I don’t think there is anything more pleasing to the eye in a garden than a lovely groomed lawn, however the reality is that this takes a lot of work to maintain and create. So before you go down this path, be aware that the result you are looking for might not be achievable depending upon a few factors.
The time you have available to create and look after this masterpiece, the money you are willing to spend on keeping this groundcover in tip top shape and the knowledge you are prepared to research to stay on top of your lawns needs.
I have just listed some very basics here that you will have to consider, but by no means is this a complete guide, look at it as a description of what you will need to attend to if you are wanting a beautiful lawn.
First up, there is a distinct difference between a lawn and a patch of grass no matter how large, if you know what I mean…! most people are happy with grass in the back or front yard and it’s just a surface of green that they walk on or the kids play on. It provides the colour they want to separate their garden beds and overall looks quite nice.
However, the true lawn enthusiast looks at it different. They will be inspecting their patch regularly for any indiscretions. This could be diseases, weeds, growth patterns and such like, this will cause them to act immediately to rectify and take the required action to deal with any of these before they become a major problem.
Regularly the soil is to be aerated, more so in spring, this will allow the lawn to breath and the water to soak in, both are essential for a thick lawn growth. Watering has to be regular and especially paying attention to the hotter months of summer, when the lawn is in its growing season and in general will need at least 25mm (1”) per week.
Fertilising really needs to be done twice a year, for the start of the growing months you will need to have a rich Nitrogen based fertilizer and for the Autumn time when the lawn is starting to slow down in its growth you will need a Phosphate based. Potash will also be good at this time as it provides Potassium for your lawn. Do your research with organic fertilizers as these will be best, not just for your lawn but for your garden overall, they last longer and are safer to use.
The weed control program and believe me when I say it’s a program, will require you to know sooner rather than later how to deal with what else will be wanting to invade your lawn. Fighting for position, weeds will always want to take over and it’s your job to keep them at bay.
Mowing and maintaining the borders, well it should go without saying, has to be regular. Remember depending on the type of grass that you have, will depend upon how long you allow it to grow before the cut. Optimum health of this plant will require the blade of grass to be kept between a certain length, cut it too short and you will just be damaging your grasses chance to grow well.
So all in all, the lawn you wish to have, will always boil down to the time, money and knowledge you are prepared to learn in order to get the best results you are happy with. I’d like to stress here that it’s important that the result ONLY has to be the one you are happy with, because after all, it’s your lawn.
So what’s the real purpose of Outdoor Lighting in your garden, well I don’t know about you but I love being with friends on a summers evening and looking out over the garden that has been cleverly lit up with a variety of lights. So I just wanted to write this posts and perhaps inspire you to at least give it some thought for your own garden.
Probable the most important thing to remember though, when it comes to outdoor lighting is not to overdo it. Subtlety is the key to success with your lighting. And fortunately there is plenty of variety of lights to choose from, giving you the best opportunity to create your masterpiece of night lights.
The flood lights which are used to light up larger areas, are ideal for your Entertainment and Courtyards, especially while all the prep work and cooking of food is being done, but then have some dainty fairy lights fixed up underneath a pergola or roof structure, which are very effective in providing an elegant atmosphere while eating.
Amber bulbs are also good to provide just that little bit extra when it comes to atmosphere, especially in the garden set up as what we call up lights. This is where the light is placed in such a fashion close to the ground and shine diagonally upwards usually into a fairly well established tree. Blue and green bulbs are also good to have for this. Just remember that the colour of the bulbs is strictly up to your taste.
Pathway lights are always a good investment, lighting up the edges of your paths and driveway, these can come in low voltage and solar, so you are able to install them yourselves.
If you have a water feature in your garden then it’s just crying out for some night lights, especially if it has a fountain feature as well, night lights just seem to bring it to life.
I’d like to stress again to be subtle, the temptation to have more lights will really only take away from the effect and ruin your chances to create something spectacular. When choosing your outdoor lighting, the colour of your bulbs, and particularly the trees and shrubs you pick must be selected to provide a balance of lighting in your garden.
Not necessarily mirror from each side but a nice compromising balance opposite each other, so as you look down your garden it will be just as nice on each side.
Remember when placing your lights keep them easy accessible for changing bulbs or cleaning, maintenance is always important and you just don’t want to make it hard for yourself.
If you can always think about this kind of addition to your landscaping when you are doing your hard surfaces to be placing a small pipe under paths and drives to handle the electric cables, I know it’s not always possible but if you have the chance put some pipes in even if you never use them straight away, it’s always something that you will be glad you did later on in time.
All the best with your outdoor lighting projects and take care.
Now pop on over and see what I have to say about Ted… Just CLICK the picture below,
There’s no doubt that the use of rocks and pebbles in your landscape will increase the character as well as the function of your garden, it’s a big reason as to why they are becoming more popular in their use, with a wide range of colours and sizes available today.
I’ve listed below some of the more popular uses that people are beginning to apply to their landscape design.
This would have to be one of the biggest uses of natural rocks and pebbles. I can certainly understand the desire for water features in the garden as I am one that certainly pushes for that. It brings such tranquillity and an atmosphere that is second to none.
The variety of rocks and stones for water features is phenomenal, small, large, coloured, smooth, rough, it just doesn’t stop, only being limited by our imagination. Ponds especially give themselves over to the use of many rocks and pebbles, creating a very natural environment.
You are able to use the rocks to hide all the cable and hoses that are needed to run pumps and still keep it looking as if it has been there all the time and you had nothing to do with the creation.
Paths and Driveways.
Pebbles placed on driveways and paths is not for everyone but nevertheless is a cheap alternative to concrete or paving. It provides a particular theme or look to your landscape and will also give a certain level of security for you, hearing anyone that goes on it.
Crushed pebble or gravel is better to walk on as it doesn’t move under foot as much so be careful when choosing your style.
Pebble as mulch.
Mulching is certainly an essential part of the success of your garden, I would tend not to use pebbles around plants though but I’m a big believer in it’s use in areas that require a covering that you don’t want to be weeding or making a feature out of with the use of some larger rocks and pebbles.
When pebbles (non-organic) products are used as mulch in certain circumstances will tend to dry the soil out as they heat up, and unless kept moist them selves will provide little benefit for your plants, if using them in pots, you need to make sure that the moisture content is monitored regularly.
It is well known the Japanese gardens are well known for their peace and tranquillity and this is simply achieved by the use of certain plants, rocks and water. These gardens are often small keeping it very personal, used with the technique of incorporating section of a garden (themes) rather than trying to make whole garden like it.
If you happen to drive around town you will notice that most of the yards look the same. Sure some may have beautifully manicured lawns and others may not, but the overall look is the same, green grass, trees and flowers. If you’re longing to make your yard different from the acres of sameness, then adding some decorative rocks and stones will certainly create a landscape the will stand out from the crowd.
The addition of landscaping rocks will give your yard a certain style and character that most homeowners would love to have but have no idea where to start. The first step, if your game…to adding some personality to your landscaping, is to remove some of the grass. If you aren’t using your front lawn then there is no point in maintaining it don’t you think, use a shovel or spade and cut your grass into turf-like portions and then slide you shovel under the grass to remove the piece. Or if you don’t need to place it back down somewhere then you can use a tiller if you have access to one.
If you are going to be placing these landscape rocks in as a garden border then you will have to decide whether or not you have the proper drainage for your plants and flowers, if not, now would be a good time to cater for that, see Draining your garden bed. Also another consideration would be to add the appropriate irrigation system.
When it comes to placing the rocks you have several options, depending on your ability and how permanent you want these rocks to be, You can either fully concrete them into a concrete footing and then joint them with cement or if you want a more casual look about them then set them on a sand mixed with cement just to stabilise it, this will enable you to bed the rock into place and then the mix will set just from the moisture from the ground, or you can hose it when you finish.
Whatever way you decide to keep your rocks in place it’s a good idea to keep the bottom of the rock lower from the ground level, whether that be your grass or path or whatever, that way you can keep your footing out of site and the rock looks like it’s been there for ever.
Another use for your landscape rocks would be to scatter them throughout your garden, and again keep the bottom of the rock set in the soil or below the level of mulch, don’t just put all single rocks either but vary it a little… have one then two but a big and a small, then two similar size but a hand full of real small around the base, the idea is to make it look as natural as possible.
If you just add a small amount of rocks to your landscape theme then you will be surprised the effect it will have on the look, I think you would be quite pleased with yourself…
All the best with your rock work.
Dealing with the overflow of either a pond or a tank is relatively easy, the main thing to consider is where you are going to take it. As far as the tanks go I would plumb the overflow back into the house gutter system and let it go to where the outlet is for that, now that’s either out to the street or into a pit of some kind.
As far as the pond goes I would either let it over flow at one point that is through a some nylon fly screen or some other fine mesh to make sure that nothing leaves the pond you want to keep in there…like fish for example. This of course is optional and relative to your situation, the other option is that a pipe can be set at the required level, usually done during construction but not essential, this can be put in after.
But determine the level and this pipe will then collect the overflow, keep in mind that it has to be large enough to handle the volume of water you be dealing with, the bigger the pond the bigger the pipe, trial and error will be your test… the pipe will then transport the water to its destination, if it’s a smallish pond then it won’t hurt feeding this back into the garden as it often has good nutrients in it.
This I would do using the likes of an agg line, which is laid into your garden usually about a foot deep (300mm) and this if long enough will provide some good deep watering for that garden. It’s a good idea to bring the end of this pipe to the surface though and provided you are still beneath the level of the pond it won’t back up with water, this will then just overflow onto the ground, but if your pipe is fed through many gardens then there is a very good chance that it will soak away before filling up.
Like most things to do with this aspect of your landscape plan is that it’s best to get this kind of work done first… then you will not be hindered by your plants and other structures… I know this is not always possible and is relative to your situation, but if you have the opportunity then get this kind of work planned out and done before it becomes difficult.
Hope this helps !!
It should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway… that some garden beds will need a drainage system put in place, this can be as simple as you like, from collecting the water deeper in your garden beds by means of an agg line or even using a combination of multiple lines that all come to a point and joined to one or two pipes.
Whichever you decide it’s can be quite important depending on your plants. Some plants will not want to have boggy soil so you will need to drain it. Terraced gardens that have been built with retaining walls is an area that will need a drainage system, if not then all the draining water from the top level will end up seeping into the lower one.
Agg pipes are the best for this but install the agg line that is socked, which means they have a white nylon filtered cover placed over the length of the pipe. These can be placed directly in the soil without the need for gravel. Gravel around the pipe is even better but not necessary.
These pipes can be placed just inside the borders edge or the lowest points of your garden and then connect them to a larger stormwater pipe for transporting the water elsewhere.
This is particularly important if you have imported a load of soil and placed on top of a rock bed, or even hard ground, for that matter, if it has had a border built up to contain the soil then this will naturally hold water and will need to have drainage of some kind.
Remember you can use the same agg line to deep water your garden too, this is often a process that is overlooked with the use of these pipes, as well as they are used for the purpose to collect water, you can use them to disperse water as well. You just need to have a portion of the pipe coming out of the ground that you can fill with water from a hose and then leave the agg line to disperse the water to the ground you’ve laid it in.
Draining off a Driveway, Paths, Patio or a Courtyard can prove to be quite a challenge but if your design has thought this process through then it can be just a matter of implementing it. Some ideas that might help are the following:
1. If you have a driveway that heads downhill to your garage then of course it is essential you have a system in place that will catch the storm water before it gets to the entrance to your garage. You may only need one right in front of the entrance or you may need several along the length of the drive. These are usually in the form of grate drains which are a trough with a grate over the top. These will extend right across the drive and or plumbed at the end into a stormwater pipe, which is then taken out to an outlet of some kind.
Driveways can be a fairly large surface area so it’s important to remember that in a storm whereas before your drive was there the rain water would just soak into the ground…now it’s not going to do that, so you have to deal with it.
2. Paths are somewhat smaller and usually you are able to deal with the rainwater by just allowing it to flow off the edge, however, sometimes you might have both edges built up along the path so this is not quite so simple, I would try somehow to have an agg line buried off the edge with some gravel or loose soil with the agg line socked. Or if this isn’t possible and you are still in the building stage then place some stormwater drainage pickups in the path, these are like the floor waste in your bathroom except for stormwater. These are then plumbed to a pipe and dealt with that way. This allows you to build up both sides of your path.
3. Courtyards and patios can often be the same as a driveway in that it can be a large area. Usually the best way for these areas to incorporate a drainage system is to have storm pits that are placed in strategic position to allow the water to be collected and removed by underground piping. However, this all has to be prepared prior to laying your hard surface, then adjusting the levels for the water to flow to the pits. It is a bit harder if your surface is already there…. If you are having water problems with that, then really the surface will need to be re-done, or at least cut into to lay these pits and pipes etc. Just take not of where the water is lying after some rain and there is where you will place your pit.
The most important thing to remember is that water lying around the area is not a good thing, it will encourage mould and mildew to grow, which will become very slippery to walk on. Dealing with these drainage issues should be high on your priority list for your landscaping.
Working out the drainage plan for your home and Landscape design can turn into a nightmare if you don’t start with a few basic procedures, so I have outlined some points that I hope will help.
The first and most important is to establish where your outlet is going to be and by this I am talking about whether you are plumbed out to the street in the form of a stormwater pipe or do you have an easement nearby or do you plumb into a soaker pit, usually if your house is lower than the road then this will be your option.
Once this has been worked out then that will determine the level that your drainage can work to. You cannot go lower or it will NOT drain!!! It’s fairly easy to establish this too by means of a water level. you can see how to make one by watching the video I made. Make a water level
Be careful connecting to your stormwater system though, the pipes are usually designed for the roof size and the flow off that you will get from that when it storms, mind you some are better than others at achieving this….is that what you were thinking…yes I know!!
But if the pipes can handle the roof and what you plan on plumbing into them then go ahead….but if not then you will have to lay more pipes. How to tell is to see the volume of water coming out of your final exit point during a big storm, and you will be able to determine whether you are able to add any more or not.
Your drainage plan will then need to take into consideration the following:
- Drainage from behind a Retaining Wall. See Drainage Specs.
- Surface Drainage off your Driveway or Paths. See Drainage off Hard Surfaces.
- A Courtyard or Patio or any other hard surface. See Drainage off Hard Surfaces.
- Some Garden beds may need a Drainage System. See Draining your garden bed.
- Over flow from a pond or water feature, or even water tanks. See Ponds and Tanks
These are the types of things you will need to consider and if you plan for the drainage when doing this kind of work or any changes to improve them, then you won’t go far wrong.
I often get asked “What I think of the Landscape Design Software” and “should they get one for their home design” well, my simple answer to that is “NO” but it never ceases to intrigue me the need for it if you are only going to design your own garden. So I decided to write about this and just point out my thoughts on the subject!!!
One thing we have to remember is that the majority of these design programs are not very good and have terrible graphics, not all but most, especially those that are aimed at the domestic market. let’s just understand where I’m coming from…. I am all about you saving money and having a go yourself, so I don’t really think it’s necessary for you to rush out and purchase a design software program only for you to be somewhat dissapointed with it’s performance.
If you have one and you are happy with what it does for you then great, I would encourage you to use it as much as possible for your design ideas, however, if you haven’t got one, there is not an essential need that you rush out and buy one. You still need to come up with the design anyway, and I think it’s far better to be out side where you can see all the elements that will be effecting what you want to do.
It would be remiss of me though not to mention that there are some good programs, These will show you things like what the plants will look like in all four seasons and what they will look like in a number of years time, when your house plan is placed on a plan of your block and done to exact scale, the program will show shadows through the day etc. These are more costly than the large variety available, but they are worth it if you intend to use them a lot. Then there are the Rolls Royce of programs that have an incredible data base of flora, these are really for Landscape Architects and Garden designers that are designing for clients.
My advice before purchasing any would be, try and see them being used first or get a trial run before purchasing, see if there are any reviews or You tube videos on them, allowing you to decide whether you are happy with the graphics and the capabilities of the program.
Either way, whether you have software or not, there is no better way to design your garden than to be in it…. you feel what the garden needs and you can picture what you can do, in real size. Well….that’s the way I feel about it anyway.
Enjoy your garden and take care.
Here’s some videos I found and they may be good for some Ideas for you,
Take a look and see if it will spark any idea for your garden…
Interesting the way they had placed the sitting area near the pond and waterfall, the main concern you would have is keeping an eye on any children you might have or have visiting, it does however provide a beautiful atmosphere for entertaining.
Here’s some videos with ideas for Town house garden designs from a Co. in America. some of the ideas are good and can be adapted for any long but narrow block.
And here’s another with some good points to consider….
He talks about procedure with drainage and irrigation etc.