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Floral Garden and Landscape Toupees

English Ivy is a wonderful groundcover and makes a home look lovely, lived in, and comfy. There is a problem, however. Ivy can kill trees and other plants. It can also cause extensive damage to foundations, siding, and chimneys. An alternative is what I call “Landscape Toupees.”

Some people might call fake flowers and foliage an abomination. I call it creative and colorful. They are economical and save time as well. You don’t need to fertilize or water, and they can be reused.

You usually only see silk and plastic trees and flowers for inside usage, and it is true that they will not last quite as long outside as they do inside. But, these delightful faux flowers and artificial vines look beautiful and will probably get you through several seasons.

My Landscape Toupees allow me to sculpt and cover problem areas in an instant. We have down spouts that look cold and ugly, but with plastic ivy strung around them, they take on a great look. One window in our living room looks out onto a downspout. Now, it looks out onto an ivy covered architectural feature that has color and charm.

You can also use fake vines to hide cables and wires. Some vines have small attachments so you can loop them on hooks, or a staple gun can give you fast placement, which reminds me of hair plugs.

We bought some decorative and expensive grass last year that is taking a while to flourish. I purchased some darts of grass leaves and threw them into brown clumps of grass for shocks of healthy green. As the grass matures and takes hold, I will migrate the darts elsewhere. Since people don’t expect plastic in gardens, they take them at face value. They expect them to be real, and so they are real.

Landscape Toupees are a great decorative tool for your yard and garden. You don’t need to be ashamed of using fake foliage. Use it as you need it, and improve the outside of your home quickly, and economically.

Irrigation and Landscape Design

In designing your backyard landscape, you should think about the irrigation system that will be used to water your plants and trees. Will you be using hoses above the ground or will you want below ground water sprinklers installed. You have to also take into consideration the water bill and in that respect you should learn when and how to water.

Mow your grass at a higher length so that it is longer. There is some controversy about whether this is helpful in saving water but it is better for the health of the grass as longer grass has stronger roots and is then more drought resistant. The grass should be mowed to a length of three inches. Aerate your lawn regularly as this will help the water get through the compacted soil and it also provides air to the roots of the grass. How often you should aerate your lawn depends on the type of grass you have and whether or not you remove lawn clippings. Dry spots are an indication that your lawn needs aeration.

Do not use as much fertilizer, as fertilizers help the lawn to grow and there is more usage of water with higher growth. Apply only the minimum amount of fertilizer needed. You can also apply fertilizer in small doses more frequently. Use a fertilizer dispenser to distribute the fertilizer evenly and you will not waste any of the fertilizer. Avoid the chemicals used in toxic fertilizer injection methods as they may be blown into neighbor’s yards or children may play in the wet grass and be subjected to it. If you add about a two or three inches deep layer of mulch: wood chips, almond hulls, decorative rock, etc. you will reduce the amount of water you use and reduce the number of weed in your lawn.

You can save water by reshaping your backyard landscape. If you shrink the size of your lawn, you will save water since the lawn takes more water than plants or shrubs. If your irrigation system is close to the house of near fences, reduce the size of the lawn in those places as the irrigation water spraying the house or fence can cause problems. You can use low growing plants with drip irrigation between the fence and the house.

If you would like to have a small garden area with plants that use a lot of water, then set it in a shady area where the wind will not get at it. High water plants will use less water when planted in a shady area and where they are protected from high winds. Because of the emphasis on water conservation, many water providers in dry areas of the country are giving coupons, rebates and discounts to purchasers of irrigation equipment. Some will even provide the equipment free of charge to their local customers. You should ask you water provider about these discounts, etc. before you purchase any irrigation equipment and ask about freebies also.

Ideas for Decorative and Ornamental Fences

A new fence can provide both a practical and attractive addition to any home or property. Even old fences can be dressed up, often becoming a focal point in the landscape. Fencing options range from the traditional white picket fence that surrounds many older homes to more modern installations using geometric shapes to add flair. Even materials vary widely and have specific pro’s and con’s to be considered based on use, budget, and personal preference.

Wooden fencing comes in every shape and size imaginable, can be finished with paint or stain to compliment any style, and is commonly available. Installation is relatively easy, and can accommodate steeper grades than other, less adaptable options. Another traditional option in wooden fencing is lattice, which offers structure for climbing plants, allows light through, and still provides some degree of privacy. Pressure treated lumber will add to the durability and life of the fence, as well as the initial cost. Given these advantages, it is plain to see why wooden fences are so popular.

Another popular fence material that has stood the test of time is stone. Depended upon for everything from fortifications across Europe to the Great Wall of China, stone is obviously a durable choice for a fence. It can also provide an ornamental backdrop to a flower garden, a rustic feel to a garden path, or even a sturdy barrier to block out noise from traffic or an air conditioner. It can be dry-stacked without using mortar for a more provincial appearance. If solid support is the goal, few materials compare to the strength of stone. Stone is more expensive due to the additional costs of the materials, transportation, and labor. This additional cost is offset by extremely low maintenance.

Decorative and ornamental fences of iron, steel, or aluminum are an excellent option as well. Iron is the more traditional choice, but is often rather costly. Steel is the strongest and is a strong, attractive option for areas that must be aesthetically pleasing as well as secure. Aluminum is the least expensive option, but still provides adequate strength, minimal maintenance, and visual appeal. More and more decorative fences are made of metal, framing corrugated roofing panels in wood make for an eye-catching modern look. When paired with the right furnishings can make a very sophisticated look. Each of these choices have specific installation allowances, and although generally more adaptable than vinyl installation is not as accommodating as wood or stone.

Chain link is frequently the last option when considering materials for a decorative fence, but it can be a very effective addition, especially when budget concerns arise. Generally associated with the grey metal fencing surrounding construction sites, chain link can be dipped in vinyl or painted to blend with the environment. It is particularly useful on large properties where long stretches of fencing are required, often out of immediate sight.

In recent years advances in the manufacture of plastics has introduced vinyl as a viable alternative to more traditional fencing materials. Installation of vinyl is easy, but is not recommended for properties with steep inclines or frequent changes in grade. Vinyl offers a decorative fence with very low maintenance, ease of installation, and is not affected by the elements like some other options.

The rise in production of bamboo flooring and other building materials introduced this useful, renewable resource to the decorative fencing industry. Used for millennia throughout asia, bamboo is strong, durable, and offers many of the benefits of wood at lower cost. Bamboo is often used as a screen to hide an undesirable feature or extra privacy. It can also be framed with wood for an interesting and inexpensive alternative appearance. For a truly low cost alternative, the bamboo can be cut into sections and lashed together for temporary support or utilitarian asian appearance.

Frequently two or more of these materials are combined to form a tailored solution solving the owner’s needs while balancing the constraints of aesthetics and budget. To get the effect of a stone decorative fence with less expense, consider using stone for the posts and a less expensive option to span the gaps. You might also use steel immediately surrounding a secured entrance, aluminum on the more visible perimeter, and transition to chin link in areas where you want to restrict access but are less concerned with appearance. If you want a modern geometric look; but still need to keep pets in or varmints out, backing the fence with chicken wire can make an effective yet barely perceptible barrier.

Another option is to dress up your existing fence. This is accomplished in various ways. Use paint to add decorative flair to an older fence, call attention to a particular point, or hide a less desirable feature. Many times you can use the existing posts and simply replace the fencing. This will eliminate a significant amount of labor and time involved in the installation. You can also add various top caps and finials to the posts, an intricate gate, or even planters filled with bountiful blooms. Stained glass windows, mirrors, antique doors, and even fountains lend flair and personality to decorative fences.