How to Maximize Your Outdoor Living Space

How to Maximize Your Outdoor Living Space

As you look out your back door, what do you see? Do you see space that has been cluttered with various items? Or do you see an empty yard that could benefit from some kind of landscape and décor? Whatever it may be, every backyard has great potential to be grand and a place you can be proud of. You can make your outdoor living space a place to entertain or simply a place for you to relax after a long day. The following examples are ways that you can improve your backyard to create your own outdoor oasis.

Install Lighting

Adding lighting, such as candlelit scones, to your backyard can create a lovely glow to your peaceful nights or dinner parties. Another type of lighting you could add is solar lights around your garden, which requires little maintenance but offers maximum impact.

Design Different Living Areas

When you have separate areas to eat and relax, you are providing your guests with comfortability. Using outdoor rugs and lighting will make segments around your yard that invites your guests to sit and stay awhile. Another way to define these areas is to add outdoor furniture.

Fire Pits

A fire pit can be useful all year round. It is ideal for those lazy summer nights where can roast hot dogs and make smores. During the winter, you can wrap up in a warm blanket, drink hot chocolate, and read a book without getting cold. No matter what the season, a fire pit will help you make memories and have fun.

Plotted Plants and Herbs

Plants and herbs can spruce up any yard very easily. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they can also provide a wonderful fragrance while you are enjoying the outdoors.

Install a Flagstone Patio

Flagstone patios allow you to have more living space. They provide a very natural, organic look because of their shape and earthy tones. Flagstone patios are also durable and last for years.

Install a Fountain

Fountains are always a beautiful sight to see and provide relaxation from the sound of the flowing water. They add to the ambiance of your oasis and come in a variety of shapes and styles to fit your needs and the theme of your patio.

Add Rugs and Pillows

Rugs and pillows provide a sense of comfort. They are an inexpensive way to dress up your patio furniture and outdoor space all the while adding color to increase the atmosphere.

Install Alternative Seating

Besides chairs and sofas, hammocks are another great seating option for you and your guests. It is a great place to spend time taking a nap or reading a great book. If you do not have a tree to hang it from, you can find hammock stands that work anywhere.

Add Décor

Adding décor to anything is a way to express who you are. It also helps your guests feel at home. Consider hanging something on the columns of your patio or on a wall. You could also add statues, sculptures, or trellises, as well as filled vases to sit on tables.

You don’t need to have acres of outdoor living space in order to have a place you can relax and enjoy your friends and family’s company. It’s all about what makes you feel at peace and having a place you are proud to call your own where you can build memories. Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls wants to help you achieve that goal. There are many other options you can add to your backyard in order to maximize it. Call us today at (636) 861-1530 so we can discuss those options and choose what best suits your needs.

Ideas to Improve Your Pool Area

Ideas to Improve Your Pool Area

Having a pool in your backyard can feel luxurious and relaxing. It allows you to enjoy time with your family and friends while making unforgettable memories. However, you need to focus more than just on the pool itself. The area around your pool gives you the opportunity to design an oasis, giving you a place where you can relax and make the most out of your summer. In-ground pools can also age gracefully and may begin to look outdated, but that does not mean you have to replace the entire setup. Whether you have a brand-new pool or one that you have been enjoying for years, there are landscape features that you can add to your backyard to make the most out of your pool area.

Cabana or Pool House

Having pool items spread out on your lawn can look displeasing and messy. It can be a sight for sore eyes, and no one appreciates that. You need a space to store your pool toys, chemicals, and other items. Building a pool house or cabana can provide you with the perfect storage to keep it close by. A pool house or cabana could also be used as a guest house or include a kitchen to keep snacks and drinks by the poolside.

Shade Features

Spending time by the pool can be relaxing, but sometimes you need a break from the hot sun. Adding a shade structure can provide you with a cool place to relax while you still enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Examples of shade structures include a covered patio area, strategically placed umbrellas, or pergolas, which can also be used to introduce some greenery to your backyard.

Water Features

Adding water features can add fun and variety to your pool area. If you are wanting to go grandiose and add a luxury experience, installing a spa would be the way to go. If you are wanting something more low-key, consider installing a fountain that will add gentle sounds and make your summer evenings more relaxing.

Outdoor Kitchen

Hosting pool parties is a great way to get to know your children’s friends and parents, along with making great memories with family. Installing an outdoor kitchen would be the ideal complement to your pool. It has most of the same features that the kitchen inside your house has, allowing you to do all of your meal prep and cooking, all while engaging with your guests.

Privacy Plants

Most people enjoy their privacy, especially when they are at home and enjoying their pool. There are a few ways of making sure you get the privacy you want. One of those ways is to add a fence, but you can also create a natural barrier that will enrich the oasis feel you want for your pool. Natural barriers, such as bushes and dense plants, add greenery to the area and gives you the privacy you are looking for. Make sure you hire a landscaper to guarantee that plants are positioned far enough away from the pool to decrease dead leaves and other debris from landing in the pool.

A pool in your backyard is the perfect way to relax and cool off during hot summer days. Adding landscape features can also allow you to enjoy your pool, as well as enhance the environment around it. At Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls, we can help create that special oasis that you will want to enjoy all summer long. Call us today at (636) 861-1530 so we can start making your vision come to life.

Light Up the Night (and Your Landscape)

Light Up the Night (and Your Landscape)

Light has always perplexed and inspired humankind from the days of only starlight and campfires to modern electrical marvels. The beauty of light is unparalleled, and before electricity it was quite difficult to sustain lighting in homes or outdoors without a significant risk of fire. However, electricity creates a safe way to make your landscape beautiful in the dark without bringing the heat.

Your landscape is incredibly elegant in the daytime, so why not bring out the suave and glowing beauty of nighttime lighting to your masterfully designed soft and hardscapes? Lighting can turn your nighttime landscape into something from a dream- you may even have dreams about lighting after seeing the results!

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is far better for your wallet than it used to be, and far better for the planet too! With waterproof, motion-sensing, solar-powered, and LED options in all styles and colors, there’s no stopping you from achieving the nightscape of your dreams! Installing outdoor lighting doesn’t have to be hard, and there are even options that don’t require wiring or battery changes but rather rely on the sun!

Outdoor lighting lets you stay outside for longer in the Summer and soak in the fresh night air without being drowned in darkness, and while you’re probably not likely to go outside at night much during the winter, you can still appreciate the beauty of your winter landscape and watch the lights dance on the glittering frost and snow of the colder months.

Seasonal Options

When it comes to looking for outdoor lighting for your home, the options are limitless, and the possibilities are only limited to your creativity. This flexibility can come in handy especially if you are a fan of decorating for the holiday season! Many LED lights (the most energy efficient) come in a wide array of colors, and some can even change colors at the push of a button! Holiday decorations have never been so easy!

Come to the Bright Side

Curb appeal is something that many home and business owners are constantly trying to improve. Simply put, curb appeal is how aesthetic your property is at first glance, this is especially important for selling or appraising your home or encouraging customers to visit your business as well as giving you the reputation as the neighbors with the nice house. You can build curb appeal by improving your home and property through a number of ways including landscaping and lighting.

Most homes and businesses do not have much in the way of nighttime curb appeal, but by installing outdoor lighting in a well-planned way, your property can look great at any time of the day making it the talk of the town in the best of ways! You love your property, let that shine by installing outdoor lighting!

Final Thoughts

Outdoor lighting is elegant and beautiful when planned and installed responsibly! The installation of outdoor lighting can show everyone how much you value your property, and this is a very important aspect of building curb appeal! If you need help creating a beautiful landscape or planning energy-efficient and beautiful outdoor lighting, contact Fritz Stonework & Retaining Walls today!

Effects of Moisture on Stonework

Effects of Moisture on Stonework

 

For some people, the fall and winter seasons are a nice welcoming change to the hot summer temperatures. However, what comes along with fall and winter is weather that includes moisture, such as rain and snow. For as long as structures have been in existence, moisture has been the main cause for its deterioration. Moisture in all forms affect how well the building materials function.

The way masonry systems are designed should prevent the intrusion of moisture into the building’s interior. It should also keep the building’s structural components safe. If there is any structural break, then your building could be compromised. Masonry units that are made poorly are among the most common failure points. These include mortar joints, hairline cracks, parapet, and door and window details. Water can also come through by vapor condensation and can enter the structure as a result of poor work. The lack of proper drainage can exacerbate the impact of any type of moisture that makes its way through; therefore, creating major damage to the building.

Structural Problems

When unwelcome moisture seeps through, masonry units and mortar can crack. Thermal expansion can be a result when water gets into brick, concrete, and natural stone. Thermal expansion can cause the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off. This is also known as spalling, which is caused by too much moisture in the masonry that puts pressure outward. Spalling can ultimately result in large sections of the masonry to crumble and fall off, which will lead to structural damage.

Too much moisture cam also result in the wall rotting, which is very unaesthetic and an unhealthy condition. The insulation can also disintegrate along with staining of the interior finishes. Other effects may include the deterioration and/or corrosion of the wood/steel backup studs, cladding, ties and reinforcements. If this is left unattended to, the excess water can cause an increase and spread of additional structural degradation and complete structural failure.

Aesthetic Degradation

When there is excess moisture seeping through the masonry, efflorescence is a main problem. Efflorescence is a white, powdery, crystalline deposit that forms on the surfaces of masonry, stucco, and concrete. Efflorescence is caused when salt within the masonry unit itself has been dissolved due to too much moisture and has made its way to the surface of a porous material. It then forms the white, powdery, crystalline deposit as the water evaporates.

In order for efflorescence to happen, three problems must be present.

  • There has to be water-soluble salts somewhere in the wall
  • There must be enough moisture in the wall to render the salts into a soluble solution
  • There must be a way for the soluble salts to move their way through to the surface so the moisture can evaporate, getting rid of the salts so they can crystallize causing efflorescence

Just because sulfates may be present in a masonry wall, it does not mean efflorescence will occur. The sulfates must be dissolved by water in order for it to happy. If there is no moisture then the sulfates will not find their way to the surface. However, there are certain conditions that will aggravate the possible creation of efflorescence. For example, if a block is exposed to cold, rainy weather during storage or if the structure has been poorly designed in regards to drainage and moisture control, then efflorescence is more likely to occur.

Health and Safety

Too much moisture can cause bacteria to grow which can create new odors or worsen current ones. The effects of growing bacteria can cause existing conditions to become worse, such as asthma and allergies. These bacteria have also been known to cause cancer and birth defects.

Managing moisture is a top priority when designing and building, especially here at Fritz Stonework & Retaining Walls. It is important to us that you and your family are safe from any potential harm. We work hard to make sure your masonry is up-to-par and lasts for many years to come. Contact us to today at (631) 861-1530 so we can help you create your masterpiece.

Clayton Masonry: Different Stone Masonry Techniques

Clayton Masonry: Different Stone Masonry Techniques

Have you ever asked yourself what exactly is stone masonry and if it is something you would want to add to your outdoor living space? Stone masonry is described as the shaping of rough pieces of rock into accurate geometrical shapes and then arranging the results together using mortar to form structures. This technique dates back thousands of years and uses basic tools such as a metal straight edge, mallet, and chisels.

There are a variety of different techniques that are used in stone masonry. These techniques have advanced along with changes in the way people live and the modernization in construction.

Traditional Dry-Stack

With the dry-stack technique, walls are layered up with stone without mortar joints. Gravity is what holds everything together. Dry-stacking involves little expense except for the labor. The standing stone wall is usually made large at the bottom and becomes thinner as it gets higher.

Advantages
– Attractive, strong, and can last hundreds of years
– Shows traditional character
– Environment-friendly
– Can be re-used multiple times
– Unlike a brick wall, the life of the stone structure is long-lasting

Disadvantages
– The cost of labor is high and the construction is slow and costly
– An improper structure can lead to the collapse of the property
– Not a good fit for high walls or buildings

 

Traditional Mortared Stone Technique

In this technique, the foundation of the wall must be solid so the joints do not crack easily. To make sure the joints do not crack easily, a paste made of lime and water is used which helps bond the materials together.

Advantages
– Concrete block is more resistant to weather, pest, molds, and fire
– Materials for concrete blocks is locally available
– Concrete blocks are good insulation against heat, sound, and moisture

Disadvantages
– Due to their weight, concrete blocks are hard to handle and involve more workforce
– A large quantity of steel is needed to reinforce cement concrete structures
– The issues of plumbing in concrete masonry structures are difficult to solve

 

Modern Veneered Stone Technique

Most stonework these days consists of a non-structural veneer stone against a structural wall of the concrete block. Concrete mortar includes Portland cement mixed with sand, gravel, and water. When using the veneered stone technique, the large particles of gravel are interlocked like little finger to make the concrete long-lasting.

Advantages
– Less expensive
– Longer life when installed correctly
– Provides natural beauty on the exterior of your home
– Perfect for walls that do not need extra support
– Lightweight
– Come in larger panels which allows for easier installation in a shorter amount of time
– Low maintenance
– Can be used on different surfaces such as stone, metal, and wood

Disadvantages
– Allows moisture to come through the joints which can cause mold issues
– Incorrect installation could lead to breaking and chipping
– Abrasive cleaning material can damage the surface

 

Slipform Stone Technique

This technique is known as a cross between the traditional mortar stone wall and a veneer stone wall. Natural stones are used and placed inside the forms with the presentable side faces against the formwork. The concrete is then poured behind the rocks.

Advantages
– Decreases the use of building cranes
– There is less use of accessories such as scaffolding, support bars, and platforms

Disadvantages
– Involves high costs in the beginning stages
– Highly skilled experts and hi-tech equipment are needed

 

Framed-One Side Stone Technique

Framed-one sided stonemasonry is more obvious on building with stone on the outside and the framed wall on the inside. Half the formwork is done when the interior frame is built first. This type of stonework is a traditional way of masonry and creates strong, beautiful walls that are built with the strength of the stone, reinforcement of concrete and steel.

Advantages
– Less time taken in the construction than with other techniques
– Comparatively lesser costs involved in workforce and materials
– Strong and good-looking walls that are built with masonry stones

Disadvantages
– Causes lateral deflections
– The span length is much less

 

Tilt-Up Stone Technique

This technique is done by pouring stone walls flat on the ground and then setting them in place using a crane. Stone, sand, gravel, and rock materials are used for the tilt-up stone technique.

Advantages
– More economic than cast-in walls mason stones
– Hazards are much less
– Faster and safer installation

Disadvantages
– Can’t be used for complex building wall
– Lack of versatility

There are all types of techniques that can be used in stone masonry. Choosing the right technique for your needs may be overwhelming and confusing. Contact us at Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls today so we can help you create a masterpiece that you will enjoy for years to come.