It is official — we live in a world of technology at our fingertips. Our cars, homes, phones, tablets, online shopping, chip card readers are all “smart.” So smart that we have gradually changed our lifestyles to accommodate the technology. One recent study showed that children and families in general now spend more time watching, listening or texting each other from all these devices than they do actually spending time and speaking to each other.

All that being said, it seems that parents are doing their absolute best now to reverse that trend and incorporate the latest trend in outdoor renovation. Sports Construction is now being considered into many families’ backyard designs, such as a swimming pool or outdoor living area. You can now also easily incorporate a half basketball court, putting a green and custom batting cage for you and your kids for less than a pool. Once installed, there is little to no maintenance involved and provides year-round use.

Fun, family fitness is the new trend. Parents are liking the fact they can get the kids out of their rooms or off the couch, put down video games and get back to having quality fun family time. Many are encouraging their youth sports teams to now get that extra practice in before the next big game or tournament. Their backyard has become “the cool” place for the neighbor’s kids to hang out at.

Athletic courts

Technology has advanced in these backyard courts also. The safest surfaces have now been incorporated into the latest available court tiles that actually have scientific studies proving fewer youth injuries than your traditional basketball courts we grew up playing on. They can also be fully customized now to play a variety of sports on the same court, with options that are available to install. These can include basketball, volleyball, tennis, pickle ball, court hockey, futsal for the soccer enthusiast, hopscotch, four square and yes, even shuffleboard. There is something available for small children to grandparents. We are seeing this trend growing at a rapid pace.

Putting greens

Avid golfer? This is another big trend in outdoor renovation is people installing custom putting greens in their backyards, just like the ones you see on the best golf courses around.  Want to add a spot 20 feet away to chip on to your green? Done. Want 10 different angles and holes installed into your putting green? Done. Not only do you no longer have to maintain that grass area in the backyard, but they require no water so they’re virtually maintenance free. Again, it’s something the entire family can enjoy.

Batting Cages

Youth baseball and softball season is here, and all the pros are in spring training getting ready for their upcoming seasons. This is another sports construction element we are seeing implemented into residential backyards. That neglected side yard or that long stretch across the backyard people get tired of mowing or paying to maintain is perfect for batting cages. Custom batting cages have come a long way. They can now be constructed with custom thick piping-type poles and thick custom netting to contain all the baseballs being hit. The higher-end ones will stand up to the straight line winds and storms we frequently get, versus the less expensive prefab ones on the market from the big box stores. We are now seeing custom colored artificial turf installed inside these that designates the raised pitching mound area with state-of-the-art pitching machines, fully marked batters boxes, even a separate interior turf section with drop-down netting that also allows someone to go in and drive golf balls inside it. So your select or recreational baseball or softball youth participant can actually train like the pros at home.

All these trends are leading to fun family fitness once again, and if you think about it we only get so much time with our kids as they grow up so fast and eventually leave the nest. So the next time you see your children on that video game, iPad, phone or sending you a text from 10 feet away, you now have something to think about.

Question: Jimmie, when should I exactly be feeding my landscaping? I have heard many different answers from the people at Home Depot, Lowe’s and local nurseries. They also can’t seem to tell me what to feed with? Or how often. I have been reading your column for years and I cannot tell how much I have learned over the years from you. I hope to run into you one day around Prosper and personally thank you myself! I know you are a busy guy so whenever you get around to it let me know your thoughts. Thank you again, Melinda, P. in Prosper

Answer: Hi Melinda, thank you for the kind words and I hope we run into to each other sometime so I can thank you for reading! OK, down to your question. The best time to feed your landscaping is early spring and once again in early fall. Our plants are constantly taking nutrients from the soil so they can grow, bloom and generally be healthy and thrive. Therefore we must put those nutrients back into the soil or our soil will become depleted over time and our plants will gradually decline. It’s best to use a granular tree and shrub food available at most higher end nurseries that slowly releases nitrogen into the soil over time. If you have acidic plants, then they need to be fed acid-type food. You can simply save a gallon milk jug, pour a cup of vinegar into it and fill it the rest of the way with water and pour around the root system of the plants. Another excellent source is coffee grounds for acidic plants.

Until next time…Happy Gardening.

Jimmie

Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or in care of the Prosper Press at mwilcox@prosperpressnews.com. Jimmie is the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company. He is a resident in Prosper. His landscaping and gardening column runs every other week in the Prosper Press.