What is Resort Style Living?

Well, have you have heard of “stay-cations?

Smart people have been investing in their property and finding ways to have the same experience they would at a fancy resort right in their own backyard.  

About 18 months ago we saw a trend where customers came back—somewhere around 2-3 years after we had done a huge detailed landscape design for them, and were now ready to take the leap.  Those investment dollars could have gone to a new beach condo, or a camper or RV.

They told me, “we decided not to do the beach thing”, or “we can travel on our points whenever we want the beach or skiing”, and ” its wasn’t going to be worth the maintenance and service headaches having an RV”. At the end of all that time, the common theme was to have more of that resort style at home.  Family is the most important element.  Being able to entertain at home saves time, there is not traffic, there are no calls from an HOA that there is an emergency, no HOA fees, no TSA delays, no parking fees, no maintenance headaches.  And if you already travel 3-4 days a week all you want to do is get back home.  Let us make it easy and enjoyable.

Here is a survey that shows the popularity of items being invested in that turn backyards into resorts.  Are any of these on your list?  Do you notice them when you go away on vacation?  Why not have them at home?

ASLA reveals top 10 trends in Landscape Architecture for 2017

ASLA reveals top 10 trends in Landscape Architecture for 2017

I recently attended the Techo-Bloc Contractor Showcase when it rolled into Annapolis.  WOW!  3 semi’s of materials and a rocking presentation by “Paver Pete” and friends.  A single day wasn’t enough to get my head around all the cool combinations we now have available.    We studied every element of what you’ll see next.  We did workshops on using better tools, being safer, underground structures like drainage and permeability, and best practices for installers.

Take a look at these shots from a build completed by Techo-Bloc just last year.

Techo-Bloc Borealis Seating, Raffinata Fire Pit

Techo-Bloc Borealis Seating, Raffinata Fire Pit, Lighting and water falls

Outdoor sound systems

Coastal Source Sound

Coastal Outdoor Sound and Lighting

And Lighting on the same wire as the Sound System

Grill, Pizza Oven, Root Beer Keg over a wood plank look called Borealis

Grill, Pizza Oven, Root Beer Keg over a wood plank floor look called Borealis

Resort Style Living

What does it cost to visit this resort? Nothing, it’s right outside your back door!

Resort Style Living

An Investment in Resort Style Living–It seems to be catching on!

It all starts with a phone call.  Tell me you want a resort style back yard and I’ll bring in the Landscape Architect who will get all the details right so it fits your needs, works in the space provided, and has that WOW factor I just experienced.  Then we’ll bring the best technicians and craftsmen to grade, create drainage, stabilize and install the finest paver materials available.  This can be yours!  Your call means we’ll start NOW!

Drown You Cares Away

I have built some neat backyards. Water slides through boulders, bridges over ponds, deck/patio combinations, a fishing hole you could swim in, lots and lots of pergolas, pavers, walkways, and steps–you name it. Lately we have been doing pondless waterfalls. Smaller versions of what you think of when I say “pond” but without the fish and mess and safety concerns for kids falling in.   Wait, did you say pondless?

Yep. Take a look—

Pondless Ceramic Pots, Water Feature

Pondless Ceramic Pots Water Feature

Large Mushroom Water Feature

Large Mushroom Water Feature

So with these systems we can add beauty and have a functional water feature in a limited space.  And there is very little maintenance compared to a pond that everyone should have one.  I’ve installed a few but never had the chance to hang out with the homeowners and see what it’s really like.  Busy busy busy.

I had that opportunity this weekend and a cookout.  Yes, a January cookout.  Great Idea, by the way.  It wasn’t all that cold and when night time came the fire pit was the perfect gathering place which kept the party going longer than it probably should have.

But the best place to relax was on the patio near the water feature.  Sitting in a chaise lounge, you really could really be in the moment.  There is something about the sound of water that clears your mind of all distractions and allows focus.  It complimented conversations and music alike.  Subliminally, it put all your busy-ness on hold. There is a certain calm to the sound of water.  I should put one on my desk, although I’m rarely there for long.

Pondless water feature design

Pondless water feature design

It can also look just like a mini-waterfall with plants and boulders.

But does it fit in my tiny back yard? Exactly!

Pondless waterfalls are achieved by recirculating the water after it passes through filtration and sediment control but on the surface, all you see is small stone and your choice of decor (boulders, plants, statuary, etc.).  Up at the top of the one shown here is the spillway for the waterfall, and there is a fibrous filter up there that you simply hose out if flow appears to be slowing. About once a month in summer is enough.  We do recommend to pull the pump out for the winter through that tall black spout in the picture, but we have people for that if you don’t want to mess with it.

Aquascape Inc. is a pond company in Illinois. They call themselves “The Pond Guys”  They’ve even been on TV show called “The Pond Stars”.  These guys are brilliant.  Zoologists and Construction guys who together come up with some of the most unique ways of making ponds more enjoyable.  This is one of their systems.  And I know they work better than anything else.  Take a look at their catalog for more ideas.  Most can be installed in one day.

 

Water Features are also good for attracting birds, but keep an eye on the water level.  They’ll spend hours splashing around in the basin or on top of the mushroom getting a drink.  We recommend either a timer on a hose bib set to refill daily for a certain period of time or, if you have irrigation, a zone can be installed for this purpose and set up in your controller.  Add some lighting in the splash zone and you won’t believe the look.

 

 

 

Can you still entertain outdoors in January?

We had an epic year out by the grill. Tried a few new recipes and had good friends over many times. It was really memorable. Did it come to a halt because the weather changed? No way!

Outdoor living has become a big part of how we enjoy our precious free time and there is no better place to do that than in your own backyard. All the comforts of home are still within reach, yet you can feel a world away. Best Tip: Your phone can recharge in a drawer for a while so you don’t hear it go off.

Once you have the living space set up the way you want, it seems your best friends want to stay longer and come more often; telling stories and making plans that keep the party going. Something like a deep seating resin wicker furniture set to hang out in or a fire pit for a gathering place make it that much easier to entertain.outdoor living, outdoor kitchen, outdoor entertaining, night life outdoors

BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE…So what do we do now that it’s getting colder? The ladies want to stay inside. Some say that’s ok, but we know you spent inordinate amounts of money to get her to like you, and she looks better than your buddies anytime of year. What if we could heat the outside seating area or under a screen porch setting economically and extend that summer party atmosphere?

prone outdoor heater, pyramidal heater, stay warm outdoors

Propan fired pyramidal outdoor heater

Have you seen the pyramid heaters at restaurants that are being provided near outdoor seating, especially at restaurants. Very popular in places like Disney World where you wouldn’t think about getting a chill but a chill could ruin the enjoyment of the patrons. Those places are packed every night.

I looked into some heating options because I’m not ready to give up being outdoors with friends and family. Basically it comes down to gas or electric and stand alone or ceiling mounted.

If you have natural gas at the house we can take a look at having the meter upgraded by BGE to flow more gas volume and having the meter changed doesn’t cost anything (although there is a waiting period). Propane works as well but isn’t as safe and the tanks are ugly. We can have our plumber route new lines and we can permanently mount a couple gas heaters if, for example, you have a screen room to warm up. On a deck, there are ways to mount cantilevered heaters on walls or off a small pergola and of course there are several portable types that run off 20# bottles like the top hat style or the pyramid (shown above). We did a man cave, ok converted garage, with portables and I know for a fact they have a standing room crowd for the football games on Sunday and no one is cold at all.

Electric Outdoor Heaters are also available if you don’t like the idea of using gas. This
makes for a clean installation and again there are stand alone models and ceiling mounts.

The most important thing to look for in an outdoor heater is how far it reaches.

  • Does it’s radiant heating footprint spread evenly or just melt the people closest to it?
  • Can it be adjusted easily?
  • Is there a remote or an app for that?
  • One of the things we do is evaluate the necessity for a single or multiple units.

The newest and most efficient heaters use tungsten elements and actually project fairly evenly out as far as 16-20 feet. One brand we really like is Bromic Heating. We love these for their beautiful design esthetics, ease of use and variety of mounting features. You can’t go wrong with a Bromic Heater. Here is a link to their brochure:  http://bromicheating.com/en-us/.  We are lucky enough to have a distributor right here in Millersville, MD where we can take you to see these in person.

Baby, Let’s stay outside a little longer…The first consultation is FREE.

3 things You could be doing right now to have a more relaxing Summer

bored kids, outdoor living spaces, fire pit

You put away the patio furniture but its still nice enough to be outside and you are staring out the window wishing for a BBQ or pool party.  The kids are driving you nuts being cooped up.  Remember the fun you had outside last Summer? But you don’t want to have the same old entertaining space as last year.  So, a flood of questions comes to mind…

1.)  Consulting with our Designers

Breezesta, Adirondack Chairs, outdoor living, outdoor furniture, outdoor furnishings

Breezesta Recycled Plastic Adirondack chairs  (click photo)

We have a warm cozy showroom full of products and solutions.  Now is the perfect time to explore your options.  Set up an appointment so we can meet you there and we’ll explore all your options.  What kind of upgrades would make it more enjoyable to spend more time outdoors?  Need a new Grill for sure; have you considered a smoker or an egg style?  www.amjlandscaping.com  Are you thinking about deep seating chairs?  What about some environmentally friendly recycled plastic Adirondacks? They come in any color you can imagine? A pub height table set? A bigger patio or a roof over your head?

 

Bring us your Pinterest and Houzz collections…we’ll help you sort them out!

Are you wondering if a fire pit would be a good idea?  Where should it be placed?   Do you have enough clearance under the tree branches?  Where will people sit–on the grass in chairs or on a patio? What about embers?  Maybe you want to pull gas from the house and use that to avoid the mess of wood?

family gathering, fire pit, summer's eve, outdoor living

The New Family Gathering Place (click photo)

This will take some thought, and that’s our job—

Come to AMJ Landscaping to get your questions answered.  

410-437-3027 to set your appointment.

 


2.)  Extend the amount of time you can spend outdoors at night

Its dark a lot earlier now and being able to see without the glare of spot lights is amazing. Safety is important—steps can be tricky if not lit properly.  So is ambiance.  Tell you a secret?  What you see at night looks totally different than the daytime view when we use LED landscape lights in all the right places.  Its Magical!

Two birds, one stone with LED Landscape Lighting.

Landscape lighting can be used to accent a water fountain, provide a backdrop and illuminate the textures and colors you see in the daylight, thus extending your enjoyment of the investment you put in the landscape into the night.   Downlighting through tree branches puts a pattern on the ground just like when there is a full moon shining through the trees during the Summer.


3.)  Put the finishing touches on your design ideas

Maybe you started a plan before but never got it quite the way you wanted?  Would a 3D preview make it come to life?  In 3D you can see different angles and get the whole picture better than any other format.  Changes made during construction can be costly, so why see it all right up front?  This house below was roasting in the afternoon sun so they couldn’t even consider being outside until well after dark.  No grilling, no reading the paper, no relaxing at all; and they also had 3 neighbors looking right into their back yard.  Click the photo to see the video composition of this and many other 3D designs…then call 410-437-3027 to schedule you appointment at AMJ.

 We’ll help you explore all your options.

Vinyl pergola, outdoor furniture, outdoor living, outdoor entertaining, 3D Landscape Design

3D Perspective of a great Landscape Design

Finding Solutions is the hardest part of the process.  We believe there are many good installers, but getting it just right is a whole other thing.  AMJ would like to offer our services to make sure your backyard paradise is truly heaven on earth!  410.437.3027

Ready for Something New?

Let us know what you didn’t get  from your holiday wish list and we will plan now for a Spring Installation

Fill out the request form below so we can help Design and Build your new:

Patio, Outdoor Kitchen,  New Grill or Pizza Oven?

New Outdoor Deep Seating Furniture?

Fire Pit with Sitting area and seating wall?

New 3D Design for the whole yard (only $399)

Yard maintenance program for 2015?

Fertilization, weed control, tree and shrub pest control programs?

Irrigation Services and Updating Landscape Lighting to LEDs?poolside outdoor-lighting

AMJ Is your one stop place for most everything outdoor.  If we don’t do it in-house, we will recommend the best people we know.

Ask AMJ first:  Call 410.437.3027

Landscape Lighting

It’s getting dark earlier, you’ve put away the patio furniture, the cool evening air we have been enjoying has turned down right crisp. Time to pack up the grill, put away the patio furniture and head indoors right? Wrong!!! modern-design-outdoor-patio-lighting

Pumpkin Lattes, Spiced drinks and Trick or Treating are right around the corner and we have a Treat for you! 
AMJ Landscaping is offering to extend the use of your Landscape Design through the winter. 

As AMJ Landscaping’s Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer, I can add low voltage LED path lights and a few strategically placed fixtures around your home, under trees or looking down from the roof corners to provide a more enjoyable atmosphere and allow you to stay outdoors a little longer. The fixtures mounted on your home are designed to spread light across an area and are usually very bright, almost blinding. Outdoor Landscape Lighting is designed to enhance the surroundings, put emphasis on the beauty you have created and highlight areas of safety without being noticed. Think about what your yard looks like when there is a full moon out. There is a big difference.

Want to see for your self? 
I can set up a demo kit at your home so you can see for yourself. Call the office to set an appointment with me 410.437.3027. Be warned though, I will take the demo lights away after a few days and you’ll wish they were still there.

Landscape designs are meant to be enjoyed from Indoors too.
Being able to see the same landscape in a different “light” brings a whole new value to the project we’ve already completed. Your landscape comes alive in very different way during the winter and we here at AMJ Landscaping would like to help you enjoy your investment all year round.

There is also a safety factor
Home Security is another reason to have outdoor lighting, law enforcement will tell you a lit home is less likely to be burglarized.
Or, say you have to let the dogs out…ever have trouble seeing see where they are in the yard? What about something as simple as family coming over for dinner? We don’t want anyone to fall and get hurt, that just puts a damper on the party. Outdoor lighting steps safer

Energy Savings with LEDs
The great thing about LED’s in Outdoor Landscape Lighting is they run on far less power than the bulbs in your house fixtures and LEDs last up to 5 times longer. Now you can have Outdoor Landscape Lighting and not pay through the nose for it.

It’s always good to come home. Outdoor Lighting for a long driveway
AMJ Landscaping’s Outdoor Lighting Team will set up your system on a digital timer that can run from say, 5 pm-Midnight and pop back on from 5:30am-7am so everyone can get out the door in the morning. If you work like I do, it’s dark when I leave and dark when I get home. After a long day at work I get to enjoy a peaceful moment when I drive up and see my landscapes, the stone work on the house and my walkways lit up when I get home. It’s always good to come home.

We spend a lot of time out on the back patio at my house in the fall too. Our steps are lit and the lights on the posts of the deck overhead cast a nice glow on the patio. We have up lit a few large trees on the perimeter so the yard doesn’t seem so small and scary. From indoors we have a perspective of the yard that didn’t exist before we added landscape lighting. This year we are adding a fire pit, so it’ll be warm out there…for sure to get a lot of use. Might be a better investment than a hot tub.techo pit close up

Call me Today, I’ll do a FREE consultation at your home. 410.437.3027
www.amjlandscaping.com

Regards,
John

The new Family Gathering Place is the FirePit

Nothing is more exciting than having a fire pit in the back yard!family enjoying fire pit

  • Smores, marshmallows and hot dogs
  • Causal Conversation
  • Extend the summer evenings into Fall/Winter
  • Easy to maintaincustom fire pit
  • Wood or Gas
  • Decorative Fireglass available for Gas units
  • A few hours less of reality TV
  • All Ages can Enjoy!

 

Get started for less with EP Henry’s Fire Pit Kit– it comes complete with segmental wallstones and caps, copper basin and a fire screen.  We have one outside our Customer Design Center you can try out for size and effect.  Installed price for the EP Henry Kit is $2450 locally.

firepit kit, EP Henry Coventry Wall

EP Henry Fire Pit Kit

Add a gas burner up to 400K Btus with custom color glass for easy use and no cleanup.  AMJ Landscaping can provide the plumbers and electricians too.firepit with glass

HPC Burner

250K Btu x 37″ penta burner by HPC

 

Get creative and make it a centerpiece for a new table.  Need Ideas? Call 410.437.3027 Today!

16741

 

I Will Miss Being Here Everyday

This Landscape Design Project is my favorite and I will miss coming to this house every day.  I am lucky enough to meet great people and help them find answers and solutions to issues in their yards.  It a great job.  Some times we meet about a drainage issue, an irrigation problem or they have finally made the decision to revise the landscape that has overgrown the front of the house.  Lately the calls have been to add some LED lighting around the back yard.  A handful of times a year it’s something that requires a fully designed landscape plan.  Really enjoy those, especially when it comes time to add color to the full scale landscape architect’s plan.  Takes me back to when I was a kid.

Little children at the library doing crafts

Last summer I had a request for a screen room.  Seems simple enough.  I always approach projects with the mindset of what I would like to see happen if it were my house, so off I went to the drawing board.

Before photo from back of house in pasadena, md

This would be a second floor level screen room on a deck.  It had to be a statement piece, and it had to connect to an existing roof line.  Customer said,  “let’s see what you can come with…and I think I want a fire pit somewhere too, and just in case, think about what if we want to add a pool – maybe”. And there should be some way to connect it to the back yard and the customer’s home office…   Actually, all the individual elements of even a project like this are things we do anyway.  Fantastic conversation.

My mind was whirring through the litany of questions to be answered.  Second floor kitchen also means a walk out basement and that indicates the need for a transitional space and how are we going to get there from the driveway? The grade already slopes away from the house at odd angles, so there will be some machine work and landscaping to do.  Also have to renovate the irrigation to fit the new arrangement and figure out how to use led lighting to extend the length of time they can enjoy these new spaces, plus add safety.  What about the trees that are in the way, will the County let us remove them?  This thing is getting huge.  Great, here come the permit issues.  Love this stuff.  Not the customer’s problem, they just wanted “a nice screen room off the back”.  “And maybe a place for some chairs and the grill”, she added.

Two weeks later we had a design concept (yes, colored in) and when I laid this out on their kitchen table…Design Rendering - Color - AMJ LandscapingDesign Concept Plan_20150224_0001

There was a moment of silence or two, possibly some cursing under his breath, and then My Customer only asked one question, “When can you start?” I asked for some details about their lifestyle and how they thought it would look at the end so we could spec the materials and wouldn’t you know…

Thank you Pinterest?

My Customers sent me 25 different boards of ideas!  Guess they had planned this for a while.  We sorted through the possibilities over the next two weeks while permits where being processed and narrowed it down to what both made sense and was a good value.

Our carpenters had already spec’d it out with me, we had provided all the design, elevation and deck engineering drawings so we got it approved by the County pretty quickly.  Standard stuff.

Our discussions led to other non-structural details like beams and exposed ceilings in the screen room, a new door out of the home office where there was now a bow-window and finally to material orders.  Should we change the outside fixtures and what about the color of the glass for the fire pit, what about electrical and gas supplies, drainage, landscaping and can we connect power to the shed while we are at it?   So many details to cover and coordinate but possibly the most fun I’ve had.

Then, we got hung up by the weather after an October start and couldn’t complete everything until this spring but what a transformation.Outdoor Living concept brought to life

Hurdles? There was the process of getting an upgraded meter for the gas service to supply the HPC 250,000 btu fire pit burner.  All I can say is start early on that one.  Its like getting an appointment with the doctor.  Weather was definitely the number one factor.  Delivery of materials and on the fly, modifications to the grading, drainage and irrigation systems, the additional requirement of a LDL beam to open up the patio space under the deck was a brilliant call by the carpenters. The changes for material unavailability such as the under deck ceiling that no one had in the amount of square footage we needed – these could keep you up at night.  But we had daily conversations and as the Customers saw it coming to life they wanted to have more input.  That’s why we discussed progress and options, daily.  Because as it goes from paper to being alive and 3D, that is to be expected.  Talking daily and walking the site in person plus having done so much research on the front end, the Customer’s goals were very clear in terms of functionality, style and appearance.  These folks had great ideas and were certain in what they expected and that conversation every day helped keep things on track.

Maybe I should just put up a hammock in the trees.  Do you think they’ll notice if I hang out a while longer?

Want to see more?  Visit our Houzz site below and “like” the project, but here are a few sneak peeks:

Screen Room Interior Outdoor Living and Landscape pasadena md Cedar woodworking and screen room after photo

http://www.houzz.com/projects/1494333 for the most accurate chronological grouping and we have a couple of videos out on the Facebook Page 🙁https://www.facebook.com/AMJLandscapingInc/ )

Most importantly, if you have an idea in your head and need help getting it moving toward reality, send me a message.  We’ll have fun with whatever it is and I’ll make sure it turns out just as nice.—John

John Gallagher, AMJ Landscaping

Retaining Water in Potted Plants

Need your potted plants watered while you are away?

Call 410.437.3027 to schedule and get a quote.

We also have a product called Terra-Sorb…it appears like tiny jello-like pebbles but it holds up to 10 times its weight in water, then slowly releases the water into the soil.  A small handful in each plant helps keep the soil moist longer than daily watering alone can.

Call 410.437.3027 to schedule and get a quote.

Plants getting eaten by pests?  We have a Maryland Licensed Spray Applicator on staff who can identify the pests, molds, fungi, etc and recommend appropriate action.

Call 410.437.3027 to schedule and get a FREE Inspection.

Colorful Umbrellas

Don’t get burnt in your own backyard!

 

AMJ Landscaping has new umbrellas available for orderLED lighting for patio umbrellas

7.5’, 9.0’ tilting  plus 11′ Cantilevered styles.

  • Varying levels of assist and tilt
  • Sunbrella fabrics
  • Shipped Direct to your door for FREE.

See them on our website:   www.amjlandscaping.com , click Services then Outdoor Furniture

Free Shipping if ordered by May 31, 2013