We just wrapped up a relatively large job in the Fauntleroy neighborhood of West Seattle in which we completely remade the back yard from top to bottom. By large I mean that although the yard is somewhat small, there were a number of features built that kept us onsite for a full 3 months (twice as long as our average project).
I put together the design, working closely with the client to bring to life her very vibrant and tasteful vision for the place. Archie the dog was thankfully kept in a kennel during the week to give us free reign to do our work. Despite several days of torrential downpour and extremely hard and rocky sub-soil, we persevered and got the toughest stages of this project done.
The very first thing you see when you walk through the huge medieval-style gate is this house-shaped pizza oven. It is built around a pre-cast core manufactured by Forno Bravo. We constructed a very solid base to put the oven floor at around 42″height (for added comfort during use) and veneered the CMU structure with reclaimed clay brick salvaged from a previous patio.
The large metal barn vent and vintage pottery sconces were provided by the client who is a collector of all manner of whimsical yard art. The upper portion of the structure is done in a mix of ledgestone that closely matches that of the large retaining wall in the background. The roof is done in reclaimed clay tile roofing material sourced from a dealer of used roofing based on Whidbey Island.
We regraded a cut into what was once a sloped yard, holding up the bank with a mortarless, drystack stone retaining wall. This one was constructed of a mix of Pennsylvania Bluestone and Chilton Limestone from Wisconsin. The wall is 12-18″ thick top to bottom with all internal voids filled with hand-broken pieces of rock – this way there are no fine rock particles to wash through and eventually destabilize the structure. Perforated drain pipe runs along the back and vented out the front to prevent hydrostatic pressure damage.
The wall creates a level area for the owner’s dog, a St. Bernard, to hang out away from the landscaped area (to be installed in the Spring). The stairs leading up to this dog run are made of 6″ slabs of Penn. Bluestone which are laid in a bed of crushed rock.
Though it is a simple concrete paver patio, we laid out a curved path which adds an modernistic touch through the contrast of square and rounded edges as well as a juxtaposition of large and small squares. In the back right corner is a simple but functional trellis made to hold up a vine (Passion Flower most likely).
The existing fence was clad in galvanized, corrugated steel. This creates some interesting horizontal lines in the background, a look which will be especially well-employed once the trees and shrubs are planted.
A hefty, 200-lb. wood and metal gate was custom-made for the entrance and was hung on new 6″posts that were very firmly planted in concrete. The metal fabricator who supplied the corrugated steel will later make some steel trim to cap the ends of the panels.
New stairs were poured to replace the old rotten wooden ones, and were clad in Bluestone treads. Instead of simply pouring straight, rectangular steps, we made each step wider than the last to make more of a pyramid shape. A lot of concrete and rebar in there.
Another consideration was where to store firewood for the pizza oven. A lean-to for the wood was built using more of the reclaimed roofing material, and a walkable cedar-slat cover was built for a light-well to the basement.
I drafted this project on a program called Realtime Landscape. Here is a screenshot of the 3D modeling that was done which gives you more of an idea of what the final product will look like after the plantings are done next Spring.
It was a pleasure to work on this – here’s to clients who have a lot of ambition to make a place their very own!
by Mark Shepherd www.ShepherdStoneworks.com
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