Biltmore Forest Fire Pit & Patio

A Tennessee sandstone patio and fire in Biltmore Forest

I got to visit this project recently, taking a new client on a tour of older projects. A long stone path, interspersed with steps, leads to a small patio with a fire pit. We built this project with Emily Gregory of BB Barns Landscaping Services, almost two years ago.

A stone path that leads to a woodland patio with a fire pit

Black Mountain Stone Patio

We finished this patio last week. Over 500 square feet, mostly natural stone. There is a section of concrete pavers that we put in as a base for the forthcoming hot tub. Apparently hot tubs are a big ticket COVID item, as they ordered it in July of last year and are still awaiting delivery. This patio is made of Tennessee sandstone and laid dry over a bed of crushed stone. It drains subtly away from the house. A subterranean drain under the patio capture water that percolates through and conveys it around towards the front of the house.

Tennessee sandstone patio laid dry over crushed stone

Tennessee sandstone patio laid dry over crushed stone

The fieldstone wall that surrounds the patio was already there and is not our work.

Black Mountain Stone Patio

Drystone patio in Black Mountain, North Carolina

Our current masonry project is a drystone patio in Black Mountain, North Carolina. There’s a square of concrete pavers at one end, where the clients’ new hot tub will soon be located. You can see the tail of the electric line that will power the tub. I prefer to use concrete pavers for hot tub pads because they are more perfectly flat. As meticulous as we try to be, we’ll never get natural stone as flat as that!

Drystone patio in Black Mountain, North Carolina

The wall was already there and not our work. We did locate a trench drain under this patio, to help convey rainwater out from this contained backyard. We also installed a water bar on the slope above, to divert water away from the patio.

If the idea of a water bar really, really intrigues you, this NC Forest Service PDF is more than you ever wanted to know.

North Asheville Stone Pathways

A front walkway of natural stone in North Asheville

I was in the neighborhood and so got to visit this project from earlier this year. We got to do two different kinds of stone paths: a formal flagstone walkway and an informal stepping stone path. The formal stone pathway leads from the sidewalk to the front door. I prefer the more orderly look in these situations. I feel that the main entrance- the way the guests enter the home- should be more formal and approachable. It is wide and flat and really requires no thought to navigate.

An informal garden walkway of stepping stones

The step stone path on the other hand, winds through the side yard, a garden area. The owners called it the dog entrance, since they primarily used it when they were returning from walking their dogs through the neighborhood. They are really the only people who use it. In this context, I prefer the less formal look. If feels like a garden path, more rustic and private. While these two paths are near each other, it’s clear to anyone approaching which is the right path to follow to enter the house. Or course there are other clues- like hey, there’s a door- but I like that the stonework reinforces that information.

East Asheville Patio Project

A drystone patio surface of Tennessee sandstone installed by Hammerhead Stoneworks.

We recently built this patio at a home in East Asheville, off Riceville Road. There was a step down from the deck onto bare earth area. We built a small retaining wall to hold up the patio, so that it could be flush with the deck.

A drystone patio surface of Tennessee sandstone installed by Hammerhead Stoneworks.

We used Tennessee sandstone for the patio surface. Every batch is different from the last, but this color palette is particularly pleasing to me. I just like the variation and the muted tones.

Two little pond liners and a stone ‘bridge’ make a bigger pond

A drystone patio surface of Tennessee sandstone and a small pond installed by Hammerhead Stoneworks.

The homeowners had a small pond in the backyard. They maintain the pond mostly for wildlife: amphibians that live and breed there as well as creatures that bathe or water there. We worked with the homeowners to expand the pond and integrate it into the overall design. The homeowner bought a second liner and dug it in next to the first. They are positioned and covered with the bridge stone to give the impression that it’s a single body of water, but really there are two little ponds there- just the usual pond liners you can buy at a Lowe’s. Decorative gravel covers the rest of the area, with river rocks around the ponds to keep the gravel from tumbling in. It was a fairly cheap and effective way to get the desired results.

Tiny Patio

A tiny stone patio in North Asheville

This is a small patio we built in front of a North Asheville home. It’s big enough for a couple of chairs and a small table, perfect for morning coffee. It’s in the front yard, but will be sheltered by plantings being done by our friends at BB Barns. The stepping stones lead from the street to the sidewalk, providing some continuity from parking to the front entrance of the home.

North Asheville step stones by Hammerhead Stoneworks

“The Village” Mosaic Patio

A mosaic patio we built for the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County

“The Village” is a mosaic patio we made for the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County. I had occasion to visit it recently after it was vandalized. As it was explained to me, someone had been told there was money hidden inside it, and was taking it apart looking for treasure. There’s no gold in there, I promise. One piece was broken and several were disturbed, but I was able to patch it up okay.

It’s an uncomfortable feeling when my work is vandalized.

A mosaic patio we built for the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County

North Asheville Stone Steps

Hooper’s Creek risers support Pennsylvania stone treads in this North Asheville staircase.

I recently visited an older project, I think from very early 2019. I recall it was crazy cold. The client let us hide out and warm up in their garage. He often made us tea. The project is located in an out-of-the-way corner of North Asheville, off Beaverdam Road, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. We built a drystone wall, mortared steps and a dry laid pathway. The wall and step risers are Hooper’s Creek stone. The step treads and pathway were made of Pennsylvania stone, the full range variant.

I used my real camera for this images, but I think I had it on some weird preset, because everything’s a bit fuzzy. Sorry!

I have posted about this project before.

A dry laid path of Pennsylvania full range flagstone

While I was there, the neighborhood bears came through. Momma led the way. This cub sat lazily in the a street, and then flopped over onto his back. He was then tackled by his sibling and they wrestled in the middle of the road. Momma ignored them and kept on walking.

Momma and a cub, who laid down on his back in the middle of the road, only to be tackled by a sibling.

North Asheville Patio

A new patio off Windsor Road in North Asheville

A close up photo of a Pennsylvania patio

We just finished this patio in North Asheville, just off Windsor Road. The patio is made of Pennsylvania stone, including some of the more purple-ish color- a variant we’d never used before. A small wall- unseen in these pictures- of Hooper’s Creek holds up the outside edge of the patio, which overlooks a nearby golf course.

Stone Walkway

A stone walkway leads to the front door of a lovely home in Leicester, NC.

This stone walkway is made up of Hooper’s Creek, a granitic gneiss quarried in nearby Fletcher. The steps are a different material- slabs of gray sandstone from Tennessee. The section of the walkway closest the camera- below the step & boulders- doubles as a parking area. To ensure they would support the weight of a car without shifting, those paving pieces are five to six inches thick. Shaping and leveling pieces that big was a challenging undertaking.