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  1. SprinklerEven the verdant terrain around the Ann Arbor region can hit a snag when dry conditions happen. A professionally installed irrigation system is a great solution, but to make it effective, some knowledge about the different methods possible and the factors that impact their effectiveness is in order. First, a look at the available choices.

    *Drip Line

    *Steady Sprayer

    *Rotary Sprayer

     

    Drip Lines

    Conduits dotted with pores are buried in the ground to prevent evaporation. The water released by this method remains close to the lines, so it’s impractical for high-density plantings like turf grass.

     

    Steady Sprayers

    While the lines are below ground, the spray heads used in this system emerge above ground when in use to deliver a gentle veil of water radiating in a circular pattern. Steady sprayers utilize much more water than drip lines, but they require fewer conduits. This arrangement allows enough space in between for digging without the fear of hitting a line.

     

    Rotary Sprayers

    A narrow spout of water shoots a considerable length from a single point of origin with this setup, so equipment is kept to an affordable minimum. A lot of ground can be covered, but the downside is a lack of flexibility in dealing with asymmetrical yards.

    Selection Influences

    With this brief description of the basic sprinkler systems, it’s also useful to know what circumstances can alter their functionality. Here are the more important ones.

     

    *Acreage

    *Flora

    *Plot pitch

    *Soil absorbency

     

    Acreage

    For an expansive lawn, a rotary sprayer that projects its stream a long distance from a single point makes economical sense. Small, narrow or irregular patches are better handled by a steady sprayer sprinkler system. Drip lines operate best in flower and vegetable gardens.

     

    Flora

    The torrent of water fired from a rotary sprayer can be too much for tender plants. It’s not a problem, though, for lawn grass and woody shrubbery. Because they broadcast water a fair distance at low pressure, steady sprayers are ideal for annuals requiring replanting. For permanent flora, drip lines supply efficient hydration.

     

    Plot Pitch

    The basic rule here is that as the incline becomes steeper, more surface water will run off in a set period of time. Rotary sprayers provide an opportunity between sweeps for the ground to soak. Steady sprayers throw out water too quickly for heavily tilted land. Set in the ground, drip lines are impervious to this consideration.

     

    Soil Absorbency

    While standard loam soils in the Ann Arbor area are adaptable, clay soil needs the time between passes provided by a rotary sprayer to drink in the water. A lawn with sandy soil that drains easily will benefit from the constant shower created by a steady sprayer sprinkler system.

     

    Now that the pluses and minuses of each irrigation system have been established, it’s time to put them to work. Just remember that there’s no need to settle on just one. These different methods can easily be combined to handle any variations a landscape might hold.

     

  2. The 4th of July is a time when family comes together and celebrates the history of our country. When preparing for barbecues, reunions or other get-togethers for this 4th of July, a great way to decorate is to incorporate your patriotism directly into your garden. Such colorful and charming examples of landscaping decor will keep these celebrations memorable for years to come.

    Different Flower Choices

     

    Obvious choices for colors are red, white, and blue, but there are hundreds of ways to arrange these colors. From traditional rows to the ever popular shape of the American flag, different arrangements can be used to best suit different lawns. The size of the flowers chosen must also be taken into account; for example, tall, white Lilies should not be placed in front of the much shorter Blue Ageratum. The flowers must also be ones that thrive in the same amount of sun; some good combinations are:

    • Red Snapdragons
    • White Heliotrope
    • Red Geraniums
    • White Alyssum
    • Blue Lobelia
    • Red Salvia
    • White and Blue Petunia
    • Blue Ageratum

    Can’t find blue flowers? There is another way!

     

    Containers

    One way to use patriotic colors to great effect is to plant red or white flowers in a blue container. The container can be anything from a window box to an adorable pair of American-themed rain boots. Red Charm Peonies are one option for an easy-care flower with a vibrant red color. They will stand out against a blue and white setting, providing a great patriotic look.

    Flags

    Judicious application of the American flag can also make a garden especially decorated for the holiday, while the colors would appear more subtle for the rest of the year. Placing small American flags in a flower bed is easy to do, and the flags will make the rest of the lawn appear all the more patriotic. Larger flags hanging from window boxes full of red, white, and blue flowers are an elegant use of landscaping decor.

    Helpful Tips!

    Some other facts to keep in mind when planning the look of your patriotic party are:

    1. Remember that your yard will be full of party goers. Plan places for groups to meet and talk, and for walkways between different beds of flowers. This will ensure that the look of the lawn remains unchanged even after a crowded party.
    2. Highlight important plants and areas. If you know that many party guests will assemble in a particular area – for example, near the food making station – give them something to look at and enjoy.
    3. Know your yard. Some areas have more sunshine; others are closer to water. Choose plants that thrive in those areas, to make sure the landscaping decor can be enjoyed for a long time.
    4. Lawn ornamentation can be great in moderation. Consider placing some red, white or blue decorations out. This will add to the festive nature of the decor, and keep your landscaping aesthetically pleasing.

     

    Don’t wait! Start planning for your 4th of July party today! It will be memorable, festive, and patriotic if you start work on your landscaping right away.

  3. Landscaping your backyard is a wonderful way to create an inviting and attractive outdoor area, but if you have small children, keep them in mind when designing your backyard. Kids love playing outdoors; make your backyard an area that is safe and fun for them, but still inviting for adults too. The following steps can help you create a kid-friendly landscape:

    Safety First

    Keeping your children safe is a top priority for landscaping. Of course, scraped knees are a normal part of childhood, but taking steps to avoid injury is important. Ways to make your backyard safer for kids include:

    • Fencing – A fence keeps young children within the boundaries of your yard.
    • Water Features – If you have a pool, pond, or water fountain, then put a fence around it with a gate that latches to reduce the risk of drowning.
    • Use non-slip surfaces – Decks, walkways, and patios are often slippery when wet, but pavers and other non-slip options are available to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
    • Minimize flowers – Flowers are a beautiful addition to any yard, but avoid varieties known for attracting bees, being prickly or being toxic.

     

    Have an area of open space

    Kids need room to run around and play, so keeping an area of just grass is a good idea. This also provides a space for summer fun like a play pool or running through the sprinklers. Your kids can enjoy the water without damaging the plants.

    Research Plants

    Choose your plants with care, because many common plants are poisonous or toxic. This includes Daffodils, Irises, Calla Lilies, Holly, Azaleas, Oleander, and more. Always check with your local nursery or landscaping company before purchasing a new plant in order to make sure it is safe for children. Prickly plants like Cactus and Sago Palms are also wise to avoid. Children may touch the plants without realizing they are sharp or fall into them and get hurt.

     

    Create a Secret Space

    A secret garden, treehouse or any tucked away hideout is a wonderful way to inspire your child’s imagination. It doesn’t have to be impressive; a cozy space between hedges can be great! Just make sure it is safe and comfortable for your kids.

     

    Get a Bat House

    Bat houses are easy to make or purchase and can be installed in trees, by the house or in other areas around the yard. You and your kids can enjoy watching bats fly around the yard chasing insects in the evening. As an added bonus, the more bats you have, the fewer insects you will have.

    Have a Children’s Garden

    Tending a garden with your kids is a fun way to teach them about growing things and where food comes from. Choose vegetables that are easy to grow and that your children enjoy eating.

     

    Creating a kid-friendly landscape requires a little bit of planning and creativity, but having a backyard where everyone can be safe and have fun is worth the effort.

     

  4. The vine occupies a unique place among plants. Instead of relying on their own fiber to provide support, they make use of any nearby structure to guide them upward while they grab hold with either tendrils or rootlets. This exceptional characteristic actually makes them beneficial for certain jobs in the yard such as these.

     

    *Shade

    *Privacy

    *Protection

    *Beautification

    *Fruit

     

    Shade

    Tall trees might be able to cast shade, but they consume a fair amount of space and pose a risk of falling on the nearest building. Vines eliminate these problems while still providing shade that matches the changing temperatures of the growing season. Man-made structures, like awnings, don’t compensate for the lag between the sun’s angle in the sky and actual temperatures. These plants won’t block out the sun until it’s warm enough in the area to bring out their leaves. The leaves will still be there when the sun is low on those warm autumn days.

     

    Privacy

    The big advantage of a vine over a shrub (for creating privacy) is its growth habit takes up less depth in the yard. By hugging a fence or trellis, vines leave more room for other things. It’s important to pair the right vine with the right fence material though. Wooden fences work best with annuals, like morning glories and moonflowers, that don’t hold much moisture against them. Metal and vinyl fences have more options such as perennial clematis or trumpet vine.

     

    Protection

    Between the tendrils, rootlets, and the twining stems themselves, it might seem like these plants could create problems as they scale walls. They potentially can, if the walls in question already have cracks and gaps that they could invade. For properly maintained buildings, vines can actually do just the opposite. Their shade creates a comparatively stable temperature zone next to the wall. There’s less expansion and contraction to cause fissures. Also, the covering of leaves blocks some of the UV sunlight that can damage a home’s exterior.

     

    Beautification

    Not every wall that a vine ascends is necessarily attractive. A plain chain link fence or a concrete wall can be an eyesore. A vine supplies a natural solution to this problem and it doesn’t demand as much care. Flowering vines take things further with beautiful flowers and by attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

    Fruit

    It often takes a ladder to reach a fruit tree’s offerings. Strawberries and blueberries in the Ann Arbor Michigan region require serious stooping over. With a vine, good pruning keeps the fruit-bearing canes at just the right height. On top of this, a normally trained vine assumes a relatively two-dimensional form that keeps the harvest within arm’s reach.

     

    As these examples demonstrated, whether it’s a Fruiting Grape or a Hardy Kiwi Vine, a durable Virginia Creeper or a fragrant Honeysuckle, these plants offer a versatility no other kind can match. With spring coming, it’s a good time to determine where they can enhance your landscape.

     

  5. Outdoor kitchen lighting plays an important role in creating an ambience and of course, fulfills functional roles as well. Cooking in a kitchen entails cutting, peeling, boiling, mixing, juicing, and sundry activities that you cannot do without proper lighting. There is a lot of variety in kitchen lighting which allows you to choose what is best depending upon your requirements.

     

    Illuminating the cooking area

    Lighting above the grill is an essential requirement. Halogen bulbs are a good choice because these bulbs take less space and can tolerate high temperatures that you’d expect above a grill top. Track lighting is an option that lets you direct lighting to any area of the outdoor kitchen. They are available in myriad shapes and designs, and can provide ample lighting to cover the entire countertop.

     

    Ceiling lights

    Lights on the ceiling brighten the outdoor kitchen space and should be ideally installed with dimmers that can regulate the brightness and enable you to create the ambience you seek. Factor in humidity and wetness in the outdoor space, and use lighting and fixtures rated for your region. Take some time to select outdoor kitchen lighting and fixtures that will complement the design and colors of the outdoor space.

     

    Under cabinet lights

    Lighting under the cabinets is a good choice for outdoor kitchens without a ceiling. Under cabinet lights are ideal kitchen lighting solutions for those who wish for discreet lighting. This also opens up space above the countertop for cabinets, holders, racks, and anything else that you want to add.

     

    Well-lit pathways

    The landscape around the outdoor kitchen should be lit tastefully and in a manner that ensures sufficient visibility for moving around. Lighting is good when it is under cabinets, but it can prove hazardous to have underlighting in pathways, especially, when you’ve got a plateful of food in your hands. The pathway leading to the outdoor kitchen should be well lit. Again, you can be creative in the placement of lighting so long as there is enough brightness. Solar-powered LED lights are a cost-effective option.

     

    Pendant lights

    Pendant lights are favorites when it comes to illuminating bars. This form of kitchen lighting imparts just the right feel to bars and serving areas. Install pendant lighting at an appropriate height for optimum illumination, clear sight, and easy movement in the bar area.  


    Spend some time with an electrician to understand the best outdoor kitchen lighting alternatives available in terms of performance and looks. Install lighting that accentuates the positives of the outdoor kitchen and its surroundings like shrubs or a water fountain.

  6. You do not need to live by a river to enjoy the sound and sight of water in your landscape. Instead, opt for a low-maintenance garden fountain to please the senses. Select one for your yard by considering the styles available, the size that will work best, and where you will put it.

    Spitters and Spouters

    Emitting streams of water, fountains known as spitters and spouters are often life-size statues of animals, such as birds, fish, frogs, turtles and alligators. The water usually exits the statues’ mouths. Another kind of spouter features hollow tubes, with the highest tubes pouring water into lower tubes. A spouter also may have a single tube from which water flows.

    Spitters and spouters are made of polyresin, metal such as brass and bronze, cast stone, and wood (including bamboo tubes). Each type recirculates water with the aid of a pump, hidden tubing, and a basin or reservoir. The pump forces water upward from the basin and through the tubing to the spitter or spouter, which emits the water and sends it down to the basin.

     

    Bubblers and Drippers

    Some fountains make water bubble at their tops before it cascades down their sides. Others simply drip water. Bubblers and drippers include a design made of stacked rocks. The fountain’s pump sends the basin’s water upward through tubing in the center of the rocks. A fountain composed of pots works in a similar way, as does a single ceramic urn fountain. The same technique creates a waterfall with water streaming down a wall to a basin that includes a pump.

    Whimsical and Stately

    Some fountains are suitable for formal settings while others provide a laugh. For example, a spitter depicting an animal in a funny pose, such as one standing with its forelegs on its hips, lightens the mood of a setting. In comparison, a stacked-rock bubbler blends with lighthearted and serious atmospheres.

     

    Tiny and Bigger

    Garden fountains are fairly small, which makes them simple to clean and maintain. Spitters and spouters range in height from under 2 inches to about 2 1/2 feet. Typically, bubblers and drippers are several inches tall to about 2 feet tall. Determining where you want to put a fountain will help you decide which size of fountain to choose.

     

    Near and Far

    If you want a focal point for your yard’s middle, then a sizeable fountain will work. A deck or patio is an option for a small spitter or a larger fountain, depending on available space.

    A fountain’s location must have safe access to electricity to run the fountain’s pump. The water basin can be situated underground or above ground.

    Placing a fountain away from trees helps to keep it a low-maintenance feature. Leaves, seeds, and nuts falling on the fountain or in its water basin add to its cleaning time.

     

    Off for Winter

    Garden fountains are not usually designed for winter use in Ann Arbor, Michigan or other areas with freezing temperatures. Whatever material it is, a fountain lasts longer when it spends winter in a place that stays above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow care instructions that come with your fountain and pump. When outdoor temperatures in your different location remain above freezing in spring, you can set up your fountain to provide warm-weather enjoyment.

     

     

    With so many fountain styles and sizes available, you have a wide array of choices that will ensure you will find just the right fountain for your needs. Whether you select a spitter, spouter, bubbler or dripper, your fountain will deliver a high degree of entertainment and require a low amount of maintenance.

  7. When you think about landscaping your yard, you might think about taking care of your grass and adding flowers and shrubs. However, there is another improvement that you can consider adding: planting a shade tree. You might find that this is one of your best landscaping improvements yet if you do.

     

    Keep Cool

    First of all, planting trees on your property can help you keep your yard a whole lot cooler. Even though the idea of spending time outdoors during the summer can be nice, it can often be too hot to enjoy yourself while doing so. Luckily, putting in shade trees can make your yard a lot more comfortable on a hot summer day.

    Additionally, keeping your home nice and cool during the summer is probably a top priority. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to do if you don’t have any trees. Without trees, the sun can beat down directly on the top of your home, causing the temperatures inside to rise significantly, particularly, on really hot days. Not only can this make your home more uncomfortable, but it can make it difficult for your air conditioning unit to keep up. This can also put additional wear and tear on the unit, causing it to wear out more quickly. Lastly, it can cause your cooling bills to go up exponentially during the summer months.

     

    Add Beauty

    Are you looking for a big way to improve your landscaping and add curb appeal to your home? Planting a large, shade-producing tree can be a wonderful way to make your lawn look more mature. It can make a much bigger impact than planting small flowers or shrubs, especially, as the tree grows and becomes even more impressive.

    Increase Your Landscaping Options

    Even though plants generally need plenty of sun, some prefer more shade than others. If you don’t have much shade in your yard, you might have to stick to flowers and other plants that prefer full sun. By planting a nice, big, shade-producing tree, however, you can plant and enjoy other types of flowers and plants. This can really help you change up your landscaping.

    Keep the Light Out of Your Home

    Sure, there is nothing wrong with a bit of natural lighting in your home. However, if the sun shines straight through your windows, it can cause an uncomfortable glare. Planting a tree in the right spot can help prevent this. You might, especially, appreciate it when the sun is rising or setting, when it would otherwise shine right into your home.

     

    As you can see, there are various reasons why you should consider planting trees in your yard. Not only can they look great, but they can add a lot of other benefits to your home and property as well. If you talk with an experienced landscaping contractor, you can find out more about the best trees to plant on your property.

  8. A dry well is a type of drainage system that effectively disposes of unwanted water. It uses gravity to encourage water flow into one or more pipes along the top portion of the dry well. The water is then discharged through smaller openings distributed over the larger surface including the sides and bottom. It helps incoming water (such as rain) dissipate into the ground and away from your home, where it can reach groundwater eventually.

     

    Advantages to Installing a Dry Well

    This type of drainage system works very well in home applications, if you are having problems with water properly draining in your yard. This type of drywell is versatile, because it can help water drain from multiple locations on your property. For instance, it can handle water from sump pumps that help to keep your basement dry, as well as excess rain from soaking rain storms that come from your driveway, gutters, and roof runoff.

    Having proper drainage installed on your property is crucial to maintaining your backyard’s overall condition. Too much water in the ground that isn’t directed to appropriate draining areas can cause minor or major flooding in your basement and soak the soil underneath your grass – leaving it waterlogged and soft.

    This type of drainage system is also beneficial because of its affordability. It does not require significant disturbance or construction in the ground around it and it works for a variety of applications as mentioned above. It is a practical, long-term solution for managing water buildup and runoff so your yard and permanent structures remain dry.

     

    How does a dry well help irrigation?

    Dry wells help with irrigation, because it encourages excess water to soak back into the ground. It aids areas of your yard in drying out after excess rainfall which is especially helpful for residents of particularly wet areas of the country. Properly channeled irrigation allows tree roots and plants to have access to necessary water without being completely waterlogged.

    The oxygen contained within the dry well is also beneficial to its operation, because it helps to keep the drainage pit dry, so the soil that’s around it remains healthier as well. The oxygen assists with evaporating excess water from areas in and around the pit.

    Our expert landscapers can answer all your questions and help you decide if a drywell is the right long-term solution for your needs. Whether or not it will work depends on the size and scope of the project, and we can help evaluate this with you.

  9. We all dream of spending a relaxing evening in a perfectly manicured backyard. Unfortunately, the cost required to landscape a yard can sometimes make that dream seem out of reach. But getting the perfect yard doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. With a little bit of effort and a little elbow grease, you can get a fantastic yard for a fraction of what other people pay. Here are some tips to help you get the yard of your dreams, on a less-than-dreamy budget.

     

    Get a Free Landscape Design

    It can be difficult to know where to start when you want to design your yard. Instead of wasting money on trial and error, get a free landscape plan from a local nursery. Take them a rough outline of your lot, and get some professional help coming up with a design plan. Decide where you’ll add flower beds, where you’ll put hardscape, as well as get recommendations for what types of plants grow best in your area. Most people develop their landscaping a little at a time, whenever they have the money. Starting with a plan helps make sure that you only buy plants that fit nicely in your long-term design plan, minimizing waste and costly mistakes.

     

    Shop Springtime Sales

    Springtime is always a fantastic time to find good sales at nurseries and big box stores. Many stores offer significantly decreased prices on mulch, plants, seeds, as well as soil amendments. Do yourself a favor and wait until the sales start before you buy anything for your yard. Gather together ads that come in the mail and identify which stores have your desired items for the cheapest price. This will help make sure you’re always getting the biggest bang for your budget.

     

    Divide Your Plants

    Instead of spending a lot of money on expensive new plants, divide your existing plants. There are countless videos on YouTube on how to divide a plant. Put your green thumb to use and make the most of the greenery you already have. Dividing your plants not only saves you money in your budget, it helps keep your existing plants from growing too large and cumbersome.

     

    Get Free Plants from Local Neighbors

    The internet is a fantastic tool for getting free plants, especially form your local neighbors. It’s not uncommon to find a neighbor who is trying to get rid of a specific tree or plant in their yard. Oftentimes they’ll let you have the plant for free if you are willing to remove it yourself. Always check local community websites or yard sale websites and see what your neighbors are trying to get rid of before you spend money on new plants. Not only will it help get you beautiful plants at a great price, it will also reduce waste.

    Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have thousands of dollars to throw at your landscaping job. Get a landscaping plan, and shop smart. Make sure everything you buy has a purpose, and do as much labor as you can yourself. Follow these tips and in a little while, your dream yard will be a reality.

  10. Paver blocks are a great way to establish a patio or any number of other hardscapes in the yard due to their considerable strength and durability. They also allow for a huge choice of colors and design patterns that no alternatives can match. Still, weather, hard impacts, improper installation, and chemical staining can take their toll. While major damage calls for professional aid, replacing a few pavers is something the homeowner can perform using these steps.

     

    *Assemble Supplies

    *Remove Old Paver

    *Prepare Space

    *Install Replacement

    *Seal Things Up

     

    Assemble Supplies

    Having a replacement block of the right hue and dimensions is pretty obvious, but there are a few more things that should be standing by.

     

    *Hammer

    *Chisel

    *Broom

    *Screwdriver

    *Ruler

    *Stiff wires

    *Sand

    *Mortar mix

    *Sealant

    *Paint Roller

     

    Not all of these items may be needed for a particular job replacing a paver. Check the following steps to see if certain articles listed above are required for the preferred course of action.

     

    Remove Old Paver

    If the space around the targeted paver is filled with sand, used the screwdriver to push it out while using the broom to sweep it away. If mortar has been used instead of sand, a hammer and chisel can separate it from the adjacent blocks. The common way to remove a paver is to use a screwdriver to pry it up so it can be manually grasped. Alternatively, a couple stiff coat hanger wires can be used. Bend enough of the top length of each wire to a 90 degree angle to form a handle. Next, bend one inch of the bottom at a 90 degree angle in the opposite direction. These tools can then be slid along each side of the block and turned inward to lift the block from below.

     

    Prepare Space

    With the block out of the way, the hammer and chisel are used to knock mortar off surrounding blocks if necessary. Use the ruler to compare the thickness of the new paver to the sides of the open space. If needed, add enough sand to leave the new paver level with the surrounding blocks and use the old paver to pack it down.

     

    Install Replacement

    Next, drop the new paver into place. Either sand or mortar is then poured into the gaps around the new paver. The chisel can be used to pack down the sand so rain won’t easily wash it out.

     

    Seal Things Up

    Applying sealant can prolong the survival of the new pavers by creating a barrier against discoloration by sunlight, chemicals or even water that can freeze. Make sure the sealant creates the same appearance (glossy, matte or wet)  as that of the surrounding blocks before applying it with a paint roller.

     

    Casual Fix

    Big hardscape structures (like patios or walkways) look intimidating, but this instructional showed how remarkably simple it is to get things back in order if a paver or two needs replacing. The job is quick and takes little skill. With this in mind, there’s no need to hesitate any longer.