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Neptune Panels Waterfall Training: October 2013

Building A Waterfall Training

In October, we welcomed three new companies into our network of licensed and trained installers.  Jeff Krupinski of Landscapes Unlimited from Southington, CT, John Madison of John Madison Landscape and Eric Gagnon of G&G Landscape and Development of Lewiston, ME.  Here’s what they had to say about the system and their learning experience.

“Hi my name is Jeff Krupinski. I own Landscapes Unlimited. We’re a lawn and landscape installation company based out of southern Connecticut.Currently we’re a paving and retaining wall company. We do a tremendous amount of flat work, all segmented concrete units. But we saw the product, we can see it’s versatility not only used in the water features but anything used outdoors basically. Seeing it done I’m amazed at how simple it actually is and how strong it actually is.

John Madison with John Madison Landscape.- Orlando Florida. We didn’t do waterfalls. We were pretty much scared of them. Everything done there is more of a liner for natural stone type of products. Just never liked the liability of them and then we found this product here that’s basically reduced the liability. I feel like there’s a demand in our area for something like this because no one else is doing it. The product is amazing, I mean we haven’t even stained it yet and it already looks like a real rock. I haven’t seen any other products on the market that do what this product does and look as realistic as this one does.

Eric Gagnon with G&G Landscaping and Development. We’ve been in business since 1999 doing landscape maintenance and hardscape installations. We’re out of Lewiston. We don’t do many water features right now and there’s not many guys in our area doing them so that’s why we came down to the training because we’d like to get that going as part of our business. I like it so far. I definitely see it’s applications. For the initial investment it’s a wonderful wonderful product that really does what they say it does. It’s really as easy as it’s made to look. Very very very little artisticness is needed in it. There’s tons of opportunities to go back and correct mistakes. Definitely an easy to get into product. It’s a no brainer really. It’s worth the investment.”

 

Neptune Panels Installer Profile: Cummings Landscape And Masonry (Video)

 

Neptune Panels Installer Connie CummingsCummings Masonry & Landscape, Inc. is a full service Landscape, Masonry, and Concrete contractor. They provide and install new construction and remodel work to the outdoor living space to homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area, constructing everything from outdoor kitchens and custom concrete work to foliage, outdoor lighting, and water features. In the following video, Connie discusses how becoming a licensed Neptune Panels installer has increased her business.

How has Neptune Panels helped your business?

“Using the Ledgefalls/Neptune Panels has really helped our company through the recession. We were able to bring our product on national TV on several Yard Crasher shows. It’s kept us busy and now we are starting to offer in almost every quote we do, we try to make sure it has a water feature.”

How is the customer demand for Neptune Panels?

“It’s hard to go on vacation. They go on vacation, spend a lot of money. Why not build a staycation in your own back yard? People want big water features and their and their pools they want that dramatic feel, but pool decks cannot put a 2, 3, 4000 pound rock to get a huge overhang. It just cannot happen unless you spend a lot of money trying to do something like that.”

How easy is the Neptune Panels System to work with?

“Totally changed the water feature excitement for me because I could lift the panels up. Being able to get in we will pour a pond maybe just me and 3 of my workers. We will pour a big pond on Monday and we are turning that water feature on by Friday. We can go in and do outdoor kitchens, fire pits, water features giving that whole feel of outdoor enjoyment for the family.”

Have you seen an increase in business with the Neptune Panels System?

“People like to see transformation in their yards quickly and that is what this product brings to our bottom line. We get most of our work on referral. Once you get a referral you have an 85 to 90% chance of getting the job. They can’t go to anybody else because nobody else is doing it. It has been very easy for me to sell these in people’s homes.”

Would you recommend the Neptune Panels System to other contractors?

“I would say if somebody were interested in wanting to become an installer for the panels and ledge falls I would say if you have passion for it go for it because it will totally change your life.”

YouTube Strategies to Help Your Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard
With its more than 100 million videos viewed each day, tens of millions of unique visitors; did you know that YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the Web in terms of inquiring volume?  It sounds impressive, but what does that mean for local businesses trying to reach customers?  You need to separate yourself from your competition!

Have you ever uploaded your own creation? Chances are, probably not.

If you own a small local business or if you are nationally known and don’t want to mess with video hosting and access issues, YouTube provides a free, easy way to host your corporate videos. Below I have listed some of the ways that you can take advantage of using YouTube for your business and help grow your media awareness.

Boost Your Brands Presence

Similar to traditional television ads, YouTube can help your business by increasing overall brand awareness. In fact online advertisements may be even more effective than TV ads. A recent Milward Brown study found that online advertisements resulted in 82% brand awareness while similar TV ads only led to 54%. Be sure to have content that is entertaining and informative to capture your viewer’s attention. Remember you are trying to make your audience aware of your brand, so your video should have content that represents your company. This way the next time a viewer sees your logo somewhere, they will associate your brand with it. Use YouTube to make your business more than an impersonal entity. Video tours can show off an office space or give a behind the scenes look at the process that goes into the everyday operations of your business. Let customers connect with the heart and soul of your company: the people who make it what it is. By featuring workers in action or even highlighting individual employees with video bios, you allow your company to have a personal touch that everyone can relate to.

Don’t be afraid to create awareness about who you are and what you do; it’s important to let people know who they’re getting this valuable information from.  You should encourage users to take a step towards a relationship with your company by having them subscribe to your YouTube channel or company email newsletter (if you have one).  By building your YouTube subscriber base you’ll automatically reach a built-in audience of potential customers who have opted-in to seeing your latest videos. For example you could say “Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more moneysaving tips on ways to improve your outdoor living space,” and include that call to action graphically in the video. Alternatively, driving people to a newsletter is another way to form the start of a relationship with that viewer.

Optimize for YouTube Search

Nearly 24 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.  In order to be found you need to optimize your video so that it can be found on the site.  Here are just a few things to think about when adding your video to YouTube.  Include important keywords in the title and be sure your tags include those keywords as well.  Choose an appealing thumbnail that clearly depicts what your video is about.

To continue the outdoor living space example, you may want to title your video “How to design an outdoor living space that will adapt to your backyard. XYZ hardscaping top tips for designing an outdoor living space on your budget.”  Your tags might be “how to, hardscape, outdoor living area, pavers, plants, landscaping, DIY” etc.  The thumbnail could be a shot of you planting some flowers (assuming that YouTube gives you that as an option). Your title, keywords and thumbnail all gives your viewers the information they need to decide whether your video will help meet their need and solve their problem.

How-To Videos

Not all content has to directly promote your products. How-to videos that give viewers tips and hints on solutions related to your industry are a great way to give your customers a valuable gift that creates a feeling of goodwill, but also, importantly, is likely to be shared with others. For example, a barbeque restaurant might share a video about the perfect basting technique, or a graphic design studio might do a monthly series on simple Photoshop tricks. Neither one gives away sacred secrets that will hurt their business, but they do create relevant, helpful content that their customers – and potential customers – can use and appreciate.

Product and Service Demos/Details

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But when it comes to showing off your company’s products, a video demonstration or overview gives your customers more than a photo ever could.

Whether videos are used to demonstrate key features of new products or show off that product from all angles, YouTube gives you the perfect opportunity to let customers see your product in use, how it’s meant to be seen

Produce High Quality Videos

You don’t have to be the next Spielberg, but your videos should be professional and easy to watch.  Shaky hand-held camera work, poor audio quality, bad lighting or lack of coherence in the story all lead to viewers changing the virtual channel.  Pay attention to the lighting. Use a tripod to create smooth viewing experience. Use microphones and pay attention to the audio.  Try to tell a story or clearly walk viewers through the video and what you’re doing.  By paying attention to these basics you’ll standout from the massive amounts of poor quality content on the site – earning you more attention and more interest from viewers.

Give the Viewers a Follow-Up Action

Following the AIDA model you want to create a desire for viewers to take a follow up action.  If you’ve created an informational video about landscaping tips you want to give the viewer a compelling reason to follow up with you and a clear path to do so.  One way to do this is to provide a special offer and a unique web address in the video.

For example a call to action such as “Print step by step instructions and receive 10% off our in-home evaluation by visiting MySite.com/youtube,” gives your viewers an actionable next step with clear value. The unique URL and discount will also provide you one measurable way to determine how successful your YouTube video is.

Those are just some quick ways local businesses can take advantage of YouTube.  There are dozens more, but starting with the basics will put you in front of potential customers who need your help. 

What tips do you have for making YouTube work for business? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Resources:

http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/blog/socialmadness/2012/05/3-ways-to-use-youtube-to-market-business.html?page=all

http://www.spyderbytemedia.com/5-ways-youtube-can-help-your-business/

http://www.reelseo.com/5-ways-small-businesses-advantage-youtube/

Pros and Cons of Backyard Waterfalls

By Jonathan Allard

A backyard waterfall is a great way to incorporate art into your outdoor living space. Whether the feature is a focal point in your landscape or simply a complementary piece. Water feature designs serve more than an aesthetic purpose; the sound of trickling water can help you relax and feel calm.

Water features such as decorative fountains and waterfalls can provide a number of benefits to any environment. Most people will agree that providing components within their own living space that create a visual interest can reduce stress, which may lead to enhanced productivity.

However, adding a waterfall is not without risk…

waterfall, backyard water features, backyard waterfall, waterfalls, pros and cons of waterfalls, pros and cons of backyard waterfalls, fountains, fountain

PROS

Keeping Calm

The Advantage of Relaxation

  • backyard waterfall can provide a tranquil setting for you to relax and enjoy the outdoors–either by yourself or with friends. The waterfall can include fish or accent a swimming pool to enhance your experience while relaxing in the yard. In addition, the sound of trickling water, can be stress-reducing.
  • Most waterfalls featuring moving water also produce running-water sounds. These sounds can remind listeners of a calm babbling brook contributing to the calming effect of the waterfall. The falls noises also help cover the sounds of a busy environment. This effect is known as white noise and can help reduce the stress caused by the more mundane sounds of outdoor living; automobiles, planes, neighbors, and other environmental factors.

The Aesthetics Advantage

  • A water feature in the backyard will significantly bolster the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space–especially if colorful fish and an eye-catching design complete this landscaping feature. Backyard waterfalls can be equipped with lights to illuminate the  feature during the evening, further enhancing the easy-on-the-eye experience.

The Anywhere Advantage

  • One of the most intriguing benefits of landscape waterfalls is that they can be installed into any area of your yard, whether it is front or back, in the sun or shade, by the pool or in the patio. 

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Attract Attention

The Conversation Advantage

  • Waterfalls can become a gathering place for family and friends — especially if placed in a backyard setting —  Designers often include seating or viewing space around the feature to accommodate the attention it attracts. Not only will the waterfall be a great focal point, but it will also serve as a conversational piece.

The Uniqueness Advantage

  • No two waterfalls are the same. Waterfalls come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, and characteristics. There are the thundering and powerful types that command attention with their sheer volume and size. There are delicately flowing graceful types that relax and mesmerize you with their intricate beauty. Then there are the ones situated in locations where its settings are every bit a part of the natural beauty. Moreover, they are unusual cascades that bend your mind and leave an impression as a result of their uniqueness.

Better Air

The Humidity Advantage

  • The moving water of a fountain allows some of the water to evaporate into the air. This contributes to the humidity of the air and may actually improve the air quality of the surrounding space. In dry climates, the presence of a water feature may reduce or eliminate the need for a humidifier.

CONS

Safety

The Safety Disadvantage

  • The water in a waterfall can pose a safety hazard. If the water feature includes an open pool, it should include design features that prevent accidental entrance by children, as this can cause some possible injury. 

The Maintenance Disadvantage

  • Backyard waterfalls can require maintenance. If your feature is located near trees, removing debris can become a constant maintenance issue. Maintaining balanced water is the key to long term enjoyment of your backyard waterfall and swimming pool waterfallMany pool supply stores will have testing equipment to test your water and provide you with the analysis of your water, as well as the supplies you’ll need to maintain a balance.  Test kits are also available for you to check the water on a weekly basis.

The Disadvantage of the Attraction of Pests

  • Different types of waterfalls can attract pests to your yard. Fish falls may attract fishing birds, which will make a meal out of your fish. Raccoons and frogs may be attracted to your water feature, as well. Frogs can be interesting to watch, but they can be very noisy during the evening hours. Mosquitoes will also pose a problem in features that are not well-balanced and maintained.

 

How To Design A Backyard Waterfall

how to design a backyard waterfall

 

So you have decided to build a water feature to enhance your client’s outdoor living area. The concept of a backyard waterfall has your customer intrigued and excited but now you have to come up with a design. Following a few simple procedures you will have a design that will functionally and aesthetically be pleasing to the consumer.

Step 1. Planning and Layout

Take a look at your surroundings and see what is workable and what isn’t. Take advantage of slopes or existing rocks that can be incorporated. Look at the size and height you are planning on and see where it will fit best. Is it a feature that you want people to be up close and personal with? Or is it simply for viewing and background noise? Try to use the environment to your advantage.

Step 2. The Spillway

Your spillway will play a big part in the entire design for the waterfall. The flow of water will impact the visual attributes of the feature greatly. If you are looking for a quieter and less dramatic fall then a cascading effect should be the goal. For a more emotional and breathtaking fall you will want to have sheer cliff faces and cantilevered design. Find out which side you are leaning to or somewhere in between that compliments the desired outcome.

Step 3. Catch Basin (Pond)

The ponds shape and design will coincide with the flow of water and size of the feature. Usually the most popular design is the pond less design. This helps when children are present or even family pets as the pond is filled with a decorative aggregate close to the water surface. Kidney shapes are also quite common as they break things up from being perfectly circular. Depending on the height of your falls you will need to keep in mind how far out the spill will hit and how much splash will go over the edge

Step 4. Aesthetics

4. This can be very important as there are several things that can be easily overlooked. The loudness of your feature can be very relaxing but also turn a beautiful waterfall into an area where people can not kick back and conversate because of the noise. Splash is another key thing to be aware of. If your feature is a butting a patio or hang out spot you don’t want water splashing all over admiring guests. Being situation-ally aware is also very important. Where can the backyard waterfall be seen from? Is it going to be enjoyed from more than one spot in the yard? Keeping these in mind will keep you project much more visually pleasing and functional.

Step 5. Special Circumstances

You will want to know how your client intends to use the feature. If they are planning on fish or any habitats then you will need special filters and chemicals and be sure to make sure the sun will not be an issue. If nighttime is a big use for them you may need electrical conduit for accent lighting. Take into consideration everything beforehand so that you are properly setup and not dealing with after thoughts that can be very costly and time consuming.

waterfall design for garden

As always, being innovative will set you apart from the competition, just don’t forget the basics and you can take your design in any direction you wish.

 

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Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls

By Jonathan Allard

Last week we compiled a list of the 10 Swimming Pools You Don’t Want to Miss, and in response wanted to put together a list of swimming pool accents. These accents can be anything from water-slides to stained wood platform decking. This week we are going to focus on water features, and more importantly waterfalls.  This list of the Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls will take you through some great ideas of how one can turn a pool area into a Water Wonderland, for all types of budgets.

 

15. Simple Yet Soothing.

14. Waterfalls Are Great For Indoor Pools Too!

13. Multi-Tiered Waterfall.

12. Blending in With the Surroundings.

11. Even a Waterfall Can Have Greenery.

10. Great Focal Point!

9. Waterfall With Multiple Functions.

8. Water, Water, and More Water!

7. Natural Flow.

6. Over the Wall Waterfall.

5. Grottoes, Slides, Waterfalls, OH MY!

4. Roof-Top Waterfall.

3. Waterfall at Every Corner!

2. Tropical Grotto With an Amazing Waterfall Accent.

 

And number 1 on our countdown for the Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls is…

1. The Waterfall Creates the Space.

 

As you can see there are some great ways a swimming pool can be accented to create a relaxing and tropical feel by adding a waterfall(s). Some used the waterfall as the main focal point to define the space, and others used it for more of an ambiance and aesthetic.

This list was compiled a little different than the others because as with a lot of water features, they can be built using real(natural) stone vs. Artificial Rock. We wanted to see if there were some that were obvious in which method was used, and ones that were a little more tough to spot.

Which numbers on the list were made from Natural Stone? Which numbers were made from Artificial Stone?

Let us know what you think!

 

Swimming Pool Waterfalls: Creating A Backyard Resort

backyard swimming pool waterfall

Swimming pool waterfalls continue to grow in popularity amongst homeowners. With the right planning and execution, creating a resort style vacation spot right in their own backyard is within reach. Advances in materials and methods of installation are turning new swimming pools into oasis retreats and injecting new life into older pools.
According to the latest ASLA (American Society Of Landscape Architects) study, backyard water features are high on the list of customers remodeling their outdoor living areas. Here’s a list of 9 reasons for the continued demand:

1. Outdoing the neighbors; let’s face it, being able to one up the neighbors and have the coolest backyard is a motivating factor. Who doesn’t want the most extreme backyard on the block?
2. Family fun: What kid doesn’t love frolicking in the cascading water flowing from the waterfall?
3. Beautiful scenery; What’s better than enjoying a cup of coffee poolside first thing in the morning and looking out at the water dropping into the pool?
4. Entertaining; It’s a perfect spot for hosting a birthday bash or 4th of July party.
5. Vacation spot; Every day can be a mini vacation just by stepping out your back door
6. Peaceful focus; the sites and sound offer a peaceful focus as you unwind from a long day
7. Sound of flowing water; there’s a meditative quality to the harmonious sound of the consistent flow of water
8. Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary; a plain swimming pool or a backyard paradise? Which do you prefer?
9. Adding value to the home; a recent study by Clemson University and the University of Maryland sowed that buyers of existing homes will pay up to 11% more than the asking price for a hhome that features a well-designed landscape.

Everyone has their own reason to invest in a backyard oasis. What’s yours?

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How Popular Are Backyard Water Features? 2013 ASLA Outdoor Living Trends Is Released

How popular are backyard water features?

popular water features

The trend toward increasing outdoor living space continues to grow according to the 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Decorative water elements—including waterfalls, ornamental pools, and splash pools—were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes (90.9 percent). Spas (81.5 percent) and pools (75.3 percent) are also expected to be popular.

“In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards,” said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

Backyard waterfalls help to transform home settings into relaxing and peaceful atmospheres.  The tranquil sound of running water eases stress and soothes the soul.  A backyard waterfall brings a focal point to a home and creates a space that is perfect for gathering with family and friends.

Another benefit to decorative water features is the noise cancelling property of running water.  If you live in an area with high traffic or other consistent noise, a waterfall can mask the unpleasant noise in the surroundings with the comforting sounds of rolling water.  It’s a great wat to escape and unwind at the end of a day.

backyard waterfall desigins

Here’s a breakdown of the survey:

Outdoor Design Elements (Overall rating for 2013)

Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces) – 94.5%

Gardens/landscaped spaces – 94.4%

Outdoor recreation amenities (pools, spas, tennis courts) – 76.3%

Sustainable design practices – 74.8%

Vegetable/fruit gardens – 76.4%

Turf lawns – 52.2%

 

Outdoor Living Features (Overall rating for 2013)

Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Fire pits/fireplace – 97.0%

Grills – 96.3%

Seating/dining areas – 96.3%

Lighting – 95.1%

Installed seating (benches, seat walls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 90.3%

Weatherized outdoor furniture – 82.3%

Counter space – 74.4%

Utility storage – 64.4%

Stereo systems – 58.5%

Outdoor heaters – 50.6%

Sinks – 49.1%

Refrigerators – 48.7%

Wireless/Internet connectivity – 47.8%

Televisions/projection screens – 45.2%

Showers/baths – 43.3%

Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 31.1%

Hammocks – 24.1%

Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 8.0%

 

Outdoor Recreation Amenities (Overall rating for 2013)

 Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers – 90.9%

Spa features (hot tub, Jacuzzi, whirlpool, indoor/outdoor sauna) – 81.5%

Swimming pools – 75.3%

Sports/recreational spaces (tennis courts, bocce ball, etc.) – 54.3%

Movie/video/TV theatres – 34.4%

 

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