Category Archives: Before And After Landscaping

Oakville Landscaping- Backyard Before & After

Sometimes backyards need a design makeover. Just as it’s nice to repaint a room or redecorate indoors, renovating a landscape can give it fresh life while making it more useful and attractive. The landscape shown here is a perfect example of how to successfully update a backyard pool area.

The pool itself in this yard is fine, but you can see in the “before” photo the area around the pool looks drab, outdated and unwelcoming.

Choose Your Pool Deck Surface Carefully

Wood decking is usually not the best choice around a pool. It needs regular maintenance to survive the cold Oakville winters. Splinters can also be a concern for bare feet close to the pool. The wood timber walls, steps and planters shown have also reached the end of their lifespan.

before after

The Best Paving for Pools

The “after” photo shows a pool landscape that has been improved several ways. Interlocking concrete units are a good choice for pool area paving, walls and steps. They are attractive, virtually indestructible and don’t need much maintenance. They even help facilitate more natural drainage than the commonly used option of poured concrete.

Concrete units come in many colours and shapes to match the style of your home and landscape. Lighter colours tend to reflect heat while dark pavers warm up quickly on sunny days.

Creating Usable Space

The spaces in the new design work much better for a pool area patio. There is enough room to walk around the pool or to lie in a lounge chair. The two steps up to the mid-level patio also work as places to casually sit, especially during pool parties or even if there a just a few kids around.

The mid-level patio is now a generously sized, useful space. The steps provide a feeling of separation from the pool, but it is still close enough to be part of the action. With a table, lounge chairs and grill, the adults can hang out there while the kids are in and around the pool.

The upper level patio, a few steps higher, has become a pleasant semi-private space. It also has a good view of the pool, but is a little further removed. Parents can watch the kids without getting splashed or teens can get away from the younger kids and still keep an eye on them.

Install Your Project in Phases to Control The Budget

This is the kind of project that can easily be constructed in phases, adapting the schedule to your budget. The patios could be built one at a time to turn this into a three to five year process, spreading out your cost over time.

The most successful landscapes for gathering and hanging out have a variety of options for sitting, talking and relaxing. This renovated, low maintenance pool area landscape is an excellent example of how to achieve that.

If you’re interested in what a similar project might cost for your property, contact us for a consultation.

How to Landscape a Backyard for Kids- Landscaping in Oakville Before & After

Many people wait until their kids grow up to complete their landscaping. We think that you shouldn’t wait- your kids don’t want to spend time in an unkempt backyard either!

If you are the parent of young children, adding active play space to your backyard landscape may be the smartest move you ever make. When the kids are restless and cranky or are making you feel that way, send them outside to burn off some energy in their own backyard. There is a huge range of options for home playgrounds. You can mix and match to get the exact play set you and your kids want.

The “before” photo shows part of a typical suburban Oakville backyard; lawn with some overgrown shrubs around the edge and a wood privacy fence. There is not much to keep kids busy and entertained. The “after” photo shows a new wood play structure with several activities for the younger set, including an entertaining surface for the adults- you can drink your coffee while supervising your children playing.

before after

Home Playground Options

Play equipment today is designed to be flexible and adaptable. Modular units usually allow you to choose and piece together the components you want for your home playset. Swings, slides, climbing walls and ropes, houses, sandboxes, zip lines and more are all available in a variety of sizes and configurations. The size of your backyard may be the only limitation.

We will gladly assembly any set that you’d like integrated into your outdoor space.

Safety Considerations

It’s important to have a soft landing surface at the bottom of slides, under swings and anywhere a child might fall. As shown in the photo, a thick layer of shredded bark mulch is often used for this purpose. Sand and interlocking rubber mats are other options.

An interlocking border that is flush with the ground was installed to keep the mulch in place, and prevent grass from growing into the play area.

When the Kids Grow Up

When the playground is no longer needed, this leveled space can easily be transitioned into a more elegant feature. Options good include a gazebo, an additional patio surface and bistro set, or it could be absorbed by the bordering planting beds for a feature garden.

Get a Consultation Today

Get a head start on your landscape planning for the spring, and contact us now for a consultation.

Pool Landscaping Oakville – Before & After

A pool in your backyard automatically becomes the focal point and center of activity for your home landscape. That is as it should be. Pools are fun for families and are great places to have parties or a casual get together with friends. You will get the most enjoyment and use out of your pool if it has comfortable places to sit, eat, sunbathe or do some outdoor cooking. Make sure that the design of your pool works with all of the related activities that will be happening in your yard.

The “before” photos you see here show a nice backyard pool. It’s a good size and has an interesting curvilinear shape. The space around it is lacking, though. The pool has a plain concrete border and nothing that relates to the rest of the yard. The area surrounding the pool does not offer consistency.

The “after” photos show a more dynamic and interesting pool landscape. Let’s look at some of the features in this new design.


Pool Border

The plain concrete has been replaced with coloured concrete interlocking pavers. Instead of a uniform width, the border now flows in and out according to what is happening near the pool. Where space is limited, the paved border is narrow. Where there is room for lounge chairs, tables and places to hang out, the pool patio flares out to make room for these activities. Visually, this border takes a cue from the curved shapes of the pool and becomes much less static.

The brown and gray tones of the interlocking pavers complement the colours of the house and the large boulders in the landscape. The pool, adjacent areas and the house now look like they were all designed to fit together.

before after

Pool Planting

You can see in one of the “after” photos that new shrubs have been added near the pool. It is important to have plant material in your pool landscape. Flowering plants can give a lively, tropical feel, transporting you far away from Oakville! Plants also help to soften the extent of hard, paved surfaces that are naturally found around pools.

Pool Landscape Design Options

Backyard pools are a big ticket item for your home. Many homeowners will need to install the surrounding landscape in phases.

There are ways to lessen the cost of the project shown- a good landscape contractor will always work with you to select the right plants and construction materials for your budget, as there are so many options available at a range of price points.

Want to Elevate Your Pool Landscape? Try This One Thing

Outdoor lighting would be a worthwhile future phase project for this landscape. Low level LED lighting extends the hours of enjoyment for your landscape while giving it a new look and feel.

If you have a backyard pool, it can be challenging you take on the landscaping yourself. Consult with a landscape designer to make sure your pool area landscape is reaching its full potential.

Landscaping Burlington: Narrow Side Yards Before & After

Suburban homes in Burlington and Oakville are often close together. The spaces between them are narrow and filled with heating and air conditioning units, downspouts, utility meters and more. These skinny side yards can quickly become wet, messy and unsightly. Though it is important to have an outdoor connection from the front to the back of your house, making it a low maintenance space is usually top priority.

The “before” photo shows some of these typical side yard problems. There is lawn planted, but who wants to mow around all those obstacles? The splash blocks at the bottom of the downspouts are sending all of the roof water onto this narrow strip of yard. After big rains and snowmelt, it is likely to be a muddy mess.

before after

Replacing Lawn with Wide Steps

The “after” photo shows that this difficult space can actually become more functional, better looking and easier to maintain. The large coloured concrete steps are the basis of this solution. They are easy to navigate and replace much of the muddy lawn area. If they are installed on a good foundation and have just a slight slope for drainage, these steps will last for decades with almost no maintenance.

Taking Drainage Underground

Adding more surface water to small, little-used spaces makes them even more difficult to manage. In the landscape shown, the downspouts have now been connected to underground drain pipes. The underground pipes can connect to a larger storm drainage system or let the water out away from the house where it can percolate into planting beds. This is a smart solution for wet areas close to your house.

Adding Ornamental Stone Mulch

The final part of the design solution for this problem area is ornamental stone mulch placed between the steps and the sides of each house. No more mowing! A quick pass with a leaf blower a couple of times a year is the only maintenance needed. If the white stone colour is not to your liking, there are several other colour options for ornamental rocks and stone mulch.

Choosing Options to Fit Your Budget

Shredded bark mulch is an option for this space that would lessen the cost. While it would require a little more maintenance, it generally works as well as stone mulch for a lawn replacement. Future additions to the space might include some dwarf or low growing shrubs. Again, that increases maintenance, but plant material would soften the look of all the hardscape materials.

These basic changes have dramatically transformed this space. It is easy to neglect the rarely used problem areas in a yard, but sometimes a simple design can lessen yard work requirements and increase the enjoyment of your home landscape.

If you’re interested in increasing your curb appeal with low maintenance landscaping, contact us today for a free consultation.

Pool Landscaping Burlington – a Before & After

If you are lucky enough to have a pool in your yard, be sure to create strong design connections with the rest of your landscape. Pool areas should not feel remote or removed from the house. There are a number of ways to tie together the different zones or parts of your yard. They can still function as individual spaces, but when viewed as a whole, they should form a cohesive, well designed landscape.

The “before” photo shows a nice pool, patio, lawn and house, but the connection between them is weak. In the “after” photo, the pool and patio area is more functional and enjoyable with a new transition to the yard space between the pool and the house.

before after

Carry Materials Through the Landscape

Construction of new steps and a couple of low retaining walls serves to both connect and separate the pool patio from the upper lawn area. The use of interlocking concrete units for the steps and walls visually unites the patio with the walkway above. Repeated use of the same or similar materials is an effective way to make these separate spaces part of a single design.

Multiple Functions From One Feature

The two short retaining walls in the “after” photo create a mid-level planting bed. This is similar to the original design, but the new wall next to the pool patio is much more useful. It’s just the right height for a seat wall. When the owners have a pool party, it becomes an extra sitting area or a convenient spot to place a plate of food or a drink. Getting multiple uses out of one design feature is always a good idea. These walls enclose the pool area, provide a planting bed and work well as a place to sit.

Benefits of Using Interlocking Brick Around the Pool

There are a number of reasons why interlocking brick is the ideal material for a pool deck, beyond their attractive appearance.

Having an interlocking surface provides much better natural drainage, when compared to a standard poured concrete surface, meaning there won’t be an overflow of runoff to the surrounding lawn. Often poured concrete pool decks have an area that surrounds them where grass appears sparse or muddy- interlocking eliminates this issue.

Interlocking brick also provides a non-slip surface, and is very straightforward to seamlessly repair if an underground fix is needed.

Design Options for Steps

The interlocking unit steps tie in nicely with the patio and the wall. These sturdy and attractive steps will last for many years. The linear design of the steps is perfect for this space. They form a clean edge for the patio and line up with the retaining wall. Interlocking steps can also be constructed with curves if a more informal appearance is desired. An example of curved unit steps is shown in this photo.


Here the curved lines create interest and echo the curved edge of the pool. They are a nice contrast to the house and patio in a tight space where there is little room for other features.

The “after” photo with retaining walls, steps and a pool patio is a stylish, contemporary design. By simply updating an old, overgrown feature in the landscape, this pool area has become much more useful and attractive. It now fits in with the overall landscape and will get continued use while only needing limited maintenance.

If you’re interested in updating your pool landscaping in Oakville or Burlington, contact us today for a free consultation.

Landscaping Burlington: Stone Steps Before & After

Almost everyone has steps in their landscape. Usually, steps are needed to get to the front door of your home, but with some unique, sloping properties in Burlington, it’s also common to have steps in your backyard landscape. Think of steps as a design opportunity; they can do more than just take you from point A to point B.

In the “before” photo, you see a typical set of backyard steps. They are narrow, and the height varies from step to step- which is a safety issue.

The new steps in the “after” photo are much more elegant. Let’s take a look at what makes them better.

before after

Materials for Backyard Steps

Concrete pavers for walks and patios almost always have complementary blocks and pavers for walls and steps. The materials and colours match; the size and shape may vary as needed. The steps shown here match the patio below and the walkway above. Everything ties together. Even though they are separate spaces, there is now a visual connection between them.

How Wide Should Backyard Steps Be?

Backyard steps should be wide enough for two people to walk side by side. They should also be less steep than indoor steps.

The steps shown here meet those requirements. They look comfortable and inviting- notice how they are nestled into the landscape? If you are connecting two levels of a patio or deck, outdoor steps can be even wider.

Sitting Opportunities

Outdoor steps are great places to sit and hang out. When you have a party or group of friends over, you need lots of places for casual gathering. The steps shown are wide enough for sitting. The walls on either side of the steps make them even better. Even if you don’t want to sit on your steps, extra space provides places for potted plants or small lawn sculptures.

Steps to Fit Your Budget

If you have budget concerns, get estimates for different materials and widths of steps. Different varieties of manufactured interlocking bricks and natural stone are all good materials for landscape steps- and there are products available that fit in all budgetary ranges. Many offer features that payoff in the long run, like lifetime warranties.

Most landscapes are constructed in phases. If you install steps in an early phase, additional features can be added later. For the steps shown here, low level landscape lights could be added on either side of the steps. Some additional landscape planting is also a nice way to enhance steps and blend them into the surrounding yard.

Though sloped backyards can be challenging, with creative design work they can turn into a wonderful collection of places to spend time outdoors. In a yard with different levels of patios, walkways and gathering spaces, your backyard steps will become an integral and inviting part of your landscape.

If you’re interested in getting a head start on landscaping in the spring, contact us today for a consultation.

Landscaping Oakville- How to Landscape a Side Yard

Side yards are one of the most difficult areas in a home landscape to deal with.

Most suburban Oakville homes have narrow side yards that leave little room for activity or ornamental landscaping. Though you probably don’t spend much time there, your side yard is often visible from the road or front yard; you don’t want it to be cluttered or unsightly. Also, you usually need access through the side yard to get from the front to the back of the house.

In this before and after photo from one of our recent projects, a new walkway has nicely solved some of the typical side yard issues.

Side yards


The “before” photo shows an old unit paver walkway that had become weedy and unsightly. The narrow landscape strip between the walk and the house had also become weedy. The paver walkway and planting strip both need some regular maintenance, probably more than most people like to invest in a little-used part of their yard.


In the “after” photo, the old walkway has been replaced with a new manufactured stone interlocking walkway.

The material has been stamped and coloured to look like real stone, but its regular shape and width allows it to be installed more easily. The larger paver size leads to fewer joints- leaving less room for any plant life to establish.

There are almost unlimited options with colour additives and stamped patterns for pavers, and they can be made to work with any style of house and landscape. Note how the pattern on the walk continues as it wraps around the house and becomes the backyard patio, connecting the spaces and creating interest.

The new walkway also eliminates the narrow planting strip next to the house. For front and back yards, it is usually nice to have some ornamental planting between the house and paved areas. For a very narrow side yard, landscape planting is a lower priority.

How to Complete a Similar Project on a Lower Budget

If the landscape budget is limited, there is room to bring the cost of the project down by selecting a lower cost paver. When installed properly, a low cost product should offer the same results.

Future projects for this side yard could include the addition of separation from the next door neighbour’s yard. Some like the feeling of privacy and ownership that comes from an ornamental fence marking the edge of their yard and property. A narrow hedge could also be used, though in this narrow space, it would require regular pruning.

Low Maintenance Landscaping Oakville

Thoughtful design solutions can improve the look of your home landscaping while reducing maintenance and making life a little bit easier. Even a simple side yard can be made to look like it is an integral part of your overall landscape. If you have an overlooked, little-used area in your landscape, there is probably a creative way to make it more functional and attractive.

Contact us today to discuss your project.