Guide to Retaining Walls and Landscaping

Retaining Walls and Landscaping

Retaining walls and landscaping are often used in commercial and residential premises. Walls assist with great elevations and slopes to hold back soil and prevent erosion. In landscaping, retaining walls that are low can be used for planting beds and add to the curb appeal of land that was previously flat.

Employing services of landscape designers to layout a retaining wall and landscaping project is important.  Skill and keenness are needed to prevent the wall from leaning, bulging or cracking and becoming useless in the future. Keeping in mind the drainage, base, back fill, and height of the retaining wall is key before commencing construction.

Types of Retaining Walls

There are four major types of retaining walls. Putting them up will depend on the size to be erected, soil type and materials available.

1. Anchored Retaining WallAnchored retaining walls and landscaping

Anchors are mechanically directed into the soil attached by strips and cables to support an assortment of fronts of the retaining wall. Ends of anchors undergo expansion after pressurized concrete or other mechanical means are used to create this physical change. Anchored retaining walls are best for thinner walls.

2. Gravity Retaining Walls and Landscaping

Commonly used by landscapers, gravity retaining walls use mass and weight to keep the soil compact and prevent erosion. Materials used to erect these walls range from bricks, unmortared stone, pavers and dry-stacked stones. For shorter walls, reinforcement is done by digging a trench for the retaining wall to fit into.

3. Sheet Piling Retaining Wall

In areas with limited space, this wall is what you need. A very thin wall made of vinyl, wood or steel is driven in the soil at least 1/3 of the length. Additional reinforcement is done by erecting a corrugated structure vertically. This type of retaining wall is suitable for areas with softer and lighter soil. If you intend to put up a larger wall, strengthen the piling with an anchored retaining wall.

4. Cantilevered Retaining Wall

Usually taking an L-shape, cantilevered retaining walls have steel bars immersed in concrete or retaining walls from masonry attached to a slab foundation. The wall remains sturdy for a long time because the weight of the soil above exerts a lot of pressure on the slab.

Block retaining walls and landscaping are commonly used because the materials used during construction are easily available. The advantage of block retaining walls is their sturdy and durable aspect that makes it an investment. You can now seed your field and with time you will have a lawn growing on healthy conserved soil. This area of landscaping conserves the environment by preventing the occurrence of rills and gullies caused by running water.

How to Mulch – Proper Mulching Techniques in Landscaping

Proper Mulching Techniques

Mulching is one of the best techniques that homeowners and landscapers can use to maintain the health of their trees. This is because it’s known for its ability to make the growing environment more favorable.

However, over mulching can turn out to be one of the most severe landscaping mistakes that a homeowner or landscaper can make. It will lead to damage to saplings as well as other plants.

Therefore, you need to know how to calculate mulch. This is the main reason why using proper mulching techniques in landscaping is recommended.

Bear in mind that the proper mulching depth should range between 2 and 4 inches.

how to mulchIf applied appropriately, the mulch will assist in:

  • maintaining moisture in the soil
  • weed control
  • enhancing the structure of the soil
  • preventing certain types of plant diseases

Additionally, mulch plays a vital role in protecting plants from weed whacker damage and lawn mower blight.

Mulch also gives your planting bed a uniform and well cared for appearance. For this reason, every landscape care provider must know how to mulch.

However, excessive mulch can cause numerous complications for homeowners. For this reason, you need to determine how much mulch to buy when it comes to mulching landscape beds.

Complications resulting from excessive mulching include:mulching landscape

  • Too much moisture in the root region leading to tree stress and making the roots rot
  • Insects and tree illness issues
  • Micro-nutrient venomousness
  • A high rate of weed growth
  • Stinking planting beds that are caused by the sour mulch and anaerobic conditions
  • Creation of hiding place for rodents that eat the back and girdle of trees

Proper mulching

It’s evident that the type of mulch selected and the technique of application can be vital to the well being of your trees. Here are the tips to help you do the right thing when applying mulch.

  1. Examine the plants and soil in the zone that you intend to mulch and find out if the drainage is adequate.
  2. Determine the depth of the mulch and never add mulch if there’s already an adequate layer. Check the existing mulch to segregate any entwined layers and refresh the appearance.
  3. In case the mulch is heaped around the stems and tree trunks, pull it back multiple inches to expose the base truck and root crown of the tree.

mulching landscape beds

Proper Mulching Techniques

In most cases, organic mulches are considered to be better than inorganic mulches since they have the required properties to improve the soil. In case you choose to use organic mulch, make sure it’s well aerated and composed. Never use sour-smelling mulch.

Composted wood pieces can form excellent mulch, particularly when they contain a variety of leaves, bark, and wood. Don’t use non composted wood pieces that are heaped deep without being exposed to oxygen.

Put a 2-4 inch layer of your mulch if your site has good drainage. If there are some drainage issues, try to use a thinner layer. Never put mulch against the trunks of trees. Following these recommendations for proper mulching techniques will lead to successful plant maintenance and growth.

Winter Update: Causes of Frost Heave Damage and How to do Frost Heave Repair

Frost Heave Repair

A groundhog sees his shadow and we’re told to wait for winter to pass us by yet again. However, the winter of 2017-2018 has been no picnic for many people. Several states saw extended record low freezing temperatures. The demand for frost heave repair will rise as a result.

Landscapers, contractors, outdoor property management companies, and municipalities will find themselves dealing with the cold hard facts; frost heave and cold weather damages are everywhere.

What Is Frost Heave?

Frost heave happens when the stones that are part of the walkway begin to heave (or shift) after freezing weather. This is a result of the joint sand underneath the stones settling unevenly after freezing and thawing out.

frost heave damage

What Kind Of Walkways Are Most Affected?

The most affected types of walkways are paver, concrete, and flagstone (natural stone) walkways. These types of walkways typically must be deiced during winter. Occasionally, due to severe conditions, frost heave repair is also required.

What Causes Frost Heave Damage?Brick Walkway Frost Heave Repair

Frost damage and heave are caused by the expansion of ice. To put it in simple terms, when water turns to ice, total volume increases. This can cause the following:

  • Paver and stone walkways could crack if they’re old or of poor quality.
  • Joint sand underneath walkways can settle unevenly.
  • If you use the wrong type of bulk salt to remove the ice, your slabs can be damaged.

The end results are: dangerous and ugly cracks in the concrete or flagstone. This will make your patio and/or driveway unsafe and unsightly. And, if these cracks aren’t taken care of right away, moisture will seep into them and make the concrete slabs vulnerable to heaving.

Frost Heave Repair

One solution to the loose flagstones and slabs is to simply remove them. You’ll also have to remove any old cement underneath them.

If you notice any long cracks running from one section of your patio or walkway to another section, then read on to learn more about paver patio repair. This is a clear indication that your foundation also has some serious cracking.

Paver Patio Repair

The best way to fix foundation damage in your patio or walkway is to do the following:

  1. Widen any crack in the foundation to about a full inch in width.
  2. The widened crack will then be filled with a masonry adhesive agent. This must be given enough time to setup.
  3. Bonding agent added to mortar mix will be used to fill the crack.
  4. You may also choose to add steel reinforcements along the crack area.

Conclusion

Flagstone walkways are generally less affected. They are well known for their immense durability. However, they can still get damaged during extremely cold weather, or if something heavy falls on them. Fortunately, removal of the damaged stone and replacement with a new one usually completes the repair.

Paver walkway repair is more time consuming and requires paver removal, subsurface layer repair, and replacement of pavers. In some cases new pavers are needed if frost heave has caused uneven wear or paver deterioration.

With less durable concrete walkways however, frost heave repair isn’t as simple. You should consult with an expert mason to examine your walkway and see if there’s any serious damage to the foundation.

Backyard Hardscapes – Creative Hardscapes for Beauty and Tranquility

Backyard Hardscapes Levels

You’ve meticulously laid out your favorite plants and grasses, but still something seems to be missing…

If you’re like the average homeowner, you may not be aware of the term hardscaping. Hardscaping is in fact the second half of the equation for making a beautiful backyard. It’s a subcategory of landscaping that refers to “hard things” in landscaping.

This includes:

  • walls
  • fences
  • stone pathways and stone benches
  • arbors
  • sprinkler systems
  • swimming pools
  • fountains
  • decks and patios
  • stone and brick walkways
  • driveways
  • and so much more…

As you can see, a thorough landscaping job is much more than just lawn care and flowers…

A well thought out hardscaping plan and landscaping plan are both critical for the success of your backyard makeover.

Hardscapes Ideas to Get You Started

Before you begin, the first question that must be answered is: should you start first with hardscaping or landscaping? The answer is hardscaping because it’s easier to work with. Lay the foundations of hardscaping elements first to avoid damaging the softscaping (grass, flowers etc) elements.

Now that you’ve started thinking about  backyard hardscapes ideas in general, you should keep in mind the usefulness of curves in hardscaping. Curved hardscapes (walls and walkways) work well to soften a landscape with linear lines (linear lines are used in most housing constructions).

Also, a curved path will allow you or your visitors to wander through your landscape, allowing anyone to enjoy the scenery.

Timeless Backyard Hardscapes

A good place to start building a curved path is right from your back door. Make it lead to an area with water. This will be a nice area to relax and unwind. Make the stone pathway interesting. Surround it with flowers or bamboo stalks. Add solar lights to light up the path at night.

You can make some very creative backyard hardscapes by utilizing the concept of hardscape levels. What this means is adding different level hardscapes to your backyard to create more visual appeal.

For example, a stone walkway is one level. A stone wall is another level. Once you have these different hardscape levels, you can let your creativity run wild. You could cover a wall with flowers and add planters to the top of the wall, and you can do the same to your stone walkway if you want.

One more bonus tip: try using citronella torches to keep the bugs away!

As you now see, the possibilities with backyard hardscapes and landscaping are endless; the only limit being your imagination (and budget).

Did we inspire you to make changes in your backyard? If so, share this article and let your friends and family know about the joy of hardscaping. You can also call your local landscape company to find out more!

Xeriscape Plants – The Sustainable Landscape of the Future is Here

xeriscape plants- CSWN

Xeriscaping may be a new word for you unless you’re a landscaper, contractor or an outdoor property management company. Typically, xeriscaping is used as another word for dry landscaping, or desert landscaping.

Xeriscape is there to fill the void in the areas of the world that are too dry to have a lush, colorful garden.

However, within the context of landscaping, xeric doesn’t necessarily equal “dry”. The true definition of xeriscaping is: water efficient usage of resources.

Xeriscaping is at the very heart of sustainability. Xeriscapes consume less water and are often more attractive than other common types of landscapes. Interested? Then read on as we discuss xeriscape landscaping, xeriscape plants and xeriscape planting.

Getting Started With Xeriscape Landscaping

Xeriscaping can be applied to almost any local environment. The proper materials for xeriscaping can replace the existing materials in the environment to simulate the desert environment.

Xeriscape gardening and landscaping is ideal for gardeners living in dry conditions. A couple examples of xeriscape type gardening includes rock gardens and cacti gardens.

With a rock garden it is important to choose mostly native plants that are accustomed to living among rocks.

You aren’t limited to just those choices for your garden however. You can opt for traditional types of flowers and grass, you just have to better plan your irrigation methods.

As for your lawn, a xeriscape will typically either eliminate the lawn entirely or it will keep it as a side piece only.xeriscaping-small

Xeriscape Planting

There are many different methods for xeriscaping. One method is to group plants that require the same amount of watering together in order to conserve water. This is good for plants that do better in dry conditions because this will ensure none of them get too much water. Likewise, it will be good for plants that need more water because it will ensure that all the thirstiest plants get enough water.

Xeriscape Plants

A good choice for xeriscape plants are cacti. They don’t need much watering. There are also many different types of cacti, so you can give your desert garden a very unique look.

Another good choice for xeriscape plants are seedums. Seedums are perennials that can grow in almost any climate in the Continental US. Usually they bloom in the fall season. Other options include: vines, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and ground cover.

As the world moves towards greener living, xeriscaping will probably become the future of landscaping, so everyone should research it. Help your friends make the world more sustainable by sharing this article with them and point out the diagram below.

why-xeriscape