Category Archives: Latest Blog Posts

Learn about landscaping

Outdoor Lighting Can Brighten up Your Property

Fall is the perfect time to add outdoor lighting to your back yard.

All too soon, we will have to “fall back,” and then night will come even earlier. It will probably be dark by the time you get home from work each day. If you leave early for your job, you may not see your property in the light of day until the weekend rolls around.

Outdoor Lighting Can Brighten up Your Property

You want to enjoy your off hours, but sitting in front of the TV can get old. If you had some outdoor lighting, you could savor nature again.

Outdoor Lighting Designs

Many homeowners have a hard time imagining just how outdoor lighting would look in their yard. That’s why we offer lighting design plan services. There is so much to consider when you’re adding outdoor lighting.

First, why do you want outdoor lighting? Will you use it to sit outside and read in the evenings? Maybe you would like to have family dinners outside, or entertain guests. Each of these purposes calls for a different kind of lighting.

That’s not to say you have to choose only one type of lighting. But if you opt for soft lighting that glows like moonlight, you will have a hard time hosting a dinner party. You may want different types and strengths of lighting.

Outdoor Mood Lighting

For instance, suppose you want to have a Halloween party and encourage the guests to use your deck? A bonfire would be nice, but if you don’t have a fire pit, it’s not safe. Some soft, twinkling lights around the railings and on the stair risers will keep everyone safe but retain that dim, spooky atmosphere.

But what if you wanted to host a 60th birthday party for your dad, who believes the only thing that makes an outdoor birthday party better is a cooler full of beer in cans? And you want to invite his siblings and hunting buddies? More light would be better for this gathering. Guests would have surer footing and you’d have an easier time keeping an eye on everyone.

Lighter and Brighter

Maybe what you’ll use your outdoor lighting for the most will be eating dinner al fresco. If you have a pergola, gazebo or any type of roof structure, overhead lighting would work best. It illuminates a larger area. If you think you’ll have some romantic dinners out there sans teenagers, have a dimmer switch put in.

The options for outdoor lighting are endless. For ideas on how to make your back yard usable again this fall, contact Earthworks Landscaping. We’ll show you our bright ideas!

Fall Gardening Chores List

Have you started your fall gardening chores? If not, don’t worry — you still have time. And remember, whatever you can get done this fall will only make your job that much easier come springtime.

Fall Gardening Chores List

So what, exactly, are these fall gardening chores that need to be done?

1. Drain the Water

And we mean from irrigation systems, ponds, sprinklers, hoses and anything else you have outside hooked up to your plumbing.

It can be difficult to know exactly when to perform this chore, because we might get a warm spell, and then you’ll want to wash the car or hose off the deck. That’s OK, but you keep an eye on when the first frost is due to arrive, and make sure you get your equipment drained and put away on time, so you don’t risk cracks in your system.

2. Prune Trees and Shrubs

Make sure you prune the right ones! If you trim flowering bushes like azaleas in the fall, you won’t have any blossoms in the spring. Also avoid pruning woody plants in the fall — it could spur growth. And don’t prune anything that could start leaking sap.

So what CAN you prune when you’re doing fall gardening chores? Get rid of all the dead branches and a few of the ones that grown out of control. But don’t get out of control yourself and give your trees and shrubs an aggressive cut. It will take a lot longer to grow out than a bad haircut.

3. Plant Bulbs

This isn’t really a chore, because it isn’t necessary, but your yard will look extra beautiful in six months if you sink a few tulip and daffodil bulbs now. Plant extras for the squirrels — otherwise you may have no flowers come spring.

Better Homes & Gardens suggests deterring tulip bulb stealing by planting them in cages. But it may be less work to fortify your garden with a moat and some ramparts.

4. Winterize Your Lawn Mower

Never put away your lawn mower for the season with gas in it. If you’re able to start it in the spring, you’ll just gum up the engine with the old gas. Use up the rest of the gas to mulch the leaves piling up on the lawn. You’ll get two important fall gardening chores done at once!

The blade should be sharpened and the oil and filter changed too. Mechanics aren’t your thing? That’s OK — call in a professional to do the job.

If fall gardening chores are getting you down, contact Earthworks Landscaping. We can put your lawn and garden to bed for the winter so it wakes up happy and refreshed come spring.

Fall Lawn Care Is Critical to Grass Health

September is an important month for lawn care. If you watered diligently through the hot, dry summer, lawn care for fall will be easier.

Fall Lawn Care Is Critical to Grass Health

The average temperature in Utah falls more than 10 degrees from August to September. Not only are the temperatures cooler, but the days are shorter too. This means your lawn will need less water — about 25 percent less. Even though the sun isn’t as strong or out as long in September, it’s still important to follow good watering practices so your lawn is properly hydrated and you aren’t wasting precious resources.

Be Careful with Your Mower

While the summer may be drawing to a close, you’ll still need to cut your grass throughout the month of September. Traditional lawn care wisdom says you should cut only one-third off grass blades so as not to stress them or cause burnout.

You can also affect blade growth. But you’re not thinking so much about growth in September; you’re thinking about shoring up your lawn’s strength before the long, hard winter.

Popular Mechanics says to set your mower blade at its lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year, to allow the remaining sunlight to reach more of the grass blades.

Lawn Care Includes Planting and Aerating

September is also the optimal time for seeding and overseeding. Unless your grass is perfect in every way, it can probably benefit from some seed. The heat of summer can stall grass growth in its tracks, so the cooler temperatures in early fall make it the perfect time to plant.

Now’s a good time to aerate your lawn as well. If you don’t own an aerator, you can rent one. Manual aerators aren’t too expensive, or you could try the ones you strap to your feet with spikes on the bottom. But be warned, you’ll work up a sweat with even the power aerators, so consider manual only if you have a small lawn.

Fertilize and Mulch

September is also the perfect time to fertilize your lawn, and the right mix is critical.

When you go to the home and garden store to buy some fertilizer, you will see hundreds of bags with innumerable combinations of numbers on the front, like 5-10-5. Different combinations are appropriate in different areas for different times of the year. If you don’t trust the store clerk to know which one you need, you might want to turn this job over to a professional.

Finally, keep up with the leaves that fall. You needn’t bother raking them up every weekend — just mulch them instead. This will be less work for you, and better for your lawn.

If the thought of all this lawn care makes you tired, or interferes with your plans for relaxing and enjoying your weekend, call Earthworks Landscaping. We can get your lawn in shape for the fall so it will look beautiful again come next spring.

Landscaping: It Does a Body Good

Does landscaping matter?

It does, and more than you might think.

What do we even mean when we say “landscaping”? It means a lot of different things to different people. If you build a new home, you will need the grounds landscaped. But what if you just want grass planted? Is that even considered landscaping?

Landscaping It Does a Body Good

Technically, yes. Homeadvisor.com puts the “average cost” of landscaping at between $1,477 and $5,329, but you can see that this number is almost meaningless when you don’t know if the respondents are talking about grass seed, sod, bushes and trees, other plants, hardscaping or all of the above.

Beautiful landscaping in an expensive area of the country can run to $50K. Granted, this is more than most people want to spend, but landscaping is one home improvement that can net you more than 100 percent in your return on investment.

Warm, Fuzzy Landscaping

But even if you’re not looking to sell, a nicely landscaped yard is an enhancement to the neighborhood, and it makes you happy every time you pull into your driveway after a hard day at work.

Nice landscaping doesn’t just make you feel good, however; it’s good for your health, too. According to a National Geographic article that quotes a University of Utah cognitive psychologist, being out in nature improves mental performance and lowers risk of disease.

Spending time in your back yard counts as being out in nature. And it doesn’t necessarily mean mowing the lawn or weeding (although these are great exercises for the body and mind — and the landscaping), you can merely do outside what you would have otherwise done inside: eat a meal, read a book, visit with friends and family.

These activities are made infinitely more pleasant by beautifully landscaped surroundings. Gazing at blooming flowers, bushes and trees is relaxing and satisfying.

Conversely, if your lawn has bare patches and your garden is choked with weeds, this could trigger the opposite effect. It’s like looking a pile of bills or dirty laundry — it triggers anxiety, guilt and even fear!

Landscaping Improves the Planet

Your feelings aside, landscaping is good for nature. Healthy plants and trees provide clean air to breathe. Retaining walls help prevent soil from eroding. Flowers provide pollen for bees, which in turn use it to produce honey. Irrigation systems help conserve water, a natural resource, by using only what’s needed and targeting it to specific areas.

If you want your yard to provide all these benefits, call Earthworks Landscaping today. We can design a landscape that fits your budget and makes you happy and healthy!

Outdoor Lighting Helps Squeeze More Enjoyment Out of Your Property

Soon the days will get shorter, and installing outdoor lighting can help you make your backyard fun last longer.

When you go to the trouble of building a patio, deck, pergola, gazebo or other outdoor seating area, you want to make sure you enjoy it to the fullest. It’s easy during the lazy days of summer, when you can eat your meals outside, or come home from work and hunker down in a lounge chair with a book until 8 or 9 o’clock.

Outdoor Lighting

After Labor Day, however, the days start getting shorter, and you end up spending less time outdoors.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Spend More Time Outside with Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is a simple and beautiful solution to the problem of how to use your outdoor seating area more.

Lighting for outdoor structures can be subtle or bright. If your seating area has a roof, you may want to install lights underneath so you can host dinner parties al fresco through the fall months. These overhead lights give off a warm glow while providing enough illumination to distinguish between the appetizer and main course.

Outdoor Lighting for Decks

Options for deck lighting are many. For safety, if your deck has stairs, you may want guidelights under each riser to help guests navigate easily. Beyond these, you can add lighting under the railings or on each post. You can choose just a few, or you can have small clusters on wires for an ornamental effect.

This type of lighting is perfect for small get-togethers, family gatherings or informal cocktail parties.

Outdoor Lighting for Patios

Patio lighting often comes in the form of lights strung above the seating area held up by poles. This is a great way to illuminate a big space and creates a definite party atmosphere.

Some patios are bordered by retaining walls or incorporate other structures like a stove or an island. In these cases, lights can be added to the sides or undersides of these objects to give off a more subtle glow.

For patios that are adjacent to homes, lighting can be added to the back of the house to brighten up the patio area. This can save money, too, since the wiring will be closer to the source.

Whatever kind of outdoor seating area you have, Earthworks Landscaping can install lighting that will help turn it into a three-season space. Call us today to discuss your options for planning to add outdoor lighting to your seating area.

Keep Plants Hydrated during Dog Days of Summer

It can be hard to keep plants hydrated in Utah, but the hottest month — July — is behind us. Although August is not as hot as July, the difference is only a degree or two. Slightly more rain falls and the sun shines a few hours less, but you still must remain diligent to keep plants hydrated.

Keep Plants Hydrated

Only hardy plants can survive in a climate like ours, but if you’re trying to keep a palm or a fern alive, you will have to make the effort to water it regularly. Plants that aren’t native to Utah require special care and often do better indoors or in a partly shaded area.

Keep Plants Hydrated Morning & Night

But even sun-loving plants like geraniums need watering. Watering a couple of times a week might be enough to keep some plants hydrated, but during the hottest, driest spells, it’s best to give your blooming flowers a drink first thing in the morning and again at night. It can be hard to stay bright and beautiful while out all day in the relentless sunshine!

When you’re watering, try to avoid the plants’ leaves, especially during night waterings. Wet leaves can grow fungus, which can eventually kill the plant. For container plants, you must get under the leaves to give them a thorough watering. Leaves can deflect a good portion of the water over the edge of the container, leaving the plant drier than you’d like.

If you don’t have too many plants, use a watering can with a long spout to get to the base of each plant. If you have extensive gardens, get an attachment for your hose to better reach all the important spots.

Give Plants a Good Drenching

Take your time when watering. It’s easy to stand there for a few minutes with the hose and feel like you’ve done your job, but a few deep waterings are better than a lot of superficial ones to keep plants hydrated.

The best way to keep your trees, grass and plants healthy and strong is with a custom irrigation system. An irrigation system actually saves water, because it is planned and designed in such a way as to water your landscaping efficiently, so there’s no waste.

You can also link your system to a timer so that it comes on in the pre-dawn hours, which is the best time for watering.

Need Help? We’re Here for You.

If you’re finding it hard to keep your plants hydrated, whether you don’t have the time or can’t seem to figure out how much each plant needs, call Earthworks Landscaping. We can give you advice on how much and how often to water your plants. We can also give you a free estimate on installing an irrigation system to take the guesswork out of keeping your plants hydrated and healthy. Call today to get started.

Can You Build Your Own Backyard Terrace?

How is your backyard terrace looking? Like it’s going to fall on you any day? We can help.

A lot of homeowners think building a backyard terrace is a fun weekend project. In fact, not only is it backbreaking labor, but a certain level of skill is required. Most anyone is capable of mowing, planting and even performing rudimentary tasks and repairs like building a simple deck or laying some pavers.

Your Own Backyard Terrace

But terracing a steep landscape has to be done right. You might think you can just eyeball it, and it may even look nice when you’re done, but it will quickly start leaning if the right techniques are not used.

Work Your Way Up from the Bottom

You have to start at the bottom when you’re building a backyard terrace. A lot of people use wooden railroad ties because they are cheap. You have to be careful though — don’t buy the old ones with creosote in them. Creosote has been identified as a carcinogen and is illegal to use in some areas. The nonpoisonous ties are much cheaper anyway.

The length of the spikes you use to secure them varies, depending on the type of soil you have and the amount of weight they need to bear. Generally, they should be at least 12 inches long, but sometimes longer. You can use rebar, and cut it to a custom length if you have trouble finding the size you need.

Keep in mind that even when you purchase pressure-treated wood and execute the job perfectly, the ties will eventually rot, because they are wood. Stone or concrete will last indefinitely.

Level the Soil on Your Backyard Terrace

Many times you will see a DIY terrace job in which the soil between the terraces is sloped rather than level. This is a recipe for disaster. Always level the soil between terraces, or eventually the pressure will push the bottom terrace off of its moorings.

Also, unless you are a skilled mason, it is best to keep your bottom level close to the ground. No one wants to dig and move a lot of soil, so they often attempt to cut corners, making the bottom level three or four feet high. It’s hard to secure a wall this high to the ground properly. They’re unstable.

Solutions Other than a Backyard Terrace

If you have a back yard that slopes steeply upward from your back door, you may want to consider a deck instead of a terrace.

Steeply sloped property is basically unusable; you must find a way to get enjoyment out of all of your land. Backyard terraces are great if you’re a big gardener. People often like to lay a small patio, and then terrace around it. It’s just a lot more work than a deck, and you always have to worry about the soil washing down onto your patio (or into your house!) during a hard rain.

A multi-level deck is beautiful and solves the problem. No excavation is necessary. You can add flower boxes for color, or benches, chaise lounges, dining furniture or even a canopy or gazebo.

Earthworks Landscaping can give you advice about making the best use of your back yard. Just give us a call, and we’ll come out and take a look at your landscape and talk to you about your choices for solutions.

A professionally built, secure backyard terrace can add character and functionality to your property. Contact Earthworks Landscaping today for more details.

How to Water Your Lawn

You might think watering your lawn is easy. You just turn on the hose on point it at the grass, right?

No, that’s what the amateurs do. And that’s why their lawns look bad.

Water Your Lawn

If you want your grass to look good, you have to water your lawn the right way. July in particular is hard on grass. The relentless Utah sun shines down on the hapless blades, sapping their green complexions and leaving them dry, brown and dull.

Your Lawn Is Forgiving

Luckily, grass is hardy. It lies dormant all winter, withstanding cold, snow and ice, only to resurrect itself in the spring, as lush and verdant as ever.

But just because grass is hard to kill doesn’t mean it takes care of itself. Being merely alive and looking pretty are not the same.

According to Popular Mechanics — and anyone else who knows anything about grass — the best time to water your lawn is in the morning. The sun is not yet strong enough to evaporate half the water before it reaches the grass, so you’re not wasting time and money. You’ll see people watering the lawn in the evening, trying to apply the same principal, but it doesn’t work. Why? Because the grass stays wet all night, creating conditions ripe for fungal growth.

Devices for Watering Your Lawn

If you have a sprinkler system, install a timer to water the lawn and have it come on before dawn — that’s the best time.

If you don’t have an irrigation system, get an oscillating sprinkler — the one like the dance move. The kind that kids run through that arcs across the lawn wastes a lot of water. And forget those cute ones that look like gyroscopes; they’re fine as decorations, but they don’t accomplish much.

To make your job easier, don’t cut your grass really short. We know; it’s tempting. It’s unfulfilling to spend time mowing the lawn and not be able to see any difference when you’re done. But if you buzz-cut your lawn so you don’t have to do it next week, your dry, parched turf will betray your laziness.

Grass gurus will tell you it’s best to cut only the top one-third off your lawn. Any more, and you’re handicapping it.

Sometimes taking care of your lawn can be more challenging and more time-consuming than you expect. When that happens, call the experts at Earthworks Landscaping. We can bring your grass back to life quickly. We can give you an estimate on installing an irrigation system, or we can give you advice on watering your lawn with a sprinkler.

Call Earthworks Landscaping today, and have a greener lawn tomorrow.

Make it a Pergola This Year

Summer is upon us — the best time of year to enjoy a pergola. Pergolas bring instant character to your landscape and a little European flavor to northern Utah!

While pergolas do not offer as much shade as gazebos, they are still preferred by many homeowners. Why? The look, mostly.

pergola

Pergolas are constructed of wood — cedar usually — and they are veritable works of art. Wood requires some upkeep, but if proper maintenance is done, they can last upwards of 20 years.

If upkeep isn’t your thing, you can save time (and money) choosing vinyl (but you’ll sacrifice looks). Aluminum is another option, but this can heat up under a Utah sun and burn a child, or an absent-minded adult.

Throwing Some Shade in Your Back Yard

The cheapest gazebos can be bought at Target and put up as quickly as a pup tent. Some of them have curtains for privacy and they provide shade, but they are more of a temporary shelter for a Fourth of July barbecue than a permanent structure providing ambiance for three seasons.

Sure, a pergola isn’t going to protect you from a rainstorm, but who goes to sit outside in a rainstorm anyway? And the absence of a heavy, shingled roof is a big money-saver.

If you’re dead-set on your shade, you can get a shade for your pergola. It can be as simple as a piece of canvas or as chichi as a remote-controlled, retractable sheet of acrylic that comes in a variety of colors.

Pergolas: Man + Nature

Pergolas are perfect for training vines too. It’s a double bonus, because the vines will eventually provide more shade, plus you can enjoy whatever grows on them. Remember that fruit will attract birds though, and their droppings can stain. The sweet, sticky fruit will attract bees as well.

For this reason, many people choose flowering vines instead, like hydrangeas, wisteria or morning glories. Of course flowers will attract some bees too, but also possibly hummingbirds, depending what kind of flowers you plant.

Pergolas are great for relaxing poolside, or just hanging out in the back yard. You can attach your pergola to the back of your house if your landscape lends itself to this, or you can locate it in a different area.

A small pergola is great for your own personal use — a romantic evening with your spouse or game night with the kids. A larger one can serve as a perfect spot for entertaining family and friends.

For more information about adding a pergola to your back yard, call Earthworks Landscaping. We’re the experts in backyard structures, hardscaping, outdoor lighting and more.

Backyard Ponds Are a Cinch to Install, Right?

The idea of a backyard pond appeals to a lot of homeowners. A pond is beautiful, relaxing and makes a great addition to your landscape.

backyard pond

Things get dicey though, when homeowners go browsing on thisoldhouse.com and decide they’re up to the task of building their own backyard pond.

Don’t get us wrong — plenty of homeowners are capable of completing this project. But are you?

Be Safe with Your Backyard Pond

When scouting for a location, make sure you’re not going to dig up any gas or power lines, your septic tank or some big tree roots. You want your pond to be far enough away from everything to be safe, but not so far that you can’t plug your pump in. (You need a pump, otherwise you’ll quickly have a fermenting petri dish where your backyard pond once was.)

Thisoldhouse.com says you can build your backyard pond in six hours, but their first direction is to excavate 40 cubic yards of soil. This is no easy task, especially if you have to break sod first, so this part is likely to take quite a bit of time.

Plenty of Fish in the Backyard Pond

If you’re planning to have fish in your pond, determine the right size and depth for the type of fish you want.

If you make it through digging the hole, the next step is making sure the sides are smooth and putting in your liner. The liner, made of heavy plastic, is what keeps your pond a pond and not a soggy spot in your back yard. If your liner isn’t placed correctly or gets punctured, all the water will leach into the surrounding soil.

This is not an infrequent occurrence. Backyard ponds located under trees are more prone to punctures from falling branches. If your dog likes to jump in and splash around, its toenails could also cause a puncture. Other uninvited nocturnal guests like raccoons can do the same type of damage.

Once you get the liner in properly and fill your backyard pond, it’s best to finish the edges right away by creating a border with rocks and plant life. This may help discourage some critters.

Installing the Pump

It seems like a bad idea to introduce electricity to water, but we do it all the time in fish tanks, so it’s OK to do it with your backyard pond too — as long as you do it correctly. The cord stretching to the outlet might not look that attractive, so consider burying it or covering it with rocks or plants.

When adding fish, remember to keep an eye on the pond’s ph level to keep them healthy.

If all this sounds like too much work, call the experts at Earthworks Landscaping. We don’t even mind if you call us halfway through digging the hole. Many homeowners do. We just want to help you get the beautiful backyard pond you’ve been dreaming of to make your property’s landscaping complete.

×
Responsive Menu Clicked Image