Here at Enhancescape, we’re big fans of landscape water features. We’ve worked with clients all over the country to install everything from fountains, to waterfalls and ponds and have seen how they can transform a hum-drum landscape into an oasis.
Dallas Water Feature, Waterfall
There are so many different ways to use water to enhance your landscape, with options for every landscaping style and budget:
- In a more formal setting, fountains can be added to create drama and elegance as a focal point for your landscape. Fountains are closed systems that recirculate water with an electric pump, so they can be used anywhere, including places such as Dallas or Atlanta, where there are seasonal watering restrictions. Manufactured fountains are available in a range of styles (including rising jets and downward falls) and materials (masonry, rock, slate, and marble are but a few) and costs vary widely.
- Waterfalls make a beautiful addition to a terraced backyard or as part of your pool setting or a garden wall. When designing a waterfall, be sure to consider property slopes and architecture, connecting ponds or pools, and water flow. A common mistake is to build a tall waterfall – while dramatic, large waterfalls may seem out of place among your existing landscape, whereas smaller designs give you the sounds and visual pleasure you want while providing better balance and harmony with your existing landscape design. Manufactured landscape waterfalls can be specifically designed to fit your property in just about any material
- Ponds do a great job of attracting wildlife and injecting a note of tranquility into your garden, but must be located in well-drained areas that get at least six hours of sunlight daily (to ensure that aquatic plants thrive). And remember, aquatic plants should cover at least half of your pond’s surface in order to control the buildup of algae. A good variety to begin with includes Water Lillies, Duckweed, and Anacharis.
Water features can be constructed using either natural or architectural materials. Natural stone will blend beautifully into the surrounding landscape, while materials such as concrete block or pavestone can be used to ensure that your water feature is seamlessly integrated with your patio.
Regardless of how you design your water feature, it will bring sound and movement to your landscape, adding new dimensions to your plants, trees and lawn and creating a tranquil environment in which to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Retaining wall, Atlanta retaining wall
Throughout most of the country, the month of August is one of the hottest times of the year. Whether you live in the dry heat of Dallas or the humid Atlanta suburbs, August is generally a time for relaxing and enjoying the last lazy days of summer.
In the garden, August seems to fall in the lull between the explosive growth of Spring and early Summer, and the cleanup and Winter prep that occurs in the Fall. As such, many homeowners look at the month of August as an opportunity to take a break from yard work and gardening. But while the list of gardening tasks for August is indeed shorter than in many other months, there are still ongoing tasks to perform in the garden:
- Water: Vegetable gardens, most flowering plants, and the lawn all need about one inch of water every week to keep them green and looking nice. Be sure to water thoroughly and deeply. When possible, water in the morning or early afternoon so the soil has a chance to warm up before the cooler evening hours set in. Deep watering will induce the plant’s roots to grow deeper, where they are less likely to dry out, thereby anchoring the plant into the ground better.
- Deadhead: Pick off the old dead flowers on your annuals, as well as the spent flowers on perennial plants. A little time spent on grooming the plants will make a big difference in the overall appearance of your landscape. By removing spent flowers, plants will not go into the seed producing stage and should continue to flower longer into the season.
- Prune: Summer blooming shrubs should be pruned for shape after they have finished flowering. Remove any dead or diseased branches.
- Weed: Weeds in the garden are harmful because they rob your plants of water and nutrients, harbor insects and diseases, and, on occasion grow tall enough to shade your flowers and plants. Weed control is important in August, because with warmer weather and increased watering, weed seeds will germinate and grow faster, and mature to the point of producing more seeds. Keep the weeds pulled, before they have a chance to flower and go to seed again. Otherwise, you will be fighting newly germinated weed seed for the next several years.
A little preventive work in the month of August will save you lots of time and hard work later this Fall and into next year. And you’ll have a beautiful, well-tended landscape to gaze upon as you lounge in your hammock or dine al fresco on your patio!
Dallas pavestone, Dallas covered decks
Did you know that just three trees properly placed around a house can save up to 30% of home energy use? This is according to the U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research, which carried out computer simulations of annual cooling savings. They found that a typical energy efficient home in the Southwest spends about $250 each year for air conditioning. Shade from two 25-foot tall trees on the west and one on the east would save this same household $57 a year, or 23%.
In addition to saving you money, shade trees can also add to the beauty of your landscape. Just look at how they compliment this home (above) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area!
Some things to consider when planting trees:
- Deciduous trees: Deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves) should be planted on the east and west sides of your house. They will keep your house cool in the summer and let the sun warm your home in the winter, reducing energy use, and lowering summer air conditioning costs by up to 35% according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Be sure to check out the latest Arbor Day Foundation Hardiness Zone Map to see what deciduous trees will best grow in your area.
- Evergreen trees: If you live in a cooler climate, after the leaves fall in autumn, the sun pours through tree branches to warm your home in winter. The sun travels lower on the southern horizon in winter, so you’ll want to avoid planting evergreen trees on the south side of your home where they’ll block winter sunshine. Instead, plant an evergreen conifer windbreak on the north and northwest of your home to block cold winter winds. Planting a row of conifer trees on the north and northwest sides of your property creates a wall against cold winter winds—saving your heating costs by up to 30%.
- Planting locations: Trees or shrubs planted to shade air conditioners help cool a building more efficiently, using less electricity. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun. And trees that shade patios, sidewalks, and driveways can cool the concrete or the entire yard.
The economic benefits of tree planting will vary from location to location depending upon climate and other factors. To get a better idea of how much you can save by planting a tree in your yard, check out the Tree Benefit Calculator from The Davey Tree Institute and Casey Trees.
Dallas Water Feature
More and more homeowners are choosing to add water features to their landscapes. Water gardens can add interest to an otherwise unremarkable yard, form an appealing border for a patio or deck, or provide soothing sounds to drown out the noise of a surrounding neighborhood or nearby street. Just look at how the pond and waterfall we installed for a Dallas-Fort Worth area homeowner adds to the appeal of this backyard!
Water gardens are fairly simple structures. Most begin with a pond of some sort, and ponds are built by digging a hold in the ground, laying down a liner, and placing rocks or other hardscape around the edge. But no pond is complete without plants, both in the water and in the area surrounding the pond.
Adding plants to the water itself is the key to avoiding algae problems. It’s important to cover at least 60 percent of the water’s surface with plants such as water lilies, water hyacinths and oxygenating plants, which actually filter the water to help keep it clean.
In addition to placing plants in the water, you should add plants in the area immediately surrounding your pond to mask the pond liner and soften the look of the rocks or hardscaping that forms the border.
Which plants should you choose?
- If you want to create a Japanese feel, try dwarf conifers (such as Alberta Spruce) with minimum color or alpine plants.
- To add height, you can use conifers, crimson fountain grass (Pennisetum rubrum) and Siberian iris (a bog-loving plant).
- Other good plants to use around ponds, especially those with a lot of rock, include some of the sedums and hen-and-chicks. They add a variety of color. Some are tight and low growing, while others are more leggy. They do great in full sun and help soften the rocks by growing right around them.
When all of the plants are in place, the next step is to add mulch to help prevent the soil from eroding away. It protects the plants and provides a finished look for your water feature, but also helps retain moisture and keeps the weeds away. Be sure to water all of your plants regularly to get them up and growing.