When I was designing landscapes in Arizona, one option we had available to us was travertine marble tile. These were actual tiles – typically 12″x12″ and less than a half inch think – so they had to be laid in a mortar bed on a concrete slab. Shortly after landing in Virginia in 2005, I started seeing travertine pavers make an appearance.
These are really cool because they’re an inch thick and are laid just like a concrete paver. You build up with a base layer of compacted gravel (21A or crusher run), then use a one inch layer of sand as your bedding layer. Once the pavers are in place they’re compacted and polymeric sand is swept into the joints. That’s it. It’s a beautiful finished product that has the ability to flex and move like a traditional concrete paver patio in Virginia. From the test data I’ve seen online, travertine pavers have a compressive strength similar to concrete pavers and can even be used for driveways!
The biggest challenge I’ve found with designing travertine paver patios in Virginia is making the materials make sense. Travertine in California or Arizona doesn’t look out of place. It can look a little foreign here, though. I recently designed a fireplace, seat wall, and travertine paver patio as part of a winery landscape design project. I used a plum-colored flagstone to tie in with the warm tones of the travertine and the rich reddish colors in the fireplace stone, and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. All those color theory classes have finally paid off.
I’m starting my next travertine paver patio project this week, and I may have one more in the pipeline as part of a swimming pool project. The travertine pavers are a great product that (unlike concrete pavers and flagstone) aren’t in every other backyard. Making it work requires someone who can integrate this new material in the landscape design while blending all the colors harmoniously. In other words, you need a landscape designer. Contact me to set up a consultation if you’re looking to build a travertine paver patio in Virginia, Maryland, or DC and I’ll be happy to talk with you about it!
This week I stopped off to check in with a landscape design client in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is probably one of my favorite projects of the year. I’ll do a more comprehensive post (showing plan and elevation drawings, etc) in a couple of weeks when a few more details are completed, but I was too excited to wait.
The architect responsible for the addition figured out the orientation of a pool and the upper patio, and I ran with it from there. The homeowners were an absolute blast to work with, too.
The pergola is cedar, and was fabricated by The Cedar Store and assembled by the poolbuilder.
It makes for a pretty sweet outdoor space.
The plantings are still “too young for prime time” but it won’t take long till they look great. Give it a couple of years and this will be a swoon-worthy garden! Plantings were completed by Stadler Nurseries.
Last year I was contacted by some folks in Alexandria, Virginia, with an intriguing project: they have a small backyard, and wanted to install an Endless Pool without giving up the entire yard or making the pool an overwhelming, ugly, dominant feature. I did some research, and the design issues surrounding an Endless Pool are the same as those surrounding an acrylic spa – namely, that without finding a way to tuck it into the surrounding landscape, you have a 3-4′ tall box sitting on a slab. Here’s what the backyard looked like:
Adding to the complexity of the project was the fact that they had recently had a new brick patio installed and weren’t in love with the idea of ripping it out and starting over. And, the yard was actually rather nice, if in need of an update.
Clearly, the best way to deal with the pool was to partially sink it in the ground. Part of the design process involved a lot of phone calls with the smart people division of Endless Pools, along with emailing back and forth lots of CAD drawings to get the technical details right (note: your random landscapers offering “free designs and estimates” don’t do this level of service). I ended up with a concept that played off the existing shapes, enlarged the patio, and kept the pool tucked down a bit.
As I often do when designing structure, I also did a quick (but accurate) 3D model:
The homeowners loved the concept and moved forward. I wasn’t directly involved with the install on this one, as the pool builder wanted to handle it himself, but I checked in periodically and came in at the end to discuss some hardscaping details and take care of the plantings and sod. It’s still new and not quite ready for prime time, but here are some finished pictures:
All in all this was a really fun project to design, and I like that it’s a very simple design that is still very attractive and functional. It’s a fun challenge packing loads of function into the landscape design of a small space.