Monthly Archives: December 2013

Planning Projects; Part 1

Outdoor DeckWith Christmas just around the corner, your outdoor activities are probably the last thing on your mind; but now is the perfect time to start planning your springtime projects. And there are few projects as enjoyable and rewarding as expanding your outdoor living space with a beautiful new deck.

When planning your new deck you’re going to want the finished product to be something you can be proud of and will stand the test of time. Over the next two posts we’ll discuss the many factors that you’ll need to take into consideration such as: your lifestyle, design issues, and what are the best materials for you to use.

Let’s start with the easiest question to answer:

What’s your deck going to be for? This is going to help you determine how much space is necessary. Is it going to be for a spot for entertaining, a tranquil retreat from the hectic pace of your day-to-day world, or both? If the primary purpose of your new deck is a space for relaxing, you’re going to need to be sure you have enough space for lounge chairs and a table or two in a comfortably sunny area.  Maybe you intend to use your deck for family meals. If this is the case, you’ll need to have space for a table where everyone fits comfortably. We suggest a minimum of four feet between the table and the perimeter. This will leave enough space for passing easily around the table.

Maybe you plan to host cocktail parties. Room for food prep and a serving area is a must. The first rule of every party is to make your guests comfortable, and if you’ve ever been crammed onto an undersized deck for an outdoor gathering you know that the word comfortable does not apply.  Some ideas for space saving on your deck would be including perimeter seating and extra wide handrails for placing beverages, reducing table space.

Place stakes in the ground where you would like the edges of your deck to be and outline the areas with string. Now place your chairs, tables, grill, and planters inside the area. Do you have enough space? Can you move around easily? This is the time to layout your new deck’s function, flow, and view.

Be careful not to overload your deck. Maybe you’re planning on adding a hot tub or some extra decorative planters. Most decks are built to support a maximum of sixty pounds per foot. This includes the weight of the deck itself as well as people. Adding additional weight will require you to strengthen your deck’s supporting structure to ensure you have a safe living area.

In the next post, we’ll discuss design, patterns, and materials.

Is a Fireplace or Fire Pit right for your Home?

An outdoor fire pit or fireplace is a great way to transform your exterior landscape or patio space into an enjoyable backyard retreat. Deciding which hearth better suits your home’s surroundings may depend on your landscape, and what you intend on using it for. These outdoor fire-fuelled features will supply your family and party guests with warmth, light, and a stylishly soothing ambiance.

Before deciding on which fireside style you would like for your garden, it is important to consider a handful of questions first:

  • How many people will be utilizing your fire feature at any given time?

A fire pit brings a campfire-esque feel to your backyard while being able to enjoy the fire “in the round,” which is perfect when you plan on entertaining large groups of friends. On the other hand, a fireplace better suits a smaller number of people due to the way it creates a cozier, more intimate setting.

  • What is your current landscaping?

Fire pits are low to the ground and will not obstruct the view of the prior work that has been done to your yard. Keep in mind that you should position the fire pit in an area that gives you a view of your landscaping, while also making sure it that you are still able to enjoy it when windy conditions are present. Fireplaces are great ways to create a focal point for your yard and can be customized to offer protection from the wind.

  • Are you worried about the smoke, or do you feel unsafe around an open flame?

Always be aware of your environs when enjoying a fire pit. Wind could send smoke towards you and your guests, and loose embers can become dislodged and fall into the surrounding area. A fireplace directs the smoke away from you and is less likely to send flying embers. It also keeps the fire enclosed if having an open flame makes you nervous.

Fire pits and fireplaces hold several benefits when they are installed in your backyard. Both of these fire features are the perfect setting for a pleasant gathering with friends or family, where you can create an atmosphere that everyone can enjoy, even on chilly nights. You also create a relaxing backyard setting if you just want to enjoy the starry night sky, or if you want to cook outside on your fire pit. Fire features can also increase the value of your home and are therefore a highly effective selling point for homebuyers.

If you would like to have a fire feature professionally installed in your backyard, Distinctive Deck Designs is the company to call. Please contact us today for a free consultation!

How can Retaining Walls Benefit your Home?

retainingwallIf you want to use your yard for gardening, landscaping or additional yard space for a patio but cannot due to slopped land creating a threat of downhill erosion or weakening of your house’s foundation, the best solution may be to have a retaining wall installed. Retaining walls create usable land on inclines that was once unusable due to prior conditions. There are also many benefits that a retaining wall can do for you and your home.

Retaining walls gets its name from its ability to retain soil. Over time, soil shifts due to wind, rain and water runoff. By installing a retaining wall in key locations, you can prevent soil from spilling into your driveway or from possibly killing plants and disrupting your landscaping. Your wall can also redirect torrents of water and prevent flooding of your grass and plants.

The functionality of a retaining wall goes beyond stabilizing and protecting your yard. Retaining walls can also be created around fire pits and fireplaces as seating. Sitting walls can be a powerful landscaping tool to enhance your backyard aesthetically. These can be customized to suit an existing patio or complement its pre-existing natural surroundings to make your patio really stand out.

You are never limited with what you can do with a retaining wall. With its many versatile functions, you could arrange a retaining wall from a small raised flower bed in the front yard to having it surround your entire property. Installed correctly, a retaining wall can withstand tons of weight and can hold up for decades without any maintenance. Natural materials used that are local to the area will be accustomed to weather conditions and will not need to be replaced or repaired, saving money.

A home improvement such as adding a retaining wall for any circumstance will add value to your home, making it an affordable investment. Using natural materials will also give home buyers versatility if they want to move the wall or pieces of it for a different use; for instance, if a flower bed was once surrounded by a retaining wall but the buyer wants to use that space for a garden.

At Distinctive Deck Designs, we only use the finest materials for retaining walls from EP Henry and Techno-Bloc. For more than 20 years, we have serviced the Northern Virginia Counties with experienced contractors and guarantee satisfaction. Contact us today for your free consultation.