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landscaping trends Blog

New Landscaping Trends To Keep An Eye On

Just like fashion, interior design and architecture, landscaping trends are constantly evolving and changing. Many people remodel their homes with the newest trends in flooring, kitchen counters and cabinets, furniture, but neglect updating the outside of their homes with the latest landscaping trends. Of course, not every style fits every home, but here are some landscaping trends you may want to think about when doing a remodel.

Natural Materials

For a while, the trend was brick, concrete, and other man made materials patios, fire pits, and water features, and even walk ways. But today, there has been a conscious effort to use more natural materials. Brick walkways and mini walls have been replaced with natural stone. Decks and pergola’s have returned to wood.

We are even seeing the landscaping trend to move to natural materials present itself in the outdoor furniture people want to use. The slick, modern furniture made from plastics and steel that we have been used to seeing are being replaced with more traditional wooden tables and benches.

landscaping trendsHistoric with a Modern Twist

I’m not sure where exactly to place the blame, but climate control might be a good place to start. When I was a child, the back yard was a place you had to mow now and then, and where you picked some fruit when it was in season. For many of my friends, the backyard was a minefield… or a place to let the dogs out. Now, like in antiquity, the backyard is once again becoming an extension of your living space. The old round metal barbecue is being replaced with a permanent stone clad barbecue that has a built in stone fired bread (pizza) oven next to it. Mediterranean gardens are going where flat lawns used to be, and the sleek modern divider walls are being replaced with aged stone walls that look like ancient ruins. The modern back yard is still there, but it lis covered in the facade of a 1,000 year old garden.

Sustainable Technology

As far as landscaping trends go, sustainable technology has had a huge impact from design to use. However, sustainable technology is almost an unsung hero of modern landscaping trends because it is felt more then it is seen.

From electric gardening tools to billing services accessible from smartphones and tablets, sustainable technology has been a landscaping trends that helps landscapers be more productive, and do their jobs cleaner and faster.

Smart LED lighting and smart irrigation systems help keep your landscaping beautiful and can be monitored and controlled from smartphones and tablets. You can be away on vacation and still see that the plants by your property line need some water, so you turn on that section, and set it to shut off when the soil reaches optimal saturation. Meanwhile you turn on the low wattage LED patio lights so anybody roaming around your property thinks someone is home.

It’s amazing what we can do from our phones.

Hyperlocalism

“Locally sourced” isn’t just popular in restaurants and groceries these days. Using local plants and materials in landscaping design is becoming not just a landscaping trend, but an environmental friendly trend as well. Some people are calling this trend a “celebration of regionalism”, and it can a unique flair to your landscaping design. Hyperlocalism isn’t just about using native plants. It also requires the utilization of locally sourced stone and lumber for building materials.

When done properly, this regionally focused design can reduce your carbon footprint, beautify the natural environment by encouraging pollinators, reduce costs by using plants that are accustomed to the local weather, and become something unique to your region.

Landscaping Business Needs Blog

3 Tools You Didn’t Know Your Landscaping Business Needs

It’s no secret that your landscaping business needs tools. It wood be difficult to do the job without  a lawnmower, hedgers, shovels and such. Most people think that those tools are all a landscaping business needs. Technology has changed all industries, and landscaping is no exception. So what digital tools should be in the modern landscapers tool bag?

Landscape Design Software

There was a time when landscaping plots were drawn out on paper. But just as CAD systems have changed architectural design, modern landscaping has it’s own set of design software tools. Even the simplest home landscapes can benefit from having a plot laid out in design software. These plots allow everyone working on the project to determine what plants are where, and what the specific requirements for those plants are. You can mark elevation changes, mulch needs, PH levels and all sorts of useful information on these plots that can be pulled up on any device. This allows your team to do a better job more consistently.

Billing Software

Landscaping Business NeedsLandscapers are good at their job. They know how plants grow, what plants need what amount of water, and where to plant those plants for the best aesthetic and useful needs. The skills required to be a good landscaper are numerous. Those skills do not always include billing. Let’s face it, a landscaper thrives on being out with the plants and with nature, not pushing a pen and crunching numbers. Getting a billing service is a necessity, and get one designed specifically for a landscaping business is a dream come true.

With Obex, a landscaping business can manage their customers right from their phone or tablet, while Obex handles mailing out the bill on time, every time.

Fleet Tracking Software

As your landscaping business grows, you will have more trucks out handling more properties. Using fleet tracking software allows you to maximize your teams time by seeing where time is wasted, and rescheduling clients to tighten up travel times. There is no sense having your team criss cross town spending hours in traffic if you can schedule your properties in a more convenient fashion. Having fleet tracking software also holds your teams more accountable. You can see if they took a long lunch, or made a detour between jobs. Knowing that the office is paying attention will likely reduce the urge to make unscheduled pit stops.

Computer Controlled Lighting

Maybe this is something that should go in a “Tools You Didn’t Know Your Clients Need” article, but I decided to put it here. Computer controlled landscape lighting is amazing and one of the wonders of our modern digital age. Being able to use low powered LED lights with color changing capabilities that can be controlled from any device is now something that must be taken into account when designing the landscaping for any building. From accent lights to deck and porch lighting, these systems are amazing and should be a part of the planning process, not an afterthought.

sustainable landscaping tips Blog

3 Sustainable Landscaping Tips for Home or Office

Everyone wants to do good for the environment. After all, we have to live in it. But did you know that you can do a lot to help the environment right in your own yard? Sustainable landscaping helps the environment, and even more, it helps save the home owner money. That sounds like a win win to me.

Use Native Plants

sustainable landscaping tipsI am not sure why or when we started the practice of trying to grow non-native plants in our yards, but that is something that should stop immediately. The benefits of using native plants are so numerous, that it is mind boggling that anyone would want to use anything else. If you are serious about sustainable landscaping, then start with native plants.

For starters, native plants are already accustom to the conditions of where you are. They are used to the rainfall amounts, temperature variations, soil conditions, and local animal and bug populations. What this means for you is that you will need to use less water, fertilizer, and pesticides to keep your plants healthy. You also will not need to worry about it being too hot in the summer, or too cold in the winter.

You can also use native plants and grasses to create vegetated filter strips. Making these strips alongside roadways, sidewalks, driveways and rivers or streams will help to filter out pollutants trapped in storm runoff before it gets into your other plants, rivers, streams, or the ground water.

Don’t Fight The Rain

When designing sustainable landscaping, average rainfall must be a part of the planning process. A well designed  yard will use landscaping feature to direct storm runoff away from the home and into rain gardens or grassy swales. These are places designed for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. You can put plants that are particularly thirsty in these areas, and keep pants that don’t need as much water in the places you are diverting the rain water away from.

Modern advancements in building materials have brought us some great permeable pavement options. With these you can create driveways, patios and walkways that allow the rainwater to soak through them and into the ground. This will also eliminate a lot of stormwater runoff that could eventually make its way into your structure and cause water damage.

Remember to Use Mulch

Organic mulch is a great tool when considering sustainable landscaping. Fragrant mulches (like cedar bark) have natural oils in them that act as insect repellents. (as a general rule, the more fragrant the mulch, the better it works as an insect repellent). Creating a mulch pathway around the perimeter of a building can help keep bugs away.

Mulch also helps retain soils moisture levels by slowing evaporation, and organic mulch absorbs water from rainfall to help give soil even more moisture. Organic mulch also helps stop soil erosion, as well as keeping nutrients in your soil from being washed away in the rain. As the organic mulch slowly decays, it will also add nutrients to the soil. And on top off all that, mulch helps prevent weeds!

Great Landscaping Blog

Great Landscaping Transforms Your Entire Property Into Your Home

Does it seem to you that people are forgetting about their yard? How many people do you know who have a barren patch of grass behind their house? Maybe, a barbecue sitting lonely by a lawn chair, but nothing else. I know a few people with fenced in bare backyards. As if the fence isn’t there to protect anything, but to hide the backyard from the neighbors. “Don’t look at this waste of space behind my home” the picket fence screams.

Your Back Yard Can Be An Extension Of Your Living Space

Great LandscapingWherever you live, there is some time of year that it is great outdoor weather. And chances are, your backyard is the best place on your property for entertaining. You just need to take a bit of time to get a good design, and have it set up correctly. Add some pavers, put up a pergola, and drop a fire pit in the middle for a simple gathering place. Add a half wall with a fireplace in the middle of it for some extra flair. (You can even put a stone pizza oven into the fireplace for the ultimate party space). Add a water feature and some trees for privacy, put in some solar lights and you have the place to be on a weekend.

Your Back Yard Can Be Helpful

Back before the rise of chain grocery stores and big box stores, backyards were mini farms. People would grow fruits and vegetables in their backyards. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, strawberries, and rosemary are just a few things that I have grown in abundance in a nicely designed garden. You can have separate areas with pavers between them. Raised beds here and ground level over there. You can line a small path with short columns with strawberry pots on top of them. The possibilities are endless. Make a quick search of Tuscan Garden, or Mediterranean Garden to see these amazing back yards. These were places that were not only helpful, there were also a focal point, and an extension of the living space.

Your Front Yard Creates Curb Appeal & is Functional

Everyone knows that curb appeal is important. It helps keep home prices up not just for you, but for the whole neighborhood. Great landscaping that is well maintained in the front yard can make any house look better. But did you know that great landscaping can do so much more then just raise the value of your (and your neighbors) house? Shade trees can lower cooling costs. (We recently planted a Buddleja saligna in front of my Aunts house to block the mid day sun from her front bay windows and the reduction in AC usage was drastic.) Properly placed trees can add privacy. Strong, thorny bushes under windows can help dissuade would be burglars, and soft soil flower paths around drive and walk ways can capture footprints helping keep your house secure.

Great landscaping can do so much for your property. It can save you money, add privacy, protect you and your family and add a great additional living space. So stop thinking of your home as just what is inside those 4 walls and use some great landscaping to make use of your whole property.