Dos and Don’ts for a Great Landscape

Every homeowner desires a landscape perfect in form and function. A perfect landscape is a feast to both your own eyes and those of other beholders. But such an ideal landscaping project is easier said than done, especially when you have to build one from scratch. What landscape design is ideal for your particular type of neighborhood and home lot? Which varieties of trees and shrubs require less attention? What is the best layout of the plant beds?

Front Yard Landscaping

Every homeowner desires a landscape perfect in form and function.  A perfect landscape is a feast to both your own eyes and those of other beholders.  But such an ideal landscaping project is easier said than done, especially when you have to build one from scratch.  What landscape design is ideal for your particular type of neighborhood and home lot?  Which varieties of trees and shrubs require less attention?  What is the best layout of the plant beds?

Here are some of the important things to consider in landscaping.   A compilation of the dos and don’ts can help you put up a landscaped yard that you can be proud and happy about for years and years to come.

The Dos start with planning.  You need to have a plan to save on cost and effort on redesigning the landscape every now and then which becomes necessary when, say, a tree planted haphazardly obstructs the view from your window or the paving material on the walkway is washed out by the rains.

A key element of the plan is selecting the plants for your landscape. Make up your mind where to spend your money.  Buying the smaller size of fast growing plants lets you spend more on larger, slower growing plants. Remember that plants, especially trees, grow tall and will crowd your house, obscure views from windows, and invite home maintenance problems like wood rot and insects later on. The idea is to plan for low maintenance. Think of how your landscape will appear from the curb outside.  With the increasing popularity of outdoor living space, the backyard is getting a lot of attention lately but it’s the front yard everyone sees. So money spent on curb appeal is a good investment. This means that you have to stay ahead of the weeds. Letting weeds go to seed spells trouble in any garden.  Take a little time each week to pull weeds that have popped up because it will pay off in the long term.

In the planning stage, take a cue from the surrounding area for plant selection and then follow natural access patterns throughout your landscaping.  Make pathways at least 36” (1 meter) wide and use interesting textural and/or colorful elements for walkways, not plain stretches of concrete.

The DON’TS start with the need to avoid wandering, pointless curves in walkways.  Don’t plant hedges or other plants too close to walkways.  Doing so infringes on the comfortable space required when swinging arms, carrying packages, or other regular activities when walking up a path.  Two feet of space is a good rule of thumb.

For the plants, don’t think in singles. A single plant can easily get lost in the garden. Think in multiples, preferably odd numbers. Creating swaths of color increases visual impact and reduces maintenance. Don’t force a focal feature such as a large flower bed or water feature where it doesn’t belong and looks out-of-place. Instead, let the layout of the land guide you.

Finally, don’t make visitors guess where to walk or which door to come to but rather, make the entrance to your home clear and inviting.

Permeable Walkway on a Deck Landing

There is no limit to the design of deck landings homeowners can build to beautify their front yard. It all depends on your imagination, your local building codes and the purpose for which you intend to use the residential deck landing. A great option is a deck landing with a permeable walkway.

There is no limit to the design of deck landings homeowners can build to beautify their front yard.  It all depends on your imagination, your local building codes and the purpose for which you intend to use the residential deck landing.  A great option is a deck landing with a permeable walkway.  If your deck is low to the ground, you have many design options for its stairs. Because low decks require only one or two steps, building codes may not require railings or landings. You may decide to set the stairs at an angle at a corner of the deck using wide steps to give the deck a contemporary look. To heighten this effect, incorporate several angles for the same set of stairs or add an additional set of stairs off another corner of the deck.

 

If the deck is high above the ground, railings and landings will be required according to building codes. One design idea is to use a landing to mark a change in the direction of the bottom portion of the stairs. If you use this design option, ensure the bottom portion of the staircase is not under the deck for safety.  Another design idea is to create a wide walkway with permeable pavers.

 

Permeable walkways may be built using different building materials but these must be sustainable and allow water to flow through their surface.  While other non-porous materials direct water to storm-drains, these surfaces help ground water recharge by allowing water to flow into open spaces between the materials. These porous materials also filter pollutants and solids from the water as it percolates through the surface. Permeable paving is becoming more popular among home and business owners in the past couple of years due to the innovative methods to save water. This paving option doesn’t just look good; it’s beneficial to our environment.

 

Consider permeable paving in large walkways or driveways and make sure that a 6-inch gravel bed is immediately below the porous material. From the top down there are four layers to permeable paving. Each of these different layers acts as a filtration system to clean storm water.   The least expensive permeable paving material is crushed stone. Typically either decomposed granite or gravel can be loosely packed on top of leveled soil. Rainwater will easily be able to pass between the small pieces of stone.  This is good for walkways and possibly driveways.

 

Ground reinforcement grids are also now available for installing permeable paving. These reinforcement grids are a mesh that assists you while installing to plant or fill in spaces in between the material, giving the paving a structure. Likewise ideal are plastic mats with cells, which are usually in the shape of circular or hexagonal cells that allow for planting or porous material between the cells.

 

Grass pavers are another form of permeable paving. A walkway made of grass pavers will closely resemble a lawn. Open cells within the pavers are filled with dirt and then planted with grass seed. These pavers are especially suited for residential driveways because they are designed to carry heavy loads.

Every Home Needs Landscaping Repair and Restoration

This happens to every home with a landscape attraction out front even if the landscape work was done by a good contractor. Blame it on the elements and the wear and tear brought by time as a matter of course. So it behooves upon the homeowner to look for landscaping repair and restoration. In case the landscape contractors you originally got made a shoddy job, the imperative is for you to find a team that can repair the mistakes done on your yard.

 

Landscaping Repair and RestorationBefore

Landscaping Repair and Restoration AfterAfter

After three or four years, your once beautiful landscape project will inevitably turn into an eyesore and a liability. There’s no escaping this problem.  Perhaps the pavers on the walkway become uneven or the gaps between the pavers grow wider and unsightly.  Worse, your entire patio may now be leaning towards your home causing rainwater to slowly erode its foundation.

This happens to every home with a landscape attraction out front even if the landscape work was done by a good contractor.  Blame it on the elements and the wear and tear brought by time as a matter of course.  So it behooves upon the homeowner to look for landscaping repair and restoration.  In case the landscape contractors you originally got made a shoddy job, the imperative is for you to find a team that can repair the mistakes done on your yard.

The team you need is one that can move in quickly to properly level pavers, support retaining walls, rebuild features, and everything else to make a landscape look good again.  Such landscape repair and restoration undertaking must include proper base preparation and compaction, the adding of edge restraints, joint sanding and many other services that may be needed to make your landscape or hardscape stand up to the test of time.  See that the landscape repair team is very passionate about the quality of service it offers to homeowners and it shows in their workmanship.

A landscape repair and restoration effort has to cover the paver patio, walkway, driveway and any outdoor living space that had gone seedy with time.  The landscape contractor needs to make the pavers or walls level and closed the gaps in the pavers where unwanted weeds have begun to grow.  Most of all, the contractor will replace the patio, walkway or driveway that is now sloping back towards your house, forcing water to your walls and foundation.  In re-leveling your pavers or walls, see that the contractor makes sure that everything is up to industry standards as set by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute for pavers and National Concrete Masonry Association for your walls and steps. This includes proper base preparation and compaction, to edge restraints, joint sands, and more.  There are possible bonuses such giving clients a long-lasting, maintenance-free paver patio, walkway, or driveway that they can enjoy and be proud of.

When the landscaping repair and restoration job is done, the common procedure is for the contractor to give you a warranty on their workmanship for at least three years.  That’s for your assurance that the contractor did not pull a fast one on you, which sometimes happens in this business.  The best contractor is one that offers paver cleaning and sealing for those hardscapes in need. Typical applications for this service are areas where there are grills, and driveways where grease and oils are dropping on the pavers.

Some people really enjoy the look of pavers when they are wet.  Some contractors also provide such extra as cleaning and sealing your pavers with a wet look application that does just that.

Do Your Own Hardscape Repairs

Winter can be rough on your homes, especially your hardscape which is perpetually exposed to the elements. When the last signs of cold weather melt away, you can find yourself heading into spring with pitted driveways, cracked asphalt and crumbling landscaping.

Hardscaping Design

 

Winter can be rough on your homes, especially your hardscape which is perpetually exposed to the elements. When the last signs of cold weather melt away, you can find yourself heading into spring with pitted driveways, cracked asphalt and crumbling landscaping. So it’s important to make repairs before summer heats up and puts further stress on these important areas. Doing your own hardscape repairs isn’t difficult. You’ll save money, and doing it yourself gives you the opportunity to get some outdoor exercise this spring.

You may need professionals to pour new asphalt but repairing existing asphalt in your hardscape can be done by yourself. For pothole repairs, start by sweeping and removing any loose materials from the area needing repair. Next, pour ready-mix asphalt in the trouble spot and spread evenly to a depth of no more than 2 inches at a time. Use the back side of a shovel to compact the material. And since there is no oily tracking with this material, just drive over it a few times with your vehicle. The compaction causes the product to cure into an effective patch. For deeper potholes, keep repeating in 2 inch amounts until completely filled.

Patio pavers and bricks can shift, sink or raise, and even crack during a tough winter. If your hardscape has a sand underlay, fixing problems is relatively easy. For broken or cracked pavers, simply remove the damaged pieces, check that the sand is level, and fill the gap with a new paver or brick. If your patio has become uneven over time, you’ll need to lift all the uneven pavers, level the sand beneath – you may have to add sand – and then put the pavers back atop the now-level sand.

Concrete is a common hardscape material around homes across the country.  Concrete driveways, walkways and steps can all succumb to cracking, crumbling, chipping and spalling after a harsh winter. Fortunately, concrete is an easy material to fix, and patching a problem while it’s small may help prevent a much costlier repair or even replacement down the road. To repair cracks of virtually any size, simply apply an easy-to-use product. Power wash cracks to remove debris. For larger fissures, it may be necessary to use a hammer and chisel to remove crumbling concrete and produce a clean, clearly delineated repair site.

For resurfacing old, damaged or spalled concrete, Flo-Coat resurfacing material by Sakrete provides an easy alternative to costly replacement. Simply remove loose materials from the surface, mix the material, dampen the concrete surface with water and pour the resurfacing material onto the concrete slab. Use a long-handled squeegee to spread the mixture evenly. Be sure to protect expansion and control joints with tape to prevent filling.

Whether your brick, stone or cinderblock retaining wall is acting as a retaining wall or simply a decorative one, moisture is not its friend. If your region has had a lot of snow this past winter, check your landscaping walls for damage such as cracks in mortar, shifted stones or crumbling bricks. Repairing cracked mortar is easy as long as the bricks or stones it secures remain in good position.

A few simple repairs will help ensure your home’s hardscape is in good shape, and ready for whatever summer weather brings.

Walk Patio Repairs can be Easy in Five Ways

Is your walk patio or outdoor living spaces are in need of repair or maintenance and you’re stumped about what to do? Relax, it can be relatively easy. Those with experience in walk patio repair will tell you all you need is to start with an old fashion inspection of the problem. It could be a sunken patio base or a chipped piece of concrete or deteriorating mortar.

walk patio repair outdoor living spaces

Is your walk patio or outdoor living spaces are in need of repair or maintenance and you’re stumped about what to do? Relax, it can be relatively easy. Those with experience in walk patio repair will tell you all you need is to start with an old fashion inspection of the problem. It could be a sunken patio base or a chipped piece of concrete or deteriorating mortar. Whatever the case, repairs will come easy once you look closely into the problem. The reason is that assessing the basic issues leads to solutions. Here are five ways that can be easily worked with walk patio repairs.

The first thing you need to do is look very closely at your existing mortar joints. Look at the color of the sand. Believe it or not, not all sand looks the same. Sand is simply a collection of very small rock particles, and the color of individual sand particles can be vastly different if the particles come from a variety of black, red, white and gray rocks. Visit different building supply businesses and/or sand and gravel pits, and try to find sand that matches both in color and particle size.

The second thing is to make a very rich mixture that will be exceedingly strong. Once you have the correct sand, mix it one part of it to one part of pure Portland cement. You need this strength, even though you do not get too many extremely cold days. The extra cement also helps make the mortar flow easily from the tip of the special grout bag you will use to fill the defective mortar joints. Mortar grout bags are just like icing bags used by professional cake decorators. They are larger than an icing bag, and have a metal cone tip that has a one-half-inch hole at the end.

The third thing is do not work on a hot, sunny windy day. Experts recommend working on cloudy days. The mortar will dry too rapidly, especially where you are filling slight depressions in the existing mortar joints.  Once you have the mortar mixed, lightly spritz the mortar joints you are going to fill. Do not get them too wet, just slightly damp. Fill the grout bag half way with the mortar mix, and apply slight pressure to make the mortar mix flow just as toothpaste oozes from its tube. If you can’t get the mortar to flow, you need to add more cement and/or slightly more water. The mortar mix needs to be fairly wet so that it doesn’t clog the grout bag tip.

Fourth thing is to check out the different colored pieces of sand. Each grain is a small piece of solid rock. The sand for the repair job should match the existing sand as close as possible in grain size, shape and color. Carefully guide the grout bag tip so that you apply new mortar only to the joint. Move the bag along and make sure you apply mortar so it rises above the level of the brick by about one-quarter inch.

Fifth and the most important thing is to take the proper steps to ensure the sealing process is done correctly otherwise the seal will not be as strong and will eventually fail. In terms of keeping your patio durable and long lasting, sealing is best. Before patio sealing can begin the first step is to clean the patio surface of all dirt and debris as well as any other stains or paints. Using a power washer is generally the best way to do much of the removal work however the surface must be completely dry before the patio sealing can begin. Once the initial sealing has begun, the best conditions are during mild temperatures where no rain is expected.

A Well-designed Patio for Beautiful Homes

A well-designed patio makes for a beautiful home. It’s the first home feature that greets first-time quests and so they draw the conclusion that you keep an ideal home if you have a well-designed outdoor area. For yourself and family, a great patio design or an outdoor living spaces are also provides as a great place for relaxing, outdoor entertaining, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature.

Patio Design for Landscaping

A well-designed patio makes for a beautiful home. It’s the first home feature that greets first-time quests and so they draw the conclusion that you keep an ideal home if you have a well-designed outdoor area. For yourself and family, a great patio design or an outdoor living spaces are also provides as a great place for relaxing, outdoor entertaining, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature.

There is a perfectly suited for every home, lifestyle, and budget. Patios can be designed in every shape, color, size, and material imaginable. Before you start laying down the first pavers or pouring concrete, you should consider the options available from professionals doing this kind of work. Today’s patios are more versatile and offer a wide range of options in design.

First, you will need to formulate a plan of action. Brainstorm and pinpoint what sort of outdoor space would best suit your lifestyle. Banish the notion that this are to be strictly on an outdoor space. Canopies, awnings, pergolas and umbrellas can be added for shade. Additionally, patios can offer up a variety of options for entertaining, dining, and seating. The addition of patio ideas such as an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, built-in seating, and planters should be considered before construction begins.

When planning a patio design project, you are faced with a barrage of outdoor living spaces ideas and choices in designs. From the options in materials, patio decor, furniture, and various choices in its design, there are many ways to customize your outdoor living space. Modern paved outdoor areas are made with the use of a vast variety of materials such as stone, cement, wood, slate, sandstone, brick or granite. The possibilities are seemingly endless when considering the options for constructing your patio or space for outdoor living.

Every project begins by building a solid base. This first step is crucial and if mishandled may lead to a space that does not last more than a year. The base of these may either be constructed with gravel, sand, or concrete. But no matter what kind of material you use, the base should be from six to eight inches deep.

Concrete can be used as a flooring material for the patio, and can be surprisingly versatile. Concrete, can be painted, shaped, and formed into patterns. Alternatively, interlocking stone can be used as a base. Stones have become an appealing option in recent years, and can help to properly drain rainwater away from the home. The sturdy wood pergola can also be used.  Pergola shaded to perfection has just the right amount of fiery charm. The concrete slabs form a minimalist backdrop to the sleek lines of the modern outdoor furnishings. The monochromatic furnishings and planters are contrasted by bright and fiery pops of red. The cherry stain on the pergola perfectly echoes the fiery theme. Though this area is brimming with masculine elements, the result is that of a charming and elegant retreat.

A good design is a patio that reflects all the best elements present in modern design. There are clean lines and a modern use of concrete embellishments form the foundation for this modern seating area. The bold use of modern materials is subdued by the refreshing additions of water and the lovely verdant hues present in the garden. When designing your perfect patio, remember that sometimes unlikely mixes make the best matches.

Interlocking Paving Stones for Beauty and Function

Interlocking stones in a garden add beauty and function to the landscaping project. This is why interlocking is a very popular and attractive choice not only for garden but also for other landscaping projects such as including driveways, patios, stairs and entryways, pathways and walkways.

Interlocking stones in a garden add beauty and function to the landscaping project.  This is why interlocking is a very popular and attractive choice not only for garden but also for other landscaping projects such as including driveways, patios, stairs and entryways, pathways and walkways.  There is a wide variety of interlocking stone products available on the market which allows a lot of design flexibility for your unique landscaping project.

Interlocking Paving Stones

Interlocking pavers have been used for centuries, dating back to ancient Roman roads. Their durability and aesthetically pleasing characteristics is what makes them a popular choice among homeowners today. These can be treated as a system, each may be put in place to keep the others intact. These are not just visually attractive but they are also beneficial to our environment.  The reason is that they are usually permeable, which means water percolates through the surface and recharges our groundwater tables. Unlike traditional concrete that is one consistent slab, they have edges between each one and are filled with a porous material like sand.

Interlocking pavers are excellent in large driveways and walkways.  They definitely add appeal and value to your home.

But before installing them in your landscaping project, you need to understand the whole process.  To get the job done the right way, your project needs a compacted sub base, a geo-textile fabric, a layer of sand, edge restraint, pavers, and joint filling material.

The measurements of each layer changes with each project having individual circumstances; for example if you have problems with drainage they will be addressed in the thickness of the layers. Installing these can be a big project depending on the areas size; it is recommended that you call a pro in your area to get the job done correctly the first time.

For interlocking pavers, there is a large variety of designs and colors you can choose from.   And once in place, they are easy to repair, durable and beneficial in many ways.  They can withstand heavy weights and harsh weather conditions and do not develop cracks like traditional concrete.  Best of all, hey add value to your home.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons when considering this.  They are one of the best paving options out there and are guaranteed to add major curb appeal to your home. Homeowners usually choose it for their numerous colors and design options. Pavers come in a variation of colors ranging from black, tan, green and nearly every other natural tone. Some projects are laid using one color of it, while others utilize multiple colors throughout creating an intriguing design. More detailed and intricate designs will all affect the final cost. Consider your edge restraint for the borders of your design; the most popular choices are a poured in place concrete curb or a staked plastic edging. Be sure you know what you are doing if you decide to do this project yourself, if installed improperly may have to be replaced in a matter of months.