Landscape Irrigation

Nothing is less appealing than watering your lawn and garden. Carefully determining the correct time of day and then moving the sprinkler from one end of the yard to another, getting tangled up in a hose pipe and watering yourself more than your plants is not a wonderful way to spend a morning or evening. When new grass is being established, watering has to happen at regular intervals and there is always the danger of “over watering.” The last thing you want to see is your grass seed washing into your neighbor’s yard because you had an emergency and forgot to turn off the hose.

A professionally installed irrigation system helps eliminates these problems and makes having a perfect and healthy lawn possible. The system is set to a timer, so you can have your irrigation going before dawn, when your plants, grass, and trees do not have to compete with the hot sun for moisture. By the time you finish your coffee and head to work, your landscape is perfectly watered.

Additionally, every lawn and garden has unique needs depending on the design of your landscape. An off-the-shelf system cannot differentiate between shaded areas and those that are in full sun, or where your flowers are competing with trees for water. A professional system utilizes multiple types of sprinklers chosen especially for the unique needs of your lawn and garden.

Professional installation gives you peace of mind that your system has been installed correctly. The lines are buried deep to protect against future problems and the experts take into account the slope of your property, the layout of your landscape, and can even take water from alternative sources, such as wells and lakes. You can also rest assured that only quality materials from reputable manufacturers have been installed to give you value and quality.

Irrigation systems require more than the hose pipe and rotating sprinkler. Trust your lawn’s watering needs to experienced professionals and you will be pleased with the results and with the time you save. But keep that old sprinkler handy. You never know when the kids (or you!) will want to kick off their shoes and run through it on a hot summer day.

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September 17, 2011 Off

Fence Me In!

By in Fencing

When I was reading Tom Sawyer as a young student, the scene where Tom whitewashes that wooden fence made me grateful that my parents chose an aluminum fence for our backyard. As an adult, however, wood fences hold never-ending appeal for me. They conjure images of a simpler time, a time in the past when the American dream was to have a house with a white picket fence and a piece of land to call your own. In reality, fences in general offer a multitude of benefits. They provide a safe, enclosed space for homeowners with small children and pets. Fences clearly mark the property line and taller fences provide privacy from neighbors and passers-by.

Today’s homeowners can choose from a variety of styles when it comes to wooden fences: shadow box, split rail, stockade… the spectrum is as broad as your imagination. But a wood fence does require more maintenance than aluminum fences and that maintenance can be quite high if the fence is not built soundly from day one. Quality, pressure treated wood will help the fence to withstand the elements and that wood does not need to be hammered to place. Screws are a much better choice for adding life to your fence. The depth and width of post holes must be appropriate for your yard and type of fence and your fence will last longer if the posts are set in concrete. Setting posts in concrete, rather than having the posts set directly into the ground, better protects the wood from rotting. Because all wood is susceptible to damage from the weather, sun, rot, mildew, and insect infestation, regularly cleaning and sealing the wood is a must.

But there is one more benefit to a wooden fence: beauty.  By using techniques to build a better fence and proper care, wood fencing can add new life to your landscape or garden and can be enjoyed for years to come.

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September 16, 2011 Off

Lawn Emergency? Fescue to the Rescue

By in Lawn Care

Mid-September and the enterprising homeowner’s mind turns to fanciful thoughts of… fescue. At least here in the Upstate. While it may be persnickety, fescue grass can give you a lush, green lawn throughout most of the year. But, as with most grasses, timing is everything.

Fescue is a cool season grass and comes in several varieties. Tolerant of shade and having good drought resistance, fescue may be worth the work if you are looking to upgrade your lawn with quality grass. In this area, September 15 to October 15 is the optimal time to prepare your soil and lay the seed. During the summer months, you will need to spread your lime and kill weeds, but note that some weedkillers should not be used within four weeks of seeding, as they will interfere with germination.

Right about now — the middle of September — is a good time to aerate your soil. In cases where grass has not been established, general aeration will not cut it and you need to break out the tiller, add compost, rake and smooth before seeding and fertilizing. (Professional landscapers emphasize the importance of thorough soil preparation. If you contract the experts, the amount of time they spend on aerating your soil will surprise you, especially if grass has not been growing or you have rough spots on your lawn.) Lightly watering up to three times a day will help with seed germination. But fescue requires attention long after the seeds are on the ground. In six weeks, a second fertilization is necessary and in February you will need to apply a preemergence. March brings another fertilization and ten weeks after initial preemergence, you apply preemergence again.

A fescue lawn is an investment in time, and sometimes an exercise in patience, but the results make it all worthwhile. You may be wiping your brow and catching your breath just thinking about it. If you feel a little intimidated, you may want to call in the cavalry and hire experienced professionals to undertake this task. They can take care of lime application, weed control, seeding, insect control, and fertilizing. Once the grass is established and you are enjoying the new blanket of green in your yard, you may want professionals to take care of the upkeep as well with mowing, pruning, and fertilizing throughout the year to keep your grass looking its best. Getting a fescue lawn can be frustrating, but perhaps with the help and experience of landscapers, your neighbors will be grass green with envy.

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September 14, 2011 Off

Landscape Design Teams: Valuable Tool in Creating Dream Yard

By in Landscape Design

Do you have a vision of what you would like to see when you walk out your door each day? Your landscape design can come to life with the help of a professional team. A well-designed outdoor area is a great way to accentuate your home while adding value with curb appeal. Landscapes and hardscapes, such as patios, walks, and water features, offer a stunning backdrop for your relaxation and entertainment needs. If your dream yard involves creating year-round outdoor splendor, consider contracting with the professionals to help your dream become a reality.

What can a design team do for you? They use features of your existing landscape and hardscape, as well as your ideas, to create many design options that suit your needs. Horticulture, visual impact, and environmental sustainability should all be taken into account when planning the landscape. The architecture of your home and other buildings on your grounds should also be considered, highlighting their beauty with picture-perfect surroundings. Sometimes the importance of correct water drainage is forgotten and this can lead to serious problems, such as pooling water on patios or cracks in walkways. A good design team will not overlook this crucial element.

The design team also incorporates the little details, like landscape lighting or a tastefully placed water feature, that could take your landscape from great to amazing. What about an outdoor kitchen? Your design team can show you options for features you may not have considered, but suddenly seem like the perfect addition to your outdoor living space. Maintenance features, such as irrigation systems, are mapped out so that your yard is perfect year-round.  As you narrow down your options and your vision becomes specific, the design team offers input about what plants and trees will look best, as well as which ones are right for your yard based on soil samples.

From conception to design to completion to maintenance, professional landscape designers are available to help you accomplish your goals and turn your yard into a showplace.

Written by Rich Regan - Blue Dot Landscaping - Visit Website

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September 14, 2011 Off

Shine On! Landscape Lighting for Beauty and Security

By in Landscape Lighting

After a wonderful evening out, how many times have you pulled into your driveway to find your beautiful yard and home looking like the neighborhood haunted house? Your first thought: “Oh no! I forgot to leave a light on for myself again!” This is particularly daunting to those of us with detached garages. Stumbling around in the dark, trying to find keys, not sure what (or who!) might be lurking, missing the path and wandering off into wet grass or mud — sound familiar?

You may have considered putting up security lights, such as motion sensing flood lights. While these work for lighting your way to and from the house at night, they can be unattractive in the daytime hours and you would hate for visitors to feel like they are in a spotlight when they pull in for a visit. When the motion light goes off, your house is darkened again, an attractive target for residential criminals who stay in the shadows and away from the sensors. Consider an alternative: low voltage landscape lighting. Landscape lighting not only adds security, but beauty to your home and yard.

Landscape lights are subtle, so you always see the illumination, not the light itself. A variety of lights showcase the architectural elements of your home and highlight your landscape. Imagine your koi pond transformed into a reflecting pool. Your favorite garden spot takes on a moonlit glow and your winding pathways are safely marked for you and your guests. Landscape lighting transforms your house into a warm, welcoming home and your patio into a romantic, intimate living space.

Professional installers can program the transformer in several ways to highlight elements of your landscape and house. They can also install eco-friendly, power saving photocells so lights power on at dusk and extinguish at dawn, never allowing you to come home to a dark house. With added security and beauty, landscape lighting is an investment that can add value to your home and give you peace of mind. Sit outside a little longer and entertain a little later — it’s possible for you to see your home and landscape in a whole new light.

Written by Rich Regan - Blue Dot Landscaping - Visit Website

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September 12, 2011 Off

Proper Installation: The Key to Patio Paradise

By in Walks & Patios

Whether you want natural flagstone to enhance the organic beauty of your landscape or concrete pavers to provide a durable setting for your outdoor living space, proper installation is the key to having your patio provide years of enjoyment.

Patios play an important role in our landscapes. They must bear the weight of people and all the things that people place on them; they provide safe walkways and surfaces for our grills, chairs, and tables; and they beautify our homes. Patios do all this while withstanding harsh conditions above and below the pavers. Rain, snow, ice, sun, and ground moisture can wreak havoc on your treasured patio. To keep it looking amazing for years to come, having the patio installed correctly will save you the headaches caused by breaking pavers, pooling water, and sneaky weeds.

Installation consists of much more than digging a couple of inches into the soil, sticking pavers into the mud and calling it a day. “Excavation” may sound intimidating, like something from an archaeological dig, but what it really means is providing a stable foundation for the pavers by digging several inches into dry soil. Expert landscapers will dig at least seven inches below grade, adding a gradual slope for water drainage.

A properly installed paver sits on four inches of a compacted gravel aggregate and some experts include granite sand in this layer before adding an inch of sand for extra durability. So, for example, if your paver stone is 2 ½ inches thick, you will have 7 ½ solid inches beneath your feet. These layers provide a sturdy base for the paver stone, yielding extra strength to withstand both weight and outside elements.

Settling for shortcuts with the installation of your patio is simply a bad idea. If you want to invest in a patio that will provide you with fifteen to thirty years of relaxation, grilling, and socializing — with the added bonuses of bringing beauty to your landscape and value to your home– have it installed right the first time.

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September 12, 2011 Off

Water Features Add Serenity, Interest to Landscape

By in Water Landscaping

­A beautifully landscaped yard is your personal getaway – a place to shed the stresses of a long day, a gathering place for family and friends, and a habitat for wildlife. The perfect light and the eye-pleasing colors of grasses and flowers calm and soothe. Now imagine the soft notes of falling water or the playful gurgle of koi in a pristine pond. What better way to indulge all the senses on a relaxing evening? And going out your door is as far as you have to travel.

Incorporating a well-built water feature not only increases the pleasure you take from sitting outside, it also adds interest to your landscape and can add value to your home.  The design and function of water features are as limitless as your imagination.

Water features can create their own ecosystem, increasing oxygen and algae which is eaten by koi who in turn provide fertilizer to plants. Other wildlife, such as frogs and birds, will be drawn to the water, making the feature an endless source of interest. Both children and adults benefit from the educational value of having an aquatic habitat at their fingertips.

Water features bring “water-front property” to you. They provide an excellent backdrop for family barbecues or for those quiet times when you need to unwind. A water feature is a natural gathering place as well as a natural meditation spot.

Whether you want to enhance the beauty of your landscape, create a meeting place for family and friends, provide a natural habitat for wildlife or carve out your own personal paradise, a water feature is the solution. An experienced landscape team can help you determine the best fit for you and your yard, no matter how large or small.

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