Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey Landscape Architects’

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.

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.

The New Jersey Landscape Architecture Division of Cipriano Landscape Design Offers a New Outdoor Home Staging Service to Help New Jersey Residents Combat the Housing Market Decline.

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Due to the severe decline in the housing market, residents in the tri-state area are finding it increasingly difficult to sell their homes.  To combat this challenge, we announced today the launching of a new outdoor home staging service to help residents improve their “curb appeal” and sell their homes faster.

Home staging is a technique traditionally done indoors that prepares a residence for sale and makes it more appealing to potential buyers. However, fixing up the outdoors and improving curb appeal is a vital aspect of selling the home.  According to Smart Money, if you spend five percent of the value of your home on landscaping, and do it wisely, you might get 150 percent of more of your money back. Additionally, in a recent Gallup research project, home buyers revealed that they believe a professionally tuned outdoors will add nearly 15 percent to a home’s selling price. I always stress the view from the street is the first and most important impression on all potential buyers and professionally tuned outdoors will help grab buyers attention from the get-go. This is why outdoor staging is just as important as the traditional indoor service.

To improve curb appeal, I recommend taking simple steps like pressure-washing porches, decks and siding and removing old woodpiles, dilapidated sheds and any outdoor clutter. Also, have the lawn professionally mowed with all leaves and debris picked up. I also suggest fixing up the pathway to the front door, sprucing up the gardens with color and installing a few hanging plants along the front porch.  Repairing or updating an older swimming pool or patio can provide return on investment.   Having a person feel like they can move right in makes all the difference.

For clients with a larger budget, I recommend improving the gardens with distinctive features and a variety of plants. Try creating a natural and comfortable outdoor setting by installing a combination of trees, natural stones and shrubs, also showcasing a unique statue, fountain or urn full of color will help your property stand out from the rest.

Last but certainly not least, I recommend installing professional outdoor lighting.  Most buyers go shopping after work when it may be dark out.  If they can’t see the favorable characteristics of your home, they might pass right by.
The outdoor home staging service we offer ranges from a home visit with do-it-yourself suggestions, the sale or rental of garden elements and outdoor furniture to a complete NJ pool landscaping makeover. For more information, call the Ramsey office @201-785-0800.