Water Features Can Transform Your Backyard

How do you take a boring backyard and transform it into something special? Add a water feature. Water features can transform the ordinary into something incredible as well as hide road noise creating a peaceful and tranquil environment. So all you have to decide is what kind of feature you want. Here are some of the options.

Fountains
Garden fountains are one of the easiest water features to add to your yard. Most home improvement stores and garden centers will carry do it yourself kits. Choose from a large variety including stand alone fountains and those that hang on your wall. All you have to do to install it is position the fountain, fill it with water and plug in the fountains pump. If you want to get creative, you could even make your own fountain out of new or old pots, a little bit of plastic tubing and a small water pump.

Ponds
Ponds involve a little more work but are still easy to do in the hands of a competent do it yourself. Once again, kits are readily available from your home improvement or garden center. To put in a pond you will have to first dig a hole in a suitable location. Ponds are normally only a few feet deep but it is still a lot of work to dig out all of that soil. Next you will either line the hole with a flexible pond liner or insert a formed hard plastic liner. Then add rocks and a pond filtration system. After treating the water, you can then add plant life and even fish if you so desire.

Waterfalls
If you want more than a basic pond, you could try installing a waterfall. This installation is a little more complicated and you might want to consult a professional landscaper. It does take some experience to plan out the flow of water on a waterfall.

Waterfalls are also an excellent feature to add to an existing swimming pools landscaping. They will make an ordinary pool a sight to behold.
With all of the options, it can be hard to decide what type of water feature to add to your yard. Go over your options and choose the type that best fits your budget and your do it yourself experience level.

Japanese Gardens – Basic Design Questions That Should Be Addressed

As westerners, we are often compelled to try to control and plan all design aspects of what we want when constructing something. We try to anticipate every little detail so we don’t make a mistake. Although you will still need to organize and draw out your Japanese garden design, plus determine the shape of your landscape and what you desire for your garden, you should also allow yourself to “go with the flow” and let it “speak to you” as your garden takes shape. In other words, allow for improvisation and ideas to emerge rather than being rigid in sticking to your original design plan.

Before any work begins within the yard itself, a basic garden plan should be drawn up to help you formulate your ideas and the placement of elements. There are several questions you need to address to help with this process:

  1. Do you already have an existing garden in the area where you wish to incorporate a Japanese garden style? If so, what type of garden is it (flower garden, English garden, rustic wildflower garden, etc.)?
  2. Will you be able to integrate your current garden into the new Japanese garden plan? What aspects and features will remain and what will have to be moved, replaced or  removed entirely?
  3. What style of Japanese garden are you most interested in – tea garden, courtyard garden, stroll garden, pond and island garden, Zen rock garden or a combination of two or more? For very small areas, you will most likely stick to only one style. For those that have a large landscape, you can have your choice of any of the styles to suit your desires and landscape area.
  4. How large is the area of the site that you are considering using? Does it have natural hills and valleys? Are there any elements, such a stream, already present? Take a good visual view of your selected site and note down all the details on paper. Take measurements as well, so you know the exact area size you will be working with.
  5. What elements and features are important to you? For example, do you wish to add a waterfall, water basin, or a rock arrangement? Would you like one small area to feature a Zen garden? Is a stepping-stone pathway that leads to a gate appealing?
  6. Will you be building this garden by yourself or will you have help? The size, design and amount of work to create your Japanese garden will affect this answer. Obviously, building a very large stroll garden by yourself would take forever and be impractical.
  7. If you plan to use large boulders or plant more mature trees (rather than saplings), how will you get them into your garden? Is there room and access for large machinery to help with placement? Keep in mind boulders and large trees are extremely heavy.
  8. Will your garden be formal, semi-formal, or informal (rustic)?
  9. Many Japanese gardens are actually built around a theme. Do you have a theme in mind for your garden? An example of a theme would be a miniaturized version of “The Bridge To Heaven”, which is a marble and stone bridge that spans the famous Dragon Beard Ditch in China. This bridge was built over 600 years ago to allow the Ming and Qing emperors to cross over on their way to the Temple of Heaven. Your theme could even revolve around a smaller replica or area of an original famous garden of Japan. Read books and view photographs of existing gardens to get some ideas.
  10. What do you want to achieve with your garden? Will it be used primarily for meditation? Do you wish to incorporate a strolling pathway with new visual delights beyond each curve? Do you want the invigorating sounds of water, such as a waterfall or fast moving stream? Will it be a place to sit quietly and contemplate nature? Understanding the concept behind the garden design is important.

In conclusion, these types of questions should be contemplated carefully and answered thoroughly before you begin to put your design down on paper, otherwise you could end up with a garden that holds no meaning for you or your visitors. A Japanese garden should have a “reason for being.” What are your reasons?

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

Lawn mowers need to be properly maintained so it will be able to function whenever you take it out of the garage. Here are a few maintenance tips you should know about that will be very helpful.

The best time to clean a lawnmower especially those that are powered by small gas engines is between the months of October and November. This is because fall is coming and if this is not drained, chances are this will not start when spring comes.

To do that, you should run your motor dry. If there is some gas in the tank, take it out and put this in your car’s tank. This will not cause any harm to your car and this is much better than throwing it away.

If you don’t heed this warming and leave gas all winter, you will have to deal with the sticky stuff resulting from the evaporation of the old gas. So just think, you can do this the easy way or the hard way.

A month or two before spring comes you should also consider an oil change for your lawn mower. You can do this by simply draining the old oil and then putting in a new one. Some people don’t change it annually but you should do so every two years.

The air filter of the lawn mower may also get clogged. Although it is not that expensive to replace, you can save money by cleaning it using a light brush or blowing through the holes using some air. That way you don’t have to change this for a new one and save money for something else.

Unlike the air filter, spark plugs have to be replaced regularly. You can buy these from the hardware store, open the lawn mower and replace these with new ones. Before you buy this from the store, be sure you know exactly what the plug specs are because certain brands use different kinds.

The mower blades will get dull over time and you have two options. First, replace these with new ones or sharpen it yourself. You just have to buy a blade sharpener and then work this at the correct angle. The nice thing about the sharpener is that you can also use for axes, hoes and shovels.

A lot of people tend to ignore the underside of the lawn mower. But did you know that this can also make you miss certain spots later on when you mow the lawn and also make it difficult to start the engine? This is why you should also pay some attention to the under carriage and you can clean it using a paint scraper.

It wouldn’t hurt to do take some preventive measures for your lawn mower knowing that the cost of a major repair will be much more expensive. By draining it, cleaning it and replacing a few parts, your lawn mower will be just as good as the day you bought it.

The lawn mower is the best machine to have so your lawn is cut evenly. In some neighborhoods, fines are imposed to those who do not follow these guidelines so if you want that to happen to you, make sure you lawn mower is in good condition all the time.

How To Plant Wonderful Spring Flower Bulbs

Spring is the favourite season of most of the gardeners we know. It is a time of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation. One of the greatest joys of this part of year are the beautiful assortment of flowers. You can get this joy at home by planting spring flower bulbs. These are bulbs that bloom in early spring while other plants are still developing.

There are many spring flowering bulbs, but some of the most popular are crocus, tulip, narcissus, and hyacinth. These bulbs should be planted before the ground freezes, preferably in late September or early October. This enables them to develop a strong root system before the first frost.

Spring flower bulbs should be planted in an area that drains well. Bulbs will rot in standing water. They must also receive adequate sunshine at least six hours daily. The soil doesn’t need any special treatment, but it should be loose and workable. If you are working a new area, you might want to add some compost or peat moss.

When it comes time to dig the hole, follow the package directions. Most bulbs will require a depth of six to eight inches, but loosen the soil for an additional four inches. Place the bulb in the ground with the pointy end facing up. Pack the dirt firmly and water thoroughly.

Spring flower bulbs require very little care. Simply water them occasionally, and add a mulch cover when cold weather comes. With a little water, sunshine, and luck, you will be blessed with beautiful, fragrant blooms in early spring.

Make Your Own Moss Landscape Rock And Garden Statues

Moss can make some garden elements – and even entire shady gardens – look and feel aged (in a good way!) and established. The issue with garden moss though, is that sometimes it may not even grow at all on its own. And if even it does decide to prosper, it could take a very long time to become established and start looking good.

We have a way you can speed up the process and establish a beautifully verdant green moss cover over your garden rocks and concrete features. This method doesn’t work well on resin statues / ornaments and artificial landscape rocks.

First stir a fist size clump of porcelain clay into 3 cups of water to form a thin paste. You can usually get porcelain clay from local hobby shops (do a search online if you’re not sure).

Then combine the clay mixture with one cup of undiluted fish emulsion and one cup of fresh, shredded moss. Fish emulsion is a plant fertiliser made from whole fish. It’s usually available at retail nurseries and garden centres.

Mix everything together and slather it on your rocks and concrete objects with a paint brush. Keep things in the garden slightly moist by misting, but take care not to wash the mixture off.

Remember; moss grows naturally in patches, likes the North side of objects, and takes readily to cracks and crevices.

If you use this formula in shady gardens and in moist locations and you can most probably have moss on your garden statues and landscape rocks in a few weeks.