Renovate Your Home the Eco-Friendly Way

Renovate Your Home the Eco-Friendly Way

eco-friendly-homes Home Improvements Stone Exteriors

Green is all the rage, and the good news is that many eco-friendly approaches can actually help you save that green … money, folks. Money. If you’re looking to do the environment a solid and pad out your wallet at the same time, the following tips will help you do just that.

 

1. Leave Asbestos Alone

Asbestos, a mined mineral that forms in microscopic threads, is incredibly dangerous to human health, causing multiple kinds of cancer. It was used extensively in the middle of the last century, and still exists in many homes built before the 1980s. You should be incredibly careful with asbestos when doing any home renovations; in fact, it’s recommended you just leave it where it is to avoid disturbing it and releasing the damaging shards into the air.

The good news is that there are many renovations that don’t involve exposing asbestos. For instance, when you apply exterior stone to your house, you don’t have to rip out any existing walls, insulation or facades. Instead, all you do is attach the stone to the front of the house, leaving everything underneath intact. This is also a great way to save money.

 

2. Buy Low-VOC Paints

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that not only lead to cancer, they make the air more toxic for plants and wildlife and get into groundwater, damaging our aquifers, rivers and oceans. While in previous decades paint contained high levels of VOCs, you can now find many low-VOC options, especially good for homes that contain children and not costing any more than regular paint.

 

 

3. Use Eco-Friendly Stone Veneer

Whether you’re outfitting an exterior chimney with some lovely red or gold fireplace stone, or revamping the entire outside of your home with new stone veneer, it’s important to ensure it’s the eco-friendly kind. Source your stone from a company that mines responsibly, uses a minimum of chemicals in making the stone aggregate, and avoids removing exterior walls – which, as stated above, can expose asbestos and other toxic chemicals.

Stone veneer is also more eco-friendly than other kinds of stone in that it requires no renovation to the existing home. While real stone requires a brick ledge on which to rest, exterior stone needs none. Plus, it can be applied to any surface, saving you time and money on preparing the underlying layer before application.

 

4. Landscape with Water-Wise Plants

Water is an increasingly critical resource, and everyone should use as little of it as possible. One of the ways you can do this is to plant species that adapt to your area, tolerate drought and don’t require constant watering during dry months. Succulents, grasses and herbs are all excellent options, and you can ask your neighborhood nursery about tips for others that will thrive in your climate.

succulents

 

5. Choose Eco-Friendly Roofing Options

While lots of shingles and other roofing options use unhealthy glues, chemicals and toxins that run off into your yard and leach into groundwater, you aren’t limited to such options. Instead, you can explore eco-friendly roofing options such as recycled shingles, wood shakes, clay tiles, metal roofing and even green roofs – which feature living plants and succulents adapted to your particular climate.

The latter approach makes excellent use of water and helps the bees out by providing the flowering plants they love. Any approach other than the conventional will be better for the world, though.

Mother Earth does a lot for us; isn’t it time you did something for her as well? Truthfully choosing a few eco-friendly ways to approach home renovations isn’t rocket science, and given it can save you money in the long run, is just the smart thing to do.

Eco-Friendly Landscaping & Stone Veneer Ideas That Will Help You Rock Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Eco-Friendly Landscaping & Stone Veneer Ideas That Will Help You Rock Your Home’s Curb Appeal

eco-friendly-homes Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplace

Stone is all the rage these days. Recalling the old-time carriage houses and mansions of the East Coast and the Old World, many people are turning to exterior stone to give their homes an instant facelift and the charm that comes with all things antique.

Paired with this emphasis on the antiquated is an equally strong desire to be forward-thinking and protect our Planet Earth. One of the best ways to marry these two values with your home is to design an ecological landscape that matches your home’s outward appearance. If you would like to match your landscape to your home the “green” way, here are five environmentally friendly ideas to help you do it.

1. Match Existing Siding to Exterior Stone

Cobble Stack Stone 11

Our Cobble Stack Stone Veneer

Exterior stone is one of the best ways to give your home an instant makeover without requiring demolishing parts of it and using a bunch of chemically treated building supplies or other toxic materials. Instead, you can simply install stone veneer which can be applied right over a rigid surface like plywood, concrete block or brick. Siding that has ridges would have to be removed first.

Once you do, it’s easy to match any stone you use in your hardscaping to the color of your home. You can either choose to match very closely (we custom color stone veneer!), or you can use colors in the same tonal range – think beige stone with hints of burgundy paired with the off-white colored slate on your patio.

Check Out Our Stone Veneer Color Sample Boards HERE

2. Pick Plants That Complement Stone Color

exterior siding 01

You can also complement your stone veneer siding with plants in the yard. If you opt for blue tones, for instance, then planting Mediterranean herbs such as sage, rosemary and oregano will always look beautiful and be easy maintenance (just water them every day to every other day and pick/trim them every once in a while and they will keep growing!).

When it comes to trees and bushes, evergreens such as blue spruce, arbor vitae and juniper all have dark and cool tones that will offset your stone, no matter what color you choose for your stone. For flowers, you really can’t go wrong no matter what colors! Pick the colors that make you feel happy and will complement your exterior all summer long.

ECO TIP: Use Rain Barrels To Collect Water! More on that and other water saving tips for your home here

3. Opt for Water-Wise Herbs, Grasses and Succulents

Plants that don’t need a lot of water accomplish multiple goals. For one thing, they reduce the impact of using a precious resource. For another, they save you a lot of time and trouble, because once established, they can survive with only the rainwater available in your region. Hardy herbs, grasses and sedges, and succulents and cactuses are all great options.

Check Out Our Large Selection Of Stone Veneer Styles HERE

4. Use Stone Veneer for Outdoor Accents

unnamed (19)Once you’ve picked the exterior stone you love on your house, you can always match your other outdoor installations to it. Using the same shade and style of stone veneer on your shed or mailbox is a beautiful effect. On the other hand, if you have a visible chimney on the outside of your home, you might consider covering it with fireplace stone that stands in contrast to the rest of the exterior stone on your home: a nice dark brown color stone veneer for the chimney, say, paired with blue or tan stone on the rest of the home.

Take A Look At Some Of Our Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplaces To Match Your Home’s Exterior Stone

5. Match Landscaping Rock to Your Facade And Rock Your Curb Appeal

stone veneerLandscaping with gravel, rocks and pebbles is a great way to reduce the amount of water and time you need to devote to your yard. Choose rocks that work well with the color of your home’s exterior, to create a visually appealing effect from the street. You could even line a fountain with stone pieces or scatter natural river rock around the outside of a pond. As long as the shades are in the same color family, the effect will be beautiful.

See? Who knew it could be so easy to plan an environmentally friendly yard that looks beautiful and helps the planet? Now you’ve got tons of ideas for your next eco-friendly outdoor update. Stay tuned for the next in our latest Eco-Friendly series coming soon!

Are you thinking of adding stone veneer to your home? We can help you get ideas. From updating your fireplace with stone to adding to updating your home’s exterior siding with stone, we can help. Contact us here! 

How to Make Your Yard More Eco-Friendly … and Save Money Too  

How to Make Your Yard More Eco-Friendly … and Save Money Too  

eco-friendly-homes Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Your yard is an extension of your home, and making it a beautiful, family-friendly place to hang out is a major goal of many homeowners. However, environmentalism is definitely making headway on the home improvement priority list for homeowners … so finding ways to improve that outdoor space without sacrificing the Earth is a definite must. Add to that the priority of cost-effectiveness, and you’ve got quite the tall order!

Today, we’ll talk about 6 ways to make your yard more eco-friendly and more enjoyable to hang out in. Plus, you can save greenbacks while making it greener. It doesn’t get better than that, right?

1. Be Water-Wise

If the experts are to be believed, water will be the great commodity of the 21st century. That makes it crucial to respect this most valuable of resources to the best of our ability. What can you do? Become water-wise. That might mean installing drip hoses in your vegetable garden, or letting your lawn go brown in the summer. You can also plant low-water species like cactuses and succulents, which require much less moisture to thrive.

2. Plant Native Species

Native species are much more likely to do well in your area, which means they will require less water, less fertilizer and less overall tending. Usually this means using less total resources to keep them alive, and adding fewer chemical inputs to groundwater. You can check online or quiz your local garden center to see what’s native to your area.

3. Install Stone Exteriors

While you might associate stone veneers with fireplace stone, it can be used for many different purposes. Putting stone veneer on your home not only gives your home a cheerfully updated look, it also insulates your home. Exterior stone keeps rooms cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, lowering your bills and reducing your impact on the environment. If you buy the right stone veneer, manufactured in an eco-friendly way, which reduces quarrying and the environmental impact that brings, even better.

4. Use Rainwater

Rainwater is a much more available and replenishable resource than groundwater. Any time you water your yard from the hose, you’re drawing on aquifers that take a long time to refill. Any time you use rainwater, however, you’re leveraging a renewable resource. Install rain barrels under your downspouts to collect water during rain, then use a watering can or a siphon to water your yard with it. Many communities in the Northwest Suburbs are offering FREE rain barrels or reimbursing residents for the purchase of rain barrels.

Libertyville Rain Barrel Reimbursement Program

Arlington Heights FREE Rain Barrel Application
Mount Prospect FREE Rain Barrel Application
Greater Chicago Rain Barrel Program

Know of more rain barrel programs in the Chicagoland area? Post in the comments or on our Facebook page and we’ll be sure to add it to the list!

5. Make Up-cycled Yard Décor

Up-cycling is all the rage. Perhaps you solder cute faces to metal watering cans, plant a water lily garden in an old claw-foot bathtub, or use toy wagons as planters. Using otherwise useless objects instead of buying new items at the store or online is always the green – and frugal! – way to go.

6. Prevent Erosion

The washing away of topsoil due to rain and wind is a serious ecological problem, but halting this problem can start right in your front yard. Plant cover plants that spread across the top of the soil and anchor it in place. If you have room, plant trees with wide-sweeping canopies, which indicates they will have equally wide root systems, which also help keep soil in place. Avoid leaving graded surfaces like hills and embankments bare, because the rain will just wash the soil right off of them.

Greening up your yard is pretty simple, in the end. Next time you’re wondering how to do Planet Earth a solid and make your outdoor living space even better, try one of these tricks and watch the magic happen.

Stay tuned for more eco-friendly ideas for your home & yard and some more great tips on how you can use Stone Veneer in and on your home. And don’t forget to take a look at the first article in our latest eco-friendly series: 5 Environmental Benefits of Exterior Stone Siding