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LCN's 2007 Paver & Hardscape Showcase

Compiled by Erik Skindrud, regional editor

The term hardscape covers a lot of ground. For landscapers, the term refers to any wall or surface made with stone, brick, pavers, concrete, asphalt or other solid material.

When you add a number of variations to each category, the number of possibilities is big. And that's a plus, because it gives contractors room for a great deal of innovation.

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Metropolitan Plant Exchange, New Jersey

Recent hardscaping trends include permeable pavers that let rainwater and runoff trickle through and new materials that are more durable than natural ones. As we will see, jobs that fall under the hardscape heading vary greatly too--from structural retaining walls that can transform (or even create) a site, to backyard patios and hand-build retaining walls. Whatever the scale, we think you'll find the group we've assembled below well worth a look.

Keystone Retaining Wall Systems, Inc.
4444 West 78th Street
Minneapolis, Minn. 55435
General contractor: J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc.
Wall contractor: Pillari, LLC

Project summary:
A retaining wall for the Metropolitan Plant Exchange in Fort Lee, N.J. helped create a large, level area for the company's nursery and greenhouse facility. Rock outcroppings and subsurface bedrock complicated the proposed site solution, which was a retaining wall designed to contain a new earthen building platform.

"Local codes did not allow for any blasting, and hammering out all the bedrock would have used more time and equipment," said George Kreis of contractor J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc. "It was cheaper to just go over the bedrock, so you had to work with it."






Called "Victorian Stone," these slate-gray blocks rise close to 32 ft. near the adjacent New Jersey Turnpike. Note the drainage openings about a foot from the base of the wall. The solid outcropping (right) and bedrock posed problems. Photos courtesy of Tanya Higdem







The drawing above shows the placement of horizontal geogrids that stabilize the fill behind the project's big retaining wall. Visible below them are the steel rods (diagonal lines) that are also visible in the construction view on the opposite page.







Sinking steel anchor rods more than five feet into solid bedrock was one of the first steps in the creation of the retaining wall. Cables attached the rods directly to the retaining wall block units. The crew used an air track drill rig to burrow into the bedrock.







Gray, brick-red and brownish bricks and pavers create a multicolored look along the walk that divides the nursery center from the busy street. New-Jersey-based contractor Pillari LLC completed the retraining wall and this hardscapae portion of the project.







The company headquarters building rises on the new platform of fill earth that is contained by the large retaining wall at left. The team used a Caterpillar Wheel Excavator to backfill the retaining wall with gravel.


Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Davis Landscape Ltd.
146 Rupert Road
Raleigh, N.C. 27603

Project Summary:
Davis Landscape Ltd. completed the Network Appliance courtyard at Research Triangle Park in five months at a total value of $1,125,000. Davis used its own work force to install a subsurface drainage system, to a design and build an irrigation system and to finish the site with a variety of brick pavers and assorted hardscaping.

All pavers were manufactured by Hanover. The walls and natural walkways are Pennsylvania fieldstone, stacked stone, or cast-in-place colored concrete.






Newly-planted sweetgums line this flagstone path that leads from the courtyard. The pavers are laid on a sand setting bed over aggregate, with a total compacted base of about five inches. Photos courtesy of Allyson Davis










It makes sense to put plants in before hardscape work commences, as this view clearly shows. The cloud at upper left is a worker cutting bluestone with a masonry saw. An 8-inch. blackgum tree is in the ground behind him. Also note the trench at upper right for an irrigation line. One of the last steps was laying the sod fescue lawn.







The delicate dance that is construction is evident in this view. In the foreground, pavers are being hand-placed on a compacted sand bed. Most of the courtyard's center circle is still waiting for poured-in-place concrete. Other workers are installing a hedge near the building at left.







A courtyard-level view shows 3 x 3-inch. "Prest" pavers held tight by sand swept into the joints. The mortared flagstone path that passes through the courtyard's center is at right.







A variety of pavers makes for a varied overall courtyard design. The walls at left and center are fronted with "Shiloah" brick from Tennessee and topped with a bluestone cap. Crepe myrtles are set in square openings in the hardscape.







This view has caught the paver-laying job in mid-process. Note the different grades of sand-tan-colored for pedestrian areas at upper left and lower right; gray gravel and finer for the vehicle roundabout. The two workers at center left are finishing the poured-in-place trench drain that rings the central circle.


Gazebo and Tennis Steps, Pennsylvania

Garden Square Landscaping
102 Schoolhouse Lane
Kennett Square, Penn. 19348

Project Summary:
The site had been a grassy slope between a residence and a tennis court. The owner wanted a low-maintenance set of steps, so after several suggestions Garden Square Landscaping decided upon a pre-cast step system by Paxton Precast of Harrisburg, Pa. As an ICPI-certified installer, Ross Causey knew about the importance of the foundation with segmental paving systems. He overbuilt the base of the steps with eight inches of compacted stone. "Just like with concrete pavers, we used a bedding course of sand on which we set the step units," he explained.






Knowing that foundations are the key to long-term stability, the team put in a hefty eight inches of compacted 2A modified stone under the sand layer (at lower left here). The crew finished the installation in five days. Photos courtesy of Ross Causey







Once excavated, the stairway bed was prepared with sand, then each 900-lb. stairway unit was placed, starting at the top and working down. The crew used a Berger laser level to align the segments.







The crew used a Case 1840 skid-steer loader, a Dingo 90 P loader and a Yanmar mini excavator (being used here) to excavate and level the stairway bed.


Residence and Shopping Center, California

PBC Companies, Inc.
(Peterson Brothers Construction)
1560 W. Lambert Road
Brea, Calif. 92821

Project Summary:
The Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, Calif. included 110,000 sq. ft. of concrete pavers as well as over 10,000 sq. ft. of concrete walks, bands and curbs. In collaboration, the property owner, the general contractor Bayley Construction and the design team at PBC were able to lay out the general concept. The project was successfully completed within an impressive 60 days. The residence shown here is in Corona, Calif.






These 60 mm pavers are Antique Cobble, a two-toned charcoal gray by Angelus Block. The center field is a random patter, enclosed by a running bond. The project took about two weeks to complete. Sales rep. Tom Kelly and the homeowner designed the layout. Photo: Tom kelly







The pavers installed at this Southern California shopping center include 12 x 12 mm, 6 x 6 mm, and 80 mm pavers in Pewter, Sierra, Pebble, Sand Stone and Mesa Buff. The patterns used here are running bond and stock bond. Photo: nick koon


Residential Patios and Driveways, California

Handcrafted Stone Specialty Flooring and Tiles
1000 West Bradley Ave.
El Cajon, Calif. 92020

Project Summary:
An existing, but worn, concrete deck around a backyard pool provides a sound foundation for an updated flagstone surface. The installation crew custom-shaped each flagstone segment at the site, fitting together an original jigsaw puzzle of stone anchored to the concrete base with a layer of thin-set grout. The project used a product called Terra Roma, made of a proprietary concrete formula that is cast in rectangles and then split into natural-looking segments at the jobsite.






The process starts with a layer of thin-set grout on an existing concrete surface. The concrete tiles are then arranged on the adhesive surface, with smaller pieces set between the gaps. The final step is to fill the gaps with grout, bringing the surface up to flush level.







The molded concrete tiles are strong and can withstand 6,000 psi when installed, but can be shaped when quick downward pressure is applied while the tile is balanced on an angles length of iron or steel. A little practice enables most workers to create unique shapes and desired sizes.







The finished pool deck. The thin-set mortar and "flagstone" tiles add only about an inch or thickness to the existing surface, limiting issues with doors or other pre-existing hardware.


Erie Canal Residence, New York

Greg Thompson Enterprises LLC
1118 Ogden Parma Townline Road
Spencerport, N.Y., 14559

Project Summary:
This residential project transformed a home overlooking the historic Erie Canal in western New York state. The house had a swamp for a yard, rotting railroad ties lining a dirt stairway, grass three feet tall, no driveway and shrubs covering the entire front of the house.

We installed an Old World-style paver walk and patio, a sienna-toned stone stair and path with a 12-foot elevation change, cultured stone walls and a pond. The team also brought in 200 tons of fossil rock boulders for retaining walls (recycled from local hedge rows) and crushed red sandstone for pathways. We also raised the back yard almost two ft. in places to get it to drain. (This final step required 150 cubic yards of fill and topsoil.)






These multicolored Olde Village Pavers by Unilock seem to blend with the foliage in this autumn scene. The product style comes with half a dozen paver sizes and at least four recommended laying patterns that give contractors flexibility for individual sites.Photos courtesy of Greg Thompson







A portion of the 200 tons of boulders hauled to the home site were used to construct the pond and the retaining wall that supports it. These stones were collected and recycled from local hedgerows, where they've lain for more than 100 years. (An even more extensive boulder wall lies on the opposite side of the house from this view.)

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