Bluestone Walkway and Granite Steps – Boxborough, MA

At this home in Boxborough, MA an old bluestone walkway had come out of level and the stones were breaking apart.  Also the bluestone steps had come loose and were unstable.  The homeowner wanted to replace the walkway with new bluestone and use solid granite steps.

For this project we removed the existing bluestone and excavated below.   Whenever possible we will excavate by hand in order to preserve the surrounding landscape and minimize/eliminate extra costs for sod repair that can arise when machines come in.

Here we have excavated the area to depth of 8-10″ to allow for new base material.  The new walkway will go in the same footprint as the old.

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excavated stairway

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excavated walkway

Next we install the granite steps.  The steps are dry laid on a bed of crushed stone and a thin layer of stone dust to achieve level.   One step goes in, we back fill behind it to meet level, and the next step is stacked on stop.  The adjacent wall has to be partially dismantled to make room for the new steps.

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granite step installation

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granite step installation

All nine granite steps are set.  With the steps in we have a guide for the level of the walkway portions.  We’ve carefully planned the upper steps so that the finished height of the walkway doesn’t sit too high above or too low below the grade of the adjacent sloping lawn.

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granite step installation

Next we finish compacting the subgrade and filling the base with crushed stone to prep for the bluestone walkway installation.  The crushed stone provides a solid base that readily drains water.   A layer of stone dust is used to set the bluestones in and achieve the fine tuned level.

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bluestone walkway prep

The bluestone is installed, stone dust is swept in the joints, and some soil is added to the edge to regrow grass and meet the level of the stones.  The bluestone used is natural cleft, full color range.  It comes with it’s irregularities, but produces a handsome and slightly more rustic finish than the more finely treated varieties of bluestone.

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completed bluestone walkway and granite steps

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completed bluestone walkway

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completed granite steps

Block Retaining Wall – Methuen, MA

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Before – Timber Wall

The homeowners found this retaining wall and stairs by the driveway entrance unsightly. They desired a more attractive solution that could be installed without removing the existing trees.

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Demo

Landscape timber walls don’t have much mass, but they get their strength by tying into the hillside. This makes removing them difficult, but, with some effort we were able to clear the way for the new retaining wall.

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Block Retaining Wall in Progress

The homeowners decided on a retaining wall block system. These blocks are engineered to be dry laid (without mortar). This particular system comes in a variety of sizes that can be puzzled together to achieve a pattern style.

The wall was moved out 1ft farther than the previous to allow for the wider blocks and back fill.

Finished photos below

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Finished Retaining Wall + Steps

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Finished Retaining Wall + Steps

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Finished Retaining Wall + Steps