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15 Easy Ways to Get Your Outdoor Living Space Ready For Summer

Written by Diana Trotter on 03/24/15

In Georgia, we love spending time outdoors. Update your outdoor space with these 15 great ideas, just in time for spring and summer.

Lowes - DIY Garden Fountain

Is your outdoor living space in need of a makeover? Do you look at your patio and cringe every time you dream of inviting your friends over for a backyard barbecue?

Whether you live in the city and have a small outdoor living space, or you live in the countryside and have a wide open meadow to work with, there are simple solutions for turning that drab outdoor area into a fabulous spot for your family and friends to enjoy. With these fifteen simple ways to dress up your outdoor living space, you’ll be able to call your girls over for cocktails on the deck by next weekend!

1. Lighting

The easiest way to dress up your outdoor living space and still make a big impact is with lighting. There are many options to choose from depending on your space and your style. String lights work really well for small patios, but look great in any outdoor space.

 2. Seating

The right seating for your outdoor living space can make all the difference. Big spaces can handle the bulk look of a farmhouse table, a custom built bench or an outdoor sectional. In smaller spaces, try brightly colored wicker chairs, or a small bench with bright throw pillows to help make the space feel more open.

3. Pergola

Adding a pergola to your outdoor living space can help define your patio and “hangout zone” from the rest of your backyard. It can lend your space more privacy, shade, and shelter.

4. Curtains

Speaking of more privacy and shade, adding curtains to your outdoor living space can do more than just dress it up. No need to invite the neighbors to every cookout. Just draw the curtains, and they’ll get the hint!

5. Bar/Kitchen

Turn your patio into the ultimate hot spot with a customized bar that is stocked with all the necessary items to make every weekend the perfect summer party. Plus, outdoor bars and kitchens can make hosting duties so much easier!

6. Beverage Area

If you’d love an outdoor kitchen, but don’t have the space, get the best of both worlds with a cute beverage station. Make over an old bar cart, repurpose an unused dresser, or use an few old crates or pallets. The possibilities are endless!

7. Area Rug

If your budget won’t allow you to buy much more than seating and a table for your patio, you can still dress up your outdoor living space with an area rug. To help stretch your budget even further, purchase an inexpensive rug, and transform it with a stencil.

8. Stenciled Deck

An area rug isn’t the only way to dress up your patio floor. For a fun, textured look, stencil a design directly on your deck planks or concrete patio.

9. Pretty Storage

Outdoor storage doesn’t have to be boring. Dress it up and make it multifunctional with a storage box that can function as extra seating for your guests, or as a table for your food and drinks.

 

10. Mosaic Patterns

Do you have a hidden artistic flair that hasn’t yet had the chance to shine in your outdoor space? Use a mosaic tile pattern and some recycled glass pieces to turn simple backyard objects into works of art.

11. Unique Planters

Don’t settle for just any planter for your beautiful hanging plants. Grab a can of spray paint in your favorite accent color and repurpose unique items like an old tire, a broken wheelbarrow, or bird bath for a fun and rustic look.

12. Decorative Planters

No old tires lying around? No problem! You can still make a statement with your backyard planters. If you already have tons of plain or mismatched pots in your outdoor space, transform their look with fun pops of color. These DIYs will even work on those plastic pots that come with the plants!

13. Shutters and Flower Boxes

Enhance the look of your house by adding shutters and flower boxes. These pops of color that will not only help dress up your outdoor living space, but will also give your home great curb appeal.

14. Garden Fountain

A water feature looks great in both large and small outdoor living spaces. Make a DIY project out of it, and create a garden fountain out of a gorgeous container and some commonplace irrigation tools.

15. Fire Pit Cover

Fire pits are a nice addition to any outdoor space. Make your fire pit great do double-duty by creating this game board fire pit tabletop for daylight gatherings.

Top Image Credit: Lowe’s 
Do you have plans to dress up your outdoor living space for the spring and summer? Which of these ideas will you get started on first?

Spring Landscape Tips

Spring is here and for everyone in Marietta, Georgia or any surrounding Atlanta neighborhood, it is time to dig out your sunscreen and work gloves and starting thinking about getting your yard and surrounding landscape in shape.  Stone Creek Landscaping is always here to help with as much or as little of your lawn maintenance needs.  If you’re a DIY person take a look at the following tips from The National Association of Landscape Professionals.  If you feel overwhelmed or just need a little help call Stone Creek Landscaping, located in Marietta Georgia, for a little assistance.

If you live in a colder climate, spring can bring the excitement of getting outdoors, enjoying warmer weather, and seeing the yard and landscape come to life. Below is a checklist to help you get your yard in shape for spring.

  • Inspect your trees and shrubs. Start your spring spruce-up with a thorough inspection of your yard. Look for any branches that might be broken or damaged and prune them or have them removed by a professional.
  • Test your soil. Test your soil once every few years to make sure it has the proper pH balance and mix of nutrients. You can usually get your soil tested at your state’s local agricultural extension office, or ask your lawn care or landscape professional. You can also buy soil test kits at garden centers.
  • Fertilize. The decision about whether or not to fertilize should be based on the nutrition requirements of your plant as well as soil conditions. Below are a few tips on fertilizing your lawn:
    • Determine your soil nutrient needs through testing.
    • If your soil does need nutrients, make sure you choose a fertilizer that matches those needs.
    • Make sure you fertilize at the optimum time of the year for your variety of grass. Contrary to popular belief, not all grasses should be fertilized in spring. A few cool-season grass varieties do better when fertilized in fall. June is also a good time to fertilize many cool-season grasses. It’s best to use your state university or cooperative extension’s recommendations or consult a lawn care professional.
    • In general, it is best to choose a “slow-release or controlled-release” fertilizer to reduce possible losses to the environment and increase nutrient absorption. In certain situations, it may help to use organic materials which can improve the health of your soil.
    • It’s important to read the label on the fertilizer bag and to know the exact size of your lawn. Using too much fertilizer can harm your lawn and cost you more than you planned. Conversely, using too little fertilizer won’t yield the results anticipated. Several university studies show that under-fertilized turf can lead to a thin turf stand resulting in soil erosion and unwanted soil runoff.
    • Always follow the label instructions.
    • Before fertilizing your lawn or plants, always check with the local agricultural extension office. Some state and local governments place limits on when, what kind, and what amount of fertilizer you can apply. Professional, licensed lawn care companies must follow state, local, and federal regulations.
  • Weed Control. Spring is a good time to apply pre-emergent weed control for weeds such as crabgrass. One indicator is when forsythia is in full bloom, which tells you it is usually the perfect time to apply crabgrass weed preventer.
  • Make planting beds neat and tidy. Rake the old leaves and debris, from plant beds, prune any dead branches and create neat edges around the beds using an edging tool.
  • Fertilize trees and Shrubs. Most plants, trees, and shrubs will benefit from proper fertilization with a slow-release product just before mulch is applied.
  • Mulch. Add an inch thick layer of fresh mulch in plant beds and around trees. Don’t let the mulch touch the tree trunk and never let the mulch accumulate to more than a 3″ depth. Mulch not only makes planting areas look neat, but also helps to retain moisture in the soil, and it keeps the roots cool in the summer and insulates them in the winter. As mulch decomposes, it adds organic matter to the soil.
  • Inspect your irrigation system. Once the weather has warmed up for the year, turn on your irrigation system and inspect it to see if it is in working condition. If you have a landscape company, they can do this for you.
  • Check outdoor lighting. Check your outdoor lights for broken fixtures and have them repaired if there is damage. Reset timers when Daylight Savings time begins.

Fescue Planting – 1-2-3

-Walter Reeves: The Georgia Gardender

It is not as important as you think it is, but I know your first thought is what fescue seed to buy.

Read this:
Choosing a Fescue Variety and then come back.

Seeding a New Lawn

Optimum air temperatures for tall fescue germination are 68 to 77°F and soil temperatures greater than 60°F.

· Kill all weeds by spraying the area with glyphosate (click for sources) two weeks before planting.

· Mix in a layer of soil conditioner one inch thick. Till the soil thoroughly to a depth of six inches.

· Rake the area smooth, removing rocks, clumps and grassy debris.

· Roll the area with a water-filled roller to reveal low spots.

· Fill low spots with soil.

· Scatter 5 – 8 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet.

· Cover very thinly with wheat straw (1 bale per 1000 square feet).

Overseeding an Existing Lawn

· If the lawn is covered 50% or less with healthy fescue, use a verticutter (sometimes called a dethatcher). Adjust the verticutter blades to just touch the top of the soil.

· If the lawn is covered 50% or more with healthy fescue, use a core aerator. Stop when you have 10 or more aerator holes per square foot.

· Just before seeding, lower your mower one notch below your normal mowing height and mow the lawn. This removes the grass canopy and helps seed fall directly onto the soil.

· Spread 3 – 5 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. Drag the area with a carpet or section of chain link fence to crumble aerator plugs and cover the seed with soil.

Planting Sod

· Prepare the soil as if you are planting seed (see above)

· Starting along the longest straight edge of the area, lay sod pieces end-to-end.

· Make sure each piece is tightly placed next to its neighbor.

· Stagger sod pieces in adjacent rows so seams do not line up.

· Use a small hatchet or sharp shovel to trim pieces to fit around obstructions.

· Roll the entire area once more, to insure good sod-to-soil contact.

· Water sod lightly and daily for five days, then within three weeks wean it to oneinch of water per week.

Watering Schedule after Seeding

· Set out several paper cups while you irrigate to help determine how long it takes to apply an inch of water.

· Apply one inch of water immediately after planting.

· Apply only enough water daily (or as regulations allow) to prevent the top one-half inch of soil from drying until seedlings are 1.5 inches tall.

· After that, apply one-fourth inch of water every third day for nine days.

· Next, apply one-half inch of water every fifth day for ten days.

· After this establishment period, apply one inch of water per week for the rest of the growing season.

· There is no need to water if rainfall supplies the correct amount.

Weed Killers

· Glyphosate (click for sources) can be used to kill existing weeds one week before seeding.

· Do not use a pre-emergent herbicide, a broadleaf weed killer or a “weed and feed” product before seeding or within six weeks after seeding.

Fertilizing

· Use a starter fertilizer at planting using the label rates.

· Fertilize again in mid-November, using any brand turf fertilizer.

· Fertilize again February, using any brand turf fertilizer.

· Fertilize again mid-April, using any brand turf fertilizer.

Liming

· Most Georgia soils benefit from garden lime. A UGA soil test will tell you exactly what your soil needs. In the absence of a soil test report, apply 50 pounds per 1000 square feet, preferably a week before or after planting.

fescue lawn

One of the sourest phrases that can be directed at a child or adult is “I told you so!” Whether you touch a hot match, leave tools out in the rain or lift cinder blocks all afternoon, someone is usually ready to exclaim “I told you so!” when you complain about the experience.

In my line of work, I’m forced to reluctantly deliver “I told you so!” when gardeners ask me about their problems with annualweeds. The theory of controlling them is simple: maintain a vigorous turf so they can’t get established … and use a pre-emergent herbicide if they get ahead of you.

Bob K. wrote me recently to ask about controlling crabgrass. “We’re having pretty good success with our bermudagrass lawn but the crabgrass is overtaking it.” he related. “We put down pre-emergent (click for sources) herbicide twice this spring but now we have about fifty percent crabgrass in our lawn. Will the crabgrass die over the winter and not be a problem next spring?”

I didn’t use the “I.T.Y.S.” phrase when I replied…. because he probably followed my timing instructions last spring. For several years I have repeated the mantra “Summer weeds: March 15. Winter weeds: September 15.”

If you battle weeds in your lawn you know what I mean: Put out your crabgrass preventer in mid-March and your winter weed preventer in mid-September.

March 15, September 15.” It rhymes, it’s easy to remember and that’s what I’ve always recommended.

Bob’s question, though, made me do a little research. He put down a pre-emergent (click for sources) twice this spring andstill didn’t get good control. Why?

I realize now that my rhyme will have to be discarded.

Crabgrass seed, you see, germinate when spring soil temperatures tend upwards from 50 degrees F. Weed scientists use 52 degrees F. at one-half inch deep as the trigger point for their application of pre-emergence herbicide.

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences oversees a network of 50 weather stations across Georgia . I was able to get the soil temperature data from Cherokee Town and Country Club in Dunwoody. What I found shocked me!

The data show that soil temperatures reached 52 degrees F. on Feb. 24 in 2000, Feb. 25 in 2001, Mar. 14 in 2002 and Mar. 4 in 2003.

My timing advice has been wrong! To get good crabgrass control in Atlanta you should apply the pre-emergent on March 1, not March 15. Otherwise the seed will sprout beforehand….and most pre-emergent chemicals do not control crabgrass seedlings.

In Bob’s situation, the crabgrass will die this winter – but the seed it has already dropped will sprout next April and he could have even more of the weed next year.

So what should he do?

All of the following products give excellent control of crabgrass in summer and annual bluegrass in winter:

benefin (Amaze, Balan, Crabgrass Preventer)
bensulide (Betasan)
oryzalin (Surflan)
pendimethalin (Halts)
dithiopyr (Crab-Ex)
prodiamine (Barricade)

The key is the timing. Pre-emergent herbicides MUST be applied BEFORE crabgrass seed germinate. If Bob and other lawn owners choose one of the products above and put it out on March 1, 2004. I think summer crabgrass control will be much better.

My second (September 15) date still stands. Put out a pre-emergence control for annual bluegrass, henbit or chickweed on that date and you’ll avoid my winter weed “I told you so!” next spring.

REMEMBER: Read all herbicide labels thoroughly to be sure the product can be used on your particular turfgrass and that it controls the weed(s) you are trying to manage.

Lawn Care

Yard Services

We provide a broad variety of services to look after all your regular and ongoing landscaping needs so you can sit back and enjoy a professional looking yard all year round. We aim to bring you quality work from experienced workers at a price that you consider is good value while landscaping your property in a way that will increase its value and appearance. Stone Creek Landscaping is the leading lawn care provider serving Kennesaw, Marietta, Woodstock and many other parts of Metro Atlanta.  We offer landscaping, pool landscaping, rock hardscaping, mulching, over seeding and seasonal color all offered individually or fully integrated, and tailored to each customer’s unique property maintenance needs. We have extensive knowledge of the best techniques to turn your yard into the outdoor living space you have always dreamed of. Our lawn service is not only top quality but also consistent week after week in service.

Lawn care is not just what we do, but also what we take pride in. Our customers range from residential and small businesses to large corporate facilities, Stone Creek Landscaping of Marietta is dedicated to providing the highest quality of service no matter what. Our landscape maintenance division generates an ever-expanding ability to provide best in lawn care. Whether you need a few a la carte landscaping services to provide basic landscape maintenance or a complete package to aid you in unique landscape solutions come to Stone Creek Landscaping for a company that has expertise and experience you can rely on. So stop trudging behind your lawn mower, and let us take care of your landscaping needs. With a little time, we’ll have your neighbors in a severe case of lawn envy while you relax and spend your time sipping on lemonade in your freshly manicured yard.

If you are searching for drought tolerant or other alternative landscape or turf care solutions in the northern Metro Atlanta area Stone Creek Landscaping can help you out!  Our local lawn care professionals are familiar with the surrounding area’s grasses, pests, and other seasonal challenges. So you can be confident when calling us that your lawn is in the best of hands. We are confident that you will love your lawn which is why we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Our Lawn Care Services

  • Landscape Maintenance
  • Lawn Fertilization
  • Irrigation
  • Clean up Work
  • Fence and Gates
  • Tree Service
  • Landscaping Drainage
  • Planting and Mulch

Stone Creek Landscaping are experts when it comes to seasonal color.  Annual flowers can provide landscaped areas with more seasonal variety and colorful accents than most other plants. The key to success with annuals is to plant only the area that can be adequately cared for. Remember, color can have more impact on the landscape than any other design element. It’s also important to remember nothing has a more negative impact than a poorly maintained color area that’s why you should leave your seasonal color up to the pros at Stone Creek Landscaping.

Now is the perfect time to brighten up your beds with fresh PINESTRAW! The long cold winter took its toll on your landscape; Call today and get 5 FREE bails of pinestraw with every 50 you purchase from… Read More

Spring Fever

If you are anything like me and the rest of the residents of Atlanta, you are ready for the snow to melt, the sun to come out and the days to warm up!  Here’s to wishful thinking anyway. Truth be told, spring really isn’t that far off and there are a few things you can do now to prepare your garden and landscape for the upcoming growing season.

1) As long as the ground isn’t too wet, January is a great time to till your vegetable gardens. This will help control weeds and insects this spring.

2)January is also a good time to service all of your lawn and garden equipment. Change the oil, spark plugs and sharpen blades on your mower. Remember, once the warm weather hits, local repair shops will backed up for weeks!

3)January is also the perfect month to transfer small trees and shrubs. Remember to dig a substantial root ball and make sure to plant it at the same level it was growing before.

Stone Creek Landscaping is always willing to do any of the work you don’t have time to do on your own. Call us today for a free estimate on all of your metro Atlanta landscaping needs!

Time to prune!

Late February through March is a great time to prune plants that are overgrown, plants that might flower more, and plants that could need just a little shaping.  Now, just because it’s a good time to prune this month does not mean you won’t have  to pay attention to your plants in the summer.

Sometimes you might just forget about the plants that seem to be blooming and growing very well, and the next thing you know, you have a shrub that has been let go for to long.  Whether  its old hollies, azaleas, or any other shrub in the landscape, chances are you have a few that need to be brought back to a  managable size.  This is called rejuvenation.  This type of pruning will allow you to come in and basically cut the shrub back to 6 or 12 inches from the ground.  Pruning this drastically will allow for the shrub to force out new shoots and will allow it to become more dense and easier to manage.

Pruning can also help promote some plants  to flower more throughout their respective blooming seasons.  Butterfly Bushes and Rose of Sharon are just a few examples of shrubs that  flower on new growth.  So now would be a good time to go  in and give these shrubs a healthy pruning, clipping off of last years growth.  However, you do need to be careful  not to prune Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Camellias and some Hydrangeas because these plants will flower on last years growth;  after they have bloomed in the spring, feel free to clean them up.

Last, everyone has a personal preference on the shape or height of a plant, wherever it might be in the landscape.  Just remember this is the time of year that if you need to go in and cut some shrubs around the windows or along the driveway, go ahead and prune them back with a nice pair of  sharp hand pruners and for larger limbs the long handled pruners.  Now I know that sometimes pruning with the electric shears can be a very fast and easy job,  it could make pruning harder through the year.  It will allow the plants to be thicker on the outside, but nothing but sticks on the inside.  A good way to control that is to selectively prune around the shrub making sure there is parts of the plant that the sun can penitrate to the inside allowing for a fuller plant throughout.  Remember, you can get out there and prune till your heart desires or you can call Stone Creek Landscaping for free estimates and an analysis of your landscape.

Good luck and happy prunning!

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Azaleas in February, really?…Really.

While these iconic southern shrubs that we love here in Georgia aren’t blooming yet, it’s not to late to think about their placement in the landscape.  For example, one of my customers in Marietta, has about six azaleas that, overtime, have become overtaken by some bamboo that the property owner has grown fond of; so they need to moved.  Fall and early winter are good times to transplant azaleas but, as long as unusually warm weather in February has not pushed out the new buds, transplanting will not harm your spring flowers.

Follow these easy steps to transplant.  First, with a sharp shovel dig a new hole about one foot wider and one foot deeper than the root ball of the azalea you are going to transplant.  Second,  using your shovel, cut nearly vertical incisions in the soil at least 12 inches and no more than 2 feet deep at  the drip line of the plant, now continue around the plant with your shovel and begin to pry the plant out.  Third, with the dirt you have removed from the hole along with a soil conditioner and a root stimulator, mix together and add to the bottom of the hole. Next gently set the plant in place  and fill with the remaining dirt.  Before you go packing away with that shovel of yours be sure to add plenty of water around the whole plant to force out  any air pockets that might be trapped around the roots.

Now, with all that being said, you can be a brave one and try and tackle this project yourself, or you can call Stone Creek Landscaping and we would be more than happy to help you with this project or any of your other landscape needs.  Until we meet again, happy transplanting!

Stone Creek Landscaping is located in Marietta, Georgia and serves the north Metro Atlanta Area