When it comes to designing a lawn, garden, patio or other outdoor feature the sky’s the limit. For many, one of the biggest questions is what sort of materials will be used. Cement sculptures and brand new everything is great, but if you’re feeling eco-friendly or looking to bring a little extra nature into your outdoor retreat, consider incorporating any or all of these gorgeous materials.
Rocks, stones and boulders
Stones come in every shape and size, from tiny gemstone-like quartzes lining a garden path to giant towering boulders lending their natural beauty and as shade to humans and plants alike.
Take a few moments to think about what kind of effect you would like to achieve:
For an open, airy look opt for flat stones and pavers to line your paths and walkways, or try incorporating them instead of standard bricks in raised garden beds. For a wilder look, consider including large boulders as statement pieces or as elements in a waterfall, fountain or other water feature.
Pebbles and Sand
Somewhere between the two extremes of sand and boulders are pebbles and gravel. If this word conjures images of sharp driveway stones poking into bare feet, you’re not alone, but worry not. Opt for naturally smoothed pebbles like river or beach rocks, or go crazy exploring colors and textures. Nature’s palette is virtually endless.
Meanwhile, sand has been used as a landscaping feature, and even centerpiece, since time immemorial. Create a meditative zen garden, construct a fun play place for your little ones or capture the feeling of a sandy beach between your toes in your own backyard.
Recycled planks and driftwood
One of the quickest ways to add some character to any bench, deck or walkway is to utilize recycled planks instead of brand new, featureless wood from the hardware store. Save trees and your pocketbook by buying this secondhand, and see the character this material develops over time.
Another great design piece is driftwood. Nature has shaped and smoothed wooden branches into unique and beautiful sculptures- and best yet, each one is one-of-a-kind.
In centuries past, keeping a garden or landscape full of plants foreign to the climate was a status symbol. These days with commercial greenhouses and a worldwide shipping system, growing tropical plants in the midwest is as easy as it is inadvisable; we’re starting to realize how much both we and our environments have to gain by reincorporating native plants that will help the ecosystem thrive.
Any landscaper worth their salt will be able to accommodate this request, or if you’re looking to scope them out for yourself, keep an eye out for growing things that you like in your daily life and bring a photo to virtually any garden center for identification. (Or, if you’re feeling really fancy, try a free plant identification app for your Android or Iphone)
Healthy, well fertilized earth
It’s amazing how much dirt and mulch is needed in almost any landscaping project. Whether it’s filling a raised garden bed, mulching around trees and buildings for weed and water control or growing lush, green grass, the quality of the soil matters.
Many cities and counties run organic recycling programs that allow citizens to donate their lawn clippings, yard debris, unwanted stone and much more. Selling the finished compost and other materials at a low cost is generally how these facilities are funded, so while it won’t necessarily be free, you’ll be doing your wallet, yourself and your community a good deed by sourcing through one of these programs.
(Or, check out our article on eco-friendly composting to make your own!)
Consider location! Different areas contain vastly different natural resources. Try to incorporate things native to your climate for more personality and often a good discount.
Goodwill and the salvation army are by no means the end-all be-all of 2nd hand materials. Check out your local habitat for humanity, or see if there are any centers in your area that give donated, 2nd hand construction materials a second life.
You’re not in this alone. Newberg Landscaping Pros is here for you every step of the way with resources, answers and friendly, professional help. Give us a call or email us today and let us help you create the landscape of your dreams.
Do you know which plants have the best chance of surviving the winter? How about which fruits and veggies will provide their full bounty before the growing season ends? All of this and more can be determined by 3 important pieces of information and a little sleuthing. Read on to see how!