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.

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.

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.

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!

Creating a Pet Sanctuary in Your Yard

192116_10150103320887466_7303622_oWhen creating an outdoor living space it should be comfortable for everyone. If pets are a part of the family, they will certainly be sharing the outdoor area, and if their needs are not considered during the planning stages it could become a stark battlefield between owner and pet. Without clear boundaries, dogs will claim the entire space, which could mean holes in the lawn and plant beds. Don’t have a digger? Even the most well-behaved pets will likely cause a dead patch or two. Instead of fighting with your dog, create a place in your yard that is a sanctuary to your dog (or other pet) as much as it is for you.

Create a Pet Sanctuary – 4 Things to Think About

  1. A water feature with the dog in mind. When a dog needs water they’ll look to the closest supply. Creating a low to the ground, pet-friendly water feature designed to allow the dog a drink (but maybe not a swim) adds beauty to the yard while keeping your dog hydrated and happy.
  2. Pet containment. Choose a fencing or dog house material that fits your style – chain link is an effective barrier but not always the most attractive. Post and wire is a great alternative to chain link and can actually become a feature of your yard with the right plants and design. Picket fence is another wonderful fencing that separates outdoor living spaces without being burdensome in height. Keep in mind this would be best used for smaller dogs and pets that aren’t jumpers.
  3. Beware of toxic plants and chemicals. Many common plants can be poisonous if consumed by dogs. Rhododendron, Hosta, Ivy and Lily varieties, just to name a few. In addition, if you choose chemicals to control plant and/or animal pests, they should be used with extreme caution where dogs or other pets have access to them. Many can be fatal to pets.
  4. A specified pet area. If you want to leave the yard open, providing pets with a space of their own can help keep them from the areas that would otherwise be damaged by their regular activities. A designated potty area can keep lawns spot-free and clean up easier. If your dog has a tendency to dig, allow them a space where it’s ok, or create a doggy sandbox complete with closable lid. A shelter or a shaded area is also important to keep them from digging under plants in an attempt to keep cool in the warmer months.

All Oregon Designs Landscapes (and pet sanctuaries too!)

i-r7HkBVm-X2Need help planning a yard that is right for everyone in the family?  All Oregon Landscaping is here to help. Our award-winning landscape designs transform dull, useless yards into fun, attractive, and useful spaces you’ll never want to leave. We work in Portland and all of the surrounding areas – just ask!

Contact us for a free quote and we can have your  dream yard ready before summer gets here.