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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Caring for Bonsai Tree

Soil

Another important factor is soil. Soil is always a top-priority and one of the most influential elements to plant growth. You must use the right soil conditions for a Bonsai tree to thrive and flourish. The soil you need will depend on the species of Bonsai tree you purchase. There are several species, so be sure you know which one you have so you can pick the proper soil and fertilizer.

Water

As mentioned, Bonsai trees are not your normal house plant. In fact, they are not a plant at all; they are trees and require the same level of care as the trees in your backyard. As for water, they require watering every day. So if you are out of town, you must have someone care for your tree just like you would for your dog. And you don’t water Bonsai trees the same as house plants. You must place them in a bowl of water and allow the soil to soak. Once the bubbles stop in the water, the tree is done.

Temperature

The soil must retain moisture in summer and be able to get rid of it in winter. So when the weather is hot, they will need to be kept in a partly-shaded area of your home or office. When it is cold, they should be placed in a sunny area so that the soil doesn’t stay too wet for too long.

Pruning

The most popular part of owning a Bonsai plant is the artistic pruning you get to do every week. They grow fast, so you will have to keep up with the trimming in order to maintain a healthy and aesthetically pleasing tree. But it is important to prune it properly so that it remains healthy and grows into the right shape. Cutting the wrong branch or over-pruning can be detrimental. You must learn the proper technique for trimming Bonsai trees.

Garden Power Tools

Electric Pruning Shears

These are perfect for people with large gardens who spend a lot of time pruning and maintaining. Electric pruning shears are easy to use for cutting down what would usually be difficult branches. These are also a speedy tool for pruning and trimming.

While shopping for Electric Pruning Shears make sure that the blades are made with carbon-steel and that they are rust resistant. Also, keep in mind the size and work area of your garden. Pick a shear that will be easy to work with in your given space.

There are two options for blades to choose from. The straight-edged blade offers a better cut, while the serrated blade is used more often for ornamental grass.

Weed Planters

For those of you who have back problems or just can’t stand to bend down to pull weeds, weed planters are a great buy. Weed planters allow you to pull all those pesky weeds without ever having to bend down.

Lawn Edgers

These are great tools for keeping a nice crisp edge to your garden. Lawn edgers help you clearly define your garden area, which leads to a more appealing garden. Edgers will also lead keep overgrowth at bay for longer periods of time.

Aerators

Aerators are a perfect tool for aerating your lawn or garden beds. The Garden Claw is a great aerator to use with your garden or flower bed. They are powerful and simple to use, even for the bigger jobs. Aerators are also a great tool for weeding around your flowers and plants.

Fountains Through All Ages

The Eastern world is not to be left out in the spectacle of fountains. The Moorish forces that conquered Spain around the 14th century were known to have installed pools and fountains with lively-colored tilework in gardens such as those in Cordoba and Toledo, as well as in Granada. Indians on the other hand built gardens of great splendor with fountains as prominent features. Prime examples are the world-renowned Taj Mahal and the Shalimar Gardens. Chinese palaces, temples and houses also had great gardens with pools and fountains of varying sizes. Beijing’s Imperial City features artificial lakes and other impressive waterworks. Kyoto is also famous for its gardens with carefully crafted pools and waterfalls designed by Zen monks.

Monasteries in middle-age Europe featured large gardens that fountains and wells. designed to enhance meditation in addition to several rows of herbs, fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Palaces and villas in renaissance Italy were very reminiscent of the grandeur of ancient Rome. 15th century palaces were decorated with gardens such as those of Palmieri, La Pietra, and Medici. The villas in Bagnaia, Caprarola, Rome, and Tivoli also featured fountains that were elegantly elaborate. As the baroque period approaches, designs became more grandiose and complex. Spouting fountains and waterfalls were used extensively to enhance serpentine lines. French chateaus in the Loire valley also had extensive gardens and parks with great fountains for everyone to enjoy. By the 17th century, the prime of French design and architecture, fountains and gardens became endlessly grand embellishing the grand estates such as those in Versailles.

The rise of romanticism in the 18th century led to the unleashing of passion which was well translated into architecture, including fountain designs. Exotic and picturesque fountains and ponds served as punctuation marks to the profound statements showed through architecture in this period. Some years after, a prominent landmark, the Central Park in New York spouted.

Between Koi Pond with Pondless Waterfall

Homeowners are requesting that landscape architects design complete outdoor rooms, such as kitchens and bars, for entertaining. Water features such as koi ponds, waterfalls, and fountains continue to be popular (with no signs of slowing), according to a new survey of leading members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).”

The American Nurseryman Association reports that “water features are the fastest growing trend in landscaping since 1990 (2007 should break all records.)”

Regionally, in-ground pools will add about 5 percent to the value of a home in the Northeast, about 6 percent in the Midwest, and 7.5 percent in the Southeast and West. In the Southwest, a swimming pool will add nearly 11 percent to the home’s value.

If you add a $35,000 pool to a $300,000 house, you will just barely recover your initial expense. However, you still have the high maintenance cost and you have just limited the future buyers of your home to people who want a pool. Therefore, you have actually reduced the equity in your home. On the other hand, everyone loves a beautiful water feature, young and old! Therefore, increased equity!

Swimming pools require constant attention and maintenance. Unlike ponds, pool owners cannot rely on the nitrogen cycle to lend a hand at keeping the water healthy. This can only be accomplished by due diligence and a myriad of chemicals. Unlike a pond, the enjoyment of a pool comes from its use; and for most regions of the country, the climate dictates a very short period of time for pool use. Unless you heat your pool, then your dumping more money in your pool.

A pond requires minimal attention compared to swimming pool. Once a properly constructed pond is established with the right proportion of fish, plants and biological elements, a pond will take care of itself, the rest is enjoyment, year round. You do not need to use a pond as you do a pool, it only need to exist for you to enjoy.

What do I do about the safety of my small children or grandchildren? How big should it be? Is this something I can do on my own or do I need professional help building a pond?

Unlike a swimming pool, ponds can be child proofed, with very little expense. A swimming pool, however, requires special self-closing gates with special latches. Another required code requirement is 95-decibel alarms on all exit doors leading to the back yard.

And for your added peace of mind, you can install an unsightly, removable, lightweight fence that cost hundreds of dollars. Then you can continually agonize over whether you, or someone else, forgot to close the fence gate.

A pond, however, can be filled with large boulders, which can be removed later when the children are grown. Or you can construct a pondless waterfall to begin with. Now you still can enjoy the sight and sound of cascading water without the concerns for safety.

An added advantage of a pondless waterfall is that a pondless waterfall costs less to construct and maintain. A pondless waterfall can be added to your front yard, meet all building code requirements, increase curb appeal, and thereby increase the equity and the resale value of your home.

The “size of the water feature” is a relative term. There are many factors that need to be considered. Far more than can be be discussed in the space I have allotted for this article. I will cover it in my next article. A few questions to ask yourself: How big is your yard? Where do you spend the majority of your time? What is your budget? How is the size, shape and topography of your yard related to certain limitations regarding the building codes? Will the existing water table affect your water feature? Does your property currently have adequate drainage? Do you have underground utilities? If so, where are they located? What are the local building codes regarding pond depth? Do you need a building permit, or a licensed contractor?…just to name a few of the topics covered.

Whether you need a professional contractor is another article. What type of access do you have to your property? Do you want large boulders? If so, is there proper clearance for a crane or Bobcat? How do you find a qualified contractor? How do you go about qualifying them? Are they properly licensed? Insured? Bonded? Workmen’s compensation? Liability insurance? Hospitalization? References? Background checks and much, much more. Do your homework and proper research prior to commencement, it could save you thousands of dollars.

What is the single most important first step in building a water feature? What about equipment? Should I get koi fish and a turtle? Where should I place my pond and waterfall? All these questions can be addressed with two words: Plan & Design!

First, decide where you spend most of your leisure activity….family room, living room, patio etc. Your waterfall and pond should be in close proximity to that location. Not in the far corner of your property. Sound and visualization are two of the major benefits of a waterfall and pond. These decisions are part of the planning process. Once you decide on these issues, the design process begins.

The best way to approach this phase is to consider a digital design. There are companies that can produce an incredible digitally designed, virtual photo of your backyard, by simply providing them with a digital photo of the area you want the water feature located. You may opt to digitally design your own. There are digital design programs that are simple to master on your own for less than a hundred dollars. Just search the web by typing in digitally designed ponds or waterfalls.

The type of equipment you should use is dependent upon the size of your pond. Your budget is another factor. If you have a small budget, you’re looking at designing a small pond. In addition, look at the available options for construction materials.

You can buy a rubber liner kit and install it yourself, or have a rubber-liner-kit-installer-guy install it for you. Bottom line, either way, is there is no guarantee against bucked-toothed critters such as mice, rats, ground squirrels, gophers and ground hogs, from burrowing underneath your expensive rubber liner and chewing a hole in it. Concrete (3500psi) and rebar is the best construction method, and if done correctly, will last for generations. Concrete ponds cost only 10 to 20% more to build than liner ponds.

Your pond will require less maintenance if you allow the nitrogen cycle to do all the work. This means you need to do your part by providing the elements needed for the nitrogen cycle to operate. The fish provide the waste which produces nitrates and ammonia. Certain essential bacteria break down the nitrates and ammonia into safe byproducts used by the plants and other organisms.

Once this process is started, with the aid of a biological filter and possibly an ultraviolet light, future maintenance is minimal and routine. An above ground, high efficiency pump produces more water flow at half the energy and less initial cost than a sump pump used with liner ponds. The savings in electrical costs alone could easily pay for the additional cost of professional concrete construction in less three years.