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 In-ground pools can also age gracefully and may begin to look outdated, but that does not mean you have to replace the entire setup.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!

Preparing Your Outdoor Kitchen for Winter

Preparing Your Outdoor Kitchen for Winter

 

Whether you enjoy entertaining friends and family during the summer or winter months, or both, having an outdoor kitchen is a great feature to have. It provides a relaxing space to read a book, have conversations with the ones you love, or to just enjoy Mother Nature. However, as winter approaches, you need to make sure your outdoor kitchen is prepared for the colder temperatures. If you do not winterize your outdoor kitchen, expensive repairs might be in your future. The following guidelines will help make sure your outdoor kitchen and appliances will be ready to use when warmer temperatures return.

Take Care of Your Plumbing

Make sure you remove any water that is in the pipes and plumbing system. This can result in major problems, for when it begins to freeze outside, the water can also freeze which can cause the pipes to burst. If the pipes burst, you could end up with huge plumbing bills and flooding, making it unable for you to use your outdoor kitchen.

In order to clear your pipes, you will need to shut off all water supply lines going to the kitchen from the indoor plumbing system. Be sure to shut it off using a valve that is inside your house. This way the water does not rest in outdoor pipes.

When you have shut off the water, start draining the lines. Be sure you do not forget about water supply lines that are connected to refrigerators, ice makers, and sinks. The best way to clear water from lines is by using compressed carbon dioxide.

The last step is to make sure all of the drain valves are left open during winter. This will ensure that water does not remain in the pipes, which will also save you from expensive repairs.

Prepare Your Grill

Even if you plan on using your grill during the winter, it is a good idea to do a deep cleaning to make sure it is in good working condition for the summer. The following steps are a good guideline to follow when cleaning your grill.

  • Use a degreaser to get rid of the grease that has built up
  • Use a stainless steel polish to polish the grill
  • Scrub areas that are still dirty with a metal grill brush
  • Remove the grates and clean underneath the grill
  • Season the cooking surfaces using vegetable oil to the grates. Heat the grill to 500F for 20 minutes
  • If you are not using your grill during the winter, be sure to turn off the gas line

Depending on the quality of your grill and the materials it is made out of, you may not have to use a cover. However, if you do use a cover, make sure you use one that is made for your type of grill that allows moisture to get out.

Cover or Seal if Needed

If you want to prevent wear, cracks, and stains due to cold temperatures and wet weather, then you might want to think about covering your appliances. However, keep in mind that covering surfaces and appliances allows for moisture to get confined under the cover and can cause more damage than if they were not covered. One tip is to call the manufacturer of the appliances to see how to best protect them.

Another way to protect surfaces from wear is to apply sealers and finishers. Make sure you have also taken everything out of cabinets and they are clear of dirt and debris. Use oil on wood cabinets and surfaces and a coat of stainless steel finish on stainless steel appliances. If you have stone countertops, be aware that weather can wear them down over time. You should buy sealers that are made specifically for stone to prevent any damage.

Winterize the Refrigerator and Ice Maker

The first thing you should do is turn the power off to both the refrigerator and ice maker. The water should already be shut off and the water lines running to the machines should be drained. Once you have done these, either unplug the refrigerator and ice maker or turn off their circuits in your home’s electrical panel. Afterwards, clean each one by following these steps:

  • Clean out the ice maker’s storage bin and close the drain valve
  • Take everything out of the refrigerator and clean it with soap and water
  • Remove the front grill of each one and vacuum them out. When done, put the grills back on each one
  • Do not cover either one, as this can contribute to a buildup of moisture which can damage the unit

Prepare Your Fire Pit

The first step to get your fire pit ready is to get rid of any debris, ash, and wood that may have gathered in the fire pit during the summer months. If your fire pit is ran by gas, be sure to turn off the supply. You may want to consider covering it with a cover that is weather resistant to keep out snow, leaves, and animals.

By taking the right precautions, you can be sure that your outdoor kitchen will be ready to go when summer comes back around. If you are in the beginning stages of thinking about designing an outdoor kitchen and have questions, please contact Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls so we can help answer those questions and discuss the many options you can choose from.

How to Clean and Protect Your Stonework This Fall and Winter

How to Clean and Protect Your Stonework This Fall and Winter

 

Stone structures such as retaining walls and outdoor living spaces are extremely durable, long lasting investments. However, like most things around your house, stonework needs a little bit of maintenance if you want to keep it in the best condition. What you specifically need to watch out for is any degradation to your stonework that could be caused by the changes that Winter and Fall bring. With that in mind, you’ll need to know how to properly protect and clean your stonework as we enter into that season.

Protect Your Stonework by Removing Leaves and Debris

Trees around stonework can create a beautiful effect. However, if leaves, twigs, and branches are left on stone for too long you could find more than just an aesthetic problem come Springtime. If you leave organic matter on stonework, a couple of potential problems can arise. As the leaves begin to decay, mold and mildew form, which can lead to moisture and dirt getting trapped in the mortar or staining the stonework itself. Moisture will work its way into the mortar and won’t be able to escape if heavy amounts of leaves remain on the stonework. The next time a freeze hits, that moisture will expand in the mortar and could lead to structural problems with your stonework patio or retaining wall.

Clean Your Stonework to Ensure That They Last

After you have removed any organic material that might have fallen onto your stonework, it’s time to clean. Cleaning stonework requires time, patience, and proper knowledge of how to do it safely. Improper cleaning can lead to aesthetic and structural problems with your stonework. Following industry guidelines is recommended.

Stonework Cleaning Process:

  • First you are going to inspect your stonework for damage. If there is substantial damage to either stonework or mortar, consider calling an expert before attempting a repair or cleaning the area. Improper cleaning of deterioration or cracks can lead to further issues with your stonework. Avoid cleaning structural damage if you aren’t an expert.
  • Begin cleaning with water in a small inconspicuous spot. If this cleaning is to your satisfaction continue onto larger areas.
  • Only use gentle water pressure when cleaning stone or mortar. Pressure washing can remove mortar easily. Only use a pressure washer on a low setting while constantly moving the nozzle.
  • If cleaning with water alone is not enough, you can add a mild detergent to a water mixture. Additionally, use a soft nylon brush to spot clean trouble areas, such as discoloration or encrustation formations.
  • If you are still not satisfied with your cleaning progress, there are specific chemicals and abrasive cleaners for stonework available. Please use caution and consider calling an expert if this step becomes necessary.

If you have followed these steps and feel that your stonework could use expert care, look to Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls. Hiring a professional can save you time and money in the long run. Stonework maintenance is often something homeowners can take care of themselves, but if you ever feel you could be doing more harm than good, it’s time to call Fritz Stonework and Retaining Walls. Call 636-861-1530 for service in the greater St. Louis area or learn more about Fritz Stonework here.

Retaining Wall Ideas

Retaining Wall Ideas

 

When it comes to landscaping, what comes to mind? Do you think of a beautiful garden full of bushes, flowers, concrete statues, and a small coy pond? All of those are great ideas to make your home look appealing. However, did you ever think about retaining walls? That’s probably the last thing you would ever think about, but they are a very important part of your garden. Retaining walls help keep your garden looking gorgeous by providing strength, preventing erosion, controlling rainwater runoff, and creating terraced levels for your garden beds.

Retaining walls can also make your property look effortlessly stylish no matter what style you choose. Therefore, it is a good thing there are so many options to choose from that can fit your budget and taste!

Concrete Retaining Walls

  • White concrete creates a classic look and can make your green grass stand out. It is a simple choice but it is also elegant and would look great with a color scheme of neutrals, blues, and greens.
  • Smooth concrete is a more modern choice and will give your home the edge you are looking for. It also creates a blank canvas so you can add as much greenery or flowers that you would like to, making your own garden sanctuary.
  • Shotcrete rock face is simply used to describe sprayed concrete. Shotcrete rock face come in a multitude of colors ranging from standard grey to warm sandstone or clay colors that create a natural rock look.
  • Concrete blocks is a bold choice when you need a strong solution. Concrete blocks prevent erosion on large properties; however, this can look unsightly so include levels and greenery to prevent this from happening.

Stone Retaining Walls

  • Cut stone provides you with the opportunity to incorporate different types of stones to suit your taste. They are also last a long time so you do not have to worry about updating often.
  • Round rocks add texture and shapes to your garden or backyard. They provide support to your steps, garden beds, and other features around your house.
  • Sandstone is a good choice if you are wanting a more formal retaining wall. This is a classic choice that is not only practical but also serves as a feature piece wherever you use it.
  • Grey blocks are a practical solution and can make a lasting impression. Use grey stone blocks to create steps leading up to your front door and you’ll create an impressive sight.
  • Large blocks create a bold statement by using large, rough unstructured rocks. This natural look will easily blend in with your outdoor environment.
  • Stone veneer is a great choice when you are on a budget and looking to create something more luxurious. This type of retaining wall uses stone placed over the top of other foundational materials such as brick.

Timber Retaining Walls

  • Timber gives a nice, sleek look; however, if you’re looking for longevity then it might not be the choice for you. Naturally durable types of hardwood timber include tallow wood, ironbark, grey gum and forest red gum. These types of hardwood timber are naturally resistant to termites and can last up to 25 years.
  • Timber sleepers are a rustic type of retaining wall. You will want to use older pieces of timber that has been treated or timber that has been stained or sanded to add character. It is a great choice for any home but especially for a country-style home.

Brick Retaining Walls

  • White brick allows for you to add a little detail but still keep your color palette simple yet tasteful.
  • Red brick is a classic choice and when adding white grout, you really make the bricks stand out. This will look great in any area of your home and can easily be complimented with greenery for a remarkable look.

Retaining walls play an important part in the landscape of your yard. There are many options to choose from and it can become overwhelming. Let the experts at Fritz Stonework & Retaining Walls help you decide which option is best for you and which one suits your style. Call us today to learn more about our retaining wall services and how we can help you.

Hard Truths about Retaining Walls

Hard Truths about Retaining Walls

You are looking at your home in all its homeliness and just think to yourself, “This house is the best house in the world, and nothing can possibly destroy it.”

Well, not so fast. There is a secret menace that lurks in the wind and water that is plotting to destroy your home.

This villain’s name? Soil erosion, and it can wipe your home off the face of the earth in a matter of minutes.

But how does soil erosion work its horrible magic? When torrential rain comes falling, it lands on the ground, right? Well, when there is a slope in your yard, that water goes down that slope, taking soil along with it, which can cause your abode to be flooded with water, causing thousands in damage to your home.

But do not fear, as there are many things you can do to keep your house safe. One of the most effective of these is the use of a retaining wall to keep that soil from being swept away.

But what is a retaining wall? Think of a retaining wall as a sort of dam for soil that keeps it where you want it to be. Most of the time, they are used to prevent water from sweeping soil and nutrients down a slope and careening towards your house, causing severe damage to your home. Essentially, they are a simple way to prevent flash flooding that can wreak havoc on your house.

They can be made of just about anything that is strong enough to keep soil at bay, so anything from simple bricks to large rocks is fair game to make a retaining wall with.

But retaining walls do not just keep soil from moving. A good retaining wall needs to satisfy the following requirements:

It can hold soil in place

It can drain away water and channel it properly

If your retaining wall satisfies both, your defenses are nice and strong, and you can rest assured that your house is safe. They can also serve a decorative purpose as they can be used to create multiple terraces on which you can grow a garden to give yourself another layer of protection. If you are still anxious after using these techniques, you can use other methods like natural barriers to keep water away from your home.

So, retaining walls do sound like a good idea, but should you build your own retaining walls? It can be done given the right amount of time and lots of research, but you should seriously consider what is at stake: your own home. An improperly built retaining wall can make the problem worse than it already is and lead to severe damage, particularly to your basement and foundation.

It is a much better idea to enlist the services of a respectable contractor like Fritz Stoneworks. Contact them at 636-861-1530 to enlist their services to help you keep your home safe from soil erosion and its horrific effects.