Pro Tips with Jamie Snyder

Subscribe via E-mail

How to Use Walkways and Retaining Walls to Create Winter-Magic

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 @ 00:09 PM

landscaping_albertgroup_new_yorkSnow can add some true magic to your garden. When you look out of your window on a white, glittery surface, branches heavy with fresh fallen snow, it is easy to get lost in the silence of this wonderful Christmas scenery. True, soon enough there will be footprints, shoveling and more mushy weather, but just follow our simple tricks to preserve the white winter magic a little while longer.

Walls of Delight
Retaining walls can be very attractive in a winter landscape. They provide space for the snow to collect and can be easily decorated with a few pine-branches, a lantern or some lights, depending on how natural you want the wall to look. Next spring or summer, think of planting some patches of decorative grass around your wall. This will add color to your winter landscape. Another beautiful addition is the installation of decorative tiles set into the wall. Texture and color should fit the surroundings and add an attractive splash of color. Choose flower motives to remind your garden-visitors what it will look like again in a few months.

If you do not have a retaining wall, you still can add all kinds of structures to ad eye-appeal to your winter garden. Birdhouses are a wonderful addition to every yard. You can put them on wooden stilts or hang them in a tree. Other possible snow-catching elements are fences, arbors, benches, and boulders. If you just want to add something right away, choose simple tepee-like structures, made out of bamboo poles. You can decorate with natural materials, pines and red berries, lanterns, lights or Christmas ornaments. Have fun with it!

Outdoor Christmas-Trees
To add to the beauty of your wintery landscape, you should make sure to feature some trees and shrubs in your yard, that hold their bare limbs horizontally. This way snow can collect and creates the striking design of dark and light. Crabapple or Dogwood trees are good choices to create wintery silhouettes. Add some berry-full bird food to decorate your outside Christmas tree. 

Encourage a Walk in the Snow
To make sure, your winter landscape will get the attention it deserves, include some paths that garden-visitors can use in any weather. If you do not have walkways in your garden, which always add to a more park-like feeling, just try to create a path or two through your winter wonder land. You can use lanterns to mark the way.

Easy Winter-Decorations
For a wonderful one-time effect you can simply fill paper-bags with some sand and add a candle. Another easy to make outdoor winter decoration are ice-cakes. Take a Bundt cake pan or even a bucket and fill with water. Include decorative objects, like pinecones, pine tree branches, rowanberries or Christmas ornaments to be frozen in the ice cake. Use some warm water to get the ice cake out of the pan, set on some pinetree branches and enjoy!

For more ideas about landscaping projects for your garden contact Jamie Snyder of Albert Group Landscaping.


Backyard Swimming Pool Vacation: Go Global

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 @ 00:09 AM

swimming_pool_Dealer_westbrookvilleIf you can’t afford to travel to Thailand, Greece or Kenya this summer, transform you backyard into a private vacation-resort. Often you can create a new look with just a few simple changes.


Get out the pictures of your favorite trips and vacations. Often you might remember little details, which made you fall in love with the place. A flower arrangement, a statue, a special dish or drink at the buffet. Lighting, colors, scents, food and music can all bring back memories and help to transform your backyard swimming pool into a tropical paradise or a Mediterranean fishing village. Go online and search for pictures of the countries you would love to visit. Get inspired by the color-scheme, the furniture, the fabrics, the materials, and the plants.


You might find many little details, like pillows, throws, statues, swimming candles, napkins, special glasses in the nearby housewares store, you can also try Target, Ikea or Pier 1. Make a budget before you go. A nice planter with lavender and a café furniture might be enough to recreate that special evening in France. Cut a real pineapple after the coconut-curry dinner, when you serve drinks on your Thai-inspired patio.


If you are in for new furniture and long for a vacation on the Greek island, go for a crisp white look. You need to paint instead of traveling to the Tuscany? Choose warm, earthy colors for the walls and floors. Add a herb container garden, grow grapes over a pergola and add some furniture. A light chain or a few paper lanterns will add the magic touch. Look forward to enjoy the next bottle of wine on your Italian courtyard.

Maybe it also was the waterfall into the pool, you really liked, the refreshing fountains or the underwater lights. Those are all things, you still can simply add to your fiberglass pool. Ask Jamie Snyder of Albert Group Landscaping about the many different options.

Once you are done restructuring or redecorating your backyard, make sure, to celebrate in style – and, of course, enjoy your backyard staycation!


Swimming Pool Landscaping Ideas

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Wed, May 23, 2012 @ 01:09 AM

swimming_pool_dealer_chester_nyWhen you decide to add a swimming pool to your backyard, don’t forget to consider how you would like to design the surrounding area. Landscaping the swimming pool area does not only depend on the size and shape of the pool, but also the location in your yard, the existing garden and the ways you want to use it.

We recommend a structured hardscape plan around the swimming pool. This way you won’t have the problems with weeds or don’t have to worry about structural damage due to invading root systems.

Accessibility and Space
With a hardscape are around the pool the maintenance is easier. Since you will have less leaves and pollen floating in your pool, you do not have to worry about clogged up drains and filter systems. Another plus is, that the pool can be accessed from every side and you also will have more space for sitting areas and deck chairs.

Sitting Walls
When you plan it right, you can use a retaining wall as part of your sitting area. Sitting walls can be created around a patio as a structural border. Imagine a half-circle or extend your outdoor fire-place or waterfall with a sitting wall to both sides. If you like, you also can just include some bench-areas in the wall. Walls or sitting walls also provide protection from wind and gusts which can lead to excessive evaporation.

Integrate Flowerbeds
Flowerbeds are a wonderful and colorful addition to any structural work. You could even integrate a flowerbed right behind your sitting wall to add some color – or maybe you would like to pick some berries. When there is enough space between pool and flowerbed you do not have to be quite as careful of what you plant.

Fire pit or Outdoor Water-Feature
Other projects worth considering when planning your swimming-pool area are waterfalls, an area for a fire pit or a stone fireplace. While it is possible to add new features after your swimming pool area is completed, it is always a good idea to think of all possible options before you start building. If you would like to discuss the best options for your swimming pool area, contact Jamie Snyder of The Albert Group Landscaping.


Swimming Pool Landscaping: What plants to avoid

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Sat, May 19, 2012 @ 36:08 AM

swimming_pool_landscaping_nyThe Landscaping and plant life around your swimming pool can have a big impact on your backyard oasis. When you discuss the different options of the right swimming pool for your needs, don’t forget to consider the surroundings.

First of all, there are certain trees and shrubbery that you should avoid. Think of falling leaves or pine needles, which will make the pool cleaning really hard. Some fruit- or berry-bearing shrubs will lead to staining and thick spreading roots can even lead to structural damage. Some trees to avoid for their extensive root system are Mulberries, Willows, Silver Maple, and American Elm trees. The Arbor Day Foundation is a great source to research different trees.

Another bad choice are pollinating and fruit bearing trees and shrubs, which will most probably attract bees and other unwanted insects.

In order to keep the maintenance low and avoid possible filtration repairs, it is best not to plant blades of grass, acorns, pine needles, oak leaves and especially any kind of berries around your swimming pool. Pine needles and small leaves might slip through your simmer net and any kind of organic debris will add phosphates to your pool, which can lead to algae and problems with the water balance.

Jamie Snyder from The Albert Landscaping Group recommends keeping it clean and simple. A stamped concrete or any other non-organic surface around the pool is safer, cleaner and requires much lower maintenance than any kind of splurging greenery.

Integrate flowerbeds in the retaining wall. Choose daylilies, zinnias and ornamental grasses or low maintenance bushes. Contact Jamie Snyder to discuss the best landscaping options for your backyard oasis.

Swimming Pool “Must haves”

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Thu, May 17, 2012 @ 06:08 AM

swimming_pool_dealer_chester_nyImagine yourself walking out to your backyard after a long day in the office. Sparkling blue water is awaiting you, the waterfall is lit up and you just have to slip out of your robe to step into a warm bubbling hot tub. Here are some more ideas to ensure, that you can truly enjoy your swimming pool project.

Especially up north, a good heat pump is essential to ensure the enjoyment of your swimming pool. Heat pumps do not actually produce heat, but pump the existing heat from it’s surroundings in to the water. The result is an efficiency rate of 100 percent.

Hot Tubs and Spas are always a great addition to your pool. They are great for relaxation and you will find yourself using them year round - not just on colder days.

According to the Freakonomics-authors Levitt and Dubner “an unprotected pool is more dangerous to your child than a loaded gun.” And honestly, how much fun can a swimming pool be, if you constantly have to be on the watch out. The new mesh fences are much less of an eyesore and will keep your little ones safe.

Jamie Snyder of The Albert Landscaping Group also recommends the installation of a safety pool cover. The new covers are very strong and durable. Up to 12 adults are able to stand on one. “Even I was surprised how much weight the new covers can carry,” says Snyder. Pool covers also help to reduce evaporation and to keep the water temperature up.

There are countless ways to add some more fun to your swimming pool. Let’s start with slides, an all time favorite for every child. They are easy to install and are great add-ons to existing swimming pool areas. Water features are also an all time favorite with children, and they also will add to the aesthetics of your swimming pool area. When chosen and installed carefully, LED Lights and Fountains can be a breathtaking addition and will ensure a big “wow”-effect at your next pool-party.

Another way to enhance your swimming pool area is great landscaping. Why not design a seating or BBQ-area, a fire pit or even an outdoor kitchen with your pool project? Contact Jamie Snyder of the Albert Landscaping Group to discuss your ideas and the best options for your backyard oasis.


Swimming Pool Options for Small Yards

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Fri, May 11, 2012 @ 35:07 AM

swimming_pool_dealer_chester_nyJust because you have a small yard, you do not have to write off the installation of an inground swimming pool. There are various ways to change your small backyard in a wonderful oasis. Backyard pools might even be one of the most productive ways to make even a small yard look luxurious.

Think of fountains, lights, a small waterfall, lush green landscaping and planters filled with colorful flowers. Those are just a few options to increase the aesthetics of even a small inground pool. It is even possible to integrate a small jacuzzi or spill over spa on one end of the pool. Does that not sound more inviting than just a sitting area around the bbq?

Vinyl, Concrete or Fiberglass?
You might think it might be easier to accommodate the space with a concrete or vinyl liner pool, which can be shaped the way you like, but today’s fiberglass pools come in so many shapes and sizes, that there will be probably exactly the one which would fit your yard.

Jamie Snyder of Albert Group Landscaping generally recommends fiberglass, because fiberglass pools will be easier to maintain. Vinyl pools generally require liner replacement after about ten years, which can be a hassle, especially when the yard is small. Concrete pools are the hardest to maintain on a seasonal basis and require more chemicals and cleaning than the other two options. If you are wondering if the pre-shaped fiberglass shell will fit around your house, rest assured. The shell can simply be craned over your house and placed in the prepared hole.

Which shape should you choose for your pool?
Since every backyard is different, the shape of the pool depends on the available area and your preferences. One important thing to remember is, that curvy pools, like kidney shaped inground pools, might loose some water space, but will allow for more patio space. Do you just want to have space for a lounge chair or do you want to fit a table with chairs next to the pool?

Vanishing Edge
Vanishing edge pools are best suited for small yards with a steep drop-off. Those pools are often built in breathtaking locations, where one end of the pool seems to meet with the sky. They usually have a rectangular shape, since just two or three sides are on ground level and give you access to the patio. Vanishing edge pools can also be designed in a curved shape. Be aware that vanishing or infinity edge pools require extensive structural work.

Whatever inground pool you decide to get, all styles offer a huge variety to landscape a patio, deck and garden around it. Let us inspire you!


Five Popular Outdoor Hardscape Projects

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


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



Download the FREE eBook

The Ultimate Buyer's Guide for Fiberglass Pools


Everything you need to know when buying a fiberglass pool. From the best time of year to buy and picking a contractor, to pricing, options, and add-ons!


Most Popular Posts