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Functionality and Beauty in Backyard Designs

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Your backyard should be your escape—a place where you can let your hair down, put your feet up, and enjoy a cold drink and a great view. After eight months of being wrapped up and cooped up, Manitobans are ready to take things outside. 

Whether it’s cooking, entertaining, or just horsing around with the family, our backyards should reflect the same things our home interiors do: functionality, organization, beauty, and comfort. If it doesn’t, then it’s no wonder we can’t get ourselves off the couch to soak up some summer sun.

This region abounds with amazing and creative backyard professionals. From landscapers to bricklayers and fence builders, we’ve got it all. 

“Hiring a reputable professional gives the homeowner peace of mind that the project will be completed correctly and in a timely fashion,” says Cory Friesen of Alcor Construction. “A professional takes care of certain legal requirements, such as building permits and hydro and gas markings. It also [can] save the homeowner time and money since a professional is already equipped with all the right tools for the job.”

Friesen has been a professional carpenter for 14 years. For the past eight, his company has specialized in residential fencing, decks, pergolas, privacy screens, and timberframe porticos. His company has experience with all types of construction materials and can cater to a customer’s taste and maintenance preferences. Only high-quality materials are used on his jobs to ensure customer satisfaction when the build is complete.

“One of my favourite products to work with is aluminum handrail because of its low maintenance and ease of installation,” Friesen says. “I also enjoy working with composite decking because of its flexibility in design. Cedar is also a favourite because it smells good and has a natural resistance to decay.”

If you can dream it, Alcor Construction can build it. Customized packages are what this company excels at. For example, Friesen was recently commissioned to build what he calls an “exotic fence.”

“The fence was built out of wood imported specifically from Brazil called Ipe,” he says. “It was custom-milled into shiplap here in Canada, and we then installed it in a horizontal pattern.”

Many of his customers are opting for privacy screens instead of fences. These screens are often installed just inside the fence line to block the view to neighbours’ decks and backyards. Alcor Construction customizes these as well, creating their own style of lattice patterns which are perfect for growing vines for added privacy. 

Call early for a jumpstart on the summer rush. As the season progresses, the wait times increase.

Brick is another aesthetically pleasing product that’s making a big comeback for its incredible versatility. 

“There are many uses for bricks: retaining walls, pathways, stepping stones, patios, driveways, outdoor bars and kitchen areas, firepits,” says Patrick Smiley of Brickworx. “I have even used the Rosetta blocks to build a children’s rock-climbing wall!”

With Brickworx, your imagination is the only thing limiting you. Even so, they can provide plenty of design concepts to help get your creative wheels spinning. With suppliers like Barkman Concrete, Expocrete, and Belgard, there are so many colours, shapes, and sizes of brick available for your unique project. 

“I almost always recommend interlocking brick, as it allows so much more freedom for design and colour options,” Smiley says. “Interlocking brick is also repairable. If ten years down the line you have had some shifting due to our Manitoba winters, it is very easy to repair a small section. Interlocking brick adds value to a home as well as [increased] curb appeal.”

For driveways, too, he says, paving stone can be a better option. Concrete cracking or shifting can be expensive to repair. And oil leaks on a concrete driveway are virtually impossible to remove. Paving stones easily lift out and can be adjusted or replaced.

“We really believe in the saying, ‘Leave it to a professional,’” says Smiley. “When you hire a company that is ICPI-certified and has years of experience, it guarantees perfection and takes the manual labour off your hands.” 

Brickworx underlays all of their brick hardscaping with a commercial-grade woven fabric beneath six inches of compacted base. Polymeric sand fills the joints, helping to prevent shifting and weed growth through the cracks. They also provide a two-year warranty on all of their brickwork.

While hardscaping is their specialty, they also provide other landscaping services such as sod installation, decorative garden bed creation, and tree planting. 

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