Keyword Site Search

New Hardscapes for a New Home

By Tim Grant, Grant & Power Landscaping, West Chicago


The landscape and hardscape installation at this new home in Illinois began with the removal of poison ivy from this slope and the installation of these natural limestone outcroppings. The team from Grant & Power Landscaping went on to install a combination of permeable and mortared pavers, a fire pit, and the entryway for the home.


Multiple levels of patio were installed in the backyard, including a sunken fire pit. Barn plank pavers - not actual wood - were installed around the fireplace "to give it some contrast and break the space up," according to project manager Shawn Pawlak. By his estimate, about 1,000 square feet of the paved areas are mortared and the other 2,000 square feet are permeable, including the driveway and all patios.

This recently constructed home in Illinois required the installation of a full landscape, and Grant & Power was hired for the job. 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 backyard, 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 two factors, the grading of the lot and the required amount of impervious coverage, would dictate the final results. Meetings over the winter led to a few changes and the development of working construction plans for all hardscapes by April 2015.

"We were actually thinking we would start it right away in spring, but with the construction schedule with the home they weren't ready until about May," said Shawn Pawlak, project manager. "We started with the hill, getting that cleaned up and removing poison ivy, then installed the outcropping on the hill."


The driveway is natural stone accented with a cobblestone border and center. A subcontractor was hired to pour concrete, over which the Grant & Power crews installed pavers to create a grand entrance path to the front door - one of the specific requests made by the homeowner.


The steps to the upper patios, as well as the columns, retaining and seat walls, and the fire pit, were built from concrete masonry units on concrete footings. A thin stone veneer was placed over the units. Bullnose edged bluestone tops the columns, while rock-faced edged limestone caps the walls, rails and fire pit.

The grading came next. "I would say the biggest challenge was the grade," said Pawlak. "We probably over-engineered it a little." 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.

The existing concrete surfaces were covered with natural bluestone in both the front and back. After completing that, crews moved on to excavating for the permeable base of the new patio and walk areas that connected the front and back. Pawlak estimated there was about 1,000 square feet of mortared bluestone, and the rest - about 2,000 square feet - was permeable, due to lot coverage regulations. The patio and walk are bluestone with a Brussels block soldier course, and the sunken fire pit area is a barn plank paver.

An outdoor lighting system, using Unique Lighting products, was installed simultaneously with the hardscapes. Wall lights, path lights and uplights on the large existing oak trees add finishing touches to the landscape.

After all hardscapes and drainage systems were finished, final grade could be applied to the entire property, and sod and planting beds installed. The final touches were completed in October 2015.

Contractors and Designers
Grant and Power Landscaping Inc.
Shawn Pawlak - sales/project manager
Jose Andrade - construction crew foreman
Sarah Grabowski - designer

American National Sprinkler and Lighting - irrigation system
Kramer Tree Specialist - tree work (large removals and pruning)

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, February 2017.

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

November 20, 2019, 1:53 pm PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.
Privacy Policy