18 Aug

Interlocking Brick Designs for Backyards and Patios

I recently paved my backyard with interlocking bricks. Yes, I do not have my not-so-lush lawn now but the backyard looks neat and still gives me plenty of room to plant my favorites in the bordering raised beds. As I have observed and experienced, interlocking brick designs dramatically improve the landscape. They are durable and easily withstand long spells of freeze and thaw.

As opposed to concrete or brick and mortar floors, interlocking bricks can be installed in various patterns and offer a variety of material (clay, concrete, stone etc.) texture and color.

If you are considering interlocking bricks in your patio or backyard, this is a useful article on cost, material, pros and cons of installing interlocking bricks. If you want to do it yourself, follow this link for step-by-step DIY instructions on installing an interlocking brick pattern in your backyard or patio.

Examples of Interlocking Brick Design

Browse these beautiful examples of interlocking brick designs for your inspiration.

22 May

Top Tips for Gardening in a Small Backyard / Patio

Gardening in a small backyard or patio can be challenging – what plants should you select for all-seasons interest, how should you arrange your plants for best display, and how should you integrate your favorite plants with your day-to-day family activities – this article answers all of these questions.

Also see: Simple & Beautiful Deck Design Projects

What plants should you grow in your small backyard/ patio?

Plants come in many sizes, colors, and textures. And they all have their specific requirements. Because you cannot make major changes to your backyard or patio, you should select plants that can easily integrate in your existing settings – soil type, space, sunlight, and effects of changing seasons.

Small and enclosed spaces tend develop their own microclimate with higher level of moisture and retained heat. Therefore it is important to select plants that are hardy and require less maintenance.

Plants in enclosed backyard or patios are more likely to transfer insects and diseases to other plants. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep a vigilant eye on insects and immediately isolate infected plants.

When buying a plant for your small backyard or patio, carefully consider its growing habits and the room that it would require in coming years. Some plants have columnar growth and do not spread much, some remain solitary but produce heavy foliage, some plants develop clumps and require more space than others, some plants do not attain much height, some shed their leaves in fall, and some are evergreen. Make sure that you plant them in the right place in your backyard or patio. Plants with columnar growth can be used to form a background for plants that attain medium to low height.

Usually low-growing shrubs and bushes make nice plants for small backyards. There are a plenty of flowering shrubs that do not need regular pruning and produce attractive foliage and flowers. Small empty spaces can be cultivated with ground covers.

Mix and match plants for all-season interest. Combine annuals, perennials, small trees, and flowering shrubs. Visit your local garden center and you will find many species with foliage that change colors throughout the year. You can also find interesting accent plants that add architectural interest to your garden.

Top Plants for Growing in a Small Backyard or Patio

  1. Cycas revoluta for interesting and evergreen foliage.
  2. Plumeria, when you need a small tree with lovely and fragrant flowers.
  3. Angel’s Trumpet for stunning and fragrant flowers.
  4. Agaves and Euphorbias for year-round interest.
  5. Bamboos for evergreen foliage.
  6. Canna for nice and colorful foliage.
  7. Mandevilla for nice trailing branches and attractive flowers.
  8. Boxwood for evergreen and hardy foliage.

Top Examples of Small Space Backyard / Patio Gardens

03 May

Gardening by the Poolside – Practical Tips

Gardening by the side of an outdoor pool not only adds life and serenity to the environment but also gives you many option to introduce privacy, shade, and seasonal interest to the landscape. Today’s posts gives some handy tips on gardening by the poolside.

  1. Select low-maintenance, evergreen plants. They do not shed a lot of leaves. Deciduous plants shed a lot of leaves that clog filters.
  2. When space is not an issue, grow plants at least 4 to 5 feet from the pool to keep debris and soil from contaminating the pool.
  3. Pools create a micro environment – moist and humid. Carefully consider plants that can easily adjust to this type of climate.
  4. Mix and match small trees, shrubs, ground covers, and seasonal bloomers to design a balanced landscape by the poolside.
  5. Small trees are best for creating some shady spots where as shrubs and bushes can be planted for introducing interesting foliage and texture.
  6. Use bushes or small trees to create privacy screens.
  7. Creepers and ground covers are helpful in filling empty spaces and keeping debris and soil from washing away with rainwater.
  8. Some succulents make nice accent plants and can be easily incorporated in your landscape design. Most of them are low on maintenance and last long.
  9. Use ornamental grasses. There are many ornamental grasses that can grow to short and medium height and add delicate, feathery texture to the landscape. See examples of landscaping with ornamental grasses.
  10. Use pergolas, and trellises, oversized planters to introduce artistic element and structural depth to the environment. See examples of modern trellis designs.

Besides a long list of plants to grow by the poolside, here is a list of some unusual and interesting plants that you should consider:

Shrubs & Bushes to grow along the poolside

  • Kalanchoe beharensis – hardy and evergreen bush known for its distinct looks and unusual foliage
  • Loropetalum chinense – evergreen shrub with fringe-like flowers that appear in spring and summer.
  • Pelargonium trifidum – low-growing shrub with sprawling branches and brittle stems. The leaves are succulent and aromatic. When provided with proper support of a tree or fence, the plant can grow up to 1 meter.
  • Alluaudia procera – a really striking succulent shrub grown for its ornamental value.
  • Breynia disticha – makes an excellent plant for borders where it grows as a small shrub (up to 4 feet) and produces beautiful foliage of green, white and pink colors.

Small trees to grow by the poolside

  • Schotia brachypetala – low-maintenance small tree with attractive evergreen foliage and large clusters of spring flowers.
  • Amherstia nobilis – though hard to find, this low-maintenance tree produces very attractive and unusual flowers.
  • Brownea coccinea – evergreen plant that grows into a small spreading tree and produces nice foliage and flowers.
  • Nymania capensis – Evergreen shrubby tree known for its beautiful, rose-pink and papery seed pods that look like Chinese paper lantern.

Ornamental grasses to grow by the poolside

Accent plants to grow by the poolside:

Examples of Gardening by the Poolside

28 Apr

The Ultimate Guide to Designing Beautiful Xeriscapes

Though the word sounds complicated, Xeriscaping is a simple and practical technique of designing water-efficient landscapes. Xeriscaping involves preparation of soil, selection of plants and design of landscape layout to minimize the use of water.

In a nutshell, an efficient xeriscape is a low-maintenance, high impact and water-wise landscape.

Useful Tips for Designing Efficient Xeriscapes

Following are some basic pointers to designing an effective xeriscape:

Improve Soil

Soil is the first thing you should analyze when planning a xeriscape. Make sure that the soil is able to retain moisture by adding organic matter to the soil. See: Tips to improve sandy soil organically

Select the right plants

Select native plants; they are low on maintenance and do not usually need frequent watering. There is a wide variety of drought-tolerant plants that can be used in xeriscapes. See: 100+ xeriscape plants.

Design effective layouts

Design your xeriscape layout to ensure minimum waste of water. You can use terraced layout, pathways, and slopes to ensure that water can easily flow through your garden and irrigate most parts of the xeriscape.

Use planting techniques

Be creative when planting. Plants with similar requirements can be grouped together to ensure efficient use of water. Plant xerophytes on slopes.

Irrigate efficiently

Irrigate in evening or early morning to reduce evaporation. Contain rainwater for irrigating your xeriscape. Replace sprinkler system with drip irrigation system.

Mulch the bare soil

Use a lot of mulch. Topping up the bare soil with two to four inches of mulch prevents water evaporation, maintains an even, cool soil temperature and prevents the germination of weed seeds. The best time to apply mulch is in late spring after the soil has warmed, but before summer’s heat begins. A late autumn mulching helps avoid the alternate freezing and thawing of soil.

Suitable Plants for Xeriscapes

Selection of plants greatly depends on your climate. I have listed about 100 drought-tolerant plants along with their culture, growth requirements and USD zones here. You can also browse the following list of popular plants that can be used in most xeriscapes.

Perennials

  • Artemisias
  • Asters
  • Columbine
  • Coreopsis
  • Delphinium
  • Echinacea
  • Gaillardia
  • Iris
  • Lavender
  • Pansy
  • Sages
  • Sedums
  • Tulips and crocuses
  • Yucca

Annuals

  • Cosmos
  • Ganzania
  • Marigold
  • Mexican Sunflower
  • Phlox
  • Portulaca
  • Vinca
  • Zinnias

Succulents 

  • Cotyledon
  • Crassula
  • Dudleya
  • Kalanchoe
  • Sedum
  • Aloe
  • Agave
  • Bulbine

Ornamental Grasses

Useful Xeriscape Resources

xeriscape

How to determine cost of your xeriscape project

Do’s and Don’ts of Xeriscaping

[Pocket Guide] Xeriscaping at Home

[Book] Creating the Prairie Xeriscape by Sara Williams

Step-by-Step Guide to Practical Xeriscaping

[Photos] 15 examples of xeriscaping with succulents

[Photos] 9 examples of xeriscaping with cacti

[Free PDF Guide] Basics of Xeriscaping

Examples of Beautiful Xeriscape Design

19 Mar

Fancy a pond in your garden?

Garden ponds make very nice water features in a garden. They not only add aesthetic value but also provide you an opportunity to grow aquatic plants, such as Nymphoides, that you cannot have in your garden otherwise. Besides growing interesting plants, you can also use a garden pond to keep water creatures or attract wild birds.

Today’s post lists a a few useful resources that you can use to design, build and maintain your own garden pond.

Resources:

[DIY Project] How to Build a Garden Pond: Follow these simple steps for building your own garden pond.

[Book] The Water Gardener’s Bible: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building, Planting, Stocking, and Maintaining a Backyard Water Garden

[Tips & Tricks] How to take care of your garden pond: Follow these tips for keeping your garden pond fresh and clean all through the year.

[Design Ideas] Pond Design Ideas: Browse the following simple and beautiful pond designs.

05 Jan

Simple and Modern Deck Design Projects

Outdoor decks are a popular and elegant feature of any home. Decks can be gathering places for your friends and family in the warm months of the year. There are many different design styles for decks. Take a look at the photos below to get some inspiration for your own deck!

The team at Imperial Building & Roofing recommends considering multi-tiered decks because they are both aesthetically appealing as well as practical.

29 Dec

8 Simple and Practical Ideas for Water Features and Fountains

Garden designers would agree that water features and fountains make powerful design elements. Water not only adds sound and motion to the landscape but also gives an ethereal touch to the environment. Browse these simple and practical design ideas for water features and fountains to your garden.

Try these simple water features to add music and motion to your garden landscape.

Beautiful Water Features and Fountains

Contemporary Water Feature Landscape by Sydney Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Dean Herald-Rolling Stone Landscapes

 

A really simple and low-cost water feature that you can build yourself.

Asian Water Feature Landscape by Minneapolis Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Garden Structures & More

 

You can also use terracotta planters to make an economical yet attractive water feature.

Beach Style Water Features Patio by Ojai Interior Designers & Decorators Kelley & Company Home

 

A delicate water feature when you have plenty of room in your garden.

Mediterranean Landscape by Newport Beach Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc.

 

Another DIY project that you should try to build this bubbling fountain.

Asian Water Feature Landscape by Mason Landscape Contractors BlueGrass Landscape

 

A beautiful water feature for small space gardens.

Asian Water Features Landscape by Portland Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers beautiful bones and purple stones

 

A delicate mix of greenery and architectural design.

Contemporary Water Feature Landscape by Encinitas Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers debora carl landscape design

 

A creative and impressive design that you can try to build a stream of water in your garden.

Mediterranean Water Feature Landscape by Menlo Park Architects & Building Designers Zak Johnson Architects
22 Dec

Designing Beautiful Landscape Designs with Bamboos

Oft undervalued, Bamboos are valuable plants for using in a landscape design. In fact, they are excellent landscape plants for many reasons:

  • Bamboos grow quickly and they are easy to maintain
  • Bamboos come in hundreds of varieties that suit many purposes; they can be used as fencing plants, as wind breakers, as ground covers, as accent plants, and for controlling soil erosion
  • Bamboos can grow in many different climatic conditions – tropical, cold, swamps, indoors, and in shaded and sunny locations
  • Bamboos are resistant to pests and diseases
  • Bamboos are evergreen and reproduce themselves easily

Depending on climatic conditions and landscape scheme, you can pick and choose many available varieties. Generally, bamboos are divided in two types:

  1. Running bamboos: These species produce rhizomes to develop a vigorous root system. These species have clumping growth and tend to cover large areas quickly and can be invasive.
  2. Rooting bamboos: These bamboo species have vertical growth and produce tall and slender stems.

Browse the following gallery and see how bamboos can be used to develop interesting landscape features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

09 Dec

9 Beautiful Examples of Landscaping with Cacti

Cacti are very useful plant for landscaping. They are hardy, do not require much maintenance and grow in many different climatic conditions. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes making them nice accent plants in a landscape design.

Browse these beautiful examples of landscaping with cacti and see how unique a landscape design can be.

A beautiful example of cacti being used as living fence.

Cacti can be used to fill empty spaces along pathways.

Cacti can be used as a design element to cover boring walls.

Potted cacti make nice accent plants in small landscaping schemes.

You can also use potted cacti in larger landscape schemes.

A beautiful example of cacti being used as border plants.

Tall cacti can add a vertical angle in tight spaces.

Another use of cacti as border plants.

Most cacti can be grouped together to make a nice rock garden.

27 Nov

How to Decorate Your Garden using Garden Lights

Being an avid gardeners, I want my garden to look awesome all the time especially at the night time. It is the time when gardens wear different hues and fragrance and create a soothing environment. And with some creative use of garden lights, you can make your garden an lovely place to spend your relaxing hours.

Today’s post shows some creative uses of garden lights as a decorating element. Get some inspiration and try these examples to decorate your own garden with beautiful garden lights.