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

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  1. If water is outstaying its welcome in your yard, you probably have a drainage issue. This can be particularly annoying as this standing water can be hard to look at, kill the lawn or other plants, and make it a hassle to move around. It is not exactly easy to maintain a healthy yard when it is always full of water!

    Many things can contribute to a poor yard drainage issue, including soil type and compaction, heavy rain, an improper grading plan, and fencing that blocks proper drainage. If you are noticing that large puddles of water persistently exist in your yard, there is a reason and, more importantly, there is a way to fix it and return your yard to its original state.drainage - does your yard look like this

    The most common reasons for standing water include:

    • Improper soil type
    • Heavy rain in the last forty-eight hours
    • A changed initial grading plan
    • Fencing that blocks proper flow

    Soil Type
    Heavy, clay-based soil is a large cause of draining issues. Because clay particles sit so close together, water does not pass though easily. Clay is not absorbent, but rather takes in water and retains it for extended periods of time. Other types of soil react much better to water and absorb it willingly, making drainage far less of an issue. If it is not possible to mess with the soil composition, drainage channels may be necessary. Ann Arbor MI statistically has a high percentage of clay in the soil.

    Heavy Rain

    If your water issues only occur after a heavy rainfall, your yard is most likely properly graded. There may still be a slight issue with the soil, but seeing pooling water right after a storm is very normal and is not cause for immediate worry.

    Fencing That Blocks Flow

    The issue may be born of fencing that is blocking the flow of drainage. Sometimes, fencing is placed too close to the ground, which can cause water to pool around the base. If you notice water gathers around the base of the fence, it was installed improperly.

    Change in the Initial Grading Plan

    Good grading occurs when engineers and landscapers work together in careful consideration to map out the drainage patterns of the yard. Establishing this grading plan means that your landscape will function fluidly. However, an alteration to the original site without consultation may be the reason you have water pooling in the yard. This could potentially lead to pieces of land being washed away and water damage to your home.

    Creating a beautifully landscaped yard can be very important to fully enjoying a home and can contribute greatly to the beauty of the neighborhood. Hiring a professional to manage all of your Ann Arbor MI landscaping needs is a sure way to avoid real issues with standing water. If you notice long-lasting and persistent pooling water in your yard that occurs without heavy rainfall, you should have it looked at by a professional. Sometimes, these issues can evolve in something that causes permanent damage.

  2. Smooth StonesHardscapes are elements on a property that are sturdier and more long lasting than the grass, flowers, plants and trees that often make up the rest of a landscape. Often made of stone, they include walkways, steps, walls, firepits and water elements. Many types of natural stone are used to add their unique qualities to an Ann Arbor MI hardscape. Here are a few of them:

    Versatile Limestone
    Limestone is a sedimentary rock, which means it was created by materials that accumulated over eons. It is made largely of calcite, which is a form of calcium carbonate and can be compact or full of the skeletons of tiny fossils. The color of limestone ranges from pure white to black. Other colors are yellow, pink, red and dark brown. Some types of limestone are too soft for hardscaping, but limestone designated as Type III by ASTM International is suitable for outdoor use. Type III limestone is excellent as pavers or steps.

    Tough, Beautiful Granite
    Strong, durable and beautiful, granite is a rock formed in the bowels of volcanoes. It comes in a rainbow of colors, from nearly pure white to solid black and can be used for outdoor flooring, walkways, seating, walls, statuary or fountains. Popular for indoor kitchen countertops, it is tough enough to be used for the counters of outdoor kitchens as well.

    Bluestone Patio And Stone GrillColorful Sandstone
    Sandstone is another sedimentary rock, made of grains of sand that have accumulated over millennia. Masons find sandstone easy to work with because it can be easily cleaved into slabs, which makes it good for walkways and garden walls. Colors range from white to reddish brown. There’s a type of blue-gray sandstone called, appropriately, bluestone. Good for seating and steps, sandstone adds a pop of interesting color to a garden.

    Water-resistant Slate
    Like sandstone, slate is easily broken into slabs, which makes it ideal for paving. As it’s water resistant, slate is good to place around water features such as ponds, pools or fountains. It comes in the familiar blue, green or gray.

    Luminous Quartzite
    Quartzite is a metamorphic rock, which means it was slowly transferred from one kind of rock into another over countless years. In the case of quartzite, it was formed out of sedimentary rocks such as arkose and graywacke. It is mostly made of quartz with additions of mica, feldspar and other minerals. Quartzite is hard, dense and luminous. Like marble, another metamorphic natural stone, it seems to gather light into itself and throw some of it back. This makes it a particularly beautiful stone to use in an area where there’s outdoor lighting.

    With the exception of slate and sandstone, these stones can be used as accent boulders or cobbles around a yard or garden. They can also be used as gravel in a pathway or at the bottom of a water feature. Residents of Ann Arbor MI shouldn’t hesitate to contact our company for their hardscaping needs or if they need more information about different types of natural stone.

  3. Summer is the time to sit back and enjoy your yard, but you also need to keep on top of cleanup and basic maintenance chores to ensure it looks its best. The key to a great looking lawn is to have a thorough understanding of what seasonal cleanup is required. The following guide can keep you on top of your landscaping chores.

    Clear the Thatch

    Natural stone landscaping in home rose gardenThatch build-up occurs on Ann Arbor MI lawns due to the collection of organic matter on top of the soil. Most of the grasses used in the area are cool season grasses, which means they tend to go dormant when the temperatures rise in mid-summer. This can lead to dead grass and stems forming a thick layer on top of the soil, called thatch, which prevents water and oxygen from
    seeping into the ground. Seasonal cleanup of the thatch is necessary as the grass resumes growth in late summer, following a system similar the following:

    1. Mow the lawn low – to about half the usual height – before beginning.
    2. Flag the location of any sprinkler heads so you don’t damage them.
    3. Using a dethatching rake, pull the rake across the lawn to lift the thatch layer up. For severe thatch you can rent a power rake.
    4. After removing the thatch in one direction, repeat the process at a 90 degree angle to the first pass to ensure all of the thatch is lifted and removed.

    Rake Up Storm Debris

    Summer thunderstorms are a normal issue in Ann Arbor MI, which can lead to small twigs, branches, and leaves strewn all over the lawn. Not only is this unattractive, it can also lead lawn mold growth as moisture collects underneath the fallen debris.

    Rake up all fallen detritus after each storm. This is also a good time to look up and check out the canopy of the trees on your property. If you notice dead or damaged wood, go ahead and cut it out. Although most tree pruning occurs in early spring, you can clean out dead and damaged wood at any time.

    SKiller Weedstay On Top of Weed Management

    Seasonal cleanup of weeds can really ramp up during the summer months. This is because weeds tend to go through a flush of growth as the temperatures rise and garden irrigation becomes consistent. The following can help you manage the weeds throughout the summer and into fall:

    • Maintain edging around garden beds. This means keeping the edges mowed or trimmed low, as well as removing any weeds or grasses promptly that begin to encroach.
    • Use landscape fabric or plastic over the soil in garden beds to keep down weeds. When switching out summer annuals for the spring annuals, plant into the same holes that are already cut in the weed fabric so weeds don’t begin growing through empty slots.
    • Apply a mid-summer fertilizer as your lawn comes out of dormancy that contains weed herbicide. This will keep weeds from overtaking the lawn.
    • When weeding, dispose of any weeds that have begun to set seed. If you try to compost them, the seeds may survive the process and then later get spread back onto the lawn or garden bed.

    Summer lawn care and cleanup in Ann Arbor MI is key to having a beautiful landscape as you enter the late summer and fall months. Fortunately, much of your lawn’s needs are simply maintenance level, so you will still have plenty of time to enjoy the lazy days of summer.

  4. New Paver Patio installed at a residence in Saline, MI.  The patio features a cozy living space for the family to dine and relax.

     

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  5. Two Turtles Rests On A Drain PipeDuring the periods of heavy rainfall in Ann Arbor MI, water might flow toward your house and cause periodic flooding with the consequent soggy soil prohibiting you from getting a start on your spring yard chores. As such, you could be wondering whether you can stop this water and if there is a way to remove the water efficiently and dry the soil.

    Fortunately, you can fix your lawn’s irrigation problem, dry out the soil, and prevent the flooding of your basement or crawl space by installing a trench drainage system. All you need is a little help and a single weekend.

    The reason for flooding
    Soil normally consists of organic debris, small pieces of rock, water, and air. The air content is usually highest in the upper 24 inches in many types of soil. Deeper into the ground, the overall weight of overlying materials compress the soil, squeezing out the air.

    Water enters the soil whenever it rains, pushing air towards the surface, after which gravity takes over. For sloping yards, the water in the ground begins to flow downhill. However, level lawns suffer the most since the water movement within the soil is minimal.

    The solution and why it works
    The installation of a trench drainage system either intercepts and re-directs sub-surface water or helps to accelerate the movement of surface water. It is easier for the subsurface water to travel through open drain pipes and gravel compared to forcing its way through the soil. Like most things, water usually takes the path comprised of the amount of least resistance.

    How to construct a do-it-yourself trench in Ann Arbor MI
    Trench drainage entails perforated drainage pipes covered in gravel and installed in narrow channels, a “moat” protecting your yard or house from sub-surface or surface water. You can construct this type of drainage by digging a trench approximately 6 inches wide and 24 inches deep. To intercept sub-surface water and dry out the yard, install the trench drain along the highest part of the property, extending it to the lowest part of the yard.

    Constructing the trench about six feet from the foundation provides protection to your house from the water. This system is U-shaped in many cases since it passes around houses. You need to dig a series of trenches and then interconnect them if you wish to drain a level yard. You can use an optical or a laser builder’s level to tell the high and low parts of your lot.

    Exposing the end of the pipe at the edge of your yard provides the best drainage results. While wearing gloves for protection, use a 6-foot 4×4 to compact any loose soil at the bottom of the trench once you finish digging it.

    Because you should never lay the piping directly onto the ground, set up a 2-inch layer of washed gravel on the compacted soil before installation of the perforated piping. The drainage holes through which the water enters ought to be a level above the ground.

    When using a rigid plastic pipe that features two rows of holes along the length, correctly install the holes pointing downwards since the water table within the soil builds upwards from the bottom of the soil profile, which means water enters the pipe sooner if than if the holes point downwards. It is also true that although a little water could find its way into an upward facing hole, most of the water will only build up until it can flow into such holes after flowing around the pipes.

    Cover the tubing with an inch of washed, rounded gravel once installed in the trench, and use gravel to fill the trench to within an inch of the surface. Disguise the channel by placing a piece of sod over the gravel. You can use large stepping stones or colored ones to create a walkway to conceal the drainage system even further.

  6. lawn-sprinkler-irrigation-systemAccording to professional irrigation experts in Ann Arbor MI, about half of the water consumed by an average household goes towards the irrigation of landscapes. Regrettably, about half of the water used to irrigate these landscapes goes to waste since a lot of irrigation systems are quite inefficient and tend to consume a significant amount of water.

    The truth is you are the most water-efficient system, a theory evidenced by the fact that homeowners who water by hand almost always tend to use the least quantities of water in their gardens and yards. However, the most significant drawback when it comes to watering by hand is the fact that most people rarely find themselves available whenever the plants need watering, which often leads to dead or unhealthy plants and unhappy homeowners.

    Fortunately, choosing the right type of irrigation for your particular yard provides an excellent solution, especially since the only other viable alternative is designing your garden to include the most drought-tolerant plants exclusively, those that require no more than once a week watering sessions even during the dry summer months.

    To provide yourself with the convenience of an in-ground irrigation system, it is, therefore, important that you acquire adequate knowledge on the different types of systems currently available, particularly since some are more water-efficient compared to others. Listed below are three main types of water-efficient systems recommended by experts for installation in areas such as Ann Arbor MI.

    Bubblers
    This system is a form of precise watering techniques capable of delivering water deep into the soil, which means it is quite useful around deep-rooted plants such as trees. Bubblers are additionally effective for use in specific planter containers where traditional sprinklers cannot work. This type of irrigation is quite durable, minimizes overspray and evaporation, requires minimal maintenance and filtration, and features an easily adjustable flow rate.

    Drip Irrigation
    This is a slow, direct, and precise system of watering, especially since this system avails 100% of the water to the plants. In comparison to traditional spray heads which only release up to about five gallons per minute, drip irrigation systems release significantly higher amounts of water every hour. The water-saving and environmental benefits offered by drip irrigation include minimized evaporation, runoff, and overspray.

    This type of irrigation is often preferable where considerably few plants spread over large areas such as a few bushes with lots of open space in-between, or hard-to-water areas like narrow planters. The installation of a drip system mandatorily includes a special filter to prevent the system from clogging and a device for lowering the water pressure.

    Stream Rotor Pop-ups
    This system replaces the traditional pop-up spray heads, which means installation is by unscrewing of the old nozzle top from the pop-up and screwing on the stream rotor in its place. Stream rotors are relatively water efficient when compared to traditional spray heads since they release approximately 25 percent of the amount of water traditional spray heads do per minute, which reduces runoff and evaporation. Stream rotors are ideal for use where a lot of short-rooted plants need watering such as groundcovers and bunchgrasses.

  7. lawn-sprinkler-paverThe lawn is one of the main features on residential properties and will stand out if it’s maintained well. During the summer season, the lawn can become damaged due excess heat and harsh weather conditions. To improve your lawn’s irrigation this summer, there are a few important steps to take for homeowners to transform their yard in Ann Arbor MI.

    1. Water Less Frequently

    Many people make the mistake of watering their lawn too frequently throughout the week. Although it’s important that your grass obtains plenty of water, it may not be getting enough if you water it every few days. It’s important to water the lawn for a longer period of time to ensure that the soil is moist and that the water reaches the roots. A watering lawn hose with a water breaker attached will make it easy to reach through foliage and direct the water to specific areas. This encourages the development of deep roots, making it important to water a maximum of one inches of water. The specific amount of water that is needed also depends on the type of soil that is used.

    You also want to remain consistent with your watering routine and allow the plants and lawn to adapt well to the schedule. Use extra hoses and sprinklers to reach areas on the lawn that are often neglected to ensure that each square inch is covered.

    2. Prevent Runoff

    Runoff is one of the main causes of water waste and can quickly cause the lawn to suffer. Monitor the lawn before, during, and after irrigation periods and evaluate how long it takes for the water to run after the sprinklers go off, which will allow you to determine when to set the time for each cycle.

    3. Choose the Right Sprinkler

    Your lawn may be suffering if your sprinkler system is outdated. You should replace the sprinklers if they tend to water the sidewalk or get the street wet, which wastes water and can cause dead spots to develop on your lawn. Installing new sprinklers will increase your water efficiency and can allow the lawn to absorb more water to ensure that it thrives during the summer season.

    4. Water at the Right Time

    The time of day that you water the lawn will determine how well it thrives in the summer heat in Ann Arbor MI. Set your sprinkler system to water the lawn in the early morning each day when the weather is cooler. This will prevent too much water from evaporating before the water is able to soak into the soil. It’s also important to avoid watering in the evening, which can cause fungus to develop over time.

    5. Avoid Over-watering

    Over-watering is just as much of a problem as under-watering your lawn. This can occur if it rains during the season, which can prevent the grass from growing well. Use a rain gauge to determine how much you really need to water it during summer hurricanes or storms.

  8. Lawn aerationMaintaining a great lawn is a matter of timing. You wouldn’t mow your lawn just after you watered it–likewise, it’s important to time your lawn aeration properly. Let’s examine how to determine the ideal time to aerate your lawn.

    Knowing Your Grass

    There are two categories of lawn grasses: cool-season and warm-season grasses.

    Warm-season grass begins to grow early in the Summer. This means that aerating these types of grass in the late Spring or early Summer will ensure that grass will ensure that growth will fill the holes left by aeration.

    Some common kinds of warm-season grasses are:

    • Bermuda
    • Buffalo
    • St. Augustine
    • Zoysia

    Cool-season grasses begin to grow in the early fall; they grow more vigorously in low temperatures. The ideal time to aerate cool-season grasses is in the late summer or early fall. The most common kinds of cool-season grasses are:

    • Kentucky Bluegrass
    • Ryegrass
    • Fescue
    • Creeping Bentgrass

    Different Varieties of Soil

    Different types of soil also determine the ideal time and frequency of lawn aeration. Because clay soil compacts so easily, it should be aerated once a year or more. Since most people in Ann Arbor MI have clay soil, aeration is especially important there.

    Homeowners who have sandier soil can aerate their lawns once a year, or even every other year. In drier climates, aerating your lawn twice a year will help your lawn grow faster and stay healthy.

    Why Should I Aerate My Lawn?

    Aeration is the best weapon against the inevitable process of soil compaction. Aeration is the simple process of perforating your lawn’s soil with many small holes that allow water, air, and nutrients the ability to penetrate to the grass’s roots. In turn, this helps the roots grow deeper, which produces a healthier, more vibrant lawn.

    Aeration is especially important if your lawn:

    • Is used heavily–if you’ve got children who play in the lawn a lot, your soil is probably compacted
    • Has a spongy feel, or dries out quickly
    • Is part of a newly-constructed home. Construction plays a huge impact on soil compaction
    • Started from sod–in this case, “soil layering” probably exists. Soil layering is what happens when soil that has a finer texture gets layered over a coarser type of soil. This condition makes it harder for grass roots to develop.

    Choosing the Right Type of Aeration

    If you live in Ann Arbor MI, you should be aerating your lawn at least once a year. Whether you choose a spike aerator or a plug aerator, you’ll help your grass have healthier roots. While the middle of the Summer isn’t the best time to aerate, depending on your grass, early or late Summer is the ideal time.



  9. Backyard DeckYour deck has seen its better days. Boards are bowed and splinters make going barefoot a hazard. Some boards have rotted through. The place where family used to gather and chat while the grill sizzled is now an eye-sore. It is dangerous and does not function anymore. It is time to replace the deck, but do you use wood again? Composite deck boards seem like a better option, but are they?

    Let’s consider some facts: In the blistering summer sun, a composite deck will not fade. This is great when you consider that the deck will be outside, year after year, baking in direct sunlight. A wooden deck will fade and split in the same sun. Composite decking is made to be UV resistant. The colors will not fade. Your deck will be as pretty in year 10 as it was when it was new.

    Being able to withstand summer heat, hail and thunderstorms, are more reasons to consider purchasing composite decking instead of traditional wood options. Since composite deck boards are mainly plastic, they are virtually weatherproof. Summer can rage on, bringing her afternoon thunderstorms and golf-ball sized hail. Your deck can handle it.

    Today’s composite boards have come a long way from the first ones that were brittle and ugly. Now, a deck can have a variety of color and pattern options. The composite looks so much like wood that it is very hard to tell the difference. The materials used to make the composite are designed to last for generations.

    Composite is easier to maintain than wood. No more staining and sealing every two years. The composite deck only needs to be washed occasionally to keep away dirt and mold. Specialty spacers ensure that the deck has proper spacing between boards for contraction and expansion. This way, boards will not crack or peel when the weather goes from hot to cold. The spacers also allow air flow so that the composite does not gather water, which could rot the wooden foundation of the deck.

    With guarantees of 10, 15, and even 20 years, composite decks are worth the extra money it will cost to build them initially. The lower maintenance will balance out that cost in just a few seasons. Add to that the time that you will save not having to strip, seal or repaint your deck, and composite seems to be the obvious winner.

    Whether you live in Ann Arbor MI or Austin TX, decks made from composite materials will hold up better and last longer than traditional wooden decks. They will get hotter than wood, so beware when choosing your colors. A dark deck will get hotter than the lighter colored options. Maybe this will not be such a factor in cooler climates like Ann Arbor MI, but it will definitely be something to consider if you live in a hot state like Texas.

    Before you begin tearing out and replacing rotted wood, consider composite materials. Your deck (and your back) will thank you.

  10. Long exposure of a backyard waterfall and pond surrounded by green foliage.With summer in full swing, consumers in Ann Arbor MI and elsewhere in the northeast United States are looking for fun and attractive ways to update their yards. From a variety of flowers to a brand new pond and more, the options are endless. An Ann Arbor outdoor water feature is also a great addition to any home garden.

    The Joys of Outdoor Water Features

    Fountains and other features can bring a garden to life. Whether you have a small garden or a huge yard, your guests will find your water fountains attractive and peaceful.

    Some of the many benefits of water features include:

    • Enjoyment – Both your family and your guests will enjoy sitting by your water feature during the spring and summer months.
    • Attractiveness – The water feature will make your yard more attractive.
    • Home Value Increase – From a practical standpoint, a water feature like a fountain or pond can help significantly increase the value of your home.

    Water features are especially popular in Ann Arbor MI because residents spend much of their time outdoors with family and friends.

    Is Summer the Right Time to Install a New Water Feature?

    There are many things to consider when purchasing a water feature, and time of installation should be at the top of your list.

    In Michigan, as in other parts of the country, water utility bills can often increase during the summer months. This is often caused by residents who use too much water to maintain their lawns and other parts of their yards. Proper water usage management can help lower utility bills, if necessary.

    The summer and spring months are still the best time to install and use water features. To avoid costly water bills, simply turn off the water features if your family and friends aren’t there to enjoy them.

    The following basic tips will help you reduce your water bill while still being able to enjoy your outdoor water feature:

    • Reduce the amount of time your family spends in the shower.
    • Use less water when washing your dishes.
    • Turn on your sprinklers at night only and for shorter periods of time.

    What Type of Water Feature Should I Invest in?

    There are many different water features that consumers can choose from:

    • Garden Fountains
    • Ponds
    • Bird Baths
    • Waterfalls
    • Water Feature Combinations

    The type you choose will likely depend on the amount of room you have for your feature and the amount of money you want to spend. For larger and more intricate features, you might have to alter a portion of your yard first.

    Many consumers choose to go with a waterfall and pond combination for their backyards, while others prefer simplicity with a bird bath or fountain. When choosing a water feature in Ann Arbor, MI, it’s important to consult with a professional about which water feature is best for you, and to have someone install the feature for you.