Ah, spring, what a fun time for all of us! While the ladies are probably more drawn to our Spring Fashion article this month, the guys have probably turned to this, our Spring Landscaping feature. Spring is about renewal and growth and nowhere is this more evident than in the grass, trees, flowers, shrubs and other parts of your yard and landscape. As the snow melts (and mud dries), we are usually left with a pretty drab picture of our outdoor area. However, there is no need to worry! By making a few simple calls to professionals who specialize in lawn care, landscaping, hardscaping and lighting, you can take the task off your plate and still know that your outdoor area will be perfect for relaxing in entertaining as soon as the weather warms up!

“In today’s busy world, finding a few hours to spend with family can be a challenge,” explains Sue Fetters with Exterior Designs Landscaping. “So staying home and grilling on our patios and decks has become more essential than ever before. Families can enjoy privacy, healthy meals, outdoor activities for children and downtime in their own back yards. In the last five years, we have had a huge demand for installing paver patios, decks, privacy trellises, pergolas and for children, playground spaces using athletic turf or pea gravel.”

Sue also says that gardening is becoming more and more popular and should be considered when planning your landscaping. “Nutritional awareness has come to the forefront with consumers buying organic and avoiding GMO foods and many people are achieving this by growing more of their own food. One outdoor room that is for the entire family is the organic garden. Once we’ve set aside an area, installed the framework and planted the organic garden, it will need to be maintained and fertilized organically and this area falls into the category of bed maintenance that we already provide for landscape beds. We can design, construct raised beds, plant, weed and clean out your garden in fall. You will also need to water and harvest your crop. We use 100% certified organic non-GMO seeds, including traditional and heirloom varieties.

Children love to see things grow and love to eat what they’ve grown. When they start gardening at a young age, it increases their awareness of healthy eating and gardening usually becomes a lifelong interest. For people who like to do patio gardening, we have tower gardens that are five feet tall using aeroponics (water misting via a pump system) to nourish the plants. Our customers residing in HOAs that do not allow gardens love their tower gardens.”

Sue and her team also help with regular lawn, plant and tree care. “We know people are wondering what to do about those areas of their lawn that died last year or their trees that suffered from the drought or plants that the Japanese beetles destroyed. We can help provide sounds agronomic solutions to these problems, many of which you can take care of yourself.”

Curb appeal is an important part of the overall impression of your home and it is not limited to your lawn, trees and deck. It can also include the outside of your actual home. “First impressions are so important,” points out Michelle Christensen with Papillion Windows & Siding. “Consider updating your entry door system and add some decorative touches to the front of your home, such as shutters, window mantels or decorative columns if you want to spruce up your exterior.”

She also stresses the importance of the condition of your windows and siding, especially if you are considering resale value or the overall efficiency of your home. “If you have windows with rotted/soft frames or trim or seal failures, that is a potential for great energy loss. Rotted or soft siding or failure to keep siding seams sealed can contribute to further damage to not only the siding, but also the structure itself. Some signs to look for when deciding whether to replace siding and windows are rotted or soft window frames and trim, seal failure (condensation between the panes) and soft or rotted siding or missing or peeling caulking from siding seams.”

Improving curb appeal can also include repairs or upgrades on features like driveways, mailboxes, patios, garage doors and more. One good way to know if your home needs some curb appeal face lifts is to enlist the help of a few friends or family members who don’t come to your home much. Ask them to drive up to your home and right down the first five or ten things that come to their mind—good or bad. We get so used to seeing our own homes that we often don’t even notice when something is in obvious need of improvement.

Creating a back yard retreat is on the list of many home owners this year. During the economic downturn, many families found that their budget for vacations was dramatically reduced or eliminated altogether. Because of this, many families had no choice but to stay close to home (or at home) when they had some time off. Now that many people are doing well again with their income, instead of spending it on vacations as they once did, they are instead spending it on improving their homes as they’ve found they enjoy staying close to home even during vacation or break times. This spring and summer many families want to have long weekends spent lounging in the back yard with their friends and families and want to have a truly impressive and tranquil setting to do so.

The key to a truly enjoyable back yard is creating one where you, your family and your guests feel just as comfortable as you would indoors (or even more so!). This means plenty of comfortable lounge chairs or couches, an eating area and a place to prepare food (such as a barbeque area or outdoor kitchen). Remember that you will be spending a lot of time outdoors when it’s sunny and hot, so shade and privacy should be at the top of your list (think an awning, pergola or gazebo or plenty of high quality sun umbrellas).

Many times, these plans may include a pool. If you want to add a pool to your landscape, it’s vitally important that you resist the urge to run down to the nearest store and pick out a pool. This is a big decision and a big purchase and you should only work with a professional who is knowledgeable in selling and installing pools. You’ll also want to make sure you have enough budget to create the right environment in which to enjoy your new pool. You want to be able to enjoy your new tropical environment even when the sun goes down, so lighting is an option you’ll want to consider. Enhancing your poolscape with lighting not only allows you to enjoy it into the evening hours, but it also provides safety and adds a decorative effect. Fiber optics, perimeter, floating and color-changing lighting will create beautiful and unique nighttime gatherings.

If you are adding a pool to your back yard, you’ll also want to add a fence (or improve on your current fence if it does not provide the security and privacy you need). A proper fence can provide a safety measure against unwanted visitors and make sure that all of your neighbors and everyone driving by can’t see your family and guests in their swimsuits! If you build a deck around your pool, a fence can also provide additional security and keep children or animals from wandering into the pool area unsupervised.

Remember that the key to a successful landscaping project is to work with the right professionals. Get them involved right in the beginning so they can help you plan everything, develop a budget and make sure that all the pieces of your project are fitting together properly.