How to Preparing Your Yard For A Cold Winter

As summer comes to a close, many homeowners begin to look ahead to the colder months. Unpacking sweaters they may have stored and bringing out their coat racks to fill with scarves and mittens. For many of us, winter presents blustery cold conditions, keeping us inside our cozy homes for the next few months.

But before you get ready to hibernate indoors, take care of what’s outside first. You’ve likely put a lot of time and thought into your landscaping around the home. If not prepared, the frosty temperatures can destroy the spring blooms you anticipate every year. So take advantage of a sunny fall day and prepare your yard for a cold winter with these tips.

If you’re ready to get started on your lawn care, contact a pro today for up to four free quotes from landscaping contractors in your area.

Clean Up
Fall is a beautiful time of year when you’re able to see leaves in a variety of warm hues. As beautiful as it is, eventually, those leaves will end up in your lawn. At first, it’s fine to continue mowing over them, as it turns to mulch and provides added nutrients to your lawn. But, once the leaves become too much to mow over, you must rake them up.

Another thing you should clean and store for the winter months is any lawn furniture you’ve enjoyed in the summer. Leaving them out in the winter elements can change their appearance and ruin any finishes on them. This is especially true for wood furniture. Store away in a shed or garage until you’re ready to use again next year.

Prep Your Water System
Winter weather can have a terrible effect on your outdoor water systems and features. Make sure all the water is shut off, hoses unattached and put away. If you have a rain barrel, you’ll want to drain that for the winter as water can freeze and damage the barrel.

This is also a great time to clean out your gutters. It’s recommended that gutters are cleaned at least twice a year and it’s important to go into the winter months with a clean gutter to prevent any damage.

The last day you mow for the year depends on the climate you live in. Ideally, you’ll want to stop mowing after the first fall frost. You can look up the prediction for your area using the Farmer’s Almanac to better plan your last mow. Use the lowest setting on your lawn mower the last few times you cut the grass.

You also may want to consider applying a winter fertilizer to your grass to give it an extra boost for the spring.

An important, but often forgotten aspect about lawn care task is aeration. This creates small holes in your lawn to allow nutrients to get into the ground and refresh your grass. Fall is an ideal time to do this task, because your lawn needs time to soak in the nutrients and regrow without disturbance. To aerate your yard, you can do this yourself by renting a machine or purchasing special shoes that allow you to do this task while walking around your lawn. For larger lawns, it’s best to contact a pro who has the right tools to help.

Protect Your Perennials

Your beautiful flowers that were a delight this summer now need proper care to bloom again next year. First, you should know what flowers are perennials and annuals. Annuals, unless they are self-seeding, need to be pulled up as they will not come back the next year.

However, perennial flowers should be expected to return the next year, if you have cared for them properly during the season. But to ensure they bloom the next year, you’ll want to protect them from the snow and cold. Add extra mulch around them after the first frost and cut them back to allow for new flowers to bloom in the spring.

Garden Prep
If you have a fruit and vegetable garden, winterizing it gives you a start to the best produce the following year. As wonderful as your garden has been this year, it’s now time to remove any plants that are done growing. Pests can inhabit old plants during the late-fall months and potentially ruin your garden the following year. Remove any weeds you see as well.

Now that the season has ended, consider having your soil tested. This way, you’ll know the pH levels and nutrients that are in your soil to determine what plants will thrive next year.

Plan Ahead
Now that your yard is winterized, you have a few months to consider how you want your landscaping to look next season. Plan out any major projects you’d like to complete like installing a water feature or flowerbed. If you have a garden or intend to plant new flowers, this is an important step because many need to be planted at a specific time of year. Be aware so you don’t plant a late-summer flower in early spring.

Plant For Spring
You may be surprised to hear that there actually is some planting to be done in the fall months. Spring bulbs and shrubs are best planted in the fall, before the first frost. This will give them time to grow and flowers ready to bloom as the weather begins to change in the spring.

Shouls You Know About Garden Art

Any gardener will tell you that the best gardens usually involve the placing of “garden bones.” Garden bones are more permanent structures that you build the rest of your garden around. This can be something as organic as evergreen trees or as stylized as metal garden art. Of course, garden art can function as more than just the framing structure for your garden. It can provide you with a place to sit or lounge as you enjoy your garden or simply enhance the stroll through your backyard.

Custom Garden Art

You may have a very specific idea of what you want. Garden styles are various and prescriptive, and by the time you add your own touch to the appearance of your garden, you may have trouble finding what you’re looking for. It may not occur to you, but contractors are out there who specialize in customized decorative pieces for your home. You can tell them the material you want and the design you want and they can make it for you. Depending on what you want, you may have to pay a premium price, but if you’re working within a budget, the contractor may have suggestions to produce something similar within your price range.

Use Recycled Items for Garden Art

Recycled items may not be the first thing that comes to your mind for garden art, and admittedly, it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for a way to spruce up your garden on a truly limited budget, this may be the way to do it. Old newspapers or soda cans aren’t going to work, but any number of household items can be reused as garden art long after they’ve worn out their welcome indoors. Old furniture, especially unique coffee tables, storage cabinets, or baby cribs, can be garden gems. Plus, you’d be surprised how your old bathtub can be transformed into a beautiful piece of garden art. Even though newspaper doesn’t last and has no particular visual appeal, other household items such as old clothes, book covers, or other flat items of possible sentimental or aesthetic value can make for one amazing scarecrow.

Garden Art Alternatives

Garden art can be almost anything, even when it’s not called garden art. Garden furniture, most commonly benches but also tables and chairs, is great for livening up your garden with an artist’s touch. Trellises or other walkway coverings are an ideal way to create a secluded, romantic atmosphere to your garden. Birdbaths, bat houses, and other artificial wildlife habitats can be just as decorative as any other piece of art and are just as integral as the flowers you plant to create a wildlife garden.

Metal Garden Art

Metal may seem like a strange material to include in your garden, but it offers a flexibility and affordability that few other materials can. Be it a classic wrought iron bench or gate, or a more custom metal sculpture, you’re bound to find some piece of metal garden art that will greatly enhance the look of an outdoor space. Metal fabricators can create a wide variety of customized metal garden art, including animal sculptures and other complicated and decorative designs. For larger garden items, such as gazebos, a metal like aluminum may be the only way to make the project feasible, as it is a lot cheaper (and more durable) than wood.

More Information About X-Rated Yards

When people hear the words “desert landscaping” they immediately imagine cacti, driftwood, tumbleweeds, and a bunch of concrete. This is called zero-scaping, and though it is certainly an option that requires no maintenance, it is also a bit of a downer because there’s no personality to it. Just because you live in a dry climate and want to conserve water doesn’t mean your yard can’t be full of life. You want to embrace your natural setting while still retaining some color and foliage along the way.

Therefore, xeriscaping has become a very popular choice among homeowners. It literally translates from Greek as “dry scene” (xeriscape), and it helps to conserve water and energy by allowing a yard to match its natural landscape and climate. Why live in the desert and try to make your lawn look like a forest? Instead, embrace and showcase the setting.

Less Maintenance, More Savings

Though water conservation is one of the main benefits of xeriscaping, a lot of financial advantages can be reaped from this landscape as well. One of the biggest reasons to invest in “dry design” is not only because it is environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing, but it also brings you big savings. You no longer have to fight the climate and force your lawn to act unnaturally. By giving into the landscape itself, you’re on the winning side of a losing battle. Preserving water isn’t just a smart thing to do; it saves you money on bills. You also don’t have to fertilize as much. There is less of a need for pest control and expensive chemicals. There will be less maintenance, less pruning, and no more wasteful trimmings. All of this will help save the environment while saving you time, effort, and money.


But, in order for it to be successful, there are certain preparations that need to be made. You’ll probably need to work with a professional landscaper to get it done right the first time, but here are some things to always keep in mind.

First, any quality xeriscaping will need the right kinds of plants. Typically, these are native species that require less water and can withstand the heat. Although you want drought-tolerant plants, it doesn’t mean they all have to be cactus and yucca. In fact, there are many types of tough desert lawns, turfs, and flowers that grow bright and colorful. Buy plants that can be deeply rooted and are bred to endure harsh climates. Also, as you install your vegetation, make sure that you plant in groupings for better water efficiency.

Water Conservation

Conserving water is important, whether it’s your choice or the government’s. Buying plants that require less moisture will help, but there are other ways to preserve as well. First, try to invest in a drip-irrigation system. This sprinkler system runs along pipes throughout your lawn and slowly drips water directly onto the vegetation. It acts as a gentle rainfall or a dewy morning. This not only cuts down on wasteful inaccuracy (no need to water your home’s siding and driveway) and over-watering, it also prevents immediate evaporation into the air by high winds. But if you do use traditional sprinklers, make sure to water in the mornings or evenings when the soil is more primed to soak up moisture.

Soil Conservation

Desert soil is naturally impervious to water conservation. It quickly soaks it up, dries it out, and lifts if back into the atmosphere. An easy solution is mulching as much as possible. It cools off the ground, holds water, and cuts down on energy bills and maintenance costs. But you can also plan bigger projects, such as re-structuring your soil so that plants can retain any moisture for a longer period of time. It’s not easy, nor cheap, but once you’ve put time and energy into the initial investment, you’ll get a return on your money in no time.

One Last Tip

Though xeriscaping is a very popular trend in dry climates (such as the West and Southwest) it may not be as common or successful in other areas of the country. Therefore, check with your neighbors and homeowner’s association to see if this re-design is allowed. But even if desert landscaping itself isn’t permitted, the philosophy behind the design is still applicable. If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, match your yard to fit your region’s natural landscape and climate. Succumbing to the natural world, no matter where you live, will lead to less work and bigger savings.

Composting At Home

Recycling organic matter into soil conditioning, fertilization and enrichment material requires a process that is known as composting. It’s a technique that uses living organisms to enrich the soil needed by plants in order to grow and stay healthy.

Composting is a healthy and inexpensive way to help the environment as well as cut down on the need for inorganic fertilizers and some types of pesticides. It’s also something that both adults and children can do. To get the best out of composting, it’s necessary to understand how it’s done and what is needed to make it happen.

How Composting Works
Composting is a process that can take weeks or months. It begins with the gathering of organic waste to form the start of a compost pile or compost heap. Fungi, bacteria, worms and other forms of life then consume and process the organic debris into a material called humus, which is rich in essential nutrients, such as carbon, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. When the material is combined with a proper amount of water and access to oxygen, the temperature of the composting material will increase to a potential maximum of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 66 degrees Celsius. At maximum potential temperature, the composting process will take as little as three weeks, but at lower temperatures, it can take several months.

Smart Gardening Information Sheet: The Art and Science of Backyard Composting
Backyard Composting: Nature’s Way of Recycling
Backyard Composting
Composting at Home: Learn How to Compost at Home

Benefits Of Composting

Compost is an effective substitute for commercial fertilizers and in some cases, it can also serve as a natural pesticide and barrier for some plant-based diseases. It contributes to enhanced soil moisture retention as well as higher levels of essential nutrients, which result in higher crop yields.
The process of composting can also clean up the ecosystem by removing toxins and even some types of heavy metals from the environment. Composting is a critical element when it comes to organic farming and sustainable agriculture in general and it’s useful for anything from home gardening to landscaping or farming on a small or large scale. If landscaping or home remodeling in New York, a professional may be able to best apply the compost for maximum growth. While composting is great for home gardeners and home agriculture, it also has a variety of other important benefits. It helps with soil reclamation, fighting sediment runoff and topsoil erosion and creating wetlands to serve as habitats for some types of wildlife. Industrial interests also use compost to cover landfills and to alleviate the cost of disposing of food waste from schools, shopping malls and stadiums.

Environmental Benefits
Wisconsin Composting Overview, Including Benefits
Compostology: The Science of Composting or Vermicomposting
Composting Benefits
Guide to Yard Composting
What To Use, What Not To Use

Organic waste is the most essential element of composting. It includes a wide variety of organic material that is sorted into classes called “greens” and “browns.” Green organic waste supplies essential amounts of nitrogen and includes fruit and vegetable remnants, young or dead weeds, freshly mowed grass, tea bags and tea leaves, used coffee grounds, leaves, dried flowers and various trimmings from landscaping or yard work. Fresh manure from herbivorous animals like cows, horses and chickens also falls under the “green” category of organic composting materials. Carbon is another necessary part of the composting process and for that element, brown organic matter is necessary: Examples include hair, straw, eggshells, shredded cardboard and sawdust.

There are certain materials, however, that people should not use when composting. These include any cooked foods or manure from carnivorous animals, such as cats. Cat litter should also never be used. Never try to compost diapers or metal, including aluminum, or anything that has chemicals in it. If conducting home renovations in Illinois or wherever you call home, make sure you talk to your contractor about any waste that may or may not be compostable.

There are several factors involved in building a compost pile. The first step is to gather the compost material, or organic waste. Open compost bins are the best for achieving optimal exposure to oxygen, which is a vital element in the process. When it comes to outside or backyard composting, the compost material can be arranged in an open pile, which means it can be placed on the ground; however, more optimal results can be achieved by storing it in a container known as a compost bin. When composting indoors or in areas with limited space, using worms, or vermicomposting, is a good choice to reduce odors. According to Cornell University, the compost mixture should contain a ratio of 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen by weight. Larger ratios of carbon to nitrogen mean the compost material will not reach a sufficient temperature, while lower ratios will result in the generation of excess ammonia gas.

Compost Chemistry: C/N Ratio
The How-To’s of Building a Compost Pile
Home Composting: A Guide to Composting Yard and Food Waste

Maintaining The Pile
Part of the composting process involves actively tending to the project. This is because routine rotation will be necessary to keep the mixture properly exposed to oxygen. A container that tumbles or rotates every one to two days will achieve even better results, as it keeps everything properly mixed and exposed to oxygen from the air. Maintaining proper levels of moisture is also important. Compost piles should only be moist, not so wet that they’re dripping with water and this can be achieved by spraying the mixture with a water bottle or lightly with a garden hose. If the compost material is too wet, it’s possible to regulate the moisture level by adding brown materials like shredded cardboard and scraps of used paper towels.

Turn Your Spoils into Soil
Backyard Composting: Mixing and Turning
How Composting Works
Food Waste at Home
The Finished Product
Depending on various conditions, the compost may be finished within a matter of weeks or months. When it’s complete and ready for use, the material will be of the same temperature as that of the ambient air. It should crumble in one’s hands and resemble a dark and rich form of dirt, with an earthy scent. There should be no recognizable remnants of the original materials, nor should there be any mold, ammonia scent, or rotten odors.


The Cost To Remove A Tree

As sad as it is, tree removal is part of home ownership. While beautiful landscapes showcase tall, luxurious trees through their front yards, other times, rot or poorly planned electric lines can ruin one’s curb appeal. Therefore, more often than we care to admit, trees must be removed.

Since there are many factors at play, determining the average cost to remove a tree can be complex. Nonetheless, if your trees are not what they once were or have become a safety hazard for you and your family, read below as I will discuss all the factors that determine how much it costs to remove a tree.

Cost to Remove Trees
As we noted in our tree removal cost estimator, there are some homeowners who attempt to complete this project on their own. However, given what’s at stake, especially if the tree is close to the home, we highly recommend hiring a pro.

The average price to remove a tree is $545, but five factors will inflate or deflate that price. Those five factors are:

Based on these factors, we have seen tree removal services run as high as $1,000 or as low as $125. While many landscaping companies will offer tree and shrub removal and trimming services, you may want to consider contacting a dedicated arborist instead. An arborist is a professional who can offer more specialized tree and shrub services, including conservation and maintenance.

Regardless of whom you hire, you will also want to discuss the following answers with your hired professional:

Do you want any stumps left behind to be ground down?
Are you planning to plant a new tree?
Are there rules to cutting down trees in your area?
No matter the answers, discuss them with your landscaping professional before you sign the contract.

Considerations for Tree Removal Cost
Like I said, the average cost will largely depend on five important factors.

Size (Height)

To no surprise, taller trees are more expensive to remove. They demand more work and may require special equipment to not only take it down, but to remove it from the premises as well. According to HomeAdvisor, small trees are 30 feet tall or less, medium trees are between 30 feet and 60 feet and large trees stand 60 feet to 80 feet tall. Very tall trees are 80 feet or taller. Most tree removal services use these size ranges as guidelines for charging.


Certain trees are in worse conditions than others, largely depending on its age, rot and lean. Trees in worse conditions are more expensive, and complicated, to remove.

Below are a few factors that can adversely affect the condition of your tree:

Recent construction near roots
Slight lean of the tree
Exposed roots
Multiple trunks
Weak branches or stump
Cavities or decay of the tree
To keep your tree in great condition, casual maintenance is required. See what it costs with our tree maintenance cost guide.


Tall and thin make for a quick removal process, but short and stout bring a different dimension to the tree removal process. As such, a short or tall thicker tree will almost certainly increase the price of removal. If the trunk must be cut into sections (usually the case for a thicker tree), it will add that much more time to the job.


Needless to say, there are many important structures surrounding many trees, such as electric lines, your home, a neighbor’s home and so on. A tree in a compromised position can add 50% to the total removal cost. Furthermore, trees woven between power lines may require a certified lineman for removal.

Additionally, trees that are very close to the home require more work, driving up the total cost of the removal. If the tree is near a structure, the branches will have to be lowered by rope instead of just being cut loose. Also, cutting down a tree surrounded by trees that you don’t want damaged can complicate the job quite a bit.

Finally, trees in the front yard are usually cheaper to remove than backyard trees. Trucks can’t bypass your home and oftentimes, removal of backyard trees requires a pro to climb the tree. The farther the pro or truck must go, the more expensive the service will be.


Much like the size, the type of wood or tree will have a big effect on the overall price. For instance, oak, which is part of the hardwood family, is a very strong wood and requires more work to remove versus a palm or pine tree. Oak trees can run up to $1,000 to remove, whereas small palm or pine trees can cost as little as $150.

More exact prices are below:

Palm Tree Removal: The average cost to remove a palm tree is approximately $150 to $450 if their height is 30 feet. If they’re 80 feet tall or more, you might spend $1,100 to $1,500.
Pine Tree Removal: The average price to remove a pine tree is around $200 if the tree is 40 feet tall, but 80-foot pine trees will cost about $1,500.
Oak Tree Removal: Since it reaches up to a height of 60 feet, the average cost to remove an oak tree is approximately $200 to $1,000.

Costs of Grinding A Stump
Even after the tree has been removed, the work is not done. Tree stumps are significant eyesores to any yard, front or back. They can not only ruin your chances of selling the home down the line, but also present a substantial safety risk.

A landscape or tree professional can remove large stumps in minutes. According to our tree service cost estimators, the average price to grind down a tree stump ranges between $82 and $139. Other factors that could affect the price include the age of the stump, the condition of the soil, the root system and the hardness of the wood. If you have several stumps to grind, you may be able to bundle them together and reduce the individual price.

Simple Tips To Find Roofing Contractors Near You

Perhaps winter weather has been unkind to your home and has damaged your roof. Perhaps you’re looking for a way to make your home’s curb appeal stand out in your neighborhood. Whatever your reason for needing a new roof or roofing repair, you’ll also need a roofing contractor.

If you’re not sure where to start your search, you’ve found it here. Also, if you’re all set on your project’s details, you can find a local roofing contractor here.

Identifying What Work Needs Done
First things first; you’ll need to determine what work you want your roofing contractor to actually do. It seems simple at first, an install or repair, right? True, but the devil’s in the details for every home improvement project.

If you need a roof repair, you’ll need to know how much to budget based on the extent of damage. Also, check with your home insurance company to determine if said repairs are covered by your policy. Are you looking for a short-term fix or a long-term solution? Patching a hole might get you through a season or two, but there might be hidden damage to your roof that can resurface in the future and cause more problems. Once you determine the fix, discuss project extent and pricing further with your local roofing repair contractor.

Sometimes, a roof replacement is an unfortunate necessity due to damage. Other times, it’s an elective upgrade for your home! Let’s focus on the latter of these two situations.

Replacing a roof is not a trivial task for any handyman, but a major home improvement project that requires an experienced professional home roofing contractor. Your home itself is a variable for the cost and difficulty of a roofing project. A larger home most likely requires a larger roof and therefore a larger budget. Also, the steeper your roof, the more difficult and therefore expensive the project will be. You can find more information on measuring your roof’s area and pitch here. Also, consult Improvenet’s roofing cost calculator once you determine those measurements to get a better idea of what to expect from an estimate.

Like most home improvement ventures, you have an extensive list of options when it comes to roofing types and materials. When you’ve chosen your new roofing material, make sure that your roofing contractor installs that type of material. Also, make sure that roofing material is right for your home, functionally and aesthetically. A good roofing contractor will be able to provide you with feedback for your roofing plans to whether such a plan is a good idea or not.

The easiest way to connect with a local roofing is to start with our roofing project form. All you’ll need to do is enter your ZIP code so we can match you with roof building contractors who serve your area. From there, answer a few questions about your project like the requested service type, your timeframe and your home’s property type. It’s best to provide as much detail as possible to the roofing contractor, so feel free to include a description of the damage (if you’re looking for repairs) or your roof’s measurements and your desired roofing material. The more information the home roofing contractor has, the better. He or she will be able to provide a project estimate faster and more accurately right off the bat.

You can also browse our directory of service providers to find your perfect roofing contractor. First, select your home state, then your city and finally, select what roofing project you’re interested in. From there, you’ll be able to see a list of your local roofing contractors along with their services provided and reviews from other homeowners. You can also see certifications, Better Business Bureau ratings and if the roofing contractor belongs to a trade group like the National Roofing Contractors Association.

Tips to Hire a Landscaping Contractor

contractors are one of the most vague and most easily misunderstood contractors in the home improvement industry. Small, independent contractors might focus on small projects like delivering and spreading mulch, helping out with your spring planting, installing lawn drainage, or a sprinkler system. Larger companies are more commonly referred to as design/build firms, and these professionals will create and implement a comprehensive landscaping design that will transform your yard into head-turning, envy-of-the-neighbors, residential oasis. But most people still refer to them as landscaping contractors.

Depending on the type of service you need, landscaping can get expensive. The average cost to install landscaping for residential properties is $4,000, according to data collected by HomeAdvisor from homeowners all over the country. That said, your particular project and its cost may bear little resemblance to this average. Some landscaping contractors install in-ground as part of their services. A new concrete swimming pool alone might cost $40,000 or more. Yet, there are several ways to get the most value for your money. The following can help you save money on your next landscaping contractor call:

Before you call:

– Compare hourly rates or job rates of several landscapers.
– Make a list of possible landscaping options. You might only be able to have a portion of it done, but let the professional make the call on what should come first.Also, your landscaping contractor might cut you a deal for having it all done at once rather than in phases.
– Some landscapers will allow you to buy your own trees and shrubs. You can often save money this way.
– Consider skill and experience over a cheaper hourly rate. Having an inexperienced, inexpensive landscaper who doesn’t do his job properly can require you to have another landscaper out to fix his mess. Avoid those mistakes by hiring quality first.

Landscaping Thoughts:

– Depending on the size of your yard and what you want done to it, you might need to hire a landscape architect to design your landscaping. Be sure to include the cost of the architect into the total cost of your landscaping.
– If you and your landscaper can secure a little time, talk with the professional about current trends, options to save you money, plant options that need less water or work better in the shade, not to mention are a compliment to your yard and home.

Ideas to Consider:

– If you don’t currently have a sprinkler system, now would be a good time to have one installed. If you already have one, make sure you have the capability to water the new items that will be added by your landscaper.
– Call a landscaper out once a year just as a checkup. Your professional will be able to walk onto your lawn and tell you what needs more care, what could use less care, and other tips to keep your lawn looking amazing.

Learn More About Bush Basics

Shrubs are plants that are too short to be considered trees, usually 20′ is the cutoff. Hedges are a series of closely planted shrubs used to form a boundary or mark a specific area. Confusingly, another name for a hedge is not a shrub, but a shrubbery, which signifies a connected growth of shrubs. Bushes, on the other hand, can be single shrubs or a line of hedges, but bushes are characterized by shorter, denser growth than other tree shrubs.

As a homeowner, you don’t need to know all the confusingly synonymous terms, but you do need an understanding of the different concerns and services surrounding each. A single, stand alone shrub is more exposed to the elements than hedges, but latter requires more consistent pruning services to maintain healthy growth. And this is just one of the subtle, but important, distinctions to make when caring for all the bushes in your yard….

Tree Shrubs

So, somewhere between an oak tree and a tomato plant lays the tree shrub. The oak may require next to no maintenance in a five-year period; the tomato plant will need attention multiple times a week, or even multiple times a day. The frequency of your tree shrub service is, fittingly, in the middle of the two. Unlike that elm or maple, a tree shrub is more affected by physical damage. Many a tree has been hit by a car, and quite a few have lived to tell the tale. Shrubs, on the other hand, can be permanently damaged under much less strain. Shrub service begins before you plant. If your bush is to be placed in a high-risk area (like along a driveway), you may consider putting up a fence or other barrier to protect your plants.

Tree Shrub Service: What to Plant

Another preventative form of tree shrub service is picking the right plant for your property. Decorative tree shrubs can certainly add beauty and value to a lawn, but if they aren’t suited to your particular area, they might end up being more trouble than they are worth. Have your soil’s acidity and composition checked before you pick out your plant. The speed at which the soil drains, the percentage of clay and sand, and the soil’s pH level should all be taken into account when deciding on what your property will host. An easy way to ensure a well-growing, low-maintenance plant is to opt for native species. Native tree shrubs will be more likely to flourish and require little or no extra watering or fertilizer to thrive.

Landscaping service for hedges is almost exclusively pruning services. You may want some advice about the placement and growth pattern. Good planting will help create an even exposure to sunlight and rainwater, but usually hedges suffer from a lack of pruning. Most homeowners like to keep clean lines for aesthetic reasons, but if you’re at least willing to go outside to prune dead or dying branches, your hedge will suffer from this “dead weight.” Once your hedges are flourishing, you should prune them at least once a year. Fortunately, it doesn’t take too much botanical knowledge, as most are well-adapted to non-selective pruning. Other varieties of shrubberies will need more attention when pruning time comes around.

Professional Pruning Practices

A “heading cut” will stimulate growth beneath the cut mark and is made anywhere on a branch that is not a point of origin or attachment; a “thinning cut” is made at a point of attachment or origin and should not encourage extra growth. Proper pruning is a combination of these two types of cuts. There is a definite science to where these cuts should be made. Having a good-looking shrub will depend on the amount of knowledge the person doing the pruning has.

Though there are certainly exceptions, shrub pruning is generally done during the early spring or late winter. This is because it is the time of year when plants are already preparing for new growth. Flowering shrubs that are meant to bloom at this time of year, however, are often pruned during early summer, after the flowers have run their course. That said, when a shrub is damaged by physical trauma (either natural or manmade), it should be pruned at once, regardless of the season. Diseased shrubs should also be pruned as soon as the ailment becomes apparent. It is a good idea to rinse the clippers you are using between cuts to hinder the spread of disease.

Tree Shrub Service Costs

Naturally, it all depends on what type of service you’re looking for, not to mention the number, size, and species of the shrubs. If you’re trying to nurse an ailing shrub back to good health, you can often get a diagnosis and a preliminary treatment for as little as $50-$150, although more extensive treatment services can run several hundred dollars. This cost range is also likely to reflect one-time consultation for shrub planting. Trimming your hedges or bushes is even less certain. Some trimming services can cost $100 or less, although most of these inexpensive jobs are usually for the elderly or people with limited mobility. More often, a homeowner will hire hedge trimming as part of a larger lawn care, landscaping, or tree trimming service. The average cost for this type of project is a more robust $800, although the range goes from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand.

Simple Tips To Create A Gutter Garden

Creating your own gutter garden is a great way to re-purpose worn out gutters to create a beautiful garden within a limited amount of space. Gutter gardens have been growing in popularity as city dwellers search for new ways to bring plants into their backyard. The best news is that this DIY project won’t cost you a ton of money and it’s a great way to take advantage of vertical spaces by securing your gutters vertically on a trellis or fence.

Whether you choose to fill your gutters with flowers, or edibles like strawberries and herbs, a gutter garden is sure to be a great addition to your patio, deck or backyard. Let’s get started!

Materials You’ll Need:

Gutters cut into equal sections
Gutter end caps (both right and left end caps!)
PVC glue
Mounting brackets and screws
Electric drill and drill bit, screw
Potting soil, flowers, and edibles of your choice.
Steps to Take:
Clean out your gutters and clear them of any grime, dirt and flaking shingles. If you think that your gutters were painted with lead paint, do not use them as a planter for any edibles.
Cut your gutters into equal sections using a handsaw.
Glue your end caps on the right and left sides of your gutter.
Drill a series of small holes down the length of the gutter. This will allow water to drain.

Repaint the gutters. If you prefer the weathered look, feel free to skip this step. We think that adding a fresh coat of paint adds character to your project. If you are painting your gutter, apply a plastic primer beforehand. This will help the paint stick to the PVC gutter. You may need to give your gutters two coats of paint in order to really seal the deal.

Select a suitable hanging spot (see below).
Wherever you choose to put your gutter garden, make sure there is ample sunlight!

Mark space for your brackets. We suggest using two brackets per channel. If you are arranging your gutters vertically, leave at least a foot between each row to allow your gardens to grow and to ensure that there is ample sunlight hitting your flowers or edibles.
Fasten the gutter garden to your selected area with mounting brackets and screws.
For a suitable hanging spot, consider:

Mounting the gutter garden to the side of your deck.
Hanging gutters vertically on a fence or trellis.
Using your gutter garden as a window planter.
Attaching the gutters to the side of your home.

The Finishing Touches on Your Gutter Garden
Fill your gutters with potting mix just below the lip. We suggest filling your gutter with the lightest soil you can find. If you are concerned about moisture retention, add a bit of peat moss too.

Consider adding plants that give a burst of color to your backyard. If you can grow it in a 4” pot, you are most likely able to plant it in your gutter garden since it’s a shallow area. Here are some plants to consider:

Lettuce, salad greens and spinach
Radish and other small root vegetables
Strawberries and other small fruit
A variety of cacti
Herbs like mint, thyme, parsley and chives
Marigolds, violas and pansies
Your new gutter garden is sure to add charm to an otherwise uninteresting area! Thanks to their elevated existence, rabbits, bugs and other pests will stay out of your garden. And, remember to water your gutter garden regularly at the soil level!

Avoiding Unwanted Gardens in Your Gutters
Repurposing your gutters with a small garden is a great idea when your gutters are unattached from your home. But, if you have looked at your gutters lately, you may have noticed that they have been sprouting roots, due to neglect. You may not realize it, but your clogged gutter problem can cause serious and costly foundation and structural damage to your home.

Your gutters have one purpose and one purpose only: to divert rainwater away from your home. When your gutters become filled with unwanted debris like leaves, twigs and shingle grit, the flow of water will be interrupted, and water can spill over your gutters, damaging your soffit and fascia board. This will also cause water to pool around the base of your home, seeping into your foundation, causing cracks, mildew or mold.

For these reasons, it’s important to regularly maintain your gutters by properly cleaning them about three times a year. When cleaning your gutters, be sure to have someone at the base of your ladder that can keep it steady to prevent any accidents. As an alternative, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaner to complete the job for you.

Gutter cleaning is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. If you are looking for a more permanent solution to your clogged gutter problem, a gutter protection system, like LeafFilter, may be a viable option for you. Gutter guards keep debris out of your gutters, allowing water to flow freely and divert properly away from your home. However, not all gutter guards are created equal and you should conduct your own research before making the investment.

Let’s Learn About The Basics of Landscaping

So you have a yard, and that’s great, but do you have landscaping? Landscaping is different from the grass in your yard, no matter how much time you have spent mowing and tending to it. Many young people move into their first home and don’t have a good idea about how to manage their yard, and with new suburban homes, they don’t really know how to go about getting proper landscaping for their particular home. The best thing to do is to get back to the basics and start learning it from the ground up (no pun intended).

It All Starts with Soil

Depending on where you live in the world, your soil can be heavily acidic or alkaline. The soil can also have large amounts of clay or iron. The point is no matter what landscaping or grass you are planning on growing, your soil has to cooperate. In order for your soil to work as well as possible, you need to have it tested. Your soil might be perfect or it might just need some nitrogen. Soil engineers can test and analyze soil from different points in your yard to help your yard perform at its best. The cost for this averages about $800.

Utility of Landscaping

What you need to understand about landscaping is that it serves more than just an artistic or aesthetic purpose. It is functional outdoor art, but it can also serve as a vehicle for privacy. Landscaping can exist to attract certain insects or birds to your home. It can also be used to cover up your foundation that sticks out from the bottom of your siding, among other things.

Good landscape architects and landscape designers are trained to utilize your yard for whatever end you desire (security, privacy, etc) with a design that is pleasing to the eye and to the neighborhood.

So think about what you are trying to accomplish with your landscaping. If you are interested in attracting butterflies or keeping neighbors from peering in, keep this in mind so that your architect or designer creates something that can serve this dual purpose.

Maintaining Your Landscape

After you have had your landscaping designed and installed, there is an issue of maintenance. You will either need to maintain your yard yourself or you can hire a landscaper to do it for you. Either way, early spring through early fall, there will be steady work to keep up with the Jones’s. But it is good work. You will be outside, sweating, and getting your hands dirty trying to get that green thumb.

Information About Natural Grass Putting Greens

One of the good things about choosing a natural grass putting green is that the initial installation is usually cheaper than the synthetic alternatives. You’ll want to resist, however, the urge to try to install the green yourself. More goes into installing a putting green than special grass and a good mower.


A sand base is put in, making the green sensitive to water. As such, the ground usually needs to be built up and sloped to allow for water runoff. Poor drainage will lead to pools of water that will make the grass disease-ridden. Plus, if you hire a professional they can also give you starting advice on proper maintenance for your putting green. One additional thing to keep in mind is that while the initial installation of a natural putting green is cheaper, there will be maintenance costs that aren’t associated with synthetics.


Unless you’re able to hire your own part-time greenskeeper, you really need to be an avid lover of both golf and gardening to choose a natural grass putting green. Good putting green maintenance involves precise measurements and practices of watering, fertilization, and topdressing. If this doesn’t sound daunting in itself, the precision of the maintenance entails experience and observation with your specific putting green and its conditions. In other words, while research will help, you can’t simply look up how often to water or fertilize your green and expect optimal results.

That said, a basic working knowledge of putting green maintenance will allow you to keep your green alive and usable. Think of the different golf courses you play on. You can tell the difference between the expertise (some would say, artistry) of different greenskeepers. Firm, fast, healthy greens aren’t easy for the professional to maintain and it won’t be any easier for you, either. Still, once you’ve started, you’ll immediately start to learn what works and what doesn’t for your putting green. Eventually, you can create a putting green the rivals any out there and you may even find a new love in greenskeeping.

More Information About French Drains

Excess water in your yard can be a pain. Having your basement flood every time you get a heavy rain can be even worse. Inadequate yard draining can keep you from your chores, from enjoying your lawn, or it can even wear away your home’s foundation, causing structural damage. These problems may seem ubiquitous and largely unsolvable, but the reality is a simple landscape installation can dry out your lawn and protect your foundation. A French drain is a simple trench drain that siphons water away from the more important and heavily used areas of your yard. It’s a home improvement gem in that it’s a simple, economical installation that can reap huge benefits.

Why This is Happening to You

What can be particularly frustrating is when your yard is overrun with water while your neighbor’s yard is just fine. There are several contributing factors to inadequate drainage and some of them may apply to your yard but not your neighbor’s. The two biggest factors are your lawn’s soil content and its lack of contour. When water enters your lawn it sinks into the soil and displaces the air, pushing it up. Heavy, compacted clay may contain a significantly less amount of air to displace, causing water to crest above the surface of your lawn much more easily.

The ability of water to move around your lawn also greatly increases its ability to effectively drain. If your neighbor’s lawn is above yours his or her rain water can be feeding into your lawn. Meanwhile, if you have a mostly level lawn, that water is just going to sit there. When these two factors are working together, they are simply waiting for the next heavy rain to turn your lawn into a swamp.

The installation of a French drain is a little more complicated than digging a ditch and laying down pipe, but not much. You need to make sure you have a consistent slope for the drain to work. You need to make sure you lay down washed gravel underneath and above the pipe.

The complicated part of a French drain isn’t the installation work, it’s the knowledge of where to dig the ditch to make sure the drain is effective. To dry out your lawn, for example, you should start at the highest point of your lawn and run the trench down to the lowest point. However, this type of trench drain won’t protect your foundation. A linear drain that acts like a moat may need to be installed around your foundation. Depending on how level your lawn is, a series of trenches may need to be dug to effectively drain your lawn.

Ideally, your trench drain should extend to a lightly used area of your lawn that has a more sand-based soil. Your situation may make this impractical. Plus, if your drain extends anywhere close to a neighbor’s property, you should consult a professional before you simply run all your water off into your neighbor’s lawn.