Leading Edge Landscape Innovation

From on June 05, 2007 in Landscaping

We asked John Garcia of Landscape by Design about emerging trends he’s seeing in Bay Area landscaping projects - especially products that look great and save both water and money. These were his favorites - and all of them provide landscape surfaces that, except for the occasional cleaning, need no water at all.

Stained ConcreteStained concrete

Concrete has been a mainstay of landscaping projects for decades, for paths, patios and more. Some years ago color was added to the mix, allowing homeowners the benefits of concrete without being stuck with large expanses of gray.

Unfortunately, Garcia says, the color didn’t always turn out the way it was supposed to, and because it was mixed into the concrete itself before it was poured, nothing that could be done to fix it. Among his customers, disappointment with the final color of the concrete, which often was quite different from what the customers thought they were getting, was often an issue that kept them from being completely happy with an otherwise great project.

The fix: once the gray concrete is in place, apply a colored stain to the surface. It’s tough and durable, and because the color is mixed on site, customers know exactly what they’re getting and can get the perfect shade. “The customer’s saving money using concrete versus stone,” he says, “but they’re also receiving much greater satisfaction on the color of the finished product.”

roxproRoxPro

There’s nothing like real stone for classic beauty. But, says Garcia, it gets pretty pricey because of the labor costs, since each individual stone has to be hand-set by a skilled mason. Enter a company called RoxPro, which came up with the idea of gluing hand-selected stone in the desired pattern to a mesh backing. The sections are placed on a concrete foundation and the gaps filled with mortar. RoxPro offers products for pathways, walls, columns and more, and homeowners who thought they’d have to settle for cultured stone because of pricing issues can have real stone. Says Garcia, “From a landscaper’s perspective and an owner’s perspective, it’s a dream come true.”

synlawn

Artificial turf

“Fake grass,” says Garcia, “is the wave of the future.”

If you’ve only seen products like, say, the original AstroTurf, you’re probably saying “Not in my yard.” And Garcia says that until recently, all the available offerings looked so cheesy he wouldn’t use them in his projects.

But the technology has come a long way in recent years. In particular, he says, SynLawn offers a range of faux grass products that not only look like the real deal, they hold up well in years of use.

One of the ongoing issues with even the best artificial turf, he says, is that unlike real grass it’s prone to heat buildup, because (see diagram) it requires a layer of infill, made of sand or rubber, which collects heat. Hence, in order to cool the surface to grass-like temperature, it was often necessary to hose it down before, say, turning the kids loose. The latest products, however, require no infill and are much less subject to this problem.

The price for the finished area is comparable to concrete, the “lawn” always looks great, and, says Garcia, “dogs can’t kill it. That’s a beautiful thing.”

[tags]stained concrete, artificial turf, roxpro, landscaping trends[/tags]