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.
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.
In terms of design and care of water gardens, grading and drainage are key considerations. You just can’t install a water garden in your landscaped yard without a proper grading and drainage system. This is because inefficient or inadequate draining can result in all kinds of hazards that can cost you in the long run. If outdoor spaces are not designed with drainage in mind, un-drained water can cause a variety of problems in your yard.
For example, standing water can compromise the structural integrity of the foundation of your home and any other outdoor structures. It can also jeopardize the health of your plants if their roots become water-logged. This is a particular concern for water-sensitive plants. Poor drainage management can potentially cause other serious dangers such as mosquito infestation and inconveniences such as soggy lawns and unsightly, muddy swamps.
It is therefore important that you take these potential challenges seriously. A good idea is to contract an expert in landscape design that is usually armed with a variety of tools to expertly implement water drainage solutions into your landscape. Rather than viewing these potential threats as limitations, look at water drainage considerations as an opportunity to plan your property in a way that is both exciting and efficient.
With efficient grading and drainage, your water garden is prepared to take sudden and large volumes of water in a way that doesn’t diminish, but rather enhances the overall look of your landscape. The most straightforward way to achieve good drainage is to carefully grade the terrain of your yard, creating artificial pitch throughout the terrain to ensure that gravity keeps water flowing away in all sections of your property. Swales, which are artificial troughs, are another tool employed in this effort. They are effective, and look totally natural if designed correctly. Swales can also add an interesting and fun character to a flat yard with limited natural contour.
If this method is not particularly practical for your property, another option is to tastefully integrate catch basins and drain tiles that effectively manage water without detracting from the aesthetic quality of your outdoor space. Drain tiles are particularly effective in low corners prone to quick flooding.
There is a variety of product styles that can provide the drainage support your property needs in a way that blends into the natural look of your yard. For example, an artfully concealed downspout drain tiles may be used. This helps provide effective water management in a way that avoids the use of unseemly pipes. The grading and drainage experts may also recommend French drains, which are subterranean pipes that collect water and direct it to a runoff depository. This is a very high-end way to implement drainage infrastructure. One popular option available with French drains is the construction of a swale disguised as a rocky river bed. Using high quality boulders with varied color, these charming structures can meander through your landscape, creating a rugged and bold appearance.
The options, as you can see, are nearly endless. Be sure though that the landscape experts that you come to are used to dealing with a variety of drainage issues; so that they drain your garden water instead of your wallet.
There is no homeowner that won’t desire a landscaped front or backyard. A landscaped lawn is desirable in both economic and aesthetic sense. It does not only increase the value of a residential property but also lifts one’s soul that nature and a green surrounding provide as a matter of course. That said, a homeowner without a landscaped front who now wants to build one has a good number of options in going about it.
If you’ve never gone through a landscape design before, chances are you’ll be surprised by all the choices available for beginners in this area. The same principles that guided your room setup inside the house may be used to guide your designs out front. Here are some great landscaping ideas for beginners.
First, draw a list of your particular needs and wants. Do your kids need a play space? Do you want to grow vegetables? Does your family often gather on a patio? Then do some very rough sketches of the yard with thoughts of where you want to place a thing; which is a great organizing principle for landscape design for beginners. You can easily play around with ideas without a lot of time and commitment.”
Next, study the sun and wind patterns. You might want to place a patio on the west side of the house, but this will get lots of afternoon sun, which means that dinnertime in August won’t be relaxing at all. And wind whistling around a corner will quickly extinguish a fire pit. Those are common mistakes in landscape design for beginners. Your design should take into account what the sun and wind do at different times of the day and year.
Live with this idea for a while before carrying it out. Rushing out things can sometimes lead to choices that you’ll regret later on. For example, a fire pit for family barbecue may be erected on an area where the smoke gets into a window of the neighbor’s house.
Creating a landscape is really about slowly developing a plan and enjoying the process. From your master plan, start with a small flowerbed. Go out and work on it for an hour or two when you have the time, and worry less about filing everything up right away. Give yourself some time to see how things develop. Plants grow and things fill in, and people forget that. The point is to take time and do it in pieces so you are happy with the final results. If you get into this thing and want to get it done, you’ll likely to take shortcuts and be too sloppy.
Work around a focal point. Any good garden design has a focal point or series of focal points, and it’s an easy principle to put in place in landscape design for beginners. It could be a sculpture or a stunning plant, a tree, or a series of shrubs.
The basic principle in landscape design is the scale and pacing that will give your yard a pulled-together look. There will be variations in size, shape, and color, with tall plants against a building or in the back of a flowerbed, and paths that lead people through the space. So be open to change.
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.
Ross, the President of Garden Square Landscaping, Inc., has enjoyed the design and build aspects of a landscape construction company here in Southern Chester County for 20 years. A member of the Kennett Square Lions Club, Ross gives back to the community. Ross attended the University of Delaware and is a member and certified installer of ICPI and NCMA. In addition to this as a certified instructor for both organizations he has the opportunity to instruct contractors, manufacturers, and distributors across the United States. Ross lives and works in Kennett Square with his wife and 2 children.