Spring is the season for renewal. Trees are budding, grass is shedding its winter brown, and birds are returning to their warm weather homes. So it is perfectly fitting that homeowners see spring as the time to begin landscaping projects. What better time to rejuvenate your outdoor living space?
The National Association of REALTORS® recently published a nationwide study examining the reasons home owners complete outdoor remodeling projects, the value of those projects, and the increased happiness on their completion. Ten different projects – the top ten according to the REALTOR® rank of projects’ appeal to buyers – were evaluated, and the results offer a range of appealing and profitable upgrades.
Of course, upgrading your outdoor living space does not benefit you only when it’s time to sell. The REALTORS® poll also tracked consumers’ viewpoints after completing projects. After installing a new deck, 77 percent said that they had a greater desire to stay home, 51 percent felt an increased sense of enjoyment, and 77 percent had a sense of accomplishment on completion. Even higher results came from a new patio: 82 percent expressed a greater desire to be home, 74 percent report more enjoyment, and 85 percent felt a major sense of accomplishment. The highest happiness rating came through adding a new pool: 95 percent claimed a greater desire to be home since installing one, 80 percent have an increased sense of enjoyment while at home, and 90 percent felt a major sense of accomplishment after completing the project.
So whether you are looking to sell your home or simply get more enjoyment from your property, investing in your landscaping and hardscaping can pay big dividends. Contact Knutsen Landscaping to discuss your goals and options. Together we can put together a plan to make the most of your outdoor living space.
An essential element of your landscaping is certainly outdoor seating. After all, isn’t one of the reasons for all that work and investment hosting a dinner party, family gathering, or just good friends? Of course, there is a lot to consider when choosing a design for your outdoor entertaining: your goals, plans, and – of course – budget.
You may wish to center your outdoor entertainment area on one of these themes:
- Outdoor fireplaces – There are many options, from rustic, portable, permanent, to materials like copper, brick, stone, and more.
- Fire pits – In recent years, fire pits have become one of the more popular outdoor entertaining options. Although not quite as unlimited in scope as fireplace options, there are still plenty of different choices to suit your needs and budget.
- Grill areas – With outdoor grill areas, the choices are almost endless. Of course, you’ll want to think about how many guests you may be grilling for and how much seating you want in close proximity to the grill itself.
- Outdoor kitchens – If a grill or fire pit is too limiting for your plans, why not do an entire outdoor kitchen? Grills, smokers, pizza ovens, and cooktops can all be incorporated into your outdoor kitchen. And of course, here is where the seating really comes in to play. Everyone always hangs out in the kitchen indoors, so the same patterns will carry outside. Embrace it!
- Pool landscape design – A pool will often be a central point in outdoor landscaping, and you can incorporate seating as much or as little as desired. More seating in the pool area will of course encourage your guests to spend more time in that area.
- Water features – Fountains, ponds, and other water features add character and interest to any landscaping. And you must consider whether you want seating around them or whether they should more separated from your seating areas.
- Pavilion and pergola – A more dedicated seating design element is a pavilion or pergola. They provide shade, protection from the elements, and distinct space definition for outdoor entertaining. These will often be central to your seating design.
Certainly, combinations of these and other design ideas will determine your outdoor seating needs. Knutsen Landscaping is here to help! We’ll meet with you on-site to determine your goals, initial plans, and budget for this project.
You invest a good deal of time and money in your landscaping, so you should expect to enjoy it during the day and the night. With the right outdoor lighting, entertaining and just enjoying your outdoor areas can last well beyond sundown.
There’s a lot to consider before investing in outdoor lighting. What do you want the focus of your lighting to be? Highlighting? Up-lighting? Path lighting? Or maybe it’s a combination of these and other factors. Perhaps there are certain design elements that you wish to feature, like a fountain or an outdoor structure. Or maybe you need to address pockets of darkness in your landscape.
You’ll want to consider these questions and many others. A few additional issues to take into account include:
- Views from indoors – What will your landscape look like from inside your home?
- Focal points – Are there particular trees, water features, or a gazebo that you would like to highlight?
- Sense of depth – Illuminating pathways, landscaped beds, and the house itself will lend a feeling of depth to the property.
- Ambient light – Besides spotlighting features, you can create an atmospheric feel to your outdoor space with a general ambient lighting palette.
One of the leading providers of outdoor lighting fixtures is CAST®, and Knutsen Landscaping is proud to be CAST®-certified. Our installers will ensure that CAST® lighting fixtures will be best used to accent your property. The Classic, Impressionist, and Craftsmen series from CAST® offer a wide array of possibilities, and you can achieve the landscape illumination you desire.
Whatever your needs, Knutsen Landscaping is here to help. Our team of designers will assess your landscape and help you determine your goals for your lighting.
Knutsen Landscaping is pleased to announce the release of a new video that describes and details our work and services. Hear an interview with our founder and president, Andy Knutsen, and see beautiful footage of some of our latest work: beautiful pool decks, stunning firepits and fireplaces, and outdoor living spaces that dreams are made of!
Have you ever heard someone lament, “Real Christmas trees are such a waste of natural resources! Look at how many trees we cut down each year, just for decoration!” Is there any truth to this kind of claim? Are Christmas trees an environmental benefit or burden? Continue reading “Christmas Trees: Environmental Benefit or Burden?”
When selecting trees for landscaping, many will choose the more popular varieties – dogwood, tulip trees, arborvitae, and others. It makes sense, people see these trees in landscaping and like the look of them, so they choose it too. One that is often overlooked is the swamp white oak.
The swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) has one great distinction in America: it is featured at the 911 Memorial in New York. They provide a stark and welcome contrast to the two wells of constantly cascading water that mark the footprint of the Twin Towers. One of the deciding factors in choosing this species is that they are native to all three locations where the planes crashed that fateful day – New York City, Arlington County in Virginia, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (Interesting note: the one tree at the memorial that is not a swamp white oak is the “survivor” tree, a callery pear tree that survived the attacks and was re-planted at the memorial. A true survivor!)
These trees adapt well to the challenges of an urban environment, tolerating dry, moist, or wet soils as well as salt and soil compaction. This adaptability makes them a great choice for almost any landscape.
Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor
- Used as large shade trees in landscaping
- Wood has been used in ship building throughout American history, but is used today in flooring, furniture, and whiskey/wine barrels.
- Mature trees generally reach 80-100 feet, while some have reached 150. Trunk size can reach up to 4’ in diameter!
- Acorns produced by white oaks are an important source of food for the ecosystem of the tree. All sorts of birds (including turkeys, quails, blue jays, and crows) and mammals (black bear, deer, squirrels, voles, mice) depend on them for nutrients in the fall. In some areas, the population of some species of critters fluctuate based on the supply of acorns!
- In the summer, leaves are a blue-green on top and a whitish shade of green on the underside. In the fall, the colors can spread from orange, and brown to red and purple.
- State tree of Illinois, Connecticut, and Maryland.
- Very adaptable, tolerating dry, moist or wet soils.
The next in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the towering Tulip Poplar! The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.
Tulip Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera
- Pioneers used tulip poplar to make houses, barns, and canoes
- Most commonly used today in cabinet making
- Also used for medicinal purposes—like teas and ointments
- State tree of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana
- Nicknamed the “fiddle tree” because of it’s peculiar shaped leaves that resemble small violins
- It is actually a member of the magnolia family, not the poplar family
- Won’t bloom tulips for the first 15 years of it’s life—the flowers are usually a light green or yellow color
- Average lifespan:200-250, but can live much longer under the right conditions
- Tallest of the North American hardwood trees…between 100 and 150 feet tall!
- Trunks can grow 50 feet high without a single branch
- Produces a honey used primarily by bakers
The next in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the famous Serviceberry! The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.
- George Washington’s favorite tree—he planted many of them around Mount Vernon
- Usually the first to bloom every year—flowers are generally white or pale pink
- Serviceberry trees produce berries that are safe for humans to eat, but often feed birds and mammals. The berries start out red and turn to a purple-black color; and will grow from early summer until August. These berries taste very similar to blueberries and can be eaten raw or put into pies and pastries.
- The tree earned it’s name from the use of its flowers in religious services.
- Has small, oval shaped leaves edged with small teeth—dark green in the summer and turning to red, orange, and yellow in the fall.
- Grow to between 15-20 feet.
The next in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the fast-growing Sugar Maple! The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.
Sugar Maple Acer saccharum
- Primary maple tree in the production of maple syrup.
- Fast-growing tree—can grow as much as 1 foot in a year’s time. Average between 40-60 feet tall with a 20-40 foot spread.
- Root systems are shallow, causing them to not be good around compacted, marshy, thin, or dry sandy soils.
- Great trees for urban parks and large landscapes.
- Cultivars include: Flashfire, Green Mountain, Legacy
The third in our series of trees we recommend for use in local landscaping is the versatile Red Maple! The experts at Knutsen Landscaping have compiled a list of trees indigenous to our region in Pennsylvania.
Red Maple Acer rubrum
- Earned its name from the brilliant, fiery color of it’s autumn foliage
- Can reach 40-60 feet tall and 150 years old, trunks can be 30 inches in diameter
- Provide color year-round—male trees have clusters of drooping, smoky-red flowers in the spring, reddish twigs and leaf stalks in the summer, and red buds in the winter. Female trees produce decorative seeds (called samaras) from April to June that many people know as whirlybirds or helicopters because of how the wings on one end cause them to spin in the wind.
- While not as productive as the sugar maple, red maples can still be tapped (after reaching 40 years old) to make maple syrup. It takes around 40 gallons of red maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
- Today, red maple wood is used primarily to make smaller items like musical instruments and clothespins and flooring. American pioneers used red maple bark to create black and brown dyes and ink!
- Cultivars include: Bowhall (upright form, yellow-red fall color), October Glory (one of most popular cultivars—intense red foliage, vigorous growth), Red Sunset (also very popular—drought tolerance, vigorous growth, red-red fall color), Sun Valley, and Redpointe (upright, dense).