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Home Improvement Spring Preview
Scope your Scape with the Experts
April, 2006 - Issue #18
Although April showers tend to dampen the backyards of our lovely abodes, they also have the habit of highlighting the overlooked coves that are begging for our home improvement attention. Your exterior landscape should not just be an escape from your adorned dwelling; it should be an oasis of relaxation, imagination and entertainment. So you don't have a ton of space to work with, there are so many opportunities in the SCV that limiting yourself to a paddle pool and palm tree is no longer a viable scapegoat. Oh, and did we mention that revamping your landscape is one of the best ways to increase the value of your home, and all of you homeowners recognize the significance of that!

BSH Landscape and Masonry Design
BSH Landscape and Masonry Design
Calscape
Calscape
It is time to put that generous tax refund to use and transform your existing exterior into a plush paradise of cool blues, luscious landscapes and durable, fashionable outdoor accessories. Whether you are renovating, revamping or starting from scratch, the landscaping project can seem overwhelming at first, so we called upon the experts to provide some much appreciated tips to smooth out the kinks along the way.

Suburban Chateau
Suburban Chateau
Esther & Frankie
Esther & Frankie
Hardscape vs. Softscape

If you don't know the difference between a softscape and a hardscape, don't worry, you aren't alone! In landscaping, the softscape comprises trees, plants, ground cover and flowers, while the hardscape refers to structures and features such as walls, pathways, pools and ponds. According to Bruno Hovsepian, owner of BHS Landscape and Masonry Design, "It is important to understand the landscape correlation between hardscape and softscape. The hardscape provides the structure and the softscape provides the beauty. Envisioning both of these elements together is the key." The best way to save time, money and frustration when planning for your landscape is to remember that hardscape precedes softscape, as the hardscape is the concrete element of design and the softscape is the living and changing element.

III Millennium Designs
III Millennium Designs
Hydro Spa
Hydro Spa
Pools and Spas

The details of hardscape planning tend to get complicated and complex with the introduction of pool design. Previous seasons have shown that intricate models reigned high on homeowner's priorities, yet according to Landco Owner, Marty Stowell, "We are starting to see a trend where clients are learning to embrace pool designs with straight lines as opposed to the free form type of pools we have done in the past. There is less hodge-podge involved." The free form type, although fit for some creative minds, prove to be more difficult to transform from fantasy to reality.

As a homeowner, you must take into account the shape and theme of your backyard and then incorporate that into the pool design. Will your pool take over the entire lot or is it a hillside pool with an infinity edge? Asking the proper questions and receiving solid answers about the infrastructure of your backyard is crucial. Steve Erenberg, owner of SCV Pools, is a huge advocate of accounting for the entire layout of the backyard before drafting and constructing a pool, "The utilization of space, as well as possible slopes in the backyard is important to factor in...We are not just building a pool, we are fashioning an entire backyard ambience. For clients who believe there isn't enough room for a pool, I stress to them that even a small pool can cause the resale value of their home to skyrocket."

Bouquet Construction
Bouquet Construction
SCV Pools
SCV Pools
If the discussion of pool design makes you want to hibernate in your home until summer is over, there is an alternative that provides just as many splashes with half the construction headaches. Terence O'Brien, manager of the Bouquet Hydro Spa, finds "Many people recognize the benefits of the above and inground spas and hot tubs. They can be molded to fit the client based on size and needs, and the time it takes to finally enjoy them is severely less than the construction of an entire pool." Above and inground spas and hot tubs involve less installation hassle, require less maintenance year round and are very economical. Their size is compatible to a backyard that already boasts some extravagant landscaping and decor.

Scott Construction
Scott Construction
American Construction
American Construction
Patio Covers and Decks

In order to enhance the look of the hardscape, patio covers and decks are wonderful add-ons to an existing patio that provide prime spots for sunset watching, barbeque cookouts with a view and great book reading nooks. Although Scott Donelson, owner of Scott Construction, does both decks and patio covers, he prefers a deck to a solid patio cover, "A deck has a nearly flat surface and provides more cover underneath than a sold patio cover, which would have a steep pitch to it and block your view of the sky much more dramatically." Decks and patios are two of the more common and rewarding hardscaping features. This type of hardscaping lays the groundwork to display your softscape elements in a more favorable light than would be possible without it. Patios and decks are all excellent choices for showcasing window boxes and potted specimen plants.

California Pools & Spas
California Pools & Spas
Sierra Granite & Marble
Sierra Granite & Marble
Outdoor Living

The themes running rampant throughout the backyards of the SCV are Mediterranean, Italian Villa and Tropical inspired. This "outside living" influence has become commonplace, whether the backyard plays host to engaging guests or offers a place for personal solace. First take a look at the scale and design of the entire house, then you should look at your backyard as an extension of that completed canvas. "There needs to be a cohesive flow from the inside of a home to the outside, so that one complements the other. Just like the antique coffee table is the focal point of the living room, a natural pond or fountain should be the focal point of the backyard," stresses Jason Newman, owner of Calscapes. Maria Santaella of Plantation Home and Garden couldn't agree more, "Homeowners are using their patios as extensions of their living rooms, incorporating barstools and plants. Benches made of teak are quite popular as well."

A. Allbright Painting
A. Allbright Painting
Outdoor Spaces
Outdoor Spaces
Outdoor accessories like iron chandeliers from Egypt used as candelabras, custom barbeques and exterior fireplaces are decorating backyards from Canyon Country to Castaic and everywhere in between. They are a source of outdoor amusement and set the stage for a lounging environment. Sierra Granite & Marble has noticed an influx of clients ordering pre-fab granites for outdoor barbecue tops, as well as travertine, porcelain tile and outdoor flooring to enrich the outdoor living sentiment.

When budgeting out your landscape reconstruction, you shouldn't omit an appropriate allotment for outdoor decor. Splurging on products that withstand all types of weather is essential, as replacing them after each season can become financially taxing. Esther and Frankie Owner, Christine Newman believes, "Some decorative accessories are cheap because they use fabric that is meant for outside wear and tear, but the cushion of the product is not, and this leads to molding. A quality product will use quality material and it is worth spending the extra dollars on."

SnapCourt
SnapCourt
Woodplay of SCV
Woodplay of SCV
Lawns and Lighting

After spending all of your efforts on planning the hardscape of your backyard, the constant upkeep and maintenance of your softscape can seem a little daunting, yet there is a solution to this exhausting pest. "Synthetic turf has come a long way since the indoor/outdoor carpeting we remember from years past," explains Jeff Leatherman, of SoCal Sports. "Rescuing the backyard no longer needs to be put at the bottom of your to-do list...Synthetic turf is designed to have the natural look and feel of grass with the durability to withstand the harshest of elements and outdoor play." If synthetic lawns rub you the wrong way, then turn to professional landscapers who specialize in softscape. Janice VanBever, manager of Outdoor Spaces, holds a degree in horticulture and recognizes, "The finished job should reflect the homeowner. Creating a full scale drawing for a client and involving them during each step of the process will result in a project that everyone appreciates." Another way to subsidize the look of y
our softscape is to incorporate lighting. Brandon Workman, project coordinator of American Construction, reminds clients, "Lighting enhances and creates a color palate through fiber optics. It brings attention to key parts of the garden and specimen plants, and shows off the garden architecture. When used in the front yard, it enhances curb appeal and heightens the dramatic accents."

The exterior of your home plays an important role in the overall aesthetic of your property. There are many excuses you give year after year that stop you from converting it into an intimate setting, but now that our expert professionals have given you some insight into where to begin and what steps to take thereafter, the excuses won't hold up any longer. Take your landscape from an ignored dirt pile to a treasured paradise.

Plantation Home & Garden
Plantation Home & Garden
Nautical Pools
Nautical Pools
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