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Bring Your Outdoor Living Space to Life with These Landscape Lighting Tips

Not only can landscape lighting enhance your outdoor space, but it can also allow you to enjoy it into the evening hours or set a specific mood for a certain occasion. Setting up lighting haphazardly and without much thought may illuminate your space, but it probably won’t provide much else in the way of safety, convenience or overall appeal. There are some tips you can use to properly light your outdoor space whether you want to keep it simple or take it to the next level.

  • Decide on your reasons for adding landscape lighting. Is the primary goal to entertain? Create a safer environment at night? Highlight certain parts of the house? You may choose a different approach to lighting depending on what you hope to achieve in your space. However, be sure to cover the basics first – pathways, entryways, driveways, steps and patio spaces.
  • Sketch your yard and decide on a layout. If you go to the store and simply start buying and placing lights, chances are pretty good that you won’t accomplish any of the goals you had in mind. Some things to think about when sketching your plan other than safety and practicality are the views from inside, focal points, sense of depth and ambient lighting versus spotlighting.
  • Determine how complex you want to go with your lighting. Landscape lighting which requires the most effort to install is 120-volt lighting. You’d need a licensed electrician to install these electrical components. Conversely, you could go super simple with solar lighting. There are no cords and the lights just need to be in a place where they get enough sun during the day.
  • Avoid overdoing the lights by positioning them strategically. This can also help reduce glare. Outdoor lighting should be subtle and only decorative fixtures should be visible. Don’t forget to check the lighting from inside the house before permanent installation as windows can affect the amount of glare being seen.
  • Consider longevity by choosing LED lighting options, which are more energy efficient and last longer. If possible, you could also set your lights to a timer. Not only will this make your life easier, but it will help reduce the possibility of a high electric bill when you continually forget to turn the lights off during the day.
  • Be sure to take a step back from your home and see what your lights look like during the day and at night. Not only will this give you a different vantage point for aesthetic reasons, but it can help you see things that you might otherwise miss up close, such as light pollution. You don’t want your lights to be too bright or aimed in a way that is disruptive to neighbors.

In addition to these tips, there are lots of specific strategies when it comes to lighting your yard that can help achieve a specific result. If you have a big outdoor/landscape lighting project that you think could be beyond your expertise, Moscarino Outdoor Creations is happy to help! Trained technicians and designers provide our customers with individual consultations and a custom-designed lighting plan for your property. Call us today at 440-236-9000 or send an email to [email protected] to get started!

 

Fireplace or Fire Pit: Choosing Your Outdoor Fire Feature

As modern outdoor living becomes increasingly popular among homeowners looking to extend upon their indoor living spaces, so does the need for heating elements to keep these areas warm during the cooler months. Even for people who live in warmer climates, outdoor fire pits and fireplaces add an ambiance to your space that you can’t achieve with a primitive bonfire, heat lamps or candles.  However, with the emerging popularity of hardscape fire features comes the element of permanence so choosing which design you want and where to put it isn’t necessarily a quick and easy decision.

Space is one of the first things you should consider when choosing between a fireplace or fire pit. Although fireplaces take up considerably more space than fire pits, they tend to offer less seating – usually only enough room for 1-4 people to reap the benefits of the heat being produced – whereas fire pits typically offer enough seating for 5 or more people as a result of their 360 degree designs.

If you have the space for either feature and you’re still torn on which to choose, ask yourself what kind of atmosphere you hope to achieve in your design. Do you often entertain a large number of guests or will the primary use of your space be mainly for intimate gatherings with your spouse and immediate family? Fireplaces will naturally create a cozier, more romantic environment whereas fire pits encourage more fun and laughter among a larger group of people.

Once you’ve chosen which fire feature you’d like to install, you can then decide between wood burning or gas fueled options. Although wood is easier to install and creates an ambiance that can’t always be achieved with gas fueled options, they also cause a lot of smoke, aren’t considered as safe as gas and may make it more difficult for you to get a license depending on where you live and where you want it installed.

There are other things to consider when incorporating your fire feature into your outdoor living space. Do you want wood storage? If you are going with a fireplace, how about adding a brick oven? Additional hardscape elements, such as seating walls can also be installed to enhance your fire feature and tie it in with the rest of the design. And don’t forget about lighting – the fire feature itself will produce some light, but low-voltage lighting can be installed in or around your fireplace/fire pit to help with visibility.

Whether you choose a fireplace or fire pit, you can be sure that it will extend your time spent outdoors into the cooler months as well as give you a place to create new family memories for many years to come. Moscarino Outdoor Creations offers custom outdoor fireplace and fire pit designs in Northeast Ohio and surrounding areas. If you are interested, fill out a Contact Us form or call us today at 440-236-9000.

 

Simple Tips to Help You Prepare Your Lawn for Fall

As the weather begins to cool down, many homeowners neglect their lawns, but there are some simple steps you can take that will help set your lawn up for success in the spring before winter has even begun.

  • Continue mowing your grass until it stops growing. For the last mow of the season, cut your grass between 1.5 and 2 inches, which is just a little bit shorter than you should have been cutting it during the spring and summer months.
  • When the leaves first begin to fall, it can actually be beneficial to mow right over them. Leaves provide a great source of nutrients for your lawn. However, once they become abundant, it’s time to start raking and dethatching – getting rid of dead plant material from the surface of your lawn.
  • Aerate your lawn to loosen compacted soil and remove any excess thatch. Soil compaction is one of Spring and Fall Cleanupsthe main causes of unhealthy grass because it prevents air, water and nutrients from being properly circulated through the soil.
  • It’s important to fertilize even when your grass looks brown and dead. The soil is still working to absorb nutrients and moisture to make it through the winter. Applying fertilizer in the fall delivers nutrients which allow your grass to grow deep roots now while keeping any excess nutrients on reserve for spring.
  • Early fall is a great time to overseed your lawn since too much heat in the summer can impede grass growth. There is also plenty of sunlight since the trees are beginning to shed their leaves and diseases that attack the seedlings are less active in the colder months. Be sure to continue watering your lawn after you add seed.
  • Remove weeds and any remnants of dead plants. Leaving dead plants in your garden can attract harmful insects and promote the spread of disease in the winter. With perennials, cut away any dead leaves, stems and flowers. You can also mulch before winter to help protect your garden.

Although it might seem like a lot of work during months when you really hope to be getting a break from the landscaping, it can save you time and energy in the spring when you want to be enjoying your lawn. If you’d rather defer to the experts all together, Moscarino offers a number of landscape maintenance services year-round. If you’d like more information, fill out our contact form or call us at 440-236-9000.

Tips for Starting Your First Flower Garden

Planting a flower garden is a great way to add color to your yard or enhance newly installed mulch beds. If you’re interested in doing the gardening yourself, here are some common tips to follow that will help get you started on the right foot.

  • It’s good to go in with a plan, although it’s not necessary to professionally design a full garden, especially if you’re starting small. (However, if you are interested in letting the experts do the work, Moscarino can design and install your garden.)
  • It’s important to pick a spot that receives enough sun. Most flowers need six hours of sunlight each day, although many can still thrive in more shaded areas. Don’t worry too much about researching sun/shade needs of each plant. Most will list this information on the plant tags or you can ask the staff at the garden center.
  • Regardless of where you choose to start planting, the soil has to be suitable for plant growth. Soil should be moist, but have good drainage. It’s probably a given that your soil will need a boost. A quick, easy way to achieve this is by adding a 2-3” layer of compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clippings or old manure. If you dig, you’ll want to till the compost, or otheFlower Gardenr material, into the soil. If you don’t dig, leave the material on the surface and it will work its way into the soil on its own.
  • As a beginner, one of the best ways to pick plants for your garden is to go to the garden center and simply browse around. If something catches your eye, check the label to make sure it will work in your garden’s location according to sunlight requirements. If you are starting small, it’s best to stick to a few plants as opposed to a large variety. Be sure to choose plants that all have the same growing requirements.
  • When it comes to actually planting your flowers, it’s best to water them in their pots the day before you start, but don’t remove them from their pots until the installation. If the roots have grown together, you can break them apart with your hands or use a gardening knife to cut vertical slits through the root system if it is very tightly packed. Pay attention to how deep the pots are – you’ll want to bury the plants to the same depth in the soil. Water your garden immediately following installation.
  • When it comes to maintaining your garden, there are a few tips that always apply. Make sure your plants are getting at least one inch of water each week. Weeding is also important as weeds can damage and interfere with the growth of your plants. When you see dead blossoms, you should remove them in order to promote the growth of the healthy blossoms. Lastly, taller plants may need to be staked to keep them from flopping over.

If you’re finding that one of your plant choices isn’t thriving, replace it with a new choice. Beginner gardening will take some trial and error, as well as time to keep up with seasonal changes your garden goes through. The more you work in your garden, the more you’ll be able to anticipate problems before they occur. Just like any hobby, the most important thing is to have fun with it!

Five Things to Consider When Choosing Patio Furniture

Whether you’ve recently invested in a full-scale backyard redesign or you want to make your existing outdoor space more livable, patio furniture is a great place to start. The right furniture can turn a relatively plain space into a warm and inviting place for your family and friends to enjoy. However, it’s not as simple as going to the furniture store and picking out your favorite pieces. There are other things to consider when designing for the outdoors.

  • High Quality/Outdoor Friendly: It’s important to choose high quality, sturdy pieces that are going to hold up to the weather. Regardless of where you live, each climate and environment has its own challenges. Do you get a lot of rain? Heat? Snow? Choose furniture that is made to stand up against the weather in your area and look for textiles created with all-weather materials (water repellant, quick evaporation, resistant to fading, etc.)
  • Low Maintenance: If you’re the one who cleans in your house, chances are pretty good you don’t choose furniture that’s a pain to maintain for your indoor spaces so why would you choose high maintenance furniture for your outdoor space? Some materials that are easy to care for include most metals, teak and cedar.
  • Comfort: I know, I know…you see a really hip-looking hammock/swing/chair hybrid in that fancy catalog you’re reading and you think it’d be so cool on your deck! Maybe it would look neat, but is it really comfortable and practical? We highly recommend testing out your patio furniture in the store before purchasing just like you would when you purchase any indoor furniture. You might end up lounging outside for hours at a time and I promise you’ll want to be comfortable when you do.
  • Storage/Dual Purpose: Keep an eye out for pieces that have a dual purpose –a bench with a built-in cooler or a table that doubles as a log rack for your fire wood. It’s important to maximize your space outside, especially if you don’t have a lot of it.
  • Match It Up: Don’t forget to keep your house in mind when furnishing your outdoor living space. The bright colors might be fun, but do they look right up against the outside of your house (whether it is paneling, brick or stone)? Try not to choose furniture that clashes with your house…especially if your neighbors have to look at your yard too.

Not everyone loves to decorate. It can be daunting and overwhelming. Once you factor in Mother Nature and possible space restrictions, it makes designing for the outdoors even more challenging.  The important thing to remember is to have fun with it. You can find inspiration anywhere. Once you do, take it and run with it. You don’t have to have a design background to make your outdoor living space a place the entire family can enjoy. If you still need the perfect outdoor space to furnish, call Moscarino at 440-236-9000 or fill out our Consultation Request form to get started. We can help you design your dream backyard today!

What You Should Know About Automatic Lawn Sprinkler Systems

There are lots of ways in which you can maintain your lawn and although we highly recommend calling Moscarino for a full-service lawn maintenance package, maybe that’s just not an option for you this year.  Mowing, weeding, fertilizing, dethatching, pruning, watering – that’s a long list, even for the most dedicated DIYer. Whether you want all of your maintenance needs taken care of or you’re just trying to decide on where your landscaping budget will be best spent, a professionally installed irrigation system is definitely something to consider.

Although it might be a big investment initially, irrigation systems can save you time and money in the long run. That might not seem possible at first, but if you currently manually water your lawn on a regular basis, then a lawn sprinkler system will absolutely conserve water and subsequently save you money. In fact, when watering by hand, 50% of the water use is lost by runoff, evaporation and just plain bad aim. And if that doesn’t sound appealing enough, think about all the time you’ll save battling with your garden hose.

If you’ve decided that you want to have an irrigation system installed, there are some things to consider before getting started and hiring a contractor. It’s important to do your research and choose a reputable, professional, licensed irrigation contractor. Be sure to ask about a warranty, any products they’ll be using and service/maintenance issues. Your irrigation system will need a spring startup and fall blowout each year so you’ll want to find a contractor who can take care of these services, as well as any other unforeseen maintenance issues that may arise.

In order for your irrigation system to be as efficient as possible, be sure it includes a quality programmable controller, a rain sensor and possibly a soil moisture sensor. The controller allows you to regulate when and how long a sprinkler should run including which days of the week, time of day and run time per zone. You should have your system audited periodically and update your irrigation controller according to the audit results.

Once your irrigation system is installed, you can start spending more time enjoying your yard and forget about one of the more mundane lawn maintenance tasks. If you think you might be interested in getting a sprinkler system for your lawn, Moscarino Outdoor Creations is happy to help. Give us a call at 440-236-9000 or visit our Contact page and fill out a Consultation Request form.

How to Maintain Your Concrete Driveway

So, you finally got that new driveway you’ve been in desperate need of for years. But it’s not like the new, lush carpet that you can vacuum when it gets a little questionable or your shiny, wood floor that you can mop after the kids trail mud through the house. As you stand there admiring your smooth, flawless driveway, you may be at a loss for what to do in order to protect your newest investment. However, the reason concrete driveways are so popular is because they need very little care and maintenance.

  • DON’T TOUCH: First things first – if your driveway was just installed, keep all neighbors, pets and children away! It should not be walked on within the first 24 hours. It will take 7-10 days before the driveway has cured enough for your car to be driven over it without causing any damage. Be sure to check with the installers for a more specific time frame.
  • KEEP A CLEAR PERIMETER: Something you’ll want to keep in mind, especially if your driveway is part of a larger landscape redesign project, is not to plant any trees, bushes or other plants too close by. Roots can raise and crack the concrete causing it to break off and crumble. Weeds, however, are a different story. They can’t be stopped and they will be the bane of your innocent driveway’s existence, but you can easily treat them with herbicides and a quick afternoon of weeding because, after all, concrete driveways are low maintenance
    , not magic.
  • CLEAN AS NEEDED: Try not to change your oil on the driveway or do any work with products that can stain the surface. If it does happen, clean the stains quickly with soap and water or any commercial product meant specifically for cleaning concrete.
  • NO SALT: When the winter months come along, it’s actually best to avoid deicing products. These can eat away at the driveway’s surface causing scaling and crumbling. Sand or ice melt products that don’t contain sodium chloride are better options.
  • REPAIR CRACKS: If you see any cracks, repair them as soon as possible. I know it may look like a tiny, insignificant problem, but when do tiny, insignificant problems ever stay that way? If you don’t fix it right away, the freezing and thawing of ice and snow will make it grow and grow until you have a very big problem snaking through your driveway in every direction.
  • SEAL: Lastly, if you really want to give your driveway that added level of protection, using a concrete sealant is always an option. It is recommended that you wait 8-12 months after the driveway is installed to seal for the first time and you can reseal every 3-5 years thereafter.

If you find yourself staring out the window at your driveway, full of cracks and holes and covered in stains, you may be thinking, “This thing is way beyond repair.” Well, that’s okay too. Moscarino offers a number of concrete installation services: driveways, sidewalks, walkways, aprons, and basement/garage floors. So, if you find yourself in need of a new concrete surface somewhere in or outside of your home, give us a call at 440-236-9000 to get started!

5 Tips to Help You Prepare Your Lawn for Spring

Once the snow begins to fall in Northeast Ohio, most of us forget about our lawn all together. In the spring and summer, we mow, fertilize and work in the garden. In the fall, we keep mowing with the added effort of having a seemingly never ending layer of leaves to blow and rake away. Then we see snow and, let’s be honest, most of us don’t think twice about what’s happening to the grass under all that cold white stuff. If you’ve been taking care of your lawn or if you’ve hired us to do so for you, then your grass should be ready to grow come spring, but there are still steps you can take to ensure your lawn looks lush and healthy as the temps warm up.

  1. Remove any debris, leaves or sticks that are left after the fall and winter months. It can also help to rake through your grass, which will loosen surface soil and promote healthy airflow.
  2. Dethatching takes tip one a step further and requires that any existing thatch (un-decomposed stems and roots that accumulate near the soil’s surface) be reduced to half an inch or less. If thatch gets any thicker, it can prevent strong levels of nutrients and oxygen from reaching below the soil.
  3. Apply grass seed to any areas of your lawn where growth is weak or dead – this can also help cure any spots of snow mold you may uncover during raking. And it doesn’t hurt to fertilize right in the beginning of the spring to give your lawn a wakeup call after hibernating during all of those long, winter months.
  4. According to the EPA, it is best to water your lawn deeply and sparingly, unless you have a lot of new seed, which will benefit from light and regular watering. If you only water you lawn lightly and often, grass roots are not encouraged to dig deeper into the soil – instead they stay near the surface, which gives weeds better access to the nutrient- and moisture-rich soil deeper below.
  5. Mow and mow high! Most people figure that the lower they mow, the less often they will have to cut the grass, but this is a myth. If you cut your grass too short, the grass is going to grow faster in order to reach sunlight, which is then converted into sugar, allowing the grass to feed its roots (AKA photosynthesis, for all of you science geeks). Just remember, long grass is healthy grass.

I know what you’re thinking – “I don’t have time for all that!” This is precisely why Moscarino offers its full-service, residential maintenance package. We can take care of all your lawn maintenance needs so you don’t even have to think about it. By the time it occurs to you that your lawn needs to be seeded or fertilized, it will already be done. We take a proactive approach to lawn care – assessing and meeting your yard’s needs before they become a problem. If you’d like to get on our spring maintenance schedule, call us now at 440-236-9000.

Welcome to Our New Website!

We are excited to launch the new and improved website for Moscarino Outdoor Creations! Not only did we want the new site to have a better overall look and feel, we also wanted to be sure that prospective and current clients are able to easily navigate, scan and read through all available information.

Some of the new features include:

  • User Friendly: content is well-organized so you can easily find the information you need
  • Streamlined Navigation: our website now employs drop down menus and a sidebar menu for internal pages, allowing for much more intuitive navigation
  • New Content: we have updated much of the content on the site to reflect any recent organizational changes
  • Mobile-Ready: our website is now compatible with smartphones and tablets so that you are able to browse easily through the site no matter where you are
  • Blog: check back for regular blog updates on topics ranging from landscape design ideas to gardening tips

We encourage you to take a look around and explore the new site. You can find information on any of our landscape design and landscape maintenance service options, as well as images from past projects located in our photo gallery.

We hope you enjoy the new site! If you have any questions or comments, please visit the Contact Us page or call us at 440-236-9000.

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