Formal Entry

Description of Project:

When our client entertained large parties, guests would have to park on the street and walk the long trek from their car, down the driveway, and down the existing walk to the front door. He currently had a large Oak tree hiding a portion of his house, un-inspired front foundation plantings, and a cracked front walkway as a first impression. Our client approached us with the desire to add a secondary walkway from the street to his front door and to design a landscape planting that was attractive.
After determining the needs and wishes of our client, we crafted a plan that would transform an existing, typically plain landscape into one with an estate like feel that reflected the grandness of his home. It was more extravagant than his initial requests, but we wanted to show him the potential of his landscape and give him the courtyard entrance of his dreams. In order to create the formal courtyard experience, our design included a raised, rectangular stone terrace complete with lit columned entrances, a main entrance from the street with rectilinear pathways, formal cut hedges, knot gardens, topiaries, all outlined in a flowering alleé.

Special or Unusual Problems:

We wanted the front terrace to be as flat as possible so that it gave the impression of a formal raised garden. In order to make the area level, retaining walls had to be incorporated into the design and special care had to be taken to ensure all areas drained properly. Drainage for the planting beds and the knot gardens within the raised courtyard was a major factor. In order to alleviate the potential for overly saturated soils and standing water on the walkways, an intricate drainage plan was devised. The walkways in the raised garden were slightly crowned to move water into the planting beds and turf sections. Underneath the planting beds and turf squares is a system of drainage pipes and French drains that collect excess water and transport it to the lawn areas outside of the raised garden.

Contemporary Entry

Description of Project:

The existing entry had a series of timber steps with sloped sections of granite pea gravel in between. The space was not ideal for guests and was washed out during rainstorms. The plantings and existing walls detracted from the house and were in need of repair. Our client initially contacted us to help figure out a solution to the drainage problem. After looking at the space and talking with the client we all decided that it was worth exploring a plan that would change the character of the front yard. The proposed space included a system of retaining walls using stucco, stone and 8×8” PT lumber. Instead of a traditional pathway and step material we designed a system of wood landings and bluestone slab steps. The grade was meticulously calculated and manipulated so that the walls split the steps into sections allowing an effortless ascent to the front. The layout, material choices, and style complimented the existing landscape and house.

Special or Unusual Problems:

The original intent was to solve the drainage that was continuously washing out the front walkway. By manipulating the existing hillside we were able to install a system of drainage pipes and a swale that allowed us to manage the flow of water. All of the retaining walls were installed with a drainage system that was tied into the main drainage system.

The elevation change from the existing patio to the parking area was a difference of 210”. The cross slope and existing mature trees added an additional challenge to the design process. These challenges had to be addressed early on in the process and careful consideration had to be taken into every element that changed from conceptualization through the finished plan. During the installation of the project we experienced a rain system that flooded the jobsite for a two-week period that contributed to the loss of one of the trees. This is a good example of the complexities of working with nature.

Rustic Backyard

Description of Project:

Our client was a talented artist whose existing landscape reflected little creativity. They desired a space where they could enjoy a view that not only reminded them of the mountains, but that inspired and restored as well. They wanted to experience nature and for their landscape to invite visitors into the garden.
The initial landscape had a few pathways on the flat top of the hill, but were made up of various stones and gravels as well as randomly scattered garden elements such as a garden bench, an arbor, and a non-functioning fountain. There was also no way to easily or safely reach the top of the hillside. Water drained from the hillside and pooled at the foot of the house’s foundation, a problem that our clients wanted to address with the work.

After determining the needs and wishes of our clients, we crafted a plan that would transform an existing, neglected landscape into one with a woodland-like feel that reflected the creative talents of their home. In order to achieve a garden with elements mirroring those of the mountains, our design included a mortared stacked stone wall entrance, various woodland plantings, rugged stone boulder steps, meandering gravel pathways, varying sizes of boulders, and a glorious waterfall complete with upper and lower pools.

Special or Unusual Problems

In order for the homeowners to enjoy their garden year-round, we worked with a sub-contractor to transform their screened in porch to a sunroom. We also wanted the waterfall to be the main focus of the garden, so we suggested painting the red deck and trim a more subtle color that blended with the natural colors of the stones. Careful consideration was taken regarding the exact location of the water feature so that it could be seen from the upstairs art studio as well as other views from inside the home.

Since the water drains off the hillside and pools at the base of the house’s foundation, we installed a French drain with river rock gravel on top so that the water could filter through the stones and be piped out to a more appropriate location. We also installed mortared stacked stone walls along with a catch basin at the end of the driveway to help alleviate the amount of water that flooded the back yard during hard rains.

The hillside slope provided a perfect location to install a water feature with a natural fall. The crew installed an underlayment, pond liner, river rock, plumbing, pump, as well as carefully placed each stone and boulder to ensure that the waterfall had a mountainous look.

Blended Patio

Description of Project:

The original space was small, overgrown and falling into ruin. The house was originally built in 1942, and had been remodeled several times updating the interior and adding space. Our client had trouble maintaining the back patio and keeping it safe for their family and guests. The space was only large enough to entertain a small amount of people and did not match the style of the house or the customer. The dry laid bricks were heaving from age, the existing plantings along the foundation were overgrown and a Magnolia separated the area from the rest of the backyard. The client wanted a space that would be large enough to entertain guests and that would connect them to their backyard. Their style was more modern but they did not want a space that stood apart from the rest of the house. The design created two patio spaces that met the needs of the client and blended their more modern tastes with the traditional style of their home. A bluestone patio connected the back two doors creating a smaller more intimate space off of the master bedroom. The main brick patio pulled the space further out into the backyard opening up into the turf area. Bluestone slabs were installed at grade in a subway tile pattern as a threshold between the Mortared Bluestone patio and the brick.

Special or Unusual Problems:

The homeowner desired a space that was not only functional and attractive but also safer for guests. The original landscape had one small step from the master bedroom and three steps from the side room. The new space eliminated two of the steps from the side room and created a long step in front of the master bedroom. Both steps were installed using a faux reclaimed brick and a bluestone tread to provide a consistent rise and depth. TN Blue/Grey Ashlar was installed as edging along the upper section and the downspouts were piped so that the patio space could be installed while still maintaining control over the drainage.


Project Details

This pool project was an exciting one for us to work on. The customer challenged our company to truly create an outdoor oasis. He wanted us to bring a hint of resort relaxation to his home; a place that he and his family could enjoy day and night. The result was a beautiful extension of his house with graceful transitions from existing to new. The essential element at every resort: the extravagant pool complete with waterfalls, tanning shelf, and arching water jets. The tanning shelf on the raised patio gives an elevated view of the entire pool, while allowing the client to sunbathe in the cool, shallow water. The fire pit glows in the evenings for roasting marshmallows and ultimately a pool house like none other. The pool house contains a built in grill, cabinets, outdoor dining with arbor above, restrooms and an outdoor movie screen with surround sound speakers strategically located throughout the backyard. All of these elements are threaded together by fieldstone walls capped in sandstone and plantings that soften the hard edges. This is certainly a project that you want to dip your toes into to fully appreciate.

Initial access to the project was difficult and a gravel road was constructed to enable equipment and materials that were necessary for installation. Over the duration of the project an excessive amount of rainfall was received which required periods of drying out and re-compaction. Once excavation started on the right side of the backyard, we encountered a massive amount of bedrock which resulted in several days of jack-hammering to remove. The pre-existing site had a downhill slope that required leveling for the installation of the pool and patio. Once this was accomplished, catch basins and swales were strategically placed to direct water flow. French drains were also used along stone retaining walls.