Decorative Stone Uses For Landscaping

One of the benefits resulting from the diminishing rainfall now being experienced Australia wide is the growing realisation by the community that there are alternatives to the vast areas of lawn traditionally found around suburban houses.

The new trend toward smaller property sizes has also caused people to look at more practical uses that could be made of the surrounds to their homes.

One of the fastest growth areas experienced over the past 5 years has been the increased usage of decorative pebbles. Landscapers and homeowners basically have two main sources for these pebbles and stones.

Natural coloured stones can be sourced throughout Australia, under licence, from old river and creek beds where their removal does not harm the ecosystem. These stones are quarried, then tumbled to give a smooth rounded edge which adds a touch of class wherever used. Local decorative pebbles are increasingly being used throughout the landscaping of new display homes to provide a low maintenance, low water requirement home environment. Attractive exterior inorganic mulches like pebbles suppress weeds and retain soil moisture when applied over already moist soil. They don’t break down over time and with the wide range of colours available can look great providing a modern stylish garden appearance.

The alternative source of decorative pebbles is the growing range of colours and sizes available in the imported pebbles. Whilst the initial major source of these was from non enviro-friendly areas of beaches and rivers in India and Indonesia, the recent trend had been to the wide range of natural coloured pebbles which are manufactured particularly in China and Italy. The two types of pebbles sourced are either polished and waxed or are manufactured stone that is tumbled from quarried rock to the desired size.

Polished pebbles are sourced from huge mounds of pebbles produced as a by-product to sand mining operations. Stacks up to 4 metres high and covering areas as large as a football field provide the pebbles that are hand picked for the colour required (usually black). These pebbles are then taken to local villages where they are polished by tumbling, then waxed and bagged.
Imported decorative pebbles are increasingly being used in a wide variety of applications including interior and exterior landscaping, roofscaping and the latest trend in decorative concrete – “seeded exposed aggregate”.

One of the many aspects drawing landscape architects and designers to this finish is the complete versatility in design and colour produced by the product. With over 100 different colour oxides available to select from for the concrete colour the wide range of over 40 different colours pebbles available provide a limitless colour combination to work with.

Apart from colour selections, designers can also incorporate exciting features in the project works. Polystyrene cut-outs which are set in the concrete when the initial pour is done can be subsequently removed and replaced with a contrasting feature concrete/pebble combination. Side borders can vary, from the many decorative pavers and bricks available, to hand laid pebble borders using any of the 100+ colours and sizes available.

A particularly popular range of pebbles are sourced from an Italian marble manufacturer who tumbles marble off-cuts to provide a colourful range of smooth edged marble pebbles. These environment friendly pebbles contain all the variations naturally found in marble providing an exceedingly decorative and appealing appearance.

Landscaping For Beauty and the Environment – Landscape Lighting

A Night Landscape

As the sun disappears, no longer does your garden have to fade into the darkness not to be seen until the dawn sun rises again. Landscaping with lights can bring your night-time garden alive again with dramatic shade and light. Landscape lighting is not only functional, but can make a dramatic difference in the visual appeal of your home. Using outdoor lighting will create a sense of life and drama in a front or backyard all year-round. When Springs brings new growth and blooms or when the ice shivers on tree limbs – imagine the interplay of light and shadow in them.

Dusk and Early Evening Gardens

One of the most pleasant and relaxing things to do after a hard days work is to sit in the garden on a warm Spring or Summers evening, sipping a crisp white wine from California or an ice cold beer. Landscaping with lights makes this possible

This is enhanced with subtle landscape lighting that allows you to both see what you are doing and also enjoy the aspects of your garden and yard from a different perspective as shadow and light interplay with foliage, flowers, features and the structure of the trees and shrubs.

The Beauty of the Night

Staying indoors means we too often we miss out on what evening brings – quiet (or quieter!), a sense of ease at days end, a closure to work that is natural and peaceful. Garden lights also turn the outdoors into a great entertainment area. Using landscape lighting allows us more freedom to utilize our yards and gardens more – allowing the life growing there to enhance our sense of wellbeing. In the case of many who work long hours, sometimes it is the only time to enjoy the garden and landscape lighting can literally shine the spotlight on your landscape design. Some aspects of your landscaping will take on a special beauty at night, if properly illuminated. Lighting up walkways and ‘hidden from view’ areas of the home is a good safety and security measure and a deterrent to burglars.

Summary of Good Reasons for Outdoor Lighting

o It is decorative
o It offers a sense of welcome and ease of passage for visitors to your home.
o It highlights or accents the architectural features of your house
o Adds interest – with the interplay of shadow and light
o It provides security and safety (around pools and ponds etc)
o It enhances your property’s value.

Part 5b “Painting with Lights” – see next article

Part 5c “Think Green” – see following the above

Final articles in this series are Landscape Architects and Value Adding with Landscaping

Should You Spend Money Landscaping Your Lawn?

In today’s economy, everything has gotten much more expensive, so is it worthwhile hiring a landscaper? I too have been asking this because money has been tight in the last couple years. Professional landscaping isn’t cheap and unfortunately it’s something that you have to think about doing every year.

The real question now is landscaping worth your while as a homeowner? Your situation may be different but I think it is. I’ve discovered that landscaping is like haircutting. If you let your hair grow for a long period of time, your haircut cost more. It all comes down to the fact that this can be more work to do. Landscaping to me is pretty much the same thing. If you leave your lawn to its own devices for a few years it’ll cost a lot more to get back up to a pristine state.

If you take the time to maintain your lawn or hire professional landscaper to touch it up every year then your lawn should be much faster and cheaper to maintain on a yearly basis. Plus as you learn to take care of your lawn you can consider just purchasing landscaping supplies as you need them at a much lower cost and doing the labor yourself.

I know if you’re looking to sell your house, landscaping your front lawn is absolutely required. You always get the money you pay for professional landscaping back when you sell your house. I’ve been watching the real estate market for some time in my neighborhood and beautifully landscaped front yards do sell a home for much more.

Needless to say, this does make sense. If you talk to anybody you know, they will judge whatever you present them within seconds. So goes to say that if you try to sell your home a potential customer will gauge how good your home is by how good your front lawn looks. People do judge present by its package.

I did some research just now and discover that a study in the United States has found that a properly landscaped home will sell for 5.5% to 12% more than homes that are not landscaped. At the home sells for $250,000, at 5.5% that could be a $13,000 difference.

Plus I do recommend consulting a professional landscaper if you don’t know what you’re doing. Remember that landscaping is more than just making sure your lawn is cut. Bringing the professional landscaper let you get a professional and creative point of view for your particular situation. I found in my own experience that any type of interior decorator or landscaper that is truly professional is worth their weight in gold.

Allow this professional to plan out your lawn, and make it much better than what it is. Allow this person to suggest new ideas to you including the best shrubbery you can use for your particular climate. Plus many them are more than willing to show you how to keep your new beautiful lawn beautiful.

Before wrapping up here’s one final thought. Be sure to get recommendations from people who you trust as this will help you choose the right landscaper for your needs. Unfortunately like any other industry this can be really good landscapers and really bad ones too. Imagine spending a lot of money and not getting what you’re hoping for.