Posts Tagged ‘landscape architecture’

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.

NJ Swimming Pool Architecture-How Landscape Architects Can Kill Your Pool

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Let me start by saying I have a tremendous respect for landscape architects and their dedication and valuable contributions to the swimming pool industry. My goal here is to bring attention to companies that advertise as swimming pool architects who overlook best management practices that can compromise swimming pool structures.

Yes, it’s very important for a landscape architect to know municipal ordinances and where the sun rises and sets when designing a swimming pool.  It’s also important to know where the swim-out and the dive rock should be placed. But shouldn’t you expect more from your landscape architect or pool designer? What about safety, proper equipment function, and construction techniques? Just because a landscape architecture firm has designed a lot of properties that included a swimming pool doesn’t necessarily make them experts who can manage or build your luxury swimming pool.

This 20K Pebble Tec Plaster Upgrade is Ruined After Only 5 Years

There are some NJ landscape architecture firms who claim that they can save clients money by managing their swimming pool project. They tell the client that they can send the job out to bid, get them the best price, and manage the construction for a percentage of the swimming pool construction costs. In many instances, the low bid pool builders (who will give the landscape architect that “best price”) sub contracts most of the construction out to smaller companies. So that means the sub contractor of the low bidder is being managed by a landscape architect who more than likely has no construction experience. Does anyone else see the problem with this?

If you’re going to spend fifty thousand dollars on a swimming pool and then add a fifteen thousand dollar waterfall or a twenty thousand dollar vanishing edge, I’m sure you want to enjoy it for many years to come. That’s questionable at best, given this scenario, As the degree of difficulty in luxury pool building continues to rise and the economy continues to remain weak, it has created the perfect storm in the luxury swimming pool market. Low and mid-market pool builders now claim to be high-end builders. They are running to the luxury pool market (because it’s the only pool market left) despite lacking the necessary skills to build these extremely involved structures! In addition to that there are certain landscape architects who claim to have experience managing swimming pool construction. It’s become confusing for the consumer, and unfortunately the end result is a lot of failing pools.

Swimming pools have been the dominant feature in back yard designs for many years. Over the last ten years we have built some of the most intricate structures garnished with some of the most lavish finishes. Unfortunately, we have also seen a larger number of failures in structures and finishes due to poor construction techniques. Here are five of the thirty issues that will ruin your swimming pool which most landscape architects fail to address in their design specifications:

Soil Stability – The failure of many pools and patios stems from the soil on which the structures are built. On all the landscape architecture plans we have bid on in the last ten years, I have yet to see one plan with any specifications regarding poor soil conditions.

Rebound – What is rebound and why will it destroy your pool?  During the gunite installation material is pneumatically applied to create the pool shell. During the application, material that does not bond accumulates on the floor of the pool. This material is called rebound. Rebound should be discarded because it no longer contains structural qualities, but many pool companies don’t discard this material. They simply shovel the loose material into the walls and “flash” over it with fresh gunite. Once the material hardens it forms weak nonstructural pockets which can compromise the structural integrity of the pool vessel. This practice is against best management practices, but it is still a widespread problem in the industry.

This Vanishing Edge Swimming Pool Has Sever Structural Damage

Groundwater – How can groundwater compromise the inground swimming pool vessel?  Gunite needs 28 days to properly cure, but the first 48 hours are the most crucial. Fresh gunite that is exposed to groundwater can be structurally compromised. As the water infiltrates the newly applied gunite, it basically washes out the concrete and leaves the weakened aggregate behind. The problem with this usually becomes apparent several years down the road when the homeowner decides to upgrade the pool plaster and drains the pool. Once the pool is drained, the pressure relief plugs which normally allow the groundwater to enter the pool vessel and reduce the pressure on the pool shell are rendered useless. If the groundwater reaches weakened gunite before the pressure relief plugs, the pool will crack under pressure where the groundwater compromised the gunite during installation. In other words, a cosmetic upgrade becomes a difficult structural repair.

Improper Sealing- Most companies don’t properly seal their pools, and some don’t seal at all. Some use generic sealers that only deal with positive water flow but fail to address the negative flow of water through the gunite shell. This can lead to plaster or tile damage or, even worse, the structural failure of the gunite.

Pump Size and Function – Undersized pumps in a spa will ruin the whole experience. What’s the right size pool pump for your spa? Spas are getting larger and more elaborate, and there isn’t much worse than getting in your spa and having weak jets. Ok, a cold spa would definitely be worse, but you can easily fix a heater. For pumps, it’s very expensive to have to redo the plumbing if the pump and piping is undersized.

The economy is still hurting and the mid and low swimming pool markets have been annihilated, so everyone wants to build luxury pools. Meanwhile these luxury swimming pools are getting more intricate and harder to build, and your everyday pool company is not capable of building these extravagant structures. Given the climate of this perfect storm, it’s extremely dangerous to let landscape architects who don’t have the proper build experience manage your swimming pool construction. While having a landscape architect is so very important (that’s why we have one on-staff), someone with the proper pool building experience must oversee construction to ensure the safety, durability and reliability of the pool. In my years in the pool industry I have never seen specifications come out of a landscape architecture office that address essential best management practices. Without these specifications, it’s easy for swimming pool contractors and subcontractors to make mistakes or drop their price, earn a bid, and do a half-hearted, poor job without the landscape architect ever realizing what’s going on. It’s a scary situation, and these 5 issues are just the tip of the iceberg. To find out the solutions to these 5 issues and the 25 other critical specifications not addressed by most landscape architects, email me at chris@plantnj.com.

NJ Landscape Architects – Avoid Free Landscaping Plans at “All Costs”!

Friday, March 11th, 2011

NJ Landscape Architects – Avoid Free Landscaping Plans at “All Costs”!

 

Starting a great landscaping project with limited funds?  Here are five hardscape and planting suggestions that are GUARANTEED to save you THOUSANDS.

1.     Always start with a landscape plan (blueprint) prepared by a licensed landscape architect. This will ensure a balanced design and will allow you to phase the work as budgets permit.

2.     Pick materials and plants that will work within your budget. You can cut the cost of a project in half with the right choices in material. For instance, if natural stone isn’t in your budget, try pavers and save about 50%.  Larger trees and shrubs cost significantly more than smaller ones. Reduce the size and save 20 – 50%.

3.     Start the construction process by focusing on your main areas of concern, your focal point, and your most valuable asset. In general, focus on the areas you’re going to enjoy the most.

4.      When phasing a project, always look ahead to future portions of the project. Be sure to include any infrastructure components like conduit or irrigation lines early in the process so you don’t have to disturb your completed areas. An experienced landscape architect will help prevent you from doing things twice!

5.     At the start of every landscaping or swimming pool project, the best investment is a great set of plans prepared by a licensed landscape architect. A well thought-out set of plans takes a considerable amount of time to prepare, but they will help avoid hidden costs and minimize overruns in your custom landscape or swimming pool project. Don’t waste time with anyone offering you free landscaping or swimming pool plans. It’s a gimmick used to trap you into a situation where you never know the true value or cost of your project. Pay for the plans, and you will own the exclusive rights to them. Once they are in your hands, you can get an apples to apples comparison through a bidding process.

Please remember only a Licensed Landscape Architect can offer landscape architecture services. Anyone offering landscape architecture services must post their landscape architect’s name and license number issued by the state in which they practice. If any firm is advertising landscape architecture services and fails to post the proper credentials, please contact your state’s Board of Architects or your state’s Attorney General.

Antiques in Landscape Design Add Old World Charm

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Landscape Design can be elevated with the proper use of antiques, Cipriano Landscape Design shares techniques utilized in a New Jersey landscape design project

Over a decade ago, the old Hotel Dorset on 54th Street in New York City was sold to the Museum of Modern Art, who intended to use the building as an addition. The MOMA demolished the exterior of the building in order to transform it into art galleries and offices. In 2000, when the walls came down and demolition began, an antique medallion was salvaged from the original structure built in 1927 by architect Emery Ross. (Emery Ross and his sons played significant roles in the construction of many major NY buildings, including the World Trade Center.) For ten years, the salvaged antique medallion had a life of its own, until 2010, when it found its new home above an Old World swimming pool in New Jersey. Above the swimming pool, the antique was transformed into a working water feature with an additional custom sculpture set in the center of the piece.

A growing trend in swimming pool and landscape design is to incorporate antiques into projects. The story of this antique medallion represents the unbelievable journey of antiques as they travel for many years from their original sites to modern day landscape and swimming pool design. Skilled swimming pool and landscape designers have a keen-eye for one-of-a-kind pieces that can accent back yards in beautiful ways.

The key to the successful incorporation of antiques into a landscape design is establishing a style or theme and applying the antique treasure in a unique, practical, and appropriate way. Let’s use the antique medallion as a way of exemplifying these skills. The treasured medallion fits nicely above the swimming pool as a result of the Old World theme and elegant style. The swimming pool itself is small and designed for quiet relaxation, rather than recreation. As a result, the pool is able to reach a very high level of delicate intricacy. Along the back of the pool, there is a large barrier wall in need of decoration and a centerpiece. With concrete sculptures of lion heads and satyrs, as well as detailed precast concrete coping made to look like aged stone, this pool hosts the antique medallion quite fittingly. An antique medallion matches the Old World design and ornate style. The storied medallion also contributes to the mystical qualities provided by the sculptures.

Next, the seamless integration of the antique requires that it be a practical addition to the overall swimming pool and landscape design. In this case, the antique was transformed into a fountain. Six other fountains line the barrier wall, so naturally the centerpiece should provide the largest stream of water. A small trough was designed for the center of the medallion. The fountain in the medallion represents the antique’s usefulness to the swimming pool. Many antiques seem randomly thrown into swimming pools and landscapes so that designers can say there’s an antique in their design. This antique is the highlight of the entire yard, and it actively demonstrates this by serving as the swimming pool’s largest water feature.

Finally, an antique has to fit seamlessly within the swimming pool and landscape design. While most antiques are unique, some shine as one-of-a-kind treasures. In the medallion’s case, a hand-crafted concrete sculpture of a seahorse was placed in the center, bending around the fountain spigot. The seahorse has the head of a real horse and the fin of a mermaid. The intricate sculpture at the center of the antique medallion provides character to the antique just as it benefits the look of the elegantly mystical pool as a whole.

In conclusion, an antique addition to a swimming pool or landscape must be appropriate to the design, practical towards the goals of the design, and unique in its contribution to the overall project. Expand your landscape and pool design ideas with useful antiques. You can successfully incorporate antiques such as terra cotta medallions, columns from India, fire bowls from Turkey, and extravagant neoclassical rotundas into a swimming pool or landscape design. All you have to do is decide on a style and theme. Use your imagination. Search for that one-of-a-kind treasure that will set your yard apart from anything anyone has ever seen before. If you head in the right direction, keeping in mind appropriateness, practicality, and uniqueness, you could stumble across the perfect accent to your custom swimming pool and landscape.

Are NJ Swimming Pool Architects the Same as Licensed New Jersey Landscape Architects?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Today more than ever, people want landscape or swimming pool companies to be competent and qualified enough to give them everything they need so they can go about their daily lives without having to worry about the task-at-hand. When hiring a swimming pool or landscape company for a project, homeowners tend to hire companies that have the experience, licensing, and skill to accomplish a complete backyard transformation including luxury swimming pools, complete landscaping, and superior masonry work. This worry and hassle-free process is the ideal situation for the busy homeowner. But who is qualified to design and then build the entire project: a swimming pool architect or a landscape architect?

A popular trend in the swimming pool and landscape industry today is for companies to say they can do everything from design to construction. Swimming pool companies have even begun using the term “Swimming Pool Architect.” What is a swimming pool architect and how many companies really can do everything? This can be a difficult market for consumers who simply want to hire one company with a Landscape Architect who can build all the aspects of a project including a swimming pool, patios, landscape, and an outdoor kitchen. Homeowners shouldn’t have to worry about whether a company who advertises a Landscape Architect with an all-inclusive package really completes all their landscape architecture in-house. Unfortunately, since turn-key is such a rising trend, swimming pool companies are claiming to offer landscape architecture services, much like landscape companies that have claimed to build swimming pools.

Here are a couple of ways that homeowners can protect themselves from some of these issues. First, you should note that there is no such thing as a “swimming pool architect”; only a Licensed New Jersey Landscape Architect can offer landscape architecture services for your swimming pool and landscape project. Second, look for the name of a Licenced Landscape Architect and their New Jersey license number in a company’s literature or on their website. If you see someone advertising as a Landscape Architect or offering landscape architecture services and you don’t see a name and license number of the landscape architect, you should contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and report the infraction. Next, if you find a licensed New Jersey Landscape Architect, Google that name of the landscape architect and find out more about them. You should end up right back where you started: on the same swimming pool or landscape company’s website. However, you may find out that this landscape architect actually has his or her own company and is really just subcontracted for the landscape architecture work; this is quite deceptive and you may want to consider other options.

In closing, there are plenty of great companies in the market today who are honest and well versed in their craft. Review the experience of each of the landscape or swimming pool companies you are interviewing. If they really do take care of it all, an equal portfolio for each service will be included on their website. You could also request to see these projects in person. Lastly, double-check credentials on paper. Certificates of membership to professional organizations and certified licenses for every type of work that will be done are essential in reassuring yourself as a consumer. So, what is a swimming pool architect? They do not exist. Remember, only a licensed landscape architect can provide landscape architecture services for swimming pools and landscaping. Finally, do your due diligence and you’ll feel safe with that large swimming pool and landscaping investment.

Bill Moore, Certified New Jersey Landscape Architect of Cipriano Landscape Design Goes Four for Four in Zoning Approvals for Custom Landscaping & Swimming Pool Projects.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

RIDGEWOOD, NJ: The design = a modest-sized swimming pool for a small suburban lot.

The property = Special Flood Hazard Area (flood plain) in Ridgewood, NJ.

Cipriano Landscape Design is working within the New Jersey DEP guidelines to create a project with no additional fill in the flood plain. According to owner Chris Cipriano, “Re-vegetation of the disturbance area is also required while municipal guidelines dictate the design. Our team studied setbacks, percentage of impervious area on the lot and total percentage of above grade structures. We found that the percentage of above-grade structures seeking variance relief was over the maximum limit. Our lot was actually undersized for the zone it was in so if the lot actually met the minimum size, there would be no variance.”

Bill Moore, a Certified New Jersey Landscape Architect on the Cipriano Landscape Design team, created the design. A comprehensive site plan was devised by Cipriano Landscape Design’s site engineer. An application was presented to the DEP and a well-crafted and persuasive introduction by an attorney was part of the plan that was approved by the Ridgewood zoning board of adjustment.

Furthermore, Bill Moore received an approval for a variance from the Borough of Franklin Lakes to construct a temporary access road through a non-disturbance buffer. Moore worked with the site engineer to address the site drainage in formulating a cohesive plan. Cipriano Landscape Design also worked with the Borough of Franklin Lakes’ municipal engineer, municipal shade tree commission, neighbors and health officer.

In November 2008, Moore received approvals from the Borough of Saddle River for a soil moving plan for a newly constructed estate with a resort-like swimming pool complete with waterfalls and a grotto, multi-tiered patios, outdoor kitchen, and a full service cabana. The NJ landscape architecture firm’s biggest design challenge faced in this approval was getting an 8 foot waterfall within the 4 foot grade change limit.

Bill also contributed a landscape master plan for the Allendale Plaza “C” variance application granted in September 2008. The project started as an expansion to existing retail space. The Allendale zoning required a minimum number of parking stalls per square footage of retail space which the site could not accommodate. As part of seeking relief for the parking ordinance, the applicant proposed to make additional improvements to the property to benefit the neighboring businesses and residents. The role of Cipriano Landscape Design was to supplement the additional improvements portion of the application. Various parking island plant beds and perimeter plantings were carefully designed to create year ‘round interest with seasonal flower displays. Planting also included shade and flowering trees within the parking areas.