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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are you thinking about installing a paver patio and searching the web for information? Want to know how to install paver patio? Do you want some knowledge and experience from professional paver patio contractors?
What are the pros and cons of a paver patio versus my other patio contractor choices? Paver patios are installed on a compacted layer of modified stone. The benefit is flexibility to move with larger ground movements. But, no matter how perfect your paver patio installer can be, over time a paver patio will move, settle and migrate to some degree. But, since the concrete pavers are dry set on a stone base, the fix is not difficult or expensive. If you install a paver patio, plan for a restoration project in about 10 years. Concrete pavers don’t usually age all that gracefully. The top finish wears off and they can become dull and unattractive. This is less true with each new product that improves on the older technology, But if you want to keep the pavers looking their best, you should pressure wash and apply a sealer every two or three years.
Can an untrained homeowner install a paver patio? Yes, if they are experienced in related types of landscape construction. It’s hard work, but it is not rocket science. You will need some specialized tools to install your own paver patio. You can rent those hardscaping tools. First big challenge is where to put all the soil once you dig out for the stone base. You need to big out about 12″ deep and until you reach virgin compacted soil. Then you’ll need to get the modified stone delivered and compacted in place. Proper compaction is essential to a quality paver patio. You must have a mechanical plate tamper with appropriate psi compaction rates. The next big challenge is to create a level setting bed. Paver patio contractors use steel pipes and screed boards to make sure the patio is smooth with a slight grade for drainage. If you can get that fer, you done the hardest technical part. Now the hardest labor part of setting each paver. The up and down on the knees. The lifting and the hauling. the repetitive motion is tough on bodies that don’t do professional landscpae contractor work each day. You will need to rent a stone cutting saw to cut paver as needed. That is a dusty and dangerous job. Finally, when sweeping in the polymeric sand make sure and get it precisely in the cracks. Make sure that you rinse the paver tops absolutely when wetting the sand into place. If not, polymeric sand residue will stain the pavers. You can probably teel we think it best that a professional paver patio contractor do the work.
Many of our new clients call because they want a paver patio. In Allentown, Emmaus, Lower Macungie and the Lehigh Valley, paver patio is the the most common request for outdoor hardscaping projects. Garden Design Inc. are paver patio contractors specializing in Techo bloc pavers for landscape design and landscape contractors projects. You can review our paver patio ideas on Houzz.
I attended the Techo Bloc contractors showcase 2017 last week. They always put on a great show highlighting new products and techniques. It is a service to the contracting community making us all better professional hardscape contractors in Allentown. With that, lets talk a little Techo Bloc Pavers Reviews. What new pavers are available, new landscape walls, new permeable paving options, and a bit about our favorite Techo Bloc pavers for Allentown Landscape Projects.
First, which and how do new Techo Bloc products apply for Emmaus landscaping projects? Or any of our landscape services areas of the Lehigh Valley. The Techo Bloc borealis paver and the borealis wall are products generating positive attention with landscaping clients in Emmaus and Allentown. The Borealis paver and wall line simulate a natural wood appearance. The main benefit is that this line offers a distinctly different look in landscape hardscapes. The Techo Bloc Borealis line can be effectively combined with the Techo Bloc BLU to create dynamic patio hardscapes. The Borealis wall has the look of the old landscape timbers. I am not a fan! I do like the dimensions and creative oportunies that the size of the Borealis Wall offers. But I think the product will become outdated, out of landscape style. It is not a timeless landscape product.
The new Techo Bloc Para Slab collection does introduce a new hardscacpe option with a timeless style. This new patio paving option has contemporary, clean styling. Para Slab is available in both a smooth and a polished finish. Though contemporary, it will still work well for the older homes of an Emmaus landscaping or Allentown Patio project.
Paver Pete of Techo Bloc fame was very excited about the new Ocean Grande Slab. It is an innovative landscape paver product, but I don’t see it working in most Allentown Landscaping or Emmaus Patio projects. The texture of the Ocean Grande Slab is dynamic and eye catching. But it will be outdated before long. Maybe it would work for Urban, Miami or California projects, but not for most Lehigh Valley Landscaping or Allentown Patio projects.
Techo Bloc Pavers Reviews can not discuss all of the options the Allentown Hardscape Company offers. We at Garden Design Inc. are big fans of the Techo Bloc Eva paver for a value oriented option. The new Techo Bloc Valet offers creative patio design options for Emmaus landscaping projects and Allentown Patio companies. The larger Aberdeen and BLU Techo Bloc Patio options create classic landscaping for larger patio projects. For permeable paving in the Lehigh Valley patio, the Techo BLU is out favorite option.
If your interested in more of our thoughts on Techo Bloc Pavers Reviews and the Techo Bloc hardscape products for use in Lehigh Valley landscaping projects, give us a call. We are glad to share our thoughts. There are a number of other lehigh valley landscape contractors who also have opinion about Techo Bloc for landscape patios and landscape walls. Of course, we want you to hire us to build your Allentown Landscaping or Emmaus patio project. But regardless of who you choose to work with for landscape design and landscape contracting in the Lehigh Valley, check out the Techo Bloc product. If you want a neutral summary, talk to John or Jared at AB Natural Stone. They carry Techo Bloc landscaping products and other options.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How do we develop landscape designs that balance landscape plantings and patios? Balance is one of the key design principles in landscape architecture, and without it, design lacks a primary component. A strong sense of balance between hardscape and plant life can truly bring a design together and transform a formerly plain and uninteresting landscape into a beautiful oasis. Designing with vegetation is always a primary focus, but how does hardscape play a factor in balancing design? In short, hardscape breaks up the potential monotony of vegetated plantings. It provides some structure to an organic flow of vegetated spaces. Hardscape can be defined as man-made structures or elements in a design, and in residential landscape design, materials such as brick, concrete, pavers, etc are common forms of hardscape. Hardscape colors, shapes, and patterns leave a designer with a number of design opportunities making it such a popular design element.
Concrete is the most commonly used hardscape, mainly for its versatility. It often comes poured, but it can come in a variety of colors. Brick more often than not, is manufactured as a bright red, and with a majority of planting emitting a contrasting color of green, the red will easily stand out in comparison to most other hardscape materials. While it can be used solely on its own, one interesting look that some residences are trying is using the brick red as an accent color. Designing a concrete walkway with neutral tones mixed with an outer brick edge, can soften the brick but also brighten the neutral concrete.
Other materials, such as flagstone or bluestone and natural stone tend to work well when designing patios. Hardscape can promote the design of patios, creating great outdoor living spaces without the woody appearance of a deck, for example. Stone walls can create enclosures, creating separate spaces within the landscape. Whether the hardscape becomes the home of an eating area for families or a fire pit gathering for a group of friends, the size, shape, and style are completely up to the user.
Taking a look at Techo Bloc, a landscaping supplier, they offer many products that can personalize a landscape. Pavers, walls, and many other forms of masonry are available for purchase. Some of my personal favorite hardscape designs consist of block pavers that are broken up using grass or fine gravel. This breaks up the monotony of a solid, flat hardscape, and it allows the user to notice a change in ground type.
Aside from the hardscape, the plant selection and other softscape materials play just as important of a role in design. Selecting vegetation and hardscape of a corresponding color scheme is typically a good place to start. Think of vegetation possibly some mulching that can be used to soften hardscape edges. Or perhaps, you want the hardscape to stand on its own, and the use of seating and landscape planters can create an interesting design. Balancing hardscape and softscape with take some experimentation, but a successful design is always possible.
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 paver patio projects are the most common material used for residential patio projects in our region of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. A variety of regional manufacturers produce a range of paver styles, colors and textures. Paver styles tend to evolve with popularity trends. One manufacturer may develop a new stone face texture that gets popular, and then other companies copy that style. The more complex the style, the larger the individual piece sizes, the refinement of the manufacturing process and the companies marketing, administration and overhead costs are all factors in the final product price.
Ten years ago our choices were largely between EP Henry and CST concrete pavers. At that time, EP henry was the first and most highly regarded paver in the region. But CST had a good, simple product line and kept overhead costs low. We liked the color process and the end color appearance of the CST over the EP Henry at the time. We at Garden Design Inc. used mostly CST Roman Cobble pavers back in those days because we liked the colors best and the cost to quality ratio (value) was greatest. In the late 1990’s, all pavers were basic smooth surface and sizes tended to resemble a range of brick sizes or cobblestone sizes.
The choices of styles and paver companies grew significantly as the demand for the product expanded. Techo-Bloc entered the paver market and had been a leader in developing new paver styles that break the old paradigms. Technically speaking, some of these new paver products are considered ‘slabs’ and not pavers, but that level of conversation is not needed for the typical homeowner. Techo-Bloc introduced a textured top meant to appear like the cleft of natural stone. And the larger ‘slabs’ have appealed to more contemporary landscape architectural design. CST, Unilock and Cambridge have all followed suite in their new product lines, neither quite as nice but nor as expensive as Techo-Bloc. EP Henry lost significant market share for a while and struggled to hold its market position without innovating and evolving. But they have come back strong and developed new products that appeal to the consumer today.
Paver patio projects material costs can vary as much as $5.00 per square foot or more. A simple CST roman cobble paver will cost less than $3.00 per square foot. A Techo-Bloc high end ‘Slab’ paver can cost more than $7.00 per square foot. The result is that a paver patio may cost $16 – $24 per square foot for everything involved. The price depends on the total size of the patio, the amount of preparation, and the access to the area. The larger the patio with great access will cost less per square foot than a small patio with terrible access.
The price of paver patio projects is not only linked to the quality of the product. Techo-Bloc is a high quality product, but they also have a large overhead burden based on administrative salaries and a large marketing budget. If your budget is limited, Cambridge or CST make a great product with a streamlined business model to minimize overhead. As with any design material choice, we encourage clients to make timeless choices. Trends and styles come and go, but certain pavers have a character that will always be quality.
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.
Distinctive Landscape Design & Construction for Over 30 Years