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Ohio Landscaping

An Ohio Backyard Gets an Authentic Tuscan Terrace

A fireplace, natural water feature & bluestone patio provide year-round enjoyment

  • When these homeowners look out their window they now see a beautiful stone fireplace and a natural water feature.
  • Trees were planted along the property line to block views of the neighboring home and add privacy.
  • The water feature was designed to look as natural as possible.
  • A long low mound was created for the waterfall to flow down.
  • The soothing sounds of falling water and the warmth and light of the fireplace can be enjoyed simultaneously.
  • Another bluestone path has grass growing through the joints.
  • LED lighting adds a soft glow to the entire project.
  • The before view from a window in the recently built addition.
  • The existing cedar deck.
  • The plan for this project.
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Project Highlights:

  • Location: North Canton, OH
  • Property size: 1 acre
  • Budget: 80k
  • Installation time: 4 weeks

When Kevin Rice, a registered landscape architect at Rice's Nursery & Landscaping, first met the owner of this property located in the Wellington Hills subdivision, she told him that she wanted an award-winning landscape to go with her award-winning kitchen addition. That's exactly what she got. Rice and his team designed and installed an authentic old-world terrace complete with a fireplace and water feature. The project was recently recognized with an award from PLANET (Distinction for Residential Design/Build).

When the homeowners first met with Rice they asked for a Tuscan-inspired outdoor space that functioned well and had captivating views looking out from their new beautiful kitchen addition. Their specific requests included some sort of fire feature and a water feature. After hearing conceptual ideas, asking many questions and checking references, the owners hired Rice's Nursery & Landscaping to transform their outdoor space.

The space within which Rice was working was limited. The new addition had been pushed up near the property line and a deck had already been built. Luckily, if you don't have a pool fences aren't common or necessary in this area, which made it possible for the expansive views across the neighboring lawn to be preserved allowing a more open feel. Fifteen foot tall Sullivan Cypress trees were planted to block views of the neighbor's home and add privacy.

Rice elected to install a fireplace to serve as a focal point from both inside and outside the home. "The vertical height of a fireplace was more appropriate here than a fire pit would have been," he explains. Currently, the homeowners burn wood in the fireplace; however, it features a natural gas starter which makes it possible to switch to gas logs if desired. The fireplace was built using wet laid cement block, cultured stone veneer and Briarhill sandstone capping. Curved seat walls extend on either side of the fireplace to provide additional seating for large gatherings and define the edge of the patio. "Curved seat walls are better for encouraging conversation and allowing all guests to enjoy the warmth of the fire," explains Rice. The curved sandstone wall caps were cut on site to ensure a perfect fit and hand chiseled to create a rockfaced edge.

Water Feature Maintenance:

The waterfall is sanitized with a bio falls system with a natural bacteria filter so it requires little maintenance although an occasional injection of an algaecide does help. Additionally, Rice recommends winterizing the water feature by removing the submersible pump to keep it from freezing.

Next to the fireplace a naturalistic waterfall was installed. "The physical relationship between the fireplace and the water feature allows our clients to enjoy the soothing sounds of falling water and the warmth and light of the fireplace simultaneously," says Rice. During the design process, the homeowners had shown Rice a picture of a similar water feature that guided his choice of materials. Ohio toprock sandstone was set into a mounded section of earth to create the look of a spring that one might find on a hike. The water feature was modified from a pondless water feature to have a minimal amount of surface water for frogs and some potted rushes. "There is about six inches of open water, with the remaining two feet filled with cobbles," he explains.

Anchoring the space is a Pennsylvania bluestone patio bordered with red brick. These materials were selected to blend with the deep redwood colors of the existing deck. The irregular cut stones with their earthy color variations add to the casual elegance of this Tuscan backyard. The patio was dry laid on top of a thick base layer of compacted crushed limestone and a top layer of coarse sand. To ensure that freeze thaw cycles don't damage the patio, polymeric sand was used between the joints. Polymeric sand, which hardens when wet, prevents wash-out, locks in the base sand and keeps weed growth at a minimum. The entire patio was sloped at an unnoticeable rate of 1.5% to ensure proper drainage. The paths off the patio were also dry laid, but instead of jointing with polymeric sand, compost was added and then planted with grass seed. Now lush green grass grows between the pieces of bluestone.

Noteworthy Plants:

  • Sullivan Cypress
  • Clump Winter King Hawthorn
  • River Birch
  • 'Endless Summer' Hydrangea
  • Sweetbay Magnolia
  • Double Knockout Roses
  • Bluemist Spirea
  • Dwarf fountain grass
  • 'Autumn Joy' sedum

Plants selected for vibrant colors and full foliage along with LED nightlighting top off this outdoor space. In this case, every plant has a specific purpose, for example, Rice says, "Fragrant clump Sweetbay Magnolia give vertical height to the water feature area." Additionally, column fixtures, downlights and accent lights add a soft glow to the entire project.

"Looking out through the kitchen and great room windows, our clients now have a beautiful panorama that they can either step outside and enjoy or view year-round from the comfort of their home," says Rice. The homeowner loves it so much that her and her son have slept on the patio in their sleeping bags. They also enjoy listening to and observing the family of frogs that has made the water feature home. This backyard is everything the family wanted and more.

Rice's Landscaping Redefined
North Canton, OH

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Contributing Author:

Sarah Hutchinson, contributing writer for Landscaping Network

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