Enhance Your Landscaping with These 3 Features

Looking to spruce up your landscape this spring? These 3 features will breathe new life into your outdoor space.

When we design and install landscapes, we like to think about the features that can be included which will have a high impact on the function, beauty, and overall enjoyment of the space. We’ve discussed many of these features at length in the past. Rain gardens, permeable hardscapes, patio walls, and native plants are a few of our favorites.

To add to that list, we have 3 more favorites landscape features that can enhance your outdoor space. These were chosen because they can be a relatively simple addition to a new or even an old landscape, and can make a big difference in the way it looks and functions.

1.Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting can have a stunning visual effect on your outdoor space at night. The interplay of light and shadows makes the landscape appear more dynamic and alive while accentuating certain elements of the space.

For example, a well placed light shining against the burgundy trunk of a Manzanita up into its silver gray canopy can make the tree into a remarkable focal point at night. It highlights the most beautiful parts of the tree, while creating gnarled shadows in the background.

Outdoor landscape lighting at night.

Outdoor landscape lighting at night.

Lighting can also be used on stairs and pathways. Soft circles of light down a walkway can entice you to follow it through the landscape (not to mention keep you from tripping).

A retaining wall can have dim spotlights grazing its surface to call attention to the texture and shapes of the wall.

Sounds great, right? The trick to getting these visual effects is to properly design the lighting system, which is a skill and an art form. Fixtures, bulb selection, and light placement are all taken into consideration to ensure the outdoor lighting compliments your landscape, yet does not overwhelm it. For best results, outdoor lighting should be subtle rather than overly bright. The goal isn’t to illuminate the entire yard, it is to use light and shadows to accentuate specific aspects of it.

2.Fire Pit

There are few better ways to enjoy your outdoor space than lounging around a crackling fire in the evening. Whether you are enjoying it in solitude or gathering around the fire with friends, this is a great way to enhance your landscape.

Fire pits come in 2 basic types – wood burning or gas. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which type to use.

Wood burning fire pits are easy to install and come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Wood burning fire pits can produce more heat than gas, plus you get that authentic campfire experience, right in your backyard! The downside is that it requires some effort to get the fire going. You have to get firewood and spend time getting the fire started.

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This gas fire pit provides a cozy centerpiece for evening time relaxation.

Gas fire pits also come in many styles, but require a bit more effort to install. They need to be connected to a gas line, which will typically need to be done by a plumber, and will often require some trenching. This can make these fire pits a bit more expensive and can make them more difficult to install in established landscapes. A workaround for this could be to use a gas fireplace that runs off propane tanks.

Gas fireplaces are easier to use than wood because turning them on is as simple as flipping a switch. This can often mean the fire pit will see more use, since there is no effort needed to get the fire going.

Other than cost, the downsides to a gas fire pit is that it won’t produce as much heat as wood, and a gas fire won’t quite give you that crackling campfire experience.

Whether you choose a wood burning fire pit or a gas fire pit, you’ll love having one nearby on those cool Central Coast nights.

3.Vertical Garden

Vertical gardens, succulent walls, and hanging gardens are beautiful ways to spruce up a blank wall or fence. A vertical garden is typically a shallow framed planter that is mounted on an open surface. The vertical garden is artistically arranged using plants with different textures, colors, and shapes. We like to describe it as painting with plants.

You can build your own planter or purchase a manufactured vertical garden planter. Either way, it will need to be built to support the plants when upright so they don’t fall out.

Because vertical gardens usually have a slim profile, the plants you choose for your vertical garden will need to be shallow rooted, meaning they don’t need much root space to stay healthy. It also helps if the plants you use don’t need much water. Although it’s possible to set up automatic irrigation for vertical gardens, you might as well make it easy on yourself and just get plants that will only need a hand watering every once in a while. Succulents work great for this!

Vertical garden

A vertical garden adorns the side of a detached garage.

After you have your planter and have selected your plants, you can set about arranging and planting them. Before you do this, you might want to get out a piece of paper and sketch out your design. You’ll often get better results with a little pre-planning.

After planting, leave the vertical garden lying flat for a few weeks to give the plants time to root into the soil. There’s nothing worse than hanging your new work of art and having a bunch of the plants fall out.

Once it’s time to mount the garden, securely fasten it to a sturdy structure like an exterior wall of fence. With all the soil and plants, these can be quite heavy, so make sure you have someone to help you if needed. If you haven’t already, you can now build a frame around the vertical garden. This is the finishing touch!

Ongoing care is as easy as a bit of pruning now and then to keep the plants under control, and watering when needed. When watering, use the mist setting on your hose nozzle to avoid washing out the soil.

Vertical gardens are an easy addition to any landscape, new or old. They add an artistic touch and can help fill in large exterior wall space. You’ll also find them to be a great conversation starter, like a living work of art in your landscape.

What to do next…

Now go do it! It’s spring time, the days are getting warmer and longer, and it’s time to spend more time out in the yard. Take the opportunity to enhance your landscape with one or more of the features above. If you prefer not to DIY, then give us a call. We would be glad to discuss how we can help you fix up your old landscape or install a new one.