This is the time of the year when most of us like to spend time outdoors, relaxing with friends. If you're into backyard entertaining, one of the most important things you can do is add lighting. Not only is it practical, but it's also one of the easiest ways to transform a beautiful yard or garden into a magical backyard. We see homeowners put so much care and attention to detail for the hardscapes, the plantings, and the focal points, that sometimes the lighting is forgotten. Here are a few tips for how and where to incorporate lighting into your landscape design.
The very first thing you will want to consider is how and where you will enjoy your landscape in the evening hours. If you like to entertain, consider overhead lighting around your hardscape areas. If you can put the bulbs on a dimmer, you can also control the amount of brightness depending on the time of night. Overhead lighting can be as simple as stringed holiday lights or elaborate with hanging lanterns. The options for overhead lighting are almost limitless, and our design team can help you find a solution that is right for your backyard.
Next, consider how and where people will walk through your landscape. Making sure there is adequate ground lighting is critical to ensure safety for you and your guests. You can use low voltage lighting in a variety of ways, from small lanterns tucked into the foliage to pavers that light up embedded into your hardscape edges.
Last, but not least, take a look at your landscape and take note of the key features of your design. Do you have an ornamental or signature tree? How about a fountain or pond? Adding low-voltage lighting to the perimeter, as well as uplighting, is an excellent way to draw attention to these beauties, even in the dark.
Once you have a plan in mind, you'll want to work your landscaper to map out the lines for where the irrigation and the electrical will run. Most electrical wiring is laid such that it blends with your plantings and so that it is protected from the elements. And, as for how much electrical draw you will need, your landscaper will work with an electrician to make sure the proper adjustments are made to your household electrical system.
If your landscape doesn't include any lighting and you would like to explore your options, please let us know. The Graham Landscape & Design team can work with you to find a solution to bring nighttime enjoyment to your landscape. Please give us a call today at 541-729-8029.
Summer sure made it here in a hurry! With the temperatures rising quickly, water conservation will be big again this summer. Keeping that lawn green and lush requires water, water, and more water. But, you want to check that your watering is doing the job efficiently so you don’t overwater or have sprinklers missing their mark. Here are a few water conservation tips you can use with your property:
Whether you want to cut your watering by up to 50%, or if you want to give your lawn that extra drink, we can help. At Graham Landscape & Design, our team of irrigation and design experts can help you reach your water conservation goals. Please give us a call at 541-729-8029.
Well, we've got good news for you.
Graham Landscape & Design offers clean-up services for both residential and commercial properties. Clean-up service entails coming to your property and clearing out unwanted brush and debris or cleaning up your plantings and grounds, giving you essentially a blank slate or fresh start. Clean-ups are commonly used for seasonal purposes to clear the leaves, prune or trim trees and shrubs, remove moss and other unwanted invasive plants, etc. They can also be scheduled other times of the year, too, whenever your yard needs a reboot.
Most clean-ups are completed in one visit. Occasionally, larger jobs can take more time, but it's really dependent on what you'd like to do with your property. For example, if you just need some bushes cleared back so you can see your yard again, that's more than likely a one-day job. However, if you're looking at stripping things away to get a true blank canvas, that could take a few more days.
A member of our team will come to your property and walk through with you what you'd like to have done, ask questions, and offer suggestions so we can best accomplish what you'd like to achieve. This way, you'll get a more accurate estimate and timeline for completion. We can also provide an estimate for ongoing maintenance, so things don't get out of control again. Give our team a call today at 541-729-8029 to schedule an estimate.
A weird question, we know... but, it's an important one! Now that the weather is a bit drier, it's time to really look at your landscape's irrigation and drainage. With this winter's rain, did you notice areas of standing water in your yard? Or, were there sections that simply got flooded out because there was too much rain? Both of these instances signal that there is an issue with your landscape and it's drainage.
Why is proper drainage so important? Well, there are a number of reasons but a few of the top concerns include root rot in your lawns, shrubs, and trees. In addition, poor drainage reduces your ability to enjoy your yard for fear of getting your shoes sucked into the muck or just getting them extra muddy. And, if either of those weren't bad enough, sitting water creates a breeding ground for all sorts of pests.
So, if you have drainage problems, what can be done? Here are a few ideas to help:
At Graham Landscape & Design, our team of irrigation and design experts can help you do just this. Please give us a call so we can turn your drainage problem into a thing of the past. 541-729-8029
Even though the Willamette Valley has no shortage of rain, a properly working sprinkler system can make a pretty big difference for keeping you and your garden happy. And, if you're going to invest in a quality system, you want to make sure it lasts as long as possible. But, how long should you expect things to be in tip-top shape? What can you do to keep your system running smoothly? We'll break it down for you here...
On average, the typical sprinkler system lasts about 20 years. However, the components, taken separately, may need attention much sooner than that. For instance, good quality heads will last 10 to 15 years whereas inexpensive heads will only give you 2 to 3 years of service. Depending on water quality, your nozzles may need to be replaced every few years. Another component you may need to replace regularly are the wires, often due to improper installation and corrosion. Valves will give you 10 to 15 years of service, while controllers just 5 to 10 years.
The pipes in your sprinkler system, however, are the most durable component and will last the longest, since they are shielded from direct sun damage and other external factors; you can expect them to last for up to 40 years before you’d need to replace them.
So, if you start thinking about how old your home is and when the last time any of the above items have been replaced, you might be due for a new system (or at least new parts).
If age isn't a concern, there could be other factors that lead to irrigation failures including previous repairs, proximity to trees, rodent activity, vandalism, and the quality of the irrigation water (reclaimed water, well water, etc.). But perhaps nothing affects the lifespan of your irrigation system more than the quality of installation and components.
An irrigation installation starts with the design and is carried through to the setup of each sprinkler head, the installation of the water pipe, the location of the control valves, and the mounting of the control timer and rain sensor. Even a brand new sprinkler system may need repairs if pipe fittings were not primed and/or glued correctly, if wires were not spliced correctly, or if lines were not sufficiently flushed with water.
Environmental elements and factors such as excessive shade and sunlight, low water pressure, or poor drainage can influence your lawn sprinkler design and installation and should be taken into consideration during the irrigation system design phase.
Maintenance Is Key to Prolonging Your Sprinkler System’s Lifespan
Deciding to install or replace a sprinkler system in your yard is a big decision, but it’s not just an install-and-forget type of situation. There are things you have to do to make sure it continues to operate efficiently. Failing to maintain your irrigation system can result in high water bills and shorter life expectancy of the entire system or its parts. Both of these can end up costing you much more than performing regular maintenance.
For this time of year, a spring checkup is a good preventative measure to make sure everything is in proper working order. The first thing you need to do in the spring is the start-up procedure. A thorough checkup of your whole system should verify that none of the heads or pipes broke during winter, that all parts are still functioning, and all zones are performing under normal parameters.
Check to make sure you’re getting a good overlap on all your sprinkler heads and you don’t have areas that are being blocked by large trees or bushes. Also, ensure that the zones are overlapping so that you get a consistent color across your lawn. At this time, it’s important to turn your water valve on slowly to avoid water hammer – a pressure surge caused by a rapidly opening of the valve and creating air pressure that may lead to bursts in the pipes or fittings.
Although many maintenance tasks can be mastered by most homeowners, it’s always safer to have your system routinely checked and maintained by a professional contractor. The team at Graham Landscape & Design can work with you to design and install an irrigation system, develop a maintenance plan, as well as perform any necessary repairs. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today. 541-729-8029
Photo credit: That Oregon Life
Our most recent snow and ice storm, while beautiful, did quite a bit of damage to local residential and commercial properties. Was your property affected? If so, we can help. We offer a clean-up service which involves coming to your property and clearing out any fallen debris, broken limbs, damaged plantings, and more. In addition, we can remove any unwanted brush and debris or spruce up your plantings and grounds, giving you essentially a blank slate or fresh start. While clean-ups are often used for seasonal purposes like now to recover from the snow and ice storm, they can be scheduled other times of the year, too, whenever your yard needs a reboot.
Most clean-ups are completed in one visit. Occasionally, larger jobs can take more time, but it's really dependent on what you'd like to do with your property. For example, if you just need some bushes cleared back or weeds cut down, so you can see your yard again, that's more than likely a one-day job. However, if you're looking at stripping things away to get a true blank canvas, that could take a few more days.
A member of our team will come to your property and walk through with you what you'd like to have done and offer suggestions so we can help you get your yard where it needs to be. This way, you'll get a more accurate estimate and timeline for completion. We can also provide an estimate for ongoing maintenance, so things don't get out of control again.
Clients who use our clean-up services say one of the biggest benefits is the huge time savings we provide, freeing up your weekend so you can do the things you want to do. In addition, our clean-up services let you focus on the fun part of working with your yard (planting and gardening, etc.) and not the labor-intensive removal, chore-like aspects. Also, when we're done, we haul everything away so you don't have to. What could be better than that?
If a clean-up service and/or ongoing maintenance sounds like something you could use, please give us a call at 541-729-8029. We're booking now for immediate openings. We're here to help and would love to turn your yard back into a place you can truly enjoy.
If your yard is looking a little bland, there are a variety of ways you can spruce it up. While new plantings can be an obvious and simple solution, adding a new hardscape, or replacing a hardscape that is not aging gracefully, can provide a nice, year-round foundation for creating interest in your yard.
Popular options for hardscape surfaces include the following:
Patios create the perfect space for enjoying the outdoors. Whether you have room for a small patio or a large one, the key is making sure the materials and style are in harmony with your home. For example, if your patio has trim or other material used along the edges, make sure those coordinate with the materials and color of your home. Patios can be built beautifully with pavers. Pavers give the added benefit of multiple colors and sizes so you can get a really custom look.
Adding a walkway to your yard is a great way to combine function and beauty. Walkways can be constructed from different materials such as wood, stone, pavers, and concrete. Think about your yard. Where are your beaten paths? Are there places that get particularly soggy during the rainy months? A walkway with a few gentle curves or softened edges with fragrant plants can add a lot of charm.
Decks can be a great addition if you have a larger yard, creating a space for overlooking your pool, pond, lawn, etc. Decks are most commonly made from different varieties of wood, but several engineered materials are available, too. Depending on the size and height of your deck, you may require a railing. Again, you have several options that can create a variety of effects. For instance, you can opt for traditional wood rails, sanded knobby wood rails, cables, glass and post, etc.
If you have children who like to play in the yard, or if you simply enjoy sitting outside to take in the fresh air, a seating wall can be a nice addition. Seating walls can be made with a combination of blocks and paver caps, natural stone, and you can even incorporate lighting. Lights built into a seating wall set the stage for an evening feature for your yard. Another fun idea for a seating wall is to create one with different heights so guests of all sizes can have their own special space.
Concrete makes a fine driveway, but if you want to up the 'wow' factor, a paver driveway can be just the answer. You can choose from a variety of colors for the main surface and even add a contrasting color for a nice edge. Line the driveway with some low shrubs and you will have the nicest driveway on the block.
If you have followed us for any amount of time you know we are fans of retaining walls. Not only do they create functional space for your yard (or keep it from eroding away), they also make for amazing backdrops for different water features and climbing plants, as well as creating space for adding things like outdoor fireplaces, wood fire ovens, and other decorative plant nooks. Retaining walls are most traditionally made from concrete blocks that come in different colors and shapes, natural stone, and also pressure treated lumber with a nice finish.
At Graham Landscape & Design, we have an exceptionally talented team of design and construction professionals. Our team can meet with you to discuss your specific needs, explore ideas, and construct a project perfect for your space. Give us a call today at (541) 729-8029.
In our last blog post, we provided a checklist of things you can do to keep your landscape healthy and looking nice through winter. One of the items we suggested you should do is to prune your trees (shrubs can be pruned, too). Pruning revives tired plants and helps younger plants establish a good shape. We suggest pruning in winter for a few reasons. The lack of leaves makes seeing what you are doing much easier and in the winter, plants are less likely to 'bleed' as sap is not as active. Cuts will have time to heal over before spring growth begins.
The following are a few tips for how to prune your trees and shrubs so you don't cause damage.
The first thing you want to do when pruning is to remove any damaged or diseased wood. This must go first so you're not wasting time working on areas that won't get better.
Next, you'll want to address any branches that crisscross or rub on other surfaces. Start with removing the least important branches completely or shorten them so they are not intertwined. A good place to cut is down to an outward facing bud. Shortening these branches forces the plant to funnel its energy into the buds that remain, giving you more vigorous growth.
When cutting, make sure you are doing so correctly. Incorrect or 'bad' cuts can result in poor wound recovery and unhealthy plants.
Don’t prune too far away from the bud. More than a finger width is probably too far. Cutting too far away can result in the wood between the cut and the bud below dying, which can affect the health of the bud. If the bud fails to grow, die back can cause the whole stem to die.
Just as you don't want to prune too far away, you don’t want to prune too close to the bud either. If you're on top of the bud, you're too close. Pruning too close to the bud often results in damaging the bud itself and that can jeopardize the bud's ability to grow into a leaf or flower. Pruning too close to the bud can also cause the branch to die back further down the stem.
Be careful of the angle when you prune. If you leave a pointed stub of stem above the bud you risk causing the stem to die back as far as the bud and possibly beyond it. A better option is to keep the cut as straight as possible but a slight angle can be okay if you are trying to redirect the growth of a particular branch.
Make sure any cuts you make have angles that slope in a way that forces water to run off and not pool. If water pools on the cut, your plant is more susceptible to rot.
Pruning can be a challenging project if you've never done it before, or if you have a lot of trees and shrubs to contend with. If you would like help pruning plants around your property, give Graham Landscape & Design a call for a free estimate. 541-729-8029
While rain, ice, and sometimes snow can make it difficult to keep your property looking attractive, even for the most diligent homeowners, don't give up! Whether for your own home or a property you manage, there are a number of ways you can keep your landscape healthy and looking great throughout the winter.
#1 — Keep Watering
When the weather gets cold, we often stop maintaining our landscapes. But, the need for water doesn't go away. Failure to keep your fruit trees, lawns and other plantings watered over the winter can result in a variety of issues, including susceptibility to disease. You get a pass, though, if the temperature drops below 40 degrees as you don't want to freeze your plants.
#2 — Keep Raking
Raking in the fall is a typical thing in our area, but did you know that it's a good idea to keep raking lawns and gardens over the winter as well? Plant debris continues to build up, and when it mixes with ice or snow, it creates an environment for growing mold and fungus, especially where leaves have accumulated.
#3 — Cover Thin-Barked Trees
To help control frost and prevent sun scald, put a light-colored wrapping around younger trees with thin bark that are located in sunny areas.
#4 — Fertilize Lawns
To help your lawn grow rich and green in the spring, put down fertilizer that is rich in phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium prior to the first freeze.
#5 — Mulch Garden and Tree Beds
As you've read in our newsletters, mulch is an excellent insulator and it can help protect roots against frost. Make sure you lay down a nice layer of mulch in your garden and tree beds; one to two inches thick should do the trick.
#6 — Keep Grass Short
As we head into winter, it's a good idea to keep your grass short, between one and two inches shorter than usual. Shorter grass reduces the risk of frostbite and snow mold.
#7 — Winterize Sprinkler Systems
Unless you like the idea of a burst pipe, it's prudent to have your irrigation system winterized so that water in pipes doesn't expand and crack your irrigation lines. Our irrigation team can help!
#8 — Add Potted Plants
If your landscape is feeling drab, adding some neatly trimmed boxwood trees in large pots can add a hint of freshness along walkways and entryways.
#9 — Add Winter Plants & Trees
When choosing your plantings, it's a good idea to select those that not only look good together but also provide interest at different times of the year. For instance, great choices for winter include trees with highly textured bark, a variety of berries (avoid holly as it can be toxic to children and animals), violets, pansies, witch hazel, Oregon grape, maple trees, etc.
#10 — Prune Trees
With leaves gone, it is easier to spot damaged branches. Removing these will give you healthier, stronger trees in the spring.
#11 — Use Lighting
Last, but not least, outdoor lighting can make a world of difference for how you can enjoy your landscape in the winter. While lights help you see better in the dark, their glow also adds a touch of warmth, making your landscape look more attractive.
If you would like help in getting your landscape ready for winter, for your home, or even for any properties you might manage or have as rentals, please give our team a call at 541-729-8029 or email us to schedule an appointment.
If you're thinking winter means the end of backyard enjoyment, think again. Adding a fire pit can make a cold, dreary yard magical, especially when lit in the crisp, winter months. While many consider fire pits more of a summer feature, they can be quite excellent, providing both light and warmth. Just imagine... Sitting outside with a mug of hot chocolate, watching the beauty of a fire from the comfort of your own yard, enjoying the company of family and friends... Doesn't that sound nice?
Well, if you don't already have a fire pit, we can help! Now is the time to plan having one built so you can enjoy it in the spring, summer, fall, and winter! Our design team can work with you to design a fire pit to best complement your yard and work within your budget.
Here are things you'll want to keep in mind for planning the fire pit of your dreams:
To start your fire pit planning, please give our design team a call at 541-729-8029 or email us. Big or small, we'll help design and build a fire pit you can enjoy for seasons and years to come.
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