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

 

 

Phase III – Walkway + Gardens – Westford, MA

In the next phase of this project we rebuild and reshape the garden walls and lay a new walkway/patio.  The existing gardens were badly overgrown and the walls were falling apart.  The paver walkway was deteriorating and overgrown with moss.

Original Front Wall

Existing Front Wall

Existing Walkway

Existing Walkway

Existing Garden Wall

Existing Garden Wall

Existing Landing

Existing Landing

Then by dismantling the front stone wall it leaves us enough stone to rebuild that wall as well as rebuild/extend the garden wall.

Extending the Garden Wall

Extending the Garden Wall

Next we lay the walkway.  For this we use a unique type of flagging called Goshen Stone.  It is quarried locally in Goshen, MA and has a silvery, lustery appearance.

Goshen Walkway + Landing

Goshen Walkway + Landing

Along with the stonework we weed and prune the gardens and transplant desirable plants as needed.  The hillside is also planted with a variety of perennial ground covering plants and a few select shrubs.  Fresh topsoil is also spread over the whole yard and hyrdro-seeded.

Goshen Walk and Garden Wall

Goshen Walk and Garden Wall

Rebuilt Front Garden Wall

Rebuilt Front Garden Wall

Completed walk and garden

Completed walk and garden

Hyrdo Seeded and Hillside Planting

Hyrdo Seeded and Hillside Planting

View from the stream bed

View from the stream bed

In the spring we can return to see the grass and hillside grown in.  Finished photos to come.

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)