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GardenSMART Episode

Show #47/6608. Backyard Makeover - Sod, Lighting & Containers

Summary of Show

Look At What The Site Was Before
At the beginning yard was a mess. There was a lot of shade back here and it was really unusable. Being able to get in here and landscape and lay this sod has turned it into a space in the home that the family can really enjoy. It's amazing to see how transformative sod is. When looking at what this SITE WAS BEFORE this whole project, it would be hard to imagine the family spent a whole lot of time back here. It looked like their dogs did, but not sure that the family really got to enjoy the backyard.
For More Information Click here

Select The Right Grass
Eric believes it’s very important to make sure you SELECT THE RIGHT GRASS. Like any other plant we would use in the garden you need to know its shade tolerance, its sun tolerance, etc. Beth’s team knew this was a shady site so got the right cultivar. Then the next most important thing is site preparation. Grass is no different than any of the shrubs in this landscape, the green side is up, the root side down, for it to integrate with the native soil. Laying sod on top of hardpan clay is not a good idea.
For More Information Click here

What To Look For In Buying Sod
When we go to a STORE TO BUY SOD, what do we need to be looking at? What's important? Sod is the most perishable live good that's out there, it has an extremely short shelf life. In a lot of cases when you see sod at a big box store, it's been cut oftentimes in the middle of the night. And that's because the soil temperature in those pieces of sod is going to be what eventually makes it rot if it stays palletized. Thus in an attempt at getting the lowest soil temperature possible sod may be harvested at maybe two, three o'clock in the morning.
For More Information Click here

Sod Shipped Straight To Your Home
Importantly if you've got a job where you're going to need more volume it's best to just order it and have it SHIPPED STRAIGHT TO YOUR HOME. That way it can be harvested, then delivered which will cut out additional time on the pallet.
For More Information Click here

Dive A Little Deeper Into Outdoor Lighting
Eric wants to DIVE A LITTLE DEEPER INTO OUTDOOR LIGHTING so he meets Russ Halsey with LDC to discuss the outdoor lighting for this installation. Eric remembers the first outdoor lighting installation he did probably 20 years ago and it was actually complicated. They were burying a bunch of wires that laid in the irrigation trenches. It was just old school. They were set on a basic mechanical timer, it was good for what it was but in short 20 years it's a totally different ballgame. Russ agrees, outdoor lighting is very important for homeowners to accent their landscape.
For More Information Click here

Lighting - What They Put In Here
Eric would like for Russ to talk us through WHAT THEY PUT IN HERE. On this project, they had several small paths they wanted to light up. They put lights from the house over to the outdoor kitchen area and they put several lights in the outdoor kitchen area as well. There is a big fire pit area where they installed a light to shine down so they can enjoy the fire pit at night without any concerns.
For More Information Click here

LED Lights Save A Lot Of Power
With the advent of LED we're SAVING A LOT OF POWER, these bulbs last way longer than incandescents. But now we can introduce color into the landscape lighting, which is super cool. The new technology with LED bulbs makes it possible to go on your app and actually pick each individual light and make it a different color or all the same color. It's so high-tech. Eric would like for Russ to talk through what can be done from the phone. There’s programing that can be done, there's bluetooth technology that your app connects to each individual bulb. Then there's the web-based controller where you go on your app and program the entire year.
For More Information Click here

Containers
Eric asks rhetorically what garden is complete without its fair complement of CONTAINERS? Michael Carr is back with us today to help us pick just the right ones. Michael is an amazingly talented container designer and his designs span almost anything you could imagine in the world of containers. And containers have made such a huge impact in this landscape. Eric would like for Michael to talk through the process of selecting the right container for a landscape. When Michael first started his container business one would select container a or b. He has learned, as the years have gone by, that you listen to your customers. There are a myriad of opinions and choices, things people would like for themselves.
For More Information Click here

Tips For Placing Containers In A Landscape
When PLACING CONTAINERS IN A LANDSCAPE or a garden there are a couple of things we need to think about because now they're sitting on what is an uneven surface or a softer substrate than say our brick patio. What do we need to keep in mind to make sure that we're using them correctly in the landscape? When one puts containers out in the landscape, on soil, and mulch and stuff like that, over time, it's going to settle. So, it’s Michael's recommendation to clean out the area, pack it down, make sure it's level and then put a concrete block or stepping stone or something like that down as a base for the container.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

L.D.C. Landscape Design
Home | LDC Management Groups

Harmony Sod
Harmony – Outdoor Living – A life of simplicity begins with Harmony

Lawn Central
LawnCentral - LawnCentral

Michael Carr Designs - Containers
LawnCentral - LawnCentral

Plant List

Show #47/6608. Backyard Makeover - Sod, Lighting & Containers

Transcript of Show

In this Episode GardenSMART continues to put the finishing touches on an amazing backyard transformation. A lot of work has gone into making this yard a warm, inviting and beautiful haven for relaxation and entertaining. Much of the heavy lifting is out of the way and now we turn our attention to the finer points, the details, that really bring everything together.

One of the most important aspects of making this site perfect was selecting and installing the right turf grass for the lawn. Mark Cohea with LDC is back with us to to talk us through that part of the project. Mark explains one thing that was very important to the homeowner with this design was that this area would be open and usable. They like to entertain back here, they have a bunch of dogs that run around in this area so turf was a very important part of this design. Thus selecting the right turf is very important. There are certain challenges with this site, not the least of which is they've got a fair amount of shade. And that's why Mark went with the Zeon zoysia. It's very shade tolerant, very resistant to diseases and can take heavy traffic better than fescue. Eric feels that when looking at using turf in a design, selecting the right turf has everything to do with the ultimate success of that design. There are a ton of new cultivars out there, grass has come a long way in the last 20-30 years. Now we have cultivars that are very specifically designed for these different, unique situations that we encounter in landscaping. If you know it's going have high traffic, you can find turf that will handle that better. If it's going to be a wetter environment find turf that performs better in wet conditions. So, selecting the right turf for your site is super important, otherwise, it's probably just a waste of money if you put the wrong grass in. Mark comments that there are many options available that have increased in popularity. For example his team is now putting in a lot of synthetic turf that's similar to what the sports fields are putting in. A lot of dog parks are using it, a lot of homeowners are using it, if the area's too shady, they still want the grass look.

There is so much more to turf grass than one might think. Luckily, Beth Verbeek with Harmony Brands is here to help. Eric thanks Beth for joining GardenSMART. He thinks the finished product looks amazing. This has been a huge transformation, no doubt.

At the beginning yard was a mess. There was a lot of shade back here and it was really unusable. Being able to get in here and landscape and lay this sod has turned it into a space in the home that the family can really enjoy. It's amazing to see how transformative sod is. When looking at what this SITE WAS BEFORE this whole project, it would be hard to imagine the family spent a whole lot of time back here. It looked like their dogs did, but not sure that the family really got to enjoy the backyard. And now, it's absolutely a place that the whole family can enjoy. One of the challenges they faced back here is the fact that it was under shade. So Beth’s team was able to come in with a variety of zeon grass that is shade-tolerant and is going to be low maintenance and something that they're going to continue to enjoy for years to come.

This is a fairly large install compared to what many folks might do, but it's actually not as hard as one might think. Although it is a little bit bigger job than many feel comfortable taking on, there's absolutely no reason why one should feel intimidated by a job this size. When folks buy sod the average job size is typically repair of an existing lawn, around 50 square feet. This is a little bit larger than that. But what it really boils down to is just doing a little bit of research into what's good for your area. And you don't have to know the varieties, you don't have to know all that stuff. One can use resources like lawncentral.com that is going to point you towards what's regionally appropriate, how you prepare your site, what you need to do ahead of time, laying the sod itself, and then how to maintain it afterwards to give you that successful experience.

Eric believes it’s very important to make sure you SELECT THE RIGHT GRASS. Like any other plant we would use in the garden you need to know its shade tolerance, its sun tolerance, etc. Beth’s team knew this was a shady site so got the right cultivar. Then the next most important thing is site preparation. Grass is no different than any of the shrubs in this landscape, the green side is up, the root side down, for it to integrate with the native soil. Laying sod on top of hardpan clay is not a good idea. It doesn't mean it can't work, but it's not a good idea. And you want to make sure that you've got really good soil agitation. Many sites would definitely benefit from soil amendments. And you want to make sure that you've got good drainage so the roots can penetrate deep. The deeper into the soil the roots go, the less water you're going to have to ultimately give it. And it will be a more durable turf. So make sure that your site is well prepared and do some basic legwork ahead of time.

There are simple things to consider when installing sod. Make sure that the roots get wet very quickly so water the dirt before you lay the sod down. Tips and tricks like that that are going to help make your sod installation successful.

When we go to a STORE TO BUY SOD, what do we need to be looking at? What's important? Sod is the most perishable live good that's out there, it has an extremely short shelf life. In a lot of cases when you see sod at a big box store, it's been cut oftentimes in the middle of the night. And that's because the soil temperature in those pieces of sod is going to be what eventually makes it rot if it stays palletized. Thus in an attempt at getting the lowest soil temperature possible sod may be harvested at maybe two, three o'clock in the morning. Then, it's shipped to the stores. It's getting there as fresh as possible, but it really needs to be sold and it needs to come to your home, to your yard for you to lay that sod within 48 hours, ideally, after being harvested. In the cooler seasons, which is a little more forgiving for homeowners, one gets a little bit longer window. When you find sod it's okay if it looks a little dry, you don't want to water it when it's palletized. So, if you go to a store and you see sod that looks a little bit dry, that's okay, get it home, get it laid down and get it watered.

Importantly if you've got a job where you're going to need more volume it's best to just order it and have it SHIPPED STRAIGHT TO YOUR HOME. That way it can be harvested, then delivered which will cut out additional time on the pallet. That's one of the things that Harmony is great at, getting fresh, excellent grass to the site quickly and of course, once it arrives, you really want to get it put down as quickly as possible. Absolutely. Water it in, get it laid down, get it watered in, and start enjoying your lawn as quickly as possible.

Eric asks if Beth has any other maintenance tips that we need to think about? Once it's watered in and has good roots going down, it's just a matter of occasional fertilization. Depending upon the grass, you want to wait two or three weeks before you start mowing and there are similar recommendations for fertilizer applications. After that it just becomes a seasonal cadence like you would any other plant.

Eric thanks Beth. She has Eric super excited about turf now. He needs to go home and figure out a place to put grass in his garden.

Mark returns to talk with Eric. GardenSMART has only done a couple of outdoor lighting installations. They've been very, very simple, more just the plug-and-play little solar-powered ones. This installation is a little more complex. Mark will talk us through how this was put together. The objective in this yard was to feature the landscaping. Since the homeowners are investing so much money into the landscaping back here they want to enjoy it at nighttime as well. So one must consider - what areas do they want to highlight, where is the heavy traffic going to be? Sometimes it's best to go with less is better. But it also depends on what you're going to do in your backyard or your front yard. Outdoor lighting adds a lot of security to a house.

Eric feels this project really came together well and he's sure that the homeowners love it. At night it really changes the way that this place looks. This homeowner has TV's outside, they do a lot of entertaining, they have kids, so they've done a lot of path line lights to highlight the steps, even into the woods off the side and a little around the fire pit. Eric opines there's so much investment that goes into a nice garden oftentimes outdoor lighting is something that we don't think about but it really, really makes a huge impact. And it's something that elevates any garden design.

Eric wants to DIVE A LITTLE DEEPER INTO OUTDOOR LIGHTING so he meets Russ Halsey with LDC to discuss the outdoor lighting for this installation. Eric remembers the first outdoor lighting installation he did probably 20 years ago and it was actually complicated. They were burying a bunch of wires that laid in the irrigation trenches. It was just old school. They were set on a basic mechanical timer, it was good for what it was but in short 20 years it's a totally different ballgame. Russ agrees, outdoor lighting is very important for homeowners to accent their landscape. They invest a lot of money in their landscape, so they want to accent it at night so they can enjoy it then as well. 20 years ago, that's all there was - mechanical. One had to go out physically, set the timer and any time you wanted to change it you had to actually go out there and change it. Today, it's progressed to web bluetooth technology and also LED lighting, which is highly efficient and cuts down on power bills. The basics of running wire are still there, they haven't completely gone to wireless yet, but they're getting there. Although many of the basics are still there, the technology side of it has greatly increased in the past 20 years.

Eric would like for Russ to talk us through WHAT THEY PUT IN HERE. On this project, they had several small paths they wanted to light up. They put lights from the house over to the outdoor kitchen area and they put several lights in the outdoor kitchen area as well. There is a big fire pit area where they installed a light to shine down so they can enjoy the fire pit at night without any concerns. They put some lights on the deck shining down into the grass area which will help walking throughout the garden at night, there were several trees along the back of his property that they up lit to enhance those trees as well.

Eric asks when looking at a project and the homeowner is thinking, “I want to basically make this a wonderful nighttime experience," what options are available to them? If you want it done properly get a professional to come out and take a look at your yard. There are several design aspects to take into account. There are a lot of ways to accentuate the architecture of a home with outdoor lighting. They do a lot of uplighting and down lighting to accent the architectural aspects of the home.

With the advent of LED we're SAVING A LOT OF POWER, these bulbs last way longer than incandescents. But now we can introduce color into the landscape lighting, which is super cool. The new technology with LED bulbs makes it possible to go on your app and actually pick each individual light and make it a different color or all the same color. It's so high-tech. Eric would like for Russ to talk through what can be done from the phone. There’s programing that can be done, there's bluetooth technology that your app connects to each individual bulb. Then there's the web-based controller where you go on your app and program the entire year. Say you want one thing for July 4th and you want one color scheme, or halloween when you want another color. You can just program your outdoor lighting with those factors in mind. Eric’s setup is not nearly as sophisticated as the one that we're talking about here, but the lights he has have a little solar panel on the top of them, they're super easy to plug in and they just naturally turn on when it gets dark, it's a meaningful upgrade over what lighting was even 10 years ago. These lights are controlled by the controller itself, not the individual solar panel. And that's more accurate because it knows when the sun sets and when the sun rises.

Where does Russ see the future of outdoor lighting going? Russ thinks that outdoor lighting can be even more efficient, we will have brighter bulbs and longer-lasting bulbs. The garden becomes an extension of a home. Look at this garden, it was a fairly plain backyard that they didn't really use. The garden becomes an extension of the home, but the outdoor lighting allows the garden itself to have an extended range of enjoyment. A garden without outdoor lighting sets when the sun sets. Outdoor lighting makes this a really, really exciting place and it's more affordable than most think. Look what it adds to a garden it's amazing. Russ thinks it's something that every homeowner should look into. Most systems are very affordable. If designed and installed properly they last a very long time, and outdoor lighting helps with the resell of the house as well, it increases the value of the house for the next homeowner. Eric thanks Russ for joining GardenSMART.

Eric asks rhetorically what garden is complete without its fair complement of CONTAINERS? Michael Carr is back with us today to help us pick just the right ones. Michael is an amazingly talented container designer and his designs span almost anything you could imagine in the world of containers. And containers have made such a huge impact in this landscape. Eric would like for Michael to talk through the process of selecting the right container for a landscape. When Michael first started his container business one would select container a or b. He has learned, as the years have gone by, that you listen to your customers. There are a myriad of opinions and choices, things people would like for themselves. He can't just say, "pick this one or pick that one." So over the years he has developed his container catalog, it's over 400 pages of products. He treats this business like a fashion business. When ladies come in the next year, they want to see this or this or this, they don't want to see the same thing. So, Michael creates a lot of options. He frequently has customers ask "what's the most popular, which one is the best?" He really doesn't get into that because it's a personal thing. It's an artistic piece of the garden and people have their own opinions. One person may love blue, one person may love teal. In this particular case the lady with this particular yard loved white and black because it matched the scheme she was looking for.

Michael has like 125 different color schemes, and that's not even counting textures and things like that, there are a lot of options. But when she chose the white, it took him back years ago when everybody in the industry called something white but it really wasn't a white, it was kind of a smoky-looking color. It's not like you can go to a paint store and say, “ Oh, I want it just like this, here's the card, match it up." Glaze is not paint. Michael creates things out of recipes with 12-14 different ingredients, crushes them up, mixes them up, liquefies them, and so forth. With that done you don’t just put them on, instead first decide "how hot do I cook it? How long do I cook at that temperature? Or how slow does the temperature go up and how slow does it come back down?" There are a lot of variables that go into making that pot. With white containers it took Michael about two years experimenting back and forth, trial and error, with not just the recipe of the glaze, but how long to cook it, even how this particular color should be applied. But Michael developed a white for containers, a real white and now that they have it this color is really, really hot in his business. It's a glossy beautiful white that just pops.

Eric enjoys seeing containers in a landscape or in a garden. Oftentimes, we think about the typical ways that containers are used, we think of them sitting on patios, decks, et cetera. He loves seeing containers integrated into the landscape, they provide a focal point for the eye, little pops of color. As Michael said, it's a very individual, personal decision as to what folks want in their garden. But this white really works, you can see it from all the way across the garden, it really, really makes an impact.

When PLACING CONTAINERS IN A LANDSCAPE or a garden there are a couple of things we need to think about because now they're sitting on what is an uneven surface or a softer substrate than say our brick patio. What do we need to keep in mind to make sure that we're using them correctly in the landscape? When one puts containers out in the landscape, on soil, and mulch and stuff like that, over time, it's going to settle. So, it’s Michael's recommendation to clean out the area, pack it down, make sure it's level and then put a concrete block or stepping stone or something like that down as a base for the container. It will spread out the weight a little. If you don't, it's going to do what it's doing right here, which is lean. It's important to take that extra 15 minutes or so, do it right. A cement pad is not that expensive, if properly installed a container will last for a long, long time. Plus it protects so the roots don't go down into the dirt and clog up the pots.

Eric and Michael level several pots and add the base for the containers. It’s incredible what a big difference a little attention to detail makes. Now that we've got these leveled up it's a pretty stark difference. Great work. Michael feels better, he can look at it and feel good about the containers. It didn't take long and will take even less time if you do this leveling step before you put dirt and plants and such in the container because at that point they can be pretty heavy when picking them up, moving them and so forth. So, much has been invested in the container, something that'll last forever and ever, a piece of art, paying attention to little things regarding maintenance makes a difference. Eric comments that leveling is a good tip.

As well containers are a focal point, keeping them fresh and cleaning the outside of the container occasionally really does make a difference. Every time Michael changes plants out he finds that is a good time to really clean the pot up. Or before you're having folks over is a wonderful time to spruce things up a little bit. Thank you Michael.

Eric thinks it’s been a great day. It's amazing to see how much the right turf, lighting, and containers really bring a landscape together. Check with us next week as we continue with the backyard makeover.

LINKS:

L.D.C. Landscape Design
Home | LDC Management Groups

Harmony Sod
Harmony – Outdoor Living – A life of simplicity begins with Harmony

Lawn Central
LawnCentral - LawnCentral

Michael Carr Designs - Containers
LawnCentral - LawnCentral

Plant List

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FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Have your hanging baskets seen better days? It’s normal, by midsummer they are ready for a little TLC to bring them back to their former glory. To learn more click here for an interesting article.


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