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hardscaping
Old 04-25-2007, 03:47 PM   #1
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hardscaping

I'm about to take on a new project. We have a large gently sloping lawn with views of the water. It's mostly a place for the dogs and kid to run around, but I want to add an "outdoor room."

So, I'm about to hire a rockery guy to build a retaining wall and create a flat area for this "room." We could stop there, and we'd have a nice picnic area.

Or....

I could build a simple pavilion to cover it for year-around use, like this timber frame structure:



And make the area large enough to be a ping pong court....

And maybe put a basketball hoop on one end....

How do you deal with the possibilities? Do you hire an architect to help you visualize it? Do you plan for possible future expansion and phase parts in? Or do you just put an end to feature-creep and say "it's just a retaining wall, stupid!"
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Re: hardscaping
Old 04-25-2007, 05:15 PM   #2
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Re: hardscaping

Your area for building out is much larger than our yard, but here's my experience.

When we bought our house 13 years ago there was nothing in the backyard at all (except it was fenced in). Over the years we have planted bushes, dug out a pond and created a small waterfall, created 5 raised areas for flower gardens, created another area for sitting and have arranged about 6 tons of rock. Whew!

On the positive side we saved money by doing it ourselves, we took our time and some of it was fun. On the negative side, we planted "incorrect" shrubs, it was back breaking work....DH ended up having hernia surgery and it took a long time.

My suggestion would be to get someone to draw out some plans for you with different variations. You could look them over and decide what you would like to do yourself and contract the work on the stuff that would uhh....give you a hernia.


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Re: hardscaping
Old 04-25-2007, 05:25 PM   #3
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Re: hardscaping

Climate is a big consideration for future uses. Sit and blue sky the uses by writing down all the potentials for the space and size as well as short and long term budgets. Then evaluate the ideas. Factoring in the upsides and downsides as well as the uses. If I stay here in AZ, I will build and outdoor kitchen and living room for use about 10 months a year. That would not be feasible in a cold or very wet climate. Also, evaluate if this is you ultimate home or do you need to keep an eye on costs and functionality towards resale.

Put the time in before you expend a $ or energy. Check out some magazines at the library for ideas. Then evaluate your skills and budget.

HAVE FUN PLANNING!
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Re: hardscaping
Old 04-25-2007, 07:23 PM   #4
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Re: hardscaping

Given our climate, I would want good drainage, and some covered area, some uncovered.

That way if you have friends over for a cookout in July or August, and it rains as it might, you will have a place to cook and eat.

Also it will be handy for grilling year 'round.

Ping pong is kind of Quixotic since near the shore it is almost always too windy for ping pong. Go for an uncovered pickle ball or badminton/volleyball court. Very cool would be to make this a beach volleyball set up, with really good internal as well as external drainage. Invite some girls over and if I'm not already dead by then ol' Ha will join you for some volleyball. Maybe I could even bring my DIL who was a college v-ball player and is an awesome spiker.

Ha
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Re: hardscaping
Old 04-26-2007, 12:15 AM   #5
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Re: hardscaping

Hmm, good points. Especially about quixotic ping-pong. That would have been a drag to build an expensive outdoor ping-pong pavilion only to find play impossible due to wind.

I haven't tried pickleball, but supposedly it was invented down the street from me, so I guess I should check it out.

Instead of a timber frame pavilion like the picture above, now I'm thinking a simpler arbor with a translucent roof would be a better idea. I've seen corrugated fiberglass used for roofing before, but it looked kind of cheesy. Anybody had experience with polycarbonate roofing panels? Especially cost and maintenance?
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Re: hardscaping
Old 04-26-2007, 09:03 AM   #6
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Re: hardscaping

What will you use it for? What is the weather - temps, wind, rain, number of expected days for use, etc? How will the structure effect the view from the home? Do you need screening for bugs or will bug zappers be ok? Do you want the entire structure covered or only part? Do you want to use pressure treated wood (some concerns re possible carcinogenic effects) or stuff like Trex decking materials. Do you want cement floor, pavers or other flooring. Do you want electricity for lights/ceiling fans, piped propane for grills, water hook up, espeically if it is not attached to the house?

Take enough time to plan to make sure you have considered priority uses and issues, the better the plan, the better the outcome.

Talk to contractors and ask them if you can go look at similar things they have done. (They contact owners who let you troop through their yards.) Get some plans, but take them with a grain of salt. Be willing to change the plans before starting or decide if you can do it your self. I paid for a landscaping plan for my backyard - the cost to have the company do the plan for an instant "mature-looking" yard - $11,000!! . Using a DIY multi-year approach, with many changes to better meet my ideas, if it costs $2,000 I'll be surprised.

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Re: hardscaping
Old 04-26-2007, 05:37 PM   #7
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Re: hardscaping

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandy
the better the plan, the better the outcome.
That's the core issue. I can plan for years and develop something elaborate (that may or may not work), or I can plan a bit, put some stakes in the ground and adapt.

I'm strongly leaning towards phasing stuff in. We'll start with a rock wall. But I want to leave a path open for future expansion. So, the terraced area retained by the rock wall will be large enough for a small sport court.

Now, before I put pavers in, should I somehow put some footings in for a potential future garden structure?

I'm curious how others have pulled off similar landscaping evolution. Did you end up pulling some stuff out and starting over? Did you have a Grand Master Plan you were working against, or was it mostly ad lib?

In any case, I'm sure this project will give me lots of fodder for the "whaddya do all day?" questions....
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Re: hardscaping
Old 04-26-2007, 07:28 PM   #8
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Re: hardscaping

Ad lib for us.

We dug out the dirt for the pond. So where do we put the dirt? Ahhhh...we'll make raised flower beds! One thing evolved into another. We really lucked out on our pond. It is up against our patio...the patio does not get flooded when it rains a lot because the backyard slopes ever so slightly. We never thought about this while shoveling away. That could have been a BIG problem.

Some spray paint or a lot of rope can help you visualize a bit. The only thing we did over was replace bushes and trees. We didn't pay enough attention to how big they would get and what type of care they needed. I think we finally have it right.
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