Home Improvement – Don’t Forget the Landscaping

WHEN you buy a new house or decide to improve your old one, you are, of course, concerned with every foot of ground that goes with it, for modern living and modern gardening can make every inch of your property usable and desirable.

New methods of soil improvement, grading, fencing and terracing make even sloping, hilly lots, hitherto undesirable, now attractive and choice. Modern chemistry has brought new nutrients to the soil and has provided weapons against the traditional enemies of the garden: disease and insects. Hardier bulbs and seeds make gardens more successful as well as wonderfully vivid. Fabulous hybrids have lengthened the list of flowering trees and shrubs, creating specimens for every color and design scheme, every type of house and garden.

New gardening equipment and materials speed the time-consuming garden tasks. New ways of living bring us into the outdoors, and barbecue meals and comfortable lawn furnishings make a small suburban back yard as luxuriously enjoyable as was previously possible only on a large estate.

Architecturally, today’s house is much more a part of the outdoors than was yesterday’s. Large picture windows, glass walls, glassed-in sun-porches and terraces all combine to make the garden a part of the house. Consequently, the view becomes that much more important.

A beautiful garden, a luxuriant turf and healthy blossoming trees all add as much to the interior of your home as your draperies or wallpaper. The effort and time you spend on your lawns and gardens will repay you in every way, indoors as well as out.

When you plan your grounds you will be governed by many of the principles you employ in decorating your home. Proportion, texture, color, line, harmony, function – these are terms that apply to landscaping as well as decorating. And if you have large grounds you will benefit from careful planning just as much as does the owner of a quarter of an acre.

Garden books are filled with formal plans for perfect gardens and grounds, but you will want to consider not the perfect garden in itself, but the one plan that will be perfect for your particular family. Analyze your family, its needs and habits; then design your grounds to best satisfy its prejudices, desires and demands.

The thing to do is hold a family council and talk over what you want to do. Of course, you will be governed by questions of cost and available space. Draw a plan of your property in fairly large scale, about 1/4 inch to the foot.

Now make a list of the things the family wants, such as a barbecue, tool house, drying yard, rock garden, fences, playhouse, badminton court, better lounging facilities.

Unless you are fortunate and have spacious grounds, you probably won’t be able to work everything into your program – but with planning, you can do things gradually. You can plan your garden so that it never looks bare and yet is always roomy enough for the additions you intend to make in the future. And some projects will serve more than one function.

For example, if you need a driveway and have young children, a blacktop that can be used for hopscotch and bicycle riding will serve a double purpose, and easily justify its cost. Or a fence that cuts off an unpleasant view can also act as a windbreak and a handsome background for a lounging area.

A retaining wall can double as a rock garden when planted with hardy dwarf shrubs and other rock-garden species.

Landscaping, if properly planned and properly executed will add to the comfort, improve the appearance and increase the value of your home.

The Benefits Of Landscaping And Natural Landscaping

If you haven’t heard about natural landscaping, then it is a relatively new term that is also called native gardening. Natural landscaping implies in itself the use of plants, including groundcover, grass, trees and shrubs which are endemic to the geographical area in which the garden is located. It is an opportunity to reestablish diverse native plants, thereby inviting the birds and butterflies back home. Natural landscaping is good for your health and it is an aesthetically exciting, ever-changing tapestry of hardy, primarily native plantings well adapted to the local climate and soil.

Landscaping is one of the most cost effective tools for improving and sustaining the quality of life, whether in the city, the suburbs, or the country, however it is usually a fairly big task, consuming much time and energy. By itself it implies the physical change of outdoors to serve the needs of people by planting, altering the contours of the ground, and building structures and amenities such as pedestrian ways, paths and picnic areas. This activity is one of the few improvements that adds more value to real estate than it costs to install. People often associate landscaping with garden apartments that boast acres of land and rolling hills decorated with towering trees, bountiful flower gardens and lush courtyards.

Philosophers in the 17th century debated whether visual beauty was a necessary goal of landscaping. A good landscaper understands the elements of nature and construction, and blends them accordingly. Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including but not limited to: living elements, such as flora or fauna or what is commonly referred to as gardening – the art and craft of growing plants with a goal of creating a beautiful environment within the landscape.

Whatever you may call it: beneficial landscaping, environmentally friendly landscaping or sustainable landscaping, it’s a way of designing and maintaining beautiful yards, gardens, and larger landscapes to:

- Reduce harm to the environment

- Save time and money with lower maintenance

- Have healthier places to work and play

Landscaping is both science and art, and requires good observation and design skills. In do-it-yourself landscaping are many variables such as the climate of your region, your personal design tastes, what you want to do with your yard, budget, skills. Do-it-yourself style can be done the right way the first time with proper guidance and prioritization.

Landscaping is one of the most cost-effective ways to customize a home to meet your needs and tastes. If done well, one receives the added benefits of beauty and increased real estate values. It’s true that this activity can increase the value of your home while making your surroundings more attractive and enjoyable.

While landscaping can reduce direct sun from striking and heating up building surfaces it is a natural and beautiful way to keep your home cool in summer and reduce your energy bills. The hardest part about it is coming up with unique landscaping ideas and landscaping designs, but looking at the designs of the other houses in your neighborhood can make it easier for you.

Landscape Decorating – Another Great Way to Add an Amazing View From Your Kitchen Window

We have already covered how to create a magnificent floral view from your kitchen garden window with a planter box, trellis, and vines. Here is another very attractive and even simpler way of creating a visually enticing view from inside.

We have all seen or even have in our patios a decorative and very functional pergola patio cover. Decorative for the numerous designs we can consider, and functional from the much needed shade they provide. As we will also sometimes see, miniature sized pergolas are often constructed and mounted directly over one or several windows of a home or garage.

With that in mind, why not mount a mini-pergola over your kitchen garden window to display hanging baskets on both sides? With slim top slats spaced enough to provide sunlight, you can still receive filtered light through the top slanted portion of the window. Note, you never want to mount hanging baskets over the top of the window for one reason. Every time you water, the dirty runoff will cascade down over your window, keeping it from every truly being clean.

The design is simple since the weight of the hanging baskets it will bear is minimal, and you will not be placing anything on the top of the pergola itself. Traditional patio pergolas are supported with 4in. X 4in. or larger posts. Our mini-pergola will not require this, and proportional to its smaller size, will use individually smaller wood framing members than our standard patio pergola.

Here are the supplies you will need:

  • 2 plant hanging corbel style brackets: These must be flat surfaced on two sides for mounting on the surface of the house just off both sides of the garden window, and for securing the wood pergola members on top. Be sure to use exterior brackets, or spray interior type brackets you want to use with a weather resistant finish. They should also have two screw holes on each flat surface. Two for mounting the brackets to the surface of the house, and two for mounting the mini pergola on top of the brackets.
  • Mounting hardware for the brackets appropriate for the surface of your house (e.g. concrete anchors for stucco surfaces)
  • Two smaller round or square hanging baskets
  • Wood slats proportional in size to the dimensions of the garden window: Use your own judgment, but slimmer slats than what you see on larger pergolas do work better and appear more pleasing to the eye.
  • Wood screws

Step 1: Measure the width of your garden window. Then, measure the diameter of your round hanging basket, or the square length of your square basket, whichever you decide to use. The goal here is to leave enough clearance for basket sway in the event of stronger than normal wind conditions. Your best bet is to take the measurements of your hanging basket and add about 8 inches of clearance from the rim of the basket to the edge of the garden window to allow for wind swing. Mark a spot directly above the center point of the basket on the house surface where you will mount the brackets. It should be at a height that allows for clearance of the mini pergola above the top frame of the window. Because the mini pergola needs to be level with the top of the window, make sure your points for mounting the brackets assure that. One suggestion is to have someone help you hold a 2in x 4in. or other long straight piece of wood connecting the points on each side. Use a level to make sure everything is indeed level before going ahead with the next step.

Step 2: Installing your pergola. Whichever size wood members you decide to use, you will need to pre drill two of them at the point where they will be secured to the top of the plant hanging brackets. They can extend beyond the width of the two brackets, but make sure they are centered before marking your place for drilling in to the wood. Prior to installing your wood framing for the pergola, it might be a good idea to seal, paint, or stain the wood to protect it from the elements. You can attach your two wood slats to the top of the brackets using the appropriate sized machine screws with washers and nuts.

Step 3: Now, once you have installed the first two wood slats, you will want to secure two to three shorter crossing slats that will hold the entire framework together to the underside of your first two longer slats that run along the top. Position them evenly where you think they should be attached, and mark your spot on the longer wood slats where you will need to drill to attach them together. Once marked, drill your holes, use a pencil to mark where to drill on the crossing slats by holding them underneath the already drilled longer slats, and attach all together with the appropriate sized machine screws. You can now easily attach any remaining longer slats to fill in the gaps between the first two longer slats that were already installed. Just position them in place, mark the spot on the top of the crossing slats where to drill, and once both connecting pieces are drilled, attach them with machine screws and washers and nuts. As an alternative, you can also attach all of the wood members with the appropriate sized wood screws. Your work is done. Find some nice plants and enjoy your new mini pergola!