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L300dpiWhen you want to add a walkway, patio, steps, or retaining walls to your landscape, you have a choice of concrete or stone. Which one do you choose? It’s more than just cost or what looks better. It’s also durability and longevity.

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One thing to take into consideration when choosing a material is how much traffic the item will see. Driveways, for example, may develop potholes or cracks due to its constant use. It would be easier, and less expensive, to replace a few stones versus an entire concrete drive. If your steps are in constant use, you may find that concrete can crack and create a hazard. The same can be said for patios and walkways.

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A retaining wall’s height and drainage all play into what type of material would be best for your landscape. Anything over 4 feet will need permits and a civil engineer to install due to safety issues, such as stability. Both concrete and natural stone are good for lower walls, but concrete blocks are better for larger, longer walls.

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Natural stone has many benefits, from looking beautiful and more traditional to no need for special connections or mortar to hold them together and a natural solution for inherent grade transitions. Of course, it is more expensive and quite labor intensive to install, but the end results are especially stunning. If you’re going to invest in your landscape, do it right from the start.

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Stone pavers are better when it comes to rain as they tend to soak up the water and drain it into the ground while concrete allows for pools to form. This can also be dangerous when it comes to ice and snow—another reason why concrete can degrade faster. While both concrete and stone pavers will be stained by oil from a car leaking, the removal and replacement of a couple pavers will be infinitely cheaper and easier than replacing your concrete.

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When deciding what kind of patio, walkway, driveway, or retaining wall you would like, think of your budget, what will help your home’s resale value, and what kind of maintenance and future repair you will have. Talk with your hardscape installer about what would work best, what the cost options are and weigh the pros and cons before deciding. Don’t forget that your landscape is just as much of an investment as your home is.

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You have a light on the front of your house and the back. That’s enough, right? For some, maybe, but for those who want more out of their landscape and use of the outdoors, lighting is a very important thing! Not only is outdoor landscape lighting a great safety feature, it also enhances your home’s architectural features and adds a sense of drama to your landscape.

Do you have an outdoor area that gets no use when the sun goes down? This is where good lighting comes in handy. Obviously a flood light will illuminate a large area, but perhaps you’d like something more intimate? By adding lights to your deck posts, you can create a great place for dining and late night hanging out. Why should the dark send your friends home when the conversation is just getting started? And if you have a pool, not only would the lights be a safety feature, but also a way to extend the use of it well into the night. (If you’re a parent, when will you get use of it other than after the kids are in bed!)

Pool Lighting

 

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Let’s talk boundary lighting. If you find that your friends and family tend to stay close to the house, you probably have some dark spots out in the yard. By adding lights to your property’s boundary area, you expand your yard’s usefulness and will draw people further away from the house. This is especially helpful if you have another seating area in your yard, such as a pergola and bench or gazebo.

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If you have invested in a landscape design and installation, you should get the most bang for your buck. By adding lights that highlight trees and plants, you can make the most of your landscaping at all times of night and day. Instead of staring at drapes or blinds, or out a black window, wouldn’t it be nice to see your yard while having dinner or relaxing in your living room? (Do keep in mind though that you will not want too much light to seep into bedrooms, so plan your outdoor lighting accordingly.)

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Of course there’s always the aesthetic value that outdoor landscape lighting brings. Dramatic lighting can increase the appeal of certain areas of your landscape. You can focus on a fountain or pond, highlighting the water’s movement. Plants with interesting shapes, such as “weeping” branches, or colorful flowers bathed in light will bring more value to your investment. The illumination further makes your house stand out by boosting its curb appeal at night.

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It goes without saying that landscape lighting is one of the best security and safety installations you can do. By lighting up usually dark areas of your yard, you prevent prowlers and intruders from having a place to hide. A well-lit area is no friend to someone who wants to break in unnoticed. Lit pathways not only look good, but they decrease the chance of someone tripping on them. One thing a homeowner does not want is a friend or neighbor breaking an ankle on his or her property!

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With many options out there, choices can be overwhelming. To help you, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Where are the dark areas of my yard?
  2. Where would I like friends and family to spend time outdoors at night?
  3. What are potential hazards for my friends, family and visitors?
  4. What would I like a focal point to be in my nighttime landscape?
  5. What architectural features of my home would I like to highlight at night?