Building a Patio

Fall is a great time of year to do certain yard work. I consider fall the perfect season to hardscape. The ground isn’t frozen, so it’s relatively easy to dig; it’s not sweltering outside; and labor costs are often cheaper.

Scary steps lead to a plain of mondo grass.

The Before.

    Our yard has three descending, good-sized (for downtown) terrace levels. When we moved in there was beautiful landscaping on the first terrace. There were large stone benches, a pea gravel path, liriope, and hydrangea. The historic boxwoods already surrounded the first and second terrace levels. However, the second and third levels needed a bit of work.

These massive stair treads give great access to both terrace levels.

    First things first, we needed to access both terrace levels. We removed the original (precarious) stone steps and installed large, heavy stair tread stones to both lower levels. However, once we gained access, deciding what style of garden to build proved to be quite a challenge.

The Planning.

    We originally decided that we wanted a formal space so it would be attractive as we looked down from the back porch.

But something didn’t feel right and we procrastinated. (1) We are lazy when it comes to taking care of a yard. This formal space looked daunting when considering maintenance. (2) We are not formal people and knew we wouldn’t USE the space. So design number two…

In Progress.

For consistency, we kept the existing mondo grass and built a freeform pea gravel patio. We used the old stones from the original steps to construct a natural looking fire pit. Cutting the over 100-year-old fig trees was hard, but they didn’t produce fruit and were really in the way of what we envisioned. And finally (for the time being) we installed plenty of landscape lighting.

The hardscaping is complete, but we still need to plant flowers and clean up the hedges.

We still have to plant some shrubs, flowers, and bulbs. We may add a water feature. We certainly need to furnish the new patio—but for now, we are happy with what has been created.

Trees and pathways are lit, but the patio needs a bit more lighting.

Stay tuned for more in the spring!

Jeb ArpComment