Why you should give your home an outdoor makeover

Published Carson Arthur – March 20, 2015     Looking for our Share & Win contest?

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Spring has finally arrived! Well, at least the calendar says so. That means the home renovation industry is shifting gears and moving home improvement projects outside. Outdoor design expert Carson Arthur has talked to us about the importance of landscaping, but stresses the benefits of giving your home an outdoor face lift. Arthur educates us on how to do just that. 

The Shift: From landscaping to complete outdoor makeovers

For my entire media career in landscape design and outdoor living, I have been trying to convince homeowners that focusing on the outdoors not only improves their own way of life, it also increases the value of their homes. As new information comes out each season from national companies like Century 21 Canada and regional organizations like Landscape Ontario, I have been adding to my own messaging to help homeowners make truly informed choices.

Now I am officially crowing at the top of my lungs that not only does good landscaping positively impact a home’s perceived value…outdoor renovations have taken over the top five home improvements according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 Cost vs Value report. Step aside you interior experts…its time for the landscapers to take center stage!

These outdoor improvement projects knocked kitchens and baths out of the usual top spots:

A New Front Door

This is the only improvement for the entire house that is worth more money the moment you install it! Adding a new solid steel door to the front of your home is expected to see a return of 101.8%! Even I was surprised by this one. Although, it does make sense. A front door for your home is like the wheels on a new car. Nobody buys a car because of the wheels, but everyone checks the wheels before they buy a car. The front door doesn’t sell a home, but it is the very first item that a potential buyer checks when walking in. If the front door is solid and in good condition, buyers assume that the rest of the home will be up to the same standards.

landscapinganddesign

In case you missed it: Read our handy guide on choosing a front door. We discuss the pros and cons of door materials and how much they’ll cost you.

Manufactured Stone Veneers

More companies are entering into this market everyday and with an expected rate-of-return of 92%, consumers are happy to have the choices. Having stone veneers at the front of your home is a great way to add visual impact without rebuilding your house. Stone gives the impression that a home is solid and able to withstand the elements (and the children). The key to successful veneers is in the colour saturation. More colour in the stone means that the colour will last long – holding its value longer too!

landscapinganddesign2

A Wood Deck

I’ve always been an advocate of expanding your living space into the backyard. For most of us, a wood deck is a simple and effective way to create an outdoor room…with an 80.5% return-on-investment! Traditionally, cedar has had the best-perceived value, but with rising material costs, this has been changing. MicroPro Sienna, the brown version of pressure treated is poised to take over the top spot. With the rich look of cedar at significantly reduced cost, more homeowners are opting for this new style of wood over the green alternative.

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Surprised? Don’t be. When it comes to home renovations, most homeowners want to achieve the following:

  1. Add value to the home;
  2. Let the home speak for itself by making a good first impression for future buyers;
  3. Stay on budget while updating and improving the space.

In order to get people inside, you have to draw them in from the outside, which is why we should stop thinking about landscaping, flowers and gardens and start thinking about the house as a whole.

Ready to get that outdoor project underway? We can put you in touch with the right professionals. Scroll through our database of landscaping and design professionals. If you’re looking to replace your front door, we have experts for that too.

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A to Z of home ownership and the spring home show

Consider a water feature, like this one by The Pond Clinic, which is opening the Aquatopia Conservatory this spring.
Consider a water feature, like this one by The Pond Clinic, which is opening the Aquatopia Conservatory this spring.

Karma Creative Solutions / Ottawa Citizen

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Home ownership involves a lot more than just meeting those monthly mortgage payments. Fire protection, troublesome trees, elegant bathroom upgrading: they’re all part of being king or queen of your castle.

The upcoming Ottawa Home & Garden Show is one way to meet the professionals who can help you and your home with everything from eavestroughing to gardening. There’s also scads of online resources to help, whether you’re trying to hire the best renovator or stay on top of your insurance coverage. And you can do your own seasonal checkup to make sure your home stays in tip-top condition.

Our A to Z of home ownership will help with all this and more.

Antlers on the wall is a trendy decor misstep unless you’re redoing your hunting cabin, says interior decorator Lee-Ann Lecroix. Her seminar at the home show will help you separate the timeless from the merely trendy. “I’ll talk about wallpaper, fabrics, paint colours. It’s about how to spend wisely,” she says.

Birds, rodents and attics don’t mix, so check animal barriers spring and fall. Also check your attic for water leaks caused by ice buildup (stained roof sheathing or wet insulation are giveaways). Call a roofer if in doubt.

Make sure chipmunks and other critters can’t get into your attic.
Make sure chipmunks and other critters can’t get into your attic.

Central air conditioner: A spring cleaning and tune-up will cost you roughly $125 to $150 but can also save you money thanks to better efficiency and fewer repairs.

Decks: Stone Deck Landscapes, exhibiting at the home show, uses stone instead of maintenance-needy wood for new and reno projects. Renos costs about $12 to $15 per square foot; new construction costs vary depending on size, number of footings and other factors.

This Pennsylvania project uses real travertine but in Ottawa's harsh weather Stone Deck Landscapes owner Greg Borger says he would only use it on covered decks. For others, he uses a manufactured travertine stone.
This Pennsylvania project uses real travertine but in Ottawa’s harsh weather Stone Deck Landscapes owner Greg Borger says he would only use it on covered decks. For others, he uses a manufactured travertine stone.

Stone Deck Landscapes / Ottawa Citizen

Extinguishing fires is tricky if your equipment isn’t easily accessible, has low pressure or is damaged. Get information on fire extinguishers here.

Fires involving clothes dryers top 15,000 per year, according to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association. Most result from lint build up. Get dryer fire prevention tips here.

Gutters and downspouts: Have snow and ice loosened or damaged them? Are they debris-free? Do they carry water well away from your home? If needed, call in a pro.

Check your eavestrough for debris and winter damage.
Check your eavestrough for debris and winter damage.

Hot water heaters need periodic cleaning for maximum efficiency and long life. It’s as easy as shutting off the circuit breaker and draining the gunk with a garden hose. Citizen columnist Steve Maxwell explains how.

Insurance: Is your home and contents coverage up to date? What about your inventory of belongings? Is your cottage fully covered? Visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada for tips.

Just a few minutes — that’s all it takes to clean/vacuum refrigerator coils. The fridge will run more efficiently and use less electricity.

Kitchens: Sure, renovate yours but not at the expense of general home maintenance like window and door caulking and upkeep of your HVAC filter. Tarion.com has a monthly checklist to help prevent pricey repairs.

Welwyn Wong redesigned the landscape around an existing pool to create a resort feel that accommodates several activities —socializing, lounging, dining or swimming.
Welwyn Wong redesigned the landscape around an existing pool to create a resort feel that accommodates several activities —socializing, lounging, dining or swimming.

Mike Bonomo / Ottawa Citizen

Landscape designer Welwyn Wong presents a home show seminar on creating a resort-like backyard with water features and even a shaded daybed. “It’s going to remind people of their little winter getaway to Cancun or the Mediterranean,” she says.

Moisture levels rise in the spring so maintain your sump pump (allstate.com shows how).

Native plants, why you need them in your garden and where to find them: just one of the many subjects on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s guide to spring gardening tasks.

Check out the Nature Conservatory of Canada’s spring guide at natureconservancy.ca.
Check out the Nature Conservatory of Canada’s spring guide at natureconservancy.ca.

Outdoor electrical fixtures: Check for rust, debris, insects. Ensure all exterior outlets have an operational ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), and test them and inside GFCIs regularly. Call an electrician if in doubt.

Pre-fab homes: Bonneville Homes brings its Exalt bungalow to the home show. Its glass-walled terrace with whirlpool and fireplace converts for indoor or outdoor use.

Bonneville Homes brings its Exalt bungalow to the home show. Its glass-walled terrace with whirlpool and fireplace converts for indoor or outdoor use.
Bonneville Homes brings its Exalt bungalow to the home show. Its glass-walled terrace with whirlpool and fireplace converts for indoor or outdoor use.

Quicksand: That can be the sensation as you sink into the nightmare of hiring an unscrupulous or incompetent renovator. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association has good advice and worksheets for hiring a renovator.

Roof: Every spring and fall, inspect for loose, buckling or missing shingles, inadequate caulking and faulty flashings. Excessive shingle granules in the drainpipe mean an aging roof: Call a roofer.

Smoke detectors: Change the batteries twice annually and check your carbon monoxide detector. The Ontario Building Code now requires all home smoke alarms to have a visual component like a flashing light.

Trees: Have you inspected them for winter damage and pruning needs? Are you planting new trees this year? Sites like treeottawa.org and services like Davey Tree Expert (at this year’s home show) can help.

Layout, colour palette and cabinetry create a timeless appeal in this kitchen, says decorator Lee-Ann Lacroix, while accessories can be used to accent current trends.
Layout, colour palette and cabinetry create a timeless appeal in this kitchen, says decorator Lee-Ann Lacroix, while accessories can be used to accent current trends.

Ashley Fraser / Ottawa Citizen

Ultra energy efficiency defines Edelweiss Lakes, a new Gatineau Hills community with homes by Raya EcoHomes that claim an annual heating cost of as little as $350. “We’ve come to realize people are pretty green about green,” says Edelweiss Lakes president Luc Belisle. “But it’s not that complicated: passive solar design and a good envelope goes a long way.” Edelweiss Lakes is at the home show.

Ventilation: To maintain effectiveness, clean your kitchen hood ventilation system and bathroom fan at least once a year (doityourself.com tells how).

Water features soothe the ear and please the eye. Aquatopia, the expansive new home of The Pond Clinic Water Garden Centre opening on March Road in May, offers everything from fountains and ponds to nursery stock.

X and Y, as in Generations X (aged mid-30s to late-40s) and Y (late teens to early 30s), may be overly optimistic about the probability of owning a home, according to a recently released survey by the Bank of Montreal Wealth Institute. Higher costs for almost everything mean it’s time to get real about owning a home, paying for their childrens’ post-secondary education and enjoying early retirement, according to BMO.

Woody Properties is a popular real estate website that includes surveys, trends and creative ideas. According to a Zillow survey, bad-boy Justin Beiber was the least desirable celebrity neighbour in 2014.

Proudly brought to you by Curb Appeal Concrete Landscaping Borders – your Central Florida resource in 1997!

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A Guide To Landscaping Around Your Home

By on Mar 5, 2015
A Guide To Landscaping Around Your HomeYour home is looking good! You have repainted the inside of your house. You have redecorated the inside with new furniture. And, you have put in new lighting so your home is nice and bright. However, the inside of your home is only half the battle. You also need to look and work at the outside of your home.

Other than painting the outside of your house, there are a number of other ways homeowners can improve the look, and just as important, the value of your home. One of the easiest ways to improve your home is through the use of landscaping around the house. Landscaping the areas surrounding the house can make your home look nicer and improve the look of your neighborhood. These are factors that can help improve the value of the house.

Homeowners have many different ways to help landscape their homes. Many can be accomplished by yourself at minimal expense. Landscaping can take different forms such as planting flowers, trees, bushes and maintaining a healthy looking lawn. There are also other methods of improving your home including having a nice looking deck or patio, improving your outdoor lighting and even having a water feature in your yard. Another important part of landscaping is keeping pests away from your lawn, trees and gardens.

All of these methods of landscaping can help improve the look of your home and raise the home’s value. To learn more about landscaping around your home, please take a peek at the following resources. We hope that you learn how to properly landscape and also work on your own around the house. Also, please feel free to share this information with others looking for information on landscaping.

Proudly brought to you by Curb Appeal Concrete Landscaping Borders.  Serving Central Florida since 1997!  Call us today for your FREE estimate!

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5 Kid-Friendly DIY Garden Projects

Welcome spring into your backyard with these garden DIYs that the whole family will love.

Even though it’s still cold outside, it’s not too early to start livening up your backyard garden.

These projects are all about re-imagining classic garden elements in a fun, easy way that the whole family will love. From making your own rain barrel to using rain boots as plant containers, there’s no limit to the creativity you can bring to your backyard garden. Best yet, these ideas are so easy, they’re great to try with kids. Which projects will your family try this spring?

1. Painted Rain Barrel

Annie's Omnium via Apartment Therapy - painted rain barrelPhoto courtesy of Annie’s Omnium via Apartment Therapy

Rain barrels are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to water your lawn and garden, and they are easy and inexpensive to make. Get the complete instructionshere. If you’re feeling extra artsy, you can even add a personal touch by painting or drawing on the exterior.

2. Eggshell Succulent Garden

Karine Brighten - mini succulent gardenPhoto courtesy of Karine Brighten

This mini succulent garden only takes a quick trip to the hardware store to make, and it’s beautiful enough to display on your coffee table! Full instructions here.

3. Outgrown Rain Boot Planters

Mom's Crafty Space - rainboot plantersPhoto courtesy of Mom’s Crafty Space

When little feet outgrow their winter boots, don’t trash them–instead, turn those brightly-colored shoes into fun-filled planters. Get the project here.

 

4. Hop Scotch Pavers

Happiness is Homemade - hopscotch paversPhoto courtesy of Happiness is Homemade

Nothing brightens up a backyard or garden like these rainbow hopscotch pavers–and they’re super-easy to make. Get the tutorial here.

5. Strawberry Stones

Recyclart - strawberry stonesPhoto courtesy of Recyclart

These strawberry stones are not only fun to make and pretty to look at–they also deter birds from stealing your berries! Also try painting stones like carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, and corn to mark your veggie garden plantings, or just paint pretty things likecacti and ladybugs for fun decorations. Full tutorial here.

Proudly brought to you by Curb Appeal Concrete Landscaping Borders – serving Central Florida since 1997!

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They Laughed When He Said ‘I Live in a Garage’. But After Seeing It? Pure Jealousy.

I loved this tour of a space that seemed impossible – but to the right frame of mind, it can be incredible!  No wasted space!  Just like Landscaping!

lighterside-staff-authorBy Lighter Side Staff  | and Curb Appeal Concrete Landscaping Borders

transformed-garage-top

Jeremie Buchholtz needed a spot to stay when he was splitting his time between Paris and Bordeaux, France. This photographer’s budget was limited, and he wasn’t up for staying in roach motels everytime he visited Bordeaux. He happened to find a garage for sale within his budget and wondered if he could turn it into something livable.

As luck would have it, his friend, Matthieu d Marien, specializes in converting odd spaces into homes. With his genius, and a lot of tenacity, they turned this run down garage into an abode worth vacationing in!

De Marien knew his friend had found a special space. But he had some restrictions when remodeling – the roof couldn’t be touched, which meant sunlight would have to come in another way. De Marien carved a 129 square foot patio out of the small space, leaving only 441 square feet of living space.

In order to make the interior space feel larger, De Marien created a “house within a house”: one large piece of furniture that includes the bathroom, bedroom, office, closet, a sofa bed and all of the home’s storage. With everything contained in this large furniture box, there’s plenty of living space left over.

Take a look at the video below to see Jérémie’s garage home now! It’s an amazing redesign of a small space!

Via Kirsten Dirksen
Curb Appeal, Concrete Landscaping Borders 407-957-9208

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5 SIMPLE WAYS TO UP YOUR HOME’S CURB APPEAL

Quality workmanship

Updating the exterior of your home can have a major impact on your quality of life and the value of your home. Along with painting or installing new siding on your home’s exterior, doing a bit of landscaping and masonry work can take the look and function of your outdoor spaces to a whole new level. The best part is that while some of this work really does require the skill of a professional, many weekend warriors can achieve quality workmanship themselves. There are many small changes that can make a big difference. For five ideas of how to improve your home, keep reading.
1) Step It Up Most homes have at least one set of steps on the exterior. Most are masonry steps, i.e. made of any combination of bricks, stones, and concrete, and are a major feature in the front of your house. Masonry steps can be installed by one of the 140,000 skilled workers specializing in the installation of bricks and concrete. If the design is simple enough or you have a bit of experience, they can also be installed by yourself. Just remember that masonry steps, just like all steps, must be safe and if you have doubts about your skills, it is best to just find a mason.
2) Concrete Castle Concrete is one of the most versatile materials to use in your outdoor space. In addition to using it for masonry steps, you can also use it for driveways or other paved features. It also is a great long term investment. If you have an asphalt driveway that is around 20 years old, it will likely need to be completely replaced. A concrete driveway, however, can last you closer to 25 with fewer upkeep requirements. You will do a lot of living on your concrete, so make sure that you invest in quality materials.

3) Grow a Green Thumb Adding a little bit of greenery to your home’s exterior can completely change the look. Just updating masonry and more flowers can take your home from looking a bit worn down to looking new, vibrant, and full of life and movement.

4) Good Fences Make Good Neighbors Investing in a good fence can do wonders for how often you use your outdoor spaces. About 80-90% of new fences are stockade or privacy fences, which allow you, your family, and your pets to enjoy your privacy and create a getaway that will not be interrupted by your neighbor’s BBQ.

5) Get Some Curb Appeal Curb appeal matters! A survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 71% of home buyers care about the curb appeal of a home when they look at it. Updating the exterior of your home will help to poise you to have the best chance of selling your home for the price you want when you are ready to move.

Curb on PaverThis picture is actually one that Curb Appeal Concrete Landscaping Borders did just a few days ago.  This application keeps your sidewalks free and clear of mulch that spills out on your sidewalk during heavy rains.

If you are interested in Concrete Landscaping Borders, and you live in the Central Florida area, please give us a call today for your FREE estimate!  We’d love to help you design your plans.

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The Only Renovation Tool that you’ll need

Creating a Renovation Budget that Works

When renovating your home, the most important component is to know your budget. Developing a realistic budget will help keep your project on track. We spoke with Nick Malfara, President of Design-Spec Building Group Ltd., a company that specializes in residential renovations and custom home building in the GTA, for his advice on developing a sound budget.

Conduct a needs analysis

When homeowners’ lifestyle or needs change, they either need to move into a space that will accommodate said changes, or change their existing home. Malfara says it is more cost-effective to add space than to move due to land transfer taxes and other costly expenses. In such a case, Malfara will have a conversation with his clients in the initial phase of a project to determine what the reason is for the renovation. “Does the homeowner want a new kitchen or a bigger house?” he says, referring to the conversation as a needs analysis. “A needs analysis should outline both the square footage space requirements and specific needs homeowners require,” says Malfara. If you have three children and you would like each to have their own room, include this in your needs list. Do you need to have a home office space, or a soundproofed space for children to practice music in? It’s these kinds of needs – or wants – that will drive the home renovation project, he says. Your needs analysis will be used to determine the type and calibre of materials that will be required and the amount of work involved in the project.

Prioritize

Look at your needs analysis and prioritize your needs. Those priorities will depend on your intentions with the home. If you’re planning to leave the home in a couple of years, you may want to prioritize renovations that will add value to your property immediately. Design-Spec Building Group will be able to tell you what renovations will increase resale value and which ones to avoid. If you’re in your forever home, you will likely prioritize those elements that make the home easier to live in for your family regardless of impact on resale.

Find cost savings in materials

Once a needs analysis is performed, have your contractor price out the work, including finished materials. If there’s a disparity between the desired budget and the quoted cost, homeowners can either increase the budget, or pare back on the caliber of finished materials used. “Instead of using a White Carrera marble floor, for example, they can use a porcelain tile that replicates the look of a Carrera marble but it saves 20 to 30 percent,” says Malfara.

Don’t discount hidden costs

While your budget should include HST, the cost of appliances and light fixtures, you will also need to build in a contingency. Malfara recommends a contingency of 10 to 15 percent. “[This accounts] for changes the homeowner makes on design or material selections or site conditions that need to be addressed and generally involve some cost,” says Malfara. Older homes should budget for the higher end of this contingency, as problems such as knob and tube wiring, mould or cracks in plumbing pipes can be uncovered during the renovation and will need to be resolved.general-contractors1Thinking about a home renovation but don’t know where to start when it comes to ideas and budget? Take a look at Design-Spec Building Group’s profile on our website. Browse through the picture gallery and read customer reviews. They’ll be able to answer all your burning renovation questions!

More in Home Renovation

Harmony 5

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A Guide To Landscaping Around Your Home

Your home is looking good! You have repainted the inside of your house. You have redecorated the inside with new furniture. And, you have put in new lighting so your home is nice and bright. However, the inside of your home is only half the battle. You also need to look and work at the outside of your home.

Other than painting the outside of your house, there are a number of other ways homeowners can improve the look, and just as important, the value of your home. One of the easiest ways to improve your home is through the use of landscaping around the house. Landscaping the areas surrounding the house can make your home look nicer and improve the look of your neighborhood. These are factors that can help improve the value of the house.

Homeowners have many different ways to help landscape their homes. Many can be accomplished by yourself at minimal expense. Landscaping can take different forms such as planting flowers, trees, bushes and maintaining a healthy looking lawn. There are also other methods of improving your home including having a nice looking deck or patio, improving your outdoor lighting and even having a water feature in your yard. Another important part of landscaping is keeping pests away from your lawn, trees and gardens.

All of these methods of landscaping can help improve the look of your home and raise the home’s value. To learn more about landscaping around your home, please take a peek at the following resources. We hope that you learn how to properly landscape and also work on your own around the house. Also, please feel free to share this information with others looking for information on landscaping.

Harmony 5

407-957-9208

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Backyard Landscaping Ideas on a Budget

by Diana Smith
Home is where your heart is, they say. Well, wherever that is, there is no harm in having it gorgeously organized and decorated so that you can enjoy all the wonderful time spent there with your friends and family. Naturally, the problem of doing any redecorating or upgrading, whether it’s for the interior or the exterior of your home, is the limited budget. But, good news is this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about your space – you can make it look absolutely stunning, without breaking the bank. It all comes down to a lot of creativity, good planning and proper organizing.

So, let’s get down to it. Go through this advice we’ve singled out for you and get an idea of how to make your backyard look super exciting yet remain functional at all times!

Photo credit: creativecommons.org

1. Start with the yard itself

Usually, when we go out in a yard, we are distracted by the patio, lights, outdoor decorations and similar aspects and rarely do we actually pay attention to the foundation that keeps the whole yard together – pavers, plants, the grass and clutter.

The best way to start fixing up your yard is to first remove the clutter that’s been visually blocking your yard and move onto bigger reparations. Old materials you once used, bikes, piles of random throwaways… all these need to find their place either in a dumpster or your yard shed.

Once you’ve cleared out the clutter, move onto fixing the grass and plants. Reseed all yellow parts of the grass to give your yard a fresh, green and appealing look. As for plants, opt for potted plants you may want to put down the paved yard path. You can even make a little garden as a part of the yard where you can plant the flowers for a colorful and natural feel. Taking care of flowers does take time, but it’s worth it.

After the basis of the yard has been fixed, it’s time to move onto bigger things.

Photo credit: creativecommons.org

2. Yard furniture

A choice of many is patio furniture. It’s easy to maintain and easy to repair. If you can’t invest in a new furniture set, repairing your old one is your best choice. Strip down the old paint and repaint the furniture in a new, unexpected color – green, dark blue, turquoise … are the best options. They are easy on the eye and fit in wonderfully with all the outdoor greens. You can even turn this redecorating into a family activity, where the whole family is involved – kids can do the painting and choose the colors while the adults will do all the heavy work. You’ll have fun and make great memories!

Decorate your seating area with some unusual colored and patterned pillows to give your yard that oomph it deserves!

Photo credit: creativecommons.org

3. Light it up

Any space looks far more charming when properly lighted. Regardless of the size of your yard, it can cost a lot of money to get light installations all over the yard. You’ll probably be able to afford a couple, but the whole place will look much better with cohesive lightning. Great news here is that you can buy Christmas lights and hang them around your yard – you will light the whole space up while at the same time making it look absolutely romantic. You can opt for white lights or the colored ones and set a truly wonderful atmosphere!

image 3

4. Protect the yard

All the rainy days are the worst for open yard compositions. In order for you not to have to run inside at times there are a few drops of rain, get a proper protection for your gorgeous yard setting. Shade sails are probably the best options for any open yard. They are decorative, practical and affordable! You can have shade sails installed by professionals or you can do it yourself. Also, they are usually available at stores selling yard elements. However, lately, getting shade sails online is a preferable option of many customers as there are many more options there than in stores. When choosing the sails, opt for a color that will remind you of the summer or some happy time. Pair them up with the rest of the yard decorations to give your yard space cohesion.

As you can see, fixing up your yard is not that hard a thing to do. With the advice we’ve given you, we hope you’ll turn your current yard into a wonderful space for you and your loved ones!

This is Joan from Curb Appeal Concrete Landscaping Borders writing now.  I just want to show you a couple of more ideas.

Block Style Rocks Grass

Concrete curbing helps separate the grass from the mulch – or in this case, from the rock!  Contact us today for your FREE estimate within Central Florida.  We’re happy to help you come up with ideas that are unique to YOUR home!

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Easy Ways to Start Planning Your Yard Now

A new homeowner asks about the best way to use the winter months to get started on planning their garden.

I am a first-time homeowner and I really want to start transforming my yard. What’s the best way to plan my summer garden now?

Congratulations on your new home! It’s fun to be in a new space, but it can also be overwhelming. Although I’m sure most of us would love to simply hire a landscape architect and turn our backyards into a dream space, that plan doesn’t always fit within our budget. And to be honest, most homeowners find that investing in their yard, and working on it slowly over time, is a great way to get your hands dirty and learn your space.

Master gardeners and home experts are always thinking of their garden, even when it’s covered in snow. Winter can be the best time of year to get prepared “behind the scenes” and do some planning. I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with your yard and it’s not always easy to know where to begin. Unlike our interiors, change in the yard can be slow, and it can be frustrating planting flowers or shrubs only to have them wilt or die. But on the other hand, working in the yard can be theraputic and mistakes can be easily turned into successes. Let’s walk through some great winter ideas for planning your new yard.

Get inspired online

There are so many great resources for your yard online. You can browse throughlandscape projects, scrapbook your favorite ideas, and search for professionals that you might want to hire (like lawn care specialists, irrigation specialists, or tree specialists). If you’re interested in specialty plants like roses or vegetables, researching what types of plants thrive in your plant zone is key. Research before you buy, make some lists and get your plans in place.

Do some hands-on research

Winter and spring are prime months for local flower and garden shows (read our tips here for getting the most out of visiting a show). These are perfect places for getting inspired by unique garden designs, asking questions from the vendors, finding out about new products or perhaps purchasing unique bulbs and plants. If you have specific issues or questions about your yard, take a few photos and bring them with you. The vendors exhibiting at these shows can give you some great free advice and this is the perfect opportunity to actually schedule an on-site visit from a pro. Additionally, your local garden show might feature lectures and classes from master gardeners or garden club experts – what a great opportunity to gain insight and get inspired!

Which areas of the yard to work in first

Even if your yard is small, it might be easiest to plan out and work in zones. It might simply be a matter of dividing your yard into back, front or side or you might be more specific like “yard near the back stairs” or “area next to front door.” You might not be able to afford redoing your whole yard – many homeowners work on their yards for decades. Long ago an expert advised me to simply start with the areas closest to the house, like the areas right in front of your windows. These are the areas you tend to notice all the time. Once you’ve planned out those regions, start moving outward to the areas you use or look at the most.

Keep a record of what you’re planting

Once you’ve purchased plants or seeds and started planting them, hold on to any information that came with that plant. Some gardeners keep a garden journal, really a place to keep track of what was planted where. You’ll also want to refer to these info cards for watering details, pruning suggestions or fertilization. Here’s an article about how to start a garden journal.

Get your tools prepped

When the weather is not great for visiting a nursery or working in the yard, make sure your tools are cleaned and ready to go. Winter is a great time to oil wooden handles, sharpen edges, clean and organize your tools, or perhaps invest in a few new tools. Good quality garden tools should last years and taking good care of them will only make your work in the garden easier.

Be water conscious

In addition to being aware of your landscape budget this season, be aware of your planned water expenditure as well. New plants tend to need more water than established plants, and certain species (like grass lawns) need lots of water to survive the summer. Even if you live in a wet climate, it’s smart to group plants together based on their water needs, this will help you save money and time when watering. You can also invest in a drip irrigation system or install a sprinkler system. Whatever you plan for your garden,consider these water saving tips for your yard.

Another great way to be water conscious is to start with healthy soil. Adding compost to your soil before planting will mean that your plants get the nutrients they need. Mulch helps retain water and can keep weeds at bay. If you don’t compost already, starting your own pile is really easy. Read all about composting here.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m putting some of her ideas into action this spring!  Call us if we can help you design your plan!

407-957-9208

407-957-9208