734-213-6911 | 4100 S. Maple Road Ann Arbor, MI 48108

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  1. Backyard Oasis

    Technically, hardscapes are just about anything in the yard that’s not alive. These are the wood, concrete, and masonry additions that complement the flowers and other organic parts of the yard. They all have an aesthetic purpose, but not all necessarily include a functional side too. Given that even modest hardscapes require a financial investment, it would be twice as nice if they offered both these features. With that in mind, here’s a list of hardscape ideas most likely to be functional and beautiful while being well-suited to the Ann Arbor MI region.

    *Walkways
    *Patios
    *Outdoor Rooms
    *Retaining Walls

    Walkways
    These stand out as one of the basic and useful hardscapes anyone can place in their yard. The choice of materials used for construction is extensive with such things as brick, stone, concrete, or wood. Some people have even built permanent paths using glass bottles of various colors inserted upside down in the ground to form a mosaic. The functionality of these structures comes from providing a safe surface that gives observers access to assorted garden highlights without the risk of slipping on wet grass or caking shoes in dirt and mud. They also give the lawn a break from having erosion-prone paths worn into it.

    Patios
    This group includes both patios and decks. Both hardscapes allow people an opportunity to spend time outdoors with each other or simply enjoying the spectacle of nature in the backyard. At a minimum, these structures offer the same advantages provided by walkways. These are also the logical locations for the ubiquitous outdoor grill. They can take more elaborate forms if the homeowner is willing to put more money into the project. Some include built-in extras like benches, fireplaces, railings, and cooking centers.

    Outdoor Rooms
    This category is not always easily distinguished from patios and decks, but it usually includes free-standing structures like gazebos or bowers that are typically covered. The overhead protection might be limited to supplying shade or it might extend to providing shelter from rain, wind, and other harsh elements. Topped with a strong enough barrier, some owners have turned these structures into secondary rooms normally found indoors. Refrigerators and entertainment centers are among the more extreme additions to these peculiar sanctuaries.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Retaining Walls
    The rolling landscape around the Ann Arbor MI area makes retaining walls very practical in many yards. They provide a means for creating level surfaces on a hillside while guarding against erosion. They also have the additional benefits of acting as windbreaks as well as serving as a thermal mass. In this last capacity, they guard against late freezes that can harm early blooming flowers or fruiting plants while warding off early frost that can shorten the season for fruits and vegetables. These latter two qualities also apply to non-retaining masonry garden walls. These pieces of garden architecture also offer support for flowering vines, grape vines, or espalier fruit trees, so there’s no reason for any yard to do without such a highly functional structure.

  2. Winter Cleanup Concerns
    Winter can be the harshest, messiest times for landscapes and gardens. While the season in the Ann Arbor MI region is seemingly long and endless, there is a still a vital need to address seasonal cleanup concerns exclusive to winter. Homeowners and business owners in Ann Arbor MI try to maintain their lawns and gardens so they remain as attractive in winter as in other seasons. There are several seasonal cleanup concerns exclusive to winter to consider. These include:
    . Damage to trees and shrubs from high winds, ice and snow
    . Removal of buildup of fallen leaves on lawns and under trees and shrubs
    . Use protective mulch to avoid damage to flowers
    . Manage lawn, flower and garden bed overgrowth

    When sub-zero temperatures, high winds and ice and snow damage trees and shrubs, they tend to shed bark faster. A professional landscape will bigstock-House-Philadelphia-Yellow-Fall-23769386inspect trees and shrubs and remove the debris. Evergreens also shed their needles due to the formation of ice. This is another winter cleanup concern a landscaping expert will address.

    Removal of Buildup from Fallen Leaves
    Depending on the frequency of high winds, the last remaining foliage falls onto lawns and ends up beneath trees and shrubs. This creates an unsightly, unkempt appearance. A professional landscaper will remove this type of debris quickly and efficiently.

    Use Protective Mulch to Avoid Damage to Flowers
    Flower beds need protection to preserve the root systems for the next growing season. A landscaper removes windblown debris and covers the flower beds with attractive, protective mulch. Protective mulch is available in several colors to make a bleak winter landscape bright.

    Manage Lawn, Flower and Garden Bed Overgrowth
    Surprisingly, lawns do grow even when temperatures deliver a coat of ice or snow. In reality, the layer of ice and snow doesn’t damage grasses. Instead, these often provide insulation from damage by sealing in a certain level of heat. As a result, lawns may experience unruly overgrowth. This is also true of flower and garden beds, especially where vines like Clematis, English Ivy and Sedum tend to take over a good portion of garden space. As part of professional landscaping services, managing lawn, flower and garden overgrowth are one way to reduce seasonal cleanup concerns in Ann Arbor MI.

    The Work of Landscaping Doesn’t End in Autumn
    It may seem that landscaping work comes to a grinding halt when winter arrives. Professional landscapers are busy the year round providing top notch services. In winter, the big task is winter cleanup customers would rather leave to landscaping experts. Discuss an annual landscaping contract with your landscape consultants. They provide year round services that keep your home or business property looking attractive from one season to the next. It’s all in the landscape planning and design that landscapers customize especially for their customers needs. This leaves homeowners and business property owners with more free time and much less worry about cleanup in winter. Landscapers arrive fully prepared to tackle the biggest winter clean up jobs.

  3. Small Excavator Bobcat Working On The StreetAlways a beautiful location, Ann Arbor MI develops an especially alluring quality during winter. As temperatures plummet, a lovely winter wonderland greets many people when they step outdoors in the morning. One of the smartest steps a homeowner can take in this situation involves hiring a professional snow removal company, rather than performing this necessary function alone.

    1. Maintain Curb Appeal

    Clearing away piles of snow from drives and front entrances helps families maintain a welcoming, attractive environment. It makes very little sense to invest money keeping a front yard and a residential exterior in good condition, only to allow regular seasonal precipitation to obscure your home’s curb appeal for large portions of the year.

    2. Prevent Accidents

    An experienced snow removal company possesses the expertise required to clean away slippery patches of ice and snow from important walkways completely. Your home and business will benefit as a result. Every year, unfortunate accidents occur due to slips and falls during winter weather. While amateur snow removal may help reduce the hazards in snowy environments, relying on the experience of a professional enables many households to gain greater peace of mind. No one wants a visitor to sustain an accident because of unnoticed snow on the sidewalk.

    3. Use Specialized Equipment

    A professional snow removal firm usually maintains expensive equipment designed to expedite the snow removal process. By contrast, individual homeowners, or businesses that don’t invest in snow clearing machinery, find themselves at a disadvantage during periods of heavy snowfall. In this part of Michigan, the population often sustains very aggressive winter weather conditions. Employing the right equipment for clearing away snow makes a huge difference in the results.

    4. Ensure Completion

    Assigning someone in your household to clean snow from paths and walkways won’t always work well. Frequently, volunteers find themselves called away in the middle of an outdoor task to address other issues. A slowly starting vehicle, an unexpected phone call or a change in the daily schedule might disrupt snow removal. If you hire a professional snow removal company, you’ll gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing the job will continue through completion.

    5. Prevent Lost Income

    Perhaps one of the most important reasons for hiring a professional to clear away snow and ice in Ann Arbor relates to preventing lost income and minimizing absences from work. Uncleared accumulations of snow sometimes present a far bigger obstacle to drivers than many people appreciate. When temperatures drop significantly, most people must devote additional time in the morning to the simple process of warming up the car and clearing off the windshield. Having to expend additional periods of time shoveling out the driveway may take a big chunk out of a worker’s productivity. By entrusting your snow removal to experts, you avoid this problem.

    A Valuable Service

    Especially during this season, Ann Arbor MI sometimes sustains very heavy snowfalls. Retaining a professional to clear away the snow and ice provides some very important benefits!

  4.  

    Residential Drainage Final

    Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause a host of problems around your home. Gutters and downspouts that are clogged with debris won’t be able to properly drain during a rainfall, which can lead to water getting inside your home, either through the roof or around the foundation. And during the winter, clogged gutters can contribute to the formation of ice dams, which can damage your roof. The best way to protect yourself from these problems is to keep your gutters and downspouts free of clogs this fall.

    Trim your trees
    One of the best ways to keep your gutters and downspouts free of clogs is to trim back trees that are near your home. Trees and even large shrubs that overhang your gutters or are near to them will drop debris, including leaves, acorns and small twigs and branches. Keeping the trees and shrubs trimmed back so they don’t hang over your gutters will help keep debris out of your gutters and prevent your gutters and downspouts from becoming clogged, especially in the fall when leaves are dropping.

    Clean your gutters
    Another good way to keep your gutters and downspouts free of clogs in the fall is to clean them regularly. The longer you allow debris to build up in your gutters, the harder it is to remove. Once the tree debris gets wet and mixes with dirt, it becomes like a paste that will adhere to your gutters and downspouts and make it difficult for water to pass through. During the fall when leaves are falling from the trees, it’s a good idea to clean your gutters at least once a month; however, more often is preferable. You might want to think about cleaning your gutters every couple of weeks or even every week, depending on how much of a tree canopy you have. Cleaning should consist of removing debris both from your gutters and your downspout opening by hand and then thoroughly rinsing them out with a garden hose.

    Install gutter guards
    Probably the single best way to keep your gutters and downspouts free of clogs is to cover your gutters with a gutter guard system. These systems involve installing a screen over your gutters. Such systems have openings that are large enough to let rainfall through but small enough to keep out most debris. Such systems are not foolproof, however, and you still will need to inspect your gutters regularly and may even need to clean them occasionally. Gutter guard systems also will not prevent clogs at your downspout opening that form from debris on the ground, so you still need to be on alert for that issue. Gutter guard systems can be expensive, costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but they can be worth it to eliminate the need for regular cleaning.

    Using some or all of these methods will help keep leaves, sticks and even dead animals from clogging up your gutters and downspouts and increasing the potential for water damage in your home.

  5. For many people, winter is a great time of the year. The winter season provides the opportunity to celebrate Christmas and enjoy activities that are centered on the winter season. While the type of winter that many people have is largely determined by geographic location, cold weather is considered a part of the winter season. Most people understand this and although some people prefer warmer weather, winter has its advantages.

    Snow Can Become A Problemsnowman on orange sunset background

    One of the issues that people have during the winter season is snow. While a small amount of snow can be enjoyable and fun, too much snow over an extended time period can become a problem. One of the main problems that many people face in geographic areas that produce a considerable amount of snow is getting from their home to their desired locations.

    Snow can be a problem on the roads, but people can usually purchase tires that help improve their driving capabilities on snowy roads. In addition, many larger cities have equipment that is used to keep the roads clear of snow, ice, and other winter elements. While people receive help from the city regarding the roads, getting out of their home driveway can sometime be a serious problem. City workers do not go beyond the street snow. The snow in driveways is the responsibility of the homeowners.

    Snowfall that produces several inches of snow can result in snow levels that are very high. This amount of snow requires people to move the snow so that their driveway can be cleared so they can reach the street. Once people reach the street, they are usually fine because the city keeps the streets clear of snowfall.

    Removing Snow From Driveways

    While clearing snow from the driveway maybe something that needs to be done, many people prefer not to clear their driveway. Therefore, a common solution to clearing snow from driveways is to have a business remove the snowfall on a regular basis. When a snowstorm occurs, the business will come by and remove the snow.Snow Removal

    This allows homeowners to keep their driveways clear without having to clear the snow themselves. Clearing snow is a physically challenging endeavor because it requires physical labor, dealing with cold weather, and constantly having to remove snow. Many people find it much easier on many levels to pay a business to remove the snow and other winter related elements.
    Winter Business Services

    Winter is a great time of the year, but it presents seasonal challenges in the same manner as other seasons. One of the challenges that winter brings in many areas is handling snowfall related issues such as clearing driveways. By using businesses that provide driveway-clearing services, this challenge can be easily solved.

    For people living in Ann Arbor MI and the surrounding area, there are a variety of winter services that businesses provide to help residents deal with some of the challenges concerning winter in cold climates like Ann Arbor MI. These winter services cover a wide range of services such as snow removal, ice removal, landscaping, tree cutting, and other related services.

    Get your yard looking its absolute best with custom landscaping solutions from Twin Oaks. Find us online at http://twinoakslandscape.biz/, visit us in Ann Arbor, MI at 4100 South Maple Road, or call us at (734) 213-6911.

  6. Wall within raised bed

    As familiar examples of landscape architecture, retaining walls make a considerable contribution to the yard’s aesthetic appeal. With its undulating terrain, the Ann Arbor MI area provides ample opportunities for these structures to be employed in residential settings. Beyond their ability to beautify, though, these walls serve to produce a healthier environment for the plant life inhabiting the yard. The following stand out as the more important assets retaining walls provide.

    *Soil Stabilization
    *Water Control
    *Wind Deflection
    *Temperature Stabilization

    Soil Stabilization
    In practical terms, this is what most people recognize as a retaining wall’s main benefit. Even modest slopes can experience erosion if they’re hit with enough rainwater. This part of Michigan certainly has sufficient rain. It also produces lots of snow that can melt and carry topsoil away. Damming earth behind a wall not only keeps rich topsoil in place, it provides the opportunity for the homeowner to put work into building up the nutrient levels.

    Water Control
    Along with soil control, retaining walls can improve yard health by redirecting water to where it can do the most good. Without leveling walls, water can accumulate in some spots and create miniature swamps that drown plant roots. Other sections of the yard can suffer from inadequate amounts of water. With walls in place, water is collected in drainage tiles and redirected to the dry spots. As with soil stabilization, walls utilized for this purpose can be constructed from a variety of materials like masonry, poured concrete, or landscaping timbers.

    Retaining wall along gardens

    Windbreaks
    Blocking damaging winds keeps plants healthy in both summer and winter. The harm caused by severe winds during the growing season is pretty obvious. What’s not as obvious is how a few inches of winter snow around the bases of perennials supplies protection from lower temperatures that can sweep in. Winter winds can blow away this covering and expose the lower parts of plants to the excessive cold. The security created by the retaining wall helps keep this layer of snow in place.

    Temperature Stabilization
    Plants stay healthy when they’re able to successfully complete their growing season cycle. Around the Ann Arbor MI region, cold snaps can strike in both the late spring and early fall. In the springtime, after various plants have finished blooming, occasional late frosts and freezes can hit that often damage or destroy fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Here, a retaining wall constructed of masonry acts as a thermal mass that absorbs heat from both sunlight and the surrounding warm air. When the cold hits, this warmth is radiated back out to help stave off the cold from affecting nearby plants. This also applies in fall when the threat of an early cold spell could mean the loss of fruits and vegetables that haven’t finished ripening. In addition, the warmer local climate created by the wall can also accommodate plants that usually couldn’t quite handle winter temperatures in the area. This improves yard health by allowing a greater diversity of plants in the landscape.

  7. Lawn Irrigation SystemAutomated sprinkler and irrigation systems can make lawn and landscape maintenance a snap, but systems that have been poorly maintained can also cause no end of problems for their owners. Any of the following issues may be the cause of poor or uneven irrigation, over-saturation or the presence of standing water as well as increased utility costs due to leaks and waste.

    One: Leaks and Standing Water
    The most common causes for equipment leaks typically include:

    • Frozen or burst pipes due to freezing tempratures
    • Cracks and stress fractures
    • Damage to sprinkler heads

    Whatever the reason for a leaking irrigation system, failing to identify and address the problem quickly and effectively may lead to more serious issues and higher repair costs.

    Two: Clogged Equipment

    A clogged sprinkler head may not seem like a major problem, but even small clogs may result in a pressure rise that can cause significant damage throughout an irrigation system. Clogs are typically caused when dirt or other debris becomes lodged within a sprinkler head or other outlet. The presence of dry grass in areas that are typically well irrigated or standing water beneath a sprinkler are common signs that a clog may be present.

    Three: Issues With Connective Hardware

    Pipes and sprinklers are not the only components that may wear out or develop problems. Decreased water flow, impaired performance and other problems may occur should any of the following connective components wear out or become damaged:

    • Gaskets
    • Seals
    • Valves

    Tracking down and identifying connective hardware that may be the cause of a problem can be all but impossible for those who lack the tools and experience that only a professional may be able to provide.

    lawn-sprinkler-irrigation-systemFour: Rust and Corrosion

    Metal parts and components that are in direct contact with moisture may suffer from rust and corrosion. While irrigation systems typically incorporate pipes, fixtures and other hardware that have been specifically designed to resist corrosion, rusting hardware remains a very common problem. Visible signs of equipment rust, discolored water or reduced performance may all be a sign that an irrigation system may be overdue for service and maintenance.

    Five: Aging Hardware

    Even the most durable systems can wear out due to heavy use or simple old age. Older systems that are no longer able to offer the same level of performance or dependability that owners have come to expect can create many problems. Arranging to have a system inspected and assessed by a professional is often the only way to determine if maintenance solutions may be required or if owners might be better served by having their entire system replaced.

    Superior Professional Services and Solutions

    Maintaining an irrigation system can be a more difficult and challenging undertaking for those who lack the proper resources. Periodic service and routine maintenance can help to extend the useful operational lifespan of irrigation systems and ensure that owners are able to avoid the added expense and frustration that problems may cause.

  8. Raised patio with pillar

    Landscaping is no longer just about trees, flowers, and foliage. Well-planned hardscapes that extend indoor living spaces outdoors are extremely popular additions that add value to your Ann Arbor MI home. They should be an important part of your landscape planning.

    The Value of Landscaping and Hardscapes

    According to a study conducted jointly by the University of Michigan and Clemson University, potential buyers estimate the value of well-landscaped homes to be up to 11.3 percent higher than their actual base price. Bob Villa, former host of This Old House, refers to studies that find that the first impression created by a well-planned and executed landscape design can increase the value of an Ann Arbor MI home by as much as 20 percent. That equals the value added by remodeling your kitchen or bath, two investments that are standard recommendations. For that reason, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recommends investing 10 percent of your home’s value in improving and maintaining your home’s landscaping.

    The Hardscaping Projects That Add the Most Value

    Among the projects that will add the most value to your home and bring the most return for your investment are:

    • A covered patio or deck with a screened in area
    • A fire pit
    • Unique designs created with bricks, stone pavers, or stamped and stained concrete

    A covered patio or deck allows you to use the area even when it rains. You can maintain the open to the sky look and add color by covering a portion of your deck with a pergola and canvas panel inserts. For an even more open look, try canvas sails.

    A screened in area allows you and your guests to escape mosquitoes at dusk while still enjoying your evening. If you want privacy, you can install blinds or even curtains in outdoor fabrics.

    A fire pit lets you entertain your guests outdoors, even when Michigan’s fall weather turns days and nights chilly.

    A patio requires flooring material, but why have a plain, boring floor when you could have designs created by bricks placed to form geometric designs with borders or patterns created with paving stones of different colors. For more versatility, concrete can be stamped and tinted to mimic many natural materials.

    Other Hardscape Projects

    Some hardscaping ideas add value to your home but don’t earn quite as much return for the investment. Before committing to these projects, consider how much you, your family, and friends will enjoy them.

    • A pool
    • An outdoor kitchen
    • An outdoor fireplace

    Pools and outdoor kitchens and fireplaces represent substantial cash investments. If you, your family, and your friends will use them only occasionally, you may want to consider a smaller kitchen and a larger fire pit instead of a fireplace. However, if you foresee that these additions will be sources of a great deal of fun and entertainment, then, by all means, indulge.

    Above all, choose what you enjoy.

  9. drainage - does your yard look like thisSoil Erosion is technically referred to as soil degradation and is a serious agricultural problem worldwide. So, what role can soil erosion play in a home yard setting where the growing season is primarily devoted to vegetable gardens and beautifying landscaping? The fact is that yards with domestic, nursery – provided plants are as susceptible to soil erosion just as land and soil devoted to agricultural uses are. Measures must be taken to protect the soil from the effects of planting, improper drainage, inundation with water that cannot be readily absorbed and which then is forced to leave the land as runoff, thereby causing unavoidable soil erosion at home.

    Causes of Soil Erosion at Home
    Soil erosion at home can be caused by a number of factors. Erosion is not limited to agricultural settings. The erosion can be caused by improperly preparing the soil in a home yard before planting. The drainage of soil in a yard can affect the water in that soil, and resulting runoff can cause soil erosion at home.

    Immediate Prevention of Soil Erosion
    Carefully choosing plants which are known to bind the surrounding loose soil around them can help prevent soil erosion. Carefully planning drainage to ensure that water is diverted away from erosion – prone spaces is also important when trying to minimize soil erosion. Hiring a local landscaper who is familiar with local soil conditions and effective drainage solutions is also a prudent move when dealing with soil erosion at home.

    Lasting Remedies For Soil Erosion
    When planing remedies for reversing soil erosion at home, it is important to choose solutions to the erosion problem and to avoid taking any action which would further the problem. A landscaper can help a homeowner devise a planting and hydration scheme for the yard which will provide a secure root system and minimize the water used.

    Future Prevention Plans
    Future landscaping plans should take erosion prevention into consideration. Reversing soil erosion should be considered a long-term effort; one successful growing season without erosion is just that–a good growing season. One successful season does not mean that the erosion situation is magically fixed. Homeowners must remain vigilant to signs of future problems. Implementing a thorough program to prevent soil erosion at home is a beneficial way to address this problem directly. A qualified landscaper is the best resource to use when coming up with a planting and lawn care program to prevent gamagind soil erosion at home.

    Conclusions About Soil Erosion at Home
    Preventing soil erosion at home requires a concerted effort which will include a landscaping plan to care for the soil and yard year round. By engaging a local landscaper who has experience with area soil conditions and drainage challenges, the homeowner can make informed planting decisions. Prudent, practiced probedures lawn care procedures0should help prevent soil erosion at home.

  10. Couple Concerned About LawnMany homes in Ann Arbor, MI are equipped with spacious basements that homeowners can use for everything from game rooms to extra bedrooms. While there are many advantages of this below-ground space, it doesn’t come without challenges due to its location. Basement leaks in particular are common problems caused by water in the soil that surrounds the home. If you have a basement and are interested in protecting your structure, then the important tips below are well worth learning.

    • You’re Most at Risk in Winter and Spring
      While heavy rainfall throughout the year can put your home at risk for basement leaks, there are also certain seasons that increase chances of water working its way into your basement. Winter and spring specifically put you at the greatest risk, as this is when snow is the most intense in Ann Arbor, MI. As the snow begins to melt on warm winter days or when the weather heats up into the spring, there will be much more water in the soil around your house. Unfortunately this will create more pressure in the ground, which is likely to lead to water leaks within the basement.
    • Learn the Signs of Water Leaks
      If you see mold on your drywall, water stains on your ceiling, wet carpets, or discoloration in any area of your basement, then it’s very likely you have a water leak in your basement. While this might be troublesome, it’s important that you know about it as soon as possible. This will help ensure you can avoid additional damage by tacking the cause of the leak right away.
    • Ask a Landscaper About Preventative Solutions

    With basement leaks being so common in Ann Arbor, MI homes due to the large amounts of snow accumulated during the winter, it’s important to protect your home in as many ways as you can. This should first mean repairing floor cracks, installing new window wells, and fixing any cracks in mortar joints. Once you’ve done this, contact a landscaping professional to help you with more specialized solutions, such as new drainage systems and basement waterproofing. These are some of the most effective ways to prevent water damage in your basement, whether you’re dealing with heavy snow in the winter or pouring rain in the spring.

    Is Your Home Prepared for Winter?
    When the snow starts to fall, will your basement be ready? If you want to avoid any major issues during the coldest time of year, it’s incredibly beneficial to prepare ahead of time. Fortunately by doing a few repairs and working with a landscaper, you’ll find that you enjoy the following benefits:

    1. Safety
    When your basement is waterproof and you have proper drainage, you’re less likely to see dangerous mold growth from leaks

    2. Peace of Mind
    Rather than being nervous that snow or ice will melt and eventually leak into your basement, you can enjoy the winter months knowing your basement is protected from water.

    3. Money Savings
    The small cost of preventative maintenance can save you quite a bit of money on repairs and updates down the road.