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Easter Decorating Tips

Eggshell succulent easter design creative DIY projects

Easter is a season all about rebirth and, as the doorway to spring, it’s the time to start ushering in new life at home. Now is the best time to revive your home for visiting friends and family, and to sweep out all the lingering hints of the long winter behind us.These are some of our favorite easy DIY ways to welcome spring into your home this year.

Wheatgrass:

This is the easiest and freshest trend to bring some vibrant greens indoors. It’s so easy, even the kids can help with bringing a bit of spring into your indoor decor! Growing wheatgrass at home offers a beacon of health and new growth.

All you’ll need is a container, potting soil, and some wheatgrass seed. If you don’t plan on eating your wheatgrass in a tasty smoothie, catgrass is a great alternative that might be easier to source – giving the same visual effect. Here’s how to make it happen at home:

  1. Soak your seeds in water for 12-24 hours to soften them up. Softer seeds will give you faster-growing grass.
  2. Add soil to your container. You’ll only need a few inches. If your container is significantly deeper, feel free to fill the bottom with gravel or other fillers.
  3. Moisten your soil before planting and layer your seeds so thick that you don’t see any soil. Too thin and your decorative grass could end up looking sparse or patchy.
  4. Place your container in a window and wait a few days to enjoy the green vibrant growth of fresh grass. With this display at home, you’ll want to take a deep breath of fresh air every time you see it.

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Eggshell Succulents:

This DIY craft combines the season’s trendiest houseplants with the classic design of easter eggs! Not only does the eggshell make a chic and adorable statement piece, but it even adds nutrients that help your succulents thrive.

You’ll need some eggs (we recommend six or a dozen so you can use the whole carton) and succulents. You’ll be looking for young, small succulents, around 2” in size. Choose whatever variety you fall in love with, as any type works well.

  1. Use a dull knife to carefully notch and then cut the top off of the pointy side of the egg. Make a hole just large enough to pour out the egg – we recommend pouring it out on to a sizzling frying pan to add more enjoyment to your craft. Wash the inside of the shell and let it dry for a day or so.
  2. Carefully remove the succulents from their pots and very gently plant them into the shell. Chopsticks are great improvised tools to help push the soil into all of the air pockets and work the delicate succulent roots into their new soil. We recommend using a cactus or succulent blend of soil, or mixing some soil half-and-half with sand.
  3. Water your succulents sparingly, only until the top is moistened. You now have an assortment of easter egg succulents, with happy plants munching away at calcium. Enjoy this low-maintenance, trendy glimpse of spring all year!

Indoor Fresh Air:

Spring is the time that we get to break out of the house or open the windows to enjoy the fresh air. This Easter, you have the chance to bring the freshest of outdoors air inside with you to clean out the staleness of winter.

Houseplants have recently been celebrated for their ability to clean the air around them and have even enjoyed a boost in popularity, thanks to these hidden purifying abilities.  If you make a garden of these popular and attractive plants, they will bring some spring air indoors for you, stripping the air of toxins and boosting humidity and oxygen levels around them.

Many of these plants are very low-maintenance and easy to find. Some of the best varieties include:

  • Spider plant
  • Peace Lily
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Ferns (Bostons are best)
  • Palms (look for a Parlour palm)
  • English Ivy
  • Mum

Plant these air-cleaning machines together, with some optional fresh spring ornaments, for a boost that lasts all year. Don’t we all want that fresh spring feeling for ourselves no matter what season it is?

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Landscaping Design Trends: Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchen Design

Eating outdoors when the weather’s right is an absolute luxury that we love indulging in. Whether it’s savoring a tranquil moment after a long day, or entertaining and sharing your backyard oasis with friends, some of your best meals have been eaten outside.

Outdoor kitchens are one of the top landscaping and renovation trends right now because people want to take that indulgence a step further. The trend is all about personalization and lifestyle, and with so many options and benefits, they make plenty of sense as an addition to your home.  

“People who love to eat are always the best people.“
– Julia Child

Why an Outdoor Kitchen?

Outdoor kitchens are all about lifestyle. If you’re the type that enjoys being outside all summer with your family and friends, then an outdoor kitchen can be the perfect way to get more of those moments in your life.

If that sounds enticing enough, consider some of the other benefits:

Entertaining: Who doesn’t love a summer patio party? Whether it’s the primary reason to build an outdoor kitchen or not, the space will have you dazzling guests more often, practically begging you to throw some steaks on and mix a few drinks. You’ll also save money by decreasing restaurant cravings, preferring your own tasty backyard creations.

Taste: Grilled simply tastes better. The ingredients taste fresher, and when the smell of your food fills the air, you’ll enjoy your meals even more. Being able to prep all of your materials outside where you cook them will also keep the mess outdoors and make the grilling experience that much easier.

Space: Whether you have a growing family or a desire for extra space, an outdoor kitchen opens up a new frontier of living space. It essentially adds another room to your home with the added bonus of spending more evenings outside, where you can relax while the kids run off some energy.

Resale: Personal reasons aside, an outdoor kitchen has a real ROI when it comes to resale. Depending on how versatile and appealing your kitchen is to other buyers, you could reap 100% or more of your investment back.

Design Ideas:

Once you set your sights on wanting one, you can start dreaming up what your outdoor kitchen could look like. Ideally, the styles you choose should be a mix of practical and beautiful: something that blends into your existing backyard aesthetic but expands on what you’ve been dreaming of creating.

Here are a few style ideas to get your imagination going for your own backyard creation:

Traditional: Think of stone masonry with a beautiful wooden pergola overhead to enclose the space. If you want to closely integrate it with your indoor kitchen, you can even use the existing styles from there to inspire your design.

Contemporary: Picture sleek lines, formed concrete, and granite countertops.This design is guaranteed to create an entertaining centerpiece that will get guests buzzing with its energetic and modern edge. You could create a chic secluded oasis tucked away from the rest of the yard or even a prime poolside hub.

Rustic: If a Tuscany vibe is your style, earth-tone colors and gorgeous rough-stone counters will create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Perfect for that pizza oven, this design will make your dinner guests want to relax and enjoy another glass of wine!

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Kokedama

how to make a kokedama houseplant bonsai

Kokedama is one of the newest trends in houseplants, but its roots can be traced to sophisticated philosophy. This Japanese tradition is just as unique as the other modern gardening techniques of the same heritage. The striking aesthetic of Kokedama tells its own story and is a great choice to enrich your indoor spaces.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
– Leonard Cohen

Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese term to describe the beauty of imperfection and transience. This aesthetic principle is guided by a focus on forms of nature that our western culture sometimes forgets: the irregular and modest. This is an intimate look at the beauty of the imperfect.

Kokedama was traditionally an expression of Wabi-Sabi with bonsai trees. Typically, the trees would be taken out of their pots and instead displayed on top of pottery, or intertwined in driftwood. The bare display and exposed roots celebrated the beauty of simplicity and the rougher parts of nature.

The practice has since evolved to an even more striking aesthetic: roots are wrapped in string and moss balls to create a natural pot for a plant. It creates a living sculpture, with strong Wabi-Sabi aesthetic that is guaranteed to catch the eye and start a conversation.

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The Basics:

Kokedama works for almost any plant you can imagine growing inside. Some of our favourites are ferns, orchids, small tropical plants and vines, succulents or even air plants.

This trend is just on the rise. Buying a ready-made piece may be difficult, but finding the supplies isn’t hard and the process is easy to do yourself. Making your own Kokedama plant promises a totally unique and personalized plant to display that exactly fits the mood and look you want for your home.

You’ll Need:

  • Potting soil and black dirt (in a 2:1 mix of potting soil to black dirt. You want the soil to hold its form – add a little more black dirt if it isn’t holding together.)
  • Sheet moss or Coco Liner
  • Cheese cloth
  • Fishing line
  • Twine/cotton thread
  • Your plant(s)

How-To:

While the statement plant of your container is typically the focal point, don’t forget that the container itself is an important part of the overall look. Different containers can help compliment your style or even be the statement piece, while also providing the plants support like moisture or heat control that they need for their best growth.

Healthy plants naturally look the best, so remember to select plants that have similar care requirements. Super aggressive growers have a tendency to swallow up less aggressive growers, if they share a container. Additionally, pairing plants with similar moisture and sunlight needs will help to avoid making compromises.

If you have your heart set on some combinations that don’t work well, don’t worry! Some conflicts can be cheated. Plants with different needs can be planted in their own individual pot that is hidden in the container itself. It might look like the plants are all together, but it’s a smart way for you reap the benefits of better control.

Make your own kokedama! See if we have a kokedama workshop coming up.

Assembly:

  1. Expose the roots of your plant. You don’t need to scrub them, but should gently remove as much soil as you can.
  2. Blend your potting soil and black soil. You’re aiming for a texture like a homemade meatball – something that doesn’t fall apart, but still has some give.
  3. Check that your soil ball is big enough to hold the roots of your plant. On average, the ball should be the size of an orange, but should ultimately reflect the size of your plant.
  4. Carefully split the soil ball in half, or make a hole in it. Gently fit the roots into it, being careful not to break them.
  5. Press the ball back together gently.
  6. (Optional) Wrap cheesecloth around the ball.
  7. Wrap the ball in sheet moss or coco-liner. Anchor the covering by pressing parts of it into the soil. The ball should be totally covered.
  8. Wrap fishing line around the ball to hold the covering in place. A second wrapping in twine will give a more wabi-sabi aesthetic, while cotton thread will eventually dissolve.

Basic Care:

Water your Kokedama plant by soaking it entirely in lukewarm water. You should water immediately after planting, and then as needed – succulents will need watering much less frequently than tropical plants.

You can display your Kokedama plant any way that you want. Some prefer to place it in a dish, but the most eye-catching option is most certainly hanging. A suspended Kokedama plant is a great statement piece that adds an element of intrigue to any room and promotes a healthier-looking plant, as well.

This growing trend is a great opportunity for a unique and personalized green and leafy element to your home that is sure to stop people and start a conversation. Take advantage of this gorgeous style to add a new element of striking Japanese tradition and aesthetic to your home.

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Houseplants in the Winter

winter houseplant care home interior design

Are you feeling a little of those winter blues? When the winter temperatures drop and the outside world gets frosty, our houseplants are the green aesthetic boost that we need. However, the darker and drier winter conditions can be hard on your beautiful houseplants. Understanding the needs of your plants can help you keep them gorgeous and lush all winter.

Winter Hibernation

With how short our winter days are, everyone is getting less natural Vitamin D from the sun than usual. We may even be feeling the difference, getting a little sluggish and tired on darker days. The indoor plants in your house also rely upon the sun to boost their metabolism, so many of them may even be hibernating these days.

You might notice your plant taking a short break: leaves might fall, and growth slows down. Don’t worry too much, as your plants will perk up with the return of more sunlight in the spring. 

In the meantime, watering less will help your houseplant’s dormant roots to avoid being overwhelmed. If you poke your finger into the soil and it is dry up to the first knuckle, it’s time to water your houseplant.

Dry Air

On the other side of giving your plant the water it needs, the drier winter air can be very stressful for your houseplants. With the exception of succulents and cacti, most houseplants are from tropical forests, where they enjoy nearly 100% humidity. If the air gets dry enough in the winter, it can even pull moisture out of the leaves of your plants, leaving them parched.

If possible, keep your tropical houseplants close to together to let them benefit from each other’s moisture (with the added bonus of creating an attractive tropical oasis in your home). Boosting the humidity of the air can also help, either through the use of a humidifier or by letting your plants enjoy evaporating air nearby. For a quick pick-me-up, your houseplants will love a brief misting to keep them healthy and lush.

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Cold Drafts

Another thing your favorite tropicals struggle with is temperature changes. Back in their rainforest homes, the temperatures barely change a few degrees over an entire year, while our homes can change several degrees in a single day.

If your houseplants are close to cold windows or in the way of icy drafts from doors, they’ll appreciate moving away from sudden, cold temperatures. Keeping attractive and healthy plants sometimes calls for being flexible about where they are displayed to keep them rich and green, especially this time of year.

Houseplants are one of our favorite ways to add winter interest to our indoor living spaces. We get to bring something green and colorful inside to enjoy every day of the year. Keeping your houseplants healthy in winter conditions will ensure that they are lush all season and better than ever when they come out of hibernation in the spring!

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How To Design a Statement-Making Container Garden

The Ted Lare Look container garden recipe tips and ideas

Container design of the past was traditionally a painstaking endeavor to create perfect, identically manicured lawns and flower displays. The well-maintained lawns and gardens of mid-century suburbia were undeniably gorgeous – but so restricted that they lacked personality or flair.

Contemporary designs have favored container gardening that is much more versatile. This way you can have a trendy and personalized garden, but also the time to enjoy it. The garden has now become a space of creative self-expression, and container designs are the perfect opportunity to add a unique and personalized touch to your garden and home.

A couple of guidelines and tricks makes all the difference in creating beautiful, statement-making container gardens. Basic guidelines will help you to use design principles to ensure spectacular containers of any style with as much (or as little!) experimentation as you want.

Principles of Design, and Container Art

There are some basic principles typically used in visual art to create strong compositions. Interestingly, these same principles are useful in creating container designs. Think of your container as a living sculpture. When selecting your plants to place in a container, try considering things like color, texture, and shape. There are few definitive rules about how these principles should be used; they are better thought of as tools and can be used to create different effects.

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Simple Rules (Thrillers, Spillers, and Fillers)

A favorite staple many garden designers swear by is the “thriller, filler spiller” method to pair different elements within containers. This rule keeps everything about color, texture, and shape open to your tastes, combining one of each varying style of plant will craft a container with a guaranteed aesthetic. In choosing your plants, select one plant for vertical architecture (thriller), one plant to fill the space (filler), and one to overspill out of the container (spiller).

Styling your Container

While the statement plant of your container is typically the focal point, don’t forget that the container itself is an important part of the overall look. Different containers can help compliment your style or even be the statement piece, while also providing the plants support like moisture or heat control that they need for their best growth.

Healthy plants naturally look the best, so remember to select plants that have similar care requirements. Super aggressive growers have a tendency to swallow up less aggressive growers, if they share a container. Additionally, pairing plants with similar moisture and sunlight needs will help to avoid making compromises.

If you have your heart set on some combinations that don’t work well, don’t worry! Some conflicts can be cheated. Plants with different needs can be planted in their own individual pot that is hidden in the container itself. It might look like the plants are all together, but it’s a smart way for you reap the benefits of better control.

Want more inspiration? Try out some of our container garden recipes

But What Do You Want To Do With It?

Containers don’t have to be static, cookie-cutter displays. When you’re planning your container, take a moment to decide what you actually want from it: Do you want a striking modern statement piece? How about attracting more pollinators? Intoxicating fragrance? Maybe a corner of the backyard to relax at the end of the day? Or a trendy conversation starter?

Colors and textures have a massive effect. While contrasting colors and unexpected textures and shapes vibrantly draw attention for a modern look, a restricted color palette and soothing textures can help to calm the senses. Similarly, the type of plants you choose can be important, from inviting bees to your home, to experimenting with new trends like succulents or the newest varieties of your favorite flowers.

The best part of containers is the flexibility that they offer. No matter your wants, a few simple guidelines is enough to give you the freedom to have successful, healthy, and spectacular containers every year.

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Landscape Design Trends: Man-Made Stone? Pros and Cons

Man made stone natural stone rock design backyard landscape designer Iowa Des Moines style exterior patio

Landscaping with the purpose of changing the aesthetic and function of your backyard space is likely to involve stone at some point in the process. Stone is a material that continues to remain at the center of modern landscaping and outdoor lifestyle design, and for good reason.

When it comes to crafting new ideas for your backyard living space, natural stone is an attractive choice: it makes for an elegant statement piece and is completely durable. However, some logistical obstacles like weight, cost, and style have inspired innovation in manufactured alternatives that duplicate the benefits of natural stone, without some of the difficulties.

Man-made stone has grown out of its early development stages and is now a realistic option for homeowners looking to upgrade their outdoor spaces with less hassle and difficulty. Here’s an overview of how things stack up between natural and manufactured options.

“Write your sad times in sand, write your great times in stone.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Manufactured and Natural Stone Overview: 

There are many natural and man-made stone products to choose from.  The growth of landscaping across the country has increased the quality of stone products across the board, so there are a ton to choose from.  

Manufactured stone is usually a mix of concrete blended with aggregates and iron oxide pigments, and cast in models that are shaped from real stone. From most sides it has similar shape, color and texture of real stone, while the backside reveals its cast shape. There are many sizes, textures, and colors to choose from. Typically the ‘natural’ quality of the manufactured stone is proportional to the price.  The newly introduced premium looking products cost a little more than the ‘concrete’ blocks of the past.  

Natural stone is also found in a variety of colors and textures, but the availability can often vary depending on what part of the country you live in.  Located in the Mid-West, we can usually source about any size and color of natural stone. Our most common natural stone installations are patios, stairways, and retaining walls.

Choice and Customization: 

Natural stone is uncustomizable. While undeniably gorgeous, the actual selection of color and style is limited to what is currently available.

Cast stone allows your landscaping dreams to be limitless. There are new styles and colors on the market all the time, not to mention fewer logistical issues, such as availability and transport. Working with a landscape designer will help you to take full advantage of all of the newest and trendiest options available to realize any number of modern styles in your own backyard.

Case Study: See photographs of one of our landscape design projects, that uses manufactured stone in a dramatic and sweeping home entryway.

Weight:

Manufactured stone is usually easier to work with and comes in a large variety of thicknesses to accommodate many installation requirements. If needed, we can use a lighter weight manufactured stone that won’t stress the foundation of your landscaping project like some natural stones might. This is most useful when installing patio stone on top of existing concrete. Depending on the situation, we may be able to install a thin stone right on top of your existing, ‘outdated’ concrete. This is a big time saver, and a big upgrade to the look of your patio or covered porch area.

The weight of natural stone is typically much heavier than manufactured stone and usually requires heavier machinery to install. Depending on the access to your project site, manufactured stone may be the easier route.

Installation:

The installation methods can be very similar for both natural and man-made stone. Real and manufactured stone should both be installed by professionals. While each has their own unique challenges in weight and maneuvering, utilizing the skills of a professional is worth the investment.  By hiring a professional, you will make sure your outdoor living space is everything you want it to be, and that it stays perfect for many years.

Cost:

The price of manufactured stone installed is usually less than the cost of natural stone installed. This is not a clear cut rule however, as there are many options available. When looking at patio options, for example, many premium man-made stones cost just as much as natural stone. When working with a designer, ask for information on a few different types of material, so you know the different options and price points.

Durability:

While natural stone tends to be more durable, manufactured stone is closing the gap quickly. With improved production methods and materials, questions about the lifespan of cast stone are becoming an afterthought. You may still get what you pay for, with cheaper cast stone being less durable or fading in color, but well-manufactured stone from a reliable source has the potential to be nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.

Examples of Man-Made Stone used in Ted Lare, Landscape Designs 

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Which one should you choose?:

There are a lot of stone options to choose from when looking at a new project. Often it just depends on the look and feel you want for your space, while considering the overall price of the project. Typically, natural stone is going to give you a more timeless look, using materials that will never go out of style. Limestone pathways for example have been installed for hundreds of years, and continue to look great. Man-made stone gives you the option to replicate the timeless look of natural limestone or bluestone. However, it also gives you the option to break away from the mold, and do something different and new.

If you need help, get in touch with our design office and we can pair you up with one of our talented designers. We offer a great selection of both natural and man-made stone and have some personal favorites we can show you as well.

Case Study: See photographs of natural stone, used in one of our landscape design projects to create organically shaped pathways

Examples of Natural Stone used in Ted Lare, Landscape Designs 

Case Study: Wondering how they look in combination with each other? See one of our design projects that harmoniously uses a mix of both natural, and manufactured stone

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Landscape Design Trends: Seat Walls & Columns

columns patio stone design rock retaining wall seating campfire backyard pool

Seating is about inviting people to feel at home and relaxed, and this trend is all about making it easier to relax outdoors.

While extra chairs can eat up space and distract from the aesthetic of your outdoor space, a seating wall incorporates comfort and entertainment into your backyard. Often seating walls provide overflow seating for larger backyard gatherings, in addition to furniture.

“Smart people that like good health spend several hours outdoors daily in the shade of trees.“
– Steven Magee

Retaining Walls, Upgraded:

Retaining walls are an important structural “cornerstone” to landscape design. In the process of landscaping your space, a change of grade or natural slope can be elegantly contained with a visually pleasing barrier. Retaining walls are elegant solutions to practical layout problems in your yard.

A seating wall upgrades the utilitarian retaining wall to do even more. Not only functional and beautiful, people can sit on it comfortably as well. Suddenly, late nights spent with family and friends outdoors gets an intuitive upgrade. Hosting a larger gathering becomes easier, and nobody has to worry about finding a place to sit with this subtle design solution. Your retaining wall now has a stylish and practical purpose, and you’ll find your backyard will quickly become the go-to place for gatherings.

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How-To:

When you’re looking to build a seating wall, the first thing to focus on is comfort. You’ll want the wall to be easily accessible, so your wall should be a comfortable height and have a wide capstone. With a wall that is about 18” high and a cap at least 12” wide and stable, the rest of the wall is flexible to whatever you imagine!

Construction methods vary depending on the material chosen. Some seating walls may require a concrete footing to frost depth, while others may only require a compacted gravel base of nine inches.

Freestanding and Functional:

Seating walls aren’t restricted to retaining walls, and can have so many practical functions paired with stunning aesthetic. Circular seating walls can invite people inside to enjoy a roaring fire, or invite people to picnic on flat capstones.

Dressing Up the Design:

The beauty of these seating walls is that they don’t need to be purely functional and can be dressed up with containers of flowers, or dressed down with timber or stonework. Whatever your choice of design, elegant stone wall features are a classic way to add depth and shape to the landscape of your yard, introducing practical ways to enjoy your outdoor space more.

Peruse our portfolio of landscape design projects, organized by category and design material, and start envisioning your new backyard escape

Stone Columns:

Stone columns can be both beautiful and structural, depending on how they are incorporated into the design. Often, stone columns are used to add one more level of detail in a pergola, or covered patio design, by wrapping the timber pos in stone. The use of stone upgrades the overall ‘look and feel’ of the space, and compliments the other stone elements of the design such as a patio or fireplace.Stone columns can also be used as stand-alone elements in the landscape, used to frame a view or just add an interesting vertical element in the design. Whether you’re thinking about installing a seating wall for your home, or looking into adding columns into your yard for visual interest, our landscape designers can advise you on the best practical and creative solutions for your yard. Get in touch with our design office, and start talking through design ideas and options for your backyard escape.