Replacing the Gutters, Trimming a Tree, and Creating a Low-Maintenance Front Yard

Old gutters are replaced and external landscaping continues with the trimming of a tree, installing a front garden, and creating steps from recycled granite.

Clip Summary

The Melrose home had only one gutter left on the front, which had been neglected and was clogged with muck. In the back of the home, a vinyl gutter had been installed by the homeowners. New England Gutter Kings were called in to install a seamless aluminum gutter system. The old gutter was removed and the lengths were carefully measured. Heavy-gauge sheet aluminum was measured and extruded right out of the truck in front of the house. This 32-gauge aluminum holds the profile of the gutter well and will stand up to years of abuse and cleaning. It also gives the profile of the crown molding. Only about eight feet of fascia board needed to be replaced, so western red cedar was used before the gutter was installed. The installation required three people and is set on a slope to drain the water out to the street and sewers. Many of the projects in the Melrose home fall under the category of safety. The big Norway Spruce tree on the left side of the front yard was limbed by Tree Tech. Using a cherry picker and a little chainsaw, they cut off the necessary limbs so light and air could come through the tree. This is important because in case of a blizzard, if a tree is very dense it is in danger of falling onto the house. The side of the home has been fenced in with a white cedar fence from Architectural Fence. This fence has been designed with attached sheds to create a bin for garbage, a stall for gardening equipment, and an area for a potting bench. Recycled granite from the Danvers State Hospital was used here to provide some steps. The granite was cut into lengths of four feet using wet saws equipped with a water attachment and diamond blade. The cut ends of the granite block are given a rough finish with a torch and chisel. The pea stone used for the walkway is a good color match with the fence. Pea stone is easy to maintain because water drains right through. Three steps were constructed using the granite blocks, all of differing widths, which creates a pyramid effect.
Hi I'm Bob Vila welcome to the show.

Our basement re-finishing project is really almost finished, and today we're spending a lot of time outdoors. We're putting in some plantings in the front lawn, ground covers, bulbs and stuff.

We've also put in some new gutters on the house that we'll show you. And we're putting in a new type of lawn that does not require any mowing. Lots of stuff for the kids to play in. And we'll install a new kitchen pantry. Stick around. It's good to have you with us.

This eighty-five year-old house had only one gutter left on the front.
And this one had been sorely neglected, and was full of muck. On the rear, the homeowner said try the do-it-yourself job with some vinyl gutters, but we called in the big guns New England Gutter Kings do a seamless aluminum gutter.

Once the old gutter was removed the crew measures carefully, and then extrudes the length they need from the heavy gauge sheet aluminum right out of the back of the truck parked right in front of the house.

They cut mitered corners, but they don't skimp on the gauge of the aluminum because flimsier material usually is more difficult to work with.
This three-two gauge holds the profile of the gutter well and it'll stand up to any abuse through cleanings and work on the house or the roof over the years. It also gives the profile of crown molding up there.

We were lucky that only about eight feet of fascia board had to be replaced, so we used some of our Western Red cedar before installing the new front gutter.

The installation is a job for at least three people, lifting together and getting the pitch needed to the channel water towards the down spout.

Because we have this house sitting on a, on a slope, and we wanted to avoid all that water from the backside of the roof accumulating on the back yard. We sloped all the back side gutters and carried the water to the front where it can drain off towards the street and the sewers.

Well, it started raining all of a sudden, and rain is a good thing when you're putting in a new garden in New England. Autumn is the best time to do it. Now many of the improvements that we already made to the house, were things that really fall into the category of safety.

This tree behind me is a big old Norway Spruce, and we limbed it. We had our friends from Tree Tech come in, and in a matter of minutes they got up there in a cherry picker with a little chainsaw, and carefully took out necessary limbs so that enough light and air can come through the tree.

That's important because when you have a blizzard coming through, if a tree is very dense, it's in danger of falling onto the house. Now, in the last couple of weeks, part of the landscape on the front of the house has been replaced. What we had here was just a very scruffy front yard that sloped right to the sidewalk.

And the main improvement has been to put in this beautiful, recycled granite stone curb along the front of the house, and it acts as a retainer wall but it's also a beautiful accent. And it also gives us two steps here back down to the side-walk.

But I'd like to say hi to our friends Ruth Foster and Nick who have been doing the installation from Atlantic. Hi, guys.

Hi, Bob.

Hi, Bob.

Don't you love the weather?

Oh, boy.

Now let's talk for a second about what the garden scheme is here, Ruth. What was your idea, in terms of the whole design.

The idea was that this should be a low-maintenance garden, and we took the lawns out all over. This is a busy household with children and mowing grass is the highest maintenance thing you can do. Putting in ground cover.

So what's the ground cover that the men are putting in right now?

This is pachysandra which is very easy to take care of. It takes a year or two to get going but it will be all filled in.

Now how does it grow? What does it just send out roots and rhizomes?


And send up new little plant-lets?


Oh, OK.
And do you have to worry about fertilizing and?



Just water.

Nothing, I like that.

That's why we put it in.

So Nick, is the soil condition that we have here, is that something that you had to amend?

Yeah, we filled in what was previously our slope, and then we retained it with the antique granite, and then we filled in about 18 inches here of new screened loam.

Okay, and what's the tree that you've put in right behind us there.

It's a Red Japanese maple.

That will be beautiful.
How big will that get?

It will probably get to about 30 feet.

So, that's something that you would have to think about limbing also down the line.


Yes, and then Ruth you choose some evergreen shrubs, right?


What are they?

Well, we chose lovely holly and lovely rhododendron because they bloom, and there's a succession of bloom here so that even though we've tried to make it very low maintenance we have bulbs in the spring.

We have rhododendrons, we have the berries on the holly. You can see them now.

And the whole thing kind of moves along without a lot of work from the homeowner.

What kind of bulbs are you putting in?

We put in two kinds of daffodils. There are early daffodils and late daffodils and we put beautiful blue

It's lovely little blue flowers along the wall.

So, they'll be a blue and yellow accent in this Spring.

Yes, there will.

That sounds wonderful. Well, I think we should go go around the back of the house and see the plan there.

Okay, and of course the rain is slowing down now, and the side of the house has been outfitted with a wonderful white cedar fence from Architectural here in the Boston area, and what they have done is not just fence, but create a bin for garbage, and an area for storage and garden tools, and even this fantastic little potting bench.

Did you have anything to do with that?

I designed it.

It's just a perfect little thing.

And Sarah, the home owner, has already put some of the things that I guess she's trying to save through winter.

But let's talk about the materials, Nick, because again, here, you managed to find some use for recycled granite.

Again, the same recycled granite from the Denver State Hospital. We cut it into lengths of about four feet.

Now, the cutting process can't be easy.

Well, what we use are the wet saws with a water attachment and a diamond blade.
and it cuts through fairly easy its a little loud and sometimes a little bit messy , but it cuts through the granite and we dress up the sawn ends with a torch to give it a thermal rough finish.

That's right. That's great.

And then the material that you have chosen here is, what size is this?

3/8 inch pea stone.

So it's a pea stone.


It's a pea stone. It's traditional that the composition, the color is nice, it goes with the fence.

And it's very easy to maintain and you never get a water problem in this 'cause it drains through.

It drains right through exactly. And then what I love is the transition you've made over here where they are 3 steps, but they are differing widths.

We cut each step a little shorter as we got towards the top, sort of the pyramid effect with these stone blocks.

Beautiful. Lets take a look around back.