Celebrate National Landscape Architecture Month by Making Functional Improvements

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May 062013
 

Ornamental Steel FencingTo celebrate National Landscape Architecture Month in April, professional landscape architects are hosting a variety of educational events and activities across the country. Inspired by these happenings, homeowners and business owners are joining in the celebration by investing in landscaping projects which add beauty and a touch of class. Spring is a great time to enhance the overall appearance of your home or business by focusing on its exterior. It’s also a good opportunity to enhance security by installing ornamental steel fencing.

Big Benefits

Most people associate landscaping projects with simple beautification; however, the right landscaping strategies can actually offer some other big benefits. Besides adding resale value to a home, residential landscaping improvements can actually save homeowners money. By replacing grass areas with stone or rock, homeowners can cut down on maintenance costs. Additionally, by planting trees in strategic areas, property owners can create shade, which can drastically reduce utility costs associated with air conditioning. Well-planned landscaping projects can even prevent major damage; for instance, by creating better drainage, some strategic exterior alterations can prevent flooding.

Landscaping projects are also important for business owners, who must project a credible image to their customers. A poorly kept or neglected exterior sends the wrong message to potential customers, who tend to view businesses with poor landscaping as unprofessional or mediocre. After all, just as they wouldn’t think very highly of a lawyer who sets an office up in a strip mall; consumers aren’t likely to respect an enterprise which appears to have no regard for its landscaping.

Functional Enhancements

To get the most out of a landscaping project, homeowners and business owners need to make sure they get a fair return on their investments. While rose bushes and fountains may add beauty and style to a property; they aren’t nearly as valuable as enhancements that add beauty while also performing an important function. Stone walkways, retaining walls and patios offer property owners a good bang for the buck; however, few enhancements have as significant an impact as those which offer beauty and security.

Substantial Value

By offering serious long-term value, ornamental steel fencing gives property owners a huge return on their landscaping investments. Not only do these functional improvements make homes look classier; they make them safer. The right steel fencing also makes business facilities appear more elegant and professional, while also protecting valuable equipment and merchandise. By offering a host of benefits, these attractive, functional structures allow property owners to accomplish several goals by making only one smart investment.

Apr 192013
 

Fenced YardNow that spring has finally arrived it is time to pack away the overcoats and parkas and break out the shorts and swimsuits.  It’s also time to do some much-needed maintenance to not only your house’s interior, but also the exterior including the yard and surrounding landscape.  Now that the weather is nicer, it is the perfect chance to break out the ladder and the tools and do some spring outdoor home improvements that you have been putting off throughout this long, cold winter.

  • One of the first areas that many people look toward is the lawn itself.  Now is the time to get out the lawnmower for that first official cut of the year.  Make sure that it’s gassed up and operating fully.  You may need to take your mower in for a tune-up to make sure it will be able to handle all the strain you put it under this season.  If the lawn doesn’t look up to par, consider investing in sod or tilling up the soil and putting down new grass seed so you can have that lush feel between your toes when you walk barefoot through the yard.
  • Once you have the lawn looking the way you want it, you may want to consider protecting that lawn with good iron fencing.  If you don’t already have a property enclosing fence, now might be the best time to upgrade to one.  If you do, this is the time to walk around the entire border of your property checking out the integrity of your fence.  If you have a wooden fence, make sure that the boards and posts are stable.  If you have an iron fence, make sure that the rails are secure.  Also, check the hinges and locks for signs of wear and tear and repair these as needed.
  • Pool owners should also use this opportunity to get your pool ready for the new season.  Give the pool a good thorough cleaning and consider getting a professional to help you get your chemicals balanced perfectly at the start of the season.  Vacuum out the pool and also clear up any toys or other debris from around the pool area.
  • Check your roof to make sure that tiles and shingles have not come loose during winter storms.  If possible, climb up on your roof to check these out.  Otherwise, use a ladder and give it a cursory glance from a safe distance.
  • Check out the exterior walls of your home and consider either pressure-washing or, if you can afford it, upgrading to a new coat of paint or vinyl siding to give it that fresh curb appeal.
  • Give your porch screens some love as well.  Many times, winter storms with high winds and rain can damage or tear porch screens.  Now is a good time to repair and replace these screens.

These are just a few ideas that can help to get your home’s exterior and yard in top shape for the spring and summer.  Just a few hours on the weekends will go a long ways toward making sure the outdoor portion of your property is beautiful and lively.

Mar 202013
 

Montage FenceInstalling a fence, perhaps around your property, can be a daunting thought. There’s a lot to plan and think through before proceeding. Where is the best place to buy fence materials? What will the installation cost be? Can I do it myself, or do I need to hire a fencing contractor?

You should treat a fencing project just like anything you might build. You will probably need to get local planning permission before proceeding, which in turn will mean that you will need properly prepared plans of the project beforehand.

 

Consider you neighbors

Do you know exactly where your property boundary is? Most people have a good idea where it is, but encroach on your neighbor’s land, even by an inch or so, and you may find your friendly neighbor is not quite so friendly any more. Always be certain that you have the legal right to do it, before you do it. Your iron fencing project will go much smoother as a result.

It’s probably a good idea to drop along each neighbor who borders your property and discuss your plans with them. They might be concerned about your plans as it may obstruct their view in some way, or impinge on them in some other way.

There are many types of ornamental fence, and the one you plan to erect may not be the right style of fence, or the most suitable wrought iron fence for the neighborhood, or indeed, for you. A quick friendly chat with your neighbors will do wonders for your local public relations. You might even pick up some useful tips too.

Licensed, Insured and Bonded?

You will most likely employ a fencing contractor to do the job for you, unless of course you have prior fencing experience. Assuming that you get a fencing contractor, you will need to ensure that he is properly licensed, insured and bonded.

Your fence, unless it is something like a very short 6-foot run of fence, will most likely cost you more than $500, so it is in your best interests to make sure a bond is in place. This will protect you if your fencing contractor fails to meet the terms of the contract, for any reason. If such a situation arises, having a bond in place will save you a lot of money.

The need for liability insurance should be obvious. This will cover any work related damages that might happen. Workmen’s compensation insurance is also important. While you may think that part of it is really none of your business, you really don’t want injuries or health risks that are not fully covered happening on your property.

A proper fencing contractor is one who has paid all the necessary local fees, and one you can probably trust. If your contractor seems a bit cagey about the subject of codes and permits, ask yourself what he has to hide. Contact your local licensing authority if you need to find out.

Avoid sub-contractors, if possible

The best situation concerning fence installers and contractors is where all the workmen are employed by the contractor. This ensures a certain continuity and control. If a contractor sub-contracts all or part of the work to another company, he loses a degree of control, and you lose even more control.

Your iron fence installation will go much more smoothly if the workmen are fully accountable to the fence installation contractor you hired in the first place. The hierarchy will be properly defined, and you will sleep much better at night too.

Choosing a good, reputable fencing contractor from the start is one of the best tips you can have when you install your own iron fence. You won’t have to worry about fence materials, getting a suitable post hole digger, making sure posts are pre-routed, and that’s always assuming you get the right size of posts in the first place. Getting a good contractor will leave you with nothing to worry about apart from how your fence will look when it’s finished.

Feb 202013
 

Iron fences have the best of all worlds. They are strong and sturdy, providing excellent security where it’s needed, and they can also be designed as extremely pleasing to look at, which can only enhance your property from an aesthetic point of view.

It’s a sad fact that we live in an age when not everyone can be trusted. For this reason, everyone owes it to themselves to stay vigilant and do whatever is necessary to discourage intruders. Chain link fencing, for example, can be very efficient in this respect, but it lacks the simple pleasing effectiveness of well designed ornamental iron fencing.

iron fence anglessmallProperly constructed iron fences and gates are constructed as essentially one piece. The individual pieces are welded together, and this means they are very difficult to take apart. In the case of wooden or vinyl fencing, the finials and pickets can easily be dismantled with nothing more than just a simple screwdriver. Welded panels make the kind of security fencing that allows you to sleep deeply and soundly at night.

Modern wrought iron railings

Of course, most modern wrought iron railing is not actually constructed from so called true wrought iron. The wrought iron term stems from a time before steel was properly discovered and developed, when iron was wrought, or worked, by hand. The raw iron metal was extremely ductile and malleable, which allowed it to be worked into elaborate and decorative scrolls, twists and sweeping curves. The result was something that achieved both beauty and security at the same time.

Today’s modern wrought iron railing is actually made from mild steel. It is a steel with a relatively low carbon composition, which means it is reasonably ductile and malleable, though perhaps not as much as real iron. It lacks the flaws that wrought iron has, which is a result of flux and other impurities in the metal, giving it a distinctive textured look. However, you can often see this texture effect added to mild steel fencing and gates that are deliberately made to appear like original wrought iron.

Custom made wrought iron fencing

An iron ornamental fence can of course be fully custom made to a customer’s individual needs and taste. Some custom gate and fence systems are so beautifully and thoughtfully designed that they can truly be considered works of art. This in no way should detract from the security properties of the fence or gate. It can, though, make your premises look much more friendly and homely, but at the same time still pose a serious problem to any would-be intruder.

There is, of course the added cost of a real prefab steel or custom fabricated iron fence, as opposed to cheaper alternatives, such as chain link fencing ornamental structures. However, most people would agree that iron fencing is quite simply the best, and if that’s what you want, or that’s what your commercial or industrial project requires, then you have to be prepared to admit it, and pay the difference.

Is it really worth the extra you will pay? In a word, yes. This type of fencing is superior in so many ways. It has very long lasting durability, which only adds to its security qualities, which can give you the peace of mind you deserve.  It also creates an image of strength, security, and stature.

Maintaining a wrought iron fence

It is, of course, necessary to properly maintain your iron fence and any gates you might have. Like all ferrous metals, they will be susceptible to rust over time. For that reason, it is a very good idea to select galvanized steel ornamental fence panels and gates. This galvanized steel fencing should then be finished with a baked on powder coat finish, which are available in many colors.  Ornamental fences made from galvanized steel should not require maintenance for 20 years.

With a little bit of planning, your iron or galvanized steel fence and gates will provide you and your family or business with all the strength and security you need, while looking timeless and elegant for many years to come.