<span>August 2018</span>

  • DIY Landscape Lighting: Illuminating Your Outdoor Space

    DIY landscape lighting not only provides function, but can make your outdoor space substantially more beautiful. If you’ve already pulled-out all the stops to make your yard look top-rate with spectacular hardscaping and softscaping, it’s time to put the last piece of the puzzle into place–landscape lights.

    Outdoor light transforms a yard, patio, deck or garden from ordinary to extraordinary. Not only does landscape light make your exterior accessible during the evening, it sets-off key features that dazzle the eye.

    And the good news is, the majority of exterior lighting is energy efficient. There is a wide variety of low voltage outdoor lighting fixtures on the market. Not only does that lower the long term cost, it also provides a great deal of fixtures from which to choose.

    Smart Outdoor Landscape Lighting

    When you are ready to install outdoor lighting, keep in mind not only where but how the fixtures will work. That means choosing hardware that will not only get the job done, but hardware that will help to create a sense of artistry. Whether it’s an ethereal moonlight beam created by garden lighting, or an illuminated walkway set-off with path lights, a combination of function and style give a home more curb appeal and help to up its resale value.

    Make outdoor gathering spaces usable after dark by installing lighting around your deck, patio, or porch. Smart outdoor lighting will also boost the curb appeal of your home. —Better Homes and Gardens

    And this is accomplished by careful planning–taking an extensive view of the long-term goal. For instance, using a classic insider’s trick of continuing indoor flooring to the outside facade. This can be done in-part through well-positioned landscape lighting. Another great design idea is to use light to create a sense of warmth with patio furniture for outdoor dining and just relaxing with family and friends.

    Landscape lighting doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s very easy to overspend. Most homeowners who opt to take on this type of project often don’t know how to budget for their project. What’s more, it can be difficult to stick to a design concept, particularly when professional skills are needed to install specialized hardware.

    DIY Landscape Lighting Tips

    Because there are many landscape lighting design concepts, like installing a water feature or illuminating a pathway, it’s best to consult a professional to keep costs from spiraling out of control and preventing injuries. Here are some tips the American Lighting Association recommends following when installing landscape lighting:

    • Opt for professional help. Electrical wiring is no less dangerous outside than inside a home. Outdoor lighting can be very difficult to adjust and/or move if necessary. PLus, you need to match all the elements together to not only make it safe, but functional. After all, poorly placed and poorly illuminated lights simply will not provide the effect you’re looking for around the exterior of your home.
    • Determine what features you’d most like to highlight and what hardware works best. It’s not only choosing what features you’d like to set-off with landscape lighting, but what hardware will work best. (Here again, it’s best to work with a professional to achieve the results you most desire.)
    • Purchase an appropriate-sized transformer. Even when using low voltage landscape lighting, power needs can be substantial in large outdoor spaces. If you’re not familiar with this technology or believe you don’t possess the necessary skills, simply hire an experienced landscape designer.
    • Plan ahead if installing your lighting in stages. If you are going to do your project in stages, set the infrastructure during the initial phase. This will allow you to continue without having to uninstall and reinstall hardware.

    Lastly, try to blend your landscaping lighting fixtures in with the outside decor. While this will require a bit of expert ingenuity, it will make your outdoor space look all-the-more spectacular.

  • Use these Yard Cat Repellents to Protect Your Landscaping

    Yard cat repellents — what does and doesn’t work? The fact of the matter is, cats are unpredictable. The all-too-familiar felis catus or domestic cat, shares many behaviors with its wild cousins. Cats are a product of domesticated wildcats (and their big cousins). The largest being panthera tigris or tiger, panthera leo or lion, the second, panthera onca or jaguar, the third and panthera pardus or leopard, being the smallest of the big four. All share many of the same traits, which makes keeping cats out of your garden or landscape a challenge. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t keep felines from wreaking havoc. You can use certain methods to create cat repellents for your property.

    Why Cats are Attracted to Yards

    Cats are known as curious creatures. And, these four-legged furry felines certainly live up to their reputation. By their very nature, cats love to explore. Although cats are said to have nine lives, your landscaping might not enjoy the same durability. Cats are attracted to gardens and landscape features for a variety of reasons. One such attraction is the presence of prey items, such as rodents. Squirrels, mice and more prove too tempting to ignore. Another attraction are trees. Even the most messy trees in a yard are great for climbing.

    Cats can benefit homes by keeping away rodents and insects, but many people do not like cats in their yard. If you want to keep cats out of your yard, there are many humane ways that do not harm them or involve removing them from the neighborhood. Keep in mind that what might work for one cat, might not work for another, so be willing to try more than one solution. And, if you know the cat’s owner or caretaker, ask them for advice and assistance in keeping their cats close to home. —SPCA

    Flowering plants are likewise a big attraction. Some cats like to nibble on certain plants. And, if this isn’t enough, koi fish in a pond are a prime motivator. Then, there’s the presence of other cats. Unlike lions, which live in prides, most large cats (jaguars, leopards, cougars and more) live solitary lives. So, when a cat picks up a scent of another feline, it can lead directly to your yard. To keep neighborhood and even feral cats at bay, you’ll have to use different techniques.

    Effective Yard Cat Repellents for Your Landscape

    While it’s difficult enough to make your dog and yard coexist, it’s not much easier to cat-proof your garden, landscaping or outdoor space. To be the most effective, you’ll have to employ a variety of methods. After all, cats are well-known to be independent and individual personalities. That means what works to keep one cat away might not work with another. Here are a few yard cat repellents you can try out:

    • Chicken wire galore. Before you start conjuring ugly images in your mind, we’re not talking about installing chicken wire as a barrier fence (though that is a good cat repellent option). Place chicken wire right on top of the soil before planting. Cats do not relish walking on this tactile surface, making it an effective, preventative measure. Best of all, you can cut small holes using wire cutters to plant flowers, vegetables and more.
    • Motion-detecting sprinklers. Aside from jaguars, most cats do not like water. This is probably due to the fact their fur isn’t water-resistant. So, cats avoid getting wet because they’ll feel waterlogged. Use this to your advantage by installing motion-detecting sprinklers. The trick here is to find the sweet spots where the devices are the most effective. When honed, trespassing felines will receive a short burst of water.
    • Ultrasonic devices. Sticking with technology, you can also use ultrasonic devices. If you’ve ever had a kitten or cat in your household, you know startling noises make felines jump and scatter quickly away. Best of all, you won’t hear any noise because the range isn’t audible to humans.
    • Non-toxic scents. Speaking of the difference between animals and humans, scent is another weapon in your arsenal against cat intruders. Humans have approximately 5 million scent receptors, while dogs have between 100 and 300 million. Cats have about 80 million scent receptors. So, non-toxic scents, such as cayenne pepper, black pepper, coffee grounds, and orange peels, all work well.
    • Catnip plants. Another alternative is to create an attractive, dedicated space. By growing catnip and catmint (nepeta cataria, which is a hardy mint family perennial herb), you’ll create a temptation diversion. Simply grow this in one area of your yard and garden in another space. Catnip and catmint serve as a good deterrent.

    If it’s time to update your landscaping, don’t hesitate to 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.

  • Pool Remodeling Basics: What You Should Know

    Pool remodeling is a major construction project and can be a very costly one. So, it’s important to know some key facts about pool remodeling before jumping in with both feet. Before you can cool off during those hot summer days or laze about along the glimmering water, pool remodeling takes a good deal of commitment. It certainly won’t be done overnight.

    The good news is, after a pool remodeling job has been completed, it will make your inground amenity look entirely new again. And the majority of pools have a limited plaster coating shelf life.

    But the plaster coating isn’t the only material that can wear to lead to a pool remodeling. There are other elements which can warrant pool remodeling. Pools are endure a lot of stress, which comes in many forms. The weather elements are one thing that can affect a pool, particularly the water quality, as rainwater is harmful to a pool.

    Pool Remodeling Basics

    The basics of pool remodeling are preparation, materials and approach. It’s a good idea to avoid the area during pool remodeling as well as keep pets out of the yard. Children, of course, shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a pool remodel as dangers abound. It’s a good idea to clear the area of outdoor furniture, pull up and/or cover plants and protect windows with drop cloths or plastic. Sooner or later, no matter how well you maintain your pool, you’ll have to resurface it. While this isn’t a welcome proposition, it certainly is necessary. If you don’t resurface your pool, the damage will certainly worsen and cost much more to repair.

    Finding Pool Remodeling Contractors

    Start with the Better Business Bureau when looking for a pool contractor to do your amenity remodel. Check out potential pool remodeling contractors’ licenses with the state. Additionally, references from family, friends, neighbors and co-workers are a good source. Check out past customers to find out their experience.

    Resurfacing a pool is something that no one likes to do, but it is a necessity to maintaining your pool. There are several reasons to resurface your pool. The main reason that you need to have your pool resurfaced is so that it does not leak. The pool finish gets pitted and scarred over time, due to the chemical wear and tear, as well as the elements. You may notice that your pool is chalking, and this is a good indicator that the pool finish needs to be resurfaced. —Charlotte County Florida Weekly

    Being licensed, insured and bonded are absolute must-haves for any pool remodeling firm. Narrow down a list of three possibilities, then interview each one. Ask them if they actually do the work or sub it out. Trust your gut and be sure to read and understand the contract before you sign on the dotted line.

    Pool Remodeling Options

    There are six types of pool remodeling options. Each has its pros and cons. It depends on the area in which you live and the look you are going for. Of course, prices will vary among these pool remodeling options.

    • Pebble Tec. Coming in a wide variety of colors, Pebble Tec is very durable and stain resistant, which means less cost to maintain. It consists of pebbles bonded together with an adhesive.
    • Pebble Sheen. Similar to Pebble Tec, Pebble Sheen is more aesthetic. It has all the qualities of Pebble Tec but also includes a mosaic. The mosaic is a great “centerpiece” in the middle of the pool on its floor.
    • Ultra Poz. An alternative to plaster which is more durable, Ultra Poz is chemical resistant and looks great without going overboard.
    • Tile. Purists who can’t do without tile are among many pool owners. Tile is a great pool remodeling option because there’s no limit to what can be done.
    • Plaster. The most commonly used material in older pools is plaster. And it gets the job done nicely in pool remodeling. Of all the pool remodeling options, this material is the least durable.
      Water features or decking. The last consideration is taking a pool remodeling job outside the physical structure. Adding a deck and/or water features is one way to put a fresh, functional look on a pool.

    As with any other home improvement project, pool remodeling can be as extravagant as a homeowner wants it to be. Another good bit of advice is to maintain an open line of communication with your pool remodeling contractor before and during the project.