Retaining Walls & Steps

Retaining walls can be used for a variety of reasons in landscaping. Not only can adding retaining walls add aesthetic value to a landscape, but they can also be used to address issues and remedy problems. For example, retaining walls can aid in the correction of a drainage issue within an area. During the design process, any existing issues will be taken into consideration so as to create the most helpful solution as well as add interest, beauty and value to your property.

The Construction Process

Both natural stone and concrete retaining wall systems are available for the construction of retaining walls and steps. The largest deciding factor in choosing what materials to use is personal preference. Natural stone and boulders tend to be utilized where a less formal look is desired because of their natural form. Natural stone is available in cut or chopped uniform pieces that are perfect for a more formal design. Although the concrete retaining wall system lends itself to a more “formal” setting because of its uniformity, there are styles available that have a natural stone look.

As with any type of construction, the foundation is the most important part of the project. Excavation of the existing soil and a compacted, level gravel base is essential for the structural integrity of retaining walls and steps. The finished height of the wall will determine how the foundation is constructed.

Additionally, steps can be incorporated into the retaining wall during design and construction. They may be placed in a sloped area to allow access to the different levels, or, in some cases, steps may be the only way to access an area because the grade is too steep.

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Patios & Walkways

The addition of a natural stone or modular concrete paver patio and path can satisfy the desire of having an outdoor space where you can sit and unwind with family and friends or a quiet retreat to get away. Whether this area is an extension of an existing area, or a newly created area, a patio can provide an outdoor retreat.

Natural stone, such as sandstone, blends well with the surrounding colors and textures of the environment. When utilized in its random size and shape or chopped and split into a pattern, natural stone will provide a beautiful addition to any landscape.

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Water Features

Whether it is a welcoming addition to an entryway or an enjoyable view from your home, a water feature will add beauty to any landscape setting.

Water features may seem to be a high maintenance addition, but when constructed properly, maintaining a water feature requires little commitment. The development of high efficiency pumps to reduce electricity use, automatic fill valves to keep the water level maintained and skimmers, which work like a swimming pool skimmer, keep debris in an open water pond to a minimum.

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless water features give you the sight and sound of moving water but do not have any open water. The water from the waterfall is re-circulated, and there is no pond. A timer can be added to turn the pump on and off at specific times to conserve electricity. There is a minimal amount of maintenance associated with a pondless water feature. Basic maintenance requirements include maintaining the appropriate water level and removing the pump during the winter, although in some cases, the water feature can be enjoyed in all seasons.

Ponds

Adding a pond to a landscape provides not only visual appeal, but opportunities to interact with different types of plants and animals as well. Fish and water plants add interest to a pond. Water plants are beneficial for several reasons. They aid in balancing the water to reduce algae, and also provide a cooling effect in the water during the summer months for fish. It is not uncommon to see frogs, turtles and on occasion, even Mallard ducks, visit ponds. Flowering water plants, like Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Pickerel, Water Iris, Lotus and others add color throughout the growing season.

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Nightlighting

As evening approaches, crickets begin their nightly chorus. Shadows shroud the lawn. The sky fades from deep blue to deeper indigo. Then, magically your yard becomes a mesmerizing fairyland as hidden lights illuminate flowers and trees, casting undulating shadows in the balmy evening breezes. A statue in the middle of the garden becomes the focus of attention, its marble surface softly aglow in the beams of invisible spotlights.

Landscape lighting is a powerful tool. It is simple, flexible and forgiving. Natural sunlight reveals the color and texture of everything it touches. In the hands of the lighting designer, landscape lighting allows selective control over the appearance and mood of a landscape setting. Effective lighting can illuminate the best elements of a landscape, leaving what should be concealed in the shadows.

The practical benefits of lighting include:
  • Safety –  Lights on steps, walks and driveways create safer and more comfortable passage
  • Security –  Lighting dim areas without using flood lights that create shadows
  • Aesthetics – Show off the beauty of the home and garden after dark. Extend the view of the landscape
  • Investment – Grounds that are dramatically lit look more luxurious increasing the livability, marketablility, and value of the property
  • Low Voltage – Safe and easy to move with ever changing landscapes

Drainage

Periods of heavy rainfall or improper irrigation tend to magnify poor drainage issues. A lack of proper drainage may lead to water problems at the foundation of your property or create maintenance problems in your turf or landscape beds. Drainage problems can be a result of many things, such as improper elevations established after construction, growth and maturity of landscape plantings, or obstacles placed in drainage right of ways that trap the water and do not allow for positive drainage.

Solutions can be as varying as the drainage issue itself. To determine the best approach, an on-site analysis of the area is required to determine if there is enough “fall” to drain the water from the area. If the “fall” is sufficient, then re-grading the area to allow gravity to work may be all that is needed. If there is insufficient “fall”, then there may be a need for a more extensive solution, including the re-grading of the area, as well as the installation of a sump pump and basin to pump the water out of the area.

On some properties, the free flow of water must remain across several properties. Often times, these drainage easements stay wet because of rains and improper irrigation on surrounding properties. These areas make it difficult to establish and maintain grass. After establishing the correct grading elevations, these areas can be addressed with the installation of a dry rock creek bed. A dry creek bed is a functional way to allow proper water flow and adds aesthetic interest to your property.

Let’s make memories, together.