Pondless Water Features… The Right Idea!

Water Feature - Landscape designWho doesn’t love the fantastic sound of cascading water or a bubbling brook? It’s really one of life’s simplest pleasures. Water features are something we all would love to incorporate into our yards or gardens, but we often let the cons outweigh the pros. Whether it be a natural boulder water fall, a water wall with a spillway or a bubbling urn; the intrigue and desire for wanting a water feature that will be the centerpiece of your landscaped, Inland Empire home is there; but…. who wants to deal with the maintenance of a water feature?

Water Features with Ponds

We have to admit, when you see a professionally landscaped home that utilizes a water feature pond with a nice waterfall your first impression is… I want one! But when you consider the maintenance of a water feature with a pond you quickly talk yourself out of it. Prefab fountains and most water features built by a homeowner or contractor have an above ground water basin or pond. This basin acts as a storage area for the water and utilizes a pump to give the water effect.

Utilizing a basin that is large enough to provide proper projection to the water feature and prevent the pump from burning out is important. Water can evaporate (or be consumed by critters) leaving an unregulated pump to burn out.

A water basin can also provide a place for mosquitoes to lay eggs, parasites to form, algae to build and hard water deposits to cling to the sides of the basin. Making sure that the water is constantly flowing will help, but cannot completely prevent nature from taking place. Adding chemicals such as chlorine, chemical treatment tablets and the occasional draining and scrubbing clean of these basins clean will be inevitable if you choose to have a water feature with a ponder basin. 

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Water Feature bridge - Landscape designThe Clever Alternative

There is a way to enjoy water features in our gardens and landscaping for our Inland Empire area home without having all of the headaches common to water ponds and basins. Go pondless!

Pondless water features are the key to achieving the visual effect and audible pleasure associated with fountains and waterfalls, without the pain of constant maintenance. By incorporating a simple catch basin underground and covering it with a material such as river rock or pea gravel will give us a natural look, hide and protect our pumps from the elements and more importantly keep our water from being exposed to the air while not in use. This will dramatically reduce the amount of maintenance necessary. Our water will remain cleaner for much longer and keep those pesky mosquitos away.

Get More Creative with Pondless Water Features

With traditional the above ground water basin there are only so many ways that you could build a waterscape because the water had to end at a ground-level or be built up. With a pondless water feature design you can incorporate the natural slope of your yard, add in different large decorative rocks, pottery and more. You can really get creative with your backyard theme when you don’t have to accommodate an above ground water basin.

Want to ad that touch of elegance and class? Add waterproof LED lights to accentuate the flow of the water and natural positioning of the rocks making your pondless water feature the centerpiece of your next nighttime get-together. Many water flow systems now allow you to turn off and on the water and control the flow via a remote!

By utilizing a pondless water feature for your Inland Empire area home you can enjoy the sounds of mother nature and bring serenity to your life without the hours of work and maintenance. (Which kills the whole piece and serenity thing). You can simply flip a switch and instantly be taken away to your happy place with the sound of the water’s magical sounds and calming visual effects.

Water Feature - Landscape design serviceYour Happy Place Starts with a Skillful Design

At Bella Terra Landscape Design, we utilize our years of design experience to produce a landscape design plan that exceeds your expectations. Beginning with a tour and discussion of the Inland Empire area yard we can create, in detail, a landscape design that will transform your backyard into an extension of your Inland Empire home. When choosing to have professional landscape services done, be sure to start with a competent design by a design team that has a methodical mindset. This mindset will provide the path to perfection for your Inland Empire area home.

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Choosing Concrete VS. Pavers for your Inland Empire Area Home

image of concrete work - Landscape design in the Inland Empire areaWhen it comes to a beautifully finished hardscape for the garden at your Inland Empire area home, material choices are a key factor. The style, look and theme of the hardscape naturally plays a large part in this decision-making process, as well as the landscape you are working within; but by using the appropriate materials can help bring authenticity and texture to the hardscape.

In this article we will discuss two specific finishes: Concrete and interlocking pavers,

Don’t Consider Budget, Consider the Outcome

When looking at a side-by-side comparison of concrete and interlocking pavers it is important to note that both look great when installed correctly and both can have long lasting disappointment if proper preparations and installation guidelines are not followed. Both will give us the functional seating and walking areas needed for our desired spaces at our Inland Empire area home. Both can define the yard boundary, softscaping and of course; come with their own specific installation process and cost.

If you are the type of customer that is more interested in matching the style, look and theme of the hardscape that you are working towards; it is important not to consider the price so much as the outcome. Price conscience customers should weigh the pros and cons of each rather than esthetical value.

Concrete: The Affordable and Versatile Option

There are many options when it comes to concrete finishes for your Inland Empire area home. There is the basic gray, which is the easiest to obtain and least expensive of the two options. It can be crafted to obtain the desired texture with a broom, salt, a textured finish (sometimes referred to as “stamped”) providing on the look that you are going for. A bit more flare can be added by ordering the concrete from the plant pre-mixed to a specific color. This can of course be finished with the previously noted options. Today there are a multitude of stamping patterns to choose from making concrete a great option for a really custom look. Stamping textures from a slate, flagstone, cobble stone, even wood grain finishes are available.

Concrete Shortcuts will Shortchange You in the Long Run

Because concrete has a tendency to crack over a period of time, proper preparation of the areas to except the concrete is vital to increase the time before cracking begins. Grading, compaction and rebar or mesh is often added prior to the concrete being installed on site. The concrete’s PSI is also important as the higher the number, the stronger the finish will have helping to reduce cracks that appear over time. The key with any colored concrete application is to have it properly sealed. Sealants will ensure the color does not fade over time with the Inland Empire area’s harmful sun. There are glossy or matt finish sealants available depending on the desired look.

NOTE: Sealants must be re-applied every few years to continue to protect the concrete finish. This is a simple process that any homeowner can do with basic pump sprayer.

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Image of pavers - Landscape design in the Inland Empire areaInterlocking pavers: not as pricey as they once were

Interlocking pavers add a touch of class and elegance to your hardscape project. For years interlocking pavers were often perceived as “too expensive”, which is no longer the case. Over the last few years the price has come down for interlocking pavers making it an affordable option that will help complete the hardscape look that you are going for. The price decrease has come from an increase of competing manufacturers and the fact that more landscape installation contractors are offering pavers as an option.

The interlocking pavers have some advantages over concrete: they typically come with a 25 year to a lifetime manufacturer guarantee (on average), they are designed not to crack as concrete often will. When properly installed the interlocking pavers will shift with the earth and not have the issues that concrete will over time. Pavers can cost anywhere from 30-50 percent more than concrete

Pavers, like concrete, have many finish options to choose from as well. Not only do they come in different colors, sizes and patterns; but today manufacturers have pavers that look flagstone and even some that are textured on top to look like slate. Whether a clean stream lined finish is desired or an old world tumbled effect is desired, pavers are a great option to consider.

Proper prep is just as important as concrete

Like concrete, proper preparation of the area(s) to receive the pavers is key. Preparation methods such as grading, soil and base material compaction are foundational and necessary. Is also important to have thin base of sand to properly level the pavers for great, long-lasting look. Traditionally, the perimeter of the paver area is mortared with concrete while the infill is installed over the sand base.  Once the pavers are installed the final application is to either use a special type of sand swept in-between the joint lines and compacted. Optionally, standard sand is used, followed by a sealant application. This will prevent the sand in between the joints from dispersing over time preventing weeds from growing in-between them. The sealant of course will also protect the color finish from the sun as in with colored concrete.

The Conclusion of the Matter

Because of the recent decrease in pricing making pavers more affordable, the biggest difference between the two materials is longevity and individual preference or appearance. Pavers, while cheaper now than before, still cost more than concrete; so cost still remains a factor for some installations. This alone will deter some from choosing the paver option, but when considering the long term nature of concrete such as maintenance and cracking, pavers over time can balance the upfront costs.

The Methodical Mindset

At Bella Terra Landscape Design, we utilize our years of design experience to produce a landscape design plan that exceeds the customers expectations. Beginning with a tour and discussion of the Inland Empire area yard we can create, in detail, a landscape design that will transform your backyard into an extension of your Inland Empire home. When choosing to have professional landscape services done, be sure to start with a competent design by a design team that has a methodical mindset. This mindset will provide the path to perfection for your Inland Empire area home.

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Should I act as my own landscape Contractor?

Design Plans are the first step - Landscape design in the Inland Empire  areaA great divide exists in the home improvement industry between service professionals and the DIY (do it yourself) community. Home-improvement box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s spent a large amount of advertising dollars empowering the weekend warrior that they can do a job just as good as the professionals… and this may be true!

As a professional landscape design firm we often get asked by our customers:

“Can I build what your designs layout?”

Our answer: “Absolutely yes, well no, kinda, sure… maybe?”

When dealing with a professional landscape project you should treat it as you would any other home-improvement project for your Inland Empire area home. Determine what you can… and can’t do. Below is some useful information to help you determine if you should act as your own landscape contractor

“I can save a ton of money if I do it myself”, right?…

This age old question is one we, at Bella Terra Landscape Design, come across frequently as a landscape design firm when it comes to the installation of our clients projects. Once landscape design plans for your Inland Empire area home are in hand, with everything detailed and outlined; so it should be a piece of cake to implement what’s on paper, right? Well… yes and no.

One of the main reasons for having landscape design plans professionally drafted is to save money by clearly identifying what goes where and in what order. So YES.. The Inland Empire area homeowner can be their own landscape contractor and put into production what is set forth in their landscape design. However, the skill set of the homeowner will determine how much of the project can be completed without professional assistance.

What should typical DIYer’s attempt to install on their own when attacking their landscape projects?

Again, much of this depends on the skill level of the Inland Empire area homeowner (or if they invite uncle Bob to come over and help) but there are certainly elements of landscape construction that most everyday Jane and John Doe’s can do… and some they should consider having a licensed contractor install. However, here are a few things to the average DIY’er can usually do:

Demolition of existing yard items, running irrigation lines, mulching, softscape planting and low voltage lighting installation are examples of much more manageable landscape installation elements. Projects like removing old cracked concrete, outdated pavers or small trees and shrubs that have seen better days are a great way to get more involved in your project and save money doing so.  Installing drip irrigation, running low voltage wiring throughout the yard and placing bark mulch or decorative rock around plants and open areas are laborious, but not difficult.

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Some things are best left to the pros - Landscape design in the Inland Empire  areaWhat landscape projects should be left to the professional contractors?

While we recommend that the entire project be done be a local Inland Empire area professional landscape contractor to ensure the perfect look according to the design plans, there are some items that should be left to the professionals. Pools, large retaining walls, drainage, building structures, large tree installation, paver patio’s, deck construction, brick and stone work, waterscapes and finished concrete work may not be some of the ideal projects for a weekend warrior to attempt to install on their own.

Construction elements like these require years of experience, tools and techniques to make sure they are done correctly. Professional Inland Empire area contractors have knowledge of local City and/or County codes, which will be invaluable as these elements will often require several inspections and possible even engineering details and stamped plans.

Weigh the costs… now and long term!

When everything is said and done; yes, a typical Inland Empire area DIY’er can attempt to install many of these aforementioned portions of typical landscape construction. However, if elements outlined in your professional landscape design plans are not installed properly it can often end up costing the you more in the long run. Improper or incorrect installation or preparation for elements to be done at a later phase can often come back to bite you. Regret is a difficult pill to swallow when spending countless hours and dollars only to be disappointed with the final outcome of your hard work that was not done right the first time.

Here’s some unsolicited advice…

My advice, as the owner of a landscape design firm for nearly 15 years in the Inland Empire area now, is to take a step back and create a list of the elements to be installed that are realistically achievable; taking into account your available time and knowledge. Choose carefully those projects that you can confidently do vs. those that will need the skills of a professional to install. At the end of the day I feel you will be much more satisfied knowing you did the right thing with your time and money… and of course will have a beautiful yard to enjoy for years to come to show for it.

A Path to Perfection

At Bella Terra Landscape Design, we work hard to produce a landscape design plan that exceeds the customers expectations. Beginning with a tour and discussion of the Inland Empire area yard we can design, in detail, a landscape design that will transform your backyard into an extension of your home. When choosing to have professional landscape services done, be sure to start with a competent plan that will provide the path to perfection that you desire for your Inland Empire area home.

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How to save valuable resources with your landscaping

Let us help you design the yard of your dreams - Landscape design in Chino Hills CA,In today’s global mindset of saving for the next generation it’s vital we all do our part to conserve our valuable water, air and electrical resources. When everyone plays their part to conserve around their Inland Empire area home, it can add up to huge saving for everyone! Here at Bella Terra Landscape Design we know a few things about conservation. All of our landscape designs tie in the needs of the customer with an earth friendly approach.

Listed below are some clever and easy to do conservation methods when looking to the landscapes around your Inland Empire area home.

Choosing the Right Plants

When looking at the cheapest and easiest conservation method… look to how nature does it. Drought tolerant plants are a great way to make an immediate difference in the water consumption needed to keep your landscape looking green and vibrant; as well as giving your Inland Empire area home a great looking curb appeal. Now when you think about drought tolerant plants you mind might think of desert scape landscaping… but it does not have to be. There are several plants available that have beautiful, vibrant colors and textures that are certain to please the senses; while saving on water resources.

Water… Smarter

Along with using plants that require less water, changing over to a drip water system instead of sprinklers is a great way to save on the utility bill, as well as conserving water resources for your Inland Empire area home. There is a major difference in how much water is needed to keep your plants and turf areas healthy between traditional sprinklers and a quality drip system. We recommend a drip system with inline check valves which ensure that all areas receive equal amounts of water slowly and efficiently. The days of over spray, runoff and uneven watering distribution should be a thing of the past with a quality drip water system.

Utilizing Technology

Smart water controllers are also a fantastic way to make sure watering is only done when needed for your Inland Empire area home. What makes these new controllers smart is the fact that they sync up with Weather Channel satellites through your Wi-Fi connection! This information will adjust the watering times of your irrigation zones based on your local weather. For example: when it is over cast and cool the watering times will automatically lower. When it is a hot summer day with 90 plus degrees, the system will increase its watering schedule. Naturally when it is raining, the system will automatically shut off. Now that’s smart!

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Synthetic Turf can be a easy solution to an amazing yard- Landscape design in Chino Hills CA,How do you keep your yard so nice all the time?

Using synthetic turf is an ingenious way to conserve water PLUS saving you maintenance time and money for your Inland Empire area home. The days of fake looking green carpets laid over front yards that give the appearance of grass are long gone. There are new options for synthetic turf offering low cut, longer with varied blade heights and even some with brown thatching to give the turf an appearance of being a bit thirsty are readily available. This might sound cheesy and the install cost might be a little high; but consider not needing to water, mow or trim your yard! Plus the bonus of the neighbors always wondering… How do you keep your yard so nice all the time?

Less Power Means More Savings

Saving water is great but what about power? Having good outdoor landscape lighting is a necessity to help transform the outdoor landscape to an extension of your Inland Empire area home. Security, curb appeal and safety are often thought of as primary reasons for lighting and should be carefully planned out for both the need and the esthetic. In the past using low voltage halogen lights was the only to go; today much better options are available. LED based lighting fixture pricing has significantly dropped recently making available low energy lighting options for your Inland Empire area home. These fixtures are typically powered by a transformer that can be purchased with an option to turn the lights on and off on a timer or at a set program. This flexibility will not only bring functionality to the LED outdoor lighting but also save on the electric bill as well.

Adding Conservation to Creativity.

At Bella Terra Landscape Design we strive to produce a design plan that exceeds the customers wants and needs. Conservation of our valuable resources is a fundamental part of the design and materials recommendations offered to the contractor as part of the development process. Beginning with a tour and discussion of the Inland Empire area yard we can design, in detail, a landscape design that best suits your family’s needs, wants and desire towards conservation.

Selection of all the right plant materials that best introduces the vibrancy, color and texture to the property with an eye toward conservation is a trademark aspect of our design. We take into account the plants, irrigation, layout and lighting to provide a complete format to transform your yard into an extension of your Inland Empire area home.

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Why do I need landscape design plans?

Let Us help you paln your next project - Landscape design in the Inland Empire  areaWhen considering professional landscaping for your Inland Empire area home you might have called a few landscape and hardscape companies only for them to ask if you have had a landscape design plan created yet? Then you started thinking… “Why do I need landscape design plans? I mean… I know what I like and I know what I want; so why bother putting it into an elaborate plan?”

Like most things in life, implementing something with a plan makes the process simpler. Whether planning a wedding, remodeling a kitchen or building a house addition, having a design to follow helps in many ways.

The Bella Terra Team consists of Hardscape designers, horticulturists, irrigation, drainage and lighting experts assuring a professional process which will expertly guide you through the proper steps to achieve the landscape of your dreams.

This article we will identify some of the reasons why you should consider having a professionally landscaped design plan created.

Getting everyone on the same page

You have a vision; a vision that you may have been crafted from a beautiful place you visited, magazine article or from the neighbor across the street. No matter the inspiration it’s important to make sure that you are expressing your vision correctly to the company that will be crafting your vision. By creating a landscape design plan for your Inland Empire area home it will eliminate doubt and uncertainty regarding the landscaper’s interpretation of your vision. By laying out a comprehensive landscape design plan you avoid missing or forgetting something in your projects installation that may end up costing more later or even regretting the end result… THAT is a tough pill to swallow.

There is no better way to assure you, your family and the landscape company are on the same page, literally, without having something drawn out for approval. Plus by giving contractors in the Inland Empire area a plan to properly bid off of is immeasurable. The only way to receive a true “apples to apples” comparison is to make sure they are all looking at the same information.

As a matter of scope, if it is a large scale project or simply a matter of budgetary restraints, being able to attack a project in sections or phases is only really possible if you have a scaled plan to section and work off.

Call Bella Terra Landscape Designs Today – (855) YARD-PLANS

Having a plan ensures that your project turns out like you pictured it - Landscape design in the Inland Empire areaLocation, location, location

The Hardscape designers, horticulturists, irrigation, drainage and lighting experts at Bella Terra will help you focus your landscape design based upon some thought provoking questions that are steeped in experience, such as:

  • Where is the best place to locate my pool?
  • Should I use a Fire pit or fireplace?
  • What direction does the wind blow across my yard and how will it affect my BBQ placement?
  • What direction does the sun set in relationship to my deck?
  • What trees will not make a mess or give me root issues over the years?
  • What materials are best to walk barefoot around my pool?
  • Will the water properly drain when it rains?
  • Is there proper lighting?
  • Does the budget match the vision?

These are some of the practical questions and issues that having a proper landscape design will answer and address.

Price vs. Reality

Let’s face it, we’ve all seen the gorgeous magazine picture of landscaped home and want the same for our Inland Empire home. However, reality is many of those landscape designs were made with an unlimited budget, something that is usually… unavailable. Naturally budgeting is a huge factor in the design process. Running preliminary construction costs through planning is vital. This will ensure the project is realistically obtainable or determine if phase work is necessary. In the end having a proper landscape design plan should spare you from any unnecessary headaches as well as providing you with piece of mind that the project will be installed in the correct sequence with the best possible combination of materials, colors and functionality. 

The Final Product: Perfection.

At Bella Terra Landscape Design we strive to produce a design plan that serves all of these purposes. We begin with creating a layout of the Inland Empire area yard that best suits your family’s needs. Proper space planning is followed by strategically choosing materials and finishes that best compliment your home’s colors and style. Next we select all of the plant material that best introduce vibrancy with color and texture to the property. Irrigation, drainage and lighting schematics follow suit meticulously detailing what materials are needed and where they are to be placed.

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