Saturday, August 4, 2012

Outdoor Living

Landscaping Remodeling

As a homeowner, how much have you thought about landscaping? A beautiful lawn and backyard has many benefits? Landscaping can increase the value of your home by 15% or more, and home improvement experts estimate that 100% to 200% of your landscaping costs can be recovered when you sell your home.

Landscaping Remodeling    Landscaping Remodeling

In the same way a frame enhances a picture, beautiful landscaping brings attention to your house. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire an experienced landscape designer, the first step is to start with a plan. Remember, when creating your landscaping plan make sure to include both the front and the back of your house.

Take a few moments to think about what you want to accomplish with your landscaping.
Landscaping Remodeling

  • What areas of your property are you interested in landscaping?
  • What problems or concerns do you have with your existing landscaping?
  • How do you plan to use your property?
  • Are there favorite plants that you'd like to see incorporated in your landscape?
  • What budget have you created for the work?
Landscaping ideas can come from anywhere - magazines, books or other people's beautiful outdoor living spaces. Cutting out pictures is a terrific way to determine your style, as well as give your landscape designer a better idea of the styles, plants and colors that you like.

If you decide to work with a landscape designer, you should expect the process to include:
Landscaping Remodeling

  • Site Analysis
    The layout for a landscape is similar to that of your home or office - with rooms for specific uses or activities. Connecting these "rooms" or areas to create traffic flow and interest is the primary challenge of a landscape designer. This is why it's important to determine the function of each outdoor area before laying out the landscape and to analyze how these areas relate to each other. As part of the site analysis, the landscape designer will make recommendations for drainage, locate walls, site a driveway, pool or tennis court, and determine final grades.
  • Conceptual Planning
    At this step, the landscape designer will present you with an idea that includes various cost options. He or she will review your property, analyze the way you use the spaces and create a landscape design that will work specifically to your needs.
  • The Solution
    Once you approve the initial concept, the landscape designer will create your final master plan that shows landscape areas, plant suggestions, hardscapes, materials and accessories. Your landscape designer can price this plan and upon your approval commence construction, or you can use it to obtain bids from your own contractors.
Landscaping Remodeling    Landscaping Remodeling

Decks and Patios Remodeling

Decks and Patios Remodeling
Today, decks and patios have become more than just convenient structures, they're an outdoor extension of the hone. Many homeowners want to take advantage of their extra outdoor living space by adding or improving their deck or patio.

Whether you want to use your deck and patio to entertain, barbecue, or simply relax, they are practical and valuable additions, typically recouping most of the original construction.

Planning Your Outdoor Entertainment Space
Like any home improvement project, before you begin it's important to plan carefully. Why are you adding a deck or patio to your home? For entertainment? For relaxation? For both? Do you want an elaborate outdoor kitchen or a simple place to barbeque steaks in the summer? Will a small deck work for your needs or will you need a large deck to accommodate a large crowd? Builders recommend planning a deck that will cover 20 square feet per person for a comfortable space.

Decks and Patios Remodeling     Decks and Patios Remodeling
Other important considerations are: When will your deck or patio be used? In the spring and summer or year-round? Is there adequate lighting? Who will be using it? If you have young children or elderly people in your home, you will want to carefully consider safety and accessibility in your planning.

Considering Styles and Materials
A deck or patio transitions to the indoors to the outdoors Which is why it's key to keep in mind the architectural style of your home when selecting the shape, style and materials for your outdoor space. Materials range from pressure-treated lumber to synthetics and composites for decks, and from plain concrete to textured cement, bricks and stones for patios. Given the wide variety of materials, your choice of styles - Tuscan retreat, Victorian garden, Japanese meditation garden or thoroughly modern - is only limited by your imagination and budget.

Decks and Patios Remodeling     Decks and Patios Remodeling

Building and landscape experts suggest keeping your selection of building materials to no more than two. This gives you more construction flexibility and in the final finishing stage. If you need a bit of color and privacy, you can add to your yard with outdoor structures, pergolas, pathways, outdoor furniture, potted plants and raised plant beds.

Finally, to make the most of your investment, ask several experienced real estate professionals what potential homebuyers are looking for in a deck and patio.

Decks and Patios Remodeling     Decks and Patios Remodeling


Driveways And Walkways

Driveways And Walkways
Curb appeal is more than just a stylish paint color and spectacular landscaping. A large part of your home's curb appeal is your driveway and walkway. Certainly your home is more desirable - and valuable - if the driveway is smooth, free of cracks and weeds, and distinctive. In fact, treating your driveway as part of the landscaping is one of the hottest new design trends.

But just because walkways and driveways are practical doesn't mean they can't also be good-looking. Begin your designing process by determining the natural paths people take to doors and any high-use areas. You want to avoid building a walk that will be bypassed in favor of walking on the lawn.

Today, an increasingly popular driveway design choice -- concrete pavers - combines this beauty with practicality. Pavers are easier to maintain than concrete and asphalt, and last longer without needing to be repaired.

Pavers also provide a safe, slip-resistant surface in beautiful beige, coral, variegated or darker blended colors, as well as blends to harmonize with a home's exterior colors.

Driveway Considerations
Here are some things to consider when redesigning your driveway:

Driveways And Walkways

  • Change the materials. There are a number of interesting paving options available. You can stain concrete or asphalt almost any hue. You can also choose pavers in a range of colors and in rectangles, hexagons or scallops. You can even edge the driveway with a contrasting element like bricks.
  • Build a screen. Low fencing or plants can hide areas where you park your cars.
  • Add plants. To soften the rigid lines, create a flowing path of flowerbeds along the driveway. You can plant annuals to add spots of color and use small shrubs or trees to vary the height.
  • Repeat materials. Carry the materials you used in the driveway into a sidewalk or patio to create a consistent look.
Don't Forget the Landscaping
You don't want your driveway and walkways to stand out in your front yard like a sore thumb. You want the whole look of the front of your house to seamlessly blend together. Your walkway and driveway offer ample opportunities to be creative with the landscaping. It is all about your personal taste. Think variety - differing but complementary plant colors and shapes, heights, textures - to break up what could be a monotonous view. arouse visual interest both horizontally and vertically. Make sure that the various forms, materials and open spaces of your landscape are in scale with one another - and with your house.

With proper planning, a walkway and driveway will help add excitement to your home. The design is limited only by your imagination. There're is really no right or wrong, it's just a matter of personal preference, as well as determining what works best for your property.

Driveways And Walkways     Driveways And Walkways

Driveway and Walkway Contractor


Once you have a general plan, visit your building department to find out about the zoning regulations and building codes governing your project. Codes typically dictate the dimensions and type of concrete you must use for footings and slabs. They tell you how much and what type of metal reinforcement to use and if you need a sand or gravel base under the material. Building codes also spell out setbacks-how close to your property line you may build. Once your plans are approved, you can get a building permit. Plan the work schedule so you will be ready for each inspection. 



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