Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top 5 Types of Garden Lighting

Choosing the right outdoor lighting is one of the most important aspects of landscape design. Landscape lighting illuminates dark paths, highlights interesting garden elements and deters intruders. Above all, garden lighting creates a welcoming ambiance of warmth and safety.

Top Types of Garden Lighting:

Path lighting: Outdoor lighting keeps driveways, garden paths and stairs safe for walking after dark. Featuring vintage and contemporary designs in impact-resistant plastics and metals, path lights usually have a domed top and pagoda style that directs the light toward the ground. This increases the light's effectiveness and decreases light pollution. For convenience, path lighting is usually sold in sets and includes electric and solar designs. Light sets make great outdoor patio lights and deck lights. While they are bright enough to illuminate a sidewalk, path lights

Low-voltage lights: These energy-efficient outdoor lights use 12 volts or less of electricity. A transformer converts the 120-volt electric power line to 12 volts for a set of lights. A popular option for path lighting, low-voltage light sets often include their own power packs. An experienced do-it-yourselfer can assemble this system; however, we recommend professional installation of these lights.

Solar lights: This outdoor lighting system uses sunlight to charge the Ni-Cad batteries that power the light fixture. Solar lights automatically switch on at dusk and generally stay lighted for up to 10 hours. This safe, wireless design doesn't use electricity, making solar outdoor lights an excellent option for the yard. Solar deck lights resemble soft candlelight -- creating a romantic glow. Solar-powered batteries need to be replaced about every three years. The LED panels are not replaceable but generally last about 20 years with proper care. Solar lights may not work well in shaded areas or during cloudy weather. However, solar lights emit enough light for adequate path lighting in most regions.

Accent lighting: Use individual accent lights to showcase interesting design elements in the yard. Spotlights will make a pretty tree look spectacular at night and properly illuminate flags. Floodlights make good house and patio lights, but their brightness will make outlying areas appear darker. Use a set of path lights to illuminate your garden; multiple low-light lamps will create a soft glow over flower beds.

Lanterns: These garden lights take several forms, the most common being the hanging lantern. Featuring vintage and contemporary designs, hanging lamps dangle from tall stakes or wall and ceiling hooks. Many of today's lanterns use electric or solar power, but lanterns with candles will create a romantic glow as patio lights. Of course, the lantern-style light is still popular for post lamps and porch lights.

Indoor Water Garden Ideas

Festuca glauca

Common Names: blue fescue, gray fescue, garden fescue
Family: Poaceae/Gramineae (grass Family)

Blue fescue is a small bunch grass that grows in a neat cushion-like clump 6-12" tall with a similar spread. The fine, wiry leaves are erect or arching, slightly rolled, and less than a foot long. The leaves are coated with a grayish, powdery bloom that is easily rubbed off. This condition is called "glaucus", and is responsible for the blue-gray sheen, and for the Latin name. In summer, flowering stems stand above the tuft of threadlike foliage and carry little flattened spikelets (flowers) that nod in the breeze. The inflorescence is not particularly showy and actually detracts from the handsome blue-gray foliage. Fescue is a clump-forming grass and does not spread by runners as do turf-forming grasses. The similar Festuca cinerea is often confused with blue fescue, and descriptions as well as cultivars for sale may be listed under Festuca cinerea, F. glauca or F. ovina. Several named cultivars of blue fescue have been selected for ornamental use. 'Blaufink' ('Blue Finch') is small, to 6" tall with dull blue foliage. 'Blauglut' ('Blue Glow') has intense blue-gray foliage. 'Blaufuchs' ('Blue Fox') is a brighter steel-blue. Seeigel ('Sea Urchin') has thin, hairlike leaves. 'Daeumling' (Tom Thumb') is tiny, to 4" tall. 'Harz' has dark olive green leaves tinted with purple. 'Caesia' has intense vivid blue foliage. 'Elijah Blue' has silver-blue foliage and may be more vigorous and longer lived than other cultivars.

Blue fescue is native to Europe. Many of the horticultural cultivars were selected in German nurseries.

Blue fescue is a short-lived clump grass that tends to die out in the center after a couple years. When this happens, the clumps should be dug up and divided, and the divisions replanted.
Light: Fescue develops deeper foliage color when grown in full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade, and should be grown in part shade in areas with hot summers.
Moisture: Blue fescue is drought tolerant, and grows best in poor, sandy, well drained soils. It cannot tolerate heavy, wet soils or constant high humidity.
Propagation: Blue fescue, the species, is easily grown from seed. To insure the same traits as the parent, cultivars should be propagated by dividing the root clump, and this should be done in spring or autumn every 2-3 years to maintain vigor.

Blue fescue usually is grown as a border or edging plant. Its fine texture and neat, compact shape make it well suited to line a path or mark the front of a perennial border. Use groups of blue fescue in the flower bed, and let the silvery blue-gray foliage intensify white and pastel colors, and cool down the reds and oranges. Planted close together in masses, clump-forming blue fescue makes a striking ground cover, although the tussocks have a tendency to die out in the center if not divided often enough. Tolerant of salty soil and coastal conditions, blue fescue is a good choice for seaside gardens. Blue fescue thrives in dry, sandy soils. Use it in rock or cactus gardens to provide textural diversity. Even under the best of conditions, blue fescue is usually short-lived. Divide often and plan on replacing every few years.

Blue fescue is a pretty little blue-gray cushion in mixed borders or in rock gardens, but it really shines in groups. When other grasses have turned straw-brown in winter, blue fescue remains steely blue. There are some 300 species of fescue grasses; all are perennial, and some are turf-forming and used in pastures and in cool-season lawn grass mixtures.