Designing an Outdoor Patio: Finding your Purpose

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Iowa City 3D Landscape Designer

So you’ve been trapped inside dreaming of warm weather and looking at patio plans on pinterest but you’re not sure how to make you’re outdoor patio dreams a reality? Where do I to put the fire pit? Where should the grill should go? Well don’t fret, we’re here with all the tips on how to plan your patio, the right way.

The first thing to consider when starting your space is deciding just what you would like the purpose of your patio to be. Is it for entertaining large groups or small? Is it for your you to have family dinners? Do you love fire pits and roasting marshmallows or would you prefer morning coffee surrounded by beautiful flowers? Take some time to really think about what you want and make a list of importance to solidify your purpose in order. Here are a few things to ask yourself when making decisions

How many people do you typically entertain and how often:

Deciding the amount of people you typically entertain will help you in determining the size of your patio area. You want to be able to accommodate all your guests, but want to consider cost and size with how often you will have large groups. When considering your space, don’t forget to add in flat yard space surrounding your patio as overflow area in cases of large groups. If you only host large groups only a few times a year, that can suffice for saving on patio space.

What time of day do you plan to enjoy your space?

Deciding your ideal times to enjoy your outdoor space are vital in deciding the location of your patio. If you love to be out in the mornings, putting your space to the east may make for beautiful sunrises, but without shade will make them very bright throughout the rest of the morning. The same applies for the early evenings, making sure you have sufficient shade to stay out of the summer sun and heat will be incredibly important in your decision making.

Do you want a dining area? Outdoor Kitchen?

If you’re looking to cook and serve food on your patio you will want to consider your proximity to your home. Keeping your cooking area as close to your house as possible makes for more efficiency in bringing food in and out of the house to be cooked and served. Making it convenient will allow you to spend less time running and prepping and more time surrounded by your guests.

Do you want a fire feature?

You will first need to decide what type of feature so you know your options. Fire pits will need to be kept away from your home. Most code is 25 feet but you may want additional space to avoid smoke in windows and heat getting too close to your house. If you want a gas feature, it can be placed closer to the home and gives you a few more options for your space. You may also want to consider if you want to be able to see it from inside your home so you can enjoy it all year.

How much landscape lighting do you need?

Landscape lighting is a must, but how much will suffice in keeping your space safe. Landscape lighting allows your family and guests to move around your space safely. It also provides extra home security for when you aren’t enjoying your outdoor space.

Do you want it to be an extension of your home or a typical outdoor space?

Deciding the level of outdoors you want is important for picking your features. You can add pergolas and pavilions to enclose a home space. Ceiling fans can be added to cool your space and keep insects out. Making a more conditioned space can make your space more comfortable.

If you can discuss and answer all these questions, making your list your importance will solidify your decision and you will be set and ready to get your plan put together. And once the plan is set, the construction of it becomes the easy part…

4 Reasons Why Design should be the first step in a Landscaping Project

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Time Management

Working with a designer allows more time to fully think through your project. Most contractors are in a time crunch and once the project is started, taking more time can be detrimental to their timeline and costly for you. Starting with the design process gives you time to plan out your project step by step and think about your wants and needs at present and for the future. It also gives you the option to catch mistakes or make changes that would be expensive once the project is started.

Cost Effectiveness

In addition to catching any costly mistakes in your plan, Having a design in hand when hiring a contractor gives you the opportunity to get an accurate quote and those quotes will be apples to apples across all contractors. Having a final design gives less wiggle room and the estimate should be closer to the actual costs. Many contractors will also add in additional costs to cover changes to the project and if you are organized and well planned out, they can cut down on those expenses.

 Designers are well connected to wholesale nurseries and Suppliers

Because designers are regular in contact with building suppliers, they are very aware of plant availability and the different types of building materials. They also stay up-to-date on the market trends, which will keep your design fresh and add value to your home.

Peace of Mind

Being able to see your yard come to life before breaking ground adds peace of mind and eliminates the stress of your landscaping project. When you can visually go through all your design choices and plants in advance, it makes all the difficult decisions taken care of up front and then you know exactly what you are getting into. The ease of the project and money saved in changes and lack of knowledge is worth hiring a Landscape Designer.  




Help your plants get through the August Heat

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Even with these relatively mild August Iowa Temperatures, it is still hot and rough on your plants. When the summer temperatures rise, the plants feel the stress and along with the hot weather, generally comes dry spells. Make sure to protect your plants from being damaged by our hot Iowa weather. Here are a few tips for protecting your plants from the heat this year.

  • Water Carefully. The hotter it gets, the more moisture evaporates from the soil. Watering your plants in the morning, before it gets hottest outside, is a great way to make sure the roots can absorb the water they need. Some plants may also need to be watered more frequently or with more volume in the summer.
  • Plant Deeper. You can plant your seeds a little deeper if you know you’ve got a late start this year, if you’re expecting a really hot summer, or if you live in an area that sees warm temperatures all year round. This will help protect seeds and fledgling root systems from scorching before they have a chance to get established.
  • Keep the Sun at Bay. Even plants that need a lot of sunlight can be damaged by it. When it’s hottest outside, consider adjusting your plants so they are protected from the most direct sunlight. Sometimes this is as simple as just moving potted plants during the brightest part of the day, usually between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

5 things to consider when choosing a Paver Color and style

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The weather is warming, the grass is green and you are ready to get outside and get going on your yard. You want a beautiful patio that serves as an outdoor living area, but you are unsure how to decide what style and color of patio to do. You’ve been shopping to see all the different options and you are totally overwhelmed.. Never fear, we are hear to ease your mind and give you some practical tips on how to choose your material and your colors!

Use and Functionality

The first thing we suggest you consider is where will you be using the pavers. For a patio? a driveway? maybe by the pool? It is important to consider it’s functionality and space so that you don’t discover too late that you made a vital mistake. For example, if you are putting them around a pool, we suggest you use light colors that don’t get to warm in the sun when you are walking on them barefoot. However, if you are building a driveway, dark pavers can add depth and dimension to your home!

Complimentary Design

Look around your yard, take into consideration the styles that already exist. The color or your home and the architecture style. This can help you to compliment the design so that it looks like it belongs. If you have a plain yard, you may want to consider adding a border to your design. If your yard is filled with beautiful plants and feels more like an oasis, you may want to consider natural stone. Taking in your surroundings can help you determine the look and feel of your pavers.

Your Style

What do you like? At the end of the day this is your space and you need to like how it feels. Considering other elements is important, but you also need to like the way it turns out. It seems simple, but sometimes this is very much overlooked!


Budget can play a big role in deciding what you actually choose, so don’t forget you need to keep that in mind when you are shopping for pavers. You may fall in love with a natural stone, only to find out it is way out of budget. Just be mindful of what you can and can’t budget and talk to the sales man so they can instruct you to what options you may have.

Test them out

Don’t just go to the store and look at the pavers to pick your style, take a few home, set them by your home, in your space and test them out. It is important to see them with all the elements to make certain you like the way they look and feel.

These are just a few things to consider, if you need any assistance in choosing your color and style, our design team is always happy to help! Contact us today to start on designing your space..



How Much are Pavers?

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How Much Do Paver Stones Cost?

Whenever we start a project, one of the first questions we hear is “how much do pavers cost?” And of course it is, you want to make sure your dream landscape won’t break the bank.

Most pavers range from $3.75 to $12 per square foot (not including installation costs).

The exact cost will depend on the quality, type and even color of the paver you choose.

Where Are You Installing Pavers?

Do you want a paver patio installed, or are you going to use the pavers to create a stunning paver driveway? The type and size of project will also affect the price.

Larger areas will have a lower square footage price due to the volume of work in one area and the finish work. Installing a driveway is faster than some other hardscape projects, so paving a large area brings some economy of scale.

However, there are some paver stones designed for driveways and high-traffic areas that cost slightly more because they are a little thicker to meet testing standards for these areas.

Detailed Designs Cost More

The most expensive and time-consuming part of a paver project is the cutting and detail work. Round or curved patios add cost due to more cuts and finish pieces. Additionally, if you want detailed designs such as mosaics or other patterns that require a lot of cutting, it will add to the cost as well.


Don’t Forget Maintenance Costs

Your pavers are going to get normal wear and tear from use and weather, so be sure to take care of them with regular maintenance.

Depending on the amount of foot traffic it receives, your pavers will need to be power washed, remanded and sealed every three years.

Who You Hire Affects The Price Now (And Later)

No two landscape contractors are the same, and the same is true for their prices.

A certified contractor with an experienced team of installers (who receive competitive benefits), full-coverage insurance, professional equipment and uses high-quality materials will be more qualified to handle your project — and they will also cost more than someone who doesn’t have those things.

So, it will cost you more upfront to hire an experienced landscape contractor than it would someone without all of those qualifications. But, it can save you money in the long run.

You could actually end up paying more for your paver work if you go with the low-ball bidder. You’ll have to pay someone else to come in and cleanup their sloppy work — or even redo it completely if your pavers aren’t level or weren’t correctly installed. You really do get what you pay for.

Be smart with your money and hire a professional landscape contractor who knows what they are doing.

Ready to start enjoy your paver project? Contact us to get your free paver quote!

Tips for starting your 3D Landscape Design

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So we’ve been talking a lot about 3D landscape designs this winter and now you are ready to get going. But where do you start? To help you with the process, here are just a few quick  tips to help the process move along quickly and seamlessly.

 Know Your Yard

Before you even sit down with us to talk about the design, it is important to think long and hard about your yard and how you want it to come together. Think about things like how do I want to use the space? Who will be using the space? How will it flow from the house to the patio if I put it there? Where will the sun be in the afternoon when I want to enjoy the patio? Thinking things out gives us a good place to start and then we can come in and start giving you ideas and recommendations on how we think the space can be improved!

Talk with your Spouse if you are Planning it together

If you are working with your partner or spouse on the project, make sure to talk about the wants of both people before beginning your design . Nothing adds stress to a project quicker than one person taking over the design and finding out it isn’t going to work for the other person. Talking it out and planning pre-design will save time and money in the designing process.

 Fill out a Designer Questionnaire

Answering some tougher questions can sometimes bring up new ideas and push the design a little further, that is why we also suggest doing a design questionnaire before you get started. We will be unrolling a Richmond’s Questionnaire this spring so please visit our facebook page and keep an eye out for some new tools to get started with your projects!

Get Your Landscape Patio Ready for Winter

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Your outdoor living patio space is a great place to relax with friends and family during the spring, summer and fall. However, it is left to sit through our hard Iowa Winter months. Maintaining your patio is essential during the winter when it can be damaged by the rain, ice or snow. If you have a custom stone patio from Richond’s Landscaping, please check out these tips for cleaning and maintaining your patio during the harsh winter season.

One of the most important tips in safeguarding your patio during winter is cleaning it. We recommend that all patio furniture be put away and stored off the patio during the winter. Heavy patio furniture can crack or fracture stone during the severe cold. Leaves left in piles on the deck are the perfect place for bugs, mold and mildew to accumulate and do damage and staining. Making sure the patio is sealed can also protect it from these things. The sealant protects your patio from rain, ice and snow.

Richmond’s Landscaping offers maintenance and cleaning services, but if you want to tackle the task yourself here are a few tips. When cleaning your stone patio surface, use a brush with a stiff bristle and scrub with water. A degreaser can be used to remove the grease and grill stains on the floor. If your patio is made of natural stone, you can scrub it with mild detergent, rinse or sweep it. Follow the cleaning directions provided by the manufacturer for best results, especially for those stones that need special care. Some of these stones, such as Limestone and Mable can be easily damaged if mishandled.

It’s very important to get rid of any mildew and mold build up; they are likely to breed during winter. Remove the buildup from cracks and tight places. Stone pavers may have small gaps between them. These small gaps can grow weeds during the warm months. Pull the small weeds and grass growing between the pavers. You can also use weed killer products to prevent further growth.

Contact Richmonds Landscaping with any questions you have about your stone paver patio. We have qualified professionals who can guide you on best ways to protect your patio and deck year round.

Happy Halloween Lighting

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As you take to the streets this Halloween, remember that the glow of a pumpkin is not the only important lighting for a fun trick-or-treating this year. This time of year it gets dark early and many of us are getting home in the dark. Landscape lighting makes it much more enjoyable when navigating the darkness and what better time to have path lighting than for your little ghosts and goblins to navigate on Halloween night. It is also very helpful in deterring any ghouls that may be up to mischief. One more great benefit is it can act as an addition to your Holiday decor when you change up the lighting to go with the season. So keep your home well lit tonight and have a Happy and safe Halloween!

Why to fix potential water problems before they become a problem.

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How to avoid landscape water problems

With all the rain storms in Iowa this summer, this is a hot topic for us at Richmond’s Landscaping. We get a lot of calls after a good storm to fix problems caused by the mass amounts of water flooding through yards. Many of these problems are caused by lack of maintenance and keeping water from becoming a problem before it is too late. Here are a few reasons to take care of your water issues before it damages your yard or even your home:


Tiling in down spouts and into a disbursement box will help to prevent erosion from centralized water flow and carries the water away from the foundation.

Keep an eye on erosion, especially after the winter months

Water erosion and frost heaving in the winter from collected water in and around landscaping is one of the main causes of landscape failures.

Properly install Landscape drainage

The landscape may be installed correctly but if the installer didn’t take care of the 2 down spouts dumping water next to the landscape it will become an issue quickly.

Don’t Wait

It is much more cost effective to take care of the problem immediately than to wait until you see the consequences of the water problem.

4 Outdoor Lighting Trends for 2016

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Outdoor Lighting in Iowa City and cedar Rapids

As the fall approaches, we are shifting gears at Richmond’s Landscaping. The days will soon start to get shorter and the weather will cool, so it is important to think ahead to how you would like to be spending your time this fall. Do you have a nice fire pit out in your backyard you can’t wait to sit around? Or a new outdoor kitchen you want to host some friends at? If you plan on enjoying Iowa’s beautiful fall weather outside, then you may want to think about adding outdoor lighting this year.  The fall is when outdoor lighting is most beneficial as the days are short and it adds safety to your outdoor spaces. So when you are looking to add lighting to your outdoor space, it is crucial to know the trends and what is new in the outdoor lighting world! Here are the top 4 trends of 2016:


Sustainability continues to be important in the landscaping industry, which is why LEDs are on the top of the list for 2016.  LEDs last longer than the traditional incandescent bulb, and they also use less energy which is good for everyone. According to the US Department of Energy, Residential LEDs use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.

Hidden Safety and Security

Landscape lighting is helpful in providing safety and visibility in your yard, but it doesn’t need to be visible during the day. Hiding lighting and blending it into the landscaping is on our trend list as it continues to be a popular demand. Keeping your yard beautiful day and night while enhancing the safety and security!

Here are some popular places to add landscape lighting:

  •       On stairs
  •       Staggered along walkways
  •       In plant beds to uplight your home
  •       Inside columns
  •       Under sitting wall

Enhanced Entertainment

​Lighting can be used around sitting walls, patios, pergolas with TVs, fire features, water features, outdoor kitchen and any other area where you want to relax and entertain.
Properly installed lights will enhance and complete the space by highlighting structures and creating a cozy, inviting ambience. Lighting can really set the mood for a relaxing, fun night outside.

Easy to Control

The digital world is everywhere and why not in your yard. Lights that are easily controlled and timed is important for usability and energy efficiency. Some are even going so far as to be controlled through phones and tablets. Digital enhancements continue to bring more to the lighting capabilities and will be a mainstay in the future.