Permeable Pavers – Great, Eco-friendly Solution to Water Run-off

July 25, 2011

We have many clients asking for eco-friendly solutions to paving and hardscaping.  Many municipalities are placing restrictions on paving (or offering rebates for eco-friendly paving) to reduce impenetrable surface areas in cities and in coastal towns.  Permeable Pavers offer a great solution to reducing water run-off and pollution, while still allowing you to have a great looking hardscape.

permeable paver patio

permeable paver patio around pool

The way the permeable paver system works is the base of the hardscape consists of a deep layer of large stone which will process the water, filtering out the pollutants and keeping them in the base and soil.  The ground water is then released back into the main watershed. 

When we install a permeable paver patio, driveway or walkways we start by digging a 12” deep base (normally for a patio it would be 7” to 8” deep) and fill it with a larger stone for drainage.  Then we use crushed stone instead of sand to set the pavers and sweep into the joints.  The permeable pavers are made with a spacer to create a wider joint in between to allow the water to flow through to the stone.  If the hardscaping is in a heavy water flow area, we can also install a drain into the sub-base that drains to a dry well.     

If you are looking for an eco-friendly solution to your hardscaping problem, give us a call we will be happy to help!


Spring Landscape Tips

May 5, 2011

It has been a beautiful spring and we are heading into summertime.  Your garden should be green and your plants popping with color.  Here are a few quick tips to keep your yard ready for summer. 

Mulching – Mulching plant beds will not only make your yard look clean and crisp, but will also help shrubs retain moisture and prevent weeds from sprouting this summer. 

Mowing – When you are mowing your lawn this spring you want to keep your mower blade high, it helps keep the weeds from germinating and will keep the new grass from burning in the sun.  You may need to mow every week, but it will keep your lawn healthy and green. 

Pruning – At this point in the late spring you don’t want to do any major pruning only cutting back stray growth to maintain the plants shape.  Do remove spent flowers to promote re-blooming on roses and annuals for beautiful flowers all summer long.

Mosquito Control– Mosquitoes are coming.  Unfortunately there is no way that I know of to get rid of mosquitoes completely, but there are a few ways to help reduce their breeding around your home.  Look for areas of standing and pooling water around your home and remove it, especially after yesterday’s heavy rain.  Common areas to check for standing water are in – buckets and rain barrels, bottles and cans, empty plastic pots, uneven areas in lawns or gardens where irrigation water can collect, clogged rain gutters, birdbaths and water bowls for pets.

Patio with Pergola

Add your new Patio, Pergola or Outdoor Kitchen– Now is the time to install the new patio, pergola or outdoor kitchen you have been thinking about all winter.  If you are looking for a little shade this summer, install a pergola.  Pergolas are a great way to keep the sun off a patio area.  With spring already here, it is time to get new hardscaping installed so that it will be ready for the summer.  Check out our website and blog for a few ideas on how to improve your outdoor living space.    

As always we look forward to working with you on any of your landscape and hardscape needs – (804) 622-7477 or visit our website at

The age old debate – Paver Patio vs. Wood Deck

April 13, 2011

I was just quoting a job where we are demolishing an old deck and replacing it with a paver patio.  I am running into that more and more these days, homeowners want low maintenance and are opting for patios over decks.  We are able to install a 3 feet high or under patio with the landing and steps for less than the cost of a same height deck.  Plus the patios just flow a little better for entertaining than a raised deck.  So when you are pricing out your deck, take a second to price out a patio, you just might be surprised!    

 Here is a little list of my thoughts paver patios vs. wood decks.    

Paver Patios Wood Decks
  • A paver patio can be built for about a third less than the price of a deck (DIY or professionals) 
  • A deck can cost a third more than the price of a paver patio (DIY or professionals)
  • Built at ground level with steps and a landing down from the door (see photo)
  •  Built above the ground, typically at door height  
  •  A ground level patio will not require railings
  •  Decks often require railings which can obstruct views
  • Built at ground level which creates an easier transition from the patio to the yard creating a better flow for entertaining
  • Built off the ground with steps that often lead directly out onto the grass, creating an awkward transition for guests   
  • Typically patios do not require city permits because they are not attached to the house (homeowners assoc. approval is a different story)
  • Decks often require city permits because they are attached to the house and considered an addition (may also require homeowners assoc. approval)
  •  On a patio you can build in add-ons that would make your patio a cohesive entertaining area –  a seat wall around the edge, a built-in fire pit and outdoor kitchen
  •  On a deck you would need to buy removable items – seating (possible built-in benches), a mobile fire pit (watch the open flames) and grill
  • Low maintenance – spray clean, occasionally after years a paver can raise up and will need to be leveled
  • High maintenance (wood) – power washing, clear coat, painting or staining nails can pop up, wood can splinter and rot
  •  And most importantly to my wife, you can go barefoot on a patio
  •  As a deck ages you would want to wear footwear because of possible splinters and nails

Below are a few photos of some patios to give you an idea of what you might be able to do in your backyard.  Enjoy!

This is actually a bluestone patio with paver wall. The patio comes directly off their house and transitions to a lower patio with fire pit.


This patio transitions from the door with two long steps down onto the patio.


These are circular steps down to the patio.


This is a raised patio that transitions down to a walkway with nice landscaping.

This is a raised patio that transitions down to a walkway with nice landscaping.

Tips for Reducing Stormwater Runoff – Help Clean-up the Bay

April 5, 2011

There is a great new initiative in Virginia to help clean-up the Chesapeake Bay from stormwater runoff.  I know that you think because you don’t live near the Bay this doesn’t affect you, but it is actually the runoff from the cities that causes most of the pollutants in the Bay.  All the fertilizer you put on your grass to keep it green; ends up in the Bay.  So below are a few simple tips to help keep our Bay beautiful!

  •  Plant More Plants – A great campaign by the Chesapeake Bay Program that is teaching homeowners in the cities surrounding the Bay, simple landscape strategies to help keep the Bay healthy.  Plant More Plants has a great website that offers information on why this is important, how to plant rain gardens (with four planting plans), provides a comprehensive list of native plants for Virginia and a blog with information on soil, stormwater, wildlife and more. 

    Basic Rain Barrel from Plow and Hearth

  • Use of Rain Barrels – I have blogged about the use of rain barrels in the past, but the information is so important.  A single rain barrel can save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water a year.  This is 1,300 gallons of FREE water that you can use for watering plants, gardens and lawns or for even washing cars.  That is 1,300 gallons of water that gets absorbed back into the ground slowly and never reaches the Bay.

Permeable Paver Patio

  • Use of Permeable Pavers – This is another subject that I have blogged about in the past, the use of permeable pavers in landscaping.  Permeable pavers present a solid surface, but still allow storm water and pollutants (car oil, antifreeze, pesticides) to drain through a natural, ecological process.  The permeable pavers come in a variety of designs and colors for all types of applications (driveways, patios, walkways).   This is a product we use more and more in the northern neck of Virginia.

 We all love to eat the blue crabs and oysters, so let’s do our part to help keep the Bay clean and healthy!

Tips for Preparing your Yard for Spring!

March 1, 2011

As our first warm, summer like days are here in Virginia, it is time to start thinking about preparing your yard for spring.  After a cold, snowy winter your plants may be looking a bit drab and dreary.   Here are a few useful tips to help get your yard ready to enjoy on those beautiful spring days. 

Winter Snow Damage – Take a survey of your trees and shrubs to see if they have snow damage, broken limbs or branches.  If you have shrubs with broken limbs, remove them by making a clean cut just above the stem node or branch collar.  Then fertilize the plants with a slow release fertilizer for a new flush of growth this spring.  

Aeration and Fertilization – March is the time to aerate and fertilize the lawn to keep it green all summer long.  You want to use a slow release fertilizer with the lowest possible phosphorus level.  In this region we have very phosphorus rich soil, adding more will just create dangerous run-off for our waterways.  Remember to fertilize the plants and shrubs as well – and you can use the same fertilizer for the entire yard.   

When you are mowing your yard this spring you want to keep your mower blade high, it helps keep the weeds from germinating and will keep the new grass from burning in the sun.

Knock-Out Roses – If you haven’t cut your roses back, it is time.  Make sure there is no new growth, and then take them back to 12” to 18” tall.  Don’t be afraid to cut them back that much, they will grow bigger each year. 

Add your new Hardscaping for Summer – Fireplaces are the new outdoor trend.  We have already installed three since the beginning of 2011.  Install an outdoor fireplace now and use it on those cool spring nights.  This is also the time to start thinking about installing a pool for summer.  Believe it or not we are working on our fifth pool project of this year.  With spring on its way, it is time to get new hardscaping installed so that it will be ready for the summer.  Check out more of our blog posts for tips on swimming pools and outdoor fireplaces

As always please feel free to call us for any of your design, landscaping and hardscaping needs 804-622-7477 or visit us on the web at

Visit us at the Richmond Home Show, March 4-6

March 1, 2011

Stop by the Richmond Home Show, March 4-6 at the Richmond Raceway Complex.  Our booth will be in the first building by the door to enter the rest of the show.  You can’t miss us!  Check this link for more information on the Richmond Home and Garden Show

 Here are a few pictures from the show we did this Winter.  A travertine patio with seat walls, a stone outdoor kitchen, landscaping, a fountain and a bench and table made by one of our designers!  Our designers and installers are truly talented.  Can’t wait for this show!

A stone bench and table that Chris McClaning made from some extra material at the shop.  


 A stone outdoor kitchen with pizza oven/grill combo, a soap stone counter top and natural stone bar top.   

Beautiful Pool with Bluestone Patios and Stone Fireplace Project

January 21, 2011

In November we finished a great pool project in Fredericksburg, VA.  Our great landscape designer, Ian Miller, brought this tough backyard from sloping hills of green grass to spectacular pool views!  We added a pool and hot tub, bluestone patios, a stone fireplace, steps and a retaining wall to keep everything in place on this sloping lot.  The results are spectacular!  Take a look at some of the before and after pictures below.

This is the backyard before transformation, sloping hills with nothing but grass.

When we were finished it was a beautiful two tiered pool with bluestone patios and fireplace.

We added this great stone fireplace and seating area.

A cloes up of the pool and bluestone surround. 

We added a flight of stairs, complete with lighting, so that the homeowners could get down to the pool from the upper decks. 

We added a big retaining wall to level the backyard for the pool and fireplace.  It was a great project, with great homeowners.  Let us know if we can help you transform your backyard!

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