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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Working with Landscape Professionals

It takes a wide range of skills to take a dream and turn it into a landscape. Here's a guide to the various professionals who can help make that transition go smoothly.

As you plan, design, and build your landscape, you may need professional assistance. Familiarize yourself with the roles of landscaping pros. Ask for references and call to verify the quality of the work. Choose someone who listens and seems open to your ideas. Build a relationship with your contractor or landscaper.

Contract for one section or phase of the work at a time; try the contractor out before you commit to the next section.

Landscape Architects

These professionals are trained and licensed (in most states) to practice.They are generally the most qualified to guide you through planning and design. Costs for their services range from hourly consultation fees to flat fees for the entire project. Choose a landscape architect to review your design and plan before you begin construction.

Landscape Designers

Landscape designers are not regulated or accredited. If you are interested in working with a landscape designer, check references carefully. There are some extremely gifted designers with extensive plant knowledge. Usually they are more adept at formulating planting plans than master planning or designing permanent garden structures.

Landscape Contractors

They are not governed by any licensing agency or state regulations -- only standard business practices. Landscape contractors are often hired to install the projects of landscape designers and landscape architects who do not install their own. There are some highly skilled and professional contractors in the marketplace and others who aren't. Discuss who will furnish the materials. Ask for samples of materials that will be supplied by the contractor.

Garden Center Staff

A garden center is an ideal source for plants and expert local advice. Most staff members are not skilled in planning and design, but a landscape designer may be available. Many garden centers offer a discount on plants if you work with their design service in compiling a landscape plan.

Government Officials

Call the main county or city planning office and ask about submitting your landscaping plan for building and land disturbance permits. Contact your subdivision office or neighborhood association to submit your plan for approval, if need be.

Before you sign a contract with a landscape professional, do your homework. The questions listed below will help you gauge the mettle of the person who wants to perform the work for you. Regardless of the answers to these questions, talk to several references and prior customers as well. Ask these folks similar questions about the contractor.

Questions to Ask

  • What is your professional title and training?
  • Are you licensed or certified?
  • What references can you provide?
  • Do you have a portfolio of your finished projects?
  • Do you have a specialty?
  • What style are you most comfortable working with?
  • Would you explain how you will do the job?
  • How much is the project going to cost?
  • When is payment expected?
  • Do you accept installment payments?
  • What can I do to help cut costs?
  • Do you have proof of insurance and bonding?
  • Are your materials and workmanship guaranteed?
  • What is your contingency plan in case of problems or additional costs?
  • When can you start and finish the project?
  • How soon can you provide the written contract?

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