Which Snow Removal Contract Is Right For Me?

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With unpredictable snow conditions that vary from year to year, knowing how to plan for snow removal can be difficult. There are several factors to consider when it comes to choosing a snow removal contract. Which will help you stick to your budget, cause the least amount of stress, and provide the best service throughout the winter season? Check out three common snow removal contracts to decide which option makes the most sense for you.

Pay-Per-Event

A pay-per-event contract is one way to avoid a season-long commitment. Most appropriate for large storms, these services are available on a case-by-case basis. Also known as pay-per-inch, some companies’ prices vary based on the amount of snow: 2-4, 4-6, 6-8 inches, etc. Others offer their services once accumulated snow reaches a certain trigger point. 

Pay-Per-Push

Pay-per-push is another way to avoid a set monthly plan. With this contract, you only pay as needed, each time snow is plowed. However, it’s important to determine what will happen in the event of a large storm that may require multiple trips from the provider. Clients benefit the most from pay-per-push when the winter season is mild.

Seasonal Contracts

At Alfresco, we offer fixed fee seasonal contracts. Seasonal contracts are best for people who like to stick to their budget without the uncertainty of fluctuating prices dependent on weather. If snowfall is higher than expected, your fee remains the same. Our contract covers residential, homeowners associations, driveways, shoveling, and salting services. We also offer a neighborhood discount when five or more houses sign up to use our services.

Snow removal services are all about keeping the people who live and work on your property safe. Give us a call at 616-453-2530 or sign up below for a free consultation and estimate for the 2017-2018 winter season.

 

Tips for Choosing a Residential Landscaping Company

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Your neighbor just spent his last three weekends landscaping his lawn and he’s only got the front yard done. Like your neighbor, you’re interested in giving your lawn a makeover but you’d rather not sacrifice your free time fumbling with yard equipment and lugging around materials. It’s time to skip the DIY and find a residential landscaping company, but who?

Finding the right landscaping company means finding a team of professionals who will do a high-quality job. They’ll also pay attention to the details that matter to you. For an optimal experience that leaves you satisfied, there are a few things to look for.

1. Does the Landscaping Company Have Knowledgeable Staff?

If you want landscaping that is done well, you want someone who knows what they are doing. Look for companies that are founded in a formal education. These degrees could be Landscaping Design or Horticulture. There are also various memberships that indicate a professional level of quality to be expected from those accredited.

2. Does the Landscaping Company Have Years of Experience?

Knowledge is further developed through experience. Investigate how much time the landscaping company has invested in the field as well as the services they provide. Knowledge tells your landscaper what plants work well in the region. Experience tells them what will work best for your lawn in particular.

3. Is Evidence of Quality Present With A Landscaping Company?

Avoid companies who are all talk and no proof. A well-established landscaping company should provide you with a portfolio that showcases work they’ve done. You want to know that your landscaper can follow through in producing the quality of service they claim. Examples also serve as an inspirational platform to finding a design that suits your style.

4. Is the Landscaping Company Attentive to the Details?

Find a local landscaper who is willing to work with you to build a landscape customized to your home and your needs. There are a variety of factors for them to consider, particularly, how the space will be used and who will be using it. The products they choose to use, such as organic fertilizers and weed control, indicate an interest in safety.

5. Is the Landscaping Company Providing Multiple Services?

Some residential landscapers are more focused on the design, while others are strictly interested in the build. Finding someone who provides both the creative input as well as the installation creates a landscape that is cohesive. It’s also important to consider what sort of maintenance services are provided. Keeping your landscaping tidy and trimmed helps to preserve your investment.

To shift your yard from lawn to living space, you can start by calling 616-453-2530 to schedule your free landscape design consultation with a professional at Alfresco.

4 Benefits of Investing in Landscape Design

Are you missing out on ample outdoor living space because you’ve let your lawn go to the weeds? Instead of letting your yard exist simply as a chore, take the time to invest in landscape design. What you gain in space, you also gain in value. There are numerous benefits for your home, here are just a few:

1. Designing for curb appeal.

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Our front yards serve as a welcome mat to our homes. You can create a more inviting environment through landscape design. This addition will make your home more identifiable and memorable. Properly placed plants can also provide ample shade and insulation for your home.

2. Socializing space.

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Our homes serve as a place to reunite with family and friends. When you expand your living space beyond the boundaries of your walls new experiences unfold. A patio space adds a place to relax over iced tea with a friend or to share dinner fresh off the grill with family.

3. Taking advantage of your space.

landscape grand rapids

Even without guests, an outdoor living space builds a new place for you to unwind. Time spent outdoors is never wasted. Sit back with a book, enjoy the sunshine on your face, and the breeze unfiltered by window screens. Our homes do not need to be defined by foundations alone.

4. Increased value.

landscape grand rapids

Not only will you find personal value in adding landscaping, but so will your home. A well-maintained and landscaped lawn will increase the selling price. You will also see decrease in the amount spent on heating and cooling. Expanding your home improvement beyond walls is a benefit that keeps giving.

We deserve to enjoy our homes outside as well as in. To take advantage of all your overlooked outdoor living space, call 616 453 2530 to speak to a professional at Alfresco about a free landscape design consultation.

What Sets Alfresco Apart From Other Landscaping Companies?

Coordinating a large landscape design project is no easy task. You want to be sure that your landscaping company completely understands your creative vision, and has the capacity to bring that vision to life. Not to mention, staying on top of key details such as budget, maintenance, and much more. While there is no shortage of landscaping companies in Grand Rapids to choose from, how do you know you’re choosing the right one? To help you in your research, we’ve provide 4 key reasons why you should be considering Alfresco Landscapes.

4 Key Features That Set Us Apart:

1. A Degree in Landscape Design

Landscape designers tend to have a horticulture background or nursery experience, but Alfresco owner, Paul Burd, has some of the best credentials in the industry. Paul studied horticulture and landscape architecture at Michigan State University whose Horticulture Department is known throughout the world for its excellence. Degrees from accredited landscape design colleges and memberships in professional organizations are both good indicators of a Landscape Designer’s credibility and experience.

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2. Full-Service Landscaping, Lawn Care, Snow Removal, & More

Most landscape companies fall into one of two categories; designer or builder. Designers are great at creatively utilizing space, but might fall short on other important services such as maintenance and upkeep. Builders are more of the lawn maintenance crew variety. They will get the job done, but the end result doesn’t quite give you that “wow factor” you were looking for. 

Alfresco, on the other hand, will offer all the above, plus oversee ongoing maintenance. Whether you’re seeking exterior lighting or an outdoor kitchen design, Alfresco will take your project from just a concept to an elegant outdoor living space. By also offering services such as fall/ spring clean up and snow removal, we can ensure that your landscape design investment remains intact. 

For a sneak peek at our design process, check out a few of Paul’s residential landscape designs.

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3. An Extensive Portfolio That Proves We Deliver

After graduating from Michigan State, Paul Burd was honored to design for the Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. Through that experience and years of owning his own landscape company, he has mastered his craft in creating spaces that reflect the unique personalities of his clients. Paul’s vision and experience give him the unique ability to truly evaluate the potential of any outdoor space. So even if our portfolio doesn’t include the particular style you’re looking for, we have the skills and experience to make your vision a reality.  

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4. Local to Grand Rapids

For over 20 years, Alfresco has designed, installed, and maintained residential landscapes throughout the Grand Rapids and West Michigan area. A way to ensure that you get the best ideas and service is to promote numerous meetings to discuss and review possibilities and concepts. By working with a local landscaping company you will reduce travel time and response time in project planning and management.

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So if you have a landscape project bubbling up in your imagination, contact us to help you develop and refine your ideas into an actionable plan so you can start living outside your living room. And for a limited time only, you can request a free demo for your own outdoor living space design.

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5 Places to Emulate in Your Backyard

Some of the most breathtaking places in the world can only be seen by boarding an international flight, or settling for downloading a photograph from the world wide web. But, what if we told you you could have those destinations accessible just by stepping outside your back door? It’s true, or, at the very least it’s our mission to make those dreams become as real as possible. Spring beckons nearer with each closing day, so in order to better fuel your creative landscaping ideas for this upcoming season, we’ve compiled a list of five places you might want to emulate in your new backyard landscape:

#1: Ludwigsburg Residential Palace (Ludwigsburg, Germany)

landscaping ideas for your backyard

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace is one of the oldest, largest buildings in Europe from the Baroque period. It is well known for its elaborate historic architecture, garden, and reflections of the classical and neoclassical periods. Look closer and you’ll undoubted find lots of backyard landscaping inspiration here. 

#2: Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (Grand Rapids, MI)

landscaping ideas for your backyard

Open to the public in 1955, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a blossoming non-profit creation. The creators’ commitment is to develop a legacy of lifelong learning, enjoyment, and a rich cultural experience for generations to come. Paul Burd, Alfresco’s owner, has designed for Frederik Meijer Gardens in the past. Have you been chasing after that perfect backyard waterfall design? Meijer Gardens might just be the destination to visit in order to spark some great backyard landscaping ideas!

#3: Keukenhof Gardens (Lisse, Netherlands)

landscaping ideas for your backyard

Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is one of the world’s most extensive flower gardens. With over 7 million flowers blooming each spring, it is an unforgettable sight- a beautiful choice for a colorful backyard-scape. Are you looking to add a little more color to your backyard landscape?

#4: Oheka Castle (Long Island, NY)

Landscaping ideas for your backyard

This breathtaking property has literature and film legend embedded in its history. Oheka Castle was the inspiration for Gatsby’s estate in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, as well as the location for the film Citizen Kane. It now acts as a hotel. The symmetry throughout this famous backyard is undeniable, and perhaps just the minimalist touch your backyard landscape needs!

#5: Gardens and Park of the Chateau (Palace of Versailles, France)

landscaping ideas for your backyard

A maze of vibrant green trees and pathways, the Gardens and Park of the Chateau is fit for royalty. The Palace has been the home of French kings for centuries, and the garden reflects the same regal style and allure of the building itself. While it might take a king’s salary to afford the constant manicuring this lawn may need, there are plenty of inspirational ideas to be pulled from this incredible backyard garden.

 

The Must-Knows of Residential Landscape Design

It can be tricky figuring out what to focus on when you’re set to overhaul your landscape. The list below provides must-know considerations when you are planning your next residential landscape design project.

1. Size Matters

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Decide on what kind of landscaping company you’ll need to get the job done. A lot of land might require a larger firm. However, if strong attention to detail and high quality of work are important factors to consider in your landscape design, we recommend finding a smaller local firm. We take pride in turning our clients’ patches of land into the utopian landscapes that they’ve only dreamed of living in.

2. Climate Control

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What is your landscape’s geographical climate like? What is the environment surrounding your home like? Precipitation, humidity, and temperature are factors to be considered when plotting your next landscape design.

3. Family, Pets, or Guests?

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Who is going to be roaming around in your new habitat? Do you find yourself hosting events with guests often? Will there be pets or young children playing nearby to consider? Keep in mind who is using the space and how they will use it. Ensuring that your landscape is designed for both aesthetic pleasure and functional use will make your outdoor experience all the better and more rewarding. For more examples of outdoor living spaces, check out some of the landscape design we’ve executed for our clients.4. Go Green

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Know the pros and cons of going environmentally friendly with your landscaping. For example, at Alfresco, we only use 100% organic fertilizers and weed control solutions. It’s much safer for pets and children. If you’re hiring a landscape design firm, be sure to ask about any chemical treatments they plan on giving your lawn or landscape.

5.  Style is Key

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Do you have some general ideas about your aesthetic leanings – are you a minimalist? Do you like extravagance? Do you want a bohemian vibe, or modern look? Share your thoughts with your landscape design team, and they’ll help create a garden or space that reflects you best. Here at Alfresco, we are extremely passionate about the conceptualization phase of each project. That’s why Alfresco’s owner, Paul Burd, prefers to sit down with each client personally and sketch out potential landscape designs for their homes. Click here to see some of Paul’s sketches.

Do you have thoughts or concerns about your next landscaping project?

4 Edible Plant Ideas For Your Backyard Garden

While growing your own food has become trendy in recent years, vegetable gardens often lack the level of aesthetics found in ornamental landscape beds. Plus, vegetable gardens can take up a lot of valuable space and are usually a good walk away from the house. At Alfresco, we say marry the two by incorporating veggies and herbs into your beautiful home landscape

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PURPLE BASIL

There are many edible plant arrangements that are just as gorgeous as ornamental options. One example is the addition of purple basil into landscape beds. The drastic contrast of purple against green is one of the most popular combinations right now. In addition to the beautiful color, the basil’s wonderful smell adds an intriguing aromatic element to your garden when planted close to the kitchen or grill.

garden landscaping

LEMONGRASS

Lemongrass is another herb experiencing a surge in popularity. Lemongrass compliments most other shrubs, grasses and perennials. I highly recommend keeping this one near the patio. Not only is it a beautiful plant that tastes great with chicken dishes, it actually repels mosquitoes!

garden landscaping

POTTING

Another great way to grow fresh vegetables within your beautiful landscape is by using large pots and containers. This is becoming a popular alternative to traditional gardens, and many plants thrive this way. A variety of tomatoes do well in containers, including cherry or grape tomatoes, which are nice and lightweight with a generally high yield. You can even go vertical with them: all tomatoes are natural climbers, so give them a structure in the container to climb. It can be as simple as three wood stakes tied into a teepee or purchasing an ornamental obelisk or garden trellis.

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LAVENDER

There are also many varieties of flowers that are edible. One that’s often found in ornamental landscape beds, but not as much in vegetable gardens, is lavender. Yes, lavender is edible and delicious. The next time you make a pitcher of lemonade, try pouring it through a coffee filter filled with snipped lavender. Lavender is also called for in Herbs de Provence. A mixture of dried herbs from the south of France, Herbs de Provence usually includes basil, thyme, savory, rosemary, tarragon, lavender, fennel, marjoram and chervil. All or any of these make lovely additions to your herbal and ornamental gardens.

The 10 Step System for Installing Your Outdoor Lighting

In our previous post about landscape lighting, we told you the benefits of a well-lit outdoor landscape: it welcomes your guests to your home, no matter what time of day or year; it increases your safety when walking or using steps at night; and best of all, it adds value to your home. While we recommend having a trained professional at Alfresco install your new landscape lighting system, if you want to DIY your outdoor lighting installation, there are some steps you’ll need to know:

  1. Assemble the fixtures you want before you place them.

    outdoor lighting

    Remember, as you’re inserting halogen bulbs into your fixtures, do not touch the bulb directly- the oils from your skin can cause the bulb to dysfunction.

  2. Set the lighting fixtures in a way that follows your design.

    outdoor lighting

    Try to hide your lights behind shrubs and rocks to make the fixtures less noticeable, but still get that glow bouncing off your landscape.

  3. Run the transformer cable to each fixture.

    outdoor lighting

    Do this before you mount the transformer, and leave at least 5 feet of slack between the transformer and your first fixture.

  4. Connect each lighting fixture to the transformer cable using a Direct Burial (DBr) splice connector.

    outdoor lighting

    Avoid using wire nuts, as these will easily corrode over time.

  5. While the transformer is still unmounted, connect the wires from the lights to the transformer.

    Each wire will go to an individually labeled terminal on the transformer (more than one wire might go in the same terminal, with at least one going to the 12 volt tap terminal). Once this step is complete, you can plug in the transformer.

  6. Make sure each of your lights and your general layout are set up to your preferences.

    outdoor lighting

    Aim to have all fixtures run within 1.5 volts of each other (11–12 volts, ideally) and use a voltmeter for accuracy. Call a professional for assistance if your run is more than 15 volts.

  7. Mount the transformer to the wall at least one foot from the ground.

    outdoor lighting

    This is the time to plug in timers and other lighting accessories.

  8. Make adjustments as-needed.

    outdoor lighting

    Adjust fixture positions; bundle cables; bury cables; make all of the finishing touches.

  9. Bury the cables appropriately.

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    Make sure they’re 6–12” deep, and place PVC pipe or mulch on top of them before covering them with soil. This ensures they’re less likely to be cut during future digging.

  10. Check out your new set up.

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    Your new outdoor lighting landscape is ready for use! Enjoy walking your stone paths, or entertaining guests in the evening glow.

Landscaping ideas around the U.S.

Get landscaping ideas from landscaping styles around the country

When you have a beautifully landscaped backyard or front yard, you can step into your perfect state of mind by just passing through the threshold of your door. And with these landscaping ideas inspired from styles around the country, you can also feel as if you’ve travelled to another region with the right garden landscaping or yard landscaping elements.

Desert landscaping

landscaping grand rapids

Where you’ll see it most

Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah

What elements make up these yards

Landscaping rocks, cacti and shrubs, synthetic grasses, light-colored materials, fireplaces or fire pits, plant beds and containers

How it can inspire your landscaping ideas

When you’re garden landscaping desert-style, balance your yard with grass and rocks. And opt for anything that is low-maintenance and needs little water, like vegetation native to the Southwest such as cacti and shrubs.  

English landscaping

landscaping grand rapids

Where you’ll see it most

The Midwest and East Coast

What elements make up these yards

Vines, fences, flowers, benches, ruins, ponds, lakes, rolling lawns

How it can inspire your landscaping ideas

Forget formal garden landscaping. The English landscaping calls for looser, irregular features that marry the natural world with symmetry and order right in your front and backyard. Bring a water element into your yard, be it a pond, lake or fountain. Plant groupings of colorful bursts of flowers. Find an antique stone sculptural element to add a touch of mystery and history.

Tropical landscaping

landscaping grand rapids

Where you’ll see it most

Florida, California

What elements make up these yards

Bright, tropical flowers and plants, bamboo fences, tiki torches, shade structures, swimming pools, fire pits

How it can inspire your landscaping ideas

Incorporate bold colors into your landscaping and tropical plants like palms into your garden landscaping. If you have the room and gumption, add a pool to your backyard for refreshing summer fun. At the very least, welcome a hammock into the backyard, so you can take refuge beneath some shade and relax on hot days that mimic the tropics.  

Traditional landscaping

landscaping grand rapids

Where you’ll see it most

All around in the suburbs and in master-planned communities

What elements make up these yards

Manicured plants, fountains, statues, fireplaces, built-in barbecues, brick, stone, pavers, wood

How it can inspire your landscaping ideas

Plan your garden landscaping with geometrical shapes, symmetry, and repeated patterns in mind. Be ready to keep your lawn well-trimmed and plants well-maintained. Also choose materials like brick, stone, pavers or wood for the more traditional feel, and consider having an outdoor entertaining space complete with fireplace or barbecue to wow your guests.

Modern landscaping

landscaping grand rapids

Where you’ll see it most

Throughout the U.S. and usually combined with other landscaping styles.

What elements make up these yards

Creatively used furniture, concrete, wood, structures more emphasized than plants, bold geometry, streamlined designs.

How it can inspire your landscaping ideas

For sleek, bold landscaping, select green plants with interesting structures. Add pops of color with your furniture, planters or walls. Overall try to create bold contrast in your yard. For example, on a simple concrete slab, draw the eye in with a bright piece of furniture.