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As a Western Springs, IL, homeowner who may be considering adding outdoor lighting to your landscape, give thought to whether all of it should be done with LED lights. In contrast to a traditional light bulb that uses a heated filament to emit light, an LED (which stands for light emitting diode) light emits light when an electrical current passes through it. Aside from the financial savings of lowered electricity usage, there are many advantages of LED lighting that make it an excellent choice.
Lifespan and Efficiency
Compared to traditional lighting choices that may only give you about 1,000 hours of light, LED lights can last almost four times as long. Another plus: LED lighting does not lose its brightness as its lifespan wanes. This means that you’ll hardly ever have to worry about the need to replace the lights, and you will be buying fewer lights and saving money.
Because LED lights require significantly less power than traditional landscape lights, they can save you anywhere from 70%-85% on exterior lighting. Energy savings is always a plus!
Related: 4 Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Every Season in Burr Ridge, IL
LED lights are environmentally friendly as their materials are recyclable. Traditional halogen and incandescent bulbs become hot to the touch the longer they burn, while LED lights are cool after hours of burning. This can be a potentially huge advantage to families with small children who might accidentally be compelled to touch a hot light.
Another plus to LED lights: They produce almost no emissions, so they do not have negative environmental effects.
Truer Light Color
When you entertain outside on your patio or outdoor living area, you want lighting that is clear and not harsh or yellow. Sometimes halogen spotlights and regular bulbs give off a yellowish light that makes your outdoor area difficult to navigate even when the lights are on. LED lights, on the other hand, tend to emit a truer, clearer illumination, making the pathways and outdoor areas easier to travel. When you and your guests are walking back and forth for food and drinks, you don’t want insufficient lighting to be a hindrance.
Anything that can be done with traditional lighting can be done with LED lights. Very small lights can be placed at
intervals along a sidewalk to produce a clearly lighted path for your visitors. Grouped together, LED lights can be focused for more impact. They can even be strung like twinkly lights to give a romantic feel to your outdoor space. Add a dimming feature and you can control the amount of light easily. Keep them dim when hosting an intimate dinner, and turn them up for a child’s birthday party.
Related: 4 Tips for Lighting your Outdoor Kitchen and Dining Area in Lisle, IL
Along with lower energy costs, LED lights can provide adaptive lighting for your Western Springs, IL, home, meaning that they can be programmed to provide light at the peak times that you need it. Time sensors can be operated from the internet or even from your smartphone. LED lighting can operate with motion sensors, turning on when there is motion nearby to deter unwanted visitors or intruders.
If outdoor LED lighting has piqued your interest, contact a landscape lighting expert to help you design the best lighting solution for your landscape.
Retaining walls have been relied upon for centuries to tame sloped landscapes and make them more livable. Unfortunately, there are various opposing forces that act on a retaining wall and, as a result, these structures, when not installed properly, are prone to failure and settlement. Experts recommend hiring a professional contractor to handle the construction of your retaining walls to ensure that they are finished properly right off the bat and won’t require costly repairs later on. However, it still pays off to know how retaining walls should be built as this enables you to keep a close eye on your project, ask the right questions, and receive a high-quality product. Read on for a few guidelines regarding the construction of a retaining wall in St. Charles, IL:
Pick the Right Blocks
Solid blocks are heavy, while hollow blocks are lighter and easier to work with. However, hollow blocks cannot be split or cut, as this would expose their internal voids. Solid blocks, on the other hand, can be split and cut to achieve a range of visual effects and ensure a tight fit. While lighter blocks are easier to cart around, some require individual backfilling, which increases the work of installation by a great deal. Some blocks are designed to facilitate the placement of pins between them which leads to a stronger, reinforced wall but is not always necessary. Clearly, there are pros and cons to each type of wall unit and putting careful thought into which blocks are best suited to your particular retaining wall will go a long way in producing a strong and stunning project.
Related: 3 Stunning Features to Incorporate into your Retaining Wall in Downers Grove, IL
Ensure the Blocks Are Prepared Properly
If you’ve opted for solid concrete blocks, some of them will most likely require cutting to accommodate the design of the wall. Precision cutting goes a long way in ensuring a polished finished product. The blocks should ideally be marked with soapstone, which washes away in the rain and does not stain. However, soapstone does not work well in the wet and should, therefore, only be used when cutting dry. Cutting dry produces plenty of dust; however, utilizing water can create a slurry that stains some materials. The method used to achieve a smooth and precise cut will depend entirely on the site and whether the spreading of dust throughout the area is feasible or not.
Related: Why Retaining Walls Are a Must for Your Sloped Downers Grove, IL, Yard
Designate a Spacious and Level Trench
The trench should provide eight additional inches of space behind and beneath a single course of blocks to accommodate the base material and backfill. Compacting the soil inside the trench will prevent settlement and will enable the wall to remain firm despite nearby disturbances to the soil. A perfectly even layer of base material is essential to ensure a stable wall that can withstand freeze-thaw cycles. Crushed stone is an ideal base material because it optimizes drainage and bears sharp angles that form strong interlocking bonds.
Understand the Base Matters Most
Any irregularities in the first two courses, or the base layers of the retaining wall, will only snowball as construction progresses, resulting in a terribly uneven finished product that lacks structural integrity. The first course should, therefore, be perfectly level. Is it also important that the surface is swept thoroughly before laying the second course, as the smallest stone can alter the alignment of the entire wall.
Do you feel like your outdoor fireplace in Downers Grove, IL, isn’t quite homey enough? Perhaps it does complement your other hardscape features and looks out of place. The right furniture can transform your outdoor living space and give you more use out of your landscape investments through added comfort and functionality. A spacious table gathers families, while a cozy armchair serves as an inviting reading nook. Here are a few tips for surrounding your outdoor fireplace with the right patio furniture:
Related: 5 Tips for Updating Your Outdoor Fireplace in Wheaton, IL
What’s the Point?
Before you can begin contemplating the color and aesthetic theme of your furniture arrangement, you must clarify what the purpose of this furniture—and the outdoor room as a whole—will be. Do you desire a fireside dining area to take your al fresco experiences to the next level? Do you dream of a private getaway for one, where you can escape into a good book? Perhaps you’d like to create an intimate family gathering area where you can check in with your spouse and kids after a long day. Know what time of day this part of your patio will be frequented most and for what reason. Only then can you begin to look for furniture that will suit your needs.
A white-painted or stucco fireplace with a tapering design toward the top will give your patio an exotic Mediterranean look and feel. Echo this aesthetic theme in your furniture selection. Opt for warm red-toned wood and white upholstery. This color pair can be complemented by any amount of surrounding greenery. In fact, plenty of large-leafed plants will enhance the exotic atmosphere building around the fireplace. Nestle leafy plants into large terracotta pots or plant them at the patio perimeter.
Related: Choosing the Perfect Material for Your Outdoor Fireplace in Geneva, IL
Old World Elegance
A towering stacked stone fireplace with decades of weathering etched into its frame (either naturally or artificially) is the perfect centerpiece to a landscape made of classic features. These fireplaces are best paired with wicker furniture and simple, understated cushions. Fortunately, wicker furniture doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and can withstand a great deal of environmental stress. Similarly low-maintenance furniture options include metal, cedar, and teak pieces. Opting for low-maintenance furniture will allow you to enjoy your outdoor living space more without worrying about its repair or replacement.
Related: Style Your Outdoor Fireplace with a Beautiful Stacked Stone Look in Burr Ridge, IL
Sleek linear fireplaces and fire tables are distinctly contemporary, especially when comprised of smooth refined materials. A rectangular fireplace constructed using poured concrete is a good example of such a fireplace. These fireplaces are best paired with low sofas and chairs in boxy, geometric shapes. A continuous L-shaped sofa can partially enclose a fire pit, while sporting a sleek wooden base and striking, black seat cushions. A collection of black, white, grays, and nude shades will always correspond well to produce a textbook contemporary color palette. As you become more confident in your choices, you can feel free to add pops of color in strategic places. Anchor your modern furniture arrangement with an outdoor rug that is just as soft and luxurious as an indoor variant. This will boost the luxurious look and feel of the outdoor room while complementing the warm, cozy atmosphere created by the roaring outdoor fireplace.
While most of us like our neighbors, there are times when quiet and privacy are exactly what we crave when we go outside to relax. Smaller lot sizes often mean living close to other people, which sometimes translates into seeing your neighbors’ trashcan or overhearing their conversations, among other things. If it’s time to increase your privacy in your Lisle, IL, yard, consider the following landscape design ideas.
Plant a Living Screen
A living screen can accomplish providing more privacy to your front or back yard, and it can muffle many of the sounds from the road and neighbors. A primary consideration is the size of a plant when it matures—you don’t want to use a Leyland Cypress tree right next to your deck because it will grow to such a large, overwhelming size. Think about layering plants—choose tall shrubs that will be closest to your yard boundary or deck, and then add another layer in front that will grow to half the size of those shrubs. In this way, you create a pretty, natural screen of plants that adds beauty and privacy to your yard.
Related: 5 Pergola Design Tips to Enhance Your Western Springs, IL, Landscape
A row of large planters filled with small trees or tall leafy shrubs can also section off a part of the landscape in the front or back yard to provide a spot to sit outside on a nice evening. A landscape professional can help you pick the right plants for screening your unique space.
Build a Two-Sided Fence
Sometimes a fence can make your yard feel too enclosed, particularly if it is not large to begin with. A two-sided fence can solve the privacy problem without feeling claustrophobic. This way you still catch the breeze and fresh air, but that corner can become your little oasis. Illuminate some nearby trees with twinkle lights, and nestle some outdoor chairs and pillows in the space to create a quiet spot to read or enjoy a favorite drink.
Use Lattice for a Wall
Lattice can be used in many ways to create privacy, whether for a deck, porch, or other type of hardscape feature. Lattice has the advantage of allowing the air to circulate freely, while screening portions of the yard. It is the perfect vehicle for climbing roses or flowering vines to bring color and life to the scene. There are many shrub and climbing rose varieties that thrive in your climate, and a landscape specialist can recommend the variations that will work best for your landscape.
Related: Landscape Design Ideas for Creating an Atmospheric Outdoor Dining Room in Lisle, IL
Construct a Low Retaining Wall
A low retaining wall adds a sense of privacy without total enclosure. One could be added around a patio or on a side of the yard to heighten the sense of seclusion. For homes that have larger front yards than back, a low retaining wall accompanied by lattice or thin horizontal slats above the wall can be a patio relaxation spot for the front of the house. You can still greet neighbors as they take an evening walk if you choose, but without feeling like you are sitting out in the open.
As you research options for privacy in your landscape, you’ll notice that no one solution fits for every scenario. An expert landscape specialist can address your exact needs, depending on how close you are to your neighbors and the layout of your yard.