All of the Hardscape Elements of Fall


The season of fall is almost here.

 

When we think of fall, we think of crunchy leaves changing colors, pumpkins, football games, back to school, spooky Halloween, grilling and tailgating with friends, Thanksgiving surrounded by family, and so many star filled, cool nights around the glow of the fire, making smores or sipping delicious warm apple cider.

 

These are all the special ingredients that make the warm moments of the season and components that make unforgettable memories and that we keep forever.

 

One of these special components is where you celebrate and create these fall moments. Here are some ways to transform your backyard into the perfect place to create those fall memories:

 

Fire Pits

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Fire pits are essential for those cool, fall nights. They not only give warmth and light, but you can always roasting marsh mellows or hot dogs with friends and family. Add a seating wall near the fire pit or gather chairs around to sit on, the fire pit will have plenty of room to accommodate everyone!

 

Today Fire Pits also come with many different visual lighting options, such as: glass rock, lava rock, regular wood, gas logs, gas powered, propane powered, and so many more options!

 

Fireplaces

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While fire pits are always a go-to for a fall retreat, Fireplaces are also a great addition to any backyard.

While they are nice in the summer, they truly shine in the fall. They have similar functions to the classic fire pit, but depending on your personal style you may prefer a outdoor fireplace. Surround the fireplace with comfy outdoor furniture and listen to the crackling of the wood as you enjoy a glass of wine with friends or curl up with a good book.

 

Fireplaces can be made in all different materials and styles, and you can even add boxes on the sides for firewood and other storage!

 

Outdoor Kitchens

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The fire element is of course one of the most important ingredients to a good fall season, but so is the food element!

 

Spice it up with an Outdoor Kitchen! Outdoor kitchens are great for anyone who enjoys being in the kitchen and simultaneously loves entertaining outdoors. They can come built in with all the essentials: grills, sink, wine cooler, trashcans, liquor bottle holders, power burner, pizza oven, ice chest, as well as plenty of bar seating area! Add a beautiful large dining table and lighting to have both fancy and casual dinners outside!

 

Think how wonderful Thanksgiving dinner would be spent outside with all your closest family and friends sitting at the bar as you cook! You all could enjoy the outdoors playing games, chatting, and sharing a magnificent meal at the table. Holidays at your home will soon be the standing tradition with an outdoor space like that!

 

Grilling Stations

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Like Outdoor Kitchens, Grilling Stations have so much to offer in the fall season. Make your home the football pre game destination or you may even skip the game all together and enjoy it from the comfort of your outdoor space.

 

You can’t go wrong with getting the grill setup of your dreams! You can mix and match any add-ons you like! A popular choice being a mini fridge, built in spot for your Green Egg, smoker, rotisserie cooker addition for the grill, or power burner! Although, there are so many more choices, if you can dream it, chances are they make it!

Add a big screen TV and some comfy furniture to your outdoor space and your party will feel relaxed and at ease with all your game needs at your finger tips.

 

 

Any combination of these hardscape elements would be the perfect fall addition and with the season just around the corner, we know this has your wheels turning.

 

We can’t wait help you transform your backyard into a fall escape, ready and equip to celebrate and create all of your favorite fall memories and moments.

 

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned!

 

 

Special Thanks to Outdoor Living by Belgard 2017 for Imagery!

https://www.belgard.com/


The Woes of Construction Projects: It's ugly, it’s messy, and it will get worse before it gets better!


We are not going to lie to you. Anytime you do a home improvement project, things get messy and the outside of your home is no exception when you take on a hardscapes project.

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It is the unfortunate side effect of any construction project, especially when you conduct a large scale project that requires large scale equipment and many hours of labor.

We understand, even while temporary, the look of construction isn't something optimal to have on your home and it may even scare many people away from taking on a home improvement project. 

Even so, we hope to reassure concerns with this blog, because we truly believe the "mess" of construction is a small price to pay for the major reward you receive at the end when your project is complete.

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From the very beginning of your hardscapes project, be prepared and expect to see some construction mess during the process of your hardscaping project.

We know this can sometimes be the most difficult and challenging part of the process for many people. After all, it looks like the space gets worse off than it  was and it can be hard to watch your home turn into a work-in-progress zone. That's why here at Kansas City Hardscapes, we always try to do what we can to make the process more bearable or easier on the home and on our clients.

Whether that’s laying down plywood to help protect grass or other parts of your home (like your driveway for example), taking down a portion of a fence and then putting it back up once we complete the project, or moving any other home items that may be an obstacle. It is always a top priority and goal of ours to leave everything that is not within the project space, just as it was before we arrived. 

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Unfortunately though, no matter what we do to try to prevent the mess, the mess will always come. It is all part of the process and one of the woes of the construction. Simply put: We cannot implement a big change without a big process. 

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However, little by little, as time goes on we can see progress and the project begins to take shape.

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Slowly, your project vision starts to come to life, and what was once a construction mess starts to turn into the dream space you were always imagining.

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Before you know it, we are in the final stretch, and while we finish up our finishing touches, the grass seeds we lay down will start to grow fresh, new grass, and in just a short while after completion of the project, the space will look like new.

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Finally, the vision for your dream space is a reality and we can't wait for you to start enjoying it!

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Overall, we cannot deny that yes, construction is messy. It’s not a pretty or a simple process, and the space certainly gets worse before it gets any better. As a consequence, we will never be able to promise there will be no mess during the time we work on your hardscapes project.

However, we can tell you this: The end result, the final product, the space that you now get to call home, is totally worth it in the end! 

So take another look at some of your dream project ideas that maybe you pushed aside. If you are letting the mess of construction influence your decision to take on the project, try looking at it from a new perspective—because once you can look past the mess, you may see a dream space worth pushing through for!


Technically anyone could do hardscaping, but should they?


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     If you are considering adding a hardscape project to your home, you may have begun to notice that there are many factors to consider.

     Of course, there are a few obvious factors that come to mind: the materials, the size, the design—but the most important decision that can often be overlooked, is the team that will make your outdoor vision a reality.

     “Overlooked” may seem like a strong word to some, but sadly it’s true. Money is usually the number one reason why, because hardscaping projects are expensive. Depending on the project, the materials alone can cost around $5,000 or more. So, for anyone who is trying to stick to a project budget, it can be hard to hand over an extra $2,000 to a hardscaping company when their landscaping crew said they could do it for $2,000 less.

     Which when looking at it initially, that’s completely understandable why people would consider other companies and individuals that don’t specialize in hardscaping. Why hire a hardscaping company when you could hire your landscaping company, an independent contractor, or even a friend or family member who enjoys home improvement work? It would seem to anyone to be the best deal, because technically, anyone can lay out pavers or pour concrete, and the best part is it also saves you money, right?

     It may seem to save you money on the surface. At Kansas City Hardscapes, we unfortunately see many home owners who struggle with the aftermath of choosing the wrong company or individuals to install their hardscapes. $10-20,000 projects that are only a year or two old need repairs due to issues with the foundation, water pooling, and retaining walls that are bowing. Now their $20,000 project needs $5,000 of repairs, and they are having to spend $3,000 more than they would have originally spent had they used a specialized hardscaping company from the beginning.

     We understand this can be hard to swallow and adding more money to a project is difficult, let alone when you there is a way to initially bring the costs down with someone who expertise isn't in hardscaping. However, this is one of those scenarios where the old saying “you get what you pay for” rings true. When you pay a lower price in certain industries, such as home improvement, you will get exactly the level of quality that you pay for. What level of quality you want all depends on personal preference, but let us ask you this—Do you want something that just works or do you want something that exceeds your expectations?

     We feel like it’s a no brainer. If you already are spending a large sum of money on a project for the quality of the materials and design, why not give the same amount of quality to the work that goes into the craftsmanship and creation of the project? That way its completed exactly how you envisioned and you know that you won't have any worries with it down the road!

     So when adding on that extra project cost for using a credible hardscaping company, think of it as an insurance investment. Take our company for example. At Kansas City Hardscapes, you are spending that extra money on the quality of craftsmanship, on a team of seasoned hardscaping professionals who know the ins and outs of hardscaping from construction to completion, and the peace of mind that your hardscaping project will look as good as new even 10, 20 years down the line. So that way, in a couple of years when issues would typically start to arise from poor installation, you can look at your beautiful hardscape project and thank yourself for saving yourself more money in the long run by going with a specialized hardscaping company.

     We will finish this post with this final piece of advice: Just because anyone could do a hardscaping project, it does not necessarily mean that they should. Do thorough research and make sure the company or individual you hire is credible. A good way to do this is to ask them their experience level with hardscaping. If they don’t know typical hardscaping terms, or don't have any client credentials, or they don't have a portfolio of images for you to view of past work, that is a major red flag. That tells us that they do not typically work in this field and that your project could likely be their first. We can’t speak for others, but if we are putting $10,000 or more into a project for our home, we would rather put our money in good hands that we can count on and trust to do the project correctly. The only thing harder than having to spend a lot of money on a project is having to spend all that money and having the project come out wrong and then having to pay more in the long run to fix it. Spending a little more on the experts now will save you the stress, time, and money of doing the alternative, and you will have a beautiful project to love for years to come!


Breaking Down the Basics: A Beginners Guide to Hardscape Terms


Patio Pavers and Walls Edition


We know that looking through catalogs and visiting suppliers can be overwhelming and a lot of new information to digest for someone new to the hardscaping world.

In this blog edition, we will briefly be going over the main hardscaping terms and popular styles of patio pavers and walls. We hope that this information will make the selection process easier and will help give a deeper understanding of basic hardscaping terms and options. With that, let's get down to the basics!


Patio Pavers

 

A great place to begin is looking at the main types of pavers:

 

Next, we will look at the two main types of finishes on pavers:

Standard

 Typically a straight or smoothed edged finish for a clean look.  (as seen above)

Typically a straight or smoothed edged finish for a clean look. (as seen above)

Tumbled

 Typically rough and uneven edged finish. Gives the stone an old-world feel.  (as seen above)

Typically rough and uneven edged finish. Gives the stone an old-world feel. (as seen above)

 

Another important factor to consider is color. Each style usually comes in a variety of colors depending on the supplier. Colors can range from  deep blue-gray hues to deep red hues, all the way to light colored neutral tones to dark, rich colored neutral tones.

So no matter what color scheme you are looking for, there is sure to be one that will align to your vision!

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Last but not least to look over is paver border options. If you decide you would like a border, there are two main placement options that you can choose between:

Sailor

 Horizontal pattern  (Think like a ship) .

Horizontal pattern (Think like a ship).

Solider

 Vertical Pattern  (Think like a human body) .

Vertical Pattern (Think like a human body).

 

Borders can be done along the outside of the patio, giving it a framed look, and they can also be done inside the outer edge giving the patio a nice design or shape (as seen on the sailor image above). Many people also like to use Holland Stone for its simple design.

Right now, the most trendy border option is darker colors, such as Charcoal and Autumn.  (Vintage Stone in Charcoal is currently our most popular pick among our clients!)


Walls

 

If you choose to add a retaining or border wall to your patio, you can choose any corresponding wall that you like! Depending on the supplier, they usually have a matching set of your patio paver in wall block form, with the same and other color options. Feel free to mix and match or keep it simple and stick with the same color!

When looking at wall placement here are the main options to consider.

 

Straight

 Classic straight look, generally each wall block has a flat surface and lines up exactly with each other.

Classic straight look, generally each wall block has a flat surface and lines up exactly with each other.

Beveled

 Wall block is beveled outward rather than just a flat block surface.

Wall block is beveled outward rather than just a flat block surface.

Triplane

 Usually a beveled look, Triplane is often stacked in a staggered, inclining pattern.

Usually a beveled look, Triplane is often stacked in a staggered, inclining pattern.

 

Commonly seen on the tops of walls and fire pits are Caps. Depending on the supplier, caps generally come in many different stone materials, such as Ledge stone and Limestone, as well as even the same color and material as the wall block. Adding any caps to a wall is completely up to the homeowner and is mainly used for design aesthetic.

The two main categories of caps are listed below:

 

Rectangle Cap

 Caps can be seen at the top of the walls and columns above.

Caps can be seen at the top of the walls and columns above.

Trapezoid Cap (Often referred to as a "Trap Cap")

 Trap Caps can be seen on the Fire Pit and also lining the top of the seating wall.

Trap Caps can be seen on the Fire Pit and also lining the top of the seating wall.

 

We hope that after reading this blog, you now feel that you have an informed and deeper understanding of patio paver and wall hardscaping terms, options, and the popular trends. You may have even found some new possibilities for your space that you didn't initially consider! 

Regardless, we hope that this makes your hardscaping project and process easier, and we are of course here to help answer any further questions along the way.

Let's get building!


Special thanks to Keystone Hardscapes and Pavestone for the imagery!


Outdoors is In and Indoors is Out! Says The Hill's Magazine

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If you haven’t gotten your copy of this May’s edition of The Hill’s Magazine, here is a little overview and breakdown of their Outdoor Obsessed article, written by Cisely Thummel, where experts including Kansas City Hardscape owner, Benjie Lewis, talks hot and upcoming outdoor trends in hardscaping. 

In the above article, Thummel talks about how outdoor living is on the rise and people are finding new ways to incorporate their favorite indoor focused activities, like cooking, dining, lounging, and entertaining, into sunshine and starry night filled outdoor activities.

Outdoor experts, including our owner Benjie Lewis, say if you are looking to create your perfect outdoor space and bring your favorite indoor pastimes into the outdoors, these are the most popular and upcoming outdoor trends to consider:

 

Patios

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Entertaining guests will never be the same when you have a hand-built, hardscaped patio. Pavers come in wide varieties of materials and colors, and can be laid out in many designs. Popular design layouts being Herringbone, Running Bond, and Basket Weave. You can also add borders and mix pavers to give your space more color variety, definition, and contrast. Our owner, Benjie Lewis, explains in the article that the new trend is slate, limestone, and sleeker, natural looking pavers for a cleaner, geometric look. Although, regardless whether you go with a tumbled stone paver or limestone paver, it’s sure to impress!

 

Outdoor Kitchens

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Bring your culinary talents outdoors with an outdoor kitchen. Incorporate whatever cooking elements you like: a grilling station, pizza oven, meat smoking station, rotisserie station or even an outdoor bar with built in keg coolers and wine cabinets! 

 

Fireplaces

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Who says fireplaces are only used in the winter season? Give your entertaining area an upgrade and beautiful focal point to feature. With multiple design options and materials to choose from, you can make your outdoor fireplace as simple or extravagant as you like. You can even add a built-in pizza oven—Yum! 

 

Pools and Spas

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Give your backyard a luxurious and functional relaxation element. Whether it’s for cooling off, relaxing, exercise or for aesthetic purposes, you can’t go wrong with an in-ground pool or spa in your outdoor space. 

 

Pergolas, Walls, and Coverings

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Help give yourself more control over the outdoor climate with a Pergola covered area. Pergolas help shield the sun to give you some shade as well as provide a lovely vertical structure that you can grow and hang plants on, hang other accessories on such as: hammocks, pergola canopies or screens, or simply leave it as is for a clean, minimalist look. With that, walls are also excellent tools to help level your space to give you more space to build and add elements on to and they can help add privacy to your space as well.

 

Once all these outdoor elements come together, you are sure to have an outdoor living space that is not only geared and equipped to handle all of your favorite activities, but one you are sure to enjoy and create memories in for years to come!

 

Want to read the full Outdoor Obsessed article? Visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/kansascityhardscapes/ and check out our Hill’s Magazine post to read more!

A special thanks to The Hill’s Magazine’s Outdoor Obsessed article!