Stone Stairway and Walls – Maynard, MA

At this charming home in Maynard, MA the front entry way and retaining walls were in disrepair and unsightly.  With an appreciation for stonework, the homeowner desired to replace the wooden stairway with a natural stone stairway and to sure up the existing retaining walls.

Maynard, MA - before

Maynard, MA – before

Maynard, MA - Before

Maynard, MA – Before

After considering the site and deciding on materials, we draw a simple plan so that the homeowner can better visualize how the stairs will be situated.  Granite steps will be used for the stairs, bluestone pavers for the landings, and Pennsylvania Fieldstone for the walls.

Maynard, MA - Landscape Plan

Maynard, MA – Landscape Plan

Next we break ground and excavate for the new stairways.  Any good sized stones are saved to aid in the rebuilding of the walls.

Maynard, MA - Excavated Site

Maynard, MA – Excavated Site

Next the stairs and walls start going in.  We set the step, and then build the walls up to meet the level, and so on.  The stairway walls are mortared with cement but are meant to look like they aren’t.  The side walls and retaining walls are dry laid without the use of mortar.

Maynard, MA - Stone Steps

Maynard, MA – Stone Steps

The walls grow higher.  The #3 is salvaged from the original wall and set at eye level in the new stairway.

Maynard, MA - Stone Steps and Fieldstone Walls

Maynard, MA – Stone Steps and Fieldstone Walls

The stairs and walls reach finish height.  The upper retaining wall is built higher than the original was to help flatten out the steep grade of the gardens.  The side retaining walls are built with the existing stone and supplemented by the larger pieces of the PA wallstone that were purchased for the stairway.  Cobble stones and clay brick make up the bottom landing while bluestone is used for the upper landings and to cap the stairway wall.

Maynard, MA - Stone Steps and Stone Walls

Maynard, MA – Stone Steps and Stone Walls

After the railings go in the project is complete and some nice fall decorations bring it all together.   Take a look at the before and after.

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before

Maynard, MA - Stone Stairway and Fieldstone Walls

Maynard, MA – Stone Stairway and Fieldstone Walls

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Maynard, MA – Completed Granite Steps and Stone Walls

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Maynard, MA – Completed Granite Steps and Fieldstone Walls

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Maynard, MA – Completed Stone Stairway with Bluestone Landing

 

 

Irregular Bluestone Patio – Marlborough, MA

At his home in Marlborough, MA an old concrete patio had shifted and cracked and was pitching water towards the house.  Knowing something had to be done, the homeowners decided this was a great opportunity to liven up their outdoor space with a new and improved patio.

existing concrete patio.  windows boarded in preparation for demo

existing concrete patio. windows boarded in preparation for demo

existing paito

existing patio

We remove the concrete with a machine and then proceed to dig out the base for the patio.  The granite step is saved to be used for the new patio, and plenty of stones come out of the ground that we save for the upcoming fieldstone wall.

concrete removed

concrete removed

For the steps we purchase some additional granite.  We picked out antique granite steps to match the existing one and also some additional fieldstone for the walls.  Next we set the steps in place, fill the patio base, and set our base stones for the raised bluestone patio.

patio fill and granite steps

patio fill and granite steps

Next we build the wall that will run one side of the patio.  We use stones that came out of the ground and some supplemental fieldstone from the stoneyard.  The client is looking for a quaint, farm house wall with rounded stones.

fieldstone wall

fieldstone wall

Fieldstone Wall

Fieldstone Wall

Wall and Steps complete

Wall and Steps complete

After the wall and steps are set – we fill in the rest with irregular bluestone.  Irregular bluestone makes a nice patio.  There are many different ways to fit and cut the stones.  We try to fit the stones fairly tight without letting it look like we made the cuts.  This gives it a consistent but natural/authentic look.

Irregular bluestone patio

Irregular bluestone patio

Bluestone patio, fieldstone wall, granite steps

Bluestone patio, fieldstone wall, granite steps

The following season a new patio door goes in, and some plantings and patio furniture bring it all together.

new patio with furniture

new patio with furniture

Patio with furniture

Patio with furniture

 

Phase II – Drainage – Westford, MA

After rebuilding the failed retaining wall and clearing the hillside, the next task is to solve the drainage issue.   With the house sitting behind a hillside, the front yard catches a lot of runoff and has nowhere to shed it.  In addition, the subsoil is clay which holds the water on the surface and has created swamp like conditions in the front yard and around the side of the house.

Swamped Yard

Swamped Yard

The gravel channel below the stone wall will catch a lot of water from the hillside and send it down the length of the wall.  From there we will pick up the flow and continue a stream bed on the surface to channel the water around the house and to a pool at the lower end of the property.  The dry stream bed will serve as a functional drainage ditch while also adding an attractive feature to the home.  Left over stones from the wall and other boulders from around the property are used to line the stream and the pond.

 

Shaping the Stream

Shaping the Stream

Dry Stream Boulders

Dry Stream Boulders

The pond is lined with bentonite, a substance that is mixed into the soil and that then swells to to create a water seal.  A drain is set at the the bottom of the pond with a shutoff valve so the homeowner can let the pond fill, or drain it completely.  An overflow drain is set slightly below the surrounding grade so that the water level never overflows the bank.

drainage pond

drainage pond

Back at the front yard more drainage trenches are dug with some surface drains added to ensure proper drainage.  All trenches are channeled to the stream bed.  At the end top soil is added back to the yard and graded to pitch water towards the wall and drains.

drainage channls

drainage channls

By using existing material and working with the lay of the land – we’ve solved the drainage issue, reclaimed a large portion of lawn that was overgrown with wetland growth, and in it’s place left attractive stone and water features. (finished photos to come)