When you envision the perfect yard, you probably see lots of thick, green grass. In the real world, however, that just isn’t the case for everyone; maybe even you. Perhaps you don’t have the time to care for it the way it needs or there is a stubborn patch that won’t grow despite all of the time you do spend on it. Whatever the reason, those patches are an eyesore and you deserve better.No need to fret, though. There are some viable options to help you work with your yard instead of against it. By thinking outside the box, you can turn the dead grass (or non-existent grass) into something usable! Let’s take a look at some options.
Diagnosing the Problem
Before we completely give up hope on the grass, however, let’s go over some of the reasons why your grass may not be growing. You know, just in case you missed something. Despite what seems like a given, grass is not all that easy to maintain—at least when compared to other ground cover. Keeping on top of the watering is important, as is making sure you aren’t scalping the yard when you mow.
Nutrients in the soil is another biggy. If you are doing the watering and not mowing too closely, but your grass still won’t grow, you may want to try a soil test. This will tell if your soil has the proper nutrients to feed your grass. If you are lacking in some nutrients, then you know what to look for when scoping out lawn fertilizers. A soil test isn’t cheap, though. Depending on where you get one, it can run in the neighborhood of $1,000 – $1,500.
Say you’ve tried all of this and you are still having no luck. It might just be that the section of grass (or not grass) in question isn’t getting enough sunlight. To grow properly, your grass really needs about six hours of sunlight a day. Common locations where grass doesn’t get enough light can include right next to your house or under shady trees.
One very common way to transform that trouble spot is to put a patio there! A patio doesn’t require much maintenance and it offers you options for creating a usable space that is tailored to your tastes.
Make it comfy with some outdoor furniture. Remember to keep the furniture weather-resistant so an evening of rain doesn’t put you out for days. How about a fireplace, fire pit, or chiminea? These are great for those long summer nights. There are countless possibilities, so start looking early if you decide a patio is the way to go. It will help with the budgeting.
So, you still want that green look despite the grass’s reluctance to be cooperative. Turf is an option that is pretty low-maintenance, but still gives the appearance of grass. Turf has come a long way from basic outdoor carpeting. Advances in synthetic grass can offer a very genuine grass appearance. Depending upon how much you need, turf can be costly, though. That said, it lasts for a very long time. So, divide the cost by the years to help negate any sticker shock.
Mulch Looks Great
If your grass situation involves it just not growing some places, but growing fine in others, mulch might be a good way to spruce things up without having to remove the grass that is growing. This is a particularly good option for those spots next to the house or around the base of shade trees that we mentioned earlier. As an added bonus, mulch fertilizes plants as it breaks down, helping to create a hospitable environment for flowers. The maintenance is also much more manageable than grass. Simply replace the mulch once a year. Spring is an ideal time to do this.
A Water Feature
A popular landscape option in recent years, water features can offer a unique look to your yard. Whether a pond or a fountain, a water feature can add an element of tranquility. If you want to keep the maintenance to a minimum, you should opt for a concrete or fiberglass liner. You can even double down on ideas and surround the perimeter of your water feature with some mulch and/or some shrubs.
While we don’t tend to think of it that way, grass is really just one type of ground cover. It’s not the only one, though. There are several other plants that can thrive where grass doesn’t. Some of them even flower for added color. As an added bonus, you can usually get some great ground cover options from your local nursery, greenhouse, or home improvement store. Some popular options include:
Let’s Play Around
One really fun option, especially if you have kids, is to install some sort of play area. If you want a way to get the kids outside and playing rather than being inside and glued to their devices, it doesn’t get much better than a play area. You’ll want to start by laying down some rubber mulch or sand to help break the inevitable falls. Then you can erect a swing set or some other play structure. The maintenance is really manageable. You just need to fill back in the mulch or sand as needed. You can find any number of playground sets at several big box stores.
If you don’t have children, you can still turn that area into something recreational. How about horseshoe pits? Perhaps a bocce ball court? Get creative!
If your grass won’t grow, don’t let it get the best of you. With some good landscaping ideas, you can turn the tables on your yard and have a lot of fun in the process. If you don’t have the time to pull off any of these ideas, or would just like to leave it to the professionals, contact E.P.M. today or call us at (517) 990-0110.
Shrubs are one of the most common features of landscaping. That’s because they are flexible enough to be used in your front yard or backyard for added privacy, sound blocking, and general aesthetic appearance. Like all plants, though, shrubs needs proper care to stay healthy and looking good.
Taking care of shrubs is not the same as taking care of other plants. For them to thrive, you need to employ special care practices. Let’s take a look at some popular tips for shrub maintenance.
Shrub Care for Landscaping
The good news is that shrubs don’t require as much maintenance as other plants and flowers, yet they live much longer. That said, different shrubs need to be trimmed differently. So knowing which type of shrub you have will dictate your trimming practices. Deciduous shrubs are best trimmed in the cooler autumn and winter months, though they can be trimmed any time of year. Simply use your loppers to prune dead stems and crossing branches.
Boxwood plants and arborvitae are very popular shrub choices primarily because they are so low-maintenance. In fact, they only really need maintenance about once a year.
If you are looking to add a splash of color to your yard, you can consider flowing shrubs. Lavender and hydrangeas are two common (and beautiful) options.
Whatever option you choose, here are some standard shrub care pointers:
When to Plant
With regards to shrub maintenance, it all starts with knowing when to plant them. Literally. There are a couple of ways to know when it’s the right time of year to plant your shrubs, whether you are planting them for the first time or replanting them in a new location. In general, the ideal time to plant your shrubs is in autumn. This gives them some time to grow before the cold winter weather sets in. If you are buying shrubs from a home improvement store, the tag will usually tell you the best time to plant. Of course, your local landscaping professional will know just when you should be planting shrubs for any landscape situation.
Depending upon the size of the project, planting shrubs can be a DIY project. If you are looking at making significant changes and/or are unsure about the best time to put your chosen shrubs in the ground, it is best to contact a professional. For instance, some shrubs are shade-tolerant, while others are shade-intolerant. If you don’t know what that means or how to tell the difference, that should be your cue to contact a landscaping professional.
How to Prune Your Shrubs
When it comes to shrub care, pruning will be your biggest maintenance task, by far. Pruning, or trimming dead and/or overgrown branches, allows the rest of the shrub to keep growing. In some cases, you may also need to prune out of necessity, if your shrubs are growing to block things like HVAC equipment, electric meters, etc.
Good pruning is done with consistent 45-degree angle cuts. This angle makes it possible for new branches to grow back in healthy and attractive. You’ll want to start by thinning the shrub first (i.e., dropping some branches from the shrub’s outer part, after the bud). After that, go in and take out any larger branches that are getting in the way of your home’s features or other landscaping. Lastly, remove dying or dead branches.
When to Prune Your Shrubs
As with planting, the ideal time to prune your shrubs really depends on the shrub. It’s important to nail down which shrub you have, because the timing of you shrub pruning is crucial to its growth. For instance, you’ll want to prune flowering shrubs right after they bloom. For non-flowering shrubs, late winter is ideal because they are still dormant in the colder weather; the spring rains, then, will initiate their growth again.
Caring for Shrubs in Colder Weather
A huge advantage to using shrubs instead of other plants is that they stand up to winter weather. With proper care, they can look great the whole year through. That said, you’ll still want to take some precautions to prepare your shrubs for cold Michigan winters. Putting down mulch in autumn will help to prevent the roots from getting too cold. You may even opt for burlap covers. Also, keep watering your shrubs through autumn all the way up until the first frost of the season.
The Right Tools
We mentioned earlier that you’ll want the highest-quality tools you can afford. Some essential tools include hand pruners, loppers, hand trimmers, and electric/gas trimmers.
Quality pruning shears ensure you get that good, clean cut without having to use to much force. For hedges and bigger shrubs, loppers can be more practical than hand pruners for the thicker branches. In addition, pick up some good gardening gloves. They are a great investment. They are often inexpensive and can spare you the pain and agitation that comes with the scrapes and cuts that are a part of pruning.
Shrub Care Costs
If you are uncomfortable doing the pruning yourself, you should probably budget for a professional landscaper. While this is an added expense, it can also be seen as an investment, as a professional can save you time and effort, while you have peace of mind in knowing the job will be done correctly.
To wrap up, it’s worth repeating that shrubs are a great choice for year-round beautification. That’s said, you’ll want to budget some time and/or money into making sure they are properly maintained. With proper maintenance, shrubs can stay healthy and attractive for years. If you are considering professional help, we’d love to hear from you. Just contact us or call us at (517) 990-0110 today.
Do you have visions of an idyllic backyard? Are you seeking a novel way to get to parts of your garden without tromping all over your lovely flowers and plants? If you answered yes to those questions, it sounds like you just might need a garden path.
From brick pavers, to mulch, to pea gravel, and beyond, there are so many choices for an attractive garden path. You can even spruce up your garden path with new plants and lawn ornaments. Because of all of the different possible ways to create a garden path, you can be sure you have one that speaks to your general aesthetic, as well as your yard’s general needs.
How Much do Garden Paths Cost?
In relation to many landscaping options, garden paths are pretty low-maintenance, so the cost of ownership over time makes them a wise investment. In addition to looking pretty, they can allow you easy access to parts of your yard that you might otherwise have difficulty reaching. Garden path costs, naturally, will vary depending upon the types of materials you choose and how long the path will be.
What Materials Should I Use for My Garden Path?
As mentioned, the amount you would spend on a garden path varies depending upon the materials you choose, as well as whether you decide to DIY it or work with a landscaping professional. Don’t be afraid to get creative. There is no rule against using several different materials in your design. It’s worth keeping in mind that some materials (e.g., cement, etc.) will likely necessitate professional landscaping assistance, while others, such as mulch, could be easier to pull off on your own. With that in mind, here are some ideas for different materials you could use in your ideal garden path design.
If you are planning on going the DIY route, stepping stones is going to be the easiest material with which to work. Simply map out your path and lay the stones flat to the ground.
Tip: Take the time to ensure the ground is level before you position the stones. It may seem like no big deal now, but uneven stepping stones have the potential to wear on you over time.
While more involved that stepping stones, a mulch garden path is usually still within the skill set of your average DIY-er. This option is often preferable for homeowner who are looking for a longer-lasting solution—and one that helps prevent weeds. The cost for going this route can range from $200 up to $2,000, depending upon the amount and type of mulch you wish to use.
Tip: To ensure your mulch garden path is even with the ground, you’ll want to dig your path out before spreading your mulch.
For a timeless option, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than brick garden paths. Durable and long-lasting, brick garden paths remain one of the popular choices for a wide range of climates and terrains. That said, you will definitely want to consult a landscaping professional if you opt for a brick garden path. Additionally, you’ll want to budget $8 to $18 per square foot depending upon the type of brick you wish to implement.
If durability is your primary concern when putting in a garden path, then cement paths offer it in spades. Like brick paths, you’ll definitely want professional assistance when it comes to laying the cement. It’s not something you will want to redo simply because you overestimated your skill level. You can expect a cement garden path to cost $6 to $12 per square foot, on average.
Maintaining Your Garden Path
After your garden path installation, it will naturally require a degree of maintenance to keep up its appearance. Different materials require different types of care. If you are working with a landscape professional, be sure to ask during the project consultation. For instance, you should freshen up mulch annually (at a minimum), while brick and cement will generally be fine for the first several years following installation.
To really add some extra “pop” to your garden path, separate it from your yard with different materials or plants. Another solid option is integrating ornamental grasses, as they return yearly. A simple DIY solution is lawn edging, which is readily available at most home improvement stores. Lawn edging is generally a very affordable solution, running anywhere from $2 to $400 depending upon how long your garden path is.
Garden Path Lighting
Depending upon how (and when) you plan on using your garden path, you may also want to consider using garden path lights. In addition to giving a luminous dimension to your garden path, they can also serve as a safety measure. One of the most popular garden path lighting options is solar lighting, because it requires no wiring. Just place them where you want them. Other options that are becoming increasingly popular include lantern garden path lights, as well as stainless steel lights. It really comes down to which option complements the look of your garden path the best, and how much time/money you want to invest in lighting installation and maintenance.
Lawn Ornaments for Garden Paths
For a fun option, consider setting off your garden path with lawn ornaments along the way. There are a good variety of options available, including decorative stakes and gazing globes, just to name a couple.
While it might be easy to think about your garden path in terms of summer months, you should consider fun options for year rounds enjoyment. Perhaps you could run some holiday lighting and create your own winter wonderland.
Whether you are looking for ways to introduce some landscaping to your yard or build on existing landscaping, a garden path is an ideal option. If you have some ideas for a garden path (or would like some), contact E.P.M. Lawnscape and Supply or call us at (517) 990-0110 today!