Story Of A Landscape:
Prize-Winner A True Showcase For All Involved
Imagine being called to install a job that’s going to showcase hardscape products to homeowners all over your area. Then, imagine being able to use the best and the newest from two major hardscape-material providers to do the work.
Scott Gifford, owner of Cincinnati-based Outside Insight LLC, doesn’t have to imagine it. And, as icing on the cake, the project — done for Semco Outdoor Landscaping and Natural Stone Supply with the aid of Belgard and Unilock — was honored at Hardscape North America for its use of a combination of hardscape products in a commercial project of less than 20,000 square feet.
Gifford explains that the owner of Semco decided to put in an outdoor display to feature the materials of both hardscape manufacturers and got buy in from the duo.
“The design teams at the two companies came up with layouts, and lists of materials that would be installed,” Gifford says. “We were contracted independently through both to install their portions of the displays.”
He adds that he has “great rapport” with the Semco owner, but the two jobs were both bid, and there was some negotiation involved. Gifford also has some 23 years of experience in the business and is ICPI- (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute) certified.
“We’re an authorized contractor through Belgard,” he says. “Unilock has tried to get me to be an authorized contractor for them, but I install from five or six different companies.”
Still, this was far from being a typical job. For one thing, the owner of Semco had graded the area adjacent to the building and installed a concrete pad, so there was no site preparation involved.
“We just capped all the material on top of it,” Gifford says. “That way it’s easy to pull up and replace when a new product comes in or something is discontinued.”
Consequently, he says his job was mainly to follow the plans and “fit things in,” although that proved to be an educational experience at times.
“Even in an ideal world, there’s just no way we could install all the materials from even one paving company,” he observes. “There were some materials that we hadn’t touched before. Some of it was new, which was good for us, too. We’ve since done installs where we worked with materials we had installed on the display, and that made it a little easier for us.”
The list of items Gifford and his eight-man crew were called on to build covers pretty much the major backyard wishes of most homeowners, including multiple patios with seating walls, pathways, a water feature, fireplace and fire pit.
And, their presence at Semco is to help fuel the wishes and desires of backyard renovators, along with making it a convenient place to stop and shop.
“They’re really showing off the materials,” he says. “Homeowners can come, contactors can come, designers and architects can come there and meet their clients, walk around the displays, have discussions, pick materials and pick colors.”
Gifford adds that Semco has an indoor meeting area for those people to get together and discuss their plans. And, while he did the installation, he sees it as a better way to do things than sending possible clients out to look at someone’s backyard.
“It’s not unusual for them to come back and say, ‘We like it, but we don’t like the color,’” he says. “At Semco, we can work out that detail because the colors and layouts are there, and you can see them in real scenarios, rather than dropping off some color swatches at the front door.”
The project also incorporates landscape material and lighting, although to spread some of the work to others Semco had those elements installed by different landscape companies.
Even so, this was not an easy project, Gifford stresses. His crew spent 1,400 hours at the site, and things didn’t always go smoothly as designers for the two suppliers changed both design elements and material during construction.
Still, that wasn’t the biggest challenge the job presented.
“Getting the materials adjacent to the different areas of the project was a challenge in the larger spread-out area,” he says. “We also had to learn about some products we hadn’t utilized before.”
The upside of that, of course, is that the Outside Insight crew got a head-start on its competitors in terms of learning how best to install those new products. That, and the $45,000 project has really allowed the company to showcase its skills.
“We’re particularly proud of how the extensive layout allows us to refer clients to choose materials by observation,” Gifford says. “And, it also shows our customers our ability to implement these plans.”
While he’s not sure how long the displays will remain in place, for now, he’s happy to continue referring his customers to Semco for choosing products and in turn the company recommends prospective customers to him, Gifford says.
As for the award, Gifford says he’s a bit surprised, mainly because he had entered another job that had made the Belgard catalog, and which he assumed would be an award-winner.
“When that one didn’t make it, I was a bit disappointed,” he concludes. “But, I was pleasantly surprised to be a part of such a prestigious award.”
If you have ever considered an outdoor lighting system the question to ask yourself is if it makes sense to choose LED over an incandescent system. Has most of us are aware that LED costs far more than a traditional fixtures, but there far greater benefits to a LED system. The installation uses less wire, smaller transformer, and less labor to install, which helps bring the cost factor down do to less material and labor. With a LED system maintenance is almost eliminated, being that the lamps don’t burn out. The fixtures have a very long life span and use far less power consumption. With the cost of electric these days, you can save 75% less electricity. If you don’t have that old of an incandescent system, there are LED lamp upgrades as well.
Example: Total Annual Cost Comparison (with the costs of electricity, maintenance, and lamp replacement costs with an avg. of 6 hours per day)
- A Halogen 120V at 75 watts with a Par 30 fixture cost around $112.00 per year.
- A LED 120V at 19.5watt fixture costs around $11.53 per year.
The answer to yourself is yes it makes sense to go with LED. I love the expression “It takes money to save money!” and in this case a lot of $$$. Keep this in mind, if you obtain an incandescent system that isn’t that old, there are LED lamp upgrades for those fixtures that will help with $ savings as well.
How Eco Friendly Landscaping Benefits You
And The Planet!
When it comes to landscaping you have choices. You have to decide what you want your landscape to bring you. Most people want their landscape to be beautiful, but in today’s world, many are also conscious about “going green” and are looking for alternatives to help our planet. The following are some recent trends in the industry that will eventually become the norm.
What are Permeable Pavers? Well what they do is they provide a solid ground surface, strong enough to take heavy loads, like large vehicles, while at the same time they allow water to filter through the surface and reach the underlying soils. In other words a Permeable Paver system is a self-draining system. The voids in the surface of the paving allow water to drain through and into the soil beneath.
Permeable Pavers can provide many environmental benefits with the greatest one being the preservations of our most precious resource - water. We can’t live without water and permeable pavers actually help protect the quality of our water supplies. They reduce the amount of storm water runoff entering our natural waterways and carrying with it contaminants and pollutants. Thus the water is allowed to naturally drain into the surface through the voids in the permeable pavers. This promotes the infiltration of rainwater and also helps to recharge the groundwater. Another environmental benefit is that applying Permeable Pavers means less storm water runoff, which means that our streams and riverbeds are less likely to flood as often and there will be a reduction in the rate of the erosion of riverbanks and streambeds.
Another benefit is economical. There is a lot of money saved when using Permeable Pavers, particularly in the installation phase. Contractors/builders can save money on drainage systems and retention systems because installing permeable pavers means that you are installing a self-drainage system at the same time. Not only will the contractors/builders save but then you the customer will as well because the savings are passed on in lower costs.
Green Wall systems combine great design scope with a number of ecological and performance benefits. This latest technology may be used for a wide variety of projects – from small garden projects to large industrial and commercial developments. Its benefits are being realized across both the public and private sectors.
A well designed and maintained Green Wall can significantly enhance a house or building’s appearance - whether it’s to add a new aesthetic dimension, disguise something, refresh a tired façade or add color and texture to a complete wall or section. Green wall systems can help to protect a house/building’s façade and extend its life, acting as an effective shield to heavy rain and hail and helping to protect from the damaging effects of UV light.
A green wall used on appropriate elevations can reduce energy costs by both providing an additional layer of insulation in the winter (keeping heat in) and acting as a screen to the sun in the summer (keeping the house/building cool). The insulation of a green wall can also absorb sound - making a positive impact for both the home/building’s occupants and the local environment.
With a strong base from the trellis and appropriate planting, a green wall can provide an ideal habitat for wildlife. In many cases, it can also provide an alternative habitat for any wildlife displaced during construction, with the option of integrating bird houses within the structure.
Lastly, a green wall in an urban area can help improve local air quality, both by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, and by trapping dust and other pollutants.
Besides being aesthetically pleasing, a green roof can provide numerous environmental, technical and owner benefits – all are things to consider when having one of these installed.
The ecological benefits are many but most importantly green roofs cool and humidify the surrounding air creating a microclimate which has beneficial effects within the immediate area. They also create biodiversity, encouraging wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and insects, to remain within urban areas. And of course green roof vegetation helps to filter out dust and smog particles.
Depending on the design, a green roof can typically reduce storm water run-off by 50 to 90%. Additionally, the peak flow volume is greatly reduced and the peak flow period is delayed by as much as 4 hours, minimizing the impact on existing sewer systems. Green roofs can also improve the thermal resistance of the roof assembly throughout the year, especially in summer months by helping to reduce cooling costs. One last technological benefit is the reduction of noise levels. A typical roof can lower reflective sound by up to 3dB and improve sound insulation by up to 8dB – very effective if near an airport or busy highway.
As an owner, some of the benefits to a green roof include increased life expectancy of the roof and providing additional usable space which in turn will increase the property value. More and more municipalities and other government agencies are providing incentives that can help off-set the cost of a green roof.
Artificial Turf, Edible & Native Landscaping…
You can have the normal grass landscaping with a few landscaping shrubs and landscaping plants that often involves high maintenance and lots of water in order to preserve it.
However, with water shortage and restrictions these days, more and more people are looking at options that are low maintenance and low water usage by replacing water guzzling grass with cutting-edge green technology using 100% biodegradable artificial turf. No more watering or mowing the grass and your yard looks perfect all year long. It doesn't turn brown in the winter, but remains beautiful year round.
Many homeowners are replacing high maintenance backyard landscape with edible landscape that includes fruit trees, vegetable gardens and drought tolerant plants that can be easily maintained with a drip water system. You can add your own herb and greens garden and supply food for the family year round. Edible landscaping is not only beautiful, but can supply nutritional foods that can be harvested for your family table.
If edible landscaping is not your thing, you may want to consider desert landscaping or native landscaping. Both of these landscapes are friendly environmentally and include low maintenance plants so that they require less water. A well designed native landscaping design can include native wildflowers and native ferns that add color to your backyard landscape. There are many landscape design ideas that include ground cover plants, drought tolerant plants and native gardening that add beauty to your landscape.
Give Your Back Yard A Head Start On
Spring…10 Tips for Cleaning Up This Fall
Aaaah...autumn. The kids are headed back to school, the leaves are turning, and a chill is in the air. If you're like most homeowners, fall also means an opportunity to have your yard spruced up to cut down on the work that will need done when the weather turns warm again.
Everyone can benefit from a front/backyard clean up. Outside Insight offers some tips on things that need to be done to ensure a successful fall cleanup effort - and to get a head start on next year's growing season.
- Rake those leaves. Once the snow flies, an unraked layer of leaves can get matted down over the turf and smother it all winter long. Raking or using a mulching mower in the fall helps avoid dead patches in the spring. But don't worry about getting every last leaf, especially in the garden. They help insulate plants, and as they decompose, they provide valuable nutrients.
- Feed the grass. Fertilizing in the fall is like a day at the spa for your lawn. Using a slow-release fertilizer allows the grass to soak up nutrients and - just as important - spend the cool days and nights of autumn recovering from summer heat and stress. And building a healthy, rejuvenated lawn is one of the best ways to protect against heat, cold, drought, insects and other stresses.
- Weed all about it. Weeding in the fall is probably the most valuable thing you can do to prepare for spring, and it's one that many people overlook. The good news: Pulling weeds used to be a backbreaking chore, but tools like the Weed Hound have come a long way from the tiny weeding forks of "the good old days." There's no reason to get down on your hands and knees and gouge at the turf. All you do is place the tool over the weed, step lightly on the footrest, and pull.
- Pick up the poop. When the snow melts next spring, the last thing you want to see on your lawn is pet waste. Fall is the perfect time to get out there and clean up Rover's little leftovers. Don't look forward to getting on your hands and knees? Hire a neighborhood kid to do the dirty work, or invest in a long-handled pooper scooper.
- Remove thatch build-up. A build-up of aboveground roots called thatch prevents sunlight, oxygen and moisture from getting to the nutrient-hungry soil below. But it's easy to remove, especially if you don't wait until it overwhelms the yard. Just go at the yard with a dethatching rake in early fall, or for an easier - but more expensive - option, rent a power dethatcher.
- Aerate. Heavy use throughout the summer can cause soil to become compacted. Perforating your lawn with small holes helps reduce compaction and lets water, air and fertilizer get down to the soil, which strengthens the grass plant's root structure. For smaller yards, a manual aerating tool that removes plugs from the turf while you step should be just fine. If you've got a larger yard, consider renting a power aerator.
- Water trees and shrubs. Dehydration during the colder months is an all-too-common cause of tree damage, but it's easily preventable. To sustain them over the long winter, it's important to give trees a drink before putting them to bed. After they go fully dormant - but before the ground freezes - use a soaker hose or root irrigator to water them thoroughly.
- Clean out your garden. Fruits and vegetables left in the garden can rot all winter long, and provide a comfy home for insect eggs. Gross? Not as gross as they'll be in the spring. Now's the time to get rid of diseased plants, too, but keep them out of the compost pile so the problem doesn't spread to the rest of your garden next year.
- Plant spring bulbs. Fall is not all about closing up shop. It's also the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips. But pay attention to the weather in your area; planting too early can cause bulbs to sprout before winter, and planting them too late can mean their roots don't have enough time to develop before the ground freezes.
- Give your tools a tune-up. When it comes time to put away the backyard tools for the season, don't just shove them into the garage or shed. Spend a few minutes wiping them down and removing debris and dirt, then apply a light layer of oil to keep them from rusting over the winter. That way they'll be all set to go again come spring.