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  • view of firepit and happy smiling family How to Build a Firepit

    Adding a fire pit to your backyard can be an easy way to make the space more welcoming and enjoyable. You can enjoy summer evenings roasting marshmallows or have enjoy fireside conversations when the weather gets cooler.

    There are a variety of design options available for all backyards, from simpler rustic designs evoking camping out in the old west to in-ground pits that require some backyard renovation. Whatever type you choose, here are a few tips to ensure your project goes smoothly:

    Shape and Style

    Before you even think about materials or tools, you need to pick a shape and a style. The two most common fire pit designs are circular or square, and both come with pros and cons.

    Square fire pits can be easier to envision in your backyard if you have fences or a deck and can be easy to measure out. They also lend themselves to more structured outdoor seating like benches or built-in chairs. The downside to the square design is that it can be limited to the number of people that can sit around it, nobody likes to be stuck in the corner!

    Circular or round fire pits tend to have a more open feel to them and can fit more people. The circular design means it might be easier to fit in an awkwardly shaped backyard. The downside to a circular fire pit is that it will require a little more planning to assemble.

    2. Beyond the Pit

    An important thing to remember about your fire pit is that, as it is outdoor, it is susceptible to the elements. So while you may have put the walls at an appropriate height, a gust of wind could come along and change everything. For the immediate surroundings of your fire pit, it is suggested that you build with non-flammable materials. That could mean placing the fire pit as the centerpiece of an outdoor deck area that’s been paved over, but more commonly it means removing some of the grass and soil around the pit and filling it with river rocks or more gravel. Keep this extra distance in mind when planning the location of your fire pit.

    It’s also important to keep in mind the surrounding landscape and distance from your house. You don’t want trees or bushes too close or to have anything hanging over the pit that could catch fire. There may also be local restrictions as to where you can build in your backyard, so be sure to check local rules before beginning construction.

    3. Material Choice

    Once you’ve decided on the design and location of your fire pit, you need to decide on the materials. For the main part of the structure, you’ll require stone and a construction adhesive. For these wall blocks, there are a variety of different styles and materials available, like flagstone or tile. Most cut stones will be suitable, but if you have concerns, the team of experts at Atlantic Mulch can help point you in the right direction. You’ll also need to establish a base upon which to construct your pit. Gravel is a common filler, just rake it out over your cleared area and then compact it.

    Another key component of many fire pits is a metal fire ring. These can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes and go inside of the stone exterior, adding another layer of fire resistance and extending the longevity of your fire pit. Once you’ve assembled the outer wall, you may want to add capstone to the top for a more aesthetically pleasing exterior.

    4. Add-ons

    Once you’ve installed your new fire pit, you may want to add on materials or features for additional functionality. There are a variety of grates available to fit any size or shape if you want to be adventurous and try cooking outdoors for example. These grates go right on top of the pit and allow for easy grilling. There are also grates you can put in the fire pit to prop wood logs on. These grates come in many different shapes and help keep a steady flow of oxygen to your logs so the fire lasts longer. These are easy to remove for cleaning and are usually made of heavy steel to last a long time.

    Atlantic Mulch Has All of Your Fire Pit Needs and More

    A backyard fire pit is a great DIY project with a ton of flexibility. If you aren’t interested in making all of the choices yourself, there are different kits available to purchase that come with everything you need to get your home fire pit set up. These kits and all of the tools and materials you need are available at Atlantic Mulch, along with an expert staff ready to point you in the right direction.

  • bulb of tulip in a hand autumn Tips for Fall Lawn Care in North Carolina

    As summer winds down and the seasons shift, its time to change the way you approach your lawn. As sad as it is to say goodbye to summer, a great summer yard is cultivated all year long – including in the fall. Autumn is the perfect time to change the way you’re approaching lawn care to ensure it remains healthy even through the winter months.

    1. Adjust your mowing timeline

    During the summer people have to mow more frequently to keep up with the speed that their grass was growing. As summer winds down, your lawn is going to need a less frequent mowing schedule. You may want to stick to your routine of mowing every other Saturday, but your lawn may not need a “haircut” as frequently once temperatures start cooling down. Fall is also a good time to look at the height of your mower blade and re-evaluate where you’ve set it. Based on the type of grass you have, you may want to go as low as 1-inch. Finding the correct blade height can be a pain, so you may want to talk to an expert to help you out.

    Winterization tip: It might not be time for winter just yet, but as your mowing schedule slows down, now is also a great time to take a look at your mower itself. When was the last time you cleaned the undercarriage or sharpened your blade? Now’s a good opportunity to take stock before the weather gets too cold.

    2. Aerate (maybe!)

    Aeration is the process of puncturing holes in your lawn to allow air and nutrients to seep in. It’s a fairly involved process, and we’ve got a whole article about what you need to know here. Fall is one of the two times a year when aeration will have the greatest impact if you have the type of grass for it. Cold weather grasses respond stronger to aeration as the weather is cooling. Common types of cold weather grasses in North Carolina include Bent, Kentucky Bluegrass, Rye, Tall and Fine Fescues. The professionals at Atlantic Mulch can help decipher what type of grass you have if you aren’t sure.

    3. Plant a Spring Garden

    Fall is the perfect season for planting, as the soil is already warm from the summer so roots can begin growing quickly, but the weather outside is cooler so it’s easier on us – the planters!

    Don’t just go planting anything though; certain plants thrive after experiencing winter. By preparing your spring blooming flowers in the fall season, you can rest easy knowing you’ll have a colorful garden to greet you once winter ends. Great flowers to plant for a spring bloom include:

    • Daffodils
    • Hyacinths
    • Tulips
    • Crocus
    • Pansies

    These flowers all have different optimal growing conditions, so you’ll want to consult with an expert if you want a mixed flowerbed. Some of these flowers also benefit from being planted directly before an expected freeze, so they are best planted later in the fall.

    4. Fertilize (or not)

    Fertilizer is a great tool to encourage growth and provides essential nutrients to our yards and gardens. The right fertilizer at the right time can be the key element in whether your yard and garden thrive or not.

    So, when is the right time to fertilize? Many lawn experts suggest late fertilization towards the end of the year in November and say it can encourage strong spring growth. You could also follow the advice on the package of your fertilizer of choice. But both of these options are just general advice for all lawns and don’t take into account regional difference. North Carolina winters can vary wildly, meaning your lawn care will have to adjust to what the season brings.

    Consult the Professionals at Atlantic Mulch for all of Your Fall Lawn Care Needs

    The best way to keep your lawn healthy is to consult experts in your area, like the team at Atlantic Mulch. We are able to provide expert advice catered to your specific lawn and to the type of weather you’re experiencing. As North Carolina residents, we are well versed in the local climate and vegetation of our great state – we can provide expert analysis and help you pick out the best tools to complete the job with minimal hassle.

  • Atlantic Mulch Fall Bulb Planting Fall Back, Spring Ahead

    You may not think of the Fall as the best time to tend to your garden as winter temperatures and weather are closer than they are far away, but it turns out that there is a lot of work to be done in the fall, to prepare your garden and yard for the Spring ahead. So, as you look to the holiday season, we urge you to act now so by the time the last frost has melted, you’ll have gorgeous new Spring flowers blossoming and waiting to greet you.

    Not sure where to start? You aren’t alone. Read on for our expert tips on how to choose the best location for your spring flowers, how to prepare the soil, and how to plant fall bulbs to ensure you get beautiful spring blooms.

    Find a good spot in your yard

    Before you just dig a hole anywhere and plunk new bulbs in your garden, you need to pause for a moment. Think about the sunlight and how it moves around your yard during the day. Many spring flowers thrive when they get about 6 hours of sunshine. For early spring bloomers, you can even plant them near trees because the tree leaves haven’t come in yet and the plants will get their needed sunshine before the full canopy grows in.

    When you are considering what you want to plant, always read the packaging to understand how tall they will be at full height. Aim to have your taller flowers in the back of the garden bed and the lower ones in the front. Also, you can place flowers that bloom early in the spring in the back of your garden with flowers that bloom later in the spring towards the front. That way, the later bloomers hide the wilting earlier bloomers.

    Soil, soil, toil, and shovel

    It’s well-known in the gardening community that your blooms are only as good as the soil you plant them in. You and a friend may do plant the same plant in the same garden, but whoever does more work upfront to prepare the plant site will likely come away with the bigger and fuller blooms.

    You can have this success by digging deep to help those roots find footing in your yard and prepping your soil with superior compost. You should also pull out the weeds before plunking in those bulbs. No need to encourage more weeds over the winter. Using Atlantic Mulch’s First Bloom, a professional mix of grade A compost and aged pine bark provides superior drainage and porosity to help foster incredible plant blooms come springtime.

    Better bulbs for bursts of spring color

    Now is the time to plant spring-blooming plants. But which bulbs should you plant in the Fall for Spring? Try any of these varieties for a full bloom spring garden:

    • Daffodils
    • Tulips
    • Crocuses

    If you want blooms in late summer or early fall, be sure to plant your bulbs in the early summer. On the other hand, if you want blooms in the spring, simply plant them in the fall instead!

    Look for bulbs that are in open bins rather than prepackaged, so you can look over each bulb. Healthy bulbs are firm. And, don’t get the smallest bulbs among the flowers you want; go for the larger ones as they are typically healthier.

    If you’re not planting right away, make sure you store the bulbs correctly. Don’t store them in plastic bags; they’ll rot or mold. Keep them in a paper bag and store them in a cool place—even your refrigerator will do!

    Finally, it’s time to plant your bulbs. Be sure to dig the holes three times deeper than the bulb itself to allow the roots space to grow. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed side facing upwards. If you can’t tell if the bulb has a tip, place it sideways to allow nature to take its course!

    10 fall garden tips

    Here are some other fall garden tips for you.

    1. Fall is the perfect time to remove dead limbs from your trees and shrubs. The leaves are still on them, so it’s easy to spot those areas that need to be removed. Fall is the time to remove deadwood.
    2. Do not prune shrubs or trees in early fall, because pruning stimulates growth. For a pruning calendar, see the NC Cooperative Extension Pruning Calendar.
    3. So that you don’t forget where your perennials are planted, take time now to mark where they are with some garden markers. Even popsicle sticks will do!
    4. Many nurseries are already preparing for the holidays and need room. They have large sales on lawn equipment, gardening tools, and other gardening basics. You can save money getting what you need during these fall sales.
    5. Did you bring some of your indoor plants outside for summer breezes? Now’s the time to bring them back inside and transition them back to the indoor temperatures.
    6. You might want to take a few of your herbs and plant them in small containers to bring inside for the winter. Think about your favorite oregano, basil, mint, parsley, and thyme plants and don’t forget dill, tarragon, and rosemary for any herb vinaigrette recipes.
    7. Before you bring any plants inside, always check for insects first.
    8. Think about your existing garden. Is it getting overcrowded? Could some plants benefit from being divided? Yes, the fall is the right time to split some of your perennials.
    9. Like to share? Want to meet others who share your gardening zest? Fall is the time for exchanging plants that you divide and re-plant, such as hostas, daylilies, elephant ears, and black-eyed susans.
    10. Did you have any left-over seed packets that you thought you’d plant and just didn’t get to? You can save them for next year. They just need a little extra care to make it through the winter. Put them in plastic bags and add a paper towel with some cornstarch to help keep the seeds dry. Store them in a dry area with cold, but not freezing, temperatures.

    For lots of great ideas, see https://www.atlantic-mulch.com/news-events/

  • Close up of a mechanical lawn aerator. How to Aerate and Overseed Your Yard This Summer

    Caring for your yard is a year-round task, and a little bit of knowledge goes a long way towards keeping your yard healthy. Aeration and overseeding are two common tactics that can lead to a healthier yard, but performing either of these at the wrong time or with the wrong tools can damage the yard. Summer is a prime season to do both. Read on for Atlantic Mulch’s tips on aerating and overseeding this summer season.

    Aeration

    Aeration is just what it sounds like – helping your yard get more air and nutrients. This is accomplished by punching or digging small holes in your yard. There are two types of aeration methods:

    • Core aeration – This method utilizes a special machine that pulls out small plugs of dirt from your yard. These can be left in the yard to dissolve, but many choose to collect and remove them. This method is highly effective, reducing yard compaction and will yield more effectiveness from overseeding.
    • Solid aeration – Instead of extracting cores, this method punches smaller holes into the yard. This method is generally seen as less effective but also doesn’t disturb your yard as much and the yard will return to normal quicker. This method is less effective if you plan on overseeding.
    • Slicing aeration – This method is a variation on solid aeration. Instead of punching holes, the equipment is outfitted with rotating blades that will instead slice through the soil. This leaves the soil largely undisturbed but can create many smaller slices through which nutrients can travel.

    To maintain a healthy lawn, you should generally aerate at least once a year. When to aerate is going to vary widely based on the type of grass you have in your yard. Aerating at the wrong time can actually do more harm than good by not giving your lawn enough time to recover.

    First, identify what type of grass your yard contains, warm or cold weather grass. The distinction has nothing to do with the actual location of your yard, a North Carolina home could have either warm or cool weather grass.

    • Warm weather grasses: Bahia, Bermuda, Buffalo, Carpet, Centipede, Saint Augustine, Zoysia
    • Cool-weather grasses: Bent, Kentucky Bluegrass, Rye, Tall and Fine Fescues

    If you aren’t sure what type of grass your yard has, the team at Atlantic Mulch will be happy to help clarify. To properly aerate a lawn, you will need to buy or rent an aeration machine. There are a variety of different machines, from push-style carts that look like mowers, to the motorized core aeration machines – there are even shoe attachments that have spikes on the bottom! Core aeration machines will be the most expensive, but renting these machines are an option.

    Once you’ve aerated, your lawn is primed for watering or the application of fertilizer. If you chose core aeration, now is also the time to decide what to do with the dirt plugs. Some experts recommend leaving them to break down naturally, while others recommend raking them up, the choice is yours.

    Overseeding

    Overseeding is simply the process of spreading more grass seeds in your lawn – that’s it. This helps rejuvenate grass that has become worn down over time and become thinner. Overseeding will not help a lawn where much of the grass has died; in cases like these, you may want to completely reseed and restart your yard.

    Post-aeration is a perfect time for overseeding, as the new holes allow for seeds to take root and flourish. The necessary tools for aeration are simple – you’ll need the proper seeds and a seed spreader. For smaller yards, you can even just spread the seeds by hand. Atlantic Mulch has a wide array of seeds available for purchase and our team can help you choose the best seed mixture for your yard.

    Once you’ve spread the seed in the yard, you will want to keep your yard fed and watered. Continuous watering is important to help the new seedlings grow, and you’ll want to keep your yard moist while the new grass is growing.

    Atlantic Mulch Can Help with Your Aerating and Seeding Needs

    These techniques might not be necessary every single year, but if your yard is looking thin, both aerating and overseeding can make a world of difference. Aerating and overseeding together can help rejuvenate tired yards and ensure your grass and soil are in top condition. The team of experts at Atlantic Mulch can provide you with all the tools and knowledge necessary to keep your yard green and beautiful.

  • Atlantic Mulch - Spring Cleaning Spring Cleaning for Your Yard

    Spring cleaning shouldn’t just be for your office or junk drawer, it’s a time to take stock, make repairs, and just generally freshen up. It’s also the perfect time to re-evaluate your lawn and landscaping needs after winter and prepare for new growth. Don’t leave those yard tasks for when you have an “open weekend”! Planning everything out ahead of time and making a checklist can reduce your yard work burden and give you a framework for moving forward.

    Here are a few suggested steps to help you get started on your spring cleaning journey:

    • Clean up winter debris
    • Prep your flower beds
    • Improve existing flower beds
    • Order your mulch in bulk (brown mulch is a popular choice)
    • Choose your flowers

    Winter Debris

    Whether your winter was full of snowfall or just dead leaves, the first thing you need to do once the weather warms up is get rid of any and all debris that’s built up over the season. No one wants to see litter or pet waste in their yard, but those cold winter days can bring out the worst in us, so it’s important to take stock of your yard and see what tools you’ll need. Break out the rake once more and gather up everything from any dead leaves you might’ve missed to the Coke can that got buried by the snow. This makes everything that comes next easier.

    Prepping Flower Beds

    Once you’ve cleared the waste up, it’s time to prepare your dirt and soil so whatever you choose to plant thrives. Prune any dead branches or old wood from surrounding trees and bushes. This not only frees up space, but it encourages healthy growth on whatever plants you choose to prune. Now is also a good time to start the search for weeds. It’s never too early to begin the weeding process, so remove whatever you find.

    During winter, soil can become compacted in the ground. To prepare it for fresh planting, you should till or loosen the soil. You can use a tiller or spade to just work the soil and loosen it up – the warmer the day, the easier it will be.

    Improving Flower Beds

    This is an optional step that not everyone is going to take, but now is your chance to make improvements to the flowerbed. One improvement that can change the entire look of your garden or flowerbed is the addition of edging beds for a new garden border. You’ll need to dig a new trench around the border and fill it with a fabric or liner. Covering the liner with sand or gravel is a great strategy to improve the positioning of the pavers. Once that’s done, you can add new brick or concrete pavers.

    Depending on how ambitious you’re feeling with your new project, you can take this a step further and elevate or adjust the shape of the flowerbed. These adjustments will take more time, effort, and material, but can add more dimensions to your yard.

    Mulch Time!

    Before you plant any new flowers or plants in the soil, you’re going to want to think ahead and prepare your mulch order ahead of time. Once you reach this stage of the process, you don’t want to be dealing with making trips back and forth to pick up more supplies. It’s a good idea to order your mulch ahead of time and in bulk so you aren’t left with any uncovered areas.

    Mulch has so many benefits to your garden beyond adding another attractive element. Mulch suppresses weed growth, meaning less time spent ridding your garden of those pests during your free time. A layer of mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil, which is essential for any dry spells throughout the summer and reducing your need to water.

    Make sure to do your research before buying any mulch. There are a variety of different types that offer different textures and different appearances. Choosing between black colored designer mulch and shredded hardwood will create a completely different aesthetic for your landscaping. Brown mulch is a popular and preferred option amongst many homeowners.

    Flower Power

    Finally, it’s time to choose what you’ll be planting. There are so many different plants to choose from for all different landscaping styles. Will you go for colorful pastel flowers to make your landscaping pop? Or is it time to enhance your already existing shrubbery? Different plants bloom at different times, so think about what time of year you want to admire your new garden. Lilacs, daffodils, and tulips all bloom in spring and will give you more instant gratification. Lavender and hibiscus bloom in the summer, so you’ll have to wait to see your handiwork bear fruit.

    Whatever you choose, breathe life into your yard with some spring cleaning and enjoy your refreshed garden!

  • Atlantic Mulch - Types of Gardens 3 Effective Ways to Create Garden Beds in Your Lawn

    When you think of a home garden, what do you picture? Rows of home grown produce in a neat little square in the backyard? Or perhaps you imagine a series of square containers, elevated off the ground for serious growing.

    Choosing the right type of garden bed is essential and affects what you can grow, how much maintenance is required, and what your new garden will look like. Three of the most common types of home gardens are:

    • In-Ground Beds
    • Raised Beds
    • Containers

    Each one comes with various pros and cons, so choosing the right garden bed is essential.

    In-Ground Beds

    This is one of the most common types of home gardens, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Dug directly into the ground, this garden is usually at the same surface as the surrounding grass and soil. It’s edging could be an elaborate, yet low cobblestone or it could be as simple as a minimalist, pre-assembled plastic barrier.

    This type of garden bed is going to be the most impacted by the surrounding landscaping and environment. You’ll be replacing the grass with whatever you want to grow, and will be at the mercy of the soil that exists in your yard. Excavating the dirt, lining the garden bed, and ordering new soil is an option, but can be costly and take time. On the plus side, if your soil is already decent, there’s not as much prep work as required of the other styles. Till and weed the soil, plant your seeds, and add a layer of Brown Designer Mulch and you’re ready to go.

    In-ground beds can be incredibly easy to start, but they also come with a number of drawbacks. This type of bed is one of the hardest to maintain, you’ll be bending over and getting on your knees to pull weeds and tend your plants. It’s also possible that the surrounding soil isn’t as healthy as you’d like, with an unbalanced pH level or containing contaminants. The soil in this type of bed will also take the longest to warm up and could delay your planting schedule.

    Raised Beds

    This is also exactly what it sounds like. These garden beds are elevated off the ground, usually with a wood or stone border. These can be flush up against your house or a fence, built into a hill, or, if you’re truly ambitious, act as a standalone piece in your yard. Due to the nature of raised beds, you’re going to be adding something to your yard, whether it’s edgers and gravel or large amounts of wood. There’s a significant up-front investment to add a raised bed to your yard, including bringing in new soil to fill the bed.

    The plus side to this is you get to choose exactly how you want your new bed to look. Line the bottom with a fabric barrier to prevent intrusive weeds and add custom soil and mulch to encourage growth. For the truly ambitious, invest in piping for additional watering options.

    Raised beds can have a significant up front cost, but you get to decide exactly how you want everything to be. This type of bed is also easier to tend; the higher level means no kneeling and bending to work on your garden at all. The elevation also means that the soil will warm up before in-ground beds, meaning you can plant and reap the benefits of your handiwork sooner.

    Containers

    The most flexible type of garden bed is the container. These are stand-alone products like a pot or a plastic bin that are designed to be mobile. You can buy products specifically to use as a container bed or recycle things like wheelbarrows or old sinks. The upside to a container bed is you can place it anywhere. Live in an apartment and want a garden? Make one from a container for your porch or outdoor space. Containers are mobile, and can be placed strategically to update the appearance of your yard or home.

    You have complete control of everything in the container, from the type of soil to the amount of light. You can even bring your containers inside during the winter months and protect your plant from cold weather. From houseplants to herbs to fruits, containers are incredibly versatile.

    The downside to growing plants in a container is that they generally require more watering and fertilization than either raised or in-ground beds. The size of the container can also be limiting, and larger containers for larger plants can be costly.

  • Atlantic Mulch - Flagstone Patio Considering Flagging for Your Patio? Read This First.

    Designing the ultimate outdoor space for your enjoyment should be a fun experience. There are so many different ways to update an outdoor space to make it more attractive or comfortable. There’s a reason why so many homeowners choose to augment their yards with a flagstone patio. Flagging is a highly customizable process, adding a natural hardscape element to your backyard and creating a contrast between your plants and other landscape features.

    Flagstones are natural stones that have been split into thin layers and are primarily used for patios and walkways. The stones are commonly used in both irregular, natural shapes and in cut, geometric squares. They’re also a great choice for the added texture that comes from having a roughened surface, providing more traction even in the rain.

    One of the many reasons why people choose flagstone is for its natural look and feel. Earthy colors like greys, browns, and reds create a very authentic feel no matter what shape you decided on. The amount of natural stone varieties available makes for unlimited design choices for all types patios. Create a natural looking path from the home to an outdoor grill using irregular shapes, or “crazy paving.” Or create a more formal patio experience and use a variety of rectangular flagstones in a pattern. The plethora of shapes available mean you can have fun with placement and maximize space.

    When designing your flagstone patio, think about how you’ll be using the space. Are you grilling out with friends and family during the summer? What about focusing your new patio around an in-ground fire pit? If there’s one specific area you want to emphasize, design a circular pattern with the object or area as the focal point. If you’re interested in a rectangular shape, utilize the irregular flagstones for a unique pattern.

    To create a more unified presentation, flagstones are often placed just slightly apart and then the gaps between are filled. One of the most common ways to fill the space between each stone is concrete, creating a solid surface to stand on. This is an elegant solution to even out the surface and create a space perfect for outdoor furniture, grills, or other freestanding backyard appliances, but there are so many ways to make each flagstone pop. Gravel is another common material used to fill the space between each flagstone, creating a more rustic feel to the space while still providing a base layer that helps keep the flagstones even. For a more natural design, some choose to fill that in-between space with moss or grass, making each individual stone pop in contrast with the green surrounding it.

    If you are going to set your flagstones in sand or gravel, it’s important to note the risks that come with connecting the stones via mortar. Sand and gravel shift, and despite the patio looking incredibly smooth immediately after the project finishes, time, weather, and use will cause the stones to shift and your smooth patio will become bumpy. If you want mortar to connect your stones, it makes more sense to install them in a cement base to ensure stability.

  • Atlantic Mulch - River Rocks River Rocks: What You Need to Know About This Hardscaping Mainstay

    When you’re planning out your new landscaping project, where do rocks fit in? Obviously, no one wants rocks in the grass (mowing would be a pain!) but incorporating rocks into your landscaping can elevate its overall look and feel. River rocks don’t just belong in the river and are a fantastic element to add to any landscaping project. In fact, the name is misleading as these versatile stones can set your new project up for success, emphasizing new designs or serving as a great grass alternative for filling space.

    River rocks are a type of hardscaping (using non-living components in your landscaping) that can do so much for a new yard or garden project. Depending on what your goals are, river rocks can be a great alternative to other more maintenance-heavy options. Is your goal to draw your eye to a specific area? Choose river rocks in a color that’s not common to your area. Dark browns or bright whites can act as an accent and provide a splash of color against flora and fauna. Or if you’re looking for a filler or backdrop for other exciting elements like your collection of garden gnomes, pigeon river rocks or Delaware Jax rocks provide a more earthy tone.

    These rocks are also commonly featured in and around water fixtures, hence the name. They are used for riverbeds as an accent color and to help direct the water away from vulnerable property and prevent erosion, serving both a practical and aesthetic purpose. You’ll also find river rocks around fountains or waterfalls, creating a more natural look for the water fixtures.

    Looking to maintain a garden but don’t want to go to the trouble of applying mulch every year? River rocks can serve as a replacement material as long as the proper steps are taken ahead of time. Weeds are already the enemy of gardeners everywhere, but trying to dig out a weed that’s found its way through your rock bed is a pain no one should have to suffer through. Laying down a weed barrier before putting your river rocks in place makes your life easier and goes a long way towards maintaining a weed-free garden.

    Additionally, combining a layer of stones with potted plants creates an elegant container garden. Brightly colored flowers will seem all the brighter surrounded by stones, and your maintenance levels drop significantly. Plus, you can rearrange your plants on a whim, allowing you to play with your layout and preventing any planter’s remorse.

    Of course, if you don’t want to add containers, there are several plants that thrive with a rock base. Stones help the soil drain quicker, creating a perfect environment for cacti and succulents. Desert-style gardens are growing in popularity and require less maintenance than other styles.

    On the more creative side, designing a personalized outdoor space can be challenging, but river rocks provide the perfect avenue to let your inner artist out. Combining different colors together can create a stunning visual pattern. These mosaic gardens are works of art, and require more rigorous planning ahead of time. Transform a basic stone pathway with geometric shapes and contrasting colors for a beautiful backyard accent piece. Or if you aren’t keen on walking on a series of stones to get around, combine your river rock pathway with larger pieces of flagstone for path that won’t hurt your bare feet.

    River rocks are also historically a key element of Japanese rock gardens, or zen gardens. These traditionally smaller accent gardens are carefully laid out using a combination of rocks and gravel that’s been raked so it appears like water. The act of raking out the stones into a smooth pattern is actually somewhat difficult, requiring time and concentration, but also provides a relaxing, meditative activity.

    Adding hardscaping elements to your new landscaping project may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Many people focus on the new greenery that they’ll add and think about ways to remove any rocks in the area. But river rocks can be an incredibly versatile element that all landscapers should consider. Not only are there a variety of color options available to fit any home design, but they require less maintenance than alternatives like mulch or grass. Even just using these stones for something as simple as a barrier between a new in-ground plant bed can add a natural element that would be lost with other pavers or walls. These stones can help differentiate a good project from a great one, and shouldn’t be written off so quickly.

  • Atlantic Mulch - Slate Flagstone How to Incorporate Slate into Your Landscaping Naturally

    There’s a fine line between over-developed landscaping and natural landscaping that can be a tough line to walk. We all want our outdoor spaces to be comfortable and include as many amenities as possible, but the goal is to have an actual outdoor space – not just a duplicate of the interior of our homes.

    Luckily, there are several products that thread this line to help generate an elegant outdoor space that’s well maintained and landscaped but also feels natural. Flagstones – thin stone chunks that can be shaped or left in a natural shape – are a perfect element to achieve this look. Utilized properly, these stones can maintain the natural splendor of your landscaping project while still providing the utility you desire.

    One of the most common ways flagstone is utilized is as a base for an outdoor patio. The individual stones are traditionally placed in a bed of cement (for a more sturdy patio) or sand or gravel in a desired shape. The space in between each stone is then filled with smaller gravel, plants, and more. The customizable nature of a flagstone patio combined with the relative ease of installation makes it a common choice among pros and DIYers alike. Cut flagstone patios can be an attractive formal addition to any outdoor space, while irregular flagstone patios are completely unique. With a number of varieties and colors to choose from, its clear why flagstone is such a popular choice for patios.

    Of course, no patio is complete without a pathway leading to it, and once again flagstone is an excellent choice. Create a more natural look and feel by filling the gaps between the stones with sand, river rocks, or even mulch. With these natural fillers, it’s still best to lay down a weed barrier first – you don’t want to have to weed in between your pathway!

    Slate is one of the more common types of stone mined for flagstone products and the resulting chunks of stone can be used to construct major new additions to your yard. Is your yard hilly? Slate staircases are a great way to move between your house and outdoor space. Built by a strategic combination of the placement of the slate pieces, digging and then mortaring, the end result is a natural looking staircase that’s built directly into the ground. (This is one of the more difficult projects involving slate, and since safety is paramount for constructing staircases, you may want to hire a professional for this one.)

    Additionally, flagstones aren’t just valuable for projects that lie flat on the ground, they are also commonly used to create attractive retaining walls. Adding verticality to your garden is a great way to stand out and allows the greenery in each level to visually stand out. Retaining walls made from flagstone have an old-world feel to it, evoking a rustic, European vibe that enhances any landscaping project. Properly installing retaining walls can be a challenge but the effort radically transforms any outdoor space.

    If you’re looking for a way to add outdoor seating to your garden without buying an ugly plastic chair that’s vulnerable to the weather, flagstone can even help you out here. Combining three properly shaped stones can create a natural looking outdoor bench. Mortaring together the slabs ensures stability, and these outdoor seats are an excellent addition for gardens or placed around a fire pit.

    Speaking of fire pits, flagstone is an attractive material to use for the exterior of the finished product. For the interior, you’ll want a material that’s fireproof, like firebrick. However, constructing this fire pit in the center of your flagstone patio, along with flagstone seating, you’ll have a natural looking outdoors space that’s both chic and cohesive.

    Flagstone’s popularity as a hardcsaping building material comes from a combination of elements, chief among them is its weather resilience, color options, and variety of shapes.

    The variety of colors available means that you can use flagstone for all of your outdoor projects but still have contrasting colors. Utilize a lighter gray for your retaining wall and an earthy brown for a path. Combine the different colors with the variety of shapes and options available and there are nearly unlimited ways to differentiate your flagstone elements.

    There’s also very little maintenance required to maintain a flagstone path or patio. Most of the time you’ll be sweeping the exterior or weeding the surrounding areas. If an accident does occur and one of your flagstones is chipped, it’s easy to remove just that one element – no need to tear out the entire patio to fix one cracked piece.

    Slate and other types of flagstone are just the elements you need to achieve a landscape that is both useful and beautiful – naturally.