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Without the appropriate landscaping, your new driveway will present a stark, cold environment. Planning landscaping for a new driveway that invites visitors into your home requires consideration of four key factors.

Here’s how to plan the landscaping for a new driveway:

  • Visitors – Take on the perspective of visitors that will park in your driveway. When they exit their vehicles, landscaping should allow plenty of space to get out of the car and close the door without stepping into shrubbery or flowers. If visitors or family members routinely step into a beautifully landscaped edging along the driveway, they’ll also track dirt and pollen into the home. If you can, allow the driveway to extend two feet on both sides of a parking space so that people won’t trample on plants, and use plants that won’t eventually spread in these areas.
  • Height – Thoughtful planning of the plants used along the sides of the driveway allow you to create shading for the driveway. Shade will not only keep cars parked in the drive cooler; they’ll also limit heat gain on the concrete or asphalt, too. Take growth factors into consideration to ensure tree branches don’t infringe on the driveway, where people may back into them and potentially damage their vehicle and the tree.
  • Protection – Shade trees are nice, but trees that drop sticky sap, pollen or leaves on cars parked in the drive are a nuisance. Avoid planting trees that can damage vehicles in this way, and never plant fruit trees whose branches extend into the driveway, as falling fruit can cause paint and glass damage.
  • Climate factors – During the region’s hot summer, the temperature of the drive can soar, even with some shading. Plants that are located close to the driveway are subjected to much higher temperatures than those that exist in the air. Take this into consideration and use low-lying plants that can withstand the heat over the duration of the summer.

Make the planning of the landscaping for a new driveway simple, and enlist the help of the local experts at Associated Construction Products. Give us call today or visit our website for more information.

With an outdoor kitchen as part of the home’s exterior hardscape, Tampa Bay homeowners can extend their living space and use it nearly year-round. Boost the return on investment of an outdoor kitchen by carefully planning its design, building materials, appliances and more.

Here’s a guide to walk you through the five essential ingredients your outdoor kitchen should feature:

  • Tools – Consider the basic essentials you’ll need to cook outdoors. Your budget should first allow for a cooking area and a preparation area, at the least. The space should also be large enough to accommodate a table and chair set and perhaps even a seating area or extra chairs dotting the landscape to encourage socialization. A bar area also encourages group interaction. Consider storage areas, a fridge and water hookups in the plans, too.
  • Location – Most outdoor kitchens are located close to the home, as it’s a cost-effective way to connect utilities. Take these costs into account if you position the kitchen away from the home. The design should also factor in the extra space required to fully equip the kitchen, so you won’t have to run back and forth between it and the home to access supplies.
  • Lighting – Use bright lights directly above prep and cooling areas and subtle, soft lighting around seating and lounge chairs. Use lighting beside pathways and landscaping or water features near the kitchen as well.
  • Materials – Since outdoor kitchens will endure harsh weather conditions, choose weatherized materials in the construction of the kitchen and for appliances. Outdoor-grade, stainless steel appliances are a must; use durable concrete, granite or stone for the kitchen.
  • Climate factors – In central Florida, the plans for your kitchen should include ventilation concerns, shading and misting systems. For cooler weather use, consider heating lamps, a fireplace and windbreaks. Keep climate factors in mind when choosing outdoor furniture that can withstand the elements.

If you’re planning an outdoor kitchen, work with the area’s leading hardscape contractors at Associated Construction Products. We’re happy to help our central Florida neighbors design outdoor fireplaces, decks, water features and more.

 

Outdoor retaining walls prevent erosion, separate wilder spaces from living area and offer elegant accents for patios, gardens, cottages and entranceways. By designing and building a garden wall that doubles as seating, you’ll be able to increase the usefulness of your outdoor spaces, add attractive design elements to your home’s landscape and provide more areas where you, your family and your guests can interact with the paver-built hardscape.

  • Use jogged walls: Jogged wall designs are typically created in a zig-zag shape. Unlike a straight wall, the jogged shape creates several “notches” within the design that can be used for seating. The many L-shaped angles in the wall allow the creation of broad areas of seating that can accommodate several people at once, which are excellent for outdoor get-togethers. The jogged design is more stable and better able to hold the earth behind it since the weight of the soil is distributed in several different directions, preventing excess stress and weight buildup on any particular portion of the wall.
  • Put a seatwall at the top: A broad retaining wall can often support the addition of a seatwall at the top. When properly constructed and reinforced, the lower wall can support the soil behind it as well as the seatwall on top.
  • Increase the height of landscape retaining walls: By making landscape retaining walls higher, you can create an attractive and usable seating area around the perimeter of the wall. Walls of this type should be raised by about 18 inches to be effective.
  • Add a seatwall around the edge of your patio: If you already have a hardscape patio or related structure in your outdoor living areas, add a seatwall around the outer edge of the patio space. A seatwall on the patio can dramatically improve the usability of the space while providing sturdy additional seating for outdoor gatherings.

Associated Construction Products, Inc. specializes in outdoor design and construction services for customers throughout central Florida and communities in the Tampa Bay area. Contact us today for more information on designing and building a garden wall that doubles as seating for your home’s outdoor living spaces.

The space outside your beautiful central Florida home is the perfect place to build a pergola. Indeed, this structure is simply an outdoor extension of your home. Here are five ideas for designing a pergola in your yard.

  • Define the space – A pergola provides a roof structure above a patio or other seating area in your yard. Even without walls and an actual roof, a pergola defines an area for a specific purpose and gives it the illusion of being an outdoor room. The added shade also makes the patio a more comfortable living space on hot, sunny afternoons.
  • Unite the indoors and outdoors – If you have an outdoor kitchen and dining area, designing a pergola unites the areas. With the same structure over the cooking and eating areas, the yard feels more united and that patchwork feel is removed.
  • Add to the home’s architecture – When designing a pergola, consider the look of your home. Choose a framework and paint color that complements the home rather than clashing or detracting from it. For example, if your home has stately columns at the entrance, incorporate this feature to hold up the pergola’s latticework.
  • Give vines a place to grow – Vine-covered pergolas add a natural touch to your garden. Vines that flourish in Florida include mandevillas, wisteria, evergreen climbing hydrangeas and vinca vines. When designing a pergola to hold greenery, make sure it’s strong enough and located in an area where you can prune the plants as needed.
  • Create an entryway – The pergola doesn’t need to be in the backyard. In fact, a pergola shading your home’s entryway provides practical protection from the elements and a beautiful, shaded area for relaxing on hot days.

A pergola looks most appropriate when installed above an area with different flooring than the surrounding areas. For example, a paved patio, wooden deck or stone walkway that nudges up against a grassy green lawn is the perfect spot in which to install a pergola.

For more information about designing a pergola for your yard, please contact Associated Construction Products today. We serve residents in the Tampa Bay area.

 

Adding a hardscape living area to your home can create a practical, sturdy and decorative outdoor space. Hardscaping uses materials such as stone, wood and brick to create walls, stairs, patios and related outdoor features.

Here are nine elements to keep in mind as you plan and build your new hardscape living area.

  1. Plan and prepare. Make sure the site is properly and thoroughly prepared, with correctly placed base material that’s compacted to avoid settling or problems from freeze-and-thaw cycles.
  2. Accommodate the overall landscape. Plan for the entire area you have available for hardscaping, not just a small part of it. Features built one at a time with no consideration for future expansion could end up being obstacles to later construction.
  3. Take care of drainage. Make sure your new hardscape area has proper drainage. This will avoid water damage to the area and the unwanted accumulation of water.
  4. Have a point of focus. Your hardscape living area should have one or two structures or architectural features that draw attention and serve as a focus for the area.
  5. Balance the look and feel. Avoid using large elements, such as rocks, that look out of place. Use as many curves, shapes and other organic-looking features as possible. Avoid hard angles in construction and decoration.
  6. Maintain the vegetation. Keep greenery such as shrubs, plants, trees and other vegetation intact and incorporate it into the hardscaping.
  7. Stick with a consistent style and materials. Decide what kind of atmosphere you want for your hardscape living area and choose materials to support it. Greek style, for example, would clash with walkways that would be appropriate for an English country home.
  8. Don’t hesitate to hire an expert. If needed, bring in a designer or landscape architect to help with your hardscaping project.
  9. Buy too much construction material. Purchase more construction material than you need. This will let you add more complementary features or accents later.

Since 1986, Associated Construction Products has been providing outdoor design and construction services for customers throughout central Florida. Contact us today for more information on creating a practical and decorative hardscape living area for your home.

 

Residential stone walkways are often intended to be either decorative or practical. While a concrete walkway can be very sturdy and utilitarian, simple concrete is visually boring and doesn’t have the character to reflect the more appealing elements of your home and outdoor environment. As an alternative, a paving stone walkway gives you many options for decoration that will highlight your home’s best features while being an elegant addition in and of itself.

Paving stones, also called pavers, are manufactured bricks and stones for creating paved walkways and driveways. These pavers are designed to be set one by one without the need for mortar to hold them together. Pavers are usually installed in a bed of compacted gravel or soil.

Adding a paving stone walkway to your outdoor living spaces gives you several options for appearance and decoration:

  • Color and patterns: A paving stone walkway allows you to create a walking surface distinguished by colors and patterns. Colorful pavers can add a spot of color, an exuberant multi-hued splash or a dignified or playful pattern to your walkways. You can use colored pavers to accentuate the curve of the walkway, add subtle direction markers or provide a visually stunning addition to the simple act of walking along a path.
  • Rustic elegance and harmony: Paving stone walkways can add a touch of old-world elegance reminiscent of cozy cottages and luxurious English country homes. These walkways can be constructed of muted pavers that match existing stone walls or structures, giving the illusion of dignified age even though the construction is new.
  • Matching and sturdy brick: A brick walkway, whether interlaced or laid side-by-side, suggests the timelessness and sturdiness of old-town cobblestone streets. Brick homes can be accentuated by brick walkways, driveways and entry walks that extend the brick pattern into outdoor areas.

Since 1986, Associated Construction Products has been a premier designer and builder of outdoor living areas for customers in central Florida and the Tampa Bay area. Contact us today for more information on how a paving stone walkway can improve the beauty, sophistication and practical usability of your home’s outdoor environment.

To create a three-dimensional environment and one with a pleasing aesthetic, homeowners are wise to make careful plans for landscaping their hardscape living areas. Whether you’re adding an outdoor pool, kitchen or fireplace area, landscaping can soften the hard lines and surfaces of these types of spaces.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow when using plants to soften your hardscape living area:

  • Do group plants together, and locate at least one grouping close to the pool to boost color and aesthetics. Use plants that are generally small in size, however, so they don’t eventually overtake the pool, patio or kitchen work space.
  • Do employ containers to add height and depth to plantings.
  • Do use planting beds to balance the horizontal lines of a pool with additional height and texture.
  • Do use a variety of tools such as containers, lower beds, shrubs and dwarf trees.
  • Do use plants with intricate detail.
  • Do plant for the off-season as well, so your hardscape living area is aesthetically pleasing year-round.
  • Do use plants that are fragrant, which will add another layer of interest in terms of smell. Position these types of plants closer to where occupants will likely sit.
  • Do use a variety of plants, combining multiple types of smaller plants with texture and interest, along with a few larger, dominant plantings.
  • Do use plants that you can use for cooking. Fresh herbs are a great way to fill in some of the places around your hardscape living area, and they will deliver a fragrance to the space too.
  • Don’t oversize landscaping, as plants that are too large will eventually crowd out the living space area, and in pool spaces, contribute to the pool’s overall cleaning requirements.
  • Don’t choose plants that are sharp, such as those with prickles, spines or thorns. These are not only dangerous to children, but adults can inadvertently back into them.
  • Don’t choose plants that are toxic.
  • Don’t use plants with an overpowering scent or those that attract bees.

If you’d like more advice when it comes to landscaping around your hardscape living area, contact Associated Construction Products. We serve greater Tampa Bay and central Florida homeowners.

 

Investing in a garden fountain adds to the overall aesthetic of your landscaping, as it will add a greatly deal of visual interest and draw visitors to spend time near the sound of the lapping water. Just like your home’s value is largely dictated by its location, the overall effect of the fountain depends greatly on the garden fountain placement. Work with your contractor to determine the best location for your fountain, which is best done during the planning stages of your landscape project and before you even select a fountain.

Selection

Determining proper size and scale are a significant part of the planning process that’s involved with selecting the actual fountain. The installation location will largely dictate its size in terms of proportion in relation to surrounding landscaping, such as trees, bushes, plants and flowers, as well as other structures located on the property.

Proper garden fountain placement also largely depends on your purposes for it. If you have a large lot, you may want to use the fountain as a surprise encounter, tucked away behind tall shrubs or enclosed in an enclave of medium-sized trees that gives it a sense of privacy or a dominant feature or meeting point. Alternatively, if your yard is smaller, you may plan on using the garden fountain as the central feature.

Location

Other factors to consider when choosing the best garden fountain placement include:

  • Style, as formal gardens often employ a fountain where two paths intersect, while informal gardens often use smaller fountain as an accent feature
  • Access to electricity, in order to power the pump
  • Noise factors, as the sound of the water can void street noise
  • Nearby plantings, in order to avoid leaves or brush falling into the fountain and increasing maintenance requirements
  • Safety issues, in terms of children or pets that have access to the fountain
  • Enjoyment, as occupants inside the home and those outside positioned at the patio desire to hear the sound of the fountain

For expert assistance when planning garden fountain placement, contact Associated Construction Products today! We serve central Florida homeowners.

Paver driveways are a popular option for homeowners here in the Central Florida region because they offer a wide variety of design options, lending a refined appearance to any home or building style. With interlocking pavers, customers can select from a wide range of colors, shapes and patterns.

Whether you’re renovating your commercial or residential property or building a new house, pavers offer quality with a rich, sophisticated look. Pavers’ economical, cost-effective durability is unsurpassed due to the system of flexible joints built into product design and installation processes. Tampa Bay weather and topography offer no challenge for quality paver driveways.

For further convenience and long-term cost savings, durable concrete or long-lasting clay brick pavers are easily repaired. By design, specific areas can be fixed or replaced without reinstalling the entire driveway.

Will your driveway make a good first impression?

Your driveway, where visitors park and first view your home or business, is a key aspect of your entry landscape. Conventional brick may look good, but can offer a limited choice of colors and shades. Strength is another issue: Brick must be laid upon a concrete slab or foundation to create a robust driving surface. This means costly double paving.

Precast concrete paving material looks just like brick, but offers a dependable, durable and beautiful alternative. Consider a deep red color blended with dark steel-gray accent pavers (or other customized design) that conceals future tire tread marks and renders oil stains nearly invisible, preserving the pristine look of your driveway approach.

Solutions to common hardscape challenges

  • Permeability – For coastal conditions with regulations against runoff, turn to an innovative green solution: gravel-packed, precast, lattice pattern turf pavers.
  • Matching – The amazing color range of precast pavers allows you to perfectly match the palette of existing stonework, without the time or expense of custom manufacturing. Subtle variations of light and dark pavers provide the real stone look without the high cost.

For more information about paver driveways or other related questions, contact the pros at Associated Construction Products. We specialize in hardscapes including pool decks, patios, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits.

The goal when planning your outdoor living area is to create distinct yet cohesive spaces. Like the floor plan within the walls of your home, the outdoor living space should incorporate furniture groupings and flooring materials to delineate spaces. Here’s a look at different “rooms” you may choose to define when planning your outdoor living area.

  • Public gathering spots: The front porch and yard are likely to be the most public places on your property. It’s there that kids play and neighbors wave to passersby. However you use your front porch, make sure it gives off a good first impression.
  • Outdoor kitchen: Position the kitchen so smoke and fumes waft away from both the house and the outdoor seating area. Make sure electrical, gas and water hookups are available for outdoor kitchen amenities, such as the fridge, sink, wine cooler and stove top. Also remember the importance of task lighting for cooking after dark.
    Dining and living areas: You may delineate the dining and living areas with a fireplace or fire pit surrounded by chairs, a table nestled up to a built-in wall bench, or a table and chairs on a raised patio section. Make sure these top-priority areas become the eye candy of your outdoor living space. Make them comfortable with weather-proof cushions and wireless outdoor speakers for ambiance.
  • Recreation areas: Children and pets need room to play. Make sure the recreation area is fenced-in and shady to stay cool. The ground should be comprised of grass, shredded mulch or recycled rubber for safety.
  • Hidden nooks: When planning your outdoor living area, don’t feel like everything has to visible right away. A winding foot path that leads to a hammock and small water feature is the perfect way to create a hidden, private nook.
  • Service areas: Don’t forget a discrete place for garbage cans, gardening equipment and landscaping tools. The garage, a lockable shed or a lattice corral are all great ways to hide these unsightly but necessary components to outdoor living.

For more information about planning your outdoor living area, please contact Associated Construction Products (ACP)  today.