PATIO OR DECK?
So, you’re looking to transform some extra space in your yard into the perfect spot for lounging and entertaining. Great! Relaxing outdoors is not only peaceful and soothing, but studies suggest it offers real health benefits, like faster recovery from injury, stress reduction, and mood elevation. In other words, building a deck or patio beautifies your home while nurturing your wellbeing.
You’re sure you want to reap these benefits by making something of that grassy spot beyond your backdoor, but how do you choose between a deck or a patio? Here’s some helpful information you can use to guide you through your decision.
WHAT IS A DECK?
It might be helpful to lay out the definitions of each of these structures. Decks are generally made of wood or weather-resistant composite materials. Usually, they’re attached to the home, but they can be constructed to stand alone. Unlike patios, decks are elevated above ground level, sometimes high enough to be flush with a home’s second-story exit. Safety railings are usually necessary.
WHAT IS A PATIO?
Patios can also be attached to the home, but they’re often set apart, nestled into a fitting part of the landscaping. In terms of shape, they’re more flexible than decks, and they can be built with a wider array of materials, like pavers, stone, brick, and concrete. Patios don’t require safety railings because they’re built at ground level.
WHICH IS MORE HIGH MAINTENANCE?
Now that we’ve got a firm idea of what each structure entails, let’s assess them in terms of some important categories, like maintenance. The general conception is that decks are more high-maintenance than patios, since wood requires annual water sealing.
Patios aren’t as maintenance-free as people tend to believe, however. Especially if the surface has been sealed, it will need to be resealed every so often. Furthermore, every few years paver stones should be sand-swept to keep the joints locked tightly.
But for the most part, the general population is correct in assuming that patios are less high-maintenance than decks.
WHICH IS BETTER FOR THE TERRAIN IN YOUR YARD?
While some contractors will do whatever a client tells them, a good contractor advises you on what’s going to work in your yard and what isn’t. Certain terrains just aren’t best for certain structures. An expert who tells you so flat out will save you a lot of grief in the long run when that ill-advised project starts causing serious problems.
If your yard is flat and your back door opens right at ground level, a patio is often the better choice. Decks have to be elevated a certain amount, or you risk close proximity to the ground causing the wood to rot.
On the other hand, if your yard is a carnival of uneven terrain, the deck prevails. Yards without big, level spaces can still make for excellent outdoor relaxation because decks can be lifted up. They can also be better for the yards with lots of trees, since decks can be constructed so as not to damage root systems.
WHICH IS IS LESS EXPENSIVE?
This is another one where people tend to have preconceptions: Many believe that decks are more expensive than patios. This is often the case, since a plain concrete patio certainly costs less than an elaborate composite deck.
But the truth is that the costs of decks and patios vary greatly depending on the materials used, the scope of the design, and other factors. You should consult your contractor about your ideas before you jump to conclusions about what’s more expensive.
WHY ARE YOU BUILDING IT?
Lastly, you should consider what you intend to use the structure for. For example, if you’re looking to install a fire pit, hot tub, or permanent outdoor oven, it’ll be much trickier to accommodate on a deck.
Consider, too, what you’re going for in terms of vibe. A wooden deck offers a classic, comfortable look, while a flagstone or paver patio can be both sleek or natural looking. It really comes down to personal taste as well as what’s going to look better with your home.
Well, that’s it! Hope these tips have shed some light — and that the near future finds you lounging on a sunny deck or patio built by Creech Landscape.
- Leaf Removal
- Cutting back Liriope, perennials, and ornamental grasses
- Hard pruning of shrubs
- Limbing of Trees
- Pruning of Crepe Myrtles and Butterfly Bush
- Pruning of Roses
- Scalping of Bermuda and Zoysia
- Application of Simazine in Nov or Dec for Poa Annual control in early spring
- Application of Dormant Oil on Shrubs to reduce insect populations in Spring
- Application of Pre-Emergent in Late Feb/Early March
- Fertilization of Trees and Shrubs
- Application of Winter Fertilization in October for root development
- Fertilization and over seeding of Fescue
- Grub Treatment
THINGS TO DO THIS FEBRUARY
Those that have our Turf Program, we will be treating the turf with a pre-emergent at the end of Feb beginning of March to control the spring and summer weeds . Those of you who have requested, we will be fertilizing the shrubs and trees and applying Horticultural Oil. It is not too late to call but we do only have a few weeks as we can’t fertilize the azaleas during blooming.
Spring is an excellent time for aeration call me if you would like to be placed on the schedule. We will start aeration when we are 50% green. We will be completing the winter clean-up, pruning of Crape Myrtles and roses. Later in the month and beginning of March, we will be scalping the turf.
Call if you would like to receive a grub treatment for the turf in March, this will reduce Japanese Beatles. We can still apply the Horticultural Oil to the shrubs. This will control scale and kill insect larva on the plants
PLANT OF THE MONTH
‘Bill Wallace’ dwarf Loropetalum
TREE OF THE MONTH
Now is a good time to put down pine straw and mulch as Spring is just round the corner. Call me for any spring projects.
Landscape Trivia: Did you know the color of a rose has meanings. Red: Love & Respect. Deep Pink: Gratitude, Appreciation. Light Pink: Admiration, Sympathy. White: Reverence, Humility. Yellow: Joy, Gladness. Orange: Enthusiasm, Desire. Red &Yellow Blend: Gaiety, Joviality. Pale Blended Tones: Sociability, Friendship
Don’t forget “Valentines Day” it is a good time to give live plants that can be planted outdoors. Remember those that you love.
Creech Landscape would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. We had a warm fall and December in Atlanta, which has accelerated the germination of poa annua. In January, you can start pruning your crape myrtles. We usually wait until after Christmas as customers may have put up Chistmas Lights. Also, you want a hard freeze so that the sap have been ran out of the branches. Large crape myrtles you should not prune, especially the Natchez. I recommend removing cross branches and cleaning up the tip. You can also cut back oranmental grasses and liropie. The easiest way to cut back the ornamental grasses is to use a string or rope, and tie up the blades. Then cut about 12 to 18 inches above the ground. For larger liropie beds use a push mower or trimmer. Spraying Simazine now will give an additional pre-emergent barrier for poa annua, as well as, kill any recently germinated poa annua. For visible poa annua, you can spray Transit-X and when temperature are into the 70’s you can spray Revolver.
I have been seeing several beautiful pansy beds. If you use blood meal a couple of times a month it will fertilize and keep the deer and rabbits away from your flowers. You need to start cutting back the crape myrtles, butterfly bushes, oranmental grasses, liropie, and roses for the winter. If there are shrubs you would like lowered or trees limbed up this is a good time as the plant is now dormant. The late winter and early spring is the idea time for planting, especially transplanting. You can spray Horticultural Oil on your shrubs, which will reduce insects like aphids, white flies, and spider mites.
We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. The warm weather has accelrated the germination of poa annua. We are spraying Simazine and as the warm spring temperatures return we will begin to spray Revolver. Over the next two months, we will made pruning the crape myrtles, ornamental grasses, liropie, and roses. If there are shrubs you would like lowered or trees limbed up please let me know. The late winter and early spring is the idea time for planting. Late Feb we will begin scalping the warm season grasses. This is an excellent time to aerate.
In the winter, we can spray Horticultural Oil on your shrubs, which will reduce insects like aphids, white flies, and spider mites. We will be applying pre-emergence in Feb. Also, let me know if you would like your trees and shrubs fertilized. This needs to be done before the azaleas bloom. Also, this early spring is the time for grub treatment in the soil. This is very important to reduce the insects like the Japanese Beatle in the spring.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
‘Bill Wallace’ Dwarf Loropetalum
TREE OF THE MONTH
Now is a good time to put down pine straw and mulch as Spring is just round the corner. Call me for any spring projects.
Those in gated neighborhoods make sure we are on your list with security.
A common question I get is “Why is my grass not performing? What type of Grass do I need?” In Metro Atlanta, GA, we have predominantly 5 types of turf grass in our landscape: Bermuda, Thin Blade Zyosia, Thick Blade Zyosia, Fescue, and Centidpede. We do see a little Saint Augustine in the southern suburbs. This article will help homeowners and those in lawn care and landscape maintenance determine the proper turf grass for a homesite, based upon the amount of sunlight and available water.
Bermuda is the most common and most economical turfgrass. While it is ideal for home builders, it is not a good long term solution for most homes in Atlanta. Bermuda is a warm season grass that needs full sun for 7 to 8 hours during the day. As your landscape develops you may run into issues with areas of grass starting to thin because of increased shade on your turf. Bermuda is also very drought resistant and resilient. Bermuda will go completely dormant in the winter. It enters dormancy early than Zyosia and will start to green up later than zyosia. Bermuda can be installed year around. However, winter kill can be a problem if severe cold or snow occurs after it has begun to green up in the spring. This was seen in 2009 when we had a late snow fall on April 15th. The northern facing slopes and areas where snow was piled up (ie. the snowman from the children), we had severe winter kill. This is why it is recommended not to fertilize any of the warm season grasses until they are 50% green. Early fertilization can push a warm season grass out of dormacy early, which may lead to winter kill. Bermusa can be aerated once the bermuda grass is 50% green. Aerating and scalping in the early spring are two landscape maintenance practices that will help reduce turf fungus in warm season grasses. Bermuda can be cut very short up to less than a half inch. Bermuda grows rapidly and needs to be cut at least weekly and if possible every 4 to 5 days in the growing season. Letting the grass grow to seed head is not recommended as you then no longer cutting blades of grass but you are cutting stems of the seed head. This will rapidly dull your blades. Most common hybrid of Bermuda is Tiftway 419. There are some new Bermuda hybrids that are shade tolerant one that I have heard very good results about is TiftGrand. TiftGrand Bermuda needs about half the sunlight requirements (4 hours) as Tiftway 419. This will save several homeowners from having to switch their entire yard to Zyosia in shade challenged areas.
Thin Blade Zyosia is the most ideal turfgrass for Atlanta and the most beautiful. This zyosia is a warm season grass that needs about 4 to 5 hours of sunlight during the day. It is moderately drought resistant. It does not go completely dormant in the winter although the exposed blades of grass are brown. The root system is still green. Some people will spray roundup on dormant Bermuda to kill weeds and especially poa annua. Do not do this on Zyosia as you will kill the zyosia. Zyosia enters dormancy later than bermuda and begins to green up early in the spring. However, it is slow to becoming fully green until May. In Atlanta, Thin Blade Zyosia should only be installed from 15 April until 1 September. The root system of the thin blade zyosia can be damaged by cold temperature. For this reason, thin blade zyosia must be fully rooted before freezing temperatures occur. If it is necessary to install in the Sep to Apr time frame it is important to keep the root system moist. If we get really cold temperatures and the roots system is dry the roots will reach the ambiant temperature. By watering the turf and keeing the roots mosit, the water will freeze and insulate the root system protecting it. The most common hybirds are Emerald and Zeon Zyosia. There is a new hybird that has been developed called Geo Zyosia. Geo is being marketed as very shade tolerent needing 2 to 3 hours of sunlight.
Thick Blade Zyosia is very similar to the thin blade zyosia, except it needs about 5 to 6 hours of sunlight. It is also moderately drought resistant. Thick Blade Zyosia follows the same dormacy patterns as the thin blade, but does a better job in reach fully green in the spring. Thick Blade Zyosia can be installed year around but it is recommended to avoid installation when coming in or out of transition. Most common hybrid is Meyer Zyosia. Aeration of any type of zyosia is recommended anytime the turf is 50% green. Aeration and scalping in early spring will reduce the amount of fungus. One of the other benefits of the zyosia is it is a very thick grass that will choke out weeds and other turfgrasses like Bermuda. Zyosia can be cut very short at half inch and it is not recommended to let the grass grow to a seed head between cuttings.
Fescue is a cool season grass and is the most difficult to grow in Atlanta. It needs only 4 to 5 hours of sunlight but it does not tolerate full sun or heat very well. It is not drought resistant and needs deep watering a couple of times a week. While it is lush and green from Fall to Spring, the high temperatures of summer turn it brown. In the summer it is not water it needs but it needs more shade and cool temperatures. Fescue is high maintenance and requires yearly aeration, over-seeding, and liming. It should never be fertilize after mid May as this will led to turf fungus. Fescue needs to be cut high at about 3 to 4 inches. Fescue does work well in large tree canopy covered areas.
Centipede is a warm season turfgrass that is very aggressive, disease resistant, and slow growing. It needs 6 to 7 hours of sunlight and is moderately drought resistant. It has very little nitrogen requirement and very low maintenance. You can mow it every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season. However, I feel it is not the most attractive grass, and definitely not comfortable to walk on barefooted.
Saint Augustine is another warm season grass that can work in the southern suburbs of Atlanta. It is shade tolerant and moderately drought resistant. It needs only 4 hours of sunlight, however it is not that common of a grass in the Atlanta Landscape and it is only seen in the South Metro Atlanta area. It is not very adaptable to the cold winter temperatures, and in severe winter there maybe areas of winter kill. Thus, very few people know how to properly maintain this grass in the Atlanta Market.
Jason Creech is the owner of Creech Landscape, which is a full service landscape company. For more information on landscape solutions visit www.creechlandscape.com
People ask me all the time, if they need to bag their grass clippings? Do grass clippings increase thatch?
If you cut your grass frequently, you should not bag your grass clippings. Grass clippings decompose rapidly and deposit nitrogen back into the soil. If you are removing your grass clippings, you are remove nitrogen and will need to fertilize more often.
Grass clipping do not increase thatch. Thatch is created by stems and roots growing vertically. To reduce stem growth increase the frequency of your grass cutting. Also, scalp warm season grasses like Bermuda and Zyosia in the early spring, and then aerate once turf is 50 % green. This will greatly reduce the thatch. Thatch is a main contributor to turf fungus.
How can you control Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass) in my Landscape Maintenance? The most important treatment is the application of pre-emergence before we hit nighttime temperature at 70 degree or lower for three nights in a row. After that, Poa Annua will began to germinate.
This will usually occur in Atlanta about mid September, maybe a little soon in Northern suburbs. Even though the Poa Annua has germinated, you can not see it. In November/December, application of Simazine will help control any Poa Annua that has already germinated.
Simazine will kill any recently germinating Poa Annua, and it will add an additional level of pre-emergence. One problem is that Poa Annua can sometimes build a resistance to Simazine. A warm fall will accelerate the growth of Poa Annua.
If it is too mature, the Simazine will be ineffective against it. On mature poa annua you will need to spray a post-emergent herbicide. You can spray Transit-X early in the season as it is unaffected by cold temperaatures. As early spring arrives, and temperature rise above 70’s, there are several post-emergent chemicals that can handle Poa Annua.
The best one in my opinion is Revolver. You need to be careful with all of these chemicals as they will harm fescue, liriope, and rye grass. The key is to identify Poa Annua early and to treat immediately.
A reel mower not only makes the grass look better, it is also healthier. A reel mower operates like a pair of scissors. Two blades come together to actually cut the blade of grass. A rotary mower actually rips thru the grass. With a reel mower, the cut is clean and straight. Thus, it heals quicker and is less likely to get a turf disease. With a reel mower it is imperative that the grass is cut regularly. This means at least weekly. The blade of a reel mower is designed to cut the soft blades of grass. If you allow the grass to grow to long or allow the grass to develop a seed head then the reel mower will have difficulty in cutting the grass. You will also find that you have to keep your yard weed free. Reel mowers are designed to cut grass not weeds. Weeds and stems of seed heads are thicker and are the reel mower is not designed to cut these thicker objects. Furthermore, weeds and seed heads will dull the blades of a reel mower.
Cost is another issue in making a switch to a reel mower. A good reel mower like a tru-cut or a Locke will cost between $1500 to $3500. You will also have to sharpen your blades a couple of times during the season; more if you have a larger yard. Backlapping and grind the reels will cost on average about $125. The annual service cost of the reel mower for a homeowner is about $300 to $400 a year. If you have your home maintained by a landscape professional there is additional cost in using a reel mower. There is the equipment cost and maintenance cost mentioned above, and it takes 30% to 50% longer to cut the turf area. A homeowner should expect a 10% to 30% increase in the landscape maintenance cost.
Jason Creech, Owner
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