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What Is Hardscaping? 10/5/2018

For many people, buying a home is a huge life milestone. Owning a space to make your own for years or even generations is something that many people spend years working towards. That being said, maintaining a home can be a huge undertaking. There is a lot of time and money involved in home maintenance, especially when it comes to your backyard.

When it comes to maintaining your backyard, you have to focus on two key things: hardscaping and softscaping. Softscaping refers to the living elements of your space; the trees, grass, and flowers in your space. Any maintenance involving plants or horticulture in your area can be categorized as softscaping.

What is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping, on the other hand, is the design of the hard parts around the outside of your home. This can include rocks, cement, mulch, wood, metal, the lay of the land that is man-made to stand the tests of time. Sidewalks, driveways, fencing, walls, and outdoor lighting are all parts of your hardscape.

When you add features such as a patio, deck, pool or fire pit to your home, you are hardscaping. Statues, pergolas, terraces, outdoor stairs, and outdoor kitchens are also included in hardscaping. Hardscaping adds value and visual to your home and acts as a foundation for your landscape.

What Are The Benefits of Hardscaping?

Hardscaping comes with a wide variety of benefits. First and foremost, it acts as somewhat of an anchor to keep your softscaping in place. Hardscaping can be strategically placed to counteract the effects of erosion and elements such as wind and rain to keep your plants safe, steady, and in place.

Hardscaping can also act as a deterrent for pests and can be built to keep animals away from any of your greenery. The materials used in hardscaping are carefully selected. For instance, if you want your space to soak up as much water as possible, you will hardscape with features made of non-porous material that will avoid taking any water from your plants.

Utilizing hardscaping techniques may also give you better use of your space. You can create walkways, gazebos, porches, and patios to better enjoy your backyard. Hardscaping can help the overall organization and cohesiveness of your area.

Another benefit of hardscaping is the time it will save you in the long run. Hardscaping will help preserve your area when done efficiently. This essentially means the time you need to spend maintaining your yard will be cut down sufficiently.

When it comes to your home, hardscaping is a great way to increase its overall value and curb appeal. A well manicured and maintained outdoor space is a huge selling point for buyers and will make your home look better from a bystanders perspective. Curb appeal is often a huge attraction for potential buyers, so if you are looking to sell your house, hardscaping is a great place to start.

How do I Hardscape Effectively?

To get the best use out of hardscaping, there must be a method to your madness. What do you want from your space? For instance, do you have trouble walking around certain areas in your yard? If so, putting in a walking path may be beneficial. Have you noticed that your plants are not holding up well in inclement weather? Fashion a barrier for them out of bricks or rocks.

Hardscaping does not have to be completely practical, either. It can also be used to bolster the visual appeal of your backyard. You can add a pop of color, a trendy rock garden, a fountain, or a gorgeous sitting area to make your space more attractive and welcoming.

It is important to look at the big picture of your hard before you choose elements for hardscaping. Create a plan mapping out all your wants and needs for your space and the materials you will need for each of these elements. Make sure that everything flows together and has a beautiful and balanced overall look. Consider the color scheme as well as how your new installations will look with the greenery you already have.

Effective hardscaping can pay off greatly in the long run, so don’t skip out on the planning part of the process.

Consulting an Expert

Because of the complicated nature of hardscaping, it may be wise to call an expert for help planning and executing the plan for your space. Installing concrete, walkways, and outdoor structures can be complicated. If you are looking to add hardscaping features to your lawn, and want help making the best decisions possible, contact Ohio Valley Group today.

We can take your backyard vision and make it a reality. Our team of landscapers will work with you to make sure that all of your wants and needs for your outdoor space are met as efficiently as possible.

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Preparing Your Landscape for Winter 9/6/2018

The transition from summer to winter can be a tough one. The days are shorter, the air is colder, and you’ll probably be spending a lot of time indoors. Unfortunately, not only are you affected by the seasons changing, so is your landscaping. You need to start taking steps now to prepare for the new season. Here are our top landscaping tips for the changing seasons.

First Things First: Focus On Your Lawn

Your lawn is the largest part of your landscape, meaning that it requires the most care and attention. As with most trees, shrubs and other plants, your grass won’t actually grow during the winter. Because of this, many people tend to ignore their lawns until spring. After all, there’s not much you can do for your lawn once the grass starts to die, right? Wrong. Late summer to early fall is actually the most important time for taking care of your lawn. This includes taking important measures to ensure your grass is as healthy and full as it can be once spring returns.

One of the absolute best things you can do to improve the overall look and health of your lawn is to have it aerated once a year, and the best time to aerate is in fall while the grass is still green. Aeration provides a number of benefits that will both improve its health and ensure it is able to better fare the cold winter months.

Aerating involves removing small plugs of lawn and soil or poking holes deep into the lawn, which makes it easier for water and nutrients to penetrate deep into the roots. The process also helps to break up compacted soil that will otherwise seriously impact the overall quality of your lawn. It’s best to perform aeration in tandem with fertilization since it ensures that the fertilizer can much more easily reach the roots.

If your lawn has any bare spots, fall is also the ideal time for spreading grass seed. This way, all of those seeds should germinate as soon as the warm spring weather hits to ensure your lawn looks fuller and healthier before next summer. Still, seeding in any bare spots won’t just improve the look of your lawn, but it can also help to make your grass less prone to disease.

Use Mulch to Protect Sensitive Roots

Freezing cold temperatures can quickly destroy more sensitive plants, and even your more hardy trees and shrubs could be at risk of damage should the temperature remain too cold for too long. In this sense, one of the best things you can do is lay down a layer of mulch on all of your garden beds and around your trees and shrubs. This mulch basically acts as a layer of insulation that works to protect a plant’s roots from freezing. Cold air is also much drier. This means it can quickly suck the moisture away from your plants, which is another thing the mulch should help to prevent.

Keep Up with the Leaves

In truth, you should really continue to water and mow your lawn throughout the entire growing season, which can be as late as October or November depending on the year. Nonetheless, many people begin to ignore their lawn care more and more once the leaves begin to drop. Of course, this is primarily because the lawn is constantly covered in leaves. The problem is that all those leaves prevent adequate sunlight from reaching your grass. This can make it less resistant to disease and overall less healthy. Still, you can put all of those leaves to good use by mulching them.

Virtually no one likes having to rake leaves, which is one reason why mulching is obviously better. However, the bigger reason is that, instead of causing problems for your grass, mulching all those leaves ensures they will both provide beneficial nutrients to your lawn and also help shield it from the harsh winter cold.

Trees and Shrubs

Fall is the best time to prune and trim some of your trees and shrubs. Removing dead growth and cutting some limbs back before the dormant season can provide major benefits next spring. With proper care, you will see healthier, more vigorous growth. Nonetheless, some species do better when pruned during the summer. Also, certain species are much more prone to diseases and fungal infections if pruned during the wrong time of the year. Pruning and trimming can also be dangerous—especially when working on tall trees or with heavier branches. It is usually best to let professionals who have the proper equipment handle this.

Don’t Forget to Winterize Your Sprinkler System

Your sprinkler system offers lots of benefits for your yard. Unfortunately, you’ll be left with the choice of paying a huge repair bill or going back to watering by hand if you fail to have your sprinkler system properly winterized. If you do not winterize your system, burst pipes are inevitable.

Winter is coming, and it’s important to get your yard ready for the new season. If you have any questions or would like help winterizing your landscape, don’t hesitate to contact the Ohio Valley Group!

 

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What are Ecoscapes? 8/9/2018

Gardening is a popular pastime for many homeowners. This outdoor activity allows you to connect with nature and beautify your home. Gardening is also an easy way to do your part to help the environment.

In recent years, sustainability has continued to be an influential factor in ornamental landscaping. Most homeowners are now looking for ways to create environmentally friendly landscapes.

This new method of gardening incorporates drought and disease resistant plants that need fewer chemical sprays. This shift has made gardening easier and less time-consuming. It has also resulted in more natural-looking and sustainable landscapes. This new approach is called “ecoscaping.”

What are Ecoscapes?

Ecoscapes integrate the disciplines of landscape architecture with environmental science to create nature-friendly, sustainable designs. This innovation combines healthy soil with perennial and native plants, shrubs, high-yielding vegetables, and fruit trees to create water-efficient and aesthetically pleasing landscapes. Ecoscapes also aims to take existing areas and structures (cities, backyards, campuses among others) and add greenery and ecological balance.

Ecoscaping takes a holistic approach towards sustainable land use. Whether your goal is to save money, water, or time, ecoscaping gives you many options to choose from. It also helps to attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your yard.

The Process

Ecological balance and nature conservation are the core fundamentals of ecoscapes. Since ecoscaping promotes wildlife habitat and biodiversity, you need to apply a variety of techniques to transform your space to be eco-friendly. You can choose to ecoscape your yard gradually over time or all at once.

The process involves taking the best solutions available to improve the look of your home while making a positive impact on the surrounding environment. Focus on the following strategies:

  • Use natural products rather than artificial decorations.
  • Add trees that require less use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. For visual appeal, select plants that flourish in different seasons. Try to group plants by light and water needs for ease of maintenance. Also, protect your new plants from wind, heat, and weeds.
  • Create trellises and decks that best fit with the land. Add soil barriers that keep ground soil intact so as to reduce erosion, runoff, and leaching.
  • Utilize hardscaping. Use neutral pavers and detail tiles to construct paths to explore, beautiful place for patios to rest on, and driveways for spacious parking.
  • Invest in a self-contained water reservoir or a rainwater harvesting system. Save water that comes naturally into your garden. This water can be used to fill ponds and fountains, water plants, wash cars or any other task that doesn’t require treated water.

Ecoscaping involves selecting species that serve both ecological and aesthetic functions, as well as using natural products instead of artificial decorations. It boosts productivity while lessening the undesirable impact on the environment.

Overall Benefits of Ecoscapes

  1. Less Water Usage

Ecoscapes promotes economical water use. When compared to traditional landscaping, ecoscaping can save you at least 50% in water use.

  1. Improve Productivity

Ecoscapes improve the productivity of your garden because they attract a number of pollinators that frequent your backyard. When you make the right plant choice, birds and insects such as ground beetles and ladybugs will return the favor by pollinating your fruits and vegetables. The plant you choose should also provide enough shelter to these insects to thrive.

So, which fruits and vegetables can benefit the most from ecological landscaping?

  • cantaloupes
  • watermelons
  • pumpkins
  • cucumbers
  • eggplant
  • tomatoes
  • hot peppers

While some of the above fruits and vegetable can depend entirely on self-pollination, you will have better yield when these crops are surrounded by insects.

  1. Wide Variety of Plant Selection

Your new eco-friendly backyard doesn’t have to depend entirely on desert plants. The climate and growing conditions in North America can support new varieties of conventional landscape plants that do not require any chemical support to survive, so they can fit modern ecoscapes.

Apart from traditional landscape plants, there are also easy-care plants that can add interest and color to your ecoscaping project. These include most varieties of lantana, daylilies, as well as some juniper varieties.

  1. Easy to Maintain

It is easier to maintain ecoscapes than conventional landscaping because it requires less mowing, weeding, and watering.

There are many indirect benefits of ecoscaping for both your home and the environment. Green walls and roofs act as filter pollutants and reduce water runoff. As such, they can increase the lifespan of your roofing system.

Sustainable and eco-friendly landscapes such as ecoscapes can improve your outdoor experience. If you are interested in learning more about ecoscaping, give us a call today. Together, we can make your backyard both beautiful and eco-friendly!

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Porches and Patios 7/6/2018

Summer is here and you know what that means. The weather is warm and you can finally relax a bit. This is also the perfect time to consider adding a renovation to your home to even better enjoy the season. A porch or patio can be the perfect way to entertain your guests and enjoy time with your family outside. Both porches and patios add great charm and value to your home, but which one is better for you?

The Porch

The addition of porches to houses dates back all the way to the ancient Romans and Greeks. Generally, a porch has a roof and sometimes have two or more sides. A porch opens to the outdoors. They can be attached anywhere on the home; the front, side, or back.

The Patio

Alternatively, there is the patio. Patios are similar to porches. They have also been used in the southern United States and other parts of the country for many decades and offer an area of the house to help you enjoy the outdoors. Patios are not necessarily attached to the house and they may or may not have a roof. Patios offer an outdoor area to entertain where you can enjoy the weather without being too detached from the house.

The Benefits of Porches

Adding a porch to your home can benefit you greatly. A porch adds extra space to the house without directly expanding it. Most porches are big enough to accommodate extra furniture; sofas, tables, etc. They can also serve as a mudroom of sorts. Let your kids’ sports equipment and outside toys air out on the porch instead of bringing them into the house. Another benefit of porches is that they add a line of defense against burglars and crime. Most criminals are deterred by light and well-lit areas. By keeping your porch lit and secure, you can reduce your risk of a home invasion. Adding screens and bug lights to your porch can give you as well as your friends and family the chance to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about pesky flies and mosquitos. Because of the covered nature of the porch, it also allows you to enjoy the summer warmth in rain and shine.

The Benefits of Patios

One of the best parts of adding a patio to your home is the space it provides for entertainment. There’s nothing better than a backyard BBQ or just dinner with the family on your outdoor patio space. Patios make entertaining fun and easy. Because they are such a popular addition, they are often sought out by home buyers, and can overall greatly improve the value of your home. When creating a patio, you have many options. Patios can easily be designed to be aesthetically beautiful and pleasing to the eye, which will bump up your curb appeal. Generally speaking, patios are simple and cheap additions. The investment to add a patio to your home can pay off greatly in the long run as it boosts your overall home value.

Minor Drawbacks

It is important to keep in mind that each structure also brings their own set of drawbacks. One factor is the price; a patio can be a much more expensive investment than a porch which is something you may want to consider when choosing between the two. It should be noted that this varies from home to home, and you should request an estimate on both before choosing one. In regards to maintenance, a patio may require more of your time and attention as it is exposed to the elements. 

Choosing an Addition

Both porches and patios can make excellent additions to your home space. Choosing which one is best for you will depend on a multitude of factors. Are you using this space to entertain many guests? Or just for you and your family? Do you want to be able to sit in direct sunlight? Or is coverage from the elements more important to you? Your porch or patio should complete the vision you have for your home. If you have questions or would like to learn more about these additions, contact Ohio Valley Group Today. Together, we can figure out what home addition would be right for you!

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What are Home Irrigation Systems? 6/8/2018

Irrigation systems are artificial methods of watering plants. Changes in weather conditions globally have led to severe water shortages that have forced farmers to regulate or control the amount of water given to their crops. Controlled water consumption ensures that the plants get the required nourishment leading to a healthy and speedy growth despite water shortages. It also prevents waste because watering only happens when it is necessary. There are many different types of irrigation systems such as drip, sprinkler, manual, center pivot and sub-irrigation.

The method you choose should depend on plant types and their water requirements. It may also depend on the personal preferences, budget, and desired results. Irrigation systems are not just for farmers but also for homeowners who would like to maintain the beauty and ambiance of their landscape. Odds are that in your yard you may have a variety of plants including flowers, trees, and shrubs. These will require regular watering and care, especially in the hot upcoming summer.

Before choosing the type of irrigation for your landscape, you should first talk to a professional landscaper. Note that every climate zone requires different accommodations. It is also important to factor in the type of soil in your yard. Some soil types keep and absorb water better than others. If your garden has a sandy soil, you may need to water more often while a clay soil will require moisture less frequently. It is also important to consider water availability in your area.

What is the importance of irrigation systems?

Irrigation ensures plants get enough water when natural resources are scarce and allows plants to thrive despite lack of rainfall. Here are a couple reasons to consider adopting an irrigation system for your yard.

Irrigation Improves Productivity

Because of their consistency in water, crops growing in irrigated lands tend to thrive better and produce more than those that rely on rainfall alone. It’s possible to enjoy a green and beautiful landscape all year round and not worry about changes in plant health caused by water shortages.  

Relying on rainfall is unpredictable-you can never be sure how often your plants will get the hydration they need. Subsequently, if it rains too often your plants can suffer as well.

Some soil types cannot handle too much water but require low quantities at regular intervals. Controlled water supply ensures you take care of the soil and plant needs leading to predictable and positive. Without adequate rainfall, seeds may not germinate on time. Irrigation can eliminate these uncertainties and give your plants the precise sustenance that they require.

Irrigation is also more efficient for your water bill. Hosing down your garden can easily lead to overwatering, which neither benefits your plants or your wallet. The precision of irrigation will help you to ensure that water is not wasted.

It Promotes Variety and Conserves Soil Minerals

You can plant both perennial and seasonal crops together with irrigation systems. The system can be tailored to fit each different plants needs, making life possible for all types of foliage. Having a variety of plants in your garden can give it a more lively and overall appealing look. Irrigation gives you more freedom to custom-design the yard of your dreams.  

Without the water supply, plant roots cannot absorb minerals in the soil. However, with too much water added to the environment, nutrients leak out and can no longer sustain the plants. Overwatering can also lead to diseases, mold, and plant rot in your garden. Irrigation is the perfect way to ensure that your plant’s needs are getting met without the risks that come with overwatering. By measuring the ideal water levels for each plant, you’re ensuring a healthy and nutrient-filled environment for them to grow and thrive.

A Healthier Environment

Because of the nature of irrigation-giving each plant their needed water supply directly to their roots instead of mass sprinkling the entire area, it will be harder for weeds to germinate and grow in the area. This will promote the overall health of all your plants and save you hours in the dirt uprooting the pesky things.

Other than beautifying the lawn, irrigation can help you grow your own produce. Foods grown with irrigation tend to be overall healthier and bigger because their exact needs are being met. Growing food at home eliminates toxins and pesticides that are often added by farmers with mass crops. Growing fruits and veggies at home with your irrigation system can be a fun and healthy way to save money and the product will be nothing less than delicious.

Irrigation puts you in control

Irrigation is the perfect fix for your busy schedule. Your automatic irrigation system enables you to water the plants as you wish, ensuring your garden gets the love and care it needs even when you’re out and about. Irrigation timers allow you to pre-schedule your plants watering sessions, making it possible to accommodate to all of their needs without impeding on your day-to-day. If you want to have a healthy garden all year around, irrigation could be the option for you.

The benefits of irrigation systems are numerous and could help transform your yard into the garden of your dreams. If you are interested in an irrigation system or want to learn more, contact the Ohio Valley Group. Together, we can create the perfect yard that’s just right for you!

 

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Guide to Water Features – What’s the Best Option for Your Space? 5/18/2018

The addition of water features to your outdoor spaces can increase the beauty of your outdoor landscaping design and add a welcoming atmosphere for your guests. The harmonious sounds of water singing as it flows along has a great way of relaxing people. We love the ambiance that water features create in an outdoor space. Sitting outdoors listening to a water feature helps you relax and enjoy the beautiful weather. Read our recommendations below to get inspired and find the best water feature for your landscape!

Reflection Pools and Ponds to Promote Relaxation

Are you looking to create a natural-looking, relaxing atmosphere? Still water ponds or reflection pools can offer a perfect place for deep thoughts and intimate conversations. These areas are easy to incorporate into any type of home or business landscape. You can make these pools of water ground-level to mimic natural water ponds, or with stone or brick foundations in yards lacking a natural water spring. Furthermore, these reflection pools or still water ponds look sensational surrounded by lush plant life that can draw in local birds, colorful butterflies and other nearby wildlife.

Waterfalls that Create Outdoor Ambiance

If you have naturally hilly or inclined areas of your backyard, you may want to consider transforming a portion of your outdoor property into a sparkling waterfall. Traditionally, waterfalls offer a striking visual focal point while creating an outdoor ambiance that’s almost bewitching. A skilled and talented landscape expert can make use of natural property high places to add downward flowing cascades of gushing water. This looks terrific with any style of landscape design. You can enjoy these larger water projects from farther distances as well. This is perfect when viewed from indoor picture windows and upper level balconies. It’s a great way to differentiate your landscape from the “average” and make your neighbors envious!

Magnificent Rock Garden Water Ideas

Water Features

If you don’t have the necessary room for a large waterfall, you can still get some of the same inspirational effect by trickling water through a rock garden. These can run gracefully over and through a colorful back or side yard rock garden. Having staggered levels of natural rocks and artistically planted colorful bursts of flowers enhances the feeling of being immersed in a cool, shady forest retreat. Your landscape professional can create an ideal rock garden with a natural-looking water scene, complementing the surrounding scenery.

Low Maintenance Stunning Water Cascades and Other Water Features

Perhaps your outdoor setting is not conducive for any high-maintenance water additions. There are some amazing, easy-to-care-for water focal feature items that don’t require a runoff pond or other water drainage source. Using these outdoor enhancements decreases the safety requirements of larger scale runoff water bodies like ponds and pools. Adding a simple bubbling features even creates more visual depth and water movement.

There are plenty of spectacular water additions that look incredible yet require little maintenance. There are lots of contained water structures made to highlight a backyard patio, deck or pool. Some homeowners have even mixed warming fire features like outdoor patio fire pits or fireplaces with cooling water effects. This type of feature can even be used in yards that don’t have much grass or homes with smaller outdoor patio sites. These come in cascading waterfall-like designs over brick walls, smaller trickling water spout options and even walkways with sprays of overhead water arcs.

Mesmerizing Outdoor Water Fountain Options

Water fountains have always been a popular addition to a backyard landscape. These easy-to-maintain water features come in a wide variety of sizes, designs and colors. Some are elaborate with multiple jet sprays that are motion-activated. Others are less fancy, yet remain eternally elegant in their simplicity. These make outstanding additions to patios, side yards, flower gardens or just about anywhere. Many of the newer models have water saving features, solar powered lights and come in a large variety of design, material and color choices.

Features to Highlight your Pool

Water Features

If you have a beautifully-crafted pool in your backyard, there are many features that you can add to highlight it. You can incorporate waterfalls that flow into your pool, which also serve as a fun place to play in for kids! You can add jets that squirt arcs of water into the air around your pool. Or, your landscaper can create a unique poolside fountain that adds drama to your backyard. Give it some extra flair by adding fiber-optic lighting to help it pop at night!

Water features help you create an outdoor oasis that inspires peace, relaxation, and good conversation. Imagine having a tranquil outdoor spot with a comfortable bench or chair to unwind after a stressful day. Having your own tranquil spot helps you find a refuge from indoor noise and chaos. Adding unique water features can also enhance the appearance of your outdoor living spaces and add intrigue to your present landscape or hardscape design. You may want to consider adding an outdoor kitchen area, warming fireplace, pool, or fire pit, too, if you don’t have them already. Discover the benefits of adding visual beauty and relaxing water sounds to any outdoor space by browsing our design gallery! Or, call us today to discuss your vision and get started on your next landscaping project!

 

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Landscaping Ideas for Smaller Yards 4/18/2018

In most parts of the country, Spring is either here, or just around the corner. It is the perfect time to start thinking about sprucing up your yard. Spring is the time for planting flowers, buying birdbaths, and creating a space for outdoor living.

You don’t have to have a huge yard, though, to have a beautiful one. Today, we will be taking a look at some of the different types of landscaping you can do even in smaller yards, that will give you that beautiful backyard oasis you have always wanted.

Gardens

When people think about beautifying their backyard (or front yard) the first things that come to mind are beautiful flowers. Whether you have a green thumb or just wish you did, gardening is the best way to start landscaping.

Gardening can be a bit difficult, though, for houses or business with a smaller yard. You want the flowers, sure, but where can you put them? One way to pack in more flowers is to split them up. Feel free to choose between one large garden or several smaller flower beds around the yard. You can have some tulips along the foundation of the house, and a patch of marigolds surrounding the birdbath.

Alternatively, you could create moveable gardens, by planting seeds or adult plants in planters. You can buy these at any hardware store, and place them anywhere you want in your yard.

Walkways

Another great way to dress up a small yard is to add a walkway. These paths can lead from the house to the street or lead visitors through the beautiful garden you created. These paths can be made of stone, brick, or other sturdy materials, and can be quickly put in by landscaping experts or even someone with extensive DIY skills. A beautiful walkway has the capability of making a yard look less like just a green space, and more like a sophisticated, well-kept place to commune with nature. walkways

Patios

A patio is an excellent addition to any backyard. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, patios can give you, your family, and your guests a place to sit and enjoy the outdoors. Landscapers can create patios in nearly any shape or size imaginable, which will assure you that it will fit into your aesthetic plans.

Patios can be made out of stone, brick, wood, or similar materials, and are perfect for setting up a picnic table or lounge chairs. Your family can eat out on the patio on warm summer nights, or they can sit and enjoy the smells of fall later in the year when the leaves begin to change.

You could even incorporate flowers and plants into your patio scheme. You could place potted flowers all around, so you are immersed in the sights and scents of nature.

Fire Pits

Another great addition to a smaller yard is a fire pit. These pits can be built into the ground, or you can buy a smaller, bowl-like fire pit made of metal. Fire pits are a wonderful way to bring the family together, because they bring to mind a camping trip, without ever having to leave the city. You and your children can roast marshmallows on sticks over the flames, and add them to chocolate and graham crackers to make some gooey, delicious s’mores.

Fire pits are worthwhile additions to smaller yards because you can get them in nearly any size imaginable. If you have some extra space, you can have a landscape professional install a large, oven-like, and permanent fire pit. If you have less space to work with, you can get a smaller fire pit. These are usually moveable, so you can transport them around the yard or to a new one if necessary.

Ponds

pond landscaping

Smaller yards don’t always have the space for a pond, but sometimes even a small pond is a possibility for your backyard oasis. Ponds are a great feature for all ages, and they encourage wildlife to visit your yard.

You can plant flowers around the pond, or you can even find plants that grow exclusively under water. Your family will love to watch the fish, and some frogs may come and make your pond their home!

If you would like to add a pond to your yard, be sure to check your city’s regulations. Also, it may be best to leave this one to the professionals. Digging a deep hole in your yard could be risky for someone who hasn’t done it before!

If you have a smaller yard and would like to try one of these ideas, contact us today, and we can help you get started.

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Will Late Frost Kill My Spring Landscaping? 3/16/2018

As soon as Spring is here, plant-lovers can hardly wait to tend to their flowers or plant new ones. Ohioans are familiar with mild Spring weather with temperatures ranging from the 50s to the low 60s. However, a few times during spring these ideal temperatures are subject to seasonal disorder, and frost ensues. For plant-lovers looking forward to seeing their spring landscaping in bloom, this is frightening news. Necessary measures are needed to ensure your plants aren’t caught off-guard when Ohio weather brings late spring frost.

Will Late Spring Frost Kill Spring Blooms?

It is possible for plants to become damaged or even killed as a result of spring frost. These factors depend on the type of plants, time period of frost, age and the varying levels of frost, which range from mild to severe.

spring flowers

When frost occurs in fall or winter, plants have a higher chance of survival because they have become acclimated to colder temperatures. However, in the case of late spring frost, plants that have already gotten used to the warmer weather are thrown a curveball when they are hit with frost.

A light frost may cause minimal damage while a severe frost may kill plants. Young, vulnerable plants are much more susceptible to a light freeze, which occurs when temperatures are 29 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while mature plants may only suffer from short-term effects.

Temperatures from 25 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit constitute a moderate freeze and can damage even some plants that are resilient. Lastly, a severe freeze occurs when temperatures dip below 24 degrees and can cause the most damage to all types of plants. Freezing is even more dangerous when the soil has a high moisture content.

When plants are hit with frost, varying types of damage can occur. Leaves may have discoloration and holes, and sometimes buds may die. You may also notice signs of dieback, the process of a plant beginning to die in one area like the roots. Death spreads from one area to others. However, sometimes a plant can recover from dieback, depending on length and type of frost and its ability to bounce back.

Which Flowers Are the Most Resilient to Frost?

To reduce the chances of your flowers undergoing trauma due to spring frost, you can choose to plant flowers that have better resistance to cold weather. Perennial plants are popular when it comes to landscaping as they are resilient. These flowers don’t die during the winter; they have roots that become dormant in the winter and then begin to regrow in spring. They’re also easy to care for.

Below are some of the hardiest perennial flowers for Ohio weather:

  • Daylily: This flowering plant is named accordingly since when it blooms, it’s only for a day. However, the daylily produces an abundance of scapes, so it still has enough blooms to last from late spring until fall. These perennials are super hardy, and after winter they reemerge to continue the one-day blooming process. Opt for the Lady Scarlet or Stella de Oro for even longer blooming time.
  • Peony: This aromatic beauty will bring a bright and colorful presence to your landscape. They come in rose, white, purple, yellow, red, coral and pink and have vibrant green leaves.
  • Penstemon: This one comes in a variety of colors and can be found in deciduous or evergreen varieties. The penstemon produces long tube-like flowers that attract hummingbirds.
  • Ajuga: This small evergreen perennial shows its rich burgundy foliage year-round. It’s one of the hardiest flowers you could plant. Also known as bugleweed, the ajuga plant only needs a half day or sun and doesn’t need to be cut back due to its small stature.
  • Echinacea Purpurea: Also known as coneflower, this flower is native to the midwest. Commonly known as a natural cold remedy, this herbaceous plant can add purple delight to your garden. Even more, they attract butterflies, tolerate drought and resist deer.

How Can I Protect Flowers From Damage?

If you have flowers that are not perennials or certain perennials, especially sprouts and younger plants, that need protection, you can use the following tips to protect them from frost:

  • If it’s feasible, bring plants indoors.
  • Water before the frost to prevent desiccation. The water will also act as a barrier from the frost.
  • Cover plants with old sheets, plastic, tarps or blankets. Be sure to hang your choice of cover over stakes or some other frame so that the material is not touching the plants.
  • You can also use warming lights to add just enough heat to prevent them from frost damage.

Final Thoughts

Spring landscaping can be easier and yield healthier plants when you carefully consider how they will fair during cold weather. Certain types of perennials (not limited to those listed above)are hardier than others. Non-perennials should receive the most care since they are more vulnerable to frost damage. By following the above tips, you are on your way to an aesthetically pleasing garden come frost or sun.

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How Can I Use the Vision Planner to Start My Landscaping Project? 3/12/2018

Most homeowners know that their property could use a little sprucing up, but the job can seem so complex that you don’t know where to begin. Don’t worry, The Ohio Valley Group can help! We are a landscaping company that specializes in designing and executing landscaping for residential and commercial properties.

What is the Vision Planner?

We know how hard it can be to put landscaping ideas into words, so we came up with the convenient Vision Planner that provides us with the information we need to help you. The Vision Planner is essentially an online form with questions that help you think about what you want to do with your space. Most of the questions are open-ended, enabling you to type in exactly what you want. There are also a few multiple-choice questions when the range of possible answers is finite, such as whether or not you currently have an irrigation system. 

vision planner

The Vision Planner also asks for your contact information, so we can discuss anything the questions didn’t address.

How Will You Use Your Landscape?

Next up is a series of questions that basically amount to “How will you use it?” If you regularly entertain a large number of people at once, we need to take that into consideration when making design choices. Likewise, any special events you have coming up may dictate what you want to be done and when you need it completed.

What are the Important Features for Your Landscape?

After that, the Vision Planner asks questions intended to help us determine important features. For example, what areas would you like us to focus on? Does your property have any special maintenance needs we should know about? These questions help us visualize your property and see what would work best for it from a design perspective.

Then, we ask questions pertaining to your likes and dislikes. We need to know if you love a particular color or material so that we can include it in your final design. We also need to know if you dislike any specific colors and materials so that we know to avoid them. The Vision Planner also inquires about your tastes in plants, including whether or not you are interested in the gardening on your own to maintain certain species.

What is Your Budget for Your Landscaping Project?

Finally, the Vision Planner addresses a few business things. For instance, we need to know your budget and how you came up with it. This helps us determine what we can do for you without exceeding your financial means. We also ask if you have any master plans, floor layouts, experience working with designers, and pictures of designs or features you like to get to know you and your property a little bit better.

It may seem like a lot of work, but most of our clients have fun filling out the Vision Planner. It helps them visualize what they want while opening their minds to new possibilities. Once you submit the form, we will contact you to discuss the design and determine how to move forward.

The Vision Planner helps us learn about your needs, desires, and personal style before we touch your property. We are committed to exceeding your expectations, and the Vision Planner is a great way to start off strong!

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Landscaping CRM Software: One of the Tools We Use to Delight Customers 1/31/2018

There are many elements that go into making a company great. This includes responsiveness, customer engagement, provision of accurate timelines, and other aspects of excellent customer service.

It’s often the inner workings of a business that determine how they respond and interact with their customers. In other words, if a company has good systems in place, it allows them to be better for their customers, and to get more done in an efficient way.

landscaping CRM software

But how do you know if they do?

We know that it’s not exactly easy to understand what’s going on behind the scenes at any given company. You want to feel confident that the landscape company you’ve chosen has systems in place. You also want to know that they are using these tools in order to keep you in the loop. But you’re not exactly sure how to know if they’re doing just that.

That’s why we’re peeling back the curtain and giving you a peek at the gears of our company. We’re giving you a look at some of the tools we have implemented to make us run better—and in turn to provide you with better customer service.

At The Ohio Valley Group, we’re always looking for ways that we can improve our operations in order to provide the best possible customer service. Here are a few ways we do just that.

Using Landscaping CRM Software for Better Customer Service

An essential tool in our toolbox is landscaping CRM software. We have implemented a comprehensive software system that helps us to run the business. This is a tool that you don’t see, but that makes a big difference in how our daily operations run. You may have heard of CRM software, or “customer relationship management” software, which covers a vast range of applications and is designed to help manage customer data, among other functions.

So, why exactly does any of that matter to you?

Well, landscaping CRM software helps us in many ways that directly impact you. Let’s look at a few of them.

Tracking Jobs

CRM for landscapers helps us stay on top of jobs, ensuring that everything remains on track and the job gets done on time. It also helps us ensure that we always have necessary materials in stock so that we never run out of a needed material in the midst of a job.

By keeping such a close tab on jobs, we are also able to answer any questions that our customers might have, in real time. If you call the office and inquire about something on your job, we can look up your information immediately and know exactly where things stand.

Future Service Suggestions

Landscaping CRM software also helps us to provide a comprehensive summary of the work you’ve had done and to suggest services that you may not have had done but might want in the future. We’re able to keep close track of our customers’ needs so that we can do a better job serving you. If you mention a service you might be interested in later, we can make a note of it and check back with you in the future. Your wants and needs are never forgotten as we are closely managing them in our database at all times. This is more efficient than the company that scratches a few notes down and forgets about them.

An Accurate Timeline

Landscaping CRM software also helps us to provide clients with an accurate timeline. That’s because we can tell you exactly how long it will be until we can get to your job. There’s nothing worse than being told “we’ll start in two weeks” when it’s really more like “two months.” But some companies truly do not have a good sense of their timeline because they aren’t using software to plan out and track their jobs. That’s something that we are completely on top of.

Continually Improving for You

Though you may not be able to see exactly what’s going on behind the scenes of a company, strong systems show through when customer service is at its best. That’s exactly what we aim for.

These examples are just a few ways that our company is using behind the scenes tools to better serve customers like you. As a company, we believe that it is our duty to continually find ways that we can improve our business to better meet your needs. Technology has been one such solution. CRM for landscapers has helped us to streamline our business and to become more responsive to customer needs. The more in touch we can be with our clients, the better we feel we can serve them.

At the end of the day, that’s really what we’re all about—top-notch customer service. We’ll continue to find ways we can offer it by improving existing systems and striving to be better.

The choice is yours. You could choose a company that doesn’t have good systems in place, and pay the price with a lack of customer service. Your project could grind to a halt because materials were not accurately accounted for. The company could also forget specific requests that you had about your landscape or future services that you might require since they aren’t keeping close tabs on their accounts.

You’ll likely find it’s simply not worth the risk. Choosing a company with a landscaping CRM software will benefit you with the excellent customer service that you receive.

Find out how we can over-deliver on our promises! Feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help you achieve and maintain a beautiful property!

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