Natural Path Landscaping: Creating A Natural Work of Art Right Outside Your Door
Although we have 'Before and After' pictures scattered throughout this web site, the purpose of this section is to highlight some of the more recent projects and tell their story in a little more detail.
These steps were in rough shape at the start. The bluestone treads were loose with decaying mortar and bricks underneath plus the step risers varied from between 5” to 8”. The owners wanted solid granite steps that would not come apart over the years and fit the period of their historic home in a Historic District. They also wanted a design that eliminated the straight 5’-2” width of the exiting steps.
Our design started with a 7’ wide step at the bottom followed by a 6’ wide step before settling into the stock size of 5’ wide for seven more steps. We then went to a 6’ wide step before an 8’ wide landing that leads to four steps at 9’-9” wide. Our design allowed for two additional landings, making the ascent more pleasant.
Once the Historic District approved the design and the custom granite arrived, we began construction. Part of the design process was to figure out how to move the heavy granite steps and base material up the slope using only a Bobcat since a crane would have added too much cost to the owner’s budget. The granite steps overlap so construction begins at the bottom with no possibility of driving up the slope. We developed some techniques that resolved the issue, allowing us to complete the entire job in seven days, including the rebuilding of the top landing under the two large columns supporting the portico. There is almost 14,000 pounds of granite in these steps.
The original deck was coming apart and too hot to use during the warm weather. The owners wanted the deck improved and a patio designed to provide a cooler retreat from the sun. Our solution was to strip the deck, reuse the framing and then add high quality decking and guardrails. The lower deck would disappear and be replaced with a granite landing and a winding walkway leading to a raised, elliptical patio partly under the shade of an existing large maple tree.
The backyard had a large slope so a raised patio about 3’ above grade worked best. We surrounded the patio with garden space and made the entire structure permeable to minimize affecting the maple tree root system, avoiding any runoff flowing directly against the retaining wall. For these same reasons plus more, we used about 40 tons of crushed stone behind the wall and under this patio plus several layers of geogrid to assure wall integrity for 100+ years. Notice the cobblestone edge restraint. This job was completed in eight days.
This home originally had four sets of precast concrete steps, two concrete walls that were collapsing and two mismatched walkways. The new design utilized granite steps, bluestone walkways and fieldstone walls. We utilized a 6' wide landing for both front doors but used 4' wide steps for one of those doors since it was not the main entrance. The appearance of the house has been totally transformed.
The owners wanted a total overhaul of their landscaping. The front received a cobblestone walkway with integrated granite steps, granite lamppost and a rock wall to cover the existing concrete one. The cap of this wall is 4” thick and 2’ wide to better fit the scale of this wall. The sloped granite wall cap is 10’ long, weighs over 1000 pounds and is cut to perfectly match with the other horizontal cap. In addition to what is shown here, a matching walkway and a wall to support an above ground pool were constructed behind the house.
This home had a failing brick walkway that was built too close to the house. The owners wanted a new brick walkway and a rock wall to bring the grade up across the front yard. Since there were many rock walls in the area, we decided to use large NE Fieldstones without mortar for the wall. Large granite steps that flare outward were added to connect the upper area with the lower yard. Finally, we inserted a 'diamond' of granite at both ends of the walkway to add an attractive detail.
The existing walkway was worn looking and the radius steps were completely coming apart and dangerous. The owners had used our services around their backyard pool the prior year so they asked up to redesign their front entrance. They liked the radius shape of the steps so we decided to keep the general shape with more walkway curve but upgrade the materials using solid granite steps and full color bluestone for the walkway. In addition, we added two granite steps near the driveway to eliminate the excessive walkway slope and prevent the garden from overflowing onto the walkway. A granite lamppost added a finishing touch.
The existing deck and screened porch were buried in shrubbery with splintering, pressure treated decking. Since the roof, framing and overall size were fine we decided to reuse these components. We removed the overgrown shrubs and opened the deck by eliminating the handrails and adding wrap around steps with an extra wide tread depth.
The existing walkway was almost non-existent and the front steps were precast concrete. The owners wanted something much nicer and scaled to better match their home. After two design iterations, a 5' wide bluestone walkway emerged that lead to 10' wide granite steps. The main landing measures 10' by 9' with a smaller granite step covering the concrete house foundation directly at the front door.
The homeowners can tell the story of this unique project the best...
"Tom and his crew at Natural Path Landscaping have transformed our yard and how we use it. When we moved in we had an old patio, walkway and steps that were in disrepair. Tom and his design not only brought it back to life but also made it significantly better. We obtained three quotes from landscapers; all rated very highly on Angie's List. We have modern taste that is often different than typical New England design.
Tom was the only one that took some extra time to understand our style and showed a willingness to incorporate it into his design. Tom's willingness to work collaboratively with us ultimately resulted in a patio, walkway and steps that transformed our house and the way we interact with our yard. This is not an easy project given the unknowns that come with pre-existing construction but we also live on a hill that requires proper water drainage. We now notice that everything drains properly and dries very quickly after it rains.
Most people focus on bringing the outdoors in. The work done by Natural Path Landscaping has brought us to the outdoors. We now spend any available time out on our new patio."
We were called in to design a natural looking fire pit and sitting area. The area was partly leveled using 12' long Goshen stone steps and crushed stone supported by a rock wall. Large Goshen flagstone provided the perfect paving material with its large surface area, texture and color variation. The fire pit utilized boulders that we carefully selected, fitted together and partly buried to lock them into place. The boulder wall had been done by us five years prior. The homeowner told us that he can’t believe this is his back yard and his neighbor shook our hand to congratulate us for “a job well done.”
Arriving on site for the initial sales visit we found a set of wooden/paver steps and a walkway above that were in rough shape. On an annual basis the homeowner would pull up pavers and add sand in an attempt to keep the paving safe and presentable. As it turned out, we were the only company to suggest solid granite steps and a permeable paver walkway to eliminate runoff and provide adequate base support. While everyone else recommended concrete steps topped with granite treads we knew the look of mortar joints and exposed concrete risers would not achieved the desired result. Our design featured curving, solid granite steps with a landing in the middle and garden to the left terraced, but only to the extent needed to prevent erosion, without over-engineering it. Construction would be very difficult because of the curve and the fact that we could NOT use our Bobcat at the top for the walkway or to set the upper steps. However, we enjoy challenges and completed the entire project in four and one half days.