Brosche Before and After

We bought our house in Lumpkin County in 2015 (how time flies), and it had a perfectly serviceable front porch. I loved the open feeling of it, and the size was welcoming. However, as with many porches, (something we often rectify for clients) it had started to sink.

As mentioned in previous blogs, if the soil beneath the porch is not compacted properly when installed, the porch will sink. If the porch is tied into the roof structure, it could impact the entire roof of the house.

Image 1: Photo of the original porch. Wood, two levels, rot starting on front.

A year or two after moving in, we noticed that the porch was starting to sink – noticeable because the porch became uneven and the roof line changed. Also, the wood decking started to rot. The step in the front (Image 1) is green from contact with the soil. It later developed a large hole.

Bigger & Stronger

Because Jason is Jason, (and bigger and stronger are always better) he took on the porch project from the ground up. He removed all elements of the porch, jacked up the roof and started compacting the soil beneath. In the process, he uncovered an enormous cavity under the wood that housed snakes and who knows what else.

Once Jason poured the concrete slab, he added steel posts where the columns had been. Around the posts, he created hand-cut stone bases for each pillar (Image 2). The bases took two men four days to create because each stone was cut to fit on all four sides.

Image 2: These beautifully cut and stacked stone pillars provide visual weight to the front porch design and lead the eye to the graceful, hand-laid patio. This is real stone, not manufactured, and fortunately for us we have some excellent stone masons!

The Patio Process

Then came the patio. After the concrete was poured, Jason laid stone starting on the outside edge of the patio (Images 3 & 4). The stones are cut roughly on the edges and then placed on a bed of mortar. Each piece is laid and leveled.

Image 3: The concrete base is shown here. Jason used a string level, which can be seen across the back and on the right side, to make sure there is sufficient fall away from the house.
Image 4: The surface of the finished laid rockwork has to be perfectly smooth; otherwise you live with a lifetime of trip hazards. Also, the entire surface has to have sufficient fall so that any water flows away from the house.
Image 5: I asked Jason not to smooth the stone edges but to leave them natural. I like how the rough, natural finish of the rock visually integrates with the varied texture of the leaves.

Suiting It to the Site

The other thing that I liked about the original porch was it had a ramp so that a suitcase, wheelchair or person could go from the driveway to the house without any steps. I asked Jason to create the same thing but with a pretty curve to reflect the curve of the driveway on our steeply sloping lot.

Image 6: The mottled light through the trees creates calming shadows on the gently curving patio of naturally shaped stone. This image also shows the single step leading from the patio to the upper part of the driveway (upper right).
Image 7: One of the difficulties with this patio is that it is level, but the driveway is not. The drive sweeps down from right to left in this photo. For the main entrance to the house, we installed one broad step with set stone and added a large boulder into the patio/steps.

The three boulder steps, leading into the side yard, were left natural, which works with the boulder installed in the first step. The grey and yellow sandstone of the patio blend nicely with the grey green of the house and the palate of natural colors on our lot.

Finishing Touches

Image 8: The handsome walls installed on either side of the patio will keep the critters from making homes underneath.
Image 9: I did not want the entire surface to be stone so Jason and crew added a planting nook, in which I have planted Lenten Rose, ferns and a dwarf conifer. Not only does this visually separate the ramp from the steps, it also provides a patch of ground into which water can soak.
Image 10: Stone entrance completed project

The design of the new front entrance is even more open and wide than the original. It welcomes people from two directions. And, because of the large overhang, our guests are protected from the rain.

We are busy, like you, with all the activities of life. We had to make time to do this upgrade on our house. We had to live with the disruption of having a stone landscaping project installed. We also know the joy of it when it is completed.

Do you have a project that you do not want to put off? Contact Art of Stone Gardening. We will work with you to determine your needs and make your home and life more beautiful than ever.

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