Dry-laid Stone verses Wet-laid Stone

So you have decided that you would like a patio in your back yard. You think a lot about it, but realize you need a professional to help. There are choices to be made: location, size and materials.  You’ve decided on natural stone so now you have another choice to make, dry-laid versus wet-laid.  This is an important decision.

Dry-laid stone is installed on tightly compacted gravel and a layer of sand. Done properly, this will provide you with years of enjoyment.

Vienna, VA patio

walkway in Gainesville, VAPolymerized sand is installed in the joints to deter weed growth and give a more finished look.  Dry-laid gives the patio flexibility which is important in our climate where we have a lot of freeze and thaw.  This flexibility provides the ability to correct gradual shifts if there are any and correct them inexpensively.  With proper construction, which Main Street will provide for you, the risk of settling is minimized.  Dry-laid patios have a more rustic look than wet-laid (masonry) patios.

patio, fire pit in Leesburg, VA

Desert gold landing and steps in Ashburn, VAWet-laid stone patios provide a more formal as well as a cleaner and more pristine look.  They are installed on concrete and then mortared together for a more permanent finish.

Wet-laid flagstone patioThis is a much more expensive option.  This type of patio, again done correctly, will last many years, however down the road (around 7-10 years), the joints will have to be re-pointed.  Shifting of the patio can cause the joints to crack.

Patio, couch wall and fire pit in Oakton, VA

Flagstone walkway, Ashburn, VAHow do you choose? I tell my clients that if they really prefer the masonry look, then they should consider it.  But, if they like the look of the dry-laid, then go for it.  It’s definitely less expensive.  Whichever method is chosen, it is crucial to lay a solid foundation which our crews will do for you.

A third less expensive option is to lay the stone on a 2 inch layer of stone dust. This type of patio or walkway provides a more casual look.  With this type of installation you have the option to allow ground covers or moss to grow between the stone.

Rustic stone walkwayStone walkway in Alexandria, VARegardless of your choice, it is important to hire a professional.  Laying a patio or walkway is a complex process.

Mushrooms Galore

This has certainly been the season for mushrooms.  I think most of us think that mushrooms are not attractive in the landscape.  It’s certainly not our goal as designers to grow mushrooms for our clients, but there are some interesting as well as colorful mushrooms appearing this year.  Take a look at this mushroom called American Caesar’s mushroom.american Caesar's mushroom

Most mushrooms are temporary.  They appear sporadically through most of the season depending upon environmental conditions. The temperatures and amount of rain fall this summer have provided the right conditions for mushrooms.  These mushrooms are called Jack-o-lantern mushrooms. They grow in clusters on wood and are bright orange in color.

orange mushroom, 3A mushroom is the fruiting body of a fungus.  Usually the main body of the fungus is underground, so unseen.  The fruiting body is the reproductive structure of the fungus. This mushroom is called a Wood Bluet.

Blue mushroomsIn dry years, a fungus may not produce any mushrooms. This mushroom is called Elegant stink horn. It gives off a strong unpleasant odor.  It has another inappropriate name, which I’m not going to mention in this post.mushrooms, elegant stink horn

The greatest abundance of mushrooms occur in association with trees.

mushroom identificationThe following picture shows a fairy ring.

mushroom fairy ringWithout going into too much detail, fairy rings occur when the fungus which is underground is growing at the same rate in all directions. This sometimes produces a circle of mushrooms on the outer fringes.

This is a picture of a very unusual and pretty mushroom called an Earth star mushroom.

earth star mushroomHere are some other pictures of mushrooms.  The next two are called Common earthball mushrooms.

common earthball mushroomcommon earthball mushroomSuch variety and colors.

The following, we haven’t been able to identify.  If you know it, comment on this blog.

unknown mushroomAnd, how could I forget the following called Dead man’s fingers.

mushroomsLook closely and you will see the black mushrooms….not a particularly nice looking mushroom.



Color that Lasts

We all love color in our landscape.  Perennials provide this for us.  But not all perennials are created equal.  Many only bloom for a short period of time.  But, others bloom for months. Following is a sample of long blooming perennials.

Many varieties of Coneflowers bloom from June through August such as Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’

Coneflower, Magnusand Echinacea ‘Pink Double Delight’. To extend bloom time, remove dead flowers. They are easy to grow, disease resistant and grow in full sun.

long blooming coneflowerScabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’, common name Pincushion Flower with it’s pretty lavender flowers, blooms from May through September.  It performs especially well if spent flowers are removed.

Scabiosa columbaria, 'Butterfly Blue'Blanket Flower, ‘Arizona Sun’, Gaillardia aristata, provides bright color in the garden June through August with it’s yellow petals surrounding a burgundy center.  GaillardiaGeranium x ‘Rozanne’, commonly known as Cranes Bill is one of the longest blooming Geraniums.  It blooms all the way from June through frost.Cranes BillNepeta x faassanii, Catmint, ‘Walkers Low’ is an easy care perennial that blooms June through most of the summer. It produces lovely lavender-blue flowers on mounds of fragrant gray-green foliage.

Long blooming perennial

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’, common name Tickseed also blooms throughout the summer, June through frost.  It produces lemon yellow flowers over lacy foliage and is drought resistant.

TickseedVeronica x ‘Sunny Border Blue’ commonly known as a variety of Speedwell produces brilliant spikes of dark violet blue flowers that bloom from June through August.

Veronica SpeedwellAnd one of my favorites, Phlox paniculata, ‘Nicky’, Summer Phlox provides a brilliant red violet color in the garden that looks fantastic and blooms from June through August.  Summer Phlox

Many of these perennial flowers will attract butterflies to your garden.  And another bonus, if flower heads are not removed from coneflowers they will likely attract goldfinches to feed on the seeds.






Open House

Come explore our Landscape Design Center at our OPEN HOUSE on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  We are located in Haymarket, VA.

Fireplace, ourdoor kitchen, Main Street Landscape

Designers will be available to discuss your landscaping needs.  Enjoy complimentary refreshments.  There will be a flower giveaway, (limited supply).  And, a container garden demonstration at 1:00 pm.

Main Street Landscape, HaymarketDiscover something inspiring in our beautiful display.

Garden ornamentMain Street Landscape has been creating enjoyable outdoor living areas since 1983.  We offer lots of experience and great ideas.  We design and install patios, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, pavilions, water features, plantings, outdoor lighting etc.

Boulders, waterfall, pond, Main Street LandscapeWe are located at 2402 James Madison Highway in Haymarket, VA 20169.


Water Gardens

One of our specialties at Main Street Landscape is the installation of water features. There is a multitude of choices when it comes to designing a water feature that creates a beautiful back drop for entertaining or an impressive focal point in the garden.

Boulder water feature

The soothing sound that the water creates is an important factor when considering which water feature to install as well as its location.

Water gardenThere are many choices when it comes to water gardens.  We install all kinds – ponds with cascading water falls and boulders, fountains, vases, rock bubblers and even pondless water falls.

landscape, water feature

The possibilities are endless and our clients love them……more pictures below.Boulders with water falls water, gardens, landscape, fountain

Bridge over water feature in HaymarketBoulders, water, stepping stones

A Pool as Part of Your Back Yard Oasis

Inspired by the following picture of a crew applying gunite to a new pool installation on one of our client’s properties in the snow a couple of days ago, I’m writing this blog.   swimming pool installation in HaymarketBeautiful snow in the background, a new pool being installed in the foreground, quite the site.  Although we don’t install pools, we do work with pool companies to make your dreams come true.  This particular pool installation is part of one of Craig’s designs.  Here is his master plan.
Landscape plan with pool and outdoor kitchen, Prince William County

The rest of the design will be installed by our crews and the homeowner will have their beautiful outdoor oasis awaiting them before the warm weather arrives.  Here are some other pictures of our back yard landscape design installations with swimming pools.Master plan with pool, patio, deck, pavilion, pergola, fireplaceSwimming pool with masonry walls and falls

Gunite is a concrete and sand mixture that is sprayed over a rebar framework. Gunite is a popular choice for pools because of its durability and also because the pool can be created in just about any shape.  Boulders, diving rocks, swimming poolOutdoor landscaping, pool in Fairfax Station



Winter Work

Many people think that our crews stop working in the winter.  But, that’s not the case.  We work all winter long, weather permitting.  Today is snowing like crazy, so the crews are off, but they will be back to work as soon as possible.  Here is a picture of one of our crews working last winter.

Falls church fire pit installationThey installed two flagstone patios, fieldstone retaining walls, a seat wall and a fire pit on this property in January. We typically plant through December and then start up again in March.  But as far as hardscape goes, the crews keep working.  Here are some pictures of finished projects that were installed last winter.

Veneered fireplace in LeesburgCovered deck and patio in LeesburgFireplace, wood storageOutdoor kitchen

It’s wise to get the work done in the winter, so that your outdoor living areas can be enjoyed as soon as the pretty weather arrives.


A Gift Idea

Do you find that you sometimes have trouble thinking of the perfect gift to give to that special someone in your life?

Landscape Consultation presentI read an article recently that mentioned a great gift idea – the gift of expert advice.  Is your wife dreaming of a beautiful back yard, but she doesn’t know where to start?  How about a gift certificate for time spent with one of our designers?  We do offer free consultations, but this would go a step further…..four hours of design consultation and draw time.

Landscape consultation and draw timeCall us for pricing and additional information.  And, check out our other blogs for additional landscape pictures and information that isn’t found in the web site’s portfolio.

Why the Change?

Part of the art of designing beautiful landscape designs is the ability to achieve an ever changing sequence of color from season to season beginning in spring and continuing into late fall and even winter.

Hickory TreeMost of us think of spring and summer for the ultimate enjoyment of garden color, but your landscape can come alive in the fall with beautiful foliage colors, fiery berries and colorful bark.  Have you ever wondered what causes the leaves of your shrubs and trees to change color in the fall?

Fall ColorsLeaves are green in the summer because they are full of the green pigment called chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is necessary for photosynthesis, which is the process by which plants obtain energy from light. Along with the chlorophyll, leaves may contain other pigments called carotenoids.  In the summer, their colors are masked by chlorophyll.

Red MapleAs summer fades into autumn, plants respond to a decreasing amount of sunlight by producing less chlorophyll.  The chlorophyll breaks down and the green color fades and other colors emerge. Carotenoids, already in the leaves show through in yellows, oranges and browns.

Fall colorRed and purple colors are produced by anthocyanins.  The best fall colors come from a warm, wet spring, a summer that’s not too hot or dry and a fall with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights.

Trees in the landscape





Story of a Water Garden

We installed this boulder water garden back in 2007 for a very nice couple in Leesburg, Virginia.

Boulder water featureA source of pride and joy for the homeowners, the pond has been enhanced over the years by their special care and continual planting additions. I met with the clients again recently.  We will be installing a back yard patio for them in the very near future.

Here are some recent pictures of the water feature and surrounding area.Water feature in Leesburg, VirginiaBoulder water feature

Water liliesThe homeowner loves to work outside in her garden and her water feature.  She climbs right into the pond and pulls out some of the algae by hand.  Too much algae can deplete the pond of oxygen which is essential for a healthy ecosystem.

Landscaped pond in Leesburg, Virginia

The key to a low maintenance water feature is a balanced ecosystem.  Filters, pumps, plumbing, and rocks (all included in our installation) along with the correct plants and fish are all essential elements.

Betty also has snails in her pond and an underwater oxygenating plant called Anachoris to help aid the process. She is proud of her water feature, which is kept beautiful naturally.   And, her fish are very happy as they have plenty of places to hide.

Water feature plantsHere are some more pictures.  The boulder steps in the background climb up to the back of the house.

Boulder water feature

Pond lilies

A view from a different angle.

Fieldstone bouldersAnd, Betty enjoying her water feature!

Water feature and falls in Leesburg, VirginiaThank you Betty and Bill for the great pictures!