A sprawling patio, a pristine walkway, or a serene water fixture can just make your outdoor living space. These features instantly elevate your home’s exterior and create a calm and tranquil ambiance for your outdoor gatherings.
While we love these design elements – also known as hardscapes – most people underestimate the complexity of their construction and installation. Hardscaping is often the most expensive and sophisticated aspect of any landscaping project. That’s why it’s important to have an expert contractor by your side every step of the way.
Black Landscape Contracting is one of our preferred contractors and has a long-standing reputation for masterful craftsmanship when it comes to hardscapes. We sat down with Dave Sprow, Estimator and Project Manager of Black Landscape Contracting, to get the inside scoop on how to best approach your next hardscaping project.
Dave: People don’t realize just how skilled hardscapers must be to do the work well. They, therefore, underestimate the cost of these projects. In fact, the labor is often more expensive than the product. And products only work as well as they are installed.
If a client is aware of what the cost could be, that’s a huge help. I recommend having a budget in mind before you call. In general, I say estimate 10-15% of a home’s value for a quality hardscaping project.
Another thing clients should think about before they begin is how much of their outdoor space they want to use for the project. My suggestion is to go at least 16ft off the side of the house.
Dave: The first step to begin working together is to contact our team and set up an initial meeting. This is when we’ll ask clients a series of questions about their lifestyle. For example: Do you have kids? How often do you entertain? Are you willing to weed? This gives us a good idea of what direction to take the project.
After we draw up the design and give them an estimate, that’s when we tell clients to head down to Penn Stone to get an idea of what style and type of products they like. This mostly applies to the variety of stone a client envisions for a patio or deck space.
A Penn Stone design advisor will listen to their preferences and help you pick out the colors, styles, and types of products for your project. This really is a unique feature of Penn Stone because, in most cases, you can’t envision the design before it’s installed. There really aren’t many showrooms like Penn Stone.
Dave: I always say when you put your Christmas tree away, start thinking about your landscape. Most people don’t end up calling until March, or even May, but it’s best to start the design process in winter.
That being said, weather is a huge variable when it comes to the actual installation of hardscaping. You don’t want to lay hardscaping on frozen ground. It can greatly increase the labor costs, because it’s more difficult to install.
Dave: Well, speaking of colder temperatures, we recently had a project that started in fall and went through June. We were on a very tight deadline and had to have everything ready to go in time for a family wedding. This meant we had to install during the winter months.
The client selected a very fragile, porcelain tile that required us to make rounded cuts. This was extremely detailed work and we needed to use a Dremel tool to cut curves. Technically it was far too cold to do this work, but we managed! Once again, this only highlights the extraordinary skill hardscaping requires and why it’s important to factor in this cost of labor.
A well-designed hardscape can really bring together your outdoor space. We all dream of a beautiful patio to gather around in the warmer months, but there’s no better time than the colder months to start dreaming about and planning for your next hardscaping project.
When you’re ready to begin, head down to Penn Stone and before we match you with one of our preferred contractors, our design advisors will help guide you through the process and have your outdoor space looking fresh and welcoming for summer!
Visit our showroom at 190 West Ross Street in Lancaster, PA, to get started. Or contact us today to learn more.