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How to Use Landscaping Rocks

How to Use Landscaping RocksAdding rocks to your landscape can definitely add an aesthetic appeal, but they can also be a practical addition too. You can use landscaping rocks to brighten a shady garden or to add texture to a flower bed. Here are a few tips on how to use these rocks to your landscaping’s best advantage.

First off, remember that choosing the right landscaping rocks for your yard is important. You can use white rocks to brighten areas that don’t get a lot of sun, or you can use landscaping rocks to complement what is already in your garden. For example, for gardens that incorporate a lot of tropical flowers, you could consider using terra cotta stones to give it more of that island feel. If you’re going for a more minimal look and feel, you might consider black landscaping rocks. Make sure you have a look or theme in mind when choosing what stones to use.

One more thing to keep in mind: whatever color or style you choose, make sure you like it. You’re going to have to live with it for many years to come unless you want to go through the hassle of choosing new landscaping rocks within the near future. Be sure you know what you want and get exactly what you are looking for. It’s okay to be picky in this scenario.

Landscaping rocks do not require a lot of maintenance. You should probably keep an eye on them just to be sure they stay even on the ground, and you might want to check them after a particularly bad storm, but overall, they should be maintenance free. They’re a great way to add durability to your groundcover. They are more permanent than mulch and they definitely do not require as much maintenance. You will not have to worry about adding new landscaping rocks every season (not unless you want to!).

Finally, remember that landscaping rocks are not restricted to using just on the ground. Rocks can be used in a variety of ways: as retaining walls, as a patio, as an outdoor fireplace or fire pit: the ideas go on and on. You can use the Internet as inspiration, or you can simply take a walk through nature and try to emulate some of what you see in your own landscaping. Your imagination is the limit, so try to come up with some ideas you know you’ll enjoy for years to come!

Which Paving Stones Will Be Suitable for Your Garden?

You can create a garden that looks like a perfect picture or a fairy tale scene. There are endless possibilities on how to decorate your garden with the right paving stone. Your perfect garden can be created by selecting the best paving stones that will fit not only your garden but your pocket too. Decorating a garden can both be easy and fun if you plan it correctly beforehand. Planning is essential since there are many ways to adapt a garden.

Paving stones vary in colour, size, shape, and weight. The options available include cobblestones, flagstones, cladding and copings. When paving your garden ensure that you have the correct equipment and tools. If you aren’t able to do it yourself, then get a professional brick layer or a landscaper to assist you.

There are many paving stone designs available for your driveway, walkway or pathway. For this application, paving tiles are ideal as they are large squares that can be placed along the walkway or driveway. Grooming all pathways in the garden with paving tiles will create a smooth walkway for you and your guests.

If you have a small garden and would like to make it a cosy area, you could use cobblestones. Cobblestone ideas include a stone age design and a simulated rock design. The stone age design creates a cosy and romantic ambience which takes you back to the days of horse drawn carriages. It gives your garden a warm and inviting feeling which can make any one feel welcome in your garden.

The flagstone is handmade and is perfect for areas close to the braai or next to a bed of roses. It can be used indoors or outdoors or vice versa for a smooth but steady stay. These paving stones are durable and easy to clean so it is ideal if you aren’t able to tend to your garden often.

Cladding is used on partitioning walls in the garden. You can create a modern stone rock theme in your garden. Adding cladding mends dull or bland walls and uplifts the look of your garden.

Copings with their non-slip surface are perfect for pool areas, fish ponds and atriums. This classic paving stone is made with the highest quality specifications and modernises your garden. Copings round off the edges to give pool areas a neat appearance.

Exotic Flowers

There are several types of exotic flowers to best suit any occasion. And of course, depending on your personal taste, you will want to choose the best exotic flowers you can obtain to be the perfect flowers, the most adequate for the purpose they will be serving. For example: at someone’s funeral, you may want to choose bouquet of flowers that the deceased would have loved. Here are some other examples (after all, these flowers are for happy occasions as well as the more tragic ones.

Musas:

The Chinese Musa flower is a stunning example of the kinds of exotic flowers that are perfect for gardens or bouquets.

Calatheas:

The exotic flower called the Genus Calathea is in the Marantaceae family of plowers, however it differs from other genera. The Marantaceae family of exotic flowers, in which Maranta and Ctenanthe are included, are unbranched inflorescences cone-like clusters.

The calathea comes from tropical South America, Calathea, it has about three hundred different species. These flowers love the shade and humidity, they are virtually all grown in much of the world only indoors. These flowers require full shade from the sun. However, if they must, they can handle a small amount of morning sun. These exotic flowers need their soil to be moist but well-drained soil, the use of a fertilizer is recommended.

When, on the rare occasion that these exotic flowers are grown outside–you must be sure that they are healthy, they must be free from all pests and diseases. Some of calathea will die midwinter, but will return again midsummer.

Cymbidiums:

Cymbidiums contain approximately forty-four species they are found in the tropics of the old world. The elegant, large flowered types of cymbidiums come from the higher regions of the Himalayas, and they must be kept in cool conditions in order to bloom well.

Dendrobiums:

Dendrobiums actually have about one thousand different species in their enormous family, they have countess hybrids as well. However, there are many varied growing conditions for this type of exotic flower. It is recommended that one establish from where in the world, and at what altitude their plant is accustom to, in order to determine how to best take care of the plant.

Miltonias:

Miltonias are referred to as the Pansy Orchid sometimes. There are approximately ten different kinds of species, and miltonias are found primarily in Brazil, therefore they are warm-weather flowers, and there are many hybrids with wonderful fragrance, because the militona is such a fragrant flower to begin with. These flowers will add a wonderful sensory ambiance to their surroundings, because in addition to their scent they are extremely pleasing to the eye.

Odontoglossums:

Odontoglossums also have a wide range of species, approximately 0ne hundred and seventy-five. These exotic flowers originated in the mountains of South America, as well as in higher altitudes and are used to wet clouded forests. Thus these wonderful flowers must be tended to under cool conditions, many hybrids exist as well, so there are many types to choose from.

Oncidiums:

These are among the most popular exotic flowers and there are approximately six hundred different species in existence. They come from the tropics of the Americas, and few of them even grow in high altitudes, these also must be supervised under cooler conditions. Fortunately, the hybrids are more tolerant than the species, you will find that this is true for most plants.

Paphiopedilums:

Paphiopedilums, the root word being Paphinia–who was the greek Goddess that the Romans later named Venus. Around sixty species exist, coming from Asia India and New Guinea. There are species with mottled leaved which need to be kept in warm conditions. And the paphiopedilums that are plain leaved and single flowered require intermediate/cool conditions, and plain leaved multiflowered species have to have warm environments to survive.

Phalaenopsis:

Phalaenopsis, or the exotic flower that is often called the Moth Orchid comes from Java and the South Seas, the Philippines and Queensland Australia. Therefore, they are definitely warm weather growers, and they do prefer to be in the shade. Phalaenopsis would make the perfect houseplant, they are very free flowering and also make great gifts.

Vandas:

Vandas have approximately fifty species. Several hybrids have been derived from the tropics, Asia, and the orient–as far down as Australia. These hybrids require a warm environment that includes plenty of bright light. Many people hang them in their homes or gardens from wooden baskets.

Water Gardening:

Water Lilies and Lotuses are a beautiful touch to your pond, or waterfall etc. Major cultivars of water lilies and lotuses–almost all of which are hybridizers–explore the best landscapes in which to grow these exotic flowers.

Nymphaea and Nelumbo:

The genera Nymphaea and Nelumbo are beautiful species of exotic flowers, other genera in the waterlily family include Nuphar, Victoria, Euryale, Barclaya

Draecena:

Draecena (otherwise known as the dragon’s tree) is an exotic flower that neither requires regular watering, nor does it need much light at all. It’s a symbol of power and prosperity. These flowers may live up to one thousand years. A perfect gift for yourself or a friend or family member who does not have that much time for gardening, but would love to have a beautiful garden, however small, and something elegant and exotic to pass on for generations to come.

Anyone can add a striking touch of color to their home, or even the office with the elegant of wild exotic flowers. Exotic plants and flowers add a beautiful touch to any garden, home, patio or yard, as well as weddings, celebrations, banquets, and more solemn occasions.

Hardscape Ideas for Your Small Backyard

For those that are not sure what hardscape is, it includes the heavier elements in designing your backyard like your patio, driveway, rocks, stones, stone benches, arbors, etc. It can also include installing sprinkler systems and installation of swimming pools and fountains. Now that you know what hardscape includes let us look at some design ideas for your small backyard.

• Visual levels – to give your backyard a dramatic look create some levels there. You can add a pathway laced with flowers, bushes, etc to give it an aesthetic appeal. You can also convert a wall into a vertical garden. You could even use the top portion of the wall to hold your plants. You can use steps to reach this high wall and the area that surrounds the area can be a seating area with a nice stone bench or two.

• Living water flows – you might think that it would not be possible to add a water feature to your small backyard but it can be done. Doing this will add dimension to your yard and it will also make a soothing area to come to when you want to relax and unwind.

• Isolated islands – to make this happen you will need to choose a spot that is the center of your backyard. Using tiles to create an island make sure that it is big enough to accommodate a couple of chairs with a side table between them. Another type of hardscape would be a trellis or two behind the chairs so you could plant climbing roses or other climber plants, ivy, or creepers. You could also plant some plants. In a few months you will have your own special island.

• Interesting pathways – you can make a special pathway from your backdoor to your special island or the living water oasis. Use artistic blocks to spruce up your pathway. You can plant palms or bamboo shoots along the boundary of the pathway or keep flowering plants there. Put in some solar lights to light up your pathway.

• Decor – keep any decor that you use simple so it will not take away from your special areas. You want to use hardscape elements that will breathe space into your special island or water oasis.

Make sure that anything you have built is easy maintained. You want to make sure that you spend more time enjoying your special area instead of maintaining it. In your area you may want to include some lighting so you can enjoy it at night. If you do make sure that you include citronella candles to keep the bugs away.

Create an Outdoor Seating Area in Your Garden

Whether you have old chairs, new chairs, white or black, it should always be comfortable. If you don’t have a lot of chairs that are the same design, you can mix and match the ones you have to create an eclectic theme. Choose weatherproof furniture to create a welcoming outdoor seating area that can withstand the weather. You can add an amazing outdoor kitchen which incorporates the sink and a braai area. Enhance your outdoor experience by using different kinds of materials and fabrics to create a place of tranquility and peace. Together with this, an all-white crisp, clean and cool seating area can create the power of serenity in your garden.

You can create your own seats and don’t have to buy a single chair if you are a creative person. You can build your own concrete bench or a crafty wooden bench, depending on the style of your garden. You can use large colourful pillows on the concrete bench for comfort. Or you can add flat pillows on the wooden bench. Place the wooden bench under some trees for a relaxing seating area in your garden.

Cozy lounge furniture can be transferred to the garden which will give the illusion of a living room. Be sure to re-upholster them with weatherproof fabric. This seating will give your guests a comfortable place to gather for a pleasurable cocktail before supper. A patio is well complemented with beautiful garden ornaments. Add a candelabra over the fireplace to complete the illusion of the living room being transferred to the outdoors. By transforming your garden into a beautiful space could keep you from ever leaving your backyard.

You can never have enough seating ideas for your garden if you are creative. Your garden can be converted into a calm, casual yet gorgeous space by adding bamboo chairs and natural stone cladding on the walls. Make use of natural stone paving tiles as walkways to enhance the natural theme. You can also add a few décor elements such as arches, water features or garden creature ornaments. This will make the garden look more interesting.

Your garden is the space where you can relax, be calm and be yourself. Convert your backyard and garden into a breathtaking outdoor living area.

Lettuce Gardening Tips

Gardeners can select from a large variety of lettuces that are easy to grow, highly productive in limited space, and virtually pest and disease free. Lettuce is definitely one of the more “care-free” crops. Lettuce is a great way to start gardening; it is what I started out with actually. There are a few key principles though that should always be kept in mind.

Lettuce

For maximum lettuce production, it’s wise to select a site where the soil drains well, yet retains some moisture. The soil should also be rich in nitrogen and potassium, The best way to accomplish this is to work in plenty of organic matter (compost, rotted manure, or leaf mold) that will loosen and enrich the soil.

Most lettuce varieties mature in 45 to 55 days, allowing many gardeners to plant two or even three crops. But looseleaf and butterhead leaves can be harvested at just about any time in their development. Heading varieties take longer to mature. Romaine takes 75 to 85 days and crisphead 70 to 100 days.

By choosing the right varieties and with these lettuce gardening tips, it’s possible to have lettuce in your garden throughout the growing season. This lettuce is great for salads throughout the growing season. There really is nothing better than a fresh Caesar salad with fresh romaine from the garden!

Lettuce Gardening Tips

Lettuce History

Lettuce, one of the oldest food plants known to man, is believed to have originated in India and Central Asia. Even Herodotus wrote of lettuce being served in ancient Greece, and it was a most favorite vegetable in ancient Rome. This is where we get “Caesar Salad”! In fact, the word “lettuce” is derived from the Latin root word “lac” meaning “milk,” referring to the milky juice found in mature lettuce stems.

Columbus and other European explorers brought lettuce seeds to the New World. Our early colonists included lettuce in the first gardens planted in American soil. Today, lettuce is a favorite vegetable here and around the world. It has revolutionized all cultures of food, from hamburgers to salads.

More Lettuce Gardening Tips

Lettuce is so easy to grow it can be started indoors for early transplants or sown directly in the garden. In fact, doing both is recommended to get maximum production. Lettuce seeds are extremely tiny, so it is recommended to be generous with them when planting. It is a good idea to

Romaine Lettuce

start some lettuce seeds indoors in peat pots a few weeks before the last frost date in your area. Provide the seedlings with plenty of sunlight or keep them under artificial lighting until ready to move into the garden. Transplant the seedlings as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. If a hard freeze threatens, protect the seedlings with a cloche or row cover. Reserve a number of lettuce seedlings to fill empty spaces in the garden as the season progresses.

To sow lettuce directly in the garden, simply plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep, tamp them down, and water. It’s that simple! Space the sowings according to packet directions that are based on the size of the mature lettuce. For example, a crisphead may require a square foot of garden space. As many as nine plants of a small leaf lettuce variety can grow in the same space.

Keep in mind that lettuce seeds won’t germinate in soil that is 80 degrees F. or warmer, so there’s no sense in sowing directly in the garden in the summer. Resort to starting heat-tolerant varieties indoors and moving the lettuce seedlings into the garden, preferably under partial shade, after they’ve developed a few true leaves.

Lettuce Cultivation

Here are two cultivation tips to keep in mind:

Succession plantings.

Lettuce is ideal for succession planting. Sow seeds every two weeks for production throughout the season, starting with early lettuce varieties, using heat-tolerant varieties as your main crop, and then switching to fall crops late in the summer. Or, if you prefer, use lettuce in successions with other crops. For example, plant lettuce in the spring, followed by bush beans in the summer, followed by lettuce again in the fall.

Watering.

The key to lettuce production is supplying moderate but almost constant water, especially during hot weather. Unless there is regular rainfall, lettuce must be watered deeply at least once a week- more frequently during periods of drought. Mulch with a layer of compost or clean straw to help the soil retain moisture. A drip-irrigation system is ideal.

Lettuce Growing Tips

To improve overall lettuce production, consider using the following four techniques.

Raised beds.

To maximize lettuce production, plant seeds in raised beds. The raised beds warm up faster than the surrounding ground. You should be able to get an earlier start in the spring and a later crop in the fall. Raised bed gardening is, without a doubt, the best way to garden anything out there. Its simplicity, organization, incredible fertility, and results are astounding.

Living mulch.

To make the most of limited garden space, plant lettuce around taller plants like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, and eggplants. This helps the lettuce grow a lot better; if they are left in the beating sun without moisture, they will not be able to survive. The lettuce helps its neighbor by keeping the surrounding soil moist and cool and keeping weeds shaded out. As the taller plants grow, they provide needed shade for the lettuce as the days get warmer.

‘Tucking.’

You can also start lettuce seedlings indoors for filling vacancies in the garden in late spring and again in early fall as other crops are harvested. Simply ‘tuck’ a seedling in the vacant spot to keep every inch of garden space in constant production.

Ornamental use.

Many varieties of lettuce are welcome additions to ornamental beds. For example, ‘Mighty Red Oak,’ ‘Sweet Red,’and ‘Sierra Blush’ can easily fill gaps in flowerbeds, adding splashes of red where needed.

Insects and Diseases

Lettuce is generally disease and pest free, but you should still be vigilant.

Cutworms and slugs are the most bothersome pests. Use a paper collar around young lettuce seedlings to keep the ravenous caterpillars at bay. Slugs are tougher to control. Sprinkle wood ashes or diatomaceous earth over the soil around the plants to discourage the nasty mollusks. Be sure to reapply after each rainfall.

A major threat is lettuce rot which first attacks the lower leaves in contact with the soil and then spreads throughout the plant.

With these lettuce gardening tips, you can stop this. The best way to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases is to rotate crops. Don’t plant lettuce in the same bed two years in a row.

Raised Bed of Lettuce

Perhaps the greatest threat to lettuce growing are deer. If there is no protection or netting over these lettuce plants, I can assure you that the deer will have a salad bar feast and everything will be gone. I specially recommend the plastic raised beds with pre-made nets from gardeners. These are what I use for my garden. These lettuce gardening tips will save you a ton of time that I had to learn by experience.

Lettuce Harvesting Tips

Lettuce can be harvested any time after true leaves form. For the best quality, better to pick early than late as lettuce allowed to grow too long may be bitter and tough.

To harvest crisphead, Batavia, and romaine varieties, cut the plant right at the soil line when mature, if you prefer to harvest full heads. You can do the same with butterhead and looseleaf lettuce, but I prefer to harvest only the outer leaves as needed. This keeps the plants in production longer. Try to harvest in the morning when the leaves are crisp, sweet, and full of moisture.

When the crown of a lettuce plant elongates, it’s about to bolt to produce seed and the plant has passed its prime. Yank the lettuce plant out, toss it on the compost pile, and replant the space with another crop like bush beans, or with another lettuce seedling.

Recipes and Storage

Primarily water, lettuce does not store well. For the best quality and flavor, use homegrown lettuce soon after harvest. This is particularly true for many of the looseleaf varieties, which wilt readily.

Combine crisp, crunchy lettuce varieties with soft, buttery-smooth types. For example, a blend of ‘Little Caesar,’ ‘Burpee Bibb’, ‘Mighty Red Oak Leaf,’ and ‘Crispy Frills’ makes a fine tossed salad with a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. With the lettuce gardening tips, you will be able to grow and try different blends until you find the ones that most delight your palate.

 

Tips for Simple Residential Landscaping Maintenance

Are you someone who loves to see a beautifully landscaped yard, but find that your horticultural skills are limited to those plants that require little to no maintenance? Maybe, you are moderately successful with plants, but the thought of a large landscape design is overwhelming because you don’t know where you will find the time to actually do the work. The reality is that quite often we have dreams of the magazine worthy lawn and landscape design, but when it comes to the actual implementation, we don’t have the time and energy it would take to maintain the look.

Most of us know that residential landscaping is one of the best ways you can add value and beauty to your home, but many of us just lack the knowledge, skill and time to achieve it. Thankfully, there are many ways to have that amazing residential landscape design without dealing with hours of stress.

7 Tips for Simple Residential Landscaping Maintenance

1. Before planting anything, talk to some of the local nurseries or those in your area with particularly beautiful landscapes and learn as much as you can about the soil conditions and what type of plants and grass do best. If you are new to the area, be sure to also ask about the weather and light throughout the year. Knowing this will help you choose plants that will be successful.

2. Take some time to sketch out any ideas you may have your yard. Be sure to indicate areas for trees, hedges, flower gardens and edges. Often, local nurseries have people who can come to your residence and help you plan this out.

3. Plan on planting trees and shrubs that require minimal maintenance, but will grow and flourish for years. Be sure there are some shade trees included in your selection! After all, no residential landscape should be without shaded areas where one can sit outside and just relax.

4. Select flowers and trees that are native to your area. Plant these items in their sun preferred area and you will find that little to no work will be required for them to look fabulous.

5. Rather than trying to maintain numerous gardens and landscaped areas at once, start small. Choose 1 or 2 key areas to focus on. In subsequent years you can add more areas, just be sure to know your time limits, and plant accordingly.

6. Plant similar types of plants together. Not will this look great, but it will be easier to maintain.

7. Use borders and walkways to add interest as well as keep grass from creeping into the garden areas.

Residential landscaping doesn’t have to be difficult or something only dreamed of. Use these tips and before you now it, you can have that picture worthy landscape.

Transplanting Native Plants

Transplanting Native PlantsHomeowners move into a home that has a wooded area in the backyard and they find a nice small tree in the woods that they would like to move to another location in their yard.

WARNING; Dogwoods, Maple and Oaks usually die.

The key to successfully moving native plants is Root Pruning. To root prune, means to cut all roots with a Sharp Spade or it may be called a Sharp Shooter. Go out from the trunk one foot for each inch diameter of the trunk before you start cutting the roots. (Example 5 ft. Tree-16 to 18″ inch ball)

Staying out the right distance from the trunk as described above. Force the spade into the ground all the way around the plant. Try to uncut the plant so all of the roots are cut and lift slight. Drop the plant back into position, firm the soil and keep watered during the summer months.

If you want to move your native plant in late fall, root prune in early spring. Likewise, if you intend to move the plant in early spring, root prune the previous fall.

Please note, also, that when you move a plant from the wild to a cultivated area of your lawn, you may be changing its environment to such an extent that the plant will die. Here’s an example, if you move a plant from a dense shaded area to the sunlit part of your yard, the tree may die through over exposure even the bark of the tree may have to be protected by using a tree wrap.

When digging the plant from the ground, dig the soil from around the roots without completely exposing them. Remember the more roots you can save the better chance of success. Any extra soil left on the roots will help to retain the fine hair roots which absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil.

Evergreen must have a root ball with lots of soil when moving. I have had many clients during a rejuvenation of their yard, wanted to transplant plants that were not worth keeping. If you have special memories about a plant that is OK, just remember that the cost of moving the plant may be far above what a new beautiful plant would cost and it may or may not fit into the new landscape design.

In summary, when moving plants take a lot of care and have some knowledge of how to do it before starting. Just remember that there are few guarantees in life.

Water, Wood, Fire

Decorating a yard or garden is largely a matter of personal taste. There are several elements that tend to be recognized to create a given mood or enhance the look of the area. Water is often used. Japanese gardens have traditionally used water to draw the eye to various focal points in the garden. These ancient designs derive influence from Taoist or Shinto values. Taoist and Shinto disciplines emphasize harmony with oneself and with the environment. As such, Japanese gardens tend to fit in with their surroundings. It is common for a Japanese garden to mimic the landscape of rural Japan, with features resembling mountains, forests, rivers and prairies.

A stream with real water requires significant infrastructure, including pumps and filters. Sometimes a simulated river will be created out of river rock, complete with bridges and other features exclusive to a riparian environment. These simulated rivers are much easier to maintain, and require only an occasional pass with a leaf blower to look put together.

Plants are another feature that yards and gardens have. Plants, or the lack thereof, tend to determine the feel for a space, even more than water or fire. This is probably because plants can be very large, and can alter the amount of light in a space, and to some degree, alter the temperature. Large, spreading trees can create a canopy in summer that reduces the temperature by up to 20 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If these trees are deciduous, the winter sun will be able to reach the ground under them, warming the space.

Smaller plants set the tone for the area as well. Some gardens and yards are immaculately trimmed, with bushes and hedges sculpted along precise lines. This style of bush trimming requires a high amount of maintenance, and pairs well with short, tiff grass. The effect will be similar to that of a small golf course. Perhaps around the edges of a property, or in a larger yard, a more rough look is appropriate, as it will require much less time and energy to maintain. Citrus trees are often a great choice, as they look great with little maintenance, and have the added benefit of providing fruit around Christmas time and late winter.

A final feature that tends to increase the allure of a garden space is fire. A controlled fire can be safe and intriguing, and there are a myriad of ways to incorporate fire into a yard or garden. A simple way is with small, gas torches. Tiki torches are small bottles of gas that are mounted on bamboo poles, which are in turn inserted into the ground. While the flames only reach a few inches above the end of the torch, the bottles themselves are located about six feet off the ground, which spreads the light over a wider area. Usually several Tiki torches will be used, and will encircle a swimming pool or line a walk. Wherever they are used, they provide a tropical, adventurous feel to a space.

Another way to bring fire safely into an outdoor space is with a fire pit. Fire pits and decorative barbeques can take a variety of shapes. The simplest are mobile units that have three legs, a bowl for holding the wood, a mesh wall, and a solid metal lid. The mesh allows air in to feed the flames, but prevents sparks from spreading.

More permanent solutions are permanent stainless steel or masonry structures. These might be built into the ground or a fire pit table. These fire pits might be wood burning, but more commonly are propane supplied. This means that they are safer and easier to control than wood or charcoal briquettes. The propane can also be easily diverted into a functional barbeque or oven for preparing food, something that is much more difficult with a wood-burning pit.

By incorporating water, plants and fire, one can transform an outdoor space into a mini-ecosystem, and a peaceful retreat suitable for entertaining and relaxing.

Is There Danger In Using Artificial Grass For Animals?

Once seen as somewhat tacky and tasteless, turf has, in recent years, become much more widely accepted, as more and more people discover the benefits of artificial grass. For animals and their owners, in particular, this material is increasingly considered to be a better option than a natural lawn, as it is significantly more hygienic and much easier to clean of detritus or animal waste. This is the main reason why a growing number of pet owners, particularly those who own ‘outside’ pets such as cats, dogs and rabbits, have been opting to replace the natural grass in their yards with turf carpets.

As popular as it is among pet owners, however, turf is still far from consensual as an ideal material for households with animals. For every dog or cat parent extolling the virtues of artificial grass for animals, there still tends to be at least one person in the opposite camp, preventing turf from becoming as widespread in homes with pets as it might otherwise have been.

The basis for these detractors’ arguments hinges around one hypothesis: that rather than be beneficial for dogs and cats as well as their owners, artificial grass may in fact be toxic to them, as well as children. This point of view has gained some traction over the years, and nowadays it is not uncommon to find people dis-recommending artificial grass for animals based on these claims.

Yet, like most other problematics in modern society, this issue is not as linear or simple as it looks. There are arguably points to be made for either side of the argument, and no clearly defined ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side. This is why the present article will not attempt to offer a definitive answer to the question of whether or not it is dangerous artificial grass for animals, but simply present some of the known facts surrounding this issue, so as to give pet owners a better understanding of the factors involved.

The Basis

The basis for the claim that turf is dangerous to animals, as well as to children, originates from the actual, documented presence of a certain chemical in this material. This chemical, known as crumb rubber, is usually applied to the surface of turf carpets, to make the artificial blades more wear-resistant and provide extra padding. The main concern surrounding crumb rubber is that it may contain traces of other, potentially hazardous chemicals and metals, which could in turn lead to complications for pets and children subject to direct contact with the grass. This is the main basis supporting the argument that it may potentially be dangerous for households or outdoor areas to provide artificial grass for animals and children to play on.

The Counter-Point

The counter-point to this argument is the fact that no studies have concretely proven that crumb rubber has adverse effects on those who come into contact with it. As noted above, the material does contain traces of potentially hazardous substances, but these amounts are so small as to be negligible. There is no scientific evidence firmly corroborating the dangers of artificial grass for animals and children, and most of the claims to that effect seem to originate from word of mouth. By contrast, manufacturers’ claims that their turf carpets are non-toxic and free of hazardous seem somewhat more credible and substantiated.

Still, as noted above, there is really no right or wrong answer to this question. Evidence seems to point to there being no danger in artificial grass for animals and children, but much like its counter-argument, this point is not fully substantiated. It would seem, however, that when it comes to turf carpets, a pet owner or parent’s main concern should be their tendency to overheat in hot weather, rather than the possibility that it will make their pet or child sick.

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