Stone Retaining Wall – Concord, MA

Stone Retaining Wall – Concord, MA

At this home in Concord, MA there is a large stump obstructing part of the driveway, and an unattractive hillside/chainlink fence.  The owner wants to remove the stump, widen the driveway, retain the edge with a stone wall, and then top it with a cedar fence.

Before

Before

 

Stone Retaining Wall – Prep

First we bring in the machinery to dig out the stump and excavate for the walls.  We hope to save the existing stone pier but the stump has grown underneath it and it comes down during excavation.  We also must be careful of town water an sewer that runs underneath the excavation area.  Once the major excavation is done we set sonot tubes in the ground in preparation for the fence.  The tubes are set several feet into the ground, we will build the wall around them, and then install the fence at the end.

Stone Wall Prep

Stone Wall Prep

 

Stone Retaining Wall – Construction

Next we bring in weathered fieldstone and start building the wall.  The stone comes from our private source in Western MA.  Much of it comes off of old farm walls and has a nice weathered color and texture as opposed to the smoother, lighter colored stones that are dug up during excavations.  We use a mix of large stones, small stones, flats, and rounds to create a classic New England style wall.

The stone column belongs to the neighbor and has history so we save much of the old stone, and re-build the column.  The original column used cement, but, we drystack it to match our wall and tie it all together.

Stone Retaining Wall

Stone Retaining Wall

Stone Retaining Wall

Stone Retaining Wall

 

Stone Retaining Wall – Completion

The stone wall is finished and capped.  It gets backfilled and graded behind, new gravel on the driveway, and the fence installed into our pre-laid tubes.  The driveway is now wide enough for two cars to fit, and the home has more privacy and a solid hillside that won’t wash out.

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Stone Retaining Wall

Bluestone Patio + Walkway – Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio + Walkways

At this recently built home in Concord, MA the owners are looking to add a bluestone patio and bluestone walkway.

After discussing options we decide on thermal bluestone for the patio and bluestone stepping stones for the walkways.  The stepping stone walkways save on material costs and labor and also compliment the modern style of the house.

Before

Before

Bluestone Patio + Walkway Prep

First the grades are set, the base is dug out, the subsoil compacted, and then filled with a crushed stone base.  Proper base prep is important for a long lasting patio.  When digging the base we want to remove all organic earth and/or clay until solid well drained subsoil is reached.  In most areas this won’t be more than 8-12″ deep.

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio Prep

Bluestone Patio + Walkway Installation

After the base is prepped we lay a thin layer of bedding material to level and set the stones.  Here we use 3/8″ crushed stone or “chip stone”.  It is a fine gravel that spreads easily, provides a solid base, and good drainage.

The bluestone pattern is planned out ahead of time.  The idea is to create a random pattern without any running joints or four corners.  The walkway stones are spaced to create an easy stride.

The patio joints will be filled with the same chip stone to create a fully permeable system.  More and more popular these days, a fully permeable patio eliminates potential drainage issues and puddling.  It also means the patio does not have to sloped as much to shed water which can be visually noticeable against level lines on a house.  The walkway joints will be filled with loam and seeded with grass.

Bluestone Patio Installation

Bluestone Patio Installation

Bluestone Walkway Installation

Bluestone Walkway Installation

Bluestone Patio + Walkway Completion

Ones the stones are set we sweep in the joint material and the patio is ready to enjoy.

Bluestone Walkway - Concord, MA

Bluestone Walkway – Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio - Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio - Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio – Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio - Concord, MA

Bluestone Patio – Concord, MA

 

 

 

 

Types of Bluestone Patios

Types of Bluestone Patios

A question that often comes up when discussing bluestone patios are the different varieties of bluestone pavers. To the untrained eye they may all look the same, but, there are actually a number of differences that effect the cost, appearance, and installation methods.

Natural Cleft Bluestone:

Natural cleft bluestone describes bluestone that has been split into layers during the quarrying process. Bluestone is a sedimentary stone, meaning that is comes from sediment that has been fused together over time from the enormous weight and pressure from above.  Natural cleft bluestone is formed closer to the surface of the earth than other bluestone.  Without as much pressure on the stone, lines of de-lamination or horizontal cracks form which make it easy to split into layers.  These layers are then cut into rectangles to make the bluestone pavers you see today.

As it is naturally split, the bluestone pavers have some irregularities.  The surface of the stone will have more bumps and texture, and each stone will have somewhat varyied thickness.  Natural cleft bluestone also tends to have a range of colors from blue, gray, purple, and rusty orange.

Although the quarrying process takes less machining and makes natural cleft bluestone less expensive than other bluestone, the varied thickness and irregular surface makes it more labor intensive to install.

natural cleft bluestone

natural cleft bluestone

Natural Cleft Bluestone

Natural Cleft Bluestone

 

Thermal Bluestone:

Thermal bluestone is formed deeper within in the earth.  With more weight and pressure above, the stone is solid and must be broken off in chunks and then saw cut into layers.  The saw cut leaves a very smooth, unnatural surface which then must be re-textured.  This is the ‘thermaling’ process which gives its name.  The stone is wet down and then heated with a super hot flame until the surface flakes off, exposing the natural roughness of the stone.

Thermal bluestone is more expensive to produce, but, the stone is almost perfectly uniform in thickness. This makes the installation and leveling process less labor intensive.

Thermal bluestone then comes in three different color varieties, full color, regular, and true blue.

Full Color Thermal Bluestone:

Full color thermal bluestone is less common and slightly less available.  It is thermal cut stone but still has a ranger of blues, grays, and purples.  The colors will not be as pronounced as Natural Cleft Bluestone, but more so than other thermal bluestones.

Regular Thermal Bluestone:

Regular Thermal Bluestone is most common.  It will come in a mild range of blues and grays.

Thermal Bluestone Patio

Thermal Bluestone Patio

“True Blue” Thermal Bluestone

“True Blue” Bluestone has been hand picked and sorted so that all of the stones are identical in color.

Thermal Bluestone Patio

True Blue Thermal Bluestone Patio

Irregular Bluestone

Irregular bluestone, also called “stand-up bluestone” or “flagstone” is naturally cleft bluestone that has not been cut into rectangles.  Irregular bluestone is sold by the ton instead of by the square foot and is generally cheaper in cost, but, much more labor intensive to install.

Irregular bluestones will vary greatly in shape, size, and thickness.  Depending on the desired look, they need to be cut and shaped to fit together, and leveled one by one.

Irregular Bluestone Patio