7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscaper

7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscaper

It’s not too early to start thinking about hiring a landscaper this year. Do you know what to look for before you sign a contract? Don’t just go with the lowest bidder. Save yourself time and money in the long-run by asking these questions up-front.   1. Will the people working on my property be employees or independent subcontractors? Some landscapers misclassify their workers as “subcontractors” in order to avoid paying payroll taxes, overtime, accrued…

What a Year!

What a Year!

Our season has come to a close and we’ve been reflecting on the past year at A Yard & A Half. Our landscaping cooperative has continued to see exceptional growth both in sales and in opportunities for our team. We’ve added 7 new members to the cooperative and more owners are involved in decision-making than ever before. We’ve also learned a lot! From the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives Conference in Austin, to expanding our…

7 Essential Steps for Fall Home Maintenance

7 Essential Steps for Fall Home Maintenance

Ah, the beautiful respite of Fall. Things are starting to cool off as pumpkin lattes and children with backpacks abound. It can be easy to be taken away by the sights and smells, the beauty and the rhythm of this season…   I hate to bring it up, but this feels very similar to the calm before the (multiple) storms in the winter of 2015. Remember this? This New Englander had no idea he’d be…

Gallery: Coastal Buffer Installation

In 2013, a client in Cambridge asked us to help with the renovation of their beach house, located in an environmentally sensitive site between the shore and a wetland. We assisted with permitting for invasive plant management, consulted with the architect on the system to recapture and use 100% of the house’s roof water, and designed hardscape and plantings to tie the new house to the landscape. This week, one of our crews installed the second…

Natural Playground, Codman Academy, Dorchester, MA

Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester, MA occupies a storefront in one of Boston’s low-income neighborhoods, sandwiched between units of affordable apartment housing. Their “playground” was a packed dirt yard abutting a parking lot. The school, which uses trauma-informed design to help at-risk students feel more grounded and safe, looked to the Community Outreach Group for Landscape Design (COGDesign) to create a more appropriate play space. Designer David McCoy of Geographia Landscape Design developed a beautiful plan for a…

Porous paving solves storm water problems

Which of these photos shows permeable interlocking concrete paving? Both! A concrete grid system (left) was once the only permeable option.  As municipalities have increased pressure on developers to minimize storm water runoff, a number of attractive permeable pavers like Permea (right) have come on the market.  These concrete pavers look like cobblestone, brick, or traditional pavers, but spacers allow water to flow between them, when filled with a fine, clean aggregate. Much of the flooding in urban and…

Day 4: Fieldstone Seating Wall

A low wall serves dual duty, breaking the space into two more usable, flat terraces, and creating an informal place to sit. So-called “seat walls” can also enclose a raised bed, lifting plants to a height where we can appreciate their details. Lanterns or candles atop the wall can provide subtle and romantic outdoor lighting. Posted from WordPress for Mobile

Day 3: Circular Patio

After excavation, the crew installs a layer of filter fabric to prevent base materials from mixing with the soil. On top goes angular stone, compacted with a vibratory compactor. A layer of sand provides an even setting bed for the pavers. We’re using Brussels tumbled pavers from Unlock, which come in wedge-shaped pieces to form circles and fan designs with minimal cutting. The crew lays out pavers and granite cobblestone accents, and checks the level…

Day 2: Grading and Layout

On day 2, Rene and crew regrade the back yard, using a Bobcat for the rough grading.  They separate out topsoil for reuse on site. This avoids the cost of both disposing of perfectly good soil and bringing in new, as well as the environmental cost of trucking to and from the recycling facility. The crew leader lays out a circular patio and walkway.  Lines help to establish the finished level of the patio, and…

Newton Landscape Design Installation: Start to Finish

Prospective clients often ask what A Yard & A Half’s installation process is like. We’ll be documenting the transformation of this Newton back yard over the next couple of weeks to show you. Day 1 – The designer/project manager reviews the entire plan and contract notes with everyone who will be working on site.  DigSafe has pre-marked utilities on site, and we locate these and property lines. The back yard slopes down several feet from…