Location: Ashland, Virginia
Key Features: 20’x40’ Salt-Water Pool with Automatic Cover, 10’x10’ Hot Tub, 2,200 Square feet of Patio/Pool Decking, Outdoor Fireplace, Outdoor Kitchen, Pool House Shed and a low maintenance lawn and landscape.
Biggest Obstacle: The entire property was sloped towards the middle of the backyard where the pool had to go. Additionally, the rear of the property bordered a wetland area that had not been properly treated by the homebuilders. When clearing the property, the builders dammed the flow of water to wetlands with fallen trees and mounds of dirt. The result was frequent standing water issues that the construction of a pool, patio and raised flowerbeds would only make worse.
Solution: To prevent standing water, extensive drainage work was required along the side of the house, throughout the landscape and around the entire rear perimeter of the property. Additionally, we had to clear out many of the dammed areas to allow water to flow properly.
A few months after having us transform the front yard of their new home, this fantastic client asked us to transform their backyard as well. An incredibly hardworking couple, this client was looking for a vacation in their backyard where they could leave the daily grind the moment they stepped out their backdoor. Our client knew exactly what they wanted but did not know how to put it together. After going through the Outdoor Dreams Journey, the resulting design provided the client with all their desired items along with a few creative touches.
This dream backyard features a 20 x 40′ gunite pool, fully stocked outdoor kitchen with bar top seating, fireplace, pool house, and extensive landscaping. The patio is composed of EVA pavers and an inlay border of Antika pavers from Techo-Bloc. As an accent, the fireplace, kitchen, and pillars were all done in a golden porter natural stone veneer. The use of the space extends into the night because of an outdoor lighting plan that includes up-lights, path lights and the wall lights throughout the hardscape and landscape. This space has experienced numerous parties and countless everyday memories.
Selecting Materials: A New Product Made for a Tough Decision
During the first consultation, our client fell in love with a pool project in the Techo-Bloc brochure. The project featured a patio/pool deck composed of BLU 60 slabs in a unique mix of Harvest Gold and Chestnut Brown color blends. Our client was set to emulate this look until our designer introduced EVA pavers, a new Techo-Bloc introduction that year. EVA is a little smaller than BLU and features the most realistic stone texture ever achieved in a pressed-concrete paver. When it came time to pick the main product for the patio and pool deck, the client was torn between these two choices.
The client was also wavering on the border material and accent color for the patio and pool decking. The project from the brochure featured an accent border of Techo-Bloc’s Victorien pavers in the Onyx black color. Though they loved the pictures of this project, they were interested in Antika pavers and concerned about the Onyx black color being too dark when wet around the pool.
To help our client with the decision, we scheduled a vendor visit at the stone yard. Our designer arrived an hour early to set up two 40 square foot displays that featured EVA pavers and BLU 60 slabs in a 50/50 mix of Harvest Gold and Chestnut Brown. Additionally, each display included the border options, Antika and Victorien pavers, in both Shale Grey and Onyx Black. To demonstrate the wet look around the pool, he hooked up a hose at the nursery next door and wet the displays down. Upon seeing everything, the client felt confident in choosing EVA for its chiseled details and Antika pavers for the unique texture contrast. And thanks to the hose test, Onyx Black was eliminated because the client felt it would create an awkward color clash when wet around the pool.
Material Change Midway Through Construction
When originally selecting materials, the client and our designer had narrowed down the veneer to the Limerick Thin Stone and Golden Porter Ledgestone. Ultimately, the Limerick Thin Stone was selected because it was a perfect color match with the Champlain Grey wall block.
With the pool structure installed, walls constructed, and pavers laid, we were ready to start veneering the outdoor fireplace, outdoor kitchen, and pillars. As soon as the materials arrived on site, our masons went right to work. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before our project manager noticed a serious problem with the material. Upon inspecting every box, we noticed that all the corner pieces of veneer were severely scared with identical ½” tick marks all over the face of the stone. It was, without question, the worst material defect any of us had ever seen.
Upon contacting our supplier and the manufacturer, we were told that these were chisel marks that would not disappear and that they were “part of the charm of natural stone.” Both the client and everyone at Outdoor Dreams did not find these marks to be charming in the least bit. Because the manufacturer could not guarantee corner pieces without these marks, a change had to be made.
Thankfully, our client still loved their second choice and the change to Golden Porter Ledgestone was made. We were fortunate that there was a stone in stock and the project was only delayed the 24-36 hours it took us to sort out the “chisel mark” situation. The project turned out gorgeous and, looking at the photos now, we can’t imagine the outdoor fireplace and outdoor kitchen in any other stone but Golden Porter Ledgestone. We can count on one hand (and still have fingers left) the number of times we’ve changed materials mid-project, but this was a “disaster” that both the client and Outdoor Dreams truly believe worked out for the best.
See What We Used
Pool: Gunite Pool with a Natural Pebble Pool Finish
Pool Coping: Piedimonte caps from Techo-Bloc (Riviera)
Outdoor Fireplace: Golden Porter Rustic Ledgestone from Natural Stone Solutions
Outdoor Kitchen: Golden Porter Rustic Ledgestone from Natural Stone Solutions
Outdoor Kitchen Counter Top: Sapphire Blue/Brown Granite
Plant Combination: ‘Kousa’ Dogwood, ‘Limelight’ Hydrangea, ‘Becky’ Shasta Daisy, ‘Zagreb’ Coreopsis, ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia, ‘Emerald’ Arborvitae, ‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea, ‘Kwanzan’ Cherry, ‘Purple Pixie’ Loropetalum, ‘Rozanne’ Cranesbill, ‘Bridal Wreath’ Spirea, Northern Bayberry, ‘Boursault’ Rhododendron, ‘Bloomerang’ Lilac and assorted ‘Drift’ Roses.