A Few Christmas Tree Reminders

Holiday_4

Looks like Oregon is in for another successful Christmas tree season, still reigning as the #1 supplier of Christmas trees, despite a national shortage as reported by CNBC. While we are all for bringing a bit of the outdoors in, there are a few things everyone needs to remember to celebrate the season safely. Otherwise, you may end up in the next YouTube Christmas Tree FAIL compilation. No one wants to be the lady in the high heels. Follow our Christmas tree safety tips to avoid an unexpected holiday fire.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

Keeping a Christmas tree fresh and moist is the secret to safety.

  1. Using a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining freshness and minimizing needle loss. Fresh, green trees are also the least susceptible to catching fire.
  2. The base of the Christmas tree should ALWAYS be submerged in water. This too works to prevent fire.
  3. Get the right tree stand. It should be able to hold 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. It also needs to be large enough to hold the trunk without shaving off the sides. The outer layers of the wood are the best at soaking in water and should not be removed no matter what.
  4. Although you may be tempted, don’t put the tree next to the fireplace. It can dry out quickly and become a fire hazard. Same goes for next to a vent or heater. Christmas tree placement is key. Also avoid placing lit candles near the tree.
  5. Using smaller lights helps prevent the death of the tree. Miniature or LED lights are best. Look for cheap LEDs on Black Friday, or seek out an estate sale, I’ve found Christmas decor galore via estate sales, usually in spectacular condition.
  6. Lights out is for everyone – including the tree. Don’t forget to unplug the Christmas tree each night.

Tree Experts – Landscaping, Tree Planting, and more

As Oregonians, we are proud of the Christmas tree industry and support local growers and suppliers. Want a Christmas tree you can plant when the holidays are over? Give us a ring and we can help you figure it out. We are experts in plant care, maintenance, landscape design, and more; working in Portland, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Hillsboro, Oregon City, Gresham, and more. Give us a call to talk about your landscaping needs.

What to do With all Those Apples: Make Homemade Cider!

800px-Apple_orchardLong before the pumpkin spiced latte became the fall drink of choice, the beverage that signified the start of autumn was apple cider. It dates back to at least 55 BC when the Romans first arrived in England and discovered the people there enjoying a drink made form the apples that grew plentiful in the region. This beverage is made from the juice of apples that have been crushed in a cider or fruit press, a machine that is rarely seen today but was once commonplace. While it’s certainly easier to head down to the local market and pick up a jug of cider, there is something satisfying about homemade cider and if you happen to have an apple tree, it’s a great way to use those apples before they go to waste. Best of all, you don’t need to track down a cider press to do it. Here is an easy and fun way to make your own, with equipment you already have or is easy to find.

Easy Homemade Cider with Spices


The best cider comes from a mix of tart and sweet apples. If you don’t have a variety in your yard don’t worry, you can supplement with some from the local supermarket or farmstand. Ultimately, it’s up to your personal taste, if you like sweet cider, use all sweet apples or if you have only tart
apples and don’t want to buy extra, you can always add sugar.

What you’ll need for 1 gallon of homemade cider:

  • 18 – 20 appleshomemade cider
  • 1-2 Cups of sugar (optional)
  • 4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 30 Allspice Berries
  • a large stock pot
  • spice bag
  • big spoon
  • potato masher
  • strainer
  • cheesecloth

Instructions for Making Homemade Cider

  • Wash the apples, quarter them, place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Be sure your pot is big enough to hold everything with about three to four inches of space at the top. If you don’t have a pot big enough, you can cut the recipe in half or do it in two batches.
  • Tie the cinnamon and allspice in a spice bag and place in the pot.
  • Boil for an hour, be sure to check often and gently stir each time.
  • After and hour, taste a little to see if it’s sweet enough. If not, add the sugar and stir.
  • Cover, turn the heat to low and let simmer for two more hours.
  • Remove spice bag and mash the apples with a potato masher and let cool. You can speed up the process by placing the pot in an ice bath if you are impatient.
  • Line a strainer with doubled up cheesecloth and pour the mixture through it into a large bowl. Use the cheesecloth to wrap the pulp and squeeze out any remaining cider.

You now have homemade cider! To store, simply keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week and enjoy hot or cold.

What is your favorite thing to do with the apples from your yard? Do you have a different, or superior apple cider recipe? Feel free to share with us in the comments or on Facebook.

Creating the Perfect Shaded Outdoor Kitchen

Nicely detailed pergola and outdoor kitchen area by All Oregon Landscaping.
Nicely detailed pergola and outdoor kitchen area by All Oregon Landscaping. See below for how to fill a naked pergola.

Oregonians on the western side of the mountains love their short-lived summers. It’s the few months out of the year that we get to enjoy the benefits that the long rainy season brings: lush, green outdoor spaces, everywhere you look. Cooking outside is something to try and squeeze in as much as possible, especially if your home lacks air conditioning. But when the temperature reaches the upper 90s several days in a row, cooking outside can be equally uncomfortable, especially if you don’t have a shaded outdoor kitchen area.

Ideas for a Shaded Outdoor Kitchen

Pergolas – One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of outdoor shade is a beautiful wooden pergola covered with vines. While these permanent structures can be weekend projects, it will still be a couple years before the vines provide sufficient shade. If you’re planning on entertaining in your outdoor kitchen between now and 2017, don’t let that deter you from building one. Tacking wide strips of canvas to the beams is a great way to provide shade and add a bit of personality to your naked pergola while you wait for the vines to take over. Indoor/outdoor fabric curtains can be incorporated for added privacy, and strings of outdoor lights in the spaces between the strips can add just the right amount of class to carry the party into the evening.

Sun Screen Fabric – A quicker solution for creating great shade is hanging sun screen fabric. This fabric is specifically designed to block UV rays, breathes well and holds up to moisture. It can be used with other structures such as the previously mentioned pergola, be fitted into a frame, or hung in sail-form by itself. It may take a bit of prep and planning to get it looking right but the applications for sun screen fabric is limited only by your imagination.

Awnings – For another more permanent option, awnings are a good value and can look great if installed correctly. Canvas awnings can be stationary or retractable and come in many styles and colors. Retractable awnings tend to last longer since they are protected from the elements in the fall and winter months. Stationary awnings can also be made from wood, metal, or a combination of elements that fit in with nearly any decor.

Umbrellas – If you don’t have a lot of space to cover, standard patio umbrellas provide easy shade for tables and small corners. Many outdoor tables come equipped with a hole for mounting

Patio design is essential to creating effective use of space in your landscape or garden.
Great use of an umbrella.

or you can buy an umbrella stand. If you are trying to create a shaded outdoor kitchen, a larger, free-standing umbrella might be a better choice. Umbrellas are a good option if you need a quick fix that is easy to self-install and are not yet ready to take the plunge for a more permanent fixture.

All Oregon Outdoor Shaded Outdoor Living Space.

A shaded outdoor kitchen can make hot days not only bearable, but enjoyable. With a cool cooking area to entertain family and friends outdoors, you might find yourself giving the indoor kitchen a summer vacation! With the right plan, your shaded outdoor kitchen may even be able to continue to operate into the fall and winter. If you’d like help planning and creating your shaded outdoor kitchen, feel free to give us a call.

conserve water

Conserve Water and Keep the Garden Green in Portland

800px-Garden_hose_pistolWith the temperature hitting the triple digits in Portland early this year, keeping your outdoor space looking its best can be a challenge – especially when you are also trying to conserve water. If you planned ahead and worked in a drought resistant landscape this year, congratulations! You will certainly be ahead of the game. For the rest of us, the hot, dry weather will require a little extra irrigation. Creating a well-thought-out watering plan can keep your plants green while also keeping your water bill down.

Ways to Conserve Water, Money, and Your Plants by Watering Smart

  1. Mulch Organic-based mulches such as tree bark offer many benefits to plants, when applied properly. Among other things, mulch helps to retain water in the soil surrounding the plants. A good mulch helps conserve water by keeping it from evaporating out of the soil, which allows you to water less frequently.
  2. Moisture Gauges – If it’s moist don’t water it. Moisture gauges are very useful during hot, dry periods because they can tell you if the ground is moist below the surface. They are very easy to read and a quick test in the areas that were last watered can tell you if more is needed. Moisture gauges can also tell you if you’ve watered enough.
  3. Timing – Watering in the morning when it’s cool is the best time to conserve water, especially when it’s going to be hot. This helps keep the water from evaporating before soaking into the soil. Early watering also makes it easier for the plant to take up the water throughout the day. Watering in the evening or at dusk increases the risk of fungus forming during the night when the warm, wet environment is ideal for its growth.
  4. Choose Your System Wisely – The wrong watering setup can make it or break it. A broadcast sprinkler is the best way to waste water and drive up your utility bill. Much of what is sprayed is evaporated before it soaks into the ground or carried off as mist, watering areas that don’t need it. A hose and nozzle is a better option, since specific areas can be targeted, but it takes a lot of time to make sure each plant receives enough moisture and it has to be done manually. A drip system or a set of soaker hoses are the most efficient, delivering water where it’s needed at a speed that can be easily absorbed into the soil.
  5. Don’t Over Water – Most plants only need approximately 1 – 2 inches of water a week. Of course this all depends on the plant, but that information can be found on the plant tag that came with the plant or online. Too much water can cause root rot and soil compacting which is just as bad as under-watering. If you are worried about your lawn turning brown, just remember that most grass is quite drought tolerant. Brown grass is most likely dormant so don’t panic and water like crazy. Combining a soaker system with an irrigation timer is the most efficient way to ensure that your plants get just enough water, at just the right time. For lawns, half an inch, twice per week is all that’s needed.

Do you need help creating a plan to keep your outdoor space green while conserving water? All Oregon Landscaping not only designs beautiful outdoor spaces but offers a regular maintenance service that can get you and your plants through the hot summer. We can also help you install irrigation systems and show you how to program your timers to keep the yard beautiful while still ensuring that you are doing your part to conserve water. If you have any water saving tips we’d love to hear them! Feel free to share with us on Facebook or in the comments section below.

Outdoor Lighting Portland – What you need to know

Pacific Northwest residents treasure the time they can spend in the outdoors after the rain and before cold weather returns. With summer right around the corner and the warm weather already here, people are spending more time enjoying the outdoors. For many, the evening can be cut short due to the lack of adequate lighting and on hot days, just after the sun goes down is often the best time to be outside. A well lit yard can offer a whole new space for entertaining guests, a beautiful place to relax and can maximize the time spent enjoying the summer.

The Basics of Outdoor Lighting Portland

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The best time to create a plan for outdoor lighting is at dusk. Go outside just as the sun is setting, but before it is completely dark. This is the time when you can get an idea of how things are going to look when the entire space isn’t fully illuminated. When planning outdoor lighting placement, there are three types of lighting to think about:

  • Task – Task lighting is lighting that has a specific purpose. Lighting along a path or a light over a sitting area where you like to read are good examples. Solar lights can work well since they don’t need to be very bright, but just need to give off enough light to get the job done.
  • Overall – This is used for larger areas such as an outdoor living space under a pergola where more than just the ground or a small space needs to be lit.
  • Accent –  Accent lighting is used to “decorate” the outdoor space. It is typically used to illuminate a favorite plant or water feature that normally wouldn’t be seen in the dark. This type of lighting gives a dramatic feel and can set the mood for the space.

Be sure to draw a picture of your yard and make notes on where you’ll likely spend your time. Find a few your favorite features whether it’s a tree or a pond and place them on the map. Be sure to add the paths, especially the ones that will be used in the dark.

Outdoor Lighting Portland and All Oregon Landscape

Whether you have an idea of what you want or have no desire to plan your own outdoor lighting, the experts at All Oregon Landscape are happy to help. We can make your vision come to life or create the ideal lighting layout for your space. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

How to Keep on Top of Yard Work

Maintenance, yard work scheduleIt’s that time of year again. The time when our yards spring to life with beautiful colors and textures. There is so much to look at! There is also a lot of maintenance to to be done. If you want to keep your yard looking its best – without getting overwhelmed by it – here are some great tips to keep in mind while trying to stay on top of your yard work.

Tips and Advice: Why not make a yard work schedule?

Your yard is part of your home, and we all want to treat with as much care, but finding the time to make that happen can be difficult. Creating a yard work schedule can help you keep your yard looking its best, and also keep you from getting overwhelmed with the workload.

  1. Know your yard – Understanding what your yard requires is the most important aspect of creating a yard work schedule. If you know what your yard needs are, you can better equip yourself for its care and upkeep. Keep the tools and products you need on hand and easily accessible (not in the back and bottom of the shed or garage) so its not a chore to get to them. Once you have your yard work arsenal assembled, you will be able to attack any yard task, no matter the size.
  2. No need to do it all at once – Time is something most of us wish we had more of but alas, 24 hours a day is all we get, so use it as efficiently as possible. If you have a calendar app that you are comfortable using – pre-schedule yard work tasks throughout the week, that way it doesn’t all get shoved to Saturday, then Sunday when it doesn’t get done. Give yourself one major task per day; Mowing Monday, Trimming Tuesday, Weeding Wednesday, etc. – it can be a great way to get outside and enjoy your yard, but not get burnt out on the upkeep.
  3. Reminder apps can save the day! – If you are looking for great way to get organized, reminder apps could be the way to go. If you are an Android user, Life Reminder is fantastic, and if you are on an iPhone, Evernote could help you easily create your yard work schedule. It is always worth perusing the app store to see what else might be out there.
  4. We’re always here to help Lastly, even when we want our yard to be a priority, sometimes you just can’t get to everything, and that’s okay. Cut yourself some slack. Here at All Oregon Landscaping, we are here to help. We offer both residential and commercial upkeep and maintenance. Give us a call and let’s talk about your landscaping needs and divvy it up between the two of us. 1-503-646-6426
Retaining Walls, hardscaping in Portland

5 Important Hardscaping Tips

Create your very own outdoor retreat with landscapings best friend, hardscaping! Hardscaping is “the placement of non-plant elements such as fences, walkways, paving, and lighting in a planned outdoor area.”

Here are some great tips when it comes to taking on hardscaping on your property.

5 Hardscaping Tips from All Oregon Landscaping

1. Do your research.

Research is paramount when it comes to hardscaping your yard. There can be many unforeseen setbacks in the world of hardscaping, and most of those setbacks have to do with lack of planning, and lack of drainage. Google can be a trusty friend when it comes to questions you may have about hardscaping your yard, and don’t hesitate to ask us either… this is what we do!

2. Drainage is key.

Making sure you have proper drainage for your design is crucial. Without proper drainage incorporated into your design you can run into issues over time. Flat surfaces such as patios, if not drained properly, can have issues with water pooling that can lead to big problems over time. We found some great tips on drainage and hardscaping on this Ask Fountain blog.

3. See the big picture.

Even if you plan on only hardscaping one area, consider the entire space. Houses aren’t built one room at a time, and your outdoor space should be given the same consideration.

As with any type of design, it is important to work with the space you have, and not the space you wish you had. No matter what – be sure to keep those curves. Outdoor spaces are a wonderful opportunity to embrace the imperfect nature of…nature! Using organic lines and curves is an easy way to work with the space you have instead of feeling like you need to carve a space out.

4. Try not to take on too much.

Hardscaping can be tricky business. Boulders, pavers, and fences, oh my! Being a do-it-yourselfer is great, but knowing when to call in the professionals is also important. Don’t get in over your head, and if you do, don’t hesitate to call up the experts. You won’t be the first person to realize their DIY project wasn’t so DIY friendly after all, so don’t be embarrassed – it happens a lot!

5. Don’t forget the green.

While there are some parts of the country where greenery can be tricky, Oregon is not one of them. Be sure to incorporate greenery and plant life into your hardscaped space, its a great way to add interest and drama to your design. Here are a few of our favorite landscape designs that showcase some great ways to do it.

And most importantly, this is your space and it should make you happy. If you know you like sleek and modern, stick to it. If English garden is your thing, go for it. We can’t wait to see what you come up with! Share your hardscaping adventures with us on Facebook or in the comments, and happy hardscaping!