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Johnson’s Landscaping Blog
Tags >> retaining wall
Posted by: JLS
on Nov 19, 2012
The Beauty of Stone Wall Landscaping
Before you decide on any landscaping design, take a good look at the areas you want to improve, highlight or just make more visually appealing. Take note of natural slopes and dips in the landscape. A great way to take advantage of these features is to employ stone wall landscaping.
Stone walls can be constructed of many types of stone, both cut and in their natural shapes. There are many uses for stone walls which will add beauty to your yard and even increase the value of your home.
A retaining wall can solve gardening problems on properties where the land slopes. Use a retaining wall to create garden or flower beds. A retaining wall adds interest to the vista by accentuating the levels while setting carefully designed garden beds apart from other areas, such as patios or walkways.
Enclose a patio
A low stone wall that runs the perimeter of a patio creates an area that feels private and cozy, setting it apart from the rest of the yard. Whether you use the patio for barbecues, outdoor dining or just sitting with friends around a fire pit, your patio should be your own private world. A stone wall enclosure to your patio will create that private area for relaxing and socializing.
Establish a barrier
A stone wall to demarcate a property line makes a statement that is very different from wood fencing. The stone wall won’t block the view while creating a barrier that is visually appealing and full of possibilities. Explore the varied shapes, textures and color when choosing the right stone for your barrier wall and find the right combination that makes the statement you want your home to make.
After you’ve decided what type of stone walls you want to use in landscaping your yard, contact us for a free site visit by a professional and experienced member of our Design Team for a consultation.
Posted by: JLS
on Oct 24, 2011
For folks who live in a historic district in Washington, DC, there are factors which complicate the replacement of their retaining walls, particularly those walls facing the sidewalk in the “Right of Way”. First, for any retaining wall over 36” in the District, permits must be obtained, and if it is deemed necessary, a structural engineer may need to approve the drawings for the retaining wall construction. Next, if the retaining wall is on public space, then the homeowner will need a Right of Way permit. In securing the right of way permit, the District will require the homeowner to post a bond, which can be redeemed 90 days after the final inspection. Simultaneously, if the homeowner lives in a historic district, then approval for the project must be secured through the local historic district association. Finally, once all permitting and bonding is secured, the project can commence.
Recently, Johnson’s Landscaping Service, Inc. secured permits for the replacement of a retaining wall in the Mount Pleasant Historic District in Northwest, Washington, DC. In this case, it was a stipulation of the historic association that the wall stone match the wall stone used in many of the walls throughout the neighborhood. This required obtaining a specific stone at “not so local” quarry because this type of stone is no longer quarried locally. Once the footers are built for the wall, typically the District requires a “footing inspection”, which is the reason for measuring the depth of the footers. In this picture, you can also note the location of utility lines within the footer. Miss Utility was contacted prior to digging, and yet we discovered some other lines while digging (possibly coming from the neighbor). No damage was done to these lines.
After a successful footer inspection, the concrete can be poured and the wall can be built. After completion, a permitting representative will return to the site for the final inspection. Once the final inspection is complete, then the homeowner will have 90 days to expect a return of their bond from the DCRA. We recommend the homeowner be vigilant about getting that money returned to them, because we have encountered cases where the return of the bond took longer than the 90 days.
All in all, these projects can be completed within code and to the specifications of the local historic district. Homeowners would do well to work with contractors who are well aware of the requirements and specifications of the District.
Posted by: JLS
on Sep 23, 2011
Tagged in: weather
, Washington DC
, river rock dry creek bed
, retaining wall
, Northwest DC
, Montgomery County MD
, Montgomery County
, Johnson's Landscaping Service
, hillside planting
This September, folks in Northwest DC and Montgomery County, MD have experienced some incredible rain storms, and this brings on damage and erosion, and often issues of landscape drainage. Coupled with the rains we always know we’ll be getting come Springtime, now is a great time to learn more about these common concerns. The experts at Johnson’s Landscaping Service, Inc. know all about these problems, so read on to learn more!
Here are some solutions for rain and erosion:
· Connecting your current gutter system to new drainpipes running underneath the ground and away from the house.
· Building a retaining wall with drainage installed behind the wall.
· Installing ground cover (which is great to mitigate against erosion!), such as pachysandra, periwinkle, or ornamental grass
· Installing hillside boulders in between planting to mitigate against erosion and add natural beauty to your slope.
· Installing channel drains and/or catch basins to catch the running water and direct it to connecting pipes running underground and away from the house.
· Installing a sump pump connected to your drainage system for the water that is difficult to move away from the house.
· Directing the water to a dry well in the back yard. In essence, a dry well is a large hole filled with gravel which receives the water from the house and allows the water to dissipate through the ground, with no resulting erosion issues. Oftentimes, the drywell is covered with soil and sod, so it is not apparent in the landscape.
· Installing a dry creek river rock bed to allow the water to flow through potential erosion areas. This river rock bed supports the mitigation of erosion and is aesthetically pleasing.
Have questions about erosion and your yard? Give Johnson’s Landscaping Service, Inc. a call at 301-740-8850 to learn about solutions for rain and erosion in Northwest, Washington, DC and Montgomery County, Maryland.
A Bethesda Home Uses Hillside Planting & Boulders
and a River Rock Dry Creek Bed to Address Erosion
Posted by: JLS
on Mar 30, 2009
See one of our designs as seen in the Washington Post. (click here)
ILLUSTRATION: Julius Goyanko - For The Washington Post
"Create an outdoor living room for entertaining, relaxing and enjoying nature."
- Sam Nelson of Johnson's Landscaping Service in Olney, 301-740-8850
Posted by: JLS
on Feb 23, 2009
Tagged in: Takoma Park
, Stone Work
, Silver Spring
, Retaining Walls
, retaining wall
, Montgomery County
, Landscaping Service
, Landscape Design
, Chevy Chase
By Ryan Sarvis
So you want to build a retaining wall in your yard? There are many things to consider, including the type of stone, size of the wall, size of the footings, drainage, and the need for permitting, to name a few. Here are the steps homeowners and contractors can take together to build a long lasting, aesthetically pleasing retaining wall.
There are a variety of materials to choose from when deciding to build a retaining wall. We in Maryland have an advantage because some of the best natural stone available is quarried in our own back yard. Carderock is quarried and processed locally in Potomac, MD near River Road and Seven Locks Road.
The advantage of using our native stone is that the color, texture, and size vary and no two stones are the same. The blues, grays, browns, and greens in the Carderock ages gracefully in any setting. The classic appeal of Carderock conveys strength and beauty unmatched by none.
There are two types of retaining walls that can be built with Carderock, dry stack and veneered walls. A dry stack wall is one where we do not use mortar to adhere the stones together. The stone used is usually flat so it stacks better. However, many of our customers' favorite walls are built with veneer stone.
The process for building a veneer wall starts with excavation for a "footing" or base of the wall. The size of the footing will grow depending on the height of the wall; however, it is important to check local building codes and permitting requirements prior to building the footers. At Johnson's, we always expect our walls to meet or exceed local codes and regulations. Our footings, for example, typically are reinforced concrete with rebar to tie the wall and footing together.
Next we build an 8" cinderblock wall on top of the footing. At the time of the block wall's construction we install 1-2" pvc pipe passing through the wall for the drainage system. We then take the veneer stone and our expertly trained stonemasons "work the stone" for the best face and corners of the stone. High strength mortar is used to adhere the stone to the block wall. The purpose of working the stone is to have a final product that has small joints between the stone for a seamless appearance.
The top of the wall can be given a natural cap. A natural cap is a finished cap that matches the face of the wall, only with larger stones. By far our customer's favorite type of cap is flagstone. For the best appearance a thick Pennsylvania Blue Flagstone can be installed. These caps will hang the wall's face by an inch, and add a great finish to the wall.
The biggest enemy of retaining walls no matter the material is the natural elements. Water is the most destructive of them all. Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by water behind a wall that pushes on it. A properly constructed wall with correct "back filling" is a wall will last many generations. When the construction of the wall is near completion, a drainage system is installed behind it. This system has three main components - a perforated pipe, gravel back fill, and landscaping fabric.
The pipe is used to collect and direct water away from the wall. The gravel offers free movement of water behind the wall, therefore reducing the hydrostatic pressure. The landscape fabric is used to isolate the gravel from the existing soil and ensure that the drain pipe runs clear and does not become choked with silt in the future. Also, any excess water that does not enter the pipe travels down and passes through the pvc weep holes and exits at ground level in the front of the wall.
Through training and experience of our stonemasonry crews bring a passion for the highest quality product to your project. Our crews' produce some of the most enduring and beautiful walls in the area.