Category Archives: Landscaping

Early Spring Landscaping Checklist

spring landscaping checklist

Sunlight, warmer weather, and flowers blooming everywhere can mean only one thing – that spring is quickly approaching. Is your landscaping (front and/or back) ready? If not, get it ready with this easy-to-follow spring landscaping checklist.

Care for the Lawn

Once your lawn begins to wake from its winter dormancy, usually after the danger of frost has passed, address any bare spots by reseeding. You’ll also want to get a head start on weed prevention by manually removing them before they can multiply. For cool-season grasses, fertilize in the early spring; for warm-season grasses, fertilization can wait until late spring or early winter.

Add Color with Mulch

Mulch is one of the easiest ways to add both color and texture to the entire yard. Its primary purposes are to enhance aesthetics, control weed germination, insulate the soil, prevent soil compaction, and reduce lawn mower damage. Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of your tree, shrubs, or flowers. Be careful not to let it touch the tree’s trunk or the flower’s stems. Mulch is available in a range of colors.

Plant Summer-Blooming Flowers

Spring is the ideal time to plant summer-blooming (also called heat-tolerant) flowers. The best summer-blooming flowers for desert gardeners include Datura, blue salvia, penstemons, and primrose. These flowers can be planted from February – once the threat of frost has passed – through May. Before planting your flowers, prepare the bed by mixing in lots of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss.

Update Outdoor Light Fixtures

The addition of outdoor lighting can really enhance a home at night. Lead guests up to the front door with path light set along the walkway; add drama to your front yard by highlighting your garden beds; enjoy your patio after dark with classic string lights; and combine safety with beauty by installing motion-detecting spotlights. There are many different types of outdoor lighting to consider, including high-voltage, LEDs and solar.

Prune Trees and Shrubs

Pruning promotes good plant health. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, just before new growth starts. This leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short length of time. Pruning now can prevent certain diseases and physiological problems. Other trees and shrubs that bloom early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming.

Clean Outdoor Furniture

Cleaning improves the appearance and durability of your outdoor furniture. Use a garden hose to rinse powdered-coated aluminum furniture off. Follow this by wiping it down with a mild dish detergent and water. Rinse completely and let dry.  Wood, wicker, rattan, and iron furniture require special care. All hardware should be inspected and tightened as needed. Pavers, concrete, and hardscapes should also be cleaned.

Landscaping Ideas for Small Backyards

small backyards

A backyard provides a great place for outdoor activities, entertaining, and relaxation. If you have a large, spacious backyard, the options are truly endless. However, if you live in a populated suburb or condominium in the city, your relaxation and entertaining space may be limited. Although, looks can be quite deceiving; don’t let your small backyard fool you into thinking you can’t enjoy it. In fact, all it takes is a little imagination, and some creative design planning to turn your small backyard into an oasis.

Here are six landscaping ideas for small backyards.

Lay Outdoor Pavers Diagonally

Laying pavers diagonally creates the illusion that the space is bigger than it looks. You can find outdoor pavers in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Material options include concrete, natural stone, and brick. Manufactured pavers are interlocking, which makes installing them without grout easy. What’s more? Pavers are virtually maintenance free, although regular sweeping, and resealing will help enhance their appearance and longevity.

Raised Garden Beds

When landscaping for small yards, nothing beats raised garden beds, also called garden boxes. These beds are great for growing small plots of plants, flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Since they are raised, they reduce weed growth, provide good drainage, prevent soil compaction, and reduce damage from outdoor pests. Raised garden beds can be built in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and materials to perfectly fit your small backyard.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardens are perfect for small backyard landscaping. If you have a bare fence or exterior wall, you can create several vertical gardens, thus saving ground space. You can create a privacy wall with a trellis, edible vegetables and herbs using old shipping crates, and/or grow your favorite annuals with some chicken wire and an old bookcase.

Cozy Fire Pits

Imagine sitting outside surrounded by your loved ones on a chilly winter’s night, gazing up at the stars, embraced by the warmth of a crackling fire. This picturesque evening can be yours with a fire pit, which is built low to the ground with no chimney, so it doesn’t require ventilation or a building permit. Popular building materials include concrete, stone, and brick. It can be installed on your patio, deck or yard.

Exterior Lighting

Exterior lighting is perhaps one of the easiest and most affordable options for outfitting a small backyard. It instantly adds visual interest to any size yard, providing a soft glow that creates a comfortable, inviting atmosphere. Available in a variety of halogen, LED and solar fixtures, exterior lighting allows you to highlight focal points in your landscaping. It also enhances home security and safety.

We want to hear from you! Can you think of any other landscaping ideas for small backyards?

Fall Bucket List

fall bucket list

Who doesn’t LOVE fall?

There are leaves for jumping in, apples for picking, pumpkins for carving, and freshly baked goods to eat. Did we mention pumpkin spice everything? We’ve collected more than 30 ideas to help you make the most out of the season, including tips for preparing your landscaping for the cooler months ahead, and compiled them into this fall bucket list.

  • Go apple picking
  • Go for a hayride
  • Rake your yard; front and back
  • Drink warm apple cider
  • Try new pumpkin recipes
  • Get lost in a corn maze
  • Jump in a pile of leaves
  • Take a scenic fall foliage drive
  • Trim rouge tree branches
  • Enjoy hot chocolate under the stars
  • Host or attend a bonfire
  • Decorate your front porch or patio with fall decor
  • Lace up your hiking boots, and set out for these trails
  • Bundle up in your favorite sweater, scarf, and boots
  • Clean your gutters
  • Do a fall photoshoot
  • Watch Halloween movies with kettle corn
  • Carve a jack-o-lantern
  • Curl up under a comfy throw with a good book
  • Make your home smell like fall by filling a stockpot of 4 to 6 cinnamon sticks, orange rind, 2 tablespoons whole cloves, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 to 5 bay leaves. Add water and allow to simmer.
  • Add a good layer of mulch to your landscaping beds
  • Tell ghost stories
  • Visit a haunted house
  • Plant fall perennials
  • Sip on a pumpkin spice latte (a delicious combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, mace, nutmeg, and cloves served hot or cold)
  • Bike to neighboring farmer’s markets
  • Host a chili or soup night
  • Volunteer
  • Start holiday shopping
  • Go antiquing or thrifting
  • Make apple butter from scratch
  • Make homemade candied apples
  • Overseed your lawn using Arizona’s cooler season grass: Perennial Rye. The best time to overseed your lawn is during the first two weeks of October when temperatures are consistently below 65˚F.

Join the conservation: What are you most excited for this fall?

Summer Lawn Watering Tips

watering tips

Ensuring a healthy, lush, green lawn doesn’t have to waste one of our natural resources if you maintain proper watering techniques. Proper watering, along with fertilizing, and mowing practices can help prevent a host of problems including bald patches, insect infestations, and disease.

Consider the following watering tips when caring for your summer lawn:

Water Once Every 3 Days

The key to watering is to water no more than once every three days. Yes, even during the hottest days of summer. Remember to water for longer periods – the time it takes to move water to a depth of 10 to 12 inches into the soil. You can check the depth by pushing a probe or long screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in easily, no more water is needed. By watering your lawn wisely, you help prevent common problems caused by overwatering, conserve a natural resource and save money on your water bill.

Water at the Right Time

The best time to water your lawn is during the morning hours. Typically, between the hours of 4 and 8 A.M., when the air is still cool. This helps minimize evaporation and prevent the growth of fungus. Avoid watering your lawn in windy weather; it’s a far less efficient use of water as it will evaporate before reaching the roots. Don’t water after it’s rained. The University of Arizona provides a FAQs page with more information on when to water your summer lawn.

Install an In-ground Sprinkler System

For added effectiveness, install an in-ground sprinkler system. Investing in the right sprinkler system has two main benefits – it helps to conserve water and, through automation, can prevent overwatering and/or underwatering. The right system also allows you to customize your watering strategy.

Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair fine-tunes the system to deliver water at specific times of day based on your needs and climate. We also offer affordable sprinkler maintenance and repair services. Contact us today at (602) 390-4645. Our office is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.!

Front Yard Landscaping Ideas

front yard landscaping

You can easily incorporate any one of the following ideas into your front yard landscaping to make it as functional as possible. These ideas will also greatly enhance your property’s curb appeal, increasing its value.

Outdoor Walkways

Instead of risking having your grass or flowers trampled, create an inviting entrance with a walkway using natural stone, stamped concrete or decorative brick. When designing your walkway, choose materials that will complement your home’s architectural style and features. For example, if your house is brick, a paved walkway using traditional brick or cobblestone with a brick border is a good choice. Note that a poured surface or paved surface will be much more slip resistant than gravel or pebble.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting can create safe pathways, gorgeous views, and stunning focal points in your front yard. It can also deter intruders. Landscape lighting is available in a wide variety of LED and halogen fixtures. There are pros and cons for both, and it’s important to learn these so that you can make the best, most cost-effective decision. Talk to your landscape professional about the benefits of landscape lighting when designing your front yard landscaping.

Garden Beds

Garden beds full of colorful trees, flowering shrubs, and annuals or perennials are popular additions to both front and backyard landscapes. There are three kinds of garden beds you should be aware of; island beds, raised beds, and border beds. As with landscape lighting, each type of garden bed has its own share of pros and cons that again, should be discussed with your landscape professional.

Native Plants

Bring the beauty of Arizona into your front yard landscaping design by gardening with native plants. Once established, many native plants require minimal water, fertilizer and maintenance time. Native plants grow best under natural conditions. Beneficial insects, such as butterflies, hummingbirds and bees also prefer native plants. As do native birds. These insects and birds will help keep your landscape free of mosquitoes and plant-eating insects.

Mosquito Proof Your Property

mosquito If you’re like most, you probably don’t give much thought to mosquitos – until you get a red, itchy welt on your skin, which is a sure sign of a mosquito bite.


Contrary to popular belief, mosquitos don’t wait for hottest days of summer, but start biting when temperatures reach a consistent 50 degrees. In Arizona – and much of the Southwest – this translates to early March.

Use these tips to mosquito proof your property.

Why Should You Be Concerned?

Some species of mosquitoes can transmit diseases to both animals and people. Examples of potentially life-threatening mosquito-borne diseases include West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika Virus, Yellow Fever, and Malaria. Mosquitoes can also expose our four-legged friends to heartworm. For more information on mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Mosquito Proof Your Property

Eliminate Breeding Sites – Rid your yard of anything that could hold standing water. Mosquitoes require only a small amount of water for depositing their eggs, so don’t overlook any potential water collection vessel. Pet dishes, wading pools, potted plant saucers, rock depressions, water cans, buckets, and wheelbarrows are just a few examples of places where water can stand.

Clean Clogged Gutters – Commonly overlooked, gutters clogged with leaves and other debris can cause water to build-up, potentially causing more problems than just mosquitoes and other pests. Keeping your gutters clean should be at the top of your to-do list each fall and spring. Using a good extendable ladder and plastic shovel, scoop out the gunk, followed by flushing the gutters with a garden hose.

Trim Vegetation – It is believed that mosquitoes stay within proximity of their breeding ground, usually not straying more than 200 feet from where they were hatched. This, along with the fact that mosquitoes feast on plant nectar, make tall grasses and overgrown shrubs a perfect habitat. If you’ve left your trees and other plants do their own thing, trimming them will help alleviate pest problems, as well as add curb appeal.

Keep Your Swimming Pool Clean – Mosquitoes generally steer clear from well-maintained backyard swimming pools. However, if you fail to keep it clean or don’t use its pump for an extended period, they’ll likely be drawn to the dirty/stagnant water. If you use a pool cover during the winter, it can collect water that as mentioned above, will draw them in.

Setup Mosquito Magnets –  Mosquito traps or magnets disrupt their breeding cycle, helping you win the ongoing battle with these swarming, bloodthirsty pests. Magnets rely on the power of attraction to lure and kill mosquitoes allowing you to see a dramatic reduction in the mosquito population on your property. You can find mosquito magnets online or at most home improvement stores.

Spring Yard Cleanup

spring yard cleanup

Spring means flowers blooming, bees buzzing, sun filled days, and family gatherings. It also means giving the house a good cleaning. Spring cleaning though is not just for the inside of the house. There is also the yard to consider. By scheduling time for spring yard cleanup, you will be assured a landscape that looks great, and adds curb appeal. Use these tips to get started.

Clean Up – It almost goes without saying, but it’s important to clean up the leaves, sticks and other debris that may have accumulated over the fall and/or winter seasons. If there is a lot of foliage scattered on your yard, sidewalks and driveways, use a leaf blower. In addition to giving your yard a neat and tidy appearance, removing debris makes it safer to use your lawn mower, and gives you a bird’s eye view of any damage caused by old man winter.

Pull Weeds – Grass and weeds are in constant battle for precious real estate in your yard. Probably the easiest way to kill weeds is to keep them from gaining a foothold. Use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weeds from germinating in planting beds and lawns. Once they’ve sprouted, pulling them by hand improves your odds of removing the entire root. It pays to remember that time is critical.

Prune – With the proper technique, pruning promotes good plant health, resulting in a vigorous burst of new growth. A good starting point is to remove dead, diseased or damaged stems as you see them; ideally before they push out new growth. You should additionally prune any weak growth. When pruning, always start at the top and work your way down, enhancing the health and beauty of your landscaping plants.

Add Color – Early spring is a rewarding time to plant trees, shrubs, and annuals. For an instant pop of color, consider planting flowering bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips. Seedlings can be planted in garden beds or popped into large pots. Remove plants that have died or are unhealthy. When deciding where to place a new plant, it’s important to consider the amount of sun it requires, as well as the space that’s needed.

Clean Outdoor Furniture – Warmer weather means more time spent outdoors – eating, relaxing, and entertaining. Make a point of cleaning your outdoor furniture regularly to prevent it from becoming weathered and faded by the elements. Nuts and bolts should be checked and tightened. Replace any furnishings that are unstable, torn or rotted. Clean paved surfaces and hardscapes.

Landscaping Tips to Maximize Curb Appeal

landscaping tips

You know that old adage about not judging a book by its cover? Well, in real estate, the cover is everything! In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, how your home looks from the outside can have significant influence on a potential buyers’ perception of its value. Even if you’re not thinking of selling anytime soon, taking the time to spruce up your curb appeal, starting with your front yard landscaping can go a long way in maximizing curb appeal.

Follow these landscaping tips to maximize curb appeal.

Add Hardscaping

It’s important to combine various hardscapes and softscape elements, materials, and techniques to create a cohesive design that is both beautiful and functional. Some examples of hardscapes are swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, decks, gazebos, water features, paver patios, and retaining walls. Brick, stone, concrete, wood, and metal are just some of the materials that you may wish to include.

Use Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is a low-maintenance alternative and complement to grass. The fundamental element of a xeriscape design is water conservation. It gives a neat appearance with very little maintenance. It also allows you to integrate drought-tolerant plants, ground covers, mulch and turf areas to produce a beautiful, functional, and resource-conserving landscape design.

Create Privacy

The most visually appealing way to add some privacy to your yard is with a living privacy hedge. Evergreen shrubs, such as Italian Cypress or American Arborvitae, make the best plants for year-round screening from street traffic and neighbors. Other benefits include creating a sound barrier to reduce noise and acting a windbreak to protect against harsh winds.

Consider Lighting

Outdoor lighting adds both aesthetic and functional benefits to your home, such as making your beautifully planned and constructed landscape design visible, even after dark. One of the most practical options for exterior lighting is LED. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs can be six to seven times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, and last up to 50,000 hours depending on the application.

Heed the Weeds

If you notice weeds popping up in your yard, remove them. You can pull them by hand, buy a spray product to kill them (or make your own), or invest in a professional weed control service. With the weeds gone, your plants and other living horticultural elements won’t have to compete with them to receive the water and nutrients they need. Removing weeds will also extend the life of brick, stone, and cement pavers.

A Weed-Free Lawn

weed-free lawn

Think a weed-free lawn is the stuff of dreams? Think again! Although these pesky “plants” are aggressive enough to grow uninvited, and in all the wrong places, there are ways including growing a beautifully thick lawn to combat them. The following information is designed to help you have a weed-free lawn.

The right tools for the job

Invest in a sharp trowel or garden knife to help you slice into the soil to remove the toughest weeds. For deeply rooted and established weeds, use a spade or mattock to remove them once and for all. You will also want to invest in either a hoe or cultivator, and high-nutrient, organic mulch. Don’t forget a pair of heavy duty gloves for protecting your hands from irritants, spines, thrones, and other harmful things.

Weed when wet

The old saying “pull when wet; hoe when dry” is sound advice. Moist soil provides far better weeding conditions – especially when the goal is to pull the entire root system out. With the weekend forecasting rain showers, equip yourself with a pair of household gloves and a trash can or bag, and get to work on ridding your lawn of weeds. We recommend weeding a little every day or two so nothing gets missed.

Prevent weeds from returning

A single weed can produce hundreds to thousands of seeds, spreading them all over your yard! For this reason, it’s important to dislodge new seedlings with a hoe or cultivator, and pull weeds out by hand before they get a foothold in the soil. If possible, mulch immediately after weeding to prevent new seeds from reaching the soil, and to keep buried seeds from getting sunlight and sprouting.


When nothing else works, or your lawn is completely overrun by weeds, you can consider using herbicides. Follow directions to the letter. Used incorrectly, herbicides can kill grass, landscaping plants and other wanted greenery. If you’re planning to use an herbicide, choose one that is safe for your specific lawn, and effective against the most common types of weeds (e.g. crabgrass, dandelions, white clover, ground ivy, etc.).

Preventing Frost Damage

Preventing Frost Damage

As temperatures begin to drop in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, and the nights become longer, it pays to be attentive to the forecast. You invested in your landscape plants, shrubs, and trees; now invest in ensuring they remain free from frost damage. Severe frost damage can easily be mitigated by covering plants on freezing nights.

According to the University of Arizona, “the average first frost date varies from November 21st in Buckeye to December 12th in Central Phoenix, and the average last frost date ranges from February 7th in central Phoenix to April 3rd in Mesa.” This variation is said to be because of the differences in elevation and area population.

How Cold Weather Affects Your Plants

During the day, your plants as well as your soil absorbs and stores heat from the sun, but as the day turns into night…they quickly begin to lose all of their stored heat. The colder the temperature, the quicker the loss. If there are clouds, your plants may be insulated from the cold as clouds absorb the heat, reflecting it back to the earth.

Calm, clear nights pose the greatest danger of frost, due to the fact that there is no wind to mix the ascending warm air with the descending cold air. There are also no clouds present to radiate heat back to the soil, leaving your plants, shrubs and trees vulnerable – if not properly protected.

Preventing Frost Damage

On a night when a freeze is predicted, cover your plants – especially those more sensitive to cold weather like Peruvian Apple Cactus, Red Fairy Duster, some Aloe species, and Yellow Bells – with professional grade frost cloth, before sundown. The advantage of professional grade frost cloth is that it can be left on for longer periods of time.

This alleviates your need to drape the plants nightly. However, if professional grade frost cloth is not available, you can use other materials such as; sheets, blankets, burlap, etc. Simply match the weight of the material to the size and sturdiness of the plant, or build a frame around the plants, draping the material over it.

Never use plastic. Plastic can freeze to the plants on the coldest of nights. When draping, the material should cover the plant from top to bottom. Avoid tying the material at the bottom as this can suffocate your plants. If at all possible, bring potted plants inside your house or garage, since they are much more susceptible to damage.

If not using professional grade frost cloth (the longer you wait, the more likely it is to sell out), remove all coverings once the sun is up and temperature is above freezing, replacing it nightly. For more information on preventing frost damage, including what to look for, please contact Elite Landscaping & Sprinkler Repair at (602) 390-4645.