<span>Patio Tips</span>

  • 5 Ways to Improve a Pergola

    A pergola provides shade and enhances the look of almost any outdoor space. It’s great for entertaining and relaxing. What’s more, there are many styles from which to choose, so there’s something for practically every backyard. If you have a pergola or plan on installing one on your property, you can opt for the minimal look and function or dress it up with some improvements. For those who prefer the latter alternative, there are five wonderful ways to improve a pergola.

    Pergola Alternatives

    Homeowners who are considering a pergola might also be interested in something else. For instance, a new deck or patio, or even a combination of two of the three features. Of course, a new deck cost estimate and considerations will be in order, just as with a new pergola or a patio addition. Either a deck, made of wood or composite is a great feature to have because it typically helps to boost a home’s resale value. A patio will do much the same, as will a pergola.

    A pergola is the perfect way to add character to an exterior space while serving a functional purpose. Sizes can vary, from a simple pergola that accents a growing garden to a larger scale one that covers a seating area to create a true outdoor room. Pergolas also come in many different styles and colors, so you can design one that enhances your home’s architectural style and landscaping. —HGTV

    Another option is to install a swimming pool, which will be accompanied by a deck or patio. Whatever you decide, you should know about all the unexpected landscape, outdoor living improvement costs you’ll experience. This way, you won’t under budget or miscalculate and incur surprise expenses when you take on a landscaping or outdoor living home improvement project. Also, be honest about your own DIY skill set. If you aren’t confident you can do it on your own, hire an experienced professional. This will save you a lot of time, effort, and money.

    5 Ways to Improve a Pergola

    Installing a pergola or improving an existing pergola is a terrific way to enhance your outdoor living space, providing a focal point and useable entertainment feature. Many homeowners opt to “dress up” their pergolas so they get even more enjoyment out of the feature. Here are five ways to improve a pergola you can incorporate into your own outdoor living space:

    • Outdoor furniture. Although this makes the all-too-obvious list, it’s definitely worth including. The addition of comfortable, outdoor furniture transforms a pergola into a true living space. You can place outdoor furniture in a floating arrangement, providing improved traffic flow, better visual appeal, and more leg room, for you, family, and guests.
    • A new barbecue grill. Also making the same all-too-obvious list is a new barbecue grill. That’s just right for cooking out and if you are so inclined, you can go all-out. Consider upgrading from just a grill to a complete outdoor kitchen, complete with some preparation space, a refrigerator, utensils, and dinnerware. If you do place a grill under or near your pergola, be sure to take fire safety into consideration. Additionally, make sure to place the grill where it won’t cause a smoke problem for family and guests.
    • Hang privacy curtains. Another great addition to a pergola is privacy curtains. These not only keep prying eyes away but also are great for reducing sun exposure during the summer or any other season of the year in west-central Florida.
    • Install a multi-use fire pit. If a grill isn’t your fancy or you want something else for lighter cooking, install a multi-use fire pit. These are great for cool evenings and also serve as a table and gathering feature for family and guests. These can be used for light meals and a place for plates, as well as drinks.
    • Install cooling fans and misters. Here in sunny Sarasota, there’s many hot and warm days and nights. It can be downright uncomfortable during the summer months but you can provide some pleasant relief by installing cooling fans and misters. These create a cool, comfortable space, almost regardless of the weather.

    If it’s time to update your landscape or add more features, like a new pergola, just go ahead and contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.

  • What to Do Before Installing a New Pergola

    Installing a new pergola on your deck, over an outdoor kitchen, or in the yard is one of the most aesthetically pleasing elements in outdoor living design. You can opt to grow vines over a pergola, hang decorative curtain panels, or, put a fire pit in the center to serve as a cooking, warming, and entertaining space. Regardless of what you envision, you obviously would like the best results possible. To achieve that, you need to have a good, actionable plan before you install a new pergola.

    You have two options for your new pergola: go the do-it-yourself route or hire a professional installer. Since this isn’t a complicated task, but one that will require substantial elbow grease, you can make it a DIY project.

    Pergola Uses and Ideas

    The great thing about pergolas is these are not one-size-fits-all features. Pergolas come in a wide variety of designs and materials: steel, gabled, open top, sail, and pitched. Most homeowners choose a wood pergola because it can be refinished periodically. In addition to coming in a variety of designs and materials, pergolas have different uses. You can install a pergola to frame an entrance, situating the feature near the back of the home. Another great use is for shade, which is ideal for the Sarasota climate. By covering the top and hanging curtain panels, it can serve as a wonderful retreat from the sun.

    Pergolas and arches have long been used successfully in garden design to provide strong vertical elements. Their purpose has usually been twofold: to frame views and openings, and to provide welcome shade over areas set aside for entertaining and relaxation. Covered by climbing plants, pergolas can form cool retreats in shaded walkways and arbors. —

    Another popular use for arbors and pergolas is for a covered walkway. You can also choose to do other things, such as arrange outdoor furniture under it for a place to relax and entertain. It can also be a home for a beautiful water feature, like a fountain or waterfall. Some homeowners install a pergola over a grill or outdoor kitchen, like the nearby image. As you can see, the possibilities are nearly endless because of their versatility.

    What to Do before Installing a New Pergola

    When you are ready to install a new pergola, unfortunately, you can’t just make a quick decision. If you don’t have plan, it won’t come out right and probably take a lot more time, money, and effort to get it setup. Here are some helpful tips on what to do before installing a new pergola so you get it right the first time:

    • Think about function. As you read above, there are several uses for a pergola: a covered walkway, a place to relax and entertain, a home for a water feature, framing an entrance, and more. So, before you buy a pergola, know precisely what you will use it for to ensure that it will function in the way you imagine. For instance, if it’s to be a place to sit, relax, and entertain, it’s got to be large enough to cover the outdoor furniture.
    • Consider the appropriate size. This definitely bears repeating because you won’t be able to change its size. It must have the appropriate dimensions, being tall enough, wide and deep enough to accommodate whatever is going under it. In addition, think about how much space it will take-up so you don’t deprive yourself of otherwise usable space.
    • Know what material will work. Like fences and other outdoor fixtures and features, pergolas come in different materials, including steel, wood, aluminum, wrought iron, and PVC vinyl. Wood is a popular choice because of its natural look and blend. If you do choose another type of material, know what kind of maintenance it will need to keep it looking good. For instance wrought iron will likely experience peeling paint and rust, while PVC vinyl might become discolored and need to be cleaned.
    • Learn where it can be installed. One big mistake you really want to avoid is to discover during initial installation are utility lines. Whether in the air or buried in the ground, you definitely don’t want to rupture an irrigation line or cut into a cable. Call your local utility providers to learn precisely where these are located in your yard.

    Finally, take into account future possibilities. The purpose for which you install it today may change in the future. It’s also a good idea to think about other improvements you would like to make later on so you don’t have to contend with such a large structure. Also, look into local building codes to ensure that you aren’t installing something that requires a permit to put-up. Look into all you want to do with it and set a realistic budget.

  • Concrete Patio Replacement Step-By-Step

    Many homes, especially older homes, have concrete patios. These outdoor features are built to last, and purely for function, having little to do with style or aesthetics. Concrete patios are great for outdoor living because they are a dedicated space and help to define borders. Over time, however, the weather elements, inclement storms, root systems, and foot traffic all take their toll. These combined forces eventually cause even the sturdiest of patios to begin to crack.

    Those cracks only grow larger, and become a source of aggravation because now, you’re constantly having to pull weeds out, plus, insects use them as kinds of miniature highways. What’s more, those cracks present another problem, and that’s safety since you can trip over them, or worse, find a sandal or shoe wedged between. All of this, not to mention the fact, that they completely detract from their already plain, but worn look.

    Refurbishing an Old Concrete Patio

    You are tired of looking at your old, worn, cracked concrete patio and want to do something about it. There’s a few problems, however, which you have to address and most of all, you’re dreading having to break up the concrete. What’s even worse is the fact that it’s likely not just constructed of concrete but steel rebar, a reinforcement material that helps to keep the patio sturdy. What this means is you’ll have to rent a dumpster, rent a jackhammer, rent an acetylene torch or hydraulic bolt cutter, and, get a lot of helping hands to get the job done.

    A concrete patio is made for practicality, not beauty. It starts out looking plain and goes downhill from there. As craters, cracks and stains accumulate, it can go from dull to downright ugly in just a few years. But there’s a simple solution, whether you want to dress up a bland patio or hide an aging one. Covering concrete with paver bricks is much easier than pouring new concrete or laying pavers the traditional way. It requires less skill and less time, and it’s a whole lot easier on your back. —The Family Handyman

    If that’s simply too much, the good news is, you don’t actually have to break-up and discard your old concrete patio, you can simply opt to patch the cracks and then, cover it with pavers, or even bricks. You probably ought to go with pavers because you’ll be able to cover more surface area with less material, which will cut down on expense.

    Replacing a Patio with Bricks or Pavers

    After you’ve filled the cracks and have mowed and trimmed the lawn around the border of your concrete patio, you’ll be ready to start transforming it into something wonderful. Materials and tools you’ll need:

    • long-handled and course scrub brush
    • concrete cleaner or muriatic acid
    • garden hose
    • bucket
    • tape measure
    • chalk line
    • polyurethane construction adhesive
    • pavers
    • landscape fabric
    • wheelbarrow
    • shovel
    • rake
    • sand
    • utility knife

    With all your materials and tools ready-to-go, you can lay pavers over your concrete patio by following these steps:

    1. Start off with a good cleaning. Combine muriatic acid and water or use concrete cleaner to scrub your patio down. Put most of your efforts into the border because this is where you’ll be using adhesive to glue the border down to keep the pavers from shifting. Scrub it clean, then allow it to dry completely. Do this on a sunny day and sweep away any leaves that fall onto the patio.
    2. Lay the border down along the edges. Using a tape measure and chalk line, mark the lines where you’ll create the border. Then, glue the border pavers down directly over the concrete patio. Do this carefully and use adhesive smartly, you don’t want to use too much or too little. If you use too much, you’ll have to deal with the excess and too little won’t be enough to keep the border in-place for very long.
    3. Put down landscape fabric. After the adhesive has dried, then lay landscape fabric onto the bare concrete, but don’t cut it to size just yet. You should wait to do that after you’ve laid all the other pavers into place over the fabric covering the concrete patio.
    4. Lay the remaining pavers into place inside the border. Starting at one corner, work your way in a parallel direction and then lay the next row. You can also get creative and lay the pavers in another type of sequence to create one or more patterns.
    5. Cut off the excess landscape fabric. Once you’ve covered the entire patio surface, you might have extra landscape fabric. Simply cut off the excess with a utility knife.

    Now, you can furnish your newly transformed patio and use it for years to entertain family and friends.

  • How to Build a Beautiful Brick Patio

    If you want to add a bit more function and style to your backyard, increasing the size of your living and entertaining space, you call install a beautiful brick patio. You might believe this to be a colossal job, one that requires the skilled hand of an experienced tradesman, like a mason, but it’s actually not that difficult. However, it is time consuming and will take a lot of effort to get the job done right so you don’t have to call-in a professional to rescue a botched attempt.

    You only need a few common hand tools and the stamina and determination to do it right. This doesn’t mean it will be a cinch, but it will not be so complicated that you can’t handle it on your own. Of course, it’s always nice to have at least one set of helping hands and even better if that person is good with DIY projects.

    Types of Brick Patios

    You don’t necessarily have to just lay brick after brick in a linear, stock fashion, but you certainly can choose this very classic look, if you wish. There are actually six different types of configurations you have to choose from; and, depending on how much time you have to commit, along with your level of skill at laying bricks straight and within the confines of the border, you might just opt for something a bit more visually dazzling.

    It’s a common misconception that you have to hire a skilled mason to get a flat, uniformly handsome brick patio that stays that way. All you really need are a few hand tools, knee pads, and the determination not to cut corners. In fact, it takes more skill to build a simple wood deck than to put down a handsome surface. —This Old House

    Okay, so you can have the time-tested look that is just one after another in a straight line, across and out, which you can see is called “Jack on Jack.” You can stagger the bricks in a Running Bond fashion, making it a bit more visually appealing. Another option which is also a great choice is the classic Basket Weave, which invokes a more stylish look and feel, or, you can opt for shuffling it up a bit with the Half Basket Weave. The Herringbone is a more complex style, while the Diagonal Herringbone is for the truly adventurous.

    Regardless of the style you ultimately choose, you should take the time to carefully plan ahead. Not only for your budget, but for the time it will take and the size of your new brick patio. Once it’s installed, you can line the border with gravel, mulch, colorful plants, or just use border stones.

    Steps to Build a Beautiful Brick Patio

    The first thing you need to do is to gather the tools and materials you’ll need to install your new brick patio, which are as follows:

    • Bricks
    • Landscape fabric
    • Landscape spikes
    • Stone dust
    • 2 pipes and a 2×4-inch board for a screed
    • String
    • Nails
    • Level
    • Rubber mallet
    • Sod lifter
    • Plate compactor
    • Shovels
    • Rakes
    • Push broom(s)
    • Garden hose

    When you have your tools and materials together, you can then follow these steps to lay a beautiful brick patio:

    1. Using a sod lifter, clear the grass, digging down to two inches to get the roots of grass. You can transfer the sod to another area, but you’ll have to keep it watered for it to remain healthy and to grow in its new location.
    2. Shovel and rake the area you’ve dug up to make it as level as possible. The extra dirt can also be reused in another area, like a planter.
    3. Roll out the landscape fabric to form a weed-resistant barrier and to keep any grass from growing in the future.
    4. Take the two pipes and place them parallel apart about five feet. Then, fill in between the pipes with stone dust and use the 2×4-inch board to scrape off the excess. Do this in sections until the entire rooted area is filled with stone dust.
    5. Once the area is filled with stone dust, use the plate compactor to tamp down the dust and then repeat steps 4 and 5 as necessary until there is sufficient, compacted coverage. The stone dust should be about 3 inches thick for the best base.
    6. Nail two spikes or nails on either side down the precise middle to create a true centerline to work off of when laying the bricks. Check at least twice to ensure that your center line is indeed in the exact center to have an accurate marker.
    7. Start laying the bricks from the center out, beginning at the stringed center line, in the pattern that you desire. This is where the challenge will be greatest, especially if you’re laying the bricks in Diagonal Herringbone configuration.
    8. Use the plate compactor to carefully tamp the bricks down into the stone dust.

    Once the bricks are securely in-place, spread more stone dust over the entire patio and sweep it with a broom to fill in the cracks–you might have to do this two or more times. After the cracks are filled, spray the patio with a garden hose to finish.