New Patio & A Garden Box

A sandstone patio gets a final rinse off before we finish the project.

We built this patio last week at a cute little urban homestead in West Asheville. It’s amazing the amount of garden space these people have carved out of their small lot. They have a bounty strawberry plants which are overflowing their beds sending out runners. They gave me a whole batch of little plants. I brought them home and had to make an on-the-fly garden box. I am a fan of raise beds and this is a new idea that I’ve been working on, using reclaimed stone and bits of steel to create the bed. The strawberry patch is my second bed and better than the first. The stone is three-quarter inch thick cladding that I scrounged from the Tennessee Marble Company. it’ll be more permanent and Wood, that’s for sure. And it takes up a lot less space than the traditional fully bedded retaining wall. And as I get better at it, I can make them relatively quickly. At some point I can imagine making nice decorative planting boxes using a similar technique.

A garden bed made of reclaimed stone, held in place by angle iron.

Daggett Mountain Stone Walls

A view of the whole area. We didn’t do the koi pond.

Last week we finished this project on Sunset Mountain in Asheville. We built two small patios of Tennessee Crab Orchard stone, a gray sandstone from Tennessee. There’s a long low fire pit. And plenty of wall.

A low fire pit framed by pieces of Hooper’s Creek

The walls are made of a local stone that comes from Daggett Mountain. It’s a fun material, lending itself to interesting fits and the opportunity to work a bit more freely, less reliant on the level. It can be challenging for the same reasons. It’s a hard stone to get in good supply. Everyone has it, but the supply is very junky, at least for the types of walls we like to build. Buying it in bulk or even on pallets, half of the stone we would get- if not more- would be wasted. So we go and pick every piece individually from stone yard piles around town.

A mortared wall of Daggett Mountain Stone

There is a freestanding wall that separates the driveway from the patio. That wall is mortared. There is also a retaining wall that leans against the bank, where the fire pit is nestled. That wall is laid dry.

Three walls meet at this boulder (there’s another drystone wall on the opposite side.)

The two walls intersect at a boulder, that was already on site, but needed to be relocated. 

A patio of sandstone from Tennessee, sometimes called Crab Orchard, is framed by Daggett Mountain Stone walls

In this picture you might notice that the patio is two toned. In the foreground is an existing murdered walkway but the owner didn’t care to replace. We took out a couple of stones so that our new patio could be connected to that walkway. As the stone weathers it will blend together better.

Fire Pit, Patio and Stone Wall

A drystone wall with a low fire pit and patio

We finished this project on Friday of last week. Jonathan took this picture of the completed wall and patio, with a a low fire pit in front of it. There’s a water fall and koi pond to the left that was already there. The wall behind the fire pit is laid dry, a labor of love by Jonathan. The wall to the right is mortared and separates the driveway from this outdoor room.

North Asheville Stonework Project

A couple of years ago we did this major project to create a backyard garden for a home in North Asheville. The site was such that we needed a crane to sling the stone up to the backyard. And it was still a long way from the actual wall location!

I was revisiting the site this week, discussing some additional work and got to see the gardens. They have really gotten established and look great.

Two drystone walls frame a backyard garden.

We also built a small patio/landing to the front of the house. Our friend Mardi Letson maintains and couple of container gardens for these clients, which are popping with color in the foreground.

This drystone patio features a lot of Pennsylvania bluestone, blended with the PA full color as well.

While we were working around back, they asked us to fix up a short walkway of sandstone slabs that had fallen into disrepair. Mardi has planted it with ground cover, including Corsican mint. I like the way it looks now.

Slabs of gray Tennessee sandstone make a stepping stone walkway

Labyrinth Panorama

Another image from the archive. Anyone with an iPhone knows this impulse, to use the panoramic camera function to capture people in two places at once. Magic!

The labyrinth at FBCA, in a time warp?!

Stone Owl Mosaic

Some progress on the stone owl mosaic.

I cut the background for the latest bird mosaic, what I’m calling the art deco owl. I used a piece of stone called Silver Wave. The next step is to finesse the joints, when I fit each piece individually, to make sure the whole thing is consistent.


Stone Mosaic Memorial Wall Hangings

Mosaic of a robin with some flowers

I am offering a limited number of small mosaic commissions for this holiday season. These will be custom designed birds of your choosing, for the person of your choosing. The images shown with this post are samples, but these particular pieces already have homes. These are all 12“ x 12“, though a bit smaller or a bit larger are options. Pricing will vary depending on the size, the level of detail, the type of stone we choose, and whether or not you want the artwork framed. Pricing will include freight. I expect that most mosaics will cost between $500 to $1000.
If you are interested, message me directly. Thank you!

A stone mosaic of a Northern Cardinal.


(I know his seems early, but I usually have this idea around Thanksgiving, when it’s too late to make and ship mosaics!)

Stone Memorial Wall Hangings

Black-capped chickadee stone mosaic

Daggett Mountain Stone

Two walls meet at a corner boulder. Drystone wall to the left, mortared free-standing wall to the right.

We are currently working the Cherokee Road section of Asheville on a small patio area. We are building two walls to contain the patio. A tall drystone wall (left in image above) retains the bank above it. For the height on the wall (42″) is doesn’t really have to hold up much. We got into live rock quickly as we dug out for the wall. (Live rock is a term for stone that’s still part of the mountain, akin to bed rock.) There’s a boulder at the corner, hidden by Jonathan, who has been enjoying the change of pace working with Daggett Mountain stone. This local rock has an unruly, but attractive grain and comes in all manner of odd shapes. It lends itself to a more rustic, informal, dynamic wall-building, than our more traditional coursed treatments. We are mostly hand picking the pieces to work with from piles at the stone yard. Buying pallets of this stuff ensures tons of junk stone at the end of the project.

The wall to the right in the picture above is mortared. It separates the driveway from the patio. It will be the same height and ties into the same boulder as the drystone retainer. It is a free-standing, two-sided structure that you will see as you approach down the driveway.

Drystone Wall of Daggett Mountain Stone

Communal Urn/Vault Opening

Communal Urn Vault Opening with ‘door’ closed.

I’m still pecking away at the opening to the communal urn. I have the major pieces done, though I still have to cut a ramp into the big bottom stone. I thinned down the door again, so it’s very manageable weight now. I still need to devise a locking mechanism, but that will be easier now that I have the whole thing in place to look at. I like it. It’s fun to make things I’ve never made before.

Communal Urn in progress, with the door slid out. Almost there…

Labyrinth Folio II

I’ve been putting together a new portfolio and plumbing the depths of the photo archives. I found some photographs I took of the labyrinth and the other features we built for the First Baptist Church of Asheville’s Sacred Garden. These images seemed appropriate as we move into fall here, though I took these in 2018. We got to design and build some cool benches for the garden.

Eleven circuit labyrinth at First Baptist Church of Asheville

A balancing bench at First Baptist Church of Asheville

A balancing bench at First Baptist Church of Asheville

A crisp bench of bluestone and granite at First Baptist Church of Asheville