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Category Archives: landscape company

Hardscaping Companies – Patios & Walkways

walkway
Paver Walkway

How do you pick from  all the choices of Hardscaping Companies?  You  want to hire a hardscape contractor to build your patio or walkway. A certified professional and a good design is a start. You want a fair price, integrity and customer service. The best first step is to ask friends for referrals. Next, keep an eye around the neighborhood for companies doing work locally. And do your research on the internet and by calling references.

What makes a quality hardscaping contractor? There are two major certifications in the hardscape industry. They pertain to patios, walkways and retaining walls. The  certifications are ICPI and NCMA.  Check for that or see if the employees attend Techo-bloc training. Will the contractor take you to see other projects they built? That is a big indicator of quality and customer relations.  Are past clients willing to show off their patio and compliment the harscape contractor?

What makes quality hardscape design?  A trained and experienced designer. A four year landscape degree  from an accredited school. Ten years of experience minimum.  Hands on knowledge of the materials and techniques. Ask your design prospects about these. Ask to see examples of design work. for hardscape projects. A good design is the critical first step for a successful project.

hardscaping companies
Paver Walkway Emmaus

How do you get a fair price? Ask the hardscaping companies how they price the projects. Do they price hardscaping by the square foot?  If so, ask them  the square foot price for pavers. Or do they estimate time and materials?  Will they share a line item summary of those time and materials? Ask them how their price compares to other local companies.

Check with local hadscaping companies suppliers. Ask them about the local contractors. The hardscape suppliers will refer you to good companies.  And they will help you pick hardscape materials. They will have paver displays to show you the choices.  They may even have patios and walkway displays.

Review the company on line. Check the companies website. Read the ‘about us’ section. Does the site give tell you about the company owner?  The design team? The staff and field technicians? Is their credentials and experience detailed? Review all the pictures of completed projects.  Read the testimonials by other clients?  Check the  the Google Reviews. Review the social media site like Facebook and Instagram.

Hardscaping Companies build projects you will want to have last for many years. Take your time in picking a hardscape contractor. Be patient. and do your research.

Garden Design Inc. is one of many good Hardscaping Companies in Allentown, PA. We are proud to suggest other quality hardscape contractors to our prospective clients.  We want our clients to  interview several contractors and get a few designs and estimates.

Techo Bloc Paver Projects

Techo Bloc Paver
Techo Bloc Paver Project

We have used many concrete paver products over the years, but today it’s all Techo Bloc paver projects. We find that Techo Bloc paver is the cutting edge of both design and quality. The Techo Bloc company  is a leader in contractor support. They provide annual training seminars and the customer representatives are very accessible.  And our local supplier AB Stone is a valued partner. The display paver patios and walkways at AB Stone help our clients pick the right Techo Bloc product for their project.

The project in this article uses three types of Techo Bloc pavers. The pavilion and outdoor kitchen are arranged over a Techo Bloc Travertina slab. The pavilion is a custom designed project with 18′ spacing between the posts. This allowed for a more flexible space to accommodate outdoor living. The Travertina patio has an outdoor kitchen by GenSun.

The steps from the home are Techo Bloc mini creta bloc. The treads are made with Techo Bloc Piedmonte caps. This wide set of steps allows for versatile access to the landscape project. A raised patio is placed adjacent to the house. This was required because of a root cellar below. But the constraint lead to a unique design outcome. The rocking chairs make cozy patio for two.

Eva paver
Techo Bloc Steps and EVA patio

Steps lead down to the causal patio with Techo Bloc Eva pavers. The permieter of that patio has Antika pavers. The contrasting pavers make a unique patio. This one is not like any other. Techo bloc offers a very wide and unique range of products. That allows for this sort of custom patio. The range of paver products gives the homeowner and landscape designer options. And Techo Bloc products have some of the best colors and textures available.

Antika Paver
Antika and Eva Techo Bloc Pavers

Techo bloc continues to innovate. And their new products offer exciting options. Check out the link above to review all the products and ideas. Then call us to design and install your Techo Bloc paver projects.

Antika and Eva
Antika Paver & Eva Paver

Landscape Maintenance for Spring

Bloodgood Maple
Spring Landscape Maintenance for Summer Beauty

What is your spring landscape maintenance plan? We all want to get our landscape gardens off on the right roots so we can enjoy a healthy, thriving and vibrant landscape through the spring, summer and fall. Spring landscape maintenance plans start with general plant and bed maintenance, followed by shrub pruning, perennial cutbacks, fertilizing, mulching and edging beds. Garden Design Inc. offers full service Spring Landscape Maintenance and ongoing landscape services for Allentown, Emmaus and the entire Lehigh Valley Landscape companies.

March – April  Landscape Maintenance

Overview:  Plants begin to break dormancy. Work done now sets tone for remainder of season. Good Garden Hygiene will reduce needs for excessive pesticide and herbicide throughout the season

General Plant Maintenance:

  • Cut back and cleanup dead and decayed perennial growth from prior season
  • Prune any dead branching from woody shrubs and small trees
  • Weed removal – winter weeds bittercrest, chickweed dandelion etc.
  • Check for Scale and treat with Horticultural Oil
  • Divide Perennials – where appropriate to fill in and encourage healthier growth.

Infrastructure Maintenance:

  • Exposed lighting wire or irrigation tubing – dig and bury
  • Check lighting systems, replace bulbs as needed, adjust timer as needed
  • Check downspouts and drains for clogs or other issues
  • Inspect hardscapes for heaving – repair lifting or shifting paving
  • Inspect general garden drainage and resolve any washout problems
Landscape Maintenance
Landscape Gardens Allentown

Perennials:

  • Mow Liriope, Epimedium and other appropriate cutback groundcovers
  • Hand groom Fern, Hellebore, Bergenia, Geranium (semi-evergreen perennials)
  • Uncover plant crowns and ‘press down’ from winter heave
  • Cutback and Divide Grasses

Flowering Shrubs:

  • Rejuvenate Pruning – on heavy bloomers – Roses, Spirea, Hydrangea, Weigela
  • Selective Pruning – to Form/Shape larger woody flowering shrubs i.e. Viburnum
  • Reduction Pruning – Reduce 1/3 old wood past seasons i.e. Red Twig Dogwood

Evergreen Shrubs:

  • Rejuvenate Pruning – form oriented shrubs i.e. boxwood and ilex
  • Selective Pruning – Remove dead and damaged wood
  • Disease & Pest – Inspect and treat Scale and psyllid (boxwood)

Trees:

  • Selective Pruning – Remove dead/diseased wood and prune minor to good form
  • Remove reversions, scions and root sucker growth

Fertilizing:

  • Perennials – Fertilize around the crown, not on it
  • Shrubs – fertilize 3-5” around the drip line, not inside or beyond
  • Trees – Fertilize 6-12” around the drip line. Deep plug fertilize every 48”

Mulch:

  • Cut bed edges – Check work order for specification Hand Edge vs. Machine
  • Note prior over mulching and remove/spread out before new mulch
  • Install mulch between plants – do not ever dump onto a plant!
  • Move mulch around plants, never closer than 1” to crown or trunk
  • Never bury crown, trunk or branching in mulch
  • Never over mulch around any plant (2” Maximum)

Landscaping Allentown PA

Landscaping allentown
A landscaping Project in Allentown PA

A variety of landscape business options are available for landscaping Allentown pa. How do you choose which landscaping companies to call? If you have an extensive landscape project in mind, you first priority is the landscape designer. Look for a landscaping company with a highly regarded landscape designer. Review their landscape plans for other projects. Are you looking for patio designs or landscape gardens? How well does the landscape designer know landscape trees and shrubs?  Ask to see before and after pictures with the landscape plans. Landscaping Allentown pa requires a qualified landscpae designer first.

Allentown Landscaping companies range in quality of their tradesman.  When choosing an Allentown Landscaping Company, ask the following questions. Are the installers skilled and certified landscape professionals? Are they certified landscape technicians? Do they attend educational seminars? How long have they been with the Allentown Landscaping Companies? Are they generally clean cut and professional landscapers? Landscaping Allentown PA is best served by skilled landscape professionals.

Lehigh Valley Landscaping Companies can be evaluated by how long they have been in business. Do you want a company landscaping Allentown PA who just bought their first shovel yesterday? Many people think that landscape gardeners may not need to be experienced. They think landscape gardeners just pull weeds. But professional landscapers must be trained horticulturalist who know plant cultures, diseases and proper pruning techniques. An Allentown Landscaping company that has been in business over 20 years proves they are qualified landscape professionals.

Read the reviews! Landscape company reviews are spread across today internet, Just look up Landscaping Allentown PA and reviews to find information from your friends and neighbors. These reviews are your most important tool in determining the quality of an Allentown Landscape Company. Good companies have lots of good reviews. For example, Garden Design Inc reviews at Google, Facebook, Houzz & Yelp. You can try the internet sites that claim to review local contracting companies, but overall these are just money making ventures that don’t accurately represent quality landscape companies in the Allentown landscaping market. But of them all, Angie’s List is probably the best.

Perhaps you are here wanting the names of specific companies to call. Of course, we want the potential Landscaping Allentown PA customer to give us a chance at Garden Design Inc. But there are other very good choices. Plantique is the oldest Allentown Landscaping Company. They have skilled craftsman and quality landscape designers. Western Lehigh Landscaping has been around a while and I’ve always been impressed with the quality of their work. These are the most established three companies, most award winning, most skilled landscape designers generally best know for custom residential landscape projects. There are a handful of Allentown Landscaping companies, who do good work but are not as well known for the quality of their landscape designs in the specific Landscaping Allentown PA market.

 

How much does a Paver Patio Cost? – The influence of Labor Costs

paver patio
Paver Patio in Lower Macungie

How much does a paver patio cost ? A standard concrete paver patio cost in the landscape client anywhere from $14 per square foot to $25 per square foot in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. If you want a specific price and not a broad price range for your patio project, go to one of the many HomeInfo type websites. They will give a very narrow price range for the question ‘how much does a paver patio cost’. But, they aren’t accurate and don’t account for the broad range of landscape design and landscape construction factors of each unique patio landscape project. Those sites list prices at least 20% less than built project pricing. If you want to understand the more complex factors of a paver patio price and why the range is so broad, keep reading. This first article will focus on the cost of landscape labor in relation to the price per square foot for a concrete paver patio in the Allentown region.

First let me qualify my experiences and knowledge base with regard to these price ranges for concrete paver patios. Those price per square foot price ranges are based on over 30 years of real world professional experience in four different states across the country. It is also based on conversations with other professional associates in this hardscaping industry; professionals who practice in California, North Carolina, Maryland and more diverse locations. Finally, it is based on conversations with concrete paver manufacturing companies who are knowledgeable of the range of landscape contractor pricing for paver patios in Allentown, Macungie, Emmaus, Coopersburg and Bethlehem.

patio allentown
Techo-Bloc Paver Patio Construction Allentown

This discussion is specifically about paver patio pricing in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. And more specifically it pertains to paver patio pricing in Allentown, Lower Macungie, Emmaus, Coopersburg and Bethlehem area landscape projects. When combined, the Lehigh Valley is the third largest metropolitan region in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia and Pittsburg. Location affects labor costs which are the first factor in paver patio pricing. Though the discussion of landscape labor costs relate specifically the Lehigh Valley, the principles can be applied anywhere.

Labor is the most significant and most varied cost involved in a paver patio project. The skilled landscape labor force in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton is competitive since the areas unemployment is low. This means landscape labor costs are higher than many other regions. Local business owners report that finding qualified labor is the biggest landscape business challenge. Average wages for a hardscape professional are high compared to other moderately trained physical labor. Not only is labor is the most significant cost in the price of a paver patio, it is also the most significant factor for the quality of the patio when completed.

Labor cost variations influence the range of the square foot price for a concrete paver patio. Landscape clients can hire a patio landscape company from the Allentown area who will build a paver patio for $14/sf. Those companies will pay their employees the lowest wages and thus generally have the least experienced installers. They are likely younger, less experienced and unsupervised. They may have high employee turnover and a work culture of ‘who cares’ because they are just there for now and will move on to a better job soon enough, with higher pay. The cuts will be less accurate, the joints less tight, and the base less well compacted. An established, reputable landscape company in Allentown may charge $18/sf for the same patio. Such a landscape company will have employees who have been with the company for some years and are loyal because they are treated well and paid fairly. Employees who are dedicated to a company are also dedicated to a quality product because they realize the employee and the company survive and grow together. Reputable, established companies take the time required to ensure high quality so that the patio lasts. Supervision, safety and benefits all help the professional patio installer create a better quality patio. You may pay more up front, but in the long run you will save money by note having to repair and replace. When picking a company, ask about the employees. How long have they been with the company? What benefits are offered? Get to know your landscape contractor and the company culture. Then you can find that balance of price and quality with regard to labor costs and what the employees are paid.

The cost of overhead is the next labor factor in the price of a patio. The least expensive overhead is often a company where the owner does the paver patio installation along with a helper or two. They may operate out of the owner’s home property further reducing overhead costs. The owner likely wears all the hats with the help of a part time bookkeeper/accountant. Design is seldom as creatively and thoroughly addressed up front as the creativity can happen during the process with the owner hands on. That has many draw backs, and some benefits. This owner/operator is less often trained in business or landscape design, but may have a unique natural ability in those areas. But be careful, a company like that can be more expensive. Since the owner is out doing the work, that on the job labor cost is high.

The highest cost landscape patio companies are front office heavy with an owner(s), a business manager, a designer and a bookkeeper.  They tend to have larger property and equipment overheads to manage and thus employee fleet managers and yard staff. They will tend to be at the most expensive end of the paver patio price range because all those indirect labor costs must be covered in your paver patio price. They tend to leak money at all the edges, duplicate tasks, and have bloated payrolls. In theory, this can be overcome if the company can maintain high volumes of sales and create an economy of scale. My experience and observation is shows that to be the rare exception.

patio design allentown
Techo-Bloc Paver Patio Design Allentown

Somewhere between the owner/operator and the corporate large company is the tightly run professional landscape design build company. The owner may have a college degree and be a capable business man, landscape designer and people manager. She runs a tight ship, works lots of hours and wears many hats well. The client has a direct personal relationship with the owner during the entire design and construction process. And there is a clear line of responsibility for quality. These companies can have a ‘family’ type work culture resulting in the highest levels of loyalty and dedication to quality. Generally, this scenario yields the best price to quality ratio. In the Allentown, Emmaus, Coopersburg and Lower Macungie areas, paver patios may cost in the $18 to $22 per square foot for a small professional landscape company where the owner wears many hats but does not do the actual construction.

These generalizations are intended to share a framework of thoughts regarding the general price range of a paver patio in the Allentown region. If you are considering a landscpae project, ask the salesman ‘how much does a paver patio cost’. How they answer will shed light on the type of company you are dealing with. There are exceptions to the three categories. I know of large corporate companies, small owner/operators, and landscape design build companies that all build a quality product at a very competitive and similar price. This discussion of landscape labor in relation to paver patio pricing is intended to encourage the potential patio buyer to research a company’s labor culture. Ask how long employees have been with the company. Ask the companies philosophy about labor. Does the employee work for the company or does the company work for the employee and the client? Get to know who will build your patio. Are the landscape technicians polite, neat and organized, reputable and safe? Do they respect the company, like working with the company, plan to stay? Focus first on labor quality and costs in the process of determining the cost to value balance in paver patio pricing.

 

Outdoor Fireplace and Patio Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley Outdoor Fireplace Patio Landscape
Outdoor Fireplace with patio and wood pergola

An outdoor fireplace is a common desire for homeowners who want to expand their outdoor living in the landscape. This project was completed by a Lehigh Valley Landscape company. The outdoor fireplace is a synthetic stone. The pergola is a standard milled lumber. And the patio is a Techo-bloc paver patio. This is a lot of landscape design elements to fit into a small project area. But the patio furniture arrangements show that the space can afford a variety of outdoor rooms.

The outdoor fireplace is a custom design constructed with a synthetic molded stone. These manufactured stone products help keep the overall cost low by minimizing the masonry labor. The fireplace does have a firebrick liner in the fire box. It does not have a true smoke chamber designed for optimal draft. A true smoke chamber will add about $1,500 to the price of the outdoor fireplace. The overall price was around $15,000. That is a standard outdoor stone fireplace price in the Lehigh Valley.

The wood pergola is constructed with standard milled, pressure treated lumber. After a season of aging, it can be stained to add more character. The pergola defines the outdoor fireplace room. Outdoor LED lighting in the pergola can provide landscape lighting for evening entertainment. The price of the pergola was about $7,500 with some custom details. Pergola by Lehigh Valley landscape company

The paver patio is a is constructed with Techo-bloc pavers. The seat wall allowed the patio to be cut into the hillside. The wall is made with Techo-bloc wall stone. Boulder steps lead to the patio. The price for the patio and walls was approximately $8,500. The paver patio was provided by Lehigh Valley landscape company.

The landscape plantings were designed by Garden Design Inc. Evergreen privacy shrubs are placed at the perimeter. Flowering perennials decorate the top of the wall. Flowering shrubs include hydrangea and knockout roses. The landscape package cost approximately $3,500.

 

This ouotdoor firepalce, paver patio, pergola and landscape project cost a total of around $30,000. It was constructed by Lehigh Valley landscape companies. Follow link below for a YouTube video of the outdoor living spaces.