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It's Time For Spring Outdoor Improvements
April, 2007 - Issue #30
Santa Clarita residents love to hang out by the pool or quietly read a book in a comfortable lounge chair. There is nothing like a Southern California backyard and now that winter has practically destroyed all of our yards, the sun is out and it's time to take a good look around and see what we can do to fix one of the most relaxing areas of our homes.

"Once you've settled on a design and found a good contractor, you are on your way to some BEAUTIFUL SANTA CLARITA SUMMERS."
Whether you live on an acre or just have enough room for a patio and a patch of grass, there are several inviting looks that combine water, green and warmth.

When beginning a backyard project, it's important for the homeowner to have a good idea of what the desired outcome will be, said Doug Richan of Richan Landscaping.

"Ask yourself what you will be doing in your backyard," he said. "Are you entertaining, do you have young children, are you trying to create privacy? A backyard should be useful and soothing and it doesn't have to drain your bank account."

Be realistic about your dreams and what can actually fit in your backyard, said Tom Boyd of Tom's Pool Design. "A lot of time people need guidance on what features and benefits will be good for their yard," he said. "An independent designer will fit your needs and create more efficient, money-wise designs."

Boyd said size doesn't matter. "Some of the nicer jobs I've done were in very small yards. You'd be amazed at what can be put in a tight space," he said. "A beautifully-designed backyard can actually reduce stress."

Pools

Santa Clarita summers can be brutal. Last year, temperatures climbed way past the century mark and if you didn't have a pool, you most certainly were dreaming of one. Pools can take months to build, so it's best to start thinking about them well before summer hits.

Long gone are the days of diving boards and plastic slides. Homeowners today want their backyard to look like a tropical oasis that includes grottos, beach entries, palm trees and plenty of rock. Check out the work done by Bouquet Construction and you'll see what we mean. The style blends especially well with Santa Clarita's desert surroundings.

"People want the more natural lagoon look," said Rynae Vaughn, co-owner of Sunset Pool. A big trend in pools today is a Baja Ledge. These ledges are just a couple of inches deep and big enough for a lounge chair and umbrella.

Tom
Tom's Pool Design
Sunset Pools
Sunset Pools
"It doesn't matter if your yard is big or small, you want your pool to be the center of attention," Vaughn said. "You will be putting a lot of money into it and you need to put some time into planning it."

Planning and designing a pool for your specific needs does take some time but you also need to take into account what your comfort level is. Isaac Porter from SCV Pools said he speaks to many potential customers and advises them to have an accurate sense of expectations.

"Know what you want and what it takes to get it," Porter said. "From costs to time to having someone digging a great big whole in your backyard, there are a lot of issues to address."

Porter said it would be wise for those wishing for a pool to compile a top-10 wish list. A good contractor will help you map out what can be put in place immediately and what can wait for future projects. "You can always make changes along the way, but this way the finished product will be cohesive," he said.

SCV Pools
SCV Pools
Bouquet Construction Co.
Bouquet Construction Co.
While pools may take a big chunk out of your budget, the return on the investment is well worth it, said Natalie Ozuna of Ozuna Landscaping and Pools.

"As soon as the sun comes out, people start thinking about going outside," she said. "Pools keep families together, keep the kids at home and it is an excellent way to really get to know your children's friends."

Sports Courts and Outdoor Theaters

If you want to bring out the athlete in the whole family, you might want to go the extra mile and add a game court to the backyard. Jeff Leatherman of SoCal Sports offers a smaller and popular basketball court for as little as $12,000. Courts can be customized with a variety of colors and custom logos.

"Game courts are a good investment because they are used 11 months out of the year," Leatherman said. "Moms and dads want to keep the kids off the street, but active."

Ozuna
Ozuna's Landscaping & Pools
SoCal Sports LLC
SoCal Sports LLC
Leatherman also provides what might be the next big thing in home entertainment - outdoor theaters. Using a sports court backboard as a 12-foot projection screen, families can enjoy an evening dip in the pool, a delicious barbeque meal and a show. This is sure to catch on, he said.

"Instead of keeping up the Jones, why not blow them out of the water?," Leatherman said.

Dress it Up

If your backyard is small or seems to have too much concrete, one way to dress it up and supply some green is pottery. While earth tones are still the rage, Reseda Discount Pottery is 2,500 feet of pottery heaven. With so many sizes and colors to choose from, your yard could be aglow with greenery and flowers. Don't forget to check out their inventory of fountains. Running water is one of the most relaxing and Zen-like sounds for your wellbeing. But when it comes to water, landscapers agree that most Santa Clarita residents over-water their yards. "Infrequent deep watering is far more effective," said Mark Berrol of MHB Landscape. And don't forget the lighting. "Backyard jobs start with the hardscape, then landscaping," Berrol said. "You spend all this money on landscaping then at night it disappears."

Use plenty of color. There are several plants and flowers to choose from that do well in our Santa Clarita climate, said Barbara Schurrs from Sunset Nursery. "People are more than welcome to take a stroll of our nursery. We really cater to plants that are a good fit for Santa Clarita," she said.

MHB Landscape Construction
MHB Landscape Construction
Reseda Discount Pottery
Reseda Discount Pottery
Everyone learned a lesson from the January freeze, Schurrs continued. "We are looking to help people replace their yards. We have people here that know plants, what's good for the direction your house is facing and where you should put the plants."

Patios, Fireplaces and Barbecues

Don't make the mistake of thinking backyards are only for the kids. If you have raised your children and they have finally made it out on their own... Congratulations! Go ahead and mix up a pitcher of martinis, start a fire in that beautiful stone fireplace and enjoy the gorgeous Santa Clarita evening with your honey. Remember, the grandkids will eventually turn your yard back into a kid haven, so enjoy the peace while you can.

An outdoor fireplace and eating area with barbeque and bar is a way for you to enjoy a quiet dinner together or a larger party when you invite the neighbors over.

Williams Sprinkler & Landscape
Williams Sprinkler & Landscape
Richan Landscape & Maintenance
Richan Landscape & Maintenance
"There are people who really like the look of an outdoor entertainment area," said John Hovsepian of BSH Landscape and Hardscape Design. "It's a cozy and relaxed environment."

Hovsepian said that when planning your outdoor area, be sure to focus on both landscape and hardscape to create that perfect harmony. "Go and look at other jobs and choose what you like and dislike about them," he said. "We are a small company, but we pay attention to detail and quality work."

Putting it All Together

Ask the experts when it comes to planning and designing your dream backyard. Wait on those dead-looking trees and don't rip plants out prematurely. "When the weather starts warming up, plants may recover," Berrol said. Santa Clarita temperatures are unique because it can range from 27 degrees to 115 degrees. "Get an expert to help you out. A good landscaper will know what plant material is good for this area," he added.

BSH Landscape & Hardscape Architects
BSH Landscape & Hardscape Architects
A. Allbright Painting
A. Allbright Painting
A good sprinkler system is key on those hot Santa Clarita days, said Kim Williams of William's Sprinklers and Landscape. "People don't realize that drainage and irrigation are absolutely the most important part about the job because if you don't have either, your plants, which are a huge investment, won't survive."

You can have good coverage with an emphasis on water conservation with all the new timed watering systems available today, she said. "If you have a yard that looks really bad, nine times out of 10 you'll find the homeowners are just watering too much."

Of course, if you really want to give your house a big boost, invest the time and money into a good paint job. The cost will vary depending, of course, on the size and patching that needs to be done, but it's an investment that will protect and add value to your home, said Josh Adramson of A. Allbright Painting, Inc. The contractor offers personalized service by sending a colorist to the home to help customers decide which colors to choose. "We can make a home come together using different colors that compliment each other and have a good balance," Abramson said. "We want to add color to our customer's lives."

Sunset Nursery
Sunset Nursery
American Construction Services
American Construction Services
Check contractor's licenses and talk to some of their former customers. Many landscapers and pool builders hold a general contractor's license and will be in charge of the entire remodel from swimming pools to fireplaces. Subbing out individual jobs can be stressful and hard on the marriage. Make sure the contractor you hire not only takes the time to help you design your backyard, but sees you often as the job progresses. American Construction Services said the best contractors are those who will deliver an exceptional high-quality construction project at a fair price.

Once you've settled on a design and found a good contractor, you are on your way to some beautiful Santa Clarita summers.

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CONTACTS

A.Allbright Painting
661-294-1159
www.aallbright.com

American Construction Services
661-295-7201
www.gottaswim.com

Bouquet Construction Co.
661-257-5500
www.bouquetconstruction.com

BSH Landscape & Hardscape Architects
661-287-9568
www.bshlandscape.com

MHB Landscape Construction
661-297-5169

Ozuna's Landscaping & Pools
661-252-2159
www.ozunaslandscaping.com

Reseda Discount Pottery
818-345-1832
www.resedapottery.com

Richan Landscape & Maintenance
661-255-3119

SCV Pools
661-255-2000
www.scvpools.com

SoCal Sports LLC
805-497-7302
www.SoCalSportsllc.com

Sunset Nursery
661-255-8777

Sunset Pools
661-252-8980
www.sunsetpoolscustomdesigns.com

Tom's Pool Design
661-312-3833

Williams Sprinkler & Landscape
661-297-4893
www.williamssprinklerlandscape.com
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