Category Archives: Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas

Desert Landscape Design Essentials

Desert Landscape Design

Known for its desert climate, with very hot summers and mild winters, Phoenix provides several landscape challenges. Among these challenges are unique soil compositions and extreme temperature fluctuations. Drought-like conditions also provide challenges as residents are required to conserve water.

Luckily, there are many plant species that are either native or well-adapted to the area that – when combined with other materials like river rock, pavers, and earth-colored stucco – can make your dream of an environmentally friendly, eye-catching landscape a reality. For inspiration, visit the Desert Botanical Garden, then contact a professional landscaper in Phoenix who specializes in creating desert landscape designs.

Here are some essentials for designing a desert landscape.

Native Plants

In recent years, native plants have become increasingly popular; valued for their ability to thrive with little water. Native perennials like penstemon, sage, and marigold are known to add pops of color. Succulents such as blue yucca, desert spoon, and agave add regional flare. Native plants are also known to provide food and shelter for the area’s diverse wildlife. Use the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) website for information on these and other low-water-use plants.

Hardscaping

As you consider essentials for your desert landscape design, keep in mind that you can add tremendous appeal to your front or backyard with hardscaping such as a paved patio, fire pit or sitting area. Other ideas include sculpture gardens, resurfaced driveways, and outdoor kitchens. There is a wide range of materials that can be used for these and other hardscaping projects. It’s a good idea to contact a professional landscaper when considering adding hardscaping to your landscape.

Irrigation

Drip irrigation systems are designed to deliver a consistent amount of water over an extended period. They typically put out water at a leisurely rate of 1/4 to 4 gallons per hour to sufficiently hydrate your plants, trees, and shrubs. Drip irrigation not only helps to ensure the plants survival during dry, hot summers, but its productivity as well. Thanks to today’s technology, some irrigation systems can even be automated, saving time to smell the flowers as they bloom in the spring and early summer.

Gravel

Gravel serves many purposes, from solving drainage issues to lending textural appeal, making it one of the most popular landscape materials with today’s homeowners. It can also be compacted, making it an ideal choice for pathways. The most common types of landscaping gravel are crushed stones, pea gravel, and decomposed granite. River rock is also included in this category. Gravel is available in a variety colors and sizes to complement most any architecture.

Mulch

Mulch provides several benefits, including acting as a soil insulator to keep the roots of plants cool during the summer and warm during the winter, and preventing excess water evaporation. These benefit makes mulch – either organic or inorganic – essential in desert landscape design. Mulch also has weed suppressing properties. It is available in wide range of naturalistic colors. When applying to garden beds, layer three inches deep to ensure sufficient covering.

Roundup: Easter Egg Decorating Ideas to Try

Easter Egg Decorating Ideas

Want to take your Easter egg decorating to the next level? Hop to it with these awesome ideas that we collected from around the web. Just keep in mind that using paint and some other craft supplies to decorate your eggs will render them unsafe for consumption. They may also be too pretty to hide in your yard.

Chick Easter Eggs

Source: It All Started with Paint

These eggs couldn’t be any cuter! Yellow paint (or dye), a tuft of feathers, and a face made of craft paper or washi tape is all it takes to transform your plain white eggs into adorable baby chicks. To make a chicken coop display, simply use the original egg carton, tucking in some faux green grass.

A New Take on Dyed Easter Eggs

Source: It All Started with Paint

These dyed eggs are so easy! All you’ll need is some Tupperware bowls, long grain rice, and food coloring. Fill a bowl with ¼ cup rice, and 5-6 generous drops of food coloring, then put the lid on; shake vigorously to mix. Hard-boil your eggs, and once cooled, place in the bowl. Cover and shake to coat the egg with the food coloring – remove and let dry. You can use as many colors as you’d like.

Confetti-Dipped Easter Eggs

Source: Studio DIY

These glitzy eggs make the perfect table centerpiece. First, hard-boil or hollow out your eggs, and dye them using traditional techniques (you can also paint them). Once dried, apply a thin coat of mod podge to one side of the egg, then sprinkle confetti over the mod podge until its covered. Let dry completely before displaying.

Natural-Dyed Robin Blue Eggs

Source: Honestly Yum

This is an all-natural alternative to decorating eggs. You’ll need a head of red cabbage, 4 teaspoons white vinegar, edible metallic gold paint, and a thick bristle paintbrush. You will be using the red cabbage, boiled, to dye your eggs different shades of robin’s egg blue. Splatter them with edible gold paint for gorgeous results. Makes one dozen eggs.

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.

Backyard Design Trends

backyard design

Are you ready to update or upgrade your backyard design? Here are four backyard design ideas that are trending right now.

Low Maintenance Landscape

A sustainable backyard design, complete with drought-tolerant, native plants and minimal (if any) grass can be useful and attractive. While low-maintenance landscapes are by no means new, they’re becoming increasingly popular – both for economic and environmental concerns. In this case, less really is more!

Durable Outdoor Surfaces

Hardscape elements, such as stacked stone retaining walls, meandering paver pathways, and traditional outdoor kitchens are a must-have for outdoor living spaces. Custom built fire pits are perfect for family gatherings; kids and adults alike will enjoy roasting marshmallows in their own backyard.

Add Ambience with Lighting

If you want to enjoy your outdoor living spaces into the evening hours, consider installing LED and other low-voltage lighting fixtures (e.g., path lights, spot/flood lights, deck/step lighting, string lights, lanterns, and tiki torches). Lights that are connected to motion sensors will also enhance the security of your home.

Sustainable Gardening

Imagine serving your family fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from your own backyard. A great way to do this is with edible landscaping. Edible landscaping is the perfect solution for small spaces as fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants can be planted in raised garden boxes as well as containers in varying shapes and sizes.

Professional Backyard Design Services

Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair has the tools to make your backyard design beautiful throughout the year. We have the expertise to complete all the landscape and poolscape (we now offer pool remodeling!) projects on your to-do list. For more information about our services, or to request a free estimate, visit us online at www.elitesprinkler.com or give us a call today at (602) 390-4645.

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?

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.

Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping

Short growing seasons and triple-digit temperatures can make landscaping in Arizona somewhat challenging. But practical, water wise, landscaping methods such as xeriscaping can turn a challenging experience into a rewarding one. Here we discuss the principles, benefits, and plantings of xeriscaping.

Xeriscaping Defined

The term “xeriscaping” is used to describe landscaping methods that reduce irrigation needs and maximize the use of natural precipitation. It is composed of slow-growing, drought-resistant plants, and little to no grass. Xeriscaping can be applied to virtually any landscape design no matter how formal or informal. This type of landscaping allows you to express your creativity while being mindful of the need for water conservation.

Xeriscaping Benefits

  • Saves water
  • Less maintenance
  • No fertilizers or pesticides
  • Improves property values
  • Pollution free
  • Provides wildlife habitat

Drought-Resistant Plants

The best plants for a xeriscape are the ones that are native to Arizona. With this in mind, the Arizona Department of Water Resources has compiled an extensive Low Water Use/Drought Tolerant Plant List, which you can download and share with your landscape designer. This list can be found here. Euphorbia Rigida, Chihuahuan Sage, Red Yucca, Parry Agave, Desert Spoon, and Aloe are all good choices.

Also of importance is getting rid of, or downsizing, your lawn. Maintaining a lawn uses an exorbitant amount of water. If you want to have a green area, consider using a drought-resistant grass species, such as Bermuda grass. Making Bermuda grass a popular option among Arizona homeowners is the fact that this grass thrives in well-drained areas that receive plenty of sunlight.

Getting Started

Whether you’re developing a new landscape, renovating an existing one or just looking for ways to enhance your landscaping’s water efficiency, contact Elite Landscaping and Sprinkler Repair at (602) 390-4645 for more information on xeriscaping. We are committed to walking you through the principles of xeriscaping one step at a time. These principles are:

  1. Good landscape planning & design
  2. Low water use plants
  3. Appropriate turf areas
  4. Efficient irrigation
  5. Soil improvements
  6. Mulch usage
  7. Appropriate Maintenance

Weed Killing the Natural Way

weed killing the natural way

Weed killing the natural way, through one or a combination of the following methods, will save you from having to use harmful herbicides, which have the potential to not only hurt the environment, but to kill your landscaping plants over time as well.

  1. Pull Them…

Countless generations have set out to remove weeds by hand. Yet, for anyone who has actually tried this old-fashioned method, you know it’s not always an easy task to fulfill. But for weeds that exist in your containers and raised garden beds, it’s often the best way to go. While the soil is still moist from watering, pull slowly from the base of the weed, to successfully remove it.

  1. Boil Them…

One of the oldest tricks in the book for ridding your yard of weeds is…boiling water. It’s cheap, easy, environmentally friendly, and works! Simply boil some water, and carefully carry into your yard, where you’ll pour a steady stream of hot water on the crown of each unwanted weed. Use precaution during this method to avoid becoming burned yourself.

  1. Cornmeal Them…

Corn meal has long been used in the kitchen for solidifying liquids, and many gardeners have found it to be quite handy for killing off seedlings, and preventing weeds from rearing their ugly head again. It does a good job of fertilizing your yard as well. Cornmeal, however, is ineffective at killing already sprouted weeds.

  1. Mulch Them…

Mulching is a great technique for preventing weeds, as it makes it impossible for them to pop up in the first place. It’s environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and will save you from killing your back while pulling them up by their roots. Simply cover all of your garden beds’ bare areas with your choice of mulching materials.

  1. Vinegar Them…

While not nearly effective as other methods, vinegar is a good choice for a natural weed killer, as it evaporates quite quickly. When sprayed or brushed on, vinegar works to destroy any weeds, quickly putting an end to your pesky problem. This method is best used in the morning, when there’s little wind, to avoid killing nearby plants.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Paradise

Low Maintenance Landscaping Plants

Take it from me: Even in a drought prone state like Arizona, paradise is possible, as long as you have a little imagination.

If you’re anything like the average American, you probably don’t spend a lot of time at home, right?  That’s what I figured.

So, what happens when you want a beautiful yard, but don’t have a lot of time to tend to it?  Design to the rescue!

With low maintenance landscaping plants and materials, not to mention a little extra start-up time, you can have a yard that can easily take care of itself for weeks on end without compromising curb appeal or comfort.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Idea #1: Do Away With Your Grass Lawn

Those of you that have grass lawns, are acutely aware of just how much time and of course water they require, in order to remain beautiful.  But grass lawns don’t have to be the end all!

In fact, there are several low maintenance options available that may suit your needs far better than a grass lawn ever could.

These options include decomposed granite, xeriscaping, ornamental grasses, rock gardens, artificial turf and clever hardscapes.  You can also opt to add beautiful fuss free decks around your property.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Idea #2: Select Water Wise Plants

Plants such as aeoniums, papyrus, cordylines, kangaroo paws and small palms thrive on very little water – you can actually use drip irrigation – and rarely need to be pruned or fertilized.

Depending on which plants you select, during Arizona’s dog days of summer, you may need to water them a little bit more – but overall most water wise plants are drought tolerant.

Make sure you only choose plants that have been specially designated for Arizona’s climate especially considering that water is a luxury.

Plants that are in tune with their environment can help minimize your need for watering them.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Idea #3: Add Pool Friendly Plants

The last thing any pool owner wants to see upon arriving home from work or play is leaves and debris in their pool.

Minimize your need for cleaning your pool by carefully selecting plants that will not shed their leaves or drop other debris into your pool’s water.

For more low maintenance landscaping ideas, please feel free to browse our website at www.elitesprinkler.com, or contact us directly at (602) 390-4645.

We look forward to the opportunity of helping you design your dream low maintenance landscaping!

Low Maintenance Landscaping Xeriscape