5 Reasons to Get a Built-in Outdoor Barbecue

Nothing quite says summer like having a barbecue in the backyard, and there is no better way to do it than at your very own built-in barbecue. While there are many different perks that come with for having your own built-in grill, we’ve listed our top five reasons you should get a built-in barbecue below.

Better Quality

When you are installing a barbecue into a permanent structure, you tend to pick a model that is higher quality. This will give you increased performance and longevity for your grill. The result is reduced overall investment in maintenance and replacement. Over the long-term, an outdoor built-in grill makes a lot of sense.

Convenience

The beauty of these types of structures is the grill is always there. There also tends to be less of a mess, and your grilling utensils and propane tanks can sit safely within the structure; you can even choose to install cabinets or another organizational feature. A built-in grill is sure to increase the time you spend outside grilling with friends and family.

Adds to the Value of Your Home

A built-in barbecue is an amenity that few homes have. The minute you install your own, there is a certain level of prestige that is instantly added to your home. This increases your investment in your home as well as the pride that you take in it.

They Look Great

Beyond all of the practicality and benefit of having a built-in grill, they simply look great and can really bring a whole backyard together. Whether you decide to put the grill by the pool or on its own, it is sure to enhance the environment in which it sits.

You Can Really Make Them Your Own

When you are making design and installation decisions for your built-in barbecue, there is so much flexibility. This is especially true when you work with experts like the ones at New Image. Options are virtually endless when you consider the materials used, size and shape of the structure, type of grill, and additional features like wet bars or shade structures.

This is one of the best bang-for-your-buck investments that you can make. It is a massively beneficial feature and it can be designed and installed with relative ease. Visit the experts at New Image Landscaping and Pools to learn more about how you can turn your backyard into a beautiful oasis in the desert, starting with your own built-in barbecue.

New Image Swimming Pools. Phoenix Backyard With Modern-looking Swimming Pool Installed Between Synthetic Turf Borders

Summer Tips for Landscape Maintenance

When the heat comes in the summer in the desert, it quickly becomes crunch time in maintaining the health and aesthetic appeal of your landscape. It also becomes increasingly more difficult to be responsible with our water consumption in this desert that we live in. While this article will apply differently based on what type of landscape you have and the extent of features throughout it, these are some great tips for making sure that your landscape is looking its best all year long in the most water-efficient ways possible.

How to Make Your Landscape Look Beautiful All Summer Long

A big part of maintaining a beautiful and healthy look for your landscape is keeping your grass green. The first and most crucial thing you need to know in order to do this is how much water your lawn actually needs. There are numerous sources online for estimating this, but you can also do this with a little trial and error. Attempt to drive a screwdriver into your soil about an hour after watering. If you can easily push it 10 inches into the ground, that is enough water, and you might even be able to scale it back. You should be watering your grass a few hours before sunrise to avoid excessive evaporation of the water and you should mow your grass at least once a week to keep it as fresh and healthy as possible. This helps with the look of your yard as well as the necessary water consumption of your grass.

You should always be aware of the status of your irrigation system. Make sure sprinkler heads are oriented in the proper direction and not being obstructed, and keep your eyes out for the formation of pools of water over underground plumbing. You should also consider installing drip irrigation to make sure your plants are getting the water that they need in the most efficient manner.

You should also consider taking pre-emptive measures to plan the specifics of your landscape so that it can survive more easily in this type of climate. Things that will help a Phoenix landscape thrive with less effort include planting native plant species, designing simple, natural rainwater collection and distribution channels, and adding a little shade. Adding gutters and rainwater collection bins is another great way to increase the health of your yard without increasing your footprint on water consumption.

Save Water While Maintaining Your Landscape

You work hard on your landscape, so you should be able to maintain it throughout the entire year. However, as we live in a desert, we all have a responsibility to conserve our most precious resource, water. Follow these steps to make sure you are doing your part to conserve, while still having a beautiful yard!

5 Soil Tips for Your Home Garden

Even if you’re new to gardening, it should come as no surprise that soil plays a large role in determining just how successfully plants will grow. It not only serves to support and hold roots in place, but soil also provides many nutrients that are necessary for plants to thrive. That being said, it’s important for those trying to grow a healthy garden to know that it’s not enough to simply select the right plants and water them as needed. The soil must also be tended to properly to ensure it remains in good condition, giving plant roots the ideal environment to flourish in.

How to Choose Soil

If you must add more soil to your garden or plan to plant in a raised bed, it’s essential that you choose the right kind of soil for the job. There are several factors to think about before purchasing the first topsoil you see. First of all, some soils may have contaminants that you would prefer to stay away from, so you should always find out where it came from. Second, do you have a preference on how heavy the soil is? This may make a difference in how easy it is to work with. Also, are you looking for a longer lasting topsoil, or will a potting soil that decomposes each year be fine?

Preparing Soil for Planting

If you prepare the soil before planting, it is likely you will see far better results. Adding organic matter to your soil can go a long way in supplying even more of the nutrients plants need. This can come from compost, manure, or mulch. Once it’s spread thick over the soil in your gardening area, you can add castings and then dig the holes deep enough and wide enough according to your plant sizes.

Proper Care of Soil

Soil must be properly taken care of to encourage robust plant growth. This involves testing it from time to time to determine how nutrient-rich it is, where pH levels are at, and to check in on its texture. A pH reading of the soil will let you know if your plants have the ability to effectively absorb nutrients, indicating whether or not soil amendments or fertilizer should be added.

Improving Soil Health

To make sure your soil maintains a high degree of health, it will need a sufficient air supply to help both plants and soil organisms survive. Compost helps to provide the right amount of oxygen. Water is also vital to soil health and should stay around 25% at all times. Again, organic matter will assist in this area, as it retains water for plants until it needs to be used.

Learning When to Replace Soil

If you have adjusted your soil’s pH, added nutrients, and included a good dose of organic matter to the mix, and you notice your plants are still not developing as they should, it may be time to switch out your soil. Unhealthy soil is generally the root of all problems when it comes to unhealthy plants.

All About Lawn Seeding: Why it May Be the Most Important Part for Keeping Your Landscape Beautiful

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Over the years, grass can begin to look less than appealing, turning brown, becoming patchy in spots, and eventually ceasing to grow at all. Long before you have nothing left but dirt and some remnants of what was once a healthy, green lawn, it’s time to start thinking about lawn seeding. Even the most well-maintained lawns can use some help every once in a while using a technique called spot seeding to fill in the gaps where diseases, insects, or harsh weather has caused damage.

Why is Lawn Seeding Important?

Lawn seeding will keep you from having to initiate the process of growing grass all over again from the beginning, which is generally a slow process. Seeding is also important because lawns tend to be the main focus of a yard. The attractiveness of even the most beautiful landscape designs and vibrant plants and flowers will be diminished in the presence of a lawn that is noticeably suffering.

How is it Done Correctly?

The first step in lawn seeding correctly is choosing the right kind of seed. This will depend on several different factors, such as local climate, the amount of shade a lawn sees, and how much foot traffic it is likely to experience. Once this has been determined, it’s time to test the soil for its pH level to ensure it’s at the right amount. After the pH has been taken care of, the soil must be properly prepared by clearing away visible rocks and debris and mowing the current lawn down, or tilling the dirt if starting from scratch. Next, cover the area in fertilizer, lay down the seed, and water accordingly.

When is the Best Time to Do It?

In most environments, the fall and spring seasons are the most ideal times to seed a lawn. Due to cooler temperatures, soil that’s still warm, and just the right amount of sunlight, fall seeding generally enjoys the most success. This gives the seeds ample time through the winter and spring to germinate and establish themselves into grass before summer arrives. Spring is the next best time of year to start a seeding project since the weather is still cool and there are plenty of rain showers to provide necessary moisture. Seeding in the summer will require much more maintenance, and weeds and crabgrass can create frustrating obstacles. Lawn seeding is a fairly inexpensive way to get your landscape back to a desirable condition.

5 Fun Landscape Features You Didn’t Know You Needed!

Your home should be a place where you take pleasure in spending time – somewhere you can count on to provide comfort, fun, and relaxation at any given time. It should also be a good representation of your personal style. Though many homeowners tend to focus on interior design to achieve all these goals, it’s actually the exterior that will make a long-lasting impression. Landscaping is a great investment for those who want to get the most out of their home ownership and desire a true oasis right in their own yard. There are so many different and creative ways to update a landscape design and create an outdoor living space that’s perfect for both leisure activities and the entertainment of guests. Even if you haven’t thought much about it before, the following features will make you soon realize just how much you and your family can benefit from a new and improved landscape.

Pagoda

Pagodas add a striking aesthetic appeal that will instantly make your landscape unique. These beautiful structures can easily be customized in shape, size, and color to fit your particular needs and taste. In addition to adding a special form of artistry, pagodas will give you the opportunity to enjoy your landscape year-round by providing shade from scorching heat and shelter from wet weather.

Waterfall

Waterfalls are the ultimate must-have landscape feature. They can completely change the feel of any yard to immediately promote sophistication, peace, and happiness. You will constantly feel like you’re on a retreat with the nonstop movement and soothing sounds of water only a few feet away. Waterfall designs can range in height and style to suit your environment.

Fire Pit

There’s nothing quite like sitting around a campfire with family and friends. Fire pits allow you the luxury of bringing that same intimate ambiance into your own yard. With a wide variety of materials, shapes, and sizes available, it’s simple to design a fire pit that can be incorporated into your specific space and complements the contemporary or traditional look you’re going for.

Outdoor Kitchen

Family life is often centered around the kitchen, and backyard barbecues are a popular way to spend summer evenings. Now the two can be combined together with the installation of an outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens can be built with all the amenities and conveniences of indoor spaces, allowing everyone to appreciate the pleasant weather simultaneously.

Splash Pads

Splash pads are a quick and affordable way to add a water feature to your home when there isn’t enough space to accommodate a swimming pool or building one just isn’t in the budget. Kids will benefit from hours of safe fun, while parents benefit from having to deal with a lot less maintenance and associated expenses.

The landscaping experts at New Image Landscape and Pools LLC can install any of these features plus more to help you transform your yard into a stunning work of art. No matter the complexity or size of the job, you can count on our professionals to spruce up your curb appeal in a way you never imagined.

Top Watering Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Landscape in the Desert

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When you live in the desert for any extended period of time, there are a few things you learn that are different here than anywhere else on Earth, and the most important of these lessons is the value of water. Be it for drinking, bathing, or keeping your landscape hydrated and healthy, without water we cease to exist, and when your natural domicile is in the desert, water is not as readily available as it may be in other places.  As such, we’ve compiled a list of watering tips dedicated solely to the preservation of your Arizona landscape and ensuring that your lawn and plants will continue to thrive and flourish throughout the years!

1-2-3 Rule

The first question most people ask is how much water is appropriate for plants and landscaping. Most people understand that not watering enough is a bad thing, but few realize that watering too much is just as bad. In addition to wasting a valuable resource, watering too much is costly and can cause your plants to die, as the roots will not be able to get enough oxygen.  The 1-2-3 Rule is simple and works as follows:

  1. Smaller plants, groundcover, and cacti should be watered to a depth of 1 foot. Grass is the exception to this rule, as it only should be watered to a depth of 10 inches.
  2. Water medium sized plants (shrubs and bushes) to a depth of 2 feet.
  3. Trees and other large plants should be watered to a depth of 3 feet.

It may take a little trial and error to determine the amount of time to water to the appropriate depths, but using a soil probe about an hour after watering will give you an idea if you have done it correctly.  Push the probe into the soil until you encounter resistance…the wet soil should allow the probe to slide through easily, while dry soil won’t and you can measure from that point.

Sprinkler Systems and Timers

For those of you with lawns, the use of a sprinkler system with a timer can help you save water, money, and energy; once you’ve determined the correct amount of water needed and the number of days you should be watering (a schedule for Bermuda grass lawns is provided below), program the timer and basically forget it about it. The exception to this rule is during rainy times (yes, we do get rain in the desert!). When it rains, turn off your sprinklers; many timers have a rainy day temporary stop – you push a button and it won’t sprinkle on that day, but will return to the regularly scheduled system the next day.

  • During the summer, water once every 3 days. In winter, Bermuda goes dormant and does not need to be watered. Watering every day is not necessary and is wasteful.  Watering every three days ensures a strong root system, guaranteeing a healthy lawn.
  • Use the soil probe to determine the length of time needed to run the sprinklers. It should go easily into the ground up to 10 inches; when this happens, you know you have watered the optimal amount of time. Start testing in 15 minute increments.
  • During the hottest months, water at night or early morning. Watering in the heat of the day is not recommended.
  • Shaded lawns need less frequent watering.

Other Tips

  • Keep your yard weed free to keep weeds from stealing precious water needed by your plants
  • Trees should be on a separate watering system from plants and grass
  • You’ve under-watered if your Bermuda turns blue-gray or still feels warm to the touch long after the sun has set
  • You’ve overwatered if your lawn smell musty, has puddles, is mushy when you walk on it, or if you see mushrooms growing
  • Watering needs change as your landscapes matures

Salt Water Pools

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A salt-water pool is an alternative to traditional chlorine pools that offers a different method of pool sanitation. Just as with a chlorine pool, it aims to decrease the amount of microorganisms within the water. In this particular system, chlorine is produced when the salt water is pressured through a membrane containing electrically charged metal cells. These systems can bring the level of these organisms down by over 99.9%, resulting in a safe environment to swim and relax.

Advantages of a Salt Water Pool

Many people think about salt-water pools and believe that this is a chemical-free solution to keeping your pool clean. While there are benefits to this form of pool sanitation, this is not one of them. The most inherent benefit of this type of pool is that it eliminates the need to continually buy chlorine and transport it to your backyard. In essence, the salt water system acts as a chlorine factory. The chlorine created in a salt water system is identical to the chlorine that you would put in a chlorine system. Additionally, adding salt to a salt water system can save a considerable amount of time as opposed to manually adding chlorine. However, these days, there are many automated solutions to adding your particular substance to any pool system, in which case there is no discernible difference.

Why Get a Salt Water Pool?

Many people point to initial cost of the salt chlorine generator as a reason to stay away from the prospect of a salt-water pool. While these generators are a bit pricy, the cost of salt versus chlorine is significant enough so that the investment is repaid within a few years. Beyond that, these pools are very low maintenance. As the chlorine is continually streamed into the pool through the chlorine generator, the hard work is eliminated, leaving you with the task of checking the chemical levels once every couple weeks. This makes the salt water pool a great option for people who travel often or have a vacation home with a pool.

In reality, deciding which kind of pool you want is more of a matter of personal preference rather than one of risk and reward. For some people, the chlorine method works perfectly fine, while others feel more comfortable with a salt water system. One thing is for certain, a salt-water sanitation method is an easy and effective method to ensuring your pool is clean and safe to enjoy.

Tips for Building Your Dream Garden

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Gardening is an amazing practice that gives the gardener a tremendous sense of accomplishment and tranquility. Below are a few simple guidelines for getting started on your dream garden today! And since I don’t imagine you are spending large amounts of money in your dream, these steps will help you cultivate an amazing garden without breaking the bank.

What Plants Best Fit Your Tastes?

What are you looking for in your garden? Perhaps you just want something that will look beautiful and bring joy to your days. If this is the case, you should research to find different species of flowers and cacti that really resonate with you. Maybe you want to plant a garden that will eventually yield food that you can prepare for your dinner table. For this, simply plant vegetables that you like. There are countless options. For a garden with real character, do a little bit of both with vegetables and flowers intermingling in blissful harmony! It is important to make sure that you pick plants that can grow well in the weather conditions in which you live.

Pick a Spot and Prepare the Soil and Seedlings

Spend some time observing your yard before you decide where your garden will go. Make sure you find a spot that gets enough sun, but is not constantly exposed. Often a partly shaded area provides the best conditions for gardening. You can simply dig a trench about a foot deep and fill it with soil and be done with it, or you can add some aesthetic appeal by lining the garden with wood or stone. You can buy soil from any gardening shop, but there are different types that offer different things for different plants, so do your research and get the proper volume of soil for your particular trench. Add some compost for a very healthy environment for your plants. In beginning the growth of any plant, it is often a good idea to plant the seed in a pot indoors. Once they sprout out of the ground you can transplant them into your outdoor garden.

Tending the Garden

Before you can hope to plant a great garden, you need to make sure you have all of the proper tools. The most essential of these tools are a shovel and mini shovel, rake, hat and gloves, watering can, and pruning shears. Water the plants daily and make sure your plants are getting enough water through researching different water requirements. For healthy plant growth, you should remove excess and unhealthy leaves to reduce weight and allow sunlight to reach all parts of the plant. If you want to get real fancy, you can add an element of automation to your garden to make it run more smoothly. The most common automatic aspect of a garden is a good irrigation system.

Start Small

If you are new to gardening, it is always a good idea to start a small garden before you begin a large undertaking. Plant a few plants in a box or bin and learn a little bit about the art of gardening before making larger investments of time and money. Gardening is a subtle art that takes years of practice and research to master. This is a very brief introduction to the art, so you should do more research and always remember to be patient!

Guide to a Great Desert Landscape

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Whether you are a long-time resident or a newcomer to Arizona, you may be looking for some ideas and tips for a great desert landscape. Many think that a desert landscape is just some sand, rocks, and a few hardy plants. Well, that is just not the case. You can enjoy a desert landscape full of lush plants and gorgeous scenery. Take a look at this quick guide to getting a successful desert landscape.

Plant at the Correct Time

In the Phoenix area, the best time to plant is the fall, because the soils during this season will hold heat and promote root growth. Also, the plants will experience temperatures that are more consistent in the following months, and will produce established roots that can do well in the higher spring and summer months.

Adapt Your Soil

Desert soils are alkaline in nature and contain little organic matter. It is important to add a compost component, especially to areas that will contain plants with shallow roots. Also, add a top layer of bark or compost to help water and nutrients get to plant roots.

Make sure your drainage and irrigation systems are adapted to our arid environment. Your drainage system should allow proper drainage to prevent root rot. Your watering and irrigation system should be water wise, yet effective. For example, drip irrigation systems are very effective and do not require a lot of water consumption.

Use Mulch

Using mulch to cover root zones will reduce moisture loss. Additionally it will cool the upper layers of soil and prevent weed growth. You can choose inorganic toppings such as rock or gravel, or organic such as bark or compost. This is a very inexpensive and efficient tip to help your plants grow better.

Consider Lawn Alternatives

With the arid environment of the Phoenix area, lawns are often very difficult to keep green. We get very little rain, so watering your lawns efficiently can be expensive. You may want to consider a synthetic lawn. Today’s lawn alternatives are kid and pet friendly, and even more importantly, are very natural looking.

There are plenty of other great tips to help you achieve the very best landscaping. The professionals at Phoenix Landscaping and New Image Landscape and Pools can give you all the help you need. We can help with even the smallest projects, all the way up to a complete makeover. We are also pool and spa specialists and can help you design and build a gorgeous backyard water feature.

Fertilization Tips in Arizona: How to Make Your Lawn and Plants Grow

 

Fertilization is an important aspect of keeping your lawn, gardens, and overall landscape healthy and looking as good as possible. Often, we overlook just how important regular fertilizer application can be. Take a look at some interesting tips and facts about fertilization in our Arizona climate.

Fertilization is Necessary for Healthy Plant Growth

Healthy plant growth relies on different elements and nutrients. These nutrients and elements include phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen — all of which are usually present in fertilizers.

It is important to note that each different fertilizer has a specific formula. You have probably seen these formulas, such as 20-20-20, 10-30-20, and so on. These figures actually indicate the amount or percentage of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium by weight— those essential nutrients. For example, you may see a label that says 10-10-10 on a 100 lb. bag of fertilizer. This means that the bag contains 10 pounds of nitrogen, 10 pounds of potash, and 10 pounds of phosphates. The remaining pounds are filler materials that allow the easy spreading of the plants or lawn. It also lessens the possibility of plant or lawn damage by the use of too much fertilizer.

Different Fertilizers for Different Types of Plants

Fertilizers are often made for certain plant types such as azaleas or roses. Other fertilizers are designed to acidify the soil. Arizona garden soil often contains calcium carbonate, making it rather difficult to acidify, and raising the difficulty of growing acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas. If you desire to include such plants in your landscape, consider using a potting soil mixture in a container rather than our regular soil.

Best Fertilization Application

There are different methods of application for different types of fertilizers. A dry granular fertilizer that is easily spread using a spreader is a good choice for lawns. Contained plants or areas needing a top dressing benefit from slow release fertilizers, while powdered fertilizers dissolved in water are great for spraying.

You should always check the formula to make sure that it is actually what your plants need. Also, read the label instructions carefully and follow them. This will let you take advantage of the fertilizer’s properties to its fullest.

If you want more information about fertilizers and the best ones for your lawn or landscaping, just give us a call at Phoenix Landscaping. We have experts on staff that can discuss your individual needs and help you find the best fertilizers to keep your yard healthy and happy.