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The Home Front: Sorting out the patio for spring

Bar cart from HomeSense used to arrange plants at different height levels, which creates dimension and scale.

Mid-March is usually the time of year when people start taking a good hard look at their patios and balconies and dreaming up the possibilities for the months ahead. Being honest about what worked last spring, summer and fall, in terms of potted plants, furnishings and decor is usually a good place to start, says landscape designer Janis Matson, of Shoreline Landscape Design .

“I always start with a clean up and reorganization. Decide what looks good. Are there any stains or cracks to repair? Think about the design, do I want a little more privacy? Do I keep this umbrella? Do I even need this umbrella?” says Matson.

 Patio design by hardscape specialists Belgard.

Often at this time of the year Matson says she finds herself drifting into HomeSense and Winners to see if they have any “fun gardening stuff” like table centrepieces, beautiful bowls or character pieces like obelisks .

A common mistake people often make with their patios and balconies, says Matson, is lining up all their potted plants around the edge, like a border.

“It makes spaces feel smaller,” she says.

 Choosing wide shallow pots for permanent planting is the way to go says landscape designer Janis Matson.

From a planting perspective, you want some movement and air circulation around your pots, she says, so shoving them up against glass railings, fence lines or partitions  is the worst thing you can do for them.

From a visual perspective, she says, it makes the area feel boxed in, so you’re far better off creating some dimension and scale in this space by placing pots at different heights, and this clustered effect more closely resembles nature.

“Pick up a cheap little table that you like and put one of the containers on it, so it’s maybe two feet off the ground, and then you can put another bigger one on the ground beside it and a little one on the right hand side,” she says.

A lot of people try and screen off their patios, says Matson, to avoid looking at construction or busy streets, but there is a better way to do this that doesn’t involve a physical block, says Matson, and that’s by creating something visually appealing on your patio, which draws the eye to it and away from whatever you’re not wanting to look at.

 Floral photography by landscape designer Janis Matson, who says people definitely have “itchy fingers” at this time of the year, and are keen to begin planting.

“When I walk out onto a patio I consider: What’s my first view? Where’s my light coming from? Where am I naturally looking? Where would I rather look?” she says.

A beautiful hanging trellis, or an architectural piece can work wonders, she says.

One tip Matson always shares with her clients, she says, is make sure you choose a wide enough pot for permanent planting (for seasonal plants it doesn’t matter so much).

“A permanent container needs to be a minimum of 18 inches wide, because in containers — when we have these wicked winters that freeze the daylights out of us — soil is the key to root establishment, so the more volume we can have the more root establishment,” she says.

Typically plants only want about eight inches of depth, she says, so the “massive rectangular or square containers” (think tall and lean) that look great and are currently very popular are not the best for permanent planting, she says.

“Plants will never use the bottom two feet so go for shallow and wider,” says Matson.

Something people should also consider, she says, if using heavy pots on their patios, is the weight restrictions of their patios or balconies.

“Patios are engineered for a certain amount of weight, and if you put a very large ceramic container full of soil and plant you’re probably looking at 300 pounds for that one plant,” she says.

If your patio or balcony has part shade, some great options for plants in pots are: Hostas, Hakonechloa grass, Geranium macrorrhizum, Helleborus orientalis, Japanese maples – acer palmatum and Full moon maples, says Matson. And if you have a sunny patio or balcony, she recommends: Dwarf hinoki cypress, Blue star juniper, Munstead lavender, Oregano, Moonbeam coreopsis, May night salvia, Autumn joy sedum, Blueberries, Alpine strawberries and veggies.

“Blueberries do quite well in containers and there’s some really nice alpine strawberries,” she says.

Related

The Home Front: Down-to-earth

Water feature by Alchemie Landscape Architecture.

When someone is described as down-to-earth, it usually sounds like a compliment—grounded, equally so. Up-in-the-air, or flighty… less so. There seems to be a bit of universal acceptance that connecting with the earth is a good thing, which is perhaps why people love entertaining outdoors, weather permitting.

People often love the smell of earth, says landscape designer and master gardener Janis Matson, of Shoreline Landscape Design, who also teaches horticulture at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. And, she says, she and her colleagues have noticed a real uptick in the number of people growing their vegetables in Vancouver during these COVID months.

“It’s huge, absolutely huge! Flowers have been secondary. I was touching base with a couple of my nursery friends, and it was just nuts. Absolutely everybody has their own little veggie garden this summer and are trying to create green spaces because they’re not able to travel,” she says.

 Water feature by Alchemie Landscape Architecture.

Something else Matson says she’s noticed, over the past few months, is an increase in bartering for seeds and plants, with people staying home and wanting to make their homes more interesting. Even in her strata, she says, they’ve swapped plants and got the children in the building involved in planting vegetables.

Containers are perfect for this, says Matson, and when it comes to growing things, the larger the container, the better — with one tomato requiring an 18-inch by 18-inch container to produce well.

When it comes to landscape design, people are as attracted to water as they are earth, says Matson.

Water elements have been huge for the past ten to fifteen years, easy. From the smallest recycling gurglers and bubblers to big water features, people love the naturalness and sound of water,” she says.

Matson says she’s a big fan of natural boulders from river rock, such as basalt from Pemberton, and driftwood.

“Anything that depicts a little bit of nature and brings it into the backyard, personally, I just find it soothing and enjoy it more than something that is manufactured,” she says.

Something people often don’t consider when installing water features is the maintenance involved, says Matson, such as regularly cleaning the pump, so it doesn’t clog up, and if you have a pond and small children, considering fencing.

 Connecting with the earth through indoor plants.

“A small child can drown in six inches of water,” she says.

Size matters when it comes to water features, says Matson, with people often opting for water features that are too small — because of price — that are dwarfed by other elements in the garden like fences.

Positioning also matters, she says. You don’t want to put a water feature right under a tree, or you’ll be forever cleaning out the leaves.

“It’s the same thing as the right plant for the right place, the water feature has to be the right feature for the right place,” she says.

Bringing some of that beloved earth element indoors is also good for the soul, says Heena Saini, Commercial PR specialist at Ikea . This year, Ikea released their air-purifying curtains, which they say “actively reduce air pollutants.”

“From a trends perspective, we’re seeing the plant styling has become super popular! The key tip here is to find a space where there’s ample lighting like a living room and curate the area from there. Use a blend of hanging planters, plant stands or even an empty mantle to create a focal point area. Again, adding plants will enhance the tranquillity and feel of the room right away!” says Saini.

How To Use Feng Shui Outside Your Home

How to use Feng ShuiOutside your Home
How to use Feng Shui Outside your Home

It is fun to decorate your own house but sometimes, simple decorating can even lead to a very bad Feng Shui. It is understandable that we like to decorate our house to reflect our mood and taste; however, we will like to let you know some of the basic points to cover when decorating your house. The suggestions below are not a complete list of Feng Shui in your home but merely some essential steps to improve the Feng Shui in your house.

First, go to your house’s main entry and stand facing out from your house. Make sure that there is no Poison Arrow pointing to your main entrance. Poison Arrow can come in many forms. It could be a straight road heading straight to your house or a big tree directly outside your house. If you are facing this situation, you should relocate your main door away from this poison arrow or simply just plant a few trees to block this poising arrow.

From the back door, if the land at the back of your house is higher, that is good for you because you have the support of the Black Turtle. If there is a hill behind your house, that is excellent. If the land behind your house is low, if you are on a hill top for example then you need to install a bright light and shine it upwards to lift the receding Chi energy. You should also place a tortoise at the back of your house if possible.

Looking out from your main door, the land on your left side garden should be higher then the right side. The left side symbolizes Dragon and the right side represents Tiger. You should not let the Tiger be stronger then the Dragon or it will create problems for you in your house like arguing, family disagreement and so on. To rectify this, try to plant tall trees on your left hand side of the garden so the Dragon energy can be stronger then the Tiger. You should also plant a lot of leafy trees on the left hand side of your garden. Try not to have a garden water feature on your right hand side of your garden especially if you are married. By having water fountain on your side of the garden, it may cause a lot of married issues like sex scandals and third party relationships.

When you are opening your house main entrance door, there should be no mirror facing the main door. This is to prevent good energy, luck and wealth from flowing out again. It is also not good when your back door is facing the main door in a straight-line method. This has the same effect as a mirror. Good energy will flow into your house and then flow out from your back door. You need to capture this good energy in your house and donít let them flow out from your house..

The Home Front: Sorting out the patio for spring

Bar cart from HomeSense used to arrange plants at different height levels, which creates dimension and scale.

Mid-March is usually the time of year when people start taking a good hard look at their patios and balconies and dreaming up the possibilities for the months ahead. Being honest about what worked last spring, summer and fall, in terms of potted plants, furnishings and decor is usually a good place to start, says landscape designer Janis Matson, of Shoreline Landscape Design .

“I always start with a clean up and reorganization. Decide what looks good. Are there any stains or cracks to repair? Think about the design, do I want a little more privacy? Do I keep this umbrella? Do I even need this umbrella?” says Matson.

 Patio design by hardscape specialists Belgard.

Often at this time of the year Matson says she finds herself drifting into HomeSense and Winners to see if they have any “fun gardening stuff” like table centrepieces, beautiful bowls or character pieces like obelisks .

A common mistake people often make with their patios and balconies, says Matson, is lining up all their potted plants around the edge, like a border.

“It makes spaces feel smaller,” she says.

 Choosing wide shallow pots for permanent planting is the way to go says landscape designer Janis Matson.

From a planting perspective, you want some movement and air circulation around your pots, she says, so shoving them up against glass railings, fence lines or partitions  is the worst thing you can do for them.

From a visual perspective, she says, it makes the area feel boxed in, so you’re far better off creating some dimension and scale in this space by placing pots at different heights, and this clustered effect more closely resembles nature.

“Pick up a cheap little table that you like and put one of the containers on it, so it’s maybe two feet off the ground, and then you can put another bigger one on the ground beside it and a little one on the right hand side,” she says.

A lot of people try and screen off their patios, says Matson, to avoid looking at construction or busy streets, but there is a better way to do this that doesn’t involve a physical block, says Matson, and that’s by creating something visually appealing on your patio, which draws the eye to it and away from whatever you’re not wanting to look at.

 Floral photography by landscape designer Janis Matson, who says people definitely have “itchy fingers” at this time of the year, and are keen to begin planting.

“When I walk out onto a patio I consider: What’s my first view? Where’s my light coming from? Where am I naturally looking? Where would I rather look?” she says.

A beautiful hanging trellis, or an architectural piece can work wonders, she says.

One tip Matson always shares with her clients, she says, is make sure you choose a wide enough pot for permanent planting (for seasonal plants it doesn’t matter so much).

“A permanent container needs to be a minimum of 18 inches wide, because in containers — when we have these wicked winters that freeze the daylights out of us — soil is the key to root establishment, so the more volume we can have the more root establishment,” she says.

Typically plants only want about eight inches of depth, she says, so the “massive rectangular or square containers” (think tall and lean) that look great and are currently very popular are not the best for permanent planting, she says.

“Plants will never use the bottom two feet so go for shallow and wider,” says Matson.

Something people should also consider, she says, if using heavy pots on their patios, is the weight restrictions of their patios or balconies.

“Patios are engineered for a certain amount of weight, and if you put a very large ceramic container full of soil and plant you’re probably looking at 300 pounds for that one plant,” she says.

If your patio or balcony has part shade, some great options for plants in pots are: Hostas, Hakonechloa grass, Geranium macrorrhizum, Helleborus orientalis, Japanese maples – acer palmatum and Full moon maples, says Matson. And if you have a sunny patio or balcony, she recommends: Dwarf hinoki cypress, Blue star juniper, Munstead lavender, Oregano, Moonbeam coreopsis, May night salvia, Autumn joy sedum, Blueberries, Alpine strawberries and veggies.

“Blueberries do quite well in containers and there’s some really nice alpine strawberries,” she says.

Related

The Home Front: Sorting out the patio for spring

Bar cart from HomeSense used to arrange plants at different height levels, which creates dimension and scale.

Mid-March is usually the time of year when people start taking a good hard look at their patios and balconies and dreaming up the possibilities for the months ahead. Being honest about what worked last spring, summer and fall, in terms of potted plants, furnishings and decor is usually a good place to start, says landscape designer Janis Matson, of Shoreline Landscape Design .

“I always start with a clean up and reorganization. Decide what looks good. Are there any stains or cracks to repair? Think about the design, do I want a little more privacy? Do I keep this umbrella? Do I even need this umbrella?” says Matson.

 Patio design by hardscape specialists Belgard.

Often at this time of the year Matson says she finds herself drifting into HomeSense and Winners to see if they have any “fun gardening stuff” like table centrepieces, beautiful bowls or character pieces like obelisks .

A common mistake people often make with their patios and balconies, says Matson, is lining up all their potted plants around the edge, like a border.

“It makes spaces feel smaller,” she says.

 Choosing wide shallow pots for permanent planting is the way to go says landscape designer Janis Matson.

From a planting perspective, you want some movement and air circulation around your pots, she says, so shoving them up against glass railings, fence lines or partitions  is the worst thing you can do for them.

From a visual perspective, she says, it makes the area feel boxed in, so you’re far better off creating some dimension and scale in this space by placing pots at different heights, and this clustered effect more closely resembles nature.

“Pick up a cheap little table that you like and put one of the containers on it, so it’s maybe two feet off the ground, and then you can put another bigger one on the ground beside it and a little one on the right hand side,” she says.

A lot of people try and screen off their patios, says Matson, to avoid looking at construction or busy streets, but there is a better way to do this that doesn’t involve a physical block, says Matson, and that’s by creating something visually appealing on your patio, which draws the eye to it and away from whatever you’re not wanting to look at.

 Floral photography by landscape designer Janis Matson, who says people definitely have “itchy fingers” at this time of the year, and are keen to begin planting.

“When I walk out onto a patio I consider: What’s my first view? Where’s my light coming from? Where am I naturally looking? Where would I rather look?” she says.

A beautiful hanging trellis, or an architectural piece can work wonders, she says.

One tip Matson always shares with her clients, she says, is make sure you choose a wide enough pot for permanent planting (for seasonal plants it doesn’t matter so much).

“A permanent container needs to be a minimum of 18 inches wide, because in containers — when we have these wicked winters that freeze the daylights out of us — soil is the key to root establishment, so the more volume we can have the more root establishment,” she says.

Typically plants only want about eight inches of depth, she says, so the “massive rectangular or square containers” (think tall and lean) that look great and are currently very popular are not the best for permanent planting, she says.

“Plants will never use the bottom two feet so go for shallow and wider,” says Matson.

Something people should also consider, she says, if using heavy pots on their patios, is the weight restrictions of their patios or balconies.

“Patios are engineered for a certain amount of weight, and if you put a very large ceramic container full of soil and plant you’re probably looking at 300 pounds for that one plant,” she says.

If your patio or balcony has part shade, some great options for plants in pots are: Hostas, Hakonechloa grass, Geranium macrorrhizum, Helleborus orientalis, Japanese maples – acer palmatum and Full moon maples, says Matson. And if you have a sunny patio or balcony, she recommends: Dwarf hinoki cypress, Blue star juniper, Munstead lavender, Oregano, Moonbeam coreopsis, May night salvia, Autumn joy sedum, Blueberries, Alpine strawberries and veggies.

“Blueberries do quite well in containers and there’s some really nice alpine strawberries,” she says.

Related

Choosing the right outdoor water feature

 An outdoor water feature at the entrance to your home sets a tranquil tone for guests, such as here in this Point Grey residence, designed by Claudia Rust, of Formwerks Architecture.

There is something ultimately relaxing about listening to, and watching, water run. It’s why people seek out waterfalls, like sitting next to streams, and why the sound of the ocean is a popular meditation track.

Outdoor water features are the closest replication of this experience in our own backyard, but choosing the right one is not always easy, and if you get it wrong the effect can be similar to garden gnomes. The faded, peeling kind.

 Freestanding water fountain with a pedestal base.

The key, says senior landscape designer,  Claudia   Rust , of Vancouver’s Formwerks Architecture , is choosing one that integrates well into your existing garden, or patio , space.

“By having the water feature integrated into the overall flow of the garden, it will create a purpose, a destination, a refreshing body, a calming oasis and habitat to enjoy for many years,” says Rust.

What works in one garden, or patio, will not necessarily work in another, she says. So choosing one that looked good at your friend’s house is not always the best approach.

Before considering budget, Rust says, think about what you’re trying to achieve with your water feature.

For example, a water feature at the front of the house can work as an architectural element, and welcomes guests by awakening their senses, she says.

A small water feature next to a patio, with soft trickling water, creates a calming effect and enhances even the smallest outdoor space , she says.

 Choosing an outdoor water feature that compliments and blends in with the surrounding landscape is most important, says Claudia Rust, of Formwerks Architecture, who designed this Point Grey garden.

“In a small Kitsilano courtyard we designed a water feature out of an urn. The water flowed over the edge and down the urn to a rock bed,” says Rust.

If the intention is to have the water feature as a scenic viewpoint on your property (think English countryside garden) then you’ll want to place the water feature further away from the house, so it becomes a destination you walk to, says Rust.

Deciding on whether you want a custom, or prefabricated water feature is important, she says, and if you’re going with a custom made, it really is worth consulting with a designer.

 Wall mounted fountain on Wayfair.ca .

If you’re a hands on, DIY sort, a budget-friendly option is to go to your local garden store and pick a bowl, or urn, and create your own water feature.

“I recommend staying away from artificial and fake looking plastic or stone structures. Usually they are hard to integrate,” she says.

If you’re putting in a pool you want to choose a sunny spot in the garden and one that is close to action — think next to the lawn , where the kids play, or off the patio — so it’s an extension of the house, says Rust. You also want to work in the surrounding design elements, she says.

“The pool tile could pick up on the pattern and material of your patio,” she says. “A koi pond could have a wood deck for sitting and fish observation surrounded by water-loving plants and trees that provide some shade and additional habitat.”

You can pay as much or as little as you want for an outdoor water feature, says Alexa Battista, of Wayfair.ca.

 Pool and surrounding landscape in this Shaughnessy residence, designed by Claudia Rust, of Formwerks Architecture.

When choosing one, she says, it’s worth considering your climate: what sort of weather it’s going to be exposed to, and how it’s going to age.

Common materials for outdoor water features are stone, cement and ceramic, says Battista, and range in styles from those  that can be mounted to a wall  or fence, or a  tiered, free-standing option  with a pedestal base.

You’ll also need to think about your power source, says Battista.

“The two most common options being electric and solar powered. If you don’t have direct access to outdoor electricity, a solar powered fountain is a great option,” she says.

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