Neighborhood Know-How: Gardening Ideas

By Brooke Chaplan

If a front yard is looking a bit more prosaic than a homeowner would like, there are some things that can be done, for not as much money as one would think, to liven it up. Show off your front yard to the entire neighborhood. Here are a few gardening ideas to think about.

Plant Some Stepping Stones

Well-placed stepping tones are attractive to any walkway, and can guide the eye toward the house, or a place in the garden or yard that the homeowner wants noticed. Flagstones can be bought at the garden center and should be at least one and a half inches thick and just about equal in size. Another option is to use concrete pavers. Though it’s admittedly a job of work, all that’s needed are the stepping stones, a couple of bags of rough sand, chalk for a chalk line, a garden trowel, a level, a shovel, and a garden hose or two for a trial layout.

Add An Arbor

An arbor is another bit of hardscaping that delineates the various rooms in a yard. It’s also attractive and is perfect for climbing vines. Some of them are wide enough to accommodate benches. As with the stepping stones, the homeowner can build one him or herself or can hire the services of a landscape artist.

See to the Trees

Sometimes all it takes to make a yard look fetching is to prune the trees. Pruning not only gives shape to the trees, but is good to encourage growth in a particular direction. It removes dead wood, and allows light and air to circulate. Trees that are diseased or dying should be taken down, especially if they threaten to topple over onto high wires, the homeowner’s house, or the neighbor’s property. The good thing about taking down a sick tree is that it can be replaced with another. A homeowner might choose a new tree for its fall foliage, fruit, its beautiful spring flowers, or all of these.

Light It Up

Landscape lighting is not only esthetically pleasing, but is also a safety feature. Low voltage lights in the yard can be installed in only a few hours. Sometimes all they need is to be planted in the ground and connected. If there’s no electrical outlet nearby, an electrician can be called in to install one. Many types of landscape lights direct their light downward, but others direct light up to cover a wider area and some can be adjusted to do both.

As seen here there are many ways to draw the eye to your outdoor garden and front door. Just take some active measures to find a ways to create interest at little cost to you. If you want a low-maintenance look, never forget the importance of adding color with a few flowers. In no time you will have the yard of the year.

Family Orangeries

sunroom - orangery

Photo by Herry Lawford

When you get to a stage in life where you are looking to start a family you might be worried about space, have you got enough space for yourself and your children? Will there be places for when visitors come over? Where is everything going to go? A lot of people panic about such questions and resort to measures as drastic and costly as moving home in order to find a larger property that will accommodate all of their needs. This isn’t the only available option to you however.

The easier and far cheaper decision would be to invest in a sun room (orangery). First of all you have to understand that a conservatory and an orangery are different; an orangery uses a building structure with wood or brick and builds an extension to your home but features very large windows making it a large and open space. A conservatory however uses all glass (the full length is glass connected with UPVC or wood). An orangery provides you with an easier space to insulate, a room that will basically act like an additional room of your home and they are often bigger than conservatories, meaning you can use them for just about any purpose.

If you still want to be able to entertain guests, even after you have children you might want to think about providing a separate space for the children. Turning your lounge into a playroom and using it to store all of the toys, books, DVD’s and children’s items that you will no doubt accumulate in multitudes. You can then use the orangery as an adult lounge with lots of light and a private space just for you and your guests. Or even sending the children to the orangery and having the lounge or living room to yourself.

Of course even if you do plan to continue growing your family and using up the space in your home when it is time to move on the orangery will provide a little extra value to your home. It is possible to just about make back what you spend on the orangery from the sale of your home in later years, which makes them a great investment. Not to mention the list of purposes they have, whether it becomes a dining room, a second living room, a playroom, an office or just about anything else it will provide you with additional space which can offer both living space and storage space and you gain an enjoyable extension from it.

Orangeries are designed to save on heating and provide a lot of light, the sunlight coming through the double glazing during the day will provide heat, the double glazing and UPVC insulation will keep the heat in during the day and the night and it is very easy to fit blinds to keep the sun and extreme heat out during the summer. Not to mention your orangery will usually have a door leading outside into your garden, this provides excellent ventilation during the summer and will actually encourage children to play outside, sparring your home from their games. Having a tiled orangery also creates a break between the garden and your home which will prevent dirt from being trailed inside. Most would agree that an orangery provides a perfect addition to a family home.

About the Author:

Kate is a keen writer who enjoys writing about home improvement.  She has a particular interest in gardening and the Blenheim orangery.