First Install

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by chrisvinky, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. chrisvinky

    chrisvinky LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 355

    This is my first installation and wall. I thought it turned out pretty good. Any constructive criticism?






  2. Premier landscaping south

    Premier landscaping south LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 534


    I would have liked to see a nice deep edge along the circular bed. Nice natural edge no black striping or metal edging. Could have even laid same style brick at ground level surrounding the bed to create a nice look.

    Also in the bed in front of the large window, maybe should have laid the mulch below the sidewalk. In other words dug some dirt out just along the sidewalk 4" maybe 6" depending on the depth of the concrete.

    Down spout on same bed will pose a problem during heavy rains.

    Good work in design. Hope you get more jobs my friend.

    Did you install retaining wall?

    Hope this helps out.

  3. chrisvinky

    chrisvinky LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 355

    Actually on the circular bed I used a bed edger and put in a 4" edge. It's hard to tell because I put in the mulch right before the pics. It should get more defined after a couple of rains and a couple of times being edged.

    We thought about laying down the blocks as an edge, but the homeowners are planning on adding another retaining wall and patio later on. They will be using different block for the retaining wall.

    The downspout has given me fits. The only thing I know to do is go under the sidewalk.

    I did the wall and landscaping.
  4. procut

    procut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,852

    The wall looks pretty good. The plant selection and placement seems a little goofy to me. Anyways, not too bad for a first timer; keep up the good work!
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Not too bad. Plantings look pretty good and spaced out correctly.

    The wall looks pretty good, but there is something about it that makes me feel like it look "clumsy". I also don't prefer the block up next to the sidewalk. I would have just graded that back and left it at sidewalk level. The intersection at the front gives it a really hard right angle when you have good looking curves everywhere else.

    I really think it's my own opinion though.

    Did you use any geo-grid, and drainage behind the wall ???
  6. chrisvinky

    chrisvinky LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 355

    I used free draining aggregate behind the wall but no tile and no geogrid. There is only a maximum of 2 foot of soil behind the wall.
  7. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    Good for a first timer.

    The wall looks clumsy because most of it is not retaining anything. It is acting as tall edging. This makes the walls not look "rested" in the landscape. The only part of the wall that looks like it is actually holding back soil is the part that comes off the corner of the house and it is two blocks too high based on the view from the back side.

    Wrapping the wall back in front of the house also gives it a bit ofan unwelcoming feeling. If the retaining wal turned out and wrapped to the right (where it would still be retaining) it is more welcoming. It is sort of like being greated by open arms vs. someone in a position like a football lineman with his elbows out and arms turned in.
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Constructive criticism sucks. I'll be the first to admit that. I've posted so many jobs on LS over the years and been critiqued a little too much to know it's not fun. So forgive me. I normally don't like to chime in unless I can give just straight praises for something. But you asked for constructive criticism so here's mine.

    First, what the heck is up with your lawns in the fall? Holy crap!

    So let's go from left to right. We'll start with the circle planting bed near the BBQ. That isn't bad. I think carving out accent points like that in a lawn are nice in a landscape. That's a good technique and your planting choices in that area are pretty decent. Probably want to avoid perfect circles. The shrubs surrounding the larger tree is a valid plan but not in a perfect circle like that. I would have zig-zagged them a bit. Also would have been nice to add another texture in between or around the edges. Maybe ornamental grasses or something. But overall, this area is pretty good.

    In the next area (to the left of the front door) there is some good and some bad. I take it those smaller shrubs are Nandina 'firepower' (aka Nandina dom. 'Cherry parfait' or nandina dom. 'nana purpurea) because in the fall photos they are red but in the summer photos they are still mostly green (been in a greenhouse). So I give you props on using those. Those are about my favorite plant. Awesome choice there.

    You missed an opportunity there on the corner of the house to the left. Should be a small tree there. Maybe that is a dwarf conifer or something. I can't really tell. But anyway, I was referring to something a little more upright, maybe with some branches. Maybe deciduous. Dwarf or small variety of tree. But those kinds of areas on a house (large areas without windows) are always good opportunities to soften the house with something a little larger. Obviously not so large that it would take over or run into the gutters all the time. But around where we live anyway, there are plenty of good smaller trees that would add some height to that area and still stay fairly small or be slow-growing enough that they could be kept small easily. So I would have added more height on that corner and also in that big open area just to the left of the front door. Perfect opportunity for that.

    In that same area, good placement on the nandinas and the ornamental grasses on the ends. The nandinas are zig-zagged and that looks nice. The orn. grasses grouped together on the ends is nice too. I bet they look nice when they were full but none of your photos were taken then. The summer photo shows them when they are new and small and the fall photo shows them already cut back for the winter. The smaller evergreens in the back I'm not sure about. I think maybe I would have planted something nicer. Or maybe just more of the ones that are already there so they formed a hedge. Something. Not too bad, though.

    On the right side of the door, same critique with the stuff up near the house. Missed opportunity on the corner and the same thing with the small evergreens in the background. one thing to also aim for is layering. Not always - but in general have larger plantings up near the house, then medium plants in the middle followed by maybe smaller orn. grasses or perennials near the lawn. That way you are layering from taller to shorter as you get toward the lawn. That looks more appealing.

    I don't really like the goldthread cypress or whatever those round yellow shrubs are in this area. In my area, those get huge and so it seems like they are planted way to close together. And unless those are already full size - whatever they are - I think they're still too close together.

    Can't tell what those deciduous shrubs are that have lost their leaves. I think I count 5 of them?? Maybe burning bush (Euonymus alata compacta)?? Anyway, those are probably a good choice and depending on how big they get it looks like good placement for now. Arranged well.

    As for the right side of the house - big opportunity missed there too. I would have planted a tree or a group of trees to hide those ugly metal monstrosities in that area. What is that?? From the angle in the 5th photo, it looks like they have a cell phone tower going up in the air along with the front end of a 1938 Buick sticking out of the house......


    You should have thrown a Southern Magnolia or something in that area to hide that stuff. Good opportunity there for something of height. That's one thing lacking in most of the design - no trees. Well, there was one. But hardly any trees. This was a good opportunity to improve that side of the house. Otherwise, I can't really see that well on that side to critique any more.

    As for the wall, I don't care for that variety of block. It's the rounded, tumbled edges I don't like. It's too irregular and gives the impression that it's not even almost everwhere I look. Aside from the choice in wall block, I think there are too many step-downs. I would have tried to find a way to minimize those. Maybe let the runs go longer and then step up one level and then another level right after before the next run? Also, there are times when the wall steps up for no good reason, like over to the right of the front door. In that area, once you get around the corner there is really no reason to jump up again. I would have just kept it at the same height there all the way back to the corner of the house.

    The other thing I don't like about the wall is how the lower wall doesn't tie into the wall on the right side of the house. The lower one is too tall and then just terminates right into the house. That just looks a little odd, especially in photo #5. I would have joined the two walls and not had them touch the house at all. Maybe join 1' off the corner or something.

    Finally, I am not sure the wall is level in front. See my photo below with the straight lines I have added. Both the red and black line are parallel. Assuming the window and bricks are level, then the upper black line is level and so is the lower red one. But the blocks don't stay level along that red line, not even for a short distance. Now I know the blocks are coming closer and then fading away in the photograph. Could be a trick on my eyes. But it just appears to be not level. Base prep. and being sure every single block is level side to side AND front to back is really key when building walls. I could be off. Again, I can't tell from the photos. But it sure looks like the wall isn't level in the front.

    So that's my critique. I hope I haven't been too critical. Just trying to help. Even though I hate being critiqued on my finished jobs, I do always learn from it. And my work has improved because of it. That's all I am trying to help you with. Hope something I said helped. Otherwise, I just wasted 25 minutes of my life. :) Wouldn't be the first time for that...... :laugh:

  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Regardless of my above critique, if this is your first install job, it's WAY WAY WAY better than my first 5 or 10 install jobs. You shoulda seen the first wall I installed. I hate driving by that ugly lousy crooked wall. It's the embarrassment of my life. Ugh! And my planting choices and placement were horrible back then! So if this is your first try, I gotta say it turned out well for a first job. Better than mine were at that stage, anyway.
  10. pararest

    pararest LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    Keep up the good work.....
    I love that you took photo's of the job. As you continue to do more projects, keep that camera by your side and photograph all your work.

    As you look back at this project in the future I'm sure you will see things that you would have done different from your future perspective with more experience.

    Until that time..... Keep up the good work.... Keep taking in knowledge and gaining experience.

    Micah Owner
    Paradise Restored Landscaping

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