Posts Tagged hardscape

Fabulous Firepits

The yard can be a lot of things to different people.  In the summertime, it’s often used as a space to spend time with and entertain friends and family – especially in summer.  In order to have such a space, one has to consider the time of day when people will be over and what you like to do most.  This will lead you to the best changes to your landscaping in order to make it a space that works for everyone.iStock_000017779814XSmall

One great type of gathering space is a firepit.  It might seem a little counter-intuitive, since we live in sunny Southern California.  However, while it’s sunny during the day – it can get downright chilly at nighttime.  Also, you don’t have to keep a fire going in the pit at all times.  It is simply a great focal point for a gathering space, which is also useful and which can be really fun.   Here are some great firepit ideas to consider for your yard space:

  • Campfire style: A built-in, natural looking firepit might be the perfect space to gather in a hillside home or with a more rustic-style home.
  • A round firepit with circular seating: Allowing all of your guests to gather around the fire and converse is a past time that has carried on throughout the ages.  iStock_000017473871XSmall
  • Geometric-styled firepits: Playing with shapes can add character to your yard and make it a conversation piece – as well as a place to talk!
  • A sunken firepit: If your yard has a step-down space you aren’t sure what to do with, it might be just the space for a firepit.
  • Built-in fireplace: An outdoor fireplace can bring the gathering outdoors – even on dry winter nights.
  • A mock fireplace: Positioning a fireplace against a wall of brick or stone can make it feel as if you had an outdoor fireplace, when it’s just a firepit.
  • Artful firepits: You can do so much with firepits – setting up a gas flame that appears to be coming out of water or gravel can lend surprising elegance to a space – while making it a piece of art when the flame is turned off

There are plenty of fun styles for firepits – they don’t have to be portable metal tubs anymore.  So, here’s to a summer filled with light and laughter!


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Making a Statement with Your Lot

Southern California is filled with oddly sized lots.  You can find them out by Redondo Beach, in Agoura Hills, in Sunland, and all over LA.  The key to managing your odd lot is making a statement with it.  This goes for any kind of lot, any shape size or situation.

Here is what to consider when solving the landscaping for your different-sized lot:

– What is the total lot square footage (without your house)?  This is important to consider when you are considering any usable lot space.

– What portion of your lot is usable?  You should consider literally any portion of your lot which is not to steep to utilize in one way or another.

– What do you want to use the lot for? This will give you an understanding of how to best utilize that weird strip of grass on the side of your house.  It could be a vegetable garden, a dog run, a picnic area, a play spot for the kids, your native plant section, etc.

– How much energy do you want to spend on your yard?  This includes both time and money.  If you want to spend very little energy, your best idea is to either go native, or get a hardscape placed in there.  If you like gardening or want to employ a gardener to help keep your yard a paradise of flowers, trees, etc – you will clearly want a more complicated set up.

– Consult with a landscaper on the best way to utilize the entire space.  It’s unacceptable in my mind to let any part of a lot go to seed, or become a dumping ground for unused items.  Every part of your lot should have a purpose.

Here’s to those glorious lots of SoCal – no matter the size!

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Autumn-time To Dos

Happy first day of fall!  The temperatures certainly doesn’t seem to know it’s autumn yet, but there are still things you can do to prepare for fall weather.

– Remove anything dead from your yard.  This can be a big task if you have a large yard, but removing dead leaves, dead plants, and dead limbs from your yard you are helping your plants and you are helping fire fighters with their task in fire prevention.

– Keep your plants watered and healthy.  Watering your plants consistently, as well as mulching them will help keep your plants happy during this hot time and can keep your soil healthy.

– As soon as it gets cool, make sure to plant any trees or bushes, as well as transplant anything you need to move.

– Get your lawn furniture ready for storage, or get them stored if you are done with them.

– Change out any bulbs for your outdoor lighting for those early nights.  If you don’t have outdoor lighting, get some installed.  It’s helpful for early autumn nights, and for days like Halloween when others will likely use your walkways and steps.

– If you enjoy being outdoors, try getting a permanent covering installed over your patio area.  Another idea is to get any outdoor space you have enclosed in glass so you can beat the heat in summer and stay warm in winter.

– Last, but not least, plan your yard out and see if there are any changes or plants which will make your life enjoyable.



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Amping up your driveway

Your driveway doesn’t have to be a plain ol’ concrete driveway.  You can change it up if you want.  Here are some ideas:

– Get stone installed into your driveway. Instead of plain concrete, you can make your driveway into a hardscape by installing cultured stone slabs. Or, you can get stamped concrete installed. This adds new depths to the front of your home.

– Paint and seal your driveway concrete. You can brighten up the front of your home by painting your driveway concrete a different color than the normal gray, then getting it sealed.

– Install a border garden on the side of your driveway. Make your driveway into a stately welcoming party by adding shrubs or flowers along the border. Just be sure that your driveway is wide enough that your car’s tires won’t harm the plants.

– Try or brick to various parts of your driveway, making it less of a concrete slab and more of a work of art. You can also try installing brick or stone as a border to your driveway, making the concrete section look fancier.

– If you have a long enough driveway, add trees on each side to give it a stately appeal and to add privacy to your home. Blocking your home from view makes it more of a centerpiece when you emerge from the tree-lined drive to see your house.

These are just some ideas. They don’t have to be specific to driveways though. You can do any of the above to walkways in the back of your home as well.

Here’s to that welcome-home feel you get each day as you drive up to your home.

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Child Friendly Landscaping

Some landscapes are better than others when it comes to having and hosting children.   While most kids don’t mind playing in the dirt, you might mind them there.  Here are some ideas for kid-friendly landscaping:

1. Raised beds.  It’s harder for smaller children to get into your vegetable garden or flowers if they are in a raised bed.  Additionally, raised beds allow you to control your child’s access to your garden.  You can ask for their help in the garden, and allow them access, while still allowing your plants to grow without interference later on.

2. Incorporating hardscaping into your landscape. Setting up spaces for kids to play, while still keeping your yard fun for adults, can be tricky. One way to do this is to set up a “backyard highway” – a place where children can play with larger toys, as well as roller skate or skateboard.

3. Set up a pot-hole-free section of your lawn. Creating a flat or slightly inclined section of lawn for kids to set up a slip ‘n slide, twister, or tea party can keep children safe and having fun in a comfortable, rock-free and trip-free environment.

4.  Install a patio space for barbeques, parties, etc that both children and adults can enjoy.

5. Set up a playground space.  Play spaces are pretty easy to set up, depending on the complexity of what you buy.  They can provide hours of entertainment for children both living and playing at your home.

All in all, the best idea for child-friendly landscaping is: a. safety first, b. a place both you and they can enjoy, and c. a place they can play without your worrying about a or b above.

Here’s to an enjoyable summer filled with laughter and play!

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Seasonal Landscaping

I was driving down Candy Cane Lane and it struck me that some people really enjoy decorating their yards for holidays year round. This means you really have to keep in mind what sort of landscaping would be appropriate. If you have waves of lawn, poking holes in it to put up seasonal decorations might be detrimental and frustrating as, as soon as each plug grows back, you’re just going to want to stick something else in there.

In looking at well decorated homes, I was saddened that most people were in fact completely destroying their lawns. I tend to see this around Halloween too, with fun decorations smashing and poking holes the an otherwise well tended lawn.

If you really enjoy decorating for each season, a hard-scape and small, well designed gardens are most likely your best bet. Additionally, you want clean, even and well-lit paths. Finally, some shrubs or trees would benefit you so you may decorate with lights and/or hanging other fun things in the branches.

You can even set up your landscape to cater to your desire to put up fun decorations, but including sufficient outlets on exterior walls, putting things which need holes dug in dirt – and later filling the hole created with flowers, and you can even have hooks and things installed so that you may put your fun and festive decorations up more easily – and make them less likely to be blown about by the wind.

As a final note, even if you don’t go all out and decorate for each season, a bit of hardscaping can go a long way to fun, festive outdoor activities. It’s pretty cold and wet right now, but on a dry day you can enjoy the cooler temperatures by having an impromptu outdoor barbecue, or chatting around a fire pit. Additionally, if you’re like me, you might like a covered porch, where you can go outside no matter the weather and enjoy the outdoors.

So, here’s hoping you enjoy this blustery season!

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The Elusive Pool

It seems like during the summertime, everyone wants to be the proud owner of a pool.  “Imagine the parties” or “What a great way to beat the heat” they think.  But there are many things to consider in making your pool dreams a reality.

1. Is your lot big enough?

If you have a tiny lot, a pool may not be worth your trouble.  You can install a small deck for your barbeques and social gatherings, then put out a slip ‘n slide or turn on the sprinklers for children and adults alike to cool off.

2. Are you ready to shoulder the responsibility for cleaning the pool?

Pool maintenance and upkeep is a continuing cost which should be considered in your watery plans.

3. Do you have the money set aside to get the pool installed?

This one is key. Beyond pool installation is decking, professional landscaping, etc. Keep this in mind when gathering the funds for your dream pool.

4. Is this pool something the entire family can enjoy?

If you have tiny toddlers or babies, they may not be ready for a pool experience – or you may have to fence the pool area off for safety.  Keep this in mind when planning your pool.

I hope this helps you and your family and friends have a fantastic summer this year!

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