Hardscaping, Selecting Plants, Installing Artificial Grass in the Backyard, and Preventing Weed Growth

Project: Basement Finishing and Family Space, Episode 9, Part 2

Bob is in Melrose, where seamless aluminum gutters are extruded and installed to pitch the water toward the front of the house and away through storm drains. A Norway spruce is limbed to bring air and sunlight to the tree, making it sturdier in wind and snow. In the front yard, the focus is on low-maintenance landscaping with pachysandra that will spread to cover the ground, holly, rhododendrons, spring bulbs, and a red Japanese maple. In the backyard, low-maintenance solutions include reclaimed granite steps, built-in sheds for gardening, toys, and tools, and a field stone and pea stone terrace that backs up to the stone retaining wall, plantings, and white cedar fence. Bob learns about no-pesticide weed control under and around the fence with a durable rubber weed inhibitor and admires the craftsmanship on the tongue-and-groove, lattice-topped gate. The final outdoor touch is the multi-stranded, soft, artificial grass that is installed for a lush, no-maintenance side yard. Bob shows us that the tiny back door has been replaced by a triple slider and the cluttered mudroom has become an organized pantry space with a counter, storage, recycling, and drawers for snack bags, utensils, and lunch gear.

Part 1: Replacing the Gutters, Trimming a Tree, and Creating a Low-Maintenance Front Yard
Part 2: Hardscaping, Selecting Plants, Installing Artificial Grass in the Backyard, and Preventing Weed Growth

Moving to the backyard, the hardscape material in the backyard changes. Natural flat field stones were used because of the relaxed feeling. The loose retaining wall in the backyard was already in place when the landscapers arrived and they wanted to preserve that relaxed look. The shape of the functional area was defined by the slope. The field stones were layed in stone dust, no concrete was involved, with pea stone on top. The pea stone is a natural bank-run mixture that is not crushed and has all the natural colors of the region. All the plants in the backyard were from Monrovia, one of the largest plant suppliers to local nurseries in the country, and they grow some very specialized plants. Ruth Foster was in the backyard earlier in the season to coordinate the colors of the flowers with the surrounding hardscaping and landscaping. The cedar fence will weather to a silver grey, which will provide a soft backdrop for the seasonal colors and blossoms. On the other side of the backyard garden Weed Seal was installed along the perimeter of the fence to control weeds along the fence line and around fence posts. Bob talks with Jack Schreiner of Bruckman Rubber about the product. It was originally developed on the recommendation of the Department of Environmental Quality of Nebraska who suggested developing products made from scrap tires. Weed Seal uses about 50 percent scrap tire and 50 percent virgin rubber material with fiber reinforcement. The product is heavy, which keeps it from blowing up or away. The seal prevents weeds from growing along the fence, which eliminates the need to use herbicides or pesticides to control weed growth along the fence. Post protectors are designed to fit around the fence posts. The material is rugged and able to withstand weather and nicks from lawnmowers and trimmers. Bob talks with Greg Goehner of New Grass. Because of the amount of shade in the backyard and the two young boys in the house, the homeowners could never grow a healthy lawn. The synthetic grass being installed features two different types of blades. There is a soft monofilament and a twisted fiber that adds a little cushioning to the grass. It's soft, durable, and doesn't require any mowing. The fibers are made of polyethylene and backing is made of polyurethane. NewGrass also has a protective U.V. coating to prevent fading or decomposition. Water filters through the turf at a rate of 30 gallons per hour. The NewGrass is laid out and cut to shape with one seam that is barely visible once the fibers have been brushed and lifted. The perimeter is staked to the ground and the fibers are broomed up. NewGrass lasts 10 years or more and comes with a warranty. It costs about $4.99 per square foot.

Part 3: Creating a Lattice-Top Gate and Converting a Mudroom to a Pantry