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October 17, 2014

Building a Fence: Planning Ahead Could Save You $$$

Just finished a brand new retaining wall project?  What is going to keep you from falling over the edge?  A fence or railing above a retaining wall is a crucial part of a project to protect your family or ensure people and objects don’t make the drop to the ground below. 

But what if the fence or railing was not thought of prior to wall completion?
You may be forced to spend additional money to excavate behind the wall for proper installation of the new fence or railing.  This may even cause you to need an engineer to help with a design to prevent the retaining wall overturning. 

Installing the fence or railing is typically a straight forward application, but can cause you to dig into your wallet if it is not properly planned for.  Making sure that the fence is taken into consideration at the beginning of the project just may keep the project on track and on budget.  Placing fence posts near the top of the wall during the wall construction will decrease the labor cost of the project and reduce the risk of damaging the geogrid in the process. 

Whether this is for a residential application in the back yard or a large commercial project, making sure that the fence or railing above a retaining wall is thought of in the early planning stages of the project can save time and money.

October 14, 2014

International Geosynthetics Society Award Winner: Prof. Hoe Ling - Columbia University

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Hoe Ling, professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics at Columbia University, has recently received the highest award from the International Geosynthetics Society (the IGS Award) during the group’s 10th International Conference on Geosynthetics held in Berlin, Germany. 

The IGS Award is given every four years to individuals or groups of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the development and use of geosynthetics, related products, or associated technologies, through their scientific and technological work. The award committee recognized Ling for his comprehensive studies on geosynthetic-soil interaction for nearly 25 years that included physical model testing and advanced numerical analysis. Read more...

Hoe Ling has worked with Allan Block for many years in the common pursuit of furthering the development of the industry.  Congratulations! We could not think of a more deserving person for the honor!


October 10, 2014

Adding Color to Your Backyard

There are many ways to bring color or life to your backyard.  Plants are an easy addition and depending on your choices, some will flower certain times of the year and others all year – depending on climate.  By adding some raised planters around the edges or pathways of your landscape, the plants can easily be maintained and drip lines can be incorporated ensuring the plants survival during dry periods.
If you have a backyard that could use some boundaries, adding a fence is sure to change it up.  If using a wood or prefab material, there are several options for types, stains or paint color.  If needing something with more sound abatement, than a concrete fence is your solution.  This is also available in color blends and block size options adding great color, texture and style.  With the new fencing in place, feel free to decorate, hang plants or add lighting to bring more color in.






Adding a patio space is another way to add color. Add areas in original or formal shapes as well as flowing pathways.  Place two sided walls on top of the patio to create a new outdoor room.    From natural stone materials to standard blocks, the selection is sometimes overwhelming so visit your local supplier to find something that fits your style and budget.






Still not sure you are ready to tackle it on your own? Hire a landscape designer to help you formulate a plan and make sure that when it comes time to build, that the contractor that has been trained in the products he is installing so that your project turns out just like you dreamed. 

October 3, 2014

A Living Sound Barrier

Since we have a fence product that has been used for sound barriers I often get asked by homeowners as to why they cannot just plant trees and accomplish the same thing.  I get it.  Most trees are much easier to look at than a man-made fence.  However, to effectively use trees as a noise barrier (reduce the noise by 5 dB) you would need 30 meters (98 feet) of dense vegetation.  Therefore, trees do not provide any meaningful noise abatement, but can provide psychological relief. 

Planting rows of hedges and/or trees can define a space as well as give you the privacy you are seeking even though sound will not be minimized.  Cutting off the line-of-site is usually the first goal of any natural hedge.  Make sure you select the right plants that will grow tall enough to eliminate site lines.  The density will depend on the plant and how close you place them.  Always check the recommendations for the optimum planting conditions.


There are many people, including myself, that enjoy the privacy and peacefulness a backyard can provide.  Just make sure you understand what the objective is for your barrier.  If you are just worried about minimizing line-of-site options natural vegetation can work.  However, sound barriers exist for a reason because you need the physical material properties to reflect or absorb the sound.  This way you can have the backyard that provides the peace and tranquility you are searching for.

September 25, 2014

Cutting Down a Tree: It’s Not Always a Bad Thing

Do you have messy trees in your yard that you want to get rid of but feel bad? Do you feel stuck in the environmental paradox when thinking of cutting these trees? Well you don’t have to!
It is known fact that killing trees is harmful to the environment because they provide lots of benefits to the air we breathe and are an important agent for climate control. However the mess and maintenance of some trees, like Cottonwoods produce is too much to handle.
Cotton in the spring and early summer causes a big mess and destroys your flower beds. Making it hard for you to enjoy your outdoor space during the most pleasant and beautiful time of the year. Their wood is very soft and they shed twigs all the time. These twigs ruin your lawn and your lawn mower.  But don’t despair; there are ways to remove these trees without having to feel bad about their extermination.  Here are some simple suggestions to help you

leave a positive footprint in the environment:

  •  Plant other tree varieties that are less of a nuisance and grow fast.
  •  Don’t want to replant? Then donate to the arbor society and/or buy trees to be planted elsewhere.
  • Work with your local officials/committees to plant more trees in the public areas of your neighborhood so they can be enjoyed by all.

Everyone hears talk about deforestation and logging around the world and in true these things are awful. However, this does not equal to tree removal in a residential landscape. In fact I think there are more trees being planted in our neighborhoods that ever before. Builders are getting better at saving trees when building new homes and developments and we are all more aware of the impact on our environment.

So don’t feel bad about that tree that has been plaguing you, take it down, and plant something that fits your style and improves your environment!