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Hardscapes Key to Comfortable Outdoor Space

Gregory Harris, LCDBM




Five pallets of hardscape materials were used to build this new outdoor space that measures roughly 300 square feet. The stone is Brussels Dimensional stone, and the blocks used on the fireplace, barbecue surround and counter measure 4 inches x 12 inches x 8 inches.

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A previous contractor/client relationship and ideas spawned by a product catalog led to the construction of an outdoor living space for a pair of New York homeowners.

Landscape contractor Jeffrey Ingrassia, owner of AquaFX in Mt. Sinai, N.Y., originally installed a water feature for the homeowners. When the homeowners decided to add an outdoor room with a cooking area and fireplace, they called Ingrassia.

''The patio was already in place and we worked with the client to install the barbecue and fireplace at that location,'' Ingrassia said, adding that the space measures about 300 square feet.







Crews from AquaFX had to reinforce the existing patio with concrete footings to accommodate the weight of the fireplace, barbecue area and counter space. The process of the footings installation was to dig below the frost line with piers approx 32 to 36-inches deep. Photos courtesy of AquaFX


Hardscape Selection

Ingrassia and the homeowners decided early on to use Unilock products for this new space. The existing patio does not use Unilock materials, but the barbecue area, fireplace and surrounds were built using materials from the company's Dimension series.

''Unilock was used because for over 15 years, we have been using their product and has been trouble free, and proved to be very flexible in completing such an intense project,'' he said. ''We designed the outdoor kitchen and barbecue and the homeowner saw a fireplace in a paver company's catalog and decided that they wanted one for this project. We didn't use the exact fireplace (dimensions) from the catalog, instead we tweaked it a bit for this project.''

Reinforcing the Patio

The first step was to install concrete footings on the existing patio to account for the weight of the fireplace.

''The process of the footings installation was to dig below the frost line with piers approx 32 to 36-inches deep,'' Ingrassia said. ''This fireplace took four piers plus a six-inch base throughout the rest of the surface area.''







The countertop is a custom shape depicting the overall form of the barbecue and fireplace hearth. An exterior concrete stain was applied three weeks after the counter was installed to accent this feature.


Most of the hardscape material was used on construction of the fireplace.

''We used about three pallets of material for the fireplace,'' Ingrassia said. ''The fireplace weighs about 8,000 pounds.''

The stone used on the fireplace is Brussels Dimensional stone. The blocks measure 4 inches x 12 inches x 8 inches. Ingrassia said after the footings were placed, an AquaFX crew of three installed the fireplace as well as the wall behind the barbecue and the counter. The counter and barbecue housing use the same block as was used on the fireplace.

''We measured out the barbecue and the fireplace first,'' Ingrassia said of the installation procedure. ''We then started with the barbecue, followed by the fireplace and finally counters.''







A unit seen in a product catalog inspired this fireplace design. The specifications of the fireplace in the catalog were tweaked for this project, and three pallets of stone were used to build the fireplace. Jeff Ingrassia of AquaFX estimates that the fireplace weighs 8,000 pounds.


The outdoor space also features a custom concrete countertop that was designed and built by AquaFX.

''The counter is a custom shape depicting the overall form of the barbecue and fireplace hearth,'' Ingrassia said. ''An exterior concrete stain was applied three weeks after the counter was installed to accent the feature.''

Successful Project

Now that the project is completed, it does not look like the outdoor amenities were added to an existing patio. Instead, it appears that the whole of the project was completed simultaneously.

''Being seamless was just part over the overall installation of this project,'' Ingrassia said. ''The idea was to meld the previous patio with new fireplace and barbecue, which fit in with the homeowners' needs. They now have a relaxing outdoor space that allows them to vacation at home.''


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December 11, 2018, 10:05 pm PST

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