backyard paver patio, firepit and seating area, and mulch beds

Patio Paver versus A Stamped Concrete Patio – Which is Better For Me?

Potential and current customers frequently ask us if they should choose patio pavers or a stamped concrete patio. There’s no simple answer because every homeowner has different desires and expectations, so we begin to help them choose by explaining the significant differences between these two materials. Let’s clarify that “pavers” is a generic term for interlocking concrete pavers.  Patio pavers are manmade from high-strength concrete and come in an almost infinite variety of shapes, thicknesses, textures and colors.  We use pavers frequently, and we also construct many hardscapes from natural stone materials, using similar installation techniques.

Costs
Let’s get right to it; many people assume that a stamped concrete patio will be less expensive than a paver patio.  In some cases, they will be right but since no two design/installations are the same, it’s not really possible to make this judgment without some research.  It’s also not really an apples-to-apples comparison, as we will explain.

Construction

The most important part of any patio installation, regardless of material type, is the base.  This is the foundation of the final surface and as the saying goes, what you see is “only as strong as its foundation”. Continue reading

5 Winter Lawn Care Tips for Your Landscape

snowy branch with birdIf you believe that the care of your landscape simply stops once the weather gets cold, you are making a mistake that we see all too often and a mistake that leads to costly damage to your plants. Even if this winter turns out to be mild overall, it’s still winter, and the stress of weather that changes from cold to warm to cold can damage your trees and shrubs if they aren’t properly prepared. So, you can help your plants flourish once the spring arrives by following these simple winter lawn care tips: Continue reading

holiday planter ideas

Holiday Planter Ideas

With the Christmas season quickly approaching, we thought it would be appropriate to share some holiday planter ideas that you can use to decorate your business or home. You can easily make those entryways more festive and welcoming to your guests or customers with some great looking custom holiday decorations.

If you’re looking for ideas for creating a great holiday container, follow these helpful tips:

  • Start with a variety of greenery. Boxwood, cedar, pine, cypress, and fir trimmings all make for great additions to your planters or window boxes. You can also mix in a living element with dwarf varieties of evergreens.
  • For a mix of colors and texture, you’ll want to mix in some branches, pinecones, or fruit. Some favorite examples include yellow or red twig dogwood branches, winterberry branches, corkscrew willow branches, bittersweet, Osage oranges*, pomegranates, and sweetgum pods.
  • Add some decorative lights. If you have something already planted, wrap it in Christmas lights or even add a bow, and then decorate the base with a skirt of evergreen boughs.

*Osage oranges really aren’t oranges. They’re those green fruits that look like brains, and they also go by the names of hedge apple or monkey ball.

To help you develop your own beautiful planters, we’ve put together a sampling of containers that will give you some inspiration and ideas.

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backyard pool area well lit at dusk

The Secrets to Building a Great Fire Pit

With the fall ushering in cooler weather, many people are looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors as long as they possibly can. A fire pit is a solution to this problem, but you’ll want to make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for a headache later due to poor planning or installation mistakes.

Our experience has taught us several secrets to fire pit building that most people overlook. We wanted to share these secrets with you if you are considering adding a fire pit to your backyard living space.

  1. You’ll need to determine what regulations local municipalities have enacted in regards to fire pits in your area. You don’t want to go through the trouble of building a fire pit only to be forced to remove it later.

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Prepare Your Landscape for Fall with These 5 Tips

Alexander Graham Bell said it best when he declared “before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” If you want to enjoy a vibrant garden year-round, now is the perfect time to begin preparation for the potentially unforgiving fall and winter months. A fall maintenance checklist is critical to success and will help you hit the ground running in the spring when you begin to dig out from the winter lull.

At Hively Landscapes we would like to help you get your landscape ready, and have compiled a list of some of our favorite fall landscaping tips to share with you. These are just some tips to help you achieve the successful landscape you will enjoy for years to come.

    1. fall-leavesTake Care of Your Lawn – One of the best things you can do for your lawn is aeration. Aerating pulls thousands of small cores out of the ground. This allows both oxygen and water to reach the root system of your turf. This encourages a deeper and stronger root system that better resists the hot dry summer months in our area. Aeration is best done by a professional with the proper tools, though this equipment is available for rent at most tool rental stores. Give your grass a high-phosphorus fall fertilizer mix to encourage root growth, and be sure to keep after any leaves that drop as these can cause dead spots and prevent fertilizers from reaching the ground. **BONUS** Add the collected leaves to a compost pile and then mix up the pile every week or so to aerate. You can then use this leaf compost in the spring to nourish your trees, shrubs, and even your lawn!

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The Proper Way to Water

Man holding a hose and wateringMaintaining your garden can be a chore if you are ill-equipped to handle the job. We’re not just talking about bringing your gloves and pruners, but even more importantly the knowledge of how to properly care for the landscape you and your landscape designer have created.

One of the most common issues with a plant’s ability to survive is the way they are being watered. While it may seem simple enough, you’d be surprised how often a lack of water or an excess of water leads to a plant’s demise. You want to keep your plants all looking great year-round while also avoiding the costly expense of replacing them for something as preventable as drying out or being flooded.

The secret to great watering is to ensure that the root zone gets a sufficient amount of water. This seems simple, right? The problem begins when all the other variables in watering come into play. Some variables that will affect the way you water include: Continue reading

colorful garden and beautiful landscaping

The ROI of Great Landscaping

Beautifying your landscape doesn’t just improve your curb appeal and make you the envy of the neighborhood, it can also significantly increase resale value of your home. Rather than starting inside with expensive home remodels that can leave you without access to your kitchen, bathroom or family room, a better option to explore that provides great ROI is landscaping and hardscaping your property. President-elect of the National Association of Realtors, Walt McDonald, said back in 2003: “When people ask me how they can get strong interest in their property, I always tell them to fix up their landscaping…if a homeowner is reluctant to do it, I tell them they won’t get top dollar.” Even though the quote is more than a decade old the amazing part is that it still holds true, if not even more so in today’s market.

well designed landscape seating areaIf you’re looking for a specific number to expect with regard to ROI for your unique project, you won’t find it. If you do, it’s merely speculation. Your location, the market, nearby neighbor’s landscapes, and potential homebuyer’s preferences are just a few of the many variables that will factor into what you can expect to get back when you do resell your home. One thing that is for certain though, the only way to maximize your ROI on a landscaping or hardscaping project is to have a well designed and installed landscape. Continue reading

7 Rules Landscaping Contractors Must Follow

A landscaped patio/deck areaMany homeowners are unaware of the protections granted to them when it comes to hiring a landscaping company to do work around the home. The fact is any job between $500 and $50,000,000 that includes work on a structure around the home must follow the same laws that a general home contractor would. This includes projects like installs, replacements, improvements or construction of things like driveways, porches, garages, patios, and more.

We pulled out portions of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act that are most relevant to become accustomed with if you plan on having work done in the future. The truth is there are many “landscapers” who do not follow these requirements that are implemented to protect the consumer. Make sure the landscaper you’ve hired complies with each of these seven edicts or else you’re destined for some serious problems. Continue reading

White Dogwood

May & June Bloomers

If you’re looking to plan your garden for year round color and want to know what some of the best late spring garden options are, you’ve come to the right place! All of the suggestions listed on this page are hardy for our area, so you won’t have to worry about losing them over the winter if you follow our tips and the weather turns sour as it has the last few years. We broke them down into a few common categories to make it easy for you. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist – Professionals Who Make a Difference

Pennsylvania Certified HorticulturistWhen you make an investment in your landscaping, you need to know the end result is going to be exactly what you want.  A Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist is a horticultural professional with the knowledge and experience to give you the results you want and expect.

PCHs have distinguished themselves by successfully completing a comprehensive study program and examination, which tests their skill and knowledge of both landscaping and handling plant materials. Continue reading