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March 27, 2015

A Pond on A Budget



The calming sound of running water has been enjoyed by people for many centuries and has been introduced to landscapes Ponds and waterfalls are a great escape into nature without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

Backyard ponds can range from simple to very elaborate. If you have the space for a pond with the new technology in pumps, liners and the how to videos available for anyone to learn the tips and tricks of building a pond, it is becoming easier and friendlier for anyone to endeavor in such a project.

To really get a beautiful pond with water falls and all the fun relaxing features you need space. Space is not always available especially if you live in the city where the need for a quick escape into nature is much desired. So what alternative/s would you have?

If you don’t have space and/or cannot fork in the resources for an elaborate pond you can Pond on a Budget by installing a self contained water fountains in your landscape. You can find them at any landscape retailer including Home Depot and Lowes. You can choose from heavy stone to a lighter resin that look like stone. There are many styles to accommodate your taste; the more traditional Mediterranean three tier fountain, to more contemporary with geometric shapes. Some include statue of children and animals if you are trying to scare away some birds and even some critters.

These self-contained water fountains can be placed anywhere in your outdoor living space: your deck, your patio, in the midst of your garden and flower beds, as part of your seating arrangement etc… anywhere you can see and hear the calming sound of running water.
If you have some space and you want to have a little pond with fish swimming in it, it is certainly feasible without having to break bank. Using concrete landscape block for building planters and such, you can build a pool of any shape (round, square, kidney etc…) either in ground or above ground. Add a pond liner and fill it with water. To add the sound of running water you can add a tall water fountain in in the middle and voila! You got the look and the sound without the hassle. They certainly serve the purpose without the hassle and you don’t have to break the bank to get one.  





March 20, 2015

Backyard Makeover Tips

Outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and water gardens have become much more popular, making backyards the new “outdoor living area”. Today, the traditional patio no longer makes the grade. Homeowners want an outdoor space that is an oasis for relaxing with family and friends. 
Excerpt from: Allan Block Landscape Newsletter Issue 9

With a nation going crazy over "extreme makeovers", it is no surprise that this popular trend has now made it to the backyard. The versatile family of Allan Block products lets you create backyard makeovers that are stunningly beautiful. Turn an unusable slope into a colorful garden, transform a lifeless patio into a charming courtyard or create an outdoor kitchen with a built-in BBQ grill.

 Creating outdoor spaces that your residential customers will love takes a few simple steps

Plan
  • Work with the homeowner to define how the space will be used.
  • Create a detailed plan so you can develop an accurate project estimate.
  • Inspect the on-site soils to ensure they are suitable for construction.
  • Consider water management.
  • Verify lot lines and utility locations, and obtain necessary permits.

Design
  • Create privacy in the backyard by designing "rooms" using raised planters and seating walls as borders.
  • Add visual interest by using a range of colors and textures.


Backyard landscape improvements not only create more living space, they are also a good financial investment.

March 13, 2015

To Pond or not to Pond? That is the Question…


Fountains, ponds, waterfalls, the piece
s of tranquility we need to break up the busy stressful moments in our everyday lives.  Water features can really bring peace and beauty to any backyard landscape.  So the question is not really whether to have a pond, but what type of pond to put in. 


There are many varieties of pre-made ponds on the market but I personally prefer the opportunity to create my own pond to fit my own unique style.  Allan Block has a product that gives you the chance to do just that.  Since the AB Courtyard Collection blocks allow you to stack them in a variety of ways you can build ponds of almost any shape and size.  Like this pond, we were able to build a little wall with a pond in front as an accent piece.  All you need is some flexible pond liner and some decorative rocks, and voila’ our custom pond is a thing of beauty! 

March 6, 2015

Increasing Demand for New Design Elements in Landscaping

Thirty years ago, landscape professionals had limited choices of design elements and materials. Patios were poured-concrete. Decks were cedar. Retaining walls were plain concrete blocks. Even when it came to foliage, only basic choices for plants, flowers and shrubs were available. People lived indoors and their yards were an after-thought.

Today, people are passionate about their home's outdoor environment and want to integrate it with interior space and lifestyle. They want to do more to enhance their home's curb appeal and value - and they are willing to pay for it.

For landscape professionals, this is an opportunity to separate themselves from their competition by promoting and installing the latest generation of landscape products. Homeowner demand for new innovative designs spells business opportunity for the progressive landscape professional.

Today, landscape design is a dynamic art form. Landscape architects and contractors can easily construct flowing designs which take into account yard shape and topography, plantings and traffic patterns. They can develop plans to incorporate the lifestyle needs of the customer and design landscapes that add value for years to come.

Landscape professionals know they need quality and variety in blocks and materials. Details are critical in all designs. The color, texture and size of the materials must come together to create a synergy that makes the designs come alive. The materials used should enhance the design options, not limit them.


No matter whether the project is a private residence, a commercial property, or a public construction project, block design details add great visual impact for very little cost. Using the latest block designs makes the details of each plan unique. It's a far cry from the days of poured-concrete patios!

February 27, 2015

Build Strong Walls and Get a Great Night’s Sleep!

Building an outdoor pool and entertainment area on a sloping hillside presented an interesting challenge. The homeowners wanted a backyard "room with a view" to extend their living space and take advantage of the beautiful lot and stunning views.

A series of three walls were constructed to create a level surface for the swimming pool deck. A 22-foot wide (7 m) staircase was also installed to provide access from the home to the pool deck. All the walls and stairs were built with retaining walls blocks reinforced with grid.

Grid or reinforcement grid is a flexible synthetic mesh that is designed to stabilize earth and soil retention – in short it helps make the walls stronger.  By using grid with in the construction of the retaining wall, you allow the wall to be fortified with more strength, and preventing potential movement of the wall in the future.

 John Brown, co-owner of Brown/Woods and Associates, has seen his share of deteriorating walls. He recalls, "Over the years, I have seen walls built poorly by both homeowners and landscape contractors. Proper construction is the key; walls will last forever if they are built correctly. That's why we like using grid so much. It makes it easy to build strong walls."


The homeowners are excited to show off their new outdoor living space and they know they are going to be able enjoy it for many years to come.