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Weathering the Storm





After Hurricane Sandy took out some of their large trees, these New Jersey homeowners took the opportunity to redesign their backyard, including creating a path to connect the driveway to the yard, remodeling and extending the deck, and creating a patio area for lounging and entertaining.





Approximately 90 tons of Indian Hill boulders were brought in to create a terraced area leading from the yard space up to the house. These two 80' long boulder walls brought the grade up by 8' and used over 600 yards of fill soils.





The patio area, a space designed for lounging and entertaining, features lounge chairs and an umbrella as well as a seat wall. Techo Bloc pavers in shale grey and onyx black pave the patio area. The 20" stone seat/retaining wall supports shrubs and perennials in the small garden area. The grass in the foreground is bluegrass turf.





A walkway from the front to the back yard was constructed out of shale grey, onyx black and Champlain grey pavers. The steps are 12"x48" chiseled edge Bluestone treads. The township where this residence is located has a 15 percent impervious coverage maximum, challenging Epic Land Design's creativity and planning. This 15 percent encompasses the deck, walkways, and patio. The homeowners already owned the barbecue in the upper patio area.


In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the eastern seaboard, causing $65 billion in damage across the East Coast. For these New Jersey homeowners, the destruction provided an opportunity for redesign. After several large trees were wiped out by the storm, Epic Land Design was called in to redo the landscape. The backyard renovation process proved to be defined by extreme weather conditions, taking just short of two years from the start of the design process to completion of the project.

Getting Started
The main goal was to create a usable backyard for the clients. Beyond the existing deck, the backyard sloped down 12 feet across a 30' span, leaving the backyard space unusable. After deciding against a pool, the homeowners chose to extend the deck to create a grill area with seating area, a large patio for lounging and entertaining, access from the deck to the yard, a vegetable garden, and landscaping for the woods area behind the house to screen the yard from a commuter train.

The backyard work began in October 2013, a year after Hurricane Sandy swept the area. First, Epic Land Design installed the terraces, patios and walks. Approximately 90 tons of 2' to 4' boulders were installed, creating the terraced area and increasing the grade about 8 feet. The two boulder walls are each 80' long and used over 600 yards of fill soils. Additionally, Epic Land Design installed a 60' long, 20" tall dry stacked ADK stone seat/retaining wall. The new terraces exposed the foundation, so 40 square feet of natural stone veneer was used to fill in the gaps.

The extended patio areas included space for lounging and entertaining. The homeowners already had a barbecue, so Epic Land Design created the new space for it. A new paver path connects the driveway, garage and back entry to the deck and patio with a flowing walk through the landscape. A flagstone path was constructed to lead to the new semi-formal vegetable garden. The township has a 15 percent impervious coverage maximum, so the patio and paths had to be carefully planned to account for this.

Weather Strikes Again
The 2013-2014 winter for New Jersey was the harshest the state had seen in several years, with double the usual snowfall. The harsh weather slowed the project as it was just getting started. A brief warm spell in December 2013 allowed Epic Land Design to install the deck footings, but since the majority of the work area was where the sun would not melt the snowpack, work came to a halt from then to March 2014. After spring was reaching its end and the snow finally melted, work progressed slowly until June, as the six-person crew had to split their time between this extensive hardscapes project and regular spring residential operations. Once work was back in full swing at the start of summer 2014, the deck was modified, and landscape lighting and irrigation added.






After Hurricane Sandy took out some of their large trees, these New Jersey homeowners took the opportunity to redesign their backyard, including creating a path to connect the driveway to the yard, remodeling and extending the deck, and creating a patio area for lounging and entertaining.





Approximately 90 tons of Indian Hill boulders were brought in to create a terraced area leading from the yard space up to the house. These two 80' long boulder walls brought the grade up by 8' and used over 600 yards of fill soils.





The patio area, a space designed for lounging and entertaining, features lounge chairs and an umbrella as well as a seat wall. Techo Bloc pavers in shale grey and onyx black pave the patio area. The 20" stone seat/retaining wall supports shrubs and perennials in the small garden area. The grass in the foreground is bluegrass turf.





A walkway from the front to the back yard was constructed out of shale grey, onyx black and Champlain grey pavers. The steps are 12"x48" chiseled edge Bluestone treads. The township where this residence is located has a 15 percent impervious coverage maximum, challenging Epic Land Design's creativity and planning. This 15 percent encompasses the deck, walkways, and patio. The homeowners already owned the barbecue in the upper patio area.





A walkway from the front to the back yard was constructed out of shale grey, onyx black and Champlain grey pavers. The steps are 12"x48" chiseled edge Bluestone treads. The township where this residence is located has a 15 percent impervious coverage maximum, challenging Epic Land Design's creativity and planning. This 15 percent encompasses the deck, walkways, and patio. The homeowners already owned the barbecue in the upper patio area.


Solving Problems
The homeowners wanted to modify and extend their deck area. To do so, Epic Land cut off one corner of the existing deck to create an extended curved use area. A double curved step leads down to the lower deck, then through the patio or down a staircase to the yard.

Randy Bach, owner of Epic Land Design, originally planned to subcontract the work for the curved deck. However, the price for ordering the curved material was more than double the proposal. After some research, he concluded that the two products available to bend the materials would also exceed the budget for the project. At that point, Bach decided to make his own heat box to bend the decking and rails.

Bach constructed the heat box out of plywood 2"x4"s with a removable lid, ventilation holes, and an HVAC duct. The box is about 16" wide, 16" high and 10' long, with metal strapping every foot along the length for the composite deck and rails to heat. Bach used a propane turbo heater to heat the composite without the rails and decking directly touching the heat source. The creation proved effective, as only one deck board and one railing were sacrificed in figuring out the correct time and temperature to achieve the desired curve.

Less than two years after Superstorm Sandy tore up the area, these New Jersey residents had a new backyard with patio, curved deck, retaining wall, garden and level open space for entertainment and recreation. The commuter rail was screened with more than 20 transplanted mature bamboo plants and more than 20 transplanted Norway spruce trees. The trees, walkways, and patio/deck areas are illuminated by a remote controlled, three zone LED lighting system. Ultimately, the team at Epic Land Design prevailed over adverse and extreme weather conditions to give the homeowners the backyard they were looking for.







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June 26, 2019, 11:59 am PDT

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