Yardsmart: Artificial turf grows up

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              When watching a fantasy film, you suspend disbelief and become part of an impossible happening. High-tech special effects can fool the brain into accepting a whole different reality. When my practiced eye was fooled by the new artificial turf, I knew it had finally come of age. I am not an easy sell. When the first “plastic grass” came on the market decades ago, there was no way to suspend disbelief. It was obviously fake. The earlier products denied oxygen and moisture exchange to the soil underneath. It literally smothered to death, losing vital microbe populations. We also found that trees could not survive within the fake grass because the roots died. Water would pool on the surface if the ground underneath wasn’t perfectly graded. And then there was the wear and tear of kids and bikes and pets. Today’s artificial turf is a whole different animal. It’s made of space-age materials resistant to traffic and extreme UV exposure. The foundation fabric is permeable so water can move straight through and oxygen exchange is free. Colors are more accurate, too, with variations that match every region’s specific grass types, so it blends in with the living lawns nearby. In the West where the land is dry and the climate rainless for much of the year, thirsty grass lawns are rapidly being exchanged for these new products. In this hot, arid region and elsewhere, too, this material expands your landscaping opportunities. In the past, hot pavement has made it impossible to add turf-grass bands into paving to break it up with a cooler color. The problem has always been heating of the concrete during the day, which dries out the adjacent soil and burns grass leaves. At night the absorbed heat is radiated back into the soil so these strips of turf never find relief during summer and fall. The other problem is irrigation. To make grass or any other matlike plant grow in slots, you must ensure that enough water gets to the super-heated roots every day. With so little soil surface for water to flow through, it’s not easy. Getting deeper penetration is quite problematic. Enter the new artificial turf, and a swanky design trend has emerged. New homes and remodels are featuring patios, walkways and driveways with inset bands of turf in paving. Designers are creating gorgeous patterns of strips and grids and latticework. Now you can do this, too, for more-lush appearances in areas that are paved. This also helps rain penetrate a patio to reach subsoils without runoff. In areas where Environmental Protection Agency LEEDS regulations require that all drainage remain on site rather than flowing into the storm drain, artificial turf is a perfect solution. When these spaces are filled with fine gravel, it’s a maintenance problem keeping all the pebbles in place. If you use artificial turf, there is no maintenance and it looks greener overall. When turf is used to replace a larger lawn, you save
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Pick A Palette for Your Picture Perfect Project

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I’m thrilled to find this collection of landscape style palettes that really helps to convey what you want to your designer or contractor. Take a look at these selections and download them to your wish book for a current project or one you plan in the future. Why reinvent the wheel when it’s already done for you here
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Cutting Edge Modern Ideas FREE

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http://www.landscapingnetwork.com/ I was so excited to discover a wealth of MODERN patio and garden ideas by clicking on “photos” in the top title bar of Landscapingnetwork.com-then go to the categories and peruse hundreds of incredible examples of work by top designers. Lots of other styles there too, of course, but you’ll find outstanding built projects in both mid-century modern and Bauhaus modern all at within this one convenient location.

In Lieu of Lawns

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Just like politics, everybody talks about losing the lawn, but few propose practical and attractive alternatives. The best lawns to replace are at smaller homes, where the alternative must above all, take into consideration the needs of the resident user. That’s why this is the first of many examples I’ll be exploring in the coming months to help you better understand what to do in lieu of your lawn. Here’s a great example of how the lawn can be phased out to create a series of smaller planting spaces amidst a field of pea gravel. This food and flower garden uses simple wood edging and natural soil, which is a far more economical than raised beds. You can still walk through it just as you could across the old lawn, so the change doesn’t interfere with your site-wide circulation. That makes this a really practical choice. This kind of layout with geometric beds in an attractive pattern is an old French idea known as a parterre.

Modern Mayan Garden On A Budget

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Rethink common home improvement store items into cheap but cool garden design ideas. Inspired by the glyphs on Mayan temples, I made cardboard templates to spray paint ancient symbols onto ordinary $2 stepping stones. It can be done in more potent colors with virtually any tribal design. The little towers are made out of square concrete slump blocks designed for constructing columns. We stacked them, pounded scrap pipe down opposing inner corners and deep into the soil to stabilize. The interior cell was packed with gravel for drainage. The top twelve inches was filled with potting soil to support the golden barrel cactus on top. Planting towers wit no concrete, no mortar.

Backyard Wedding Makeovers FREE download eBook

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There’s only 120 days until peak wedding season 2010!  If you’re planning to tie the knot at home, download a copy of my FREE full color eBook Backyard Wedding Makeovers at http://bit.ly/BackyardWedding This easy to apply guide is designed for cash strapped homeowners, renters and gardeners who want to get hitched at home or have the reception there. Plus, it’s equally good for rehabilitating the backyard for a party or special event of any kind. Tips tell you how to disguise eyesores. Find out how to arrange elements for optimal visibility. Discover flowers in keeping with your wedding color scheme so everything is coordinated. And say your vows under a beautiful flower decked arbor for picture perfect wedding photos.