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Paver Patio and Timber Frame Pergola Project

pergola, patio, landscape
a quaint backyard landscape in Allentown pa

Timber frame pergola. Garden Design Inc. completed the  timber frame pergola project pictured in Allentown PA, during the summer of 2014. The client contacted us to review ideas for creating a new outdoor living space. She started with the idea of a new patio in her backyard and a place to put a grill. The property had more opportunities for outdoor living than just a patio installation. The first step was to determine the clients budget. Once she expressed an interest in spending more than just a patio would cost, we began to discuss the range of additional project features.

The first constraint was a large cherry tree very close to her sunroom addition. It limited the flow and use of the adjacent space, and it made a big mess in areas she wanted to have patio space. But, it also provided shade. I suggested the possibility of removing the tree and installing a pergola overhead. The pergola would provide some shade and define the outdoor room adjacent to the sunroom. The client liked the idea and thus we added that additional design direction and element. The next constraint was how and where to put the grill. Since she was in the market for a new grill anyway, I suggested a built in outdoor kitchen. Nothing extravagant, just a simple grill station. The built in element would allow for a more unified design.

The client is an active gardener and has an eclectic backyard landscape. The plantings and the elements are organic in form and character with nothing being formalistic. Reflecting that aesthetic, we designed a timber frame pergola constructed with rough, large Douglas fir lumber. The pergola would be constructed in the timber frame approach with mortise and tenon joints, pegs and wood brackets. It will be allowed to turn grey naturally and not be oiled to maintain the yellow, new cut color. The pergola is designed architecturally as an extension of the sun room and the two sliding doors leading to the landscape.

The outdoor kitchen was designed with enough space to function as a grill station and allow for a bar overhang at one end. The overhang bar seating area accommodates two stools so a couple guests can visit with the cook while she is grilling. Or, the grandchildren can eat at the bar while the adults eat at the outdoor dining table. The grill itself is professional quality Delta Heat. Delta Heat grills are a great quality for perhaps the lowest price in the professional grill range. The countertop is granite and a propane line was run tot he outdoor kitchen to eliminate the need to switch grill tanks.

The patio is designed with two levels. The upper main patio includes the pergola area and the outdoor kitchen. The lower patio is oriented to the pond. The client picked a CST ‘Ridgestone’ concrete paver with a natural cleft finish. The edges of the patio have curb stone to hold the planting beds and define the patio form. Outdoor lighting was installed in the step risers and path lights were installed around the patio. Kichler landscape lighting fixtures were chosen by the client.

The end result was a quaint outdoor living space with unique architectural elements to define the use and character. We enjoyed working with the client during the landscape design process and the landscape construction phase of the project.

 

 

Concrete Patios – Landscape Design

cocnrete patio_allentown pa
Concrete patios for landscape design

With the popularity of concrete paver patios, many homeowners neglect to closely review the options for concrete patios. The mention of a concrete patio can bring to mind the boring white slab tacked onto the back of a house. But concrete patios can be designed in dynamic and interesting forms. In some modern or contemporary landscape design aesthetics, concrete is a more appropriate choice. Concrete technologies have also evolved to include aesthetically attractive finish options. Installed properly, a concrete patio is a low maintenance and cost conscious approach to building an outdoor living space in your landscape projects.

Concrete patios offer a clean, simple and elegant opportunity when a modern landscape design aesthetic is preferred. It offers the opportunity to create large seamless slabs, simple flat colors and strong geometric patterns with cut expansion joints. That style cannot be achieved with the numerous pieces of a modular concrete paver.

Poured in place concrete patios involve less maintenance material than the concrete paver. With all the joints in a paver patio, individual pieces may settle or shift and moss or weeds may grow in the joints. Concrete paver patios need to be pressure washed and have new joint sand added to keep a fresh and clean appearance. Done properly, a concrete patio eliminates those maintenance issues indicative of a paver patio.

Concrete patios are around 25% less expensive than a paver patio. That cost saving will vary by 5-10% depending on the project site access and the finish style. A stamped concrete patio will cost more than a textured concrete patio. A textured concrete patio will cost more than a flat finish patio. Concrete patio’s also require less installation time and expedite a projects completion.

I personally am do not like stamped concrete finishes. The illusion never works and the result always looks contrived when the stamps try to make a concrete look like brick or flagstone. However, I do like the result if the stamp is simple and geometric, meant only to create a pattern and not the appearance it is something other than what it really is. I do also like a finish called ‘textured’ concrete. In this case is ‘stamped’ with very large sheets creating the cleft one would see on a large stone. The patio is then loosely scored for control joints. The result is clearly concrete that is not pretending to be something else, but it has a texture one would find in nature. Textured concrete patios have a comfortable sense of place and can be interesting without being contrived.

Some people can be snobs about concrete patios. I like them when done properly. They can be as nicer than a paver patio depending on the overall landscape design. Concrete offers a great value since it is less expensive than pavers, and it has more structural integrity. But, it must be installed properly with good sub-grade compaction and proper control joints to reduce the risk of any cracking. The quality depends on a professional landscape design and highly qualified concrete installers.