As the year winds down and the holiday season approaches, landscape improvements may not be the first thing on your mind. Creating a landscape plan for next year is a key way to maximize your landscaping efforts, and there’s no time like the present to start thinking about new projects.
New patios and outdoor living spaces, planting bed installation, turf area development, and tree installation or removal are all sizable improvements that benefit greatly from deliberate planning. When timed correctly, new improvements will complement existing landscape elements.
In addition to avoiding a disruption to your property, long-range planning also allows you to schedule new additions and services at times of the year that maximize their viability and usefulness. By starting the conversation now, we can advise you on which tasks are best to handle during the fall and winter and which should be scheduled for warmer weather next year. An extended plan also allows you to schedule new projects in a way that fits your budget.
Even if your immediate plans only include a few modest improvements, a comprehensive plan will help you get the biggest long-term bang for your buck. With a solid plan of attack, you can set priorities and formulate manageable timelines so that your landscape comes together evenly over time.
Dealing with Problem Slopes in the Landscape
Is your property on a grade? No matter how good it looks, a steep, sloping yard isn’t very functional. If a steep yard has kept you from installing that planting bed, patio or children’s play area you’ve always wanted, a retaining wall may be the answer. Retaining walls hold back soil that might otherwise slide down a hill, and they can create safe, level areas for a variety of uses.
For maximum strength and durability, pre-cast blocks are likely to be your best bet. They’re engineered to interlock with each other as they’re laid, and most have a built-in “setback” to give the finished wall a slightly slanted angle for added stability.
Depending on the height and slope you’re contending with, additional reinforcement and/or engineering work may be needed. Careful design is very important, especially if your retaining wall will be supporting major structures on your property.
When properly designed, retaining walls can add graceful architectural elements to your landscape while improving its overall usefulness. As with any landscaping project, careful planning to ensure that the finished product meets your specific needs is very important. Properly designed and installed, a retaining wall can significantly improve your landscape’s functionality.
Natural Screens for Protection and Privacy
Today’s backyards have truly become outdoor living rooms, perfect places for entertaining, family fun and everyday activities. However, outdoor living often means we need a little more privacy or protection from the elements. Trees, shrubs or vines can provide a natural solution. Natural screens can be less expensive than fences or walls. They can add texture, color and fragrance as well as privacy. Plants can also help control noise, keep dirt and debris from your yard, and protect you and your lawn from too much wind or sun.
Natural screens can:
- Separate the street or neighbors from areas where you entertain or relax.
- Hide work and storage areas.
- Divide parts of your lawn, like garden and play areas, and guide foot traffic.
Here are a few options:
- For maximum privacy, a solid hedge of shrubs works well. Evergreens provide year-round screening and can be informal or formal, depending on how you trim them.
- Vines on trellises are quick-growing and inexpensive. They work especially well in narrow spaces.
- Even single trees or shrubs, carefully placed in a line of view, can solve privacy problems.
- Plants can channel air for a soft, relaxing breeze or create the right amount of shade for that late-afternoon barbecue.
Shrubs, trees and vines can also help you control the climate of your yard for more enjoyable entertaining year-round. In fact, the air temperature in the shade of a tree can be 10-15 degrees lower than in an unshaded area.
Welcome the World with a Perfect Entry
The ideal entryway landscape directs and leads friends and family to your door in a way that makes them feel truly welcomed. Additionally, entryway landscaping increases your home’s curb appeal in a way that will add to your enjoyment and the value of your property.
Your home’s front door should be its natural focal point. The walkway directs visitors physically to your door, and plantings lead the eye there. First, make sure your front walk is wide enough to accommodate two people walking side by side and that its surface is safe. Walkway materials can complement any architectural style or preference.
Large front lawns can use a big specimen tree near the street or driveway to attract the eye first. An ornamental tree’s canopy over a front walkway can be inviting, and a low hedge or fence can present a feeling of cozy enclosure. There’s a lot involved in choosing plants that will not grow to overwhelm an entrance but will stand the test of time. We can help you choose plants that won’t outgrow their spaces, create litter on walkways or look bad during winter.
It’s time to think about your plans for outdoor summer entertaining. Getting ready for long, enjoyable evenings with family, neighbors and friends starts by accessing your outdoor living areas. If you are looking to expand your entertaining spaces, now is the best time to start the conversation with our landscape design team.
We can help with many aspects of your landscape, and here are a few ideas to consider.
Is your outdoor living and entertaining space big enough to comfortably fit everything you like to do? Do you favor small gatherings, or do you want to be the place where everyone wants to hang out? Thinking through all the things you enjoy doing on your patio or deck can help you begin to imagine how it could be improved or possibly expanded.
If you love the process of cooking outdoors or cooking for others, expand your living space outdoors! From simple to elaborate, there are options to meet every taste and budget.
and Fire Pits
Fireplaces create a natural focal point for every backyard landscape. Outdoor fireplaces and smaller outdoor fire pits are the perfect party features for socializing long after the sun goes down. Let us help you find the right fire feature for your space and keep the party going year-round.
Great for both the front and back yards, landscape lighting is useful for more than just aesthetics. Landscape lighting ensures better safety and allows you to continue your fun long into the night. It is especially important to consider good lighting on paths from the front to the back yard, so guests can clearly see where they’re stepping.
Professional Lawn Care
A lush, green lawn is part of the summertime experience. Professional lawn care from Hively Landscape is a safe and sustainable service that will keep your lawn green and growing all season long, so you can enjoy your yard instead of working in it!
People have been gathering around fires for thousands of years, and there’s no wonder why. Outdoor fires allow you to comfortably enjoy crisp fall weather with friends and family.
There are countless options to bring the ancient allure of fire to your backyard. One initial design question to consider: Do you picture a circular fire with seating encircling the feature or more of an outdoor hearth that acts as a border of your living space?
If you like to grill, you’re familiar with the choice of gas versus charcoal, and a similar question presents itself when considering outdoor fire features. Gas-powered fire features eliminate the need for firewood as well as woodsmoke and ash cleanup. These sleek fire elements produce flames that dance upon a bed of lava rock or colorful glass beads. These can be activated at the push of a button and are ideal for close-quartered sitting areas. On the other hand, if you love building and tending a fire, nothing beats the ambiance of a wood fire.
Cooler temperatures need not drive you indoors for the season. Whether you prefer the simplicity of gas fixtures or the beauty of a traditional wood fire, a fire feature is a welcome addition to your landscape.
Living landscaping such as shrubs and trees is a big investment in your home. When handled wisely, these landscape elements can mature into prominent aspects of your property that can be enjoyed for years and even decades. If your landscape needs some reworking or a complete redo, fall is a great time.
When you plan new landscape additions, proper timing goes a long way. Planting in the fall gives new trees and shrubs the best chance for long-term health and vitality. New plants are put in a tough situation when planted at the height of summer. The mild weather of fall spares new plantings the intense, dry heat of summer.
The cooler temperatures of autumn allow new root systems to develop and establish themselves in advance of winter. New plantings will go into winter dormancy equipped for a vibrant spring emergence. Next year, when the weather warms, your new trees and shrubs will green up and bloom in spectacular fashion.
Are you ready to finally add the patio or outdoor kitchen you’ve been wishing for? Make next year’s outdoor season complete by having it put in now. You’ll be able to enjoy it from the first warm days. Whatever your landscape needs, we’re ready to help. Living landscaping can shape your property for years to come. While spring planting may seem like the most logical timing, fall planting is actually better. If your landscape could use some improvements, don’t hesitate.
There are plenty of long summer days and nights ahead of us, and next year seems a long ways off. We’ve learned, though, that nature works in long cycles, and that when planning truly great landscapes, we should as well.
The term “hardscaping” refers to landscaping features that are permanently established and typically nonliving. Patios, water elements, fire pits and outdoor shelters all fall into this category. Hardscaping additions can transform an underused area of your property into an inviting living space which allows your family and friends to fully enjoy the warmer months.
The key to getting the most out of your hardscaping is proper planning. The first step in effective planning is to decide what you want from your new space. You may want a quiet retreat, a place to host large gatherings, or an area that can be a little of both.
Getting ahead on new projects is more important now than ever. You have no doubt heard about supply chain disruptions which have affected product inventories worldwide. These disruptions have influenced the cost of building materials as well as the timing necessary to complete new construction. Because of this unusual situation, even the most thorough plans will likely take longer than you would expect.
Landscape and hardscape projects require many moving parts working together properly. The process of designing a plan, procuring the necessary materials and scheduling the labor already takes a considerable amount of time. Over the past year or so, this process has become lengthier and more complicated. If you’re considering new projects for 2023, now is the time to lay out the specifics. Patience and planning go hand in hand. If you have thoughts about new additions, give us a call, and we will set the process in motion.
Water is what makes life on Earth possible. In our landscapes, water not only keeps our plants green and growing, but it also provides us with sound and motion in the form of landscape water features.
Make a Splash This Year
Whether they’re used as focal points or simple accents, water features are a great way to add interest, beauty and tranquility to your landscape. Ornamental pools can embellish your garden with a wide variety of fish, foliage and flowers, while the sounds of moving water from a fountain or waterfall can help create a more relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Your water feature can be simple or complex, depending on your needs and interests. From a simple reflecting pool to multi-tiered waterfalls, the choices are vast. Homeowners are sometimes concerned about the maintenance required for a water feature, and they’re surprised to find out how easy water features are to manage, especially compared to the ambience they provide.
Watering Wisely With Automatic Irrigation
If you don’t have an automatic irrigation system on your property, now is a great time to have one installed. Water conservation is more important than ever, and these systems can save a lot when compared to traditional hoses and sprinklers.
Automatic irrigation systems are able to calculate how much, when and where watering is needed, so you can be sure that your lawn, trees and shrubs will always get the right amounts of water at the right times. Plus, extra features like rain shut-off devices, moisture sensors and automatic controllers help to avoid watering waste.
When Old Man Winter comes around, he brings plenty of challenges for your landscape along with him. Frost heave is an often overlooked but important one to be aware of because it is so easy to avoid.
WHAT IS FROST HEAVE?
When temperatures are cold enough to cause the ground to freeze, any water trapped in the soil freezes into “ice lenses” that push surrounding soil up as they expand. In south central PA and northern MD, the average winter frost depth is 18” but can be as deep as 28”. This means that depending on the extent of cold weather, any poorly drained soil in this 28” depth has the potential to freeze and cause heaving.