Monday, December 19, 2011

The Stahr's Front Walkway

Hi all! We're here today to share some photos from a project we finished last week for the Stahr family!

David and Kristen Stahr live in Ashland, VA. Their home is tucked away in the beautiful, wooded country and they called us needing help with the entrance to their home.

Over the summer, David had built a really nice front porch and stairs for their home which led to the idea of a new front walkway.

The existing walkway was a simple, concrete path that likely was installed when the home was built a few decades ago. The concrete was cracking and the sharp right angle of the path was less-than convenient to use, particularly in relation to where the Stahrs parked their cars in the driveway.

The need for a new walkway that was more conducive to the Stahrs' daily life was evident. Some of the details of the project included the need to incorporate the already existing stairs and porch into the design for a seamless transition into the house as well as a wheelchair ramp.

Tom and I met with the Stahrs several times to finalize the drawing for the project and in late-November, we were ready to move forward.

Our design build team assigned to this project was John, Juan, and Jesus. The crew worked for three long days last week to create the new entrance! All their hard work paid off, though, because the Stahrs are absolutely thrilled with their experience with Robbins Landscaping! On the second day of the install, Kristen sent me this message:

"...Because my work desk is right by the window, I’ve been able to see some of the progress and have been impressed with how conscientious the guys have been with making sure things are “perfect”. I’m so thankful to you and your team for all you’ve done to help make this work for us. It looks better than I ever could have imagined, and that’s being said before the job is even completed.

Take care,


Here are some pictures of the final project:

John, Juan, and Jesus did a particularly good job making sure that the grade of the patio matched the grade of the bottom step... no toe-stubbing here!

David and Kristen are really pleased with the end result! This is the message that Kristen sent me on the evening that the crew finished:

" Sarah,
All I can say is wow! I literally got tears in my eyes when I saw the yard after it was finished. It is truly unbelievable! I could not be any happier with it and don’t know how to thank you guys enough... It really is better than I could have hoped for.

Thanks again, Sarah – and Tom, for all your patience and hard work with getting this together for us. It’s truly beautiful!

Thank you to the Stahrs for the opportunity to work together on this project! We enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to continuing to help you transform your home landscape!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Hi all!

While we try to be thankful daily for our many blessings, we thought it was appropriate to share with you all some things that we are thankful for today-you know, in the spirit of the holiday! Here it is...

Robbins Landscaping is THANKFUL for:

Loyal and friendly clients- Our clients are the lifeblood of our business and we thoroughly enjoy engaging with and serving our clients!

Conscientious and enthusiastic co-workers- let's face it, we spend more time with our co-workers than our families and it's nice to get along with our fellow team members!

This year's weather- Despite the fact that the rain and hurricane of this fall made completing projects and services a challenge, we are thankful that this year wasn't as dry as last year!

The beauty of nature- We love what we do and we are so thankful that we can be part of an effort to showcase the beauty of nature!

The Greater Richmond Community- We feel so lucky to be a part of such an energetic, culturally-rich, and close-knit community!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

We hope you have a wonderful holiday and that you have much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Add Value to Your Home!

While reading the Richmond Times Dispatch a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a helpful article entitled: 'What are the best ways to add value to your home?'

I thought I'd share the answers since we are all looking to add value these days:

-Remodel a home office
-Renovate or add a family room
-Replace the roof
-*Landscape your yard*
-Replace old windows
-Remodel your basement
-Paint (neutral colors)
-Remodel your kitchen
-Remodel or add a bathroom

And since this is a landscaping-based blog, I'll share the reasons why landscaping adds value to your home:

"...landscaping can give a great-or not so great- first impression. Backyard landscaping can transform ordinary spaces into incredible entertaining areas by including elegant water features and lush plants...your new landscaped yard adds value to your home and increases your living space."
-Richmond Times Dispatch, Saturday, October 15, 2011.

So there you have it: just one more reason that professional landscaping is a great idea!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

E-Myth Landscape Contractor--It's here!

We received a fun package in the mail yesterday; after quickly unwrapping it we discovered that The E-Myth Landscape Contractor book by Michael E. Gerber and Tony Bass had arrived!

Tony Bass, our long-time friend and business consultant, has partnered with Michael Gerber to write this fantastic book tailored specifically to the landscape contracting industry!

Doug was so lucky as to have had the opportunity to read the book before publishing! Check out Doug's review!

Congratulations to Tony Bass and Michael Gerber on a job well done! For all of you Green Industry professionals out there, take some time to read the book; it's a wealth of insight!

Note: we were not perked or paid to promote this book; we just think it's good enough to tell you about!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Heartfelt Thanks

On this Veteran's Day we'd like to send a very heartfelt thank you to all of our servicemen and servicewomen along with their families and friends for the sacrifice and service they have given to our country.

We appreciate all that they have done and continue to do in order that we may live the American Dream.

On this day of remembrance we carry in our hearts the recognition of the veterans that so bravely and selflessly served and continue to serve our country.

"In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: 'To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…' "
-United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Thank you.

(Robbins Landscaping Team Members helping the Autry Family though GreenCare for Troops, Spring 2010)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Congratulations Dr. Day!

A heartfelt 'CONGRATULATIONS' goes out to Dr. Susan Day for being awarded the 2010 International Society of Arborculture's Early-Career Scientist Award!

Image from here

Dr. Day is a dedicated professor in Virginia Tech's Forestry and Horticulture Departments and her research and innovations help the industry to make progress in Urban Design.

Congratulations, Dr. Day! We are so happy for you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Videos from Nancy Ross Hugo!

Picture from here

Nancy Ross Hugo, a fantastic Horticulturist, floral designer extraordinaire, and author, has written a new book that focuses on the trees we Richmonders would find in our own neighborhoods!

Check out what she has to say about these common trees (you might learn something new about the dogwood flower!)

Tulip Poplar

Southern Magnolia

Flowering Dogwood

(Videos from the Richmond Times Dispatch)

Fall is for Planting!

Any savvy homeowner knows that fall is for planting; all the local garden centers, newspapers, and home improvement magazines tell us that! But why is fall a perfect time to plant?

First, from a horticultural standpoint: "Fall is the preferred time to plant in central Virginia. . . [Fall planting] allows the roots to get acclimated to your soil without having to suffer through high summer temperatures and limited moisture. The cooler soil temperatures are ideal for root growth and we normally have adequate moisture from rain during the fall months." -Richard Nunnally, 'Gardening Q & A'
Richmond Times Dispatch 9/3/2011

Second, from the homeowner's perspective: Fall is a great time to plant so that your landscape can look its best during the holiday season. Homeowners that are planning to host holiday gatherings should consider sprucing up their landscaping before guests arrive!

Third, from the investment perspective: fall is a great time to see discounts on plant materials! Many nurseries would prefer to sell off the season's stock instead of over-wintering it at their site, which translates to savings for you!

Whether you want to muscle a landscape installation on your own or call in the pro's, now is the time to add bulbs, fall annuals, shrubs, and trees to your landscape.

Happy planting!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Client Testimonial

We were excited and fortunate to receive the testimonial below from our client, Miki Greene. Part of our company's written Purpose is: " impress clients by creating and maintaining landscapes that make them happy." We strive to make our clients happy every day, and this kind of encouragement really hits home for us:

“I wanted to write you an email to let you know about the incredible workmanship that was completed by your company. There are not enough words to descrive how awesome your team is. When I first called to discuss the project with Tommy, he gave me all the information I needed to set up the appointment and to understand your process for work. He was patient and treated me with great respect as I outlined what i needed for my yard. He did not downplay the size of the project, but instead offered me ideas and an opportunity to meet with your designer Bruce. This is the first view of your company and Tommy really shined. He was extremely clear about how the project would proceed and gave me detailed explanations about your policies and processes.

Bruce arrived within a week to examine my yard. He had the toughest job of all because he had to deal with all my anxiety about the changes that I needed to make. He was also very respectful, kind, patient, and all around just wonderful to me and my husband. Bruce is a VERY talented individual who 'oozes' with innovation and creativity!!!! He immediately assessed what I needed and knew exactyl what we should do to update our front yard. His ability to work with the client, understand needs, and offer great options is what 'sold' me on your company. I interviewed several other landscaping companies in the area, and up to this point NO ONE even came close to competing with your company and staff.

Then the big day came for work to begin. Everything happened EXACTLY as it was outlined by your staff. I am extremely impressed by the organization and ability of you team to work together. I attribute this organization to your Project Manager, Tom. Tom is a gift from heaven!! He came on the site and assessed the work that was progressing. He immediately worked with the team to understand how the project was going and to help them with a few small questions they needed resolved. He did not interfere with what they were doing, but worked to help assist them as needed. I loved the way he treated them- as owners of their work rather than people to be dictated to. Tom worked with me on plant arrangements and quickly changed my design when we realized that I needed to move one of the trees to a different location. He took ownership for this project and flawlessly translated my design into a beautiful reality.

Lastly, BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST, I want to applaud you for hiring such incredibly smart, inventive, polite, and again 'all around wonderful' landscapers and hardscapers. These men did a phenomenal job executing my project. They were some of the most professional people I have had come to do work at my home. They assisted me with all my MANY questions, and did not consider my input an 'intrusion' on their work. The quality of the work completed was top notch and I cannot say enough good things about your staff!!”

- Miki Greene

Thank you for sharing your experience, Mrs. Greene!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Why, When, and How of Mulching

We all know that it's good to mulch your beds periodically because it makes your yard look tidy and fresh which keeps the neighbors happy, right?

But there's more to mulching that just aesthetics! We're here to tell you all you need to know about mulching so that you can make informed decisions about mulching your yard this season!

Why Mulch?
Mulching benefits your landscape in several ways, most of which are very important to the health of your plants and soil:

1. Mulching helps promote water retention around the root structures of your plants making rainfall and irrigation more effective and protecting your plants during hot, dry conditions.
2. Mulching also protects your plants during the cold: a proper mulch layer around your plants' root systems helps to prevent frost heave and protect against winter damage to your plants.
3. Mulching helps suppress weed growth: a proper layer of mulch helps to diminish the number of weed seeds that germinate in your beds. Let's face it, we all want fewer weeds!
4. Mulch also helps reduce erosion of valuable topsoil. Bare soil is easily carried away from your beds with the wind, rain, snow melt, or even human and animal traffic. A proper layer of mulch protects your valuable topsoil and preserves your healthy growing sites.

When Should You Have Your Landscape Mulched?
The best time to mulch is between early December and mid-late February. There are several reasons to mulch during this time:
1. Mulching during this time of year gives you the best value for your investment! Material is often less expensive and it is faster and easier for those spreading the mulch to get proper coverage when perennials and plant leaves are gone for the winter.
2. Mulching during December, January, and February protects plants' roots from cold and freezing which is critical to plant success.
3. Mulching during December, January, and February allows the soil to retain moisture necessary during the spring growth flush, which will help your plants look great when they put on new growth.
4. Once the leaves have fallen and your plants go dormant, mulching gives your landscape a fresh, tidy appearance for the holidays and winter months.

How Should You Have Your Landscape Mulched?
It is important to mulch properly in order to reap the benefits of mulching:
1. When mulching is complete you should have a mulch covering approximately 3 " thick spread throughout your beds. Areas prone to rapid decomposition should be considered and mulched accordingly.
2. Mulch should never build up around the trunks of trees and shrubs as it may retain water near the trunk and promote disease. Mulch around trees and shrubs should maintain the ideal 3" depth.
3. You should have your beds mulched every year or every other year depending on the decomposition rate of your site. Ideally, you want a healthy covering of mulch throughout the year, so if your mulch has decomposed considerably in one year's time, you should have your beds re-mulched.

Hope we were able to shed some light on the Why, When and How of Mulching!

Thanks for stopping by!

(All information is supported by numerous papers, studies and texts published and used by Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Funday!

It's been almost 2 weeks since our last post on 'The D's Outdoor Living Makeover!' and a lot has happened during that time! In fact, we've finished the project!

But before we show you all the beautiful finished photos, let me catch you up on what we've done since the pergola was started:

1. Pergola construction was completed, and detail work was finished
2. Electricity, lights, and fans were installed
3. Outdoor Kitchen was installed and faced
4. Stepping stone path was installed from the patio to the deck stairs
5. Plantings were installed and mulched
6. Driveway apron was installed
7. Furniture was delivered and arranged! (That part was all The D's- and it looks fantastic!)
8. The post-installation final clean up left everything 'sparkling'

So let's dive into details:

Last Friday was an exciting day on the job site; any onlooker would have thought we were throwing a mid-day party (in the sweltering Richmond heat...)

Note the makeshift cooling device that Jamie's crews temporarily rigged up:

So what went on during out little installation fete?

Jamie and his crew were up on the scaffolding putting the finishing touches on the pergola:

Jimmie, the electrician, was scooting around from appliance to appliance installing the electricity and making sure that everything worked just fine.

The Custom Kitchen Creations crew was busy installing the kitchen frame with help from Tom: (a very cumbersome task)

And Alex and his crew were busy with our regular maintenance visit: mowing, pruning, weeding, and generally cleaning up.

Including Tom, who was project managing, and Sarah, who was documenting, the 'mid-day party' boasted 13 (rather sweaty) attendees!

All the hot-weather-hard-work paid off, though, and after last Friday we were able to wrap the project up in a few short days!

We will be taking some post-project photos with the D's next week, so we'll share those with you as soon as we have them, but in the meantime, here are a few teaser shots to get you drooling over the finished product!




We'll be back next week with the final photos!
But while you wait, let us know the craziest home improvement project you've done during the dog days of summer! Any of them as well-attended as our 'mid-day party'?

Monday, July 25, 2011

11 days in!

Hi all!
We're back with another updated of the "D's Outdoor Living Makeover!" project:

We are now 11 days into the project and this is what the worksite is looking like:
Not too shabby!

Just for a little perspective, here's what the worksite looked like a mere 11 days ago:
Big difference already!

So what's been accomplished since our last update?

Well, as you can see, the moldings are now in place that surround the wooden beams and posts as well as those that 'finish' the edges of the footing holes in the patio.

Remember how the beams and posts looked like this last week?

Also, as you can see in the picture below, we've stealthily 'hidden' the electric line in one of the posts:
We'll show you why we decided to do that when everything is all done!

We've still got a lot of work to do on the pergola before we start on the kitchen. Jamie, our stellar carpenter, will be sweating here at the worksite (it has been ridiculously hot here in Richmond!) for a little longer:

Back in a few for some more progress reports!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Week 2: Starting the Vertical

Hi all!

Back with exciting news from 'The D's Outdoor Living Makeover!' Project:

Here's a quick re-cap of what's happened thus far: The D's have decided to transform their back yard into an outdoor living oasis! We've designed and begun to install a patio/trellis/outdoor kitchen area for them that will provide them with an all-inclusive outdoor space. (For details see here, here, and here.)

So when we last checked in, the project area had gone from looking like this on Monday:
To looking like this on Friday:

Since then, though, we've made some exciting progress!

First, Dionicio, Jesus, and Jose M. were able cut and install the triangular- shaped pieces of paver to fill the spaces between the soldier course and the 45-degree patio pattern:

This step took a great deal of painstaking measuring, re-measuring (what's that old addage? 'measure once, cut twice'?) and very careful cutting. All the attention to detail paid off, though! The patio looks beautiful!

As you can see in the photo above, we've left some special electrical sleeves that will eventually provide power to the outdoor kitchen. (Remember our planning from here?)

*In this case we knew about the need for electricity before the installation of the patio, but we find that it's always a good idea to leave sleeves for any potential future work when installing a hardscape. That way, if the homeowner decides later that they would like outdoor lighting or irrigation, the installation process for those elements are significantly easier and less destructive to the existing landscape!

So now that the patio is installed, we've moved on to the trellis!
Here's what the structure is looking like right now:

You can see we've got the vertical posts installed as well as 2 of the 4 horizontal beams.
Right now the diagonal scaffolding-like pieces are supporting the structure in place as the posts cure in the handy footings we constructed:

You can't see the footing construction anymore because we laid pavers over the footing sites for a seemless effect (the area with the re-bar will be cleaned up once the trellis is finished up!):

Can you almost imagine how this is going to come together!?

Back soon with more trellis progress!

Has anyone ever installed a trellis? Anyone else out there lusting after such a beautiful outdoor living feature?