By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
West Boylston – Adding a new feature to your patio or backyard can spice up your outdoor living space and make it more enjoyable.
McCarthy's Landscaping & Irrigation, a full-service outdoor construction and design company, can suggest ideas and do all the work.
Roger McCarthy and his wife, Sue, are the owners of the firm, which has been in business for over 17 years. Roger noted that with rising gasoline prices, people may choose to stay closer to home this summer and enjoy the outdoors in their own backyard. He offered several suggestions for simple projects that can greatly enhance a home's outdoor space.
Adding a fire pit, either on a patio or just on the lawn, creates a natural gathering spot, suitable for cooking hotdogs, making s'sores or great conversation. Fire pits, he said, are generally a circle or square stone wall rising about 16 inches above ground level.
Another popular patio addition is a built-in grill area done in stone. It can be as simple or as “complicated” as the homeowner wishes, with the addition of stone countertops, a refrigerator or other options.
Water features also enhance a landscape; most use re-circulating water once they are filled. Roger suggested a koi pond for fish, with or without a waterfall. Another choice is a “pondless waterfall” with the water trickling over rocks, but no accompanying pond below the falls.
The pondless waterfall, he noted, provides the soothing background noise of a waterfall, but requires less room and, because the water is constantly moving, lessens the need to take measures to prevent mosquitoes.
Landscape lighting will also make outdoor living spaces more attractive. The low-voltage lighting can be added to patio areas, can make the front of the home more attractive and can accent landscape features at night with a subdued glow.
“It's important for homeowners to choose the right contractor for these types of projects, and be careful of people who undercut pricing and end up cutting corners,” he emphasized.
“Homeowners should check how long a contractor has been in business, if the workmanship is good, and call references. They should make sure a contractor has workman's compensation insurance so the homeowner is not liable if a worker is injured on a job. You have a right to ask for certification of insurance from a contractor,” Roger said.
When planning a new patio or additions to an existing patio, he recommended thinking first about how the family expects to use that space, and making sure the planned area can accommodate those uses.
“A good contractor should be able to help you figure out the right size for your needs,” he said.
McCarthy's has examples of various installations on the grounds at the West Boylston office, and homeowners are encouraged to come and look at what the different types of stone look like and gather ideas for their own projects.
In addition to design and construction work, McCarthy's installs irrigation systems and lighting, sells and delivers mulch, and does landscape maintenance work.
This past winter, with its extremely low snowfall amounts and warm temperatures, has created an early drought situation, he warned, and homeowners should be aware their lawns may need a bit of extra care. He also expects a bumper crop of crabgrass this year with the warm weather encouraging earlier germination.
McCarthy suggested homeowners have someone to assess their yard early in the spring, and check trees and shrubs for winter damage, some dating back to last October's snowstorm.
The positive side of this early spring, he noted, is that McCarthy's is ready and able to get started now on landscaping projects.
McCarthy's Landscaping takes on construction projects just about anywhere in the state, and has done work from New Hampshire to Cape Cod. Landscape maintenance work with frequent visits is concentrated in Worcester County.
McCarthy's is located at 133 Hartwell St. in West Boylston. Additional information is available on the website, www.mccarthyslandscaping.com, or call 508-842-7110. Sue McCarthy urged customers to visit the firm's Facebook page as well for specials and advice.