Rocks, pathways and sculpture can make your landscaping job complete.
Thursday, October 8, 1998
The grass is green, the weeds are gone and the bulbs are planted for spring color. But the yard still needs something. How do you give your yard those finishing touches?
Natural settings with rocks and water features is the answer, say landscapers.
"More and more, people want to feel connected to nature," says David Cohen of Waterstone Specialty Landscapes, based in Soquel. "They want to make their home their sanctuary (where) they can get rejuvenated." They do this, he says, by incorporating stone and statuary, often in water features like ponds and fountains.
"The hot ticket item now is boulders, especially from Superstition Mountain in Arizona and Sierra boulders from Tahoe," reports Wayne Russell, manager of Deco-Rock in Salinas. "In the past, the big movers used to be white dolomite and red lava. They''re going now to more colorful rocks."
The boulders Russell is talking about range in size from 75 pounds up to two tons and more. They''re usually placed in a single arrangement of two or three boulders as part of the landscaping. He says some homeowners lay their own rock and stone, but others shop to see what materials are available, then work with a landscaper. Cost varies, he says, but is priced by the pound or by the ton for stone, generally from 15 cents up to 30 cents a pound for walkways. A true estimate requires getting the square footage to calculate the amount of material and the cost.
Meandering paths are much in vogue, according to Jeff Nilsen, who supervises construction at Bokay Nursery in Salinas. The current preference, he says, for paths and patios is interlocking paver tiles. The cost for these, including installation, runs $8-9 per square foot.
Other popular materials include brick (more expensive at $12-15 per square foot). Flagstone, slate and quartzite run $18 and up per square foot. Concrete is the cheapest, starting at about $6 a square foot, but can be dressed up with color, exposed aggregate and various other finishing touches at affordable costs ranging from 25 cents to a few dollars per square foot. Nilsen adds that concrete is still the material of choice for about half his customers. "Most people consider looks and cost, as well as overall esthetic value" when choosing material for walkways, says Nilsen.
For meandering paths that add a natural look and color, decomposed granite is a popular choice, says Nilsen. With the right edging material and concrete mix creating something "real permanent," but with a softer look, more of a feeling of a path than a sidewalk. Cost is about $4.50 a square foot.
Nilsen doesn''t recommend do-it-yourself walkways unless you''ve had more than a little experience in paving and concrete work-otherwise, you''re likely to encounter technical problems in terms of grading, drainage and preparing the base. If incorrectly done, your paving job can end up shifted and ruined.
But if rockwork and paving sound a little too ambitious for you, there are other treatments-including water features and statuary-that can give a garden either a rustic or formal feel.
An increased interest in water features, says George Graeber of Graeber Gardens in Salinas, is due to improved pumps. "Over the last 10 years, pumps have become more dependable. They operate longer and cost less. Their miniaturized size-as small as three inches by three inches-has opened up a new category."
Graeber also notes that fountain designs have gotten away from the Italian look and now offer more variety, appealing to different gardens. Animals-frogs, turtles, rabbits, pigs, horses, hippos, dolphins and gophers-are popular, as are angels, cherubs and St. Francis.
"Because designs are more attractive, plus the advent of submersible pumps, some people are starting to take them indoors," says Graeber. "My dentist bought one for the office but took it home instead."
Cost can vary greatly, since many fountains can be selected and assembled from modular pieces. Pedestals, bowls of varying size and number and statuary are often up to the buyer''s choice and pocketbook. They can be as simple as a bird bath, about $50 to $80 depending on the design, or include electrical equipment to pump water for another $130 to $180. A large fountain with several tiers and statuary can run $1,500 or more.
In addition to choice in design, buyers can select from several finishes. According to Graeber, plain concrete holds up best to the elements, but the concrete also comes painted to look like bronze or stained to look like stone.
"These are not like fine porcelain," he cautions. "They have blemishes and that''s part of the whole look. As it ages in the garden, it takes on an old look."
As for pools, Cohen encourages homeowners to try constructing these on their own. "You can buy ready-made pond shells (plastic or fiberglass) and filtration systems," he says, adding that less expensive systems can require more maintenance than high-end ponds,
Wood decor is another option for the garden. Jeff Morheim sculpts all manner of creatures at LeBlanc Burlwood Studios in Monterey, but "what people buy more than anything is bears-six bears to every other piece we do."
According to Morheim, the bears go in the front yard as well as the back; some even get put inside the house. In addition to bears, popular choices include eagles, Indians, whales and dolphins, totem poles, dinosaurs and carousel horses.
"If you can dream it, we can carve it," Morheim likes to say. About 70 percent of his business is special orders. Size "typically ranges from two feet to as big as they want." Price ranges as well, starting at about $250 and averaging $500 to $1,000 for a four to five-foot tall sculpture. The price goes up with size and detail. H&G