3 landscaping problems with easy solutions

  • 3 landscaping problems with easy solutions

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 10, 2016

    A grassy fieldIf you're lucky enough to own a home, you know your yard is an extension of your living space. It's where meals are grilled in summer, and games are played with friends and family. It's where the kids practice soccer and the dog gets exercise. Maybe you even grow vegetables out back. In a perfect world, the yard is an oasis -- a retreat from the outside world. But most homeowner's don't live in the perfect world -- and most have some perennial landscaping problem spoiling the party. Let's look at some of the most common landscaping problems homeowners face, and some solutions to bring the awesome back.

  • Not enjoying your yard due to lack of privacy?

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 10, 2016

    White picket fence around a yard with a hedge

    You're less likely to head out to the patio in your pajamas with your Sunday paper and coffee if your neighbors are doing the exact same thing. Privacy is an important part of a restful retreat. If your yard lacks privacy, you have a few options.

    • Fencing. A fence will provide you instant privacy. Choices abound in privacy fencing, ranging in price from around $60 to $200 per eight foot section, with an added installation cost if you're not a DIYer. It's the most expensive option for privacy, but the quickest and most reliable. If you decide to install a fence, be sure to have any required local permits, and permissions (if applicable) from your homeowner's association.

    • Landscaping. If a fence is prohibitively expensive, or if your homeowner's association doesn't allow it, you still have a solution. Plant a living fence. Evergreen shrubs like English laurel and Japanese privet are fast growers, moderately priced at around $30/shrub, and make easy-to-keep hedges. There are also fast growing evergreen trees, like arborvitae, cypress, and holly, that create an excellent screen. Plant a combination of these, and you'll have the privacy you want, plus a lush green backdrop for the rest of your outdoor activities.
  • Yard issues caused by poor drainage

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 10, 2016

    French drain in a yard

    Who wants to spend time in a soggy yard? Nobody. Mowing is difficult and it's a breeding environment for mosquitoes. if you have perpetually wet areas in your yard, you've got a drainage problem. Here are a couple of approaches.

    • French drain. A French drain is the most dependable way to eliminate large areas of standing water on your property. A large trench filled partway with gravel creates a bed for a perforated pipe. More gravel and landscaping fabric go on top of the pipe before fill dirt and sod or grass seed goes on top. Water in the area will drain through the soil into the pipe, which then runs downhill to its exit, be that a sewer, ditch, run-off pond, or something else.

    • Pop-up drain. If your drainage problem is caused by roof run-off collecting close to your foundation, a pop-up drain can solve the problem. It also involves digging a trench -- from the downspout to a lower point on the property. Corrugated tubing attaches to the downspout and runs along the trench, terminating in a pop-up emitter. That's essentially a pipe cap that pops up as water pressure builds -- releasing the water into the yard, where it can properly drain away.
  • Losing plants to wildlife

    Jennifer Noonan | Improvement Center Columnist | May 10, 2016

    Deer against blue skyNothing's more frustrating than discovering your vegetable garden and/or landscaping has been devoured overnight. Voracious wildlife is a challenge for many. Here are some strategies.

    • Barriers. Create a barrier between your plants and wildlife so they're not an all-you-can-eat buffet. Netting is effective for small plants attacked by birds and bunnies. Protect small vegetables with chicken wire cages. You'll need something bigger to keep deer out; they jump incredibly high. If you build a fence to thwart them, make it eight feet tall, at least. And keep in mind, raccoons, skunks, and opossums can, and will, easily dig underneath a fence.
    • Smelly stuff. Many sprays on the market claim to make your landscaping unattractive to wildlife. It's stinky stuff. And expensive. But some really do work. If that's not in your budget, you can shave or grate strong deodorant soap, like Irish Spring, and scatter it around your plants. If you have dogs, encourage them to do their business in areas that are trouble spots. The scent of other animals, like dogs, will often keep deer away.
    • Resistant plants. Sometimes the easiest way to discourage wildlife from dining out in your yard is to plant resistant plants. Only invest in deer resistant shrubs, and if bunnies are your problem, don't bother planting pansies. While wildlife will eat just about anything when hungry enough, you can at least make your yard less attractive.

    If you struggle with any of these landscaping issues, just know this: You're not alone. No yard is perfect. But it doesn't have to be for you and your family to enjoy it. Love what you have, and little by little, work toward your dream yard goals.