Monthly Archives: July 2016

What are Hardscapes?

If you’re embarking on your first landscaping project, there could be some terminology you aren’t totally familiar with. One term you may hear frequently but not be completely sure of is hardscapes. You’ll see that word pop up in landscape blogs, hear your contractor say it, and you’ll see it on our website when we say “Since 1947, RCP Block & Brick has been manufacturing and supplying the finest hardscape products and masonry supplies to Southern California contractors and homeowners.”

Well what does hardscape mean? And how does it differ from similar terms like landscape and softscape? Well landscape refers all of the elements of your yard. The hardscape aspects of a landscape project are all the non-living, “hard” materials in your yard. Hardscapes can be made from concrete, natural stone, and wood and include paver walkways, concrete driveways, fences, decks, concrete block walls, retaining walls, flagstone, and gravel ground cover. These things make up the bones of your landscape project and should be considered and planned before you move on to the softscapes, or the living aspects of your landscape project such as grass, plants, flowers and trees.

To learn more about the different hardscape products available at RCP and how they may fit into your next landscape project, check out some of our past articles:

Product Guide: Yard Design with Decorative Rock & Stone

The Benefits of Interlocking Concrete Pavers

The Original Keystone Wall Products

plans

Planning a Hardscape Project: Things to Consider

Planning for an upcoming outdoor home improvement project, whether a complete front and backyard remodel or just adding a little something to your existing yard, can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider when in the planning stages of an outdoor project to make sure you stay on budget, the build goes smoothly, that you get what you want, and that you are following all applicable regulations and restrictions in your area.

Budget

Budget for Hardscape ProjectsIt’s important to have a budget set from the beginning. If your you’re working with a contractor, designer, or landscape architect having a budget will allow them to better help you through the design process by letting you know what you can and cannot afford. This can also help you narrow down your wish list. Want a built in barbecue and a fireplace but can only afford one or the other? This can help you figure out which feature you desire the most. Splurge on the item a feature that you will get the most use out of.

DIY or Hire a Contractor

There are plenty of outdoor projects that can realistically be undertaken yourself and there are plenty of resources to help you complete your own DIY project. However, don’t let yourself get in over your head. Take into consideration the size, scope, and difficulty of the features you want to install. Hiring a contractor will cost you more money but with the rHow to pick a contractoright contractor, your project will be completed in a timely manner and will be done right. Be sure to check the state license on any contractor your consider on hiring. CHECK CALIFORNIA STATE CONTRACTORS HERE. This project is going to bring your family enjoyment for years to come and can add considerable value to your home. It is best to make sure it is done properly to maximize that added value. Read the article “Picking the Right Contractor”

Size of the Project Area

It is important to carefully consider the size of your project area when coming up with a design. Having limited space may lead to limiting which features you can include in your design. If you have limited space and your priority is to have a patio space that can accommodate a large outdoor dining area for your large family, it would not be a good idea to cut into that space to put in a large bocce ball court that may not get as much use.

Maintenance and Repair

Your project isn’t complete when the installation is finished. With any outdoor project there will undoubtedly be some long-term maintenance to consider. This is an important thing to keep in mind when picking materials, paving options, plants, and many other aspects of the design. Do you want low maintenance landscaping? Then you probably don’t want to plant trees that require a lot of clean up like jacaranda trees. The long term issues of different paving option are important to consider as well. A concrete slab may be cheaper up front than concrete interlocking pavers but can cost you in the long run. Over time, concrete slabs will crack, requiring costly repairs to fix the unsightly cracks and re-staining to bring the faded color back to life. Read the article “The Benefits of Interlocking Concrete Pavers”

Water Usage

Decomposed Granite PathwayThe ongoing drought in California has forced us all to rethink how we use water. This is especially important when planning out a new landscape project. Selecting drought resistant native plants over water intensive plants and water-free ground cover over grass can save you a significant amount of money on your water bill while helping conserve a scarce resource for more important uses. Read the article: “Water Conservation with RCP Products”

Codes, Local Regulations, Permits, and HOA Requirements

It’s important to check for all permits, regulations, and zoning requirements with the building department of the municipality your project is located in. This is important to take care of beforehand because failure to obtain the proper permits or have the required inspections done before you install materials can result in your municipality requiring you to remove the already installed materials and starting over. This is another benefit of hiring a contractor. A professional residential landscape contractor will already be familiar with these regulations and can help navigate the permitting process. If you live in a neighborhood with a Home Owner’s Association it is important to check with their requirements as well. Failure to do so can result in fines levied by your HOA.

There is a lot to consider when starting a big outdoor project, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. RCP has plenty of resources to help homeowners get their next project start from contractor referrals, material estimating, photo galleries to inspire your own design and much more. Read the article: “Get Your Project Started Today!”

smith-residence

Why Update Your Yard?

So you have some extra money and plan to use it to make some upgrades around the house. Checking off every single item from your home improvement wish list at once probably isn’t possible so you must prioritize which projects get done first. Look no further than your yard. Upgrading the landscaping in your front and backyards is the perfect home improvement project. Let’s look at why.

Ugly HouseYour yard is just downright ugly. Let’s face it, if you have an older home and haven’t paid much attention to your yard or the previous owner neglected the yard it’s probably in pretty rough shape. Imagine pulling into your driveway everyday and instead of seeing old, dying grass, cracking concrete, and outdated hardscape features you were greeted by a bright green synthetic lawn, new planter boxes full of colorful native plants, and attractive interlocking paver walkways and driveway.

Increase home value

“Having good landscaping can add up to 28% to to overall  homes value.”

Upgrading that ugly front yard will also do wonders for your homes curb appeal. This can increase your home’s value. Landscape economist John Harris says that having good landscaping can add up to 28% to overall home value. And it doesn’t have to be limited to the curb appeal of your front yard. Adding unique hardscape features to your backyard, like an outdoor fireplace or fire pit or a built in barbecue can make your home desirable and bring some added value as well.

Adding those unique features can also make your house a favorite among your family and friends. If you’re someone who loves to entertain, an upgraded outdoor entertainment area is a must. Imagine spending warm summer days grilling and eating outside with your family or cozy-ing up around an outdoor fire pit on crisp fall evenings. Creating an entertainment area outside increases the usable space of your home without the big price tag of a room addition.

Enjoying Fire PitYou can even use a landscaping project to increase the usable space of your yard. If you have sloped yard, you can use retaining walls and terracing to create more space in your yard. This is space you can use to increase a patio that isn’t big enough to accommodate all the people you entertain or to add attractive flowerbeds or walkways.

The true benefit of upgrading your landscaping is creating a space that is uniquely yours that you can share with loved ones for years to come.

So now that you’re convinced it’s time to upgrade your yard, check out some things to consider when planning your project in the article, “Planning a Hardscape Project: Things to Consider”