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  1. Bird feeders are beautiful additions to any home, and they bring special guests that make your yard full of life. For many bird watchers, having a bird feeder is a great way to check out the different species in their area. If you aren’t a bird watcher, there are the other benefits to having a bird feeder in your area. Below are just four of the many benefits that make having a bird feeder a great addition.


    Help Provide for the Birds

    Birds, like people, need food to survive from day to day. Some of their most favorite snacks are seeds. If you have bird food houses in your area, you will be drawing the different birds in, and you will be rewarding them with food. Filling the food houses with seed or nectar, for hummingbirds, is a great way to ensure that the species around you are filled and thriving throughout the entire year. Not only does feeding them have many benefits to the birds, but it helps you in different ways as well like beauty and education.


    Aids in Normal Migrations

    Birds migrate from one place to another during the year. However, when they are migrating, it can sometimes be difficult for them to find the food they need to make it from place to place. By setting up bird feeders in your area, you are helping the birds during their instinctive migration patterns. Bird food houses can also help with the normal reproductive successes since the birds are being well-fed.


    Great for Education

    Bird feeders and other food houses in your yard are not just beneficial to the animals themselves, but they are also beneficial to you as a homeowner. When the different birds and other animals stop at your food houses to enjoy a snack or a meal, you are faced with different species. This is great for those who are wanting to learn about the different bird species or animals that are in your area. You can learn about the colors and migration patterns, and you might even learn more about the species and their part in nature. Having a feeder in your area is a great way to learn and teach others about nature and the animals that surround you.

    Feed Other Animals

    When you have a bird feeder in your area, you also might attract other animals, especially squirrels. Since squirrels collect seeds and other items for the winter, having a squirrel feeder can draw in these animals, and they might just leave your bird food houses alone. Not only will you be feeding the squirrels, but you can also give them the seeds and nuts they are searching for to store up for the winter time. You might be saving their life while they are preparing for the colder months.


    You can find them at many places, but you have probably never considered the many benefits of owning one. Bird food houses and other animal food houses provide many great benefits for the animals and the homeowner. With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you invest in a feeder of your own? You can help feed the animals, aid in their migration, and learn more about them all at the same time, and you can easily do this by simply putting up a feeder in your yard.

  2. Raising herbs is one of the most rewarding kinds of gardening, for many reasons. Here are five to get you going…

    1 – Herbs Have Year-Round Elegance

    Vegetable gardening often looks like a work in progress. A flower garden really only puts on a show for a few weeks a year, but an herb bed, or even a planter, is a thing of beauty all year long. Some herbs do have attractive flowers (think of chives), but the appeal of an herb bed is a close-knit pattern of textures and colors. Ten thousand cottage gardens can’t all be wrong.


    2 – You Can Grow Herbs Inside

    Despite certain indoor gardening products (we’re looking at you, upside-down tomato planters), herbs are the only edibles really suited to grow in an apartment. It isn’t just a matter of space: it’s the watering. Most of the herbs used in Western cooking come from the relatively dry Mediterranean basin: think thyme, sage, basil, parsley, oregano, and the like. These don’t need much water, a fact which will be appreciated by your floors, carpets, electronic devices, and/or landlord.

    3 – Fresh Herbs are Just Better

    If you really want to enjoy fresh herbs, you need to grow them yourself. Herbs from your own garden get picked a few minutes or hours before they go into your meal. Store-bought herbs got picked days or weeks before, and may have traveled thousands of miles. It is a miracle of modern transportation that you can get them at all, but they’re hardly in good shape: most of the flavor gets left at the farm.

    4 – Growing Herbs Saves Money

    Herbs are by far the most economical things you can grow. Most gardeners are doing it for love, not money–but you do find yourself wondering if it makes sense to spend a lot of money on, let’s say, a tomato trellis, when store-bought tomatoes aren’t that expensive.

    On the other hand, herbs are incredibly value-dense. Dried herbs (including teas) often retail from $5 to $10 an ounce, and the same herbs grow like weeds in your garden. If you drink peppermint tea, for instance, you might well be spending $100 a year for a plant that will grow with absolutely no maintenance. Your herb bed is the most economical section of your garden, by far.

    5 – Growing Herbs Changes How You Cook

    Fresh herbs are a growing trend in popular cooking, but some cookbook authors (e.g. Ottolenghi) call for herbs on a scale that really demands growing them yourself. Once you make that leap, it opens a kind of door in the way you think about cooking. A few tablespoons of basil from the supermarket will set you back a few dollars, but if you are growing your own herbs, suddenly ideas like “basil soup” or “fines herbes salad” are in range.


    Whether you are looking at a major landscape garden, a cottage garden entryway or just a single raised bed, herbs are beautiful, great value, and useful.


  3. Just like everything else in your yard, a retaining wall or boulder wall needs to be maintained and cared for. Sloped yards can be difficult to manage, which is why many people choose to have a rock wall installed. Rock walls create flat areas of the yard where there previously was a steep hill. Your yard is beautified and easier to mow when you have professionals install a wall like this. After the wall is completed, there are important aspects to keep in mind that go towards maintaining your wall so your newly built structure can remain in good condition.


    Close Inspections

    After the wall is installed, there are large amounts of backfill that are placed behind and sometimes below the wall. This backfill is often compacted during construction. It’s common for extra settling to take place after the wall is newly installed. Closely inspect your wall every spring, and look for low spots and areas that have settled. Areas that settle too much can collect water. Over time water logs your soil composition and it becomes too soft. If you do notice low spots, pull back the sod to even it out, and add backfill as necessary for proper drainage.


    Surface Treatments

    After the wall is completed, landscapers will often treat the ground surrounding the wall, particularly areas that were disturbed during construction, to encourage proper rainwater drainage. Surface treatments could include planting new grass, paving, plants, mulch, or another type of ground cover. When spring arrives, it’s important to inspect these areas where surface treatments have been applied, because sometimes, they can become altered or damaged during weather events in the fall and winter. Things to look for include bare ground spots and low areas. New grass can be planted in bare spots, and mulch should be added, as well, to encourage full ground cover and proper water drainage routes.



    Manage unwanted weed growth through cracks and crevices in your retaining wall by spraying every year as you would the grass or just pull them out by hand as you see them. Preventing weed growth goes a long way towards keeping your yard neat, trimmed, and presentable.


    Winter Management

    During winter weather, especially in Northern areas of the United States, avoid using salt or ice formation preventatives as much as possible. Although particular kinds of rocks and blocks are meant to resist the effects of harsh weather conditions, especially rain and snow, using salt or other chemicals around or near your retaining wall will cause damage to the rocks’ surfaces, including pock marks or nicks. Erosion of your wall’s components can cause greater damage in the long run and compromise the integrity of the structure.

    Maintaining your newly built rock wall is simple when you take the necessary steps. When you care for it properly, you can enjoy its natural beauty for many years in the future.


  4. 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.




    *Plot pitch

    *Soil absorbency



    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.



    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.


  5. 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!



    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.


    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.

  6. 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.


  7. 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.









    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.



    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.



    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.



    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.


    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.


  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.