Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall 2011

In The News

Fall is here and it is starting to cool down. It seems like summer was never here, as it was not over 100 Degrees for weeks and weeks. Fall is here and it is time for football and Halloween. Just around the corner is Thanksgiving – have I told anyone that I really love Turkey? Yummy!!

It has been fun working on so many different projects over the summer. We had a chance to design several unique yards like; a 2 acre xeriscape yard, remodel a back yard for a foothills residence with a modern flare, a back yard that also severs as an outdoor classroom for a preschool, just to name a few. Some of the yards we were able to design this summer were in Boise, Eagle, Hidden Springs, and Greenleaf. I would like to thank all of our current and past clients for their support.

In our fall issue we are going to talk about how to add privacy to you back yard. We will also talk about design seatwalls (freestanding and retaining). It is fall, so it is the perfect time to discuss one of my favorite shade trees, the Autumn Blaze maple. In our project spot light we will review the Boulder Creek residence back yard, which details a large sunken patio, with an outdoor kitchen and dining area. In our Contractor Spotlight we will highlight a local Landscape Construction Company – Lawn Co. I hope you sit back and enjoy the fall issue of “Sense of Place”.

Hardscape – Oh that’s Hardscape - Seat Walls

Seatwalls are walls (freestanding or retaining) that also can act as sitting areas. Seatwalls are typically 18”-24” high and can be made of several different kinds of materials. The wall will define a space and a texture and interest to a patio.

Freestanding seatwalls are finished on both sides of the wall and can be accessed from multiple areas. A freestanding wall is meant to define a space and add seating options to an area. A retaining seatwall is finished on only one side and has access on only one side. A retaining seatwall is meant to retain soil on one side, define a space, add seating option and to raise plants higher for screening or maintenance (raised garden beds) issues.

Seatwalls can be made of several different kinds of materials. One of the most common types of material is the concrete block wall. There are several different manufactures of concrete block walls and they all have different price points as well as looks. Some of the different manufactures of concrete block walls avaible in area are Keystone, Belgard and Mutual Materials.

If you want your seatwalls to match your house, the way to go is a CMU wall (cinder block). A concrete footing is poured and CMU and rebar make the structural part of the seat wall. The wall is then finished to match the residence (stone, stucco, wood or any combination).

Natural stone can also be used for the seatwall. For natural stones, one of the more popular options here is the Local Table Rock Sandstone, which is a very soft stone that can be chipped or saw cut to get a tight fit between the wall builders. There are several other kinds of stones that can be stacked to make a seat wall. I recommend going down to your local rock supplier to see what your options are. One of the main keys in picking out stone of a seatwall is to pick stones that are flat on opposite sides, so that the stack fairly easily and don’t rock once to start adding the second level.

Other materials that are can be used are solid slabs of concrete or natural stone, Cor-ten Steel, short basalt upright columns, Gabion wall (wire frame basket, filled with stones) with cap (wood, concrete…), wood or any combination. The design choices are almost unlimited.

Designing Trends - Privacy for Outdoor rooms

One of the most common issues that clients face is adding privacy to their backyard. There are almost countless ways that privacy can be designed into the yard. We will actually design several different styles of screens in the 3D program called SketchUp to illustrate the different methods. It is interesting to see the effect and feeling they have on the atmosphere of the space and how successful they are at screening. We will show a typical patio with screening issues, then show you several different, creative ways that privacy can be added (rather than just adding an Arborvitae hedge). Here are just a couple of different screening ideas that we will look at:

• Accent fence with plants

• Raised planters with plants

• Temporary/freestanding screens

Accent Fence

An accent screen fence can add architectural interest to your screening needs and add contrast to the sounding screen plants. The accent screen fence is not meant to be solid; it is designed to act hand in hand with plants to provide the screening. The accent screen fence is not located on the property line, so it is typically not restricted to height (check with planning and zoning before construction). Here are just a few examples of how an accent screen fence could add privacy to your back yard.

Raised Planters

A raised planter will add instant height to your plants as well as add possible seating areas and year round interest. The raised plants can be designed to match/flow with the residence and be built with several different materials. The materials can include, manufactured concrete block, CMU wall with cultured stone, natural stone, Cor-ten steel, short basalt columns….. The combinations are almost endless. Here are just a few examples of how a raised planter could add privacy to your back yard.

Temporary/freestanding screens

If space and budget are of a concern, one of the quickest and inexpensive ways to add privacy is to add a freestanding/temporary screen. A freestanding screen can be bought from several on-line stores or can custom built from scratch. Here are just a few Web Sites that have ideas fro freestanding screens ; Latice Stix, Every Room Divider and Room Divider Store, just to name a few.

Project Spotlight - Boulder Creek Res

Boulder Creek Residence

The main goal for this Boulder Creek back yard remodel project was to add a large adult entertainment area that includes an outdoor kitchen, outdoor dining area, an outdoor living room, fire pit, water feature and a large lawn area for the kids. The client also requested the front yard should tie in with the overall feeling of the backyard. The existing yard consisted of lawn, freeform planter beds, and a large concrete patio - but the client wanted to give the yard a more modern feeling. We initially came up with 4 concept plans for the yard.

Concept #1

Concept #1 – Key Points

Front yard

• New concrete walk connections the driveway and front door.
• New rectangular concrete stepping stone with grass joints act as a new entry walk connecting the sidewalk and front door
• Linear plantings with 18” tall stone slabs to add a modern feel to the front yard

Back yard

• Existing concrete patio to remain
• New “L” shaped outdoor kitchen set onto of existing patio
• Sunken, private patio off the master with fire and water feature
• Large raised bed garden
• Large outdoor chess se
• Raised patio with shade structure and vertical screens for privacy and additional shade

Click here for the animation of Concept Plan #1

Concept #2

Concept #2 – Key Points

Front yard

• Keep existing concrete walk
• New circular lawn area with flowering privacy hedge for the front yard
• Add new entry walk to play off the radius of the circular lawn area
• Formalized plantings that play of the radius of the circular lawn area

Back yard

• Keep existing concrete patio and add outdoor kitchen and solid overhead structure
• Add new sunken patio with outdoor fireplace
• Add large circular lawn area
• Add curved steel screen walls to play off the circular theme – to add interest and additional privacy
• Large raised bed that play off the lines of the circular lawn area
• Path to back garden area

Click here for the animation of Concept Plan #2

Concept #3

Concept #3 – Key Points

Front yard

• Keep existing concrete walk and planter beds but add new plantings
• Add dwarf evergreen trees for a more woodsy look

Back yard

• Demo existing concrete patio
• New multi level sunken patio – first level (18” below grade) includes outdoor kitchen and outdoor living room with linear gas fire pit. The lower level (36” below grade) includes the outdoor dining room with gabion water feature for Ore Containers.
• Linear gabion walls of various lengths and height to add structure, interest and privacy to the back yard.
• Screen plantings by the East and West fence lines add privacy from the neighbors.

Click here for the animation of Concept Plan #3

Concept #4

Concept #4 – Key Points

Front yard

• Keep existing concrete walk
• Add rectangular concrete stepping stones for access from the sidewalk to the front door.
• Add modern plantings to play of the linear feeling of the front yard

Back yard

• keep existing concrete patio – add outdoor grill, and sitting area
• Add a new sunken patio with gas fire pit, fountain, and shade structure for the dining area and small sitting area.
• Add rectangular steeping stones that were designed in the front to provide access to the back garden area

Click here for the animation of Concept Plan #4

After presenting the 4 concepts to our client, they gravitated toward a combination of concept #3 and #4, but they also like elements from the other concepts and wanted to include some new elements. The final concept was designed and approved

Final Plan – Key Points

Front yard

• From Concept #4, keep the existing entry walk , but add The rectangular concrete stepping stones

• Formalized/linear plantings with straight/linear planting beds
Back yard
• From Concept #3 the large sunken patio, but add a small fountain and Ipe Built in bench for the gas fire pit. To tie the fire pit bench and outdoor kitchen together, the kitchen will be wrapped in Ipe hardwood. Concept #3 had the outdoor dining area sunken an additional 18” below the rest of the sunken patio, the owner wanted to have the dining area at the same level as the rest of the sunken patio.

• From Concept #4 we used the rectangular concrete stepping stone for access to the back garden. These stepping stones also tie the front and back yards together.

• Instead of using the gabion walls from concept #3, Ipe accent fencing was designed in. The Ipe hardwood will tie in the Ipe built-in bench and the Ipe outdoor kitchen surround.

The client loved the final concept and we went on to our next step, construction documents.

• Materials Plan – to illustrate, note and detail all hardscape items like, paver patio, concrete stepping stones, Ipe accent fence, outdoor kitchen, fountain, Ipe bench, gas fire pit, walls and steps.

• Planting Plan – to illustrate all plant material proposed for the project

Now that all the drawing was done, it was time to solicit bids from 3 Landscape Contractors. The Owners received bids from Sterling Landscape, Lawn Co and The Nature Company. The owners interview and reviewed the bids from all 3 companies, it was a tough decision, but the owners decided to go with Sterling Landscape.

Because of budget purposes the owner decided to install the yard in phases. The first phase will be the back yard, while the front yard tackled at another time. The Ipe Accent fence was also removed from this phase.

The first step of construction was to remove the existing linden tree (sorry) and the lawn. Sterling then had to excavate the area for the sunken patio as well as the area for the footings for the walls. Gas lines need to be stubbed out for the outdoor kitchen as well as the gas fire pit.

Concrete forms were then placed and the concrete and rebar footings were installed. Honed face CMU blocks were uses as the main wall material with Keystone caps.

A base was then prepped for the pavers and Basalite’s Italian Renaissance Permeable pavers were then installed. The Ipe Bench was then brought in. and installed.

The outdoor kitchen used Eldorado Stone’s Lightweight modular building blocks to form up the kitchen; it was then finished with a Granite counter top, Ipe Surround, and KitchenAid Grill, access doors, refrigerator and Utility drawers. The Concrete Stepping Stone slabs where then poured and the plants and mulch finished off the project. Landscape lighting was installed to make use of the area at later hours. This project was installed in spring of 2011 by Sterling Landscape

Here is a sneak peek at the project we will highlight in our winter issue …..

Focus On Plants - Autumn Blaze Maple

Focus on Plants

Autumn Blaze Maple

One of my all time favorite trees for fall color is the Autumn Blaze Maple. This is a great tree for the treasure Valley area because it is a cross between the Silver Maple and the Red Maple. So what does that really mean? Well what it means is, it can take drought and our alkaline soils like the Silver Maple but also has the silver bark and brilliant orange/red fall color of the Red maple. The tree starts out first part of spring with small red flowers on bare branches – but I would not consider the flowers showy. Clean crisp Green leaves follows the flowers and add nice shade to an area. In Fall time, the Autumn Blaze maple really begins to pop! An explosion of bright red to orange red leaves will add dramatic color and will play of the grey colored bark. The approximate mature size of the Autumn Blaze Maple is 50’ high x 40’ wide. If you would like to add a shade tree to your yard, why not try the Autumn Blaze Maple?

Contractor Spotlight - Lawn Co

Contractor Spotlight

Lawn Co

Lawn Co is a locally owned and operated landscape Construction and Maintenance company that has been serving the Treasure Valley Since 1985. The company was originally founded by Eric Olsen back in 1985, but current Owner Dan Ritchie took over in 1993. Dan actually was working for Lawn co since 1988, before he decided to take on ownership and oversee the company’s 75 employees. Lawn Co prides themselves with excellence and are member of PLANET (Professional Landcare Network), AGC of America (Association of General Contractors), ISA (International Society of Arboriculture), and INLA (Idaho Nursery & Landscape Association).

Lawn Co just doesn’t install landscapes; they are a full service Green Industry Company that can meet anyone’s landscape needs. Lawn Co has 3 main divisions, the landscape division, the maintenance division and The Seeding Service Division.

The Landscape division can handle all your landscape and irrigation needs; from installing water features, paver patios and retaining walls, to planting trees and shrubs. Lawn Co can also install an underground irrigations system, so you don’t have to worry about moving garden hoses all over your yard in the heat of summer.

The Maintenance Division at Lawn Co can take care of your yard so you don’t have to get all sweaty pushing a mower on YOUR weekend! The services offered from the Maintenance division include; mowing, spring and fall clean up, lawn and tree fertilization, irrigation repair and even snow removal in the winter! Why not take a break and have Lawn Co take care of your yard – you deserve it!

The Seeding Service Division at Lawn Co can handle all your seeding needs. The services offered, include; Hydroseeding, drillseeding, overseeding, lawn renovation and top dressing, to name a few. If you want to save some money and need a new lawn or need to rejuvenate an old lawn, why not contact Lawn Co to see what they can do for you.