Terraced Design Adds Form and Function to a Sloped Yard

This home originally had a steeply sloped and mostly unusable yard. With the help of a multi-level terraced design, it was converted into a family backyard oasis.

Prior to purchasing this home, an Atlanta family of four saw the potential to create their dream backyard and consulted with a design/build contractor who had a terraced design in place before escrow closed on the home. Construction began immediately after the closing.

The existing backyard included a small terraced section held in place by 6’x6’ timber walls, with the remainder of the mostly unusable yard sloping down to a large wooded pond. The renovation design focused on increasing the functionality of the available space with the help of segmental retaining wall to create four terraced levels: a pool level, a sunken outdoor kitchen pavilion, a secluded fire pit terrace, and a recreational play level for the family’s two children. The project was constructed in four phases.

Phase 1: Structural Walls

Since the design included a pool, the first step of construction was to demolish the timber retaining walls (which weren’t capable of supporting the additional weight), remove a few trees to enlarge the main terraced level, and construct new walls capable of supporting the pool. Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall® was selected for its strength and natural stone appearance and was used to create the structure of the two main terrace levels, as well as coordinating built-in planter boxes. Before the walls were capped, wiring was run for low-voltage hardscape lighting, which would be installed during the final phase.

Planter boxes on the second level were adorned with Azalea bushes. Transitions to each level were constructed with natural stone slab step treads. Hardscape lighting lines all walls to improve evening aesthetics and safety.
Phase 2: Poolscape

The second phase of construction was to dig and form the pool and shoot the gunite pool walls. The design of the kidney-shaped pool includes wedding cake steps, a submerged tanning ledge, swim-up bar stools, a raised eight-person spa, and a vanishing waterfall that overlooks the fire pit terrace below.

The vanishing edge waterfall creates a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit terrace that overlooks the wooded landscape and pond. Wooden posts and handrails for the cable fencing were embedded inside the structure of the retaining walls for stability.

Next came the installation of the paver pool deck, tiered garden walls, and rectangular fire pit. The pool deck extends to walkways that continue around both sides of the home. For these projects, Lafitt® pavers and Tandem® Wall were selected, which both offer a modular ashlar pattern and have a natural stone look that coordinates with the Mega-Tandem retaining walls of the primary structure.

The false-jointed ashlar pattern of the garden walls mimics the look of the paver field. Low-voltage hardscape lighting lines the garden walls for ambiance and safety.
Phase 3: Pavilion
The outdoor kitchen offers multiple cooking spaces and includes an open cabinet under the brick oven for storing wood. The texture of the wall veneer and Lafitt® paver flooring complement the natural stone elements to create a cohesive design.

The next phase was to build the 18’x30’ outdoor kitchen pavilion, which includes an open gabled metal roof, exposed cedar-wrapped beams, and staggered cedar shake siding. The base of each outdoor kitchen counter is constructed with Tandem® Modular Grid and capped with a granite countertop. The Tandem wall units used on Modular Grid incorporate the same face texture and color palette as the Tandem Wall and the Mega-Tandem retaining walls, which allowed all of the walls throughout the outdoor living design to have a cohesive look and feel.

The well-appointed kitchen includes a double sink, double-door refrigerator, kegerator beer dispenser, and multiple cooking surfaces—including a gas grill, Big Green Egg® ceramic grill, and a wood-burning Chicago Brick Oven®. The kitchen also includes ample seating, including a countertop bar that overlooks the pool and faces the swim-up bar, for ultimate pool-side entertaining. Natural stone slab step treads were used to transition to each level—from the house to the pool, down into the outdoor kitchen, to the fire pit terrace, and down to the play structure.

The two-sided bar is capped with a granite countertop and offers dry seating under the pavilion and swim-up seating from inside the pool.
Phase 4: Final Touches & PLay Area

The final phase of the project began with landscaping and trimming out the pool with natural stone coping and pebbled tiling, including the 20-foot-wide vanishing waterfall edge that serves as a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit area and overlooks the picturesque wooded pond. Each of the terraced levels were finished with protective cable fencing, outlined with wooden posts and handrails painted to match the color of the pavilion roof.

Next came the playground installation, which required a fourth level to be terraced. Timber wall was selected to terrace this level to coordinate with the wooden play structure and the surrounding natural wooded landscape.

The final task was to install all of the lighting, including low-voltage hardscape lighting that had been pre-wired during earlier phases, which both added an aesthetic element and improved the safety of the multi-level structure. All electrical elements of entire design—including the hardscape lighting, spa, waterfall, pavilion lighting, and sound system—can all be controlled by an app on the homeowner’s phone.

For a fly-through view of the entire multi-level terraced design, watch the drone video below.

PROJECT TEAM:

Designer: Clint Tucker, PLA
Contractor: Sugar Hill Outdoors, LLC
Engineer: John R. Gehrlich, Jr., PE
Engineering Firm: GeoWerks Engineering, LLC
Pool Construction: Bennett Custom Pool Construction
Play Structure Design/Installation: PlayNation Play Systems, Inc., of Georgia

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG: Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog to get inspired by winning designs from the 2017 Hardscape North America Project Awards.

Get a Sneak Peek at the
HGTV® Dream Home 2017

driveway

This year, HGTV purchased an existing three-bedroom, three-bath home on the beautiful coastal St. Simons Island, Georgia. Architects, contractors, and designer, Brian Patrick Flynn, descended on the home and began the incredible renovation that transformed this hidden gem into a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, HGTV Dream Home. As the design unfolds, viewers will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win the home and prize package by entering daily on HGTV.com starting December 28, 2016. HGTV will give the home away to one lucky winner in March 2017.

As the exclusive hardscape sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home 2017, Belgard is proud to offer a sneak peek at this coastal retreat. Once registration opens, we’ll offer a full virtual walk-though of the outdoor living spaces. But for now, here’s a little taste of what you will have a chance to win in 2017.

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes starts at 9 a.m. ET on 12/28/16 and ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/17/17. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, visit www.hgtv.com or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: “HGTV Dream Home Giveaway 2017”, P.O. Box 52915, Knoxville, TN 37950. Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a Home & Garden Television. HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC. Photos ©2017 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.