Here is a current project that we are wrapping up in San Rafael. It features a large bluestone patio set in sand. The seams in between the stones will be planted with low creeping Thyme groundcover. Patios set in sand can give a different design look than patios set on concrete. They also allow for future flexibility as the shape of the patio can be fairly easily changed by moving stones. These bluestone pieces are 2″ in thickness and set on a compacted baserock subsurface, providing good stability. Having stones of good size (these are 2′ x2′), thickness, and with proper base preparation is crucial to having a patio that will be stable over the long term.
We are working on wrapping up this project in Mill Valley that features a granite water wall and Ipe Fencing. Because of the challenging nature of the site topography, the 1,500 pound polished granite fountain piece had to be installed with a forklift and hoist arrangement to lower it into place.
Updated image of finished installed water wall
The Ipe fencing for the project consists of two types of fencing- a wall cladding over an existing concrete retaining wall and a solid Ipe privacy fence. The Ipe has been treated with a hardwood stain to bring out its natural color.
Here is an image from a current project we are getting close to wrapping up in Mill Valley. It features a terraced bluestone patio with bluestone capped stucco walls and a tempered glass aluminum safety railing.
Here are some photos from a couple of current projects- one in Mill Valley and one in Tiburon that are in progress.
Tiburon Project- Sod has just been installed for this roof garden. The turf area goes over the top of the pool cabana below
Mill Valley Project- Bluestone is being installed on the concrete steps that lead from a new patio area that will also receive bluestone treatment.
We are continuing to make progress on this project in Tiburon despite a little rainy weather. Pictured below is an image of a garden pathway edged with Aluminum edging, which will receive a final finishing layer of pathway gravel. The second image shows a planting bed that has been laid out for planting plan approval prior to installation.
Here is an image from a current project in Tiburon. We are working on the finishing touches preparing for this roof garden. For the project a new pool house was constructed and integrated into the terrain to minimize visual impact from the house. We are in the process of starting our preparation for a lawn and plantings that will be installed on top of the pool house’s waterproofed roof.
A special waterproofing layer/roof garden system is installed to prepare for this garden roof
Here’s an update from a project in Mill Valley. We have completed a section of the stone veneer I mentioned in this previous post. In the second image we are working on the drainage system and backfill for a retaining wall that is going to create a patio space for the small side yard of this hillside home.
Rox Stone Veneer with a Bluestone Cap
Preparing Drainage behind a CMU Retaining Wall
Here is a follow-up on a previous posting on an outdoor Rumford fireplace for a project in Tiburon. The final stucco and tile detailing has been completed and its ready for the marshmellos.
We are working on a wood fence replacement for a project in Mill Valley. Instead of replacing the existing lattice wood fence with a traditional fence, we are installing a wood framed wall with stone veneer. The choice of veneer was important, because of the construction, full sized stone veneer could not be used. As a solution, we are using Rox Pro stone veneer, which is precut and glued into panels. This allows for easy installation, with a natural stone quality that manufactured concrete stone doesn’t have.
Here is a construction progress photo for a bluestone patio on a current project in Tiburon. Bluestone is typically imported from Pennsylvania and Connecticut, where it is used as the most frequent paving stone in the landscape. It has a great color, which ranges from blues and grays to highlights of purples and browns, and good durability.
This patio is of Select Blue grade, which has only blue and gray tones with no browns. This irregular installation is much like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Pieces are cut and fit together to create a patio with nice consistent grout joints and an organic overall character.
Select Blue Irregular Bluestone Patio
Here are some progress images from a project currently under construction in Mill Valley. We are in process of putting up hardwood cladding over an existing concrete retaining wall. The cladding will be integrated to replace an existing railing on top of the wall and help transform the patio area under construction to minimize the visual impact of the retaining wall.
Concrete Wall Before Wood Installation
Hardwood Cladding Being Installed on Framing Over Wall
working on finishing up this hilltop project in Tiburon. This was a large
project that involved dramatically reshaping the existing landscape to improve
the great views of San Francisco
and Belvedere. We also created a cohesive style that flowed well with the
architecture of the residence. To accomplish this, large segmental block retaining walls were constructed capped with custom railings to expand the yard space. This then provided an envelope for a side terrace with outdoor fireplace, and connecting flagstone patios.
Flagstone Patio with View to Belvedere Lagoon and San Francisco
Flagstone Patio and Seat wall with connecting Flagstone Path
Stained Redwood Side Gate
Custom Redwood and Metal Mesh Panel Railing
Side Terrace with Indian Sandstone and Stucco Walls capped with Flagstone
Plantings and Railing- Vines have been planted and over time will create green fence panels
Lawn area with Dwarf Olive Hedge
At times advancing technology does not live up to its billing. Instead of saving time and making things easier, it often seems that the newest and latest gadget just wastes the time it saves getting through the bugs and make the device work correctly.
One good exception, mobile technology, has revolutionized the construction industry in terms of basic communications. The bells and whistles are pretty fun too. We are currently working on a larger construction project with a webcam mounted for the construction site. We can check in on project progress, never leaving our desk. This is especially handy for projects where clients travel frequently.
Another nice advance is good quality cameras on mobile phones. All of our foreman have phones with cameras, allowing for progress pictures to be sent back to the office instantly.
Below- Images from Current projects from Cell Phone Camera and Construction Webcam
Here are construction images from a current project in Tiburon. We are installing large stone slabs to provide stair access down a hillside. These slabs can be a bit of a challenge because of their size and weight. We use equipment to get them near the installation area. Then it’s old fashion leverage and strength to move and set the slabs in place because of the steepness of the hillside. These slabs are also a challenge because of their natural variation. To get consistant stairs and riser heights we have to chip and hone the stone on-site to get them to fit together properly. The result however, is a distinct and natural looking staircase.
Replacing an old wood wall, we are in the process of installing this Versa-Lok Mosaic retaining wall.
Here are some installed photos of the black granite Mizubachi Water Feature
from Stone Forest that was just installed for a current project. The 30″ rock
weighed about a ton and had to be set in place with a telescoping forklift and
then leveled for even flow across the stone.
The hookup for this water feature was fairly straight forward- the
recirculating pump has a timer that controls on and off times, a filler valve
connected to the irrigation system to automatically refill the reservoir, and a
bypass valve connected to a drain inlet to empty the reservoir.
This project in Larkspur is having seeded aggregate walkways and patios
installed with bluestone accents. The Mexican pebble stone combined with the
bluestone makes a good complementary paving match.
Forming and Rebar for Front Walkways
Forming and Rebar for Rear Patio
Seeded Aggregate Mexican Pebble with Formed Strips for
Seeded Aggregate Mexican Pebble Patio
Current construction photos of Cold Water Canyon stone walls and concrete
pathways with bluestone accents being installed. The boxed wall will receive the
water feature detailed in this post.
Seating wall square around which Mizubachi black granite water
feature will be installed
Mosaic retaining wall going up in this small back yard in Mill Valley. The
weathered mosaic definitely creates a softer look than traditional Versa-Lok
Sierra Color Versa-Lok Mosaic Wall
Traditional Standard Versa-Lok Wall
construction- A split faced concrete block wall to hold back and create room for
a new garage and driveway
Here is an image of a completed arbor for a current project. This secondary
area was designed as a separate destination away from the house. The painted
heavy timber arbor is tied into stone pillars, surfaced with Sonoma Fieldstone
veneer and capped with bluestone. The back edged of the arbor are enclosed with
seat walls with similar treatment.
Here are a couple of photographs from a project in San Rafael that was
installed 4 years ago. The project included a front entrance bluestone walkway,
plantings, urn fountain and entrance gate in the front yard. The interior yard
featured a bluestone entryway, lawn, wood retaining wall and railing, and
Entrance Gate, planted with Bougainvillea
Entry Bluestone Walkway and Fountain
This is a project for a new home in Novato. As is frequently the case, the
residence is on a hillside and the space in the back yard is limited. The design
for this project sought to create a usable back patio space, leaving room for an
Asian themed border planting.
Custom Stone Fountain
Curvilinear colored concrete patio
Creeping Fig vines to help soften the existing retaining wall
and Asian themed plantings with Japanese Forest Grass, Japanese Maple, and
variegated Liriope as featured plantings
We are wrapping up this project in Novato, a renovation of an existing back
yard landscape to create more usable area and better transition spaces. We
pushed the spa and retaining wall back into the hillside to create more space,
planting the back hillside and expanded the lawn and flagstone walkways.
Before- The previous spa configuration, while not
unattractive, created unusable lawn space and cramped the back yard
Before- The flagstone walkway that was existing was cramped by
the lawn and spa configuration
old spa pad was moved from the center of the yard to the edge of the yard,
creating more open usable space. The hillside was planted with groundcovers and
colorful perennials to open up views from the interior and improve on the bare
existing flagstone was matched to tie in a seamless appearance with the old
spa was pushed back into the hillside, creating more usable space within the
We are getting ready to pour a concrete slab for the patio terrace for this
project in Greenbrae. Good concrete preparation always has a stable bed of
compacted base rock gravel, suitable rebar reinforcement for the slab, and well
defined and constructed formwork.
We just finished pouring a concrete walkway and pad for a project in Novato.
The concrete finish we used we a seeded aggregate. There are several different
options for seeded aggregate, both in terms of the stone that is seeded, and the
size of the stone seeded.
Example of stone on pathway we just completed- 3/4″
Red River aggregate
Seeding in progress- stones are broadcast and then
embedded into the surface of the concrete. The concrete is washed away to reveal
the packed stones at the surface.
Seeding completed- 3/8″ smaller Pami Pebble
Example of another aggregate stone- Salmon
Here are some continuing photos of a new landscape project in Greenbrae. The
excavation, forms and footings have been completed and the block walls are under
construction for a new patio terrace.
Here are some progress images from a project under construction in Novato. We are taking an existing retaining wall and pushing it back into the hillside to create more space in a compact backyard.
Here are some final images from a project we have just completed in Tiburon.
It is interesting to see the pieces fit together, as the landscape was installed
at the same time the custom home construction was being completed.
Flagstone Steps descending from Main Patio Level to
Rear view of the house and landscape
Side Patio, Flagstone Path, Cedar Perimeter Fence,
Rear Lawn and Cable Fence
Front Entry Path, Lawn, and Large Box Mayten Trees
Reverse view of Front Yard