11 Jul 2019

It Doesn’t Have to Be Christmas to Light Up Your Home!

It’s Christmas in July! And we don’t mean it’s time to hang the tacky Christmas lights.  We’re talking about elegant, professional landscape lighting.  Landscape lighting is a fun and functional way to illuminate your outdoor living spaces. There is plenty of room for creativity in lighting up gardens, patios, porches, walkways, and yards.  Not only is outdoor lighting aesthetically pleasing, it increases the value of your home, adds practicality and safety, and reduces the risk of crime, too.

PROPERTY VALUE

Landscape lighting is a beautiful way to showcase your outdoor living areas.  By adding lighting to patios and yards, many more hours of visibility and usage are added, as well.  This, in turn, expands your overall living space and adds value to your property.  In fact, it is estimated to increase your home’s value by as much as 15-20%.

FUNCTIONALITY

While yard features, such as decks and walkways, are extremely useful in the daylight, they lose much of their functionality when the sun goes down.  Installing outdoor lighting removes this concern and makes your yard even more safe to use at night.  No need to worry about tripping over flower pots or down steps.

REDUCE CRIME

Another benefit to landscape lighting is its proven reduction of crime.  A well-lit yard becomes much less of a target for robbery and vandalism.  A recent study showed that crime can be cut by 39% simply by having proper outdoor lighting.  So, while your yard becomes more useful and appealing, it also becomes safer… a win-win for the homeowner!

11 Jun 2019

We need to talk about your backyard!

Don’t miss out on summer, family fun!

Spring leaps right into summer in Virginia, and that means your yard should be ready for all of the attention it’s about to get. A beautiful, vast, green lawn is something to be really proud of, and you undoubtedly work very hard to maintain it. While grass and gardens are pretty on their own, incorporating hardscaping elements into the landscape can really bring your yard to life. “Hardscaping” refers to the man-made features in a landscape, such as patios, paved areas, walls, benches, and walkways. Keep reading to learn more about what hardscaping can do for you, your property, and even the environment!

1. AESTHETICS

When lush, organic landscapes are paired with thoughtfully designed hardscaping elements, the result is a beautifully balanced property. Great hardscaping draws inspiration from the natural shapes, lines, and textures of the landscape, creating a seamless transition from your home to your outdoor living space. Hardscaping can transform a flat, vast yard into a stimulating, visually diverse space with depth, dimension, and defined lines and edges. Hardscaping elements such as walls, patios, and walkways can provide organization for your plants, lawns, and gardens, enhancing their beauty and highlighting their place in your yard. Incorporating elegant walkways and paths can also help to direct people where you want them to go, protecting your grass and plants from too much foot traffic. Your hardscaping elements will work with the organic elements in your yard to create a functional, picturesque landscape that is truly an extension of your home. 

3. FUNCTIONALITY

Hardscaping can be just as useful as it is beautiful. With patios, paved areas, and walkways, more of your yard is accessible year round. More hardscaping means more space to entertain and more comfort for your guests and family members. Installing an outdoor kitchen gives you the space you need for meal preparation, so you don’t have to leave the party to cook in the house. There’s nothing like a fire pit to bring people together, either! Patios, benches, walkways, walls, stone paths; the possibilities are endless, and you can make your space uniquely “you.” In addition to extending the amount of space you have to entertain, hardscaping can create privacy for you and your guests at all of your gatherings. Courtyard walls, fences, and stony boundary lines allow for privacy and frame your yard beautifully.

2. LOW MAINTENANCE AND EFFICIENT

Unlike your lawn or garden, hardscaped areas are extremely low maintenance. It requires no mowing, trimming, snipping, or pruning, and you will never have to water it. Since you won’t have to fret about keeping it green and healthy, you will have more time to enjoy your outdoor space. With less lawn and garden to tend to, you’ll save money on your water bill. Hardscaping features can be designed to help keep water in places you want it, making sure there’s less leakage from the areas that need it the most. So, you won’t have to water your plants as much, either. When planned correctly, hardscaping features can greatly reduce erosion. Retaining walls, barriers, and stone or concrete in areas where erosion is likely can keep your ground intact for years to come. Hardscaping benefits both your wallet and our environment through water conservation and land preservation, all while adding to the beauty and functionality of your yard.

4. PROPERTY VALUE AND CURB APPEAL

To top it all off, hardscaping even increases your property value. By adding more usable square footage to your home, your property becomes more valuable to potential buyers. An outdoor space they can envision themselves enjoying is a great selling point, and many buyers are looking for properties with these features. Not to mention, beautiful hardscaping in your front yard will maximize your curb appeal. It is the first thing people see, and a good first impression is invaluable. You can decide exactly how you want to welcome guests into your home with the endless choices of hardscaping designs and materials available. The possibilities are endless, but the end result is always fantastic when you work with G&R Contracting on your hardscaping projects. Call us today for a free consultation!

06 May 2019

Top Reasons to Install an Irrigation System

 

It’s that time of year again. Everyone is spending time outside and enjoying their outdoor living spaces… and everyone is looking at yours! Is it up to your standards? If your lawn and garden aren’t looking their best despite your efforts, they may not be getting the proper amount of water. An irrigation system can help revive a struggling lawn and keep a beautiful one looking fantastic with a fraction of the work. Keep reading to find out how an irrigation system from G&R Contracting will pay for itself in no time.

1. Saves Time, Water, and Money

Watering by hand adds up to a lot of wasted time and water. An irrigation system can be set to water your lawn automatically, saving you the time and hassle of watering it yourself, or the cost of hiring someone else to do it. Most systems also have moisture sensors, so they won’t start if it’s raining and will shut off when the irrigation process is complete. As a result, they don’t use any more water than necessary, saving you money on your water bill.

2. Prevents Weeds and Diseases

Installing an irrigation system designed specifically for your landscape means that only the areas in need of water will get it, which limits your potential weed growth. In gardens, drip irrigation systems are particularly efficient, delivering water directly to the plant’s roots rather than sprinkling the entire surrounding area. When plants are watered with a hose, standing water droplets on foliage allow for blight disease proliferation. Your garden isn’t the only thing at risk; over watering can lead to disease in your lawn as well. Excess moisture leaves lawns susceptible to root rot, moss growth, powdery mildew, and brown patches.

3. Improves Plant Growth

Plants grow faster and remain healthier when watered with smaller amounts over a longer period of time. This is exactly what an irrigation system is designed to do! You risk over watering, under watering, and uneven watering when using a hose or movable sprinkler, all of which can be detrimental to the health of your plants. Whether you’re at work, at home with your family, or out of town on vacation, your lawn and garden will get what they need to stay healthy and beautiful. 

4. Preserves Soil Nutrients

The excess water from hand watering results in runoff, which absorbs and carries away vital nutrients that your plants need. Using a hose can also compact your soil, which can lead to root suffocation and disease. Irrigation systems use smaller droplets of water and less of it, preserving your soil structure and making sure it retains the nutrients your plants need to thrive.

 

Ready to invest in an irrigation system? Click here to learn more about your options for irrigation through G&R Contracting.

16 Apr 2019

About Our New Look

We’re excited to announce the launch of our new logo and brand identity! You’ll soon start seeing it everywhere we are. We partnered with River City Consulting to develop a new brand for G&R Contracting, and in this post, we’ll give you an inside look at how it all came together.

Why the New Look?

G&R has been going strong since 1998, but we’ve grown a lot since then. In the beginning, we were primarily landscapers, but our services have since expanded to include everything from hardscaping and outdoor lighting to irrigation and drainage. While our old logo lets our customers know that we can make their lawn look fantastic, it doesn’t represent the dynamic company we’ve become. So, to better represent who we have become in the past couple of decades, we decided to refresh our brand image.

The Drawing Board

Our designers started by sketching out all of their ideas. From these rough sketches, they chose the concepts that were most in line with our vision and refined them on paper before moving forward digitally.

Asking Around

Once the logo ideas were digitized, we chose the three strongest concepts and conducted a survey asking our colleagues and customers which design was their favorite and why. This feedback is really important to us, and it was taken into consideration during our decision-making process.

The Winning Design

The water droplet design was ultimately the winning concept, touching on nature’s elements. The leaf represents our work in landscaping, the stone pavers represent our beautiful hardscaping, and the water droplet shape itself represents our expertise in drainage and irrigation. We also love that the stacked typography of our business name is similar in appearance to our old logo; we wanted to keep some of those original elements for those who already recognized that design.

After a few weeks of development, tweaking, and perfecting, we arrived at our final design. We feel that our new brand will both inspire our customers and serve our business, which was our ultimate goal. It represents the variety of services that we now offer while staying true to our roots. We’re beyond excited moving forward, and would love to hear what you think!

21 Mar 2018

For the Homeowner: Annual Maintenance Checklist

Most of us would rather not have to deal with home maintenance, but the reality is that homeownership is a year-round, full-time job. I’ve compiled a list of key home maintenance items to consider year round. Take care of them before they cost you big.

Spring Maintenance

No Winter lasts forever, and no Spring skips its turn. There’s no better feeling than feeling a springtime sun after a long winter. But when Spring comes around, its time to give both the inside and outside a once-over.

The Yard

Your first order of business should be to check on your yard. Give it a good raking to clear any leaves that lasted the winter, and lay down a thin layer of mulch to prevent any unsightly weeds from popping up. Spring is also a great time to reseed your lawn and eliminate any dead patches left behind from the wintertime.

It’s time to store the snowblower and break out the lawnmower. Remember that most hardware stores (Lowe’s) offer tune-ups for your lawn equipment. We recommend that you set your mower to the highest mode possible. Cutting your lawn too short can expose the grass’ roots and damage the yard.

The Trees

Earlier this year, we went through an unbelievable two days of high-speed winds. What we didn’t count on is the wind finding a few dead tree limbs and breaking them right off. Luckily none of them hit the house, but we did come home to find two giant branches laying across our driveway. A contractor or an arborist can run an inspection of your property and recommend which trees are healthy and which trees need to be trimmed.

The House

Be sure to take a thorough look at the outside of your home. Check the chimney for cracks or signs of failing flashing, inspect the roof for missing, bent or broken shingles and check the foundation for cracks or water pooling. Remember that catching maintenance problems early can prevent costly repairs later.

The Gutters

This is the thing that no one likes to do, but it’s important to ensure that your gutters are clean and draining water away from the house properly.

The Siding

Check for signs of peeling paint on the house. If you have vinyl siding or brick, you may want to consider a pressure washer to clear away any unsightly mold. Finally, check around the bottom of the house for weeds growing up and under the siding.

The Irrigation System

Now that winter is over, it’s time to pressurize your irrigation system and get your yard back in order. Be sure to contact your local contractor to get your irrigation system back up and running.

The Pool

If you own a pool, now is the time to prepare it. You’ll need to treat the water, change the filters and inspect the equipment before getting in the pool. Consider hiring a professional to safely take care of the pool for you. This could cost you an average of $250, but we think its better than any potential medical costs or the costs of repairing damaged equipment.

HVAC Systems

Call your local HVAC professionals to clean and service your compressor and system. The inspection can check for signs of damage or the need to recharge your system. Trust us, get this taken care of before the hot summer days and the HVAC techs are all booked for weeks.

Plumbing

Check your basement or crawlspace for any signs of water leaks, water damage or pipes in need of maintenance.

Pest Control

If you’re noticing ants, bees, snakes, raccoons, skunks, mice or an excess of squirrels or birds, be sure to contact your local pest control professionals. A lot of costly problems can be circumvented early by realizing that there is a potential for a problem.

Summer Maintenance

It’s been said about summer: if you’re not barefoot, then you’re overdressed. Be sure to keep up with summertime chores and you’ll have a home and yard that’s inviting and relaxing.

The Garden

It’s time to dig up weeds and plant your fruits and veggies. Set a routine to water plants and contact your local contractors to ensure your irrigation system is still in check. Remember that during hot summer days, your plants will need more water than in the spring.

HVAC Systems

If you took care of the tune-up in the spring, your system should be raring to go in the summer. Remember to regularly change your air filters on the intake, inside the home. This one maintenance tip can prevent a lot of unnecessary repairs later on.

Fall Maintenance

If each season is a painting, Fall is a mosaic of them all. There isn’t a giant honey-do list during autumn, but don’t let the beautiful weather let you fall behind.

The Grounds

After Spring, the second best time to plant shrubs and trees is early Fall. If you decide to do planting during the autumn months, be sure that they’re getting enough water. If you’re trying to keep your lawn well manicured, remember to remove the leaves as often as possible.

The Gutters

Speaking of leaves, make sure your gutters are clean and undamaged.

Fireplace

Now is a great time to get a professional to inspect the fireplace and chimney and prepare them for the winter months. Chopping your firewood now will give it time to dry out by the time it gets cold.

Windows and Doors

Make sure your windows and doors are sealed properly to prevent warm air from escaping. Caulking the doors and window frames is a simple and easy way to save money over the cooler months.

Dryer Vent

Clogged dryer vents are the cause of thousands of home fires each year. Make sure that you’re getting your dryer vents inspected and cleaned out by an HVAC specialist. These folks specialize in ductwork.

HVAC System / Boilers / Radiators / Gas

Now is the time to make sure that your heating system is tuned up, optimized and ready to heat for the winter. If you’re using a gas based system, be sure you’re topped off and ready to go.

Winter Maintenance

What good is summer warmth without winter to make you miss it? Winter is the time to hunker down and enjoy the comfort of the indoors.

Frozen Pipes

As it gets colder outside, there’s a potential of the water in your plumbing system freezing. As water freezes, it expands and can cause your pipes to explode. To prevent this, make sure that your house doesn’t drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and when the temperature is close to freezing outside, keep a faucet or two in the house dripping water.

Winterizing your Irrigation System

Contact your local irrigation system professionals to blow out any excess water from your pipes and prepare your system for winter.

Generator

If you own a backup power system, make sure that it’s fueled up and in good working condition. Check it regularly to ensure there’s no corrosion or rodent damage.

These are some of the major things that should be taken care of annually. The National Association of Home Builders conducted a study that showed how often other components of a home need to be changed. Make sure you give that good reading and keep it handy for the future.

For all of your home maintenance and contracting needs, be sure to contact G&R Contracting at 804-360-2686.

07 Mar 2018
gr-landscaping-and-irrigation-smo-graphic

So what is a contractor, really?

So what is a contractor, really? Construction projects, regardless of size, often have a lot of moving pieces. These pieces have to move together like a set of gears in order to get the job done right. From roofers, to painters, to carpenters, all of these people need to work together. To oversee the whole project, you need a contractor. You can almost think of a contractor as a manager for your project. So let's clear up any confusion. Let's talk about who a contractor is, what they do, and how you can hire a dependable contractor for your project.

What is a Contractor?

Contractors (also known as General Contractors) oversee a team of specialized individuals (also known as Sub-Contractors) to complete a project. In Virginia, contractors are classified by type A, B, or C; with type A allowing a General Contractor to take on the most costly of projects (we'll talk about this later). General Contractors are responsible for submitting to you a bid. This bid will spell out the total cost and timeframe for completing whatever project you're looking to have done.

Let's imagine that you're looking to have a house built (congratulations). A home is a complex project that requires many parts. You'll need to have the earth excavated, the foundation constructed, the framing built, the windows and doors installed, the roof installed, the siding applied, the electrical work completed, the plumbing completed... and the list goes on. Imagine trying to hire each individual worker to complete the job yourself. It would be a nightmare for you to call around to local businesses to hire each person to complete an individual part of your job. This is where a contractor comes in and makes your life easy. The contractor will have the connections to all of the sub-contractors to get the job done right, and in much less time than you could ever do on your own.

So what is a Subcontractor?

In the example above, we see that a contractor will offer you a bid to build your house. In the bid, we see that all the components of the home need to be installed separately; the framing, the windows, the doors, the roof, all of these are seperate jobs. Each person (or company) that handles one of the jobs of completing the entire house is called a sub-contractor.

Can I Just Hire any Contractor?

The short answer here is no. Virginia classifies contractors based on how qualified they are to complete a project. A class B contractor can only complete a project that's valued below $120,000 (and up to $750,000 a year, across all projects). This is fine for some projects, but if you're building a new house, you probably already know that $120,000 will only get you so far. Generally speaking, a class A contractor should be your go-to for large-scale or complex projects.

How Much Work can a contractor do?

That's a good question. According to Virginia:

  • A class C contractor may only do work on a project that's valued up to $10,000. They are also capped at $150,000 in projects yearly. These contractors are great for smaller projects, like bathroom remodels or painting jobs.
  • Like we discussed earlier, a class B contractor may only do work on a project that's valued up to $120,000 and they are capped at $750,000 a year. These contractors are great for medium sized projects, like kitchen remodels.
  • Finally, a class A contractor is unrestricted in how costly a project that they manage can be. They can be used for any projects, big or small.

Now you know what a contractor is and why you need them for your projects. A good contractor can be the difference between a complex project getting done in a timely manner, and a lot of unnecessary headache. Once you find a contractor that you love and trust, don't be afraid to call them for any of your future projects.

 

(804) 360-2686