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What do you need for a beautiful walkway?

What do you need for a beautiful walkway?

Maybe it won't be the Yellow Brick Road, but an attractive front walkway could make arriving at your house like arriving at the Emerald City of Oz. 

Not only does a beautiful front walkway provide a way to get to your front door, it is one way to add to your house's curb appeal. It’s one of the main first impressions people will have of your property.

When designing a front walkway, here are some things to consider  

One, how wide do you want to make the walkway? A good minimum width for a front walkway is anywhere between four and five feet.   The more often a front walkway is used such as; from a front door directly to the street the wider it should be, in order to handle frequent use. A walkway that is four feet wide should allow two people to walk side by side.   

Two, what shape do you want to make the walkway? A front walkway's two main shapes are straight and curved. Straight paths tend to work best with a small front yard, or with a traditional style such as Colonial or Victorian. Straight paths going directly to the door tell visitors, this way to the front door!

Curving paths can add some interest to the front walkway. A curving front walkway through a landscaped front yard can cause someone to slow down and enjoy the walk, rather than hurrying to the front door.  It can also add a sense of adventure that's around the next curve?

Where is this curve leading to?

Three, what materials do you want to use? This is where a home owner can get very creative.  Whatever material you choose, the walkway should be easy to walk on. 

Concrete is commonly used for a front walkway. Concrete does not need to be boring. It can be stamped or stenciled, colored, or stained. 

Stone walkways are also very common. Stone comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures. Putting together stones of different sizes, different shapes, and different textures in a walkway can result in a very attractive design. Two popular types of stone used on walkways are flagstone and cobblestone. Flagstones are typically flat, while cobblestone is typically rounded.

Red brick is a classic material to use for a front walkway. Brick can be arranged in a traditional straight pattern or a diagonal herringbone pattern. Or, you can combine brick with stone to make an attractive, unique pattern. 

Gravel is often used make a walkway. Gravel walkways are often lined with brick or paving stones. The disadvantage of gravel is that gravel can be uneven and difficult to walk on, especially if you're walking on bare feet.

Combinations of walkway shapes and walkway materials are endless.  But no matter what shape you make your walkway, and no matter what type of material you use for it, with a little time and attention, you can end up creating your own version of the Yellow Brick Road leading up to your front door.

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Enhance your curb appeal with a mailbox

Enhance your curb appeal with a mailbox

Even in this day and age of electronic communication, mail carriers still deliver mail, and residential mail must have a place to be delivered to. That place is the mailbox. 

Many people don't think about curb appeal when selecting a mailbox.  But a mailbox is one of the first things that a potential homeowner will see, whether it is curbside or a wall mount. Why not choose a box that reflects your personal style and increases the curb appeal of your property?

Residential mailboxes come in two types:

Curbside, usually mounted on a post, and wall mount, installed on the exterior wall of the house, usually next to the door. Check with your local United States Postal Service (USPS) before deciding on a mailbox. The type you choose will depend on whether your neighborhood has curbside delivery or door-to-door delivery. The USPS also has regulations as to the size of residential mailboxes.

If your mailbox is old and rusty, replacing it is a good way to enhance your home's curb appeal. A quick online search or visit to a local hardware store will give you many options, such as a traditional steel or aluminum box, or a Victorian-style iron box. For those concerned about security, there are boxes that come with a key. The mail carrier drops the mail through a slot and the owner opens it with their key.

For curbside mailboxes, replacing the post can enhance curb appeal.  Instead of a wooden mount post, you can have a pillar made of stone or brick and set the mailbox inside it. If you don't need to replace a wooden mount post, then painting it or using wood stain, can make an old mount post look new again. Topping the mount post with a decoration, such as a helmet of your favorite football team, is one way to personalize your mailbox and make it stand out.

If you don't need or want to replace the mailbox itself, then try decorating it. A coat of paint in a bright color can revitalize any mailbox, along with decorative numbers. Or, find an attractive stencil and stencil the design onto your mailbox. You can find ideas on websites such as Pinterest.

If you're handy with tools and creative, you can build your own mailbox. There are mailbox kits available at hardware or home improvement stores, or, if you are so inclined, you can design your own, as long as it complies with USPS regulations. Some unusual designs found online include a facade of a small house and a mailbox designed like a log cabin.

After redecorating or replacing a curbside mailbox, dress up the area around it with a small garden of brightly-colored flowers or other plants.  Set off the garden area with paving stones. Or, if you prefer, surround the mailbox post with a small rock garden.

Try just one of these ideas. You may be surprised at how much replacing or renovating a mailbox will add to your curb appeal.

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Perennials: the answer for black thumbs

Perennials: the answer for black thumbs

Got a black thumb rather than a green thumb? That won't be a problem if you choose easy-care perennials to decorate the outside of your home.

For people who don't have a green thumb, or for those who just don't have time to garden, one of the best choices for landscaping is low-maintenance perennial plants. Perennials are plants that live for two years or longer. 

So, how do you pick perennials for landscaping? 

First, find out what USDA Hardiness Zone you live in. The United States Department of Agriculture has divided North America into 11 zones. Each zone is 10 degrees warmer or colder in an average winter than the zone it is next to. These zones are a guide to gardeners which help them understand what plants will probably survive at certain temperatures. For example, zone 7b, which is northern Georgia, has an annual minimum temperature between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit. So, perennial plants chosen in that area need to be able to withstand temperatures down to 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. USDA Hardiness Zone maps are available online at websites such as garden.com.

Once you know your hardiness zone, take a look at your yard.  Where is it sunny throughout the day? Where are the shadows?  What time of day are there shadows in your yard? Some perennial plants may thrive in shade; others need a sunny area in order to survive. You need to know your yard before deciding what plants to put in it. 

When you know where the sun and shadows fall in your yard, make a plan of where you want to plant your perennials. Draw a map of your yard. Note where it's sunny and shady, what times of day have the most sun, what times of day have the most shade. 

Once you have learned where your yard is sunny and shady and drawn up your map of the yard, start selecting your plants. It's a good idea to talk to other gardeners in the area, or to talk to people at a local nursery, in order to learn what plants in the area will thrive. But ultimately, the best way to know what plants are going to grow in your particular yard is to try them.

While certain plants will grow better than others depending on their hardiness zone, some examples of good perennials are the following:

Lavender, which grows well in zones 4-8.
Cone flowers, which can grow in zones 2-10.
Speedwell, a small plant with blue flowers that grows in zones 4-9.
Azaleas, a beautiful shrub that comes in many colors, and can grow in many different zones, depending on the type of azalea.
Sage, a herb, grows as a perennial in zones 5-8.
Hosta, available in many sizes and different foliage colors, grows very well in the shade in zones 3-8.

So black thumbs don't worry. If you want a beautiful garden that is easy to care for, perennials are your answer!

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Recreating the Patio – Design Tips for Designers

Recreating the Patio – Design Tips for Designers

Many exterior designers will agree that recreating an old patio is no easy feat. There are many awesome ideas that have the power to turn an otherwise drab patio into something spectacular. Homeowners have the habit of holding on to their patios even when they need some remodeling badly. 

Note that recreating a patio does not necessarily mean constructing a new one. For starters, incorporating brightly colored plants can brighten up an otherwise dull patio into a bright one. 

1. Make the best of available space with basket cases 

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Deck Design Tips That Your Customers Will Love

Deck Design Tips That Your Customers Will Love

When it comes to creating an impressive deck design, you should throw your inhibition out of the window. Let your creativity be your guide, as mediocre designs will not win you any points. A few factors should be considered when creating a spectacular deck design. For starters, the available space should be your priority when trying to create a deck. The amount of space that you are working on makes it easier for you to determine the design of the deck. 

Tips to stick by when designing the deck

Every exterior designer wants to create a deck that will have his/her customer smiling for days to come. It is important to put a few elements into consideration. For instance, consider the amount of space available. If you are working with a limited outdoor space, the penalty box would do you some justice as it consumes little space. Here are some other tips that you should always consider. 

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