Landscape Contractor Serving Commercial and Residential

New Playground in Upperville, VA

We were recently a part of a playground build in Fauquier County as the landscape contractor. We worked along some of the best contractors to bring this project to fruition. Thank you Donovan Paving, Custom Park Services, KomPan, Cara from Lardner Klein Landscape Architects and Fauquier County Parks & Rec. This was a beautiful project in a beautiful setting, with breathtaking mountain views and expanses of farmland.

Our contributions to the project were to install all plants and trees per the county plan, sod and seed,  and install Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF). The project required that we work together to coordinate each phase of the project to ensure timely and professional completion.

Interested in working with Rivas Design on your next commercial project? Contact us at to discuss your needs.



Wet Basements and How to Prevent Them

Top 5 Ways to Prevent Wet Basements

  1. Extend downspouts away from the house at least 10 feet. Make sure they distribute away from and not towards the foundation.

    Managing your downspouts can be the first line of defense against water damage for your foundation. Make sure that they extend away from the foundation with drain tile to prevent roof water from running back towards the house. Clear your gutters on a regular basis to prevent overflow and to keep water moving efficiently. You can clear the drain tile by running a hose or power washer from the connection point.

  2. Remove any soil/mulch that extends above the waterproofing line on the foundation

    Years of mulching can create a buildup that goes above the waterproofing line. Water can then leach into the foundation causing dampness. If you do not have waterproofing and wet or damp basements are a problem, consider investing in a professional installation.

  3. Add soil (below the waterproofing line) to raise the grade so that the soil at the foundation is higher than the yard.

    Sometimes the soil around the foundation collapses or just erodes away due to poor drainage flow. By building up with soil thereby raising the grade, you prevent water from settling along the foundation where it can seep in.

  4. Redirect your sump pump like your downspouts.

    Sump pumps, if improperly managed, can simply create a cycle of water distribution. Water can be pumped out of the pump, into a poorly managed terrain which then drains the water back to the foundation where it seeps in and...needs to be pumped back out again. Manage it the same way you do the downspouts: extend with drain tile away from the house, ensuring that the flow does not re-direct itself back towards the house.

  5. Redirect natural flows with grading.

    In some cases, the water isn't coming from your house or from around your house, rather, it is just the lay of the land. You need to take a more serious look at how the water flows through your property when it is raining heavily. Watch where it comes from and where it goes to. It may be necessary to re-grade, to retain or just simply redirect the flows.


Ahead of the Game

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer . . .

Lazy days of summer always get me in a lull. I drink in the warm weather, enjoy the freedom of a looser routine and forget about the looming workload...that inevitable flux of work generated by the perfection of the season.

With the summer quickly nearing its end and the fall hustling to get in place now is the perfect time to get ahead of the game. Instead of considering your garden needs in the short weeks of the fall planting window, start the process now. Some things to consider for you autumn aspirations:

  1. Fall is the best time to transplant/divide so make arrangements to have that done now rather than in the spring. It gives the relocated plants a time to acclimate and has them undisturbed for the spring when they will be growing a strong root system to support the new arrangement.
  2. Though it is not as hot, you will still want to keep watering--especially if there is a long period without any moisture.
  3. Try to avoid planting evergreens in the fall. The winter can be harsh on them since their leaves stay attached. Deciduous, or plants that lose their leaves, tend to manage much better. Perennials are champs when planted in the fall.
  4. Don't forget the bulbs. This is the time to get your bulb planning done so that you have some color in the spring.
  5. Prepare your vegetable garden now with cow or horse manure so it is ready to go in the spring--the time allows the manure to mellow so its potency doesn't burn the young plants.

Summer Reset!

Summer is a great time to hit the RESET button on life.

Your landscaping benefits from a review also. While you are spending time outside, take note of how you are using the property.

+ Are you "outdoorsy" people who love to spend time outside all summer? 

+ Do you entertain frequently outside?

+ Are there some neighboring properties that are affecting your privacy?

+ What value can you add to the future sale of your home?

Here is a Summer Check List for your property: Summer Landscaping Check List.

Questions on how to make your property work for your life? Contact us today for a design consultation. We love making your property a place you love to live in.

Lining Your Driveway with Trees

Planting trees along your driveway can be a long-term investment. An allee, or tree alley, is usually a planting of medium to large deciduous trees evenly spaced along a walk or drive.

There are a few things to consider before planning for your driveway allee.

  • Distance. Do you have enough space for 5 or more trees? Plan to space your trees evenly apart and with enough room to grow without crowding the other trees. For example, if a tree is destined to be around 20′ wide, plan to plant the trees 20′ apart.
  • Height. When using medium sized trees (like pears, cherries, crape myrtle, e.g.) it is usually not necessary to consider the overhead utilities. However, larger shade trees (like maples and oaks, e.g) may interfere with any utility lines in the air.
  • Future impact. A tree planted too close to a driveway or walk can do significant and irreparable damage. When planning, consider what you plan to do in the future (are you thinking of a garage or a parking space in the future? Will you widen the existing drive?).
  • Also stay away from trees that tend to be trashy. Some trees are more prone to dropping branches, producing copious amounts of pollen and unbearably pointy seedpods.

Taking the time to choose solid performers for your allee, you will create an elegant and long-term investment for your property.

Want the peace of mind of knowing that you made the best choice for your property and the conditions?  Contact us for a consultation today!

Landscape Designs for “Your” Dream Yard

Awhile back, I had an enlightening experience with a local spa and wellness center that reminded me again of the importance of being clear in your wishes. A friend had given me a wonderful gift to pamper myself with relaxation and renewal. I called to set up the appointment, excited at the prospect of a fresh look. Do I dye? Highlight? Lowlight? Perm? So many choices, so unprepared to make decisions. I made the mistake of saying the forbidden phrase: "Oh, I don't know. You're the professional! I'd like you to recommend what to do."

Of course, I got exactly what I asked for--everything. I walked in for the hair appointment to find that the plan had changed to include a facial, a massage and makeup. Apparently, I really needed "the Works."Everything was wonderful, relaxing and unforgettable. However, had I given it some more thought and clarified my objectives, I could have gone back several times to enjoy the experience instead of in one swift (and overwhelming) occasion.

I use my folly to illustrate that it is imperative to know what you want from your landscaper, your designer, and your overall project. Things you don't want to deal with like

  • Budget
  • Maintenance demands
  • Final Outcome

Taking the time to know what you are looking for and expecting takes the disappointment out of the equation. A great project tends to feel overdone if you have exceeded what you thought was reasonable to spend. A project not taken up to the level of perfection that you expect, even though it stays under budget, will also leave you feeling less than satisfied. Either way, you can avoid these common pitfalls by taking a few minutes to discern your true intent and scope: is it a specific hairstyle or is it an open-ended 8 hour day at the spa? Save yourself the disappointment (and expense).

Don't expect the "professional" to make you happy . . . only you know what you really want or expect.

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Home Gardener

"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden."
-Thomas Jefferson
Christmas gift ideas for the home gardener.

  • A trowel and hand shovel set. Fiskars has a nice sturdy set--perfect for the home gardener
  • Gloves. Costco sells a multi-pack for women in pastel colors (gardening gloves) and black for men (work gloves) that are essentially the same item in different colors. The moisture and dirt of gardening wear gloves out pretty quickly.
  • Small shovel. Sometimes you just need a little more digging ability in a shovel. These small size spades are perfect for larger plantings and transplants, weed removal, and general working of the beds.
  • Seed starting greenhouses and supplies.
  • Gift certificates to seed catalogs, like Burpee, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Tomato Growers Supply Co.
  • Subscription to Mother Earth News, Grit or another gardening journal.

Flagstone Paths

Paths can be made out of all kinds of materials but one of my favorites is natural stone either as steppers or flagstone.

Stone can be laid in a stone dust base and arranged and re-arranged to get the look you want.

A recently completed project has 2' x 3' flagstone pathway through a river rock sweep. This was a damp and muddy lost space in the client's yard. Grass refused to grow and the moist soil meant that every time the lawnmower drove through it more ruts and bareness followed.

Combining broken irregular flagstone with large garden steppers as stairs keep an informal yet functional feel. This project was done to transition between a lower paver brick patio and an upper wooded area. The walk terminates in a rustic flagstone patio used as a sitting area.

Contact us for a consultation.

Seasonal Pest Management

The National Arboretum is a great resource for gardening info. Click here to see their recommendations for identifying and dealing with springtime pests.