Most of us can use more space, whether it’s for working, storing or doing hobbies. But adding square footage to an existing home can be time consuming and costly. That’s why many homeowners are turning to backyard sheds.

These freestanding structures often don’t require permits and are quick and easy to set up; their basic construction means a short installation time. Meanwhile, advances in prefabrication methods have spawned numerous businesses that will ship semicustom designs right to your door that can be assembled in half a day. So what would you do with an extra room?

Here’s what you’ll want to know to get started.
Contemporary Shed by Princeton Design Collaborative
Princeton Design Collaborative
Project: Adding a backyard shed.

Why: To get extra space for storage or living.

First Steps

Consider size and function. First determine what size space you need and what it will be used for. Do you need just a storage shed for lawn equipment? Will you use it for a gardening and potting? Do you want a home office? A pool house? A greenhouse? A kids’ playroom? A guesthouse? This will help drive the design. For example, you’ll probably want more windows for natural light if it’ll be a home office. If it’ll just be a storage shed, like the custom one seen here, by John Conroy of Princeton Design Collective, you might not need or want windows.
Traditional Shed by Backyard Buildings
Backyard Buildings
Measure. Brennan Deitsch, the online marketing manager at Backyard Buildings, which makes various sheds (like the one seen here), suggests measuring all the items you plan to store in your shed, then accounting for storage growth over time. “I see people try to go the cheap, small route and come back later saying they wish they had gotten a bigger one because they ran out of space so fast,” he says.
Contemporary Shed by Studio Shed
Studio Shed
Check your local zoning ordinances. Every municipality has different restrictions when it comes to sheds and other accessory buildings. Many codes will dictate the size of your structure and how far it must be from your property line.

“The vast majority of counties across the [United States] allow up to 120 square feet without a permit,” says Jeremy Horgan-Kobleski, the founder of Studio Shed, which manufacturers prefab sheds like the home office seen here. “That’s why our 10-foot by 12-foot unit is the most popular and one of the reasons we’re seeing a surge in the popularity of these structures.”

He says typically these structures must be sited about 3 to 5 feet from the property line. (Even if your city doesn’t require a permit, it will still have general rules about where your structure can be sited on your lot, so always check first.)
Traditional Shed by O’Connor Brehm Design-Build
O’Connor Brehm Design-Build
Locate your plat of survey. If your city does require a permit for the structure you want, you’ll want to locate your plat of survey, which is a map that shows the layout of your lot and its property line. You’ll submit this to your local zoning department to help determine where your structure can be sited.

“You’ll probably have this in your closing documents from when you bought your home, even if you didn’t know it was there,” says Greg Brehm of O’Connor Brehm Design-Build, who custom designed and built the potting shed seen here.

If you don’t have a plat, you can hire a surveyor for about $300 to $600, Brehm says.

Find a design-build firm to handle the whole shed project
Contemporary Shed by Studio Shed
Studio Shed
3 Basic Shed Options

You can purchase off-the-shelf kits from big-box stores like The Home Depot and Lowe’s. You can order prefabricated, semicustom units from online retailers like Studio Shed, whose shed is shown here; Sett Studio; Modern-Shed; and countless others. Or you can go the 100 percent custom route and hire an architect to design something that blends seamlessly with your landscape and existing home structure.

Obviously, the pricing structure follows this hierarchy as well, but you typically get what you pay for, so consider all the options.

Off-the-shelf sheds. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to store some lawn equipment in a place that you rarely see, such as behind a garage or on the side of your house, an off-the-shelf product might be just fine for you.

Prefab sheds. If you’re looking for something that is more versatile and can be used differently over time, such as going from storage to a home office, and that offers semicustomizable options for color and windows, then an online prefab unit is a good bet.

Custom sheds. If you want to integrate your shed with your home and landscape, consider a custom shed designed by an architect.

Find shed manufacturers on Houzz
Contemporary Shed by Purple Fountain Tree
Purple Fountain Tree
Cost: You can find basic, off-the-shelf sheds made from plastic and resin at local big-box stores for about $600 for a 7-foot by 7-foot unit or around $1,700 for a 15-foot by 8-foot unit.

Online prefab companies like Studio Shed sell contemporary units made from cement-board siding and corrugated metal that start at $7,000 for an unfinished 8-foot by 10-foot unit. (The company also offers a lifestyle interior package that includes denim insulation, full electrical wiring and fixtures, seamless drywall cladding and various flooring options.) Larger prefab units can cost upward of $20,000.

A custom shed designed by a professional designer will likely start at $50 per square foot but can be as high as $200 per square foot, Conroy says.

Find architects and designers near you
Traditional Shed by Backyard Buildings
Backyard Buildings
How long will installation take? Big-box stores typically have people who can help install their off-the-shelf sheds in half a day.

Online prefabricated units come shipped on a truck and can generally be put together by a crew in half a day or a day. Studio Shed offers digital DIY tools that include a 3D video so you can tackle the project with some friends.

Custom units can take a week to a couple of months to build, depending on the size and complexity.

Except for the off-the-shelf models, you’ll also need to factor in shipping and design time.

More: 13 Inspiring Ideas for Backyard Sheds | See more inspiring backyard outbuildings

Show us your shed! We’d love to see how you set up your backyard getaway. Please post a photo in the Comments section below.

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Choosing the right plant for an area can be tricky. One must take into account many aspects like exposure, water requirements, drainage, and oh yeah; how large will the plant grow at maturity. We have seen way too many plant choice mistakes in regards to not having the proper space available for the plant chosen. Crape myrtles and jap maples are popular plants often planted too close to homes.

Take the Weeping Willow for example, the Salix babylonica. Beautiful, majestic shape, likes alot of moisture, grows quickly and oh yeah it will grow to over 40′ wide and tall. You wouldnt want this tree up close to a home or in a tight spot right? Well apparently not all of us got the proper plant memo. Here are a couple of pics taken from areas while we were out and about this week. Scary just scary!

Mature weeping willow

Mature weeping willow

Where is the House?

Where is the House?

Landscape Architect Fail

Landscape Architect Fail

Get ready for Halloween in style! If you have considered having a low-voltage outdoor lighting system installed, we have a scary deal for you!

For the entire month of October; purchase any 10+ lighting ground system from Fontaine and receive a free 200w stainless steel led transformer- a $250 value!

Upon the initial consultation, we will talk a

bout the possibilities to design and choose from an elegant copper or brass fixture list. These long lasting products are made by the top manufacturers of upscale outdoor lighting; Coppermoon, Unique and Kichler. A typical 10 fixture Coppermoon system with led bulbs, wire, and fully installed will start from $2,500.

Already have a system, but using the old halogen bulbs? Have Fontaine retro-fit your exising system with super efficient and energy saving LED bulbs. Many of the older fixtures will accept the new led bulbs. Receive a free led bulb replacement for every 10+ replacements made. Depending on the bulb type, prices start from $65/bulb- we replace bulb, test voltage, and clean the fixture. If you have a fixture or wiring issue, we can quote a fast fix.

Fontaine provides full service Lightscaping! Design, Installation, Maintenance & Repair

We also provide routine grounds maintenance contracts and planting enhancementslogo-final

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Call us today at (919) 380-8286 or email us sales@fontainelandscaping.com

Visit us at http://www.Fontainelandscaping.com

 

 

 

 

 

So it’s a Saturday morning; the long work week has gotten you all twisted. Spilling the morning coffee; feeling frustrated, you have an urge to get outside and vent. You stumble out through the garage and haphazardly reach for those old loppers hanging amongst spider webs on the wall. You don’t know what your doing, you just know something needs to be hacked. Walking out in the yard with the loppers in hand, you scour over the plants and trees in the landscape with ill intent. Snipping, lunging, lopping without regard. You start talking to yourself, sweating.

You turn the corner; something touches your shoulder. Your taken off-guard. It’s your Crape Myrtle! It glistens in the sunlight, with its unmistakable smooth bark and arching branches.  smirk, your fingers tighten around the handles. Your hands are now sweating and you walk over, slowly towards that taunting evil branch. You anticipate; widening the loppers as you approach. Fellow greenery whispers in the wind… NOOOOOOO!

If this is you or someone you may know; this is a form of Crape MURDER.

Help is available. Fontaine Landscaping, in Holly Springs, NC has opened up a national help line on our YouTube channel for those affected that need help with their landscape. http://www.youtube.com/c/Fontainelandscaping

Watch the Crape Murder trailer; with the full length DIY to follow this Fall 2016.

 

(c) John NybergYay, spring is finally in the air! How do we know? Besides the milder temps, there are buds on trees, daffodils blooming, and the birds are singing away. And with this season change comes a few lawn care needs.

crabgrass 1Weed control is a very important part of keeping a lawn green, lush, and healthy. Now is the perfect time to treat for some of those annoying weeds before they establish themselves in your lawn. Crabgrass is best treated with an herbicide mid-March before it starts to grow. Once the weed has developed, however, herbicide will have much less effect on it.

tea roseDo you have repeat-blooming roses such as floribunda and hybrid tea roses? This is a good time to prune them, just as the buds break dormancy. It’s best to prune once-flowering roses after the bloom.

Bermuda grassIs your lawn a warm season grass (Bermuda and Zoysia)? If you overseeded it for the winter, now is the time for an application of nitrogen. If you did not overseed your warm weather grass, or have Centipede or St. Augustine grasses, do not apply any fertilizer.

white grubIf you have found that your lawn is suffering from a white grub problem, you should start the cycle of treatment now. A good weapon against them is bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, but it does take a little time to build up in the soil.

sprinkler headBecause irrigation systems will be started up soon, now is an excellent time to inspect them for any issues and then make the appropriate repairs and upgrades. If you set your irrigation times, you may want to just go over your manual to make sure you remember how to do it. If you have your landscaping company or someone else turn your system on, give them a call to schedule a quick inspection and to discuss what your system’s clock will be set for.

Have any lawn care questions? Give us a holler on our facebook page or via twitter.

januaryIt’s January. Yeah, that January. The month where it’s cold, there’s very little green outside, and you dream of summer days. Don’t despair though. There are actually things you can be doing for your yard and landscape, and there are plants that do bloom.

DSC_0067Believe it or not, you can enjoy winter blooming perennials such as hellebores, rosemary and camellias. Yes, there are plants that bloom during the colder season. While trees may be bare, and leaves brown, you still can find color in your landscape. If you don’t have blooming plants, you may have plants with berries, and the red ones really pop against the brown of the season.

The cooler weather is also a good time to prune most plants/trees/shrubs. Do not prune azalea, dogwood, forsythia, redbud and rhododendron as they should be pruned after they bloom, since they set blooms in the fall. (White spirea should also be pruned right after it blooms in the spring, and even now you may see some blooms on the plant.) Almost anything that blooms after June 1, with the exception of oakleaf hydrangea and late-flowering azalea cultivars, can be pruned safely now.

Big TreeDid you know that January is a good time to plant new shrubs and trees? In fact, the winter months when trees are dormant are excellent times to plant. You will need to be careful that you do not plant them too deep or with too much soil amendment. It’s a great time for you to take a look and evaluate your landscape. Remove unattractive plants and replace them with others that you prefer. You should also browse garden catalogs for the coming season to make plans for future outdoor projects.

If you are planning on planting new bulbs, trees, and shrubs in the spring, or even laying sod, you should get a head start by getting your soil tested through the NC Extension Service. Results take a few weeks so the sooner you submit the sample, the sooner you get the results. This way you will be ready come spring, preventing delay of your new plant installations.

Winter grassCool season turf, such as fescue, is active during the winter months. However, grasses such as Bermuda and other warm season turf, is dormant. This doesn’t mean you can’t run a mower over it. In fact, a dry winter day is a good time to mow a dormant, warm-season lawn (if there is no frost, of course). Besides this grooming the lawn and removing fallen leaves and pine needles, it also allows you to inspect your yard for winter weeds. It’s best to control these weeds by spraying when the weather warms in spring.

You can and should still water your outdoor plants. Make sure to do so just before a cold snap to help plants survive bitter temperatures. For your indoor plants, many of them are in a semi-dormant state. This means you should not fertilize them and they require less watering.

Replacing, adding, or refreshing mulch is a perfect project for the winter. It helps keep your plants warm and makes your landscape look clean, especially now that there is less foliage to create a screen.

cardinalIf you love watching wildlife, you should keep your bird feeder well stocked with seed and your suet fresh. There are also other treats you can put outside to attract and feed local birds, including peanuts. Just make sure your feeder isn’t easy access for squirrels.

DSC_1318-1sOutdoor lighting has come quite a long way since it first appeared on landscapes. There are many more options, from the types of fixtures to bulb colors, that most anyone can find something that not only fits in their budget, but also takes care of their outdoor lighting needs. One of the biggest changes in landscape lighting fixtures is the bulb. LED lighting has come into its own, replacing the old Edison, energy-sucking bulbs.

lighting treeIf you had previously considered converting your system to LED, but didn’t like the white/blue color the bulbs gave off, you should think about it again. The new LED bulbs now give off that warm glow that made the halogen lighting so popular. You can achieve the exact same look, but use much less energy and save yourself money.

IMG_0393Did you know that you also free up space on your transformer? The older, non-LED systems generally have transformers loaded to 80%, which is maximum capacity according to the National Electrical Code. Just by converting a few fixtures to LED, you can free up space to add more lights to your system. By converting the whole system to LED, you can install four times the number of fixtures as the original system!

pathlight 2All outdoor lighting systems require regular maintenance. This ranges from cleaning lenses and replacing bulbs to cutting back overgrown plants and fixing exposed wires. Halogen systems require more maintenance, and time for that maintenance, than an LED system. In fact, halogen systems put more strain on its infrastructure, reducing its life, but converting to LED can prolong that system’s life by reducing the load the system has to handle. An older, and very loaded, system requires more maintenance and repair than an efficient one. Just another money-saving reason to convert to LED.

IMG_2759Another advantage of LED lighting is the fact that there are many, many options on fixtures, including quite small ones that can be hidden in places, allowing for more of a ‘Wow’ effect. The bulbs last ten times longer than regular bulbs, are cooler burning, and burn more efficiently in colder surroundings.

If your landscape has matured and requires more lighting, or if you want to reduce your energy usage, contact us about converting your old halogen system to an LED one.