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Are you tired of sitting out on the same old patio that you’ve had for years?  Is it too small, dingy, uninteresting, or impractical?  Utilize one or more of these patio renewal tips and bring it Back To Life!!

Are the pavers, concrete or stone looking dirty, uneven or falling apart?

  • Pressure wash to remove dirt and stains, repair cracks in concrete, sweep silica sand in the joints or mortar joints and seal the pavers to give you patio a “new look”.
  • For uneven pavers or stone, lift and re-level the base with crushed gravel or sand and re-lay.
  • Replace broken or chipped pavers.

Is the patio area too small or uninteresting?

  • Add an area for additional sitting, eating or cooking with the same material

of your existing patio or a different complimentary material.

  • Edge the patio or add a border around the patio with brick, bluestone, or cobbles.
  • Inset a different material inside your patio, like a brick “blanket” inside concrete.
  • Add a pergola to create the feel of an indoor room and help shade the area.
  • Add planting beds around the patio to create screening, giving it a sense of privacy.  Use pleasant smelling plants, a tree with a nice canopy for shade, or edible plants near outdoor kitchen areas.
  • Install outdoor lighting to light up plantings and sitting areas, extending patio use to the evening hours.
  • Add a seat wall for extra seating, creating a sense of space.  Columns to cap off the seat wall gives it an elegant look. (See Picture Above)

Is the patio impractical?  Make it more functional!

  • Add furniture:  chairs with comfy pillows, tables with umbrellas and rugs to create a living space.  If your patio is big enough, establish more than one conversational area.
  • Create an outdoor kitchen area.  This could be for a free-standing grill or a built in grill with counter tops.
  • Add a fire pit, gas or natural, permanent or free standing, extending the use of the patio during cooler days.

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To create a more exciting patio at this front entry, we inset a brick “blanket” inside the concrete.  A brick trimmed planter establishes an elegant  focal point.

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Make your patio more functional by adding an outdoor kitchen area like the one we constructed here with concrete wall stone and bluestone countertops.  Matching concrete pavers are used for a landing area and a border around the concrete patio.

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In this Whitefish Bay back yard, we created several living areas including this eating area furnished with a table, comfy chairs and an outdoor rug.

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Create Design PIZZAZ…Ask Yourself These Questions:

 

Is your front entry a dud?

  • Are the plantings out of control and hiding the windows and doors?  Start anew!  With many new cultivars available, add color and plant in masses for an updated look with less maintenance.
  • Is the landing too confining to greet guests?  Increase the size with a spacious and inviting outdoor foyer.  Make it large enough to add a bench for a sitting area.

Does your front walkway lack spunk? 

  • Create a larger, inviting landing at the driveway or city walkway. 
  • Install a column or architectural element matching the house for a focal point or to anchor or frame the entryway.
  • Widen the walkway by adding a course of brick along the sides or replace it with brick or pavers that compliment the colors of your house.

    Adding a larger outdoor foyer with a brick inset and a sitting area provides adequate room for greeting visitors. A round brick planter adds a focal interest to the entrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does your house have an interesting feature like an archway or window detail?

  • Add a classy element and repeat the shape in a brick inset or in the outline of a planting bed.

Has your front stoop passed its prime, giving a poor impression of what might be behind?

  • Cap it by mortaring on brick or Bluestone if it’s structurally sound.  Replace it if it’s crumbling or settled, preventing water from entering the basement and injuries from people tripping and falling.

    A curved stoop is reconstructed and capped with Bluestone in a shape that mimics the shape of the front door and windows. A large landing at the driveway welcomes visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does nighttime steal away your hospitality?

  • Bring your home and landscaping to life with a low voltage lighting system.  Up lighting a tree can create a visual sculpture or accent your façade.  Path lights create safety and security.

Could your front door be a focal point?

  • The front door sets the tone for the whole house.  Replace it with a door with more architectural character.
  • Painting the door a vibrant color makes it pop and catches the eye.

    The sidewalk is widened by adding a course of brick to the sides. The materials of the stoop and sidewalk compliment the colors of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer is pretty much at its end, but that doesn’t mean you have to put away your outdoor furniture yet.  There are things you can do to your outdoor living area so you enjoy yourself outside during the cool weather.  Here are some tips to extend the summer season…

    • Buy or Install a Fireplace or Fire Pit − Locate fire pits and fireplaces in areas where it can be an extension from inside, where people can go in and out the house easily, but not too close where smoke can get into the house.  Portable fireplaces are less expensive and give you the option to move it where you need it. Firepits and fireplaces can be gas or natural and be made of a variety of materials, including brick, Lannonstone, and fieldstone.

A natural or gas fire ring, like the Lannonstone and brick one shown here, will keep you warm on a cool autumn day

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Purchase a Portable Outdoor Heater − Outdoor heaters can be table top or floor heaters and can run on propane, natural gas or electricity (infra-red).

    Create a comfortable outdoor sitting area with cozy furniture and portable propane heaters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Experiment with Outdoor Lighting −Put out tiki torches and candles for a romantic, welcoming feeling.  Install low-voltage or line voltage lighting and up light onto plants and architectural elements and statues.  Path lights can create a safe environment and help navigate from one area to another.  Lighting can make a property seem larger and create more curb appeal.

    Night lighting lets you enjoy your landscape during the early fall evenings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Install Landscape Plantings with Fall Color − Plant late summer and fall blooming perennials like Asters, Sedum, Rudbeckia and Russian Sage.  Trees and shrubs like Maples, Ornamental Pears, Burning Bush, Sumac and Arrowwood Viburnums have leaves with great fall color.
  •  Create an Outdoor Living Room − Arrange comfortable outdoor furniture with plush pillows to lounge on with cozy blankets.  Use a tent canopy or a trellis / pergola over the area to create a room-like space and shelter from the wind.  Coffee tables, lighting and planters complete the living room feel.
 
 
 
 

Rose Purple Sepals of the Seven-Son Flower

It seems that most of the flowering trees and shrubs like Crabapples, Lilacs, Viburnums and Magnolias bloom in spring. They last for a couple of weeks, and then all those beautiful flowers are gone. The key objective is to also have some trees and shrubs that flower later in the season. Add some perennials to some of the following plants, and you will ensure to have color in your landscape all summer long!

Butterfly Bush has pink, white or purple flowers from June to September. It is usually treated as a perennial in northern climates.

Bottlebrush Buckeye has 8-12 inch bottle-brush white flowers in mid summer. The flowers turn into chestnut-like seeds eaten by wildlife.

Bush-Honeysuckle (Diervilla) is a low growing shrub with small yellow flowers blooming in mid-summer. It is a good plant for dry sites and has red-bronze fall color.

Hydrangeas come in multiple varieties with large blooms with colors ranging from white to pink to blue from mid summer to fall. A good plant for shadier spots.

Peking or Japanese Tree Lilac has creamy white fragrant flowers from mid to late June.

Seven-Son Flower is a larger shrub with white, fragrant, jasmine-like flowers in late summer. The rose purple sepals are very showy in fall.

Shrub roses come in many different colors from reds and pinks to yellows and white. Some are fragrant and bloom all summer with orange-red rose-hips in fall.

Smoke Tree (Cotinus) is a larger shrub that has wine colored feathery plumes in mid-summer that resemble clouds of smoke.

St. John’s Wort is a small, round shrub with bright yellow flowers from July to September. A Wisconsin native.

Lindens (Tilia) are large trees with an abundance of small sweet smelling, pale-yellow flowers in late June to early July.

Buttonbush has long-lasting white globular flowers in mid-summer that resemble pincushions. They require acid soils.

Summersweet (Clethra) has white or light pink fragrant flowers from July to early September. The bottlebrush -shaped blooms attract butterflies. It likes shady sites with acidic soils.

A beautiful stone wall can add a truly majestic element to your landscape.  The use of attractive, natural stone in a wall, whether mortared or dry laid, creates an architectural component with a timeless appeal.  Use a stone wall to enhance the architecture of your home, define space or create a theme for your landscape.

A mortared granite wall and column beautifies a driveway entrance and matches the masonry on the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stone Garden Wall Objectives 

  • Frame an entryway, sidewalk or driveway, drawing your eye toward these areas or use as a focal point.
  • Create a sense of space by placing the wall along a sitting area, courtyard or outdoor foyer.  
  • Give a sense of privacy by installing a wall around patios and conversational areas.
  • Construct seat walls, providing extra areas to sit and relax, or areas to place planters, garden art, lights, and refreshments.
  • Create raised planters.
  • Hold back soil, terracing yards to create usable space and planting areas.

Wall Materials and Additions

  • There is an infinite selection of natural stone available, split, fractured, cut, tumbled and cobble, that give a variety of architectural effects.
  • Add a column to the end of the wall to help anchor it.
  • For a finished, elegant look, top the wall with a Bluestone or a Bedford limestone cap, or put a marque or address stone in the wall or column.
  • Put landscape lighting on top of the wall column, or have an up light shining onto the wall.

This fractured Basalt wall creates a raised planting bed, giving the sitting area a sense of privacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This mortared Lannon cobble wall and column with a Bluestone cap helps frame and focalize the entrance.

This dry laid Lannon stone wall with a Bedford limestone cap helps give the patio area a sense of privacy.

 

       

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

With busy schedules and little extra time, most homeowners request a landscape with no maintenance. But unless you have the Rocky Mountains or the Pacific Ocean for your yard, there is no such thing as a “no maintenance” landscape. However, with these tips, you can easily have a landscape that is LOW maintenance.

Low Maintenance Tips

  • Decrease the use of herbicides, fertilizers and mowing by reducing the amount of grass and replacing it with planting beds. Install an evergreen groundcover like Pachysandra or Vinca to give the same look of green turf.
  • Install masses of perennials and shrubs, 5 to 7 or more, instead of planting a couple of plants here and there.
  • Install the right plants in the right place. Make sure they are hardy for the area. Amend the soil with organic materials before you plant. Make sure the plant doesn’t overgrow its space. Avoid putting trees and tall shrubs under utility wires. Let larger shrubs like Forsythia grow to its full size and place them in outer beds. Tidy, narrow plants can be placed in smaller areas. Plant heat-seeking plants in dryer sunny areas and shady loving plants under trees and on the north side of buildings.
  • Mulch planting beds with up to 2 to 3 inches of Eco-Rich! bark mulchto help keep weeds down and reduce soil erosion. Put a mulch ring around trees for easier mowing, decreasing the likelihood of damage to the tree. Create a nice clean edge along planting beds.
  • Save time on pruning and consider letting plants grow to a more natural look instead of shearing them down to little balls.
  • Choose healthy, disease-resistant plants with a moderate growth rate. Select perennials that don’t spread or re-seed easily.
  • Practice good planting techniques. Install plants in holes that are wider then the pot or planting ball. In our heavy clay soils, it’s a good idea to plant trees and shrubs a few inches higher than the existing grade to prevent downing. Water the plants adequately, until established. Spend a little more time with your plants in the beginning, and it will take a lot less time than if you need to replace them later.                                                                   

 

 

 

 

Plant masses of Pachysandra for a groundcover instead of installing sod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create a planting bed or a mulch ring around trees for easier mowing and reduce damage that can be done to the tree from string trimmers and mowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant shrubs and perennials in masses like this Astilbe for a simple look and easy care.

 

The front entry is the most important feature of your house, especially if you are trying to sell it.  A well designed and maintained front entry can raise your real estate value up to 20%.  It should give a good first impression, easily lead visitors to the entrance to your home, and compliment your house.  Here are some other tips to create fabulous front entries.                                                  

 Hardscaping

Use retaining walls and terrace them when there is a slope present.           

– Create a larger landing area at the entrance for people to congregate. Sitting areas can be incorporated in front entryways.

– Walkways should be 4 feet or wider and flare at the driveway and stoop.  They should be a direct, non-confusing path from the driveway to the front door.

– Masonry columns can frame an entryway or act as a focal point.

– Use the colors of the hardscape to compliment the colors of the brick, siding, or shingles of the house.

 Horticulture

– Plants can be focal points from inside and outside your house; they should frame the house and focus attention to the entrance.

– Plant in masses, but don’t overdue it.  Keep it simple.

– Install plants to provide shade and privacy, repeating colors, shapes and textures.

– Place containers with flowers or a specimen plant to help focalize or frame the entrance.

 Other Elements

– The design of a front entryway should be in balance and in scale with the house. It should compliment the house by taking forms from the house, like arches and window shapes, and repeating those shapes in the landscape.

– Low voltage landscape lighting provides safety, helps lead to the entrance of the home and highlights focal points.

– Painting the front door a contrasting color that compliments the house helps draw the eye toward the entrance.

Use retaining walls and terrace them with plantings when there is a slope present.

Use masonry columns and planters to help frame an entryway

Use focal points, like this Ginkgo tree, to draw the eye to the front entrance.  Pull architectural shapes from the house and incorporate them into the lanscape.  In this picture, the square Bluestone mimic the shape of the windows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Bark Mulch

  • Reduces weed germination
  • Keeps the soil at a moderate temperature, keeping plant roots cool
  • Helps the soil retain moisture, reducing the need to water
  • Adds organic material to the soil as it decomposes, encouraging the growth of beneficial organisms
  • Aesthetically enhances your garden, unifying the landscape and adding color
  • Helps keep plants, buildings and hardscaping clean by reducing the splash of soil

 

How To Use Bark Mulch

  • If you already have bark mulch on your planting beds, you may just need to “fluff” it up using a metal rake.  If you are hitting dirt or if the soil is showing through, it’s time to apply more.
  • Apply bark mulch 2-3 inches thick.  One yard will cover approximately 100 square feet.
  • Apply evenly throughout planting beds.  Keep mulch away from tree trunks, bases of shrubs and wood siding.  Lightly topdress around tender perennials.

At Wandsnider Landscape, we use our own double ground hardwood mulch produced from local trees.

Apply a further composted bark mulch on planting beds with tender perennials and ground cover plants.

Keep bark mulch away from bases of trees and shrubs.

  

With melting snow and spring rains, this is the time of year we see a lot of water problems.  Get ahead of the game and take these precautions so that it doesn’t become your problem.

 

Easy Solutions

  

 

·     Clean out your gutters and downspouts

·     Make sure your downspout extensions are attached and exit at least 4 feet away

·     Make sure your soil pitches away from your foundation.  Check the soil under mulch, gravel, and decks to make sure it is not pitching back toward the house.

·     Check your sump pump to make sure it’s working properly

 

Complex Solutions

  

            ·     Install or raise window wells to allow for soil regrading 

·     Create swales and berms to direct water away from your house 

·     Install draintile and catch basins to take water away from your house 

·     Repair or replace sidewalks, driveways and stoops to create positive pitch  

·     Repair upper foundation work like tuck pointing, flashing and masonry repairs

  

 

  Downspouts draining too close to the foundation and holes under concrete patios and stoops cause water to enter basements

  

  

  

  Large amounts of water can drain from adjacent properties at higher elevations

 

 Soil over tops of foundations causes rotting and water to come over the top of the foundation

Solving water problems can be an interesting challenge involving a multiple of items from roof pitches and downspouts to the topography and soils of the surrounding area.

We bring a unique perspective of knowledge and understanding of building, construction and landscape that helps us properly diagnose and solve water problems. Many times when people have called us thinking they have a site problem we have determined they really need to address gutter or flashing issues.

In cases where there are disputes, we have expert witness experience and have worked with attorneys and insurance companies to provide analysis, reports and testimony.

About Water problems

Most water problems occur where heavy clay soils are prevalent and where water either flows toward the house or pockets in low areas and can’t escape.

Water problems usually become more apparent in the summer after heavy rain falls or during the winter or spring after a rapid snow melt

Significant structural problems, cracking and heaving, can develop over the course of many years from heavy saturated soils, expanding clays, freeze thaw cycles and hydrostatic pressures.

Common Water Problems:

  1. Wet and cracked basement walls, mold and efflorescence
  2. Water coming into the basement at the floor or through the walls
  3. Standing water or water logged lawns
  4. Drowning and anemic plants
  5. Dead lawn areas
  6. Cracked and heaved concrete in garages, on walks and patios
  7. Water coming into the garage
  8. Water flooding down from uphill runoff

Unusual or less frequent water problems:

  1. Continually running sump pumps
  2. Water coming up through cracks in the floor
  3. Seepage under siding
  4. Cracked masonry on the above grade walls
  5. Water coming in through the window wells
  6. Rotted siding or floor joist below grade

Solutions: Easy repairs (but sometimes easier said than done)

In many cases an easy fix may take care of your problem. In these cases you can do it yourself or a lawn service can help you.

1. Clean out your gutters and downspouts

2. Make sure your downspout extensions are attached and exit at least 4 feet away

3. Make sure your soil pitches away from your foundation. This can be deceiving as gravel or bark mulch on the surface may appear to pitch away but the underlying soil pitches back toward the house.

Solutions: More complex repairs (Frequently involve many components)

In some cases many items may need to be addressed to correct a problem. In these cases you need a knowledgeable and experienced expert to properly diagnose and design a solution. Items may include:

1. Grading and excavation:  swales, berms

2. Drain tiling:  French drains, downspouts/sump pump, catch basins, sump pumps

3. Upper foundation work: masonry repairs, tuck pointing, water proofing, flashing, window wells

4. Construction items:  Concrete, retaining walls

COMMON DRAINAGE ISSUES

#1 Basement problems and wet and soggy lawn areas are the most common reason people call us.  Once a wall has developed severe cracking you will need to call in a basement specialist for a major repair.  However, basement problems as well as wet and soggy lawn areas are usually the result of poorly handled exterior grading and drainage, gutters and downspouts, sump pump discharges, or cracked and settled concrete.  Many times a combination of exterior drainage issues combine to create the basement or lawn problem.

Photo 1A:  Poor grading resulted in wet lawn area determine

Photo 1B:  Peeling paint at base of basement wall

Photo 1C:  Mold on basement wall

Photo 1D:  Cracks in basement wall

Photo 1E:  Cracks in basement floor

#2 Gutter and downspout repairs are easy fix solutions to keep water away from the base of your foundation.  Keep them clean and make sure the extensions are attached.  Sometimes downspouts are poorly located or additional ones are needed.  Sometimes larger gutters may be needed.

Photo 2A:  Downspout poorly located

Photo 2B:  Downspouts dump water too close to foundation

#3 The grading immediately at the foundation is a frequent problem we see on older homes as well as many newer homes.  A flat or sunken grade does not facilitate water to flow away.  This is a particular problem on south and west facing walls of two stories or more when large amounts of water flow down the walls during rainstorms.

Photo 3A:  Water drains down south facing wall and cannot run off due to flat  grade

Photo 3B:  West walls and low grading at foundation collects water sheeet draining down siding

Photo 3C:  Flat grade does not allow water to flow away

#4 Grading can be a problem even when it’s not obvious.  Planting beds with gravel or mulch beds can have the underlying soil pitching back toward the foundation or can trap water and not allow it to flow away.

Photo 4A:  Concrete walk set too high;  soil too high on siding

Photo 4B:  Grading under mulch and weed fabric too low and pitches toward house

Picture 4C:  Stone mulch bed traps water

#5 Frequently the elevations of structural items have been improperly set.  Concrete walls and patios are set to high, air conditioners are set too low, and driveways pitch back toward the garage.

Photo 5A:  Driveway pitches toward garage

Picture 5B:  Grade pitches toward house between house and sidewalk

Picture 5C:  Existing grade pitches toward house

Picture 5D:  Sunken patio area traps water

Picture 5E:  Sunken Patio area set too high against house

#6 The original rough grading may have been set too high or swales are not properly constructed resulting in water running back toward the house.  Mature vegetation may need to be removed to correct the grading.

Photo 6A:  Swales not properly constructed;  water cannot run away from house

Photo 6B:  Grade pitched toward building; Tree will need to be removed to correct grading

#7 Downhill properties may have runoff coming toward them that can cause basement and flooding problems.  Water may seep out of a hillside to cause wet or soggy areas.

Photo 7A:  Water seeps out of hillside and  causes soggy areas

Photo 7B:  Water from higher elevation runs toward house

Photo 7C:  Sunken area terraced up toward property lines

Photo 7D:   Water runs off from higher property and large roof area

#8 Correcting a drainage problem improperly can cause rotting and structural damage, water over the top of the foundation, water coming through weep holes and moisture on the upper walls.

Photo 8A:  Soil over top of foundation causes rotting and water to come over the top of the foundation

Photo 8B:  Improper grading along foundation can cause rotting and structural damage

#9 Settled and cracked concrete can result in water flowing toward the foundation instead of away.

Photo 9A:  Settled concrete causes water to flow toward foundation

Photo 9B:  Cracked and buckling concrete pitches toward foundation

#10 Grading under decks is a very common problem from improper pitches to settling around posts and against the foundation.  Gravel under decks along with hap hazard grading can cause water to pocket.

Photo 10A:  Hidden settling under deck

Photo 10B:  A low grade and gravel under decks can cause water to pocket

#11 Holes along the foundation and under stoops and broken joints in the masonry are common sources of water coming into the basement.

Photo 11A:  Hole under stoop causes  water to enter house

Photo 11B:  Hole along stoop causes water to enter basement

Photo 11C:  Hole under patio causes water to enter basement

CASE STUDY #1

Problem: Water would come into the basement during a heavy rain.

Assessment: The house had originally been built into a hill with a 15 foot wide level area and retaining wall behind it.  Water would run downhill into this area along with the downspouts and sump pump that discharged here. The original grade had been set too high and was very flat with little ability for the water to flow out.  A sidewalk and patio, when installed, were set too high, resulting in a sunken area immediately against the foundation.  The window wells and the air conditioner were too low.

Photo 1:  Existing grade pitched toward house

Photo 2:  Window well too low

Photo 3:  Sump pump discharge was leaking and recirculating

Photo 4:  Air conditioners too low

Solution: The principal parts of this solution involve a French drain with catch basins connecting with the downspout and sump pump discharge.  New window wells were installed and the grade was raised.  The French drain system, consisting of six inch schedule 35 PVC pipe, collects surface water, water from the sump pump and downspouts and discharges in the front yard.  Gravel in the French drain is left exposed to the surface but soon becomes covered with grass to make it all but invisible.

Photo 5:  Installed French drain and catch basins

Photo 6:  Air conditioner raised; sump pump and downspouts buried and connected to French drain

Photo 7:  New window wells raised

CASE STUDY #2

Problem: Water would come into the finished basement area at the floor level during heavy rainstorms.  The stairwell would flood and the well wall was cracked and buckling.

Assessment: The lawn was pitched back toward the house and the concrete patio that was cracked and buckled, pitched toward the house as well.  Gravel mulch in the planting beds pocketed water against the foundation. The window wells and the air conditioner were low.  Water could over top the gutters and dump water along the foundation.

Photo 1:  Gravel mulch pocketed water against the foundation

Photo 2:  Stairwell flooded frequently; wall cracked and buckling

Photo 3:  Air conditioner low; mulch high on foundation; actual grade pitched toward house

Photo 4:  Cracked patio pitched toward house

Solution: The Air Conditioner and window wells were raised, and the concrete was removed. The soil was graded away from the house and a new stoop was added.  New larger gutters were installed.  The stairwell was excavated and repaired.

Photo 5:  Stairwell excavated and repaired

Photo 6:  Repaired stairwell painted; grade pitches away from foundation

Photo 7:  New stoop added after grade corrected

Photo 8:  New stoop, repaired stairwell and corrected grade

CASE STUDY #3

Problem: Water would come into the basement at the northwest corner.  Horizontal cracks were beginning to develop along the back yard wall.

Assessment: The backyard was very flat with no pitch away from the foundation.  Rainwater or water from the downspouts could not flow away.  The deck along the back obscured most of the view of the foundation.  Upon removal of the decks, severe settling along the foundation became obvious.

Photo 1:  Existing deck hid grading and settling problems

Photo 2: Removal of deck exposed settled grade along foundation

Photo 3:  Removal of deck showed grade pitched toward house

Solution: As the owner desired a new outdoor living space, the decks could be removed.  Grading and filling was done to pitch water away from the foundation.  A PVC and black poly French drain system which collected surface water and connected to the downspouts was installed to drain water out to the front yard.  Special attention was paid to the materials and compaction under the new landings to prevent settling and keep out the critters.  Gravel in the French drain is left exposed to the surface but soon becomes covered with grass to make it all but invisible.  The new patio is a lilac colored Bluestone trimmed with a Lannon cobble detail.  The combination repeated a theme from inside the house, creating a continual flow of space from the inside to the outside.

Photo 4:  Air conditioner was raised; downspouts buried and connected to installed French drain system

Photo 5:  Window wells were raised; grade pitches away from house; draintile installed

Photo 6:  Finished project with new landings and patio

CASE STUDY #4

Problem: The back yard remained so wet you could sink up to your ankles even during dry periods, making the yard virtually unusable.  A previous drainage system installed three years earlier did not solve the problem.  During heavy rains, water flowed from the surrounding properties into the back yard, creating flooding conditions.

Assessment: The back yard is a sunken area terraced up toward the property lines.  Three surrounding lots, all 8 to 10 feet higher, drained toward the back yard. The yard itself is further recessed, creating ponding conditions.  An original drainage system collected only surface water, still leaving the ground very wet.

Photo 1:  Sunken area remains soggy

Photo 2:  Soggy back yard terraced up toward property lines.  Upper properties drain toward this area.

Photo 3:  Sub-surface ground water exposed during trenching.

Solution: The solution needed to address the flow of surface water toward the back yard as well as the flow of sub-surface ground water toward the back yard.  Ground water can frequently ooze out of the side of a hill or bubble up in a low area. The flow of ground water is affected by topography and soil type.  The solution involved two parts.  The first part was to construct a diversion structure on the upper level of the terrace, directing water into catch basins which connected into the lower system.  The divesion structure prevents water from flowing over the terrace walls and directs the water to the catch basins where it can be drained away.

The second part was to construct a network of French drains connecting to a central lateral which directed water out to the front of the yard.  The French drain collects the surface and sub-surface water that previously could not flow away.  Gravel in the French drain is left exposed to the surface, but soon becomes covered with grass to make it all but invisible.

Photo 4:  Trenching for French draintile

Photo 5:  Draintile and catch basins installed; shooting elevations to determine proper pitch

Photo 6:  French drain section

Photo 7:  Finished French drain system before grass starts to grow

Wandsnider Landscape Architects


We strive to create beautiful outdoor environments for your enjoyment. Inviting livable spaces that capture your vision and add value to your home.

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