Early spring is the time to think about and plan for your outdoor living spaces for spring, summer and fall. Think about what kind of hardscape design you want to create with your favorite colors, fabrics and the containers that will best compliment your space and style.
Some styles for thought include Caribbean (hammock), Contemporary (plexi glass), Traditional, New England (white picket fence), Southern Belle (lanai), Southwestern (cacti, colorful pots), European (chaise lounges), cafe styles, etc.
It would be wise to visit your local stone quarry or lumber yard for options. You should also read up and talk to professionals when building any kind of structures, because many require a footer (cement below the frost line). Before building, you must examine your property and make sure that the grade is going away from your house. You do not want drainage seeping into your foundation.
For building a deck, you can use man made composite or different types of wood depending on the climate in which you live. If you live in a shady or moist area, you should consider a wood that can handle a lot of moisture. Cedar, locust, and hemlock are great choice.
For patios and terraces you could go with concrete, stamp concrete, pavers (which come in many colors), natural stone, for example field stone, blue stone, brick etc. Different states have different natural stones. Depending on your geographic location, the minerals present in the earth will dictate the color of the stone. For example, blue stone can vary from grey-blue to powder-blue etc. Field stones can be reddish, brown, gold, or grey. Some areas have granite or sandstone. Tennessee field stone can be creamy with cranberry veining or gold veining.
Installation can be either dry laid or wet laid. Dry laid is a process in which you dig out your area and put down a medium weight stone 8-12 inches deep. Next, you put down a smaller stone about an inch from the top of the grade. Then you lay your stone, manmade or natural. Finally, you sweep in sand or screening at the joints. Last, you mist it.
If you want to wet lay, you would do the same process, but put down about two inched of concrete and lay out the product you prefer in the pattern you like. Then you mix cement and then you “point” it. Using a trough, you point the stone at the joints.
While constructing, take great thought in possible future lighting, water, or gas for a barbeque. Install PVC pipe so that you can fish lines through for plumbing and electrical use later.
As you’re building any structure, be diligent in checking the level. You want the surface to be level to avoid tripping hazards, and you also want to make sure that no water will ever drain into the house. For best results, contact a professional landscaping contractor.
Be sure to save your top soil. Any soil that is not top soil can be amended with products (peat moss, humus, sand etc) so it can be used in other garden areas.
Stay tuned for hardscaping advice on Pergolas & Arbors and Out Door Kitchens & Fire Pits. Soon we will talk about softscaping and adding bright colors to your structures. Take a look at our hardscape design and installation projects in our hardscaping gallery.