Winterize your Pool

What steps should be followed to winterize your pool?

We have published many articles about pool liability, the real estate value of removing your pool and pool removal in general.

There’s no doubt about it—summer’s coming to a close. If you live somewhere with cold winters (or just want to close your pool for the season) and are not quite ready to have your pool removed, you should be thinking about how to winterize your above ground pool.

When people talk about the approaching winter, the pool is not what they have in mind. But knowing how to prepare your pool for the winter is one of the smartest and most important things you can do. If you winterize your pool can save you some very costly repairs. Pool manufacturers won’t honor the warranty on a pool if the damage was due to failure to properly maintain the pool. So don’t waste any time — start winterizing your pool.

Some people do not realize how valuable their efforts now will be toward setting up a swimming pool for next year. Those people often end up with pools that are slimy and green when summer comes back around. Then, instead of cleaning it up, they are left with draining it and starting fresh. Do you really want to waste that much water if you don’t have to? Instead, why not simply learn how to winterize your above ground pool? It only takes a little effort and your swimming pool will be nearly ready for next year.

If you do your own pool maintenance then what follows here is an 11 point best practice check list for you to follow to correctly winterize your pool. If you use a pool maintenance service then make sure to have a discussion with them highlighting these 11 points.

1. Gather Your Pool Closing Supplies

2. Clean Your Pool One Last Time

3. Test and Tweak Your Water for Winter

4. Add Winterizing Chemicals

5. Clean and Plug Your Lines

6. Protect Your Skimmer

7. Winterize The Filter and Pump

8. Clean and Stash Your Accessories

9. Lower the Pool Water (If Necessary)

10. Install the Pool Pillow

11. Install the Pool Cover

For more details on all of these steps read this article by the folks at Swim University.

Of course if all of this is just too much to bear and you have already been thinking about having your pool removed then you’ve arrived at the right place.

If you live in the greater Denver or Chicago area then please contact us for a friendly chat and we will discuss your pool removal options.

 

Highland Park, IL Concrete Pool Removal

Here is another all concrete pool removal we completed in Highland Park, IL.

Our clients had recently purchased the home and jumped in renovating the inside.  The pool outside however, had them at a loss.  The previous homeowners had not used the pool in the last 10 years and the costs to bring it back to a usable pool were excessive.

 

 

As this large and very deep pool dominated the yard.  Our clients decided to remove the pool and restore the area back to lawn.  This gave them more usable space and a safe area for their young son to play in.

 

 

While not all towns require all parts of the pool to be removed prior to backfilling, our client opted to have all the concrete hauled out.

 

We removed the lower concrete pool deck and left the upper concrete patio in place.  Our smaller machines were able to reduce the impact on the large trees on site we were protecting. After backfilling and compacting, we finished with pulverized black dirt, grass seed and erosion control blanket.

We have been specializing in removing pools for over 15 years and are experts in the field. If you live in the greater Chicago or Denver areas, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

Labor Day

Many folks consider Labor Day as the end of summer. Well that’s not really true. Labor Day falls on the first Monday in September and summer officially ends September 22nd.

Now that we have got that behind us, let’s think about some garden related activities that we can do to honor the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.

This long weekend would be a good time to plant new perennials and divide spring blooming varieties to take advantage of cool weather and more frequent rain. Take a look at our previous article titled Perennial Design where we give you lots of tips about how to go about this process.

Here is a great fall gardening checklist. Don’t forget to clean and lubricate all those tools that you will be putting away for the winter to ensure that they will continue to perform next summer.

6 Reasons to Remove Your Swimming Pool

With credit to Newsday here are a whole bunch of suggestions that could keep you going the whole Labor Day long weekend.

1. If you need to reseed or renovate the lawn, this is prime time.

2. Sow lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, collards, kale, spinach and Asian greens for a cool-weather harvest.

3. Plant unpeeled individual garlic cloves, pointy ends up, 2 inches deep, 3 to 6 inches apart in full sun for next year’s crop.

4. Labor Day means it’s time for a final lawn feeding for established turf. Use a slow-release fertilizer for best results.

5. Can tomatoes, but only those that are pristine; eat the blemished ones right away.

6. Inspect evergreens for spider mites. If found, blast them off with a hose. Repeat weekly through month’s end.

7. Pull weeds out by their roots before they spread seeds.

8. Divide spring-blooming perennials, like Dutch iris and lily of the valley, now.

9. Test soil and add lime, if necessary, to raise the pH. It will work in the soil over winter.

10. Harvest grapes.

11. Most peonies should be just fine if left alone, but if yours need dividing or relocating, now is the time.

12. Remove any remaining flowers from tomato plants so they can focus energy on ripening existing fruits, and remove lower leaves to allow sunlight to reach them.

13. Get new perennials into the ground now so their roots can settle in before frost.

14. Don’t prune spring-blooming shrubs or you’ll remove buds that would become next year’s flowers.

15. If the innermost needles of evergreens are turning brown and dropping, don’t panic. It’s normal for this time of year.

16. Hurry up and get your bulb orders in; suppliers may already be running out.

17. Keep watering trees and shrubs, especially new ones, until hard frost (evergreens should continue to get drinks even during winter, in the absence of rain or snow).

18. Want winter interest? Plant witch hazel, red-twig dogwood, deciduous holly and beautyberry for now.

19. Move vacationing houseplants into the shade for a few days before rinsing off insects and bringing indoors.

20. Dig up small rosemary plants and place indoors near a sunny window for fresh herbs throughout winter.

Do you live n the greater Chicago or Denver areas and want more tips and ideas? Feel free to contact us.

 

Deerfield, Illinois Pool Removal

Here is another Deerfield, IL pool removal where the owners were just not getting enough usage of the pool to justify its operating costs.

They also realized that replacing the area that the pool occupied with an open yard would go a long way to making their property more appealing when it came time to sell.

There are many reasons why one would choose to remove a pool, here are a few:

  • If the pool takes up 30% or more of the backyard.
  • If the pool is over 30 years old and is in need of repair
  • If the pool does not have a safety gate around it.
  • If the pool is made from a vinyl liner.
  • If the geographic area the pool has less than 3 months of “swimming weather”
  • If the pool is the only one in the neighborhood.
  • If your area is currently experiencing a drought

Pool Removal – The Real Estate Value

This Deerfield, IL pool removal required us to make use of our low impact methods to ensure minimal damage to the surrounding areas and large trees on the property while breaking up the concrete structure.  We hauled all of the concrete offsite prior to backfilling with clean, compactable material.

Here you can see our recently purchased track loader in action during the final phases of the job.

While a great deal of our work is in the greater Chicago area we also have an office in the greater Denver area. If you have pool removal requirements in either of these areas then please do not hesitate to contact us for a chat about your specific needs.

 

Greenwood Village, CO Fiberglass Pool Removal

This Greenwood Village fiberglass pool removal in Colorado was your standard below ground fiberglass shell design as can be seen below.

Our client was tired of continually having to fix leaks and it was time for the pool to be removed. After any pool is removed there is always the decision that needs to made about the best use of the resulting extra space.

6 Reasons to Remove your Swimming Pool

Making use of our many years of experience as landscape architects many options were discussed.
We spoke about other clients who had considered Perennial garden designGarden trains and Xeriscaping to name a few. This client however decided to have a concrete patio constructed. This would include a hot tub, fire pit as well as lots of level open green space for yard games. The client decided to handle these finishing touches themselves. Watch this space for the after photograph.

 

Greenwood Village Fiberglass Pool Removal

 

A swimming pool in disrepair can be a serious burden. No question about it, it is cheaper to remove a swimming pool than to continually repair and maintain it. The costs associated with owning and maintaining a pool are increasing. Mack Land, LLC is the premier pool removal contractor. Mack Land has developed a streamlined, low impact, efficient and professional process to remove your swimming pool at an affordable price.

If you live in the greater Chicago or Denver areas please do not hesitate to give us a call about swimming pool removal or any of the other services that we offer.

 

Longmont, CO Pool Removal

This Longmont, CO pool removal was as a result of a client who wanted to see if we could help solve a problem they were experiencing.

Spring was approaching and the client wanted to make better use of the back yard that this pool was dominating. They had young kids and family who needed more space to play in.

Not to mention that, as you can see from the photo,  the pool had really become an eye sore and was no longer cost effective to maintain.  In addition the presence of the pool caused grading issues along property lines that would be resolved with the removal of the pool.

As with all of our inground concrete pool removals, we followed very strict guidelines with this Longmont, CO pool removal.

We pride ourselves in using low impact methods and machinery. In our quest for continuing improvement we recently purchased a  new rubber track loader this year that was used for this job. This loader allows us to even further minimize impact as well as allowing us to work through adverse conditions if need be.

Update from our client: Over the summer, our client enjoyed putting in a lot of hard work installing sod, planting a tree and a creating boulder retaining wall themselves. They now have a nice lawn to let the kids and dogs play in.

We have been removing pools for many years and are experts in the field. If you live in the greater Chicago or Denver areas, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

 

Ornamental Trees

Ornamental trees are grown for their flowers, foliage, attractive bark or fruits. Ornamental trees are usually woody perennial plants having distinct trunk and crown at the top.

Ornamental or landscape trees are often planted to improve the aesthetics of your property or to improve environmental conditions such as shading a sunny area, providing a wind-break, etc. Because trees are long-term investments, it is important to select trees that are suitable to the climate, soil type, site, and light/wind conditions of the planting location. Initial placement, planting method, and ongoing care can all influence the health and longevity of the tree.

Nicely summarized by the folks at The Barn Nursery

“Ornamental trees add an interesting focal point to any landscaping.

One common focal point is an ornamental or flowering tree. These focal point trees are typically smaller than standard shade trees and boasting annual flowers or colorful leaves that draw the eye and brighten the landscape.

Most ornamental trees grow only to about 25 feet so they provide little shade. Their main purpose is to add color and accent. There are many beautiful ornamental trees that are very hardy in Northern Illinois: flowering crabapple, flowering dogwood, tri-colored beeches and Canadian red cherry, flowering plum, flowering pear, hawthorne and magnolias to name a few.”

Tree Selection

Choose the species of tree to be planted according to the available space. Larger trees are often more expensive and you may be able to plant smaller. Seedling trees have the greatest success when replanted and grown in containers for at least one year. One-gallon trees are successful in protected areas such as private yards. Five-gallon trees and larger should be planted in public areas where there is potential for dogs, cats, and kids to damage smaller trees.
Select trees that are known to perform well in your local area. Consider the elevation, water requirements, tolerance for alkaline soil, cold hardiness, etc.

Consider planting both evergreen and deciduous trees for year-round eye appeal. Many damaging insects are specific to one tree species. Planting a variety of species will help ensure minimal impact to your landscape.

Some of the more well known species are as follows:-

Star Magnolia
Japanese Tree Lilac
Eastern Redbud
Jack Dwarf Flowering Pear
Cornus Mas
Kousa Dogwood
Crabapple
Japanese Maple

And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous here are a few of the more unusual deciduous ornamental trees that will make you the envy of your neighbors:-

Japanese Stewartia
Persian Parrotia
Katsura Tree

It’s always a good idea to chat to folks like Fiore or The Tree Farm who will be able to help you decide on the right trees for the area that you have in mind.

We have removed swimming pools for some clients who have made use of our landscaping services where ornamental trees have been one of the solutions we proposed to make best use of the resulting space.

We have offices in both the Chicago and Denver areas. Contact us to help you with your ornamental tree requirements which as mentioned in the article may differ depending on your location.

 

Chickens in the Garden

If you already have chickens in the garden or are thinking about getting some, here are some points to consider.

Advantages of Chickens in the Garden

Chickens in the garden make wonderful tillers – By scratching and eating practically all vegetation, chickens make great tillers.  Not only do they turn cover crops and clear new garden ground of any sod, they add chicken manure fertilizer directly to the garden soil as they till.

Chickens Create Compost – they are a great nitrogen source for a compost pile. Cleaning out the chicken coop will provide nutrient-rich manure and bedding material that you can compost to supplement the soil in your garden.

As automatic fertilizers – The chickens nitrogen levels in manure isn’t just great for compost, it’s the key ingredient to fertilizing our gardens. Based on the eight pounds one chicken will poop in a month, the average chicken will extract about a quarter pound a day!

Chickens Are Great Pest Control –  Chickens eat large numbers of  beetles, assorted bugs, slugs, grubs, and many other pests. Even a small flock of healthy chickens will serve as pest control to reduce the levels of detrimental insect pests. This variety in their diet also makes fresh eggs better

As mulch spreaders – Chickens can level a pile of leaves in under a day.

As garbage disposals – Instead of throwing all the table left overs into the trash feed it to your chickens. Chickens are omnivores, like us, and will eat practically everything we can and more!

As orchard sanitizers – One chicken can debug an entire fruit tree within an hour, breaking the life cycle of pests and disease. With some strategic timing, chickens can significantly boost orchard production!

Some Cautionary Advice

And now for some cautionary advice from Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture to stop the chickens destroying your whole garden.

Allow the chickens in the garden a half hour to an hour before they go to their coop. They’ll go in for a little bit and naturally leave around dusk to go home.

Supervised visits. If you have a small garden and/or small flock you could do supervised visits for short periods of times. That means you stand there and protect your goodies.

If you have a small garden, you could actually protect your individual plants with chicken wire or something similar. That way your chickens can have access all the time and would even help you with the weeds.

Notes:

– Chickens want the garden bugs more than they want the garden produce. The key here, is only giving them enough time to get the bugs. If you leave them in too long they get all the bugs and start for the veggies.

– This is not something you have to do everyday. I’d say it’s better to do this weekly, or as needed.

-Young plants and young gardens are especially vulnerable to chickens. It’s also possible that the young plants haven’t yet attracted the bugs. Be extra careful when letting chickens near the young plants.

Haven’t got the space right now? If you live in the Chicago or Denver areas consider giving us a call for some free advice how we can help you make the required space. This could be by removing a swimming pool or by using our landscape design services.

With thanks to Jill Wagner and The Prairie Homestead

 

 

Perennial design

Perennial design – plan it and almost forget it!

With a well planned perennial design your garden is filled with hardy perennials that come back each year needing little more than the occasional tidying up.

As part of the design one would mix course texture, fine texture, columnar and spreading shaped varieties. Add to this a few flowering plants that look great in bloom and when they start looking a bit shabby afterwards they will be complimented by the others during their period of good form, texture and foliage color.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when considering a perennial design.

  • Have a plan
  • Match your perennial design with the style of your home
  • Scale in proportion to your house
  • What kind of colors do you like
  • Location, location, location put the right plant in the right place
  • Be aware of plant heights
  • Be aware of bloom times
  • Plan for future growth
  • Think about incorporating Xeriscaping

To quote from the pages of the New Perennialist 

“The New Perennial movement in naturalistic planting design continues to creep, climb, bloom, and seed its way around the civilized world all the way from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe to Canada, the U.S., South America, China, New Zealand, and beyond.

In every pocket, there’s a growing convergence of design, ecology, and architecture along with a deepening sense of what is possible and why it matters more than ever before (i.e. the lopsided battle to restore quality of life for all species on the home planet.)

The core mantra of the movement remains the same: to plan, design, grow and sustain plant-driven garden environments for a multi-layered, year-round spectacle that feeds our souls, reconnects us to the natural world, and nurtures biodiversity all in one.”

Although we use the word new above, perennial design actually started way back in the 1800’s by William Robinson who was an Irish practical gardener. He advocated more natural and less formal-looking plantings of hardy perennials, shrubs, and climbers. Modern gardening practices first introduced by William Robinson include: using alpine plants in rock gardens; dense plantings of perennials and ground covers that expose no bare soil, use of hardy perennials and native plants and large plantings of perennials in natural-looking surrounds.

Sound too much too tackle yourself? Make use of our extensive landscape architecture knowledge to assist you with the planning and implementation of your ideal garden.

With locations in both Chicago and Denver we are always ready to hear from you.

 

Natural stone retaining wall

What is a natural stone retaining wall?

To answer that we first need to take a look at what retaining walls are in general.

A retaining wall is a structure that holds or retains soil behind it. There are many types of materials that can be used to create retaining walls.  Materials include concrete blocks, poured concrete, treated timbers, rocks or boulders. Some are easy to use, others have a shorter life span, but all can retain soil. Some are simply utilitarian while others can improve on aesthetics as well.  By building a natural stone retaining wall, you can at the same time support sloping land and beautify your landscape as well.

Some of the most common landscaping walls you see today are created with natural stone. Natural stone is such a popular choice due to its natural and elegant appearance. Although it is more expensive than some other wall options, the beauty of it may be worthwhile to those who are set on creating an inviting outdoor living space.

Depending on the natural stone materials that you choose to use, the stones could be small, they could be flat, they could be thick and they could even be boulder size and come in different colors. The best materials for a natural stone retaining wall will depend on the type of retaining wall that you want to build, the amount of space you have to build it and the type of architecture of the home itself.  See some examples from Benson Stone Company and some additional material choices at High Plains Stone.

Natural stones are more expensive, and can be more labor intensive to set correctly. They are best used for shorter and narrower sections of retaining walls to maximize stability. Similar to its concrete counterpart, natural stone retaining walls need proper drainage capabilities to ensure its structural stability over time.

Conserve water through the use of Xeriscaping, read about it here.

While it’s possible to tackle this as a DIY project, there are many important factors that need to be considered.  These include material selection, height of the wall, foundation, back fill,and leveling to name but a few. Unless you have some experience it’s best left to hardscape professionals to do the job properly.

If you live in the Denver or Chicago areas and have recently had your pool removed , had some excavating work done or any other reason why you may want a retaining wall then contact us about your natural stone retaining wall options.