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New Jersey Colonial Makeover

Landscape Architecture by Gasper Design & Construction

Gasper Landscape Design & Construction of Richboro, Penn. designed and led a four-week renovation of this suburban New Jersey home, erecting retaining walls, a hardscaped patio and installing new plantings, including removing a disease and storm-damaged oak and replacing it with a 'Heritage' river birch. A Sweetbay magnolia and a Cutleaf Japanese maple, more in scale with the property, were also installed.

A Montco Brown blend stone was used for the walls, which provide raised seating and perspective for viewing the garden. The wall stone was integrated into the paver palette of the terrace, and slabs were set with turf joints to make the seat wall blend with the ground plane.

A self-contained, three-tiered water feature (Harvest) and step lighting for the raised patio deck highlight the outdoor dining area. Concrete pavers with stone paving accents were used instead of natural stone materials to meet budget requirements.

Capitol concrete pavers were laid in a herringbone pattern over the main patio, and in a circular pattern for the raised dining area and fire feature section. Decorative block was used for transitions between the outdoor spaces.

A large oak dominated the backyard before the renovation, but years of damage to the old tree led to its removal at the outset of construction. The garage, in a similar state of disrepair, was also removed, and the owner added a smaller, pre-fabricated potting shed to reduce the impervious surfaces in the area.

While renovating his Dutch Colonial style home, the owner of this residence in a suburb of Trenton, New Jersey, realized that the exterior was in need of as much attention as the interior. The backyard was only vaguely demarcated by the neighbor's fences, and lacked the amenities to make the outdoor space comfortable.

The challenge was to create a multi-use back yard in which the homeowner could relax, work from home, entertain, store seasonal belongings and spend some time dabbling in the garden. Pennsylvania-based design/build firm Gasper Landscape Design and Construction was brought in to fulfill the homeowner's plans for the backyard.

A disease and storm-damaged oak dominated the weed-filled lawn, and the detached garage was similarly worn out. In the interests of the home's safety, the dying tree had to go. To mitigate the loss of the oak, Gasper included three new trees in the garden design. A Sweetbay Magnolia and a Cutleaf Japanese maple more in scale with the size of the property were installed, and a multi-stem 'Heritage' river birch replaced the missing oak. After considering the expense of renovating the detached garage, the team determined that it had to go as well. The backyard lawn was reduced to a small, easily manicured oval, ringed by colorful butterfly and hummingbird magnets.

With a barren slate and relatively flat elevations, the contractor set to work designing the spaces according to the client's wishes. To help delineate and give spaces a suggestion of enclosure the contractor suggested the use of retaining walls. The walls were used as secondary seating, and add high points from which to view the garden. Raising one terrace also helped to further define the separate spaces and their suggested uses.

The project was built for a property with lot lines very close to the house. Access into the backyard was very tight and limited to one side, which happened to be where the multi-level patio was specified. The constraints led to a phased installation - work areas at the back of the property that required a loader or heavy machinery, including trenching for electric lines and planting beds, as well as construction of the potting shed, were completed before the patio construction closed off access.

Concrete pavers with stone paving accents were used throughout instead of natural stone materials to control costs. The stone accents add variety to the project that pavers alone would have lacked. The decorative block installed for the steps also controlled project costs, and eliminated the need for 3D frost footers for all step situations.

In place of the garage, the homeowner provided a smaller pre-fab potting shed to minimize the impervious surface footprint. An electrician installed power and lighting in the potting shed, as well as power for the fountain on the dining terrace.

The stone used for the walls and steppers is a blend called Montco Brown. Large slabs of wall stone were set with turf joints where the patio meets the lawn and driveway. The wall stone was integrated into the paver palette of the raised dining terrace, provided by Unilock and Mirada. This technique makes the seat wall appear to be flowing onto the ground plane.

A moveable, wood-burning fire table was selected as a centerpiece for one of the patio areas, and a self-contained, three-tiered Harvest fountain was chosen to supplement the dining area. Plant material of varied texture, color and seasonal interest wrap the garden spaces and boundary lines for privacy, without the added expense of a fence. The backyard lawn area was reduced to a small, easily manicured oval, also ringed by colorful butterfly and hummingbird magnets.

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June 18, 2019, 6:44 pm PDT

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