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Simple Delights
Natural Stone Highlights Small Seating Area

Simple Delights

In Baldwin, Maryland, a homeowner was in need of an additional outdoor living space to help accommodate larger groups of people. After the designating the amount of property to be used, TDH Landscaping designed and built a charming seating with a fire pit and retaining wall made of Pennsylvania fieldstone, a dryset flagstone patio, a bubbling boulder water feature and lighting.

Not all residential hardscape jobs are extensive, lengthy projects worthy of entry into national award contests. Some, by nature, have to be rather modest, be it the homeowner doesn't have a lot of space, or money or maybe they just want a small upgrade to an existing landscape.

That was the case on this project for TDH Landscaping from Monkton, Maryland. A previous customer wanted to add to their outdoor area to accommodate large groups of people for regular "Movie Nights" held at the residence from late spring through early autumn.

Brian Hartwyk, an associate ASLA and landscape designer for TDH set about to design the add-on: a flagstone patio with a fireplace and extra amenities in the allotted space.

"It was important that the new space blended with the existing garden aesthetic, provided new views and didn't block any of the existing views for viewing parties," he relates.

The property was located in the town of Baldwin in Baltimore County on a sloped site. Even so, Hartwyk says that the site required little prep work.

"The proposed patio was being cut into an existing hillside and required some cut/fill calculations to ensure the project was completed efficiently and at the lowest cost to the client," states Hartwyk. "Accurate site measurements and elevations recorded by the designer were important parts of the preparation and planning for the project."

Simple Delights

Simple Delights

The retaining wall is dry stacked Pennsylvania fieldstone. In total its over 25 linear feet: the 15' length in the middle is 24" in height, the 4.5' length in the middle near the driveway is 12" in height. There is also a 6' length near boulder steps that is 12' tall. At the client's request, a 9"x 9" stone, stamped with the logo of an architectural salvage company (inset), was incorporated at the end of the 24"-tall section. A multi stemmed Eastern redbud was planted in the garden adjacent to the retaining wall.

Besides the cut and fill work, the area for the patio a layout and the required retaining was rough graded. Excavated soil was kept to back fill around the new patio elevation. The patio and wall were installed on compacted CR-6 aggregate.

According to Hartwyk, a challenging aspect of the project was creating a brand new outdoor living space that matched the style of the present stone patio and retaining wall, "that harmonized with the existing landscape features."

"Since both patios and walls will be visible from different locations of the site it was very important that the design read as one place," he says.

Pennsylvania fieldstone selected for the wall was chosen for size and mix to match the existing wall, while flagstone for the patio was selected for color and broken onsite to mimic the size of stone used on the existing patio.

During the planning phases it was recommended to the client that the existing patio be power washed and new polymer sand installed to allow for the two patios to age synchronously.

Simple Delights

For the dry-set flagstone patio, which was approximately 157 square feet, an additional 14" of CR6 aggregate was needed to level the base on downhill side. The outer edge has about 25 linear feet of the stone, which was saw cut. The fire pit made from Pennsylvania fieldstone is 5' in diameter and 12" in height. Flagstone was used for the caps. Dyed mortar holds it all together but there are no visible mortar joints on outside face. Domed path light help illuminate the area and steps.

Another challenge was how to create a water feature in a small space that did not overwhelm the space, but still provided the relaxing sounds of running water.

To do that, they chose to install a bubbling boulder water feature in the planting bed above the one-foot-tall section of retaining wall. Existing perennials were removed, a 2.5' x2.5' x1.5' hole was excavated for the basin. The bottom was lined with 60Mill pond liner.
An medium-sized AquaBasin (24"x24" x 16" depth) was installed. Four
boulders were placed on the on the uphill side to retain slope. And a trench was made for the 2" conduit from the boulder. Then the crew installed sweep on each end for pump cord to be fed through.

A simple lighting setup consisted of four deck post lights on the retaining wall, three dome path lights along the steps and a 120W transformer on the deck post near an electrical receptacle.

All-in-all it took 2-men crews eight days to complete. There were no subcontractors used, and no real surprises as the project consisted of elements that TDH is very familiar with building.

When asked what advice he might give contractors who would attempt a project like this for the first time, Hartwyk replied, "Know your elevations. Doing a thorough elevation study will ensure that the project is being built in a location that makes it both feasible and affordable."

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, October 2018.

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November 22, 2019, 12:29 pm PDT

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