Pro Tips with Jamie Snyder

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How to Avoid Retaining Wall Failures

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

landscaping_Washingtonville_New York
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.

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.

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 Increase Your Livingspace with Retaining Walls

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 @ 00:09 AM

retaining_wall_Lagrangeville_New_YorkAre you longing for the warm summer evenings, when you could enjoy sitting in the backyard way past midnight without even having to wear a sweater? Does your living room feel just a little bit too cozy and crammed after all those beautiful nights you were able to spend on your patio under the stars? You are not alone. According to the American Institute of Architects' first Home Design Trend Survey 48% off all homeowners in the US prefer an outdoor living space to the traditional green lawn.

Companies Take Indoors Outside
Many companies respond to that demand. There are amazing new outdoor furniture-options. The new fabrics are made from acrylic fibers and are fade-resistant and waterproof. SunBrite TV and Mirage Outdoor Concepts both sell flat-panel LCD television-set, which are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and temperature changes – and are equipped with a wireless connection.

How to Create an Outdoor Living Space
But it takes more than just cozy cushions and entertainment devices to create a real outdoor living space. To be successful you should adopt some of the same principles that make the interior of your home comfortable. That means you need some walls, a floor and a ceiling. Start by establishing the outline or boundary of your outdoor room. The idea is to create an area where you don’t feel watched by your neighbors. Like in your home you want enjoy some intimacy.

Complement your Home with a Retaining Wall
Especially if your yard has different levels or is slightly sloped, a retaining wall can be a great starting point for your new room outdoors. With StoneMakers concrete we are able to create almost any shape – and even the color can be mixed to complement your actual home. This way your outdoor space will really feel like an extension of your indoor living area. Thanks to the flexibility of the material, it even is possible to add different features to your wall, like a bench or sitting area, different water-features, a fire pit or fire place.

Why choose StoneMakers
Because the material is so easy to work with, StoneMakers allows us to even carry out the most creative design-ideas. At the same time you do not have to worry about the durability. StoneMakers is twice as strong as typical concrete. After being in this business now for almost 20 years, I can tell you, that “StoneMakers retaining walls are not only good, they are the best!”, says Jamie Snyder of The Albert Group Landscaping.

The New York based landscaper has a lot of experience to implement different outdoor living ideas. „We have built outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, BBQ-pits, waterfalls, pools, whole entertainment areas“, Snyder explains. Albert Group Landscaping is also certified by both the National Concrete Masonry Association and the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute. „You can be assured that your project is installed correctly“, says Snyder.

The Albert Group Landscaping does offer complete solutions for your backyard make over. „Before we start, we offer our clients a 3D rendering oft he project“, explains Snyder. „This will allow you to see your project conceptually before you buy.“ Are you ready to increase your space? Contact Jamie Snyder and ask for a free estimate.


What Types of Material are Best for Retaining Walls?

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Sat, Aug 18, 2012 @ 01:09 AM

swimming_pool_landscaper_lagrangevilleWhen it comes to residential retaining walls, there are various materials available. To help you decide, which material will work best for you, we want to give you some basic pros and cons and describe the two main materials, we recommend, in detail: Segmented Retaining Wall Blocks and StoneMakers Hardscape.

Wood is not Durable
Although some contractors might offer it to you, we recommend staying away from wood. While the up front costs are affordable and the installation is quick and fairly easy, wooden retaining walls are a short-term investment. Wood is simply is not as durable as other wall materials, mainly due to rot and infestation with insects. And don’t be fooled, just because it seems easy, to pile some railroad ties, they still need to be reinforced with braces and deep anchors. No matter, where you build your wall, it needs to be able to support the weight of soil and water. How long is your wall supposed to hold up?

Natural Stone is Expensive
Traditional stone retaining walls can be beautiful and have a very natural look. The number one reason, why many people decide against a natural stonewall, is the huge expense. Natural stonewalls are very labor intensive, and even if the project has been built professionally, stones might shift and the mortar used while stacking might crack.

Brick is Less Versatile
A brick wall is often used to match brick accents on the house or a garden path. Many brick walls are actually built from cinderblock that is reinforced with rebar and than faced with brick. Those walls are pretty strong and durable, but also very labor extensive and require a special accommodation for drainage.

Segmented Retaining Wall Block
Segmented Retaining Walls can be built of various concrete blocks. Some systems are designed so that the blocks interlock with each other - which provides a mortar-less solution. Segmental Retaining Walls rely on gravity and the blocks are designed to gradually step back into the earth they retain, to provide more strength. There is a huge variety of concrete blocks available, so you can choose are cleaner or a rather weathered look. Most systems allow the integration of curves, corners and stairs, and the blocks can be split to fit the shape of the project.

StoneMakers Hardscape Changed the Industry
After being in this business now for almost 20 years, I can tell you, that “StoneMakers retaining walls are not only good, they are the best!”, says Jamie Snyder of The Albert Group Landscaping. StoneMakers’ propriety concrete product can be completely customized. There are 33 colors available, which can be mixed to an infinite number of colors. While the product is strong – actually twice as strong a typical concrete – it can be shaped into almost any design. “It’s only every so often a product like this comes along. If you have a contractor that is certified to do these you are sitting pretty.”


What is the most durable retaining wall?

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 @ 00:09 PM

Retaining_Wall_westbrookvilleRetaining walls are supposed to hold back soil or rock from a building, structure or area. Since they have to prevent downslope movement or erosion, they have to be made from strong and durable material. Materials, which are generally used, are masonry, stone, brick, vinyl, concrete, steel or timber.

Since backyard projects are not only supposed to be durable, but also aesthetically attractive, many people choose natural stone for their project. But natural stone is expensive. Single stones might get loose, the wall is prone to deteriorate and begin to collapse within a few years. Concrete walls usually are pretty durable, but don’t look great and will crack over time. That is why Albert Group Landscaping uses StoneMakers hardscape.

Advantages of StoneMakers Hardscape
“Concrete block has long been a reliable method for constructing home beautification projects. Done correctly, a project using this method can be solid and durable. However, StoneMakers has created a proprietary concrete mix that trumps concrete block in several ways, most importantly, in durability, cost effectiveness and aesthetics”, says James Snyder of Albert Group Landscaping.

Due to a special mixing process, StoneMakers increased the strength of it’s concrete from 3000 to 4000 PSI to over 7000 PSI. On top of that

What about Cracks?
Every concrete might crack and there is no guarantee that your project might not develop a crack over time when frost occurs in the area. However, with StoneMakers, a crack will not destroy the project. All structures are reinforced with rebar or wire mash and natural control joints to increase stability and durability. And if a crack occurs, we can recarve and touch up the area the area.

Are StoneMakers Retaining Walls Maintenance-free?
StoneMakers hardscape is one of the most durable products available. It mainly can be left alone, but there are a few things you can do, to keep your retaining wall looking good. You should keep the wall free from accumulating leaves over the winter, which might discolor the surface over time. Salts and chemicals should be washed of the surface. And if the finish begins to wear, you should seal it again.

Is there a Warranty?
Yes, while the warranty associated with a concrete paver system normally runs anywhere from one to three years, a StoneMakers system is guaranteed for three to five years depending on the service package purchased.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”


Retaining Walls: How to integrate them in your Swimming Pool Area

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Tue, May 08, 2012 @ 02:09 AM

retaining_wall_landscaping_nySince there is no such thing as a flat yard, the first thing, when building a pool is to think of where and how to create a flat level surface. Although there are a few different ways to create a flat area for your swimming pool, we want to focus in this article on different options for retaining walls and how to best integrate them in the landscape of your back yard.

Make it Look Great
Walls can be an eyesore and make the space looked close up, especially if they are too high and do not offer some attractive edge. The Albert Landscaping Group works with Stonemakers’ Concrete, which is versatile and easy to work with. Thanks to the special mixture, it is very strong and durable. Another plus for great-looking landscaping projects is, that Stonemakers’ product can easily be shaped and will look like natural stone when we are done.

Use it the Smart Way
There are also a few design tricks to integrate a retaining wall in the whole landscaping project. First of all: Do not build too high. If the slope is too steep, use grading and filling up in addition to the retaining wall. Also think of the wall as part of your living space. The wall does not have to look like the “Berlin wall” and just act as a divider. Why not build in a patio surrounded by a seat wall? The perfect place to gather after a dip in the pool. Plus: You do not have to gather dozens of chair to provide seating for your friends.

If you love to garden, you can easily add a beautiful flowerbed surrounded by a retaining wall. Did you look for a good place for a sandbox, a play area for your little ones or a BBQ-spot? Voila, here you are. There are plenty of ways to use the area enclosed by a low retaining wall.

Add Water Features
If the height difference between parts of your yard is significant, you can even use the elevation change to integrate a waterfall. The extra plumbing won’t make a big difference in the overall cost and you will add an eye-catching feature to your outdoor living space. The retaining wall does not have to be just functional; it can add beauty and space. Contact Jamie Snyder about the different options for your swimming pool project.


Inground Pools on Sloped Yard: 5 Ways to build

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Fri, May 04, 2012 @ 08:08 AM

retaining wall_landscaping_nyYou might wonder if the installation of an inground swimming pool is possible on a hillside. Be assured: Most yards are not flat. There are many landscaping options, which make the installation of an inground pool possible on a slope. Let us introduce some of them.

Retaining Walls
Retaining walls cannot only help to break up the slope, but also can add character to your pool project. Depending on the design of your pool, retaining walls can be installed on the uphill or the downhill side of your swimming pool.

StoneMakers Concrete
If natural stone is not an option, the new StoneMakers concrete, offers plenty of design options. StoneMakers’ propriety concrete product has the look and feel of real stone. We can completely custom color and design options and shape StoneMakers concrete into almost any design. Another advantage of using the StoneMakers process is added strength, which is important, if you want to build on a slope and soil pushes against the retaining wall. The StoneMakers product is twice as strong (6-7000 psi) as typical concrete (3-4000 psi).

Building up
Building the lower level up can be an option, but will mostly be used in addition to other landscaping projects, like a retaining wall. The reason is, that you can’t only use the excavated dirt. To guarantee a strong base and avoid future structural damage, the use of gravel or other compactable fill is strongly recommended. To avoid an even steeper slope from the pool downhill to the rest of the yard, there will be extra fill necessary. Make sure to get a good picture of the changing landscape of your yard, before you start the project. To be able to create a gentle slope, the yard also should be reasonable sized.

Grading and Landscaping
If you really do have enough space, talk to your landscaper about grading your property. The objective is to flatten the needed area while allowing for proper drainage. If the landscaping around the new project is done thoughtfully, you might even gain on enjoyable outdoor space.

Combining the Options
In most cases landscaping-expert Jamie Snyder recommends a combination of the above explained options. If you want to know, which landscaping possibilities would work best in your yard, contact The Albert Landscaping Group.


Outdoor Waterfeatures Increase the Home Value

Posted by Josefine Koehn on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 @ 57:07 AM

waterfall_outdoor waterfeature_ny_monroeSiddartha, the main character of Herman Hesse’s classic tale, finds tranquility and peace while sitting next to a trickling stream. Every mother knows, that even the steady sound of a fish tank-filter can calm a restless baby. And most probably everyone has experience how stress and tension gets washed away when resting next to some kind of moving water.

Benefits of pondless waterfalls
Today it is easy to add a beautiful water feature to your own yard. There are many benefits to it. Landscaping-expert Jamie Snyder of Albert Landscaping Group recommends to get started with the installation of a waterfall. “A pondless waterfall does not take up much space, but can easily be expanded”, he explains. “Just make sure to leave enough space around the base.”

While the water feature will be an eye-catching addition to your yard, it will also increase the value of your home. There is a good reason, why waterfront property is usually priced quite a bit higher. Today customized waterfeatures can easily be added anywhere in the yard.

Fast Installation
“Water features like waterfalls or pondless waterfalls used to be extremely expensive, time-consuming projects. But thanks to a revolutionary concrete additive pioneered by StoneMakers, these projects can now be done at a fraction of a cost, and completed much faster than before, with minimal disruption to your home routine”, says Monroe landscaper Jamie Snyder.

While the maintenance just requires a few minutes a week, the benefits of the microclimate are amazing. According to the US Department of Energy water helps to temper heat and is a beneficial feature for every environmental friendly garden. As a natural gathering place, the water feature will also add to your family space; see it as an extra outdoor room, like a deck or patio.

Contact Hudson Valley Landscaping-Expert Snyder to design the best feature for your yard.

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Concrete Block Alternative

Posted by James Snyder on Thu, Jul 21, 2011 @ 30:10 AM

concrete block


Concrete block has long been a reliable method for constructing home beautification projects. Done correctly, a project using this method can be solid and durable. However, StoneMakers has created a proprietary concrete mix that trumps concrete block in several ways, most importantly, in durability, cost effectiveness and aesthetics.

Concrete block is made from poured concrete, and is typically composed of cement, sand and gravel aggregate. The blocks used to form foundations are hollow, and when stacked on top of one another you can see through the center of the foundation. The voids are normally filled with a cement-based mortar or poured concrete containing small pieces of gravel.

Concrete block has a large amount of compressive strength; however, when it is subjected to some sort of tension or stretching force, that strength is reduced by up to 90 percent. As soil, for instance, pushes against a retaining wall built in this method, tension is created that can eventually lead to a failure. Concrete block is also susceptible to decay due to moisture, so a waterproofing system has to be applied after the completion of a project.

StoneMakers’ propriety concrete product has the look and feel of real stone and is much stronger than traditional concrete block. Rather than relying on concrete blocks held together by mortar, a retaining wall, for example, built with StoneMakers concrete is one solid mass tied together with rebar, which makes it longer lasting, curing out at the incomparable strength of between, 6,000-8,000 PSI. No concrete building material in the industry can come close.

And the cost savings are just as impressive. Because artisans can build project using the StoneMakers product so much faster than by using typical concrete block, homeowners can save staggering sums of money. Since most projects are charged by the hour, the potential savings should be readily apparent.

Aesthetically, there also is no comparison between StoneMakers concrete and the traditional concrete block method. With the latter, you get exactly that – a project that looks like concrete blocks. But with StoneMakers, we can completely custom color and design options that, basically, are only limited by your imagination. We can shape StoneMakers concrete into almost any design, and make it just about any color you can think of.

If you are considering a home beautification project using concrete block, do not proceed any farther until you call us at (845) 283-8787. We can tell you how, by using the StoneMakers proprietary concrete mix, we can build a project for you that will cost much less, and take much less more time, than one using concrete block.

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What you can visualize, we can realize with StoneMakers

Posted by James Snyder on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 @ 33:10 AM


You’ve worked long and hard to afford the home of your dreams, and you’ve carefully and patiently made every inch of the inside something that truly reflects who you are. You should rightfully be proud of all you’ve accomplished.

And while there’s always something to tweak or change outright inside your home, now might be a good time to focus on the outside; to start concentrating your efforts on make the outside of your home reflect your individuality just as the inside does.

Thanks to StoneMakers’ new revolutionary and proprietary concrete mix, outdoor home beautification projects can be constructed to be more unique than ever before.

We recently became converts to the StoneMakers product line, and are extremely proud to be a certified StoneMakers dealer. With their innovative concrete mix, we can create much more varied hardscape designs than ever before. No matter what the project – a water feature, outdoor fireplace, walkway, patio, whatever – we can construct a custom, hand-crafted project that will be completely unique to you. We can build you a bench shaped like a tree if you like. If you want, we can build a waterfall that looks like cliff rock. Just about any shape you can imagine, we can build. And in just about any color you can imagine as well.

The beauty of natural stone is undeniable, but the price tag that comes along with it is another matter entirely. Properly installing stone used to be an incredibly time consuming and expensive proposition, but that is no longer the case Whatever your project, we can make it look like natural stone by using traditional concrete combined with the StoneMakers mix – and do it at a much, much lower price than if real stone was involved. And since StoneMakers has been perfecting their product for the last 25 years to mimic the look and feel of natural stone, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference.

StoneMakers brings homeowners all the benefits of natural stone, but with the strength of concrete – and without the cost of traditional stonework. We could not be more excited about this product. Call us at (845) 283-8787 and let us share that excitement with you.


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