Create a Garden and Patio Design To Enjoy Year-Round

Retreat to a garden and patio design that’s beautiful year-round, and takes minimum fuss. What makes this possible? Carefree plants with continuous blooms, and a well-planned garden structure.

You don’t need to be a lawn and garden expert or landscape designer to do this. Here are a few tips for creating a super yet simple garden and patio design that will be a knockout!

The first step is to take a birds-eye view of your garden and patio area. Make a rough sketch of your space, and play around with a few designs until you like what you see. As you’re doing this, get some great ideas from existing garden and patio decorations. Pay a visit to other people’s gardens, or public gardens. Look through home landscaping and gardening magazines, find what you like, and develop plans of your own.

Decide what style or theme is right for you… formal, casual, rustic, Southwestern, Japanese… there are enormous possibilities. Then stay with that style and theme so the overall effect does not become confusing. For instance, you wouldn’t want to combine bronze garden sculptures of saints or cherubs with rustic wooden wagon wheels.

Imagine what your patio area will most often be used for. You may plan to entertain lots of outdoor dinner guests. If so, be sure your patio space has plenty of room for the largest number of people right from the beginning. Your patio may be more of a private, reflective retreat for enjoying the sun, reading a book, or gazing up at the stars. Determine the use of shade, open sun, or even covering it with a roof.

Now take your favorite ideas and put them into your rough plans – and soon you’ll have a design that is ready for action.

The next step is to create your garden and patio design to scale – you can use landscaping software for this, or do it by hand. Choose the flowers you intend to plant, noting how many you will need for each month of your growing season, and select the landscaping structures that will give your design its form.

Some say the secret to a beautiful garden and patio design is having a good amount of hard structure. This is what landscape designers refer to as “good bones” – walls, fences, garden bridges, gates, garden arbors, landscape statues, garden fountains … even a strong line of evergreen plants.

Garden structures such as these create forms and lines, giving your garden and patio design definition and dimension. Plus, in the winter when most plants are empty and bare, your garden will preserve its shape and sense of completeness. It’s amazing how just one or two structures can produce this satisfying effect.

Most garden and landscaping structures are built to withstand the elements. Treated pine, cedar and teak garden furniture, trellises, arbors, and decorative fencing are great choices. Stone, copper, and bronze garden statuary will never let you down. Garden fountains bring incredible beauty and atmosphere to any garden and patio design – in fact, entire gardens have been built around them.

Next, choose annual spring flowers and perennial plants that will give you blooms from one season to the next. For instance, select carefree roses that need no pruning or spraying, and bloom continuously from spring through fall. Fill planters with beautiful blooming flowers such as Oriental lilies or verbena for different colors all summer long. Establish flower beds in corners or along walk ways. Always consider your local climate and plant according to the sun and shade needs of your plants.

As you plan your garden and patio design, create paths or walk ways that lead from one area to the next. Rambling garden paths are relaxing and charming… and if laid out thoughtfully, will be a big help to you as the gardener. Paths can be of stone, brick, flagstone, gravel, or mown turf, although grass paths require more upkeep. Garden sculptures or sitting benches thoughtfully placed along the way provide wonderful expression.

If you want garden and patio designs that are pre-drawn, there are ready-made plans available in books and magazines. This is another fine way to get off to a solid start. Use pre-made garden plans from start to finish, or incorporate parts of them right into you own creative plans.

Copyright 2006 Robert Mosse

Proper Placement and Positioning of Solar Patio Lights

Optimizing the placement and output of each outdoor light fixture is the best way to decrease your home’s current energy consumption. The most effective way to completely eliminate outdoor lighting cost is to install solar patio lights throughout your property. You should however, only invest in fixtures that offer various methods of installation and preferably fixtures that contain a swivel for directional illumination. The versatility of such fixtures will enable you to position and direct light exactly where it is needed most. Solar lighting fixtures have come a long way and many manufacturers are implementing technology that can function even on cloudy days. The low output of each fixture provides areas of your landscape with sufficient lighting to promote safe access and to enhance the beauty of your landscape even during the night hours.

Solar fixtures offer easy installation that basically requires simple tools like a screwdriver or simply your hands. Ground fixtures contain a stem that needs to be pushed into the ground and works especially well for creating a row of lights on either side of a walkway or driveway. Ground lights can also be used in flower beds or around shrubbery to create and even more beautiful effect. Hanging lights can be installed hanging from light posts, decking, fencing, and especially the overhangs around your home to create a well illuminated perimeter around your home. Sconce, flush, and recessed fixtures typically do not contain directional illumination but they still offer great illumination when installed on top of solid surfaces like fences, decks railings, and even walls.

When you visit a lighting or home improvement store you will quickly discover that most patio lighting is also quite decorative in design which means you can use each fixture to also enhance the daytime landscape of your home. Post and hanging lamps with a decorative design can bring a little whim or theme to a garden or patio area. Animal or structural fixtures can be used almost anywhere to add decoration and fun to the exterior of your property. Stone or rock light fixtures can be used to line a walkway or to form a perimeter around flower beds. The versatility of decorative solar patio lights offers consumers an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to decorating and enhancing the most beautiful parts of a home’s landscape, during the day or night hours. Most fixtures vary in price because of material and not the technology so be on the look out for high quality materials that will last a long time. Make your initial investment the only cost you will ever have to incur after making the wise decision to go with solar technology.

Social Networking for Amateur Home Decorators

Social networking for amateur home decorators is one of the newest trends on the internet. The social network provides a neighborhood where amateur home decorators can showcase their projects and receive feedback and inspiration from other members of the community.

We know what we like and aren’t afraid to do the work ourselves. We will usually tackle just about any project, no professional landscapers, interior designers or decorators needed.

A little bit of advice, suggestions and ideas are certainly welcome from professionals and other home decorators. But, that’s were it stops! We have fun and welcome the challenges that come with decorating our homes.

There’s definitely a lot of information to be found from remodeling a kitchen to refinishing a piece of furniture. We are lucky to have shows like HGTV and Martha Stewart that are full of creative people that share ideas, advice and suggestions.

BHG, Coastal Home, and Southern Living are just a few of the many magazines available. These magazines fill their pages with fabulous pictures, decorating ideas, gardening, and cooking ideas.

The biggest by far and my personal favorite is, social networking through the internet. Amateur home decorators are able to share our home decorating ideas with like minded people. Our ideas are shared through images, slide shows and videos. We communicate through websites, blogs, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

I’m an artist that has fun creating for our home. I have no interest in selling these creations or creating for other homes, but I do like sharing my ideas. Social networking has made sharing my home decorating and cooking ideas possible.

When I first began my website I was surprised by all the home decorating sites that are available. These sites consist of like minded people sharing all their secrets through images and content. Link parties have become very popular with site owners sharing their ideas in one location. This is a great opportunity for visitors to be introduced to other home decorating sites and to gather information.

There are other social networking sites that are similar to a club, but you join and become a member for free. All that’s needed to join and participate is an e-mail address and password. The sites are for site owners, professionals and visitors and offer opportunity for communicating and sharing ideas through a comment page and images.

The member sites offer a range of different opportunities. There are those that offer a way to store images, videos, photo albums and slide shows as well as communication with other members. You can also share your collection of images through e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Site owners can embed and link images to their own website or blog.

I found slide shows work well on website or blog pages. I don’t know about you, but I like to see a lot of photos of decorating projects. The down side, web pages take a long time to load when too many photos are on a page. The up side to slide shows, the capability to show a lot of photos that do not take a long time to load.

If you like sharing and communicating with like minded people, than you definitely should try social networking with fellow home decorators on the internet. You will be able to gain a lot of information, knowledge and inspiration.