If you’re reading this blog, you probably are starting to think about designing a new paver patio, driveway, walkway or pooldeck. To create a great space, you need to design a sense of place. An outdoor room that feels good and cozy. Driveways should be appealing and inviting.
But where do you start? There are two ways to approach creating your new outdoor living area. The traditional way is to hire a landscape architect for their design services. Alternatively you could DIY. Either way you will be looking for some inspiration to ensure to add your personal touch to the design. I like watching home improvement shows for the “wow” factor and seeing the transformation.
Here are some other ideas:
- Find some inspirational pictures of patios, driveways, etc. by flipping through design magazines such as: Garden Design, Landscape Architecture or check out photos on manufacturer websites or facebook.
- Go to your local bookstore and look for landscape design or patio design books in the garden section. Many of these will be very comprehensive and will include both the Hardscape and Softscape designs. Some will even show installation procedures.
- Walk through your neighborhood to find your likes and dislikes. Take photos if appropriate.
Design is in the details. Think about and look for elements to make your design stand out. Be different than your neighbors.
- Consider mixing and matching shapes, textures and colors to add that personal touch of personality and warmth to your design. We call this accents and finishing.
- Use decorative banding throughout your design in the pavement, seatwalls, grill island and fireplace to tie the project together and separate “rooms”. Decorative banding works best when a different style or colored pavers is used. The first photo shows the connection between the wall banding with the ground. And on the photos below, notice on how much more attractive the edge condition looks with a decorative banding.
- Add paver “rugs”. This is where decorative inserts of different colored, textured or patterned pavers are placed within the main paver field. Rugs will define your different rooms.
- Remember to keep it simple.
Design professionals can collaborate with you to create a beautiful and functional space. Many work for design/build companies that will perform all the necessary services. Landscape architects are licensed professionals and are more than just the creative force behind the design. They are trained to evaluate all the existing conditions such as grading, drainage and plant material. Landscape architects will turn these existing conditions into features by blending in a new landscape to create a harmonious design. Most will charge a design fee. My opinion is that a design can be well worth the money but remember to do your homework when selecting your Designer and/or Contractor. Ask to see a portfolio of their work. Ask for references. Does the designer listen to your ideas? Are you comfortable? Installation of hardscaping products is key to longevity of the project. You may find the following article,PaverWise, helpful. Not sure what to expect during this process? Click here to watch a video featuring real customers sharing their experience.
Instead of contracting the project out to a professional you could also “do it yourself”, also known as DIY! This has become a very popular option because it can save you some costs mostly during the installation. Before you can start building, you must have a good plan for what you want and a good understanding of how to properly install hardscaping products to ensure the longevity of your project.
Establish a reasonable budget but don’t start to worry about the total cost. The typical rule of thumb is your total landscape should be a minimum of 20 percent of your home value. Your new landscape is more than just curb appeal. It will add value to your home even in this economy. Consider phasing your project over several seasons. Plan for the full build out from the beginning, but if constrained by budget, start with the basic patio. Then add your seatwalls, grill, fireplace, etc. Add plants as you go.
After your inventory is complete and you can envision your new space in your mind, create a sketch of your existing conditions (house footprint, fences or walls and property lines) and then integrate a few different layouts or “plan views” of your new vision.
Now you are ready to translate your vision to paper! More on this soon.