Archive for March, 2013

Great NJ Swimming Pool Plans–Complete Plans Save Time & Money

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Great NJ Swimming Pool Plans – Complete Plans Save Time & Money

How To Save 40K on Your Pool Construction Project NJ- Swimming Pool Plans and Design Benefits from NJ Pool Design & Construction Firm Cipriano Landscape Design

A beautiful sketch drawn by a landscape designer can make your new pool look very attractive, but do you really want move forward with the project without a good set of swimming pool plans? What value do complete swimming pool plans have for your inground pool project? These questions are very pertinent as you approach your new pool project or pool renovation. Complete swimming pool plans should not be underestimated. In this blog, I will try to explain how pool plans can play a crucial role in almost every aspect of your new swimming pool.

When you get a sketch, will it include setbacks and infrastructure layouts such as drainage tanks or a septic system? What else is missing? Is the sketch within impervious coverage limitations? How about the required drainage details for the approvals? Without a good set of plans, it becomes very unclear what you are paying for and what in fact you will receive from a given pool builder. A sketch or generic set of plans will leave you with a lot of grey areas that will expose you to extras. In fact, a contractor may use these openings to cut corners or add a lot of extras in the end. These inadequate pool plans generally cost 10 to 20% more in construction costs due to unforeseen challenges and expenses. On a $200,000 project that can be up to $40,000!

A good set of plans includes everything you need to get a complete price and permits, including dimensions of all the structures, structural details for permitting, top and bottom wall elevations, quantity of steps, drainage layout and details, plant layout and schedule. This takes time and will cost you more upfront for the plans, but you will be happy at the end of the project when you don’t have thousands of dollars in unforeseen extras.  The detailed plans force pool builders to be very specific when they tell you how much it will cost to build the pool precisely according to plans. If a pool company can give a price for construction without providing a detailed design, chances are, the final cost will be a lot higher than expected.

In essence, there is an element of clarity, comfort, safety, and cost-effectiveness to investing in a great set of pool plans. Great pool designs let you know what you will be getting from a pool builder before ground is broken on the pool. You will also know what you are getting and for how much you will get it. Once you have a good set of pool plans, you can receive accurate quotes for pool construction. You will also have a cost range at which you can build that pool design, depending upon the materials you choose for finishes, coping, patios, etc.

Creative Retaining Walls NJ–Design Ideas for Sloped Yards

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Creative Retaining Walls NJ–Design Ideas for Sloped Yards

Do you have a steeply sloped yard that has failed to meet your landscaping and outdoor living expectations?

Do you have a steeply sloped yard that has failed to meet your landscaping and outdoor living expectations? Are you curious as to how you might improve your sloped backyard landscape design? With a good design that utilizes retaining walls effectively, you can reach all of your landscaping or swimming pool goals regardless of any steep slopes and awkward spaces.

Retaining walls, retain, or hold back, portions of the yard to make usable spaces out of sloping properties. Instead of feeling confined to one area of the yard, you can use retaining walls to create tiers and terraces for multiple functional areas and added appeal. For pool designs, waterfalls can act as a retaining wall that looks natural and becomes the focal point of an entire sloped yard. This is just one unique example of creative ways to retain earth. Before you set out to retain any slopes in your yard, you will want to hear a few tips about the proper use of retaining walls.

Depending upon the style of the landscape design, retaining walls can achieve a number of different looks. Sometimes you will see big boulders retaining slopes that look more like natural cliffs. These are called rockeries; they can have plants growing up and down them to preserve the natural look. Rockeries are quite often used in waterfall designs to extend the natural look away from the swimming pool. Other retaining walls may be more sophisticated with natural stone veneer and caps. These walls function nicely around formal or modern living spaces. For modern retaining walls, you can be much more adventurous in terms of material, incorporating anything from chic glass tile to more raw or industrial materials like wood and steel. In a small, sloped yard, we once incorporated a glass tile water wall to retain the slope and transition from the spa to the pool.

One tip for retaining walls is to use cheaper materials in places with very little visual impact. For instance, if you retain a slope going down away from the house, the retaining wall will be unseen for most of the time and will have very little visual importance, though functionally it may be paramount. The wise choice, in these scenarios, might be to use natural boulders or precast wall block rather than laboriously build expensive natural stone veneered walls.

In general, retaining walls can be natural, modern, or traditional depending on the style of the landscaping or swimming pool design. The walls may vary greatly in terms of material, style, and cost, but they can all create a more functional backyard space in a sloped yard. If you have any questions about landscaping ideas for sloped yard, please give us a call.

Rain Gardens NJ-Creative Rain Garden Design for Small Yards

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Rain Gardens NJ-Creative Rain Garden Design for Small Yards

Rain Gardens NJ-Creative Rain Garden Design Ideas for Traditional, Modern & Natural Small Yards from NJ Landscaping Expert Cipriano Landscape Design

A rain garden is a shallow depression that utilizes plants and soils to filter and clean storm water runoff before it enters the ground. Rain gardens are extremely valuable in reducing your property’s environmental impact. In some instances, the utilization of a rain garden may allow you to develop larger areas of the property for features such as swimming pools or patios. Whatever the reason behind your rain garden, you will be happy to know that the unique landscape feature can be designed even for the smallest of spaces. Let’s take a very brief look at how you might incorporate a rain garden design for small yards.

How do we accomplish a successful rain garden design while keeping aesthetics and space in mind within the small backyard area? Fortunately, rain gardens, despite being a very specific type of garden design, have plenty of versatility when it comes to style, shape, and materials. The rain garden can be any shape as long as it is able to hold the required volume of water. In a long, narrow area, for example, you can disguise the rain garden as a dry riverbed with a natural style. For a modern look, you can line the depression with a formal wood or metal border; you might then plant your rain garden plants in the center of the depression. I would pick out tall slender grasses. In a small, symmetrical space, you can create the depression and use a statue, planter, or small pedestal as a centerpiece. Rain garden plants can surround the centerpiece for a nice design.

Overall, these basic ideas can be used for inspiration as your approach a rain garden design for your small yard. Be creative with the small, specific space and try to incorporate it into the rest of the landscape design. Remember to use appropriate plants for a rain garden, which start with hardy, native plants of your area. With appropriate plant materials and unique landscaping ideas, you can accomplish your sustainability goals in style. If you have any questions about rain garden design, please contact us. Also, feel free to take a look at an old blog we wrote about a Mahwah, NJ rain garden.


Most Popular NJ Pool Features: Sun Shelf & Colored LED Lights

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Most Popular NJ Pool Features: Sun Shelf & Colored LED Lights

See the Two Most Popular Swimming Pool Options from NJ Inground Swimming Pool Contractor Cipriano Landscape Design: The Sun Shelf & Colored LED Pool Lighting

From massive waterfalls to fiber optic star lights to “dive-in movie theaters,” the options are limitless for custom, luxury swimming pools. As a NJ pool builder, I am often asked, “What is the most popular swimming pool option?” Cipriano Landscape Design’s years of experience have provided a lot of insight in the pool options most requested for NY and NJ pool designs. In no particular order, here are my choices for the two most popular swimming pool options!

1. Sun Shelf

The sun shelf is one of the two most popular swimming pool features. Sun shelves are basically a massive step or landing beneath the surface of the water. They can really be any shape or size, depending on your pool design. In general, they range from 3 inches to 12 inches deep. On the sun shelf, you can tan comfortably as if you’re on the shores of a beach, slightly submerged in water to stay cool while soaking up the sun at the same time. Similarly, you can take a chaise lounge and place it on the sun shelf. For times when the sun is too hot, we’ve incorporated an umbrella into the sun shelf. The sun shelf feature is most popular for moms with young ones; children will frolic around on the sun shelf as parents lounge comfortably in the water or on a chair beside them. The sun shelf is also the most popular spot for teenagers to “hang out.”

2. Colored LED Pool Lighting

Color LED pool lighting has taken the pool industry by storm. The cool feature brings enjoyment and excitement to inground pools by illuminating them in a wide range of colors at night. Today’s homeowners want to be able to enjoy their swimming pool at night, even if only for aesthetics. Color LED lights create a 24-hour swimming pool and back yard. With the lights on, you can completely set the mood for the yard and produce a functional outdoor living area that is safe to use after sundown. You can really impress guests with custom lighting displays that are programmed or remote controlled. In addition to its function, safety, and style, colored LED pool lighting is also quite efficient, providing the most cost-effective lighting option within the pool. Other lighting options, which are less common but even more spectacular, include fiber optic starlights, fiber optic deck jets, and fiber optic rope lighting.

If you would like to include these options in your pool design, look for a pool design company with the most experience incorporating these popular features into the design. These companies will be familiar with how many lights are necessary to illuminate a massive pool or simply where to include a sun shelf to make the most of the pool and landscape design. If you have any questions about these two popular pool options or if you’d like to hear about some of the most exciting pool features available for 2013, do not hesitate to give us a call.

Patio Lighting Design Ideas NJ–Cipriano Landscape Design

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Patio Lighting Design Ideas NJ–Cipriano Landscape Design

Our patio lighting design ideas feature various techniques that bring safety, functionality, and ambiance to various patio and walkway areas.

When designing outdoor living patios, our goal is to provide more than just a suitable surface for cooking, dining, walking, and lounging. We want to make the most out of these essential patio areas; incorporating a well-designed lighting plan is essential to reaching that goal. Now the question arises, “How do I properly light my patios?” In this blog, I would like to share a bit about how we strive for the best possible patio lighting. At Cipriano, we use various techniques that bring safety, functionality, and ambiance to the outdoor living space.

With our patio lighting design ideas, we take a rather minimalist approach to patio and landscape lighting. Our techniques tend to accentuate the surroundings with simple, yet elegant lighting fixtures. Discreetly down-lighting a masonry structure, for example, will showcase the depth of the stone and illuminate the patio without highlighting the lighting fixture itself. This approach can be implemented by countersinking light fixtures in the walls, wall caps, steps, and so on. To give you another example, lighting under countertops in an outdoor kitchen will illuminate the base of the structure and the surrounding patio for a nice, soft, safe touch.

Proper lighting designs may focus on distinguishing various scenes. If the path lights on the patio and landscape lighting are all grouped together, then you lose the convenience of controlling primary and secondary lighting scenes. Big back yards can highlight multiple swimming pool, landscaping, and patio scenes in distinct ways if done effectively.

For the typical yard, putting safety first and foremost, you might try to light main pathways and patio areas as your primary scene. Up-light focal points such as trees and architectural elements in the landscape, and down-light open areas or other feature elements of the landscape design as secondary scenes to achieve the right sort of balance and functionality. Now with the convenience of LED lighting, you can put more lights and multiple scenes on one transformer; the key is to take advantage of that without over-lighting or creating hotspots. More soft lights are much more desirable than giant floodlights next to the patio.

I hope these tips and techniques may be helpful to you as you look for proper patio lighting designs to fit your outdoor living space and style. Try to stay away from lighting the space too much. It may seem like a great way to make the patio functional, but it can be somewhat uncomfortable and blind guests who want to gaze out upon your pool landscaping. Try to find a balance with a minimalist approach to patio lighting design. By softly lighting structures and pathways, you will have a safe, functional area that allows your landscape architecture and masonry design to shine.

Large Backyard Ideas NJ – How To Design A Luxury Resort

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Large Backyard Ideas NJ–How To Create A Luxury Resort

Does your existing landscaping fail to make the most of your large backyard? We have some ideas that can transform your backyard into a luxury resort.–Plant NJ

Do you have a very big yard? Maybe you have decided that your existing landscape doesn’t make the most of your large property. Maybe you are having trouble engaging guests and balancing function and style across the massive backyard property. These are all very common concerns that homeowners have with respect to large backyard landscaping projects.

You may be thinking, “How could anyone complain about having too much space? I would love a bigger yard!” Having a huge back yard usually sounds like a blessing, but, believe it or not, there are some significant challenges with big backyard landscapes as well. One major concern for big yards is that they may look desolate and unwelcoming if they lack engaging destinations. Problems with slopes or flat, uninteresting properties can be compounded by the large property area. Any problems, or even the vast possibilities, with big back yards make for a challenging design and build process.

In order to make the most of large backyard landscaping, here are a few ideas I would suggest. Depending upon your outdoor living needs, try to diversify the landscape design and create various destinations. You can divide the large landscape into multiple destinations with different functions. For example, a large backyard might feature a flat, open grass play area for the kids, a swimming pool and patio area for swimming, an outdoor kitchen space for cooking and dining, and maybe even a separate outdoor living room for quiet relaxation. These varied spaces will engage everyone from children to adults in various ways.

In big yards, you might face the large challenge of a steep slope or, in the other extreme, a boring, flat yard. Creative solutions, usually in the form of terracing, can provide functional interest in both scenarios. Multiple terrace levels can ease a slope transition and create functional areas in the steep yard. Terraces might also create depth and interest across a flat, open landscape.

Whatever sort of large backyard ideas NJ you choose for your big backyard resort, remember to balance function and style. Everything may look good on paper, but it doesn’t always work for the end user experience, especially for large properties. It is important to consider space, foot traffic, and furniture layouts. For example, you might not want to put a dining area right in front of a staircase because the foot traffic could be disruptive and disjointed.  You might have the luxury of a lot of space, but knowing what to do with it is a different ballgame. Experienced landscape architects will best be able to tell you how to make these extensive designs as functional and user-friendly as possible.

Lastly, making the most of the big backyard resort involves using the yard at night. Effective lighting will play a crucial role in the value of your big backyard investment. When choosing features and functions for your large outdoor living space, always remember to put safety first. Inground pools, waterfalls, and fire pits are beautiful, but safety should always be the deciding factor when it comes to including and designing these luxury features.

To summarize, speak with your landscape design company and figure out what options make the most sense for your property, your family, and your lifestyle. From there, try to get a feel for how the landscaping ideas will come together; various destinations must be comfortable and distinct, while remaining functional for the overall outdoor living experience.

If you have any questions about how to achieve your big backyard resort goals, please contact us. We have experience with landscape design for properties up to 10-acres in size!

How to Improve Your NJ Landscaping with Climbing Vines

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

How to Improve Your NJ Landscaping with Climbing Vines

Would you like to soften an architectural element or enjoy a shaded area under a canopy of foliage? How do you make the most of a confining space? Landscaping with climbing vines may be the perfect solution.

Do you have a stone structure that is overwhelming? Would you like the comfort of natural shading added to an overhead structure? Looking to do more with a tight courtyard space? These are several situations where climbing vines may be the solution.

For me, one of the more attractive aspects of a beautiful landscape has to be the use of climbing vines. Have you ever seen a picturesque landscape that looks like something out of a fairytale? Maybe it’s the aged, natural look, but the vines carry a great amount of mystique and adorn scenic architecture with unmistakable style. In this blog, we will take a brief look at how climbing vines can complement and complete your outdoor living space with striking beauty reminiscent of age-old castles. At the same time, I will suggest a few ways in which climbing vines can provide a useful solution for your landscape architecture and outdoor living needs.

How do we use climbing vines in the outdoor living space? We use the climbing vines to add vertical dimension and soften masculine architecture or structures around the landscape. Oftentimes we try to soften and tie architecture, masonry walls, fences, pergolas, and other structures into the surrounding landscape. With a vine climbing up and around the structure, you can accomplish this integration quite literally. Where a stone wall, pergola, or lamppost lacks in style, color, and texture, you can make up for it with a few climbing vines that bloom seasonally with the rest of your perennials. Complementing these vertical structures with beautiful climbing vines becomes especially valuable when you’re short on space.

In terms of varieties to use in your landscape design, I generally suggest climbers such as climbing hydrangea, wisteria, climbing English ivy, morning glory and climbing rose. Another common option is clematis. As I mentioned before, you can use all of these to complement your landscape architecture or home architecture. Some landscaping ideas might include climbing roses on a lamppost, climbing hydrangea on masonry walls, or clematis on the yard’s perimeter piers and fencing.

The advantages of climbing vines incorporated in the outdoor living space lie mainly in style, but there are practical benefits as well. In fact, climbers can bring some sustainability and comfort to the outdoor living area and your home. On a pergola, climbers can provide some added shade from the hot summer sun. On the home, the climbing vines can act as a last line of defense from the sun, cutting back just a little on your air conditioning bill during summer. It is also said that evergreen climbers offer one last windbreak during winter in order to keep cooling to a minimum and cut down on your heating bill.

If you would like to know more about how to use climbing vines to complement and complete your outdoor living space, feel free to contact us.