<span>June 2017</span>

  • How to Use Landscaping Lighting

    One of the great things about living in Sarasota, Florida is the wonderful weather. Even during the winter months, temperatures rarely dip so low as to preclude enjoying the outdoors. With such stunning sunrises and sunsets, along with all kinds of natural beauty, it’s part of Florida living to enjoy all the Sunshine State has to offer. For homeowners with an outdoor deck or a patio, you can make certain improvements to get more function and enjoyment out of the space.

    Of course, you can install a fire pit, put-in an outdoor kitchen, and arrange outdoor seating for your family and friends to enjoy. Another thing you can do is to install deck lighting to be able to use the outdoor space for hours after the sun goes down. In addition, you can also opt to install landscaping lighting in your front yard, as well as your back yard, and even on the sides of your home. It’s how to use landscape lighting that presents the biggest obstacle to most homeowners.

    Benefits of Landscape Lighting

    In addition to creating beauty, landscaping lighting does quite a bit more. There are definite benefits to landscape lighting, of which, some of the most notable are: safety, security, and aesthetics. Landscape lighting provides safety for your family and guests. They’ll be able to see obstacles and tripping hazards when it’s dark outside. Landscaping lighting also provides an added layer of security, helping to ward-off potential intruders.

    Landscape lighting can turn a visitor from feeling wary to welcome. It can change the rest of the yard from Nightmare on Elm Street to Some Enchanted Evening, all with the flip of a switch. The first step in this transformation is to educate yourself about the possibilities. Because photos rarely do justice illustrating the amazing possibilities of landscape lighting, keep an eye out for good examples when you’re out for an evening stroll or drive. —Bob

    In the aesthetics department, landscape lighting can be used to highlight features, such as a pool, pergola, or waterfall. It can also be used to highlight softscaping. In addition, it can be directed to shine onto outdoor decor. This creates improved curb appeal in the front yard and makes backyard spaces more functional and welcoming. So, there’s definitely a number of benefits associated with installing outdoor landscape lighting.

    How to Use Landscaping Lighting

    Where some homeowners go wrong is how they “use” landscaping lighting. Which means not having a realistic and workable plan in-place to achieve the results they want. Too often, the installation is based on supposition and few contingencies are taken into consideration. This causes frustration because what was supposed to be doesn’t materialize and that means having to move and rearrange lights in order to get the right look and feel. To avoid this conundrum and unwanted extra work, use the following suggestions for the best results:

    • Know the purpose for your landscaping lighting. Before you do anything else, know the purpose for your landscape lighting. For instance, if you’re wanting to illuminate your back yard to highlight a pool or to light-up a path, it should do precisely that. Know the mood and style you want to create and go forward with this in mind.
    • Draw a rough sketch of your yard. Everything will be a factor when you install outdoor lighting. The height of a hedge, the exterior walls of your home, any covers such as a pergola or awning. When you do this, you’ll likely find blockages and other obstacles. In addition to this, you should contact your local utility providers to know precisely where lines are buried so you don’t accidentally cause yourself a heap of trouble.
    • Plan where lights will go in the outdoor space. Expounding on the above suggestion is to plan where the lights will go. You need to take into account brightness and breadth of the lights. You don’t want to windup having to replace a light because it didn’t have the power to illuminate an entire tree or water feature. Also, you don’t want to stage the lights in a way that causes shadows in odd places or shines directly into someone’s eyes.

    Two More Ways to Use Landscaping Lighting

    • Understand how much effort the project will take. It’s very easy to underestimate how much effort it will take to get the results you want. There’s a lot involved in any installation and you’ll need the time, tools, and effort to get the right outcome. If there are things which are out of your skill level, it’s best to hire a contractor, such as a landscape designer or landscape architect to do the job for you.
    • Determine your budget and include a contingency cushion. If there’s one thing about landscaping, it’s poor budgeting that causes the most problems. Don’t just ballpark what it will cost to get what you want, itemize everything and then, add-in a contingency cushion of at least 15 to 20 percent.

    When you’re ready to install new landscape lighting and want the best results for the biggest impact to really improve your curb appeal and/or to transform an ordinary entertainment space into something spectacular, give us a call at 941-923-0333 or 727-998-1977, or, visit us online. We serve the entire Sarasota area, from around Lido Beach, over to North Beneva Road, and across to Bradenton Road.

  • Poisonous Landscape Plants to Avoid

    Poisonous landscape plants come in many varieties. Unfortunately, this presents a real danger to homes with children and pets. Many are bright and colorful. Additionally, some are eaten by birds and other wild animals. Some are flowering plants, while others are nuisance weeds. So, when you’re, it’s a good idea to identify and rid your property of them as soon as possible.

    Poisonous Landscape Plants to Avoid

    Every household wants to keep their children, pets, and plants healthy. But the number of poisonous landscape plants found in residential backyards is staggering. This is due, in-part, to our modern way of life, removed decades ago from our ubiquitous agrarian ancestors. So, most of us simply don’t think about the dangers lurking in our yards. Even those who take great pride in their landscapes, might not know which plants are safe and which are poisonous.

    Vegetation helps sustain life. We eat many plants, herbs and so forth in our daily diet. But, we must remember to be choosy. Some plants, trees or shrubs are potential killers of man. Some part of the ornamental plants or flowers in your yard may contain deadly poison. Many poisonous plants are so common and seemingly innocuous you do not suspect their toxic qualities. For example, who would expect that the beautiful oleander bush-grown indoors and outdoors all over the country-contains a deadly heart stimulant, similar to the drug digitalis? It is easy to be deceived by plants…one part may be edible while another is poisonous. –Texas A & M Horticulture

    In fact, aside from poisonous plants, there are many household properties with non-native, invasive plant species. These are a concern because they take away precious resources from native, non-invasive species. To best protect your children and pets, you need to know which plants pose a danger. Here are the most poisonous landscape plants to avoid in your yard:

    • Pokeweed. Phytolacca americana or pokeweed is a traditional salad ingredient in the southern United States. Unfortunately, if it isn’t prepared the right way, its toxins remain and it is poisonous. Children are drawn to it because of its colorful berries. Birds eat pokeweed because they are immune by the plants natural but toxic, chemicals.
    • Doll’s eyes or white baneberry. This plant also grows berries and when eaten in a sufficient quantity, is poisonous. Unlike some other toxic plants, all its parts are poisonous, making them all-the-more dangerous. Two other very common poison species are white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) and water hemlock (Cicuta maculata).
    • Bittersweet nightshade. Another poison plant common to residential yards is bittersweet nightshade. Like pokeweed, wild birds eat the berries because they are unaffected by its toxins. Birds pass seeds through their waste, which helps to distribute the species. Bittersweet nightshade also possesses bright, colorful berries, which are tempting to small children.
    • Warning yew. These shrubs are very popular in the United Kingdom and the United States because they have an excellent reputation for being tolerant of different soils and sunlight conditions. However, all parts of this plant are poisonous, just like doll’s eyes.
    • Castor bean. Traditionally grown for its medicinal uses, castor bean is the ingredient to produce castor oil. Used as a laxative, it’s one of the most familiar medicine cabinet staples of older generations. But, the toxin ricin is made from castor bean seeds.
    • Angel’s trumpet. A tropical plant, angel’s trumpet boasts colorful trumpet-like flowers and emits a wonderful fragrance — two qualities which are very attractive to young children. It’s a hallucinogenic plant and poisonous when eaten in large quantities. Also, its sap is a skin irritant to some people.
    • Oleander. Typically found the western United States, this desert flower can cause skin rash and all of its parts are toxic, when enough of it is ingested. Oleander grows white or pink flowers, which are all too tempting to children.
    • Wolfsbane. Aconitum, also known as monkshood, is one of the most poisonous plants and like some others, all parts of it are toxic. Wolfsbane contains the alkaloids, aconitine and aconite and it does not need to be eaten to be poisonous. Its toxins can be absorbed through the skin.
    • Foxglove. Digitalis purpurea or foxglove is used to medically treat heart conditions. Unfortunately, like castor bean, it’s not only medicinal, it’s also deadly. In fact, it’s one of the most poisonous plants around.
    • Rhododendron. This colorful, green and purple shrub can be found in many landscapes in the country. But, all parts of this plant contain andromedotoxin, which makes the entire plant poisonous.

    If it’s time to update your landscape or add more features, contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.

  • Biggest Landscaping Myths Homeowners Believe (But Shouldn’t)

    We live in a modern, technological world that keeps getting more sophisticated and savvy about sharing information and developing creature comforts. We have the best of the best when it comes to conveniences and those just keep getting better as time goes on, which is why it’s so perplexing that so many of us believe things that aren’t true.

    Everyone of us sees things on television, the internet, and social media that defies logic or puts our ability to suspend disbelief to the ultimate test. Of course, these medium are usually where we collectively go to escape from reality but that doesn’t mean the content doesn’t creep into our subconscious. While there is an immediate availability to find information, particularly on the web, it’s quite alarming at how much of it isn’t accurate, is exaggerated, or is just plain wrong.

    The sad part of this common phenomenon is that it can result in harm. When it comes to landscaping, there are plenty of myths and lost lasting folklore people believe. It’s only after experimenting and experiencing the results that the truth is revealed. The problem is that it can cost you a lot of time and money to make these mistakes and what makes it worse is that it’s all completely unnecessary.

    Where Landscaping Myths Come From

    Just a bit over one-hundred years ago, in 1910, the total population of the country stood at nearly 92 million residents. Of those, 31 percent were farmers, or, approximately 32 million, with some 6.3 million farms, spanning over an average acreage of 138 per farm. Only ten years later, in 1920, there total country population rose to almost 106 million residents, and farmers accounted for 27 percent or 31.6 million, with 6.4 million farms averaging 148 acres each. By 1990, there were just 2.9 million farmers working over 2.1 million farms, with an average acreage of 461.

    Are landscaping myths harmless? Well, that really depends on what category they fall into. That is, we can speak broadly of two different classes of misguided notions: Those of a practical nature and those of an aesthetic nature. Category 2 deals in the subjective realm, so I would not term any landscaping myths of this sort “harmful.” But when it comes to Category 1, you can, in fact, do quite a bit of harm in some cases if you allow yourself to be guided by these misguided notions. —

    The reason this is important is because it shows how much innovation and progress that has been made. Now, it takes less to produce more, and because of the very rapid change, at-large, people don’t know much about caring for land. Sure, homeowners might fertilize and water their yards, trim their trees, and mow grass, but it’s not enough to be sophisticated about landscaping. This is why so many people believe in things that just aren’t true.

    What began as something that was at one time common knowledge has morphed into various versions of what is and isn’t proper landscaping care. Since so much misinformation and half-truths are available, spread so widely and so often, it’s little wonder why these are accepted.

    Biggest Landscaping Myths Homeowners Believe

    It’s only natural that you want to take care of your property and make it look its best. If you’ve added a deck, laid a brick patio, installed a water feature, or made other improvements, you also want the rest of your exterior living space to look great. That’s easily attainable, but don’t give into these big landscaping myths:

    • Mowing the grass shorter means less mowing. While this might seem logical, it leaves out the fact that cutting grass down to as short as possible initiates quite a bit of harm. When grass is cut too short, weeds are able to take advantage of the sunlight and grow. What’s more, being cut short also means getting burned, which will yield brown patches.
    • Watering the yard at night is the best time. The justification behind this is that water won’t evaporate quickly and therefore, less water is needed. However, the problem is precisely with the amount of water and the lack of evaporation. The sitting water is a breeding ground for mold, fungi, and disease. You should water just before the sun rises to take advantage of the dew.
    • The best and only time to plant is in the spring. While the months of March, April, and May, are great times to put in new plants, this isn’t the only season which is ideal for plants. There are plants which thrive in cooler conditions, making fall another season to add new plants.
    • Planting shrubs near the house is the best location. It use to be common to plant shrubs close to exterior walls to hide ugly block foundations. Since homes are now built more attractively, there’s no need to plant shrubs near the exterior. If you do, you are only inviting pests to nest and invade your home.