All posts by Jennifer

Deciding on the Right Swimming Pool Design for your Home

Building a pool in your backyard can be a wonderful idea. This outdoor feature makes a fab entertainment area for your friends and family. A pool in a haven for summer fun, but you need to know what type of pool you want to install. You just want to make sure that the pool design works with your home design. 

You need to honor the architectural style of your home when choosing the pool design, but doing this can be a challenge because you also need to pay attention to special safety and design features. Whenever possible, Fences Springfield Lakes suggests you use landscape features like retaining walls, and greenery to create that separate area for a pool. You also need to analyze and think of your family needs. For instance, a family with small children will need to think of safety issues relating to the pool and may need to include a fence or wall that surrounds the pool. At any rate, these are needs you really must sit down and think about.  To help you with your new pool design we have added a few tips. 

The Available Space

Your pool must not overwhelm your outdoor area.  Choose the area where you are going to put the pool and make sure the size you plan on does not overwhelm other landscaped areas. Take measurements and draw out the space. Talk to your landscaper about the type of pool shape that will work best.

Consider Use

You must consider how you use the new pool as this may influence the style you want. For instance, if yu exercise using a pool then you may want a lap pool, otherwise, there are a variety of fun designs you can use.

Consider Other Landscape Features

When deciding on a pool design, make sure it fits in with other landscape features. It must complement other elements such as paths and patios. Make sure the style works with the overall design of your home.

Consider Total Pool Space

The size you have set out for the pool area is not necessarily the space for the entire water feature. You need to keep some space around the pool for patio areas. These are area where people can sit around the pool. It is an area where people can walk around the pool and where furniture and accessories can sit.

Consider Other Features

A pool is more than just a big body of water. Designs also integrate other features such as waterfalls, rock formations, slides and other features.  Check out designs in magazines or online to see how this type of feature can add a finished look to your new pool area.

 


Fun Designs for Old Concrete Patios

A patio can often be revitalized. you just have to come up with an interesting idea or design plan. For instance, an old concrete patio may gain new life with an interesting boulder border around it. You may think it fun to break some of the interior concrete up to plant flower gardens. You might add a top pond by using boulders and huge rocks or you might even want to try this easy project of turning your old concrete patio into a pebbled paradise.

An Interesting Pebble Patio

If your old concrete patio is looking worn and needs a slight facelift, you can do this inexpensively by adding a pebble overlay. You will get a brand new patio that looks somewhat like a sandy beach; a fun look that makes you feel like you are on an island resort when you really are just in your own backyard.

Clean-up Time

Before starting on a project like this, you have to make sure the patio is clean of all debris. Use a power washer to wash off the concrete patio and remove any stains, sticky films or mildew. Let the concrete dry fully for at least a few hours before starting your project.

Perimeter

Decide on what the perimeter will look like. If you want that great island effect, place boulders around it. You may even want a boulder design in the center or off to the side of the patio. You can create a garden area from a boulder and Spread pebbles over a small area of the patio in a back corner. Mix a two part epoxy mixture in a bucket and stir the mixture for about five minutes. Pour the mixture over the pebbles and fold the mixture into the rocks by turning over the pebbles with a shovel. Make sure there are no dry areas left.

Even it Out

Even out the pebbles with a trowel before the epoxy dries. Get an even coating of the pebbles. Continue with the other sections of the pebbles in the same way. Use a clean trowel to clean out tracks you need to keep for rain runoff.

Allow the pebbled concrete patio to dry for a day or two before you decide to start walking on it. Make sure you don’t allow the patio to get wet while the epoxy is drying or it may turn a filmy white color. Cover the patio with a tarp if it looks like it may rain. After a day or two you can start enjoying your new patio.

 

A 101 Guide to Deck Maintenance: Get it Clean in a Jiff

Giving regular maintenance to your deck is an important process, especially when you want to keep it in good shape for a long time.  Your deck is one of the most important elements in your backyard, a fabulous outdoor living area you want to preserve it and take care of your investment, as it gives added value to the overall price of your home.

Landscaping Springfield Lakes, one of the best landscaping providers in the community, tells us that most wood decks are usually well made, but as the years go by, a deck may start to look old and worn. For some reason it may just start to lose its beautiful appeal. The dirt and of other stuff work together until they actually dull the finish of the wood, causing it to crack, mildew and rot. But you can avoid this kind of situation  by giving it a thorough cleaning at least  twice a year. In reality a deck should be cleaned once a month, but if you find yourself in a time constraint you need to manage it at least twice a year.

Get Rid of Everything

The first thing you have to do before you get started, is to remove all the objects from your deck, this way you will have the entire surface exposed and clear of all objects that can interfere with your cleaning process. If there is a plant, or a piece of furniture that you cannot remove, make sure you cover it well with a tarp to protect it.

Clean Up

You also need  a good, strong bristle broom. Start by sweeping the deck clear of all debris.  the dirt should sweep away very easily. But there will be areas where you need to work pretty hard at it as the dirt has built up over time. You just have to scrub this areas and the dirt will go away. Don’t worry if you cant get it all up. The power washing process will help you remove all of that stuck on dirt.

Wash Down

Next, you want to wash the floor. You can use a commercial cleaner to make it easier, but its OK id you don’t. You can also find great inexpensive power washers to help you with the process. Of course you can always wash it by hand too. All you have to do is, mix a little  water with soap  and use some scrubbing action to do  a great job. Use the bristled broom or you can use a scrub brush as well as a tool for this solution. Make sure you go over the surface once before rising. Bucketed water would remove extra soap or dirt.

Remove Mildew

If the deck has some mildew, you may find these areas harder to clean. In areas where a lot of  mildew have grown, you want to use a cleaning solution that is somewhat stronger than soap and water. Still it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can use a mildew remover solution, but sometimes just a simple solution of one part bleach and four parts water will do the job easily. Just be sure to use a strong bristled brush and you may need to get down on your hands an knees to do some strong scrubbing.

Wood decks are beautiful places for relaxing and enjoy fun family outdoor activities. However, when decks are exposed to heavy outdoor, natural elements they may need a little loving care, and a good cleaning is just a basic care activity that can prolong your deck, keeping mildew and rot away (elements that can permanently damage your deck.)

 

Make a Fish Pond the Easy Way

A Quick and Easy Fish Pond

Wouldnt it be nice to  have your very own fish pond? Problem is you just can’t think of a way to build one  without tearing up the yard or spending a small fortune. Notwithstanding, having a fish pond at home is fun, entertaining and relaxing.

If you just sit and think of the enjoyment you’ll get from sitting near your very own pond, of  watching gorgeous Koi fish lazily swim around your beautiful pond. Well, the thought of it  makes you want to run out and get a contractor.

Hold on though! Before you run out and hire someone to do the jobs. You need to know! Getting a large fish pond installed in your backyard can be expensive, time-consuming and messy.  

Are you disappointed? Don’t be! You can make an inexpensive fishpond, and it doesn’t have to be a work- intensive or expensive project.

How to Build a Cheap Fish Pond?

Find something large that holds water. There are a number of things that can hold sufficient water for a small Koi fish pond. Think along the lines of a horse trough,  an old sink, a bathtub, a wine barrel, or even a plastic drop in. You can even use something made of cement or another material that can hold water. Be sure to use a container that doesn’t poison the fish though. Stay away from copper, as fish don’t tolerate it well. They do seem to live well in galvanised materials, though. Just look for something that is deep enough so that the water doesn’t evaporate too quickly. If you live in an area where there are wild animals,be sure to add something like chicken wire to the top to prevent furry friends from getting to the fish.

The aboveground container that seems to work best is the fish or cattle trough. These are made to hold water. Plus they don’t oxidise easily, and they are inexpensive.

Once you’ve chosen your container, you’ll want to select a good fish pond pump. The size of the pump will depend on the size of your container. This is an important element to your pond as it keeps the water circulating, oxygenated and clean for the fish. You can also add a few water plants to the newly made pond.

Your Cost

A horse or cattle trough will probably be the most expensive item on the list. These range anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on the size of the trough you get. A good pump will also cost somewhere between $50 to $800. These pumps are important elements because they recirculate the water to keep it clear and bacteria-free.

What Kind of Plants?

Some plants work better than others in ponds. Juncus or Mimulus Guttatus are good choices, and reed also works well in-home ponds, providing they are large enough.

Running water offers relaxation. Just think of the way you feel next to a bubbling creek or river. You can achieve that same feeling right in your very own backyard, and the best part is that this type of project doesn’t have to be expensive. You can create a beautiful fish pond for  a minimal investment.

Grades and Elevation–How High or Low Should your Patio or Deck Be

Outdoor living spaces add a new dimension to your home, especially because they make it enjoyable for you and your family to spend time outdoors. This is why adding a patio or deck offe

rs both emotional and monetary value to your home.

People who want to add this home feature often have a general idea of what they want, and may  think; “Hmm, we’d like a new stone patio.” While others often say; “My idea is to add a deck off the kitchen.” Some people can even visualize or draw out their plans. Of course, then there are those of us who know some type of outdoor living feature is needed, just don’t really know which to choose. So what decisions should you make? Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.

Grades Vs. Elevation

This is the one factor that may influence the decision for you. If for instance, you want a deck out your kitchen door, you need to consider the elevation of the door. If this is close to grade or just a single step from the door to the yard, then it may not be possible to construct a deck, as there isn’t enough room for framing or supports. In these cases a patio may be the only option, as the base for a patio is dug into the ground.

On the other hand, there are times when a deck works best. For instance, when an area has a significant or steep slope, making it difficult to level out for a patio, then a deck is your option.  A deck may also be a viable option when you need a deck or patio in a shady tree area, as this feature can be built over tree root areas.

The elevation of a deck will vary according to the design requirements you have, even when there is no structural need to change the elevation of a deck. So, a deck can really be built to the elevation you need. It can be a high or low deck as needed.

Grading a Patio

If you do decide to install a patio you’ll need to prepare and grade a base where the paver stones can be laid. This is probably the most important element to installing the patio. The process begins by digging the area to about 6 to 8 inches below the finished height of the patio level you want. Usually the patio paving stones take up about 2 inches of the height and you want a gravel base under this. If possible, you want to use a landscape fabric under the gravel to protect the base and the pavers from the soil and weeds.

Once you have dug the area you must add about 4 inches of gravel and then grade the patio base with a 2X4 by sliding the length along the gravel and smoothing it in a slightly sloped. This will give the area an evan but sloped base for water runoff. You want to slope the area towards where you want the water to run off. If the patio is large then you need to grade with 2 2X4’s that are nailed together.

Add another 2 inches of sand to the gravel and grade again with the 2X4. Use a compactor on the area before setting the pavers.

 

As you can see, there are differences in the way a deck and patio are constructed. This is why you need to analyze the outdoor area and determine which is the better and least expensive option. To best do this you may need to call in an experienced deck and patio contractor to help you with our decision.

Landscape Designs for Hilly or Sloping Yards

You’ve got a great place to live, but how do you landscape that hilly backyard? Most homeowners agree than landscaping a hill is a challenge not many landscapers are up for. So you need to take your designer a few ideas so his brain can start getting creative. The following are just a few ideas we’ve come up with.

Protect the View

There is just one thing to keep in mind. People who live in or around hills do so because of the incredible views. Just remember, if your home has a panoramic view you want to protect it and prevent trees or other plants from interfering with it.

Design The Approach

Many Hillside Landscapes require stairs or an inclined path.  You dont want these architectural features to just start out of the blue. The design of a stairway or path is as much a part of the design as the rest of the landscape so you need to make it attractive with the right greenery, plants, trees and pavers. Because the ground is hilled you can use interesting greenery instead of grass. This will add texture to the area. Consider flowering vines and ground cover as an option.

Keep Paths and Stairs Going in a Slow Incline

Consider adding switchback paths to make the walk easier. Reduce steep climbs and plantings as these promote erosion and steep rain runoffs. Remember the stairs or path of a hilled landscape are a focal point so select pavers that make your path stand out.

Plants You can Use

This is a wonderful opportunity to add interesting plants, especially some that do well in shade or partial shade. These can be spread plants and vines. This type of plant adds textural interest to hills. To make the design better choose plants that are analogous in color. This means they are similarly colored. You can also use small and large containers to add further interest. These can be terra cotta planters with planted flowers or other interesting plants.

 

Landscape Architecture can Create Definition for Your Outdoor Area

Using architectural elements in your outdoor areas adds a definition and clarity to your entire landscaped area. What is an architectural outdoor element? When a landscaper uses a structure like a gazebo, a fence, patio, path, rock formation or other type of construction this is known as an outdoor architectural element. It is when a designer uses pavers, concrete, wood, stone and other similar materials to create an architectural feature for your outdoor area. 

At some point, you may want to add one of these features to your outdoor area, and these range in scope from the very small to a large structure. Why? Because this type of feature adds definition and structure to your outdoor design.

To help you better understand these defining elements we have made a list of the most common architectural features used in outdoor areas:

Outdoor Patios

Architectural elements like patios offer a structural defined style for your outdoor area. It is the patio style and paver use that draws the eye to the outdoor living portion of the landscape. This is the architectural element that pulls a viewer’s interest through the pathways and to plant and flower beds.It allows the eye and traffic to flow naturally in and out of the house.

Decks

This is another architectural element offering style and design to outdoor areas. A deck is also an area that offers entertainment possibilities. However, the deck sits at a higher level which gives them a better vantage point of the entire yard.

Water Elements

Water architectural elements offer a focal point for intimate areas that give a feeling of peace and tranquility. The flowing water of a fountain, pond or waterfall offers an instant calming effect on people. Water elements bring life and interest to a small garden. They add bold accents in certain areas of the yard.

Pergolas and Arbors and or other Architectural Forms

These features offer structure and texture to an outdoor area.  They create dimension and beauty in a landscape.

  • The Pergola. – This is a shaded area for sitting. A pergola is a great place where vines can train up the structure. Yet you can also add ceiling fans, fabric and lights to highlight the outdoor living structure.
  • Arbors. – These structures offer an architectural element where vines can grow.

There are also other features to can help define a beautiful landscaped area. You can use retaining walls, pathways and low fences to add design and practicality.

 

Don’t Jail Yourself into Your Backyard with A Fence: Use Design Elements to Create Privacy Instead

A backyard fence is one of the the hardscape elements that can either tie in your entire landscape design. Or as in most cases, simply acts as a BORING retaining wall for your yard. Tell us truthfully,– which type of fence would you prefer? We know,you would rather build an outdoor feature that works well with your entire landscape and overall home design. But to get a great privacy feature, you’ve gotta think about the project and overall design scheme that your home and outdoor area already has. Fence building can be confusing so we have put together the following four tips to help you design a better fence for your outdoor area.

1.Consider privacy

Fences can be the most challenging part of the landscape design, and unfortunately, most people only build fences to create privacy. However, home owners often don’t realize that there are different levels of privacy and design styles that they should consider. Stop and ask yourself this, “Do I went full, moderate or just suggested privacy?” And yes “suggested” is a type of  privacy that really doesn’t hide anything from view, but instead only suggests that the space is intimate. you must know which level privacy you’re looking for to help you focus on the design and materials you want to  create this lovely space .For instance, you might want to use wrought iron to create suggested  privacy, or even a half wall made of paver stones create that intimate feel.

Determining the area of the property you want to fence, and where you need the most privacy. By the same token, determine the areas that require the least amount of privacy. Dividing up these areas in terms of privacy levels,helps you narrow down your fence design options.

2. Use the appropriate fencing materials for the level of privacy you require.

The current home building Market offers up several types of fencing with an unlimited variety of styles. So this gives you the perfect opportunity to: Think creatively!

Depending on the level of privacy you need, you might create an artful blend of fencing mixed with greenery and border plants. Just think, this idea might work better than that big block of tall fencing. When you mix and match elements you can create focal points and texture for your fences, without having to build a huge barricade.

3. Don’t use fences as walls when plants will do.

Why throw up a fence of 6 to 8 feet,  when some plants can give you the privacy you need? As a general rule, people don’t like walls outside because they offer a sense of being confined. If you have an area where you want some privacy, think carefully about whether an actual wall will fulfill your needs. in some cases, a thick Evergreen Hedge can work as a fence giving you the same privacy as an actual wall

4. Match height  to the actual security and privacy you actually need

Obviously, families with small children and pets will have different security needs than adults with older kids or with no children at all. If you need to establish boundaries or barriers, consider low retaining walls or fences that offer a nice line of sight. Keep the property fence as low and open as possible, and when possible, in areas where security is needed,use large hedges or open rail fences.

Take note! When your problem is related to sound and wind as well as privacy, fences do very little with regard to block these elements. In some cases, a fence will not  lock out but will actually amplify it. So you want to be careful. Sound also reaches through most fencing options because it moves up and over, often amplifying itself. A better option is to build a fence, but also to add a mix of evergreen and deciduous plants on both sides of the fence. This will help absorb sound and wind. When you carefully consider your  options and what you want the fence to do for you, it is more likely that you create a functional and attractive outdoor landscape which provides privacy as well as security.