When drawing up plans for a landscaping project, one of the basic tenets to keep in mind is that it should not just look great, but also be a reflection of your lifestyle. Many homeowners take their own needs and wants into consideration, but what about man’s best friend?
In this post, we are going to talk about some landscaping features that make your yard a place your dog will love just as much as you do!
1. A Water Feature
After a few laps around the yard, your dog can get thirsty. A beautiful solution is a dog-accessible water feature with flowing water. A stream or splash fountain is a great option that you can appreciate just as much as your pooch will!
Another option would be a small pool or pond. With any kind of pool, though, safety is paramount. If your dog should happen to fall in, they should be able to get back out without a problem. Sides with gentle slopes or some shallow steps should be kept in mind.
2. Fence Me In
While dogs love to run, they also require boundaries if you live in a populated area. In such cases, a fully fenced-in yard is an option worth exploring. A dog run inside a larger contained area is another option. Regardless of which way you go, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your dog is safe and still has room to run.
Chain-link fences are a popular option because are strong and easy to install. That said, they aren’t always the best-looking option. When considering fencing options, take into account the style of the landscaping, as well as whether you’ll be opting for fencing in the whole yard or building a dog run. Clean horizontal boards offer a nice contemporary look. Picket fences are a classic design with a cottage flavor.
Whichever you choose, just make sure the fence is strong enough and any slats are spaced closely enough so that your dog can’t get stuck between them. (It happens.)
3. Shady Offerings
Because they have all that fur to insulate them, people often overestimate how well dogs can tolerate hot and cold temps. In actuality, dogs can (and do) get sunburn and heatstroke. Large trees are a beautiful option for shade. In some cases, though, large trees aren’t always feasible. In such cases, tarps or shade clothes can also work.
Depending upon how much room you are working with, you might consider a dog house, as well. If you haven’t checked out dog houses in a while, you’ll be surprised to see how far they have come. There are plenty of stylish, well-built options on the market today.
4. Free From Toxicity
While azaleas, lilies, and Chrysanthemums (mums) look beautiful, they can be harmful to your dog if consumed. The ASPCA has a great list of which plants are toxic—and which plants aren’t toxic—to help you when deciding upon flowerbed choices. You’ll also want to be sure to ask about other landscaping materials, as well. For instance, mulch is a very common element of many a landscaping project. Cocoa mulch, however, would be a bad choice. Many people love the smell of cocoa mulch, but if your dog consumes cocoa mulch, it can trigger the same reactions that eating chocolate would.
5. Play Time Pals
Dogs need and love exercise. If they don’t get enough, they can become irritable and start causing problems around the house (e.g., getting into the trash, chewing couch cushions, etc.). If you have a designated place for your pup to run and play, you’ll end the day with an exhausted (and elated) puppy dog. Ideally, you’ll want that play space to be as large as possible.
Our four-legged friends love to explore. Having paths as part of your landscaping will be as enjoyable for them as they are for you!
7. Dog-Friendly Landscaping Materials
Because we often walk around outdoors with shoes or sandals on, it can be easy to forget that our dogs don’t. Therefore, when choosing dog-friendly materials, it is best to keep in mind materials that won’t get too hot in the summer sun. Materials should also not stick to fur or feet. Good choices would include: brick, concrete, flagstone, and smooth rocks.
Mulch is pretty dog friendly, because it doesn’t get too hot. Of course, you’ll want to stay away from the aforementioned cocoa mulch.
There are even choices when it comes to lawn material. Some homeowners opt for artificial turf as it often stands up better to regular wear and tear than traditional grass does. If you opt for artificial turf, you’ll want to use it selectively and in places where it won’t get too hot for your dog’s paws.
For many of us, our dogs are part of our family and they enjoy being outside as much, if not more than, the rest of us. So, when you are working out a landscaping plan that suits your lifestyle, be sure to keep your four-legged friend(s) in mind, as well. We have highlighted some ideas for dog-friendly landscaping here, but this list isn’t exhaustive. If you have ideas for dog-friendly landscaping, be sure to discuss them with your local landscaping professional.
To get the most out of your landscaping, E.P.M. Lawnscape and Supply offers professional landscaping design and installation services in the Jackson, MI area. Feel free to contact us online or call us today at (517) 990-0110.
Soon, winter will once again be giving way to spring. The snow and ice will start to melt away and we will once again be able to smell that earth of our yards as they thaw. Naturally, our thoughts will return to setting our lawns up for success so that we may enjoy them for another season.
Having a successful lawn, with lush green grass isn’t just a matter of doing the right thing as much as it is about doing the right thing at the right time. Otherwise, you end up with a lawn that isn’t as healthy or attractive as it could be.
Having that lawn of your dreams takes more than some watering in the spring. It’s actually something that requires various types of care all year long, but when the days are getting longer and the birds are singing again… well, that’s when the magic really happens.
The timing for spring lawn prep is around the time when the worst of winter is over and you’re pretty sure you won’t be getting any more snow. Of course, in Michigan, that’s not always easy to predict with a great degree of accuracy.
In this post, we are going to look at five tips to get your lawn looking good right from the start this spring.
Rake it Like You Mean It
Raking in spring sounds as about as fun as a dental appointment. After all, didn’t we just do a bunch of raking a few months ago? That should have been the end of it, right? Well, raking in spring accomplishes different goals.
When you rake in the spring, the main goal is to remove any thatch that may have built up during winter. Spring raking also helps you locate any parts of the lawn where the grass is clumping up, which could prevent seeding from being as effective as it could be.
The primary goal of fall raking is, of course, to get those leaves off the yard. If you “deep rake” in the fall, that can also help remove thatch. In fact, if you knock it out of the park with your fall raking, you’ll have a much easier time with the spring raking.
Check for Moss
After you have completed racking, you’ll want to inspect the lawn for signs of compaction. These are often most common in areas of the lawn that get the most traffic. Compaction occurs when areas of the soil become so dense that roots have difficulty taking hold. Moss will very often start to grow in these areas; so keep an eye out for that. The solution to compaction is aeration. While aeration is usually considered a fall lawn care task, it can be beneficial in spring to help break up compacted areas of the yard.
The goal of lime is to rectify any issues with pH balance in your yard, particularly to lower acidity levels.
On occasion, you’ll hear someone say, “you can never add too much lime.” That is absolutely not true. While lime can help cure acidity issues, it is not an instant fix. Adding more lime will not make it work faster!
When you add lime consistently over a longer periods of time, pH levels usually return to their ideal equilibrium. To ensure you are getting those levels correct, you should periodically have a soil test done. Too much lime leads to soil that is too alkaline, which, like being too acidic, is not an ideal growing condition for your grass.
Seeding and Fertilizing
A common fix for bare spots in the lawn is overseeding. If you are overseeding, keep in mind that you’ll want to use a slow-release fertilizer.
For the best results, you’ll want to seed in late fall. That’s the time of year when weeds are not competing with the grass. When you seed the lawn in fall, then overseed bare spots in the spring, you set yourself up for a thick, healthy lawn.
After you overseed, wait about five weeks, then add a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer to kick start the growth.
You’ll want to be careful with how much fertilizer you add in spring, though. This is also “weed season” and the fertilizer can bolster weed growth. For that reason, the majority of your fertilizing should be done in fall.
The enemy of a good looking lawn, garden, or flower bed is weeds. In general, a pre-emergent herbicide can help. For absolute best results, however, specific areas should be treated with specific herbicides.
A pre-emergent herbicide is more of a weed preventer than a weed killer. It works by preventing seeds from germinating, which allows your grass to flourish. If you apply a pre-emergent herbicide, you are essentially setting up a barrier against weed growth, which is greatest in spring. If you apply a pre-emergent herbicide, do not aerate. Aeration creates holes in that barrier, give weeds an opportunity to germinate.
All that said, pre-emergent herbicides can also pose problems for your lawn, too. Ideally, you’ll want to limit their use to areas where you want neither weeds nor grass to grow. Consider the ground around trees and shrubs or where you have mulch placed. The ideal way to rid your yard of weeds is to aerate and seed in fall, then overseed bare spots in spring. Pre-emergent herbicides actually negate overseeding.
So plan accordingly.
When people talk about weed killers, they are usually referring to post-emergent herbicides. These weed killers are no joke. They will kill any kind of plant they touch, weed or grass. When you have weeds growing through sidewalk crack, post-emergent herbicides are ideal. Some post-emergent herbicide manufacturers advertise that their product kills only weeds. That’s a risk, however, that many homeowners don’t want to take.
Good old-fashioned weed pulling can work well if you get the whole root structure. Dandelions are a good example, because they return every year. Let’s be honest, though. Nobody likes pulling weeds because it is a serious chore and you have to do it quite a few times every season. Weeds grow so fast that just one day of weeding, no matter how thorough, just isn’t enough to do the job completely.
For the best-looking lawn, it helps to know the best times to seed, fertilize, and implement proper weed control measures. Too often, people just plant and water in the spring, then shake their fist at weeds all season. It doesn’t have to be that way. Keep these tips handy and plan accordingly. You’ll find that your lawn will start look much better very soon.
If you are interested in exploring all of your residential and commercial fertilization and weed control options, contact us online or call us today at (517) 990-0110.
As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is just as true for houses as it is for people. If you are in the market to sell your home, or just want to make sure you are making sound financial decisions when upgrading, well-done landscaping can actually increase the value of your home as much as 20%. There are, of course, some basic guidelines you’ll want to follow along the way.
How much to invest is often the first question people ask and, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), you should invest about 10% of your home’s total value in landscaping. To be clear, landscape architecture is more than plants and softscape; it can also include structural features, such as:
Outdoor kitchens, terraces, and other hardscaping are also high-yield investments. A good landscape architect will work with you to create a detailed plan that works for you.
The Lay of the Land(scape)
If you are planning a landscape renovation, it’s a good idea to begin with a property assessment. An arborist will be able to tell which of your trees are dying and which ones will be fine with a little TLC. A landscape architect can help you choose the plants and flowers that are the best fit for your climate and—not to be overlooked—your lifestyle.
Some other areas that a landscape architect may point out for development can include:
Outdoor Rooms One of the most popular trends in landscape architecture right now is an outdoor room. Sometimes, it’s a kitchen. Sometimes, it’s a patio that functions as an outdoor living space, as well. When done properly, such features act as a link between the indoors and outdoors, giving more “space” to your home and promoting a more natural environment.
One of the biggest mistakes we see homeowners make when it comes to landscaping is that their ambition is greater than their available time. What ends up happening is that several parts of a “big picture” are started, but some are not finished; some are not done as well as they could be because of a lack of time for completion; and, some things just don’t match. As a result, the yard is a collection of disparate, half-finished ideas that, collectively, look confused. One of the greatest benefits of working with a landscape architect is that you can start with a clearly-defined plan, a strategy, and a timeline… all within an agreed upon budget.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
One part of your landscaping project you’ll want to keep in mind is the aftercare that keeps your yard looking great. This means maintenance. A landscaper can work with you to create a maintenance schedule. If you don’t have the time for the maintenance—and this is where you really need to be honest with yourself—it would be wise to hire a landscaping maintenance company to keep your new landscaping investment looking its very best. If you don’t think you will have much time for maintenance, it would also be wise to share this with your landscape designer during the planning phase, as it can influence the type of vegetation used in the project. Some vegetation requires less maintenance and that might be a better fit for you if you are pressed for time.
It’s worth remembering that the entire project doesn’t have to happen at once. With a strategy worked out, you could have a three-year plan or a five-year plan that incorporates new elements each season in a cohesive manner that looks appealing and organized. This is sometimes an option for those with a close eye on budget, but still want to complete a more ambitious landscaping project.
Can You Establish a Direct ROI for Landscaping?
Trying to pre-determine an exact return on investment for a landscaping project isn’t always an exact science. While the data confirms a significant ROI does exist, trying to pinpoint it in every case can be a bit like trying to hit a moving target.
John Gidding from HGTV’s “Curb Appeal” said that clients on that show invested $20,000 into landscaping and got back $200,000 more than what they originally paid for the home just one year earlier. He admits, however, that this is a bit of an outlier, but still possible. He advises homeowners to take the architectural style of the home into consideration and work with a landscape architect to create a plan that best complements that style.
Ways to Freshen Up Your Existing Yard
If your yard is already getting a little out of hand, some basic cleanup would be a good place to start. This can include pruning shrubs and trees, as well as some weed whacking. It’s best to handle the weeds before they go to seed and become an even bigger problem. A gluten pre-emergent herbicide, when applied in spring, should help kill weeds before they take root. (Weeds hate gluten.)
Beyond pruning and weeding, using a rake to turn over your mulch to give it some volume also helps your yard to look freshened up.
Patio Additions Pay Off If you haven’t yet considered a patio or outdoor living space, you should. We mentioned earlier that this option is becoming more popular as of late, and for good reason. Not only can it greatly enhance your ability to enjoy your home and yard, it also increases your home’s resale value. According to a 2018 article by houselogic, an average patio cost of $6,400 yields an ROI of 102% ($12,928). Further, wood decks tend to be more expensive but yield a greater ROI. For a wood deck costing $9,450 the average ROI is 106% ($19,467).
Trees are a Timeless Investment
While well-cultivated flower beds certainly have appeal, so do trees. In addition to their stoic appearance, trees offer a host of benefits, as well. When planted in the right locations, trees offer shade. More than just being a reprieve from the summer sun, that shade can actually help lower your energy bills, too. And while most things in life lose value over time, trees actually gain value over time! If you were to plant a $10 sapling now, it could add $1,000 to $10,000 to your home’s value when it matures.
If you are content playing the long game for increasing your home’s value, affordable smaller trees are the way to go. If you have your eye towards selling in the next five years, you’d be better off planting larger trees. Yes, they cost more, but you’ll get the full benefit of them faster than you would with saplings.
Plant a Bouquet of Flowers
Pretty flowers can certainly dazzle. The ones with the most color, however, are usually annuals (plants that live just one year). If you go all in on annuals, you’ll find that you need to replant every spring. The solution is to also include perennials, which can live for several years.
Let’s be honest, landscaping can require a lot of attention. Unless gardening is your passion, you likely don’t want to be replacing all of your flowers every year. So, remember to work with a combination of annuals and perennials.
Beyond that, consider flowers of different shapes, colors, heights, etc. and those that bloom throughout the course of the year, so something new is always popping up. Some examples would include salvia bushes which bloom a vibrant purple in summer, as well as a Euonymus alatus, which is a bush that delivers a brilliant red foliage in autumn.
A well-planned landscaping endeavor can add years of enjoyment to your home, as well as substantially increase its resale value. To get the most from your investment, work with a certified landscaper to develop a plan based on your yard and your desires. In doing so, you can be assured you’ll get just want you want and a high-quality installation on a timeline that works for you. If/when you decide to sell your home, you’ll find the investment more than worth it.
To get the most out of your landscaping, E.P.M. Lawnscape and Supply offers professional landscaping services in the Jackson, MI area. Feel free to contact us online or call us today at (517) 990-0110.