When redoing a walkway or a patio should I reuse old pavers or buy new ones?

Of course the argument can be made that we, as Americans, are consumers.  As a result there has become a large movement toward recycling and reusing anything we can to save the planet and, frankly, to save a buck.  If you’re in the market for redoing an existing walkway that currently has old pavers or bricks – you might find our take on reusing vs. buying new helpful.

First and foremost, it’s important to think about the scope of your project and how much you’ll be adding on to an existing patio or walkway already in place and it’s current condition.  Some questions to consider:  does it puddle when it rains?  Is it uneven or extremely worn down?  Is the sand coming out from between the pavers or bricks?

If it’s a small job and you are simply looking to readjust parts of an uneven walkway, by all means, reuse the bricks or pavers you have and replace cracked or overly eroded ones with new ones that are the closest match.

Old walkway in need of repair

If, however, you are expanding, adding on, or find the surface of your current walkway totally unruly, you may be surprised by our suggestion to purchase all new materials.  Here are a few reasons why:

Uneven walkway.

  1.  Inevitably you’ll want to match your current pavers with the same ones to do any expansion, but because mother nature isn’t always the nicest to outdoor elements they become harder to match.  Not to mention that the ones put in originally may not even be stocked or made anymore.
  2. Older pavers or bricks that are used (walked on, shoveled, etc.) more frequently tend to change thickness in varying locations making it hard to maintain a solid foundation for that patio or walkway underneath.
  3. If you’re updating decor in your backyard, often times, it means you’re updating lawn furniture and other items, too – which means you’re looking for a fresh look – which will be very hard to get with reusing existing materials.
  4. As with many things, pavers and bricks are manufactured differently today than they were event 5-10 years ago.  Some would argue that “they don’t make ’em like they used to” but we’ve found that many these days are sturdier and better quality than ones we so often replace.

At the end of the day, if you’ve hired a professional to do the job, leave it up to them to decide what might be best for your situation.  If you haven’t hired a professional yet but your project fits the “needs more work” category, it might not be a bad idea to have an estimate done and see what they might suggest.

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Should I Dethatch or Power Rake my lawn in the Spring?

It may still only be pushing February, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what your lawn will need when the snow melts away.  Make the most of your lawn in the summer by treating it right in the Spring.

First of all, let’s talk about Dethatching  – what is exactly?

Let’s break it down – thatch is a loose layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develops between the zone of green vegetation and the soil surface. Thatch build up begins when turf produces organic debris faster than it can be broken down.  Why is this bad?  Simply put, if the the thatch layer gets thick enough, root development won’t occur be deep enough – it will dry out quickly, hold excess water when it rains instead of absorbing it into the deeper roots and could even result in worse pest/insect issues in your lawn.

Dethatching usually involves a riding lawnmower with a unit mounted to the front that holds several spring-like tines.  These tines dig into the thatch layer of your lawn to help dig in and open up the root systems for better fertilization and rain/water absorption.

Dethatcher attachment for riding mower.

 

What is Power Raking
Power raking is the more aggressive approach to taking thatch out of your lawn. This process involves a machine about the size of a push mower that uses mechanical flails to literally dig the thatch out of your lawn. It can pick up 2 ½ – 4 times more thatch than dethatching.  The thatch left behind is then typically picked up with a lawn mower.

Power rake for dethatching.

 

Now you know the difference – but, which one is right for your lawn?
We think Ryan Such from All Terrain said it best in his blog post:  Dethatching and power raking are necessary if you feel like you have dead thatch in your lawn that is smothering or keeping your good grass from flourishing. The more you mulch your lawn, the more likely you are to need power raking or dethatching. The thicker your lawn is naturally, the more likely you are to need to power rake or dethatch.

Power raking is for fixing a problem…
If you have a thick lawn that you mulch often and have not done any thatch removal recently, you probably could use a power raking.

…And dethatching is preventative maintenance.
Dethatching is for the lawn that doesn’t really have a thatch issue per se, but has an owner who wants to avoid one!

 

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What is hardscaping?

When we talk to our prospective clients about their yards, we often use the term “hardscape” and most times we are presented with a look very similar to this:

So we decided it was time to give a better breakdown of the term as it’s often not used often enough outside the landscape industry to be recognizable to many people.

First of all, don’t overthink it – the term hardscaping actually implies what it means – hard materials used to create/enhance parts of your yard.  Some examples include:  brick, stone, pavers (landscape style “bricks”, generally made of various colored concrete, that are used for external applications/flooring), metal, even wood!

Some ideas of the projects included under the term hardscaping are:  patios, walkways, fire pits, stone walls, wooden fencing, gravel or stepping stone pathways, and you get the idea. If you’re a visual person, here’s an idea, in pictures, of what hardscape projects look like:  http://www.ambi-inc.com/hardscape.html 

OR

In a nutshell, your yard projects can be broken into two categories:  hardscape and softscape.  Hardscape is anything that uses hard materials as part of the installation, while softscaping uses plant materials, and refers more to the maintenance of your lawn and yard.  A lot of value can be added to your home with enhanced hardscape projects, simple or elaborate, especially if you’re thinking of selling your home.  For more ideas on projects check out our Pinterest page!

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