Whether you hired a professional to update your landscaping or you did the work yourself, one of the most important things you should do is plan for maintenance. Unfortunately, many homeowners overlook this necessary step resulting in projects getting overrun with weeds and unwanted growth, or shortened lifespans for any woodwork or hardscapes. So, what should you think about for maintaining your investment?
What needs to be done?
Before you start looking at maintenance services, take a good look at your property and do an honest assessment of what your yard contains. Do you have a wood deck or pergola? Do you have a water feature such as a pond or pool? What kinds of plantings do you have? In addition, think about how much work you are actually able and willing to do yourself. Many people have high aspirations of working in the yard to keep things beautiful but then life and/or work comes up and before you know it you have weeds three feet tall. Taking inventory, in this manner, can help you get a good sense of where you really need help. For instance, when was the last time you trimmed back your hedges or other plantings? Do you have woodwork that needs to be restained? How about your hardscapes, do they need to be resealed? Do you have loose stones or pavers?
Once you have made your list, you're in a good position to bring in the experts. Talking with a maintenance professional, you can review your list and prioritize what needs immediate attention and what can be put off until later. He or she can also help you to determine if there are any underlying issues you might not be aware of or other items they see that you might have missed.
How often should you do maintenance?
In terms of frequency, everyone's property is a little different, and your needs may dictate a schedule that differs from that of your neighbors. However, working with a maintenance professional, you should be able to determine which items need weekly service (such as lawn care), what might be less frequent (such as fertilizing or pruning), and those items that might only be addressed every one to three years.
What will maintenance cost?
Costs for maintenance are driven by the scope of work to be performed and the frequency for which it is completed. Also taken into consideration is the level of difficulty or the amount of labor necessary for your maintenance services. Your maintenance professional can work with you to establish a scope of work, schedule, and budget that will meet your needs.
Are there any special considerations?
Sometimes we see customers who have access issues to their property, meaning there is very little egress for our crews to enter and do the work, especially with backyards. Pets are also to be considered so that you can take proper precautions for keeping them inside and away from our crew. We would hate for your pet to escape your yard or accidentally come in contact with any fertilizers, sealants, etc.
Lastly, make sure you establish the level of communication you would like to have with your maintenance professional. He or she wants nothing more than to make sure you are happy with the service you receive and so understanding ahead of time how often and in what way you'd like to be contacted is important.
Now that we are heading into winter, maintenance might not be at the top of your mind but we hope this information helps. Winter maintenance can make for a better spring lawn and blooms. Please let us know if we can be of service. Contact the Graham Landscape & Design team today at 541-729-8029.
As the fall months are in full swing, now is the perfect time to start planning what you would like to do with your landscape this coming spring. While that may seem months away, starting now gives you the necessary time to sketch out ideas, research costs and plan a budget, and find a professional to help you with the execution of your ideas. The following tips will help you get started.
Take measurements and map out your space.
Before you start sketching out your ideas it is important to have a good understanding of what you have to work with. As best as you can, measure the dimensions of your space and map out where critical items are located, such as irrigation lines, gas or power lines, and key structural items like retaining walls, support beams, etc. While some of these items can be moved or altered, how you work around them could have a significant impact on your budget. In addition, having accurate measurements of your space will help you determine the scale of items that will work in your space so you don’t plan for something you might later regret.
Decide on a style and research materials.
One of the fundamental principles of creating an enjoyable space is harmony between all elements. Mixing too many styles together can make a landscape feel disjointed and thrown together. However, when your landscape features and plantings complement your home’s structure and stay within a set palette or style, you can achieve that harmonious aim and create a space you will enjoy living in for years to come.
Determine your budget.
Oftentimes homeowners underestimate the cost of their landscaping projects. Many times we see wishlists from clients with all of the features they want included, sometimes with sample products and costs included, but more times than not, clients forget to add in budget for design, labor, electrical, irrigation, or any padding for contingency. There is no one set dollar amount for a wooden deck, new pool, landscape renovation, etc. as every property and homeowner’s wishes are unique. But, you can get a rough ballpark of what a project might cost by consulting with your bank if you’re taking out a loan or by looking online at annual survey publications that provide national averages.
Hire a professional.
We fully support the DIY movement but there are some things in life where hiring a professional just makes sense. Landscaping is more than trees and grass so having a team on your side who understands and can anticipate the different elements involved with your project will save you time and money. Plus, when you hire a professional landscaping company the work should come with a guarantee — something you likely won’t get if you do tackle the project yourself and things go wrong.
At Graham Landscape & Design, we have specialized teams of experts who can work with you through every step of your project, from the initial idea to the complete installation. We can even help you with ongoing maintenance so your project is as beautiful as it was on day one. Give us a call today to discuss your project. 541-729-8029
If you have irrigation lines on your property, there's a good chance you are subject to annual backflow testing.
Backflow devices (also known as RPZ valves) are installed on plumbing systems to protect your drinking water and the city water supply from contaminants. These are required to be in place if your home has an irrigation system, a pool or spa, an irrigated pond, a well, a fire suppression system, a large boiler, or heating and cooling systems.
Specifically for irrigation systems, an example of contaminants entering the water system would be from things like fertilizers or pesticides sprayed onto your lawns or planter beds. If something happened, such as a water leak or water break inside your house, it would be possible for your water pressure to drop lower than that of your irrigation system. If there were contaminants in your water, they would then be free to flow into the water supply. That's not something you want to have happen and it is one of the major reasons why we have backflow devices on irrigation systems.
A backflow device, in this situation, would instead open up and allow the water to drain out instead of backing up into the water supply, thereby protecting the quality of the water.
If your property has a backflow device, you're required to have it tested annually to ensure it is in proper working order. The irrigation crew at Graham Landscape & Design is certified to perform backflow testing and repairs. If you've received a notice alerting you that it's time to be tested, or if you've never had your system tested, please give our irrigation team a call at 541-729-8029. Along with backflow testing, our crew can also help you with any winterization you might need for your irrigation system.
To learn more about backflow devices and testing, visit EWEB's website: http://www.eweb.org/outages-and-safety/water-safety-in-your-home-or-business/backflow-prevention.
If you traverse the same path in your yard over and over, consider adding a beautiful stone path. Not only will it elevate the attractiveness of your yard, but it will also cut down on any debris that might be tracking into the house from your shoes. Our design team and master installation crew can give you a beautiful and functional walkway that's right for your home. Give us a call today at 541-729-8029 to schedule a consultation with the Graham Landscape & Design team.
One of the best times of the year to introduce new plantings to your yard is the fall — the soil is still warm, creating faster root growth and plants get a head start on next year's growth. In addition, by next summer, your plants will have larger, more established root systems which will help them to be more drought-tolerant, and they'll produce better flowers in their first year.
If your summer annuals are looking tired or overgrown, there are a number of late-season flowers that can really brighten up your yard. A few great choices include asters, daisy-style plants, yarrow, and salvias. Because the middle of fall has more mild temperatures, these plants tend to do really well. Something you might not know, however, is that the majority of cold-hardy perennials thrive with fall plantings because their root systems grow all winter and emerge in the spring, ready to blossom!
But, if you have poorly drained soil, you may want to wait until spring to plant perennials that require good drainage, such as lavender.
If you're into bulbs, it is also time to get them in the ground! Daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, alliums, crocus, and many other varieties planted now will make for a great display next spring. If you want a little color while you wait, you can plant pansies in your flower beds around where the bulbs will sprout.
If you enjoy vegetable gardening, late August or early September is a time to start a fresh round of cool-season and overwintering crops. Varieties you can plant now include lettuce, spinach, other greens, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, and onions.
Late summer or early fall is also a great time for renovating your lawn. Dethatching is typically done this time of year, removing the dead matter underneath the growing grass and aerating the soil below. Doing this allows us to assess how full your lawn really is and if it needs to be reseeded, overseeded, or replaced with sod.
Trees, Shrubs, and Fruit
While these items can be planted other times throughout the year, the fall is best when the soil is softer and easier to dig, and the temperatures are also cooler. But, beware of caterpillar damage as that can be high in the fall.
If you're not sure what to do with your yard or if this sounds like too much work to tackle on your own, please let us know. Our team of landscape experts can create for you a yard to enjoy all season long. Give the Graham Landscape & Design team a call at 541-729-8029.
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
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