This post is the first in a series that will chronicle the process of a front walkway landscape design and construction project. The final result is an elegant but practical walkway that added curb appeal for this home. This project included a new landing, walkway and retaining wall. These posts will explain how we went from the image on the left to the one on the right, giving you and idea about what it takes to turn your front walkway landscape design idea into reality.
Part 1 – Planning and Permitting
Any homeowner that has experienced a major renovation or construction project understands the value of a well thought-out plan for the project. Beautiful and aesthetically pleasing landscape designs that enhance the contours of your property are the result of a cooperative effort between you and your contractor.
Creating the new front entry that is welcoming and adds character to your home is not something you should do without proper planning. You need to work with someone who can interpret your vision into reality. This front walkway landscape design project combined several construction projects into one including:
- Creating a new front stair and landing that eliminated the need for railings
- Constructing a new retaining wall along the driveway with stairs up to the walkway
- Building a new walkway
- Grading the landscape and moving the plantings for better design and layout
This project took place in four parts:
- Planning and permitting
- Landing construction
- Retaining wall and drainage
- Walkway, grading and final landscaping
Let’s take a closer look at how the front entry looked before we began the project and what the challenges were.
The Landscape Design Planning Process
Planning your landscape construction project ensures that your requirements are well understood. This helps the contractor produce a well designed and constructed project that will be completed on time within the approved budget.
In our initial discussion, we talk about what you want to accomplish with this project. We determine your needs, discuss your budget, goals for the project, time lines, tastes and architecture. We get to know what bothers you about your current situation and how you would really like the project to come out.
In this case, the homeowners had the walkway installed when they bought the house. After the first year, they had to repeatedly repair the sinking pavers. This was the result of not properly preparing the base for the walkway so that the crushed stone didn’t wash away every time there was heavy rain. In addition, the previous contractor buried the drainage from the gutters under the walkway. This most likely was causing some of the continual damage. Over time, the walkway settled and the railroad ties started to pull away from the fasteners. Large gaps formed in between the joints.
The tiered walkway with a step here and there and the uneven pavers made clearing snow a challenge in the winter.
The requirements for this project were:
- Eliminate the dangerous conditions (i.e. tripping)
- Provide a more spacious landing that did not require railings
- Make the walkway one level and end with steps leading to the driveway
- Move the steps to the driveway further away from the garage entry
- Update the landscaping and move the plants away from the house
Initial Design Concept
Once we had a solid idea about what the homeowners wanted to achieve, we created a rough design. This provides a visual into what your final project will look like to determine if we are on the right track. Once we had agreement on the design, we gave it to an engineer to create the plans that we needed to submit for the permit process.
Depending on the project, your city or town may require a permit to proceed with the construction. In this case, we needed a permit because of the reconstruction of the landing. The original landing was not attached to the house. New building codes now require that the landing be attached to the house.
Now that we have an idea about how the project will look, we discussed materials. The homeowners wanted to use blue stone on the stairs and landing but did not want a monotone look. We took a road trip to the local supplier to choose the materials and selected ones that had some color throughout.
Now that we had all the details, we were ready to embark on the journey that turned a worn out walkway into a beautiful and welcoming front entry.
Let’s leave you with a couple of the after photos:
Before you embark on a major project such as this one, find a landscape construction professional that will work with you and ensure you get exactly what you want. With proper planning, an experienced contractor and open communication, your landscape construction project will proceed smoothly and turn out the way you had hoped.