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New Design for a New Home
By Tim Grant, Grant & Power Landscaping, West Chicago


The homeowner requested a grand entrance. The result was a natural stone driveway with brick banding and brick inset over poured concrete. Two cobblestone pavers from Unilock, their Courtstone and Brussels blocks, formed the centerpiece and edging.

This new construction home in Illinois required a full landscape plan to be implemented, and Grant & Power was hired for the design. The large driveway was accented with brick banding, a brick inset and columns to help designate the front entrance. Bluestone paving and limestone veneer walls complement the facade of the house. A large outcropping retaining wall along the side of the property enhances the natural setting and maintains the slope. In the back yard, multiple levels of entertaining areas can be enjoyed in all seasons. A sunken fire pit area creates a cozy gathering spot.

Visiting the lot in October 2014, however, the house was just a rough shell; no work to the lot had been started. It was apparent that the grading of the lot and the amount of impervious coverage would dictate the design. After taking a site analysis and the list of customer's ideas into mind, the design process began. Starting in November 2014 with a conceptual drawing and 3D renderings, we created the client's dream landscape. Meetings over the winter led to a few changes and the development of working construction plans for all hardscapes by April 2015.


The slope arising from the multilevel bluestone patio was cleared of overgrown plantings and tiered with the large limestone outcroppings seen here.

The homeowner desired a formal entrance to the house. The large concrete driveway would be inlaid with brick near the front door to create a clear entrance to the house. Brick banding along the driveway ties the whole area together.

Upon entering the backyard from the side, a permeable bluestone walk connects doors along the side and directs people further into the yard. The solid walk breaks into bluestone steppers as it leads around to the main entertaining area in the back.


To the rear of the house, a series of steps leads to a bluestone patio and a sunken fire pit. Barn planks that look like wood were used around the fire pit to "give it some contrast and break the space up," according to project manager Shawn Palak. By his estimate, the home has about 1,000 square feet of mortared bluestone and the rest - about 2,000 square feet - is permeable.

Maintaining a natural slope from the adjacent street along the south side of the property required cleaning up all the overgrown plantings and adding a large amount of natural limestone outcroppings. In the back, the large upper terrace was poured concrete that we covered with bluestone. Working off of the existing entertaining areas, a lower patio was created to connect the rest of the yard with the sunken fire pit patio. The patio and walk are bluestone with a Brussels block soldier course, and the sunken fire pit area has barn plank pavers. A large raised planter wall ties the upper and lower area together nicely.

The lower patios were designed with a permeable base and pavers to alleviate drainage issues and concerns on impervious coverage on the lot. During the installation, a large drainage system consisting of 6" PVC pipes, a series of catch basins, and a very large drywell were installed to further solve any drainage or lot coverage issues. "We probably over-engineered it a little," said Shawn Pawlak, project manager. "The biggest challenge or concern that we had was making sure we managed all the water appropriately."


The walls that separate the upper patio from the lower are covered with a thin natural stone veneer. Copings include limestone with a rock-faced edge and bluestone with bullnose edge. From design to completion, the project took one year.

Large planting beds and new lawn areas were designed across the property to soften the hardscapes and make a family-friendly landscape. Boxwood hedges and roses add to the formal look of the front. A variety of perennials, shrubs and ornamental trees add interest with texture and color throughout four seasons. An outdoor lighting system, using Unique Lighting products, was installed simultaneously with the hardscapes in order to incorporate wall lights, path lights and uplights on the large existing trees and add finishing touches to the landscape. The job was completed in October 2015.

As seen in LASN magazine, February 2017.

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December 8, 2019, 8:20 am PDT

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