12 Ways To Make Your Yard More Inviting For Guests

landscape design and planning

Entertaining doesn’t have to be reserved for the living room. The next time you have people over, encourage them to sit outside and enjoy the yard. How do you get our guests to want to hang out in the backyard? It’s not as hard as you may think. Here are 12 ways to make your yard more inviting for guests:

  1. Keep Bugs Away Because we spend most of our daily hours at work, we usually only utilize our yards in the evening and that’s when the bugs come out in full force. To keep bugs away try citronella candles and have plants around that repel insects like basil, mint and chrysanthemums. There are also light fixtures that you can buy that zap bugs on contact. However, they can be noisy and distracting when you’re trying to entertain.
  2. Furnish with Relaxation in Mind A great way to get people to want to enjoy your yard is to cultivate an atmosphere that looks relaxing. Comfortable seating like padded garden furniture and patio sets that look inviting create the perfect match of style and comfort. Do not put indoor furniture outside. It will get ruined. Make sure you get furniture that is specifically made for the outdoors.
  3. Light the Way During the day you’ll have the sun to provide natural illumination but at night you’ll need candles, torches and outdoor lights. You don’t have to light up your yard like it’s a Major League Baseball diamond but you should provide enough lighting so that people can see each other while they hang out. LED and solar powered lights are a nice green option if you’re looking to conserve energy in your yard.
  4. Avoid Clutter A yard with too much stuff in it, will not be inviting to guests. Avoid cluttering your yard with too much furniture and fixtures. An easy way to stay away from clutter is to pick a theme for your yard and stick to it. You won’t want to add items and furniture that don’t fit with your theme.
  5. Add Water If you have a pool then you’re already one step ahead of the game. If you don’t have a pool and there’s no option to get one, try a small water feature like a fountain. Not only do water features add a touch of style to your yard, the bubbling sounds can be very calming and contribute to the relaxing atmosphere you’re trying to cultivate.
  6. Let Your Yard Bloom Flowers and greenery make any yard more inviting for guests because they look beautiful and stimulate the senses. Keeping your yard in full bloom (which may not be possible in the winter, making it all the more desirable when it’s warm out) creates swaths of colour and adds a nice fragrant touch.
  7. Keep the Grass Trimmed Unkempt grass will make everyone stay away from your yard. Besides keeping your grass trimmed and cared for, ensure that there’s enough green space available for kids (and adults) to run around on. With a grassy area in your yard, you can have games for everyone to enjoy like lawn bowling and beanbag toss.
  8. Throw Some Shade Your yard will get very warm, perhaps unpleasantly so on a hot day. Keep an area of your backyard shaded to give your guests somewhere to escape the sun. You can have a canopy or tent put up in your yard, or if you have large trees, use them as a refuge by hanging a hammock where people can get out of the sun.
  9. Fire It Up If you’re looking to extend the outdoor season well into the winter, invite your guests over to sit by your outdoor fireplace or firepit. The warm glow of the fire, coupled with the hot cocoa you’ll make in your outdoor kitchen (see #12) will make your guests feel cozy.
  10. Deck the Yard Deck the yard with…a deck. If you don’t have one already, having a deck put in gives you an extra incentive to have people over. Decks are easy to clean and maintain and you don’t have to stick to the traditional wood option. Stone patios are equally as inviting as wooden decks. If you have a fireplace or firepit installed, you might as well house it on a gorgeous deck or patio.
  11. Project the Entertainment Movie projectors are easy to make these days. All you need is an app for your smartphone, a light coloured sheet and a wall. Invite your guests over for outdoor movie nights and serve popcorn that you’ve popped directly on your fireplace or firepit.
  12. Keep It Cooking Another option to make your yard the place to be, is to add an outdoor kitchen. Many people already have barbeques and other cooking appliances outside, why not have an entire kitchen so you don’t have to run back into the house every time you need to make dinner for your guests?

To view features Infinity gardens can design and build for your new landscaped yard, click to see our work with:

  1. Water Features
  2. Deck Design and Construction
  3. Outdoor Fireplaces
  4. Outdoor Kitchens

These 12 ways to make your backyard more inviting for guests are so appealing that you may have trouble getting your guests to ever leave!

Five Ways To Increase Your Resale Value

If you’re planning on selling your home, there are certain things you can do to increase its resale value. Even if you’re simply looking to do some renovations, it’s never a bad idea to add a few special touches to your property. When most people think of resale value home tweaks, they often concentrate on the inside of the house; however, it is the backyard that can give your property a good financial boost.

Landscaping increases resale value
If you’re not sure where to begin, try one of these five property value increases:
Fences

Adding fencing along your property provides security and creates boundaries. Fences make your house more secure and have the added bonus of keeping out pesky animals that will eat and dig up your grass and garden. Fencing, unless it is chainlink, adds value to your home, but remember that you will need to check with your city’s bylaws to see what height is acceptable.

Retaining Walls

These special walls add colour and texture to your backyard. They can double as walkways and offer stability to a deck or patio. Retaining walls also offer an option to get rid of useless backyard space and limit erosion caused by water runoff.

Patios and Decks

Decks and patios create an extra room, except instead of being inside, this room is outside of the house. Patios and decks add space to barbecue, and provide a place to entertain and hang out. With wood and stones, you can add a long-lasting deck or patio to your property that can increase its value by up to 80%.

Proper Irrigation

When it comes to backyards, many people ignore irrigation. There’s only so much that rain can do to keep your lawn and garden hydrated. Installing a proper irrigation system adds value to your home and keeps your lawn and gardens looking fresh, so when your property is shown to potential buyers, they’ll be impressed by your gorgeous, lush lawn.

Landscaping

Total yard makeovers are a great value add for any property. Landscaping can even increase the total square footage of your home and make a smaller property appear bigger.

Although it may be tempting, do not add a pool. They are not cost-effective and actually decrease your property’s value. Unless you live in a climate that allows for year-round swimming – which our Canadian weather does not – adding a pool doesn’t make sense.

When it comes to construction and home renovations, it’s always best to use the services of a professional. For more information and resale value ideas, contact us. Let Infinity Gardens provide your home with the right add-ons to start a bidding war over your property.

Making The Most Of Your Small Patio

making the most of your small patio

More and more people are flocking to Canada’s urban centres, making usable yard space (or lack there-of) more of an issue than ever before. Fortunately, there are many innovative ways to make your small patio unique, beautiful, and functional!

Install a Garden

Just because you don’t have a large yard, doesn’t mean you have to go without a garden. There are many ways to incorporate plants into your small patio which will bring an entirely new value to your space.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your dollar, hiring a professional is a must. They’ll be able to create a garden oasis no matter what size area you’re working with. However, if you’re working on a budget, there are still a few small improvements you can create yourself:

  • Mount canning jars on your wall to build an herb garden
  • Use repurposed wooden pallets to house herbs and cascading plants
  • Incorporate vines and cascading plants into the structure of your patio
  • Hang planters to create a vertical garden
  • Use repurposed items like cement blocks, wooden crates, birdcages, pails, and whatever else the flea market has to offer to create unique planters with a vintage vibe
  • Use a small shelving unit to house your potted plants

When building your patio garden, always think vertically to maximize the space. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a little creativity!

Invest in the Proper Patio Furniture

The amount of patio furniture you can have depends on the size of your patio, and what you’d like to use it for. Benches are a great space saver because they can be built against the wall and create a more open area in the middle.

Here are a few other ideas for compact patio furniture:

  • Multi-tasking furniture:Having a bench or ottoman double as storage for gardening supplies and other small items is a great way economize your space.
  • Collapsible furniture:If your patio is usually used by just one or two people, all you may want is a bench or nook to sit in. However if you have company, you’ll likely need more. Collapsible furniture is useful for those occasions because once you’re done, you can just put it away and still enjoy your space.

Stores that sell patio furniture usually have lots of options for smaller spaces. Do research online and in-store to find what suits your aesthetic, and comfort.

Don’t Forget the Décor

Don’t sacrifice décor just because you have a small space! Like gardens, thinking vertically and using wall space is the key to maximizing your patio’s potential.

  • Repurposed items:Using antiques or other ‘junk’ items is a great way to recycle and give your space a unique look.
  • Hanging items:If you have any sort of ceiling—perhaps lattice or canopy—items like birdcages or wind chimes will hardly take up any space.
  • Mirrors:Incorporating a mirror into your patio will make the space appear larger.

The key to getting the most out of your small patio is creativity and experimentation. Just because your patio is small, doesn’t mean it can’t be the patio of your dreams! For the best results, consult a professional. Companies like Infinity Gardens are able to make a mountain out of the smallest backyard molehills, giving you a beautiful space in even the smallest areas. Contact our team today to find out more!

Are There Any Water Saving Irrigation Options?

Water conservation is more important than ever and every little bit can make a large difference to your home owning costs. Depending on the climate you live in, you may have to water your lawn and garden quite often.

To help you save water and lessen your monthly costs, we’re taking a look at the different types of irrigation systems that could be beneficial to your home!

Sprinkler Systems

Sprinklers are designed to cover large areas and can be either manual or automatic. If you choose to use automatic sprinkler systems, make sure you adjust the system as weather conditions change and to turn off your system if you are getting enough water from rainfall.

Hand Watering

This simple method of watering can be done with a garden hose or watering can, although it is extremely time consuming if you have a larger yard. Hand watering also leaves a lot of room for error – while irrigation and sprinkler systems generally run on a timer that prevents them from using too much water, hand watering forces you to use your judgement, often leaving your lawn over- or under-watered.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is most effective for a small yard or individual plants, and can supply one-to-four gallons of water per hour to the soil. This option creates very little water loss by minimizing runoff and evaporation. It works well on mulched areas because it won’t wash away the mulch.

To conserve water with any of these methods, you will have to do a little research.

  • Be water-wise by always knowing how much water your lawn, and individual plants, need. Have a professional measure your sprinkler output to make sure you are not wasting water or damaging your foliage by overwatering.
  • Make sure you only water when you need to. It’s easy to tell if your lawn needs water: step on it! If the grass doesn’t spring back, then the lawn needs a drink.
  • When watering plants or shrubs, water at the drip line (under the edge of the leaf canopy). Watering the leaves or trunk doesn’t bring water efficiently to the plant’s roots.
  • Set your system to water early in the morning to lower the rate of evaporation.
  • Use a rain barrel (with a well-fitted screen to avoid mosquito larvae) to collect rainwater, to use to water indoor plants.
  • Research low-water use plants, like shrubs and groundcover, and use them to fill larger areas in your garden.
  • Install a rain gauge so you know which days you can skip watering.

Conserving water is all about the little details. By knowing when to water and when not too, you can also save yourself time and effort. Water by hand when you can, as it’s the most effective way to avoid wastage. And last but not least, always be conscious of your water use—water is precious in both monetary value and to the economy, so ensure you’re doing your part to minimize use.

7 Necessities For A Luxury Cottage

Luxury Cottage with Outdoor Kitchen

Being able to separate yourself from the constant buzz of the city is good for both mind and body. Whether it’s going out and enjoying a lazy weekend on the lake or spending quiet time alone in the woods, no matter the destination or the amount of time, cottages give you the ability to unwind and let loose.

There are a number of key necessities that no cottage owner should be without if they’re looking to add a little luxury to their woodlands lifestyle.

Outdoor Kitchen

During the warm summer months, there’s no better way to spend time with one another than being outside and sharing a meal. By having an outdoor kitchen, no one has to be separated from the group because they’re busy inside cooking. Consider a built in grille, area for cutting and preparing food, and finally a table and chairs for serving. The entire setup will provide countless hours of fun.

Hammock

There are few places that speak of peace and solitude more than a hammock resting quietly between a pair of trees. If there are not any trees available, there are plenty of options that include posts or setups that do not require being attached to any existing foliage. If you plan to visit your cottage with your special someone, look for the extra wide options to include them in your relaxation.

Furniture

Spending time outside of your cottage is always enjoyable, but there are times when Mother Nature won’t let you. Picking furniture then is important as a backup for those nasty days. Try to find pieces that add rustic charm while still being comfortable for everyday use. Look inside antique stores or try refurbishing old dressers and couches to give them that old world feel.

Music

Listening to the sounds of nature is nice, but if the chirp of crickets and the sounds of water lapping against the dock don’t suit you, consider putting in a batch of speakers for your outdoor amusement. Being able to play music in the background of your dinner or while playing outside with friends will perfectly set the surroundings.

Beverage Dispenser

Having a beverage dispenser available will help hydrate your guests without forcing them to move through your cottage, and hydration should be a priority on hot summer days. They can be simple glass containers or colorful ceramics with intricate designs; either option allows you to customize the atmosphere of your cottage and make it truly your own.

Patio

There’s no better place to hang out and enjoy every part of your luxury cottage then on your masterfully built patio. A simple design meant to match the surrounding woods or a stunning stone masterpiece that will leave people speechless will enhance your entire experience while in cottage country. No matter what choice you make, the patio will become a main area for everyone to spend time and enjoy each other’s company. You can improve your patio further with additions like outdoor fireplaces or designer yard work.

Windows

The area surrounding your cottage is as important as the cottage itself. When you’ve finally selected your ideal location, you need to be able to enjoy it as much as possible. Line your cottage with plenty of windows so that you will be able to view your new surroundings from almost any angle.

For more ideas on how you can create the perfect cottage atmosphere, contact our team today!

6 Ways To Improve Your Home

Landscaping ideas to make your home better.

There are many aspects to selling a home that have to be addressed if you don’t want it to sit for long. The first, and arguably most important, is your home’s curb appeal. It’s the first impression that potential buyers will have, and if it’s no good then you can expect it to be difficult to get your home to sell.

Luckily there are some relatively simple changes you can make to your home to increase interest and generate a higher value!

Fence in Your Home

A good way to frame your home is by having a fence put in. Whether you decided to go with the classic white picket fence or choose to give yourself some more privacy with a large wooden one, you’ll be showcasing your yard in an easy and elegant way.

Having a gate along with the fence also gives off the feeling of security. Fences are the classic yard look for a reason, and will pop out to potential buyers. Take your surroundings into account when having the fence put in so that it matches well with the neighborhood and exterior décor of your home.

Add Outdoor Art

Adding art to your yard is an excellent way to quickly improve the look of your home. Be on the lookout for pieces that will complement the look of your home. Fountains, sculptures, metal art pieces, or even wind chimes are all excellent ways to make your curb appeal more memorable.

Clean up Your Yard

This is an obvious step that can be overlooked because of its simplicity, but making sure that your yard looks well kept will do wonders for the buyer’s confidence in the house. Pull weeds, take care of overgrown shrubs, look out for dead plants, and store any tools or toys.

Put in Some Lights

When looking to purchase a home, there are many aspects of your new residence that buyers take in account. For example, how does the home look at night? Is there enough light to be able to walk to the front door safely? Put in a few light fixtures for your home to both accentuate the property. If you don’t feel like wiring a series of lights together, choosing individual solar path lights is both a cheap and effective alternative.

Touchup Old Paintjobs

A dull or chipped paint job can make your house look lifeless and unappealing. Deciding to paint your entire exterior is a big job, both in expense in time, but is extremely helpful in improving curb appeal. If you can’t swing the whole house, focus on smaller jobs like trim or window sills. Pick a bright color so that the work has a strong impact on the buyer, and leaves them wanting more.

Improve Your Garden

This is one of the most underutilized, but most impactful, changes you can make to the appearance of your home. People love seeing flowers flourish and plants thriving in their garden. Consciously it allows them to better appreciate the aesthetics of the home, and subconsciously it allows people to imagine the possibilities of living things- both plants and people- that could be to come.

Spend some time to make sure that everything is alive and healthy, then add a little extra to it. Hire a professional to take care of the job so you know you’re getting the most of your gardens potential. Look to companies like Infinity Gardens for ideas on how to upgrade your garden and yard!

Snow Shoveling Ergonomics

There are a few things to remember when you are out in our climate removing snow. Some people have a health risk doing this activity so you should always first consult your doctor before beginning such a task. Many people who are at risk are those who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, those who have had a previous heart attack, people with family or have history with heart disease, live sedentary lives or even smokers. These people should be especially cautious.

Ergonomics are key when you are shoveling. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety has created guidelines for shoveling.

  • keep feet wide apart, place front foot close to shovel
  • put weight on front foot and use your leg to push the shovel
  • shift your weight to your rear foot and keep the load close to your body
  • turn your feet in the direction you are throwing the snow

Make sure to clear often in ongoing snowstorms to prevent the snow from becoming heavy in your shovel. Following these suggestions and taking frequent breaks (at least every 15 minutes) will help keep the stress off your body and give you some great exercise.

Shade Planting

Shady, damp areas are often a difficult place to maintain a garden. Coniferous (cone bearing trees) tend to create a rather acid soil environment making plant growth difficult. The soil can be amended with calcium sources. It is better to use decorative mulch, rather than plants under trees. Mulch will prevent root damage to the trees. Under deciduous trees (broad leaf trees) it is not necessarily a desirable place to plant, because of potential root damage to the trees. When you go outside of the drip line (the edge of the branches) the roots are deeper and the soil is less acidic making planting desirable.

Often by looking at a plants foliage, you can tell if it will do well in a damp shady area. Shade plants have large leaves to maximize photosynthesis.

Some good plant choices for shade include:

  • Lily of the valley – Convallaria majalis
  • Hosta lily’s – Hosta crispula/elata
  • Bergenia – Bergenia crassifolia
  • Large rooted geraniums – Geranium macrorrhizum

Annual Planting

Landscaping ideas about planting your garden

Gardeners look forward to the bright, instant flash of colour annual flowering plants bring to their planters and flower beds. The number of cultivars available to the home or commercial gardener is truly abundant.

To ensure the success of your newly purchased planting materials, it is important to keep them well watered before and after planting. A cool overcast day is ideal, when transferring young ornamentals to their new environment. A hot sunny day will cause additional shock to transplants, leaving plants wilted or scorched. Soil should be tilled up and moist prior to planting. If the soil is excessively heavy or sandy, compost or peat can be incorporated.

These pre-planting additions will aid in the development of new roots. Slow release granular fertilizers can be added at this time. When it comes time to remove plants from their cell packs, loosen or slightly score the roots, this will stimulate growth and spread. If roots are not stimulated they will grow and continue to circle them selves causing reduced over all vigour.

Transplants should be planted level with the soil. If annuals are planted too deep rot can occur and if the root ball is left slightly exposed then plant will dry out excessively. The soil should be lightly tamped and watered throughly.

Water soluble fertilizers can be added after planting, if pre-planting fertilizers have not been previously added. Fertilizers for flowering plants should be high in phosphorus, this is represented by the middle number in a fertilizer ratio. These ratios are always printed on the packaging of any fertilizer.

The single most important factor to ensure the survival of annual plantings is to keep them well watered during their initial establishment. Annual transplants have to be watered daily unless it is raining adequately.

When to Time your Tree Pruning

Landscaping Calgary Tree Pruning

It is a general rule to prune trees while they are dormant to minimize damage and stimulate new growth.

Fruit bearing trees are pruned during dormancy to reduce crop quantity, but increase the fruits quality. This timing will also aid in new bud formation the following year.

Spring pruning should be complete before the buds begin to open. However diseased or damaged branches should be immediately removed. Evergreens do well if pruned right after the wood has had a chance to thaw. To achieve a compact effect on pine trees, pruning should be put off until late June.

Pruning has a dwarfing effect on all trees but more so if it id done in June and July. Flowering trees should also be pruned during the summer after the trees have flowered. If a tree is particularly late flowering it can be pruned in the spring just before active growth begins.

Trees such as Maple or Birch are considered bleeders and should be pruned in the summer, when the leaves are fully formed. Summer time pruning will minimize excessive sap loss.

Late summer and early fall pruning should be left for dead wood only. Any extra pruning at this time before dormancy can stimulate new growth, this growth will not be able to harden off adequately before winter. Damage usually includes cankers and excessive die back. Deciduous trees thrive with a late winter early spring pruning.