Benefits of Landscape Lighting

 

One of the best ways to create a great aesthetic vision on your property is to utilize landscape lighting outside your home. Not only is this a great way to decorate your front yard area, it is also an effective safety measure that can keep intruders away from your house.

However, there is always a question of which type of lighting works best: LED or halogen.

There are pros and cons for both, and it is worth exploring them in detail so that you can make the best decision as to which one is more appropriate for your landscape lighting project.

Halogen Landscape Lighting Pros

A major benefit of halogen lights is that they are cheap. In fact, they are cheaper than LED lights, which means you can spend far less money on many of them when you are using landscaping lighting on your property.

Depending on the brand and wattage as well as the size of bulbs you purchase, you can expect to spend anywhere from $4 to $10 per bulb.

The quality of lighting of halogen bulbs is generally considered very good. This means that they are great for landscape lighting.

You should experience a good amount of brightness for your property, which is both good for aesthetics and safety. Halogen lights are also capable of being used with a timer. This means you can use them in your landscape and have the timer tell them exactly when they should light up or turn off.

In particular, low voltage halogen lights are good options when you are looking to save energy with your landscape lighting. They are generally low on energy, although they are not inordinately so.

You can expect to save around 20 percent on your energy bills overall when using halogen lights for landscaping.

In general, you can place your halogen lights anywhere, whether high or low. This means you have a lot more flexibility with your landscape lighting when you rely on halogen.

Halogen Landscape Lighting Cons

Unfortunately, in spite of the cheap cost of halogen lights, they do not last very long when compared with other types of lighting.

This type of landscape lighting will actually end up costing you more in the long run due to the fact that they only last from 2,000 to 5,000 hours total. What this means is that you will have to replace them more often, which can add up over time.

The costs for wiring halogen lights can also be pricey. You may shell out more money for the fixtures and other parts just to get the lights running.

Maintaining halogen lighting might end up being more trouble than it’s worth in the long run, especially when you have 100 or more bulbs in your landscape lighting setup.

Additionally, you must keep halogen light bulbs that are working off of the same system positioned at an equal distance from the transformer. This is necessary for the sake of consistency and can be a burden over time.

LED Landscape Lighting Pros

Although LED lights are more expensive to buy, in the long run, they are worth it. This is because they have a much longer life than halogen bulbs at anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 hours. You can rest assured that your landscape lighting will burn bright for much longer than one year. You can expect to get at least a good 10 years out of your LED lights, depending on use.

Like halogen lights, the lighting ability of LED lights is very good. You will get great quality out of your landscape lighting when you use LEDs.

Maintenance costs are much less frequently needed and end up being less money with LED lighting. You will not have to do much in that regard, and this type of lighting is much more energy efficient.

In fact, you can save up to 80 percent of your typical energy costs when you use LED lights for your landscape lighting.

LED Landscape Lighting Cons

Initially, LED lights really can be expensive for the average homeowner. Depending on the type of bulb and its wattage, you can expect to shell out anywhere from $20 to nearly $100 per bulb.

If you choose LED lights to use in your landscape lighting, it is recommended that you place their fixtures higher up in a place that is difficult to reach.

This is largely due to the fact that it will allow you to save costs on maintenance. LED is much more easily damaged when placed in lower areas.

Landscape Lighting: LED vs. Halogen
LED vs. Halogen Landscape Lighting

Overall, you will benefit more from using LED lights for your landscaping due to the fact that it is less expensive to maintain and gives you more flexibility in your designs.

Although halogen lights are far cheaper to buy, they won’t last anywhere near as long and you will find it pricier to have to maintain them over time. LED lighting also has the edge due to their greater efficiency, which means you will save a lot more – up to 80 percent – on your energy bills.

Halogen lights are generally better if you want more flexibility with the design of your landscape lighting.

Landscape Lighting: LED vs. Halogen
Great Landscape Lighting Ideas

After you have an idea of which type of lighting you prefer to use, you will want to begin thinking about what type of landscape lighting design to use.

Of course, there are many different ways you can go about bringing your landscaping lighting ideas to life. It’s best to talk with a landscape lighting contractor for help with the design and installation of your lighting.

If you have a lovely walkway in front of your house that leads up to your front door, you can have a little fun with it. If you are like a lot of other homeowners, you probably have plants creating a fashionable walkway to your home, such as shrubs. Consider winding some small bulbs in the plants so that you have an area that it lit up and draws attention to your landscape.

You can do something somewhat similar with your landscape lighting if you have a stone walkway that leads to your front door. This is a great design idea whether you have steps or not. Place your lights on either side of the stone walkway so that they create a line that leads right up to your doorway.

For many homeowners, incorporating an outdoor pond in the front of their house or even a backyard waterfall is one of the most beautiful ways to utilize landscape design.

You can take that a step farther by adding gorgeous lighting to these areas. Place lights inside your pond or as a decorative border around it to really enhance your outdoor living space.

A common trend among homeowners is incorporating beautiful landscape lighting ideas into the garden.

For instance, if you have some flowering plants in a distinctive pattern along your property, whether in your garden or front yard, you can use lighting fixtures inside of stakes to hold the plants in place in the soil. This type of landscape lighting serves a dual purpose of lighting a path along the area as well as keeping the plants affixed so that they can thrive and blossom.

It may seem odd, but an uneven and irregular setup with your landscape lighting can really work well in some settings.

Instead of following a regular pattern of lighting up a path on your property, consider placing lights in a more irregular manner so that random areas are lit up.

Landscape Lighting: LED vs. Halogen

It will probably surprise you that they will look even more beautiful than if they were arranged in any particular way. Moon lighting is an absolutely gorgeous way to play with lights in your landscape.

You can light up a good deal of your property by placing lights very high up in the trees. As a result, you will find that your home will have more of a woodsy feel and will appear to be spotlighted. One thing to keep in mind with this type of landscape lighting, however, is that you will have to get the lights at least a good 30 to 40 feet up in the trees. It’s best to hire a landscape lighting company to help. Consider this design method to create a dreamy effect. It works well if you have a body of water on your property or simply a stone walkway.

If you have a patio or terrace, you can light it up beautifully by placing your landscape lighting high up in surrounding trees. This is an excellent way to light up the area at night and sit with family or friends without having to be bothered by harsh lighting. You can even use bulbs that are of a different color for an even cooler effect.

This method will make it seem as though the lighting is more indirect, which makes for a more soothing experience while out on the patio or terrace. It is referred to as “indirect lighting.”

Once you’ve decided the landscape lighting design you would like to use in your yard, be sure come by any of our stores and see our display by Corona Lighting!

 

 

3 Types of Landscape Edging

 

If your garden needs a boost, perhaps it’s time to rethink your edges. Installing new edging is one of the easiest, fastest ways to improve the overall appearance of your garden. Whether you want to dress up a swath of perennials, draw attention to a bench in the distance, or simply keep gravel contained, freshening up your edges often does the trick.

You can install some materials, such as metal or composite bender board, in an afternoon. Others, such as poured in place concrete and boulders, require a weekend or longer to complete and may challenge you to learn some new skills.

Edging materials provide a stable framework for walkways and patios, while creating a contrast between two distinct areas. Visually it provides a crisp, clean manicured look, while physically creating a functional separation. Landscape edging can be applied to the lawn perimeter, bed edges and borders — anywhere hardscape materials, plants and grass spill over where they shouldn’t.

  

Here are 3 common types of edging:

1. Masonry

Concrete, brick and stone provide a solid edging in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Upright soldiers, a common name for bricks that are stood on end, rest on a porous base for proper draining. When bricks are tilted, the design is called tilted soldiers. The bricks are tilted against each other, then back-filled with sand and tamped down. Another long-lasting edging material is concrete, which provides a neat, clean and durable edge, particularly for high-traffic areas. If the edging is made wide enough, it can double as a mow strip.

Brick edging

Concrete Paver Edging

Stone edging

Concrete edging

2. Strip Edging

Strip edging made of steel, aluminum or plastic is held in place with metal or plastic stakes and works well for curves and shapes. This type of edging is less work intensive than most other materials, as the edging can be hammered into place, no trenching required. Plastic edging is generally the weakest and may crack and lose its shape over time. It has a tendency to wiggle under pressure or when the ground is wet and the hardscape beside it is unstable, such as gravel or river rock.

Aluminum edging

Rubber edging

Composite Bender Board

3. Wood Edging

Wood edging includes railroad and landscaping timbers, pressure-treated and composite products that provide a strong, long-lasting edging, but require a little ground work for installation. For added strength, wood edging is often braced with 16-inch spikes which hold up even under the toughest weather conditions; it won’t crack, break or wiggle if properly installed. Cedar, cypress and redwood naturally resist rot, while other types of wood need to be chemically treated.

Railroad Ties

Treated Timbers

Wood Bender Board

Design Trends: Indoor-Outdoor tiles

With the line between indoors and outdoors so fuzzy, the demand for high-design tile that can go outside is more than ever before. That’s because tile delivers unmatched durability. It’s resistant to moisture, mold, lichen, and moss. The bugs leave it alone for the most part. And it’s resistant to UV damage.

On top of that, you can get it in wood and stone looks that invite the luxury of the indoor space to your outdoor party!  Wood-look plank tile suitable for the outdoors are especially trendy. It stands up to extreme temperatures and won’t crack in dry climates or rot in wet climates like wood decking might.

New age porcelain pavers are large, stylish, and durable—you could even put them on the driveway if you wanted to. The beauty of these pavers is that they can be used in so many ways. They can be placed in gravel, grass, or sand like traditional pavers.

At Patagonia Building Supplies we have partnered with Belgard Hardscapes to introduce a beautiful and affordable line of Porcelain Pavers.  To see their unique selection visit: http://www.belgard.com/products/porcelain_pavers

These pavers come in authentic stone looks for an upscale element in your design. Watch for more design options available in pavers very soon, such as wood-look and upscale concrete looks.

The biggest trend in indoor/outdoor tile products in 2017 will be 2cm pavers. This is about twice the thickness of regular tile. These large, thick pavers already come in several stone-looks and keep your eyes open for more option coming on the market soon. Wood, stone, and sophisticated cement interpretations will be popular in the kitchen and moving out onto the patio. This can be installed directly on gravel, sand, or dirt.

A big advantage of these 20mm thick porcelain stoneware is driving another new trend within the outdoor market. These thick tiles can be laid on grass, gravel and sand using either dry installation (no mortar) or in the traditional way with mortar.

These gorgeous ceramic tiles are designed with ‘warm’ wood like patterns and ‘colder’ modern stone motifs, which is great for decorating. But their technical performance is what’s really amazing. They are non-absorbent so they won’t stain, and when exposed to sunlight, they won’t alter in color over time. They are resistant to frost and thermal shock, mold, stains and salt. They are very easy to clean and are non-slip, even when wet. In addition, special trims are available for pool edges and drainage grids.

All of the above makes these super strong and decorative tiles perfect for garden paths, walkways, summer terraces, driveways, patios, poolside, and any exterior floor application in general and for outdoor spaces with heavy traffic in particular.

 

Landscaping Trends: Permeable Pavers

An excellent option for homeowners concerned with sustainability and water conservation are permeable pavers.  Permeable pavers allow water to pass through small openings and re-enter the ground water. There are a variety of permeable materials that offer the best of both worlds: a porous patio or driveway surface that is also very attractive.

Permeable Paver Benefits:

  • Manage storm-water
  • Prevent runoff and pollution
  • Replenish the groundwater supply
  • Many unique permeable design options

Permeable paving is not a new concept – hundreds, possibly even thousands of years ago, people were making roads and paths by setting stones in sand. Many of these ancient creations have survived to present day, proving that permeable pavements are strong and durable. However, during the 20th Century’s rapid development impervious pavements became the norm.

With the recent push towards sustainability and the concern over the water supply eco-minded people have begun to challenge this norm. Many homeowners are looking to create sustainable landscapes and permeable paving helps achieve that goal. In fact as an incentive, many cities, especially here in California, are offering sustainable landscaping rebates. As we hear about water shortages and increased levels of pollution, the benefits of installing a patio, path or driveway that allows rainwater to filter through to the earth below are very appealing.

Paving stones are very popular landscaping elements. They are versatile and can be used in almost any outdoor setting. You can choose between stone, brick and concrete pavers and they all are strong and durable too.

Today, people are becoming very environment conscious and when they get any home improvement or landscaping work done; they look for environment friendly solutions that will also benefit their landscaping. In this respect permeable pavers are an excellent option.

What Are They?

  • They are made from a mix of sustainable building materials
  • They have a base & a sub-base, both of which allow runoff water to seep through into the ground underneath
  • When you use only normal pavers or have concrete outdoor flooring, the water is unable to seep through and it just gets diverted towards the storm water drains which is nothing but a waste of water
  • Contrastingly, this porous paving permits rain water and the water that you hose onto it, into the ground
  • This helps replenish the levels of ground water
  • These paving stones also filter the dust and pollutants from the water and there is no contamination of the groundwater
  • Today, these installations are becoming popular on residential and commercial properties

Who do we sell?

Every major paver manufacturer makes a line of permeable pavers.  We work with:

 

7 Uses for Gravel and River Rock

 

Not only does gravel have many shades, but it has many uses. It’s a budget-friendly and versatile paving material that will meet many of your landscaping, drainage or pathway needs. More often than not, the main decision isn’t what color of gravel to choose – it’s what size to use. That’s because not all gravel is created equal. The size that you would use for a walkway isn’t necessarily the best option for a rock garden. When you consider how much foot traffic the area will receive, then selecting the right size of gravel doesn’t have to be challenging.


1. Mulch substitute. 
Gravel is an effective mulch for plants because it helps prevent evaporation from the soil surface and, unlike wood mulch, isn’t prone to moving because of wind. Gravel that is 1/4 inch or smaller in diameter is moved more easily than larger gravel, so opt for medium-size gravel for flowerbeds and around trees.

An all-purpose gravel that is 3/8 inch in diameter works best for mulch around plants. Smooth gravel has a more decorative appearance than rough, angular gravel when used as mulch, but rough gravel may stay in place better.

Almost any size of gravel can be used in a rock garden because they don’t tend to have heavy foot traffic, and so the gravel merely serves as decoration. Large gravel is often the best choice because it stands well against boulders and other large rocks that may be in the rock garden. Try 1- to 1 ½-inch-diameter gravel as the top dressing in a rock garden. Smooth gravel made from river rock with rounded edges can give the area a more decorative appearance.

2. Drainage and Errosion Control. Use gravel in the bottom of flower pots to create a drainage foundation for flowers. In the absence of a gutter on the home, many people like to use a crushed stone drip edge to keep the storm water roof run-off from splashing dirt on their home siding.

Not to be confused with crushed base, crushed stone is a free-draining aggregate that is crushed down to three-quarter inch or 1 ½ inch. Crushed granite stone is processed from blasted granite ledge, so it is the most economical solution for drainage. Three-quarter inch is the most popular size used for drip edges along foundations or drainage behind retaining walls.

Shore up areas in the landscape at risk for soil erosion with gravel. Place beneath or around house drain pipes to prevent soil erosion in this location. Spread at the bottom of hills on your property as well as areas such as embankments.


3. Patio Base. 
The best gravel for using underneath a brick patio or concrete block retaining wall is often referred to as “processed gravel” “crushed base” or “bank run gravel.” This type of gravel has a mixture of fines that aid in compaction. It may look like sand with rocks in it. A crushed stone material like stone dust has too many fines. It’s not the “stone” in stone dust, but rather the “dust” that is a problem with frost. Fines hold water and expand when frost leaves the ground in spring time. Crushed base has fines in it, but any particles that are too fine had been removed with a sieve.


4. Walkways. 
Choosing the right gravel size for garden paths or walkways can make a significant difference in how comfortable they are to walk. The smaller or finer gravel is, the softer it is under foot, which is particularly important if you plan to walk on it in bare feet.

Opt for gravel that is 1/4 inch or smaller in diameter for the most comfortable walking surface. You’ll want to choose gravel that has a smooth texture, too, because rounded edges are less likely than sharp ones to hurt underfoot.


5. Driveways. 
Gravel can be used for driveway creation purposes regardless of size. It can be crushed and used in a concrete mixture, providing some traction to the drive. And it can be laid as is, regardless of size, onto a wide path of your property as a loose drive material. The many colors available in this drive paving substance (white, beige, brown, gray) provide ample variety choices when it comes to matching the drive with your home and landscaping colors.

A driveway requires a few layers of gravel to provide enough stability for vehicles. Start with a layer of stones that are about the size of baseballs or softballs, typically 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Next, install a layer of 2- to 3-inch-diameter stones. The driveway’s top dressing should consist of 3/8-inch-diameter gravel. Opt for crushed, man-made rock gravel because its pieces bind together well, increasing stability.

6. Landscaping Uses. Gravel can be used to make a flower garden border, used as filler on a path around large stepping stones, or as a pea or other gravel-sized walkway path between your home and your flower garden. With various sizes of gravel and colors available it can serve many uses in the landscape, including as a background for a rock garden containing boulders and other types and sizes of rocks.

Before you purchase gravel you will need to know how much you need for the area to be landscaped, and that means you need three dimensional measurements before you can do that. [See our Cubic Yards Calculator]

7.  Accents. Gravel can be a good substitute for bark mulch. It absorbs the heat of the sun keeps the soil cool and moist throughout the summer, while weeds pull up fairly easily through gravel. One disadvantage of an aggregate-type of stone, however, is the sharp edges. River stone is the best choice for garden pathways in planting beds. Sifted down to an inch and a half, this naturally rounded stone is heavy enough to stay put, but is easy underfoot and gentle to the stems of plants. If you are putting in a Koi pond or similar type of water feature, river stone is the natural choice.

 

Landscape Trends: Synthetic Turf

 

We’ve been selling artificial turf for years now  thanks to our association with The Synthetic Grass Store and it has become increasingly popular due to rebates from the government, the improved quality and look as well as the ease of care that it provides.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still think “oh no, not fake grass.” If you’re one of those people who feel it’s not worth the time and money to replace your natural grass with artificial turf, here are 7 reasons for you to consider installing synthetic turf:

  • Save, save, save. You’ll save money on lawn maintenance. Imagine sitting in your backyard on a Saturday or Sunday morning, not having to gas up your lawn mower or haul bags of fertilizer to spread on your lawn? With artificial turf, there is no need to weed and feed your lawn anymore.
  • Look green year round. You can still have some green space in your yard. Giving up your natural grass doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on having a natural green color on your property. Artificial lawn grass comes in many different colors, density, and grass blades, so you feel like you have a natural lawn even though the grass is not “alive.”
  • Be trendy. You can incorporate artificial grass with your xeriscape design. Xeriscaping is all the rage right now, not only because you can create interesting textures and features using native plant materials, but the plants also thrive in hot, dry weather conditions. We can help you find the perfect artificial grass to tie in with your existing or planned xeriscape design.
  • Conserve water. It goes without saying that artificial lawn grass doesn’t need to be irrigated at all. You may periodically need to hose away dog waste, but that’s about all you need to do that would require you to use water on your new turf.
  • Rebates. You may be eligible for an artificial grass rebate. City water authorities in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas are offering rebate certificates for homeowners and others who replace their natural grass with artificial turf. Each municipality has its own standards and policies, so you need to check with your local water authority to see if they issue rebates and what requirements need to be met in order to receive the rebates.
  • Commercial as well as residential. Synthetic Grass isn’t just for homeowners. Apartment complexes, rental units, and commercial properties can also replace their existing turf with artificial grass. Can you imagine the gallons of water that will be saved on a commercial property if its natural grass was replaced by artificial lawn grass? And businesses would save money, too, because their water bills would be lower. Some municipalities may also offer rebates to those, other than homeowners, who want to replace their natural grass with synthetic grass.
  • HOA savings. Some city councils are overriding Home Owner Associations’ rules on artificial turf placement. Some cities, that must conserve water immediately, are telling local HOAs not to punish homeowners for installing artificial grass. Contact your city’s water authority or city government to ask them about your HOA and lawn replacement before you hire a contractor to work on your lawn.
     

Landscape Trends: Xeriscape

Although it hasn’t stopped raining in what seems like months, for the past few years California has been experiencing severe drought.  So much so that it has changed the way we think about building our homes, buying our appliances, designing our back yards and arranging our landscaping.

This has led to a new trend in landscape design known as “Xeriscaping”.

What is xeriscape? The word is derived from the Greek “xero” meaning dry and “scape” meaning view or scene. Basically, xeriscaping is a landscaping philosophy that uses as many native, drought-resistant plants as possible and arranges them in efficient, water-saving ways.

Those who have never heard the name may already know its techniques, because its principles are commonly used in landscaping and often work well. Some people who are aware of the concept mistakenly refer to it as “zero-scape,” as in the use of no water. Others have a negative perception of xeriscaping, thinking that the practice involves the use of barren, rocky landscapes and a few cacti.

As it turns out, xeriscaping doesn’t have to mean a bunch of tumbleweed from the southwest, because it’s open to the use of native plants, a landscaper can select a myriad of plant varieties from his region. A xeriscaped lawn can look as attractive and colorful as a regular one. If used effectively, xeriscaping can reduce water use for landscapes by 60 percent or more.

Let’s talk about a few practices that can help you create an effective and beautiful xeriscape:

1.  Create practical turf areas:

Xeriscaping does not necisarily mean eliminating all sod or grass and replaceing it with gravel. You just need to take into account where grass will be useful and enhance the landscape, not take away (both physically and visually) from the other plant life.

There are also many different types of grasses, some of which are seasonal, some of which are native to a certain region and work better with low water usage. You can check with your local gardening center to see which kind of grass is best suited for your landscape.

2.  Select the right plants:

Choosing the right plants is probably the most important part of xeriscaping. These plants will be the main attraction and define your landscape. But the location and grouping of plants can greatly affect the amount of water you will use in the long run.

Native plants are usually the best choice for a xeriscaping project.  The use of ornamental grasses, succulents and cacti or aloes, as well as vertica plants which are native to California are best.

Although it’s possible to use plants from other regions, there’s a chance that outside vegetation won’t adapt quickly to a new locale, and you’ll be stuck with an empty lawn. It’s also important, of course, that the plants are drought-tolerant and don’t require much water.

3.  Watering and the right irrigation:

It’s important to know how much water is needed for plants. Some plants can rely on the limited rainwater a region might receive during a drought, but many still need water maintenance, even if it’s just a little.

You can provide plants with efficient irrigation with either a hose-end sprinkler or drip irrigation system. We work with both Rainbird and NDS for our drip irrigation products.

It’s important to keep water as low to the ground as possible to avoid spreading it toward unnecessary locations and causing evaporation.

4.  Use of mulches:

Important for keeping roots cool and minimizing water evaporation, mulch is available in two types: organic and inorganic.

Organic mulch is wood-based, including bark mulch, wood chips and natural wood shavings. Although this type needs to be replaced regularly to keep away rot, wood-based mulch keeps landscapes cool and adds good, complementary color.

Inorganic mulch, on the other hand, is stone-based, such as decomposed granite, gravels, or lava rock. Stones don’t need to be replaced, but they work best in the shade, since otherwise they’ll soak up any heat from the sun and evaporate much-needed moisture.

 

I hope this will inspire you to prepare for the next big drought. Even though we’ve had record rainfalls…undoubtedly, we will see other dry seasons come.

 

Different types of Flagstone

So as the “Flagstone Specialists” we get a lot of calls regarding flagstone. The first thing people ask is: “how much does flagstone cost?” That’s tough to answer, and if I can use an analogy, its like calling a supermarket and asking “how much are your vegetables?”

Let me explain why.  Flagstone is a generic term for any sedimentary stone split into layers and laid as “flags” in a pattern on the floor. There are many types of stone that are typically quarried and laid in this manner.

I’ll list a few of the types of flagstone we carry:

Sandstone

This stone commonly found in the Southwest states, like Arizona, is a sedimentary stone formed by layers of sand.  The color patterns are soft pastels and range from beige to red.  Our Arizona Sandstone comes in colors called “Buckskin” which is a gold, “Bucksin” which tends to go from gold to peach, “Rosa” which is a deep pink, and “Red Sedona” which is a terracota red.

Pros: Tends to stay cooler in summer, holds up well in most applications: driveways, walk ways and patios. Very cost effective.

Cons: Very porous and tends to absorb water which can cause damage in colder climates. Due to the porosity it can absorb oil and grease easily. So we recommend good sealing after installation. Some colors can be soft and flaky.

Quartzite

This flagstone commonly found in mountainous areas of Oklahoma, Idaho and Utah, is a form of metamorphosed rock with a glossy smooth surface.  It looks like it has speckles of silver, called mica. The colors are generally greys to golds or a blend. There are some reds, pinks and greens as well but are not as common.  We stock Idaho Quartzites in “Silver”, “Charcoal” and “Gold” at our stores.

Pros: This is a very hearty stone, resistant to wear and tear.  Holds up well in cold weather or rain and stands up to chemicals.  Its a great non-slip surface and is more resistant to staining than sandstone.

Cons: Because it is a hard stone, it is harder to shape and isn’t as easy to form with chisel and hammer.  It also requires a bit more maintenance, regular cleaning and resealing, due to the rough, textured surface.

Bluestone

This stone which comes from the Northeast, usually Pennsylvania and New York, is a blue-green sandstone but denser than the variety found in Arizona.  Colors range from blue grey to khaki to purple. Our Pennsylvania Bluestone comes in three varieties: Blue Blue, Full Color (which is a blend of all three colors) and Lilac. It’s also very popular in cut patterns or Ashlar pattern, which is a combination of squares and rectangles. We also carry treads for stairs and pool copings.

Pros: This is a tough, dense paver with a nice grip for a non-slip surface.  It holds up well in the cold climate of the Northeast.

Cons: Must be sealed to preserve its color, resist any chlorine or saltwater in pools or spas, and to protect it from scratching or staining.

Slate

This stone is commonly found in the Northeast, the most common from Vermont.  Most of what we carry here is from India or China.  Slate is a metamorphic rock that is layered with clay like minerals.  They common in a multitude of colors and are often multicolored.  You can find slates in every color of the rainbow from green to blue to red.

Pros: This easy to work with stone can be shaped and formed with no problems. Its ideal for wall cladding as well as for flooring.

Cons: Easily splits and is not usually found in large slabs.  It requires sealing for stain resistance and to reduce efflorescence.

Limestone

This light colored stone from the plains of Texas and Indiana is a sedimentary rock composed of calcite. Its a natural split surface that can be polished.  The colors tend to lean towards the creams, beiges or greys. We carry a stunning Limestone from Texas called Classic Cream.

Pros: This stone which can be found in ancient Greece and Rome, is long lasting and weather resistant.  It holds up well in most climates and is easy to work with.

Cons: Its very heavy and susceptible to acid.

Travertine

This variety of limestone is found in some Western states, like Texas and Oklahoma.  But most of what we sell here is from Mexico, Turkey or the Middle East. Travertines tend to range from whites to beiges to golds.  The surface can be pitted or have tiny holes, which are good for grip when used outdoors. Or they can fill those holes and have a very smooth finish or be polished and used inside for kitchens, bathrooms or other interior floors and walls.

Pros: Durable, higher end stone. Stays cool for indoor surfaces. Can be very cost effective.

Cons: Can be difficult to maintain if surface is very pitted.

I hope this has helped explain a few of the differnences you’ll need to know when selecting the right type of flagstone for your next landscaping project.  And if you have any other questions please feel free to contact one of our 4 Los Angeles area stores.

 

 

 

DIY Projects: Left Over Pallets

 

I get a few calls a week from customers asking me: “what can I do with these left over wooden pallets we got from you?”

The simple answer is to throw them away or bring them back to us and we can always reuse them.

But the fun and creative answer for those of you with a little bit of skill and since of adventure is turn those pallets into a fun DIY project.

If you look online or on Pinterest, you’ll see tons of creative uses for these pallets.

First, determine what type of pallet you have.  Then it will be easier to figure out a good use for them.

 

Once you’ve established the type, you can get to work dismantling and reassembling them. All you need is a hammer, some paint and nails, construction adhesive and an imagination.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

                                                Pallet bench

                                            Pallet desk

                                             Pallet planter

                                   Pallet Shelf

                                           Pallet swing

                                     Pallet work bench

Backyard Trends: Gabions

 

 

Since selling stone is our primary business, I am always looking for great ways to display them, whether its flagstone, gravel or boulders and cobbles.  One of the most beautiful ways of displaying boulders and cobbles are Gabions.

For those who don’t know, gabions are a traditional retaining wall system comprised of steel mesh ‘baskets’ filled with rocks.    In landscaping, gabion walls can support an earth wall, stabilize the soil, prevent erosion, and more.

Gabions are nothing new.  They have been used in engineering through out history, from ancient Egypt to medieval Italy. Derived from an old Italian word, gabbione, meaning “big cage.” The cages were originally wicker, but now are usually a welded mesh made of sturdy galvanized, coated, or stainless steel wire that won’t bend when filled with rocks.

What are the benefits of gabion walls?

History has shown that gabions are a lasting solution to soil erosion as well as hillside retention. Other reasons to use them:

  • Aesthetics: Gabions look natural and can tie a house to the landscape by using filler materials excavated from the site or the local terrain.
  • Environmental friendliness: When onsite material is used as filler, transportation costs and associated fuel consumption are eliminated.
  • Sustainability: Used as shade screens in hot climates, gabion walls provide passive cooling; they allow air to move through, providing ventilation.
  • Permeability: Gabions are permeable and free-draining; they can’t be washed away by moving water.
  • Easy installation and built-in strength: The stone fill settles to the contours of the ground beneath it and has such frictional strength that no foundation is required. In fact, the wall’s strength and effectiveness may increase with time, as silt and vegetation fill the voids and reinforce the structure. Another advantage over more rigid structures: Gabions can conform to ground movement.
  • Long-lasting.

Gabions can serve many purposes other than building walls.  They are used for small fences, benches, posts, planter boxes, even barbeque pits or grills and more.  Here are a few cool ones I’ve seen:

Stone is not the only material used to fill gabions.  You can use reclaimed brick or roof tiles, broken concrete, broken glass, wood or branches or anything else you can imagine…but the heavier the material the better it will serve for retaining walls.