Tips to make Walkways a Key Part of Your Landscape

You may think the walkways and driveways are there to provide an important function by directing the flow of people who visit your home. Well, that’s right, but with a little thought you can add a lot of style, dimension, and beauty to your landscape. So how do you maximize the style of “walkways” around your Maryland home? First, you need to contact the experts at Swan Creek Landscaping who can help you make the right decision with a design to your liking!

Choosing the Right Materials
image_4The choices you make in materials that are pleasing to your eye will influence the overall style/design of your landscape. You will not want to confuse your landscape appearance by placing cobblestone paths into a modern designed yard. If you have settled on a yard theme, choosing the right materials is a little bit easier than starting from scratch. This is where your landscape contractor can be of great help, both with design and materials. Swan Creek Landscaping offers a variety of materials for walkways and drives, including:
• Concrete, Flagstone, Blue-stone
• Brick, Slate, Limestone, Sandstone
• And many others!

Choosing the Best Style for your yard is another ingredient!
Cole patio firepit pavers techoblocJust as important as the materials you like is the style you choose. Swan Creek Landscaping is a Techo-Bloc certified installer, so if you are looking for the utmost quality products with styles to match…you have come to the right place. The style you choose is directly related to the style/design of your landscape and that is  coupled to your yard. From here, you can head in many directions:
• The Rustic Look – If you choose a Rustic style and design for your backyard, Techo-Bloc has many pavers that will work. Two of the most popular are Flagstone and Antika which utilizes an uneven, rough-textured stones with a classic appearance.
• The Modern Look – For those with a modern yard design, you may want to consider using Industria or Exflo Techo-Bloc products. These material will give you a very uniform approach that creates a sleek and contemporary look.  [Note: Techo-Bloc products come in many styles, colors, and textures with a life-time guarantee.]

IMG_2972Swan Creek Landscaping, Inc. prides itself on providing unique walkways and driveways for our Cecil and Harford County clients. From design, to construction, until the dark of night turns on the lighting system, we provide uniquely designed outdoor living spaces that we can also maintain year round, including your yard maintenance, mowing, plantings, landscape and patios. Pick up the phone and call us to learn more about how we can change the look of your property by installing unique walkways and driveways.
Phone: 410.378.8668
Website: http://www.SwanCreekLandscaping.com

Fall Landscaping needs to prepare for winter, and yes spring too!

Dog PictureStanley only has time for a quick drink.  Temperatures have started to tip downwards and the cool air from the Bay will be taking control and lots of work is ahead. While there is still plenty of time before winter hits you need to be preparing your landscape for the winter months. There are several things that need to be done to help ensure the health of your lawn, plants and trees not only for the winter, but for the spring.

Yard Preparation
Lawn Walk Behind Mower1. Mowing: Keep mowing your lawn up to winter gets here and the grass finally stops growing. You do not want your grass to be long going into winter because it might lay-over and possibly cause “grass rot”. Some even mow their grass shorter in the fall and winter months to ensure a healthy lawn and to allow leaves to blow off without much resistance.
2. Trimming: Very important to keep your plants, trees, bushes and hedges trimmed back and free of any dying or decaying branches. Reach in and prune them back to keep them sized and to “air them out”. This will also help in eliminating broken limbs and branches from the snow.
IMG_36643. Cleanup: Take time to rake up the leaves, pick-up the fallen branches, and other debris from your lawn which is key to the health of your lawn. You can use these materials in your organic mulch pile for use on your garden beds in the spring.
4. Feeding: Take time to feed your lawn and plants in the fall of the year. This will have a huge effect on your plants and lawns health in the springtime.
5. Tying: If you have large plants that could be damaged, split or broken by high winds and/or by a heavy snow take time to tie them up a day or so before the storm. Take some string and gently pull the branches up and tie them together…not tight, but snug enough to hold them together and for the string not to slip down the branches. Do not leave the plants tied up all winter, this could also cause damage. Elimination of storm damage will save you a lot of time and money by not having to replace plants every year.

Swan Creek Landscaping, Inc. prides itself in providing fall yard and maintenance cleanups for our Cecil and Harford County clients’. Our Service Group performs yard maintenance, mowing, plantings, landscaping, patios, pruning and gardening on a contract basis. Pick-up the phone and call us to learn more about how we can change the look of your property with “Fall Clean-ups” that will change the appearance of your home and ensure the health of your landscape year round.
Phone – 410.378.8668
Website: http://www.SwanCreekLandscaping.com

Your beautiful landscape can come alive at night by adding lighting….

Bull Dog PictureStanley says why not have your landscape and outdoor living space come a live at night?  Thus, expanding the usable time you spend enjoying your Maryland summers.  Then consider using landscape lighting features.  But first you need to develop a “lighting plan” prior to buying the fixtures and jumping into the installation process.

Key questions that needs answers include:
• Where do you want your lights
• Do you want them focused on key landscape features
• What type of fixtures do you want
• What type of fixtures do you need
• Do you want up lighting
• Do you want down lighting
• Are you paths properly lit
• What is the extent of you lighting needs
• What type of budget do you have
• Do you want the project completed in stages
• Areas where you can install lighting include:
o Decks, Porches, Play Areas
o Patios, Paths, Pool Decks
o Trees, Buildings, Yards
o Walkways, Driveways, Entrances
o And many more depending on personal needs!

IMG_3595As you might expect each area requires slightly different lights. Porches or deck lights are likely to be tall, sort of like lamp post, in order to give a fuller area of light.  On the other side, lights for paths and driveways will be much shorter and close to the ground.  Lighting for your landscape and trees is another entirely different type of lighting system.

Up-lighting vs. Down-lighting
Up-lighting and Down-lighting are the way to go if you really want your landscaping features to stand out.
• Up-lighting is located on ground facing upward to shine on key               landscape elements
• Down-lighting is usually mounted high up in the trees or on the             sides of buildings that shine down                                                                   When you combine the two, you can turn your yard into the talk of the town.  Not only does this create an attractive landscape, but can change dramatically the security of your home.  Intruders do not focus on homes that are will lit that could contain security cameras.

Swan Creek Landscaping, Inc. can integrate high quality, low-voltage landscape lighting systems smoothly with the rest of your yard’s landscape design, highlighting key elements for our Cecil and Harford County clients’.  From design, thru construction, till the dark of night turns on your lighting system, we provide uniquely designed outdoor lighting.  We can also maintain your entire property year round, including your yard maintenance, mowing, plantings, and landscape.  Pick-up the phone and call us to learn more about how we can unique lighting systems that will add beauty and security to your entire property.

Phone – 410.378.8668 ~ ~ Website: http://www.SwanCreekLandscaping.com

21 Tips for Using a Weed Trimmer Safely

Bull Dog PictureStanley says Weed Trimmer safety is a serious issue. There are more than 5,000 serious injuries reported each year and tens of thousands of injuries not reported. Cuts and bruises from flying debris accounted for approximately 55% of the injuries, while another 35% were eye injuries. The pure nature of all rotating equipment is that they can cause instant injuries with no warning.

WeedeatingWeed Trimmer Safety Tips
1. Read the operating manual. Seriously, read it!
2. Ensure the equipment is operable. Are the guards in place, is the fuel cap on tight?
3. Wear heavy duty thick boots with an outdoor tread for sure footing.
4. Use safety glasses/goggles and ear protection.
5. Protect your body with tight-fitting long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
6. Wear good leather work gloves to protect your hands.
7. Use the correct fuel mixture (oil & gas) to ensure correct operation of the equipment.
8. Start the engine with one hand holding and the other starting.
9. Inspect the area where you will be cutting for foreign objects – rocks, wood chips, etc.
10. Turn off the engine and disconnect the spark-plug wire when making equipment repairs.
11. Make sure the engine has cooled off when refueling.
12. Do not trim in areas where people are within 25 to 50 feet.
13. Allow the engine to idle down and rest when cutting weeds or brush.
Weedeating Picture 214. Never use the trimmer to cut anything above waist height. Never reach out or up!
15. Be sure your engine speed is proportional to the weeds you are cutting.
16. Do not allow cuttings to wrap around the head or pile up when in use.
17. Let the unit run on idle for a few minutes to cool down before turning off.
18. Hit the “kill switch” and stop the unit before setting the unit down on the ground.
19. Inspect the trimmer for any damage, wear, or maintenance needs after each usage.
20. Do not work on the equipment while it is still running. Shut it down and put it down.
21. Use good judgment and a lot of common sense. Most injuries can be prevented!

Swan Creek Landscaping, Inc. helps homeowners and businesses in Cecil and Harford Counties with all of their landscaping maintenance needs. From design, to construction, to maintaining your property year round, we will provide you with a landscaping experience that will exceed your expectations. When considering your landscape, hardscape, or lawn maintenance needs, please give us a call for a free consultation so we can turn your visions and our experience into an outdoor living experience you and your family will enjoy and appreciate.

Phone: 410.378.8668
Website: SwanCreekLandscaping.com

Water Features can change the look, sounds and value of your property….

Dog PictureFor many people the soft sounds of moving water creates a soothing and relaxing environment that can create a great reading area, thinking pit, and an atmosphere for just relaxing.  There are many ways to incorporate water features into your landscape including:
•      Running Creek Beds with water returns
•      Small Ponds for vegetation or fishes
•      Fountains with cascading or spouting features

Creek Beds running through your yard area with a destination collection area that includes a pumping station for water return back to the start of the creek bed can create an extremely nice water feature.  This type of water feature can require some in-depth excavation work to your property and probably would require a lot of bedding materials including gravel, rocks, and boulders.  As you can tell from the material needs this would be a more expensive type project.

Small, fish, and vegetation ponds can be an affordable addition to your landscape while changing its appearance and beauty.  Most of this type of water feature is somewhat less expensive and requires minimal excavation with the use of a predetermined plastic liner that you placed into a hole location.  You then add rocks, stones, fishes and/or vegetation and in a very short period of time you have a soothing landscape addition.

TOSHIBA - Water Feature 1 (2)Fountain additions can be among the easiest and least expensive water addition you can add to your landscape.  Most fountains are self-contained, self-pumping units that take up less space and can be placed anywhere you like.  Fountains come in several types: spouting and cascading units that can be used in a pond or can be pond-less.
•      Spouting fountains often are placed in ponds and shoot water into the air that falls back into the pond creating splashing sounds.
•      Cascading fountains, usually are self-contained, having a soothing trickling effect that is created by having multiple levels for the water to flow too.

Swan Creek Landscaping, Inc. provides both small and large water features to our Cecil and Harford County clients’.  Our Maintenance Group will create a unique outdoor “water feature” experience that will produce a restful, soothing environment that will change your life style.  In addition, our Service Group performs yard maintenance, mowing, plantings, landscaping, patios, pruning and retaining walls on a contract basis.  It will only take a minute to pick-up the phone and call us to learn how Swan Creek can change the look and sound of your property with water features solutions that will enhance the appearance of your home along with the value.

Phone – 410.378.8668
Website: http://www.SwanCreekLandscaping.com

Striping – Do you want to have a professional striping look?

Often times we are asked how do the golf courses and major league baseball teams create that unique clean striping effect that catches the eye.  Well it is not as tough as you might think and you can do it if you use the right techniques on your Maryland cool grass types.

Striping Works Like This: The striping you see in sports venues and on golf courses is merely light reflecting off the blades of grass.  The blades of grass that appear to be dark indicates they are bent over towards you and the stripes that are lighter in appearance are blades of grass bent leaning away from you.  The normal course of mowing your grass back and forth naturally creates this effect.  But, to enhance the striping effect and make it more noticeable you will need to buy a “striping kit” (Lawn & Garden Center or online) or you can also use a roller.

Choose A Pattern: The best way to get started is to sit down and draw out several patterns that you like and fit your lawn and landscape.  Most common designs are: Checkerboard, Back & Forth, Diamonds or you can create your own.

Mowing is Key: You will want to start the process by mowing parallel to a straight line, such as a driveway or sidewalk.  You will want to take your time to walk in a straight line by looking out in front of the mower 8’ to 10’ feet if using either a hand mower or lawn tractor.  Try not to look right down at the ground at the front of the mower…this will cause you to waver and not have crisp, clean lines.  At the end of the row stop you blade or lift the mower deck up and turn around and go in the opposite direction.  To create a checker board effect you just mow the yard a second time in the opposite direction.  When complete mow all around the outer perimeter of the yard and you’re done.

Want a Bolder Look? – Professionals use rollers to really create a pronounced look by bending the blades of grass over more.  You can either buy a roller, borrow a roller from your neighbor, or rent one from your rental center.  Just make sure you are rolling in the same direction you mowed and you will have a striped look that will wow the neighbors.

Key Tips: To enhance your pattern look raise the height of your mowing deck to make the grass blades longer which will allow them to bed over more.  Cutting the grass shorter does not allow the grass blades to lay over as much.  Make sure you’re feed your lawn regularly to make your yard thicker and lusher, while giving you a deep green color.  Make sure your mower blades are sharp.  Dull blades will tear the grass, which will not allow the grass to lay over and create the look you’re looking for.

Swan Creek Landscaping, Inc. has provided our Cecil and Harford County clients’ with recommendations on all types of their lawn care and mowing needs over the past 10 years.  In addition to our Lawn and Property Maintenance Services Swan Creek also performs Landscape and Hardscape services that include: Gardens, General Landscaping and Hardscapes that include retaining walls, walkways, driveways, pool decks, patios and outdoor living spaces…both large and small.  Please call us to learn how Swan Creek can change the look of your property with Landscaping Programs that will enhance the appearance of your home along with the value.

Phone – 410.378.8668
Website: http://www.SwanCreekLandscaping.com

Why and when to dethatch and aerate your lawn…..

Often times we hear of trends, ideas and concepts that seem to catch on and everyone jumps on band wagon with the very best intent. This is also true when you talk to “green-thumbs” about Dethatching and Aerating your lawn. Some say leave it to Mother Nature and others say let’s take charge of the yard and enhance her efforts.

AeratorFirst things first, what is Dethatching and Soil Compaction:
•     Thatch is a dense, intertwined mat of living and dead grass materials that accumulate on your yards ground surface.  This is caused when the grass is growing faster than the clippings and debris                                                                                   can decompose
•     Soil compaction is normally in the first 3” or 4” inches which is caused by the settling of the soil from people walking on it and from mowing.  In Maryland it is also caused by the freezing and thawing of the soil during the winter and spring months

Why is it important to dethatch and aerate?
•      The accumulated thatch in some yards serves to restrict the oxygen levels in the soil.  All plants require oxygen and you grass is no exception.  Thatch makes it tough for the oxygen to enter the stems and root system
•      If your yard has compacted soil you are inviting pests to breed in your lawn, which will cause major maintenance issues going forward
•      When you dethatch and aerate your lawn you disturb and shake-up the soil, thus stimulating root growth because the oxygen, nutrients and water can now reach root area of the grasses.  This will cause the lawn to become more dense causing water runoff to be hindered

How do you Dethatch?
•      In the late spring or early fall you want to mow your grass to a low height
•      Select a power dethatcher (from most rental stores) or a hand thatching rake with large cutting blades and go about lifting up the dead under mat to the top of the grass surface
•      Thatch the yard using an even pattern to ensure coverage. If you have a sprinkler system mark the heads and lines so you don’t destroy them when thatching
•      Gather the clipping and add to your compost pile or dispose of them if needed
•      Water the lawn and you are done!

How do you Aerate?
Aeration Equipment•      For Maryland grasses early fall is the best time when the soil is moist and the ground soft
•      Select a power aeration machine – most rental stores have one
•      Aerate the yard using a specific back and forth pattern to ensure an even aeration. If you have a sprinkler system mark the heads and lines so you don’t destroy them during aeration

Dethatching and Aeration of the soils is a labor intensive job that can sometimes be a little difficult.  Swan Creek Landscaping, Inc. provides these services to our Cecil and Harford County clients’. Our Maintenance Group will inspect your yard to determine the need and then schedule a time when the soil is just right to dethatch and/or aerate.  In addition, our Maintenance Service Group performs yard maintenance of all types including: mowing, plantings, pruning, landscaping, and spring/fall clean-ups on a contract basis.  Please pick-up the phone and call us to learn how Swan Creek can change the look of your property with yard maintenance that will enhance the appearance of your home along with the value.

Phone – 410.378.8668
Website: http://www.SwanCreekLandscaping.com