Ways to Reuse Fall Leaves

20131024_145636_Boones Ferry RdIt’s that time of year, the temperature is dropping and the sunshine is beginning to be replaced with endless rain showers. Soon, the leaves will begin to turn, offering a colorful palette of autumn hues for us to enjoy. That is until they start to fall. Those who have mature trees on their property understand that the novelty of falling leaves is short lived when it’s time to start the cleanup process. The trees that provided cooling shade only weeks before now shed a seemingly endless torrent of yard work. Soggy piles of leaves begin to dot the neighborhood, debris bags become lawn decor and the once beautiful yard becomes a storage space as they wait for yard bins to be emptied. But it doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore, here in the Northwest we are masters of recycling and reusing and there are some fantastic uses for those colorful fall leaves.

3 Ways to Reuse Fall Leaves

  1. Mulch – When most people think of mulch the first thing that comes to mind is bark chips but the original mulch just so happens to be fallen leaves. Using leaves as mulch around the garden help keeps moisture around the roots of your plants and returns nutrients to the soil. Additionally, leaves help insulate the ground and offer an effective weed block.
  2. Compost – Brown leaves make an excellent addition to a compost pile especially when combined with grass clippings and other green waste. Earthworms absolutely love eating leaves and their casings help create a rich compost perfect for soil amendment. Chopping the leaves with a mower or yard vacuum will speed up the decomposing process and save a tremendous amount of space.
  3. Leaf Mold – Leaf mold is another type of amendment that can be added to soil and supplies nutrients and moisture. To create your own leave mold simply pile the leaves up and let them decompose on their own similar to a compost pile. Unlike typical compost, leaf mold is low in nitrogen, but because it can hold up to 500 percent in it’s weight in water it truly shines as a moisture retainer. It can take up to a year to fully decompose, but chopping the leaves can help speed the process.

Hopefully this bit of information has inspired your Northwest recycling spirit but if not, All Oregon Landscaping can help.  We provide many services to get you through the season including regular maintenance or one time clean up and are committed to providing you with the best options for your space and budget.  Give us a call for a free consultation

Get a Head Start on Next Year’s Outdoor Living Space

The Summer of 2015 came fast and doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. Even though BBQ season seems destined to linger, the kids will be back in school very soon and autumn will officially begin in less than a month – can you believe it? Though the warm weather will probably continue into October, the trees will eventually change color, the winds will pick up and the leaves will begin falling in what may seem like a never ending torrent of yard work. The time that was spent enjoying the sun turns into cleanup and summer fun will officially be over.  For many, this means unfinished projects and plans are shelved until next season. Thoughts will turn indoors to upcoming holidays and the outside space will be forgotten until next year. If you are one of the people who find the summers to be too short to bring to life your outdoor living dream, All Oregon Landscaping believes that you don’t have to wait to start the work on next years project. Fall is the perfect time to begin the process. Here’s why.

3 Reasons to Start a 2016 Outdoor Living Space Now

  1. You’ll get extra attention from landscape designers – Spring and summer is the busiest time of year for landscape companies with multiple projects happening and a lot to coordinate. Fall is the time when we can provide a little extra attention to planning a project for the next year since there isn’t as much going on outside of the office.
  2. This is when the summer clearance sales are happening – Saving money is always nice and if you are a savvy shopper you can pick up some brand new items at significant savings compared to what you’ll pay at the beginning of next season. Additionally, you’ll save time next spring and be better prepared to start your project.
  3. Planning is the longest part of the process – Whether you have a specific idea in mind or are still trying to figure out what you want, the fall and winter months give you plenty of time to get all of the details just right. When you work with All Oregon Landscaping, a landscape design expert visits the property and finds out what you are looking for and helps create a plan that works best for the layout and budget. If you want an outdoor living space designed for entertaining, a relaxing retreat or an urban farm we can come up with the most feasible options and start getting ready to make your dream a reality. When the time comes to break ground, everything will be in place to quickly get your outdoor living space ready to enjoy.

Here are a few selected pictures of some of our favorite outdoor living space designs.

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All Oregon Landscaping works in Portland and all of the surrounding areas including Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Oregon City, Sherwood, Tualatin, West Linn, and more. Give us a call to get your 2016 outdoor living space project started this fall.

How to Harvest Vegetables – Don’t Waste Precious Produce!

400px-Black_Pearl_PeppersFor those who love growing their own vegetables, spring and early summers are spent working the soil, planting rows of seeds and keeping them watered during the hot, dry spells. At the end of summer when the hours of labor have resulted in a beautiful and lush garden, the challenge turns from maintenance to harvesting the bounty. This is when many of us seem to have the most trouble. We’ve all been there: one day your zucchini are the size of a baby’s thumb and overnight they seem to go through a time warp and explode into a monster squash. But it’s not just the zucchini. A few days of not checking the garden can result in overripe food which means the time spent nurturing the garden has also been wasted. The trick to keeping up with the deluge of produce is the same as what it takes to create it: a good plan.

Plan Ahead to Harvest Vegetables at their Peak

The best source of harvest information is right on the seed packet. Because there are so many different varieties of most every vegetable, there isn’t going to be an all-encompassing answer for any one type. Certain green beans have the best flavor when they are five to six inches while others should be picked at fifteen to eighteen inches. It will also depend on when your vegetables were planted. Seed packets usually show the approximate days to harvest, a number that many gardeners use when planting to determine if they still have enough time to grow. Hopefully, you’ve kept your seed packet, but if you haven’t you should still be able to find the information you need online. Companies like Burpee have some great resources available to know when to harvest vegetables.

Keep a garden journal and record the date you plant each vegetable and when it’s due to be mature. You can keep a traditional book or folder which is also a good place to store the seed packet for later reference. There are also several great apps for your tablet or phone which can set reminders for you. If you failed to keep seed packets and have forgotten when you planted your vegetables and what type you planted, you can still keep up with the harvest but you may not get your veggies when they are at their peak, depending on which cultivars you have. When it looks like it’s close to harvest, the best thing to do is make a habit of checking your garden every day and picking any produce that is ripe. This will not only ensure that you’re not letting anything go to waste, but also encourage the plant to continue producing.

Looking for something more specific on how to harvest vegetables? Take a look at a few past articles we’ve written:

How do you manage to stay on top of your garden harvest? Feel free to share your stories with us in the comments or on Facebook.

DIY Yard Games for More Outdoor Fun

Big jenga is fun for all, DIY yard games
Make your Jenga whatever size you like!

In the Northwest we try and spend as much time outdoors as possible during the summer. Whether it’s cooking and enjoying an outdoor kitchen and dining area, or relaxing alone or with friends outdoors, we love enjoying the sun and warm weather. If you want to kick up the outdoor living a bit, try these easy and fun DIY yard games.

4 DIY Yard Games for More Summer Fun

2×4 Jenga – A simple and easy outdoor game for all ages. Simply cut 2x4s into 48 10 ½ inch pieces. If you don’t wish to cut them yourself, most lumber yards will cut them for you for a small fee. After you have your pieces, be sure to sand the edges and any rough spots to make them easy to slide. Stack three by three, alternating the direction of each row, and you have a giant Jenga set. Setup the big Jenga on a small table and invite some friends over for the fun.

Giant Checkers – A huge checker board made from concrete step stones can be a seasonal or permanent fixture in the yard for outdoor summer fun. A standard checker board is 8×8 so you’ll need 64 squares all together. Simply place them in the designated area in rows of 8, alternating between two colors. For the checkers, you can use paper plates (if it’s not too breezy), paint lids, big rocks or whatever else you can think of for the pieces. Get creative and find something that matches your personality and outdoor decor.

Spray Paint Twister – Spray painting colored dots on the grass is an easy way to set up a yard game of outdoor twister without trying to anchor an indoor game board to the ground. You’ll need white, blue, red and yellow spray paint to create the dots, with each color creating one row with six dots for each color. If you are aLawndart perfectionist you can measure, or just wing it and see what kind of chaos non-perfect lawn twister dots can create!

Non-Lethal Lawn Darts – Well, these are not really lawn darts at all, but the concept is still the same. This is probably the easiest game to make and can be a lot of fun if turned into a
tournaments for big groups. Fill the ends of six old socks with dried beans and tie them off so you have a bean bag with a tail – three for each team. Use hula hoops as your targets. This is a great game to play with younger kids as well as adults who remember the original lawn darts and would rather forego impalement.

What are your favorite yard games? Feel free to share with us on Facebook or in the comments below. Need help making the landscape DIY yard game worthy? Contact us for landscaping ideas or a free quote on your next project.

Jenga Picture By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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.

Create a Drought Resistant Landscape

Every year homeowners try to find a balance between a beautiful landscape and conserving water. With the predictions of a drier than normal summer in 2015 and the lower level of snow melt from the mountains, reducing the amount of water you are using for irrigation is more important than in previous years. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a beautiful space to enjoy the extra sunshine. With a little planning, you can conserve water during a drought and have an outdoor space you love.

Drought Landscaping: 4 Ways to Reduce Water Consumption

1. Plant smart. One of the best ways to reduce the amount of water needed to maintain a landscape is to use drought resistant plants. Native plants are a great start since they are typically low maintenance to begin with and usually require minimal irrigation during a drought. Also placing beds near run off from the home and where moisture tends to gather is another way to use what is already there to your advantage.

modern pub shed with pool table
Backyard pub shed

2. Create more outdoor living space. Why sit on the grass when you can sit in a cozy chair on a beautiful patio or have a cold beverage in your pub shed. Minimizing the lawn, which takes a lot of water to keep green, and using the area for outdoor living simply means you have less foliage to maintain and a beautiful area to relax, cook and enjoy the sun. When considering drought landscaping, think outside the plants.

3. Using hardscapes to fill space. Well placed natural stone or rock gardens can be beautiful focal points to a landscape and best of all, they don’t need to be watered. Combine with a few drought hardy plants and keep the water bill at a minimum. Wider pathways and larger flat stepping stones among low groundcover also add a sense of importance to an area.

4. Better irrigation. While a broadcast sprinkler and hose is easy to set up and let run, it’s also inefficient and easy to forget. They water everything regardless of whether it’s growing or not and can promote

drought landscaping - use an app to control water shut off
Rachio let’s you control irrigation from your phone.

the spread of fungi that can damage plants. There are many alternatives that make it very easy to irrigate with little waste including in ground irrigation and drip systems that focus the water where it needs to be. They can be set up on a timer so there is no chance of forgetting and turning your yard into a swamp. They can also be combined with smart timers that can be controlled from your phone so if you are away from home and it rains, you can shut it off from where ever you may be.

Need help with drought landscaping that saves water and helps keep your home looking its best?  All Oregon Landscaping is here to help. Our award-winning landscape designs transform a thirsty yard into an attractive, useful,  and eco friendly space you’ll never want to leave. We work in Portland and all of the surrounding areas, contact us for a free quote and we can have your drought resistant yard ready soon.

Pub Shed – Originally covered by Daily Mail.

5 Landscaping Trends for Oregonians in 2015

From fashion to food, trends are continually evolving and people are always looking for what’s hot and new. The world of gardening and landscaping is no different, and we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with what’s en vogue. Here are our 5 favorite landscaping trends for 2015.

5 Landscaping Trends for Oregon

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  1. What’s for dinner? –  Double-duty gardens have been on the rise in the past few years. As younger gardeners take to the hobby, the popularity of urban farming has significantly increased. Planting edibles in the place of traditional, inedible flowering plants is the perfect blend of fashion and function. How about a raspberry hedge? Or eating an apple in the shade of the tree it was plucked from. If you like flowers, nasturtiums have always been popular, but have you tried borage?
  2. For the love of pollinators – Hummingbird feeders are nice, but a butterfly bush is prettier. Homeowners are opting for flowering plants that attract pollinators. In addition to the joy of seeing the birds, bees and butterflies in action, pollinator plants are also great for the environment and local eco-system. Plus, they’re pretty. There is nothing more “Oregon” than helping our environment thrive.
  3. Taking it all outside – Every year, outdoor living spaces become more and more elaborate, and why not? Oregon has beautifully mild seasons that allow plenty of time to be spent outside. Why go inside to prepare part of your meal when you can have all of the conveniences of an indoor kitchen outside? Prep surfaces, small refrigerators, and burners can now be seamlessly incorporated into outside spaces. With modern outdoor living design, there is little you’ll need to go inside for.
  4. It was here first  – Homeowners and gardeners are discovering the beauty and variety of native plants, many of which are also edible. Some even have medicinal properties. Native plants promote natural wildlife, help prevent the spread of invasive species, are resistant to disease and pests, and are generally low-maintenance. These give people more time to enjoy their outdoor living space. Native landscaping isn’t confined to just plants. Local stones are also being used as focal points in beautiful landscape design.
  5. Using the space above – As home lots become smaller and more people are enjoying gardening, space is at a premium. Vertical planting is gaining popularity, from pergolas that support shade-providing vines to fence and wall planters designated for herb and flower gardens, creative ways to maximize space continue to pop up everywhere. An added bonus? Vertical gardening naturally minimizes damage done by many pests, such as slugs and snails.

Are you looking to update your yard or garden with the latest in landscaping trends? All Oregon Landscaping specializes in all landscape design elements, from outdoor living spaces to gardens, both edible and decorative. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

By Phil Sellens (Flickr: Borage (Borago officinalis(2)) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Bee Photo By James Petts from London, England (Bee on flower) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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

The Latest Back Yard Trend? Pub Sheds

Pinterest is blowing up with pub sheds! What is that you say? Imagine a nice, well-built shed outfitted as a personal lounge complete with beer taps, comfy chairs, a television, and anything else you can imagine to make your backyard life buzz! We’d love to add a pub shed to our next landscape design, and it seems entirely fitting because we work mostly in the Portland area. Believe it or not – Portland has more breweries than any city in the entire world and finding some amazing beer for your pub shed is an easy task. Need some ideas to get the inspiration engine running? Here’s a few of our favorite pub sheds found on the good old inter-webs.

Envy These 5 Pub Sheds

  1. Go Big or Go Home. Yes, this pub shed offers a pool table in the backyard! What we love about this pub shed design is the indoor/outdoor nature of it. It includes, a pool table, jukebox, cinema system and bar at a cost of roughly $22,000 (converted from British Pounds). While we realize this design is probably a bit much for some – it is great for those “go big or go home” types out there. Originally covered by Daily Mail.modern pub shed with pool table
  1. Rustic is Just Right. This design brings nature a bit more into it but offers a distinct charm. Functionally, it also closes up in bad weather, protecting bar stools and bottles. Originally found on Cloud House.25f5b29f40e93194ff5ca024e415d96a
  1. Personalized Pub Shed. This highly personalized pub shed is a perfect addition to a smaller yard. Little touches like the hanging dart board and the sign make it an inviting place to hang out. Originally found on Reader Sheds.75d43bf62b6081b4ce5e9c11e27296fd
  1. Open for Business. This design looks like it could be out on the streets of Portland, not tucked away in a backyard. Is this the next big thing after food carts (we doubt it)? However, we love this simplistic design that is focused on function. Originally found on Unique Garden Sheds.484777977be9c0a767535934f0c51964, pub sheds in Portland
  1. More Fun with Multi-Purpose. This is a well designed space that can be used as a pub shed or place to pot plants or other yard crafts. The slanted roof will drain nicely so that even during rainy Portland winters this space could be a nice respite. The movable table offers a slew of options when using this space. This is a great compromise between pub shed and outdoor kitchen. Originally found on Gardenista.84578832909e39d8f9d2d25c16cb959c, pub sheds

Pub Sheds For Any Yard

The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to creating your own pub shed. Style it however you like by going either full on “man cave” or dialing it back creating a multi-use space that doubles as a bar for yard parties and barbecues. It is all up to you.

Now that we’ve poked the bear – call us to add a pub shed to your landscape design. Need a complete yard overhaul (and a pub shed?), that’s no problem either. We handle all landscape design elements, be it boulders, fountains, outdoor kitchens, gardens, or pub sheds anywhere in the Portland area.

 

Choosing the Right Tree

Intimate Spaces and choosing the right treeIt’s almost spring, and lots of families are starting to consider spring planting and yard renovations. Thinking about a new tree for the yard this year? Part of our job is to help homeowners design a landscape that looks beautiful now and 10 years from
now, and choosing the right tree(s) is a big part of that. Whether or not you are hiring a landscape company for major changes or just planting a single tree, here’s our expert advice on choosing the right tree.

A Little Research Pays Off

If you just plant any tree willy nilly, you could be in for big problems in the future. Start by taking a nice walk around your neighborhood to see what sort of trees the neighbors have. Notice what is growing well and what trees may be stressed. Do you want a low maintenance tree or one that flowers in the spring? Use the power of Google to find out what trees grow best in our part of the country. After your research is done – use the following to eliminate trees from the list until you have the perfect tree selection(s) left.

The Big Question – Deciduous or Evergreen?

As residents of Oregon, we live in a unique part of the country, where many varieties of trees don’t lose their leaves during the winter months (AKA evergreens) and provide a bit of color to the otherwise gray wintry skies. Pine trees are beautiful, but can also be too messy for some. A pool full of pine needles is no one’s idea of a good time. Consider the mess before choosing an evergreen.

Deciduous trees drop all of their leaves during the winter months sometimes leaving a bleak looking yard. Despite, they are still ideal for those that would like shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Think about how a tree with a full canopy of branches and leaves will affect the vegetation under the canopy. Will the grass underneath get enough sun? Will other plants and shrubs still find the needed sunlight?

Size Matters

This is the most common mistake we see among homeowners who’ve chosen their own trees. Thinking about the future is critical. Planting a growing tree too close to the house will almost guarantee that the tree roots will start damaging your foundation in a few years. Sidewalks suffer from the same issue. All are expensive problems to correct. Prevention is key. The Arbor Day Foundation provides a comprehensive basic spacing guide that you can refer to for advice when selecting the right tree for your property size and type.

Water is Essential  – So Don’t Take Any Risks

Grown, established trees have the ability to regulate water intake with the water available. With new and growing trees it is necessary to water precisely in order to promote a healthy root structure. A healthy root structure will keep the tree stronger, preventing damage from wind and storms. Researching and including the watering needs of a potential new tree will pay off in the long run.

Some Trees are Fast, Some are Slow

Take into account the length of time it will take the tree to reach its full height. If you are impatient – don’t pick an Oak. Fast growing species, like Poplar, tend to grow about 2-3 feet a year. Another thing to consider; slow growing species usually have a longer lifespan. Whether you want a fast grower or something slow and steady – there are lots of options.

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Out Expert Advice

Even after reading all of this, if you are still unsure about choosing the right tree – give the experts a call. We design bountiful, intricate, and beautiful landscapes everyday – so our experience pays off when it comes to tough tree questions.

We’d love to see your newest tree additions. Share a photo with us on Facebook or in the comments!