While we all learn as children not to judge a book by its cover, the same rule does not seem to apply when it comes to your home. Whether you like it or not, the landscape of your home says a lot about you to your neighbors, guests, and passersby. If this concerns you, fear not; we have compiled a list of five simple steps you can take to improve your landscape design.
1 Create a Focal Point
An example of an outdoor focal point
It doesn’t matter whether you’re working on your front or back lawn, focal points are a basic principle of landscape design. They draw the eye and help define the character of your yard. Choosing a focal point is the first step to improving your landscape because it will influence many of your other decisions. It could be anything from a water feature to a park bench, or even the front door to your home. While you can have multiple focal points, it’s important not to have too many; a cluttered yard is never impressive.
Island garden bed
You may consider having an island or berm as your focal point. In landscaping, an island is an isolated garden bed surrounded by grass. They are often placed in the center of the yard to avoid corrupting the symmetry. Similarly, a berm is a mound or small hill made of dirt. They are great for dividing your yard into sections or even just giving you some extra privacy.
A popular garden pathway design.
A garden pathway will add a touch of elegance to your landscape. There is a plethora of materials to choose from when creating the perfect path for your yard, but popular choices include rock, gravel, wood, and brick. Combine materials or use a multi-colored variety to create patterns that will make it even more striking.
A path can also help you incorporate curves into your landscape. If you want a visually stunning outdoor area, curves are a must. Curves can add depth, intrigue and privacy to your outdoor space.
A well-kept garden.
In an article discussing the principles of landscape design, author and landscaper Rob Steiner says: “It’s better to plant a 50-cent plant in a $5 hole, than a $5 plant in a 50-cent hole.” Steiner’s point is, it doesn’t matter how expensive or exotic your plants are, if they aren’t planted correctly, your garden won’t last long.
Planting an edible garden is a great activity for families to do together.
The shape and style of your garden should also be considered. Every garden looks better when you consider the principles of geometry, especially symmetry & curves. We already discussed how important curves are, and your garden is a wonderful place to utilize them to your advantage. A symmetrical garden will look impressively tidy, even if you tend to neglect your plants.
A well lit outdoor area.
If you’re going to put a lot of time and effort into improving your landscape design, you should also ensure that the visuals can be enjoyed past sunset. Outdoor lighting can even be manipulated to accentuate the efforts you’ve made towards improving your landscape design. Shadows can be utilized to hide eye-sores, while assorted styles of lighting can be used to inject mood. For example, lanterns and fairy lights can be used to evoke a magical, playful atmosphere.
Solar powered lights bordering an outdoor path.
Check out this article from craft mom blogger, Jamie Saunders, for some other creative ideas about how you can light your outdoor space.
Maintaining your yard is the key to it's success.
9 times out of 10, the reason your yard looks a little lackluster is that you haven’t devoted enough time or energy to making it look good. And that’s okay – you’re only human, after all. If you don’t have time to maintain your yard, hire a professional who can – depending on the size of your yard (and budget), hiring a landscaper can be a cost-effective investment and will be well worth the results.
House plants are awesome. They make your home look pretty, they can clean the air of nasty toxins, and even NASA recommends having them. However, there are hundreds of options, and picking hastily could be costly; there are many popular indoor plants that are dangerous to keep in a house with children or pets, not to mention the plants that require lots of care.
To save you some time, we did the research ourselves and put together this list of the ten best indoor plants for your home, especially if you have kids. We used the ASPCA’s free database of pet-friendly plants to verify which of the following are toxic to pets.
1. PEACE LILY
Spathiphyllum Cochlearispatum; toxic to cats & dogs
If you think the Peace Lily sounds like a calming and easy plant to care for, you’re right. Peace lilies prefer only partial sunlight and don’t need much water - just a little bit once a week. They’re also highly recommended by NASA due to their ability to control the levels of formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide in the air. Aesthetically, they’re graceful. They bloom in the early summer – a tall white flower that will droop to let you know when it’s thirsty.
2. CAST IRON PLANT
The cast iron plant is perfect if you have almost no time to care for another living thing in your life. Unlike your kids, the cast iron plant is extremely resilient and tolerant of neglect. It can survive under conditions that would make most plants wither and die, which makes it an ideal choice for anyone short on time. Keep it out of direct sunlight in a pot with good drainage.
3. ALOE PLANT
Aloe Vera; toxic to cats & dogs.
Anyone who’s spent too long in the sun already knows the benefits of having easy access to aloe vera extract. It’s a common ingredient in consumer products, often marketed as a natural remedy for minor burns and sunburn. The aloe plant is also a popular indoor plant, and for good reason. It requires little maintenance when potted inside – ironically, it burns if exposed to too much sun – and too much water will cause the plant to shrivel. The aloe plant is also a natural air purifier, helping to clear the air inside your home of certain pollutants. Watch out for brown spots on the leaves that indicate there are too many pollutants in the air for the plant to handle.
Click here to learn how to extract your own aloe vera gel.
4. SNAKE PLANT
Sansaveria Trifasciata; toxic to cats & dogs
The snake plant has also been called the “mother-in-law’s tongue” plant, but don’t let that stop you from keeping this plant in your home. The snake plant has stiff, sword-shaped leaves that grow up to 3 or 4 feet long, and is extremely easy to care for. They require very little water and sunlight, and while most plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen during the day, the snake plant does so at night, so it’s an excellent choice for the bedroom.
5. CHRISTMAS CACTUS
Even before you know its name, you can tell this plant exudes positive energy. The Christmas cactus has bright green hanging branches (that can grow over 30 inches long), and pink petaled flowers. The cactus blooms around Christmas every year, hence its name. Aside from its visual appeal, the Christmas cactus is also relatively easy to care for; partial sunlight and weekly watering will do the trick. For optimum care, follow these instructions.
6. AFRICAN VIOLET
African Violets are another stunning houseplant; however, they require a little more care than some of the other plants on this list. For optimum blooms, they should be kept in partial sunlight for only 10 to 14 hours each day. The best way to achieve this without moving your plant every day is to keep it in a south or west-facing window during winter, and a north or east-facing window during summer. The pot soil should be consistently moist (but be careful not to over-water), and like a picky restaurant customer, they prefer room-temperature water. It’s also recommended to re-pot them every year. While it takes extra care, once you have a blooming pot of African violets in your window sill, you’ll know it was worth it.
7. JADE PLANT
Crassula Ovata; toxic to cats & dogs.
The jade plant is another plant perfect for your windowsill, and while it’s easier to care for than an African violet, it’s not quite as nice to look at. The jade plant loves sunlight, doesn’t need much water, and can live for over 100 years. They are also considered to be a symbol of good luck.
8. ZEBRA PLANT
The Zebra plant is a striking choice for your home due to its prominent white veins and brightly colored flowers. It requires similar care to the African violet – lukewarm water, moist soil and bright but indirect light for most of the day – and just like the violet, the beauty of this plant is worth the work.
9. RUBBER TREE PLANT
10. SPIDER PLANT
The spider plant is another great air purifier, and its green foliage and small white flowers make it an aesthetically pleasing choice. It’s also hard to let this plant die, as they only require indirect sunlight and the occasional watering. Plus, if you like this plant so much that you want another one, all you have to do is cut off a “spider” frond and plant it in its own pot. Before long, you’ll have two pretty little spider plants that you keep forgetting to water.Looking for a local nursery or store where you can get an indoor plant? The EZBZ app can help. Just type in what you’re looking for and we’ll connect you with businesses in your area that can help, who will reply to you directly through the app. You can also call our concierge team toll-free on 1-855-461-8619 for a local recommendation.
Fulda Kocher from Best Boca Raton Landscaping writes about how they recently transformed an overgrown alley in their building in to a beautiful garden.
When visiting my son in the city, my suburban bulldog needed greenery for peeing. Solution: the ground floor weedy alley off a 16-car garage. As she did her duty, I observed the premises. Being a constant gardener is a hard habit to break. So, when I moved to the first floor of said son’s building, a transformation of the abominable alley was a natural. It had become my walkway to the garage.
Inventory of assets: a fabulous old brick wall; facing the wall, a structural indentation that begged for a small deck. Drawbacks: a narrow 12’x20’ space, a far end fire escape ladder requiring an 8’ emergency access, a crumbling concrete floor and limited sun. Solution: go vertical, plant pots, use an old outdoor rug for floor cover.
With a symmetrical plan, three substantial metal plant troughs, evenly spaced, were attached to the main wall section as the focal point. A search of Pier One Imports landed a bronzed metal sun. Above the middle trough, it’s warmly perched. On each side of the sun, two hoarded (but fancy) wrought iron embellishments serve to accentuate it. Down the far-right wall, near the escape, a lintel rescued from a dumpster adorns a bricked-in window. This is the view from my bathroom window.
Fulda Kocher’s finished alley-garden.
Then, to ground level. Below the sun, I flipped a wrought iron table base upside down and filled the space with old metal baskets lined with cocoa fiber and dirt for a planter. Arranging it with ferns, coleus and Solomon’s Seal, I added annuals at whim. I painted two trashed plastic nursery bins for huge hyrdrangea trees below two metal wall accents. Smaller perennials at various heights filled in the effect with lots of foliage, all from sale finds I made when scoping out nurseries. Mixed leaf colors and textures keep a lively presentation yet the consistency of the plants anchors the scene. Colorful coleus amp up as flowers fade. Hardy Hosta plants stay steadily profuse. An ornamental evergreen and large rhododendron are stoic. A climbing rose and a rose tree are surprisingly robust when nourished and watered faithfully. They fill in the blanks.
Toward the garage door, far alley end: On each side, two tall wrought iron chairs hold potted dogwood trees from Kmart. High above each tree are arched “windows” (wood, metal, mirrored) lend an architectural vibe. When entering the garden, a quality fabric peacock windmill twirls on a tall deck pole, welcoming like a pet. I’m smitten.Looking for a landscaper to transform your garden? Try using EZBZ – the free concierge. You can post a request on our app or website, or call us toll-free for a local recommendation on 1-855-461-8619.
As always, EZBZ is here to help. Just put in a request for snow removal and we'll find quality contractors for you.
I'll even make it easy for you by writing out the inquiry for you. Just cut and paste this right into the concierge box: I would like to contract with a snow removal company to plow my home's driveway throughout the winter.
Even though you driveway is plowed, that won't do you any good if your car is not ready for winter! If your car is newer, you may be in need of snow tires, but if your car is a little more experienced, then it might be wise to get a pre-winter check up. You don't want to find out when it's twenty below zero that your battery is losing its oomph.
For our readers down in the warm, southern states, you are still welcome to use EZBZ to find a caterer for your beach party.
Summer is home improvement season for a reason. While some jobs will always require you to hire a contractor or licensed professional, there are countless home repair projects you can quickly complete yourself in the warm weather. Many of these jobs are not so easily fixed in fall or winter, and ignoring the job until next summer isn’t a great idea, either, as the problem could worsen and become an expensive project that you can no longer complete yourself.
Here are some easy jobs you can do around the house during summer to avoid expensive repairs down the road:
For a big painting job you may wish to hire a contractor, but for small touch ups to the outside or inside of your house, even an inexperienced homeowner should be able to the do the job themselves. Summer is the best time to paint outside as the heat will help it dry faster, and there is less chance of rain, snow, or leaf litter disrupting your progress. If you’re painting inside, summer allows you to leave the windows open to ventilate the house and speed up the drying process.
While this job can be outsourced to a professional, you may be able to do it yourself for little to no cost. Gutters are the first line of defense for your home against water damage. Leaving them to accrue debris and dirt could lead to a big, wet, and expensive headache for you down the road. There are also plenty of insects and pests that love to make their home in debris-filled gutters, which can quickly lead to an infestation. Cleaning your gutters twice a year is a great way to avoid a buildup of debris, and also gives you an opportunity to check for any other issues such as a leak.
Spring and summer are the best months for gardening and/or landscaping your yard. By planting shrubs or plants in the warmer months, you give them a chance to settle and grow before the harsh fall and winter months. The ground is also easier to dig in to while it’s hot, so if you’re thinking of installing a new irrigation system or in-ground pool, summer is the time for it.
TLC for Your Outdoor Surfaces
Come fall and winter, your outdoor surfaces are going to be hit with rain, leaf litter, and snow… So summer is a good time to prepare for the months ahead.
Refinishing your deck in Summer will not only help protect it from the weather, it will make it look brand new, which is perfect if you’re planning on using it throughout the summer. Refinishing once every year, or even every two-three years, is a project you can do yourself and will help you elongate the life of your deck. Avoiding a regular refinish could mean having to replace your deck within a few years, which would cost thousands of dollars.
Another outdoor surface that might need some TLC is your driveway. It’s a good idea to inspect your driveway and make sure it’s ready for the tough months ahead – if it is due for repaving or replacement soon, be sure to get it done in summer. You don’t want to have to replace your driveway in rain or snow. Finally, if you have a lot of outdoor concrete surfaces, look out for cracks. If they’re small enough, you can caulk them very easily and save yourself a lot of time and money. Bigger cracks will require a concrete patch.
Inspecting and improving your home during summer may feel like hard work now, but can be extremely beneficial to the longevity of your home, not to mention potentially saving you thousands of dollars. When working outside, however, be sure to stay hydrated and use sunblock. Health and safety should always be your priority when completing home repairs.
If you require professional assistance for any project you want to complete this summer, request it for free through EZBZ. We will send your request to local professionals, who will reply to you directly with their information and pricing. It’s a great way to compare your options and find the best deal available.
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, a well-kept garden can also help you feel more relaxed and at peace. One of the secrets of keeping a healthy, green garden is a good mulch. Mulch is a layer of material placed in your garden to help promote healthy growth. While most mulch is organic, there are also artificial options available.
Some gardeners make the mistake of using white wood chips as a mulch – these chips absorb nitrogen from the soil, starving your garden. Several good organic mulches include manure, bark and compost. As the mulch breaks down it improves soil structure, breaks down sticky clay, increases the soils ability to hold nutrients and water, and improves the aeration of soil for plant roots. In gardens that have consistently used a compost mulch, you will notice strong plant growth and earthworms – symptoms of a healthy garden. Organic mulches will decompose slowly, and should be replaced once a year.
Inorganic mulch can also be used to help your garden – they provide a protective sheet that stops weeds from sprouting through the soil, but still permits water to soak in and hydrate the plants. In addition to stopping weeds, however, it can also prevent the growth of some plants. Be sure to avoid using a plastic sheet on your garden – this will stop rain from reaching the roots of your plants and flowers, and the soil will suffocate.
It is a good idea to rake and remove old mulch from your garden bed, before introducing new mulch. The mulch should be two-four inches away from the plant stem or tree trunk, and watered regularly. Water will sink below the mulch and be soaked up by the soil. Ensure you also only ever lay mulch on soil that is moist, not frozen or waterlogged.
Mulch is a great landscaping asset, even if you’re not interested in gardening. Mulches like pine straw can be placed on soil patches to not only help them look neat, but also prevent the growth of unwanted weeds. Mulch doesn’t always smell fresh, but it’s a great way to boost the health of your garden and trees, and in doing so, improve the air quality of your yard. A healthy garden will also attract wildlife such as bees, that are vital to our ecosystem.If you’re interested in finding a local mulch provider, submit a request through EZBZ here: www.myezbz.com/category/mulching. EZBZ will instantly send your request to local landscaping and garden services that can help you mulch your garden, who will reply in minutes with their information, availability and prices. It’s free, quick, and easy.
As the sun rays become warmer, the days longer, and the trees begin to blossom, one thing is clear: spring is here. This is the cue to open the windows wide and start the cleaning. After fall and winter, it’s time to give your home some fresh air, and perhaps give it a little bit of a makeover. Whether you are living in an apartment, or a home with garden, here are some general tips to help you prepare your property for a warm & wonderful spring.
Before you start the spring cleaning, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t need any home repairs done. You can start with the basics, such as checking the electrical outlets for potential fire hazards or the water heater for leaks. If you own an air-conditioning system, now is the best time to have it inspected and its filters cleaned, but don’t do this yourself; it’s safer to hire a professional. Another great tip is checking and changing the light bulbs; fluorescent bulbs produce less heat than other types, so they’re recommended for spring and summer.
If you live in a house, it’s important to check the exterior too. Make sure to check your roof – after a season of heavy snow, there could be some damage, which may not be easy to see until after all the snow has melted. Most gardens will also need a little landscaping this time of year – removing the dead vegetation and planting some new flowers will make your garden flourish! Well, at least until winter returns. A new coat of paint on the door or exterior walls can also help to make your house look fresh and homely. Finally, if you’re planning on having some barbecues this spring, it’s a good time to pull out the grill and give it a good clean.
Now, moving back inside the house, it’s a good idea to do an effective, overall cleaning. If your rugs or carpet are stained, the beginning of spring is a great time to have them cleaned, as it’s warm enough outside to open the windows, and moisture from outside won’t be tracked inside nearly as much as in the winter months. With the windows open, it’s probably a good time to have your curtains cleaned as well.
Another reason to clean the house is that spring is a great time for insects to thrive. They love the dirty and dusty crooks and crevices of your home, so a thorough spring cleaning will make sure you don’t gain any unwanted tenants. The heat of spring and summer means it’s also a good idea to take out the garbage more regularly, to keep your home smelling nice and roach-free.These are just some of the tips that you can keep in mind when preparing your home for spring. If you need any assistance when looking for home repairs, landscaping, or cleaning services, www.myezbz.com is a free, online concierge that can connect you with the reputable businesses that can help. It takes thirty seconds to submit a free request, and EZBZ businesses will reply to you directly with their information, availability and estimates.
Most home owners who have trees in their compounds think that they can handle all the yard work by themselves, including such tasks as planting, trimming and tree removal among others. However, these tasks are quite complex and it’s of utmost importance that expert help be sought. Here are 5 awesome reasons why you should hire tree services professionals.You can enhance your safety
Working on trees is definitely a dangerous task and you cannot risk working on them by your own. It may lead to serious injuries or even death. Massive destruction can also be caused especially when the trees that you are trimming are located next to houses or electric lines. Chances of being caught in an electric shock are real. By hiring an experienced professional to work on your trees, you can reduce the amount of risk that you expose yourself to. You also ensure that you don’t get hurt by falling trees. A tree services expert understands how to deal with potential risks and avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation.You can avoid destruction by working with the pros
Falling trees can be a serious risk to your buildings. If tree branches fall on your roof, there is a likelihood that damage worth thousands of dollars will be caused. With their level of skill and experience, tree service experts know how to handle any kind of tree removal chore without causing damage to adjacent properties.They offer an exceptional level of expertise
Removing unhealthy parts of a tree calls for high level of skill and expertise. If you do it on your own, the probability of recurrence is quite high. It takes a skilled and experienced tree service professional to ensure that the rights parts of a tree is removed effectively. Nonetheless, this task requires the use of specialized tools which you may not readily have in your home.They are comprehensively insured
Comprehensive insurance cover is one of the reasons to hire tree services. Accidents are bound to occur and if the worst scenario happens, you can rest assured that you will not be forced to pay for repair expenses from your money. Whether it’s your property that has been destroyed or that of a neighbor, you can rest assured that the service provider’s insurance will be enough to meet the entire costs.Improve the healthy of your trees
Can only guarantee that your trees will be in great health if you get the help of a tree service professional. If tree pruning is done well, it will definitely bring an infection. It’s only the experts who can have the level of comprehension that’s required to deal with every kind of tree.
However, when hiring a tree service expert, there are certain traits that you have to be on the lookout for. The level of experience which they have, training and insurance are some of the things that you should look out for. Those with specific experience in the kind of trees that are in your compound should be given priority. It’s also important to ensure that you are hiring a company that offers the best pricing when compared to other service providers.
If you'd like assistance with finding a reliable tress service company, you can always submit a request to www.myezbz.com!
Removing weed and dead plants
The principal thing you will need to do is remove dead plants from the garden. These are the plants that flourished in the hotter summer months and are currently shriveled on the ground. By uprooting these plants the general appearance of your yard will enormously improve.
During the removal process, you might also choose to plant new flowers and vegetables in your garden. Just be sure to select plants that are frost safe and be plan on having a covering for them during the evening if not hardy enough to sustain the temperature drops. Pruning during this time isn't recommended, as it exposes sections of plants unnecesarily to the elements.
When you have the garden free from dead plants, you should then plan on raking or blowing the fallen leaves. This will be something you should do on a week by week basis; while some poeple refer to let leaves accumulate and clean all at the end, that only creates a potentially larger problem and exposes the ground underneath to gathering moisture and potential decay.
Uncovering the bulbs and exposing them to sun is critical as they should be dry when they are put away for winter. On the off chance that you would prefer not to utilize herbicides for your yard you can utilize gas fire weeder as it is exceptionally viable as well.
The winter climate is unforgiving for plants and for this reason mulch is recommended. The best time to mulch is directly after the first frost. Avoid doing this task earlier than that, as it risks promoting pest and disease issues.
It is best to use 4 to 6 inches of mulch as it provides a sufficient insulation for weaker plants. Plants you kept in containers can be taken inside. You can cherish them blooming in your home as they won't resist the low temperatures of the winter.
Watering and reseeding
One lesser known fact is that you ought to water your yard before the onset of winter. You should do that right before the first frost so as to protect the plants and the trees against the low temperatures of the winter season. In around a week, you will need to reseed your whole yard giving careful consideration to any exposed or yellow fixes that may turn up after you have done the preparing procedure.
You should take your sprinkler system and wrap it well. Any watering that you may need to do in the winter months ought to be finished by hand with a separable hose. This will help you to counteract solidifying and having a sprinkler system that can bring about issues one year from now. There are numerous plants you can end up losing in the winter season on the off chance that you don't take the important measures for them to survive.
Something to remember amid this whole process is a few plants can't endure the frosty well. On the off chance that you are expecting a freeze anytime, make sure that you cover weaker plants with a warm cover or plant spread. Along these lines, you keep them looking incredible for the following season.
If you need help finding a lawn care company to assist with these fall tasks, you can always submit a free request to www.myezbz.com.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your swimming pool blends with your backyard is through addition of natural elements such as stones of varying sizes and plants. Adding some shrubs and trees that are a safe distance from the swimming pool can add lushness and shade, while emphasizing the pool. Many landscapers also recommend planting annual and perennial flower beds all around the swimming pool as it provides color and fragrance, while better merging the pool with your backyard. Rocks and boulders can be used to circle flower beds. These elements additionally provide reference points for nighttime walks near the pool.
A sidewalk or walkway is a fantastic addition that is also recommended by many landscapers. The sidewalk or the walkway can be built from your back door right to the pool. Construction of this element can incorporate cobblestone, wooden boards, flagstone steps or other appealing materials. The walkway makes it easy for guide guests to the pool and also prevent grass and dirt from being tracked into the pool area.
For socializing around the pool area and creating a comfortable spot for taking breaks between swims, consider installing some seating places near the pool. Some fantastic additions include reclining seats, couches and lawn chairs. Each will enhance the beauty of your swimming pool for the guests and personal enjoyment. Remind your chosen landscapers to ensure they are properly positioned for safety and maitenance concerns, also to ensure they're properly secured should you live in a particularly windy area.
Lighting is another excellent addition to any pool area. With lighting installed, a pool can be used at any time of the day or night. Landscapers understand how to light up the pool water in ways to enhance the use as well as beauty. The professionals have the capacity and experience to install underwater lights of different colors and even different patterns. Such lighting will obviously make your pool appealing for all occasions.
Basic fences are a safety requirement in most areas, however many homeowners like to take fences a step further so they may enjoy their swimming pools out of view of neighbors. There are many alternatives available and your appointed landscaping professional can help you pick the best. Some owners have found installing a simple chain linked fence, dressed on either side with boxwood or thick shrubs makes an appealing solution.
Coming up with the perfect landscape design for your pool are should not be an exhaustive or difficult chore. By working with a skilled team, adding the appropriate plants, lighting and other numerous additions, you can easily create a highly desirable the swimming area, which adds value in the immediate term as well as for resale.
If you're ready to consult with an expert, or move forward with a landscaping design, consider submitting a request to www.myezbz.com. EZBZs network of highly skilled landscapers are ready to share brilliant ideas while taking into consideration your specific needs.