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A residential exterior that grows more attractive every year

garage with brick pavers
Hardscaping, like landscaping, is often done over a period of time. In the case of our clients Mr. and Mrs. X., we worked for three years on a series of projects that turned an ordinary yard into a beautiful extension of their lifestyle.

We began with the installation of the driveway.

All too often, driveways are regarded only for their function as parking spots and the entry to the garage. But in fact, the driveway is one of the most important design elements of your home. It is, after all, the first thing visitors see when they arrive, and it frames the front, side, or back of your living space.

brick drivewaybrick driveway
For this project the homeowner chose to pave the whole drive with brick in timeless color from County materials. H2O permeable, this material will help put water back into the ground aquifers. We made this choice because there were drainage issues in the yard as well as the area in general.

In fact, the first work we did for this client took place about 10 years before our latest project. It was to take care of a drainage problem they had because the neighbor’s house was higher than their home and when it rained, the slope of the ground resulted in water entering their house. We put in a retaining wall about 18" from the side of the house and about 12"- 15" above the level of the foundation, so that the soil would slope away from the house.

We installed three sets of drain pipes, one to catch the water in the new swale about 8' from the foundation and one to bring the downspout water away from the house. One more set of pipes was put in the low area between the wall and the foundation to bring any water that might move into this space out away from the house. When the city installed the storm sewer for the street, the end of this pipe was modified to go into the rain garden.

landscaping plants 
We installed a rain garden to help with this problem as well. 
As we mentioned in our blog last month, a rain garden is an attractive way to control the distribution of water on your property. Before we began this project, the city had installed a storm sewer and resurfaced the street. To stay within municipal guidelines, we had to make sure the garden’s drain pipe ended at least ten feet from the city’s sewer pipe. And carrying through a unified visual theme, we used the pavers for the rain garden’s border.

grass and brick pavers
 grass and brick pavers
Then we also used the pavers to create a stone border around the plantings in the front of the house. The picture on the left is a long view of the lawn, while on the right is a close-up of the stone inlay. This sets off the new greenery and creates a sense of unity between the driveway and the front yard.

The next year the homeowner asked us to install a new patio to replace the old one.

We used the same pavers for the patio that we did for the driveway to enhance a sense of width and depth to the whole property. And to add even more beauty and enjoyment to family gatherings on the patio, we built three raised planters and a wood-burning fire pit.

backyard patio
 outdoor patio
The new sidewalk on the side of the garage provides a clean convenient pathway from the front to the back and includes a pad for garbage cans. Finally, we planted hydrangea strawberry sundae and clethra, (Summersweet), which will be kept at a height of five or six feet. Both these plants have beautiful flowers in the summer and the red hydrangea blooms are especially lovely set off against the white fence. In addition, we planted a bed of physocarpus amber jubilee and deutzia chardonnay pearls on the side of the garage along the fence.

brick pavers on side of house
This year we built another addition – a fountain! 
It was built to run all year round to attract and provide water for the birds, squirrels, and other animals on the property because the family enjoys watching wildlife. The water pump for the fountain is about two feet below ground surface so it won’t freeze with the moving water, even in winter.

After carefully selecting the best boulders to use based on their symmetry, color, and ability to ensure easy water flow, we drilled holes in the stones ourselves. On the left is a photo of the fountain from the edge of the patio and on the right a close-up of the rocks with water bubbling out of them.

rocks and stones
 rocks and stones

We also installed lights in the fountain so observers could enjoy the sight of sparkling water and see the birds whenever they stopped by. Lights were also placed under the lips of the stairs to the house and the inside edges of the planters, adding a fairyland ambiance to the garden.

The family is very happy with the new additions and anticipates spending many evenings enjoying a fire and the pleasant sound of the fountain bubbling away.

If you have any questions about these projects or some ideas of improvements you’d like to make to your own home, please call us at 847-912-6319. Until then, enjoy your summer!


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