Spring is almost…. well… somewhere around the corner. And before long, your time will be filled with backyard barbeques and late summer nights outdoors with family and friends. For many homeowners, a new or renovated patio is at the top of their wish list and winter is the perfect time to plan if you want to use your new hardscape this season.
A patio is often the hub of a home’s outdoor environment. The shape and size of your patio may be limited by a few factors such as the style of your home, where you would like it on your property, and your budget. Here are a few things you may want to consider when you’re dreaming about your new patio:
How do you think you will use the space? Will you be dining with family or entertaining a crowd – maybe a little of both? Knowing this will help you prioritize features. An area for a dining table and a second area for comfortable seating would accomplish both things. The addition of a fire pit or fireplace would create a focal point for relaxed gatherings. Make a list of everything that you want in your new or renovated patio starting with the ‘must-have’ features and prioritize all the other elements including the very extravagant. Even if they don’t make it in the initial build, it’s nice to have a plan for where you might add these features as time goes on. And don’t overlook the old adage, ‘location, location, location.’ It may make sense right outside the back door if dining is the main focus. But if chilling out by a fire is what you’re thinking, then perhaps in a quiet out of the way corner of your property. Keep in mind that permits are often required, so be sure to ask about this when you meet with your landscape contractor.
Which materials catch your eye? Bluestone is one of the most popular materials used for patios in our area. It is strong and versatile and holds up well in our climate. Pavers, once very limited in size, shape and color, have come a long way and really allow the designer to personalize the patio to match the surrounding landscape. Permeable concrete pavers are similar to traditional concrete pavers. Permeable pavers are individual concrete pieces that fit together in a pattern. The difference between permeable pavers and traditional pavers is that the spaces between each paver, known as the joints, are designed to allow water to flow through them. The base that the paver system is built on is made up of layers of clean crushed stone that varies in size and depth, depending on the site and volume of water. These pavers are well suited for patios and walkways. They come in a wide variety of colors, patterns & textures. The benefit of using permeable pavers is that because they allow water to percolate through them they do not count against your impervious surface total, which can be highly regulated, especially on lakefront properties here in the lakes region of New Hampshire. In fact, utilizing a permeable paver system can actually reduce the overall impervious percentage on your site.
What is your budget? There are many things to consider in a budget. Material costs vary enormously. In general, natural stone is more expensive. Bricks and concrete pavers can be less expensive, depending on how complex the design or material options you choose. The addition of walls, walkways, steps and outdoor kitchens can dramatically increase the cost of the project.
What’s your timeline? Any well-thought out project takes time. There are several phases that must be planned and coordinated. From demolition to material reuse to maintenance down the road, there are many facets to address in the overall hardscape plan.
Spend some time on design websites such as Pinterest or Houzz. There are lots of great garden magazines as well. The possibilities are endless and you are sure to see something that will inspire you.
The Miracle Farms design-build process makes every customer a part of the team. When dreaming of your backyard patio design you are limited only by your imagination. Together, with the help of our talented team, we will create the perfect outdoor living space for your family to enjoy all season long while also boosting the value of your home.
So don’t wait – there’s no time like the present to give us a call and start planning your patio project.
Spring Flowering Tulips
Bulbs that flower in spring must be planted in Fall. There is no getting around this requirement.
No matter how large or small your garden, almost everyone can find room for a few spring bulbs. Trust me…you’ll be delighted that you did after a cold, grey winter. There are many different bulbs to choose from, but if this is your first foray into bulbs keep it simple. Daffodils deliver!
You will get more flowers for a longer time with less care than any other bulbs you can plant. They’ll thrive just about anywhere, and they come back year after year in ever greater numbers. Over time, even a small planting of 20 bulbs will gradually become a swath of color with a hundred or more blooms. Daffodils do well in flowerbeds but will do well planted just about anywhere in your landscape. In fact, you may find that you would rather put bulbs anywhere BUT in your flowerbeds. Next year’s flower forms during the three or four weeks after flowering. During this time the plant needs its leaves to generate the nutrients to form a new flower. It’s important to leave the foliage alone until it yellows and begins to wither. At that point, you can cut the foliage or gently tug on it to pull it away from the bulb. Most people don’t want this yellowy foliage hanging around taking up valuable planting space in beds so go on ahead and plant them groups of daffodils under a tree, in a field, or against a stone wall for a natural look. Although mostly found in shades of yellow, there are beautiful shades of cream, peach and orange available as well.
Tulips are spring color powerhouses that come in every imaginable color and size. You need to plant a lot of them to make a beautiful display. Think dozens, not handfuls. Tulips almost always put on the best show during the first year, but many varieties tend to taper off in following years. If you don’t want to repeat your planting every year look for perennial tulip species that are fairly reliable year after year. Otherwise, yank them out after they bloom and start planning your color pallet for next year. Tulip bulbs prefer cool, moist springs and hot, dry summers, which is not what they usually get in the Lakes Region of NH. There are perennial tulips species that return reliably year after year, but they come with a higher price tag. Stick with those if you don’t want to recreate your display every year.
A mass bulb planting may sound like a lot of work, but it’s fairly simple. Find an area you want for your bulbs and dig a trench approximately 6”–8” deep. Planting depth is important. A general rule is to measure the height of the bulb itself and then plant it three to four times deeper than that. For a tulip bulb 2 inches high, you need to dig a hole that’s at least six to eight inches deep. Pour the bulbs in, roughly 15-25 per square foot of trench, arrange them randomly with the point facing up. Cover the bulbs with the excavated soil, press it firmly and rake over the area.
Today you can buy bulbs almost everywhere–including the grocery store and big-box chain stores. The price may be right, but most of these bulbs are undersized. And when it comes to bulbs, the bigger the bulb you plant, the bigger the bloom next spring. A bigger bulb also increases the likelihood that your bulbs will flower for more than one year. For best results, bulbs should be kept in cold storage with controlled humidity until being shipped to you. We recommend purchasing bulbs from a direct importer/catalog or local garden center.
You should get your bulbs into the ground in Lakes Region gardens in early to mid-fall (don’t wait for a finger-freezing day in late October). Tulip bulbs need at least 14 weeks of temperatures below 48 degrees. Bulbs should be planted when the soil has cooled to about 55 degrees and need the cool soil to make roots before the onset of winter. You have about 8 weeks to plant after the first frost. As long as the ground is not frozen, you can still plant bulbs.
We want to tell you again how much we like the recent landscaping you did on our waterfront property. Your crew changed a mediocre back yard to one of exquisite beauty as well as being functional. It’s absolutely beautiful and beyond our expectations.
Your men (Marcelino and Louis) did a fantastic job . We were impressed with their professionalism and their work ethic. Please extend to them our sincere thanks.
If you and your company ever need a reference please feel free to ask us.
We would highly recommend you .
Again thank you for making our home just that much more beautiful.
P.S. Horst also agrees, your guys did a fantastic job!
Carol and Horst G.
Happy 4th of July from The Lakes Region!
Looking for some last minute ways to spice up your Fourth of July garden party? Here are a couple of quick and easy tricks to do just that!
Decorative Lawn Stars:
- Find a flat piece of cardboard and cut out a star to the perfect size.
- Pick up some red, white & blue spray paint.
- Take your star stencil out to the yard and go crazy spraying stars on the grass and create your own milky way! (The grass grows out and it will be gone in a couple of lawn cuts.)
Handkerchief Pillow Cases:
- Go to your local Dollar store and buy 2 red, white or blue, handkerchiefs and some festive colored ribbon.
- Take a pillow that is about an inch smaller than the handkerchief all the way around.
- Place one handkerchief on the bottom of the pillow and a different color on the top
- Tie the corners with your colored ribbon and you are finished!
- Take 10 of your recycled fruit and vegetable tin cans and remove the paper label
- Use your left over spray paint from the lawn stars to paint the cans in festive patterns and wait for them to dry
- Set them up in a stacked pyramid, grab an old softball or baseball and bowl your first strike!
And the winner is! This bright and beautiful perennial is covered in delicate blush pinkish-white flowers in late spring with foliage that turns a lovely shade of reddish-orange in your fall garden. It is lightly scented and grows best in sun to partial shade in well-drained soil. Biokovo is hardy in zones 4 to 8, and relatively deer and rabbit resistant which makes it a perfect selection for the Lakes Region in New Hampshire. It makes a beautiful ground cover and is a great addition to the front of a border garden. Biokovo pairs nicely in a planting with Japanese painted ferns, and late spring blooming penstemons.
The Perennial Plant of the Year™ (POY™) program began in 1990 to showcase a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year™ archive list.
At Miracle Farms we often rely on the list of past Perennial of the Year winners to be reliable bloomers year after year.
Here are some of our favorites:
Salvia ‘may night’
Nepeta ‘walker’s low’
Brunerra ‘jack frost’