Friday, June 21, 2013

Stepping It Up

In the outdoor project we've been following, we've watched as the area has been cleared, fill dirt has been brought in and graded, and now we're ready to start forming the steps that will lead from the pool area down to the nature area behind the house.

Laying out steps like this takes time and considerable expertise.  First, the amount of "drop" is determined, which will dictate how many steps will be used.  There is a fair amount of variation on the supposed standard measurements required for risers and steps.  But generally, what's most important is that the steps are consistent.  In this instance, the steps were intentionally fashioned in different sizes to give them the appearance that they were casually placed into the wild landscape.  Regardless, the formation of the steps took a lot of time!

The steps are being formed with stacking blocks.  These will also be used for the retaining wall at the top of the step area.

Once all of that is in place, these coordinating pavers will be used to form the treads of the steps, and the step-out patio area at the top.  Slow work, but it's going to look great.  More next week!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Making the Grade

Last week we took a look at some "before" images of a landscape project we had started. The largest single issue with this project was drainage.  Lots of water converges at this corner of the house and pool deck, from 3 gutters, a channel drain in the deck and overflow runoff from the roof.  After several years, it had created rivulets and what basically amounted to a mud pit, flowing down to a wild bog.

We worked closely with Argentine Landscaping to come up with a comprehensive drainage plan before any actual work was begun.  This plan would channel each gutter downspout and the pool deck channel drain into their own underground drain pipes.  These pipes would all channel into a 6" PVC pipe that will carry the water down the slope and come up into a box drain in the boggy area.  Additionally, a channel drain will wrap around the new outdoor paved landing to insure that any water that might collect at this area will also be channeled into the 6" drain pipe, and not wash out the hill.

Once all the plans are in place, two truckloads of fill and top soil are brought in to regrade the area.  It's amazing how much better it looks already!


But even this work comes at a price.  Heavy equipment was necessary to move this much soil efficiently, but this work was begun right after a big rainstorm.  Muddy ground and a large backhoe are not a good recipe for a lawn!

But this can all be corrected at the end of the project.  Next week, the fun parts of the project begin!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Nature and Chaos

When a new home borders a nature preserve area, the residents generally appreciate the view and the privacy that this brings.  But often, the building process has disturbed the natural ground plane to some degree.  In the case of this project, the home was built about 5 feet above a natural semi-bog area.  At the back corner of the house where the pool cage exits to the yard, the ground was never graded properly, and the soil constantly washed out.  This was exacerbated by the fact that several gutters and pool deck drains convened at this exact corner, and during heavy rains everything would wash right down the hill.

We took a quick look at these grounds last year. Here's a reminder.

The area had become a wilderness, and was somewhat hazardous to walk out into due to the uneven ground and rivulets created by improperly routed drain water.

The project was about a year in the design phase.  A fire pit was part of the original design that the homeowners decided wouldn't be used often, so the design was altered accordingly.  And certain elements were refined to make them more budget-friendly.  But the project has been completed now, and the results are exciting.  We think we were able to create something that is fun, while appropriate to the site.  We'll watch the progress over the next few weeks.  Hope you'll enjoy it along with us!