Holiday-Inspired Outdoor Decorating that Lasts

Dress up your front porch and yard with these holiday outdoor decorating ideas that last from the first days of fall through the New Year. They look great on a porch or just outside your door.

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Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas

Make the outside of your home as ready for the holiday season as the inside with these outdoor Christmas decorating ideas. Our holiday decorating ideas, including beautiful Christmas greenery, festive light displays, and more, are sure to get your yard Christmas-ready.

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Grow Beautiful Amaryllis

Amaryllis flowers are easy to grow from bulbs and great for adding color to your holiday decor.

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Deer-Resistant Shade Plants

Gardening in the shade where deer are plentiful can be a challenging situation. But there are plants that thrive in the shade that aren't tempting to hungry deer. Although no plant can be considered completely deer-resistant, here's a list of shade dwellers that most deer avoid. Plus, we've added some fun facts about deer that might help you understand them better.

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Shrubs with Winter Interest

A winter landscape has a beauty all its own. An unexpected plant feature -- winter blooms that perfume the air, bright berries, colorful or textured foliage or unusual bark -- add a welcome element to gardens. These winter shrubs will not disappoint.

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Tips for Moving Plants Indoors

Here's a handy guide for moving your favorite plants inside once the weather turns cold.

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Prioritize Your Landscaping Projects

Here are some guidelines to help you start getting your hands dirty.

Where to Start

Now you are ready to get down to the work. The beauty of having a plan is that you know where you are going. Even if it takes years to get there, all of your work and expense will be taking you in the right direction. Relax and enjoy the process.

Common sense will dictate some of the work schedule you now should add to your notebook. Most work in most climates will be seasonal, with major planting in spring and fall. Here are some guidelines.

If landscape destruction is involved, do that first. Clear the site.

Do rough grading and the installation of a swimming pool, drainage system, and all underground utilities next. Prepare any large areas of soil while you have the equipment there.

If possible, build structures next. If they are on the waiting list, keep their areas and equipment needs in mind as you plant.

Trees Take Time

All the money in the world cannot buy the years it takes to grow a large tree. Protect any existing choice trees. You may want to keep less-choice trees for the time being or plant temporary, fast-growing trees until better kinds grow large enough. You may also want to move existing plants that are small enough to withstand transplanting (you can circle the fingers of one hand around their trunks).

When buying those vital trees for framing and shade, get the largest you can afford as soon as you can. They can settle in and grow while you are doing the other work.

In distant spots, start smaller trees and put mulch, ground covers, flowers, or vegetables around them until they spread.

Consider Costs

You probably have been gauging costs instinctively during the planning stages. Now it is time to work up specific figures.

Real-estate agents consider it reasonable to spend 10 to 15 percent of the cost of the house and lot on landscaping, not including such large improvements as pools and patio roofs.

If you keep your landscaping costs in this range, most of the expense is likely to boost the value of your property. Some of the work, too, will immediately or eventually reduce the costs of heating and cooling. And all will make an appreciable difference in your quality of life, comfort, and health.

Most plans will call for some work that is beyond the capability, time, or desire of the homeowner to do personally. Begin talking to contractors or doing some comparison shopping for materials.

To get a realistic picture of costs, generally you're best off doubling any number you come up with initially. Figure you can save about half of the hired cost if you do a job yourself, if you can. Stinting on such things as erosion control, walls, utilities, and such could cost you more in the long run or jeopardize your family's safety.

Work in Stages

Whether you do your landscaping work over a series of weekends or years, breaking large jobs into small segments makes your goals attainable. Personal priorities can prevail. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What existing conditions can I live with longest? In a new home, a lawn will reduce glare, summer temperatures, erosion, and tracking into the house. An old lawn, however weedy, may do until the patio and walks are in place.
  • Which improvements will contribute most to my use and enjoyment of my yard? You will need a service area right away.
  • Will a new entryway that visitors and passersby see every day mean more, or should I build the deck that will expand my house and outdoor living? The most satisfaction and success usually comes from concentrating on one area at a time. Then let your enjoyment of that area spur you on to and through the next stage.

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