Ways To Increase Curb Appeal

The Lawn

Customers and neighbors will notice quite a few things at once when they firs gaze upon a place, and one of those things is the lawn. A well-manicured lawn tells people who a home is taken care of and a business is professional. Hiring a landscaping professional to complete this job on a weekly basis is a popular option. For owners that would prefer to save money, simply mowing the grass and weed eating around the edges of the property will do the trick.

The Exterior

When the outside of the building has chipped, peeling paint or broken siding, it can easily deter potential customers and give neighbors a negative impression. Instead, exterior painting can make homes look nice instead of unkempt, and can make businesses seem professional and give potential clients the impression that products are high quality. Depending on how large the building is, exterior painting can be quite the task to take on. Professional exterior painting companies can typically get the job done quicker at an affordable cost.

Flowers and Fountains

Flowers and fountains are not a necessity, but they do increase curb appeal. Hiring a landscaping company can save people from having to do the back-breaking work themselves, and the result will be gorgeous. Plant flowers around the perimeter of buildings, and a nice fountain or arrangements of flowers in circular areas for a traditional look. Different colored flowers in the shape of a circle, a rustic barrel tipped over to give the illusion of flowers spilling out and different types of grass, such as striped grass, are all popular options that will help make a residential or commercial building more aesthetically appealing than ever before.

Fix Concrete

Cracked and uneven concrete not only makes a home more of an eyesore and a business less appealing, it also poses a hazard to neighbors and customers. Children may trip over small cracks, and uneven areas may not be seen clearly in winter weather, causing people to slip and fall. This will not only irritate people and turn away business, it can result in a lawsuit that will wind up costing owners more money than it would take to simply repair the concrete. Many companies that specialize in exterior work, such as painting, are also able to complete minor concrete repairs.

Curb appeal can make or break a business. It can help customers find a business they are looking for when customer service representative describes it as “the white building with the pink and yellow flowers out front”, put clients at ease (making them more likely to spend money) and can simply make a business more well-known for being beautiful (instead of being well-known for the mail man who fell and broke his leg on the uneven sidewalk.)

Residential units can benefit just as much from owning a home that appears beautiful on the outside and inside. When neighbors see a home that is beautiful on the outside, or a home owner that is trying to make it beautiful, they are more likely to stop by and welcome them to the neighborhood. Pretty things put people at ease and are inviting, while things that are not aesthetically appealing tend to have the opposite effect.

Plan Your Backyard Renovation

Once you have a visualised version of your backyard in your mind, the next step is to write it down or draw it. It doesn’t have to be to scale (it is better if it is, though) but the drawing does need to have realistic boundary lines so that you can insert the details. Start with drawing the outside lines of the yard, that is, the walls of your fence and wall of your house, assuming that the yard has three fenced walls plus the one wall of the house facing the backyard. Essentially you should have a boxed outline. Then draw in the fixed components, such as any outside buildings, garage, swimming pool, etc. Now you’ll be able to see the parts that are not occupied by any components. These are the parts that you can use for the design of your backyard.

Next, you need to establish how much of this blank space you want to pave, plant grass, or add a garden. Where should the pathway go and which sections should be paved? Once you’ve allocated where the grass will be planted, it leaves you with space that could be paved. Depending on your budget, you need to decide whether you want to pave with standard paving bricks or use beautifully designed flagstones. Paving bricks are more practical and fit into any budget as they are more affordable. Paving bricks are also ideal if any cars may be parking in your backyard. Flagstones are beautiful natural looking paving stones that usually come in medium to large square sizes. They are not suitable for cars to drive on them. You can place strips of grass between the flagstones to create an interesting design. Plus you can add cobblestones as a pathway through the grass and outlining the flagstones for added decoration. You can also allocate a portion of your backyard for a garden with flowers and plants to add some colour. Around this garden you can use¬†cladding¬†to keep it separate and create a focal point.

Once you have the backyard renovation planned, then you can get the gardener, paver and/or landscaper to get started on the backyard renovation.

Effects of Winter on Outdoor Furniture

When considering the purchase of your furniture collections, it is in your best interest to weigh the pros and cons of each type of material used in the manufacturing process. Some may work better in wind and rain while others may be meant for sunshine and heat.

All commercial grade furniture is designed for constant use and, to some degree, built to withstand the elements. However, as with other purchases, some materials are more resilient than others. Metal, for example, is arguably the longest-lasting and most durable material used for outdoor furniture. With this being said, it is important to note that proper care and maintenance of your furniture will prolong its lifespan, no matter the material.

On a year round basis, all furniture pieces should be cleaned thoroughly each changing of the season. While there are special cleaning solutions available (i.e. Casual Clean), in most cases a mild detergent and water mixture can effectively be used. For a more detailed cleaning process, contact your commercial grade outdoor furniture representative. He/She should be able to send you step by step instructions.

If your establishment is in an area that experiences harsh winters, packing away your outdoor furnishings is a better option. Before this is done, some additional inspecting should be performed to prevent rusting and unnecessary cracking while in storage. For example, ensuring that water does not find a permanent home in the frames of your chaise lounges and poolside dining furniture. Unless they will be stored in a heated room, water left in the frames will freeze causing irreversible damage.

Rain water during the warmer months can gather inside your furniture. Once this water freezes, it will expand causing the frames to crack. Periodically, especially after major down pours, turning your furniture on its side will help the water drain.

When choosing from all the weather resistant material options keep in mind the climate, both warm and cold. Some furniture is manufactured to be set outside and left alone while others will not survive the winter. Make sure your commercial grade furnishings representative is aware of the climate in your area. This will help to make sure you are being paired up with the right commercial grade outdoor furniture.

Paving Tiles for Swimming Pool Areas

Modern tiles are often geometric and symmetrical or the style has been exaggerated with asymmetrical tiles (different size triangles).

Travertine is a good example of how different shapes can be used to keep the backyard up to date around the pool. The tile comes in many different colours and is able to withstand weather change. The material is also able to absorb water allowing you to walk comfortably without slipping.

Limestone tiles have become common with home improvement and renovations. Not only does the paving tile neaten up the area around the pool but it can also resist different climate changes. Because it has a light appearance, it fits the modern profile.

Modern themes often work for any style house. The modern flair is flexible for most uses whether you have a geometric fountain in the front or a garden full of trees surrounding the pool.

The classic pools have more of a rough layout. Although rough, the area still looks good with its different sized stones and paving tiles. You will often find this look at water resorts for the cave concepts.

Flagstone has a natural appearance with its many shapes and natural colours. The paving tile is slip resistant and can be exposed to any temperatures. For this reason the flagstone tiles can be used for a long period of time.

Slate, which is similar to flagstone, is older and heavier than most tiles. Due to the materials it is composed of, it can be cut into any shape and is very easy to install around the pool. The material also comes in different colours to match the idea you have in mind.

Many classier tiles are made from the same materials as slate and flagstone. This would be the ultimate material to use for the exact picture you have in mind for the older and natural look.

Transplanting Native Plants

The key to successfully moving native plants is Root Pruning. To root prune, means to cut all roots with a Sharp Spade or it may be called a Sharp Shooter. Go out from the trunk one foot for each inch diameter of the trunk before you start cutting the roots. (Example 5 ft. Tree-16 to 18″ inch ball)

Staying out the right distance from the trunk as described above. Force the spade into the ground all the way around the plant. Try to uncut the plant so all of the roots are cut and lift slight. Drop the plant back into position, firm the soil and keep watered during the summer months.

If you want to move your native plant in late fall, root prune in early spring. Likewise, if you intend to move the plant in early spring, root prune the previous fall.

Please note, also, that when you move a plant from the wild to a cultivated area of your lawn, you may be changing its environment to such an extent that the plant will die. Here’s an example, if you move a plant from a dense shaded area to the sunlit part of your yard, the tree may die through over exposure even the bark of the tree may have to be protected by using a tree wrap.

When digging the plant from the ground, dig the soil from around the roots without completely exposing them. Remember the more roots you can save the better chance of success. Any extra soil left on the roots will help to retain the fine hair roots which absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.

Evergreen must have a root ball with lots of soil when moving. I have had many clients during a rejuvenation of their yard, wanted to transplant plants that were not worth keeping. If you have special memories about a plant that is OK, just remember that the cost of moving the plant may be far above what a new beautiful plant would cost and it may or may not fit into the new landscape design.

Maintain Outdoor Wicker Patio Furniture

  • Vacuum the different pieces thoroughly to remove any dust and debris. Dust and other particles can easily get caught in the cracks and grooves of the weave.
  • If the pieces are extra dirty, give them a quick wipe with some water and a mild detergent. Be sure to let them dry completely before sitting down. Wet wicker furniture can become saggy if it is used while it is still damp. Allow it to sit in full sunlight for at least a day so it can dry completely.
  • Another method to clean soiled sets is to spray it down with a garden hose. However, do not use too much pressure. High water pressure can damage the integrity of the material.
  • Sometimes, painted sets need to be touched up. Purchase some spray paint in the same shade as the set and touch up any areas that need attention. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations on the type of spray paint needed for the particular model of furniture.
  • To prevent any damage or dirt from accumulating, consider storing the different pieces away during cold weather. This will prevent any build up of winter precipitation and debris.
  • Be sure to dust away any pollen as it begins to accumulate. It not only builds upon the fabric and wicker, but it also contributes to allergies.

There are several ways to properly maintain the integrity of these pieces in between cleanings. First, monitor the weather. If it is going to be extremely hot, cold, or rainy, consider covering it or even moving it to a more protective area. Warm weather can cause the material to bend and sag while cold weather causes it to become brittle and easily damaged.

Creating Hedge With Arborvitae

Arborvitae is one of the best trees for creating a hedge. They can grow up to 60 feet tall, with a width of from 2 to 15 feet.

This North American native tree has year-round thick, dark green foliage. The tree’s leaves, which were once used as a cure for rheumatism, have a scale-like appearance.

Types of arborvitae include the eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), the emerald green arborvitae and golden globe arborvitae.

Emerald green arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis “Emerald Green”) grows up to 15 feet tall with a width of 3 to 4 feet. The tree is extremely hardy and can be found in abundance throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is one of the most popular fast growing privacy trees for screens and hedges. The dark green tree has a somewhat round shape. Without pruning, the tree will grow tall with a cylindrical shape. The tree will be bushier when pruned. Use preventative spraying to prevent spider mite infestations. Once the tree has been established, it will grow approximately 6 to 9 inches a year.

The arborvitae grows well in full sun, but can also tolerate some shade. The tree does best in mostly well-drained soil. They grow fairly easily, some faster than others.

When using arborvitae for a hedge, make sure they have enough space to grow. If you plant them too close to each other, they will compete for soil minerals and nutrients.

Recently planted trees should be watered for the first year or two. During a hot summer, use a soaker hose or drip system on a timer to deep soak the tree every day for 15 minutes or so. Mulching will help the tree retain moisture. Once the tree matures, it will no longer require watering.

In order to maintain its shape, the arborvitae will sometimes need a pruning. Remove any dead growth and cut back branches as needed. Remove any dead foliage that has built up inside the tree, especially near the bottom. Be careful not to over-prune or ruin any pointed tops.

You can prune the tree in the fall or winter. However, a spring pruning is usually recommended to ensure the tree heals and continues to grow. If the tree is pruned in the summer, the tips of the branches can turn brown.

The arborvitae can live up to 150 years. In colder climates, covering the tree with burlap can protect it from the elements and prevent foraging. Another option is netting, which prevents mold by allowing air to circulate. The best netting is a heavy duty, multi-strand mesh. In addition to UV protection, the green color of the netting will blend in with the tree.

If you do not cover your trees, remove any snow from the branches to prevent breakage.

Liquid Limestone And Exposed Aggregate

It required more planning as well as prep work than the standard concrete. Installers need to mix the concrete in order to get the right consistency with the use of more water than normal. Also, care must be taken into great considerations if you are choosing the aggregate. Although they will act as filler in order to give concrete its strength, they are primarily chosen for its excellent aesthetic appeal in terms of exposed finishes. Installers must inspect the stone of texture, color, and size so as to get the desired outcome.

Experts highly emphasized that such kind of finish is suitable for low-traffic applications. They are the best solution for walkways, patios, and even in concrete porches. Also, they might be appropriate for some driveways but are not being used on road due to the fact that they cannot carry heavy traffic loads.

First, a fresh concrete base will be poured. It will be troweled smooth with the use of a wooden trowel or float.

Second, the mixture will be poured over the concrete. Using a broom or rake, it must be spread. There are some installers making use of a piece of lumber or perhaps a concrete float in order to press the stones into the top of the wet concrete with an aim of embedding them in place.

Lastly, a lawn roller will be used to smooth out the surface and get rid of unwanted bumps or lumps.

During the installation process, sealing is very important. Be aware that when unsealed, they can easily become dirty and might even wear away over time because of heavy foot traffic. Also, they will become very susceptible to moisture and other outdoor elements. Installers can actually choose between two basic types of sealers

Before Hiring an Irrigation Contractor

Remember to be very clear as to what you want. Don’t tell the contractor how to do a certain thing, just tell him the result that you expect. You may not know the technicalities of it. If they follow what you say and the result is a disaster, they will end up blaming you for it. So leave that bit up to them, and tell them ‘what’ not ‘how’ you want it done.

Be sure you understand of all the terms the contractor uses. If you don’t understand any, then ask him/her. If you come across a contractor who constantly uses these vague terms then you need to keep looking. Especially terms like ‘full coverage’ and ‘no dry spots’ are often thrown at potential clients. Sometimes what it means could be straightforward, but the implication that it has could be another story altogether. Therefore, watch out for jargon.

The automatic irrigation installation business doesn’t require a lot of capital. There is always a possibility of the contractor running out of cash and ceasing all work. It doesn’t matter how experienced they are or how many days they have been doing the job. You need to be vigilant and aware of all the laws that govern these cases and what to do in such a situation. Don’t run into a loss because of someone else’s situation. As a general rule, do not pay more than 10% of the total cost before any works starts. When the material is brought over and work starts, you can pay another 40% of the cost. The remaining payment should be made only when the job is finished. Always have a signed lien release from the contractor before making 50% of the payment.

If you are hiring a small, unlicensed contractor then you may have to purchase all of the material on your own. Only undertake this if you are sure you understand the materials, measurements and pricing. If you’re willing to take the trouble, then you might save some cost.

The last thing to do is to educate yourself well about irrigation systems and sprinkler systems. The more you know, the more you can protect yourself should you hire an unscrupulous contractor. The most crucial job is yours!

Making an Outdoor Fireplace

You can use concrete because it is easy to work with but to make it attractive you will have to tint or paint it. Another important thing to do is assemble all of the proper tools ahead of time. What tools you will need will depend on the type of fireplace you are building, including the shape and size. For a large fireplace you may need to rent a small excavator or power tamp while a small one may only require a pickaxe or shovel. If you have decided to use brick and lay it yourself you will need the equipment that is necessary for bricklaying. If you decide on concrete you will need a cement mixer and a trowel.

The next thing to consider is how you are going to power the fireplace. If you have decided to use gas you will have to have a professional to run a gas line from the fireplace to your home. This has to be done safely and correctly to help ensure the reliability of the outdoor fireplace and to make sure there is no gas leak that could cause it to explode or catch fire. If you are going to use a wood fire then you will need to dig a pit so the fire will be beneath the surface of the fireplace area and enclosed to help prevent spreading the fire and stray sparks. If you are unsure if you can complete the project call a professional to do it.