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.

 

 

 

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

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

Putting your TAX dollars to work

Now is the time to plan where your tax dollars will do you the most good.flagstone patio, outdoor living, night lighting

Investing in your home is always a smart move, and we have some cool new products this season.

Is it going to be some new patio furniture, a better grill, a smoker, a fire pit?

Do you want to replace an old walkway? Replant the gardens? Add LED lighting or Irrigation?

What about the relaxing sound of a water feature?Basalt column water feature

Prepay NOW for annual lawn maintenance and we will give you an extra 5% off.  The government isn’t going to give you a break like that!

CAll 410.438.3027 today for a FREE Consultation!