• Best Increase in Property Value from Landscape Design

    Change What You Know About Outdoor Design; Landscape, Hardscape and Finding the Right Contractor.

    Now that Arizona has nearly perfect weather and we are the envy of the country, it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. With the holiday behind us there is a renewed excitement in the air and the hope 2014 will be more prosperous for all.

    If you are considering a landscape remodel, let me remind you this is the perfect time to invest in the outside of your home.

    First … there are great deals everywhere. Many contractors are scrambling for business and this usually translates to big discounts and great value. Another reason to start your projects sooner than later: Shortly after the first of year, most suppliers evaluate their product costs and set new pricing for the upcoming year. That means price increase get passed on to the homeowner. So before these increases take effect, get with your contractor now, create a master plan, and lock in your pricing as soon as possible. Most contractors that have signed contacts will honor their pricing for several months even though they may see in an increase from the supplier.

    What’s so popular in outdoor living these days? Hardscape of course! It is a proven fact that $25,000 of great hardscape is a better return on your investment than a $25,000 pool. To build these recreational items, here are a wide variety of materials being used today. Flagstone, travertine, canterra, pavers, concrete products, Saltillo tile, and a variety of faux stone are just some of the more popular materials.

    The great thing about building from scratch on site is that no two BBQs, fireplaces, and especially water features are exactly the same. Let’s use the traditional beehive fireplace as an example. You could interview 10 landscape companies to build your fireplace and ask them to show you pictures, and not one would look exactly like the other. Why? The artisan who physically constructs the fireplace has his own style, which makes him unique. Of course there are quality differences, so make sure the company you hire has a proven track record of quality. Go see their work and do your due diligence before signing a contract with just anyone. Remember: You get what you pay for in hardscape, so make sure yo have covered your bases.

    With regards to landscape (softscape), here is the other side of the coin. We have all heard how important curb appeal is to your home value, especially if you are planning on selling. What separates the men from the boys is simple” How does your home stand out against other in the neighborhood? Would someone driving by take a second look because something you did caught their eye, or would they not even bother turning their head? A good landscape designer is an expert at plants, trees, and lighting. They not only know where that plant or tree should be placed, but why it should be placed there. They know how much sun or shake that plant needs, its watering requirements, growth and litter rate as well as frost tolerance, to name a few. This why you need work with a seasoned professional and avoid doing things yourself, because there is a lot more than just diffing a hole and dropping in a the ground. How big is that reed or plant eventually going go get, does it have enough space to grow, will the root system become invasive to other tings buried in the yard? All these elements and more have to considered in q quality landscape plan.

    I can almost always tell when visiting a potential new client whether their current landscape was done by a do-it-yourselfer or professional; however, there is also one other category of installer that needs to be brought to your attention. This would be the novice designer you called without knowing his or her true credentials. There are many landscape companies who hire people who were driving a UPS truck last week and have a business card with ”landscape designer” on it the next, so ask a lot of questions before moving forward. This is why I have used the word “seasoned” in this and previous articles, because the vast majority of so called “landscape designer” selling out there have no formal training at all. A couple of weeks in the field at best and then they are sent out on new leads and told to “Sell! Sell! Sell!” The unsuspecting homeowner doesn’t have a clue most of the time.

    So before you using on the dotted line with anyone, make sure the professional you hire is exactly that” a professional who knows his business, builds hardscapes and landscape with quality and value, and most of all listens to your needs while paying attention to your budget. Good luck and remember – it’s a buyer’s market, so don’t hesitate to start your project now.

  • Phoenix Arizona Outdoor Kitchens and BBQ Islands

    Nothing says Phoenix living than an outdoor kitchen or fully equipped BBQ island. Having family get-togethers, parties, and meeting in an outdoor kitchen is all part of how we live in Phoenix. While outdoor cooking and outdoor entertaining go hand in hand, having the perfect environment to do so needs proper planning. Outside Living Concepts has many years of experience in designing and building outdoor kitchen areas in Phoenix, Scottsdale, East Valley and other areas in greater Arizona. We can do it all, from a basic barbecue island with grill, to a fully functional outdoor kitchen. Want to add value to your home? Long gone are the days where you would just roll your grill back to your patio. Outside living is the norm in the valley, so a well-designed outdoor kitchen will help you take full advantage of our beautiful evening weather. Our outdoor kitchens can be used for everyday use, but classy enough to show off at your next backyard party.

    Phoenix BBQ Island

    Whether you want a standard stainless steel barbecue, one with a travertine counter top or something completely over top, Outside Living Concepts can meet your needs. A good quality stainless steel barbecue grill is the backbone to any backyard kitchen area. These grills can range in price so picking the right grill for your needs is important. All of our outdoor kitchens start with a well-placed barbecue location and then we work from there. As many of your cookouts will take place in the evening and while it is dark, it is important that you also have good lighting. Putting the grill in a area that is off to the side can be very convenient, plus keeping it close to the backdoor for the indoor kitchen is always a plus. Walking back and forth across the backyard to grill a dozen times can get old very quickly.

    Gourmet Outdoor Kitchen

    Gourmet outdoor kitchens with a barbecue, tile counter tops, raised bar, refrigerator and more are really the new craze! An outdoor gourmet kitchen could contain a sink, refrigerator, or even a pizza oven. There is truly no limit when designing your outdoor kitchen. Our licensed experts have recommendations for your outdoor BBQ based on your lifestyle and budget.

    Make Sure Your Contractor Is Licensed

    Gas and Electric contractors, need to be licensed to legally perform gas and electric services for our clients. Don’t let an unlicensed landscape contractor touch something as dangerous as gas, propane, or electric on your property. Make sure your outdoor kitchen and BBQ is installed only by a Licensed, Bonded, and Insured contractor. Saving a few dollars by hiring the guy from the sign on the telephone poll to save a few dollars is not worth the risk. Check out Outside Living Concepts BBB A+ rating and online reviews and you will see why the are the only choice for you and you backyard.

  • Professional Landscape Design as Investment in Your Home

    Many in Phoenix ask if investing in a professional landscape design is a solid investment in your home. Will you get your money back when you sell your home? First impressions are as important for a home especially one for that is for sale. If you are selling, good landscape design can add up to 20% of value to your home. Here are some basic rules to follow in order to get the best return on your investment.

    Professional Landscape Design

    Ask any realtor and most will tell you that a professionally landscaped property is a sure ticket to quick resale. It gives a home curb appeal and that first impression is the same type of return that you get on a new kitchen or bath.

    Here Are Some of the Landscaping Basics:

    Homeowners should invest 10 percent of the home’s value in landscaping. Landscape design goes beyond plantings or what we call soft scape, this would include structural features like BBQ’s, fireplaces, water features, lighting, courtyard walls, fences, garden paths, fire pits, swimming pools, hot tubs, and shade structures. A good landscape designer can work with the client to generate a detailed plan for your back yard and front of your home.

    Make Sure You Hire A Pro

    When hiring a landscape contractor, go with a licensed professional. Get a detailed plan that your contractor will follow and one that you can manage or have managed after the work is done. These professionals know about botany, horticulture, engineering, layout and design. They are also experts in property grading, water flow, soils, and plant irrigation. Like all building projects, this is an investment in your property so don’t trust the lowest priced contractor, you may end up getting what you pay for, so get the guidance of a professional before you begin.

    Landscape designers generally will look at key areas of enhancement for your home. On grade patio, adding a pool, front yard plantings, and exterior lighting are all desirable. Exterior lighting goes beyond security to showcase the natural Arizona beauty. The interest in landscaping and property enhancement is a natural extension of the boom in home renovation and improvement. Homeowners are paying more attention to the link between indoors and outdoors and people are making a better connection to the natural environment and their outdoor space.

    Beware of Landscaping Pitfalls

    One of the biggest mistake homeowners make is a “piecemeal” approach to their landscaping plans. Homeowners start projects, clear areas, put in a mix of plants and cacti, and proceed without a plan. The result is a combination that will give your property a disorganized feel. A properly implemented professional landscape design provides a polished look to your property rather than looking like an un-made bed . Having a professionally prepared plan and a qualified business doing the work will lead to a more uniformed look and increase it’s value.

    Finally remember that everything doesn’t have to happen at once. Having a plan is even more important. You can have 2-5 year plan for your backyard playground, adding as your budget or time allows. You can remain within your budget while still progressing toward a complete renovation. Adding a pool & spa, then patio, BBQ and landscaping, or what ever order you choose can only help by having planned in advance.

  • Backyard Landscapes Like Own Resort at Home

    What can people do to “Go Green” in their yards?

    Landscape Design Like A Resort. Lots of people are, “going green” these days and I have been designing and installing lots of artificial turf, as well as putting greens. These are very popular and environmentally friendly, and of course, no water. There are super products on the market now and most of it looks incredibly lifelike. Cost fluctuates between $6-$7 per square foot depending on the turf chosen, and how much people are installing.

    Can you tell us about your special Disney grass?

    My grass was created for the folks at Disney World in Florida and I was the first person to have it outside the park in the country. Mine was installed in September of 2007. Before you do any front yard remodel, make sure it has been cleared by your HOA.

    What do you love most about living in Ahwatukee?

    The convenience of so many things within just a few square miles is one of the prime reason why I live here. There is absolutely everything you need or could want within 5 miles of my home. Ahwatukee is incredibly diverse and very friendly. I know so many people by name and face no matter where I go. A great place to come home to.

    You recently worked on a special project with Kyrene de la Estrella, tell us about that.

    The Kyrene de la Estrella PTO asked my company to design and build a reading garden in an unused space at the school. My wife Natalie has been teaching kindergarten there since it was opened in 1999. The garden was recently dedicated to the retiring principle, Sharon Wilcox in her honor as the first principle of the school.

    What’s your favorite feature in your own backyard?

    I don’t know if I have a favorite feature, but I’d rather say felling. The resort like feel gives a sense of relaxation and comfort like I am on vacation. After a busy day, there is nothing like going to the backyard for a nice and relaxing soak in the spa, listening to the sound of water feature, with the beautiful lighting, fireplace going several months of the year, even a round of golf just putting around in my own backyard. I call it my “great room” and it truly is the biggest room in the house – out of the house. It has more than double our useable space. We have been enjoying it for nearly 7 years and still going. A well thought out, artistic, and well executed landscape plan is a tremendous equity builder in a home and also gives years of enjoyment while you are staying there.

    Landscape Design Like Resort

    Lots of people are, “going green” these days and I have been designing and installing lots of artificial turf, as well as putting greens. These are very popular and environmentally friendly, and of course, no water. There are super products on the market now and most of it looks incredibly lifelike. Cost fluctuates between $6-$7 per square foot depending on the turf chosen, and how much people are installing.

    Can you tell us about your special Disney grass

    My grass was created for the folks at Disney World in Florida and I was the first person to have it outside the park in the country. Mine was installed in September of 2007. Before you do any front yard remodel, make sure it has been cleared by your HOA.

    What do you love most about living in Ahwatukee

    The convenience of so many things within just a few square miles is one of the prime reason why I live here. There is absolutely everything you need or could want within 5 miles of my home. Ahwatukee is incredibly diverse and very friendly. I know so many people by name and face no matter where I go. A great place to come home to.

    You recently worked on a special project with Kyrene de la Estrella, tell us about that

    The Kyrene de la Estrella PTO asked my company to design and build a reading garden in an unused space at the school. My wife Natalie has been teaching kindergarten there since it was opened in 1999. The garden was recently dedicated to the retiring principle, Sharon Wilcox in her honor as the first principle of the school.

    What’s your favorite feature in your own backyard

    I don’t know if I have a favorite feature, but I’d rather say felling. The resort like feel gives a sense of relaxation and comfort like I am on vacation. After a busy day, there is nothing like going to the backyard for a nice and relaxing soak in the spa, listening to the sound of water feature, with the beautiful lighting, fireplace going several months of the year, even a round of golf just putting around in my own backyard. I call it my “great room” and it truly is the biggest room in the house – out of the house. It has more than double our useable space. We have been enjoying it for nearly 7 years and still going. A well thought out, artistic, and well executed landscape plan is a tremendous equity builder in a home and also gives years of enjoyment while you are staying there.

    Fireplaces, water features, spa surrounds, hardscapes, pools, landscape and more – you name it! Your yard can be so much more than just a place you let your dog out, or a great place for a storage shed. It can be your own min-oasis and the second most popular room in (or out) of you home (the kitchen being number one of course). So start thinking of your yard as a sanctuary of fun for the whole family because after all, if Curt builds it … they will come.