Trex decking materials are a popular choice for Hudson Valley landscape designs. Photo

Today, many outdoor living projects include many building products working together to achieve the homeowner’s goals. For instance, an upper level deck may wind down to meet a patio at ground level that includes a fire pit and outdoor kitchen. Just like with the many choices available for concrete pavers for patio installation, the options for decking materials can also be dizzying. Along with the expanded design possibilities that come as a result of these choices also comes hard decisions. 

While Hudson Valley homeowners often like the natural beauty and look of traditional wood decking, research also shows that they are looking to reduce—if not eliminate—home maintenance requirements and their associated costs. Tropical hardwood choices such as Ipe offer a bit of relief in the area of increased durability, but they are expensive and far from maintenance free. The most economical choice is traditional pressure treated lumber. This tried and true option is still installed day in and day out here in Dutchess County and all across the country. The obvious consideration here is durability and required maintenance. Anyone who has spent hours and hours every few years power washing and staining or painting there wood deck or porch knows all to well the maintenance involved with traditional wood decking. In  In fact, these cons of traditional wood decking are the very reasons companies like Trex exist and thrive.  

composite decking for Hopewell Junction, NY homeowners

Composite decking from manufacturers like Trex offer a maintenance free—with the exception of a good cleaning every now and again—option with many design possibilities. While Trex and other manufactured composites are certainly a much larger investment at the time of installation, the lifecycle cost is where the homeowner really wins. Without the need to stain or paint every year, or replace damaged boards due to rot or insect damage, Trex is a clear winner in terms of ROI. 

So while your neighbors are busy working in their decks next year, consumers who choose composite can invite the kids and grandkids and enjoy sitting on—not working on—the deck. The best part? Have those kids kick off the sandals because there are no splinters to be found! 

AuthorJarod Halstead
Dutchess County Poolscapes | Pool Patios | Pavers

Life today is busy. In fact, may studies show it’s busier than ever. For many families, it's becoming harder and harder to maintain a close sense of family. It seems that the only answer to the problem is to take a family vacation each year in hopes of reconnecting everyone after a busy year. The problem is, though, vacations only come a few times a year at best. All the other nights are spent rushing home from work and school, making dinner in between homework, getting ready for the next crazy day, and then it’s off to bed. Each night is a whirlwind of activity and a decreasing amount of quality family time.

But what about summer time, right? Well, because the kids are bored with less to do, they want to go to waterparks and theme parks, out to dinner, or just anything to get out of the house. Or, as the kids grow older, they often venture over to friends houses more and more when school is out for the summer. And chances are pretty good that if they are going over to a friend’s house often, they probably have something there that is entertaining or fun. Solution?

Bring the vacation to your own backyard and bring the family closer together.

There are few home remodeling projects, if any, that offer more family-bonding-bang-for-the-buck than outdoor living spaces. A nice new family room certainly offers a cool spot for movie night, but through the projects we do for our clients, we’ve seen a new inground pool pack more punch than any interior space. There’s just something special about bringing a resort-like experience to your Dutchess County backyard landscape that makes all those needs for the family to separate just melt away.

Add in an outdoor kitchen to grill burgers while hanging poolside, a fire pit sitting area to warm up after a night time swim, and a playground with swings and slides and you will be that neighbor’s house that all the kids want to be at. And that means that your kids will always be right at home.

A pool is more than just a big bowl of water— it’s a reason for families to stay together. And as an added bonus, studies show that you’d be hard pressed to find a more financially sound home remodeling project. A true win-win situation for sure!

AuthorHalstead Media Group
Poughkeepise, NY Landscapers, Landscaping

Hillsides aren't exactly every homeowner's dream outdoor space. But with some careful planning and great landscape design plan, there are many ways to create beautiful, useful spaces out of those slippery slopes. In fact, if done correctly, hills can offer the added bonus of extra privacy that will create intimact even after the space is developed.  So if you're a lucky homeowner with a Dutchess County landscape full of hills, we've got some ideas for you!


If the hillside seems to "meet" a beautiful backdrop like the Hudson River or a view of the Catskills, consider tricking the eye with design. Enter negative edge, or infinity edge, pools. The eye can't really tell the distance between the end of the pool water's edge and the backdrop. With careful excavation and some adjustments to the slope's grade, you can have yourself the perfect poolscape complete with a view.


Bringing beauty to sloped landscape with multiple levels of plantings and retaining walls is a great idea. With a terraced hardscape design of multiple retaining walls, a connected series of outdoor living spaces can emerge. Create little vignette outdoor dining spaces, spas, and even edible gardens. Us meandering bluestone walkways to connect the spaces together for a fun journey between spaces.


Perhaps an outdoor living space isn't what your after at all. Sometimes there are steep grades that run along side a driveway entrance or in a more remote side yard. For those spaces that are not as prominent for actual outdoor living spaces, consider mass plantings to keep the hillside intact and attractive. Plant choices with deep, spreading root structures like Pachysandra make for great solutions. 

AuthorHalstead Media Group
Tips for planning your Dutchess County Landscaping Project

Here in NY, Dutchess County homeowners get to experience the beauty of the 4 seasons. And with that beauty also comes the opportunity to plan, design, and build different home improvement projects according to Mother Nature’s schedule for best results. For landscaping and outdoor living projects the best time for gathering those ideas and inspiration is in the winter months. 

Coming out of the gates when the warmer weather breaks with a completed landscape design plan and a landscape contractor chosen for your project means a huge leg up. Because you worked with the landscape company in the “off” season hashing out the all the details, chances are great that you will be enjoying your outdoor spaces by late spring or early summer. That beats a torn up backyard construction site any day!

So where do you turn for backyard landscaping ideas and inspiration? 

Websites of Hudson Valley Landscaping Companies

A great place to start is by browsing the websites of professional landscape contractors in your area. Like with any industry, there is a huge variance in quality of workmanship and skill across contractor options. Browsing websites will help you begin to narrow down the choices of available landscapers. for Landscape Design Inspiration

An amazing resource for planning outdoor living spaces is Projects from all over the country are featured on the site and you can search by project type. Awesome, right? Yes, it really is. Houzz will give you the big picture of what is possible, bit remember to keep your budget in mind. The luxury on the website can be intoxicating :)

Product Catalogs from Manufacturers like Unilock

Catalogs displaying products for outdoor living like concrete pavers and retaining wallstone, pergolas, outdoor kitchen kits, and water features are a great place to look for landscaping ideas. Most always free, these catalogs are beautifully printed and the project photography is most often superb. Great inspiration abound in these books.

Gathering ideas for your landscaping project is a fun process for sure. Just be sure to not wait too long to engage with potential landscape contractors so that they can help provide advice along the way. Here’s to winter planning! 


AuthorHalstead Media Group
Photo Courtesy of Unilock | Authorized Contractor Dutchess County, NY

Photo Courtesy of Unilock | Authorized Contractor Dutchess County, NY

Whenever working with clients during the planning and design phase of their landscape design, the question of which hardscape material is best often gets asked. This question is a great one because often times with residential projects, the hardscaping—that is the construction of the walkways, patios, retaining walls, or pool decks—is a large portion of the overall costs involved. Two very popular choices for hardscaping today are stamped concrete and interlocking concrete pavers. Here, we take a look at the two systems and their performance in the freeze/thaw climates of Dutchess County and the Hudson Valley.


There is an old (and true) saying that goes "there are two kinds of concrete…concrete that’s cracked and concrete that’s going to crack.” Here in the Northeast, our harsh winters and warm summer’s make this saying resonate even more. Just as you will see with concrete sidewalks along the street side in towns like Fishkill, Hopewell Junction, LaGrangeville, and Poughkeepsie, concrete requires expansion joints—you know, the “cracks” you avoid as kids for fun—as a tool for controlling this inevitable cracking. The theory goes that the cracks will happen in these weakened parts of the sidewalk, not randomly throughout. While this certainly helps, it does not solve the problem completely. 

The use of interlocking pavers does, however. 

Because of the very segmental nature of the paver system, walkways and patios are safe from cracking during the freeze/thaw cycle. The free-floating system allows for flexibility as temperatures and conditions change, allowing the pavers to “move” ever so slightly, as opposed to cracking like stamped concrete. Related: 3 Beautiful Driveway Makeover Tips

For peace of mind, selecting concrete pavers for your hardscaping comes with the added major bonus of manufacturers warranties. Most major manufacturers of pavers like Unilock, Techo-Bloc, and Cambridge all come from the factory with a transferable lifetime warranty covering the structural performance of the product. Poured concrete that is decoratively stamped and colored, unfortunately,  does not. Combine this impressive manufacturer warranty with Harmony Hill Landscaping’s installation guarantee, and you have yourself a very reliable system for your home’s sidewalks, patios, and pool decks. 


Stamped concrete can be very beautiful when completed with the highest skill and craftsmanship. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of companies that offer this level of expertise. The major problem with stamped concrete though, is that even when it’s beautifully installed, the system still needs those expansion joints, or cracks, that we explained above. So here you are walking along a nicely patterned walkway or patio, and bam! A huge, ugly crack goes the whole way across the surface. 

Concrete pavers come in an ever-growing number of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. This choice allows for endless design options that landscape contractors can use to ensure the hardscape matches a home’s style and architecture perfectly. At Harmony Hill Landscaping, we believe that interlocking concrete pavers offer the best look in landscaping today. The best part? There’s no need to interrupt the beautiful flow of paver patterns with unsightly expansion joints!


When it comes to maintaining a stamped concrete patio or walkway, there are many challenges. The first being the necessity of regular sealing every 2-3 years. The sealing products can be very harsh and applying them is not a small job by any means. The second challenge concerns the repairing and patching of a crack or damaged section. Because concrete is uncontrollable in the field in terms of color, the repaired patch will never match the rest of the hardscape, creating an eyesore for the life of the structure. And remember, stamped concrete will crack—it’s just a matter of when and where!

Pavers very, very rarely crack once installed properly. In the super unlikely event that something extremely heavy hits and cracks a few, it is easy to remove and replace just those pavers that were broken. With the ability to swap a few pavers here and there, no one will ever know there was a problem spot at all. As for sealing? No need to do any of that unless you choose to! There are many paver sealers on the market today in a variety of finishes, but these are purely for aesthetics. Pavers do not require regular sealing or regular maintenance of any kind other than keeping them clean. 

Because of the climate here in Dutchess County and the greater Hudson Valley, concrete pavers are a great choice for patios, walkways, and poolscapes due to their ability to flex with the freeze/thaw cycle. The beauty, performance, extra warranties, and the bonus of having a maintenance-free system, well those are all bonuses that make the choice of pavers even easier. 

AuthorJarod Halstead