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Incorporating a good lighting plan for your outdoor kitchen and dining area is crucial if you have plans to entertain in the evenings. This lighting plan will depend greatly on the intended mood and goal of the area. Here are six tips to help you decide on a lighting scheme for your outdoor kitchen or dining area in Lisle, IL:
Hidden and visible features
When planning to light up your outdoor kitchen area, it is important to think about the types of fixtures you would like to use. The first thing to consider is whether you would like the fixtures to be visible or not. When choosing a hidden fixture, a low profile fixture is normally used. Hidden light fixtures can be installed beneath the capstones of pillars, along the coping of seat walls, under the edge of countertops, etc. As for visible fixtures, these should be durable and waterproof. If the fixture is visible there is a good chance it is going to be exposed to the elements. These fixtures are decorative by nature and will form focal points of the area, so a Montano’s Landscaping contractor will be able to help you select fittings that match the style of your outdoor kitchen or dining area.
Check Your Lighting Arrangement From Inside Your Home
A great way to make sure that your outdoor lighting plan is effective is to observe it from a different perspective. Take a look at the lighting arrangement of your outdoor kitchen area from inside your home or from different areas of your landscape. This is important because hidden fixtures might not be so hidden from a different angle. And the last thing you want is glare from the outdoors coming into your home, especially when using flood lights. A zoomed-out perspective might reveal that a flood light is too overpowering and needs to be adjusted. A Montano’s Landscaping contractor will be able to help you iron out the kinks in your existing outdoor lighting system this way.
Related: Landscape Design Ideas for Creating an Atmospheric Outdoor Dining Room in Lisle, IL
LEDs: A Versatile Option
LEDs have multiple benefits when it comes to outdoor lighting. LEDs last longer than your typical incandescent or halogen lightbulbs. They are also available in dozens of colors and plenty of sizes to make sure that you can achieve the mood you desire for your outdoor kitchen area. LEDs can be used to border a walkway or be placed to light up countertops.
Soft Lights for Entertaining
Entertaining at night calls for ambient lighting that isn’t too overpowering. This is why it is important to have gentle lighting in the areas of your outdoor kitchen where your guests will be gathering. If you have a bar or seating area, it is beneficial to use indirect lighting with hidden LED strips or other ambient lighting techniques. Lanterns are also a great option for ambient lighting. Place them above your dining area or on posts around the border of your dining area. Directed lighting fixtures, such as flood lights, can also be used to create ambient lighting by having them directed so as not to cause glare - under a tree facing upward, for example, or directed at shrubs to create interesting shadows on a back wall.
Related: Illuminate Your Walkways with Outdoor Lighting in Lisle, IL
Few things are more enjoyable than sitting around a cozy fire on a crisp fall night. An outdoor fireplace will add warmth to your Downers Grove, IL, backyard, and can extend your outdoor season considerably. As with anything that involves fire, you want to make sure that your fireplace will be both safe and functional.
DO Plan Ahead for Your Outdoor Fireplace
When investing in any landscape design project, it’s important to start with a good plan. This will help ensure that both your vision and budget are met. You first have to decide whether you want a gas or wood burning fireplace. Then you should consider how much space you can allocate to an outdoor fireplace and how many people will typically be using it. These factors will affect both the design and location of your new fireplace.
Will you be adding the outdoor fireplace to your existing landscape, or are you starting with a blank slate? If you are adding to an already established landscape, you’ll need to plan around existing features and decide if some things should be moved to a new location or removed from your landscape altogether.
DO Choose the Right Location for Your Outdoor Fireplace
Selecting the right location can make all the difference in how much you enjoy your new fireplace. You want a spot that’s close enough to the house to be convenient but not so close that smoke wafts in the windows. You also need to choose a spot that’s a safe distance from trees and other flammable objects.
Related: Deciding on a Location for Your Outdoor Fireplace in Burr Ridge, IL
A fireplace should always be on level ground and never on a flammable surface such as a wooden deck. Stone, concrete, or brick pavers all provide a safe and durable base for a fireplace.
You also need to consider the location of utilities. If you have a gas fireplace, you may need to have gas lines if you don’t already. An experienced landscape contractor can provide important information on safety codes and industry standards to help help you decide on the perfect location.
DON’T Forget About the Necessary Permits
Before beginning any outdoor fireplace project, you should consult your community by-laws or fire department to make sure you follow all the local rules. The fireplace may need to be a certain distance from the home, or there may be specific material requirements. Local contractors are adept at making sure the proper boxes are ticked off and any necessary permits are obtained.
You should also contact your home insurance company to add the outdoor fireplace to your insurance policy. An outdoor fireplace on your property could require additional coverage.
DON’T Forget to Leave Space for Extras
An outdoor fireplace is often a hub for socializing. Be sure you’ll have ample space for seating so that everyone can enjoy the warmth. You may even want to consider built-in seating so that you always have overflow seating on-hand. A low seating wall or stone benches make excellent fire-safe seating options.
If you have a wood burning fireplace, you will also require space for wood storage, fire tools, and fire safety equipment. Built-in wood storage keeps wood dry and conveniently within reach. Take your outdoor fireplace up a notch with a pizza oven, which makes a great draw for gatherings of all ages.
Related: 5 Tips for Updating Your Outdoor Fireplace in Wheaton, IL
DO Get Creative
An outdoor fireplace makes a beautiful focal point in any backyard. The size of the structure provides the opportunity to match your home’s exterior or to introduce a new design to your landscape
Having a Batavia, IL, backyard that’s sloped creates a tricky situation for homeowners who are unsure what to do with the unevenness. But with the right know-how and great landscape design, you can turn a sloped backyard into a beautiful landscape that no one would ever guess was once a struggle. Here are some ideas for making the best of your sloped backyard.
Adding in retaining walls would be the first step to dealing with a sloped backyard. Depending on how steep the slope is, different areas of your yard could be sectioned off with beautiful retaining walls. These sections could then be put to practical use.
Related: Common Retaining Wall Problems and How to Prevent Them in Naperville, IL
First, look into getting a landscape design that accounts for the direction of the slope. If the slope goes downward away from your home, a retaining wall could help even out your yard if it’s situated at the perfect spot. An upward slope could be sectioned off with multiple levels, and each level could have a different feature, such as a small pond or a relaxing patio. An expert landscaper could work with you to consider various ideas as well as safety issues. For example, if you have children who will be playing in your backyard, you want to minimize risks of falls.
There are great options when creating a gorgeous retaining wall that will not only help even out your sloped yard but also add style and appeal to your entire landscape.
Related: 3 Landscape Design Ideas for Preparing Your Backyard for Fall in Downers Grove, IL
For smaller retaining walls, the U-Cara Multi-Face Wall System from Unilock has a modern aesthetic with stylish appeal. Alternating rows of smooth or pitched face pavers would create a unique look that’s custom to your home. Granite Fusion, Bavarian, and Opal color schemes would give you lots of good options to match the palate of your home’s exterior. For more heavy-duty applications, Pisa2 could be the perfect choice to correct sloping issues and create more usable space. It’s beautiful to look at but also highly functional. Three gorgeous color options, Nevada, Sierra, and Granite, mean you’ll find the right match for your landscape design.
Incorporating Landscape Design
Adding in features that complement your landscape design is going to make or break your outdoor space. One great idea for an upward sloping yard is to add a unique water feature that can easily be seen and adds tons of visual appeal. A waterfall would feel like a natural addition to a multilevel retaining wall feature, and will add a gorgeous scene and relaxing sound to your landscape. Another great option is to add colorful plantings, like flowers and shrubs, to liven up your yard and put a finishing touch on your retaining walls. Flowers on retaining walls provide easy access for quick floral arrangements so that you can bring a part of your beautiful landscape design inside.
A sloped yard doesn’t have to be a point of contention. An experienced contractor can assess your landscape and give guidance about the best course of action. The end result could be better use of your outdoor space and a more practical landscape design.
A retaining wall can fall victim to a variety of environmental and structural challenges that may lead them to leak, crack or bulge. Don’t let this happen to your Naperville, IL, property. Careful forethought and being able to recognize the warning signs of retaining wall failure are needed to prevent your walls from toppling. Here are some of the common culprits that cause retaining wall problems.
An Unreliable Foundation
Retaining walls require a sturdy foundation, just like any and every other vertical structure in your hardscape. Without a proper foundation, structures are more likely to crack or collapse. It is crucial to build upon soil that is thoroughly compacted and investigated for discrepancies in structural properties. The footing of your retaining wall should be buried deep enough to withstand the weight of saturated soil and sit safely below the frost line in preparation for any particularly cold winters. If there’s a need to reduce pressure on your retaining wall, a contractor could extend the toe of the footing or regrade to reduce the height of the retaining wall.
Related: 5 Tips for Styling Your Concrete Retaining Wall in Lisle, IL
Saturated soil is one of the main culprits of retaining wall problems. When water accumulates in the soil or backfill, it increases the weight of the earth and the pressure it exerts on the retaining wall. This increased strain may be more than the wall was designed to support and can cause it to fail. Ensure that your landscape has adequate drainage, with water always moving away from your vertical structures like retaining walls. Regrading the area around your retaining walls can help to direct water away from these structures and prevent the damaging buildup of pressure around them. Materials like crushed gravel can be used in the backfill to prevent its saturation and weep holes can be drilled to increase the surface drainage of the surrounding area.
Greater Loads Than Expected
Effective communication between contractor and homeowner is absolutely essential in the construction of structures suited to the homeowner’s particular needs. When the contractor isn’t aware of what a particular structure will be used for, it may be designed to bear a different weight load than what will be necessary. If your retaining wall wasn’t built to serve as additional seating space in a pinch, then using it for that purpose may cause it to lean over time. If you notice that your retaining wall is taking some strain, you may want to look into strengthening it by extending its footing or laying concrete to thicken its base. Installing anchors or tiebacks can also provide additional support to the structure.
Related: Natural Stone Vs. Concrete for Your Downers Grove, IL, Retaining Wall
There’s a time and place for saving a quick buck—and the installation of your retaining walls is not it. Refrain from opting for inexperienced, unlicensed or poorly reviewed contractors for the promise of a cheaper bill. These companies are more likely to use inadequate materials, like cheap mortar and steel reinforcement, making your retaining walls more prone to failure. Should you notice that your existing retaining walls lack integrity and proper craftsmanship, consider whether excavating and inserting tiebacks would help to secure them. However, subpar construction is likely to present recurring problems, and it is often better to rebuild from scratch.