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Hardscape Showcase

By Bruce Fordyce, Editor LC/DBM


For the Hardscapes issue, LC/DBM showcases five hardscape projects from across the nation. From outdoor living patio areas, to stunning entry walkways, the materials used in these projects vary as much as the projects themselves.






The contractor installed a complete outdoor living kitchen with a grill, sink and refrigerator, and topped it with a granite countertop. They used more than 11 cubic yards of concrete for the kitchen and pizza oven foundations and pergola footings. The kitchen included two Cambridge kitchen kits. To power the outdoor kitchen, the contractor trenched and backfilled for gas line, electric and water lines.





This Rockville Centre, Long Island, New York project was designed and built to transform a unmaintained space into useful area for entertaining during the day. The project took four workers 15 days to complete. The crew constructed the fire pit from natural stone in Cambridge Olde English colors. Overall, ADM Landscape Corporation laid in more than 4,225 square feet of paving stone (3,825 square feet for the patio area itself, and another 400 for the walkways.


ADM Landscape Corporation
Workers excavated more than 100 cubic yards of earth down eight inches for the pavers and subgrade; they used 55 cubic yards of 3/4 -inch RCA base material at four inches deep. They also used 20 cubic yards of course sand as a bed 1.5 inches deep.

The company used a John Deere 110 TLB tractor loader backhoe with four-wheel drive to excavate for the subgrade, dig trenches for utilities, and move sand, gravel and load excavation; they also employed forklifts to move pallets of stone. An HMI rubber tired skid steer loader was also used to load and move sand and gravel, grade, and lift stone pallets with forks.

A complete renovation of the house and landscape was underway at the same time. The challenge to ADM was that there were other trades on site, so work had to be coordinated between them, which slowed production at times.




The area of The Garden Artist project, located in Boise, Idaho, measures 23 feet wide by 30 feet long, for a total of 690 square feet. It took the company's crew of four workers 21 business days to complete, with the help of several subcontractors, including a plumber, mason and electrician. Workers used a rented skid steer, mini-excavator, gas-powered tamper (compactor) and concrete mixer to complete the project.





The fire/water feature at the center of the sitting area features a system where water flows under the lava balls, then cascades into a basin below, cooling the area and adding the sound of falling water. The crew installed a 35,000 BTU natural gas fire, which sends fire above the water and through a pyramidal stack of lava balls. They also added stained concrete benches with matching concrete on the water/fire feature. Boulders were installed at the corners and edges of the sitting area, as steps into the hot tub, and as accents in the ornamental beds. Workers added natural stone slabs that were slanted for the bench's back, as well as using kiln-dried fir for the pergola over the hot tub, and Baselite pavers for the path and around the sitting area. They finished up by staining the fence a gray-blue hue.


The Garden Artist, Inc.
Located in Boise, Idaho, this project challenged The Garden Artist, Inc., to create an outdoor living area for entertaining and relaxing.

They poured concrete with a poly-overlay for texture and color and to tie in the existing and new concrete pads. The tub was sunk in a CMU retaining wall with a concrete cap. The base of hot tub structure was compacted road mix, as recommended by the hot tub manufacturer's specifications.

The company built the kitchen from CMU atop a 24-inch footing due to the permafrost factor. They covered the kitchen with Rox-Pro stone veneer, and then created the countertop using poured, stained and sealed concrete. Following this, workers installed RH Peterson appliances, which included a 36-inch barbecue.

The company ran a gas line under the slab to the outdoor kitchen and the fire feature, as well as an electrical line for the water pump, hot tub and under the patio cover for the barbecue task light and for the chandelier outlet.




For this North Carolina project, Carolina Outdoor Design installed pebble-colored concrete as well as an in-ground acrylic spa surrounded by Pennsylvania bluestone. The spa installation was unique, taking a spa designed for above ground installation and using it to achieve the look of an in-ground spa. In order to accomplish the in-ground installation, workers built a "vault" to encase the spa. The final design accomplished the built-in appearance with the comfort of an acrylic spa.





The company finished the eight-foot chimney with stucco and capped it with Pennsylvania bluestone. Workers carefully placed the 60 tons of boulders to create a natural-looking boulder wall. The boulder wall surrounding the fireplace, once a mulch bank, was retained with 16 one-ton Redi-Rock building blocks (inset) backfilled with .75-inch washed stone.


Carolina Outdoor Design
Carolina Outdoor Design undertook this project near Lake Lure, North Carolina, to transform a once barren lawn into an outdoor living space accented by the natural effects of the surrounding mountain areas.

After meeting with the client, six members of Carolina Outdoor Design took a total of 700 hours to transform the backyard into a rock waterfall spilling into a free-form pool. They poured pebble-colored concrete around the pool, and then crafted the patio, which was accented with boulders and landscaping. Adjacent to the pool area, the company built the eight-foot chimney fireplace; the fireplace was constructed of fireproof concrete, and is finished with stucco and capped with Pennsylvania bluestone.

The boulder wall surrounding the fireplace was originally a mulch bank. The bank was constructed with sixteen one-ton Redi-Rock building blocks, backfilled with three-quarter washed stone. The sixty tons of boulders were placed to give the effect of a natural boulder wall. Pebble-colored concrete extends from the left of the fireplace to an in-ground acrylic spa surrounded by Pennsylvania Bluestone. The installation of the spa was unique, in that it involved taking a spa designed to be above ground and placing it to achieve the look of an in-ground spa. In order to accomplish the in-ground installation, a vault was built to encase the spa. The final design accomplished the built in appearance with the comfort of an acrylic spa.

Surrounded by the beautiful mountain scene, this lounge area was nestled behind the natural boulder wall. Outdoor night lighting was placed to highlight and illuminate the fireplace and boulder features.




This Ross NW Watergardens project, located in Happy Valley, Oregon, involved the contractor installing more than 625 square feet of Belgard Mega-Arbel stone pavers, but only after they completed a significant re-grading. The patio was finished with bluestone slate insets.





The walkway is five feet wide and 45 feet long, and also uses Belgard Mega-Arbel (insert) stone pavers and bluestone slate. For the walkway border, workers installed Belgard Bergerac. The existing landscape (which the company installed a few years earlier) included Camas basalt boulders, which were relocated and supplemented by additional boulders set in the edges of the pathway, seamlessly blending the new and existing landscape. The boulders were secured with a concrete base to prevent them from settling.


Ross NW Watergardens
This Happy Valley, Oregon project presented Ross NW Watergardens with serious challenges. The main entryway to the house was underwhelming, with a narrow concrete path that was hard to locate at night. The contractor created an entry pathway that does justice to the beautiful house and setting. Also, the house had a large backyard that was taken up almost entirely by the lawn. The family wanted a place to gather, eat, and relax outside.

The project's hardscaping took two weeks to complete. The company's three-person hardscaping crew spent more than 200 man-hours on that portion of the project alone.

Workers installed more than 1,000 square feet of Belgard pavers as well as 100 square feet of Pennsylvania Bluestone. They used a small skid steer and a plate compactor to complete the job.




For this 2,000 square foot area, the contractor installed El Dorado fieldstone for the pavilion, and used quartized ledgestone panels for the pool. They installed polished concrete for the barbecue countertop, and used a pre-cast concrete coping for the spa. Workers installed Pebbletec finish on the pool and spa, with a textured blue waterline tile that carries over onto the negative edge of the infinity wall.





This Pacific Outdoor Living project was located in Granada Hills, California. It was designed and built to extend the functional living space from the inside to the outside, and took a crew of four workers four months to complete.


Pacific Outdoor Living
According to Pacific Outdoor Living (located in Granada Hills, California), "There were several challenges to overcome. The first decision was whether to go freeform or straight-lined on the design. The house is quite angular, but we settled on the freeform layout because we felt that it softened the look of the home and also gave us greater flexibility without having to be concerned with lining certain edges up to existing edges, etc."

The owners were set on having an infinity edge pool, leaving the contractor to determine how to best situate it. They played with the idea of placing the pool on the rear slope where the edge would disappear into the horizon, but decided to create something less predictable. Using the existing contours that were sloping towards the house, the team provided an infinity edge near the house rather than over the rear hillside. Next, the designers had to figure out where and how to construct the pavilion so that it would be functional, aesthetically appealing, and buildable. According to the contractor, "We played with the idea of placing it out on the promontory [near the koi pond], but ultimately decided that attaching it to the rear of the house would provide more privacy and be most functional, and since it would be the main entertaining area, would capitalize on the view of the pool and spa."

Determining the finish materials took some work because the contractor wanted the multiple materials on the project to coordinate. The clients liked the El Dorado fieldstone veneer for the pavilion, but the company didn't want to use this on the pool as they have had problems using faux stone veneer in wet situations.








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