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Monthly Archives: Sep 2016

Yard Design
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All You Need To Know About Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are much more than a decorative feature of your yard, they serve a very practical purpose: to prevent soil from moving downhill by the force of gravity. Nevertheless, you can certainly turn them into a decorative aspect of your home. A retainer can be practical, as well as aesthetically pleasing—you just need to appreciate all the functions it serves and consider how you can enhance it. Here are a few reasons why you might need a retainer, and what you can do to maintain and improve it.

All About Retaining Walls

Your Home is Close to a Fault line

If your home is located close to a soil fault line, you are at risk of being adversely affected by soil erosion. In the event of an earthquake, the soil will move away from the fault line and and create instability over the ground where your home is. A retainer can stabilize the soil’s movements in your yard. You might not think that an earthquake is likely, but it is always better to be safe than to be sorry.

Minimizes Soil Erosion

If erosion is already a problem for you, then a retaining wall can certainly minimize the damage. A retaining wall holds keeps the soil at bay and reduces the level of descent. The flatter the surface the less damage soil erosion can do.

Improves Water Runoff

When it rains heavily, water spills onto the streets and from there to nearby rivers. Wall retainers can help slow the flow of rainwater. Retaining walls are particularly useful in areas that are prone to flooding.

Critical for Houses Located on Slopes

If your home is located on a downhill slope, a retaining wall might be necessary. A sliding hill is the last thing you need for your home, as it can threaten its very foundation. A retaining wall is a good buffer against soil that is moving downwards.

Provides Arable Land

Retaining walls have been used for farmers by centuries. They provide good soil for them to plant crops and provide a level area to operate on. While you won’t be engaging in any large-scale agricultural production, a retaining wall can create the conditions for a garden.

Building and Maintaining Your Retaining Walls

Your retaining wall requires some degree of maintenance to keep it functioning; it also requires a bit of thought if you want it to be a well designed addition to your home. Rather than having it straight, try experimenting with curves. The materials can also be designed for better appearance. How much you want to put into aesthetics depends on your personal taste and budget. If you are planning to build a wall for the first time, the first thing you should do is check the city office for the appropriate building codes-especially if you are planning to build a tall retaining wall. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Proper Terracing

    Retainer walls can be terraced for design and extra strength. The task is best performed in increments so that adjustments can be easily made if necessary.

  • Work with Standard Blocks

    It is much easier to work with a set of standard manufactured blocks when building a retaining wall. It also provides the wall with a more unified look.

  • Prepare a Solid Foundation

    The wall will be no good without a solid foundation. Dig the base a few inches below grade and fill it with gravel (or appropriate filler).

  • Plan for Drainage

    A retaining wall should have drainage at the base as it will be collecting a lot of water, in addition to stopping the soil. A fabric-covered drainage pipe is ideal since it prevents clogging.

  • Materials to Use

    The most common materials for building blocks tend to be timber, concrete and stone. These materials have varying levels of durability, with timber being the least durable. Stone is the most expensive, but is the most durable material and has the best design. If you are willing to spend a little extra, the stone retainer is well worth it in terms of both practicality and style.

Conclusion

Retainer walls can be both protective and stylish with some forethought and investment. If you live on a hill or in an area prone to flooding, it makes sense to build a retaining wall. If you are building one for the first time, or you are looking to refurbish your current retaining wall, then it might be a good idea to consult with a professional who can give you advice on appropriate materials, methods, and cost appropriate to your budget. Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you make a better choice for your garden and outdoor needs.

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Gardening
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Watering Your Garden: Are You Doing It Right?

When it comes to watering your garden, there are no hard and fast rules that can be applied to all gardens. That said, the amount of water you use will depend on the specifics of your garden, such as the type of plants, the type of soil, and the climatic conditions in which your garden is situated. It is always important to pay careful attention when watering your plants, as too much or too little water can have a negative impact on plants’ growth.

How To Water Your Garden

Water According to Soil Type and Condition

How much water you apply depends both on the type of soil your plant is situated in, as well as the amount of soil present. A good practice is to feel the weight of the pot before you water it. Generally the heavier the pot, the more moisture it contains. Therefore if your pot feels light, then water slowly. Feel the pot’s weight again and continue until it weighs just about right. Make sure you target the roots, as this is where the plants need water the most.

The soil type in your garden determines how much water you should apply. Clay soil holds much more moisture (and for a longer period) than say, sandy soil. Also, the healthier your soil, the more water it can retain. Therefore it’s a good idea to apply mulch or some other soil fertilizer. If you are having the opposite problem, where the soil is absorbing water too fast, adding compost might be good to slow it down.

A useful tool to measure the level of moisture in your plant is a soil moisture sensor. If you want to go low-tech, then simply stick a spade in the soil and pull it back out to determine the level of moisture. The deeper you water, the stronger the growth of your plants. One to two inches of water per week is considered to be the general rule of thumb among gardeners.

Ways to Water Your Garden

There are several ways to water your garden, and each method is best suited for different plant or garden types.

  • Hand Watering

    Hand watering is not always the best option, but it depends on whether you are watering individual plants or an entire garden. In the case of the latter, you risk distributing the water unevenly. Therefore it is best to reserve hand watering (either by hose or watering can) for individual plants.

  • Soaker Hoses

    Soaker hoses are one of the more efficient ways to water a garden, as they focus on the soil than the plants themselves. This reduces the amount of water wasted, and helps for a more even distribution.

  • Drip Irrigation

    This is similar to a soaker hose and even more efficient. It drives water close to the roots and performs the same job using less water. This option, though, is slightly more expensive. But, if your garden is part of a business or you have a large garden, then it’s worth the investment.

  • Sprinklers

    Sprinklers should be used with caution. They can potentially waste a lot of water if not done correctly. With a sprinkler, you risk over-watering your plants and setting them up for diseases. On the other hand, sprinklers add a great deal of moisture to the soil. It is best to limit sprinkler use to morning and evening.

When and How Much to Water Your Plants

  • Early morning and late afternoon are usually the best times to water your garden, as the cooler temperature will result in less water loss.
  • Sometimes wilting leaves are a sign that your plants need water—but not always. Some plants—like eggplant—will wilt under hot conditions.
  • The life cycle of your plants are also an indicator of when you should water them and how much. If your plants are recently transplanted then you only need light, steady watering. When there is flowering and fruit formation, light watering is also critical. When vegetables reach maturity, watering should be reduced to prevent splitting.

Conclusion

When watering plants, there are many variables to consider: soil type, time of day, the size of your garden, the life cycle of the plant, and the ultimate purpose of your garden. Efficient watering aims at the root, and uses less water to moisturize the soil. The hotter the conditions, the more you will have to water your garden, but over-watering is a real danger. Check the soil regularly and know what type of soil you have.

For more advice on watering your garden, you can speak to a professional or garden supply store. If there are tools available to make your garden more efficient and fruitful, they will certainly be able to tell you about it.

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