This set of stone steps replaced a worn bank that was prone to washing out in a good rain and becoming slippery and messy. And while not eh formal entrance to the house, this is the main access for the family. When I build stone steps, I make sure that the rise and run is consistent throughout the staircase.
This patio of Pennsylvania bluestone is laid dry over gravel. Built this way, it requires no concrete footing, mortar, or grout. Dimensional stone allows for very tight joints between the pieces. This bluestone patio creates a large outdoor living and dining area behind a home in Haw Creek in Asheville.
This past winter I completed a natural stone mosaic called “The Hiker” that now rests over the gravesite of John LedBetter, a beloved husband, father and Scoutmaster who passed a year ago March. In July, WNCW interviewed me about the piece and the story behind it. Check it out!
See more images.
These small stone engravings of animals are going to be incorporated into the patio I am currently building. They are a subtle detail meant to reward closer inspection. I made them as a surprise for the homeowner’s daughter, who is in my son’s kindergarten class.
Stone Steps in Sloping Yard
I’m nearing completion on a stone steps, wall and patio project in downtown Asheville. Living in the mountains, there’s generally a slope in every yard. This patio required a small drystone retaining wall to create a flat enough area for this patio. Two big slabs of Tennessee sandstone are integrated into the wall, allowing easy access for the homeowner and guests coming from the backyard.
I built another short stack of stone steps at the back of the house, allowing access from the driveway to the deck and into the house. With big chunks of stone like this, I am able to get the proper rise and run, so that these steps walk comfortably, just like the steps in your house. Prior to installing these, there was a muddy slope to the deck stairs, and a ten inch step up. More pics coming soon of the flagstone area above the steps finished.
I built this little planting bed over the winter. The wall is drystone, mostly made of Hooper’s Creek.
My current project is a flagstone patio with a fire pit. The flagstone is laid dry over crushed stone. Because of the slope of the yard, I built a short retaining wall at the far edge, to support the patio. Two slabs steps provide access to the yard. The sandstone I’m using is from Tennessee and has some lovely color tones to it.
The fire pit is the fun feature. Because of the limited space, I designed the fire pit to be invisible when not in use. A slab of stone serves as a lid. In the images below you can see the fire pit with the lid on and off. I will install recessed handles that will help the homeowner to remove the lid whenever he chooses. The handles will be flush with the top of the stone when not in use and will be the only indication of the fire pit. There’s still a lot to be done before this is full realized. More pics to come!
I built this drystone retaining wall a couple of years ago, just outside of downtown Asheville. I like to visit it when I can and I have been working in that neighborhood lately (more updates to follow.) My friend Betty Sharpless, owner of Good Help Landscaping, maintains the site and is responsible for these beautiful irises. The wall is made of a variety of sandstones from Tennessee and Virginia with some Pennsylvania bluestone thrown in for fun. See more pictures of this wall here.
Benefits of a Drystone Retaining Wall
A well-crafted drystone retaining wall will have a smaller carbon footprint and will outlast a similarly sited mortared wall. Here are some of the other advantages of drystone masonry:
- Flexible, moves rather than breaks in response to outside stresses
- Drains water effectively, preventing build up of hydrostatic pressure, the force that pushes over mortared walls
- Doesn’t require concrete footings or slabs or block wall backing
- Weathers better and lasts longer
- Easier to repair work or reuse the stone at a later date
- Requires no waterproofing
- Looks more natural in the landscape
Blog updates have been sparse lately, as my camera died and needed replacing. I’ve got a new one and plan to make up for lost time with frequent updates for a while.
Hooper’s Creek is quarried in Fletcher, North Carolina- the nearest source of workable building stone to Asheville. It is a type of granitic gneiss, a metamorphic stone that is extremely hard and dense. It has a great texture and it sounds like glass when you hit it with a hammer.
These images show a patio made almost exclusively of Hooper’s Creek. And some pebbles of course. The grain of Hooper’s Creek gives it the sharper angles and straighter lines than the sandstones often used for flagging.