Tag Archives: retaining wall

Protect Your Pets From The Pool

Keeping our kids safe and out of harm’s way around a swimming pool seems like a given, but what about our pets? Some of our furry companions cannot swim, or prefer not to engage in water. To eliminate any worries, here are some ways to take precaution against them sneaking in for an unsupervised swim.

Fence Them Out

The natural choice for keeping pets away is installing a fence that will stop them from walking into the pool and its surrounding area. Choose a fence that will cater to the pet’s size; a wrought-iron fence works well for larger dogs, but smaller animals such as cats, turtles, and various farm animals might need a more solid means of protection. Build the posts close together or with a thick material to optimize safety.

Wire Mesh or Wood

Wrap wire encasing around any existing fence to add a layer of protection for smaller animals. The design could be as simple as chicken wire, or a sleeker design from a home improvement store. Not only will this stop small pets from getting in, but creatures such as possums, squirrels, and rabbits will have a harder time entering the pool.

If the fence has yet to be built, consider a solid wood or plastic fence to surround the pool. The height can depend on the space available, and a simple latching system will make it easy to enter and exit throughout the day. The cost might be more in the long run, but in the winter months, that stable fence will hold up against harsher weather.

Add A Retaining Wall

For backyards with a hill, animals can climb up and around a ground fence and enter the pool area. By protecting the back of the pool with a sturdy foundation, animals of any size will have a harder time infiltrating that area. An additional fence can be built on top of this wall, to further protect against pests to the yard. Retaining walls can be customized to add to the aesthetic of the yard as well. You might consider tile work or stones that will stack and create a textured, unique surface to back the pool. Make it your own!

Contact Blue Tree

Let Blue Tree Landscaping help keep your four (or two) legged friends safe this summer! We specialize in hardscaping and preventative structures that will serve as functional, beautiful additions to any pool. Our team cares about your pets and your yard in tandem: contact us for a quote on your fence pool, or your next home improvement project!

What Are the Different Uses for Retaining Walls?

What Are the Different Uses for Retaining Walls?

 A retaining wall is a structure designed to contain soil in a specific place. It is a type of hardscaping — that is, it’s a “hard,” non-living material — and is essentially a wall made of stone or brick, for example. It is often used for practical purposes, like preventing soil erosion or as a way to compliment and define the landscaping of your yard. If your yard is sloped or uneven, a retaining wall can make your yard more polished and enjoyable. The following are some of the best ways to utilize a retaining wall in your yard.

A Tool For Landscaping Sloped Yards

Retaining walls are a necessary part of landscaping a sloped or uneven yard. They help to keep any landscaped areas in place and can protect the soil in a garden from washing away during a storm. Further, a retaining wall can help prevent soil and water from leaving your property and damaging other properties or areas. Without a retaining wall, a landscaped, sloped yard is more vulnerable to harsh weather and harder to maintain.

Create Visual Appeal

A retaining wall can be an appealing design element when landscaping your yard. It can be used to distinguish between, and separate, different elevations. This might be for the purpose of separating a garden from the rest of a yard or drawing attention to an elevated outdoor patio space. You can match the material of your retaining wall to the other hardscaping elements of your yard, such as a patio or walkway, for a more cohesive look.

Prevent Soil Erosion

One of the ways you can prevent soil erosion in your yard is by building a retaining wall around any vulnerable soil. If your yard is sloped, a retaining wall can prevent the soil from being displaced by excessive wind or water.

The Right Retaining Wall for You

There are many different types of and purposes for retaining walls. It’s not as simple as building a wall. Many factors such as width, height, and ground pressure need to be considered, in addition to the purpose of the retaining wall in order to determine what type of wall to build. Luckily, Blue Tree Landscaping makes this task look easy. Whether you need one to keep a sloped yard in place or to improve your yard’s look, Blue Tree can help you determine what type of retaining wall you need and how it can compliment your yard’s landscaping. Contact Blue Tree Landscaping for all of your hardscaping, landscaping, and lawn care needs. We will help you to create your ideal outdoor space — and maintain it, too.

5 Hardscape Materials You Should Know

5 hardscape materials you should knowHardscaping is more than lining a flower bed in pavers, or pouring out a driveway with concrete. Homeowners have more choices than ever before, and for those who prefer to mow less, hardscaping can help cut down frequent lawn maintenance time.

The following materials are commonly used in hardscaping projects. They can be used for patios, driveways, fences, built-in seating, pathways, and even outdoor rooms. Wherever they are used, they are sure to draw rave reviews.

Common Hardscape Materials

Brick

Formal or informal, new or recycled, brick is hugely popular for outdoor projects, and has been for centuries. But, that doesn’t mean the style has stayed the same. Landscape designers are working with brick in new and interesting ways, creating patterns in paths, walls, and other structures.

Gravel

Pinterest pinners are in love with winding pathways. Get the right look with the proper gravel. Gravel is simple to use, and inexpensive. It’s easy to make your path fit your vision, but it’s also easy to kick gravel into the surrounding grass and flowerbeds. Keep a rake handy to catch any stray pieces of rock.

Concrete

Concrete has moved far beyond basic, ho-hum slabs. Today’s concrete has character. It can be stained, stamped, and textured for use in driveways, paths, or patio projects. These new styles not only look great, but they cut down on concrete’s slip-factor. Get creative with embedded elements, like sea glass or pebbles. Concrete is anything, but boring.

Stone

This hardscape material is popular for a reason. Stone is durable, and available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Think beyond patios and courtyards. Stone can be used to naturally accent, and enhance your garden design. It helps prevent erosion, and can also add some texture.

Wood

Fences and decking benefit from the warm look of wood. Turn fences horizontally for visual interest, or go with a classic picket fence to match your home. Choose from different colors, and grains to fit your style. Wood may be used for an assortment of landscaping touches, like seating, plant or flower bed borders, and other structures (like a trellis, pergola, or gazebo). Wood will need maintenance to keep it in shape.

A Touch of Class

Now that you know what the major hardscape materials are, isn’t it time you add them to your landscape design? Update your yard with ease by giving Blue Tree Landscaping a call. Blue Tree is a one-stop-shop for everything lawn, garden, and pool. From design, to planning and maintenance, Blue Tree professionals can get your yard in shape.

How to Create a Successful Hardscape for Your Yard

How to create a successful hardscape for your yardHardscaping can provide the powerful visual appeal your yard is missing. But, before beginning a project, decide where you’ll be putting any hardscaping elements. Unlike plants or flowers, your hardscape won’t be easy to relocate if you change your mind. Take these tips to heart so you can avoid any costly mistakes!

How to Create Stunning Hardscape Design

The Big Picture

When thinking about your yard, consider it as a whole. Having a plan in place will help you not only tackle different pieces of your landscape in an affordable manner, but it will also keep you from adding a patio where you should really be putting a fire pit.

More Material

Brick? Stone? Whatever material you are working with, always purchase more than you think you’ll need. Not only will you come out ahead if your numbers need adjusting, but you may just come up with new, clever ways to use the leftovers in your hardscape design.

Water Matters

Hardscaping elements, like walls and patios, can affect how, and where your water flows. For some areas, this can become a serious problem, fast. Work water runoff into your plan, so you can capture some of that water before it reaches the drainage pipes.

Defining Style

While it is fairly easy to save every landscape design ever pinned on Pinterest, the pros know that it’s better to stick with one particular style. Make a short list of a few words that describe the ideal style for your yard, and stick with them. If you prefer sleek and modern, then resist the urge to throw in jarring elements that don’t line up. Pick two or three hardscape materials, choosing textures that complement each other, and work them in.

Prep Work

The most tedious part of any project is typically the work no one will ever see. Before installing a fence or following through with your patio design, it’s important to check for any building specifications. It’s the one part of the project that too many people skip, only to find that an improperly compacted area may result in their patio cracking after just a few years.

Showstopping Hardscape

Hardscaping is both a complicated, and rewarding part of redesigning a home landscape. Get it done right from the start with Blue Tree Landscaping.

From planning to design to maintenance (and pools), Blue Tree is a one-stop-shop for landscape design. Call today, and finally finish the hardscape project of your dreams.

 

The 6 Benefits of Retaining Walls—and Fun Uses for Them!

6 benefits of retinaing wallsRetaining walls don’t often get the credit due to them. Not only do they provide for an aesthetically pleasing hardscape design, but they’re also highly functional! Here are 6 benefits of installing retaining walls in your yard.

1. They Control Erosion

Retaining walls control both weakened grass (often due to foot traffic) and water runoff. When these two elements get out of control—especially in yards with a lack of trees—they cause erosion that can disrupt your landscaping design… and be a royal pain to fix. The terracing effect of retaining walls prevents this erosion.

2. They Control Flooding Direction

If your home is near a body of water or experiences the heavy, wet snowfalls that often occur in the Philadelphia region, a retaining wall can help. By controlling where the water pools, rises, and drains to, retaining walls help prevent your home from flooding.

3. They Direct Traffic

Simply by being there, retaining walls will direct foot traffic around them. This means they’re the perfect protectors for gardens and weakened grassy areas. If you’re looking to spruce up your backyard, consider creating a multi-level garden with retaining walls. Each level can house different types of plants, creating an aesthetically pleasing design that also protects vulnerable plants from being stepped on.

4. They’re Easy to Install

Okay—this one might be a little deceiving. They’re relatively easy to install…but they’re still heavy. After all, they’re made of stone. But this highly beneficial hardscape design element can be installed quickly and relatively easily.

5. They Don’t Require Much Maintenance

A high-quality stone will last for decades…or longer. So they don’t require the maintenance that other landscape design elements do. Over the years a stone may crack and need replacing, but comparatively this is quite low maintenance for a yard feature.

 

Ready for a retaining wall? Great. To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few places you can install them:

  • Around stairs and steps
  • Around a patio area (or two separate patio areas)
  • Around a pool to provide a natural hardscaped fence
  • Around walkways to direct traffic
  • Around a garden
  • Around the base of a house to prevent flooding

For more ideas on how to incorporate a retaining wall into your landscape design, contact us here at Blue Tree—we’ll help you pick the perfect design for your yard.

Gardening with Retainer Walls

retaining-wall-ideas-for-gardensA retaining wall is a beautiful way to architecturally sculpt your yard and garden design. Plus, it’s a wall—easy right? While garden retaining walls look like a somewhat simple concept, their construction can be surprisingly difficult and is often best left to professionals.

Professional Tips for Gardening with Retainer Walls

Retaining walls for your garden design are more than just a pile of stacked, stately rocks—there are a lot of considerations. A quick check around your neighborhood at the quality of the landscape design’s retaining walls over time will illustrate just that.

To plan a retaining wall that will stand the test of time, here are our top professional tips:

1. Drainage

A retaining wall retains more than dirt; it also can retain water. Consider water drainage as part of your retaining-wall architecture. Poor drainage can cause cracks, leans, and/or bulging within the wall, and can prevent certain plants from receiving the right amount of water.

2. Cost

Sculpting a garden isn’t a cheap hobby—but neither is using retaining walls. While the cost will vary greatly depending on materials used and cost of labor, a rule of thumb is to plan at least $15/square foot for timber, $20 for interlocking and poured concrete, and $25 for natural stone.

3. Frost

If you live here in Philadelphia, frost is a reality. Frost heaving on retaining walls is also a reality, so plan for this accordingly.

4. Fill

Retaining walls that need to deal with water and weather (which is pretty much ALL of them) need to leverage proper filling techniques. Depending on the type of retainer garden you’re building, you’ll need to consider drainpipes, backfill, landscaping fabric, and compacted soil.

5. Digging

Digging might seem like the easiest part of building a retaining wall, but even that can be complex. For example, you need to consider things like frost depth, soil type, mortar, footings, etc.

6. Masonry

Using blocks for building might seem juvenile, but there are elements to look out for—especially damaged blocks. Never be shy to send back damaged blocks, because they will compromise the overall integrity of the life of the wall for your landscape design.

 

Creating a garden design strategy around a retaining wall design can be difficult. Will it retain the right amount of water? Is it built for our Philly climate? Are you using the right materials?

When it comes to retaining walls—hiring a professional can improve the lifespan and beauty, and can decrease your overall frustration. Call us today to for a quote for a garden retainer wall and landscape design.

Easy Steps to Prevent Soil Erosion and Keep Your Yard Beautiful

Ways to Stop Soil Erosion

Plant vegetation to create a natural barrier against soil erosion, especially in hilly or sloped landscapes

One of the most persistent problems homeowners will encounter in keeping their yards pristine and well-manicured is topsoil erosion. Though soil erosion is a natural process by which wind, rain, and melted ice gradually remove a layer of topsoil, housing developments often clear cut land to build homes, which creates a vast open landscape that is more susceptible to erosion. Without trees and shrubs to set a firm network of roots that will hold the soil in place and to prevent winds from blowing directly across the ground, the nutrient rich topsoil that many plants require for proper growth will forever wash away. If left unattended, erosion could leave your yard barren, requiring topsoil deliveries to help replenish the soil that is missing.

Here are several preventative measures you can take to keep your topsoil from washing away.

Plant trees and shrubs

The most effective approach to offsetting soil erosion is to plant trees and shrubs in areas that are showing signs of erosion. Typically, this means sloped and hilly landscapes that water can easily run down. Planting trees and shrubs in this area will allow soil to remain in place as it clings to the underground network of roots. Also, planting a line of trees or shrubs near the edge of an exposed or open property will help break up strong winds that can cause soil erosion.

Mulch

Though planting trees and shrubs is a vital step to preventing soil erosion, it is equally important to mulch the surrounding area to further prevent rain runoff and wind from sweeping away topsoil. Mulch of every kind acts as an insulating layer to help keep plants safe from frost and freezing temperatures, and it also helps trap rainwater for nearby plants to absorb. This is especially important as soil erosion not only removes nutrient-rich soil, but it also prevents much needed water from saturating the soil that remains. This only compounds the effects of erosion, and putting down a thick layer of mulch will ensure that water is properly absorbed. You can also add stone edging around the mulched area to further prevent water runoff.

Route drainage away from problem areas

It is also very important to remember that drainage runoff from gutters and driveways can also cause erosion. Heavy rainstorms create strong flows of water that can not only cause soil erosion in the area around the drainpipe mouth, but can also damage your home if excess runoff seeps into its foundation. Make sure drainage pipes are routed away from your home to an area where the water can safely run off, like a bed of river rock or stone that can easily handle the discharge.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Building a Retaining Wall

July Article 3 photoWith the heart of summer upon us, it’s the right time to get out of the city and spend some more time caring for your backyard here in the heart of the Philadelphia suburbs. Many back yards in our area could benefit from the addition of a retaining wall: a stone or concrete wall with a flower garden that gives backyards a beautiful and polished look.  Any back yard that is a little hilly, or that has a terraced look, is a likely prospect for this type of addition.

Here are four advantages of building a retaining wall.

1) Level Out and Reclaim Space

When you bought your home on top of a hill for a magnificent view of the valley, the struggles that go along with slopey landscaping didn’t come to mind. A slanted backyard makes maintaining an exposed garden difficult. Now that it’s the summertime, though, you probably want to make good use of your yard. A great way to do this is to build a retaining wall that will level out the land and easily contain your plant or flower beds.

On a practical level, a retaining wall is beneficial in that it prevents further downward slope movement. An even bigger plus of installing a retaining wall, however, is that your unused, hilly yard will be transformed into a landscaped oasis.

2) Keep Soil in Place

A retaining wall contains soil into a set spot, which prevents erosion. Without a protective stone wall, garden soil could shift around during storms, or worse yet, during flooding. In order for your retaining wall to functionally keep soil in place, it’s important that it’s constructed properly. You’ll need to make sure to check your local building codes before beginning construction, as digging under the lawn is required.

3) Reduce Maintenance  

When your garden beds are enclosed with walls, the time spent on maintenance of your backyard will automatically decrease. Additionally, retaining walls reduce weather-related upkeep by protecting soil and plants from water damage. So, think of a retaining wall as an aesthetically pleasing investment that is also the key to less landscaping maintenance in the future.

4) Lookin’ Good

When you install a retaining wall, your backyard will look so much better! The soil beds with purple irises and ferns surrounded by a natural stone wall will really enhance your backyard. The stone wall in particular creates a perfect outdoor ambience, as it appears less man-made than other materials do. Depending on personal preference and design vision, however, there are many options for the material of a retaining wall, including natural stone, wood timber, or concrete blocks.

From summer to winter, the organized patches of wall and garden beds will make your backyard look sleeker. Overall, the landscaped atmosphere of a retaining wall will really add value to your home.