Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone Blog
Exploring the Ins and Outs of an Illinois Landscaping Business
Owning and operating a landscaping business has many benefits. The freedom of having control over your schedule and the pride of knowing that you created something using your skills are just a couple of these benefits. Here in the State of Illinois, there are rules and regulations put in place to protect the consumer and ensure that the landscaping business is held to a predetermined set of standards. If you are considering starting a landscaping business in Illinois, here are some things you should know.
Define your business
The first thing you need to consider is the type of landscaping services you will be offering. Under the Illinois Landscape Architect Act of 1989, if you provide any type of landscape planning and architectural services, you must have a licensed landscape architect employed on your staff. Becoming licensed requires passing a state examination and providing proof of education in the field of landscape architecture.
If you provide general landscape maintenance, the State of Illinois does not require a specific licensing; however some local communities require all landscaping businesses to obtain licensure if they work within their local jurisdiction. Additionally, they may require the business to provide proof of liability insurance as well as being bonded. If you are unsure about the requirements for the community in which your business operates, contact the city or county clerk to get additional input.
Any business operating within Illinois that provides goods or services for sale must apply for the appropriate tax collection registrations. There are different tax rules depending upon if you sell products, provide a service or offer a combination of both. Be sure to talk to a tax professional if you are unsure of what is required for your business processes.
Hiring employees adds another level of legal complexities. If you have employees on your payroll, the first step is to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number. In addition, the State of Illinois requires businesses who will hire employees to register with the Department of Employement Security (IDES) within 30 days of the start of the business. Your company is also required to file quarterly returns with the IDES and pay unemployment contributions.
At Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone, we are fortunate provide high quality landscaping products to competent landscape contractors across the State of Illinois.
Fall Landscape Survival Tips: Beyond the Plants and Trees
The beauty and cooler weather of fall has many landscape owners thinking about how to tidy up their plants and preserve them over the winter. But the hardscape elements in the landscape also need preparation for the changing seasons in order to prevent damage, and to keep them looking their best. Although hardscaping seems permanent because it is fixed in the landscape, it can deteriorate over time without proper maintenance. Likewise, irrigation systems and the soil in your landscape need some basic maintenance, as well! A few simple tips show that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Fall is a good time to inspect the stone features in your landscape. Pay special attention to any cracks in bricks, walls, and stone pathways. The cold temperatures of winter will only exacerbate these cracks and make them more difficult to repair next year. If you live in a region that receives snowfall, water freezing and thawing in these openings will damage and weaken the stone even more. Sealing small cracks will go a long way towards avoiding having to replace hardscaped elements.
Check the dirt and gravel around the hardscaping. If there are depressions where it has washed or worn away around walkways, walls, and other stone features, fill them before winter sets in, as cool temperatures, spring rains, and thaws can contribute to further erosion.
Fall is a good time to test the acidity and alkaline levels of the soil in your landscape, especially if you didn’t get around to it during the busier spring planting and fertilizing months. Remember to stop fertilizing late in the summer, in order to discourage new growth that will be too delicate for the colder months. However, fall mulching is fine--you can even make your own by finely chopping up dead leaves in your lawn mower! Use a kit to test the pH level in your soil, and use sulfur or lime to adjust it before winter.
If you have an irrigation system in your landscape, turn it off when temperatures are in danger of dipping below freezing. Drain any existing water remaining in the irrigation system. Freezing and expanding in the pipes can ruin them over the winter.
Can’t get enough of planting? Fall can be a good time for some new plants to take root in a landscape, and with so many tempting plants on clearance at lawn and garden stories, it’s hard to resist adding some extra color, or something new! For ideas and inspiration about fall planting, visit here.
Located in South Elgin, Illinois, LaFarge Fox River Decorative Stone has been serving homeowners and businesses since 1934. Our team of experts in on hand to help prepare your landscaped walls and masonry for fall and winter. Visit our showroom and outdoor displays Mondays through Fridays from 7 am to 5 pm, and on Saturdays from 7 am until noon, or visit our website for more information!
How to Care For Your Hard Landscape
A well-designed outdoor space is the perfect place to relax with family and friends. Unfortunately, a stunning landscape takes hard work and regular maintenance. Over time, a landscape succumbs to the harsh elements of weather and human interaction. In order to keep your hardscapes protected and flourishing for years to come, LaFarge Fox River Stone has put together some basic tips for caring for your hardscapes.
Tidy Up Hardscapes
Are you taking care of your hardscapes on a regular basis? We recommend routine cleaning of pavers including sweeping, absorbing spills right when they happen, periodic washing, replacing sand or filling between bricks as needed. Rake runaway gravel back into the appropriate spots for both safety and convenience. Make sure your walkways have not shifted from weather and be sure to add gravel to any depressions in the pathway. With plenty of determination and upkeep, your landscape will be looking better than ever!
Like any other aspect of your landscape, a hardscape needs the proper tools and solutions to thrive. Firstly, avoid sandblasting and acid cleaners as a form of cleaning. Before you try just any cleaning solution, test it out on a small piece of your hardscape and wait for desired results. Additionally, you will want to protect your hardscapes with a sealer. Sealing pavers after they are cleaned helps maintain cleanliness and repel future stains. If you already have sealing on your hardscape we recommend sanding to remove the remnants before applying a new coat.
Prepare the Garden
Prepare your lawn by cleaning up the dead leaves, damaged foliage and weeds from your garden. Now is a great time to prune your plants and make sure the greenery around your hardscapes is in order. Did you know that the sealing on hardscapes inhibits the growth of weeds, moss, mold, insect infestation and more? Sealing put in place now can mean a big difference in the appearance of your landscape over the next year!
Located in South Elgin, Illinois, LaFarge Fox River Decorative Stone is your one-stop-shop for masonry, landscaping, concrete pavers, fire pits, retaining walls, ponds, and more! The experts at LaFarge Fox River can help you navigate our large selection of water based and solvent based sealing products that will keep your hardscapes looking fresh. Visit our showroom today or visit our website for more information!
How to Create a Beautiful Hardscape
Hardscaping your yard is a wonderful way to add personal touches to your property. It is also an excellent way to prevent erosion and incorporate steep slopes or hills into your landscape. Here are a few things to consider when planning your hardscape for an end result you and your family will enjoy for years to come.
- Create a plan – Before beginning any landscaping project, it is crucial to have a detailed plan. Consider how the hardscape will impact drainage as well as any plans you might have for future expansion. Your initial plan should not inhibit future projects but should offer opportunities to expand upon a well thought out design.
- Blend with other projects – If this hardscape is an addition to an existing feature, be sure that you are able to blend the two so that there is no disruption in the flow of the design. It is important to remember, however, that you do not need to match the materials from one design to the next, but rather aim to create a proper harmony between the spaces.
- Do not fail to prepare – Preparing the base of your hardscape is crucial to the final outcome. Create a firm foundation in which to build your project.
- Create highlighted areas - Use unique plants, distinct structures or focal points such as fountains, fire features or garden ornaments. This allows you to highlight particular areas of your design.
- Consider the end user – Take some time to think about who will be using the space. A hardscape design for empty nesters might be significantly different than one for a young family.
- Create unity among hard and softscapes – Consider visual planes when selecting plants. Think about the overhead view, the vertical view as well as the ground view.
- Think about the small details – In addition to the visual details, consider the scents of the plants in your landscape as well as the sounds of your hardscape design (water features, wind chimes, etc.).
When in doubt, contact the experts at Lafarge Fox River Stone to help you create the hardscape of your dreams. We have been serving both homeowners and businesses in the Elgin and surrounding Illinois area since 1934 with a wide range of decorative stones and landscaping products!
Manufactured Stone vs. Natural Stone
For consumers, there are a lot of options out there when it comes to stone veneers. It’s more than just different colors and styles, though - they also have a choice between manufactured stone and natural stone. Manufactured stone, also known as cultured stone, is a product made from cement meant to look like natural stone. The "stones" are made thin and applied to the exterior wall with a thin coating of mortar. The benefit of this thinner, cultured stone is a slightly lower price point and a large space-saving capacity.
The history of cultured stone dates back to the mid 20th century, when people were looking for an alternative to heavy, costly natural stone. These first manufactured stone units were a good deal lighter than real stone, eliminating the need and expense of special footings and support. However, in the beginning this product was a poor substitute for real stone veneer due to unrealistic surface texture, color, and frequent pattern repeats that was easily spotted by an untrained eye. Since then, manufactured stone has come a long way as companies developed better methods such as hand-painting each piece and casting their molds from real stone units.
So what are the key differences between manufactured and natural stone? Read on to learn the pros and cons of each:
- Uniform, clean look
- Fit tightly together, smooth surface
- Easy to lay
- Sturdy in retaining walls
- Many color options
- More susceptible to fading than natural materials
- Less of a high-end look
- Colors and textures may vary from batch to batch
- Irregular shapes, may be gaps
- Great in water features and used to slow down erosion
- Beauty of natural stone lasts a lifetime (no fading)
- Organic, natural look
- High-end look, aesthetically pleasing
If a homeowner is struggling between the two, it’s important as a contractor to let them know they truly can’t go wrong with either choice. Based on the above information, you should be able to better ascertain if their project would benefit more greatly by manufactured or natural stone. If you have any further questions, our knowledgeable staff will be happy to assist you. Contact Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone today!
Join Lafarge Fox River Stone For Our Informative Water Feature Event
Water features are a great way to beautify any garden. One of the best and most tranquil of landscaping accents are fountains and water falls. If you own a home, a stunning water feature is a great way to boost your home’s value and beautify your garden. If you own a commercial property, a fountain will improve the overall appearance of your business.
The type of fountain you choose can enhance, balance and completely change the look of your outdoor area. At Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone, we will be holding an event on June 9th for contractors to learn more about the water fountains we supply.
This is an opportunity for Lafarge to showcase the installation and display of the simple water fountains that are available from our team. The premise of this event is to show contractors who do not currently offer ponds to their clients how the installation of these features can be an easy and profitable add-on sale to any existing landscaping job!
Attention contractors! Did you know gross profit margins for these types of jobs are typically 40-60%? Contractors normally already have the equipment on site necessary to complete a simple water feature. For example, if they are installing a patio, all that’s required is digging an extra hole, setting the feature, attaching a few pieces of plumbing and adding decorative rocks for aesthetic design. With little installation and product costs, this is an overall profit for your business.
Our event on water features will be a great learning opportunity for contractors to strengthen the knowledge it takes to install everything from a simple water feature to more complex water systems. Are you an owner or contractor interested in learning more? Stop by Lafarge Fox River Stone on June 9th at 5pm or give us a call at 847-888-6133. We are conveniently located at 1300 S. Route Business 31 in South Elgin.
Patio Pavers and Decorative Concrete Steps
The weather is warming up and it’s time to start thinking about your outdoor space. Is your backyard lacking the perfect landscape design? Do you want an area for entertaining guests? A great way to transform your outdoor area is with stunning hardscapes and patio pavers that bring harmony from your home to your backyard. With summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start thinking about what patio pavers and design is right for your backyard.
Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone offers one of the largest inventories of landscape and building stones in the Elgin area! Whether you want a traditional design or something modern, we can help you start, maintain and enjoy your outdoor investment for years to come. Take a look at some of the products that will enhance your outdoor space:
Concrete Pavers, also known as paving stones, is one of the best options for outdoor flooring. Pavers provide a wide array of choices including shapes, sizes, textures, colors and even prices. From intricate patterns to classic stone, this is a great option to transform your outdoor patio.
While bricks are typically used on the side of buildings, they are a great option for your outdoor area. Bricks come in a range of sizes, colors, finishes and can be arranged in just about any pattern! They are also extremely strong and durable against harsh weather and foot traffic.
Decorative Concrete Steps
Decorative Concrete steps are the perfect option for those with slopes and elevation changes in their landscape. With a range of options available, you can choose a dimensional style from the Rosetta Steps collection or something more contemporary like Unilock Ledgestone Steps.
Concrete and Stone Walls
Concrete walls in landscape add architectural depth to any backyard! Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone has several varieties of concrete walls and decorative stone options available from Unilock, Belgard, Rosetta, Allan Block and more. You are sure to find an option that brings harmony to your home and outdoor area.
At Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone, we offer a number of decorative stone, brick, and concrete paver options for your landscape! If you’re interested in viewing our large selection of patio pavers and wall options, stop into our expansive show room today. We are located just 5 miles north of downtown St. Charles in South Elgin!
LAFARGE FOX RIVER DECORATIVE STONE DELIVERS LOCAL MIDWEST REGION QUARRIED STONE TO NEW DJK ECO-SMART HOME
Naperville, IL Home Features Local Midwest Region Quarried Stone For LEED Platinum Certification.
The “Modern Farm House” Eco-Smart Home, which will open on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, is one of a series of distinctive custom homes demonstrating that sustainable, healthy, and efficient living is possible in homes that are aesthetically appealing and functional. The home will meet LEED Platinum level certification, ENERGY STAR certification, and EPA Indoor Air certification.
SEMCO’s Blue River Select Grey Stone supplied by Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone will wrap the entire perimeter of the home, giving it a unique modern twist that complements the timeless Farm House style. The stone is a limestone composition with a natural gray color and variegation characteristics that is harvested from a stone quarry located in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri approximately 531 km (330 miles) from the new Eco-Smart Home’s site located at 628 Knoch Knolls Rd. Naperville, IL. By sourcing this stone from the same region it will allow this home to receive accredited points toward LEED Platinum certification.
The home utilizes many advanced green building techniques, practices, and products to achieve Net-Zero status, which the Department of Energy defines as a high performance home which is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption. The latest video of the project filmed by The DJK Team illustrates many of the unique features that contribute to the Eco-Smart Homes energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.
DJK Custom Homes is the leading ENERGY STAR® custom homebuilder for Naperville, Plainfield, and surrounding Chicago area communities. Since 1988 DJK has earned a reputation for attention to even the finest of details, and strives to stay ahead of current building practices by building smart, high performance homes that minimize the cost of living while providing the best quality and living environment for homeowners.
Lafarge Fox River Stone a division of LafargeHolcim (LafargeHolcim was born of the merger of equals by Lafarge and Holcim in 2015. With over 180 years of combined experience, our united Group aims to usher in a new era of leading-edge technologies and innovations in the building materials industry to address the challenges of the 21st century. http://www.lafargeholcim.com/ )
LafargeHolcim’s objective is to create shared value within society, which focuses on four key fields of action: protecting the climate throughout the entire construction chain, developing innovative products and solutions for building energy efficiency, promoting a business model that preserves and optimizes natural resources and furthers the development of communities.
Lafarge Fox River Stone is the leading supplier of Landscape, Masonry and Aggregate material within Northern Illinois. Located at 1300 Route 31 in South Elgin (at the corner of McLean Blvd & Rte 31) we are the preferred supplier of local contractors, builders, remodelers and tradesmen. http://www.FoxRiverStone.com
The Chicago Flower & Garden Show
The annual Chicago Flower & Garden Show is just around the corner, running March 12-20. Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone is proud to once again be a sponsor for this fantastic event! According to the official website, the tradition of the Chicago Flower & Garden Show can be traced back to 1847 when it was created as an exhibition of prized fruits and flowers. Today, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show is all about inspiring, educating and motivating the next generation of gardeners. The event takes place at Navy Pier, and there's a lot to do in terms of attractions and activities. Here what you don't want to miss:
- Feature Gardens - there are more than 20 gardens to walk through, each with a different theme and created by a builder with strong ties to the community. For example, you can walk through a "pollinator" themed exhibit by the Brookfield Zoo. Chicago Flower & Garden Show sponsor Mariano's has a floral market themed garden where you can purchase bulbs and blooms. Check out a complete list of the gardens here!
- Seminars - there are insightful seminars running all day, every day of the festival. Click here for the full schedule and more information about these fun and educational gardening seminars!
- Garden Gourmet Culinary Demonstrations - Chicago's very own culinary elite will present on stage their secrets to creating fresh and inspired dishes. There will be a different culinary demonstrator each day at different times during the festival. Check the schedule here to see if your favorite Chicago chef or restaurant will be sharing their culinary secret!
- Home & Garden Marketplace - The Chicago Flower & Garden Show's expansive marketplace has been a festival favorite for years. New exhibitors and returning favorites will be showing their green goods for you to peruse and purchase. Click here for the full list of exhibitors as well as a handy map to see where each will be located on the show floor.
- Kid's Activities - The Chicago Flower & Garden Show is fun for the whole family! Visit the website here for a list of free and educational hands-on activities your kids can enjoy at the festival.
So save the dates, buy your tickets, and enjoy the Chicago Flower & Garden Show this year. Make sure you look for the Lafarge Fox River Decorative Stone logo throughout the Festival Halls in Navy Pier as a proud sponsor of this great event and Chicago tradition!