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Long-Term Landscape Care: Maintenance After Your Design is Complete

-ted lare garden center - pressure wash patio

After you’ve put in all that work creating your perfect landscape design, you’ll want to stay on top of care and maintenance in the long term. Upkeep is important for ensuring everything looks beautiful, and your plants and soil remain healthy. Here are some tasks to complete after the first, third, and fifth year after completing your landscape design and some bigger long-term projects to consider. 

Thinking Long-Term About Landscape Care

Keeping on top of regular maintenance will help prevent issues later on. Once you’ve completed a landscape design, all your plants are in the ground, and your structures are sound, go through these tasks to keep everything in ship shape!

-ted lare garden center -_new garden mulch

Landscape Maintenance After Your First Year

You’ll need to aerate the soil at least once a year; this helps prevent compaction, introduces oxygen into the soil, and helps with better drainage so that moisture doesn’t pool. Pooling moisture can encourage root and fungal growth, which you want to avoid in the lawn and garden! 

If your mulch needs replacing, rake off the old stuff and spread a new layer. Mulch naturally breaks down over time, which helps deliver nutrients to your plants and soil. However, it can start to look unsightly once it has mostly broken down, and a fresh batch will look nicer. 

Begin the year with a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weeds from germinating in your lawn. Preventative measures will lessen the need to use harsh chemical herbicides later in the year.

Power wash your hardscapes to keep them looking bright and clean. You won’t notice how dirty and dusty they get overtime until you wash them!  

ted lare garden center - dividing perennial plants_

Landscape Maintenance After Your Third Year

Divide your perennials by digging them up and splitting them at the root ball. Since perennials come back every year and continue to spread, sometimes they run out of room. The centers of clumped plants may also die out, and you’ll have a bare donut hole in the middle of your plants. Replant the divisions in different spots, or share them with your neighbors to incorporate into their landscape designs!

Test your soil to see if it lacks any essential nutrients. Soil tests will also give you a pH reading. If your soil is too acidic, you can add gardener’s lime to make it more alkaline. If the soil is too alkaline, add compost or another amendment to help acidify conditions. 

Reseed where necessary if there are any bare patches or sparse areas. Evaluate your landscape, and if there are any dead or yellowing patches that seem suspicious, check the soil for pests like grubs eating up your grass roots. Gently pull on the grass—if it comes up easily, the roots are probably serving as a snack, and you may see some grubs hanging out around the soil surface. 

-ted lare garden center - staining the deck _

Landscape Maintenance After Your Fifth Year

Replace river rock if it’s breaking down. While rocks are typically pretty durable, they’ll naturally crack and erode from foot traffic and weather conditions. 

Inspect and repair garden edging. Plastic edging is easy to repair—you can remove broken sections, insert a new piece and attach it with connectors. If you don’t use barrier edging, you can re-edge the perimeters to clean up those lines if they’re getting overgrown or unkempt. 

Repaint or stain the patio. Paint will chip from foot traffic, rain, and snow. Stains will also start to fade over time, so the wood will look a lot fresher if you give it a fresh coat. 

Long-Term Landscape Projects to Consider Down the Road

Patio furniture doesn’t last forever, and sometimes our style preferences can evolve over time! You may have loved the modern farmhouse aesthetic back in 2016, but it might feel a little dated or uninspiring now. Pick a new color palette or design aesthetic and try something new!

Old hardscapes like driveways and paved patios can erode over time as well. If there are sharp cracks in the rocks or pavement, that could be an injury risk for kids, pets, or visitors who may be a bit clumsy. Replace the stone or concrete with a fresh set, or consider switching to a gravel driveway if you’ve had issues with landscape flooding. 

Speaking of flooding, if there are any spots where moisture is always pooling, it might be worth leveling the terrain or adding some groundcover plants to stabilize landscapes and absorb excess moisture.  

Any other long-term landscape projects you’d like to complete this year? Visit Ted Lare Garden Center—we’re experts on landscape care in Iowa, and we’ll be happy to help you make a game plan for completing all the necessary maintenance to keep your yard looking its best. 

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Landscape Overhauls: 4 Things to Repair or Refresh Every 5 Years

-adding new river rock to garden

There are plenty of landscape chores we’re used to doing regularly, like mowing the grass, raking, dethatching, and aerating. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day activities, we forget about the major projects that need attention every five years or so. It’s important to stay on top of these repairs, or else you may have some distracting, unsightly elements taking away from the beautiful plants you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

Repair or Refresh These Landscape Features This Spring

Make some time this spring to deal with these four landscape overhauls to keep your scenery looking streamlined, lush, and well kept. 

Replace Mulch or River Rock

Mulch needs replacing more often than river rock, but oftentimes you can get away with just scraping a bit off the top and topping it up with a fresh batch. However, it’s worth completely removing all of it every few years and reapplying a new layer—it decomposes naturally, and getting rid of the old stuff will help prevent fungi from forming. If it’s chunky, you can use a rake, but if it’s quite decomposed and mushy, use a shovel.

River rock is much more solid than mulch, but it still breaks down over time, getting crumbly and dusty. Use a shovel and a wheelbarrow to move the old rocks out of the way, and replace it with a new layer of river rock.  

-replacing garden edging

Replace Plastic Bed Edging

Plastic edging helps keep plants, mulch, or rock from spreading and getting too unruly. Over time it can crack—you can either repair small sections by cutting out a section, replacing it with a new piece and attaching it with edging connectors. Alternatively, you can pull out all the old edging and replace it with a new set. 

Since your trench is already dug from the previous edging, it isn’t too difficult to replace. Remove the old edging, insert the new edging, and stomp it into place with your feet so the soil is well compacted around it. Insert a stake every five feet around the edging to keep it in place, then water the ground to get everything settled into place. You may need to fill some spots with fresh soil to even it out and eliminate gaps. 

-adding weed barrier in garden

Replace Weed Barrier Landscape Fabric

You can’t repair old landscape fabric, so if you’re using it in your garden, you should replace it every few years. Here’s how to do it in seven steps:

  1. Measure the area to purchase an appropriate amount of landscape fabric.
  2. Clear any mulch, river rock, or protective groundcover away.
  3. Gently remove and discard the old landscape fabric, being careful not to damage your plants.
  4. Loosen and aerate the soil, and remove any debris like rocks and sticks. Mix in compost and other necessary amendments. 
  5. Lay down your new landscape fabric and make an X with two 6-inch cuts for every plant you encounter. If you’re using multiple sheets of landscape material and need to layer them, make sure there’s a 6-inch overlap. 
  6. Delicately pull the plants through the holes.
  7. Smooth out the landscape fabric and anchor it down.
  8. Replace the mulch, river rock, or whichever protective groundcover you prefer.

If you need help replacing your landscape fabric, you’re welcome to call our landscape pros and we will gladly assist you!

-fresh edge cut in garden

Retrench Your Edging

If you don’t use a plastic barrier for your edging, you’ll need to clean up those edges more often. Here’s how to do it in 6 steps:

  1. Use a flat spade to cut along the bed line, pressing it down vertically into the soil, 4–6 inches deep. Continue all around the garden border edging. 
  2. Once you’ve created your border, go step inside and make diagonal slices into the soil towards the vertical edge so you can remove a wedge of dirt. Do this all the way around to create a sloping trench in the soil.
  3. Smooth down the soil so it slopes away from the cut. 

If you have to complete some landscape repairs in Iowa and you aren’t feeling confident to pull them off on your own, don’t hesitate to call the experts here at Ted Lare! We offer a broad range of landscaping services to keep your property looking lush and lovely.

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It’s Time to Evaluate Your Established Landscape Elements

Ted Lare- Evaluate Your Established Landscape-purple fountain grass

We tend to fawn over our new plantings and devote our attention to monitoring their success, but it’s essential to pay attention to our more established plants and other elements of the landscape. We don’t want our perennials, trees, and shrubs to get neglected! This spring, take some time to thoroughly evaluate all the elements of your landscape to see what’s on the right track and what needs some maintenance.

Inspect the Following Landscape Elements to Keep Them On the Right Track

Take a walkthrough of your landscape and pay attention to anything that seems amiss. Take note of signs of damage, uneven growth, or any other red flags that you should address. Unsure where to start? Go through this list and see how your landscape elements measure up!

Ted Lare- Evaluate Your Established Landscape-dividing perennials

Do Your Perennials Need to Be Divided?

Perennials come back year after year and increase in size over time. However, their roots can get crowded after a while, and if they spread too much, this can negatively affect their growth. Dividing your perennials by digging them up, splitting them at the root ball, and replanting one half in a different location will prevent stunted growth and other issues. 

If your perennials exhibit the following signs, it’s time to divide them:

  • A bald patch or dead spot, resulting in a donut-shaped plant 
  • Fewer flowers than the previous year
  • Looking visibly crowded amongst the surrounding plants

Gently dig up your plants, split them by hand or with a sterilized knife, and replant them immediately to prevent their roots from drying out. 

Ted Lare- Evaluate Your Established Landscape-pruning dead branches

Assess the Success of Your Landscape Plants

How are your trees and shrubs looking? Are there any dead or diseased branches? Is the foliage looking less lush and full than in previous years? Take note of any changes or glaring issues—pruning can often help encourage healthier growth in the future, but you need to make sure you do it at the right time of year for your specific plants. Different landscape plants have unique growth patterns and preferences for pruning, so do a little research before making your cuts. Pruning at the wrong time could make your plants more vulnerable to disease, or you might cut off flower buds before they burst into bloom, resulting in a flowerless plant. 

If your landscape plants look lackluster and tired, they may just need some fertilizer. Regular fertilizer applications during their active growing season will ensure that they have all the necessary nutrients to perform their basic functions like spreading roots, growing leaves, and producing flowers and fruit. If you haven’t fertilized trees and shrubs before, visit us at the garden center, and one of our staff members can give you some product recommendations and a quick crash course on proper application. 

Ted Lare- Evaluate Your Established Landscape-staining gazebo

Check Your Hardscaping

Take a look at your pavers, sidewalks, and patio. Is anything damaged or in need of replacement? Maybe it needs a thorough powerwash? Maybe you need to stain or repaint the deck? Getting these tasks out of the way early in the season will ensure that your landscape looks top-notch for the rest of the year, so you can focus on enjoying yourself and entertaining guests without getting distracted by unsightly issues. Plus, cracked or damaged hardscapes can pose some safety issues, especially if you’ve got kids running around barefoot. If you’ve got any significant jobs you need assistance with, call our landscaping team, and we can help you out!

Ted Lare- Evaluate Your Established Landscape-soil ph meter

Test Your Soil

Healthy soil is vital for maintaining healthy plants. Check to see if moisture is pooling anywhere—that’s a sign that your soil is compacted and needs aerating. If water remains stagnant in your soil, it will encourage bacterial growth, which can rot your plants’ roots.

Pick up a soil test kit to evaluate the nutrient levels and the pH of your soil; this way, you can see which amendments your soil needs to bring it to its optimal state. If your soil test identifies any major issues and you’re unsure of how to treat them, we encourage you to come in and speak with us! We’re always happy to help.

All the tools and supplies you need to keep your Iowa landscape elements looking their best are at Ted Lare Garden Center. Drop by the garden center today to get all stocked up for the year!

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Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses: What’s The Difference?

-purple fountain grass Ted Lare

There are so many gorgeous varieties of ornamental grasses that add color, texture, and movement to the landscape. However, most tend to fall into one of two categories: cool-season and warm season-grasses. Both have different care requirements and optimal seasons for planting, so if you’d like to grow some ornamental grasses in your garden this year, read this guide so you can choose the most suitable varieties.

Here in Iowa, the weather is not too hot and not too cold—just right for growing both types of grass! While our neighbors up North have better luck with cool-season grass, and the Southernmost states are ideal for warm-season grass, we can grow either kind with minimal effort.

Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses-maiden grass

Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses 

These grasses love hot weather—ideally between 80 and 95°F—so they’re happiest from June until August. If you’re growing perennial warm-season grass, check the hardiness zone before planting to ensure it will survive our cold winter. Des Moines is in USDA Zone 5, so anything hardy to Zone 5 or higher will work great!

Many warm-season grasses produce flowers that appear as fluffy, feathery tufts. They add so much whimsy to the landscape, and the tufts look gorgeous in cut bouquets!

Once the temperature cools in fall, the foliage will turn brown and die. Cut it back once it has died—preferably in late fall, but you should be fine as long as it’s gone by late winter to make room for new growth. 

Like many other perennials, you need to divide these plants when they get too crowded. Always wear gloves when dividing—grass blades are sharper than you think! Divide warm-season grasses sometime between spring and midsummer when the plant is still in its active growing phase. Divide them like any other perennial—gently dig them up, then split the root ball into two or three pieces using your hands or a sterile knife. 

Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses-black mondo grass

Some popular types of warm-season grasses include:

  • Maiden Grass
  • Giant Reed Grass
  • Fountain Grass
  • Prairie Dropseed
  • Mondo Grass
Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses-blue fescue grass

Cool-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses

As the name suggests, cool-season ornamental grass grows best in mild weather conditions. Their ideal temperature is between 60 and 75°F, so they’re most comfortable from April to June and late August to October. 

They won’t die during the hottest summer months, but growth will slow down, and some of the foliage might start to brown. In the fall, another growth spurt occurs, and some fresh new foliage will emerge. If you like, you can move container-grown ornamental grass to a spot shaded from the bright afternoon sun to protect them from heat stress.

Some cool-season grasses will produce feathery tufts, but many are just grown for their pretty foliage. These grasses often look pretty attractive when winter hits, so you don’t have to cut them back immediately. Instead, you can wait for spring and cut them back before the new growth appears. 

Divide cool-season grass in either spring or early fall—their active growing seasons. Spring is the best option. Transplanting in fall can still work, but you may find that the freezing and thawing of the ground in winter may force your new transplants out of the ground. After planting, water your divisions generously to encourage their roots to spread and take hold. 

Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasseshakone grass

Popular types of cool-season grasses include:

  • Feather Reed Grass
  • Blue Fescue
  • Blue Oat Grass
  • Tufted Hair Grass
  • Hakone Grass


You’d be amazed at how many varieties of grasses you can grow in Iowa. Visit us at Ted Lare Garden Center to see everything that’s ready to plant now; you’ll love all the gorgeous colors and textures. Plant them in garden beds, landscape borders, container arrangements—your options are endless! 

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Preparing Your Plants for the Inevitable Late Frost

ted lare garden center frost on calendula flower

The transition from late winter to spring is full of fake-outs and freak frosts. Just when you think the threat of freezing weather has passed, Jack Frost pulls a fast one, and your newly planted spring garden bears the brunt of the impact! But with proper preparation, you can protect your delicate plants and seedlings from potential damage during a late frost.

The average date for the final frost of spring in Des Moines is April 18th, but it’s still entirely possible for freezing temperatures to arrive later in spring. Stay prepared and keep your eye on the forecast through April and May!  

Necessary Tools for Late Frost Preparation

It’s always better to be prepared! Keep these materials on hand this spring as they’ll be helpful when the inevitable late frost creeps in.

ted lare garden center covering rose bush for frost

Plant Covers

There are a lot of different materials you can use to cover flower gardens and raised beds. You can purchase fabrics or plastic tarps meant explicitly for protecting plants from frost, some with built-in frames to keep the weight of the material off of your plants. You can also use old bed sheets you’ve got lying around. Just make sure they aren’t too heavy—you don’t want to crush your plants. If it’s a windy night, use stakes or rocks to keep the corners of your plant covers in place.


Freezing temperatures can damage roots, which are the most sensitive part of any plant. To insulate roots from the cold, spread a fresh layer of bark mulch across the surface of the soil. Mulch also keeps out weeds, so you’ll spend much less time weeding for the rest of the year.

ted lare garden center covering sensitive plants from frost

Cut 2L Pop Bottles in Half

Delicate seedlings aren’t strong enough to stay up underneath a fabric tarp. Create DIY cloches for individual seedlings and new, small transplants by cutting 2L pop bottles in half. You can place each half can overtop of a plant and press them one inch into the soil to stay in place.  

What Temperature Should I Cover My Plants for Frost?

Frost occurs at 32°F. However, some plants are more sensitive to the cold than others. For example, tomato plants can suffer damage at 35°F, while cool-season plants like cabbage can handle 28°F. To err on the side of caution, use frost protection for your plants if the forecast calls for 35° or lower. Keep an eye on the overnight temperatures—that’s when spring frosts usually hit.

Make a point of watering your plants before the frost. Moist soil retains heat much better than dry soil, which will help protect roots from temperature shock. 

Bringing Potted Plants Inside for Frost Protection

You can bring container plants indoors to protect them from the cold. If you have a garage, put them in there to prevent introducing pests from outdoors to your indoor houseplants. If you have to bring them indoors overnight, spray some insecticidal soap on the leaves first, and keep them in a room away from your houseplants.

ted lare garden center lettuce and trowel in garden

The Surprising Upside to Spring Frost

While frost in the garden can be annoying, the good news is that it brings some unexpected perks! If you have a vegetable garden, some of your cool-weather veggies may taste better after a cold snap. Root vegetables like carrots and parsnips will become sweeter and more flavorful. Your broccoli will taste better, too!


All the supplies you need for late frost preparation in Des Moines are available here at Ted Lare Garden Center. Visit us soon to stock up ahead of time—it’s better to be prepared than scramble at the last minute!

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Do Your Shrubs Need a Hard Pruning?

Ted Lare-Pruning Flowering Shrubs -pruning flowering shrub

A little trim here and there is beneficial for your shrubs, especially if they have any damaged or diseased branches. That’s called renewal pruning. Hard pruning is different—it’s a significant cutback on your shrubs which will reshape them dramatically. Hard pruning is beneficial for overgrown shrubs with leggy branches and few blooms.  

Hard pruning your shrubs may feel a bit nerve-wracking. After all, you’re chopping off a huge portion of the plant! However, if you know how and when to do it properly, you can avoid harming your plants and instead make room for healthier, stronger growth going forward. Here’s how to do it! 


When to Hard-Prune Flowering Shrubs

Flowering shrubs fall into two categories: those that bloom on old wood and those that bloom on new wood. Shrubs that bloom on old wood, like lilacs, develop their flower buds in late winter and bloom in spring. For renewal pruning, you’ll want to trim them in the summer after their blooms have faded. If you do a light renewal prune in spring, you’ll cut off all their flower buds, and all you’ll get is leaves. However, if you’re doing a major hard pruning, you should do this in late winter or early spring—March, ideally. To prevent a bloomless spring, you can cut back half of the branches and leave the other half for the following year. 

Ted Lare-Pruning Flowering Shrubs -purple butterfly bush

Shrubs that bloom on new wood, like Butterfly Bush, develop their buds in the spring, then bloom through the summer. Pruning these shrubs in late winter or very early spring will yield good results. We don’t recommend pruning shrubs in the fall, as this can stimulate a new flush of growth when your plant should be preparing for its dormancy. If you have evergreen shrubs in your landscape, prune them in the early spring before new growth emerges. 

Shrubs that Benefit from Hard Pruning

You should hard prune only once about every five years or so. Not all shrubs can handle hard pruning and prefer to have their branches cut back gradually with each passing year. Some shrubs that will benefit from hard pruning include:

  • Lilacs
  • Hydrangeas
  • Dogwood
  • Spirea
  • Forsythia
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Weigela
  • Honeysuckle
  • Potentilla
Ted Lare-Pruning Flowering Shrubs -viburnum blooming

Some shrubs, like Viburnum and Witch Hazel, do not like hard pruning and benefit from gradual rejuvenation pruning instead. If you’re unsure if your particular landscape shrubs will benefit from hard pruning or gradual pruning, feel free to call us at Ted Lare Garden Center, and one of our experts will be happy to provide some pointers!

How to Trim Overgrown Bushes

When you’re hard pruning shrubs, you’ll want to cut them down to 6–12 inches above the ground; this may seem extreme, but the regrowth will be lush, fast-growing, and healthy! For branches under 1¾ inches wide, use a heavy, long-handled set of pruners. Be sure to sterilize the blades with isopropyl alcohol before getting to work! Use a pruning saw on very thick branches. Wear protective gloves and eyewear to prevent injury.  

Ted Lare-Pruning Flowering Shrubs -cleaning up shrub in garden by pruning

Where Do You Cut When Pruning?

Look for outward-facing nodes on the branch. Those are the rings or nubs along the branch where new growth can emerge. Cut at a 45° angle, with the highest point of the cut sitting just above the bud on the node. If your cut branches are free of disease, you can toss them in the compost bin. If they show signs of disease, throw them in the garbage. 


If you need a new set of pruners or a saw for hard pruning shrubs in Iowa, visit Ted Lare Garden Center, and we’ll help you find the right tools for the job. If you’re unable to hard prune your shrubs yourself, we have landscape maintenance services available—call now to explore all your available options!

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6 Interior Design Concepts to Bring Outdoors in 2022

Ted Lare-Bring Interior Design Concepts Outdoors-rocking chair in garden

There’s been a recent shift in the way people design and utilize their outdoor spaces. With more time spent at home, there’s more incentive to transform our yards into livable, functional spaces that are an extension of our interior living spaces. If you’d like to hit the refresh button on your backyard, apply these 2022 interior design trends to your outdoor landscape design. 

These New Interior Design Trends Look Equally Amazing Outdoors

Leave the “Modern Farmhouse” furnishings and Live Laugh Love signage behind—these hot new interior design trends will complete your yard’s much-deserved makeover in 2022. 

Ted Lare-Bring Interior Design Concepts Outdoors-rattan garden furniture

Wicker and Rattan 

Combining the eco-friendly benefits of biodegradable, natural materials and all the appeal of 70s retro aesthetics, wicker and rattan furniture is a perfect way to bring trendy interior design to the outdoors. Plus, you can easily reupholster or replace your existing cushions with different patterns and colors if you ever grow tired of your current style. Whether you want a natural finish for a more boho look or dark tinted wicker for a more dramatic look, there are plenty of different options to suit your ideal outdoor aesthetic.   

“Grandmillenial” Aesthetics

This interior design style has so much charm and personality! Millennials are embracing all things Grandma-style, with an emphasis on old-fashioned florals and damask textiles. Add in some kitschy flourishes like doilies, crocheted throws, and vintage furniture sets. For the perfect finishing touch, get a cute tea set and serving trays so you can party like it’s 1949. 

Ted Lare-Bring Interior Design Concepts Outdoors-curvy garden lines

Curved, Abstract Shapes

Years of minimalist interior designs and low-contrast beige and gray color palettes have us craving some whimsy and eccentricity! Look for tables and garden art with asymmetrical shapes. Edge your garden beds to have curving lines instead of straight borders with 90° angles. Instead of planting flowers in straight rows, make them squiggly! Have fun with it—you’d be surprised how modern and cutting-edge this interior design concept can look! 

Pantone Color of the Year: Very Peri

Pantone forecasts the top trending colors for interior designers every year, and in 2022 they’ve named Veri Peri as their Color of the Year. This rich, vibrant purple-blue shade is cool yet energizing and uplifting. Not only can you choose furnishings and outdoor accessories in this ultra-current color, but there are also plenty of beautiful blooming flowers in this exact shade! Some of our favorite periwinkle flowers include:

  • Blue Salvia
  • Delphiniums
  • Irises
  • Lobelia
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Sea Holly

Complementary colors for this saturated periwinkle hue include white, gray, marigold, and sage green. Look for plants and containers in these shades to balance your color palette.

Ted Lare-Bring Interior Design Concepts Outdoors-outdoor accent rug

Statement Rugs

Rugs and woven carpets are a classic staple of interior design, but bold statement styles are having a big resurgence! As we said, minimalism and colorless decor are out, and creative, exciting interior decor is in! Weatherproof rugs are amazing for creating outdoor “rooms” that pull your design together and help make your patio furniture look less awkwardly placed. Look for abstract designs with splashes of color to bring that modern, artsy vibe to your yard. 

Outdoor Home Offices

Creating makeshift workstations at home has become the norm, and they continue to be useful as more folks adopt a hybrid work model, half at home and half in the office. Instead of staying cooped up in the same place all day, create an outdoor workstation in a gazebo or underneath a covered patio. Bonus points if you can set up your outdoor office near a power outlet to charge your laptop. Try using a standing desk so that you don’t remain sedentary for hours on end, and surround yourself with as many plants as possible—they help boost energy and improve focus! 

Interior design concepts look just as gorgeous outdoors if you choose appropriate furniture and accessories to suit the space! Visit Ted Lare Design & Build to see all the latest patio furniture and trendy accessories to complete your outdoor living space.

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Pros and Cons of Common Pathway Materials

stepping stone pathway ted lare design & build

Paths and walkways aren’t just a functional part of your landscaping; they can also help elevate the style and design of the landscape. Walkways invite us to explore the landscape and lead the eye through space towards feature elements. They make a yard or garden feel welcoming while also making a space more accessible. 

The best material for your yard depends on your personal preference and budget. There are lots of different ways to create paths and walkways in your landscape. Here are the pros and cons of a few of the best walkway materials

gravel pathway ted lare design & build

Gravel Walkways

The pros of using gravel as a walkway or path material are: 

  • It’s very affordable.
  • It promotes good drainage.
  • It’s eco-friendly since path gravel is often a recycled byproduct from other quarry processes. 
  • It’s relatively easy to install. 
  • It requires very little digging or leveling. 


But, using gravel comes with some cons, too: 

  • Large chunks of gravel can make it difficult to walk on, push strollers through, or operate mobility devices over. 
  • Gravel often migrates from the path into surrounding beds and lawn. 
  • Weeds can grow through it quite easily.
  • It’s not necessarily the prettiest material.
  • Your gravel will need to be refreshed every couple of years, especially on high-traffic pathways.
stepping stone walkway ted lare design & build

Stepping Stone Pathways

The pros of stepping stones are: 

  • They’re extremely durable.
  • They can be laid in a variety of artistic patterns or styles and adjusted quite easily. 
  • They’re available in many different styles and colors. 
  • You can grow walkable ground covers like thyme between pavers for a beautiful effect.

The cons of stepping stones are: 

  • They can be heavy.
  • They need a level gravel base, so they require more work to install. 
  • Weeds can grow in between them. 
  • If they’re laid individually in your lawn, you’ll need to lift, relevel, and edge the grass around them every few years.
wooden patio ted lare design & build

Wooden Boardwalk Pathways

The pros of wooden boardwalks are: 

  • They’re relatively easy to build if you’re a handy DIY-er. 
  • You can create almost any design you want.
  • You can use recycled or reclaimed wood.
  • Wood feels nice to walk on with bare feet and doesn’t hold extreme temperatures like stone or concrete. 
  • You can match pathways to existing wooden decks or patios. 
  • Wood will weather and color fade beautifully.

The cons of wood pathways are: 

  • The price of lumber in 2021 is very high. 
  • If you don’t have the DIY skills, having one installed is more costly than gravel or stepping stones. 
  • They do need to be treated, stained, or painted every few years.
  • Wood will eventually start to break down. 
  • You do have to do quite a bit of leveling before you can install. 
  • You might get slivers when walking barefoot.
cement driveway ted lare design & build

Poured Concrete Walkways

The pros of concrete are: 

  • You can achieve clean and crisp lines. 
  • You can color and even stamp concrete to match the style of your home. 
  • It creates a flat, consistent surface, easy for strollers, wagons, and mobility devices. 
  • It’s easy to shovel in winter. 
  • If properly installed and cared for, it lasts for decades.

The cons of concrete are: 

  • It may crack as a result of temperature fluctuations in the winter. 
  • It needs a well-prepared base and reinforcement with rebar. 
  • You need to build a frame to pour into, so the job is best suited for professional installers.
stone entryway ted lare design & build

Patio Paver Pathways

The pros of pavers for walks are: 

  • There are many beautiful colors and styles to choose from.
  • You can create amazingly artistic patterns. 
  • They have more personality and style than basic concrete. 
  • It’s pretty easy to replace just one if it gets damaged or heaved by frost. 
  • You can grow beautiful creeping groundcovers between them or use colored polymeric (sealing) sand to keep them in place.

The cons of pavers are: 

  • Preparing the ground for pavers is a lot of work and is best left to professional installers. 
  • Leveling pavers is an art; it’s not as easy as it looks! 
  • You’ll need to refresh polymeric sand between the some of the joints as the pathway ages, typically every 5 years or so

Each one of these materials has its own distinct benefits and drawbacks; there’s no best choice, just the best choice for you!

If you’re ready to add some pathways to your landscape but not sure where to start, stop by Ted Lare Design & Build and chat with us about the different options available. Our expert landscape design team can help you find the best solution to fit your style and budget.

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11 Blooming Perennials for Shady Iowa Gardens

lungwort ted lare design & build

Shady spots in your yard can be dark and relatively monochrome since most flowering plants need plenty of sunlight. However, you can bring some light and color by creating a shade garden with these 11 beautifully blooming perennials for shade. 


1. Anemones are commonly called windflower. Because the flowers dance atop their stems in a breeze, these perennials feature beautiful plush blooms in shades of blue, pink, purple, red, and white. 

astilbe ted lare design & build

2. Astilbes are perennials with vibrant and flamboyant flower plumes in pink, white or red, up to 4 feet tall. They are happiest in part shade, and if you get these two Astilbe species, Astilbe japonica and Astilbe chinensis, you’ll have blooms all summer!

3. Barrenwort Bishop’s Cap is a semi-evergreen shade lover with deeply veined bronze leaves that turn olive green as they age.. They feature rose-pink blooms, 1 to 2 inches across, with graceful petals on wiry stems.

bleeding heart ted lare design & build

4. Bleeding Hearts are unique and elegant perennials to add to any shade garden. The exquisite heart-shaped flowers hang gracefully along delicate stems, with drop-like petals below the heart. Bleeding hearts bloom in spring.

5. Columbines grow well in part shade and have eye-catching flowers that resemble a jester’s hat. There are various colors available, from blue to purple to pink to white to red to yellow.

coral bells ted lare design & build

6. Coral Bells have flashy, eye-catching foliage in a dizzying array of colors. They range from almost black-purple to pinks, oranges, yellows, and greens. They also bear tiny but beautiful flowers on tall, slender stalks in spring. 

7. Corydalis has clusters of tiny beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of purple, true blue, and yellow. Corydalis is one of those hard-working perennials that bloom all summer.

ligularia ted lare design & build

8. Ligularia perennials come in two different types. There is Ligularia with daisy-like flowers with sharply pointed petals, and there are varieties with upright bloom spikes, often called rocket varieties. The flowers vary in color from pale buttery yellow to gold to deep orange—Ligularia bloom almost all summer.

9. Lungwort perennials flower early in the spring. The small but beautiful flowers come in shades of pink, purple, and blues which hover in dense clusters of the semi-evergreen foliage.

bergenia ted lare design & build

10. Pigsqueak or Bergenia, are evergreen perennials with large lush leaves. In spring, bold clusters of flowers rise above the foliage on tall stalks. The flowers come in shades of pinks that often change to a deeper or paler color over time.  


11. Toad Lilies are late summer bloomers, showing off their unique blooms when almost all other shade plants have finished blooming. The flowers are lily-shaped, have a yellow center, and the petals have a white base, covered in intricate patterns of pink or purple polka dots. There is one variety without polka dots; its petals are white with pale purple tips.

If you have lots of big trees in your yard, you can still have a vibrantly colorful garden by adding some of these shade-loving perennials. Include a variety of the plants mentioned above and you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful bursts of color in your shade garden all summer long. Come and visit us. We have plenty of ways to brighten up your shady Iowa landscape!

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The Best Flowers for a Monochromatic Yellow Garden

yellow dahlia flowers ted lare design & build

There is something so beautiful and mesmerizing about monochrome color-themed gardens. Monochrome gardens are far from boring. They highlight the immense diversity of plants and flowers within a single-color family. Color gardens also often have room for large groupings of individual types of plants, and large drifts of a single type of flower or plant in one color can make a strong statement in the landscape. 

Yellow is a refreshing and cheerful color, so what better choice for a color theme garden? There are plenty of plants that fit into the yellow spectrum, with flowers or foliage. Here are nine yellow plants that you can use in a yellow color garden.


There are over 20 different daylilies in the yellow spectrum, from the palest barely yellow Marque Moon to vibrant Lemon Lily to the stunning Aztec Gold. Yellow daylilies also come in both single and double flowers, as well as the dramatic spider types. 

If you want to push your color planting scheme even further, there are also tons of daylilies in the orange spectrum that could mix well into a yellow planting scheme. These easy-care perennials could almost make a whole garden on their own.

daylilies and heliopsis ted lare design & build


Heliopsis is more commonly known as False Sunflower or Oxeye Sunflower. There are several different cultivars that are in the yellow spectrum. They are a hardy perennial and are also heat and drought-tolerant. 

They can be anywhere from three to six feet tall and feature single and dense double blossoms. The singles will be more popular with pollinators. These perennials usually won’t bloom the first year, but they’ll start the second summer and go all season long. They form clumps that you can divide to expand your yellow planting scheme every two to three years.


Hostas are one of the best foliage perennials, especially for planting in shadier locations in the yard. They have a very diverse color range, and their huge leaves showcase color well. Dancing Queen, Designer Genes, and Fire Island are all on the more intense yellow end of the spectrum with solid color leaves. 

On the lighter side, hostas Great Expectations, Mama Mia, Maui Buttercups, and Orange Marmalade (among many others) feature variegated leaves with yellows across the color scheme from the palest pastel yellow to creamy, buttery yellow to vibrant lemon yellow.

hosta and red hot poker yellow flowers ted lare design & build

Red Hot Poker 

Red Hot Poker, or Torch Lilies, are a unique flowering plant highlighting the diversity available in the yellow planting scheme. They are bold and eye-catching with tall spikes of strange tubular flowers. They bloom all season long, from late spring until the fall, and are popular with hummingbirds. They come in a wide range of yellows, from deep oranges to pale pinkish yellow to greenish yellow.


Rudbeckia, also called Black-eyed Susan, is available in countless shades of yellow and cultivars with variegated petals. These hardy native perennials look fantastic planted in mass groupings. Different cultivars vary widely in height, from 10-12 inches up to six feet tall. There are single bloom or double bloom varieties. 

rudbeckia and sedum plants ted lare design & build


Sedums are a unique perennial addition to your yellow planting scheme. They have thick succulent type foliage with clusters of tiny flowers. Sedums are great for dry and hot locations, and these hardy little things thrive on neglect! They tend to be low-growing, forming mats of flowers that last all through the summer. They’re possibly the lowest maintenance plant you’ll find for your yellow planting scheme.


Achillea, or yarrow, is a perennial with a much softer texture than the larger flowers mentioned above. These beauties have flat clusters of tiny flowers that last seemingly forever once they start blooming. They have soft fern-like foliage that is a lovely contrast to coarser plants. 

Different cultivars vary in height from 12 inches to three feet tall. The yellows available have quite rich gold tones, although there are a few that fall more to the pastel end of the color scheme. Yarrow will naturalize and spread after planting, creating a beautiful carpet of flowers.

achillea and marigold ted lare design & build


Marigolds are the classic yellow flower that everyone knows. They’re highly underrated. A vast range of cultivars varies widely in appearance and size, mainly within the yellow color scheme. Most marigolds are annuals and many plants self-seed, so they may keep coming back. They’re also fast and easy to start from seed. There are variegated types or plain colors and single or double flowers. Marigolds also help repel many pests.


Dahlias might be one of the most diverse flower families. There are thousands of different cultivars and a massive range of colors and bi-colors. There are single and double flowering types, with multiple different petal styles in both categories. They range in size from 12 inches to six feet tall. There are varieties across the yellow spectrum, from bright lemon yellow to pale creamy-white to rich gold tones. Dahlias are tender perennials, so they’ll need to be dug up and stored in a dark, dry location over the winter. 

Ready to get your yellow monochrome garden started? Stop by the garden center and check out what we’ve got in stock right now.