Budget Minded Landscaping – Landscape Design

The cost of landscaping depends a lot on the elements you want and the types of materials you plan to use to create them. Looking at some of your neighbor’s beautifully meandering pathways, flowering ground covers, and perfect lawns can make you feel that a classy landscape is out of reach. For most of us that may be true if we had to do the entire project all at once. However, it is possible to have an enviable yard and landscape even if you are on a budget.

Let’s begin by looking at what it takes to really pull your yard together. Truly beautiful landscaping includes a balance hardscape which might include pavers, fountains, gates and softscape; vines, shrubs, trees, ground cover and anything else that grows. It’s usually the hardscape that most people on a budget think they can’t afford.

There are a lot of resources available where you can get inexpensive or free building material if you have a little patience and perseverance. If you search on Craigslist.com under the heading “free” you’ll discover all kinds of treasures people need moved off their property. You can find everything from stone and brick to hoses and lawnmowers. Of course some of these freebees might come with a small price. You may have to dig up the stones or remove the bricks from their backyard. You can also search Craigslist under the heading “materials” where you will most likely have to pay something for the brick or stone, but you might have some help from the seller loading it into your vehicle.

Habitat for Humanity can be found in most major cities and they have outlet stores dedicated to selling donated building materials to raise money for the organization. Much of what they’ve been donated is used, but they also receive a number of donations that are overruns from larger commercial jobs. Prices in these outlet stores are really great and the merchandise turns over so often that you’re bound to find just what you’re looking for if you look often enough.

There are also fantastic deals to be found right in your own neighborhood. Check out garage sales for things like pots, toy wagons and decorative items like weathered wooden benches. These can either be spruced up with a coat or two of paint, or left as is depending on the look you want to achieve. You’ll also be able to find gardening tools and if you ask, your neighbor just might have some left over bricks or supplies from their own landscaping project.

Great prices can be found for the softscape as well, but you have to have your timing right. Look for sales at your local large hardware stores. The best sales, as well as the largest selection of merchandise, are usually at the beginning of the growing season. Also, look on the internet for nurseries. You can find sale items at all times of the year. Request catalogs and very often you will find pages and pages of sale items that can be delivered right to your door. Plant bulbs! They’re cheap! And many come back year after year.

Budget minded landscaping is a labor of love. It requires patience, persistence and ingenuity. But over time and with a little tenacity, one day your neighbors will tell you how much they envy your yard!

Create a Garden and Patio Design To Enjoy Year-Round

Retreat to a garden and patio design that’s beautiful year-round, and takes minimum fuss. What makes this possible? Carefree plants with continuous blooms, and a well-planned garden structure.

You don’t need to be a lawn and garden expert or landscape designer to do this. Here are a few tips for creating a super yet simple garden and patio design that will be a knockout!

The first step is to take a birds-eye view of your garden and patio area. Make a rough sketch of your space, and play around with a few designs until you like what you see. As you’re doing this, get some great ideas from existing garden and patio decorations. Pay a visit to other people’s gardens, or public gardens. Look through home landscaping and gardening magazines, find what you like, and develop plans of your own.

Decide what style or theme is right for you… formal, casual, rustic, Southwestern, Japanese… there are enormous possibilities. Then stay with that style and theme so the overall effect does not become confusing. For instance, you wouldn’t want to combine bronze garden sculptures of saints or cherubs with rustic wooden wagon wheels.

Imagine what your patio area will most often be used for. You may plan to entertain lots of outdoor dinner guests. If so, be sure your patio space has plenty of room for the largest number of people right from the beginning. Your patio may be more of a private, reflective retreat for enjoying the sun, reading a book, or gazing up at the stars. Determine the use of shade, open sun, or even covering it with a roof.

Now take your favorite ideas and put them into your rough plans – and soon you’ll have a design that is ready for action.

The next step is to create your garden and patio design to scale – you can use landscaping software for this, or do it by hand. Choose the flowers you intend to plant, noting how many you will need for each month of your growing season, and select the landscaping structures that will give your design its form.

Some say the secret to a beautiful garden and patio design is having a good amount of hard structure. This is what landscape designers refer to as “good bones” – walls, fences, garden bridges, gates, garden arbors, landscape statues, garden fountains … even a strong line of evergreen plants.

Garden structures such as these create forms and lines, giving your garden and patio design definition and dimension. Plus, in the winter when most plants are empty and bare, your garden will preserve its shape and sense of completeness. It’s amazing how just one or two structures can produce this satisfying effect.

Most garden and landscaping structures are built to withstand the elements. Treated pine, cedar and teak garden furniture, trellises, arbors, and decorative fencing are great choices. Stone, copper, and bronze garden statuary will never let you down. Garden fountains bring incredible beauty and atmosphere to any garden and patio design – in fact, entire gardens have been built around them.

Next, choose annual spring flowers and perennial plants that will give you blooms from one season to the next. For instance, select carefree roses that need no pruning or spraying, and bloom continuously from spring through fall. Fill planters with beautiful blooming flowers such as Oriental lilies or verbena for different colors all summer long. Establish flower beds in corners or along walk ways. Always consider your local climate and plant according to the sun and shade needs of your plants.

As you plan your garden and patio design, create paths or walk ways that lead from one area to the next. Rambling garden paths are relaxing and charming… and if laid out thoughtfully, will be a big help to you as the gardener. Paths can be of stone, brick, flagstone, gravel, or mown turf, although grass paths require more upkeep. Garden sculptures or sitting benches thoughtfully placed along the way provide wonderful expression.

If you want garden and patio designs that are pre-drawn, there are ready-made plans available in books and magazines. This is another fine way to get off to a solid start. Use pre-made garden plans from start to finish, or incorporate parts of them right into you own creative plans.

Copyright 2006 Robert Mosse

How the Right Commercial Christmas Decorations Can Enhance the Work Image of a Company

Christmas is a time of year when all the stops are taken out when it comes to putting up special decorations. Rarely, will a holiday ignite such excitement and every business owner is only too aware of how important it is to mark the occasion and embrace the spirit of the time of year. It explains, at least in part, why providing commercial Christmas decorations are a valuable part of the services any forward thinking landscaping company offers.

While interior landscaping is certainly a year round service, providing plants and flowers to enhance any office or commercial space, the arrival of special festive occasions is a golden opportunity for companies to change things around to reflect the time of year.

Christmas is perhaps the biggest and most obvious example. The availability of distinctly festive plants, such as poinsettias, for example, and floral arrangements featuring them, brings the time of year into the work place. Even if artificial plants are used, the positive feelings are harnessed and transferred into the office environment itself.

One might wonder how this enhances the work image of the company. Well, the fact is that by actively embracing the occasion, the company shows itself to be open, fun loving and positive minded. The splashes of color seen around the office, the red poinsettias and holly garlands across the ceiling all show the enthusiasm that the office as a whole is feeling.

Many companies choose to hire decorations, and have the professionals design, and decorate everything, and then remove it all when Christmas is over. Of course, there is a vast range of decorations that can be hired, so here is a selection of those that are available, some of which can be considered essential and some as hugely elaborate.

Holiday Tree

A holiday tree should be considered essential. It is almost unthinkable that holiday decorations can be put up, without a holiday tree being erected. The selection of trees is quite varied with different sizes and different color schemes applied to match the particular environment or decor of the commercial space.

For example, a regular office on any floor of an office building can accommodate a tree of perhaps 7 or 8 feet in height, but a business which sports a large lobby area, such as a hotel for example, could house a tree of 20 feet in height. In each case, the tree can come decorated in gold and red trinkets and baubles, or perhaps in silver and gold. The range of colors is extensive.

Garland and Swags

Other holiday decorations that should not be overlook are garlands, wreaths and swags. In retail premises, garlands are ideal to hang along the length of counters where customers are greeted and assisted, while in offices they can decorate desks, drape the length of office walls, or hand on stairwell hand rails. Swags and wreaths are highly popular to decorate centrally located pillars, as well as the doors and windows of a building.

Finally, holiday floral arrangements can enrich lobby areas, boasting an array of colored foliage, flowers and trinkets in elaborately designed Tuscan urns. The display can be very large, creating a focal point, or can be more discreet with several positioned strategically around the space.

Creating a Winter Scene

While trees and garlands are certainly to be expected, it is possible to add something extra special by having a winter scene depicted. Typically, these scenes are simply fun winter themes, using animals like polar bears, penguins, reindeer or even Santa Claus on snow covered stages. Whatever the characters, they are invariable involved in some winter activity. For example, polar bears skiing with a sign post pointing to the North Pole behind them.

Outdoor Displays

Of course, for many businesses there is also a great opportunity to go the extra mile and take their holiday enthusiasm outside for all to enjoy. These displays are generally larger in scale than what has been created inside. So, the number of poinsettia plants being used may be greater, and the garden urn may be bigger and more decorative. And, because it is outdoor, artificial plants are often used to counter the winter elements.

With the right range of commercial Christmas decorations and displays put in place, it is very possible to enhance the work experience for everyone, bringing holiday cheer into the work place.

Just like every other area of interior landscaping, professional designers can ensure that the very best examples are achieved, the positive work image is maintained.