Fencing Yourself In

Landscape Design

In his poem, “Mending Wall”, Robert Frost pondered the notion that “Good fences make good neighbors”. While the poet seemed to waver on the need for the fence, his neighbor steadfastly supported the need to upkeep the traditional wall between properties, to keep things friendly between them. We tend to agree with the neighbor; a fence can act as a good, clear line of distinction that can clear up any confusion, stop disagreements before they happen, and improve the appearance of most properties.

Throughout time, homeowners have chosen to surround their property with some sort of fence. Some fences were built for privacy, some for security, and some for purely aesthetic reasons; there are as many reasons to surround your property as there are designs and fencing materials from which to choose.

The Whys of a Fence

When you consider installing a fence around your entire property, or just a segment of it, you first must consider what the main purpose of the fence will be. Will this be a privacy fence, to block the view of your property from neighbors or passersby, or do you not want to see the neighbors or the roadway by your house? Do you want to add a level of security to your entire property? Maybe you just want to fence off a segment of your property to designate a certain space, secure a pool or keep a child or pet safe. Or perhaps you have wildlife in the area you’d like to deter from your entertainment spaces, landscaping, or gardens. Will your fence be mostly decorative, a way to finish the overall appearance of your house and yard?

Of course, you can have a fence that does all the above: a decorative fence that gives you both privacy and security. You can have a decorative fence in your front yard for maximum curb appeal, and a fence that offers more security and privacy in your backyard.

Once you decide on what you want your fence to do for you, your next step will be to choose what you what your fence to look like, and that includes what materials the fence will be made of.

Fencing Materials

There are so many options from which to choose when thinking about fencing for your property. We’ll highlight some great options for you to consider:

  • Wood: Wood has been the traditional choice of fencing for generations. The style of fence and decorative choices are unmatched, as are choices of woods available. Some woods work better in different climates; here in New England, cedar is the most popular choice. You can mix and match what kinds of wooden fences would best with your property. Front yards can have picket fences, and while back or side yards can have a slat-style fence for more privacy, for example. Wood fences will need to be kept on a regular maintenance schedule to prevent rot, pests, and warping.
  • Vinyl: This fencing looks great and is a good choice for both security and privacy. It can be used for both the front, back, and side yards. It comes in a variety of styles and colors, and gates can be added wherever needed. Vinyl fencing is low maintenance and long lasting.
  • Masonry: This type of fencing has literally stood the test of time. Drive anywhere in New England, and you will see stone walls, even in forests where properties once stood. Masonry walls can be built from brick, stucco, stone, and concrete. They will boost curb appeal, and can create private, secure yards.
  • Composite: Fences are made from panels that are a mix of wood, resin, and plastic. They provide security and privacy when used as tall panels, and a decorative touch when used in shorter panels. These panels come in a variety of colors and can look either like wood panels or natural stone. They are low maintenance and are not vulnerable to rot or pests.
  • Wrought Iron: Mostly used in front yards, these fences are highly decorative, and add a distinctive touch to your property. They are heavy, durable, and add security; they will not be pushed over easily and can withstand most weather. They are customizable and can match your landscaping. However, they are prone to rusting.
  • Aluminum: These fences come in a variety of styles and colors. They add security, but not much in the way of privacy. They will not rust, and do not require much maintenance, and are a popular choice for pool/kid/playground areas.

What Fence is Best

Only you can decide what fence or combination of fences is best for you and your property. Ideally, the fence you choose will add to the curb appeal of your property, provide safety for your family, including your pets, and give you a sense of safety and privacy. The fence will allow you to enjoy your home and surrounding landscape more fully, without you even giving it a second thought.

We’ve helped many homeowners design fence plans to add to their properties, and we’d love to help you come up with a plan of your own. Please call us at 603.707.0630 or email us to get started.

Falling in Love with Fire Features

Landscape Construction

Fall is arguably the most beautiful time of year in northern New England, and so it makes sense that many of us want to extend our time outside and enjoy the great weather, beautiful foliage, and cool nights that this season brings.

One way to add to the enjoyment of staying outdoors as the temperatures dip is to add a heating element to your outdoor spaces. You can add a decorative touch as well as a heating option by choosing a fireplace or fire pit. Both are wonderful additions to your outdoor areas and put out about the same amount of heat but have different things you should consider.

A Heated Focal Point

When you install a fireplace or fire pit on your property, it becomes a focal point of your landscape and a natural gathering spot that’s perfect for entertaining and socializing with family and friends. It’s a casual place to hang out and chat or unwind after a long day. It’s easy to sit around a fire and sip cocktails or roast marshmallows to make s’mores (or both!).

A fire element adds warm tones of light to your landscape and provides a good “wall” at the end of a patio or seating area, especially if you install a fireplace. A fire pit can help you create a new seating or conversation area if you want to break up a large expanse of lawn or use a previously unused/underused corner more efficiently. A more permanent fire element, like built-in fireplaces or fire pits, can increase your property value as well.


By matching or complementing existing masonry to your fireplace addition, you’ll extend your patio and entertainment space. You can opt for a wood-burning fireplace, or if you already have gas as a heating or cooking element in your house, it’s not difficult to have a gas line run outdoors for a fireplace. When installing an outdoor fireplace, just make sure to build one with a large enough chimney to be able to get a good draft for ventilation.


Sitting around a fire pit evokes almost the same feelings as gathering around a summer bonfire on the beach or a campfire in the woods. Usually circular or square in design, a fire pit allows people to gather around all sides. Fire pits can be portable or built into patios as a permanent fixture.

Fire pits have several options to fuel their fires. Wood is traditionally used in fire pits and provides a nice flame and heat. With open wood fire pits, wind is a consideration. When placed in a windy location, the smoke produced by traditional wood burning fire pits can shift onto you, your guests, or toward your house at times. Debris and dirt may be more visible, and you may need to drain rainwater from it often. With wood, you’ll need to have storage nearby to keep your wood dry.

Great Fire Pits

If you are warm to the idea of wood-burning fire pits, there are some smoke-free options. Two companies we recommend are:

  • Solo Stove: This portable firepit offers a great burn with almost no smoke. It’s designed to maximize airflow and has air vents placed in strategic areas. You may get a little smoke when lighting or putting out the fire, but that’s about it. The trick is to keep wood below the secondary air vent and not overfill it, then you’ll enjoy a great fire without being bothered by smoke.
    Their stainless-steel design fits well into any décor and allows for easy cleaning. They also offer a lifetime guarantee from any manufacturing defects. Solo Stove also makes a matching pizza oven.
  • Breeo fire pits are another company that offers smokeless, portable fire pits. Breeo’s pits come in several design, glass, and color options. You can even custom design your fire pit on their website, so it’s built to your own specifications. Breeo’s fire pits are smokeless due to raised air vents on the bottom of the pit, enabling oxygen to feed the fire regardless of ash build up. Their double-walled build allows hot air to enter from vents at the bottom and escape at holes in the rim at the top. This escaping air causes a secondary ignition of flames, burning off the rising smoke.

Breeo also offers accessories like fireside furniture and implements you can use to cook directly on the flames themselves. As with all fire pits and fireplaces, make sure to clean all debris, drippings, and food particles completely off before relighting the fire.

Other Fuels for Fire Pits

Propane and gas fire pits are other options for fueling fire pits if you don’t want to bother with wood. Both gas and propane fire pits have instant ignitions, so you don’t have to mess about getting a fire started. And both can be shut down instantly without waiting for flames to die down or embers to cool.

There are no sparks emitted from a gas or propane fireplace, so these types of fire pits can be a safer option. To avoid carbon monoxide build up, both gas and propane fire pits must be used in well-ventilated areas.

We’ve helped many homeowners add a fire and heating element to their landscapes and outdoor entertainment spaces, and we’d love to help you come up with ideas to incorporate a fireplace or fire pit into your property. Please call us at 603.707.0630 or email us to get started.

The Best Native Plants for Your Landscape

Garden Center

Much of our childhood is attached to the scents, smells, and sights of the native plants around us. They’re like old friends who we’ve known our whole lives. We can get to know them even better by growing them in our landscapes

There are countless benefits to growing native species in your gardens. They’re more resilient to disease and pests and less maintenance, and they provide eco-friendly habitats for native insects and bees and the plants themselves. Here are a few of the many beautiful choices to get you started!

New England Asters

These are one of several native asters that grow in the woodlands of New Hampshire. You’ll recognize them by their vivid fuchsia petals that shine like stars in the undergrowth. They’re late to the scene, blooming in August and September. They feed the butterflies and bring you fresh blossoms just when you thought the summer was coming to a close. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - butterfly bushButterfly Weed 

These bright yellow and orange perennials and their close relatives, milkweed, are highly attractive plants for butterflies. They’re essential for monarch butterflies who migrate from Canada to Mexico every year as the primary food for monarch caterpillars. They bloom generously from early summer to early autumn in the garden and thrive in full sun. 

Wild Columbine

Wildflowers don’t have to take up a lot of space to add beauty to your garden. Wild columbines only reach 10″ in height and bloom with nodding red and yellow flowers. They feed the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds for eight weeks or more in the spring, supporting local ecosystems. They thrive in rock, shade, woodland, and naturalized areas, making them a versatile addition to your landscape

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center --liatris blazing starBlazing Star

These essential plants for native wildlife grow in dry woodlands, open meadows, and sand dunes in New England. They display impressive wands of purple flowers in mid-to-late summer. Many native butterflies and moths are attracted to them, especially to the New England Blazing Star, and songbirds eat the seeds in autumn. It’s a feast for pollinators and absolutely gorgeous in your garden!

Native Ferns 

The Hay-Scented Fern, the Sweet Fern, the Cinnamon Fern, and the Lady Fern are just some of the many native ferns that you can add to your eco-friendly garden. They each have slightly different fronds and thrive in moist, partial shade. They also provide good coverage for birds that forage on the ground, keeping them safe from predators as they eat. Their rich green leaves are sure to add texture and visual interest to your garden. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -phlox in gardenWoodland Phlox

Phlox is a popular garden flower, but not many people know there are native phlox species as well. These violet-blue wildflowers grow in regions from Québec to Florida and bloom in the spring. You can grow them as a compact perennial or ground cover in dappled shade. When you plant the native phlox, you’ll attract more native pollinators, as they have co-evolved with these species.  

American Elderberry 

This eco-friendly, native shrub is known for its clusters of white flowers in May and dark purple berries that mature in late summer. Elderberries are food for all kinds of native birds throughout the fall and winter. Plus, they are a highly sought-after berry for teas, jams, and any cooked preserves. Make sure to cook them first, as elderberries are toxic to humans when they are raw!

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - button bushButtonbush 

This eco-friendly shrub wins the award for the most intriguing flower. In August, the white globes of nectar-rich filaments bloom profusely, feeding hummingbirds and pollinators. Other birds use the shrub for nesting and feed on the seeds in the fall. Buttonbush grows well in moist soil and reaches a mature height of 4-7 feet, perfect for low line privacy and yard separation. 

From less maintenance to an increase in biodiversity and natural pest control, native plants are an excellent option that is eco-friendly, resilient, and just plain beautiful! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.