Category Archives: Landscaping and Gardening

Landscape paving tips

Landscape paving tips

The possibilities in this line are only bound by our imagination and available material. We can look at these paving in terms of space function. The most common spaces for a home landscape for example include, driveway, front yard and backyard. In some homes, you may find patios, gazebos and barbecue corners. All these may use different paving material. Common hardscape surface choices include;

  • Gravel
  • Building stone
  • Pre-cast concrete cabro blocks
  • Brick blocks and ceramic tiles

Gravel paving

Gravel is loved a lot  in landscape paving because of its cheapness and ready availability. The loose finish allows crunch sounds as you walk or drive along this surface. Its however best for short driveways with good drainage, otherwise you’ll end up needing to refill the place up if it keeps sinking. Though usually used for less traffic spaces, a hardy base can allow heavier traffic. A gravel driveway and path Though not common currently in Kenya, there’s combination of technologies that use cell like membranes to increase porousness of this surface and traffic tolerance. A similar technology is used in turf surface design where grass is grown on a membrane.

Stone paving

Building stone is a wonderful landscape paving material for driveways and small walkways. Where done with uniform sized stone, different patterns can be achieved with this  landscape paving. Owing to its vast availability, anyone can use it and is fairly affordable. Common method people go for include placing the stones on the tire paths of vehicles only. For more advance motifs, different shapes and colour of stones may be used. It’s however best to go for the harder stone types. This will ensure durability of your driveway or walkway Pre-cast concrete blocks  

Cobble and cabro landscape  paving blocks are some of the most commonly used precast paving in urban areas. They come in different shapes and colours and usually sold in terms of square meter coverage. Owing to their uniform shape, they can easily be replaced if damaged. Their use varies from simple walkways to whole streets and driveways. Concrete slabs also fall in this category. There are ideal for walkways. They may be permanently set in cement or laid on sand base. In some cases, mixing the slabs with brick may be used for achieving different shapes and colours. They are most ideal for heavy traffic areas, are fairly durable and weather tolerant. You may see a lot of this in urban streets. In some places, these pavers have been used for patios and barbecue areas outdoors.

Brick paving blocks

Brick is one of the oldest material used in building construction. The long use of this material has resulted in even landscape paving solutions using the same. Brick may be used for edging, surface and even seat wall and retaining walls. Due to the reddish colour, it’s a bit earthy and sits well in any landscape. Landscape paving with this material may involve placing option or setting with cement. Though very longlasting when made into tiny pieces, the larger pieces are prone to cracking and breakage on intense use.

Balcony gardens for our ‘concrete’ cities

Modernity brings in its wake rise in concrete jungles. Apartments, homes, highways and office blocks eat away into our green spaces. With time, our play space even for kids in the estates has been taken over by shops or a parking lot. For those living in apartments, the only sense of owning the outdoor may be the balcony. The idea of greening this up results in  balcony gardens.

This balcony garden combines grass, wood casement pots and ceramic pots for a simple but elegant look

Luckily, throwing in a few plants and design ideas may make you a small paradise of your home. Balcony gardens are slowly catching on and the ideas are limitless. In co-operation of some hardscapes and plants can create outstanding results. Miniature fountains, ceramic pots, small grassy patches, gravel and ‘mazeras’ slabs are just but a few features you can throw in.

To help you start off your balcony garden, here’s a few tips;

  • Using high quality soil mix or enriched planting media helps boost your plants development
  • Cluster your plants for ease of watering them
  • Place your plants with size, light demand in question e.g. Taller ones at the back and the higher the light demand the closer it should be to sun path
  • Herbs are the best choice for an edible balcony garden collection. Most grow to manageable size
  • Vines and quick growers are ideal for small spaces as the ascent verticality making illusion of bigger space
  • Fruits like strawberry, blueberry’s and passion can do well here

Go ahead, try it yourself. You may find this is what your home or office has been missing.

Water solutions for your garden-gray water

By simple definition, graywater is as any domestic wastewater produced, excluding sewage. One main difference between graywater and sewage (or blackwater) is the organic concentration. Sewage has a much larger organic loading compared to graywater. Kitchen water, though classified as black water because of its content of grease, oils and other organic matter can be treated for reuse if pre separated from sewage.With depletion of fresh water reserves, rethinking your water re-use should be appropriate.


Benefits of Graywater Re-use

Re-use doesn’t diminish our quality of life, however it can provide big benefits.

  • Reducing the need for fresh water. This can significantly reduce household water bills, but also has a broader community benefit in reducing demands on public water supply.
  • Reducing the amount of wastewater entering sewers or on-site treatment systems. Again, this can benefit the individual household, but also the broader community.
  • Gray water is rich in phophorous and nitrogen from soaps beneficial to soil and plants

Where to use Graywater

Treated greywater can be used to irrigate both food and non food producing plants. The nutrients in the greywater (such as phosphorus and nitrogen) provide an excellent food source for these plants. Its however not to be applied on leaves and fruit of edible plants.

Where properly filtered, it can be applied through normal irrigation systems. Its best to apply slightly below or on the soil surface. Leach fields from gray water distribution may also be applied.

More tips

  • Use when natural precipitation and normal irrigation water are not available
  • Control gray-water application and infiltration to prevent standing puddles and surface runoff.
  • Apply gray water to soil. Don’t spray on foliage, twigs or stems.Also don’t soak bark or root-collar area.
  • Don’t use on root or leaf crops consumed by people or domestic livestock.
  • Don’t use on new transplants
  • Don’t use on indoor trees or other plants with limited rooting space, in small containers, or plants normally under saturated conditions
  • Avoid using micro or regular sprinkler heads that can blow gray-water aerosols downwind
  • Always apply gray water at or slightly below the soil surface. Apply over or under mulch, if present

Indoor plants management

Indoor plants management

 For optimum performance, indoor plants must get enough light, sufficient nutrients and be kept at areas with proper temperature and humidity levels. In theory, all plants can grow indoors; the key thing to remember is to ensure that the indoor conditions are as close as possible to the natural growing conditions.

It is difficult to alter indoor conditions to suit all kinds of plants that you would like to have. The most controllable factors therefore are plant placement, hardening, and choice of the plant to grow indoors

Choice of indoor plants

Firstly, understand the condition of your house. If light levels are high, a wider range of flowers can be gown and vice-versa. Plants that can do well in low light levels are rarely colorful. Consult professionals when choosing an exotic plant to grow indoors

Hardening

Hardening means gradually exposing the plant to the eventual conditions. It may involve exposing the plant to the expected stress element. This could be temperature, light humidity or a combination of these.  In Nairobi for example, palms will be stressed by low temperatures and low humidity. When grown indoors, they will be stressed by low temperatures, low humidity and low light levels.

Hardening a palm plant will involve the following

For low temperature, cover the plant leaves with a gunny or jute bag for a couple of days. This will allow the plant to establish itself and resist the eventual shock of low temperature. Ideally, this should be done after planting.

For low humidity, the gunny or jute bag will keep the humidity around the leaves and allow plant roots to grow. Low light will imply gradual light reduction. Gradual light reduction can be difficult to achieve in a house setting.

Plant placement

As much as possible, place plants to avoid light, temperature and humidity stress. Depending on the natural plant habitat, these factors can stress the plant. For example, while a fern will be stressed by high light conditions, a palm will be stressed by low light conditions.

Feel free to consult Asepsis Limited for any question relating to plant growing

Why landscape lighting is important?-Kenya

Outdoor lighting is some of the most overlooked finish in the landscape. Most often people choose to ignore the need for it. However, well thought out laying and fixtures go along way in enhancing spaces.

Poorly lit level changes may cause serious harm to users
Poorly lit level changes may cause serious harm to users
Lighting at this pool enhances not only safety but highlights it with coloured lighting
Lighting at this pool enhances not only safety but highlights it with coloured lighting

Lighting may be for beauty, safety and security to your home. Having a well designed lighting plant enhances the ambience of your landscape. You can choose your lighting depending on its function.

landscape lighting helps to highlight focal points and other architecural features in our homes. It also increases utility time of spaces on your property i.e. can allow even night use. Depending on the technique used, lighting may help set mood of a space.

Some of the landscape lighting techniques can be used to highlight plants, walkways and plants include:- uplighting, moon lighting, silhouetting, shadowing, pathlighting, cross lighting, spotlighting and   underwater lighting.

Turf and lawn installation

November is here with us with the short rains. Usually the best time for home owners keen on landscapes to spruce up for the X-mas holidays. The rain and cooler climate give the best climate for most grass to do well. Here’s a guide for beginners in choosing your lawn. Step 1.Your soil type and climate Understand your area soil type and whether patterns. Before you decide on the lawn grass knowledge of this will guide you a great deal. Advice on whether you need to add fertilizer or rich soil may be advised by an expert. Step 2.Grass type The most important thing for any good lawn is grass selection. There are various grasses in Kenya available as seedlings and sods/turf pieces(specifically Kikuyu- Penisetum clandestinum grass currently). Locally available choices include Zimbabwe , paspalum, Cape royal, Bermuda and kikuyu grass. There biggest difference is leaf size, colour, density and spreading speed. You can consult landscapers on this choice. Turf is slightly expensive in the market compared to seedlings per meter coverage. It however provides instant effect when laid and you have a lawn in a couple of hours. Step 3.Preparation Dig up soil to add air and smoothen off by raking for leveling. Manure can be added at this stage. Step 4- Planting For the seedlings, planting in spacing of 10-15 cm apart is considered a good density. Can be even tighter for better chances of grass joining faster. For the turf, after proper watering, laying down of the grass turfs is pretty fast. The end result is a ready to use lawn!! Heres an example of some work done by Asepsis limited here in Nairobi.

IMG_20131113_151528
Kikuyu grass turf in 1by 1m pieces arrives for installation

Area to be planted with turf is drenched prior to laying
Area to be planted with turf is drenched prior to laying
Pieces of turf are laid
Pieces of turf are laid
...the laying at an advanced stage
…the laying at an advanced stage
checking for gaps helps make the lawn seamless
checking for gaps helps make the lawn seamless

A view of the finished lawn

The team gets to enjoy the   turf same day of laying
The team gets to enjoy the turf same day of laying