Pool Culture At Home: Modern trends, features and technology in backyard pools.

As the warm weather hits are brains shift gears towards warm weather activities. One of the most romanticized of which is the family pool. The family pool has drastically evolved from the days of the preformed plastic kiddie pools of our youth. There are a variety of features and options that can accompany the central summer activity centre.

When thinking of the family pool we often conjure up images of a simple concrete rectangle adorning our backyard or an octagonal aboveground contraction. But a pool can be much more than even that. The household pool has become a paradise to be enjoyed by all.

The modern pool is chalked full of technology and features that have advanced well past those traditional models still found in area homes. In order to facilitate these new and more luxurious models the pricing of has risen. Typical pool budgets start from $50,000 for a basic in-ground pool and for the more opulent models prices can exceed $500,000.

Features such as shallow tanning shelves, sports pools with two shallow ends with depth in the middle have made pools much more usable for the homeowner and their family. Pool-scapes have begun to incorporate more natural elements, such as stones, waterfalls and vegetation surrounding the pool area. This beautifies your pool area rather than having a concrete slab in your backyard. Shot-crete has allowed designers to create freer and more flowing pool forms that are not confined to the traditional backyard rectangle. Colour is determined by the final plaster finish and can be customized for your own personal tastes.

The family pool is often used as a focal point for outdoor entertaining and as a place to share time with the family. It provides a cool and refreshing break from the heat and commotion of the daily summer grind.

Many people are beginning to speculate that with soaring prices for cottage and recreational properties, the market for pool upgrades will continue to soar. In addition to this fuel and energy costs continue to rise. The cost to commute to a remote rural destination is becoming more costly as well causing people to reconsider the cost of recreational properties.

Ultimately when your pool is completed it you can feel the same freedom that you feel jumping into a lake. Finishes found in nature, more usable features and customizable features are making backyard pools stylish again. As homeowners embrace the technology, trends and features associated with modern pool design a new generation is discover that wet and wonderful joy.

Improve Front Yard, Increase Curb Appeal

I, myself, didn’t think that improving your front yard can do a lot to the image of your house. Either you are selling your house or just want to upgrade your front yard,continue reading the article that I stumbled upon and I want to share to you, guys.

A good first impression can make a world of difference when you’re selling your home. By upgrading your curb appeal, you have a chance to influence how potential buyers feel about your home before they even step inside. While it’s important to balance the money you spend on improvements with a realistic idea of what you can recoup, many improvements to your landscaping can cost little, compared to the benefits of increased home value and a faster sale.

Below is a list of some simple ways to improve your curb appeal when selling your home.

Get a fresh perspective

Before you can choose which projects to start with, it helps to see your landscape with fresh eyes and a broad, overall view. We get so used to our landscaping that it can be hard to pinpoint what others might see. There are two simple tricks to seeing your landscape with a new viewpoint. With both of these techniques, the goal is to forget what you think you know about your landscape and to instead see what is actually there.

The first is an old artist’s trick. Stand back from your landscape, far enough away that you can see all of it at once. Then squint your eyes until they blur, and try to clear your mind.

There may be areas that, when viewed with blurred eyes, appear dark and overgrown. Some areas might feel messy because there are too many small plantings, statues, or pots. Or, you may have an area that is bright and clean, but a little too bare. All of these insights can give you a general idea of which projects to tackle first.

The second technique you can use to see your landscape with fresh eyes is to take some black and white photographs of your landscaping. Taking color away can make a familiar space seem new, so you can see it with objective eyes. Nowadays, most digital cameras have a black and white setting, so this is easy to do even if you’re not a techno-whiz.

Define the borders and add mulch

Clean edges fool the eye into seeing the entire landscape as neat and well-maintained. If lawn has crept into your garden beds and created an uneven line, then defining the border can improve the look of the whole landscape.

Start by laying out a garden hose, or using spray chalk to outline the new border. Don’t make the beginner’s mistake of creating a wavy, “drunken snake” of a line; instead go for broad, sweeping curves that are in scale with the size of your home. Then, use a mattock or pulaski to chip away at the grass until you have a clean, attractive line.

Once you’ve established a neat border, a layer of wood chip mulch adds a refined look. Not only does it help keep weeds down during the selling process, but the bright color is attractive, smooths out an uneven soil surface, and generally gives the landscaping a professional finish.

Prune overwhelming shrubs

While pruning can be tough to tackle if you don’t know what you’re doing, there are a few simple pruning techniques that can make a fast difference.

Just remember that you don’t want to prune anything severely if you can help it, or attack anything with the hedging shears unless the plant is quite clearly meant to be a hedge. That kind of pruning makes it obvious that the maintenance got out of control, which is not the signal you want to send to potential buyers!

Instead, focus on subtler ways of pruning. One technique that makes shrubs look neat with little effort is to “skirt” them. Skirting is when you prune around the base of a shrub, removing any branches that are within 6 inches of the ground. This gives a more open appearance, and works wonders on Rhododendrons and other shrubs that can look moundy and overwhelming when sprawling on the ground.

Another good pruning task is to gently prune any plant that is touching the house. Plants that lean on the house can cause chipped paint as well as mold and ant infestations. If your buyer has a home inspection done, it’s a problem that will be noted in the report. Pruning plants 8 inches to 1 foot away from the house will give the landscaping a more open appearance, as well as give you room to power wash the house or touch up paint as needed.

The only shrubs that should be pruned heavily are those that are flopping over a walkway, blocking the view from the street to the front door, or keeping light from streaming into a window. Even then, it’s better to thin plants gracefully or consider even removing them, rather than going in for The Big Chop.

Add color with paint and pots

If a focal area isn’t drawing the eye as it should (think front door, patio and seating areas), a bold shot of color can be just what’s needed. While the obvious solution is to use container plantings, there are a few important points to remember.

First, less is more. Choose just one or two larger pots that have a distinctive color or shape, rather than lots of small pots that can feel cluttered.

Next, go for a simple one- or two-color planting scheme that highlights what is special about your home, like the color of the stone, trim, or surrounding shrubs. This keeps the focus on your home, rather than on the individual plantings.

Lastly, don’t be afraid of paint. If your patio furniture looks tired and worn, it will be hard for potential buyers to envision themselves sitting there. Freshly stained or painted patio furniture can draw the eye and help buyers imagine the great times they’ll have in their new landscape. Choose a color that picks up on some element in the landscaping, and add a few cushions to set the scene.

Ask for help

Most landscape designers offer a one-time consultation service. If you’re having trouble deciding what to focus on, even a short meeting with a professional can help you pinpoint the tasks that will bring the greatest return.

As you can see from these projects, even a small investment in the landscape goes a long way towards increasing your curb appeal and making it more likely that buyers will fall in love with your home.

Collecting Water using the Green Gutters

greenhouse gutter

One way of conserving the environment is to utilize the little or the much it offers. This means that whenever possible we should try and conserve for future use. Water is one resource that can be conserved and used later since it is not perishable. By placing gutters along our greenhouses we are able to tap and conserve water which we can later use to irrigate our gardens. Regardless of the size of any greenhouse, placing a rainwater catchment system is important to conserve water which could go to waste.

This innovation ensures that the rain is able to be saved for future use. The water efficient system it able to collect rainwater from the roof of the greenhouse and redirecting it into storage tanks. It doesn’t matter whether you are well established farmer or a simple owner of a greenhouse to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, water should be conserved since it may not always be there when needed. A water catch system is always necessary. Though there are plenty of reason why we need to install water catch system, three reasons are what matter most:

greenhouse gutters

  • Cost saving

Every year the cost of water increases dramatically all over the world and even though it may not be something that worries, it is important to conserve the most crucial resource on the planet.

  • Conservation of an important resource

Fresh water is a resource that need to be conserved because once it is wasted it cannot be recovered again therefore we should try as much as possible to conserve whenever possible

  • Time management

A lot of time is used to irrigate your crops and when the dry season comes it might be even harder to do so due to water shortage, therefore storing water will come in handy at this time since you wouldn’t need to look for water to sustain your crops.

Note that you will need to inspect and clean the gutters for you to collect clean water. The gutter cleaning exercise will involve scooping out leaves and other debris as well as dirt that might have accumulated in the gutters. Besides, you will need to scrub the gutters to ensure that they are clean.

In a case where you don’t want to keep on cleaning gutters, especially if you home or the area where you have the greenhouse has a lot of trees, you may consider installing gutter covers.

Myths about Major Home Improvements

home improvements

Every homeowner desires to enhance their home appearance. However, there are some believes that are not true and you must abandon them. Otherwise, you may find the entire process of enhancing the aesthetic value of your home difficult. Here are the top 5 myths about home improvement you need to know.

You can only get best deals from home improvement retail chains

Most homeowners normally think that they can only get the best deals on home improvement products from huge retails like the Lowe’s and the Home Depot. One thing they tend to forget is that such retailers tend to overcharge their products especially on labor and installation. You may consider an independent interior designers and contractors because most of them offer good discount and charge less.

The bedroom and kitchen remodels are disappearing with the housing organizations

kitchen and bathroom remodel

Surprisingly, this belief is a new one and runs counter to a earlier myth that remodeling essentially paid for itself in regard to added value. The truth is that you will see a temporary in big remodeling projects, especially for individuals who are likely to seek home loans from banks to finance the home improvement projects. Therefore, what you should understand that the kitchen and bathroom remodels can’t be entirely replaced by the housing market.

The geothermal and solar panel heating systems have arrived

Inquire from various HVAC contractors about the geothermal or solar heating systems and they will all give you same answer: the systems aren’t cost effective. Well, I don’t dispute the fact that these heating systems and environmentally friendly and the economic benefits of these systems have enhanced with the favorable tax credits and the cost of oil. However, some HVAC contractors claim that the installation cost of geothermal and solar panel heating systems is high and it will take between 15 and 20 years to get your money back.

Home inspection is necessary only when you will be selling or buying a home

Home inspections are important when it comes to buying or selling a home. However, these are not the only instances when you will need home inspection. A professional home inspector can help in identifying home problems that can be addressed and prevent the chances of the problem spreading further. For example, a professional home inspector can help in identifying the loosening roof fasteners, harmful movement on the foundation, mold that might be growing behind your walls, and more.

 

Gardenias: Heavenly Aroma but Gardening Nightmare

gardenia

If you’ve never smelled a gardenia in bloom you might want to avoid doing so in the future. The heady aroma is seductive – perhaps even addictive. Before you exhale you’ll be considering a purchase. And this is something a smart gardener might want to avoid. The gardenia is a lovely plant but it can also be a brutal mistress. You bring home the plant and place it – indoors or out – and wait for the lovely blooms. Enjoy that first batch because it might well be the last. Before you know it the blooms are gone and the leaves begin to yellow and then fall off leaving you with a leafless brown corpse. If you are quick you might have tried various soil additives (from iron to coffee grounds) before the plant dies. If you are slow you might not have to. The results will still be the same.

kleim's hardy gardenia

A landscape designer arranged for me to have a full dozen Kleim’s Hardy planted in my beds. One lived after the first summer. It’s still alive three years later and laden with lovely blooms though it’s crooked after heavy snows this past winter. Eleven were replaced last spring – dead corpses removed and more glossy and lush Kleim’s Hardy gardenias planted in their stead. This time I was ready with corn meal, special fertilizers and a deal with the local Starbucks for coffee grounds. With this many it’s best not to try and drink the coffee yourself. But, right on schedule, the leaves began to yellow and fall off. In early spring only four had any green leaves.

At the first mention of replacing them again there was an uproar around the house. The general feeling being that as the gardenias were destined for a grisly yellow death we ought to just stick with the dead gardenias we already had. We could, I was told, just get some air freshener which smelled of gardenia and pretend we’d had the few glorious days of blooms. But a new cultivar, Frostproof, was available at the local garden center and, after much agonizing, three were purchased as a Mothers’ Day gift. The rest are languishing in their post-bloom death state waiting to be replaced by hardier, though less heavenly, plants. In the car, as we brought the latest potential victims home, a child muttered, “These don’t look dead … are they really gardenias?”

The one successful gardenia I have does offer some insight into the plant’s needs. It’s located with morning sun and afternoon shade and next to the house protected from a lot of cold weather in the winters. The ground drains well in this bed and the soil is acidic – a nearby group of azaleas are quite happy. If you succumb to the scent of gardenias try to plant yours in a similar location. Fertilize them immediately after they bloom. Do not over water them. Do not underwater them. Test your soil and be sure it’s exactly as they desire. If the yellow still takes over consider voodoo – or a gardenia scented air freshener.

Rain Gutter Maintenance during Dry Weather

Most homeowners think that they don’t have to do anything regarding gutter cleaning and maintenance during the dry weather. They tend to forget that dry weather offers homeowners a great opportunity to make routine maintenance to the roofing system since during this time it is easier and safer to climb up the roof and make routine maintenance to your roof gutters and the whole roofing system at large. Check for signs of wear and tear along the seams of your current system.

It does not mean that during the dry weather your home is protected from rain water. Prolonged drought will have opposite effect on your home. Gutters and downspouts help to redirect rainwater away from the homes foundation. Dry weather conditions however can leave the soil to erode around the base of your house. When it eventually rains the eroded areas will be more vulnerable to rain water damage. Occasionally water the soil around the base keeping it hydrated to prevent erosion during the dry season.

Take advantage of the dry weather to remove debris as to make them visible if there are any damages. This means that you will have to scoop the debris out using sturdy gloves and a plastic scoop. The gutters should be clear of any remnant of the last fall.

The dry months nesting birds will have moved on to gather food for the cold months. Take this time to check if there are any signs of life and if there is non remove the nest from the gutters. Look for wasp nest also and if inhabited remove them. Soon as you have finished removing the debris from the gutters, you will almost see them clearly. Use a scrub brush and a gentle abrasive or soap to clean out your gutter.

After cleaning the gutter you can now clearly see the damaged areas that will need to be repaired or parched. Use a recommendable material to seal holes and you can even replace fallen shingles.

Perhaps you are busy with the work or busy with kids. Or, you are scared of climbing up the ladder to scoop the dirty, smelly stuff that has made your gutters their home. In such instances, you may need to look for a professional gutter cleaning company to help with the gutter issues. This is important to avoid injuries associated with gutter cleaning activities.

Tips for Beautiful Landscape Gardening

Like the creation of any other piece of art, the task of creating a beautiful gardening landscape also requires a touch of artistic sense. In the creation of a painting the main points that are followed is a central idea based on which the whole painting, its surroundings and special effects are integrated in to the picture. Similarly in the design of a gardening landscape the gardener must have an idea about how, where and which plants are to be placed so that landscape gardening turns out to be beautiful to all its beholders.

There a number of steps or methods that can be followed in the design of a beautiful landscape gardening, which can be generalized as follows:

First, an overall look at the garden should be done to build up ideas in the minds eye. An open area in a garden is relaxing even for small garden grounds. If the whole of the garden is scattered with tress here and there, small bushes or plants randomly an overall shabby or fussy appearance is rendered to the garden destroying its beauty. On the other hand the arrangement can include a single tree or might be a small group such that a pleasing sight is provided to all those who take a look at it. It is advisable not to centre the tree as its appearance is much more satisfying to the eye when placed in the background.

The selection of the tree to be planted in the garden also requires a lot of thought and selection. Overpowering trees have to be avoided and interesting trees either with a good shape, or tasty fruits or beautiful flowers or distinctive bark or leaves can be selected to be the centre piece of attraction in the garden. The poplar tree is not highly recommended because of its fast shedding effect though there are places where a row or more of such Lombardy poplars are welcome. In contrast the catalpa is more acceptable for its broad leaves, eye-catching flowers, seed pods all of which contribute to a more scenic beauty and grace to the garden. The ash with its bright berries, the sugar maple with its brilliant foliage, the tulip tree and its blossoms, the white birch bark, the copper breach and its leaves are some of the few beauty points that can be taken in to consideration.

The place that is available as the garden ground has a large impact on the decision that can be taken about the type of trees that can be grown there. Moist low grounds are preferable for willows. Trees must be grouped together according to their proportion and synchronization qualities kept in mind.

Evergreens in the house surroundings are not highly recommended as a gloomy effect is created which subsists through out the whole life of the tree and the house appears to have a deserted or abandoned feeling to it. A house should have adequate amount of fresh air and bright sunlight for a bright and cheerful living.

As care is taken in the selection of the tree similarly care also need to be taken in the selection of the shrubs. A cluster of shrubs can be planted which includes early blooming plants, late blooming plants, shrubs with beautiful and bountiful flowers or fruits, colored bark so that the cluster always looks filled and fresh.

Houses can be surrounded by hedges which look more attractive than fences and for such purposes a number of shrubs are widely preferred such as the Osage orange, Japan quince, Japan barberry, Van Houtte’sspirea and buckthorn.

In the selection of the tress and shrubs one another point to be noted is that plantation those are similar to the surroundings should be given greater preference than outside foreign plants as their growth conditions such as soil, climate and manure choices may have variations as compared to the other commonly grown shrubbery.

Landscape gardening can be done either in a formal manner or in an informal manner. The good and bad points of each of the gardening manners can be briefly expressed as follows:

The formal arrangement of a straight line of plants might appear too stiff while informal arrangements have a fussy appearance.

The paths in the garden can be straight ones leading to any particular point or can be curving paths with beautiful bends and twists.

The paths can be either covered with gravel, dirt or grass. Grass paths when overgrown spoil the beauty and hence a gravel path is much more preferable. Paths should have suitably placed depressions for storage of water making a natural drainage system.

Climbing trees or creepers up and around the house gives a strong foundation or hold on the house together with a harmonious beauty with the garden. Climbing trees such as the Virginia creeper, clematis, trumpet vine, wisteria, climbing rose and honeysuckle all give satisfaction to the gardener as well as the observer.

Flowers are a natural source of beauty whether it is along the side of the building or along the walk border. Daffodils in the garden give a beautiful touch of exquisiteness in the early spring as do the hyacinths and tulips. Flower gardens are preferable in the side or rear of the house with open sunny lawns in the front. The rear can also be used as plots for vegetable gardening instead of littering grounds. Perfect blend of natural colors are needed to add touch of beauty to the gardens and special efforts need to be taken for that purpose. A small garden full of colors is more attractive than a large empty or overcrowded garden.

Landscape gardening can thus be briefed with a bright open lawn, beautiful flower beds, bountiful vegetation grounds and an overall beauty that attracts and magnifies all those who set eyes upon them. The landscape must be such that they blend grandly with the house and its style. Proper planning and its right execution should be carefully done for the perfect landscape gardening one could ever imagine in the wildest fantasies.

How to Recreate Your Own Tranquil Outdoor Space With Zen Garden Accessories

Japanese gardens are perfect for those homeowners who want a peaceful and well-organized outdoor space. This approach to gardening utilizes a minimalist approach to avoid clutter and fuss. However, this Japanese –inspired outdoor design plan will make use of symbolic and functional zen garden accessories and plants.

The important thing is to arrange the elements and achieve serenity and a more relaxed mood. This is a nice outdoor space theme for homeowners who love a good time to reflect while they are with nature. You can create your own zen garden at your very own backyard. Here are some of the elements that you can include for finding the ornaments and accessories:

  1. You must create an entrance to your garden. You can simply use bamboo fence to block the view. You can also make use of an arbour you emphasize the entrance to your zen garden.
  2. The key element to a Japanese garden is creating tableau or vignettes. You can copy winding paths which leads your view past a pagoda and signals exploration of your eye to what will come in the next corner of the garden.
  3. Evergreens are perfect for your design plan. A zen garden requires texture. The subtle difference in texture and color of the design elements are definitely soothing to the psyche. You can make use of conifers that will exude tranquillity and peace all year round.
  4. The Japanese garden would require moss growth. This is the best ground covers. You can make use of stone steppers to protect the cushiony surface provided by the moss.
  5. Construct a private pavilion that will create an intimate space for you and your family. You can use this structure in entertaining your guests or you can spend time in here viewing the peaceful view in your backyard.
  6. Include a pagoda pillar or stone lanterns to accentuate your Zen garden. This will echo the charm of the roofline of a teahouse which is definitely charming.
  7. You can emphasize contrast in your zen garden. You can do it with different textures and subtle color contrasts. You can make use of green and chartreuse hostas against the hakone grass which has very soft edges.

These are just some of the design elements that you can use for your own garden with a Japanese twist. Just enjoy the process of decorating your outdoor space to achieve tranquillity and peace with your garden.