The most basic and most used landscaping products are topsoil and mulches. Lets cover topsoil first:
Many people see an area in their yard that is 10′ by 10′ (for example) with a depth of 8 inches. (Mostly seen in the removal of a swimming pool, shed, deck etc. A common misconception is that you need to buy all screened topsoil to fill in the hole up to grade. First thing to figure out (with everything, (Topsoil, Gravel, Mulch etc) ie: 10x10x.66/27 or length x width x depth divided by 27) remember that you have to turn any spare inches into a decimal (ie: 8 divided by 12 per our example = .66) In this case, you would need roughly 2.5 yards of topsoil. This can be quite pricey as most areas are in fact, larger than 10’x10′. Theoretically you only need to top coat with topsoil so figure out the math again for 6″ of “bank run” topsoil, and 2″ of screened topsoil. (on average, bank run or “rough” topsoil is about 5 dollars a yard cheaper than screened) So again, take 10x10x.5=50, divide by 27 = you would need 1.75 yards of rough topsoil (saving you about $10.00) and take 10x10x.16=16, divide by 27 = roughly 3/4 yard of screened topsoil. Unless you pick it up yourself, you will probably have a delivery fee depending on how far the company had to travel, still saving you an overall $10.00 in the end.
Mulch is figured out the same way, however there is really not anything you can put under it to get away with buying less and saving money. But say you have a plant bed along the side of your house with dimentions of 4’x60′, the usual depth of mulch is 3″ (or .25 in a decimal) You would go through the same steps as above to figure out how much you need: 4x60x.25=60, divide by 27= Roughly 2.25 yards of mulch.
A longer lasting alternative to mulch is decorative stone. Mulch should usually be replaced or top coated every year due to fading, whereas stone will last as long as you want it to. When your deciding on your stone, stop by a landscape supply yard and take a look at the color options. The colors we have here at our business is Reds, White, Black, Blue, Basic, Caramel, Orange/Rust, Multi-colored, Purple, Dark River Rock etc. and special order stones of Green, silver, Glitter, Shimmer, Pewter, recycled porcelain and now there is even recycled computer glass (looks cool, but i wouldn’t recommend it for the safety reasons) Usually, for planting beds and decoration, most people lean more towards the stone that is about 1 1/2-2″. There is nothing wrong with the smaller or larger stones, you can use anything you wish, its just a matter of what YOU LIKE. Gravel will be more expensive, but as i said earlier, it will last much much longer and will be a lot less maintenance in the long run.
Retaining walls are becoming more and more popular, mostly with the new and innovative things they are coming out with. There is kits for everything you may want to do and is very user friendly as there are no cuts to make, just prepare the base (We suggest screenings) and lay the block. (make sure it is a level surface) The possibilities are endless on this topic, Id suggest going on the internet to see your options.
Now for the accessories:
Weed barrier: (landscape fabric) There are many kinds to choose from, you should choose one that is going to suite your needs, some don’t drain water, some do, some are woven, some are non woven, there’s residential, contractor, professional, general, drainage, construction, erosion control, premium and separation. The kind you get at the big box stores are cheap, yes; but for a dollar or two more, you can get a higher density, professional grade fabric that will last much longer and some even have warranties (usually 6,10 and 15 for the most affordable) The Premium grade weed barrier has 20 and 25 year, but it’ll cost you. The LS3 General is the most affordable for what you get, plus water drains through it. The other affordable one is the Professional weed barrier, a little more pricey, and water cant penetrate it. (so how can weeds) Dont get the wrong idea and think that your plants will be starved for water though, the water will drain through the cuts you made in the weed barrier when you planted. They will get water.
I will be back Monday to touch base on all the chemicals you may need for patios, walkways, and alternatives to paver or concrete patios and walkways.