Posts Tagged ‘koi pond’

patios: day 1

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

And so the transformation begins! Monday afternoon, Jim and Connor came and marked out the site with their laser level…

marking out the site

all marked out

And then it was Tuesday! The day I had to do some letting go. Had to look away as the Land Design Associates crew dug up my Beni Kaze forest grass so it wouldn’t get crushed. Then they leveled a good portion of my carefully prepared bed. Funny how prep takes you days and days of manual rock removal and shoveling in compost, and yet how immediately it all comes undone…

day 1 destroying my bed, it’ll all be okay

*sigh*  The steel steps had to come out, too. Once that was done, they were able to get the machines up the hill and into the yard…

day 1 up the hill

Gravel was moved out…

day 1 removing gravel

So the digging could begin…

day 1 digging begins

Is it a pond?

day 1 is it a pond?

Or a lap lane?

day 1 or a lap lane?

As you can see, the patio area got leveled,  geotextile reinforcement put down and crushed run and sand tamped down over top in preparation for the stone pavers. All in one day!

These guys aren’t messing around.

and the winner is…

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

As promised in yesterday’s post, today I reveal our patio layout choice. WHOOP-DEE-DOO! Can I get a whuh-whuh… and a drumroll?

THE ISLAND OF PATIO, slightly revised

the winner!

There’s a lot to love about this design. Lots of pond — more than I envisioned, actually. And the city says we can go 2′ deep without having to fence the yard, so that was a pleasant surprise. We were originally told 12″. Whew! In the upper righthand corner of the patio, you can see a long inset. That’s going to be a planting area cut into the stone where I can tuck something vertical but not too tall. Maybe equisetum hymale (horsetail), like this…

equisetum hymale | “Tiny patios are big on setting the mood”

equisetum hymale | “Tiny patios are big on setting the mood”

Or maybe a short running bamboo, like this eye-catching Pleioblastus Auricomus?

pleioblastus auricomus | “A Northumberland Alpine Gardener's Diary”

pleioblastus auricomus | “A Northumberland Alpine Gardener's Diary”

Both equisetum and bamboo require a containment barrier — 2′ deep, minimum. No matter what ends up here, I think it’s smart to protect our patio investment. Having to pull plants out from in between the pavers would be a nightmare!

The Land Design Associates crew just arrived and digging begins today. You ready? I’m ready!

patios for the holidays!

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday. Ours was appropriately gravy-covered and cheerful. So now let’s get back to patios, shall we?

We decided a few weeks back that our partner in crime will be Jim Egan of Land Design Associates in Walpole, MA. He’s psyched to launch into a project with a modern sensibility and has the design chops to withstand our quirkiness. When we shared our patio vision with him, he almost immediately turned around and handed us four patio layouts as a place to start. Impressive. He really took my Andrea Cochran obsession and ran with it! Take a peek…

* click to biggify *


This layout features three bands of stone pavers divided by strips of grass. Rectangles of black Mexican beach pebbles and plantings bound the lawn side of the patio. The fish pond is about where we pictured it but a little smaller, with steps across it to the patio…

option #1: 3 strips


In this layout, the patio breaks from a singular rectangle to include some functional areas — ex., our Phoenix Grill/firepit is the triangle on the left edge of the patio. Again, the pool is about where we pictured it. Strategic lines of plantings move you through the garden (a la Pac Man)…

choice #2: pac man


Wow. There’s almost too much to look at in this layout to take it all in. How about I simplify things?

choice #3: L pool

If we zoom in on the patio you can see that the pond wraps around two edges, with steps across the pond to the patio in two places. Essentially, the patio is an island. I so want to get stranded there…

patio island closeup


Ooh, this layout has it all. Excitement. Drama. Curves to offset our linear house. Nice. So the rectangular patio is intercepted by a circle, the diameter of which is made up of plantings, pond and (at the far corner of the yard) a curved stone bench…

option #4: circle

The center of the circle is lawn with a rill of water through it. Love that…

circle closeup

Man, a lot to choose from, right? David and I narrowed it to our favorites — the last two. We met with Jim and came up with a few tweaks. We hemmed. We hawed. Then we had to pull the trigger on one final choice last Wednesday. Can you guess which?

I’ll tell you in my next post. Jim and crew are outside setting the markers for the upper patio right now!


UPDATE: At least one of you knows how militantly anti-hedge I am. Don’t worry, I’ll not be budged into hedging. Screening, yes. Hedging, never. I thank Jim for his ideas, though. He knew not of my bias. :)

neverending patio story

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Talk about dragging things out. November and we’re still talking patios! Here’s where we left off: on the fence about poured concrete, our ideal scenario, so we’ve been considering other options.

Our poured concrete layout looked like this (click to biggify)…

our last patio plan

Finished, those concrete sections would have looked kinda like this (but running parallel to the house)…

by shades of green landscape architecture |

by shades of green landscape architecture |

Too bad that’s not gonna work out moneywise. Waah.

Option 1 : concrete pavers

So if poured concrete is out, what’s the next best thing? Concrete pavers? We looked into a few sources after eliminating Lowe’s and Home Depot.  Stepstone, Inc. makes what I think are the best-looking concrete pavers by far…

narrow modular pavers |

narrow modular pavers |

The October Dwell features an article on the remod of the mag founder’s first home.  Lots of great images of Stepstone pavers on their back patio. Beautiful. They’re made in Cali. On the phone, their people were very helpful. Drawbacks: Several week lead-time. Shipping. Not cheap. And honestly, I’m still hooked on having pavers set into gravel or grass, in which case these wouldn’t work — they’re designed with a mortarless spacer system that requires them to be butted up against each other.

Looking for a concrete paver alternative closer to home, David came across Bolduc in Canada. We liked the look of Avenue

avenue in a commercial application |

avenue in a commercial application |

Commercial rather than residential, which didn’t deter us. Cheaper than Stepstone. Comes in several shades of grey. The folks at Southridge Farm and Nursery in Walpole ordered some samples for us. They look like this…

bolduc samples

They come in larger sizes. Good. Beveled edges. Icky. Overall, too, um, municipal looking? The top side of the dark option looks like poured asphalt. Not a look we’re going for. Shazam.

Option 2: stone

Okay, so if those pavers are out, what next? Stone? We automatically ruled out stone because it has to cost more. Doesn’t it? Turns out that bluestone or granite run about the same cost or even cheaper than the Bolduc pavers. Wow. Okay, so that sounds encouraging.

New layout options: squares

So what about layout now that the trapezoid look is a no-go? The square grid layout looks great but it’s a no for us, whether they’re set in pea gravel…

by daniel nolan design |

by daniel nolan design |

or set in grass…

by huettil landscape archictecture |

by huettil landscape archictecture |

Squares are perfect when the architecture is boxy like that. Not so much for our situation. David and I don’t always agree about everything but we do agree that a long, linear layout goes better with our long, linear house. Strips set parallel to the house would lead the eye out toward the low pool at the end.

New layout options: rectangular strips

Imagine strips of stone set in pea gravel. Either uniform strips…

maisonry winery, yountville |

maisonry winery, yountville |

Or staggered strips…

by environmental concepts |

by environmental concepts |

I can also picture strips of stone set in grass…

by feldman architecture |

by feldman architecture |

from seattle dream gardens |

from seattle dream gardens |

Decisions, decisions. We’ll be working out patio configurations this week so that we can get this party started.

Pool options

Then there’s also the matter of the pool. David was set on an above-ground water feature so that people could sit on the edge. Something akin to this…

by carolyn chadwick |

by carolyn chadwick |

Not impossible to create such a thing but it’s a little more expensive. I’m not budging on my desire for steps across the pool to the patio, either way. Luckily, David is now open to an in-ground pond…

desert botanic garden pool by ten eyck landscape architects |

desert botanic garden pool by ten eyck landscape architects |

montcalm street by rossington architecture |

montcalm street by rossington architecture |

The stones in the pond are kind of nice. Of course, both of those examples are concrete edge and not stone, so the look would probably be more like this…

blue mountain by phillips farveaag smallenberg |

blue mountain by phillips farveaag smallenberg |

Sounds like poured concrete may not be in the pond picture now. Pool liner? Oy. Our neverending story… everybody sing!

Want even more?

Reference previous patio and pool obsessiveness at total yard-on for hardscape.