Pro Tips with Jamie Snyder

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Hardscape: How to Maintain a Safe Walkway through the Winter

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Thu, Nov 22, 2012 @ 00:09 PM

Landscaping_LagrangevilleWalkways do not only enhance the aesthetics of your yard, they also create functional pathways to your garage, your shed and to your front door. Especially in the wintertime you will appreciate established and well-maintained walkways. They will make it easier and safer to get around on your property.

To prepare for the snowy season it is a good idea to clear all the sideways and walkways around your home. Clear any tools, hoses, rocks and debris form the walkways, so that shoveling or snow blowing will be easier and smoother once winter hits.

Check for Problem Spots Now
Another good idea is to check for cracks and other problem spots now. The extreme temperature-change will worsen the cracks over the winter – and the repairs will be more extensive and expensive in the spring. You also want to make sure to get rid of any low spots where puddles can develop and water might collect.

Inspect the Drainage System
Another important thing to check, is your water drainage system: Make sure, that rain and melting snow will not spill directly on your walkway, but can flow freely through your drainage system. If water gets under your walkway during the cold winter month, and the water freezes, it can actually rise up the walkway in certain spots. The consequence is, that the walkway will crack or get otherwise damaged in these areas.

Hire a Professional
“I can't tell you how many times I get calls for walkways from people who have an walkway that is in disrepair or simply never had one to begin with“, says Jamie Snyder of Albert Group Landscaping. „And every one of them in the end wished they had acted sooner.“ Albert Group is ICPI certified and a member of the NCMA (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute and National Concrete Masonry Association respectively). “We don not only want to transform the curb appeal of your home, we have the skills necessary to install a walkway that will last the life of your home.”

Keep it Safe
By keeping your walkway clean and well maintained you also keep it safe. According to the National Floor Safety institute, there are more than 8 million emergency room visits and 21.000 deaths each year because of slip, trip and fall accidents. Most of these incidents happen on even floor, in 55 percent of all cases, the walkway is implicated as the cause.

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How to Avoid Retaining Wall Failures

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Mon, Nov 05, 2012 @ 10:09 AM

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In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy our thoughts go to those who were affected.  With the destructive power of nature still in our minds, we also want to take a closer look on the durability of hardscape features. Many of you have probably passed an otherwise beautiful residential development, but noticed the crumbling or tilting of a retaining wall. How can that happen? And even more important: How can you avoid the failure of important hardscape structures?

Generally retaining walls provide lateral support for vertical slopes of soil, which would otherwise collapse. Retaining walls are used for landscaping purposes, such as changing the topography of a yard. Since there is no yard without a slope, retaining walls are used often to level of terrain for a swimming pool, a patio, terrace or other landscaping feature.

To build a durable wall, it takes some planning and designing. Factors that should be considered are purpose of the wall, site placement, drainage, foundation, construction materials and building code issues. If the general engineering principals have not been applied, failure will occur, the wall will crumble, crack, puddles will develop around the top or the base of the wall, and the wall will set excessively or even sink.

Building Codes
Building Codes are made for a reason! Retaining walls should always be considered as load bearing construction not as an aesthetic feature, although new materials like StoneMakers concrete will allow us to design aesthetic and durable constructions. When calculating the effect of the earth pressure one also has to consider the contribution of water – plus worst-case scenarios, such as long lasting rainstorms or melting snow. All Albert Group Landscaping construction comply with the applicable building codes.

Foundation
The foundation is one of the most important parts of you wall. The footing and foundation system ensures that the retaining wall can resist the imposed lateral forces. It will also prevent the wall from sinking or settling excessively. Well designed and built walls utilize steel reinforcement bars or other methods to tie the wall to the foundation.

Drainage
Most retaining walls fails because rising groundwater or soil-moisture builds up too much pressure for the wall. When the imposed forces of soil and groundwater exceed the resisting forces of the retaining wall, failure occurs. Therefore all retaining walls should be constructed in a way that provides drainage for all water that collects behind the wall. Possibilities are a gravel drainage blanket and/or pipe behind the wall.

As you can see, proper design and engineering are essential to build a functional and long lasting retaining wall. Feel free to contact Jamie Snyder if you have any questions. Albert Group Landscaping also can provide you with a free estimate for your next landscaping project.

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How to Care for your Retaining Wall

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 @ 00:09 AM

Retaining_Wall_Landscaper_MonroeFall is here. The leaves are turning color – and you might find yourself enjoying some long and beautiful days in your yard. Now is also the time to check your hardscape. Take a walk around your property and inspect your walkways and retaining walls for damage and cracks. Here are the most important factors you should look out for.

Weeds
Weeds are amazing. They can grow almost everywhere. And occasionally it might happen that something green is growing on your retaining wall or walkway. The easiest way to take care of unwanted weed growth is to pull the first sprout, before the plantlet can grow into a forest. If plucking weeds is not your thing, you can spray annually like you would with the lawn.

Leaves
A few leaves are not a problem, but if they accumulate, especially over the winter, they might discolor the surface over time. To protect your hardscape you also should make sure to wash salts and chemicals of the surface. And if the finish begins to wear, you should seal it again.

Surface Treatment
This is an area, which can be easily overlooked: The areas surrounding your wall. These areas should actually be treated as part of whole the wall design. It does not matter, if they are paved or beautified with landscape planting, mulch or turf. These areas provide an important function for the wall, they capture and route the water. Therefore you should replant bare areas and encourage the growth of ground covers and flowers. Most importantly look for areas of erosion and re-landscape if necessary. A little bit of work can prevent major erosion and therefore real problems.

Site Grading
While all retaining walls should be designed and built so that rain and water can drain easily, you might notice a puddle behind or in front of the wall. These low spots might occur due to excessive settling. If this happens you should not ignore it, but pull the landscape away and add enough fill to allow proper drainage.

If you take care of your hardscape it can last a long time, but it is important to check walls and walkways from time to time. Don’t let a little problem sit until spring comes, it just will get worse over the winter. Contact Albert Group Landscaping if you have any further questions.

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Retaining Walls: Made to Fit Your Dreams

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Fri, Jun 01, 2012 @ 59:07 AM

retaining_walls_chester_nyAre you dreaming of a water fall spilling down over a cliff rock, a hot tub beneath a romantic cave, a wall which perfectly fits the color of your house? With StoneMakers concrete structures like that are possible. Before he started to work with StoneMakers himself Jamie Snyder of Albertgroup Landscaping could not believe himself, what kind of possibilities the product offered. “Well what can I say, EVERYTHING StoneMakers claims is true!”, he says today.

Versatile
Snyder mainly uses StoneMakers concrete for customized retaining walls and backyard waterfall projects. And the results are amazing. Due to the special technique of building a monolithic structure at first and than adding the texture, all kind of structures and looks are possible. There are no limitations to form, shape and color.

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Stone looks great, yes, but you cannot build a stone wall in a day. With StoneMakers it is possible, plus the wall can be build exclusively to fit the specific needs of your yard. Even a curved wall is possible.

Aesthetic
StoneMakers is designed to look and feel like stone. Next to walls it is also possible to recreate the look of huge rocks or boulders. While you might have a very hard time to find, transport and pay for a rock of a certain size, with StoneMakers you can build one in a few hours. There is no major transportation or lifting required, no cranes are necessary. And it will cost considerably less.

Strong
The average cost ranges between $95 -$120 per yard, plus Stonemakers additives, stains and sealers. It takes about a day to install 100-120 ft of 4 ft wall. “Another side effect of building a wall using the StoneMakers process is added strength”, says Jamie Snyder. “Typical concrete will be between 3-4000 psi. The StoneMakers concrete recipe will be much stronger sometimes as much as 6-7000 psi.”

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Five Popular Outdoor Hardscape Projects

Posted by James Snyder on Mon, May 30, 2011 @ 12:07 AM

walkway

The term “hardscape” means outdoor landscaping other than plants or other greenery. It is becoming increasingly more popular among homeowners, as evidenced by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry ranking outdoor living areas at No. 4 on the list of top remodeling trends.

Thanks to StoneMakers’ proprietary and innovative concrete mix, it’s possible to construct these kinds of projects in a fraction of the time it used to take. Not only that, but they are a lot less expensive to build than before because crews can finish in hours what used to take days. Plus, the resulting projects are much more durable than before, because StoneMakers concrete is much stronger than typical concrete.

The following is a list of five hardscape projects that homeowners are using to spruce up their backyards.

1. Retaining walls

Retaining walls were originally used for simply holding back earth, but they have evolved from merely a functional item to one that can be a centerpiece of a home beautification project. Stunning retaining walls can be a great component of a home landscape.

2. Walkways and water features

Steps and walkways not only serve a utilitarian purpose, they can add a very nice aesthetic touch to your outdoor living area as well. And since StoneMakers concrete mimics natural stone, you can have that look without the accompanying expense.

3. Backyard patio

Done correctly, a backyard patio will not only improve the appearance of your home, it will make it look larger as well. A patio can be other attached to a house or detached from it, and can be constructed in a variety of shapes.

4. Sitting bench

Benches give you a way to have a seat and appreciate the tranquility of your outdoor living area. The StoneMakers concrete mix gives artisans the flexibility of building a bench in nearly any shape imaginable, so homeowners can have them custom made for a truly unique look.

5. Waterfalls and other backyard water features

Waterfalls add to the serenity of an outdoor living area, as do other water features. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, depending on the type of landscape on which they are constructed. Ponds are another popular water feature, and they normally are stocked with various forms of aquatic life, including both fish and plants.

All of these and more hardscape projects can be made quickly and inexpensively thanks to the marvel of StoneMakers concrete. Call us at (845) 283-8787 and we’ll tell you how we can put StoneMakers to work to build the backyard living area of your dreams.

Outdoor landscaping

 

 

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