Dreaming of Entertaining Outdoors This Summer?

January 08, 2019

Start With These 7 Planning Tips


The Art of Outdoor Living


Close your eyes and imagine the perfect outdoor oasis. Is there a trickling creek running alongside an inviting gazebo? What about a fireplace to warm up next to on a cool evening? Maybe you envision a new outdoor kitchen surrounded by a lively group of friends and family members? Whatever you see in your ideal outdoor space, now is the time to start making that dream come true.


Planning Your Hardscaping Project

Like most projects, the best results come from great design and careful planning. At Landscape East & West, we take pride in turning your dreams into practical projects that suit your landscaping needs and your budget. Our design teams think long-term, addressing potential challenges up front. Things like topography, style, and privacy are taken into consideration. Our experienced contractors also know how to balance factors like material, durability, and required maintenance with budget and functionality.


“We were impressed with Landscape East & West’s professionalism, how they put together the proposal, and how they were able to work with the design we had and make tweaks that would work better for our needs.”

Northeast Portland hardscaping project client


7 Tips From The Pros

Our landscaping contractors have put together the following tips to help clients as they begin planning a hardscaping project.


1. Winter and early spring are the best times to begin the planning process

A project done well shouldn’t be rushed, and adequate lead time is a must. In addition, winter soils are looser and therefore easier to work. This can save homeowners money on labor time, especially if extensive digging is required. From demolition to material reuse to maintenance down the road, there are many facets to address in hardscaping development. Anyone who says they can finish your hardscaping project in less than two weeks is bound to miss crucial details.


2. Serious (and expensive) problems can be avoided by proper planning that considers the long-term

Hardscaping projects can sometimes be logistically complex. As an example, drainage is a key consideration. Our area gets lots of rain in the winter and spring, and all that water has to go somewhere. Letting it run into your house or basement is simply not an option if you want to preserve your property value. Unfortunately, inexperienced landscapers may misplace hardscaping and direct water the wrong way.


3. Materials and maintenance

When you start looking at materials you’ll have a better idea which ones you can afford. Material like poured concrete will be at the low end and bluestone or flagstone on the high end. Bricks and concrete pavers can be less expensive, depending on how complex the design or material options you choose. In general, natural stone is more expensive because it must be mined. A good long-term plan should also consider maintenance requirements. Wood patios, decks, and fences will need biennial refinishing and staining to retain their new appearance. Cast iron railings will need rust removal and fresh paint. And even flagstone may require sealing now and then.


4. Considerations specific to planning an outdoor kitchen

When planning an outdoor kitchen, think about utility location, protection from the wind, and privacy. You also want to consider power, gas hookups, lighting, and appliances or a sink. If your plan includes a sink, keep in mind the drain will need to be hooked up to your city utility line. Generally this is accessed through the home’s crawl space, so if you have no crawl space adding an outdoor kitchen will be more complicated.


5. Achieving proper draining is essential

A top priority is to consider where the water will flow—what direction does the water run when it rains? Then we’ll evaluate the ability of the soil and landscaping to absorb water. Hardscapes may be constructed from permeable pavers that allow water to percolate through them. Additionally, drainage must be provided for walls or raised areas as well as other unique features. Rain gardens and water-hungry plants may be helpful. Installing French drains or collection devices can solve problem drainage zones.


6. Things to do before our first meeting

The more thought and research you put into early preparation, the more our design and construction team has to work with as they run with your conceptual ideas.

  • Get inspired

Discover what appeals to you. Look around at friends’ yards, garden magazines, and design websites such as Pinterest or Houzz. Take a look at our photo gallery to see some of the hardscaping projects we’ve completed, and make note of your favorites.

  • Identify materials you like

Visiting a local stone yard can help you come up with ideas. Decking options can be eco-friendly (think classic cedar), sophisticated (think composite) or maintenance free (think PVC). Today’s hardscaping plans may also include gabions, wire structures filled with stones. Flagstone, such as bluestone or basalt, is visually striking but more expensive.

  • Determine a budget

There are many things to consider in a budget. Start by making a list of everything that you want in your new design. One column can include “must have” features, another column for “nice to have” elements. This will help you and our team hammer out the details. Keep in mind that permits and fees may be required, so be sure to ask about this when you meet with a landscape contractor.  

  • Decide on your main goal for the space

For instance, if your main target is to create a focal point for outdoor gatherings, a fire pit or fireplace may be a good element to include. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you prioritize features.

7. Turning Your Dream Into Reality

Landscape East & West can make whatever you imagine for your perfect outdoor oasis possible. Our landscape contractors have built covered patios, grill islands, patios, decks, built-in seating, water features, outdoor lighting systems, fire pits, fireplaces, and entire outdoor kitchens. From updating small backyards to preparing homes for hosting events, we have decades of experience taking a client’s desires and creating the hardscaped space they always wanted.


The Landscape East & West Approach

When serving clients, we invest time to figure out and record all the design details, while involving homeowners in the entire process. This means you’ll get exactly what you want in a hardscape. We’ll work with our network of the Northwest’s top landscape designers to bring you a safe, practical, and environmentally-friendly design that our crews will build and install with the top-notch workmanship that Landscape East & West exemplifies.

Create an ideal oasis and escape to your own backyard. Contact us today and let us put our expertise to work for you.