Category Archive:Landscape Design

ByKevin Post

With Sadness

Dear Customers:

With sadden hearts, I am writing to inform you that Beyond The POST Landscape Architectural Design Firm will be going out of business on March 31, 2017. The success of Beyond The POST over the past 3 years has been largely due to its amazing customers like you. I am very grateful you trusted me for your landscape architectural services and for your past business.

As a result of this decision, we will not be taking any more orders.

Please contact us at 226-339-1899 | kevin[@]beyondthepost.com if there is anything we can do help you through this difficult transition. We apologize for any inconveniences that this may cause.

Best Regards,

Kevin Post
Beyond The POST

ByKevin Post

Are you able to find your way? Part 1 of Way-finding tips – The Introduction

Way-finding is designed to help people who are not familiar with the area or trail system find their way to the desired result, following along a trail, such as the Bruce Trail or find those waterfalls on a scenic driving route. There are common elements in all way-finding systems that need to be addressed if it is going to be effective:

  • Have start and end points (for the most part, even loops)
  • Be very simple to understand
  • Clearly visible at the expected rate of travel
  • Be clear and uniform in design language

If the above is done correctly, people can effectively find their way in an unfamiliar area. If one or two of the above items are left out or are unclear, you can become very lost and disoriented. In some very rare cases, disorientation from the marked path has caused death due to starvation and/or dehydration. People have become so lost they were been unable to find their way back to the trail and to help.

During my recent hike, I became a bit disoriented and lost the trail I was following, because unannounced to me it entered into an area, clearly signed with large “DO NOT ENTER – Authorized Personnel Only”. When I was out hiking, I did not realize this area is now public lands and no longer enforced as “DO NOT ENTER”. Instead I was trespassing on the adjacent private lands. The main reason, the trail was not well marked when it entered the area and the warning signs kept me out. Good thing I had a GPS app, compass, and trail maps, I was able to find the trail about 100m south from the area I lost it when it turned east again.

A great example of way-finding in use is the system the Bruce Trail uses. The Bruce Trail is just under 900km long plus has numerous side trails. Over the whole trail system, the main trail is marked with a white blaze, whereas the side trails are marked with a blue blaze. Each blaze measures 15cm (6”) high by 5 cm (2”) wide. One blaze means the trail continues straight. Two blazes above the other, with one blaze slightly offset means the trail will be changing direction and you are to follow the top blaze’s direction. “T” blaze, 2 blazes with the top blaze horizontal, over a vertical bottom blaze, means you have come to the end of the trail. Side trails are typically signed with a blue plaque with the naming the side trail, if there is a parking lot or loop, and how many km. This simple, clearly visible, and very uniform way-finding system helps people, both experienced and not, easily find their way, without maps nor GPS, for the most part.

In future blogs, I will discuss in further detail about the above items and will go into the four types of signs typically found which are Informational, Identification, Directional, and Warning.

Sign up for our newsletter for more tips regarding all aspects of the landscape, from site plan approval process for new developments, trail design tips, like this blog, through to maintenance tips and thought-provoking commentaries.

I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, questions and the tips you have found useful.

Sincerely,

Kevin Post
Beyond The Post
www.beyondthepost.com

ByKevin Post

Does your landscape project require a permit(s)?

You plan out your new walkway and retaining wall. You figure it will take you about two weekends to complete. You start your project. You set the grades. You dig to the depths shown on your plans. Things are just moving along perfectly. Then you receive a stop work order and are given a big fine. Next thing you know you are in the courts fighting the fine and trying to get your project started again since some of the stop work order was to revert the space back to the previous state.

Many of the Cities and Townships have requirements over and above the Ontario Building Code that require you to obtain a site plan approval and/or a building permit before starting certain types of landscape projects. Some of these permits carry fairly steep fines for breaking them. In Toronto, if you injure a tree without a permit, you can be fined up to a maximum of $100,000.00 per tree involved in the offense.

Permits are typically required for any retaining wall over 90 cm (3 feet), along with any deck 60 cm (2 feet) or more above the ground. In Hamilton, any deck over 10 square meters (90 square feet) at any height off the ground requires a permit. In Toronto, as mentioned above, any work within including access through the root zone of a tree requires a permit.

Along with the building permit requirements, most municipalities also have zoning and urban design guideline requirements. Some require a minimum 1.5 meter wide landscape buffer between hard surfaces and adjacent properties, whereas in other municipalities you can pave right to the property line.

It is worth the quick call to your local City’s building department to ask if you need any permits before starting. Some of these permits can take over a month or two to receive if it is a straight forward application to over a year or two for zoning changes. Most municipalities can typically give you a yes or no answer for permit requirements over the phone or email. If you do need a permit, a landscape architect like myself, can help you to filter through the permit application requirements and prepare the required drawings and documentations. For some projects, such retaining walls over 3 feet and high decks, a structural engineer review and approval may be required, which I can also assist you with.

So remember to check to see if your project requires a permit and always do your utilities locates before starting. http://www.on1call.com/

Have you had any horror stories dealing with the City’s By-law or Building Department? We would like to hear about them.

Sincerely,
Kevin Post
Beyond The POST

ByKevin Post

Is your park a natural fitness gym?

Happy New Year! Hope your holiday season was a great one!

As I sit and write this post, the weather outside is perfect! Gorgeously sunny, near 0°c (32°f). It is hard for me to keep my focus on work today. I keep thinking about strapping on the cross-country skis and going for a quick ski along the snow covered paths for a quick workout.

During our holiday break, I was able to head out for a two-day snowshoe hike along the Bruce Trail. As a landscape architect, I enjoy spending as much time in the landscape as possible, both urban and natural spaces. It is where I keep myself healthy: It reduces my blood pressure and stress levels. Nature provides for our needs if you know where to look. I always find hiking and being in nature recalibrating and can’t wait for the next trip!

On a recent outing, one of my great friends, Eric Chagnon of Get Outside Fitness, showed me how to use the surrounding parks and natural areas as fitness centres. There are so many great exercises one can do on a basic large rock or log, placed along or near a trail. Exercises such as step ups, planks, push ups, tricep dips, balancing and even crawling just to name a few.

There are cost advantage to using natural objects like rocks and logs in both installation and maintenance compared to manufactured equipment. The natural elements can be integrated into natural parks without looking out of place. As an added bonus, the workout stations can also double as a rest stop bench at scenic lookouts or is it the other way around? The design possibilities are endless and they can be easily placed along existing trails or designed as a part of a new trail system or addition.

As a design team, Eric and I can work with your parks facility staff, and stakeholders to design a great natural fitness trail within your park and budgets. We can design the trail for a wide variety of skill levels while engaging the whole family to improve their health, and help to increase positive users within your parks.

We look forward to the opportunity of creating a great fitness trail for your park. If you have any questions or would like to know more, please feel free to email me at kevin@beyondthepost.com or phone 226-339-1899.

For more information about health benefits of nature see:

https://www.outsideonline.com/1870381/take-two-hours-pine-forest-and-call-me-morning

Sign up for our newsletter for more tips regarding all aspects of the landscape from site plan approval process for new developments, trail design tips through to maintenance tips and thought-provoking commentaries like this post.

I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, and questions.

Sincerely,

Kevin Post
Beyond The Post
www.beyondthepost.com

ByKevin Post

Is Your footbridge designed to fail?

When designing trails within parks or green spaces, rivers and creeks become an issue. How do you cross them? A small babbling brook might be able to be jumped across or crossed by hopping between a few rocks to continue along the natural footpath. This style of water crossing is not that accessible, nor are these natural forest footpaths. Trying to walk across this type of water crossing can be hard for a person with limited mobility, an issue of our increasingly aging population. The next option is much more expensive, a bridge must be installed to cross a little creek to a larger river.

The main materials for a bridge are wood, metal, and concrete. Each of these materials has its own design consideration; cost, longevity, maintenance, accessibility, access to the build site, just to name a few.

In 2012-2013, I was tasked with reviewing bridge repairs suggested from the structural engineer’s bridge reports. I noticed that some of the oldest bridges (around 100 years old), required less work than some of the bridges 90 years younger. Were these 10 to 15-year-old bridges designed to fail? I’m not sure but I offer these few tips to help ensure the longevity of your assets.

The first thing to know about rust on bridges is a bridge is like a very big, low voltage battery or electrical circuit. My landscape architect’s very basic understanding, as taught from an electrical engineer tasked with protecting gas lines:

  • Water and salts, make an electrolyte, which allows for the current to move through.
  • Sun, wind, moving water all create electric potential within the circuit/bridge.
  • The foundations create “Ground” and can complete the circuit.
  • Lesser “noble” metals protect more “noble” metals will.
    • Protection: oxidizing or rusting gives off an ion to join with oxygen to maintain the electric potential equilibrium.
    • Weathering steel will rust faster than stainless steel,
    • Stainless steel will oxidize faster than silver.
    • If you have weathering steel fasteners on a stainless steel structure, the fasteners will oxidize, rust and fail at a much quicker rate since it is trying to protect the stainless steel – as known as- equalizing the electric potential.
  • If you think about bridge design in this fashion, small items requested during the tender process and good maintenance can help to ensure the longevity of the bridge.

One of the more common bridge types I was reviewing was made from weathering steel (Core-ten). These young weathering steel bridges (10 to 15 years old) had few structural failures and required replacement. The following Design and Maintenance tips are based on my observations and research on weathering steel (a product that was originally designed for train boxcars for use in hot and dry South-Western USA)

Foundation Connection of Weathering Steel Bridge

Foundation connection of weathering steel Bridge covered with leaves, dirt and debris and has stainless steel fasteners

Weathering Steel Bridge

Weathering Steel Bridge with wood deck with overgrown vegetation surrounding bridge – designed to fail?

Failed structure of Weathering Steel Bridge

Structural failures of support members on the underside of weathering steel bridge with wood deck. Too close to water and vegetation, plus the wood holds moisture, which will keep the weathering steel rusting (bright orange)

Design Tips:

  1. Weathering steel (core-ten) must be placed in a full sun area that will allow it to dry completely each day.
    This repetitive wetting-drying cycle forms a very uniform, thick protective layer of rust with a constant colour.
  2. Constant moisture on the bridge will prevent the steel from forming a protective layer of rust and ironically will continue to rust (darker or brighter points or streaks on the surface)
  3. Design the weathering steel bridge, with a minimum 2 meters (6′ feet) above the water.
  4. Ensure the bridge is electrically broken from the ground (foundations) and into smaller units.
  5. Electrically insulate all connection points with dielectric insulating bolt sleeves and washers (PVC, rubber, ceramic, etc).
  6. Ensure the materials to be used are compliant with your de-icing products and needs (if used)

Maintenance Tips:

  1. Keep all vegetation cleared around the bridge to ensure the wind can dry the bridge throughout the day.
  2. Ensure leaves, dirt, and debris are cleared from the bridge, especially the bridge connections.

If the above recommendations cannot be maintained, it might be a better idea to use another material, such as wood or concrete if you don’t want to replace your bridge very 10 to 15 years at over $10,000 for a small 6-meter long bridge. In future blogs, we will look at other materials and design considerations.

If you need help designing your trails, locating your water crossings and types, creating tenders for bridge replacement or help to create maintenance procedures, please give us a call or email, we would be happy to help.

If you like our posts, sign up for our blog and it will be emailed to you as soon as it is posted. Saving you time and energy.

Sincerely,
Kevin Post
Beyond The POST

ByKevin Post

Four tips to help your landscape to look good after winter

Now that Halloween has come and gone for Southern Ontario, we will soon start seeing the white stuff falling from the sky. For some this can be a welcome sight, for others it means heavy jackets, salt covered boots, and long hours removing snow.

Halloween evening

Lots of candy for Mr Lego Man.

Here are a few quick tips to talk with your landscape and snow removal contractors to help your landscape to look its best after winter is over.

  1. Snow Removal
    • Define areas away from your planting beds to place the large amounts of snow throughout the winter. Monitor these areas to ensure your contractor is keeping the snow away from those areas.
    • Check out this blog for more tips:
  2. Salt
    • Become a Smart About Salt (SAS) certified site.
    • Check out this blog for more info about becoming an SAS certified site and additional tips to reduce salt:
  3. Wrap your evergreens
    • Wrapping your evergreens with burlap cloth to reduce salt burn.
    • Also, the wrapping holds the evergreens together and shields the plant from crushing snow and/or ice loads which can pull down and break the branches.
  4. Springtime
    • Rinse the salt away with water from planting beds next to heavy salt use areas, such as near the main walkways leading to entrances.

I hope these suggestions help to keep your landscape looking its best after the winter. Sign up for our newsletter for more tips regarding all aspects of the landscape from site plan approval process for new developments, trail design tips through to maintenance tips like this post.

I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, questions and the tips you have found useful.

Sincerely,

Kevin Post

Beyond The Post

www.beyondthepost.com

ByKevin Post

4 tips to reduce poisoning your landscape

Winter Stream

Winter Stream – One reason to help reduce your salt use.

Here are four tips to help reduce poisoning of your landscape soils during winter. Less poison (not the rock band but salt – Sodium Chloride) in the soil will help to ensure your landscape looking good after winter. Discuss with your snow removal contractor these 4 points will help to ensure a healthy looking landscape after winter is over.

  1. Reduce your de-icing usage as much as possible. Do you require all walkways or roadways to be used or can you close areas to reduce your maintenance during winter?
      • Some office buildings have large concrete patio areas that are not used in the winter. These areas offer good places to reduce your winter maintenance and salt usage.
      • Ensure all fire exits are correctly maintained per the fire safety codes requirements in your area.
  2. If available in your area, look for a contractor which is certified through the Smart About Salt Program.
    • Smart About Salt certified contractors know techniques to reduce their salt usage and help to reduce the amount of salt entering our groundwater, streams, rivers, and lakes.
    • Better yet become a Smart About Salt certified site. Review the smartaboutsalt.com website for details. Benefits include (source: Smartaboutsalt.com):
      • Reduce your costs for winter salt management
      • Qualify for insurance premium discounts
  3. If you do need to use a lot of salt to keep your main walkways free of ice, after the snow/ice event has finished and the salt has dried, sweep up the excess salt for future reuse.
  4. Use salt alternates that are safer for plants. De-icers such as potassium chloride or magnesium chloride can reduce soil poisoning from sodium.

Hope these suggestions help to keep your landscape looking its best after the winter. Sign up for our newsletter for more tips regarding all aspects of the landscape from site plan approval process for new developments, trail design tips through to maintenance tips like this post.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post and look forward to your comments, questions and the unusual tips you have found useful.

Sincerely,

Kevin Post

Beyond The Post

www.beyondthepost.com

ByKevin Post

3 reasons to site walk with your snow removal contractor

Now that the fall colours have started to set upon Southern Ontario, we will soon start seeing the white stuff falling from the sky. For some this can be a welcome sight. For others it means heavy jackets, salt covered boots, and long hours removing snow.

Before the snow flies, it is a great time to have a site walk with your snow removal contractor to help ensure your landscape looks great after winter. During your walk, discuss the finer points of snow removal. It helps to be able to see the ground, where the planting beds are, and how the land slopes. Understanding the site, how the melting snow will go, can help to reduce the damage to your landscape.

Morning after a early spring freezing rain

Morning after an early spring freezing rain storm


Here are three reasons why you should define where the contractor piles the snow:

      1. The heavy snow being forcefully pushed or dropped into the bed can cause perennials and shrubs to be ripped out of the ground or crushed to death.
      2. The weight of the dropping snow and ice can cause soil compaction which makes it harder for plants to grow.
      3. Salt in the cleared snow can build up to toxic levels for plants.

 

Planting beds receiving large amounts of snow usually do not fair as well as sod (grass) areas, or better yet, concrete or asphalt parking areas. Define which planting beds the contractor should avoid or if there is no room, truck the snow offsite.

Feel free to give us a call, and we can walk your site with your contractor and you to create a plan for the snowy season.

I hope these suggestions help to keep your landscape looking its best after the winter. Sign up for our newsletter for more tips regarding all aspects of the landscape from site plan approval process for new developments, trail design tips through to maintenance tips like this post.

I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, questions and the tips you have found useful.

Sincerely,

Kevin Post
Beyond The Post
www.beyondthepost.com

ByKevin Post

Thoughts – Lost Knowledge of the Landscape

It is very interesting that over the last 3 to 4 generations, we have lost our connection to nature. Our lives used to depend on this connection to nature and the landscape. If we did not know about the surrounding plants and animals, where to find them, when the best time to eat them was, we would die of starvation or disease.

Forest trail

A early fall walk along a forest trail – If you know what to eat, forest and wild fields are full of food. If you don’t eat wild edibles, spending time in nature reduces stress and your blood pressure.

What if we could increase our knowledge of the landscape? Would we become more connected with nature, with each other?

Not only does spending more time in nature reduces stress, depression, quicker hospital recoveries, and even reduce ADD/ADHD symptoms, among many other positive healthy “side effects” it could theoretically save your life too. It always pains me to hear that a lost hiker or hunter died of starvation when they were surrounded by so many healthy and extremely nutritious plants.

Our fore-parents knew much about the plants, the trees, the topography, the path of the sun, the moon, and the stars, and the landscape. A skill that is becoming lost in our modern lifestyle. Few people are keeping these skills alive and are harvesting the weeds that grow in urban areas to eat. Most of these plants were brought here by our fore-parents whom settled these lands for their survival. Just like we go to the supermarkets today for a head of lettuce, our fore-parents brought with them plants to grow in their gardens plants like dandelions, lambs-quarter, purslane just to name a few.

As a landscape architect and outdoors person, I have a great interest in expanding my knowledge about the landscape. I am always learning more about how to use the landscape to improve all aspects of our lives such as increasing our fitness, which plants eat for nutrition and/or for health, how each plant fits into their related ecosystems and habitats, how the topography influences the environment and peoples’ movement through it. I am constantly learning and applying my knowledge to my landscape designs.

For more information about health benefits of nature see:

https://www.asla.org/healthbenefitsofnature.aspx

Sign up for our newsletter for more tips regarding all aspects of the landscape from site plan approval process for new developments, trail design tips through to maintenance tips and thought-provoking commentaries like this post.

>Click Here to Newsletter Sign up <

I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, questions and the tips you have found useful.

Sincerely,

Kevin Post
Beyond The Post
www.beyondthepost.com

ByKevin Post

Desire Lines – Part 1 – Why do Mud Paths Form?

Have you ever wondered why people just walk across the lawn or parking lots even when there is a formal hard surface path near by? After a while, this short-cutting creates a muddy path in the lawn or pedestrian and vehicle conflicts? So why does this happen? Why do designed pathways sometimes fail and not operate as planned? How do you keep the pedestrian to the intended path?

In Desire Lines Part 1: we will have a quick look:

  • The issue,
  • Why it happens
  • Provide some suggestions to help make your site more pedestrian friendly during the design stage.
  • Future blogs will provide:
    • Addition tips for the design stage
    • Site alternation ideas for constructed sites

First off, pedestrians unlike cars, are very chaotic! Pedestrians prefer the shortest and easiest path of travel and will walk over obstacles upwards of 300mm (12”) high, steep hills, and through planting beds, if they believe it will be less effort (see Image 1). Vehicles, on the other hand, are much easier to control, as they prefer hard packed paved surfaces, but that is another discussion for a future blog. So back to the pedestrian.

Mud path leading into Victoria park, Kitchener

Image 1 – Desire line – a mud path has formed leading into Victoria park, Kitchener. This path is created from many people desiring access into the park at this corner.

As I mentioned above, pedestrians love the shortest and easiest path that allows of safe travel.

So what can be done?

During the planning stage, as your design team is starting to workout the layout of the parking lot, have a round table discussion with your landscape architect, traffic consultant, and architect.

    1. Define the goals for the site to be more pedestrian and alternate transportation friendly.
    2. First: Start the discussion by looking at how the pedestrians will access and move throughout
      • Always keep asking yourself, “how do I like walking through parking lots or commercial development sites?”
      • I bet it is usually from the points of access to the front door in the safest and quickest method?
    3. Highlight these routes on your plan as the preferred pedestrian corridors.
    4. Next look at how the vehicles will more through your site.
      • How do vehicle access the the site, how many, for what reason? .
      • Where do the delivery vehicles need to go? Can they access the site from all the adjacent roads?
    5. Where are the high traffic areas for pedestrians and vehicles?
      • Remember to place safe holding areas for pedestrians near areas of high traffic conflict, such as the main doors and main drive aisles.
      • These holding areas, should be both highly visible to vehicle and pedestrian traffic,
      • Raised walkways, zebra striping, rumble strips, signage, and anything to make the area feel smaller and more visually cluttered to vehicle drivers will help to reduce the speed of traffic and increase driver awareness.
      • To help slow the traffic,  you can model  a busy downtown street with lots of street shopping and cafes.  The vehicle speeds will be much closer to or lower than the posted speed  (see image 2) compared with the major highways (interstate).

        Downtown Blenheim

        Image 2 – Downtown Blenheim – note the even the road is wide, many cars are parked on the side of the road, the shop frontages are busy with signs and other details. All these elements reduce the speed of the vehicle traffic and help to reduce accidents.

I believe, if the pedestrian feels safe using your site, especially one with accessibility issues, they might drive a little farther to visit the shops at your site, which will result in higher sales. What if we start thinking and designing commercial sites to be more park and less like an efficient industrial sea of asphalt and concrete used for parking?

As a pedestrian moving through different sites, what parking lots do you dislike the most and why? Email us your comments at info@beyondthepost.com.

Sign up for our newsletter In future blogs, I will post ideas to help control and slow vehicles down, provide additional ideas control pedestrian movement to areas you prefer them to be and away from areas that you do not what them to be.

>Click Here to Newsletter Sign up <

Feel free to drop me a line, if you have any questions or comments info@beyondthepost.com.

(all images – Google street view)