Category Archives: Outdoor Living

Where To Place Landscape Lighting

Lite the Nite

Landscape lighting placement varies depending on the techniques utilized.

  • Highlighting – at the base of an outdoor feature
  • Silhouetting – behind the feature, towards a close wall
  • Shadowing – at the base of feature towards a wall
  • Washing – a few feet away at an indirect angle to a wall or shrubs
  • Up-lighting – low at the base light like washing, but more direct
  • Down-lighting – bright and fixed in an eave, trellis, or hardscape
  • Moonlighting – soft large fixture(s) high in tree angled down
  • Accenting – angled up or down with a narrow beam from a hidden position
  • Path-lighting – often staggered, illuminate the entire path, especially steps and obstacles
  • In-grade – installed in surface, often at the base of stone wall or hardscape for shadow
  • Pool/shoreline – less than 12” submerged near steps, or above, utilizing end or spaced placement

Let’s explore each technique a little bit more.


HIGHLIGHTING

Provide shape, color, and form using this style of landscape lighting. Start by placing your spotlight(s) at the base of what you would like to feature – a garden trellis, statue, a portion of your house or water feature are a few examples. Vary the distance and angle to achieve the desired highlight effect. The closer the light is, the more precise the area highlighted. Change the colors of the bulbs for a festive or seasonal look of your home, retaining wall, fence or garden.


SILHOUETTING

Create a dramatic effect at night in your landscape with silhouette lighting. Begin by placing a spotlight behind the landscape feature, aiming it at a wall or fence behind the feature. The object will be silhouetted against a soft light background. Multiple fixtures may be necessary, depending on the amount of lighted surface area needed to effectively silhouette the landscape feature. Some of the most striking execution of silhouetting uses dense subjects like planters, well-manicured evergreen shrubs, and arbored trees with dense foliage.


SHADOWING

Washing a feature with soft light, and illuminating the background surface casts an often magical set of shadows to appear on walls or the facade of a building. Low lighting angled up creates a grand shadow bigger than the original.

Consider playing with the distances and angles, as well as incorporating plants that provide movement in the breeze, like ornamental grasses.


WASHING

Washing is a technique that is most commonly applied to walls and rows of shrubs. This technique utilizes an indirect angle of light that creates a soft, almost ambient glow.

For best results, a wide-angle flood light with low wattage is preferred over a spotlight. Experimenting with height and angle is also recommended to find the perfect light.


UP-LIGHTING

A variety of fixtures are appropriate for up-lighting depending on the subject being lit. Essentially, this is light from below that can shadow, wash or silhouette.

This technique is great for featuring objects, or creating a contrast of shadow and light for varying depths of a structure’s wall, creating a stately and majestic appearance.


DOWN-LIGHTING

Attach lighting to a tree or a structure like a wall or building and aim the light down. Depending on what the light is attached to, the results may vary. While With fixtures that are attached to a home, under the eaves, for example, tend to highlight the structure of the house.

Down-lighting creates a directly illuminated area at the base of the structure the fixture is attached to.


MOONLIGHTING

True to its name, moonlighting creates a glow similar to moonlight. Moonlighting is created by placing light fixtures high inside the foliage of a tree, angled down.

The lighting within a tree’s branches and foliage make interesting shadows on the ground, as well as a soft glow from within.


ACCENTING

Use this technique to draw attention to a featured object such as a statue. Accenting uses up-lighting or down-lighting to emphasize the object, creating a unique contrast of shadows.

One key to this technique is to utilize a narrow beam of light from a hidden fixture, keeping all of the focus on the object itself.


PATH-LIGHTING

Just because you want your paths safely navigable, doesn’t mean you can’t guide them with a sense of romance or intriguing adventure.

When placing fixtures along a walkway or path, consider risks like being kicked or struck by a mower, and be sure they are angled down to avoid glare. A variety of down-lighting techniques can be used when lighting a path.


IN-GRADE

In-grade lighting is often installed at the base of a stone wall or other hardscape feature.

These fixtures (usually well lights) are often installed flush with the surface. This technique is best applied where other fixtures might create a tripping hazard or unwanted obstacle.


POOLS, SPAS, SHORELINE, FOUNTAINS, AND PONDS

Water lighting can be installed both above and below the surface. To properly illuminate underwater stairs in a spa or pool, fixtures in that area should be no more than 12 inches below the surface.

In general, fixtures placed at either end or spaced along the side wall are the most practical location – taking into consideration coverage for curves. Moving water can be especially striking when it is illuminated from below, showcasing the movement of the water on the surface. This style of lighting should be done by a licensed professional for safety

Landscaping with Rocks

Limestone Boulders | Indiana Limestone Co. A Polycor Inc Company

There are literally 101 ways of landscaping with rocks, and probably hundreds more. When many people think about landscaping they focus only on flowers, ground covers, shrubs and trees. The elements missing in this type of landscape design are stones and rocks, which provide varying heights and contours that keep the backyard landscape interesting and unique. Successfully integrating rocks into your landscape turns them into a focal point – each rock being placed to create a specific look and feel.

Additionally if you’re using natural rock, it looks like it’s part of your yard’s natural environment even if you purchased the stone elsewhere. Of course the greatest advantage of using rocks in your garden is they require no watering, trimming, or fuss.

Having rocks in your landscape changes the overall feel of your yard. Think of a Zen rock garden as one example. It’s both beautiful and relaxing, and has a practical application for individuals who enjoy moving meditations. Other ideas include using stone in combination with water features for a deep-forest atmosphere, or lava rock for a tropical paradise. The potential combinations are only limited by the space available, the budget and your imagination.

Choosing Rocks for your Landscape

Landscaping with rocks means taking a little time to educate yourself on the different types of rocks available to you. There’s a huge difference in cost and materials comparing a water feature with stone to decorative ground cover. Not all rock is the same in terms of durability.

Additionally you also have fake rock from which to choose. Fake rock is lighter and comes in custom sizes and colors. These stones offer the advantage of having hollow areas that are perfect for storing tools or hiding unappealing eyesores (like exposed piping).

Accent Landscape Boulders

Accent boulders help you build levels into your landscape without bringing in extra soil. They also give the whole landscape design a unique character that impacts the view with a little drama and interesting angles.

One of the keys to using accent boulders effectively is making them appear as if they literally grew out of that spot. Putting the bottom of the stone down about 4″-6″ achieves that effect, particularly in combination with decorative grasses nearby.

images boulder retaining walls - Bing Images | Landscaping with boulders,  Rock wall gardens, Rock wall landscape

Planning and Placement of your Landscape Rocks

Use graph paper and try a couple of different plans for the landscape. Landscaping with rocks, and particularly boulders, is heavy work. You want to get the placement right on the first try. When drawing your rock design I would suggest grouping your rocks in sets of three, four, or five, in various sizes and shapes. This type of plan creates a natural appeal rather than something that seems formal and contrived.

Types of Landscape Rocks

Gallery | WLM

Small to medium sized rocks have a lot of flexibility in your landscape design. Use small stones in place of mulch in combination with landscape fabric for weed control, for example. Small stones help with drainage around pools and patios, and make a textural filler around trees too.

Place medium sized stones so as to create garden pathways. Or, use them as a natural support for a top heavy plant. Medium sized stones also create rustic borders and low-lying walls with a little engineering.

Three very popular natural stones for landscaping with rocks are flagstone, schist and river rock. The flat nature of flagstone and its unique shape makes it ideal for creating patios and pathways. Smaller pieces can be attached to garden boxes or fountains for a cobbled look.

Schist comes in a wide variety of colors, which is one reason why people like using it in landscape design. Schist has long, thin rock layers that work well in small garden streams. Blueschist provides striking appeal for wallscapes. Greenschist stands out when polished to a marble finish, and Chert has stripes of black for a dramatic backdrop in ponds.

Drainage/Dry Creek Beds » French Drain Installation | Backyard Drainage | Dry  River Beds | Landscapes by Terra

As the name implies, river rock comes from rivers and has soft, round edges. This makes it a good option for landscape designs requiring draining. Of course river rock also suits water features beautifully. Scatter a few river rocks around areas that attract butterflies to give them a soft surface for landing.

Whether you want a splash of texture and natural colors for ground covering or a full-out rock garden, landscaping with rocks is a great choice. Rocks endure the elements and truly offer one-of-a-kind uniqueness in sizes and shapes, some of which are sure to fit your plans.

Use artificial rocks to cover unattractive areas or as clever hiding holes for tools, then bring natural rocks of all sizes into the landscape to tie your theme together perfectly.

DekoRRa Rock Medium Rock Enclosure - Faux Rock - 109

Patio Ideas

Patio shade | Small backyard landscaping, Backyard patio designs, Patio  pavers design

Creative patio ideas can transform a mundane outdoor area into an oasis of tranquility or the hub of your family’s summer activities. While patio decorating ideas abound, you have to have a plan to achieve the effect you want. Initial considerations should be the space available, budget, and needs of your family.

First, sketch your patio and floor plan with the elements you know you will want. A patio water garden definitely adds ambience as does a fire pit. Depending upon the space required for your patio landscaping ideas, you may not have room for both. Of course, small patio ideas will differ from those patio designs suitable for the Gardens of Babylon. However, you know you will need furniture so that is a good place to begin.

Choosing The Right Furniture For Your Patio

Polywood Stylish Outdoor Furniture

Usually, when you walk onto a patio the first thing you do is to sit down. After all, your patio is an extension of your home so you want the furniture to be comfortable and inviting. Patio furniture has to be able to endure moisture, heat, cold, and sunlight. Most commonly, patio furniture is made out of metal, wicker, wood, or resin.

Wood

The most prevalent woods for manufacturing outdoor furniture are redwood, cedar and teak because they can endure the elements and retain their beauty. Teak is relatively maintenance-free. Applying teak oil will help the wood retain its warm color or simply let it weather to an attractive grayish coloration. Cheaper woods will need to be painted or stained to preserve them.

Wicker

Wicker can be made from any number of materials and its soft feel and elegant style fits a number of patio ideas. Lightweight and sturdy, wicker is durable but heat is its enemy. To prevent wicker from drying out, place it in the shade if possible and cover it when not in use. You may also need to revarnish it at some point.

Metal

When considering metal furniture in your patio ideas, aluminum has many advantages. Whether cast or extruded, aluminum resists corrosion. With intricate patterns, cast aluminum furniture resembles wrought iron without its disadvantages. Extruded aluminum furniture is lightweight and easy to move and store.

Resin

Available with cushions or mesh seats and backs, resin patio furniture is lightweight and can be molded to resemble wicker or wrought iron. Resistant to heat and cold, the paint is molded into the resin so chipping and fading paint won’t ever detract from the furniture’s beauty.

Patio Decorating Ideas

The vision and scope of your patio ideas will be defined by its amenities. If your patio is open to the world perhaps tall wooden shutters attached to each other by hinges would provide a windbreak and add privacy. Adding a fire pit or free standing fireplace will provide warmth and charm on cool evenings. A major patio activity is barbecuing so deciding on the type of grill you want is key. A portable propane grill is convenient, but a bricked and tiled grill adds elegance.

For a soothing touch consider a water feature in your patio ideas. The sound of running water creates mood and atmosphere. Speaking of sound, consider adding a sound system, large or small, to increase your enjoyment. Using a theme for your patio is one of the easiest ways to decorate your patio. Here are some patio decorating ideas using tropical, Asian and nautical themes. Finally, embellish your patio with decorative accessories that appeal to you such as an old wheelbarrow, whiskey barrels, wind chimes, pottery, or rugs.

Outdoor Patio Rugs

Choosing the Best Outdoor Rug - Bob Vila

Think outside the box and include an outdoor rug in your patio ideas. Outdoor area rugs  are mold, mildew, and stain resistant. Designed to dry quickly, they can be washed off with a garden hose and will not fade with constant exposure to sunlight. Besides lending elegance, they are useful to visually separate different zones on the patio.

Lighting

Patio Lights - Yard Envy

More than just enabling you to use your patio after dark, patio lighting can be used to accentuate the most attractive elements you have incorporated into your design. Solar lighting is appealing because it doesn’t require any additional wiring and uses no electricity from the grid. All their energy is generated by small solar panels. Low voltage lighting is wired but uses little current and is more reliable than solar.

Solar or low voltage lighting can be used to illuminate areas. For mood lighting, strategically string Christmas lights in trees or shrubs. Small strings of lights can also be strung around patio umbrellas. Japanese lanterns, wall scones, and even candles will make the patio unique.

Planters

Prestige Large 28x28 Patio Planter - 3 Colors

Patio planters can be used to help define the boundaries of your patio or use them to add a pop of color. A large planter filled with a combination of plants can become a great focal point. Planters can be used to frame spaces, by placing them on the corners you are defining that space, planters can also be used to divide larger patios into smaller sections.

Choose from the myriad styles and materials to complement your theme. Besides planter boxes and window boxes, urns and old wheelbarrows can be pressed into service as a home for beautiful flowers and fragrant vines. Planters can be used to create privacy by surrounding benches and seating areas with vines or potted trees. For plant ideas for your patio. Use these patio landscaping ideas to spruce up your patio.

Privacy

New Modern Rustic Outdoor Privacy Screen + The Rest Of My Patio | Privacy  screen outdoor, Outdoor privacy, Privacy wall outdoor

Your patio planning should account for some element of seclusion. A chain link fence covered with a profusion of vines or a thick hedge will provide solitude. Of course, a sturdy wooden privacy fence will also help to insulate you from any annoying noise pollution. A lattice wall will inexpensively zone your private Eden from the rest of the world. Again, a lush covering of flowering vines will accentuate the beauty and increase the privacy of your patio.

Your patio ideas should reflect your tastes and extend your living area into your backyard. Whether simple or elegant, the patio you design will be a focal point of your fair weather activities.

Landscaping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Pavers & Retaining Walls – Garcias Landscaping

While there is nothing that can’t be fixed with a little hard work, the key to your satisfaction and peace of mind is learning how to avoid landscaping mistakes before they happen.

Failure to Plan

Thumbing through gardening magazines or strolling through your local nursery may spark your imagination and enthusiasm but coming home with a carload of plants before deciding where to put them may leave you disappointed with the finished result. In addition to researching the unique requirements and potential growth of each species, it’s important to strive for balance, harmony, and sustainability when considering your design. The team of landscape design experts at The Grounds Guys can help you achieve the look you desire while adding beauty and value to your home.

Neglecting the Front Yard

Many homeowners make the mistake of focusing on the backyard where they spend the majority of their time, to the detriment of the front yard space. In addition to consideration for your view of the yard from your indoor living area, focus on your curb appeal by adding some color and dimension and defining the pathway to your front door.

Bad Pruning Habits

Pruning is a vital component of landscape maintenance, which, when done correctly can encourage and control the growth of your plants. When done incorrectly, however, pruning can cause damage to your plants and cause your landscaping to appear unprofessional and unhealthy.

Cutting Your Grass Too Low

Whether your intention is to mimic the look of your favorite golf course, or to stretch out the amount of time in between mowing, cutting your grass too low can have dire consequences to its health and appearance. When too much of the stalk is removed the grass is unable to properly endure photosynthesis and root growth may be stunted. For best results, aim for a height that matches the variety and species of turf.

Excessive Ornamentation

Decorative items serve a unique function in most outdoor designs, but one of the biggest landscape design mistakes you can make is allowing them to take over your yard. Focus your efforts on creating a more natural and varied decor, incorporating a mixture of shrubs, grasses, flowers, and trees, with just a few strategically placed, high-quality decorations to attract the eye.

Not Using the Correct Irrigation

Adequate levels of moisture are crucial to a healthy lawn and garden, and both overwatering and underwatering can have detrimental effects. A professionally installed irrigation system takes the guesswork out of watering your plants and can be customized to meet the unique requirements of the various plants around your property.

Neglecting to Think About Color

Choose your color palette prior to planting, to ensure the colors work together with each other and the exterior of your home. Too many colors or too much of one color can be overwhelming, while too little may appear boring. Factor in seasonal color variations by researching flowering shrubs and variations in foliage prior to installation.

Spring Landscaping in NJ – The Best Time to Get Started - Landscape  Solutions

Charcoal vs. Gas Grills: Which Is Better?

Charcoal Grill Vs Gas Grill : Pros And Cons - For Your Grill

Charcoal vs. gas grill, also known as the “Great Debate.” Our simple pros and cons list will help you decide which grill is best for your family.

Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to charcoal and gas grilling. Which type of grill is the best? Is there a correct choice for whipping up amazing grilling recipes? Rather than guessing which to use at your next cookout, we’ve rounded up the pros and cons of charcoal and gas grills so you can make a well-informed decision for what will be the tastiest choice of the summer.

Charcoal Grills

How to Cook on a Charcoal Grill - Consumer Reports

According to some die-hard barbecue fans, the only way to grill is with charcoal. Charcoal provides that rich, smoky flavor that, even with an attached smoker box, gas just can’t meet. Learn more about how to use a charcoal grill.

Pros of charcoal grills:

  • Typically, charcoal grills reach a higher temperature than gas grills. A grill has to reach a temperature of at least 600 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve a nice sear on your meat. This is no problem for a kettle grill filled with red-hot charcoals as it can reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit. While there are gas grills that can reach higher temperatures, they’re usually on the pricier end.
  • You get that scrumptious, smoky flavor. Ever wonder how charcoal grills give so much flavor? Turns out, that higher heat is key. When the drippings from your steak, chicken or veggies fall on the hot coals, they turn into flavor-packed steam and smoke that goes right back into the meat, resulting in the amazingly unique taste of charcoal grilling.
  • They are easier on your wallet. A basic charcoal grill will run you about $25, while a moderately priced one can be found for around $150. Of course, higher-end models go up from there, but in comparison, charcoal grills are far less expensive than gas grills which usually cost between $130-$300.

Cons of charcoal grills:

  • Longer heat up time. Charcoal grills, on average, take about 15-20 minutes to reach the proper cooking temperature (not including the time it takes to light the charcoal), whereas gas grills instantly light up and take about 10 minutes to reach cooking temperature. There are a few different ways to start a charcoal grill, too.
  • Fuel cost adds up. A 20-pound propane cylinder can provide around 25 days of cooking time, whereas a 20-pound bag of charcoal will only yield three grilling sessions. The type of charcoal you cook with can change the way your food tastes as well. Clean-burning hardwood/lump charcoal can go for $35 to $40 for a 20-pound bag.
  • The cleanup is a bit more cumbersome. As opposed to the gas grill that only needs a quick scrub with a brush, a charcoal grill has to be emptied of its used ashes before it can be scrubbed. Be sure to follow these grill cleaning tips, too.

Gas Grills

How To Use a Gas Grill - The Home Depot

There’s no denying how convenient gas grills are in terms of start-up and temperature control, but that ease comes with a price.

Pros of gas grills:

  • They are better for you and the environment. It’s scientifically proven! In regards to your health, The Healthy says opt for a gas grill. Why? Because gas-grilled meats contain fewer carcinogens compared to char-kissed charcoal-grilled meats. As for the environment, it’s been studied that gas grills’ carbon footprint is about one-third of charcoal grills’ carbon footprint.
  • Quick start-up and temperature control. With a simple press of the ignition button and a turn of the dial, your gas grill will spark to life. After a quick preheat, you’ll be ready to grill, rather than having to wait for coals to heat up. You can also go from low heat needed for bone-in chicken to searing hot for kebobs or steak without having to worry about moving around hot coals, too. (By the way, here’s the difference between propane and natural gas).
  • Versatility. With a gas grill, you can easily cook delicate foods such as fruit and vegetables without the worry of overpowering the food with the smoke flavor that comes along with charcoal grilling.

Cons of gas grills:

  • Assembly time. As opposed to the charcoal grill that can be set up in a jiffy, a mid-range gas model is a bit more complicated to assemble and hook up to a propane tank.
  • Safety. While there are safety precautions to follow with any form of cooking, you have to be extra careful when cooking with a gas grill. Always make sure that your propane tank is properly attached without leaks, your grill is at least ten feet from your home and deck and that the grill is free from grease. Not sure how to best clean your grill? Follow this simple grill cleaning check-list that’ll leave your grill looking brand-new!
  • Portability. Though travel-sized gas grills are available, it would be much too difficult, and dangerous, to tow a full-sized gas grill around to the park or the beach.

The Bottom Line

Charcoal and gas grills each have their pro and cons, but only you can decide which would be best for your family and lifestyle. With so many delicious grilling recipes to cook up this summer, you can’t go wrong either way.

How to Grill Burgers: 8 Secrets Every Cook Should Know

How to Protect Trees from Deer

How to manage deer damage on trees and other plants | UMN Extension

Deer are infamous for damaging trees and shrubs. Hungry animals may browse on leaves, pine needles, buds, or bark. But deer don’t just eat your landscape; territorial bucks can also kill trees by scraping them with their antlers. Young and recently planted landscapes are the most susceptible to these animal antics, so take steps now to protect your trees from deer.

Physical Barriers Provide the Best Protection

You have probably heard all kinds of ideas for how to protect trees from deer. Deterrents range from mothballs and heavily scented soaps to garlic and decaying fish heads. All repellants work to some degree, but deer can acclimate, or the scents can lose their potency following rainfall or irrigation.

One surefire way to keep deer from eating your pine trees and evergreen shrubs is to install a physical barrier. You have a few options, depending on the size of your property and your aesthetic preferences. Here are the top suggestions:

Install nylon netting over low-lying shrubs: Cover the plants with a nylon mesh screen, pinning down the corners with twine or zip-ties attached to tent stakes.

Wrap shrubs in burlap: Deer are a big threat to young shrubs in the wintertime. Encasing plants in burlap sacks doesn’t just cover up the tempting foliage; it also helps prevent the branches from bending out of shape during wet, heavy snowfall.

Surround plants with wire metal cages: The cages should stand at least six feet tall. Position them a few feet out from young trees or shrubs and support the cages with stakes. Even though deer can leap over a six-foot fence, they are reluctant to enter a small space, such as a fenced-in bed of rhododendrons or yews. Have a small plant you want to protect? Surround it with an old tomato cage, wire-hanging basket, or milk crate anchored with tent stakes.

Wrap trunks with tree wrap: Paper or plastic tree wrap protects young and thin-barked trees from buck rubs. Replace the wrap every few months to prevent moisture buildup or insect infestation.

Install a deer-proof fence around your entire yard: Conventional residential fencing can keep deer out as long as it’s at least eight feet tall. Other options include exclusion fencing, snow fencing, slanted outrigger fencing, and binder twine fencing. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has more information about constructing different kinds of fences.

Build a Simple Fence to Protect Fruit Trees From Deer - Hobby Farms

Other Ways to Protect Trees from Deer

In addition to installing a physical barrier, here are other methods that have proven effective against hungry and territorial deer:

Remove plants from your landscape that deer are known to love, such as cedar, yew, rhododendron, maples, and roses.

Choose plants that deer dislike, such as those with fern-like foliage, fuzzy leaves, spines, or strong odors.

Spray vulnerable trees and shrubs with smelly, bitter-tasting deer repellent.

Remove food sources from your yard, including bird feeders and pet food dishes.

Install motion-detector sprinklers to scare deer away.

2021 Outdoor Living Trends Forecast

By Outdoor Living By Belgard

Looking ahead into 2021, we see some new outdoor living trends emerging. Much of this movement has been influenced by the rapid cultural shifts in lifestyle caused by the pandemic. As more homeowners begin to think of their outdoor living spaces as an extension of their interior spaces (and not just a place to barbecue or watch the kids play), interior design trends continue to have a major impact on look and functionality. Here’s how Belgard predicts outdoor living to further evolve in 2021.

Large Scale Outdoor Living Projects are the New Norm

Over recent years, there has been a shift to creating outdoor areas with multiple rooms for family and friends to enjoy. This school of thought exploded in 2020 and will continue to expand moving forward. A recent HIRI survey confirms that outdoor areas have been the focus on much remodeling activity with strong growth in landscaping, decks and outdoor living rooms. Additionally, Thomas James Homes revealed that individuals are requesting multiple rooms within the outdoor space. Anticipating this increase in demand, Belgard began developing a new program in 2020 that will simplify design of cohesive multi-room outdoor spaces that coordinate with the specific architectural style of a home. Stay tuned for our big announcement in 2021!

The Shift from Entertaining to Daily Outdoor Living

With the increase in at-home living, more areas of the home are being regularly utilized than ever before. Nearly 4 in 5 homeowners report they were thinking about changes that could help them enjoy their homes more, with outdoor projects at the top of the wish list (35%). Outdoor spaces are no longer just a place to hang out during downtime. They have become a space of productivity as more people are working and learning remotely.

Fully Functional Microspaces

Microspaces are emerging as a dominant form of renovation in cities and neighborhoods where lot sizes are small. With more and more single-family homes lacking an abundant backyard, utilizing the space alongside a home or even on the front porches is becoming vital to the ability to add an outdoor living space. Homeowners are also beginning to annex sections of an outdoor living area to create microspaces for exercising and working from home (20% each).

Integrating Technology

Outdoor access to technology has become more vital than ever. It’s no longer just about piping in music or watching the big game. Technology integration is becoming necessary to carry out daily functions. This includes incorporating heating and lighting into an outdoor area, as well as WiFi and easily accessible electrical outlets to create a fully functional space that can support more activities throughout the year.

Technology brings new level of comfort to outdoor living

Modular and Geometric Patterns

Clean and simple lines continue to grow in popularity for pavers and landscape walls. These simplistic patterns allow for an uncluttered aesthetic that puts emphasis on furniture or features in the space, while also fostering easier installation and maximization of space. The newly emerging trend is to incorporate geometric shapes to add a visually interesting accent or to create a retro look.

Contact us today to plan your dream outdoor living space!

Pros and Cons of Stamped Concrete vs Pavers

When designing a patio, walkway or driveway, many homeowners have a difficult time choosing between stamped concrete and pavers. In short, concrete pavers are a much better choice for a variety of factors. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each factor.

COLOR DURABILITY

In most cases, the colors of a stamped concrete design are not integrated throughout the entire concrete slab. Instead, it is a layer or treatment added to the top of the slab. Because of this, the color can wear or chip off. Belgard pavers use sophisticated color blends that are integrated throughout each stone and are more resistant to wear and fading.

STRENGTH COMPARISON

Pavers are significantly stronger than stamped concrete and more resistant to the effects of freeze-thaw cycles. In fact, Belgard pavers are guaranteed to last the life of the home and are backed by a transferrable warranty. To help make stamped concrete more resistant to cracking, it must be constructed with control (or expansion) joints. But even with the joints, as like any concrete slab, it will eventually crack. Also, joints typically cut through the pattern, which detracts from the overall look. Pavers do not require expansion joints, and should a paver ever be damaged, a single paver can easily be replaced without having to replace an entire section.

DESIGN VERSATILITY

Pavers come in a much wider variety of styles, shapes, colors and textures. The ability to mix and match pavers and create intricate paver patterns is endless. Whereas, stamped concrete is limited to a handful of stone or brick textures. Intricate stamped concrete designs are very difficult and costly.

INSTALLATION CONSIDERATIONS

Compaction and base prep are key for both, but poured concrete can be radically impacted by daily weather conditions. Rain, heat, cold and humidity can all affect dry times, strength and finish in a big way. Pavers, on the other hand, since they are made in a controlled environment, don’t have to contend with those factors….and because of that, can be guaranteed. Stamped concrete slabs, on the other hand, can only be guaranteed to crack at some point.

MAINTENANCE CONSIDERATIONS

Both stamped concrete and pavers should be sealed regularly to increase durability. However, stamped concrete may require sealant to be applied more frequently for comparable durability. Not only does this increase lifetime maintenance costs, sealant can affect the color of stamped concrete and can also make the surface slippery. In contrast, paver sealant does not affect the color and pavers retain their slip-resistance.

STAMPED CONCRETE VS PAVER COST COMPARISON

Is stamped concrete cheaper than pavers? Although it varies by market, the cost of a stamped concrete installation is actually very comparable to a paver installations in most cases. With all the negatives, why would someone risk choosing stamped concrete that offers fewer design options, potential slip hazards, additional maintenance, the likelihood of cracks, and a shorter overall life cycle? A stamped concrete patio will likely need patching or replacing at some point, however, a Belgard paver patio is warrantied to last the life of your home. So, even if you do save a couple of bucks on the front end (and not in every case), you’ll end up paying more in the long run.

It’s Time To Plan Your Warsaw, IN Landscape Project

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadwo this year, meaning spring is predicted to come early! That is great news for everyone in the Warsaw, In & Syracuse, IN areas! It’s been one of the worst winters in recent memory simply because we haven’t had much snow at all.

Bulbs add color to your landscaping in early spring in Warsaw, IN and Syracuse, IN.

If you want to augment, update, or totally renovate your landscaping or outdoor living space this year, now is the time to start the planning process so that you can enjoy your beautiful Warsaw, In weekends.

Top 5 Planning Tips for Your Warsaw, IN Landscaping Project

  1. Develop a clear vision of your project goals: Before you get started, it’s important to consider how you will use the space. Why do want to do this project? Is there a problem? How do you want to entertain your Warsaw, IN guests?
  2. Determine your budget: For any project, it’s important to do some homework to discover how much a landscape project will cost based on your scope of work or what you want to achieve. The best place to start is with friends and family who have had a project installed recently by a reputable contractor. If you still aren’t sure, you can visit our website to learn more. During the Initial Consultation, our sales staff will also help provide you with Budget Figures for your project.
  3. Prioritize: In order to stay within budget, decide which items or areas are most important to you and your family and the goals of the landscaping project.
  4. Research Contractors: Spend time online, asking friends & family, and others in your neighborhood who they recommend for installing a project. Don’t always make your decision based on price! Sometimes you may think you’re getting a great deal and you aren’t. Pick a contractor who has been in business more than a couple years with a portfolio of projects similar to yours. Ask for referrals if they don’t already provide some. Do they answer the phone? Are they on time for their appointment? These are very important things to consider when choosing a contractor.
  5. Get inspired: Go online to Pinterest and check out our Boards for inspiration. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see updated project pictures.

A Balanced Landscape for your Warsaw, IN Landscaping

Phlox is a great perennial for your landscape in Warsaw, Winona Lake, and Syracuse.

One of the comments I hear most as I meet with clients in Warsaw, Syracuse, Leesburg, and Winona Lake is “I would really like to have a balanced landscape and plantings.” Balance means alot of different things to different people throughout the greater Warsaw, In area. In this post, I would like to provide some explanation of what I consider to be a balanced landscape.

Me idea of a balanced landscape in Warsaw, IN & Syracuse, IN includes proper scale, flowing design, easy maintenance, evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees, perennial and annual flowers, water, sunlight, shade and good air movement. In Warsaw, Winona Lake, and Syracuse there is no shortage of water as most properties are either on the water or near it.

Proper Scale

A landscape should reflect the the size and scale of your home or lake house. This means that in time, mature plantings should appear that they belong. Wise choices avoid the pitfalls of designs that incorporate planting that are too large, too small, and too many or too few. All of us have seen foundation plantings that cover windows and crowd out walkways or hedges so think that plants are diseased and sickly. A landscape in Warsaw or Syracuse should express the uniqueness of the homeowner while enhancing the architecture. There is no right or wrong but a casual passerby should see the home and the landscape as one beautifully framed picture.

Flowing Design

A design integrates the needs of the homeowner with the use of the outdoor spaces created. I like an easy traffic pattern that moves one from the front of the home to the rear or lakeside with color and interest, while positioning service areas for air conditioners, pool equipment, trash cans, and storage sheds for quick accessibility but not necessarily in the line of vision. For those of you that live or have cottages on one of our many lakes in Warsaw, Winona Lake, Syracuse, North Webster, Leesburg or Culver, getting all that lake gear from the garage to the lake can be a problem. Traffic patterns become critical.

Next week I will continue with this blog post by providing more details on maintenance, planting suggestions, and water requirements.