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Tag Archives: lehigh valley

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.

 

Landscape Design Theory – Tools of the Design Process

landscape design gesture
Gesture in landscape design, long linear allee, brick wall and perennial garden

Landscape design theory is a process of building ideas in a visual format. The material creation of a design relies on the tangible tools of art and drafting – pens, pencils, paints, computers etc. The methodology of design relies on the less tangible tools of knowledge gathered through education and experience.  Those tools of design theory and principles guide the creation and   will determine the quality of the meaning, form and ideas expressed in the visual representation.

Design ideas start as intangible firings of neurons in the designer’s brains, creating vague mental images and emotions. They are inspired by the inception of a design program and a site (real or imaginary). The program is the ‘what to create’, ‘what is the purpose’, ‘who is the user’ and the ‘how will it operate or be experienced’. The site is usually a specific geographically defined area in the case of landscape design. Conceptual or transitory design projects can be based on an imaginary site or meant to travel various sites. Once the program and the site are established, then designer is ready to apply the tools of design to the process of creation.

The ‘concept’ is the first landscape design theory tool required once the program and site are established. Concepts are macro level design tools that guide the entire process. This was discussed in a previous blog and won’t be readdressed here (see Landscape Design Concepts – Principles of Landscape Architecture May 22, 2014). Once the macro tool of a concept is defined, designers can begin the process of resolving the program, the site and the concept into a cohesive and successful design. That process of design resolution relies on the ever expanding set of design theory and design principle tools. We add more tools to the tool box if we continue to grow as designers.

One of my favorite landscape design theory tools is ‘the gesture’. A design gesture is a sweeping movement directing the experience toward a note of significance. Gestures can be subtle in approach and create a surprising discover. Such is the case with the long arch of a gravel path, elegantly defined with a simple border planting, sweeping around to an unseen groove of mystery. That would be an intimate and even personal type of gesture in the landscape. At the other end of the spectrum, an allee in the garden design creates a very formal and directed experience.  Gestures can be playful, majestic, axiomatic, or illusional just to specify a few of the possible ways to use the gesture tool in design. A gesture is an implication that does not spell out the exact nature of the intent. It is one of my favorite tools used in choreographing landscape design.

This article is the first another entry in an ongoing exploration of landscape design theory. I am a designer and a builder. I find joy, satisfaction and a place to contribute to the world in the practice of design and construction.  I will continue to write about design tools such as ‘the gesture’. It is a process of sharing ideas and working through my own thinking. If you enjoy this journey and would like to interact on an individual level, please send me an email through the company website contact information form or at info@GardenDesignInc.com.

Backyard Patio – Brick Pavers


Landscape Patio & Fire Pit
Clay Brick paver Patio & Walkways with Fire Pit

What ingredients are required for a high quality backyard patio and landscape project? The answer is quality design, quality materials and quality installation. Professional, experienced and creative landscape design is always the first priority for a successful landscape project. Without that, the finest materials and craftsmanship are wasted efforts. The project highlighted in this article has a design arranged within a curvilinear theme. That concept leads to a cohesive landscape design that unifying the brick patio, the brick walkway, the natural stone bench and natural stone fire pit. It takes an experienced landscape designer to create successful design, but most people can tell quality design whether or not they themselves can create one. 

In the case of this project, natural clay brick pavers are used for the landscape walkways and patios. The real clay brick is bordered with natural Pennsylvania bluestone. Both products have a natural and authentic quality that is easily recognized by visitors to the landscape. The bluestone is used to define spaces within the overall landscape design such as the main patio space, the back steps and the landscape feature location.

A fire pit and bench are designed in unison and constructed of natural stone masonry. Like the bluestone and brick patio paving materials, the natural building stone has an unmistakable quality. The fire pit is integrated with the bench design with a double spaced patio layout. This organizes the fire pit on the edge of a smaller patio but still in relation to the main patio. That insures that the patio spaces remain flexible and donÆt become only about the fire pit ( a mistake too often made in fire pit patio designs).

The success of this landscape project started with a strong landscape design that specified quality materials such as clay brick pavers, Pennsylvania Bluestone Paving, and Natural Building stone for the fire pit and the built in bench. Landscape construction and masonry construction completed by experienced craftsman ensured the final outcome of an excellent backyard patio and fire pit project.

Landscape Design Concepts – Principles of Landscape Architecture

Outdoor Fireplace_Allentown PA
Formal Garden Outdoor Fireplace and Pergola

 

The first lesson of landscape architecture 101 is that successful design requires a well-defined concept. The concept serves as a guide to create a unifying and cohesive character to the final design product. When design struggles present themselves or the designer finds themselves with designers block, a good concept will guide the way to a successful resolution. A concept is critical whether you are designing a simple paver walkway for the front of the house or a grand outdoor living space with flagstone patios, an outdoor kitchen, a swimming pool, pool house and outdoor fireplace.

A concept is the unifying paradigm of a design project. Often it is thought of as a theme, though it is not limited as such. Regional themes are a popular approach that affords a rather clear and simple template for the landscape design project.  Historical garden themes can range from the informal English Cottage Garden to the formal renaissance French Garden. Regional styles may include Mediterranean gardens, Prairie Gardens, Japanese gardens and Urban Gardens. Though poorly defined and understood, designers often speak of contemporary garden designs, modern gardens or postmodern gardens. Those are topics for another blog.

The concept will help guide the design decisions in a project. A clearly defined concept can dictate design gestures, forms, delineation of uses, and how movement through the spaces is choreographed. A cottage garden concept will dictate informal, organic design movements resulting in a series of unique and intimate rooms. Such a garden is designed to be intimately experienced in hands on manner. On the other hand, a landscape designed in the concept framework of modernism will define large design gestures and movements, sweeping open spaces with singular powerful statements. Landscapes designed within a modernism concept an experienced in a view more than in any hands on manner.

Well defined and articulated design concepts are the key to quality design. When questions come up, or struggles arise in the design process, the concept will provide a framework for design resolutions. If the designer holds true to the concept, the final project will be cohesive and unified. An unlimited range of factors can influence the definition of a concept. Consider the existing landscape, the built architecture, the future inhabitants, the meanings that may be portrayed, the availability of materials and the budgets for the project. Developing a concept requires the same process as developing the design. It starts with a kernel of a thought, it is explored in sketches and in written journal entries, and it is revised and revisited until that moment of clarity arrives when the designer knows the concept is right.

Custom Swimming Pool Design

Custom Swimming Pool, Allentown Pa
A natural swimming pool in the Lehigh valley

There is nothing more refreshing than a cool swim on a hot summer day. If you are thinking about building a custom pool, the first step is to pick a landscape architect or a professional landscape designer. Do not start with a pool contractor. Very few pool contractors employ landscape design professionals who are trained to look at the big picture of the entire project in the context of the existing landscape, the house and the overall site. A professional landscape designer will work with you to answer a series of questions about the location, size, style and elements of the pool you desire and then incorporate that into a master plan for the project. Once the plans are complete, then it is time to get estimates from pool contractors, hardscape contractors for the decking around the pool, fencing contractors and landscape contractors. You may want to work with a designer from a professional landscape design & construction company since they will pull together all of the pricing into one contract then manage the entire project saving you time and money while ensuring the best result.
One of the first major decisions is where to locate the pool. Consider the opportunities and constraints of the property and how you see the pool being used. When will you be using the pool and where will the sun and shade will be during those times. Will the pool be an extension of the house where friends and family gather to play? Or is the pool its own outdoor room and a private destination? Often people are inclined to place the pool right out the back of the house. This can work well for families with children since the pool remains visible from inside. It may also fit your families entertaining style being closer to the house. Keep in mind thought that in colder climates the pool will be covered for many months and is not particularly attractive from the inside views. For this reason, you may choose to site your pool in a less central location and make the pool area a destination.
The form and the style of a pool should be based on your own personal preferences. Some people love the natural character of free form pools with boulder waterfalls, while others prefer the elegant sophistication of a rectilinear or formal pool. If the pool is going to be located in a direct relationship to the house, consider carrying the style of the homes architecture into the style of the pool design. If you have a home with a strong architectural character, a formal pool will generally be the most aesthetically appropriate. How the pool will be used may also influence the form. Free form pools work well when the pool is actively used by children because they tend to be more playful in character and provide dynamic interests when inside.
What elements do you want to incorporate into your pool? A spa is a popular element to include, but in colder climates the spa won’t be usable in the off season and for many people that is when a spa is most appealing. One option is to place the pool and spa in close proximity, but to separate the water and mechanical systems in order to use the spa year round. Sun ledges have grown in popularity. These are area of the pool that is 12” underwater, and big enough to place a lounge chair and umbrella. A beach entry eliminates the steps and creates a smooth transition into the pool that is especially nice for younger children. Waterfalls, spillways and water spouts can create visual and auditory interest. Playful options include slides, diving boards and dive rocks. Maybe you want to include a pool house or cabana providing some luxuries and amenities at the pool area.
If you are considering a swimming pool and want to enjoy it this year, then hire a design professional in the winter or early spring and get started. It can take two or three months to get the plans done, get the estimates together, hire contractors, and get the required permits to begin the actual construction.

Landscape Design

Landscape Design Lehigh Valley
Professional Landscape Design in the Lehigh Valley

Successful landscape projects require quality designs. This is true whether you are building a simple patio and walkway or an extravagant porch addition, pool, outdoor kitchen, fireplace project. Design is the process of unifying a range of factors including a family’s needs and desires, their budgets, natural elements of the property, and municipal building/zoning regulations. Plans are the designer’s tool for expressing everything from the concepts of the designs to the layout and the construction details. A skilled, professional designer and a quality set of plans will make a project smoother from the permit process though to the finishing details.

The first step is to choose a designer. That choice revolves around a potential candidate’s education, experience, creativity and chemistry. Does the designer have an accredited degree in landscape architecture or a related degree? How many projects has he designed and seen built? Does he have hands on experience with construction materials and techniques? Do examples of his work express a unique creativity in each project? Chemistry is the most important factor in choosing a designer, once you have determined a candidate is generally qualified. Design is a process of working together as a team from start to finish. Look for a designer who really listens to you, respects you, makes you feel comfortable and communicates well with you. Projects can be long and stressful at points, but the right designer will help the whole project go smoothly.

Design is a team effort. It starts with a conversation between client and designer. What are the family’s needs, what are their desires, what design ideas do they have, how do they currently use the spaces. During that initial conversation a designer may throw out some ideas, but the best ideas and true quality design requires a more reflective design process. The designer needs to survey the property and generate a base map of existing conditions, accurate and to scale. With an accurate base map, the design team can work out ideas with a series of trace paper overlays exploring a variety of possible design solutions in order to resolve a successful conceptual design. Once a concept design is complete, the design team can present the ideas to the clients. The clients will provide critical feedback that guides the process of revising designs. And so that cyclical process goes until a final design is resolved.